I am curious to know if the Bible mentions anything about Jesus listening to people's confessions and forgiving their sins when He was living on the Earth.

For example, did He ever visit people who were close to death, listened to their confessions, and then forgave them? Or, does the Bible mention anything about anyone ever seeking out Jesus and asking Him to hear their confession and to then forgive him/her?

Did Jesus hear people’s confessions while He was living on the Earth?

  • 2
    We typically don't allow "where is in the Bible" type questions, because these can be easily answered and are, unfortunately, often up for interpretation. There's quite a few people who confessed their sins or sinfulness to Jesus in the Gospel. So it's up for interpretation what you mean by "confessed". But He never was recorded as talking to anyone close to death, except for the Repentant Thief (Who tradition names St. Dismas) on the cross.
    – Peter Turner
    May 12, 2022 at 21:37
  • 1) I wonder whether John the Baptist heard confession since his ministry is a ministry of repentance. 2) Jesus was notorious for giving absolution ("your sins are forgiven") which in Catholic practice is preceded by the penitent's confession. Maybe the Gospels left out some details. May 13, 2022 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


Most typically we see Jesus already knowing what is in a person's heart and it is requests for healing that provoke a proclamation that sins are forgiven.

Confessing one's sinfulness, as in Luke 5:8:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

is essentially saying the same thing about one's condition as God says...it is to agree with God's diagnosis. One cannot even apprehend one's need for Christ apart from apprehension of one's desperate disposition as thoroughly sinful. This is why the tax collector went home justified in the parable from Luke 18:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. - Luke 18:10-14

Additionally James 5:16 exhorts us to confess our faults to one another:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

We are to live open and honest lives before one another, not treasuring up sinful desires that separate us as we strive to keep things hidden. Honesty in discourse with our brethren promotes an environment wherein correction and encouragement in the Lord may flourish and the body of Christ strengthens and grows. It is no good to pretend that we are not broken.

Some denominations sacramentalize and formalize the process of confession such that times of confession, methodology of confession, and the person to whom confession must be made are tightly controlled but this practice is difficult to root in Scripture since the temple priesthood is over.


There is no mention of Christ hearing people's confessions in the Gospels. Also, Christ did not baptize (John 4:2) during His ministry on Earth. St. John the Baptist and, afterwards, Christ's disciples and Apostles both baptized and heard confessions. (Matt. 3:6, Mark 1:5, John 4:2, Acts 19:18, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12)

  • Do you consider James 5:16 as another evidence that Christ's disciples hear confessions too? May 13, 2022 at 15:50
  • 1
    Yes. In the early Church, people confessed their sins before the entire congregation.
    – aganrock
    May 14, 2022 at 21:30

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