“Forms” of the Public Ministry
ANDREW GEORGE VOIGT:
The Church in its communion with God and in its winning of souls, is bound to the preaching of the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments. Therefore a ministry of the Gospel is necessary. Moreover, the Church manifests its faith in manifold activities for its own upbuilding and for the welfare of mankind. All this makes it necessary for the Church to organize itself in some form of polity. But all orders and ranks of the ministry and all regulations for organization are human ordinances.
No form of ministry or church polity is prescribed in the New Testament. The apostolic office is an apparent exception to this statement. But it is not prescribed that the apostolic office should continue in the Church. It could not be perpetuated. The name apostle was used in the early Church for any preacher who carried the Gospel from place to place in the name of the Lord. Instances of this loose use of the name are found in the New Testament also. Cf. II Cor. 11:5,13; 12:11; Rev. 2:2; Acts 14:14; I Thess. 2:6. But in the strict sense of the name, the office was singular. The apostles were appointed before the founding of the Church and for its founding. The permanent element in the apostleship was not the office itself, but the preaching of the Gospel. No form of ministry is prescribed in the New Testament, although a diversity of forms is exemplified in it. A comparison of earlier and later epistles, for instance [I] Corinthians with the pastoral epistles, shows a development in the forms of the ministry in apostolic times. ... A beginning is made at Jerusalem with deacons for the care of the poor, Acts 6:5. Soon we read of elders at Jerusalem, possibly on the synagogue model, Acts 11:30. Then we read of elders also in missionary churches, Acts 14:23. These are identical with bishops, Acts 20:17,28. In the pastoral epistles the offices of bishops or elders and deacons are fully developed. The ministry of the Word did not belong exclusively to the elders, perhaps it was not their principal function at all. But there were elders who taught the Word, I Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9. ...
The ministry of the Church is the office of the means of grace. This ministry is of divine institution, but it was committed by the Lord to no class in the Church, but to the Church itself. The Church itself, according to the wisdom given to it, designates those who shall exercise this ministry for it. The preaching of the Gospel is the preaching of the Church, not a private power or prerogative of a minister. Baptism and Communion are sacraments of the Church, not individual operations of a privileged person. In the work of administering the Word of God according to arising needs and circumstances the Church appoints ministers for different functions, one a pastor, another a missionary, another a teacher, and it may be [that the Church] assigns to them different degrees of jurisdiction and authority, for instance a president of a synod or a superintendent, whom it may call bishop. But that which is common and essential in all such offices and ranks is the one office of the means of grace. This is the divinely appointed element; the other features are variable. In this sense there is parity of ministers of the Gospel. ... But besides the direct dispensation of Word and sacrament the Church engages in manifold activities for its own upbuilding and for the welfare of its members and of mankind. The ultimate aim of all this activity is the spiritual good of men. For these activities it makes such provision of official appointment as the needs of the work and its own wisdom dictate. So, for example, the ministry of mercy has gained recognition along with the ministry of the Word. (Between God and Man: An Outline of Dogmatics [Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1926], pp. 208-11)
HENRY EYSTER JACOBS:
As in many other respects, so also in regard to the Christian Ministry, the New Testament lays down certain principles of universal and permanent validity, and refers the details of their application to the future determination of the Church, according to circumstances of time and place. Care must be taken to distinguish: A. between what is essential and what is accidental to the Ministry; and B. among accidentals, between those which are important and under certain circumstances, obligatory, and those which are unimportant and at all times free. The New Testament prescribes no completely established and fully developed form of Church organization, as the model and rule for all succeeding ages of the Church. The permanent functions of the Church are to preach the Gospel in its purity, and to administer the sacraments in accordance with their institution. The Church is charged with providing a ministry that, according to circumstances of time and place, shall, as its executive, discharge these functions. In the New Testament, we can trace the gradual development of Church institutions, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The chief passages in the New Testament bearing on the Ministry, are: A. in general: Matth. 10:40, 1 Cor. 4:1, Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:4,7,27,28; B. Apostles: Matth. 10, 1 Cor. 9:1, Acts 1:22, Rev. 21:14; C. Bishops: Acts 20:17,28, Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, Tit. 1:5-9 (cf. Rev. 2:1); D. Elders: Acts 14:23, 15:2-6,22,23, 16:4, 20:27, 1 Tim. 5:17, Tit. 1:5, James 5:14, 1 Pet. 10:1; E. Rulers: Rom. 12:8, 1 Thess. 5:12, 1 Tim. 5:17, Heb. 13:7; F. Deacons: Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:8-12; Rom. 16:1; G. The Seven: Acts 6:6. The continuance of this process of development in later periods of the Church is justified only insofar as it is characterized by fidelity to the pure preaching of the Word and the incorrupt administration of the sacraments. ...
Advocates of various theories of Church Government in later periods of the Church are in error when they claim that they can find in the New Testament the completely developed form of government which they advocate. The New Testament always places unity in faith and doctrine above union in organization. The one faith and doctrine, extending throughout all time and intended for all men, reaches its end through a plasticity and flexibility of organization adapted to the varying circumstances, history and degrees of culture of those to whom it comes. Identity in form and regulations for the ministry, except as purity of Word and sacrament be affected, are secondary considerations. (“Theses on the Ministry and Ordination,” Lutheran Church Review, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 [January 1908], pp. 91-92)
REVERE FRANKLIN WEIDNER:
We...see, that as the Church spread, the circle of teachers was greatly enlarged, and that in the early period of her history special gifts were bestowed on certain believers, “there being diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all,” “and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as He will” (1 Cor. 12:6,11). We note, however, that the principle was fixed from the beginning, that without a calling, general or special, ordinary or extraordinary, no one took upon himself the office of teacher or minister in any form of service. We note that even during the period covered by the New Testament records the ministry finally settled down to its normal state, including a) the Apostles, as the ministry of the Church in general; and b) the Presbyters (elders) or bishops, and the deacons, as the local or permanent ministry in each congregation. What the Apostles were to the Church, as a whole, these teachers or officers were to the individual congregations. For as congregations were established teachers or pastors were of necessity appointed to superintend and spiritually rule the congregations, to conduct the public services, to administer the sacraments, and to exercise discipline, laboring in word and doctrine. According to the New Testament, three functions especially devolved upon the Apostles as the original ministry, which even to the present day, are combined more or less directly in the ministerial office: 1) The direction and superintendence of the doctrine, life, and constitution of the Church, – “to act as overseers (bishops), to feed the Church” (Acts 20:28). It is on this account that the Presbyters or Elders (Acts 20:17) are called bishops (Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:5,7), as also shepherds or pastors (Eph. 4:11). 2) The authority to teach, so that those appointed as pastors become in a special sense the teachers of the Church (Acts 13:1; I Cor. 12:28,29; Eph. 4:11). One of the special qualifications for the office of bishop or elder was the gift of teaching (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. I:9). 3) The duty of ministering to the outward wants of the Church, especially caring for the poor, the widow, the sick, and the orphan.
From Acts 6:1-6 we learn that the office of ministering, that of the diaconate or deacon, was at first united with the office of superintendent (overseer or bishop) and teacher, but as the ministry of the word suffered from it, the office of deacon was separated and handed over to special persons, – the deacons and deaconesses (Rom. 16:1; 1 Tim. 3:11). A careful study of the whole passage teaches us: 1) That after the Apostolate the first office established in the Church is the diaconate. 2) That the Apostles, as the leaders and administrators of the Church, call the congregation together and propose measures to meet the difficulties which had arisen. 3) They state the reasons for the creation of the new office, give instructions for the choice of suitable persons, making an exact statement of the requisite qualifications. 4) They submit the whole matter for the approval of the Church. 5) The Church exercises the right of approval. 6) The persons chosen were elected in accordance with Apostolic instructions. 7) The congregation submits their selection to the approval of the Apostles. 8) The Seven were then ordained by the Apostles with the laying on of hands. 9) They were chosen as aids to the Apostles, and their duties were not lay duties, but official duties belonging to the ministry, which had at first been performed by the Apostles. ... From the qualifications laid down in Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Tim. 3:8-13, we can also infer what the duties of the deacons were. In the broader conception of the New Testament idea of the office, the deacon was the minister’s aid in the general work of the ministry. That their functions were so largely confined to the care of the poor and the sick, and to the external interests of the congregation, is due to the fact that just here ministers naturally require aid. Teaching was only incidental to their office, as in the case of Stephen and Philip. Most likely Philip having special gifts as a preacher, resigned his office when he left Jerusalem, and as an evangelist made Caesarea the center of his labors (Acts 8:5-25,26-39,40; 21:8,9). All the qualifications emphasized by Paul in 1 Tim. 3:8-13, are such as are especially necessary in house visitation and in the performance of works of mercy. In fact the requirements for the diaconate are nearly the same as for the presbyterate, save the gift of teaching, and this need not be surprising. A good character is necessary for every officer of the Church. In fact every believer should lead a blameless life. “There are distinct offices in the Church, not different standards of living for clergy and laity.” From the mother Church of Jerusalem the institution of the diaconate spread into all the congregations. The “helps” of I Cor. 12:28 is most naturally taken, with Chrysostom and most interpreters, as referring to the duties of the diaconate. The “ministry” of Rom. 12:7 also evidently refers to the gift of administration of the external affairs of the congregation, particularly with reference to the care of the poor and sick. So likewise the “ministering” of 1 Pet. 4:11. About 62 A.D., in the church at Philippi, the bishops (or presbyters) and the deacons are recognized as the two offices constituting the regular ministry (Phil. 1:1). Five years later Paul gives express directions as to the qualifications of deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13). The strict seclusion of the female sex required also a female diaconate (Rom. 16:1). In 1 Tim. 3:11 Paul gives the qualifications for this office. That St. Paul recognizes a ministry of women in the Church is unquestionable. But it is a ministry connected with works of mercy. St. Paul clearly excludes women from the public ministry (1 Cor. 14:34,35; 1 Tim. 2:11,12), but they are permitted to teach in private (Acts 18:26), and aged women are expressly urged to teach others of their own sex (Tit. 2:3,4). A woman may have the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 11:5), but apparently she is not allowed to exercise even that gift in the public assembly of the congregation, but only in smaller meetings for devotion, probably consisting chiefly or wholly of women. ... We shall see later on in sub-apostolic times, that the diaconate becomes still more prominent, with a range of functions of increasing importance, making the deacons more and more efficient aids in part of the work of the ministry.
As the diaconate was a new office, we have a full account of its origin in the Acts (6:1-6), but of the institution of the office of the Presbyterate (elder or presbyter) we have no history. We have seen, however, that wherever individual congregations were organized there were of necessity at once officials appointed. The two persecutions recorded in Acts 8:1 and Acts 12:1-3, led to the dispersion of the Twelve on their Apostolic labors. It was therefore necessary that provision be made for the permanent direction of the Church at Jerusalem, and it seems that for this purpose the usual government of the synagogue was adopted. ... In Jerusalem, ...and in Palestine in general, where the first congregations were organized, the Apostles naturally followed largely the form of government in vogue in the synagogue, and so a body of elders or presbyters would be chosen to direct the religious worship and to watch over the temporal well-being of the congregation. The elders are first mentioned in the Acts incidentally, as early as 44 A.D., as receiving the relief sent from Antioch unto the brethren in Judea by the hand of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11:29,30). From this time forward these elders are at the head of the Church at Jerusalem. ... We also find elders in all Jewish Christian congregations at a very early period (James 5:14). ... Such elders were also appointed in all Gentile Christian congregations. On their first missionary journey (45 A.D.) Paul and Barnabas are described as appointing elders or presbyters in every congregation (Acts 14:23). Paul especially urges Titus (about 67 A.D.) “to appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge,” Tit. 1:5. All the evidence goes to show: 1) That the presbyterate was a definite office to which the Apostles appointed men (Acts 14:23); 2) That the title presbyter was derived confessedly from the organization of the Jewish synagogue; 3) That the presbyter was also called a bishop. It is unanimously conceded by all scholars that the Mother Church at Jerusalem had only one gradually developed organization, and that this was the model for all Christian congregations: 1) That at first all the functions and powers of the ministry were summed up in the Apostles, 2) That the first step forward in organization was the appointment of deacons (Acts 6:1-6). 3) That of the second step, the appointment of elders, we have no record, but from the time of their first mention (Acts 11:29, 30), they are, with the Apostles, at the head of the Mother Church. 4) That they are everywhere spoken of as entrusted with the care of the Church. 5) That all the qualifications required of those appointed as elders lead us to the inference that they were the rulers and teachers, the pastors, who had charge of the flock entrusted to them. (The Doctrine of the Ministry: Outline Notes Based on Luthardt and Krauth [Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1907], pp. 34-38, 40-41)
GEORGE HENRY GERBERDING:
The followers of Jesus were a band of learners whom He was training to become the church. From among them He selected twelve to be His apostles (Mark iii. 13-19; Luke vi. 13-17). These twelve were His daily companions. During His whole public ministry He had them in training. Day after day He instructed, developed, and moulded them. Thus He fitted them to be His witnesses and to carry on His work (John xv. 27). ... Their office was in some respects peculiar and extraordinary. They had been chosen and trained directly by Christ. They were witnesses of His resurrection (Acts i. 22 and ii. 32; 1 John i. 1-3; 2 Peter i. 16). These founders of the church were endowed with special gifts and powers and had a general commission to preach and labor everywhere. In these respects they have had and can have no successors. But in as far as they were Christ’s ministers of the Word they were the predecessors of all true ministers, and all such are their successors.
All the New Testament offices of the church have grown out of the apostolate or are modifications of it. What are these New Testament offices? They are all a ministry. There are two forms of this ministry. One is the ministry of the Word, the other is the ministry of mercy. The former is set forth in the New Testament under a number of names, forms, and activities. Part of these pertain to the ordinary ministry and part to the extraordinary. The former are permanent and are in the church to-day. The latter are temporary and were needed for the church in its infancy. (See 1 Cor. xii. 28; Eph. iv. 11.)
We have already seen that the apostolic office was in many respects extraordinary. The same is true of the New Testament prophets. These were men needed, like the apostles, for that age of founding and forming the church when as yet there were no New Testament writings. They were men, like the apostles, directly inspired by the Holy Spirit. ... To this class belonged Judas and Silas (Acts xv. 32), Agabus (Acts xi. 28 and xxi. 10-12), the daughters of Philip (Acts xxi. 9), and others. ... In like manner we find as an extraordinary New Testament office, that of the evangelists. We find only Philip, who was also one of the seven deacons (Acts xxi. 8), and Timothy (2 Tim. iv. 5), thus designated. Others, however, were in the same work and calling. The evangelist, like the apostle, was a missionary. ... Apostles, prophets, and evangelists, then, had the extraordinary forms of the New Testament ministry. The last two are closely related to the first. All could claim divine authority for their office and work; all were ministers of the Word; all exercised their office through the Word.
Passing now from the temporary and extraordinary ministry of the Word we come to the permanent and ordinary. For this we find many names, but it is one office. The bearer of this office is sometimes called pastor, at other times teacher, then presbyter or elder, and again episcopos or bishop. These are different names for the same office. ... These elders were the pastors of the congregations. They were over the churches, ruled them with the Word and by a godly example, in the spirit of love (Acts xx. 28; 1 Thes. v. 12; 1 Tim. v. 17; Heb. xiii. 7,17). They were to shepherd their flocks – i.e., to feed, to guard, to lead, to heal (Acts xx. 28; 1 Cor. ix. 7; 1 Pet. v. 2; 1 Thes. v. 12; 1 Tim. iii. 1-11; Tit. i. 7-10; Jas. v. 14). ... To look after and minister to the poor was the work of a deacon. ... The office was a noble one. It was instituted by the apostles. It took a part of their work upon itself. It was one of the church’s vital “helps.” It ministered to Christ’s poor in His name. ... The first deacons were men. But as the work of mercy among women was often unsuited to men, pious women assisted the deacons. Ere long we find women deacons. ... We see, then, that the female diaconate grew out of the male diaconate, and this again was instituted by the apostles, and assumed a part of their work.
The ministry of the Word, then, comes directly from the apostolate, which comes directly from Christ. The ministry of mercy comes also from the apostles, and likewise continues a work of Christ. It is clear, therefore, that the Lord Jesus instituted the office of the New Testament ministry, even as He Himself was its first bearer. The office comes not from man, but from Christ. The church has never been without it. ... The important passage, Eph. iv. 11, shows clearly that not only the apostolate, but also the branches that grow from it are a gift of the glorified Christ. (The Lutheran Pastor [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1902], pp. 27-32,34-36)
CHARLES PORTERFIELD KRAUTH:
Through the history of the Jewish race there rise before us constantly prophecies of a kingdom of God to be established by the Messiah on earth, destined to embrace all mankind. The series of promises was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He established a kingdom not of worldly glory, but a kingdom of the life of God in the soul of man – a kingdom which comes not with observation, not with outward show or glory, but is within men, Luke 17:20. The means of grace which our Lord gave to the world and the commission under which He sent forth his Apostles, clearly demonstrate, however, that the internal fellowship of His kingdom was to have a corresponding outward expression. His Apostles were to teach; to make disciples of all nations: to baptize them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and Christ was to abide with the Apostles in their work always, even to the end of the world, all the days, to the consummation of the era. Matt. 28:19,20. ... After the ascension of our Lord, the Apostles waited for the promise of the Father, and when the day of Pentecost was fully come, the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost and Peter uttered his witness for the crucified and arisen Saviour. “They that gladly received his word were baptized, and they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and in the fellowship and in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers” [Acts 2:41-42]. This power of the Word, which from the first drew men into the fellowship, gathered believers into the congregations. The Apostles were missionaries, not merely under the necessity of the case, but, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit gave security to the work and wrought and made a basis for its extension by organizing congregations in which the life of the disciple found its home and sphere of labor.
With the establishment of these congregations, and as an essential part of their organization was connected the institution of the congregational pastorate, the vocation which was to superintend and spiritually rule the congregations, to conduct the public services, to administer the sacraments, to labor in the word and in doctrine and to watch for souls to the conversion of sinners and the building up of saints. The pastorate was the determination to a distinct office of so much of the Apostolate as pertained to the single congregation. The institution of the Apostolate was the general institution of the entire ministry, whose specific forms, especially the Presbyterate-episcopate, and the diaconate, were but concrete classifications of particular functions involved in the total idea of the ministry. The specific ministries are but distributions of the Apostolate in its ordinary and permanent functions. ...
St. Paul gives us a list of officers and functions, transient and permanent, in 1 Cor. 12:28: “God hath set (put, appointed, constituted) in the Church some” (for even in the highest affluence of spiritual gifts in the early Church there was official distinction), “first Apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers, after that miracles” (which Luther, substituting the concrete for the abstract, renders “Wunderthäter,” doers of miracles), “then gifts of healing, helps” (Luther, for the same reason as before, Helfer, helpers), “governments” (Luther Regierer, governors), “diversities of tongues.” The verses following, 29,30, repeat “Apostles,” prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, diversities of tongues; omit helps and government, and add interpreters (expounders). In this enumeration the clearly transient are the prophets, (the workers of) miracles, gifts of healing and diversities of tongues, with the correlative interpreter. It is disputed, but not on tenable grounds, whether the Apostles also belong to the extraordinary officers of the Church. The helps and governments seem not to point to separate officials but simply to special functions of particular persons and hence are not referred to again in verses 29,30. “The teachers” are permanent, and to them the helps and governments are elsewhere assigned. ... In Eph. 4:11,12, we have another Apostolic list, “He gave some Apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” ... Compared with 1 Cor. 12:28-30 we find that it repeats Apostles, prophets, teachers; omits miracles, healings, diversities of tongues, helps, governments and interpreters, and adds evangelists and pastors. The omissions are in part accounted for by the difference of his [Paul’s] object in Ephesians which causes him to dwell exclusively on the ministry as a teaching body. The pastors and teachers are two names for the same office. ... The introduction of the “evangelists” in this passage appears to point to the existence of an office not specified in the former list, but an evangelist seems not to have been a distinct office in the Church but a preacher with a special work, probably that of a travelling missionary, within prescribed limits. Philip, the evangelist, is mentioned, Acts 21:8, and Timothy is charged, 2 Tim. 4:5, to do the work of an evangelist, to do pastoral work, when there were not yet congregations organized, and to bring about an organization as early as possible. ... The title of the pastoral office, which covers its teaching and preaching and oversight, is that of Eldership and the Bishop’s office. The Elders or Bishops are those to whom was committed the headships of congregations. These two names, presbyters or elders and bishops, are entirely coordinate. A New Testament bishop is an elder and a New Testament elder is a bishop. ...
Acts 6. A careful study of this passage shows: 1. That the functions to which deacons were elected, were functions which had been exercised by the apostles; hence the deacons’ duties are not lay duties, but are official. 2. They were chosen as aids to the apostles, in order that the whole time and strength of the apostles might be devoted to the more difficult and important part of this work. The apostles were to give themselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 3. The fundamental idea of the diaconate, therefore, was not the serving of tables, or the performing of secular duties within the church. That was but the specific determination of the general idea at that particular time. The generic idea of the diaconate is that it is an office designed to relieve the ministry of some of its relative, incidental and yet more distracting duties, in order to leave it free for others. Hence the broader and truer conception of the deacon is that he is the minister’s aid. This fact accounts for it, that the apostles looked to the deacons for something more than a mechanical performance of the ministration of the provision made by the church for the widows. The seven men were to be full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Stephen, who was chosen, and is first in the list, was a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. And we see that he devoted himself to other duties than merely those of the daily ministrations of the widows. Out of this truer conception of the nature of the diaconate, arises the fact that in the epistles we see that the deacons had larger functions than those which would be naturally assigned them, on the current misconstruction of the nature of their office. 1 Tim. iii. 8-13, gives a description of the necessary characteristics of deacons, which shows that they were in a larger sense aids in the general work of the ministry. This view of the nature of the diaconate alone explains the fact that from the earliest, post-apostolic antiquity, and indeed in the time of the apostolic fathers, the deacons were permanent officials in the church, with a range of functions of increasing importance, making them more and more efficient aids in part of the work of the ministry. (“Church Polity,” Lutheran Church Review, Vol. II, Whole No. 8 [Oct. 1883], pp. 316-19 [Part I]; Vol. III, Whole No. 10 [April 1884], pp. 139-40 [Part II])
Luther...recognized a threefold preaching office. He did not simply equate the office of bishop with that of pastor; instead, he allowed the higher office of oversight (antistites) to continue. Its incumbents are “to oversee all offices, so that the teachers exercise their office and do not neglect it, the deacons distribute goods properly and do not become weary; to punish sinners and invoke the ban promptly so that every office is conducted rightly.” In the cities pastors are assisted by preachers. Luther wanted four or five in Wittenberg, related to the quarters of the city; in each case several deacons are also to be assigned. Luther’s renewal of the diaconate is little known and did not last long. The reason doubtless lies in the fact that CA 14 [Augsburg Confession, Article 14] does not mention this office or a call to it. ... He himself had a clear picture of the ancient church’s practice: the deacon is, as servant of the bishop, likewise servant of the congregation. He registers and cares for the poor, visits the sick, and manages church property. Thus the administrative functions receive particular emphasis. The fact that deacons were also called upon for preaching, as in the case of Stephen, hastened the demise of poor relief – a gap which was filled by the hospitalers. Deacons need not harbor feelings of inferiority or jealousy; all officeholders stand equal before God. Occasional statements of Luther, then, indicate that he adopted the traditional threefold division of the pastoral office [i.e. bishops, presbyters/preachers, and deacons], but that cannot be considered a contradiction to CA 14 unless one ties the call to the office [as required in CA 14] with the particular legal forms (examination, installation, etc.) that were subsequently introduced in the evangelical territories. ... One thing is clear: these offices derived from the pastoral office – the bishop on a higher level and the preacher on a lower one – serve the truth and the effectiveness of the gospel. That also applies to diaconal service and to the office of schoolmaster, “which next to the office of preaching, is the most useful, greatest, and best.” In its loving service in the world, the office of the Word takes on various forms, depending on practical needs and possibilities. The orders that it sets up do not constitute this office; they just provide its historically conditioned characteristics. This is true not only of the persons who lead worship in the congregation but also of the times and places of worship – “so that it will be preached outwardly and will be visible in time, place, and persons.” ... For the honor that God confers upon the service of the Word and sacraments applies not only to the pastoral office but to the entire spiritual estate, together with all that pertains to it. (Luther lists “pastors, teachers, preachers, lectors, priests [whom men call chaplains], sacristans, schoolmasters, and whatever other work belongs to these offices and persons.”) ... Pastors need helpers for pastoral care in the larger congregations, for education of the youth, and for care of the needy. The office of proclaiming the Word branches out. In addition to rite vocatus [cf. CA 14] in its proper sense – pastors and preachers belong together in this category – there are congregational members who combine a civil office with particular ecclesiastical tasks and who are called to that service. Finally, this whole structure of proclamation, education, and social welfare requires a financial base. (Wilhelm Maurer, Historical Commentary on the Augsburg Confession [translated by H. George Anderson] [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986], pp. 194-95,197)
[Dear Dr. Weidner: ...your Doctrine of the Ministry...is the completest and most comprehensive treatment of the subject that I have ever come across, and I am highly taken with it, and shall no doubt have occasion to consult it often. (Carroll Herman Little, Letter to Revere Franklin Weidner, February 24, 1908)]
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