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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction part 4

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Ephesians 5:25–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

It is ridiculous to use here the saying of Solomon, “Know well the condition of your flocks” (Prov 27:23). Solomon is not talking about confession, but is giving a domestic principle to the head of a family, that he should use what is his own, and abstain from that of another. He commands him to diligently care for his own property, yet in such a way that his mind is not so occupied with the increase of his resources that he does not disregard the fear of God, or faith, or attention to God’s Word. Through a fantastic metamorphosis, our adversaries transform passages of Scripture to mean whatever they please. To “know” here means with them to hear confessions; “conditions” does not mean the outward life, but the secrets of conscience; and “flocks” means people. The interpretation is assuredly neat, and is worthy of those who despise language. But if any one desires, by similitude, to transfer a principle from a head of a household to a pastor of a church, he should certainly interpret “condition” as applying to the outward life. This analogy would be more consistent.

Pulling It Together

Always interpret Scripture in the plainest sense, using the clear meaning of the words. If a parable is being used, we might allow our minds to wonder what Jesus meant—until he tells us plainly. We see in his parables (and in other places in Scripture, eg: Eph 5:31–32) that allegory is used in Scripture. Still, the plain sense of the words should first be considered, and secondly, as has already been stated, Scripture should be allowed to interpret Scripture. In other words, we should not bring a preconceived notion to the Bible and then pursue some verse to back up that human idea. We see how Jesus told his disciples the meaning of parables. Paul does the same in the above-cited passage, telling us that Genesis 2:24 is an allegory of Christ and the Church, in which Christ is the head of that household. Even in such examples, the plain sense is clear—for Scripture immediately tells us the meaning.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for sanctifying the Church in your word. Amen. 

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