Some fine bit of rhetorical snark from Melanchthon and this consistent call to love. I'll let you discover the tension there...
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.
-- Acts 10:44
Verse 44 is quoted at the end of an argument in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.71). The argument starts with verse 43, but concludes with verse 44 because Melanchthon is setting up a fun little gimmick. While he is relying on Peter's sermon here to point out "the forgiveness of sins is either a part or the goal... of repentance" (AP 12.63). He then says we can stack up all the Catholic authors who say otherwise, nothing that "if we add up the number of authorities, they would win" (AP 12.68). But then he contends, "let us not hesitate to set Peter's word, which cites the consensus of the prophets, against the ever so many legions of commentators" (AP 12.70). Such a great trick. To top it off, he then quotes verse 44 to show that even the Holy Spirit agrees with Peter.
On a side note, when reading this section, I stumbled across what I consider to be a great line from Melanchthon:
... they failed to exercise judgment, but like petty public officials they tacitly approved the errors of those who preceded them without understanding them.
-- Apology of the Augsburg Confession,
Article 12: Repentance, Line 69
[Jesus said,] "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love...
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you...
"You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."
-- John 15:10, 12, 16-17
Verses 10, 12, 16, and 17 are all cited in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election (SD 11.12) as four of the six verses in John 15 which are given to us "to encourage godliness."
Verse 12 on it's own is cited earlier in the Solid Declaration, Article 4: Good Works (SD 4.14) along with 1 John 4:11 from last week as an example of obligatory language in regards to good works. God wants us to love one another. Jesus' commandment to love is God's desire for how we live as the Church. As we faithfully follow Christ and walk by the power of the Spirit, we will follow this commandment and all the rest, and even more.
The second half of the "I am the vine, y'all are the branches" analogy begun in last week's gospel reading along with all the readings we've had from 1 John really press the love issue. Humorously, and I think this is a point that we as Church often miss, Jesus' commandments and John's call are for us as followers of Jesus to love each other. There seems to be an underlying point here: Do you consider yourself a follower of Jesus? Then love other followers of Jesus! That may be simplistic, but the point is sound. So much of what turns people off from Christianity is Christians hating other Christians.
- What would it look like if we Christians made loving and serving other Christians a top priority?
- What if we, whom Jesus calls friends, tried being friendly with each other?