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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 64

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Matthew 20:25–28

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 64

Jurisdiction remains in those cases that, according to canon law, pertain to the ecclesiastical court, as they call it, and especially in cases of matrimony. The bishops only have this too, by human right, and not for very long, as it appears from the Codex and Novellae of Justinian that decisions concerning marriage belonged to the magistrates at that time. By divine right, civil judges are compelled to make these decisions if the bishops are negligent. The canons also acknowledge the same. Therefore, it is not necessary to obey bishops because of this jurisdiction either.

Pulling It Together

While pastors should be concerned that the Word of God is upheld in the church, they should do so only from the position of the Word’s authority. Otherwise, they have no authority. Pastors, including bishops, are called to speak God’s truth, not to exercise their own fabricated authority. When the Word is given backseat, tempers flare and self-interests dominate. When the will of God is ignored, human will always muscles in, injuring those very persons the church’s leaders are called to serve. Look to Jesus, who had authority and power to act but chose his Father’s will instead (John 10:17–18). His is the best example of pastoral leadership.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, embolden me with Christ’s courage so that I might serve others. Amen.

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