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Acts 5:26-32


Then the captain with the officers went and brought [the Apostles], but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."
(ESV)
Apostolic Syllogism
Friday after Ash Wednesday
12 February 2016
Human reason must remain at the service of God's Word. Human reason, which is a good gift of a gracious God, must never become lord over Scripture. Reason is never master, but servant. Reason may not dictate to God's Word. Reason can only set itself under the dicta of Scripture, never over them.
 
So Paul marshals holy reason led by the Holy Spirit to bring together that against which lordly reason might rebel. Who could have reasoned that Christ would be willing to be so degraded that He would bear the curse of the law for us? Who could have come to the apostolic conclusion that we are free of the curse, because it was placed on Him? Who could have described the Son of God as the accursed One?
 
Yet, this is exactly Paul's reasoning in Galatians 3:13. Paul gives us what others have called the apostolic syllogism. The syllogism is a particular kind of logical argument. Paul's syllogism goes like this: Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed. Christ was hanged on a tree. Therefore, Christ is cursed. The corollary to this is that since Christ took the curse upon Himself and took it away, it can no longer stand over us. We are freed from the curse of the law.

 

Martin Luther

"Paul treats this topic in a truly apostolic way....Who would dare quote this passage from Moses, 'Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,' and apply it to Christ Himself? By the same principle by which Paul applied this sentence, 'Cursed be everyone, etc.,' (Gal 3:13) to Christ, we can apply not only all of Deuteronomy 27 but all the collected curses of the Mosaic Law to Christ. For just as Christ for His own person is innocent of this general law, so He is of all others. And just as for us He violated this general law and was hanged on the tree as a criminal, a blasphemer, a parricide, and a traitor, so He violated all other laws as well. For all the curses of the law were gathered together in Him, and therefore He bore and sustained them in His own body for us. Consequently, He was not only accursed; but He became a curse for us.
 
"This is really the apostolic way to interpret the Scriptures. For without the Holy Spirit a man cannot speak this way; that is, he cannot include the entire Law in one word and gather it all at once in Christ, and, on the other hand, include all the promises of Scripture and say that these are fulfilled in Christ once and for all. Therefore this argument is apostolic and very powerful, based as it is, not on one passage in the law but on all the laws; and Paul relies heavily on it." 
 
Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
 
Prayer
O Lord, You have released me from the burden of the law. Comfort me with the message that You have borne my curse. Let me live out my freedom in service to others for your sake. Amen.
 
For Albert Collver, that the Lord would keep him safe in his travels and give success to his labors
 
For the Elders Retreat of MLC this weekend, that the Lord would send His Holy Spirit among our church leaders, that they would have the courage to confess the truth
 
For the Concordia University System of the LCMS, that all those who teach and all those who learn might know and faithfully confess the Word of God

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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