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The Confession of St. Peter

Upon celebrating the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, we read a portion of the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope as printed in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions.

Scripture Readings

Acts 4:8–13
Psalm 118:19–29
2 Peter 1:1–15
Mark 8:27–9:1

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

As we remember Peter’s confession today, we recognize that the rock of the Church is the ministry of preaching and teaching God’s Word. On this day especially, we thank God for all those in the Office of the Holy Ministry.

Devotional Reading

Christ does not ask Peter alone, when He says, “Who do you say that I am?” [Matthew 16:15]. What is said here to Peter alone in the singular number, “I will give you [singular] the keys; and whatever you [singular] bind” [16:19], is elsewhere expressed in the plural [e.g., Matthew 18:18] “Whatever you [plural] bind”; [John 20:23] “If you [plural] forgive the sins of anyone.” These words show that the Keys are given to all the apostles alike and that all the apostles are sent forth alike.

In addition, it must be recognized that the Keys belong not to the person of one particular man, but to the Church. Many most clear and firm arguments show this. For Christ, speaking about the Keys, adds, for example, “If two of you agree on earth” (Matthew 18:19). Therefore, He grants the Keys first and directly to the Church. This is why it is first the Church that has the right of calling. ‹For just as the promise of the Gospel belongs certainly and immediately to the entire Church, so the Keys belong immediately to the entire Church, because the Keys are nothing else than the office whereby this promise is communicated to every one who desires it, just as it is actually manifest that the Church has the power to ordain ministers of the Church. And Christ speaks in these words: Whatsoever you shall bind, etc., and indicates to whom He has given the Keys, namely, to the Church: Where two or three are gathered together in My name. Likewise, Christ gives supreme and final jurisdiction to the Church when He says: Tell it unto the Church.›

Therefore, these passages demonstrate that Peter is the representative of the entire assembly of the apostles. They do not grant Peter any privilege or superiority or lordship.

As for the declaration “on this rock I will build My church” [Matthew 16:18], certainly the Church has not been built upon the authority of a man. Rather, it has been built upon the ministry of the confession Peter made, in which he proclaims that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God [Matthew 16:16]. Therefore, Christ addresses Peter as a minister, “On this rock,” that is, this ministry. ‹Therefore, He addresses him as a minister of this office in which this confession and doctrine is to be in operation and says: “Upon this rock,” i.e., this preaching and preaching office.›

Furthermore, the ministry of the New Testament is not bound to places and persons like the Levitical [Old Testament] ministry was. Rather, it is spread throughout the whole world. That is where God gives His gifts, apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers [Ephesians 4:11]. Nor does this ministry work because of the authority of any person, but because of the Word given by Christ [Romans 10:17]. ‹Nor does the person add anything to this Word and office; it matters not who is preaching and teaching it; if there are hearts who receive and cling to it, to them it is done as they hear and believe.›

Devotional reading is from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, pages 297–98 © 2005, 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Selected Hymn Stanza

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
   Even when steeples are falling.
Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land;
   Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the souls distressed,
   Longing for rest everlasting.

Hymn stanza is from LSB 645:1.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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