When One Individual is Two Persons

Epiphany 7 Monday

Matthew 5:38-41

“You have heard that it is said: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you that you should not resist the evil. But if anyone strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other as well. And if anyone wants to sue you to take your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Those who belong to the government on earth should and must have at their disposal laws and punishments, must maintain social and economic differences, and must order and divide, so that all things are comprehended and everybody knows what he is to do and have and no one interferes with someone else’s office or encroach on others and take what is theirs. Lawyers are needed here to teach and enforce this. But the gospel should not care about any of these things but teaches how the heart is to stand before God and how it should be prepared to remain pure under all circumstances lest it end up with a false kind of righteousness. You should grasp and note this distinction well since it is the foundation of the matter from which you can answer all pertinent questions easily. This distinction lets you see what Christ is talking about and who the people are to whom he preaches: He preaches about the spiritual existence of life and preaches to his Christians, how they should live and act before God and in the world, so that their heart may cling to God and not take on the government of the world or any authority, power, punishment, anger, revenge. If you are asked whether a Christian may sue or defend himself, answer simply by saying No. For a Christian is such a person or human being who has nothing to do with such worldly existence and law while he is in such a realm or government where nothing should rule besides the petition: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Nothing but love and service should exist among Christians, even toward those who do not love us but are our enemies and visit violence and injustice upon us. This is why Christ tells his Christians that they should not resist the evil, that they should not at all avenge themselves, so that they should turn the other cheek to him who strikes them. A different question is whether a Christian may be a man of the world and hold and exercise a governmental or judicial office, so
that two persons or two kinds of offices are vested in one individual, so that he is both a Christian and a prince, judge, lord, or servant? The latter are called persons of the world for they belong to the government of the world. Here our answer is Yes. For God himself has ordained and instituted such worldly government and distinction and has even confirmed and praised them by his Word. For without them, our life in this world could not exist. We are all contained in
them, even born into them, before we became Christians. This is also why we must remain in them for as long as we walk this earth, but only according to the outward, physical life and existence.

St. Louis ed., 7:467-468.

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