NINE THESES ON
THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL
The Word of God and the Sacraments
1. God reveals his saving grace to humanity, and bestows the forgiveness of sins and all spiritual blessings, solely through his Word and Sacraments (the Gospel in all of its forms, Holy Absolution, Baptism, and the Lords Supper).
Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 10:17: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
John 20:22-23: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.
Acts 2:38-39: And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
Matthew 26:26-28: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
2. Through his Word and Sacraments God continually creates and sustains the faith and spiritual life of all those who believe in and confess Jesus Christ, and for this reason the Word of God and the Sacraments serve as the marks of the Christian Church.
1 Thes. 2:13: And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
John 8:31-32: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Matthew 18:18-20: Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
1 Peter 2:2-5,9-10: Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are Gods people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 3:15-16a: ...but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect...
Col. 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Ephes. 5:25b-27: ...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
1 Cor. 12:13: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Cor. 10:16-17: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Cor. 11:26: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.
The Divine Institution of the Public Ministry of the Gospel
3. For the proper public administration of his Word and Sacraments, within and on behalf of the Church, God has instituted the Public Ministry of the Gospel.
Ephes. 4:11-13: And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...
1 Cor. 12:27-30: Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
James 3:1: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
1 Tim. 5:22a: Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands...
Romans 10:14-15: But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
Luke 10:16: The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.
1 Cor. 3:5-9,16,21-23: What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are Gods fellow workers. You are Gods field, Gods building. ... Do you not know that you are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit dwells in you? ... So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future all are yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods.
4. Jesus Christ trained and sent his apostles to preach the Word of God and to administer the Sacraments, in his name and by his authority, and in this way he established the basic pattern and character of the Public Ministry of the Gospel that has served the Church on earth ever since.
Mark 3:14-15: And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.
John 20:21: Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.
Matthew 28:16,18-20: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. ... And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
John 21:15-17: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. He said to him a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Tend my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Do you love me? and he said to him, Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
1 Peter 5:1-4: So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The Public Ministry of the Gospel in the Narrow Sense
5. Through the Church God continues to call qualified men to carry out the full Public Ministry of the Gospel in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments (the Public Ministry in the narrow sense).
Acts 20:17-21,24,27-28: Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ... But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ...for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1 Cor. 4:1-2: This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
1 Tim. 3:1-7: The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for Gods church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1 Tim. 4:13-16: Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Titus 2:11-15: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
2 Tim. 4:1-5: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
1 Thes. 5:12-13: We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Hebrews 13:17: Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
1 Cor. 9:13-14: Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
6. Different terms may be used to describe those men who carry out this ministry of spiritual oversight (bishops, presbyters, pastors, preachers, etc.), and the distinctive duties of this ministry of spiritual oversight may be apportioned to such men according to various ecclesiastical arrangements, but Gods unchanging will and mandate for the Church is that it will always have responsible shepherds who feed and nurture it with his Word and Sacraments.
Acts 14:23: And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Rev. 2:1a: To the angel of the church in Ephesus write...
Acts 13:1: Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Romans 12:6-8: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
1 Peter 4:10-11: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of Gods varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Titus 1:5-9: This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as Gods steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
7. According to its needs and circumstances, the Church may call qualified men to carry out this ministry of spiritual oversight in more specialized or focused ways. For example: synodical presidents / superintendents / bishops (who supervise doctrine in the Church), missionaries, chaplains, theological professors, etc.
Acts 9:15: But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
Acts 13:2-3: While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
1 Cor. 1:17: For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
2 Tim. 2:2: ...and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The Public Ministry of the Gospel in a Broader Sense
8. According to its needs and circumstances, and in conformity with the Biblical directives on the proper roles of men and women in the Church, the Church may call qualified individuals to carry out certain limited aspects of the Public Ministry of the Gospel and thereby to participate publicly in the fulfillment of the Churchs mission (the Public Ministry in a broader sense). For example: parochial school teachers (who assist pastors and Christian parents in instructing the Churchs children in Gods Word), Communion distribution assistants and liturgical assistants, deacons and deaconesses, etc.
Philip. 1:1: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons...
1 Cor. 14:33-38: For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
1 Tim. 2:8-15: I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Titus 2:3-5: Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
1 Tim. 5:17: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
Acts 6:2-7b: And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem...
1 Tim. 3:8-13: Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Acts 21:8-9: On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.
Romans 16:1-3: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus...
Philip. 4:2-3: I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
9. Those who assist in carrying out the Public Ministry of the Gospel in these more limited or restricted ways are sometimes said to be serving in an ecclesiastical helping office to which a part of the Public Ministry has been entrusted, and they are sometimes said to be serving in a limited form of the Public Ministry.
2 Tim. 2:14-15: Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
(All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.)
rev. 28 March 2009
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