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C. F. W. Walther described Charles Porterfield Krauth as “the most eminent man in the English Lutheran Church of this country, a man of rare learning, at home no less in the old than in modern theology, and, what is of greatest import, whole-heartedly devoted to the pure doctrine of our Church, as he had learned to understand it, a noble man and without guile.” Krauth was firmly committed to the theology of Confessional Lutheranism, but he was, at the same time, a fresh and original thinker. During his life he dealt with many important issues, including one that is of great interest to many Lutherans at the present time: the Doctrine of the Ministry. What follows is an anthology of excerpts from Krauth’s writings on this subject, which demonstrate how he addressed several of the questions that are once again under discussion in the Lutheran Church. The influence of Luther, and especially of Chemnitz, is easily discernible, but we are also able to see many examples of Krauth’s own exegetical, theological, and historical insight. We are likewise able to see many examples of his literary ability, in the felicitous expressions that he often uses to make important points and convey important thoughts. Krauth can perhaps be especially helpful to those who, like him, think and write primarily in English. His theological works are directly accessible to the average American Lutheran pastor, without the need to be translated. In some respects they may therefore be more beneficial than other nineteenth-century sources, which originally appeared in other languages, as we grapple with how certain Lutheran theological concepts can best be understood and expressed in native English, and in the contemporary American context.

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Many embarrassing circumstances prevented the Lutheran Church from developing her life as perfectly in her church constitution as in her doctrines and worship. The idea of the universal priesthood of all believers at once overthrew the doctrine of a distinction of essence between clergy and laity. The ministry is not an order, but it is a divinely appointed office, to which men must be rightly called. No imparity exists by divine right; an hierarchical organization is unchristian, but a gradation (bishops, superintendents, provosts) may be observed, as a thing of human right only. The government by consistories has been very general. In Denmark, Evangelical bishops took the place of the Roman Catholic prelates who were deposed. In Sweden the bishops embraced the Reformation, and thus secured in that country an “apostolic succession” in the high-church sense; though, on the principles of the Lutheran Church, alike where she has as where she has not such a succession, it is not regarded as essential even to the order of the Church. The ultimate source of power is in the congregations, that is, in the pastor and other officers and the people of the single communions. The right to choose a pastor belongs to the people, who may exercise it by direct vote, or delegate it to their representatives.

(The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871], pp. 152-53.)

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In the true Christian minister, the priesthood, which he holds in common with all believers, intensifies itself by his representative character. He is a priest, whose lips keep knowledge, at whose mouth they should seek the law, for he is the “messenger of the Lord of hosts.”

(The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, p. 177.)

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I. OBJECT OF THE MINISTRY. To the END that God may be glorified in the salvation of men, our Lord Jesus Christ, in his Divine Unity with the Father and the Holy Ghost, has instituted the ministry; to teach the pure Gospel, and to administer the Sacraments rightly in the Church. (Acts xiii. 26, xvi. 17; Rom. i. 16; 2 Cor. v. 18; Eph. i. 13.)

II. EXISTENCE OF THE MINISTRY. This divinely instituted ministry is a sacred public office, conferred by legitimate vocation, on suitable men. (Rom. xii. 7; 2 Cor. iv. 1; Eph. iv. 12; Col. iv. 17; 1 Tim. i. 12; 2 Tim. iv. 5.)

III. DISTINCTIVENESS OF THE MINISTRY. This ministry is DISTINGUISHED in the New Testament from all other offices borne by men. It has distinctive names, endowments and duties, separating the teachers from the taught, the pastors from the flock, and those that have rule from those who are obedient to that rule. (Acts xiii. 2; Rom. i. 1; Acts xiii. 1; 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29; Eph. iv. 1; Acts xx. 28; 1 Pet. v. 2; Rom. xii. 8; 1 Thess. v. 12; 1 Tim. v. 17.)

IV. NECESSITY OF THE MINISTRY. The ministry is NECESSARY as the ordinary instrumental medium ordained of God, whereby the Word and Sacraments which are the only means of grace in the strict and proper sense, are to be brought to men. (Phil. i. 24; Heb. v. 12; 2 Cor. v. 19; Eph. i. 13; 1 Thess. ii. 13.)

V. CONTINUATION OF THE MINISTRY. Though God is the perpetuator of the ministry, as he is its author, He CONTINUES it on Earth, by means of his Church; through which He exercises his power of appointing teachers of the word. (Acts i. 23, 24; Titus i. 5; Acts xiv. 23, xx. 28; 1 Tim. iv. 14, v. 22; 2 Tim. i. 6; 1 Cor. xii. 28.)

VI. CONCURRENCE OF THE FACTORS, IN THE CONTINUATION OF THE MINISTRY. This power pertains to NO ONE PART of the Church, to the exclusion of the others, whether to Pope, Diocesan bishops, clergy, the civil power or the people, but to each and every part of the Church, to BOTH people and ministers, so that the people cannot rightly introduce a man into the ministry against the convictions of the ministers, nor the ministers rightly introduce a man into the ministry against the convictions of the people. (Acts i. 16-26, vi. 2-5, xi. 22; Acts xiv. 23, xv. 22, 23; 2 Cor. viii. 18, 19, 23; 1 Tim. i. 18; 2 Tim. ii. 2, iv. 14-22.)

VII. DEFINITION OF A MINISTER. A MINISTER, New Testament Bishop, Presbyter, Elder, or Evangelical Pastor, is a man legitimately called by God, through the Church, to teach the word publicly in the Church; to administer the sacraments, and to maintain sound discipline and good government. (1 Cor. iii. 5; 2 Cor. iii. 6, vi. 4; Rom. xv. 16; 1 Cor. iv. 1; Acts xx. 28; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 2; Titus i. 7; 1 Tim. iv. 14; 1 Tim. v. 17; Eph. iv. 11.)

VIII. THE MINISTRY AND THE PRIESTHOOD. 1. In the New Testament, our Lord did not continue, nor institute a peculiar order of PRIESTS. 2. The New Testament priesthood, like its kinghood, is common to all regenerate persons. 3. Its SACRIFICES are purely spiritual. They are in no sense propitiatory. They consist of prayer, praise and self-consecration. 4. A New Testament priest is NOT, as such, a minister; nor a minister, as such, a priest. 5. When our Church CALLS ministers “priests,” it uses the word “priests,” as synonymous with “presbyter;” or regards ministers, simply as the public representatives of a priesthood common to all. 6. This representative priesthood confers no mediatorial power. 7. This power to become a minister by vocation has its root in the common priesthood as the power to bear office by election, as a ruler in a free State has its root in a common citizenship. (Rom. xii. 1; Phil. iv. 18; Heb. vii. 27, 28, ix. 11-28, x. 12, xiii. 15, 16; 1 Pet. ii. 5-9; Rev. i. 6, v. 10, xx. 6.)

IX. THE APOSTOLATE. 1. Our Lord before His ascension instituted the office of the APOSTOLATE, 2. having within it all the powers of the future ministry. 3. The Apostolate had extraordinary and incommunicable powers and functions. 4. It also had ordinary and communicable powers and functions, 5. which were to be transmitted and perpetuated in and through the ordinary ministry to the end of the world. (Mark iii. 13, 14; Matt. x. 2; Luke vi. 13; Acts i. 2-25; Rom. i. 5; 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29; Eph. ii. 20; 2 Pet. iii. 2; Rev. xxi. 14; 1 Tim. ii. 7; 2 Tim. i. 11; 2 Pet. i. 1; 1 Tim. i. 18; 2 Tim. i. 13; 2 Tim. ii. 2; Matt. xxviii. 20; 2 Cor. v. 19.)

X. THE EXTRAORDINARY POWER OF THE APOSTOLATE. 1. To the extraordinary and incommunicable powers and functions, which were to be confined to the Apostles themselves, were these in conjunction which follow: 2. Their vocation was immediate, in no sense derived from men nor through men. 3. Their commission was unlimited as to locality. To an Apostle the field was the world. 4. They were endowed with an extraordinary measure of miraculous gifts and of Divine Inspiration. 5. They could bear official testimony as eye-witnesses to what was necessary to authenticate the Divine mission of our Lord. 6. They were under Christ the supreme authorities in the rule of the Church, and represented it in its totality, both in the powers received, and in the power exercised for it. 7. These were their exclusive powers and functions, in which none shared with them while they lived, and to which none were their successors when they died. (Matt. x. 2; Luke vi. 13; Gal. i. 1; Matt. xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 15; Luke xxiv. 47, 48; Acts i. 8; Matt. x. 1; Luke ix. 1; Mark vi. 7; Matt. x. 20; Luke xii. 12; Mark iii. 15; Acts ii. 4; Matt. xix. 28; Rev. xxi. 14; Acts i. 8, 22, x. 41, xxii. 15; 1 Pet. v. 1; 1 Cor. ix. 1.)

XI. THE ORDINARY POWERS OF THE APOSTOLATE. 1. In addition to the special powers and functions, the Apostles had the ordinary ones common to the whole ministry, to wit: the preaching of the Gospel, conferring the sacraments, administering discipline and ordaining others to the ministry. 2. In each and all of these they were but fellow-presbyters, ministers, pastors, and bishops with other ministers. (Acts i. 20, v. 42, xx. 24; Rom. i. 15; Eph. iii. 8, vi. 19; 1 Cor. iv. 1; Matt. xxviii. 19; 1 Pet. v. 1; 1 Cor. iii. 5; 2 Cor. xi. 23; Col. i. 7, 23-25; John xxi. 16.)

XII. APOSTOLIC AND MINISTERIAL SUCCESSION. 1. In their extraordinary powers and functions the Apostles had no successors. 2. In their ordinary ones all true ministers of Christ are their successors. 3. There is a ministerial succession unbroken in the Church; but, there is no personal succession in a particular line of transmission. The ministry that is, ordains the ministry that comes. The ministry of successive generations has always been inducted into the office by the ministry preceding; but, the so-called Apostolical succession or canonical succession does not exist, would be incapable of demonstration if it did exist, and would be of no essential value even if it could be demonstrated. (1 Tim. i. 18, iv. 14, v. 22; Acts xiv. 23; 2 Tim. ii. 2; Titus i. 5.) . . .

XV. THE DIACONATE. 1. The DEACONS, were in order of time, antecedent to the Elders as a distinct class, and in consequence of the great increase in the number of disciples, were first appointed to relieve the Apostles from the burden and distractions connected with distribution to the widows from the common fund, which had been placed at the control of the Apostles. (Acts vi. 1.) 2. The office itself was proposed by the Apostles; the Apostles defined its functions; determined the proper character of those who should be chosen to it; and suggested the method of choice. The multitude concurred and approved; chose persons for the office; placed them before the Apostles, who ordained them by the laying on of hands with prayer. (Acts vi. 2-6.) 3. The persons thus appointed are not called “deacons” in the Acts, but the name was suggested by the “daily ministration” (diakonia) to the wants of the widows; by the desire of the Apostles no longer to “serve (diakonein) tables,” but to devote themselves “to the ministry (diakonia) of the word.” The word “deacon,” in the history of its rise involves, by antithesis, a two-fold diaconate, the diaconate of the word which is incommunicably the diaconate of the Apostles and of the pastors, and the diaconate of aid, which is meant to relieve the diaconate of the word, from the collateral burdens and distractions, which interfere with its great distinctive duties. (Acts vi. 1-4.) 4. The deacons received power and entered on duties originally held and exercised by the Apostles as pastors of the Church at Jerusalem. The office was created by a separation of certain powers and duties of the ministry, and devolving them on a new class of officials. The deacons are not a part of the people to do the work pertaining to the people in common, but are a part of the officials of the Church, taking a share in the ministry and being in that broader sense ministers; aiding the pastoral ministry in its work by taking upon them, in conformity with the instructions of the Church, such collateral portions of the work as do not require the most important and special powers of the pastor and teacher. (Acts vi. 1-6; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 8-12.) 5. The true original conception of the deacon is that of the pastor’s executive aid. The particular work assigned to the seven deacons, first chosen, was simply a determination of this general conception, produced by the specific nature of the case. The distribution of a common fund in alms, or the service of poor widows is not the whole generic idea of the diaconate, though it was its whole actual function at first. Had that been its whole idea, it would have terminated with the state of things at Jerusalem, out of which it rose. The service of the poor is therefore only a specific, though most important, and, in some circumstances, a primary part of the diaconate, under the generic idea of aiding the pastorate in every desirable way, and leaving it unembarrassed in its greatest work. (Acts vi. 1-6; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 8-12.) 6. Deacons were not originally appointed to preach the Gospel, or to administer the Sacraments, or to bear official part in the government of the Church. They are in their proper intent executive aids of the ministry, in its collateral labors, or in the incidental, not essential, parts of its proper work. Philip’s preaching was not done under his commission as a deacon. (Acts vi. 1-6; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 8-12.) 7. Deacons are not ministers in the specific or stricter sense, nor are they essential to the organization of every congregation. A congregation, now, like the congregation at Jerusalem in its first stage, can exist as an organization without deacons -- the powers ordinarily entrusted to deacons remaining still vested in their original depository, the ministry of the Word. Congregations may be so small as not to require a diaconate, and in any case if they cannot obtain deacons conformed to the Scriptural requisitions, it might be better for them to have none. (Acts vi. 1.) 8. So far as is not inconsistent in any manner or degree with the sole direct Divine authority of the ministry of the Word to teach publicly in the Church and to administer the Sacraments, nor with the rights and duties inseparably connected therewith, the Church has liberty to enlarge the functions of the diaconate in keeping with its original generic idea, so as to make it, in accordance with her increasing needs, a more efficient executive aid to her ministers. 9. In the Ancient Church, enlarging in her liberty the functions of the deacons, as executive aids to the ministry of the Word in the service of the Church, the deacons took care of the sacred utensils employed in the sacraments; they received the contributions of the people, and conveyed them to the pastor; they took part in reading the Scriptures in public worship; at the request of the pastor they might take part in the distribution (not in the consecration) of the elements; they helped to preserve order and decorum in the service of the sanctuary; they furnished to the pastor information that would be useful to him in his labors -- they were his almoners -- in short, they were the executive aids of the minister of the Word, in the closest relations of official reverence, and of faithful service to him, and are called by the fathers the minister’s angels, his eyes, his hands, his lips, his heart and his soul. The deacons who were faithful in their office were looked to in the Ancient Church as the best source of supply for the future pastors. 10. In some Churches, especially among the Gentile converts, there were DEACONESSES, Christian women, largely selected from the widows known as faithful and holy. They were occupied with the care of the sick and of the poor, and with the externals of the Church’s work. They were in the one diaconate with its official character, as an executive aid of the ministry unchanged, and with its specific characteristics determined by the special gifts and facilities pertaining to Christian women. In the Ancient Church they gave instruction to the female catechumens, rendered the necessary aid at their Baptism, were guardians of the private life of Christian women, gave useful information to the pastors and such assistance as the pastors desired. They tenderly cared for the martyrs, confessors, travelers, sick and needy persons, especially though not exclusively of their own sex, and preserved order among the women in public worship. They were highly prized in the Christian Church until the union of Church and State, the growth of monasticism, the corruption of the order itself and other causes led to the setting of them aside. The order still exists in the Syrian Church, and in recent times a successful effort to establish an office under this name, with special adaptation to institutions of mercy, has been made in Germany, and other parts of the Protestant world. 11. In modern usage in the Lutheran Church of Germany, the deacons are ordained, assistant, pastors, conjoined under various limitations with the chief pastor. If there be several in one church, the first among them is sometimes called Arch-deacon, the others are called Sub-deacons. In Sweden men of the same office are called Comministers or Chaplains.

(“Thetical Statement of the Doctrine Concerning the Ministry of the Gospel,” Lutheran and Missionary, Vol. XIV, No. 12 [Dec. 31, 1874], p. 1.)

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XVI. PRESBYTERS OR ELDERS. 1. PRESBYTERS, OR ELDERS, was a designation originally of age, subsequently of office, in which latter sense it was employed first in the Jewish Synagogue, and then in the Christian Church. (Matt. xvi. 21; Acts ix. 30.) 2. Though in the Christian Church the presbyter had features in common with the elder in the Synagogue, yet no IDENTIFICATION is to be assumed which is not clearly taught in Holy Scripture or proved by satisfactory evidence, for here, as in all other cases, Christianity acted under the guidance of God’s Spirit, and purified, exalted and conformed to its own life and needs what it adopted. 3. The Apostles, because of the fewness of their number, and the wide nature of their commission could not long supply all the pastoral wants of the growing Church. As the members of the Christian Church were multiplied first in Judea, and afterwards in Gentile cities, a necessity arose for local organizations. To this end the office of the Christian eldership, retaining such features of the Jewish eldership as were conformed to the wants of the Church, WAS INSTITUTED by God, through the Apostles. (Acts xi. 30, xiv. 23.) 4. Certain persons CHOSEN or approved BY THE PEOPLE, and examined, approved and ORDAINED BY THE APOSTLES, were constituted pastors under the name of Elders or Bishops. (Acts xi. 30, xiv. 23.) 5. The organization of a body of Christians so as to constitute a permanent CONGREGATION or local Church, consisted in the definite union of the body or mass of the people, with its divinely constituted spiritual representatives and executive organs, the ministers of Christ or Christian elders. A permanent Christian congregation was a single communion of the people and elders united in common confession of a pure faith, the use of the sacraments, the worship of God, under a common government and discipline. To the NORMAL COMPLETENESS of the local Church, or its full organization, the pastoral relation was essential, and a communion without a pastor was not a congregation organized in the fullest sense, but simply the people of a congregation expectant and with provisional powers only. (Acts xiv. 23, xx. 28; Philip. i. 1.) . . . 11. To the Elders were committed in permanence as the ordinary and abiding ministers of the Christian Church, the ordinary communicable, and permanent powers of the Apostolate. In this they were co-ordinate with the Apostles, while the Apostles lived, and to them, when the Apostles were gone, the Christian Elders as a body, SUCCEEDED. The whole body of truly Christian ministers on earth are the successors of the Apostles, in all respects in which the Apostles could have successors. (Acts xiv. 23; 1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6.) 12. The NAMES given to the work of the Christian presbyter mark its nature. It is a serving and ministry, a ministering of the word in preaching and worship and of the Sacraments, for Christ and His saints, for the reconciliation of men with God. It is an episcopate, an office of superintendence and oversight, of visitation, and pastoral care. It is a stewardship of the mysteries of God, and of His grace. It is its work to provide that all things be done decently and in order in the Church. To Presbyters are given the name of Bishops, or overseers, superintendents, Elders, ministers, ministers and servants of God, of Christ, of the Lord, of righteousness, and of the Gospel. They are called teachers and preachers, they that are over, and that rule, and have the rule over the Church. In figurative language they are workers in the vineyard, and in the field, in sowing and in harvest, husbandmen, shepherds, inviters to the marriage and the great supper, fishers of men, stewards, ambassadors, witnesses, and heralds. . . .

(“Thetical Statement of the Doctrine of the Ministry (Second Article),” Lutheran and Missionary, Vol. XIV, No. 13 [Jan. 7, 1875], p. 1.)

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XVII. “LAY” OR “RULING ELDERS” (1 Tim. v. 17.). 1. The New Testament speaks of but ONE official, distinctive class of Christian elders or Presbyters: it gives no hint of official distinctions within this class. All Presbyters are identified with Bishops, and are constantly spoken of as one body, and as having a common ordination both to rule and teach. (Acts xiv. 23, xv. 2, 4, 6, 22, 23, xvi. 4, xx. 17, 28; Phil. i. 1; 1 Tim. iv. 14; Tit. i. 5; Jas. v. 14; 1 Pet. v. 1.) 2. The Elders, in all cases in which their functions are DESCRIBED in full, are represented as needing the gifts, and conjoining the duties of rule and teaching. (Acts xx. 28; 1 Tim. iii. 1-7; 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25; Tit. i. 5-9; 1 Pet. v. 2-4.) . . . 13. The true interpretation does not PRECLUDE the idea, if the idea be rendered otherwise probable that as the special gifts of ministers developed themselves, or as the special wants of the Church might suggest, some Presbyters should devote themselves, or be expected by the Church, in her freedom, to devote themselves more largely to one department of official duty, and others to another. But these would be voluntary, and individual, special providential differences rising within one office. The choice between certain proportions of functions implies the general ordination and right to exercise both. Still less does the true interpretation exclude, but on the contrary naturally involves, the idea of great differences in the ability, willingness and fidelity of men ordained to the same office. (1 Cor. i. 14, 17; 1 Tim. i. 3, v. 22, vi. 3; 2 Tim. iv. 1-5; 2 Pet. ii. 1.)

(“The Doctrine of the Ministry Thetically Stated (Third Article),” Lutheran and Missionary, Vol. XIV, No. 15 [Jan. 21, 1875], p. 1.)

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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.

(“Church Polity,” I, Lutheran Church Review, Vol. II, Whole No. 8 [Oct. 1883], pp. 316-19.)

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Acts vi. 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,” II, Lutheran Church Review, Vol. III, Whole No. 10 [April 1884), pp. 139-40)

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Luther was not long a student of the Bible before he discovered that the Christian Church and the Roman Church are not identical. He soon perceived the characteristics of the N. T. Episcopate, and saw that no such distinction is ordained of God, as that which the Roman Church makes between clergy and laity. ... The Reformation had announced salvation through Christ, and justification through faith. In place of a priesthood communicating salvation, it laid down as a postulate, the universal priesthood of all believers. As early as 1520, Luther in his address to the Christian nobles of Germany says: “All Christians are truly of the spiritual estate, and there is among them no distinction save only that of office. As St. Paul says, in 1 Cor. xii. that we are altogether one body, yet each member hath his own work, whereby he serves the other. The great thing is, that we have one baptism, one Gospel, one faith, and are alike Christians, Eph. iv. For Baptism, the Gospel, and faith, these alone make spiritual, make a Christian people.”

This view led first, negatively, to the renunciation of those arrangements of the Roman Church which could not be harmonized with it, and then, positively to a new order of divine service, and to the establishment of the office of the Evangelical ministry. With this ministry commenced the renewed constitution of the Church. In Luther’s judgment the great significance of the ministry is that in it the universal priestly calling of all believers comes into a rightly ordered exercise. He says: “Though we are all priests alike no man must undertake or assume to himself without our consent and choice to do that which we all have equal authority to do. For that which is common no one can assume to himself without the will and command of the Church;” and he repeats the same view elsewhere.

The place in which the pastor is to work is the congregation by which he has been called, and in which he is to give himself to the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of love and good works to the poor, the sick and the afflicted, and the training of the young in the Christian faith and life.

(“Church Polity,” III, Lutheran Church Review, Vol. III, Whole No. 12 [Oct. 1884], pp. 320-21.)

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The Reformation in Church Constitution had its external justification in the diet of Spires. When, however, the Emperor and the States associated with him, abrogated the decree (1529) the minority was the more constrained to establish, on the basis of the Gospel, the internal right of that new life which had broken its bonds. In the Augsburg Confession these solemn convictions gave themselves witness before the Emperor and the realm, as also in the apology and the Smalcald Articles. The essential element in the ministry is calling men; in which the Church represents her divine master, fulfilling his purpose and acting in his name. “To obtain this justifying faith,” says the A. C. Article V., “God hath instituted the ministry to teach the Gospel, and to impart the sacraments.” In Article XXVIII, the ecclesiastical power or power of the bishops according to the Gospel is a power and command of God to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins and to administer the sacraments. This rests upon the command and commission of Christ; John 20:21. “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained;” as also Mark 16:16. “Go ye into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature,” etc. In these citations is made manifest that the confessors regarded the ministry, historically considered, as directly instituted by our Lord. They regard all ministers as so far co-ordinate with the apostles. ... Luther, in his exposition of Ps. 110, says: “We must distinguish the office of a preacher or minister from the common estate of priests to which all baptized children belong.” This office is none other than a public ministry committed to one person by the whole Congregation who are all equally priests. Every Christian has and exercises works of the priestly class, but besides this there is the common office of public teaching, to which pastors and preachers belong; for not all in the Congregation at large can attend to this office. It would not be fitting that baptism and the Holy Sacrament should be administered in each particular house; some must be chosen and ordained who are fitted to preach and are exercised thereto in the Holy Scriptures; who can perform the office of teacher and defend the doctrine; who can also administer the sacraments so that it may be known who has been baptized, and that all things may be done in order. Otherwise there would gradually be a Church where every neighbor would preach to another, and everything would be done without order. This is not, however, the priestly estate in itself, but a general or common public office for those who are all priests, i.e., Christians. The seeming conflict between some of Luther’s stronger utterances and the conservative statements of the confessions, is relieved by general considerations -- one of the intensity of conviction and the unity in aim of Luther, which often leads to a certain isolation of statement, that seeming to be asserted absolutely, which other passages in his works show we must take relatively. In him pre-eminently, as is the case with all writers who have written extensively, and have often been obliged to write hurriedly, we must interpret and modify one utterance by all the others. Secondly, Luther often has in his mind, not in what way was the institution of the ministry actually carried out historically, but this rather, what are the inherent and final powers to which, in case of necessity, the Church can appeal to obtain a ministry, when the ordinary historical channels are closed.

(“Church Polity,” III, pp. 322-25.)

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The constitution of the Lutheran Church at the end of the sixteenth century had, throughout Germany, ...found its highest point in the princes, and its administrative organs in the consistories. With these stood the body of the ministry, not indeed as an organised force, yet presenting important limitations. Under both, without being embraced in the constitutional rule, and without taking part in the order of ecclesiastical administration, was the mass of the unofficial laity. In accordance with this condition of things the theologians developed an abstract theory attaching itself to the political theory of the State. They advanced the doctrine of the Three Estates: 1. The Political -- Status Politicus. 2. The Church -- Status Ecclesiasticus. 3. The Private or Domestic -- Status Œconomicus. These three estates in their diverse activity, in accordance with their vocation, were considered as originally co-working.

(“Church Polity,” III, pp. 326-27.)

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Compiled and Edited by David Jay Webber

Charles Porterfield Krauth

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