Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, December 06, 2010

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

Chapter 1

The Occasion of the Letter

Paul had planted the pure teaching of the Gospel among the Galatians, and with it the righteousness of faith. But after he left, certain false teachers crept in who overthrew all that he had taught. The devil cannot but argue furiously against the true teaching and cannot rest as long as he sees any spark of it remaining. We too, simply because we preach the Gospel, suffer from the world, the devil, and his ministers all the mischief they can work against us on every hand.

The Gospel is a doctrine that teaches a far higher matter than the wisdom, righteousness, and religion of the world; it teaches free forgiveness of sins through Christ. But the world prefers its own things instead of the Creator and tries to get rid of sin, be delivered from death, and earn everlasting life in its own way. The Gospel condemns this. On the other hand, the world cannot abide things being condemned when it values them highly and likes them best; and therefore it claims that the Gospel is a seditious doctrine, full of errors, that it overthrows governments, countries, and empires, and therefore offends against God and the emperor, that it abolishes laws, corrupts good manners, and sets everybody free to do what they want. Therefore, with what appears to be holy and righteous zeal, the world persecutes this doctrine and abhors its teachers and adherents as the greatest plague on earth.

Moreover, preaching true doctrine overthrows the devil, destroys his kingdom, and wrests out of his hand the law, sin, and death (by which he has subjugated all mankind). In short, the devil’s prisoners are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and liberty. Will the devil permit all this? Will the father of lies not use all his force and ingenuity to obscure, corrupt, and utterly root out this doctrine of salvation and eternal life? Indeed, St. Paul complains in this and all his other letters that the devil shows himself skillful at this.

The Gospel is a doctrine that condemns all sorts of human righteousness and preaches the sole righteousness of Christ. To those who accept this, it brings peace of conscience and all good things; yet the world hates and persecutes it bitterly.

I have already said that the reason Paul wrote this letter was that after he left, false teachers among the Galatians destroyed what he had built with much hard work. These false apostles were Pharisees—men of authority, highly esteemed—who boasted that they belonged to the chosen people, that they were Abraham’s descendants (see Romans 9:4–6), that they had the promises and the fathers, and, finally, that they were ministers of Christ and scholars of the apostles, with whom they had been conversant and whose miracles they had seen. Perhaps they had even performed some miracles themselves, for Christ says that the wicked do perform miracles (see Matthew 7:22).

Moreover, these false apostles defaced St. Paul’s authority, saying, “Why do you rate Paul so highly? Why do you have him in such great reverence? He was merely the last of all those who were converted to Christ. But we are the disciples of the apostles; we knew them well. We saw Christ performing miracles and heard him preach. Paul came after us and is inferior to us. It would be impossible for God to allow us to go wrong when we belong to his holy people, are the ministers of Christ, and have received the Holy Spirit. Further, there are many of us, and Paul is on his own and neither knows the apostles nor has seen Christ. Indeed, for a long time he persecuted the church of Christ. Do you think God would allow so many churches to be deceived, just for Paul’s sake?”

When such persuasive men come into a country or city, people soon admire them, and those men deceive not only the simple but also the learned with their apparent godliness. They even deceive people who seem to be pretty well established in the faith. Thus Paul lost his authority among the Galatians, and his doctrine was brought under suspicion.

Against this boasting of the false apostles, Paul firmly asserts his apostolic authority. Although he does not do anything like it elsewhere, he will not give way to anyone, even to the apostles themselves, much less to any of their followers. To stop these men’s pharisaical pride and shameless boldness, he mentions what happened at Antioch, where he withstood Peter himself. He ignores any possible offense and plainly states that he was so bold as to accuse and reprove Peter, the chief of the apostles, who had seen Christ and knew him really well. “I am an apostle,” he says in effect, “and was not afraid to chide the pillar of all the rest.”

Luther, M. (1998). Galatians. The Crossway classic commentaries (24–26). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

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