Augsburg Confession – Article 3 – The Son of God

Articles 3, 4 & 5 of the Augsburg Confession in the Book of Concord of 1580

(To read Article 2, click here.)

We likewise teach that God the Son has become human,1 born from the pure virgin Mary,2 and that the two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably united in one person in this way, are one Christ, who is true God and true human. He truly was born, suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried, so as to be be a sacrifice not just for inherited sin but also for all other sins, and thus to appease God’s wrath. We likewise teach that this same Christ descended into hell, truly rose from the dead on the third day,3 ascended into heaven, and is sitting at the right hand of God, that he might rule eternally over all creatures. He also sits at God’s right hand to govern in such a way as to sanctify, purify, strengthen, and comfort through the Holy Spirit all who believe in him, and to give them life and impart all sorts of gifts and blessings to them, and to defend and protect them against the devil and sin. We likewise teach that this same Lord Christ will publicly appear in the end to judge the living and the dead, etc., in accordance with the Apostles’ Creed.

(To continue to Article 4, click here.)

Notes

1 Sometimes Christians are unnecessarily disturbed by the translation “to become human” instead of “to become man” for Mensch werden, because they think it constitutes a covert denial of the gender God’s Son assumed. First, no such denial is intended with this translation. Jesus was a male human being in keeping with the prophecies made about him (e.g. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Second, “to become man” is an unfaithful translation (except in the rare case, such as in a poetic context, where a person immediately understands man in its broader sense), because that is simply not what the German phrase means. Mensch is the generic word for a human, like ἄνθρωπος in Greek. (This fact is not helped by such idiomatic sayings in English as, “Now you’re a real Mensch,” when the person means to say, “Now you’re a real man.”) Third, theologically, Jesus was the atoning substitute and sacrifice for all humanity, both men and women, and thus it is entirely appropriate to emphasize his humanity more than his maleness, though there are certainly occasions when talking about his maleness is in order.

2 Mary is called “pure” in reference to both her virginity and the spiritual purity she enjoyed in the sight of God through faith in the coming Messiah (the same purity all enjoy who believe in Jesus as their Savior). In the Latin version she is called “the blessed virgin Mary,” a concept that is taken straight from the Scriptures (Luke 1:48).

3 Melanchthon almost seems to have anticipated the spiritualizing of Christ’s resurrection that takes place especially within mainline Protestant church bodies today. For instance, in Easter of 2016, Gerhard Ulrich, the chief bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, a fellowship of a number of German state churches in fellowship with the ELCA, published an Easter message in a church newspaper. In the article he said that Jesus decomposed like any other person, declaring point-blank: “Jesus is dead.” But, Ulrich asserted, that which was “divine” in Jesus, namely his ideas and his zeal and his commitment to life, continues to live because his disciples wanted it to. And they then experienced a “resurrection,” because they no longer hid themselves away from the Jews in fear and despair, but saw to it that the cause of Jesus continued. See also the 2009 survey of pastors in Wisconsin from the ELCA, LC-MS, WELS, ELS, and CLC in which the participants were asked to state whether they agreed with this statement, among others: “The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a bodily, physical resurrection.”

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Quote of the Week – Sin, Death, and Hell Swallowed Up

I apologize for not sharing any quote last week. This week’s quote is taken from Martin Luther’s Tractate on Christian Liberty (1520). Luther originally intended this tractate as a devotional work to accompany a conciliatory letter to Pope Leo X, at the suggestion of papal nuncio Karl von Miltitz. Luther’s own German translation, On the Freedom of the Christian Person, is more widely read, but the original Latin is clearer and more complete (cf. LW 31:329ff).

[S]ince Christ is God and man, and is so in a person who has not sinned nor dies nor is condemned, for that matter is unable to sin, die, or be condemned, and his righteousness, life, and salvation is unconquerable, eternal, and omnipotent; since, I say, such a person shares in his bride’s sins, death, and hell, and on account of his ring of faithfulness even makes them his own and situates himself in them in no other way than as if they were his own and he himself had sinned – suffering, dying, and descending to hell that he might conquer them all – and sin, death, and hell are unable to swallow him up, then by necessity they have been swallowed up in him in an amazing battle. For his righteousness is greater than the sins of all people; his life is more powerful than all death; his salvation is more invincible than all hell.

Source
Weimarer Ausgabe 7:55