Saturday, November 12, 2016

Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels

These are notes for the historic 1-year lectionary from Luther’s Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, compiled from his works by Rev E. Mueller, pastor in Guetersloh, Germany.
Translated by Rev. P. Anstadt, D.D., 1899

Some liturgical dates are omitted, for example, January 25 the Conversion of St. Paul. Muller did not have any notes from Luther on the Gospel text for those days.

Luther's Notes on the Gospels

2 Thess. 1:8 ὑπακούουσιν "hearken to" the Gospel

A note on verse 8 of the 2nd Last Sunday of the Church Year Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10
καὶ τοῖς μὴ ὑπακούουσιν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ
And to those who did not hearken to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus
ὑπακούουσιν is often rendered "obey," but more properly to the context it should be rendered something like "hearken to" as in He 5:8 and 9 [Easter 5] the use of "obey" seem particularly problematic.
Those passages in context state:
8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience τὴν ὑπακοήν by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing ταῖς ἀκοαῖς.
The passage is very reminiscent of the content of the Farewell Discourse in John: Particularly John 15:16 “for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you,” and John 16:12-15. This is also the theme of the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, for example:
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
In any case, here in 2 Thess 1:8 as in Hebrew 5:9 “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν Him” only really works if the semantic content of “obey” includes the idea of trusting in the Promise of forgiveness in the Gospel. In each of these cases “listen to” or “hearken” would work much better. It embraces the need for obedience to the Law without obscuring the Gospel.
Another example of the use of ὑπήκουσεν in He 11:8 [Easter 3] is interesting, because here the translation “obey” might be understood correctly in English. The context shows how God's calling was to a promise. Yet, because of the theological problems exhibited both by the sinful nature and by other poorly translated passages it might be best to just say “By faith Abraham hearkened when he was called to go out...”