Compiled and Edited by David Jay Webber



[A-1] The pope’s doctrine left us uncertain about salvation. Indeed, it was an act of piety to doubt whether you were in grace or not. This doubt Christ wanted to remove from us not only by His Word but also by these visible signs of His grace. Therefore He added such clear promises to these signs – promises that are applied to the individuals when they make use of these signs. ... In the first place, we have Baptism itself, which is adorned with the most important and pleasing promise that we shall be saved if we believe. But because in this weakness of ours it is very easy for us to fall, there have been added to Baptism the Keys or the ministry of the Word – for these must not be separated – which in itself is also a visible sign of grace bound to the Word of the Gospel in accordance with Christ’s institution (Matt. 18:18): “Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” When you take hold of this Word in faith, you will be restored to grace, and the life which was lost through sin is given back. The same thing takes place in the use of the Holy Eucharist, for the words (Matt. 26:26-27) “My body given for you, My blood shed for the remission of your sins” are certainly not without meaning; they admirably strengthen the hope of the remission of sins. (“Lectures on Genesis,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 3 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961], p. 124)

[A-2] For we must believe and be sure of this, that baptism does not belong to us but to Christ, that the gospel does not belong to us but to Christ, that the office of preaching does not belong to us but to Christ, that the sacrament [of the Lord’s Supper] does not belong to us but to Christ, that the keys, or forgiveness and retention of sins, do not belong to us but to Christ. In summary, the offices and sacraments do not belong to us but to Christ, for he has ordained all this and left it behind as a legacy in the church to be exercised and used to the end of the world; and he does not lie or deceive us. Therefore, we cannot make anything else out of it but must act according to his command and hold to it. However, if we alter it or improve on it, then it is invalid and Christ is no longer present, nor is his ordinance. I do not want to say, as the papists do, that neither an angel nor Mary could effect conversion, etc.; but I do say that even if the devil himself came (if he would be so pious that he wanted to or could do so), and let us suppose that I found out afterward that the devil had inveigled his way into the office by stealth or, having assumed the form of a man, let himself be called to the office of the ministry, and publicly preached the gospel in the church, baptized, celebrated mass, absolved, and exercised and administered such offices and sacraments, as a pastor would, according to the command of Christ – then we would for all that have to admit that the sacraments were valid, that we had received a valid baptism, had heard the true gospel, obtained true absolution, and had participated in the true sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. For our faith and the sacrament must not be based on the person, whether he is godly or evil, consecrated or unconsecrated, called or an impostor, whether he is the devil or his mother, but upon Christ, upon his word, upon his office, upon his command and ordinance; where these are in force, there everything will be carried out properly, no matter who or what the person might happen to be. If we would consider the person, then the preaching, baptism, and Lord’s Supper which Judas and all his descendants have performed and administered and would still be performing and administering according to Christ’s command, would be nothing but the devil’s preaching, baptism, and Lord’s Supper, for it would then be administered and given to us by the devil’s members. But because the office, word, and sacrament are the ordinance of Christ and not of Judas or the devil, we permit Judas and the devil to remain Judas and the devil, and yet accept through them the blessings of Christ. For when Judas went to the devil he did not take his apostolic office along with him but left it behind, and Matthias received it in his stead. Offices and sacraments always remain in the church; persons are daily subject to change. As long as we call and induct into the offices persons who can administer them, then the offices will surely continue to be exercised. (“The Private Mass and the Consecration of Priests,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 38 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 200-01)

[A-3] For thus it is written in I Pet. 2[:9]: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a priestly royalty.” Therefore we are all priests, as many of us as are Christians. But the priests, as we call them, are ministers chosen from among us. All that they do is done in our name; the priesthood is nothing but a ministry. This we learn from I Cor. 4[:1]: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” From this it follows that whoever does not preach the Word, though he was called by the church to do this very thing, is no priest at all, and that the sacrament of ordination can be nothing else than a certain rite by which the church chooses its preachers. For this is the way a priest is defined in Mal. 2[:7]: “The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” You may be certain, then, that whoever is not a messenger of the Lord of hosts, or whoever is called to do anything else than such messenger service – if I may so term it – is in no sense a priest; as Hos. 4[:6] says: “Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.” (“The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 36 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959], pp. 112-13)

[A-4] Ordination indeed was first instituted on the authority of Scripture, and according to the example and decrees of the Apostle, in order to provide the people with ministers of the Word. The public ministry of the Word, I hold, by which the mysteries of God are made known, ought to be established by holy ordination as the highest and greatest of the functions of the church, on which the whole power of the church depends, since the church is nothing without the Word and everything in it exists by virtue of the Word alone. (“Concerning the Ministry,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 40 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1958], p. 11)

[A-5] Therefore, when a bishop consecrates it is nothing else than that in the place and stead of the whole community, all of whom have like power, he takes a person and charges him to exercise this power on behalf of the others. It is like ten brothers, all king’s sons and equal heirs, choosing one of themselves to rule the inheritance in the interests of all. In one sense they are all kings and of equal power, and yet one of them is charged with the responsibility of ruling. To put it still more clearly: suppose a group of earnest Christian laymen were taken prisoner and set down in a desert without an episcopally ordained priest among them. And suppose they were to come to a common mind there and then in the desert and elect one of their number, whether he were married or not, and charge him to baptize, say mass, pronounce absolution, and preach the Gospel. Such a man would be as truly a priest as though he had been ordained by all the bishops and popes in the world. That is why in cases of necessity anyone can baptize and give absolution. ... In times gone by Christians used to choose their bishops and priests in this way from among their own number, and they were confirmed in their office by the other bishops without all the fuss that goes on nowadays. St. Augustine, Ambrose, and Cyprian each became [a bishop in this way]. ... Because we are all priests of equal standing, no one must push himself forward and take it upon himself, without our consent and election, to do that for which we all have equal authority. For no one dare take upon himself what is common to all without the authority and consent of the community. And should it happen that a person chosen for such office were deposed for abuse of trust, he would then be exactly what he was before. Therefore, a priest in Christendom is nothing else but an officeholder. As long as he holds office he takes precedence; where he is deposed, he is a peasant or a townsman like anybody else. (“To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 44 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966], pp. 128-29)

[A-6] Therefore it should be understood that the name “priest” ought to be the common possession of believers just as much as the name “Christian” or “child of God.” We all have one Baptism in common, one Gospel, one kind of grace, one kind of inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, one Holy Spirit, one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:4-6). We are all one in Him, as He says in John 17:22 and as St. Paul says in Galatians 3:28: “You are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is said of the priestly office, which is the common property of all Christians. However, we deal with a different matter when we speak of those who have an office in the Christian Church, such as minister [Kirchendiener], preacher, pastor, or curate. These are not priests in the sense that Scripture commonly speaks of priests. They became priests before they received their office, in fact, when they were baptized. Hence they are not priests because of their calling or office. The Scripture calls them “servants” or “bishops,” that is, overseers; the apostles speak of them as presbyters, that is, elders. The best, the most mature men, well-tried, learned, fit, and experienced, were chosen for this office. ... Before anyone becomes a preacher or a bishop, he must first be a Christian, a born priest. No pope or any other man can make him a priest. But having been born a priest through Baptism, a man thereupon receives the office; and this is what makes a difference between him and other Christians. Out of the multitude of Christians some must be selected who shall lead the others by virtue of the special gifts and aptitude which God gives them for the office. Thus St. Paul writes (Eph. 4:11,12): “And His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints” (this means those who are already Christians and baptized priests), “for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (that is, the Christian congregation or church). For although we are all priests, this does not mean that all of us can preach, teach, and rule. Certain ones of the multitude must be selected and separated for such an office. (“Psalm 110,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 13 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956], pp. 330-32)

[A-7] [Jonah 3:]1-2. Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying: Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city. This is written that we may guard against undertaking anything without God’s word and command. The first command of God had been nullified by Jonah’s disobedience. Thus if God had not repeated His order, Jonah would not have known whether or not he was still to execute it. ... Moreover, this second commission contains the added command to preach what God tells him. Thus both the office and the Word employed in the office must be comprehended in the divine command. If that is done, the work will prosper and bear fruit. But when men run without God’s command or proclaim other messages than God’s Word, they work nothing but harm. Jeremiah, too, drives both these facts home, saying (Jer. 23:21): “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.” You who are to preach, impress these two points on your minds! Note them well! They are directed to you and the people; they enable you to instruct souls. Peter also emphasized these two facts (1 Peter 4:11): “Whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies,” so that he may be sure that both the Word and the office are divine and commanded by God. For it is decreed that whenever God speaks, it comes to be (Ps. 33:9), that all things are to come to pass by His Word (John 1:3). Therefore “every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). (“Lectures on Jonah,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 19 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1974], p. 83)

[A-8] So we say, either demand proof of a call and commission to preach, or immediately enjoin silence and forbid to preach, for an office is involved – the office of the ministry. One cannot hold an office without a commission or a call. In Christ’s parable in Matt. 25[:14], the lord did not give the servants the talents with which they were to trade before he called them in and commanded them to trade. “He called his servants,” the text says, and “entrusted to them his property.” Let the interloper bring such a call and authorization with him, or else let the Lord’s money alone. Otherwise he will be found a thief and a rogue. According to Matt. 20[:2], the laborers did not go into the vineyard until the householder hired them and sent them. Some stood idle the whole day until they were called and sent. God speaks of infiltrators of this kind in Jer. 23[:21]: “They run and I have not sent them. They preach, and I have not commanded them.” There is worry and work enough to maintain the right kind of preaching and true doctrine in the case of those who have an undoubted call and commission from God himself or from those acting on his behalf. What then is preaching without the commandment of God, indeed against his will and prohibition, in consequence of the prodding and agitation of the devil? Such preaching can indeed be nothing but an inspiration of the evil one and be merely the teaching of the devil no matter how it glistens. ... I have often said and still say, I would not exchange my doctor’s degree for all the world’s gold. For I would surely in the long run lose courage and fall into despair if, as these infiltrators, I had undertaken these great and serious matters without call or commission. But God and the whole world bears me testimony that I entered into this work publicly and by virtue of my office as teacher and preacher, and have carried it on hitherto by the grace and help of God. Undoubtedly some maintain that in I Cor. 14, St. Paul gave anyone liberty to preach in the congregation, even to bark against the established preacher. For he says, “If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent” [I Cor. 14:30]. The interlopers take this to mean that to whatever church they come they have the right and power to judge the preacher and to proclaim otherwise. But this is far wide of the mark. The interlopers do not rightly regard the text, but read out of it – rather, smuggle into it – what they wish. In this passage Paul is speaking of the prophets, who are to teach, not of the people, who are to listen. For prophets are teachers who have the office of preaching in the churches. Otherwise why should they be called prophets? If the interloper can prove that he is a prophet or a teacher of the church to which he comes, and can show who has authorized him, then let him be heard as St. Paul prescribes. Failing this let him return to the devil who sent him to steal the preacher’s office belonging to another in a church to which he belongs neither as a listener nor a pupil, let alone as a prophet and master. ... Whoever reads the entire chapter will see clearly that St. Paul is concerned about speaking with tongues, about teaching and preaching in the churches or congregations. He is not commanding the congregation to preach, but is dealing with those who are preachers in the congregations or assemblies. Otherwise he would not be forbidding women to preach since they also are a part of the Christian congregation [I Cor. 14:34 f.]. The text shows how it was customary for the prophets to be seated among the people in the churches as the regular parish pastors and preachers, and how the lesson was sung or read by one or two, just as in our days on high festivals it is the custom in some churches for two to sing the Gospel together. Then one of the prophets whose turn it was spoke and interpreted the lesson, much in the way a homily used to be delivered in the Roman church. When one was through, another might have something to add in confirmation or clarification, just as in Acts 15[:13 ff.], St. James commented on the sermon of St. Peter, confirming and explaining it. St. Luke records that St. Paul followed a similar practice in the synagogues, especially in Antioch of Pisidia, where the ruler of the synagogue permitted him to speak after the reading of the lesson from the Law [Acts 13:14 f.]. Then St. Paul rose and spoke, but as a commissioned apostle and on that prescribed by the master, and not as an interloper. From this it is clear that “sitting by” refers only to authorized prophets or preachers. It was a question of who among them was to speak, who to rise, and who to sit. the New Testament the Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Paul, ordained that women should be silent in the churches and assemblies [I Cor. 14:34], and said that this is the Lord’s commandment. Yet he knew that previously Joel [2:28 f.] had proclaimed that God would pour out his Spirit also on handmaidens. Furthermore, the four daughters of Philip prophesied (Acts 21[:9]). But in the congregations or churches where there is a ministry women are to be silent and not preach [I Tim. 2:12]. Otherwise they may pray, sing, praise, and say “Amen,” and read at home, teach one another, exhort, comfort, and interpret the Scriptures as best they can. ... In this chapter [I Cor. 14] St. Paul, thus, often refers to the “congregation,” clearly distinguishing between prophets and people. The prophets speak, the congregation listens. For so he says, “He who prophesies builds up the church.” And again, “Strive to excel in building up the church” [I Cor. 14:4,12]. Who then are those who are to build up the church? Is it not the prophets, and (as he says) those speaking with tongues, that is who read or sing the lesson, to whom the congregation listens, and the prophets whose duty it is to interpret the lesson for the building up of the congregation? It should be clear that he is commanding the congregation to listen and build itself up, and is not commissioning it to teach or preach. ... Though it is no longer the custom for prophets or preachers to sit in the church and take turns in speaking (as St. Paul describes it), some indication and vestige of it does remain. For we do sing alternately in the choir and read one lesson after the other and then together sing an antiphon, hymn, or response. And when one preacher interprets what another reads, and another explains or preaches thereon, then indeed we follow the right method in the churches, according to St. Paul. For then one sings or speaks with tongues, the second translates, the third expounds, and still another confirms or illustrates with maxims and examples, as St. James in Acts 15[:13 ff.] and Paul in Acts 13[:14 f.]. (“Infiltrating and Clandestine Preachers,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 40, pp. 386-92)

[A-9] Kindly tell your dear sir and friend that he is not in duty bound to go ahead in this matter and give Holy Communion to himself and his household. Nor is this necessary since he is neither called nor commanded to do this. And if the tyrannical ministers will not administer it to him and his family, though they should do it, yet he can be saved by his faith through the Word. It would also give great offense to administer the Sacrament here and there in the homes, and in the end no good would come of it, for there will be factions and sects, as now the people are strange and the devil is raging. The first Christians, mentioned in Acts, did not administer the Sacrament individually [insonderheit] in the houses, but they came together. ... But if a father wishes to teach the Word of God to his family, that is right and should be done, for it is God’s command that we should teach and bring up our children and household; that is commanded to everyone. But the Sacrament is a public confession and should be administered by public ministers, because, as Christ says, we should do it in remembrance of Him; that is, as St. Paul explains it, we should show forth or preach the Lord’s death till He comes. And here he [Paul] also says that we should come together, and he severely rebukes those who, each in his own way, use the Lord’s Supper individually. On the other hand, it is not forbidden but rather commanded that everyone individually should instruct his household in God’s Word as well as himself, though he should not baptize. For there is a great difference between the public office [the ministry] in the church and [the care of] a father in his household. Hence the two must neither be mingled into each other nor be separated from each other. Since there is neither any necessity nor a call here, we must do nothing out of our own devotion without God’s definite command, for no good will come from it. (“Concerning House Communion,” St. Louis edition, 10:2225; quoted in C. F. W. Walther, Church and Ministry [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1987], pp. 173-74)


[A-10] How is the Church gathered and governed in this world? Through the ministry of the Gospel or through hearing, reading, meditating on, etc., the Word of God; through which Christ Himself is effective, converts the hearts and minds of its hearers to God by His Holy Spirit, and with true knowledge of God and faith illumines, comforts, governs and sanctifies them to eternal life. “Everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. But how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? So then faith comes from the hearing of the Word of God,” Romans 10. “Thy word gives me life,” Psalm 119. “In Thy word I have hoped,” Psalm 130. “He will speak to you the words through which you and your household will be saved,” Acts 11. What is the ministry of the Gospel? The ministry of the Gospel is the office which God has instituted, the office of preaching and confessing the Word of God, the Law and the Gospel concerning Christ, in the public assembly of the Church; of rightly administering the sacraments; of announcing the forgiveness of sins or of absolving those who repent; of excommunicating the obstinate; and of ordaining ministers of the Church, through which ministry God is truly effective for the salvation of all who believe, Luke 24; Matt. 10, 18 and 28; Rom. 10; Eph. 4; 1 Tim. 5; 2 Tim. 2. What is ordination? In general, the ordination of ministers is the ritual by which the public testimony is given in the presence of the entire Church of a certain person that he has been legitimately called and is fit to teach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. (A Summary of the Christian Faith [Decatur, Illinois: Repristination Press, 1997], pp. 143-44)

[A-11] It should be known that those who have been called and chosen by the voice of the church and administer the office even without the laying on of hands are true ministers and may teach and administer the sacraments. For by this rite a special character is not imprinted on the ordained, nor does the power of the church or the right to teach the Gospel and administer the sacraments depend on this rite, nor does this rite render the ministry of the ordained efficacious, for the ministry is efficacious and a power for salvation to everyone who believes because of its divine institution. The custom of laying on the hands is added as a public declaration of the called persons; it also makes ordination more solemn and brings to remembrance certain duties. (“Comments on Exodus 29”; quoted in C. F. W. Walther, Church and Ministry, p. 264)


[A-12] ...we read in Matt. 28:18: “All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth.” ... Christ was about to give to His apostles the command and authority to gather the church throughout the world by the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and He prefaced His remarks by speaking of the full and complete power which had been given to Him in heaven and on earth. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 10:4 and 13:10 that power was given to him by the Lord in His service – for edification, not for destruction. He explains this power by saying: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are the power of God for the pulling down of strongholds,” by which “we cast down evil imaginings and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” And “we bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, being ready to avenge all disobedience” [2 Cor. 10:4-6], that is, Paul affirms that divine power attends his ministry: (1) against all spiritual wickedness and tyranny of the devil; (2) against all the external worldly machinations, power, and force which oppose his ministry; (3) against all thoughts of the depraved flesh and lusts which strive against the Word; (4) for bringing about the obedience of faith through his ministry; and (5) for the divine punishment of the disobedient and for other miracles. This power which was given to the apostles in their ministry for the necessary work of pastors is neither a natural characteristic nor a created quality nor a normal gift nor an attribute peculiar to the apostles themselves; but it is a divine strength, power, and efficacy which assists them in their ministry and which works effectively through this ministry, as we read in Mark 16:20: “They preached, the Lord everywhere working with them and confirming the Word.” Again, “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Rom. 1:16). So that the apostles might be assured that the things they were doing in their ministry on earth, in accord with Christ’s command, were not doubtful, invalid, vain, or useless but rather certain and efficacious, Christ, in instituting the ministry and in sending forth the apostles, asserted that all power in heaven and on earth had been given to Him, from whom the New Testament ministry has its institution, origin, commission, cause, and dependence. At the same time He promised that with all His authority, strength, might, and efficacy He would be with the apostolic ministry in the church, not only in the person of the apostles but also through all days till the end of the world. (The Two Natures in Christ [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971], pp. 316-18)

[A-13] Now there is no doubt that the ministry of the Word and the sacraments...was instituted by the Son of God also in the New Testament. For the church has a command about calling and appointing ministers. And the promise is added: 1. God approves the ministry of those who have been called and set apart for the ministry by the voice of the church. Thus Paul says (Acts 20:28), of those who had been called mediately, that the Holy Spirit had made them guardians to feed the church of God. And in Eph. 4:11 it is written that the Son of God gave as gifts not only apostles but also pastors and teachers, who are called mediately. 2. The promise is added that God will give grace and gifts by which those who have been legitimately called will be able rightly, faithfully, and profitably to do and perform the tasks which belong to the ministry. John 20:22: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Likewise [Luke 24:45]: “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Matt. 28:20: “Lo, I am with you always,” etc. 1 Tim. 4:14: “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the...elders laid their hands upon you.” 2 Tim 1:6: “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.” Luke 21:15: “I will give you a mouth and wisdom.” Matt. 10:19-20: “What you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” 3. This promise is also added, that God is present with the ministry, that by His blessing He gives the increase to its planting and watering, and that He is truly efficacious through the ministry to call, enlighten, convert, give repentance, faith, regeneration, renewal, and, in short, to dispense through the ministry everything that pertains to our salvation. Matt. 28:20: “Lo, I am with you always.” John 20:22-23: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any,” etc. Matt. 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven...and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” According to 2 Cor. 3:6 ff. it is a ministry not of the letter but of the Spirit, who gives life and takes away the veil from men’s hearts that they may be converted and set free, so that “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, they may be changed into His likeness.” 2 Cor. 5:19-20: “He has entrusted to us the word of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.” 2 Cor. 13:3: “Are you seeking proof of Him who is speaking in me, namely Christ?” Eph. 4:8,11-14: “He gave gifts to men ... apostles, pastors, teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Christ, so that we may not be...driven hither and thither, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,” etc. 1 Cor. 3:6: “God gave the growth.” 1 Cor. 15:58: “In the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Rom. 1:5,11,16: “He gave me grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith. ... That I may impart to you some spiritual gift. ... The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith.” 1 Tim. 4:16: “Attend to teaching, for by so doing you will save yourself and those who will hear you.” 1 Cor. 4:15: “I became your father in Christ through the Gospel.” These very great and comforting promises concerning the ministry ought to be displayed, as it were, in a prominent place in the church, in order that the dignity of the ministry might be extolled against the fanatics, and that those to whom the ministry has been committed may go about their labors and bear their difficulties with greater eagerness, and that men may learn to use the ministry reverently. For without the preaching and hearing of the Word there is no faith, no calling on God, no salvation (Rom. 10:14). However, no one is able to preach in order that faith may follow hearing unless he be sent (Rom. 10:15). Moreover, this also is certain, that the call to the ministry of the Gospel ought to have the public testimony and the public attestation of the church, on account of those who run although they were not sent (Jer. 23:21). Therefore the apostles with some public testimony and public attestation of the church announced and as it were pointed out the call of those who had been legitimately chosen for the ministry of the Word and the sacraments. For the Holy Spirit willed that also Paul, who had been called immediately, should be declared and designated as the one who should be the apostle of the Gentiles. In that public approbation, attestation, or announcement, since it was a public action, the apostles employed the outward rite of the laying on of hands, which was customary at that time with those people, in part on account of the public designation of the one called, in part on account of the prayers and supplications which were made by the whole church in behalf of the person called. The rite of laying on hands was extraordinarily suited to this process: 1. That the person in question might be publicly pointed out to the church and declared to be legitimately chosen and called. For by this rite Moses points out and declares to the people the calling of Joshua, his successor (Deut. 34:9). 2. That by means of this rite the one who had been called might be given full assurance about his legitimate and divine call and might at the same time be admonished to devote, give, and as it were vow himself to the service and worship of God. Thus hands were laid on sacrificial animals and in this way Joshua was confirmed in his call. 3. That it might as it were be a public and solemn declaration of the church before God that the model and rule prescribed by the Holy Spirit had been observed at the election and calling. Therefore Paul says (1 Tim. 5:22): “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins.” 4. That it might be signified by this visible rite that God approves the calling which is done by the voice of the church, for just as God chooses ministers by the voice of the church, so He also approves the calling by the attestation of the church. Thus the calling of the deacons was approved (Acts 6:6). And thus it comes about that God bestows grace through the laying on of hands. 5. During the prayers, when the name of God was especially invoked over a certain person, it was customary to employ the imposition of hands, by which that person was as it were offered to God and set in His sight, with the request added that God would deign to shower His grace and blessing on him. Thus Jacob placed his hand on the lads whom he blessed (Gen. 48:14 ff.); thus the elders pray over the sick (James 5:14-15); thus Christ blessed little children, laying on His hands (Mark 10:13-16). Now the prayer of a righteous man avails much if it is energoumenee, that is, full of activity or earnestness. In order, therefore, that men may consider how necessary the special divine grace and blessing is in view of the usefulness and difficulty of this gift, in view also of the hindrances laid in its way by Satan, the world, and the flesh, and that thus the prayer of the church may come to its aid and be, according to James, rendered full of activity or earnestness, therefore the outward rite of the laying on of hands was employed. Fasting was also added to the prayer (Acts 13:2). And this earnest prayer at the ordination of ministers is not without effect, because it rests upon a divine command and promise. This is the meaning of Paul’s words: “The gift...that is within you through the laying on of...hands.” If ordination is understood in this way, of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, as already the Apology of the Augsburg Confession [XIII:11-12] explained the position of our churches, then we have no objection to calling ordination a sacrament. And there the words are added, “We shall not object either to calling the laying on of hands a sacrament.” ... This reminder must, however, be added, that the rite of ordination must be distinguished from the ceremony of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for ordination is not a sacrament in the same way as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The difference is plain. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are means or instruments through which God applies and seals the promise of reconciliation or forgiveness to individual believers who use Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Ordination is not such a means or instrument, neither are all to be ordained who desire and ask that forgiveness of sins be applied and sealed to them. ... It is also worthy of consideration that when the apostles wanted to apply some outward rite in ordination, they did not take the visible sign of breathing on the ordinand, which Christ had used [John 20:22] – lest people think that Christ had given a command about using the rite of breathing on them. Therefore they took another rite, one indifferent and free, namely, the rite of laying on of hands, for they did not want to impose something on the church as necessary concerning which they did not have a command of Christ. Now the ministry of the Word and the sacraments has divine promises, and the prayer at ordination rests on these, but these promises are not to be tied to the rite of the imposition of hands, about which there is neither a command of Christ nor such a promise as there is about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978], pp. 691-95)

[A-14] What is the nature of the ministry of the church? It is not civil government, by which political affairs, or the matters of this world, are administered. Lk 22:25-26; 2 Ti 2:4. Nor is it spiritual power lording it arbitrarily and, as it were, by naked power over the church of God in matters of faith. 2 Co 1:24; 1 Ptr 5:3. Nor is it a business or a tricky way for indulging greed. 1 Ti 3:2-3,8; 6:5; 1 Ptr 5:2. But it is a spiritual, or ecclesiastic, office, instituted and ordained by God Himself for discharging and performing necessary functions of the church, so that pastors, or preachers, are and ought to be ministers of God and of the church in the kingdom of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Co 4:1; Cl 1:25; 2 Co 4:5. What, then, is the office of ministers of the church? This office, or ministry, has been committed and entrusted to them by God Himself through a legitimate call: I. To feed the church of God with the true, pure, and salutary doctrine of the divine Word. Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11; 1 Ptr 5:2. II. To administer and dispense the sacraments of Christ according to His institution. Mt 28:19; 1 Co 11:23. III. To administer rightly the use of the keys of the church, or of the kingdom of heaven, by either remitting or retaining sins (Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23), and to fulfill all these things and the whole ministry (as Paul says, 2 Ti 4:5) on the basis of the prescribed command, which the chief Shepherd Himself has given His ministers in His Word for instruction. Mt 28:20. Is it right to ordain and admit to the ministry of the church those who have been called, without prior appropriate and solemn examination, as is generally done among papal suffragans? By no means. For in His Word God has prescribed a certain form regarding the call, doctrine, and conduct, or life, of those to whom the functions of the church are to be entrusted. One should therefore first carefully test and examine them as to whether they are legitimately called, whether they rightly hold the fundamentals of salutary doctrine and reject fanatic opinions, whether they are endowed with the gifts necessary to teach others sound doctrine, and whether they can prove their lives to be honorable, so that they can be examples to the flock; for this concern we have the very solemn precept of Paul. 1 Ti 5:22; 2 Ti 2:2. The older councils therefore decreed many things regarding examination of those who are to be ordained; these things are found in Gratian, Distinct. 23, 24, and 81. And canon 4 of the 4th Council of Carthage, at which Augustine was present, decreed thus: Let one who is to be ordained be ordained when he has, in an examination, been found to be rightly instructed. And the canon of Nicaea, Distinct. 81, 2 says: If any are promoted [to be] presbyters without examination, church order does not recognize them, because they are ordained contrary to the rule. ... May one seek or undertake the ministry of the church who has neither learned the fundamental Christian doctrine, nor understands [it], nor has the gift to teach others? By no means. For Paul commands Timothy and Titus to entrust the ministry to faithful and able men. 2 Ti 2:2; 3:2; Tts 1:9. Should, then, one who is somewhat endowed with those gifts, on his own initiative and personal judgment, without a special and legitimate call, undertake and claim for himself the office of teaching in the church? By no means. Ro 10:15; Jer 23:21; Heb 5:4. Are they to be heard, or can they be profitably heard by the church, who have no proof of a legitimate call? No. Ro 10:14-15; Jer 27:14-15. And for this reason the prophets and apostles so earnestly emphasize the prerogatives of their call at the beginning of their writings. And experience shows that they who thrust themselves into ecclesiastical functions without a legitimate and regular call experience little blessing of God and contribute little to the upbuilding of the church. But Paul says, 1 Ti 3:1: “He that desires the office of bishop desires a good work.” Is it therefore necessary for one to wait until he is called? To desire the office of bishop is not to thrust oneself into ecclesiastical functions without a legitimate call; but if one has learned and understands the fundamentals of Christian doctrine and is somewhat endowed with the gift of teaching – when he offers his service to God and the church, he thereby seeks nothing else than that God would declare through a legitimate, or regular, call whether He wants to use his service in His church. And he ought to be so minded, that, if a call does not follow his request, he does not cunningly work his way in. 2 Sm 15:26. But all believers are called priests, Rv 1:6; 5:10; 1 Ptr 2:9. Have all, therefore, a general call to the ministry? All we who believe are indeed spiritual priests, but we are not all teachers. 1 Co 12:29-30; Eph 4:11-12. And Peter explains himself: All Christians are priests – not that all should function without difference in the ministry of the Word and of the Sacraments, without a special call, but that they should offer spiritual sacrifices. Ro 12:1; Heb 13:15-16. Yet all Christians have a general call to proclaim the virtues of God, 1 Ptr 2:9, and especially family heads, to instruct their households, Dt 6:7; 1 Co 14:35. It is true that all Christians have a general call to proclaim the Gospel of God, Ro 10:9, to speak the Word of God among themselves, Eph 5:19; to admonish each other from the Word of God, Cl 3:16; to reprove, Eph 5:11 [and] Mt 19:15; [and] to comfort, 1 Th 4:18. And family heads are enjoined [to do] this with the special command that they give their households the instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4. But the public ministry of the Word and of the Sacraments in the church is not entrusted to all Christians in general, as we have already shown, 1 Co 12:28; Eph 4:12. For a special or particular call is required for this, Ro 10:15. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981], pp. 26-29)

[A-15] Does the Roman pontiff do right in that he excludes pious rulers and the rest of the lay church from the election and call of bishops or ministers of the church? It is clearly and surely evident from both the commands and the examples of Scripture, that when the ministry is to be entrusted to someone through a mediate call, those who are already in the ministry and profess sound doctrine are to be used. Tts 1:5; 1 Ti 4:14; 2 Ti 2:2; Acts 14:23. But since ministers are not the whole church, but only part of it (Eph 4:11-12), and they are not lords of the church, but ministers and overseers (2 Co 1:24; 4:5; Eze 33:7), therefore they neither can nor should seize to themselves alone the mediate call, with the other members of the church excluded; for not even the apostles did this, but drew the rest of the church in with themselves. Acts 1:15-16; 6:2-3; 14:23. And with the name elders are meant not only ministers of the Word, but included in the presbytery are also those who were appointed by the whole church to administer the work of the church, as Tertullian and Ambrose testify. ... Ought then the whole multitude (especially where it is very large) indiscriminately and without order handle the matter of election and call? God is not a God of confusion; He rather wants all things to be done and administered decently and in order in the church. 1 Co 14:40. Therefore to avoid confusion, at the time of the apostles and also after their time in the ancient and pure church, the matter of the election and call of ministers of the Word was always handled according to a certain order by the chief members of the church in the name and with the consent of the whole church. Thus the apostles first set forth a directive as to what kind of persons are to be chosen for the ministries of the church. Acts 1:15 ff.; 6:2 ff. Then the church, according to that rule of the directive, chose and set forth some. But since the call belongs not only to the multitude or common people in the church, therefore they submitted those who were chosen and nominated to the judgment of the apostles, whether they be fit for that ministry according to the rule of the divine Word. And so the election of the multitude was confirmed by the approval of the apostles. And thus finally the ministries are committed to those nominated, elected, and called, with the solemn prayer of the whole church and public testimony, namely laying on of hands. Acts 6:5-6. But since the multitude of the church is not always such that it can search out and propose for election those that are fit, the apostles themselves often nominated suitable persons and proposed them to the churches. Tts 1:5; 1 Ti 1:3, 2 Ti 2:2. Thus Paul sent Titus, Timothy, [and] Silvanus to churches. But the apostles did not thrust those persons on the churches without either invitation or consent, but nominated or presented them to the churches, which then approved and confirmed that nomination or election with their own free election, as Luke describes this custom with the word cheirotonia, Acts 14:23. Finally, after the church had grown into a large multitude, a presbytery was arranged and set up already at the very time of the apostles to handle this matter. 1 Ti 4:14. In this [presbytery], according to the accounts of Tertullian and Ambrose, some were chosen and appointed, from all the orders or members of the church, to take care of and administer these and similar church matters in the name and with the consent of the whole church. And thus the call remained that of the whole complete church, yet with proper and decent order observed. ... Does the church have free power to call to the ministry whomever it wishes? The Lord of the harvest has prescribed a certain form and rule through His apostles, which is, as it were, a kind of heavenly instruction as to what kind of people they should be, both in doctrine as well as in conduct, or life, who are to be chosen and called for the church ministries. 1 Ti 3:2 ff; Tts 1:6 ff. And the church should recognize in the fear of God that this norm or instruction is to be followed if it wants a call both to be called [divine] and to be divine. If a legitimate call consists in the things that have been said so far, what, then, does the public rite of ordination confer? This rite is to be observed for very weighty reasons. The first reason is that, because of those who run and have not been sent, a call ought to have the public testimony of the church. But that ceremony or rite of ordination is nothing else than the kind of public testimony by which the call of that person who is ordained is declared before God and in His name to be regular, pious, legitimate, and divine. Second: By that rite, as by a public designation or declaration, the ministry is committed in the name of God and of the church to him who has been called. Third: By this very thing also, as by a solemn vow, he who has been called becomes obligated to the church in the sight of God to render the faithfulness in the ministry that the Lord requires in His stewards, regarding which He will also judge them. 1 Co 4:2. Fourth: The church is reminded that it is to recognize that this pastor has divine authority to teach, and to hear him in the name and place of God. Fifth, and this is most important: That rite is to be observed for this reason, that the whole church might, by common and earnest prayers, commit to God the ministry of him who is called, that He, by His Holy Spirit, divine grace, and blessing, might be with his ministry. Whence is the rite of laying on of hands taken, and what does it mean? The rite of laying on of hands was common in the Old Testament when something was to be put solemnly in the sight of God, as it were, and committed to Him in a special way. Gn 48:14,20; Lv 1:2,4; Mk 10:16. And since public functions were at times entrusted to certain persons by laying on of hands (Nm 27:18-20; Dt 3:28; 34:9), therefore the apostles, in the ordination of ministers, out of Christian liberty retained and used that common rite as a thing indifferent [and] helpful in teaching many things. Acts 6:5-6; 13:3; 1 Ti 4:14; 5:22; 2 Ti 1:6. And thus also the ancient church observed the act of ordination without anointing and without other superstitions, simply with laying on of hands (Dist. 23 of the Council of Carthage). Therefore we also in our churches observe the same rite. For through laying on of hands the person called is set before God, as it were, so that there might be a public and outward testimony that the call is not only a human matter, but that God Himself calls, sends, and appoints that person for the ministry, though by regular and legitimate means. Moreover, by this solemn act he that is to be ordained is obligated and, as it were, consecrated to Christ for the ministry. Besides, by that rite, as in the sight of God, the church is entrusted to the minister and, on the other hand, the minister to the church, through whose ministry, namely, God wants to teach, exhort, administer the Sacraments, and work effectively in us. But the laying on of hands in ordination is observed chiefly because of the common prayers of the church, that they may be made with greater diligence and warmer desire. For it is, as it were, a public reminder of the difficulty of the ministry, which cannot be made able except by God. 2 Co 3:5-6. Therefore that minister is presented to the Lord of the harvest through laying on of hands, and the church, reminded of the institution of the ministry and of the divine promises attached to it, reminds God of His promises and asks that by their power He would graciously be with the present minister with His Spirit, grace, blessing, efficacy, working, governance, and direction. And Paul and Moses testify that these prayers of the church are not in vain. 1 Ti 4:14; 2 Ti 1:6; Dt 34:9. And thus the act of ordination publicly shows forth the whole doctrine of the call of ministers and sets it, as it were, before [one’s] eyes. But what if some minister is to be dismissed or removed from office? Just as God properly claims for Himself the right to call, also mediately, and it is accordingly necessary for it to be done according to divine instruction, so also has God properly reserved to Himself alone this power of removing someone from the ministry. 1 Sm 2:30,32; Hos 4:6. But since that dismissal takes place mediately, it is therefore necessary that it not take place except by instruction and divine direction. Therefore as long as God lets in the ministry His minister who teaches rightly and lives blamelessly, the church does not have the power, without divine command to remove an unwanted man, namely [if he is] a servant of God. But when he does not build up the church by either doctrine or life, but rather destroys [it], God Himself removes him, 1 Sm 2:30; Hos 4:6. And then the church not only properly can but by all means should remove such a one from the ministry. For just as God calls ministers of the church, so He also removes them through legitimate means. But as the procedure of a call is to follow the instruction of the Lord of the harvest, so also if one is to be removed from the ministry, the church must show that that also is done by the command and will of the Lord. (Ministry, Word, and Sacraments, pp. 33-37)

[A-16] They shout loudly that those who do not approve the priesthood of the papalists take away all order out of the church, that with infinite confusion they prostitute the ministry to any one of the common people and (something which Tertullian ascribes to the heretics) make laymen out of priests and enjoin priestly functions to laymen, with the result that there is neither any authority nor dignity of the ministry, etc. Therefore this slander must first of all be removed. Now the Anabaptists and Enthusiasts are rightly disapproved, who either take the use of the external ministry of Word and sacrament entirely out of the church, or imagine that it is useless and unnecessary. For they teach that new and special revelations should rather be sought and expected from God without the use of the external ministry of Word and sacrament, and that this kind of calling, illumination, and conversion is much more excellent and worthy of honor than if we use the voice of the ministry. And indeed, it is God by whose power, working, efficacy, impulse, and inspiration whatever pertains to calling, illumination, conversion, repentance, faith, renewal, and in short, to the business of our salvation is begun, effected, increased, and preserved in men. But God arranged by a certain counsel of His that He wills to dispense these things, not by infusing new and special revelations, illuminations, and movements into the minds of men without any means, but through the outward ministry of the Word. This ministry He did not commit to angels, so that their appearances are to be sought and expected, but He put the Word of reconciliation into men, and He wills that the proclamation of the Gospel, divinely revealed, should sound forth through them. All Christians are indeed priests (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), because they offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Everyone also can and should teach the Word of God in his own house (Deut. 6:7; 1 Cor. 14:35). Nevertheless, not everyone ought to take and arrogate to himself the public ministry of Word and sacrament. For not all are apostles; not all are teachers (1 Cor. 12:29), but those who have been set apart for this ministry by God through a particular and legitimate call (Acts 13:2; Jer. 23:21; Rom. 10:15). This is done either immediately or mediately. Paul prescribes a legitimate manner of calling which is made through the voice of the church (1 Tim. 3:2-7; and Titus 1:5-9). Christ Himself indeed called certain men to this ministry immediately, in order to show that He approves the ministry of those who are chosen and called by the voice of the church according to the rule prescribed by the apostles... There is added also the promise that God will truly work effectively through the ministry of those who teach the Gospel, which the Son of God wills to preserve in the church through perpetual calling, as Paul says in Eph. 4:8 ff.: He ascended; He gave gifts to men; and He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, others evangelists, others however pastors and teachers for perfecting of the saints in the work of ministry, in edification of the body of Christ. To this use of the ministry, which God both instituted and preserves in the church, men must therefore be guided, and taught that through this ministry there are offered to us eternal blessings, and indeed that God in this way receives us, rescues us from sin and the power of the devil and from eternal death, and restores to us righteousness and eternal life. This ministry does indeed have power, divinely bestowed (2 Cor. 10:4-6; 13:2-4), but circumscribed with certain duties and limitations, namely, to preach the Word of God, teach the erring, reprove those who sin, admonish the dilatory, comfort the troubled, strengthen the weak, resist those who speak against the truth, reproach and condemn false teaching, censure evil customs, dispense the divinely instituted sacraments, remit and retain sins, be an example to the flock, pray for the church privately and lead the church in public prayers, be in charge of care for the poor, publicly excommunicate the stubborn and again receive those who repent and reconcile them with the church, appoint pastors to the church according to the instruction of Paul, with consent of the church institute rites that serve the ministry and do not militate against the Word of God nor burden consciences but serve good order, dignity, decorum, tranquillity, edification, etc. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 677-79)

[A-17] Paul, to be sure, describes the duty of ministers in one word when he says in 1 Cor. 4:2, “It is required in servants that they be faithful.” To this faithfulness pertains the fact that they should have at least a fair knowledge of those things which are required for service or ministry and that they show diligence and constancy in performing their duties. There are several aspects of ministry: (1) The preaching of the Word, for which is required: (a) that “he speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Peter 4:11. (b) that he “not teach false doctrine,” 1 Tim. 1:3; but “guard the treasure which has been put into your charge,” 2 Tim. 1:13; “rightly dividing” the Law and the Gospel, 2 Tim. 2:15. (2) The proper administration of the sacraments. (3) The use of the keys in absolution and excommunication. (4) Praying for the whole church. (5) An example to the believers, 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7, 1 Peter 5:3, “that the ministry be not discredited,” 2 Cor. 6:3. (6) The care of the poor, such as visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, etc. Furthermore, Paul divides the handling of the Word or preaching into different categories. At one point the Word is dealt with in meetings of the learned. Paul seems to be referring to these meetings in 1 Cor. 14:6 when he lists such things as tongues, revelation, interpretation (v. 26), and knowledge. But “when the whole church,” which Paul describes as consisting of both unlearned and learned, “comes together it is foolish,” he says, if they all speak in tongues, v. 23. But for meetings of this kind he proposes instruction (katēchēsis), prophecy (prophēteia), and teaching (didachē), 1 Cor. 14:19,22,26. These terms can be distinguished: Katēchēsis refers to teaching the basic principles to the unlearned and partially instructed, Luke 1:4; Heb. 6:1; 1 Cor. 3:1, while prophēteia is interpreted of those who have advanced to a higher knowledge of Scripture. Didachē applies the teachings of Scripture to regular statements of doctrine (loci communes), which it explains in keeping with a logical method. To these three terms Paul adds the following kinds of teaching in 2 Tim. 3:16: Didaskalia is correct teaching; elegchos refutes false teachings; paideia guides our life and morals; and epanorthōsis condemns and refutes wickedness and evil morals in order to correct them. In Rom. 15:4 paraklēsis means comfort; hypomonē is an exhortation to perseverance and patience. In 1 Cor. 10:11 nouthesia signifies either a warning or reminder (Erinnerung) which is impressed upon the mind or thoughts, or the application of certain examples. 1 Cor. 14:3 has oikodomē (upbuilding), paraklēsis (comfort), and parathymia (encouragement). Again in v. 24 he uses the concept of convicting and judging which seem to point to the rule according to which judgments in doctrine are to be made. Likewise 1 Peter 3:15 gives a general description of the practice of apologetics. And 2 Tim. 4:2 says that certain exhortations are to be “with all long-suffering,” while 1 Peter 3:16 says that this must take place with “meekness.” 1 Thess. 2:7, “Gentle as a nurse cherishing her children.” But when “they will not endure sound doctrine,” 2 Tim. 4:3, then “be prepared in season and out of season to rebuke and encourage.” 1 Tim. 1:3 and 4:11, “command them” and condemn them by the authority of your office. Titus 2:15, “Rebuke with all authority.” Titus 1:13, “Reprove them severely.” In 1 Cor. 14:29 Paul directs that when two or three prophets have spoken that the rest then judge their teaching. Acts 15:6, when controversies arise, then the elders come together for discussion. Acts 20:28,31, be on guard against wolves; tend the flock. Titus 1:9, “Convince the gainsayers.” 2 Tim. 2:25, “Instruct those who stand in opposition.” Titus 1:5, “Appoint elders,” 2 Tim. 2:2, “committing them to faithful men.” 1 Corinthians 14, establish order in the church. See also 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1; and 2 Corinthians 6. (Loci Theologici [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989], Vol. II, pp. 392-93)

[A-18] To begin with, it is certain that no one is a legitimate minister of the Word and the sacraments – nor is able rightly and profitably to exercise the ministry for the glory of God and the edification of the church – unless he has been sent, that is, unless he has a legitimate call (Jer. 23:21; Rom. 10:15). ...God, the author, preserver, governor, and (if I may use this term) husbandman of the ecclesiastical ministry, has reserved for Himself the right and authority of calling and sending those whom He wants to receive as co-workers in this ministry, and wants it to belong to Himself as Lord of the harvest. Therefore Christ says in Matt. 9:38: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Jer. 23:21: “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran.” Eph. 4:11: Christ gives apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Acts 20:28: “The Holy Ghost has made you overseers to feed the church of God.” Acts 13:4: “They were sent out by the Holy Spirit.” Therefore it is necessary for a legitimate call to the ministry of the church that the person who is to be a legitimate minister of the Word and the sacraments be called and sent by God, so that both the minister and the church can truthfully declare, as it is written in Is. 59:21: “I have put My words in your mouth.” 2 Cor. 5:19-20: “He has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.” Luke 10:16: “He who hears you hears Me.” John 20:21: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” These things must be considered in a call of the church, in order that both the minister and also the church can state with certainty that God is present with this ministry and works through it, as He says in Matt. 28:20: “I am with you.” John 20:22: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:6: “He has qualified us to be ministers...not of the letter but of the Spirit.” 1 Cor. 3:5-9: “You are God’s field, God’s building.” “We are God’s assistants.” “Paul plants; Apollos waters; God gives the growth.” John 20:23: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Matt. 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” ... Now when God Himself speaks immediately to men and with His own voice makes known His will, as He often did in the Old Testament, and as later, in the time of the New Testament, He spoke through a Son (Heb. 1:2), then there is no doubt about the efficacy of the Word. However, God did not always want to set His Word before the church without means, with His own voice, but determined by sure counsel to use the voice of the ministry as His ordinary means or instrument. Nevertheless there remains also in this medium what is appropriate to the prophets: “Thus says the Lord: ...because I have put My words in your mouth...” [Is. 59:21]. “...God making His appeal through us” [2 Cor. 5:20]. “Do you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me?” (2 Cor. 13:3). That these things are right and proper in those who are called immediately by the divine voice, not through men but by God Himself, as were the prophets in the Old Testament and the Baptist and the apostles – this no sane person is able to doubt. But God called few men in this immediate manner. For those who at the time of the apostles were prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, bishops, presbyters, and deacons were called to the ministry not immediately but by the voice of the church. Now are the things which Scripture teaches about the presence and efficacy of God through the ministry doubtful, uncertain, or false in the case of a mediate call? Surely, this is a very great and comforting promise, that Scripture declares that also that call which is issued by the voice of the church is divine, or from God. Eph. 4:11: The Son of God gives pastors and teachers, who certainly were not, like the apostles, called immediately. And in Acts 20:28 Paul addresses the presbyters, who had been appointed ether by Paul or by Timothy, thus: “The Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Therefore Paul, in the signature of 1 Corinthians, links Sosthenes to himself; in 2 Corinthians, Timothy; in 1 Thessalonians, Sylvanus. Therefore Paul applies the sayings: “We are God’s fellow workers” [1 Cor. 3:9]; “He has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation...God making His appeal through us” [2 Cor. 5:19-20], also to those who had been called mediately. Likewise, he declares that God works efficaciously also through the ministry of those who were called through the voice of the church: “Apollos waters; God gives the growth” [1 Cor. 3:6]. And in 1 Tim. 4:16 he says to Timothy: “You will save both yourself and your hearers.” Eph. 4:11 ff.: He gives teachers for building up the body of Christ, that we may attain to unity of faith, and doing the truth may grow in Christ. The promises are most delightful, and very necessary, namely, that the call also of those who have been called by the voice of the church is divine, that God is present with and works effectively through their ministry. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 705-07)

[A-19] ...Luther showed from the Word of God against the various sects of Anabaptists that no one, even if he were the most learned, ought to usurp the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments in the church without a special and legitimate call. And he earnestly admonished the church that she should not permit those to exercise the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments who do not have proof of a legitimate call, because it is written: “How can men preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:15) and “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran.” (Jer. 23:21) ...Luther taught from the Word of God that Christ has given and committed the keys, that is, the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments, to the whole church, not however in such a way that everyone might usurp and appropriate this ministry to himself by his own will and personal rashness, without a legitimate call, but that, after the immediate calling ceased, God sends ministers of the Word and of the sacraments through the call and choosing of the church, if it is done according to the command of His Word, so that the highest power of the Word and of the sacraments is with God; then, that the ministry belongs to the church, so that God calls, chooses, and sends ministers through it. Thirdly, then, it is with those who are legitimately chosen and called by God through the church, therefore with the ministers to whom the use or administration of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments has been committed. With this distinction, which is true and plain, Luther meant to restrain the arrogance of the [papal] priests who were puffed up by the opinion that they alone possessed all power with respect to the Word and sacraments, so that the sacraments were valid on account of the imprinting on them of some kind of character from ordination. And lest the rest of the church should dare to say by so much as a silent sigh, “What are you doing?” they pretended that the rest of the church had no power whatever in matters of the Word and the sacraments. That Luther touched this sore spot and applied the knife from the Word of God, that is truly what gives the papalists a burning pain even today, after so many years, and it sits badly. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 96-97)

[A-20] But who can doubt whether the promises of grace, help, power, and divine efficacy in the ministry which God gave to the prophets and apostles also apply to those who have been mediately called? And regarding this we must know that the prophets and apostles who were called immediately indeed had many and great prerogatives. Nevertheless Scripture shows that the promises of divine grace and efficacy pertain also to a mediate call, 2 Tim. 1:6. And lest anyone think that this pertains only to those who were mediately called, to be sure, but through apostles, he says in 1 Tim. 4:14: “The grace [Vulgate] that has been given to you through the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” And in 2 Cor. 3:6, which Timothy also signed, Paul says, “God has made us able for the ministry of the new covenant.” And in 1 Tim. 4:16 he says of Timothy, “You will save yourself and those who hear you.” And it is noteworthy that when, in the church of Corinth, the effectiveness of the ministry is measured on the basis of the persons, whether mediately or immediately called, or on the basis of the gifts of the ministers, Paul says, 1 Cor. 3:5-8, “Who is Apollos? Who is Paul, if they are not servants through whom you believed, and that as the Lord gave to each? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore neither is the one who plants anything, nor the one who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now, the one who plants and the one who waters are one.” Here it is notable that Paul was called immediately and Apollos mediately. And yet Paul proclaims that, as regards the efficacy of the ministry and divine grace, they are one. But it is worth the effort also to consider what these regular means are which God wills to use for a mediate call. And here we need to remember well that God does not ordinarily use the ministry of angels for a mediate call. ... But Christ gave the keys to His church as His bride, Matt. 18:19, and He promised that whatever they would agree on on earth and request, it would also be given by His Father who is in heaven. To the same [church] He entrusted His Word and the sacraments, just as Paul proclaims regarding the ancient people, Rom. 3:2, that “To them were entrusted the oracles of God” and, Rom. 9:4, “To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises,” and to the church, Eph. 4:12, “the ministry.” For, 1 Cor. 3:21-22, all things belong to the church, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas. And therefore Paul, when in 1 Tim. 3:15 he has spoken of the mediate call, adds that the church is the pillar and the mainstay of truth. (Loci Theologici, Vol. II, p. 701)


[A-21] 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.) ... 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.) ... 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.) ... 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.) ... 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.) ... 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.) ... In the New Testament, our Lord did not continue, nor institute a peculiar order of priests. The New Testament priesthood, like its kinghood, is common to all regenerate persons. Its sacrifices are purely spiritual. They are in no sense propitiatory. They consist of prayer, praise and self-consecration. A New Testament priest is not, as such, a minister; nor a minister, as such, a priest. 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. This representative priesthood confers no mediatorial power. 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.) ... Our Lord before His ascension instituted the office of the Apostolate, having within it all the powers of the future ministry. The Apostolate had extraordinary and incommunicable powers and functions. It also had ordinary and communicable powers and functions, 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.) ... To the extraordinary and incommunicable powers and functions, which were to be confined to the Apostles themselves, were these in conjunction which follow: Their vocation was immediate, in no sense derived from men nor through men. Their commission was unlimited as to locality. To an Apostle the field was the world. They were endowed with an extraordinary measure of miraculous gifts and of Divine Inspiration. They could bear official testimony as eye-witnesses to what was necessary to authenticate the Divine mission of our Lord. 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. 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.) ... 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. 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.) ... In their extraordinary powers and functions the Apostles had no successors. In their ordinary ones all true ministers of Christ are their successors. 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.) (“Thetical Statement of the Doctrine Concerning the Ministry of the Gospel” [First Article], Lutheran and Missionary, Vol. XIV, No. 12 [Dec. 31, 1874], p. 1)

[A-22] 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 New Testament 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. ... 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 Augsburg Confession, 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. (“Church Polity,” III, Lutheran Church Review, Vol. III, Whole No. 12 [Oct. 1884], pp. 320-25)



[B-1] Paul says to his disciple Titus: “This is why I left you in Candia, that you might complete what I left unfinished, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, men who are blameless, the husband of one wife, whose children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless,” etc. [Titus 1:5-7] Whoever believes that here in Paul the Spirit of Christ is speaking and commanding will be sure to recognize this as a divine institution and ordinance, that in each city there should be several bishops, or at least one. It is also evident that Paul considers elders and bishops to be one and the same thing, for he says: Elders are to be appointed and installed in all cities, and that a bishop shall be blameless. (“The Misuse of the Mass,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 36, p. 155)

[B-2] Thus Paul writes in II Tim. 2[:2]: “These things entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others.” Here Paul rejects all the show of tonsure and anointing and ordaining and only requires that they be able to teach, and to them alone he wants to entrust the Word. If the office of teaching [Amt des Worts] be entrusted to anyone, then everything accomplished by the Word in the church is entrusted, that is, the office of baptizing, consecrating, binding, loosing, praying, and judging doctrine. Inasmuch as the office of preaching the gospel is the greatest of all and certainly is apostolic, it becomes the foundation for all other functions [Ämtern], which are built upon it, such as the offices of teachers, prophets, governing [the church], speaking with tongues, the gifts of healing and helping, as Paul directs in I Cor. 12[:28]. Even Christ chiefly proclaimed the gospel, as the highest function of his office, and did not baptize [John 4:2]. Paul, too, gloried in the fact that he was sent not to baptize [I Cor. 1:17], as to a secondary office, but to the primary office of preaching the gospel. This procedure is forced upon us by necessity and is commended by the common understanding of faith. For since the church owes its birth to the Word, is nourished, aided and strengthened by it, it is obvious that it cannot be without the Word. If it is without the Word it ceases to be a church. A Christian, thus, is born to the ministry of the Word in baptism, and if papal bishops are unwilling to bestow the ministry of the Word except on such as destroy the Word of God and ruin the church, then it but remains either to let the church perish without the Word or to let those who come together cast their ballots and elect one or as many as are needed of those who are capable. By prayer and the laying on of hands let them commend and certify these to the whole assembly, and recognize and honor them as lawful bishops and ministers of the Word, believing beyond a shadow of doubt that this has been done and accomplished by God. For in this way the common agreement of the faithful, those who believe and confess the gospel, is realized and expressed. ought to be sufficient to admonish and affirm what Christ said in Matt. 18[:19,20], “If two of you agree upon 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 in the midst of them.” If then the agreement of three or two in the name of the Lord makes all things possible, and Christ endorses as his own the things they do, how much more may we not believe that it has happened or can happen with his approval and guidance when we come together in his name, pray together, and elect bishops and ministers of the Word from among ourselves. (“Concerning the Ministry,” pp. 36-37)

[B-3] ...the spiritual tyrants despised and underestimated the office of preaching and made a great separation between it and the spiritual government, even though it is the highest office, on which all others depend and from which they follow. On the other hand, where there is no office of preaching, none of the others can follow. For John says, John 4[:2], that Jesus did not baptize, he only preached. And Paul boasts, 1 Corinthians 1[:17], that he was not sent to baptize but to preach. Therefore, whoever has the office of preaching imposed on him has the highest office in Christendom imposed on him. Afterward he may also baptize, celebrate mass, and exercise all pastoral care [Seelsorge]; or, if he does not wish to do so, he may confine himself to preaching and leave baptizing and other lower offices to others – as Christ and all the apostles did, Acts 4 [6:4]. Thus it becomes evident that our present-day bishops are spiritual idols and not bishops. For they leave the highest office of the word, which should be their own, in the hands of the very lowest [orders], namely, chaplains, monks, and mendicants. They also leave the lower offices such as baptizing and other pastoral care to them. In the meantime, however, they administer confirmation, consecrate bells, altars, and churches which are neither Christian nor episcopal duties and which they themselves invented. (“That a Christian Assembly or Congregation has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 39 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970], pp. 313-14)

[B-4] The keys are the pope’s as little as Baptism, the Sacrament [of the Altar], and the Word of God are, for they belong to the people of Christ and are called “the church’s keys” not “the pope’s keys.” Fifth, the church is recognized externally by the fact that it consecrates or calls ministers, or has offices that it is to administer. There must be bishops, pastors, or preachers, who publicly and privately give, administer, and use the aforementioned four things or holy possessions in behalf of and in the name of the church, or rather by reason of their institution by Christ, as St. Paul states in Ephesians 4[:8], “He received gifts among men...” – his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some teachers and governors, etc. The people as a whole cannot do these things, but must entrust or have them entrusted to one person. Otherwise, what would happen if everyone wanted to speak or administer, and no one wanted to give way to the other? It must be entrusted to one person, and he alone should be allowed to preach, to baptize, to absolve, and to administer the sacraments. The others should be content with this arrangement and agree to it. Wherever you see this done, be assured that God’s people, the holy Christian people, are present. It is, however, true that the Holy Spirit has excepted women, children, and incompetent people from this function, but chooses (except in emergencies) only competent males to fill this office, as one reads here and there in the epistles of St. Paul [I Tim. 3:2, Tit. 1:6] that a bishop must be pious, able to teach, and the husband of one wife – and in I Corinthians 14[:34] he says, “The women should keep silence in the churches.” In summary, it must be a competent and chosen man. Children, women, and other persons are not qualified for this office, even though they are able to hear God’s Word, to receive Baptism, the Sacrament, absolution, and are also true, holy Christians, as St. Peter says [I Pet. 3:7]. Even nature and God’s creation makes this distinction, implying that women (much less children or fools) cannot and shall not occupy positions of sovereignty, as experience also suggests and as Moses says in Genesis 3[:16], “You shall be subject to man.” The Gospel, however, does not abrogate this natural law, but confirms it as the ordinance and creation of God. ... Now, if the apostles, evangelists, and prophets are no longer living, others must have replaced them and will replace them until the end of the world, for the church shall last until the end of the world [Matt. 28:20]. Apostles, evangelists, and prophets must therefore remain, no matter what their name, to promote God’s word and work. (“On the Councils and the Church,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 41 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966], pp. 154-55)

[B-5] The Corinthians had come to divisions among themselves and to boasting of certain apostles as their leaders. With one party it was Peter, with another Paul, and with yet another Apollos. Each one exalted the apostle by whom he was baptized or was taught, or the one he regarded most eminent. Now comes Paul and interposes, permitting no one to boast of any apostle, and teaching them to laud Christ alone. He tells them it matters not by whom they were baptized and taught, but it is of the utmost importance that they all hold to Christ together and own allegiance to him alone. ... “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” [1 Cor 4, 1]. The reference is to all apostles and all heirs to the apostolic chair, whether Peter, Paul or any other. Let us, then, be very careful how we regard the apostles and bishops; we must attach neither too much nor yet too little importance to them. Not without reason did Paul – the Holy Spirit, in fact – make this restriction; and without doubt we are under obligation to follow it. The same limit here made concerning apostles applies to bishops. It designates the character of their office and the extent of their power. ...Paul warns us against receiving apostles or bishops as anything but “ministers of Christ”; nor should they desire to be regarded otherwise. ... He [Paul] has reference to the ministry that is an office. All Christians serve God but all are not in office. In Romans 11, 13, also, he terms his office a ministry: “Inasmuch as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry.” And in the epistle selection preceding this (Rom 15, 8) he says: “I say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision.” Again (2 Cor 3, 6): “Who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit.” ... Mark you, beloved, to serve Christ, or to serve God, is defined by Paul himself as to fulfil a Christ-ordained office, the office of preaching. This office is a service or ministry proceeding from Christ to us, and not from us to Christ. Note this carefully; it is important. Otherwise you cannot understand the design of the Pauline words, “ministry, ministration, to minister.” So he always has it. Seldom does he speak of the service or ministry rendered primarily above them to God; it is usually of the ministry beneath them, to men. Christ, too, in the Gospel bids the apostles to be submissive and servants of others. Lk 22, 26. To make himself clearly understood in this matter of service, or ministry, Paul carefully adds to the word “ministers” the explanatory one “stewards,” which can be understood in no other way than as referring to the office of the ministry. He terms his office “service or ministry of Christ” and himself “minister of Christ,” because he was ordained of God to the office of preaching. So all apostles and bishops are ministers of Christ; that is preachers, messengers, officers of Christ, sent to the people with his message. The meaning of the verse, then, is: “Let every individual take heed not to institute another leader, to set up another Lord, to constitute another Christ. Rather be unanimously loyal to the one and only Christ. For we apostles are not your lords, nor your masters; we are not your leaders. We do not preach our own interests, nor teach our own doctrines. We do not seek to have you obey us, or give us allegiance and accept our doctrine. No, indeed. We are messengers and ministers of him who is your Master, your Lord and Leader. We preach his Word, enlist men to follow his commandments, and lead only into obedience. And in this light should you regard us, expecting of us nothing else than to bring the message. Though we are other persons than Christ, yet you do not receive through us another doctrine than his; another word, another government, nor another authority than his. He who so receives and regards us, holds the right attitude toward us, and receives, not us, but Christ, whom alone we preach. ...” ... How can one be a servant of Christ if he does not teach Christ’s message? Or how can he teach his own message when he is under obligation to teach only Christ’s? If he advocates his own counsels, he makes himself lord and does not serve Christ. If he advocates Christ’s counsels, he cannot himself be lord. From this you may judge for yourself whence arises Popery and its ecclesiastical authority, with all its priests, monks and high schools. If these can prove they teach nothing but the message of Christ, we must regard them as his ministers or servants. But if we can prove they do not so teach, we must regard them as not his servants. ... The word “steward” here signifies one who has charge of his lord’s domestics... For “oekonomus” is Greek and signifies in English [German] a steward, or one capable of providing for a house and ruling the domestics. ... Now, God’s household is the Christian Church – ourselves. It includes pastors and bishops, overseers and stewards, whose office is to have charge of the household, to provide nourishment for it and to direct its members, but in a spiritual sense. Paul puts a distinction between the stewards of God and temporal stewards. The latter provide material nourishment, and exercise control of the physical person; but the former provide spiritual food and exercise control over souls. Paul calls the spiritual food “mysteries.” (“Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent,” Complete Sermons of Martin Luther [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000], Vol. 3.2, pp. 64-70)

[B-6] Hear St. Peter himself, who is an apostle, ...who writes in his epistles to his bishops in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, I Peter 5[:1-2], “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 to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge,” etc. Look at that – Peter calls himself a fellow elder, that is, equal with pastor or preacher; he does not want to rule over them, but to be equal with them, although he knows that he is an apostle. The office of preacher [Predigtamt] or bishop [Bischofsamt] is the highest office, which was held by God’s Son himself, as well as by all the apostles, prophets, and patriarchs. God’s word and faith is above everything, above all gifts and personal worth. The word “elder,” in Greek “presbyter,” is in one case a word for old age, as one says, “an old man”; but here it is a name for an office because one took old and experienced people for the office. Now we call it pastor and preacher or minister [Seelsorger]. (“Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 41, pp. 358-59)


[B-7] Now the Holy Spirit, through Paul, His chosen instrument, in many words and accurately describes the qualities which God requires in a bishop in order that the dignity, importance, and sanctity of the ministry may be retained, equipped, and aided. First, so far as his teaching is concerned, that a bishop be didaktikos [“an apt teacher,” 1 Tim. 3:2], that is, as He Himself explains, that he “hold the mystery of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9) and embrace sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), be studied in and “nourished on the words of the faith and of...good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6), that he be capable also of teaching others, avoid wordy battles of words and empty strife, rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15 [KJV]), “be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9), “be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2), continue in what he has learned (2 Tim. 3:14), “follow the pattern of...sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13), “guard what has been entrusted” to him, and “keep the commandments unstained and free from reproach” (1 Tim. 6:20,14), attend to reading, not neglect his gift, but stir it up by meditation and exercise, in order that his progress may be apparent to all (1 Tim. 4:13-15), pray for himself and for the church (1 Tim. 2:1-2). This is how Paul explains what didaktikos means. In the second place He seeks in a bishop the gift of governing the church, and describes how he “ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church,” that is, how he ought to care for or govern the church (1 Tim. 3:1 ff., 15), how he is to set up the ministries and have supervision over them (1 Tim. 3:8 ff.; Titus 1:5 ff.), how he ought to deal with adversaries of the doctrine (1 Tim. 1:13 ff.; 2 Tim. 2:14 ff.; Titus 3:9-11), how ecclesiastical judgments are to be set up and exercised in the case of those who sin, the fallen, or the accused (1 Tim. 5:19 ff.; 2 Tim. 2:23-26), how supplications or public prayers are to be instituted (1 Tim. 2:1 ff.), how godly duties are to be prescribed to all orders of classes in the church and how things which are amiss in them are to be corrected (1 Tim. 2:8-15; 5:1-18; 6:1-2,17-19; Titus 2:2-10; 3:1-2), how the care for the poor is to be exercised. These things, according to Paul, belong to the bishop’s governing. Third. Because the presence, guidance, and strengthening of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for the right performance of the ministry, Paul demands in a bishop such holiness, lest he drive out the Holy Spirit through sins against conscience. Therefore, he says, he should “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9), “in accordance with the prophetic utterances...wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience,” which some have rejected and “made shipwreck of their faith” (1 Tim. 1:18-19). He should train himself “in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:7,12), shun greed, which has drowned many in perdition, “aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, fight the good fight...take hold of eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:11-12). He is to work “as a good soldier of Christ,” for “no soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him”; he is to do his best to present himself “to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed.” Anyone who purifies himself from what is ignoble “will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.” He should “shun youthful passions and aim at...peace, along with those who call upon the Lord” (2 Tim. 2:3-4,15,21-22). He is to avoid the vices which make one unfit for faith (2 Tim. 3:1-5), imitate “my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings” (2 Tim. 3:10-11), “be steady, endure suffering...fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5), “keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). In the fourth place, Paul requires in a bishop such holiness of life, such uprightness of morals and dignity of behavior, in order that he may also be an example for the flock, or the believers (1 Peter 5:3), “in speech and conduct, in love,” in spirit, “in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12), showing himself “in all respects a model of good deeds,” in “teaching,” in “integrity,” in “gravity,” that the adversaries “may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say” of him (Titus 2:7-8), with no one able to accuse him (1 Tim. 3:2). Thus he enumerates and describes these virtues (1 Tim. 3:2 ff.; Titus 1:6 ff.). These are the good qualities which the Holy Spirit demands in a minister of the Word, and He shows that by them the dignity, gravity, reverence for, and holiness of the ministry of the Word and sacraments in the New Testament is established, equipped, and aided. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986], pp. 124-25)

[B-8] Jerome...shows and proves that at the time of the apostles, bishops and presbyters were one and the same, or that one and the same person was both presbyter and bishop, one of these being a term for his office and dignity, the other for his age. For Paul says (Phil. 1:1) that in that one church there were bishops and deacons. In Acts 20:17 Luke says that the presbyters of the church at Ephesus were called out. When Paul has assembled them, he calls them bishops [“overseers,” KJV and RSV; Acts 20:28]. In Titus 1:5 ff. Paul speaks of appointing presbyters in every town. And as he explains what kind of presbyter ought to be ordained, he says: “For a bishop must be blameless.” In 1 Peter 5:1-2 Peter, addressing the presbyters calls himself a fellow presbyter and ascribes to the office of presbyters to episkopein [“oversight,” KJV]. That the same ordination was common to [bishops and] presbyters Jerome shows from 1 Tim. 4:14, which speaks of the laying on of hands of the presbyters. This opinion did not fall from the lips of Jerome accidentally while he was concerned about something else, but he argues it ex professo and repeats it in a number of places, e.g., on the Epistle to Titus, in his Letter to Evagrius, likewise to Oceanus. Ambrose follows this opinion, likewise Bede in the chapter on Philippians, likewise Isidore, dist. 21, ch. Cleros. The same Jerome also explains what was the cause and origin of the difference which was later made between a bishop and the presbyters, why and for what use this difference was accepted by the church. Thus he says, on Titus 1: “Before, by an impulse of the devil, a zeal in religion developed and it was said among the people, ‘I belong to Paul; I to Apollos; I to Cephas,’ the churches were governed by the common counsel of the presbyters. But after everyone thought that those whom he had baptized were his, not Christ’s, it was decreed that in the whole city one who was elected from among the presbyters should be placed over the rest, to whom the care of the whole church should belong, and the seeds of schisms would be removed.” Likewise: “With the ancients, presbyters and bishops were one and the same. But little by little, in order that the seedbeds of dissensions might be rooted out, the whole responsibility was conferred on one.” The same says in the Letter to Evagrius (and this is quoted in dist. 93, ch. Legimus): “However, that later on one was elected who was placed over the rest, this was done as a remedy against schisms, lest everyone draw the church of Christ to himself and split it. For also at Alexandria, from the time of Mark the Evangelist until Dionysius, the presbyters always chose one from among themselves and placed him in a higher rank. Him they called episcopus, just as if the army would make a commander-in-chief for itself,” etc. Moreover, a little before the time of Jerome, Aerius began to urge this equality of presbyters and bishops, which existed at the time of the apostles, in such a way that he simply condemned the custom of the church which made the bishop superior to and placed him over the presbyters and gave him the supervision of the whole church as a remedy against dissensions and for the sake of order and harmony. However, when this opinion of Aerius was seen to give occasion for confusion and dissensions, it was rejected and disapproved. Then the bishops grew arrogant, despised the presbyters, and thought this prerogative was due them by divine right. Because these controversies were still raging in his time, Jerome, as he himself declares, interposes his opinion from Scripture and shows that at the time of the apostles and with the ancients there was no distinction, but that presbyters and bishops were one and the same and that the churches were governed by their common counsel. Then he explains for what reason, for what purpose and use one bishop was placed over the others as head, namely, to remove the seedbeds of dissensions and schisms. To this extent Jerome approves this arrangement. But the pride of the bishops he curbs with these words: “Therefore as the presbyters know that, from the custom of the church, they are subject to the one who has been placed over them, so the bishops should know that they are greater than the presbyters more by custom than by the truth of an arrangement of the Lord, and that they ought to govern the church in common.” Of the office of bishops Jerome says to Evagrius that the bishop does the same thing a presbyter does. Therefore the ministry of the Word and the sacraments and the care of ecclesiastical discipline were at that time the joint duty of the bishop and the presbyters. ... At that time ordination was specifically the duty of the bishops, as Jerome says: “What does a bishop do that a presbyter does not do, ordination excepted?” And Chrysostom says, on 1 Timothy, that a bishop is greater than a presbyter only in that he performs ordinations. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 701-03)

[B-9] ...when Paul and the other apostles had been called out of this world, and John had been banished to Patmos, ...a certain presbyter in Asia, a follower or partisan, for so he boasted, of Paul, ...spread a certain story bearing the title De periode Pauli et Teclae, or as Gelasius, dist. 13, quotes the title, De actis Pauli et Teclae [The Acts of Paul and Tecla]. The sum of the story was this, that Tecla, a noble Iconian virgin, had been betrothed through the will and consent of her parents to a certain Thamirus, but that, when Paul had come to Iconium, he had preached about virginity in such a way that Tecla had renounced her bridegroom and against the will of her bridegroom and her parents had vowed celibacy, and that Paul had for many years led this Tecla about with himself and had finally consecrated her with a sacred veil and given her power to teach, baptize, and to veil and consecrate virgins with the vow of perpetual celibacy. This was just about the sum of the fraud, as one can see from Tertullian, De Baptismo, from Ambrose, De virginitate, and from the legends of Tecla. Now, because the authority of Paul was great in the church, many set this example in opposition and preferred it to the writings of Paul and of the other apostles. However, when John had been restored to the church from exile he saw that this story was not in agreement with the constant teaching and opinion of Paul, who even as he did not permit a woman to teach publicly in the church so also forbade an espoused woman to undertake celibacy against the will of her bridegroom and parents (1 Cor. 7:10), for a betrothed woman is judged to be in the same case as a wife (Deut. 22:22-29). Therefore John convicted that presbyter publicly before the church of having disseminated a false and counterfeit book under the name and title of Paul. ... John removed him from the ministry in order that, for the sake of posterity, that invention about Tecla might be rejected with a public mark as not genuine but a counterfeit. Thus Tertullian describes the story, De Baptismo, and Jerome, De scripturibus ecclesiasticis. Nevertheless afterward, in the time of Tertullian, certain women tried to lay claim for themselves to the ministry of Word and Sacraments in the church on the authority of this Tecla, whom Tertullian repulsed with this story of the apostle John. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 151-52)


[B-10] 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.) 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. 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.) 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.) 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. ... (Acts xiv. 23, xx. 28; Philip. i. 1.) ... The Presbyters were called and ordained solely to labor officially as pastors of particular communions in defined localities. They had not the absolute right of official teaching, administration of sacraments and discipline everywhere, which was a distinctive part of the commission of the Apostles, nor did they officially journey from place to place, which was the work of the Evangelists. (Acts xiv. 23, xx. 17-27; Titus i. 5; Acts xxi. 8; Eph. iv. 11; 2 Tim. iv. 5.) ... 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.) 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 vinyard, 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)

[B-11] 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.) 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.) ... 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)


[B-12] What can comfort us, when men, who have prepared themselves for the office of rescuing souls, yes, who have already administered this office with blessing, assume the office of teaching at our institutions of learning? ... This shall comfort us: 1) that also their office is the office of our God; 2) that also their work is the work of our Lord. ... God has actually instituted only one office, namely the office, in his name to gather his church on earth, to rule over it, provide for it, and preserve it. This office the Lord has ordained and given to his church when he gave Peter the keys to heaven and finally said to all his disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” [Matt 28:18-20]. Now this office accordingly has such a sphere of duties and tasks of such a diverse variety, also calls for so many different outstanding gifts, that no man is in the position, even in a small sphere, to fulfill all its tasks. As the Messiah’s office as mediator falls into three different offices, that of prophet, high priest, and king, so also the office of the church falls into the most diverse offices, demanding manifold gifts of the Spirit. Fully carrying out the office of the church requires among other things not only that those filling this office feed the flock of Christ in every way and do battle for it, but above all also this, that they take care that after them there will always be new faithful shepherds and well-equipped warriors, who will take up the lead with the shepherd staff when it has fallen from them and who will wield the sword which death has wrenched from their hand. ... It is therefore not a human arrangement, that there are men in the church, who train and instruct young boys so that they may some day carry out the office which preaches reconciliation. Their office is a holy, godly office, a branch of the office which Christ instituted and established in presenting the keys of heaven. Even not merely the gifts which are necessary to ground a young boy in a deeper understanding of the divine truths, but also the gifts that are necessary to educate the mind of a young boy in general and to teach him the different dead and living languages of the nations: also these gifts are gifts of the Holy Spirit, which the Savior who ascended to heaven has poured out upon his church for the establishment and preservation of holy offices. “This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’ ... It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...” (Eph 4:8,11). “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. ... Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. ... To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, ... to another the ability to speak in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretations of tongues” (1 Cor 12:4,5,7,8a,10b). ... Not only is it a divine institution, but all its tasks have also no other goal, no other final objective, than the glorification of God’s name and the salvation of lost souls. Not only are particularly you, esteemed Director, from now on in the real sense the guardian, the spiritual father and house-pastor of the boys and young men in our college; not only are they in a real sense a house church and house congregation of precious, immortal souls, purchased at a high price, who have been laid as a trust upon your soul from this day on, who are here not only to be educated, but also to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and to be trained for heaven; but whatsoever we may pursue here, apart from the word of God itself, be it the original languages of the Holy Scriptures or those of profane authors, be it the history of the church or of the world, be it geography, or the mathematical or natural sciences, or the fine arts, music and painting... everything is to be pursued here for the purpose and with the objective that men are to be trained here who will have the general education and the required abilities, the proper spirit, the necessary love, self-effacement, and self sacrifice to call people from all classes, all vocations of life, all cultural levels into Christ’s kingdom, to feed the flock of Christ, and to wage the Lord’s battles. (“Rede bei Einfuhrung zweier Gymnasiallehrer,” Lutherische Brosamen [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1897], pp. 346 ff.; quoted in Carl Lawrenz, “An Evaluation of Walther’s Theses on the Church and Ministry,” Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Vol. 79, No. 2 [Spring 1982], pp. 128-30)



[C-1] I hope, indeed, that believers, those who want to be called Christians, know very well that the spiritual estate has been established and instituted by God, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood and bitter death of his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ [I Pet. 1:18-19]. From his wounds indeed flow the sacraments [John 19:34] (they used to depict this on broadsides). He paid dearly that men might everywhere have this office of preaching, baptizing, loosing, binding, giving the Sacrament, comforting, warning, and exhorting with God’s Word, and whatever else belongs to the pastoral office [Amt der Seelsorger]. For this office not only helps to further and sustain this temporal life and all the worldly estates, but it also gives eternal life and delivers from sin and death, which is its proper and chief work. Indeed, it is only because of the spiritual estate that the world stands and abides at all; if it were not for this estate, the world would long since have gone down to destruction. I am not thinking, however, of the spiritual estate as we know it today in the monastic houses and the foundations with their celibate way of life, for it has long since fallen from its glorious beginning and is now nothing more that an estate founded by worldly wisdom for the sake of getting money and revenues. There is nothing spiritual about it except that the clergy are not married (they do not need marriage for they have something else in its place); except for this, everything about it is merely external, temporal, perishable pomp. They give no heed to God’s Word and the office of preaching – and where the Word is not in use the clergy must be bad. The estate I am thinking of is rather one which has the office of preaching [Predigtamt] and the service of the Word and sacraments and which imparts the Spirit and salvation, blessings that cannot be attained by any amount of pomp and pageantry. It includes the work of pastors [Pfarramt], teachers, preachers, lectors, priests (whom men call chaplains), sacristans [Küster], schoolmasters, and whatever other work belongs to these offices and persons. This estate the Scriptures highly exalt and praise. St. Paul calls them God’s stewards and servants [I Cor. 4:1]; bishops [Acts 20:28]; doctors, prophets [I Cor. 12:28]; also God’s ambassadors to reconcile the world to God, II Corinthians 5[:20]. Joel calls them saviors. In Psalm 68 David calls them kings and princes. Haggai [1:13] calls them angels, and Malachi [2:7] says, “The lips of the priest keep the law, for he is an angel of the Lord of hosts.” Christ himself gives them the same name, not only in Matthew 11[:10] where he calls John the Baptist an angel, but also throughout the entire book of the Revelation to John. may rejoice and be glad from the heart if you find that you have been chosen by God to devote your means and labor to raising a son who will be a good Christian pastor, preacher, or schoolmaster, and thereby to raise for God a special servant, yes (as was said above), an angel of God, a true bishop before God, a savior of many people, a king and prince in the kingdom of Christ, a teacher of God’s people, a light of the world – indeed, who can recount all the distinction and honor that a good and faithful pastor has in the eyes of God? There is no dearer treasure, no nobler thing on earth or in this life than a good and faithful pastor and preacher. Just think, whatever good is accomplished by the preaching office and the care of souls is assuredly accomplished by your own son as he faithfully performs this office. For example, each day through him many souls are taught, converted, baptized, and brought to Christ and saved, and redeemed from sin, death, hell, and the devil. Through him they come to everlasting righteousness, to everlasting life and heaven, so that Daniel [12:3] says well that “those who teach others shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness shall be like the stars for ever and ever.” Because God’s word and office, when it proceeds aright, must without ceasing do great things and work actual miracles, so your son must without ceasing do great miracles before God, such as raising the dead, driving out devils, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lepers clean, and the dumb to speak [Matt. 11:5]. Though these things may not happen bodily, they do happen spiritually in the soul, where the miracles are even greater, as Christ says in John 14[:12], “He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” If the single believer can accomplish these things working independently with individuals, how much more will the preacher accomplish working publicly with the whole company of people? It is not the man, though, that does it. It is his office, ordained by God for this purpose. That is what does it – that and the word of God which he teaches. He is only the instrument through which it is accomplished. (“A Sermon on Keeping Children in School,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 46 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967], pp. 219-21, 223-24)

[C-2] ... I do not mean to insist that every man must train his child for this office, for it is not necessary that all boys become pastors, preachers, and schoolmasters. It is well to know that the children of lords and other important people are not to be used for this work, for the world also needs heirs, people without whom the temporal authority would go to pieces. I am speaking of the common people... Even though they need no heirs they keep their children out of school, regardless of whether the children have the ability and talent for these offices and could serve God in them without privation or hindrance. Boys of such ability ought to be kept at their studies... In addition, though, other boys as well ought to study, even those of lesser ability. They ought at least to read, write, and understand Latin, for we need not only highly learned doctors and masters of Holy Scripture but also ordinary pastors who will teach the gospel and the catechism to the young and ignorant, and baptize and administer the sacrament. That they may be incapable of doing battle with heretics is unimportant. For a good building we need not only hewn facings but also backing stone. In like manner we must also have sacristans and other persons who serve and help in relation to the office of preaching and the word of God. (“A Sermon on Keeping Children in School,” p. 231)

[C-3] No peace or unity can remain where a chaplain, schoolmaster, or other minister of the church knows that he may be in the office of the church without the knowledge and will of the pastor and thereby can boast and comfort himself that he was chosen by the city council. Since such action is seen all the time against the pastors, you should not admit or strengthen this example such that they accept or suffer a chaplain, schoolmaster, or other minister of the church without your previous knowledge and will. (“1536. X, 296”; quoted in C. A. T. Selle, “Das Amt des Pastors als Schulaufseher” [The Office of a Pastor as School Overseer], Evang.-Luth. Schulblatt, Vol. 4, No. 5 [January 1869])

[C-4] But the holy orders and true religious institutions established by God are these three: the office of priest, the estate of marriage, the civil government. All who are engaged in the clerical office [Pfarramt] or ministry of the Word are in a holy, proper, good, and God-pleasing order and estate, such as those who preach, administer sacraments, supervise the common chest, sextons and messengers or servants who serve such persons. These are engaged in works which are altogether holy in God’s sight. (“Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 37 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961], p. 364)

[C-5] Now you might say: “What kind of situation will arise if it is true that we are all priests and should all preach [1 Peter 2:5]? Should no distinction be made among the people, and should the women, too, be priests?” Answer: In the New Testament no priest has to be tonsured. Not that this is evil in itself, for one surely has the right to have the head shaved clean. But one should not make a distinction between those who do so and the common Christian. Faith cannot tolerate this. Thus those who are now called priests would all be laymen like the others, and only a few officiants would be elected by the congregation to do the preaching. Thus there is only an external difference because of the office to which one is called by the congregation. Before God, however, there is no distinction, and only a few are selected from the whole group to administer the office in the stead of the congregation. They all have the office, but nobody has any more authority than the other person has. Therefore nobody should come forward of his own accord and preach in the congregation. No, one person must be chosen from the whole group and appointed. If desired, he may be deposed. Now those people [the papists] have created a special estate and say that it was established by God. They have acquired such freedom that almost in the midst of Christendom there is a greater distinction than there is between us and Turks. As St. Paul says in Gal. 3:28, you must pay no attention to distinctions when you want to look at Christians. You must not say: “This is a man or a woman; this is a servant or a master; this person is old or young.” They are all alike and only a spiritual people. Therefore they are all priests. All may proclaim God’s Word, except that, as St. Paul teaches in 1 Cor. 14:34, women should not speak in the congregation. They should let the men preach, because God commands them to be obedient to their husbands. God does not interfere with the arrangement. But he makes no distinction in the matter of authority. If, however, only women were present and no men, as in nunneries, then one of the women might be authorized to preach. (“Sermons on the First Epistle of St. Peter,” Luther’s Works, Vol. 30 [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967], pp. 54-55)


[C-6] We, the members of this parish and our posterity, therefore solemnly purpose and promise henceforth to provide food, sustenance, and support through our ten elected directors out of our common chest, to the limit of our resources as God grants us grace, and as occasion demands to make the following disbursements, namely: Disbursements for the pastoral office To the pastor or priest called and elected by our congregation, and to a preacher similarly called by us and appointed to assist the pastor (though the pastor himself should be able and qualified to preach God’s word and perform the other duties of his pastoral office), and also to a chaplain if the need for one arises, the ten directors, on the unified resolution of the entire assembly, are to furnish annually each year a specified sum of money, together with certain consumable stores and lands and properties subject to usufruct, to support them and adequately meet their needs, one-fourth to be paid each quarter at the Ember fast out of the common chest, in return for a proper receipt. ... In this respect and in the administration of the pastoral office of the congregation, their conduct shall be in accordance with the ordinance and instructions of the men learned in the divine Scriptures, which ordinance shall be kept in our common chest, and be considered and implemented by the ten directors every Sunday, so that no harm may come to the pastoral office. Disbursements for the office of sacristan The sacristan or custodian, to whom the assembly entrusts the locking up of the church and the suitable care of it, shall be given by the ten directors out of the common chest in quarterly instalments a specified annual salary and certain usable stores and usufructs, as may be determined by the assembly in accordance with the aforementioned scriptural ordinance for the pastoral office of the congregation, which embraces also the duties of the sacristan. Disbursements for the schools The ten designated directors, in the name of our general parish assembly, shall have the authority and duty, with the advice and approval of our elected pastor and preacher and others learned in the divine Scriptures, to call, appoint and dismiss a schoolmaster for young boys, whereby a pious, irreproachable, and learned man may be made responsible for the honorable and upright Christian training and instruction of the youth, a most essential function. This schoolmaster shall be required to train, teach, govern, and live at all times in conformity with and hold unswervingly to the mandate of the aforementioned ordinance for the pastoral office of our congregation which is deposited in the coffers of our common chest. In accordance with a determination of the general assembly, the ten directors shall give the schoolmaster as compensation for his services a specified annual salary plus certain stores in quarterly instalments out of the common chest. ... Our pastor, preacher, and the ten directors shall maintain a constant and faithful supervision over this office of teaching school and governing the youth; every Sunday as need may arise they shall consider this matter, take action, and implement it with the utmost seriousness. Likewise the ten directors shall grant to an upright, fully seasoned, irreproachable woman an annual stipend and certain stores out of our common chest for instructing young girls under twelve in true Christian discipline, honor, and virtue and, in accordance with the ordinance for our pastoral office, teaching them to read and write German, this teaching to be done during certain specified hours by the clear light of day and in a respectable place that is above suspicion. ... The ten directors shall also diligently supervise the training and governing of such German schools and young girls, so that Christian discipline, honor, and virtue may be maintained inviolate. (“Fraternal Agreement on the Common Chest of the Entire Assembly of Leisnig” [1523], Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1962], pp. 186-89) (In his Preface to the printed edition of this “Fraternal Agreement,” which he addresses to “all Christians in the congregation of Leisnig,” Martin Luther writes: “Since the Father of all mercies has called you as well as others to the fellowship of the gospel, and has caused his Son Jesus Christ to shine into your hearts; and since this richness of the knowledge of Christ is so active and powerful among you that you have set up a new order of service, and a common fund after the example of the apostles [Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35], I have seen fit to have this ordinance of yours printed, in the hope that God will so add his gracious blessing that it may become a public example to be followed by many other congregations, so that we, too, may boast of you, as St. Paul boasted of the Corinthians that their effort stirred up many others [II Cor. 9:2]. ... We cherish the hope that this example of yours will come to be generally followed...” [Luther’s Works, Vol. 45, p. 169])


[C-7] In every church there shall be no more than one sexton [Küster or Coster] who unlocks the doors, rings the bell, brings water for baptism, remains by the altar [during the service], prepares the bread and the wine, etc. He shall obey the preachers and not grumble, doing in the church what he is called upon to do and helping the pastors in cases of emergency when they must go out. (“The Church Order for the City of Braunschweig” [1528], Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts [edited by Aemilius Richter] [Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967], Vol. 1, p. 113; quoted in Eric Lund, Documents from the History of Lutheranism 1517-1750 [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002], p. 148)


[C-8] In the villages, the sextons shall be obligated on all Sunday afternoons and on a certain day during the week to diligently and clearly teach the children the catechism and Christian hymns in German. Afterwards they shall ask questions and examine the children about the articles of the catechism that have been recited or read aloud. And where one or more branches belong to the parish, the sacristan shall teach in all places, alternating between them according to the advice of the pastor, so that the youth in all of the villages are instructed as is necessary and will not be neglected. The sacristans should especially take pains to read the prayers aloud to the children and their elders, very slowly and clearly, distinctly reciting word for word as it is printed in the Small Catechism. And they shall not be so wanton, bold, or careless as to change, increase, decrease, or mix up the words in any way other than as they are designated in the printed copy. For in so doing, the young people will be poorly instructed and will afterwards learn to pray incorrectly from one another. ... No sexton who has not been examined and ordained shall be allowed to preach. (“General Articles for the Visitation in Electoral Saxony” [1557], Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts, Vol. 2, pp. 186-87; quoted in Eric Lund, Documents from the History of Lutheranism 1517-1750, p. 149)

[C-9] If in the outlying villages or otherwise there are too many people in a parish for the pastor to administer the examination in the catechism, they should commend it to the sacristan or church officer (but this should not happen before they are previously examined in earnest by the consistory and known to be capable of this work). (“Saxon General Articles” [1580], Juris ecclesiastici Saxonici [Dresden, 1773], p. 22; quoted in C. A. T. Selle, “Das Amt des Pastors als Schulaufseher” [The Office of a Pastor as School Overseer])


[C-10] We have definitely established...that the priesthood of the New Testament and all the sacerdotal functions connected with it are equally common to all Christians and that the New Testament sets forth no particular priestly order distinct from the laity – that, to the contrary, all alike who have been reborn by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and believe in Christ are priests and truly spiritual persons. Thus Paul calls the ministers of the church – those in charge of preaching the Word and administering the sacraments – not “priests” or “spiritual persons” (for these designations apply equally to all Christians ruled by the Holy Spirit) but “ministers,” “pastors,” “bishops,” “deacons,” “elders,” “stewards,” “servants,” etc. Now although the New Testament priesthood is universal, no one in the public assembly of the church should appropriate or discharge on his own authority this right which is the common property of all. Rather, some men who are particularly fitted for the task are to be chosen and called by general vote to carry out publicly – in the name of all who have the same right – the functions of teaching, binding and loosing, and administering the sacraments. For necessary to the public execution of the priestly office of instructing, consoling, exhorting, denouncing sins, judging controversies over doctrine, etc., is a thorough knowledge of Christian theology, a faculty for teaching, skill in languages, speaking ability, and other gifts, and these are not equally manifest in all whom the Holy Spirit has regenerated; therefore those who lack these talents rightly yield their privileges to others better endowed than themselves. For God is not the author of disorder and akatastasia [confusion] but of order and peace. Therefore, so that all things might be done euschmonws [decently] and in order and to prevent barbaric confusion and a Cyclopean agora en h akouei oudeis ouden oudenos [assembly where nobody heeds anybody in anything] from existing in the church, Paul himself established a particular order of vocation and commands that this ministry be committed to suitable and faithful men who should teach others. In Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim. 3:1-7, he sets forth at length the qualifications of the bishop or minister of the Gospel who has the duty of performing and administering sacerdotal functions in the public assemblies of the church. Paul does not differentiate bishops, presbyters, and pastors; he assigns precisely equal dignity of rank and the same office to presbyters and to bishops – and it is in fact clear that there were many such in individual towns. In Acts 20[:28], Paul says to the presbyters of the church at Ephesus whom he has called to him: “Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God.” Note also Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1,2; etc. Later, by human authority, ranks were established among the ministers and bishops, and within the presbyterate there appeared the ostiary, the psalmist, the lector, the exorcist, the acolyte, the subdeacon, the deacon, and the priest. One bishop – or overseer, or superintendent – was placed in charge of many presbyters or pastors of individual churches. An archbishop, or metropolitan, came to exercise authority over the bishops. ... This episcopal order and the ranks connected with it are not evil in themselves. They should not be disparaged when they serve to uphold the unity and harmony of the church in true evangelical doctrine and the preservation of Christian discipline and peace; when they maintain and spread right doctrine and reverent worship of God; when they do not claim that they possess the illicit power to interpret Scripture arbitrarily, to establish new articles of faith, to legislate in matters of doctrine and worship; and when they do not assume tyrannical authority over the other members of the church; etc. (On Sacrifice [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1962], pp. 97-102)


[C-11] Because many duties belong to the ministry of the church which cannot all conveniently be performed by one person or by a few, when the believers are very numerous – in order, therefore, that all things may be done in an orderly way, decently, and for edification, these duties of the ministry began, as the assembly of the church grew great, to be distributed among certain ranks of ministers which they afterward called taxeis (ranks) or tagmata (orders), so that each might have, as it were, a certain designated station in which he might serve the church in certain duties of the ministry. Thus in the beginning the apostles took care of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments and at the same time also of the distribution and dispensation of alms. Afterward, however, as the number of disciples increased, they entrusted that part of the ministry which has to do with alms to others, whom they called deacons. They also state the reason why they do this – that they might be able to devote themselves more diligently to the ministry of the Word and to prayer, without diversions. (Acts 6:1-4) This first origin of ranks or orders of ministry in the apostolic church shows what ought to be the cause, what the reason, purpose, and use of such ranks or orders – that for the welfare of the assembly of the church the individual duties which belong to the ministry might be attended to more conveniently, rightly, diligently, and orderly, with a measure of dignity and for edification. And because the apostles afterward accepted into the ministry of teaching those from among the deacons who were approved, as Stephen and Philip, we gather that this also is a use of these ranks or orders, that men are first prepared or tested in minor duties so that afterward heavier duties may more safely and profitably be entrusted to them. That is what Paul says in 1 Tim. 3:10: “Let them also be tested first, and so let them minister.” Likewise: “Those who serve well as deacons will gain a good rank for themselves.” [1 Tim. 3:13, Vulgate] Thus there were in the worship service of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1) prophets and teachers, of whom the former either prophesied of future events or interpreted the more difficult passages of Scripture (1 Cor. 14:29-32), while the latter set forth the elements of Christian doctrine to the people (Heb. 5:12-14). Paul and Barnabas receive Mark into the ministry (Acts 13:5) not merely in order that he might render bodily services to them but so that they might be able to entrust some parts of the ministry of the Word to him, as Paul expressly says (Acts 15:38). There were in the church at Corinth apostles, prophets, and teachers; some spoke in tongues, some interpreted, some had psalms, some prayers, benedictions, and giving of thanks, not in private exercises but in public assemblies of the church. (1 Cor. 12:28-30; 14:26-27) In Eph. 4:11 the following ranks of ministers are listed: (1) apostles, who were not called to some certain church, and who had not been called through men, but immediately by Christ, and had the command to teach everywhere, and were furnished with the testimony of the Spirit and of miracles, that they might not err in doctrine but that their doctrine might be divine and heavenly, to which all the other teachers should be bound; (2) prophets, who either had revelations of future events or interpreted tongues and the Scriptures for the more advanced, for these things are ascribed to the prophets of the New Testament in 1 Cor. 14; (3) evangelists, who were not apostles and yet were not bound to some one certain church but were sent to different churches to teach the Gospel there, but chiefly to lay the first foundations; such an evangelist was Philip (Acts 21:8), and Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5), Tychicus, Sylvanus, etc.; that there were such evangelists also after the times of the apostles Eusebius testifies, Bk. 3, ch. 37, etc.; (4) pastors, who were placed over a certain flock, as Peter shows (1 Peter 5:2-3), and who not only taught but administered the sacraments and had the oversight over their hearers, as Ezekiel (34:2 ff.) describes the pastoral office; (5) teachers, to whom the chief governance or oversight of the church was not entrusted but who only set the doctrine before the people in a simple manner, such as the catechists were later; thus Paul (Rom. 2:20) speaks of “a teacher of children,” and the word teach is expressly used in this sense in Heb. 5:12. All these ranks the apostles include under the terms “presbytery” and “episcopacy.” Sometimes they also call those to whom the ministry of Word and sacrament has been committed by the term “minister” (“servant”). (Col. 1:7,23; 1 Thess. 3:2; 2 Cor. 3:6; 11:23; Eph. 3:7) Also Paul himself sometimes performed the ministry of the Word in such a way that he entrusted the administration of the sacraments to others. 1 Cor. 1:17: “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel.” And in 1 Tim. 1:17 he mentions two kinds of presbyters, of whom some labored in preaching and teaching, while others had been placed in charge of ecclesiastical discipline. Tertullian also mentions this kind of presbytery, Apologeticus, ch. 39. This about completes the list of ranks into which we read that the ecclesiastical ministry was divided at the time of the apostles. This division has examples also in the Old Testament. For David, according to 1 Chron. 23 ff., divided the ministry of the temple into certain ranks or orders. Also in the synagogue there were readers, who only read the Scripture text. There were, besides, also teachers who interpreted the Scripture and applied the text for the purpose of exhortations (Luke 2:46; Acts 15:30-35). And this was the difference between the scribes and Pharisees. However, because of the present dispute, the following reminder must be added: (1) that there is no command in the Word of God, which or how many such ranks or orders there should be; (2) that there were not at the time of the apostles in all churches and at all times the same and the same number of ranks or orders, as can be clearly ascertained from the epistles of Paul, written to various churches; (3) that there was not [originally], at the time of the apostles, such a division of these ranks, but repeatedly one and the same person [an apostle] held and performed all the duties which belong to the ministry, as is clear from the apostolic history. Therefore such orders were free at the time of the apostles and were observed for the sake of good order, decorum, and edification, except that at that time certain special gifts, such as tongues, prophecies, apostolate, and miracles, were bestowed on certain persons by God. These ranks, about which we have spoken until now, were not something beside and beyond the ministry of the Word and sacraments, but the real and true duties of the ministry were distributed among certain ranks for the reasons already set forth. This example of the apostles the primitive church imitated for the same reason and in similar liberty. For the grades of the duties of the ministry were distributed, not however in identically the same way as in the church at Corinth or in that at Ephesus, but according to the circumstances obtaining in each church. From this one can gather what freedom there was in the distribution of the ranks. ... Therefore the ranks or orders were distinguished, not by empty titles but according to certain duties that belonged to the ministry of the church. The bishop taught the Word of God and had charge of the church’s discipline. The presbyters taught and administered the sacraments. The deacons were in charge of the treasuries of the church, in order from them to provide sustenance for the poor and in particular for the ministers of the church. Afterward the deacons also began to be employed for assisting with a certain part of the ministry of the bishop and the presbyters, as also Jerome testifies, Ad Rusticum, such as for reading something publicly from the Scriptures, for teaching, exhorting, etc., admonishing the people to be attentive, to turn their hearts to the Lord, to proclaim peace, to prepare the things which belong to the administration of the sacraments, distribute the sacraments to the people, take those who are to be ordained to the bishop, to remind bishops about matters which pertain to discipline, etc. ...subdeacons were placed under them; they collected the offerings of the faithful which were contributed for the sustenance of the poor and the ministers. Besides these there were lectors, who read publicly to the people from the Scriptures, especially from the Old Testament, for the reading of the New Testament was thereafter given to the deacons. There were psalmists or cantors, who sang first what the whole assembly was accustomed to sing. There were doorkeepers, who at the time of the Sacrament, after the announcement by the deacon, put out of the church the Gentiles, catechumens, penitents, the possessed, heretics, and persons who had been excommunicated, for thus Dionysius describes this office. Bishops, presbyters, and deacons had their famuli, servants, companions, or followers, whose services they used when necessity demanded it, as Paul had used the services of Onesimus. They called these men acolytes. From this the ignorant afterward made candle bearers. Besides these there were exorcists, who had the gift of casting out or restraining demons. This distribution of ranks in the more populous churches was useful for the sake of order, for decorum, and for edification by reason of the duties which belong to the ministry. In the smaller or less populous churches such a distribution of ranks was not judged necessary, and also in the more populous churches a like or identical distribution of these ranks was not everywhere observed. For this reason, for this use, and with this freedom many of these ranks of the ancient church are preserved also among us. ... For we do not outrightly reject or condemn the distribution of these ranks, such as it was in the apostolic and in the ancient church, but use them in our own churches where necessary and for edification, in the way we have said. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 682-88) (Note: In the Lutheran Church, assistant pastors who publicly preach and administer the sacraments have sometimes been called “Deacons,” but such an office is not the same as the Diaconate of the early church as described here by Chemnitz.)

[C-12] To begin with, it is not necessary to search out by conjecture or to learn from the writings of the fathers what was the nature of the association of widows at the time of the apostles. For there are clear descriptions (Acts 6:1; 1 Tim. 5:3 ff.), namely, that the church customarily received into its care poor widows who had neither parents nor children nor friends nor household, nor were able to perform work by which they could sustain themselves, in order that they might be sustained by the alms of the church, and that they should be considered by the deacons in the daily distribution of alms. ... And that the church in turn for this support used their work for the care of the poor, of strangers, of the afflicted and the sick (as the ministry of the deaconesses is described in the history of the church) can be gathered from this, that Paul wants such a one to be enrolled who has before shown hospitality to strangers and performed humane works for the afflicted. It seems also to have been the duty of widows to wash corpses and to wrap them (Acts 9:37). And Paul gives the instruction of young girls and young women to older women (Titus 2:3 ff.), which passage can, however, be understood generally about all matrons of more advanced age. (Examination of the Council of Trent, Part III, pp. 100-01) (On p. 131 Chemnitz also writes that the apostle Paul, in his First Epistle to Timothy, “had spoken of the duty of women in general in ch. 2, and was going to speak about widows and deaconesses in ch. 5.”)


[C-13] Under the name father and mother are included all those who rule others below them such as ... 6. The spiritual fathers, faithful teachers and preachers, school masters and mistresses. 7. After these lords and mistresses, the father and mother of the house. ... Who are the people who are responsible to help teach the catechism? First the preachers in the churches are those who should diligently teach the catechism. The schoolmasters and schoolmistresses in the boys and girls schools are also preachers. ... In the third place parents and house-fathers and house-mothers should help. For what the preachers are in the church, that is what father and mother are at home in the house, as Augustine says. (Der kleine Catechismus des Mannes Gottes Dr. M. Lutheri [Leipzig, 1599], 6, Cap. 2; quoted in C. A. T. Selle, “Das Amt des Pastors als Schulaufseher” [The Office of a Pastor as School Overseer])


[C-14] When someone is given the instruction of the children in God’s Word, he has a teaching office and therefore teaches publicly and administers herein a part of the public preaching office. ... The public teaching of the word of God is a matter of the preaching office in the narrow sense (the pastor’s office); the teaching of the word of God on the part of a school teacher is public since it is part of his office. It also belongs to the preaching office. It is a part of it. ... The spiritual priesthood has the duty to use the word mainly in the home and otherwise privately where someone asks concerning the reason for the hope that is in us or where perhaps the circumstances in addition require it. Emergencies excepted, the general call of Christians extends no further. Everything which goes beyond this and immediately when one discusses a teaching of the word for the congregation, the matter belongs to the public preaching office which is called public because it is an office, a conferred public service. ... According to the general priesthood no Christian has duty, call, or right to teach the word of God to the children of other people let alone the children of many people all together, regularly and at appointed times. That Christian who does this must have a call, right (Recht), and duty in addition. If he is to have the right and duty in addition he must expressly be given a call, and the office, the public service of the word – whether it is the office in totality or only as a special branch of the public preaching office – must be conferred on him. The teacher of Christian schools as such has such a call, the office. In this usage he administers a part of the public preaching office... In the Lutheran Church of the 16th century and following the Schoolmaster was therefore, insofar as he taught the children God’s word and performed ecclesiastical functions and also administered a separated part of the public preaching office, considered as belonging to the so-called clergy. ...he is placed under the oversight of the preacher. This has always occurred in our church because it has rightly been recognized that the school teacher administers a branch office of the holy preaching office. ... The separation of the Christian school office from the preaching office does not release the pastor from his accountability in regard to the Christian instruction and training of the young. Therefore the office of overseeing the school remains with him and the faithful administration of this function is his holy duty. ...the pastor as such should perform oversight over the school insofar as the teacher has an ecclesiastical office and has as the goal of his work the building of the church of Christ and Christendom. (“Das Amt des Pastors als Schulaufseher” [The Office of a Pastor as School Overseer]) (In regard to this essay, C. F. W. Walther writes: “We consider this lecture to be a work of truly reformatory character. No preacher, no schoolteacher, no elder of a congregation and above all no congregational member who has an interest for the right form of our church in America should leave this lecture unread and untested. We are convinced that only when the principles presented here concerning the mutual relationship of school and church, of the school teacher and the preacher, come into play, will school and church remain here in indissoluble association and bring the first of the other gifts which this association should bring according to God’s will and order.” [Der Lutheraner, Vol. 25, No. 11 (February 1, 1869)])

[C-15] A congregational schoolteacher holds a part of the pastoral office [einen Teil des Pfarramtes], indeed a very important part, because he also teaches the Word of God for the benefit of the community. For this reason, the stipulation of the 14th Article [of the Augsburg Confession] also applies to him, that no one should publicly teach and preach without a regular call, nor may his call be terminated except by a godly procedure. According to ecclesiastical usage, the schoolteacher indeed does not receive ordination, which is in and of itself unimportant; but the features necessary for the call, namely nomination and election to the office, are just as indispensable in his case as in the pastor’s, because the aforementioned testing [of a candidate’s qualifications] cannot be left undone in his case without thereby committing grievous sin. (Die Augsburgische Konfession: Das Grundbekenntnis der christlichen Kirche)


[C-16] 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.) 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.) 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.) 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.) 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.) 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.) 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.) 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. 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. 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. (“Thetical Statement of the Doctrine Concerning the Ministry of the Gospel” [First Article], p. 1)

[C-17] 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)


[C-18] The public preaching office is an office of the word. ... The rights given with the office of the word (in the narrower sense) are: the authority to preach the gospel, to administer the sacraments, and the authority of spiritual jurisdiction. ... When we use the phrase “in the narrow sense”...we want to indicate that there are essential and derived rights of the preaching office. The derived rights belong to the ministry of the word in the wider sense... All essential parts of the office of the word can be subsumed into the above mentioned powers (Mt 29:19-20; Jn 20:21-23; Jn 21:15-16; 1 Cor 4:1 ...). ... Ordinarily the congregation, which has the right of calling, is not only bound to the preaching office until the Last Day, but also may not mutilate it; that is, she must establish all its essential parts together. ... The congregation can establish grades (taxis tagmata) of the one office of the word; that is, they can arrange matters so that this person cares for one part of the office of the word and that person cares for another part. This is done, however, only de iure humano. ... And when the congregation commits the care of different parts of the preaching office to different people, they really confer in reality to each one the office of the keys because each one opens up heaven through the part of the ministry of the word that he administers. ... If the congregation commits an essential part of the preaching office [to someone] they commit it in its entirety virtualiter [virtually], with the provision to care only for the designated part. (The one called to a part of the ministry, however, does not have the right to take over the part of another without a further call.) ... In other words, preaching is the audible word; the holy sacraments are the visible word, that is, a visible preaching of the gospel; all church discipline, if we might say it this way, is the tangible word, that is, a manifest use of the law or gospel. All these parts that the preaching office administers differ neither in origin nor in use. They all flow from the word and have in mind the salvation of men. Therefore nothing else is possible than that the entire word belongs to each function of the office. What does the congregation commit to him who, for example, is only to baptize? Without doubt it is the keys to which baptism belongs. With these keys, which he administers according to divine order in the name of the congregation, he opens heaven and the treasures of God’s grace to a particular part of the congregation. But he who only preaches does this same thing. ... There are ministries which are indeed necessary to the governance of the church and therefore belong to the preaching office in the wider sense, which however do not necessarily involve the conducting of the office in the narrower sense. ...the offices of the church of the higher order, as Scripture itself enumerates them, flow out of the apostles’ ministry, the preaching office of today, and have their root in it. ... Evangelists, pastors, elders and deacons do not occupy offices which from time to time were newly instituted by God. Rather they were instituted at the same time in and with the apostles’ office. Also the offices of the church of the lower order are the products of two factors, the office of apostle and the congregation. While these offices were offshoots of the apostolate so they were also necessary to the governance of the congregation. In the beginning the apostles oversaw all the offices of the congregation. The administration of the material goods of the congregation was entirely in their hands. Also the care of those in need, especially the widows, with bodily goods and other requirements of bodily support was their duty. ... Because of the continual growth of the congregation the twelve were not able to care for all the parts of the holy office in like fashion. They asked the congregation therefore to designate men who had good reputations and were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom so that a part of the present load of the apostles’ office could be committed to them. In accordance with this, the congregation chose seven deacons whose duty primarily was the care of the poor and administration of physical goods in the congregation. These ministers, whose moral qualifications are listed by St. Paul in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, whether they occupy the office of elder in the narrow sense (presbuteroi) or the ministry of ruling (proistamenoi, hgoumenoi) or the office of deacon (diakonoi) (Rom 12:8; Heb 13:7,17,24 and similar verses), bear a part of the office of the church and stand at the side of the office of the church katexochn, the preaching office. Therefore the offices of the rulers, elders, assistants to the poor, the school teachers, sacristans, and cantors in our congregations are likewise to be considered as holy ecclesiastical [kirchlich] offices. Still these offices in no way involve the conducting of the preaching office in the narrow sense. Already at the institution of the diaconate the apostles explicitly kept the office of the word for themselves (Acts 6:4). The deacons could “acquire a good rank for themselves” (1 Tim 3:13), and also become qualified for the preaching office in the narrow sense. Still herein it is stated that in and of themselves they in no way were already authorized for the conducting of the preaching office. The most important verse in question here, however, is 1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially (malista) those who labor in word and doctrine.” Here two classes of elders are put forth. There are those who labor in word and doctrine and occupy the ministry of the word in the narrow sense. There are also those with whom this is not the case whose ministry was different, namely, which was for the ruling of the congregation introduced for the censure of morals and the preservation of discipline in the church, Romans 12:8. When it is clear that the ministry of the word katexochn includes everything that is necessary for the ruling of the congregation, but on the other hand the so-called office of elder in no way involves the conducting of the preaching office sensu strictiori, then the office of elder must be comprised of helping ministries [Hilfsdienste] which can be administered by those who thereby do not become preachers and who do not have the authorization to administer the office of the word and sacraments. ... The school diaconate takes a middle position between the teaching ministry of the teaching elder and the above diaconate insofar as laboring in doctrine is one of its chief duties. But its ministry is confined only to a part of the congregation even if it is the most precious part. On the other hand the teaching presbyter is a bishop, that is, an overseer of the adults as well as the young. (“Does a Congregation Ordinarily Have the Right Temporarily to Commit an Essential Part of the Holy Preaching Office to a Layman?,” Logia, Vol. VI, No. 3 [Holy Trinity 1997], pp. 37-43) (This essay was originally published [in three parts] in Lehre und Wehre [edited by C. F. W. Walther], Vol. 20, Nos. 9, 11, and 12 [Sept., Nov., and Dec. 1874].)



[D-1] The ministry [Predigtamt] is the highest office in the Church, from which, as its stem, all other offices of the Church [Kirchenämter] issue. ... Since the incumbents of the public ministry [des Öffentlichen Predigtamtes] have in their public office, for the sake of the common interests of their congregations, John 20:21-23, the administration of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which the Church possesses originally and immediately, Matt. 16:19; 18:18, their office must necessarily be the highest office in the Church, and from it, as from the stem, all other offices must issue, inasmuch as the keys embrace the entire authority of the Church. In accordance with this the incumbents of this office are in the Holy Scriptures called elders, bishops, rulers, stewards, etc.; and the incumbents of an inferior office are called deacons, that is, servants, not only of God, but also of the congregation and of the bishop; and it is stated regarding the latter in particular that they must care for the congregation and must watch over all souls, as those that must render an account for them, 1 Tim. 3:1,5,7; 5:17; 1 Cor. 4:1; Titus 1:7; Heb. 13:17. We see from this that the holy apostles in the beginning discharged, together with their ministry of preaching, also the office of deacons in Jerusalem, until the growth of the congregation required that for their relief this latter office be assigned to special persons, Acts 6:1-6. For with the apostolate the Lord has established in the Church only one office, which embraces all offices of the Church, and by which the congregation of God is to be provided for in every respect. The highest office is the ministry of preaching, with which all other offices are simultaneously conferred. Therefore every other public office in the Church is merely a part of the office of the ministry [Predigtamt], or an auxiliary office, which is attached to the ministry of preaching [Predigtamt] whether it be the eldership of such as do not labor in the Word and doctrine, 1 Tim. 1:15, or that of rulers [Vorsteher], Rom. 12:8, or the diaconate (ministry of service in the narrower sense) or the administration of whatever office in the Church may be assigned to particular persons. Accordingly, the office of schoolteachers who have to teach the Word of God in their schools, of almoners, of sextons, of precentors in public worship, etc., are all to be regarded as sacred offices of the Church, which exercise a part of the one office of the church and are aids to the ministry of preaching. (“The Voice of Our Church Concerning the Question of the Church and the Ministry,” Walther and the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1938], pp. 78-79)

[D-2] When Christ separated the holy apostles unto their office (Matt. 10:1 ff.; Mk. 6:7 ff.; Luke 9:1 ff.) he established the church office (Kirchenamt) or ministry of the Word or office of soul care (Seelsorgeramt) above all. Therefore in the Smalcald articles it says: “We have a certain teaching, that the ministry of the Word comes from the general call of the apostles.” (See Tractate 10.) The office he thereby established has many different functions (Verrichtungen): to preach God’s Word, to administer the holy Sacraments, to loose and bind, to watch over discipline and order, to care for the poor, sick, widows, orphans, to care for souls in the congregation etc. Yet, all these many functions are the responsibilities of the one office which Christ established. Therefore when the Papists speak of seven and the Episcopalians of three, and the Presbyterians of two special offices established in the church, they have no ground for it in the holy Scriptures but rather it is purely human imagination. Although God established only one office in the church, still he did not command that all the functions which belong to this office must be carried out by one person alone. Therefore it stands in the freedom of the church to take from the preacher certain functions of the preaching office, which do not belong to the essence of the office but rather are necessary only on account of the essential parts, and assign them to other people. These people are then helpers of the preacher and thereby branch and helping offices are established. The church used this freedom already in the time of the holy apostles. At first, for example, the apostles carried out even the bodily care of the poor in the Christian congregation in Jerusalem on account of their office. When however the growth of the congregation made it impossible for them to do this any longer without skipping over this or that person, they suggested that the congregation should elect certain men for performing this function. And thus the apostolic office of deacon (Diakonen) or servant (Diener) in the narrow sense originated, namely, the office of caring for alms, as a branch and helping office of the one church office (Kirchenamtes). In the same or similar fashion the office of such elders who do not labor in word and doctrine but rather give attention to the care of discipline and order in the congregation may have originated in apostolic times (1 Tim 5:17). Later these were called Lay Elders or Seniors of the people. Their office too was as little the ministry of the Word as the deacon’s office. It is rather a branch or helping office of the holy ministry of the Word. Therefore Martin Chemnitz, the well-known co-author of the Formula of Concord writes: “Because many functions belong to the office of the church (Kirchenamt) which when the number of believers is large cannot all be performed well by one or a few, so it was begun, so that all would be orderly, proper, and for upbuilding, when the church grew large, to arrange every function of the preaching office into certain grades (Stufen) of ministers of the church (Kirchendienern). These were later called (in Greek) Taxeis or Tagmata. This was done so that every one might have his certain decided position, in which he might serve the congregation through certain functions of the preaching office. So in the beginning the apostles cared for the office of the Word and Sacraments and likewise the distribution and administration of the alms. Afterwards however, when the number of disciples grew, they conferred (uebertrugen) this part of the ministry of the Word, which concerned the alms, to others whom they called Deacons, that is, servants. They themselves state why this was done, namely, that they might look after the ministry of the Word and prayer without ceasing. Acts 6:4.” (Examen Concil. Trid. II, 13., fol. 574.) The so-called Deacons and Lay Elders of the apostles’ time were, as was already suggested, in no way preachers and overseers of souls. They were rather only their helpers for functions of the preaching office which do not make up the essence of the office. Indeed, their functions too were commanded by God. But that these should be carried out only by particular people in an office is not based on God’s express command. Their office as a special and separate office from the preaching office was also not a divine order and institution but rather an office ordered by the church (kirchlicher Ordnung). These helping offices were not established in all congregations and yet no divine command was being transgressed. Therefore also the Deacons and Lay Elders are sometimes installed for a certain period of time or for a certain term, or when one does not need them any longer he releases them from their office. It was an entirely different circumstance however when in a congregation more than one were installed who in every way (allerseits) had the office of the Word. In this instance they all had the same divine office established by Christ, the same spiritual and ecclesiastical authority. It was only a matter of human order (Ordnung), when they either divided certain functions of the office or the care for certain parts of the people among themselves. Likewise when they chose one from among themselves to whom the others submit themselves freely and according to human right or also when a whole group of ministers of the church (Kirchendiener) labor in the word in one congregation and continuously submit themselves one to another. The so-called system of bishops originally rested on this view of things in the times when the pure teaching still reigned in the church. It was recognized that a Bishop set over the other ministers of the church was really nothing other than a presbyter (Elder), a pastor, who only for the sake of church order was set over the other ministers of the church and who had the additional authority given to him merely by human right. (“Comments on the Expulsion of a Lutheran ‘Deacon,’” Der Lutheraner, Vol. 23, No. 9 [Jan. 1, 1867], pp. 65 ff.)


[D-3] 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. (“Church Polity,” I, Lutheran Church Review, Vol. II, Whole No. 8 [Oct. 1883], pp. 316-17)

(testimonies rev. 19 Sept. 2003)


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