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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass part 70

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Greek canon also says many things about the offering, but it shows plainly that it is not speaking properly of the body and blood of the Lord, but of the whole service: of prayers and thanksgivings. It says: “And make us worthy to come to offer you requests and supplications and bloodless sacrifices for all the people.” This gives no offense when rightly understood. It asks that we be made worthy to offer prayers and supplications and bloodless sacrifices for the people. He even calls prayers bloodless sacrifices. A little later: “We offer this reasonable and bloodless service.” They misinterpret this as a reasonable sacrifice, and assign it to the very body of Christ, even though the canon speaks of the entire worship. Paul has spoken of logike latreia (reasonable service, Rom 12:1), as the worship of the mind, of fear, of faith, of prayer, of thanksgiving, and so forth, in opposition to the opus operatum.

Pulling It Together

The word “bodies,” used in nearly every English translation of Romans 12:1, does not mean body in the way we think. The Greek somata means more than the physical. In this case, body should be thought of in terms of a whole body of work, as in the entire corpus of the Bible. If thought of in that way, “body” works here. We are to offer our whole corpus to God—everything we are, not just our physical bodies but our thoughts, wills, and emotions too. This is why Paul slides so comfortably into speaking of the mind and the will in verse two. We are not transformed by the offerings of the flesh but by the renewing of the mind. How else would we discern the will of God? These bodies understand little, let alone the depth of God’s will.

This whole corpus then, our entire being, is what we offer to God as our sensible service of worship. It is our due service of the mind and will, not a sacrifice of blood. Otherwise, we would not be offering “all [our] faculties to Him” (Weymouth New Testament), let alone those sacrifices be considered “living.”

Prayer: I give myself to you, Lord, and ask your help in giving more. Amen.

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