Lectionary 11 C

Fair warning: it's a fairly long one this week. All the reflection is on repentance and faith, but with particular connection in the Apology between the 2 Samuel and Luke reading. (Sorry, those of you doing the semicontinuous readings, but that connection does not happen with the 1 Kings reading.)

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15

Chapter 12, verse 13 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.48) connecting David's confession with Paul's letter to the Colossians showing that there is a claim the law has against David, which David himself here recognizes. This same quote, "I have sinned against the Lord," is cited later in the same article (AP 12.56) to show that these words are also evidence of David's contrition. The same quote is both the voice of the law and the voice of sorrow for breaking the law.

Psalm 32

(Also used for Lent 4 C.)

Verse 1 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.76) to show that the forgiveness of sins is the same thing as being justified to God.

This same verse is quoted later in the same article (AP 4.103) within a quote from a letter from Ambrose's to Irenaeus showing that it is faith in Jesus that frees us, not our works.

And again, later in the same article, this verse is quoted within a much larger argument of why love does not justify as part of the fourth point (AP 4.172, quarto 162-163), that "Christ does not stop being our mediator after we are reborn" (AP 4.172). Verse 1 shows that "we need the forgiveness of sins even when we have good works" (AP 4.172).

Verse 6 is also quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.148, quarto 164, 167-9) within this same larger argument to show that those who are faithful "pray for the forgiveness of sins" (AP 4.148) because faith shows us that we cannot keep the law.

Verse 1 is also quoted in Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article 4: Good Works, Affirmative Thesis 3 (Ep 4.7, n. 35) within a quote from Romans to show that "good works must be completely excluded from any question of salvation as well as from the article on our justification before God" (Ep 4.7) because salvation comes through faith.

Verse 5 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.107) to show that "when confession is made to God, it is of necessity made with heart and not simply with the mouth, as is done by actors on the stage. Therefore such a confession is contrition" (AP 12.107).

Psalm 5:1-8 (Semicontinuous)

Verse 4 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election (SD 11.7) as a reminder that God is not the source of evil in the world. (That source would be the wills that strive against God's will: the devil, the world, and our flesh.)

Galatians 2:15-21

Verses 15-16 are possibly quoted, but definitely cited, in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 3: Righteousness (SD 3.7) in a string of editorially inserted citations for some of Paul's more common lines (the "exclusive clauses") that show our righteousness does not come through our works.

Verse 16 on its own is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.93) to make clear the argument from Paul that our justification is not from our works. The previous citation from the Solid Declaration actually refers to this section.

Verse 16 is also cited by editorial insert in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 6: Third Use of the Law (SD 6.16) along with several other Pauline citations to show that those who "are not reborn but do act according to the law and do perform its work because they are commanded, either out of fear of punishment or desire for reward, they are still under the law," and their works are "works of the law in the strict sense" for "they are saints of the stripe of Cain" (SD 6.16). ("Saints of the stripe of Cain," a footnote points out, is a Luther aphorism (SD 6.16, n. 168).)

Verse 17 is referenced through both partial quote and editorial insert in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 15: Human Traditions in the Church (AP 15.12) to show that there are no rituals or traditions that must come before God's gift of righteousness or that those whom God justifies must earn grace through them.

Verse 19 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.33) to show that the power of the law is to terrify the conscience, so the law alone drives people away from God. With the gospel, however, people are driven to Jesus.

Verse 21 is cited through editorial insert in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.29) within a quote from Augustine's On Nature and Grace that supports the Lutheran argument about the uselessness of works in regards to justification before God. Particularly here though, the point is that if we could justify our selves through our works, then Jesus would unnecessary, or as Paul puts it, "Christ died for nothing."

Luke 7:36-8:3

Only chapter 7 from this pericope has citations, but there are quite a few. First, the story of verse 37 and following is cited in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.57). Note that this is the same part of AP 12 noted for the 2 Samuel reading above. The Luke 7 point is the connection between contrition and faith. Verses 48 and 50 are particularly quoted here to show that anointing woman was contrite, so when Jesus declares absolution, the faith she was given by God that moved her to anoint Jesus' feet is what receives Jesus' absolution that "uplifts and consoles her" (AP 12.57).

Verses 41-43 and 50 are cited in a footnote for Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 4: Justification (AP 4.152, n. 128), which notes that Luther offered up some marginalia on this section with verse 50 showing that "faith receives forgiveness" and verses 41-43 being cited as a parable where Jesus "demonstrates the property of forgiveness over love" (n. 128). Verses 47 and 50 are also cited here (AP 4.152), quoted in the body text noting that these verses form a "synecdoche, by which we sometimes combine cause and effect in the same phrase," which shows that "Christ did not intend to say that the woman had merited the forgiveness of sins by her work of love" (AP 4.152).

Verse 50 is also cited in The Small Catechism, Confession Booklet, (SC 4.28, n. 96) noting the biblical citation for finishing individual confession with the phrase, "Go in peace."


The Confessions strive to make it clear that what happens in Luke 7 reading is not a story of the woman (not Mary Magdalene, that's not who this woman is in Luke) earning forgiveness by anointing Jesus' feet. A Lutheran argument could read this story as follows: God had given the gift of faith to the woman. She encountered the law and was terrified by how she had fallen short of the law. Believing that Jesus could forgive her, she offered an act of love as an expression of her faith. Jesus confirms her faith by declaring her sins forgiven, which the faith God gave her receives as consolation for her sins because she has been reckoned as righteous before God.

(No questions this week, there's already more than enough to mull over.)