Thursday, May 30, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Exaudi (Easter 7) (Sunday after the Ascension)

John 15:26-16:4
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
16:1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
“And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."


Luther's Notes

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 

But when the Helper comes. He means to say: Besides this, that with which I comfort you now by my example, how it shall go with me and also by what you hear of that which you shall find in the world, (vs. 18-25,) to this I will give you an addition and a present. For an other shall come, when I am gone, and (as they shall think,) dead for ever, whose mouth they shall not be able to stop, but who will publicly testify of me, before all the world, regardless whether it will deride or rage. The same is sent and given by the Father and me, to the end that ye may know and the world must experience, that it proceeds from my power and might, and that what the Holy Ghost preaches through you is my Father's mind, command and will. He is a "Comforter," and when there is no more consolation in the world and ye are very much terrified and weak, he shall speak to your hearts, that you shall not despair.

This Comforter is also called a "Spirit of Truth." For his comfort is not like that of the world, which is temporal, but his comfort endures forever, and can deceive no one. The world has its comfort too, but it is a lying comfort.

But whence does the Holy Ghost take this consolation? "From the Father," says Christ here; for he says, "Whom I will send unto you from the Father." For he, the Father, is the originating 1  person; I am the Son; and the Holy Ghost proceeds from us and the three persons are one thing and essence, alike mighty and powerful, as he expresses it yet clearer and says: "The Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father." That is to say, He shall comfort you, he is almighty and the Lord of all things. For if the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, then it must follow that such Spirit is eternal; since nothing can proceed from the Father which is not like and according to his essence and nature.

But wherewith does the Holy Ghost comfort? Christ says, "He shall testify of me." For if the consciences shall be comforted, it must be done by the preaching of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we can say: Though all should be lost, wife and child, house and land, goods and honor; yea, if it should be necessary that body and life should be given up, yet he lives above, who is called Jesus Christ, who for my sake became man, died, rose again and ascended to heaven for me.

But why does the Lord here use the word "testify?" For this reason, that we should attend the more to the word. For it is true, that the work of the Holy Ghost is inwardly in the heart. But such work he will carry on not otherwise than by the spoken word. Rom. 10:14.

 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
And you also will bear witness, etc. He shall first testify inwardly in your hearts, afterwards also outwardly by miracles and your confession and preaching, that you "who have been with me from the beginning," can say what you have heard and seen. But the Holy Ghost must be here first, otherwise you can do nothing.

Now when he says, you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning, he points out especially the apostles be fore all preachers, and confirms the preaching, so that all the world shall be bound to the word. 1 John 1:1-3.

1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.

 that you should not be made to stumble. For when ye shall see and experience, that all the world hates and perse cutes you, and especially those who are called the people of God and the true church, then you will be tried, either by doubts whether you have the true faith, or to become impa tient and unbelieving.

 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 

They will put you out of the synagogues. Here you learn that the gospel is such a teaching, which according to reason and human judgment is absolutely an irksome doctrine, which should be regarded not only as a great error, but as such a thing that should in no way be heard or tolerated, as the pernicious poison of the detestable devil. But he mentions two things with which the enemies of the Christians adorn their persecutions and life.

The first is, when he says, "They" (that is, not the openly bad villains, but those who are called the most prominent, wise, holy and as he says, servants of God) "shall put you out of the synagogues." This means nothing else than to be separated from the people of God, cut off and cast away as an unfit and condemned member, excluded from God and everything that is God's.

Now, where such excommunication and curse is pronounced there the other thing also must follow of which Christ speaks here: "yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." For the execution or punishment, which the world imagines must be inflicted on such is, that they should be exterminated from the earth without mercy. (Deut. 13:8.) And this they will not do in secret, but in open court and with all honor and praise, and will not only allege their worldly authority, but assert that they must do this for God's sake, and for the sake of the Christian church, as her obedient members; that the Christians must so suffer and die, as the devil's members, and every one exclaims, Oh, what a truly holy priestly work and sacrifice has this emperor and prince done.

3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

They have not known the Father nor me. It is necessary that we should make a distinction and learn that there have always been two kinds of churches. The false church takes the sword in hand and persecutes the true church. By this you can certainly know which is the false church, and still more certainly by what Christ says, "These things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." This is the true touchstone. Now, what does it mean, to know Christ and the Father? There are two kinds of knowledge. The first kind is the knowledge which some also have of God. For they know, indeed, of him and say, " I believe in God the Father and his only be gotten Son;" but it is only on the tongue, it does not enter into the heart. Whoever would know the Father well must know him in Christ. But to know Christ in the right way, means to know that he died for me and has taken my sins upon himself. Then I ascend farther up from the Son to the Father and lay hold of God, where he is most tender, and think, O this is God, this is God's will and pleasure, that Christ has done this for me.

4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.
“And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."

Remember I told you, etc. The Lord Christ feels it very well himself that it is very highly necessary to tell them this, that they may stand against the great offense. He says, I said it not to you at the beginning; for thus far it has not been necessary, because I was with you. For while ye have me with you, they must leave you in peace, and can do nothing to you, unless they have done it first unto me. This Gospel, (vs.5-15,) is fine, beautiful, and rich beyond measure, but very high and sharp, treating of the high and necessary article from which we have our name and are called Christians.


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Note 1: the translator used the word "insipient" at this point [meaning "foolish, stupid"] which is a mis-spelling for "incipient" [meaning "origin, beginning, start"].



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 362-364

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