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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope part 19

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Matthew 18:15–20

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope

Additionally, it is necessary to acknowledge that the keys do not belong to the person of one particular man, but to the whole Church. This is clear from the testimony of many firm arguments. Christ, spoke about the keys saying, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matt 18:19). Therefore, he grants the keys principally and immediately to the Church. The Church, for this same reason, has the primary right of calling ministers. In these passages, we must view Peter as the representative of the entire company of apostles. For this reason, they do not confer to Peter any prerogative, primacy, or power.

Pulling It Together

Let us reason forward from Scripture, instead of proof-texting. Deciding the way things should be, then bending a verse to fit the invention does violence to God’s Word. Yet, his Word is safe from such cruel hands.

Read in context. See what is really happening in a whole unit of the story. At least read a few verses before and after a cited verse. In this case, just following the very verse used to demonstrate that one person is to rule everyone, Jesus declares that a thing is binding by the agreement of two or three people—not by one representative of the whole Church. This is why the Keys, vocation, and ultimately, even discipline, are the responsibility of the whole Church, as Jesus clearly says, “tell it to the church.” The reason for this is also clear if one reads on to the next verse. Jesus is present in the company of two or three who assemble in his name.

Prayer: Help me listen, Lord, to you and to my brothers and sisters of faith. Amen.

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How to be a Disciple is a six-part series of dramas featuring the first twelve disciples, each exploring a piece of the discipleship puzzle. The disciples are placed in a light-hearted contemporary setting, helping listeners to get a sense for the down-to-earth interplay between personalities. The progression of the series is meant to provide the larger picture of what discipleship means. (Two to five characters per drama.)


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