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Ministerial Office.

1. The office of the ministry is a divine institution. Scripture distinguishes bet. the office of the ministry and the royal priesthood*. All Christians are priests (1 Ptr 2:9; Rv 1:6), but only some hold the office of the ministry. The Bible speaks of the latter in various terms (e.g., overseers, ministers, pastors, teachers, deacons, elders), indicating the scope of the office (Acts 20:28; 1 Co 4:1; 12:29; Eph 4:11–12; 1 Ti 3:1–2, 8–13; Tts 1:5). The office of a minister is not a continuation of the priesthood of the OT, nor does it consist in certain rights and powers vested in the Apostles which only they and their successors could and can confer on others, nor is it conferred indelibly on any individual by ordination (see Character indelebilis). Christ continues His prophetic office through the work of the ministry; those who are called by Christian congs. or groups of congs. are Christ's undershepherds, Christ Himself being the one Lord and Master (Mt 23:8; 1 Ptr 5:4). The means of grace (see Grace, Means of) were given by God to the ch. God calls certain men through his Church to administer them for the cong., thus making them ministrantes inter Christianos (“those who minister among Christians”). The ch. has the obligation to carry out the commission of Mt 28:19–20 and may create whatever other offices are necessary.

2. Some distinguish bet. the ministerial office in abstracto (Predigtamt; ministry) and in concreto (Pfarramt; pastorate). Some Lutherans influenced by the 17th century fathers and the pietism of Philipp Jacob Spener* maintain that AC V speaks of the ministry in abstracto: “In order that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted.… Our churches condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Spirit comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.” These same theologians maintain that AC XIV speaks of the ministerial office in concreto: “It is taught among us that nobody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call.”

Luther, with Scripture, distinguishes between the priesthood of all the baptized (royal priesthood) and the ministers who, according to Matthew 28 and John 20, not seen as opposing Matthew 20, serve the Church in the Stead of Christ by His mandate for the blessing and benefit of God's people. If the ministers do not serve the Church by proclaiming the Word in purity and the Sacraments according to Christ's mandate they are to be deposed as antichrists and God's people, as priests, are given to call another minister.

3. Pastors properly called by congs. are shepherds of their flock acc. to God's will (Acts 20:28; Tts 1:5).

4. God provided that His work be done through chs. (e.g., Acts 2:41–42, 47; 20:28). The apostles were inspired; ministers are not; but the apostles made no distinction bet. themselves and pastors as far as the work of the ministry is concerned, but spoke of pastors as having the same duties (2 Ti 2:2; 1 Ptr 5:2), the same authority (Heb 13:17), performing the same service (1 Co 3:5); and regarded them fully as their fellow ministers (1 Co 3:22; 4:1; Cl 1:7; 1 Ptr 5:l).

5. Two elements have been distinguished in the call to the ministry. One is the inward conviction urging the individual to enter the ministry. The other is the call, the invitation from God through the ch. to specific pub. ministry in the ch. Ordination usually follows the 1st call received and accepted. JHCF

See also Pastor as Counselor; Teachers.

P. G. Lindemann, Ambassadors of Christ (St. Louis, 1935); G. H. Gerberding, The Lutheran Pastor, 4th ed. (Philadelphia, 1902); C. F. W. Walther, Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt, 4th ed. (Zwickau, Ger., 1894); C. C. Stoughton, Set Apart for the Gospel (Philadelphia, 1946); W. H. Greever, The Minister and the Ministry (Philadelphia, 1945); P. F. Koehneke, “The Call into the Holy Ministry,” The Abiding Word, I, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, 1946), 366–388; M. J. Steege, “The Lutheran Pastor,” The Abiding Word, I, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, 1946), 389–409; E. E. Foelber, “The Office of the Public Ministry,” The Abiding Word, II, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, 1947), 474–492; T. F. Gullixson, “The Ministry,” What Lutherans Are Thinking, ed. E. C. Fendt (Columbus, Ohio, 1947), pp. 289–306; R. R. Caemmerer and E. L. Lueker, Church and Ministry in Transition (St. Louis, 1964); The Ministry in Historical Perspectives, ed. H. R. Niebuhr and D. D. Williams (New York, 1956); E. L. Lueker, Change and the Church (St. Louis, 1969); M. Chemnitz, Enchiridion, tr. L. Poellot, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments (St. Louis, 1981); B. Lohse, Luthers Theologie (Göttingen, 1995).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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