Question: Does John 20:23 teach that men have the power to forgive other peoples sins, especially preachers?
Answer: John 20:23 states,
“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
This we know has reference to any Christian who presents the Gospel; whether it be a preacher in the church, or a layman on the street. For those who believe the Gospel, their sins are remitted by Christ and are saved. For those that reject the Gospel, their sins are retained, because they have rejected Christ’s forgiveness.
In John 8:24, Christ said,
“...ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
The Word of God in Colossians 2:13 lets us know it is Christ who forgives our sins, not the preacher.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him (i.e., Jesus Christ), having forgiven you all trespasses.”
Nowhere in Scripture will you find the Apostles ever claimed to forgive sins. The Gospels of Mark and Luke tell us,
“...who can forgive sins but God only.” - Mark 2:7
"Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" - Luke 5:21
The Word of God denounces any so-called ministers who insert themselves as mediators between you and God, claiming they can forgive your sins in the name of Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5 is perfectly clear,
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Not the preacher.
The Apostle Peter never claimed he could forgive anyone’s sins. Peter directed people to Christ for forgiveness. Notice in Acts 2:21,
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The great Apostle Paul, who wrote 14 of the 27 New Testament epistles, stated in Acts 13:38,39, that it was Jesus Christ who forgives sins, not the preacher.
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (38) And by him (Jesus Christ) all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (39)”
“Every word of God is pure...” -Proverbs 30:5
But not so, with the words of some preachers! (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).