Easter 3 B

The editor was busy adding citations this week, and much is made of Luke 24:47.

Psalm 4

Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
-- Psalm 4:5

Verse 4 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 24: The Mass (AP 24.29) along with several other scriptural quotes that Melanchthon uses to deconstruct the idea that simply doing the rite is sufficient. This verse reminds us, as Melanchthon interprets it, that God "commands us to trust and says that this is a right sacrifice, thereby indicating that other sacrifices are not true and righteous sacrifices."

Luke 24:36b-48

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures...
-- Luke 24:45

Verse 45 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 2: Free Will (SD 2.26) to show that we need God to bring about the rebirth of reason just as God brings about the rebirth of the rest of the person.

...and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
-- Luke 24:46-47

Verses 46 and 47 are quoted a little later in Solid Declaration, Article 5: Law and Gospel (SD 5.4) as an example of the word "gospel" referring to "the entire teaching pf Christ, our Lord, which in his own ministry on earth and in the New Testament he commanded to be carried out."

Verse 47 by itself is cited seven times in The Book of Concord. The first three citations are all in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, starting with Article 4: Justification (AP 4.62), where verse 47 is cited through editorial insert as the first step in Melanchthon's unpacking of the justifying faith. At Jesus' command, we proclaim the gospel to all.

The next two citations are both in Article 12: Repentance. First (AP 12.30), quoted to show in brief a summary of the gospel, but also pointing to the two parts of repentance: feeling sorry for your sin, and believing that your sin is forgiven. Then (AP 12.122), Melanchthon cites the Confutation's use of this verse in an attempt to show that some kind of work is necessary to be forgiven the guilt of sin. A footnote (AP 12.122, n. 343) helpfully reminds us that this is a linguistic translation issue of the Latin word poenitentia, which can be translated as both repentance and penance.

Verse 47 is next cited through a paraphrase in Smalcald Articles, Part 3, Article 3: Concerning Repentance (SA 3.3.6) where Luther is quick to point out that for followers of Jesus, any authority derived from the God's law is also paired with the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins. Both must be present, both for the proof of authority, but also for the constant call to repent.

The last three citations are all in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration. First, right near where verses 46-47 are quoted, verse 47 is quoted again (SD 5.8), but this time to show the difference between repentance used to talk particularly about contrition and repentance being used to talk about the full process of contrition and faith. In this instance, it's the first use of repentance as contrition.

The last two citations of verse 47 are quite close together in Article 11: Election. The first citation in this set is through editorial insert (SD 11.27) as proof of the command for preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The second citation (SD 11.28) quotes verse 47 to show that this preaching is to for all people.


I am sure many people find these kinds of linguistic arguments needless, but part of the rebirth of our rational mind through the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a call to attend to what we're saying and how other people might hear it. And these aren't small questions being addressed: Does repentance include the forgiveness of sin or is that separate? Is some act of penance necessary for forgiveness? How do we show we are sorry for our sins? Where does faith play a part in all this? These questions actually trouble some people, so I'm glad that we have denominational traditions that have taken these questions seriously--even if we have ended up with different answers. Trust is such a central theme of faith that people want to know what they're being asked to trust. If reason, too, is saved through baptism, then we must be willing to deal with questions of all kinds as our faith seeks understanding.