Lectionary 29 C

Another fun set of citations, biasing the semicontinuous readings, this week: love and faith, the third use of the law, election, and the call to pray. There also aside note of avoiding morphological fundamentalism a la Luther. 

Jeremiah 31:27-34 (Semicontinuous)

Verse 33 is quoted twice in quick succession in Apology of the Augsbueg Confession,  Article 4: Justification (AP 4.123, 4.125). First in a string of quotes framing the argument, then to show what the life of faith means. Melanchthon unpacks the spiritual, regenerated person's relationship to the two tables of the law, with some strong influence from Luther, thusly: "Therefore, after we have been justified and reborn by faith, we begin to fear and love God, to pray for and expect help from him, to thank and praise him, and to obey him in our afflictions. We also begin to love our neighbor because our hearts have spiritual and holy impulses." (AP 4.125)

Verse 33 makes another appearance later in the same article in a footnote (AP 4.219, n. 167) . In this section, responding to the arguments against the Augsburg Confesions's relationship between faith and love, the quarto edition quotes verse 33. The last sentence of this section it also worth quoting: "Whoever throws away love will not retain faith, however strong it may be, for that person does not retain the Holy Spirit." (AP 4.219)

Psalm 121

Verse 8 is quoted in The Small Catechism, Baptismal Booklet with the citation given in a footnote (SC, BB.18, n. 160) . It is of some interest that we don't include this line in the baptismal rite anymore, but then the rite has been changed several times just within my lifetime. Reading around this area and in the footnotes shows how even this version in the Small Catechism presented some changes.

Psalm 119:97-104 (Semicontinuous)

Verse 97 is kind of quoted but definitely cited in  Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 4: Third Use of the Law (SD 6.4). A kind of quote is assembled through reference to Psalm 1:2 and four verses from Psalm 119, of which verse 97 is the last.

The reformers after Luther's death sought a way around the debate on whether or not there is a third use of the law by pointing out that Christians should still learn and reflect on the law because "the law is a mirror that accurately depicts the will of God and what pleases him" (SD 6.4). It didn't work, because the decision was to agree to disagree, so the question on the number of uses of the law still continues.

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Verse 16 is also quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Artilce 6: Third Use of the Law (SD 6.14), but shows the complicated issue of the uses of the law by showing that "reproof is the proper function of the law." This may seem clear, but the debate shows in the next sentence: "as often as believers stumble, they are reproved by God's Spirit from the law, and by the same Spirit they are restored again and comforted with the proclamation of the holy gospel." So is there a use of the law that is particular to those who have been reborn, or when the reborn sin do they encounter the law just like those who are not reborn? This is the ongoing debate among Lutherans that the Formula officially decided not to decide.

Verse 16 is also quoted a bit later in Article 11: Election (SD 11.12) , along with a citation of both verses 16 and 17. The consistent call here regarding these verses and election is that such knowledge gained from scripture is not to give us a false sense of righteousness or drive us into a depression. Since God has both foreknowledge of who will be saved and has preordained who will be saved, therefore God calls us to encouter scripture's call of repentance as an expression of God's desire to save all people.

Luke 18:1-8

 Verse 1 is cited in a footnote in The Large Catechism, Part Three: The Lord's Prayer (LC 3.4, n. 164) as part of the long lost of citations from the New Testament that encourage us to pray.


Prayer and reproof are paired in a fascinating way. Constantly praying holds the unjust judge accountable for justice. There is some clarity in the relationship between the judge and those seeking righteousness, but I think that a parallel can be drawn here to scripture's relationship to us. The main difference being that we can more easily ignore scripture than the judge could ignore those seeking justice.

  • How do we proclaim the gospel so that those with faith are encouraged to encounter the reproof of the law both in scripture and in their neighbor? 
  • Where do we make daily space for scripture to call us into repentance?