Teaching Much Without Teaching Anything

Lent 4 Tuesday

Isaiah 42:19-20

“Who is as blind as my servant, and who is as deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is as blind as the perfect one and as blind as the servant of the Lord? Much is preached, but they do not keep it. Much is said to them, but they do not want to hear it.”


He calls the high priests and the priests and those who held the office of the Word his “servants.” He calls them blind. That is a frightening verse, but it comforts us against the mindless screaming of the papists who hold that no other evidence gets us into deeper trouble than the masses of bishops and popes they advance against us, claiming that it is impossible that all these could have erred. This is also what the Jews were able to say against Isaiah. For they too were set as leaders of the people. They held the office and government over the holy people and had more cogent proof that they were the church and God’s people than our adversaries. Still, the verse says that they were blind and erred. … But he calls him “the perfect one” not on account of his person, but due to his office, because they are at the apex of dignity and hold the highest office, namely, the preaching office. He goes on and describes more clearly what kind of people those who held these office were, namely, blowhards who stand ready to teach, who teach much without teaching anything. They rather believe and teach anything but the doctrine of the faith. … When he says, “much is said to them, but they do not want to hear it,” this is similar to the previous sentence; for as the teacher, so the student. This is also how Paul speaks: “They always learn but can never arrive at the knowledge of the truth,” 2 Timothy 3:7. But we experienced this in the papacy. There was a great number of teachers; there were also many hearers. But still, in this great multitude of teachers and hearers, who was there who had truly internalized one verse of the psalms, one of the Ten Commandments, or one petition of the Lord’s Prayer? But it is a horrible ingratitude that we forget how bad it was under the pope and are not more eager to study God’s Word that is now spread so richly among us.


St. Louis ed., 6:519-520.

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