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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Monastic Vows – part 45

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1 John 2:25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

They also cite 1 Timothy 5:11–12 about the widows who served the Church but were supported at the public expense, where it is said: “They desire to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.” First, let us suppose that the Apostle is speaking here of vows. This passage will still not back up monastic vows that are made concerning godless worship, and with the opinion that they merit the forgiveness of sins and justification. For Paul clearly condemns all worship, all laws, all works, if they are observed in order to merit the forgiveness of sins or to obtain eternal life for us on account of them, instead of through mercy for Christ’s sake. So, the vows of widows, if there were any, must have been unlike monastic vows.

Pulling It Together: It is clear enough from the context that these widows whom Paul spoke of were simply women the Church supported unless they remarried. Then their husbands would support them. Yet, this is not the real issue here. Let us not conceal the actual subject of our concern—the concern of Paul and of all Scripture. We are forgiven, justified, and given eternal life because of Christ alone. We are not saved from death and damnation because of our vows. Rather, we are saved because we believe the promises of God in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, promise of eternal life, train the eyes of my heart upon you. Amen.

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