The Theology of Martin Luther

By Paul Althaus; Robert C. Schultz | Go to book overview

23
THE OFFICE OF THE
MINISTRY

BASIS AND CONTENT

IN HIS On the Councils and the Churches, Luther lists the signs of the church's presence. Among these he includes the fact that the church has offices and calls men to fill them.1 Now Luther does list this particular sign in the fifth place. It is preceded by God's word, baptism, the Lord's Supper and the office of the keys. But precisely these four “healing powers” of the church make it necessary that the church, “the Christian holy people,” have offices and “servants of the church” who administer these saving remedies.2 Luther describes a double basis for the necessity and authority of this official ministry. On the one hand, he proceeds from the priesthood of all the baptized. By the power of the priesthood they are authorized and called to serve through the word and the sacrament. It would not, however, be possible for every member of the community to publicly administer the word and sacrament to the entire community. That would lead to a deplorable confusion.3 To avoid this the community must commit this public ministry to some one person who administers it “for the sake of and in the name of the church.” The necessity of and authority of this office is, however, “much more” derived from its institution by Christ. According to Ephesians 4:8–11 he has “given gifts to men” and appointed some to be apostles, prophets,

1WA 50, 632; PE 5, 275. Cf. W. Brunotte, Das geisllicbe Ami bei Luther
(Berlin: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1959.) H. Lieberg, Amt und Ordination
bei Luther und MeUnchthon
(unpublished dissertation, University of Erlangen,
1960).

2WA 50, 632: PE 5, 275. WA 11, 411; PE 4. 79. WA 39II, 287.

3 “Otherwise, there might be a shameful confusion among the people of God.”
WA 12, 189; LW 40, 34. “For the whole group cannot do this but must either
themselves order someone or permit someone to do it. Otherwise what would
be the result if everyone wanted to preach or to administer the sacrament and
no one would give in to anyone else? One individual must be appointed and
he must do the preaching.” WA 50, 633; PE 5, 275 f.

-323-

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The Theology of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Preface to the German Edition v
  • Translator's Note ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Authority of Scripture and of the Creeds 3
  • 2: The Subject Matter of Theology 9
  • Part One - The Knowledge of God the Word of God and Faith 13
  • 3: The General and the Proper Knowledge of God 15
  • 4: God in Himself and God as He Reveals Himself 20
  • 5: The Theology of the Cross 25
  • 6: The Word of God and the Spirit of God 35
  • 7: Faith 43
  • 8: Reason 64
  • 9: The Holy Scripture 72
  • Part Two - God's Work 103
  • 10: God is God 105
  • 11: God's Will for Men 130
  • 12: Man as a Sinner 141
  • 13: Man Between God and Satan 161
  • 14: Man Under the Wrath of God 169
  • 15: God in Jesus Christ 179
  • 16: The Trinity 199
  • 17: Jesus Christ as the Reconciler and Redeemer 201
  • 18: Righteousness in Faith 224
  • 19: Law and Gospel 251
  • 20: The Freedom of the Gracious God 274
  • 21: The People of God 287
  • 22: The Church as the Community of Saints 294
  • 23: The Office of the Ministry 323
  • 24: The True Church and the Empirical Church 333
  • 25: The Sacrament 345
  • 26: Baptism 353
  • 27: The Lord's Supper 375
  • 28: Eschatology 404
  • Appendixes 427
  • Appendix One - “and Though I Had All Faith” 429
  • Appendix Two - “love and the Certainty of Salvation” 446
  • Indexes 459
  • Index of Names 460
  • Index of Subjects 461
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