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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
Besides, the death of Christ is a satisfaction not only for guilt, but also for eternal death, according to Hosea: “O death, I will be thy death” (Hos 13:14). How monstrous, therefore, it is to say that Christ’s satisfaction redeems us from the guilt, but our punishments redeem us from eternal death. In that case, our works, not Christ, are the subject of the expression, “I will be thy death”—indeed, not even works commanded by God, but some cold observances devised by men. These works are said to abolish death, even when they are wrought in mortal sin.
Pulling It Together: Melancthon seems to depend upon the Vulgate (the Latin translation) here. The Old Testament of the Luther Bibel would not be available for three more years. The German translation of Hosea 13:14 is more dependable than the Latin, though the Latin wording sounds better and contains excellent theology. “Ero mors tua, o mors!” or “O death, I will be thy death!” rings in the soul.
The impact of English translations is the same, if less poetic. Death has been vanquished. But who is speaking in Hosea’s prophecy? It is God speaking—not our works. It is God who says, “O Sheol, where is your sting?” For God in Christ has removed the sting of death, his death destroying both death and the devil (2 Tim 1:10; Heb 2:14). Faith in Christ’s satisfaction deals, not only with our guilt but, eternal death as well.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for delivering me from eternal death. Amen.
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