Some Notes on AC XIV

These are some notes I prepared when I taught at a circuit pastors meeting a couple months ago in the High Plains Circuit of the Wyoming District about AC XIV

Augsburg Confession Article XIV Notes for Study

From the McCain edition:

Order in the Church

Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.[1]


This is to do with the Estate of the Church (Luther often uses “ordo” in his description of the Three Estates).  Yes, it is good order, but it is more than that – it is a divine ordering within the divinely ordained estate of the Church.

Our churches teach – what Lutheran pastors teach, because the public teaching of the church is done by her pastors.  This is a part of the doctrinal confession of the AC.

Publicly – the ministry is public.  Preaching, teaching, and administration of the sacraments are public acts.  Exercising the keys is a public act.  Not hidden.  Not infiltrating. Not in the darkness.  Historically this also has some “legal” standing as a public office.

Church – AC VII – where the pure Gospel is preached and sacraments are rightly administered.

Rightly Ordered – Discussed above under Order.  See also Treatise, 67.  Ordination is how the Papists understood this, and the Lutherans accept that also in the Apology.  The Papists object to who is the one given to call/ordain (Bishops).  Melanchthon’s response is found also in Treatise, 66.

The “Call” is necessary.  This is the process:

  • Examination (fitness; implied instruction prior)
  • Election/Call (divine, mediate through the church)
  • Ordination (public recognition and confirmation)
    NOTE: The Treatise (par 67) speaks of Call, Election, and Ordination

“Vocatus” is passive perfect tense – it has happened to the man in the past, and he remains in the office in the present.  Ongoing fitness then is also implied by this word.

Note correlation:

  • Means of grace which create and sustain the Church (AC V)
  • Marks of the Church which denote Church (AC VII, IX, X, XI, XIII)
  • The office of the ministry which serves the Church (AC V, XIV, XXVIII)

Other notes – AC XXVIII was written before AC XIV (and AC V) and heavily informs it.  Much of the complaint about AC XIV being too short is based upon ignorance.  AC XXVIII clearly teaches that the Office of the Ministry is that which preaches, teaches, and administers the sacraments.

Melanchthon in his Variata added to AC XIV.  He added the “just as Paul instructs Titus to ordain elders (Titus 1:5)”.  This helps us understand more about what Melanchthon had in mind when he wrote the original.

Excerpts from the Apology:

par 24 – In Article XIV, we say that no one should administer the Word and Sacraments unless he is rightly called. The adversaries accept the article, but on the condition that we use canonical ordination. About this subject we have often testified in this assembly that it is our greatest desire to keep Church orders and ranks, even though they have been made by human authority. We know that Church discipline in the manner laid down in the ancient canons was set up by the Fathers for a good and useful purpose.

Catechism Connections:

Note the very existence of the Catechisms is built upon AC XIV and the duty of public preaching/teaching.  Also the sections on the sacraments imply a connection to AC XIV by nature of their administration.


            4 O bishops! What answer will you ever give to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment fulfilled your office [James 3:1]? May all misfortune run from you! 5 ‹I do not wish at this place to call down evil on your heads.› You command the Sacrament in one form and insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care at all whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of God’s Word. Woe, woe to you forever! [See Matthew 23.]

6 Therefore, I beg you all for God’s sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office [1 Timothy 4:13]. Have pity on the people who are entrusted to you [Acts 20:28] and help us teach the catechism to the people, and especially to the young. And let those of you who cannot do better take these tables and forms and impress them, word for word, on the people [Deuteronomy 6:7], as follows

Third Commandment – preaching included

Fourth Commandment – other authorities

Apostles Creed, Third Article – the Church called by the Gospel, “true faith”, in this Church He daily and richly forgives…

Lord’s Prayer, First Petition – God’s Word taught in truth and purity (also prayed for in Third Petition)

Confession/Office of the Keys, “pastor”, “called ministers”

Table of Duties – Preachers and Hearers

Christian Questions and their Answers – “After instruction.. the pastor may ask”

Other Confessional Sections that are related:

Note the familiar “Our Churches teach..” and “We believe, teach, and confess..” of the confessions assume the teaching office in the Church.

AC V; Office, Means of grace, purpose


AC XXVIII; True job of bishops/pastors; preach/teach, administer sacraments, administer the keys (“preaching” Law/Gospel)

Apology XXVIII – the ministry is for the sake of the Gospel;

SA Part III, Article X;

Treatise par 22-24

Treatise par 67-72 – Church authority to call, elect and ordain ministers.  Pastors are necessary.  Church is duty bound according to divine law to ordain for themselves pastors.

Large Catechism, Preface – reminder of the office of teaching

Large Catechism, Third Commandment – Divine Service, preaching

Fourth Commandment – other authorities, “spiritual fathers”

Large Catechism, Eighth Commandment, “godly preachers and Christians”, Pastors office to be public judges of evil

Large Catechism, Third Article – preaches, teaches, implied in God’s word in the Church

Large Catechism, First Petition – preaching, teaching

Large Catechism, Second Petition – “preached properly”

Large Catechism, Baptism – “brief instruction” needed


Four Part Teaching on AC XIV


  • Historical from Old Testament to have publicly recognized teachers in the church
  • Miracles/Signs used to prove ministry
  • Church also has this by ordination.
  • AC XIV was composed in June 1530. It is not found as it’s own article in any of the precursors to the Augsburg Confession.
    • The teaching is throughout Luther’s writings however not included in the formal confessions prior to Augsburg. See his writings on the call in volumes 39 and 40 of Luther’s works.  In these works Luther clearly lays out the need for called pastors in the church.  He rebukes the fanatics and then Anabaptists which follow after them.
  • It is a defense against the Papist claim that the Lutherans did not have the ministry because they didn’t have the bishops and the pope. Eck used Luther’s teaching on the universal priesthood to say that the Lutherans did away with the Office of the Ministry.  AC XIV is necessary to prove otherwise, but also clarify AC V which the Papists would have also twisted.
  • It is also aimed at the Anabaptists who of course emphasized the inner call without any requirements for the external call. AC XIV reinforces the need for mediate calls.  Underlying this focus is also AC V’s condemnation of the Anabaptists for thinking the Spirit comes without the external word.
  • It relates to the Papists in that so many of the priests and bishops and so forth had not been given a proper call to do so, often offices were purchased or bartered for.
  • Process for being called in this time was to involve all three estates.



By no means comprehensive…

Matthew 28 – baptizing and teaching (Treatise, 31)

John 20 – Exercise of the keys for the church (AC XXVIII, 6-7; Treatise, 9, 23, 31)

Luke 10:16 (AC XXVIII, 22; APVII/VIII, 28, 47)

Ephesians 4:8, 11 God gives gifts to men

Matthew 18:20 Keys given to church

Matthew 16:18-19 (Treatise, 22, 25)

Romans 10:15 – Unless they are sent; basis for AC XIV

Jeremiah chapters 14 & 23 – the false prophets who ran without being sent; the Lord appoints shepherds over his flock to care for them.  (note connection to Jesus’ reference to sheep without a shepherd)  [note also the relationship between being properly sent and also speaking the Lord’s words]

1 Peter 2:9 – Church has right to elect and ordain pastors because “it alone has the priesthood” (Treatise, 69)

John 21:17 (Treatise, 30)

Acts 1

Acts 6

Acts 14:23 – mediate call from God through the church

Acts 20:28 – mediate call from God through the Church

1 Corinthians 3:5 – assigned by God, the Lord

1 Corinthians 3:21 – the ministry belongs to the whole church

1 Corinthians 12:28 – God makes distinctions among men in church, good order

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – call is from God (ambassadors) (AP XXIV, 79-81; AP VII/VIII, 28)

Ephesians 4:11-12 – divine order within the church between those who teach and those who learn

Ephesians 4:12 – ministry belongs to the whole church to benefit the whole church

Ephesians 4:21 – mediate call from God

1 Timothy 4:14 – Laying on of hands (ordination as ratification); mediate call from God through the church

1 Timothy 5:17-18 – Elders who rule well, especially in preaching and teaching

2 Timothy 1:6 – laying on of hands, mediate call

2 Timothy 2:2 – mediate call

Titus 1:5 – mediate call


There is no shortage of abuses of this.  In the LCMS there are “Everyone a Minister”, Lay Ministry, Lay Deacon Programs (Lutherans are flexible about nomenclature, but not the need for a call in order to publicly teach/administer – see Treatise 61; words such as pastor, preacher, teacher, minister, bishop, elder are used interchangeably throughout the confessions).  Consecration being done remotely, being done by someone who is not called and ordained.  The 2016 LCMS Convention supposedly closed the Lay Deacon program, but we shall see.

The definition of the Ministry by function rather than by office AND function is still a huge problem.  Pietism brought this view into the Lutheran Church.  It blends it the office into the priesthood of the baptized.  Denies the divinity of the office of the ministry.

Robert Preus points out in his “The Doctrine of the Call…” that the CTCR actually usurps the seminaries’ call to teach the whole church.  The CTCR does not have a call to the ministry of teaching. (Preus, 14)

District and Synod Presidents – Recent innovation of the LCMS to have men in these positions who are not also teaching and administering the Sacraments.  “Thus we have the anomaly of supervisors over ministers of the Word who themselves do not hold the office of the ministry of the Word, people in jure humano offices exercising jurisdiction and even discipline over those who rite vocati and are ministers of the Word de jure divino.”  (Preus, 24)

Less than permanent positions – interim pastors, vacancy work, retired pastors, etc.

Women in the LCMS receiving “calls”.  The nomenclature is confusing as to whether their call is to the Ministry of the Word.  LSB Agenda is better about this in that it largely uses parental verses to justify the auxiliary office of teacher rather than using any verses used traditionally for the Office of the Ministry.

Does AC XIV apply to “Internet Pastors”?

Confusion of the terms “minister” and “ministry”.  Also “calling”.

Implied in AC XIV is not only that we shouldn’t have public teachers without calls to do so, but also that Christians should not listen to them.

AC XIV teaches what the one call to the ministry should be to – teaching and administration.  There is no other call.  “A call to any public position or function other than the one and only ministry of the Word is no call at all, at least in the sense that AC XIV, Luther, Melanchthon, and all the dogmaticians use the term.” (Preus, 19)

“Emergency” Communion

Status of Vicars?  SMP Vicars?


The entire ministry is the for the sake of the Gospel.  This is what Augsburg V teaches.  AC XIV is the orderly way of this ministry to be done publicly in the Church (AC VII).

For one of the best treatments of this topic see “The Doctrine of the Call in the Confessions and Lutheran Orthodoxy.” By Robert Preus  (available online or in the book “Church and Ministry Today” published by The Luther Academy)

[1] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 39.

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