I was reading a bit of an except from a conversation between John MacArthur and John Piper:

John MacArthur: I think he dealt with it. In Romans 7 he said, “I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I ought to do, and I’m a wretched man.”

John Piper: And he had a guilty conscience.

John MacArthur: Yeah. But he dealt with his sin. It didn’t accumulate.

Talking about St. Paul and his conscience. Now the Protestant notion is that "He dealt with his sin" and I'd imagine the idea is that he goes before God, and cries a lot and that's probably what he spent the first few years of his conversion away from the other Apostles coming to terms with.

But, is there any scriptural indication that he confessed in person and/or was given absolution before the assembly, and if so, did he do so before a bishop (episcopus), and if so, was that bishop acting in persona Christi?

1 Answer 1


The Apostle Paul confessed his sins to the whole world. His letters contain his own summary of his sinful past. Those letters are read and revered by priests and therefore constitute a perpetual communication via the Holy Spirit to them of his confession.

Then if you read Romans 7, a God-breathed part of Holy Scripture, you see Paul's absolution, "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Acts 19 (written by Luke, hence another witness) tells a story which demonstrates that the power of conviction and repentance was present in Paul's ministry:

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Would an unrepentant sinner manifest such a powerful spirit of repentance?

  • Totally agreed, I had to modify the question slightly to get at something more specific. It's a good point though, Seems like people came and confessed their sins in imitation of the Apostles (at least Peter and Paul, maybe James and John too and perhaps Thomas confessed his doubt) (because Jesus' nature precluded Him from sin as St. Paul says himself).
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 17:23

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