A 6th Improvement for the PMW

The second section is entitled “The Public Ministry of the Word.” It’s a good title, especially understood in coordination with Article V of the Augsburg Confession:

That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. [Triglotta translation]

We’re not dealing with church-related offices that do not administer the Gospel or the Sacraments. When we call it “the Public Ministry of the Word,” we’re also including the Sacraments as a necessary manifestation of the Word; as Augustine called them, “a visible Word” (Apology XIII, paragraph 5).

This sixth suggested improvement to the PMW is a small one. Part II begins:

This public use of the keys is the Public Ministry of the Word. “That we may obtain this faith, the office of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted” (AC V).

While starting Part II with the word “This” makes Part I a prerequisite for Part II, this is not necessary, and may not be desirable. The effect is that Part II can’t really be cited on its own, without Part I. What’s more, it doesn’t really explain what AC V means by the word “instituted,” instead just stating the effect of that institution. It would make more sense, I think, to say exactly what we mean by that institution, something like this:

The Lord Jesus established the Public Ministry of the Word for the public administration of the Office of the Keys. “That we may obtain this faith, the office of teaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted” (Augsburg Confession, V).

Note that the translation of the Augsburg Confession here differs a little from that of the Concordia Triglotta. I had thought that the PMW was following the translation in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, but it’s not. I don’t think it makes a serious difference, but does anyone know where this translation came from?

Note also that the words “office” and “ministry” are interchangeable. Though they both can have more than one sense, even that variety tends to overlap. The difference is that “ministry” connotes service, while “office” connotes representative responsibility. In this case the office-holder primarily represents God, whose Word and Sacraments are administered, and he primarily serves others, in keeping with Jesus’ example on the night He was betrayed.

One thought on “A 6th Improvement for the PMW

  1. The Book of Concord, Kolb/Wengert has the Latin translation of AC V as quoted with the exception of the word ‘ministry’ in place of the word ‘office’. They have the German translation structured differently from the Latin with the word ‘office’ used.

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