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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 18

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Matthew 18:18–19

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

In all these passages, Peter is the representative of the entire assembly of apostles, which is evident in the text itself. Christ does not ask Peter alone, but says, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15). What is said here in the singular number—“I will give you the keys,” and “whatever you bind,” etc.—is expressed elsewhere in the plural (Matt 18:18–19). It is also written, “If you forgive the sins of any” (John 20:23). These words show that the keys are equally given to all the apostles and that all the apostles are equally sent forth.

Pulling It Together: The English language lacks the nuance of singular and plural voices when it comes to the word “you.” One must determine from context, or as in this case, look at the original (Greek) language to determine how many people Jesus is speaking to when he says “you.” In Matthew 16:18–19, Jesus is speaking to a singular “you,” who is Peter. In Matthew 18:18–19, he gives the same message to a plural “you,” who are all of the disciples. Christ gave the keys, as is clear in Scripture, to all of his disciples—not to Peter alone. 

Prayer: Help your whole Church, Holy Spirit, to confess Jesus as the Christ. Amen.

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Developed and used by Pastor Fred Baltz in his church in Galena, Illinois, the LEVI Project Guide is a congregational resource book describing how a parish can host an “invite-able” event. Using a practical, step-by-step “how to” approach, this book provides guidance, organization, and ideas, not simply to promote a single program of outreach, but to develop and inspire the overall outreach efforts of the congregation. 

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