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1        Chapter One: Efficacy

The Power Behind A Peculiar Glory

of Lutheran Theology



The purpose of this chapter is to explore every example of the efficacy word-group (energeia, energew, energhs, energhma) in the New Testament. In every single New Testament use, we find either God or Satan at work. However, most uses of the word-group in the New Testament are divine rather than demonic.[1] Lutherans are unique among Christian confessions in teaching that the Holy Spirit works only through the Word and never apart from the Word: the invisible Word of preaching and the visible Word of Baptism and Holy Communion. The only way to test the soundness of Lutheran doctrine is to study those passages that relate to the Means of Grace, the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. The foundation for all assertions about how God works must be grounded in the Scriptures.



"The doctrine of the means of grace is a peculiar glory of Lutheran theology. To this central teaching it owes its sanity and strong appeal, its freedom from sectarian tendencies and morbid fanaticism, its coherence and practicalness, and its adaptation to men of every race and every degree of culture. The Lutheran Confessions bring out with great clearness the thought of the Reformers upon this subject."

"Grace, Means of," The Concordia Cyclopedia, L. Fuerbringer, Th. Engelder, P. E. Kretzmann, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1927, p. 299.


The literature is singularly lacking in its treatment of the efficacy word-group, perhaps because the spirit of this age has promised to leave so many modernists widowed in the age to come. An academic wrote with some discernment about the misunderstanding of the efficacy word-group in the New Testament, complaining about recent translations:



"Our contention is that these are all under-translations, short of the mark, modernizations not only in language but in idea. They do not live in the first century Christian experience. They all apparently refer to an inner human capacity, rather than to that external supernatural divine spirit which had possessed both Peter and Paul. The translations live in the realm of humanism, rather than of supernaturalism. Yet no quality is more characteristic of the first century than its supernatural imagery and belief."

            Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 93.


1.1     The Pauline Example


1 Thessalonians 2:13 – Power in Conversion

When the apostle Paul preached in Thessalonica (Act 17:1-10), a new congregation was created within four weeks by proclaiming the Gospel. A mission board would have given the apostle high marks for starting a new congregation so quickly in a major seaport, but they would have censured him for starting a riot (Acts 17:5). Paul’s deeply personal remarks to the church of the Thessalonians not only reflect his intimate experience with them but also proclaim the theme of this volume:


KJV 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.


BYZ 1 Thessalonians 2:13 dia. tou/to Kai. h`mei/j euvcaristou/men tw/| qew/| avdialei,ptwj o[ti paralabo,ntej lo,gon avkoh/j par h`mw/n tou/ qeou/ evde,xasqe ouv lo,gon avnqrw,pwn avlla. kaqw,j evstin avlhqw/j lo,gon qeou/ o]j kai. evnergei/tai evn u`mi/n toi/j pisteu,ousin.


The apostle emphasizes two spiritual truths in this verse:

a)     The Word of God is not the word of men;

b)     The Word of God works effectively.

Many church leaders are desperately seeking effective methods today for accomplishing their ecclesiastical work. This verse clearly reveals God’s unique method and its power.

Paul is saying here that he, Timothy, and Silvanus are just as thankful as the Thessalonians for the conversions that took place through preaching the Gospel. The townspeople did not hear and receive men’s opinions, but the Word of God. Then, as now, the opponents of sound doctrine attacked the preaching of the Word by making personal attacks upon the preachers. Unbelievers, “moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar…” (Acts 17:5) God’s methods and Satan’s methods never change.

The Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 seems to be literally the “Word of hearing of God” (logon akoes…tou theou; lo,gon avkoh/j parV h`mw/n tou/ qeou). The phrase does not emphasize the act of hearing, but rather the preaching which is heard. Arndt and Gingrich[2] translate the phrases using akoe thus:


Galatians 3:2 – “I wish to learn this only from you, did you receive the Spirit from the works of the Law or as the result of preaching which demanded only faith.”


KJV Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?


BYZ Galatians 3:2 tou/to mo,non qe,lw maqei/n avf u`mw/n\ evx e;rgwn no,mou to. pneu/ma evla,bete h' evx avkoh/j pi,stew.



Professor R. C. H. Lenski makes the same point about the hearing of faith:



“’Works of the law’ and ‘hearing of faith’ are exclusively opposites; neither tolerates the other. ‘Works’ are such as we do, and they are many so that no man can know whether he has done enough of them. The opposite is akoe, but not in the active sense, the actus audiendi [act of hearing], but as Cremer-Koegel 106, etc., shows, in the passive sense: ‘being made to hear’ what God wants us to hear…This belongs to faith in the sense of being intended for us to believe. When God speaks and makes us hear, He wants us to believe. As law calls for works, so our being made to hear calls for faith. Compare Romans 1:16-17; also Hebrews 4:2.”

            R. C. H. Lenski, Galatians, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, pp. 126f.[3]


KJV Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.


BYZ Hebrews 4:2 kai. ga,r evsmen euvhggelisme,noi kaqa,per kavkei/noi\ avll ouvk wvfe,lhsen o` lo,goj th/j avkoh/j evkei,nouj mh. sugkekrame,nouj th/| pi,stei toi/j avkou,sasin.


In this context, lest there be confusion, the preached Word also causes hardness of heart among those who reject the Gospel. The Word is always at work with God’s power, converting or hardening, enlightening or blinding.




“The Word did its utmost to accomplish this, beating upon their ears constantly so as to enter their hearts by faith. They indeed hear it, but hardened their hearts, the very thing the Word warned them not to do (3:8 etc.). That is why they perished in the wilderness. Their tragedy was their unbelief (3:19).”

            R. C. H. Lenski, Hebrews, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938, p. 128.


So when we read that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), the text does not intend to teach us that it is primarily the act of hearing, but God’s proclamation of the Gospel which creates faith. Isaiah 53:1 asks, “Who has believed our report? (akoe)” Paul quotes the same passage in Romans, as a foundation for how we begin to believe:


Jackson Literal Version Romans 10:16 But not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah said, “Lord, who believed our preaching (akoe)?” 17 Therefore, faith comes from preaching (akoe), and preaching (akoe) from the Word of God.


KJV Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


BYZ Romans 10:16 VAll ouv pa,ntej u`ph,kousan tw/| euvaggeli,w| VHsai<aj ga.r le,gei Ku,rie ti,j evpi,steusen th/| avkoh/| h`mw/n 17 a;ra h` pi,stij evx avkoh/j h` de. avkoh. dia. r`h,matoj Qeou/Å



“This whole chapter [Romans 10], let us repeat, hinges on the Word, on this means of grace, which is applied by preaching, by commissioning preachers, by making men hear and enabling them to hearken and to believe (v. 14, 15). It is the main thought, and it should not be overlooked that ‘then’ (ara) Isaiah, too, makes ‘the faith’ of which he speaks (hence the article) a result (ek) of what one is made to hear (akoe); and here the thing the Jews were made to hear (akoe, now properly with the article) is mediated by (dia) Christ’s own uttered Word.”

            R. C. H. Lenksi, Romans, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963, p. 667.


The faithful commentators show that these passages use akoe as a technical word, to mean the preached Word of God. Works do not convert people to faith in Christ. Love, friendship, and cultivated relationships do not convert anyone. Buildings, chancel drama, and programs do not convert a single soul. God has given us a singular method, the proclamation of the Gospel, and no other. Jesus Himself used the preached Word to convert people to faith during His earthly ministry. This Word belongs to God and no one else.



"It is God alone who may speak the word of pardon, who can produce faith, but it is God who is speaking in the Gospel and the Sacraments (Luke 24:47: 'in His name') and creating faith through them (Acts 16:14—Lydia; James 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word of the Gospel is therefore not a dead letter, nor are the Sacraments empty symbols, but they are the power of God. The power of God is inseparably connected with, is inherent in, the means of grace."

Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, 3 vols., ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 335. J-1001.



“The efficacy of the Bible is that property by which the Bible has indissolubly united [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13] with the true and genuine sense [Ephesians 3:3-4; Acts 8:30, 31, 34] expressed in its words the power of the Holy Spirit, [Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5] who has made it for all times the ordinary means by which He operates [Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:105, 130; 2 Peter 1:19; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17] on and in the hearts and minds of those who properly hear and read it [Revelation 1:3; Ephesians 3:3-4; John 7:17].

A. L. Graebner, Outlines of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1910, p. 12. J-1002.



"Thou holy Light, Guide Divine, Oh, cause the Word of Life to shine!

Teach us to know our God aright And call Him Father with delight.

From every error keep us free; Let none but Christ our Master be

That we in living faith abide, In Him, our Lord, with all our might confide.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

Martin Luther, 1524, "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!", The Lutheran Hymnal, #224,

St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.



"God would not have the sinner die,

His Son with saving grace is nigh,

His Spirit in the Word doth teach

How man the blessed goal may reach."

Author unknown, 1719, "God Loved the World So That He Gave," The Lutheran Hymnal, #245, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. (John 3:16)



"Besides, it is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it, so that the First Psalm declares those blessed who meditate upon the Law of God day and night. Undoubtedly, you will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God's commandments and words, and speaking, singing, or thinking of them. For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven away."

The Large Catechism, Preface, #10, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 570f. Tappert, p. 359f. Heiser, p. 167.


In this era of confusion and ambiguity, the Scriptures teach us that God’s Word alone creates faith. To make this especially clear, God shows us that the Word is efficacious, effective, energetic, always at work. Although the concept of efficacy is not confined to one word or word group in the Bible, the New Testament does have a word group that precisely expresses how God works through the Word. The following list should help those who do not have a Greek concordance of the New Testament, so that students of the Word may see and study the passages associated with this word group.

1.2        Energeia, energeia


Ephesians        1:19     the working of His mighty power,

3:7       by the effectual working of His power,

4:16     the effectual working in the

Philippians      3:21     according to the working whereby

Colossians       1:29     striving according to His working,

2:12     through the faith of the operation of

2 Thess.           2:9       is after the working of Satan

                        2:11     shall send them strong delusion (working of error)


Energeo, energew


Matthew          14:2     works do shew forth themselves in him

Mark                6:14     mighty works do shew forth themselves

Romans           7:5       did work in our members

1 Corinthians   12:6     God which worketh all in all

                        12:11   all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit

2 Corinthians   1:6       which is effectual (literally, that worketh) in the enduring

                        4:12     So then death worketh in us,

Galatians         2:8       For he that wrought effectually in Peter

                                    The same was mighty in me

                        3:5       and worketh miracles among you,

                        5:6       faith which worketh by love,

Ephesians        1:11     of him who worketh all things

                        1:20     Which he wrought in Christ

                        2:2       the spirit that now worketh in

                        3:20     the power that worketh in us

Philipians        2:13     God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good

Colossians       1:29     which worketh in me mightily

1 Thess.           2:13     which effectually worketh also in you

2 Thess.           2:7       mystery of iniquity doth already work:

James              5:16     The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


Energema, energhma


1 Corinthians   12:6     there are diversities of operations

                        12:10   To another the working of miracles;


Energes, energhs


1 Corinthians   16:9     a great door and effectual is opened

Philemon         6          become effectual by the acknowledging

Hebrews          4:12     word of God is quick, and powerful

According to Kittel, the Greek word “energeia , energia” is derived from “to be at work.” The words are found in the pre-Socratic period in the sense of activity or energy.[4] Although we cannot make automatic conclusions from the previous use of the word, as shown in the English word “gay,” it is worth noting that Moulton and Milligan list a few examples of the word-group before New Testament times.[5] More importantly, as the list above shows, the word group is used exclusively for divine and demonic activity. Therefore, Paul distinguishes between the word of man and the Word of Proclamation (akoe). The miraculous creation of the Thessalonian mission congregation is proof of the divine power of the Word. They received the Word and the Word converted them to faith in Christ, making them thankful and Paul ceaselessly grateful. Nothing in the Scriptures suggests that people make a decision for Christ after weighing a carefully crafted and skillfully executed presentation.



"This Word works in the Thessalonians what Paul states in 1:3; it came to them with the power of the Holy Spirit and much assurance (1:5); it turned them from the idols to the living God, to Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, the Savior from the wrath to come (1: 9, 10). This effect, wrought by the Word, convinces all believers, all who experience this blessed effect, that this is, indeed, God's Word."

R. C. H. Lenski, Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press,1937, p. 261.


The conversion of Grace Fuller, wife of the founder of Fuller Seminary, is told with great force and conviction, illustrating the very point made by Paul in this passage.[6]

1.3     Conversion of Grace Fuller



"Mrs. Barnhill looked at me and said, with such a loving look in her gray eyes, 'Oh, Grace, Christ said, 'No man cometh unto the Father but by Me,' and, my dear, you have no way of approach to a holy God unless you come through Christ, His Son, as your Saviour.' "The Scripture which she quoted," Mrs. Fuller continues, "was the Sword of the Spirit, and at that moment Unitarianism was killed forever in my heart. I saw the light like a flash and believed at that moment, though I said nothing. She had quoted God's Word, the Spirit had used it, and, believing, I instantly became a new creation in Christ Jesus. She might have talked and even argued with me about it, but instead she just used the Word."

J. Elwin Wright, The Old Fashioned Revival Hour and the Broadcasters, Boston: The Fellowship Press, 1940, p. 54.


As Grace Fuller realized, the proclaimed Word has the power to slay the elegant doubts of Unitarianism and to energize faith in the Gospel in an instant. Therefore, believers have an abundant witness in the Scriptures about the power, clarity, and effectiveness of the Word, but they also have the added benefit of experiencing the energy of the Law and Gospel, which work together to kill the dead old skeptical sinner and to create a new man who loves God and wants to serve Him. The Old Adam remains, but the leaven of the Gospel continues to work in those who hear the Word.

Unbelievers can never understand that Christians subordinate their intellectual powers, their human reason, to the faith divinely created by God. Likewise, unbelievers cannot perceive that faith does not oppose reason, nor does it become irrational. Instead, reason serves faith. Many of those who are quoted in this volume are the leading intellectuals of all time as shown in their vast learning, their demonstrated ability in many languages, and their timeless writings. One nun asked me, “How can Martin Luther, who lived 500 years ago, write things which touch me so deeply today?” The answer is – He lived in the Word, more than any other religious leader of any era, so his utterances have the divine power of the Word today. Under the Law, he experienced all the terrors of Hell as he dwelt upon the wrath of God. When the Holy Spirit worked through the Word to penetrate the Medieval legalism and philosophy which the Reformer knew so well, the comfort of the Gospel burst upon him, giving him mercy, peace, joy, and a genuine love of God.



"It is the assurance of the writers (1:1) that this is truly 'God's Word,' but the relative clause: 'which is also effective in you, the believers,' adds the evidence in support of the fact that this is truly God's Word, namely its divine effectiveness in the Thessalonians believers."

R. C. H. Lenski, Thessalonians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 261.



"To me He spake: Hold fast to Me, I am thy Rock and Castle;

Thy Ransom I Myself will be, For thee I strive and wrestle;

For I am with thee, I am thine,

And evermore thou shalt be Mine:

The Foe shall not divide us.

The Foe shall shed My precious blood, Me of My life bereaving.

All this I suffer for thy good; Be steadfast and believing.

Life shall from death the victory win, My innocence shall bear thy sin;

So art thou blest forever.”

Martin Luther, “Dear Christians One, and All, Rejoice,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #387, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

1.3.1  Scriptural Examples

1.4     The Word as a Sword—Hebrews 4:12


For the Word of God is (1) quick, and (2) powerful, and (3) sharper than any twoedged sword, (4) piercing even to the (5) dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, (6) and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


BYZ Hebrews 4:12 (1) Zw/n ga.r o` lo,goj tou/ qeou/ kai. (2) evnergh.j kai. (3) tomw,teroj u`pe.r pa/san ma,cairan di,stomon kai. (4) dii?knou,menoj a;cri (5) merismou/ yuch/j te kai. pneu,matoj a`rmw/n te. kai. muelw/n kai. (6) kritiko.j evnqumh,sewn kai. evnnoiw/n kardi,aj.


(1) Quick (living) - The effectiveness of the Word is revealed in this well-known passage, where the KJV translates the word for effective as “powerful.” Two groups of three indicate that this is the divine work of the Trinity.[7] In Greek the verse begins with “living” for emphasis. “Living is the Word of God and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword…” Just as God is often called “the living God” in Paul’s letters and in the Bible in general, so here the use of living with the Word of God reminds all believers of the intimate connection between God and His Word.[8] One might say that the force of this word is “life giving.”


(2) Powerful (effective)


"Energes = full of living energy to carry out the will of God by either blessing or cursing as the case may be. What folly to treat the Word of God as though it is subject to our minds, our 'views,' our opinions! It is electric and smites him who tampers with it; it is electric to light him who bows beneath it. Who can escape its blasting power when he scorns its threats? Read, for example, Psalm 95:11[9] and look at the Jews of the Exodus. Read Matthew 23:38 and look at the 'desolate house,' desolate for almost 2,000 years. But the blessings of the Word are equally 'effective' and energetic. Eternity rings with their praise."

R. C. H. Lenski, Hebrews, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, p. 141.


(3) Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword


The sword of the Word has three-fold power. First of all, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, a striking visual image for those who know weapons. The Roman sword had to be razor sharp to cause the maximum amount of damage to the enemy, who was armored both with hardened leather and metal equipment. Those who preach and teach the Word of God correctly are wielding a sword against hearts hardened by sin and willful rejection of God. The contrary images of man seeking God, making a decision for God, or cooperating with God in his conversion – all are impossible to harmonize with the active, living, and cutting Word. Man does not seek the sword, decide for the sword, or cooperate with the sword. Man receives the full effect of the sword. He who swings the sword—who knows the Word—has no doubt of its effect.



"This surgeon goes into and through the joints and marrow, not cleaving between them…The surgeon carries a bright and powerful light for every dark crevice and a sharp knife for the removal of all the pus revealed by the light. It is a powerful picture here drawn."

Archibald T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 vols., Nashville: Broadman Press, 1932, V, p. 363f.



"Machaira (ma,caira) was commonly used as a designation for the short, two-edged sword of the Roman hoplite or legionary (Ephesians 6:17) although other types of swords could be called thus. 'Piercing,' etc., makes a comparison with the penetrating power of the Word and thus uses an instrument which penetrates most quickly and effectually, the Word even exceeds any such instrument. The figurative sword is repeatedly used in this way: Isaiah 49:2; Revelation 1:16; 2:12; 19:15."

R. C. H. Lenkski, Hebrews, Columbus: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938 p. 142.


(4) Piercing – The image of the Word as sword becomes more vivid when the author moves from the power of the sword to the effect of the sword. No armor can withstand the Word, whether it is the armor of our image or the hardness of our hearts. Doubts are destroyed and replaced by trust in the living God. The worst blasphemers, such as Paul and Augustine, and the most obvious sinners, such as the prostitutes and tax-collectors, know best the converting energy of God’s Word. The verb means “to penetrate, to go all the way through.” When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he called upon them to remember the dramatic effect of their conversion.

1.5     Conversion of John Newton


The mother of John Newton (1725-1807) taught her son the Word of God and hoped he would become a minister. Newton wrote of her in his autobiography: “She stored my memory with many Scripture portions and chapters, catechisms, hymns, and poems.”[10] His father cared for him, but he was often away at sea. Newton’s mother died when John was only seven, so he followed in his father’s wake and became a sailor. Newton grew in opposition to the Scriptures and became increasingly dissipated. He was an outcast even on slave ships, work considered to be the worst kind of duty at sea with the least reputable crews. A deadly storm at sea and a miraculous rescue brought the prodigal son to his senses. The ship’s cargo, beeswax and wood, kept the vessel floating. The trip back to a safe harbor was long and arduous, made worse by the captain’s expressed wish to throw Newton overboard, suspecting him of being a Jonah. Gradually, after the return to shore, Newton came to an understanding of the Gospel through many long conversations with a kindly believer.[11] The shipwreck convinced him that the Scriptures were the Word of God, because they described his condition exactly while the ship threatened to sink.


KJV Proverbs 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices


Newton became an ordained minister at last, as his sainted mother wished. Only the power of the Gospel could have pierced his heart, doubly-hardened from willful rejection of his mother’s teaching and his energetic pursuit of pleasure. The name of the Savior was a curse on his lips until the taught and remembered Word of God converted him, showing him his sin and recalling the Gospel promises. Newton’s hymns are known for their ethereal joy, because he remembered so well his former state and the contrasting peace that followed contrition and faith in the atoning death of Christ.



“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds

In a believer’s ear!

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,

And drives away all fear.”

“How sweet the name,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #364, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.


John Newton wrote his own epitaph, which reads:



“John Newton, clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich Mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy.”


For many, Newton’s epitaph is sung almost daily: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I was once lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”


(5) Dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow – A hunter will not take an ordinary knife with him, nor will he burden himself with a fairly good knife. He will take the sharpest and strongest knife to slice through the hide and cut into joints or through tendons.


The distinction made here in the Greek text is between the natural (soul) and the spiritual (spirit). The Greek word for soul does not translate properly into the English for soul. Here soul means all of our life forces, while spirit equates to our concept of soul. The Word converts the natural (yuciko.j) man so that the spirit (pneu/ma) takes control of his thoughts, emotions, drives, and activities. The unconverted or natural man has no struggle between soul and spirit, because the natural urges dominate the spirit.[12] As one believer expressed it, “I was never tempted when I was a pagan. I did whatever I wanted. There was no struggle.” Worldly wisdom attacks the natural man and tells him what he must do to be better, but the sword of the Word distinguishes between the natural and the spiritual and converts the spirit.[13]

In Acts 2:14-36, the Sword of the Spirit was used against the crowds who were stabbed (katenu,ghsan) in their heart after hearing that the man they had killed was the promised Messiah. Man’s wisdom would have led the apostles to address a more receptive audience than those who had the blood of Christ on their hands, especially since they had hailed His entrance to Jerusalem.


KJV Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


(6) A discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart - The Word judges or sees what the inmost man is like. The discerner is the critic (kritikos) judging both the good and the bad. The same root is used for judge.[14] Because God has bound His Spirit to His Word (Isaiah 55:8-11), there is no difference between God judging and the Word judging. All of us manufacture the impressions we want to give, offer excuses, deny our sinful nature, and promote all our words and deeds as beyond reproach, but the living, active Word, sharper than any weapon, pierces our armor, converts our spirit, and judges our thoughts with divine wisdom.

1.6     Effective Prayer in James 5:16

KJV James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


BYZ James 5:16 evxomologei/sqe avllh,loij ta. paraptw,mata( kai. eu;cesqe u`pe.r avllh,lwn o[pwj ivaqh/te polu. ivscu,ei de,hsij dikai,ou evnergoume,nh.


When the Word of God converts someone to faith in Christ, one effect is a child-like trust in God, manifested in prayer. Although we are urged to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), God Himself moves us to pray to Him, to praise Him, give Him thanks, and cast all our cares upon Him, through hundreds of promises. These promises are another way of saying, “the Gospel, the Good News.” We are not only given promises of comfort, peace, forgiveness, eternal life, and joy, but we enjoy an abundance of promises:


KJV John 15:7-8 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


The righteous man is the one whose faith in Christ receives complete and full forgiveness for his sins. The prayer is effectual or effective because of God’s promises, not because of man’s exuberance, verbosity, or piety. God has promised to glorify His Name by answering our prayers. Some misguided Christians will try to make the effectual prayer one which is louder or longer, but the word group in the New Testament is used for divine activity (or Satan’s), not man’s. [15]



"It is not human effort, sincerity, fervor nor persistency that matters, it is rather that the prayer be energoumene, supernaturally operative."

Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 99.


1.7     Satan Effective—2 Thessalonians 2:7, 9, 11

KJV 2 Thessalonians 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:


BYZ 2 Thessalonians 2:7 to. ga.r musth,rion h;dh evnergei/tai th/j avnomi,aj\ mo,non o` kate,cwn a;rti e[wj evk me,sou ge,nhtai 8 kai. to,te avpokalufqh,setai o` a;nomoj o]n o` ku,rioj avnalw,sei tw/| pneu,mati tou/ sto,matoj auvtou/ kai. katargh,sei th/| evpifanei,a| th/j parousi,aj auvtou/ 9 ou- evstin h` parousi,a kat evne,rgeian tou/ Satana/ evn pa,sh| duna,mei kai. shmei,oij kai. te,rasin yeu,douj 10 kai. evn pa,sh| avpa,th| th/j avdiki,aj evn toi/j avpollume,noij avnq w-n th.n avga,phn th/j avlhqei,aj ouvk evde,xanto eivj to. swqh/nai auvtou,j 11 kai. dia. tou/to pe,myei auvtoi/j o` qeo.j evne,rgeian pla,nhj eivj to. pisteu/sai auvtou.j tw/| yeu,dei.


Simply by focusing on the same word-group in the New Testament, we find that effectiveness, energy, and power are also used to describe the ministry of Satan. The word-group is used three times in a few verses to describe the time of apostasy and the man of iniquity, the Antichrist.



Clark translation: "By the very epiphany attendant upon the Lord's parousia he will render powerless (or exorcise) that one whose parousia is accomplished by the energeia of Satan attended by dunamis, semeia, and terata pseudous."

Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 100.


Few books describe the Biblical concept of time better than Siegbert Becker’s A Distant Triumph Song. Most of us think only in terms of linear history, the unfolding of events, one after another. But in the Word of God we have God’s view of history, where a thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8 – “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”) Thus we not only see distant prophecies embedded in descriptions of daily events, but we also discern abrupt transitions from the present to the future. For instance, the unique Virgin Birth prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 occurs in the middle of a discussion between King Ahab and the prophet. Liberals cannot imagine God knowing the distant future, so they are forced by their own limitations to see the prophecy as a prediction of King Ahab's wife or another married woman having a child! Believers, in contrast, marvel that God would tell Adam and Eve about the Messiah (Genesis 3:15), fill the Old Testament with Messianic prophecies, declare the Virgin Birth to an evil king, then fulfill all of the promises perfectly in the birth of Christ. God’s promises fill us with faith.

Paul taught the Thessalonians about the end of time, we learn, because they were caught up in current questions about what to do during the wait. Out of the current debate Paul reveals what we need to know about the Man of Iniquity. First of all, he began his activity (2 Thessalonians 2:7) in the apostolic times, when wolves from within, Christian leaders, tried to rip the flock into pieces with their false doctrine.[16] But God held back the Antichrist, allowing the saving proclamation of forgiveness through Christ to reach the entire world. Secondly, when the Lawless one is revealed, his Parousia will be the “working of Satan,” (ou- evstin h` parousi,a katV evne,rgeian tou/ Satana/, 2:9). This activity will involve lying power, wonders, and signs. The three-fold work of Satan’s Antichrist mocks the three-fold saving work of the Trinity. [17] Thirdly, the wrath of God will be revealed when those who reject the truth (2:10) will be sent a “strong delusion” or supernatural deception (evne,rgeian pla,nhj; 2:11), so people will believe a lie. The largest Christian Church in the world, the Church of Rome, has literally damned to Hell anyone who trusts only in the merits of Christ in order to receive complete forgiveness and eternal life. The Church of Rome, in opposition to the Word of God, demands good works added to faith to merit salvation. This oppressive teaching offers a sad fate for most, who are taught they will spend centuries being tortured in Purgatory along with their best friends, their parish priest, and we are promised, a few cardinals and popes.

Paul’s description of the end of time reveals essential information about the trials ahead of the Church.


·       The falling away, the Great Apostasy (h` avpostasi,a), must take place first (2:3). This falling away can only happen within the visible Church. When unbelievers attack the Word from the outside, they actually strengthen the Church and spread the Gospel. Only former believers within the visible Church can fulfill the “falling away” by turning away from the ruling norm of the Scriptures, the norm they were taught. They destroy the Church from the inside, as called and ordained traitors.



"In the Papacy we have the most pronounced and greatest imaginable 'falling away' from the Christian religion. Christians know that man is justified and saved only by faith in Christ, without the deeds of the Law."

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House,1953, III, p. 465.



"This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself against Christ, because he will not permit Christians to be saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and is neither ordained nor commanded by God. That is, properly speaking, to exalt himself above all that is called God, as Paul says, 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Even the Turks or the Tartars, great enemies of Christians as they are, do not do this, but they allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take bodily tribute and obedience from Christians."

Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article IV, The Papacy, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 475. Tappert, p. 300. Heiser, p. 141.


·       The Man of Iniquity will come and set himself up within the Church, opposing what really belongs to God while having himself exalted as God (2:3-4).



"According to an ancient saying, 'the First See is judged by no one.' The reason is that there is no higher spiritual judge on earth than the pope. He has the right to decide all Church disputes. For the same reason, there is no right of appeal from a decision of the Holy Father to a higher court. No such court exists, not even a General Council. These points were all clearly spelled out by the First Vatican Council in 1870."

Kenneth Baker, S.J., Fundamentals of Catholicism, 3 vols., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982, III, p. 116.[18]



"I should never finish, my venerable brethren, if I were to put before your eyes the contradictions of the popes in their teaching. If then you proclaim the infallibility of the actual pope, you must either prove that which is impossible - that the popes never contradicted each other - or else you must declare that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you that the infallibility of the papacy only dates from 1870. Are you bold enough to do this?" (Bishop Strossmayer's speech, 1870)

Henry T. Hudson, Papal Power, Its Origins and Development, Hertfordshire, England: Evangelical Press, 1981, p. 128.



“This infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining a doctrine of faith and morals extends as far as the deposit of divine revelation, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. [Note: cf. Verbum Dei, Article X.] This is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith (cf. Luke 22:32), he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals." [Note: "Cf. Vatican Council I, the dogmatic constitution "Pastor Aeternus," Denzinger, 1839, (3074)."]

Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, III, 25, The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., New York: Herder and Herder, 1966, p. 48f.


·       God is holding back the Antichrist, who will be revealed in time (2:7), but the Man of Iniquity is already at work.

·       The Antichrist will be destroyed by the “spirit of His mouth” when the Lord returns (2:8).

·       The final days will be a festival of lawlessness and deception. Lawlessness is used twice (2:3, 7). Lawless is used once as an adjective (2:8). It will be a time of lies (2:9, 11), unrighteousness (2:9, 12), and deception (2:11).


1.8     The Effective Door, 1 Corinthians 16:9

KJV 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 16:8 evpimenw/ de. evn VEfe,sw| e[wj th/j penthkosth/j 9 qu,ra ga,r moi avne,w|gen mega,lh kai. evnergh,j kai. avntikei,menoi polloi,.


When people use the expression, “God opened a door,” they are reflecting Paul’s language in this letter. The door is symbolic for the opportunity afforded. The combination of two adjectives tells us that this is a significant opportunity, effective because God will work through the Gospel when the door is entered. The great and effectual door is described in Acts 19:1ff.

Paul went to Ephesus (Acts 19:1) a second time (Acts 18:19 – the first time) and had a dramatic encounter with opponents, when a demoniac (19:15-16) chased fraudulent exorcists out of a home.


KJV Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.


The climax of the narrative shows us that the great door was effective because the Word of God would be active in converting unbelievers and in stirring up trouble.


1.9     The Great Doxology in Ephesians 1:3-14


Ephesians 1:3-14 comprises the Great Doxology, considered by Lenski the greatest doxology in the Bible. When the verses are set up in poetic stanzas, as suggested by Lenski, we can see how God is glorified in Christ through simple but powerful phrases. Paul E. Kretzmann wrote: “Few passages in the Bible surpass these verses in lofty and sustained solemnity.”[19]

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be

the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings

in heavenly places

in Christ:

4 According as he hath chosen us in him

before the foundation of the world,

that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace,

wherein he hath made us accepted

in the Beloved.


7 In whom we have

redemption through his blood,

the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,

according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times

he might gather together in one all things in Christ,

both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,

being predestinated according to the purpose of him

who worketh all things

after the counsel of his own will:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory,

who first trusted in Christ.


13 In whom ye also trusted,

after that ye heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation:

in whom also after that ye believed,

ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance

until the redemption of the purchased possession,

unto the praise of his glory.


Verse 11 expresses the power of God in His activity through Christ:[20]


KJV Ephesians 1: 11 a) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, b) being predestinated c) according to the purpose of him d) who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:


BYZ Ephesians 1:11 evn auvtw/| evn w-| kai. evklhrw,qhmen proorisqe,ntej kata. pro,qesin tou/ ta. pa,nta evnergou/ntoj kata. th.n boulh.n tou/ qelh,matoj auvtou./


All of the schemes, illusions, and ambitions of man are overshadowed and brought to nothing by the majestic truth of this single verse,

a.      In Christ we, both Paul and the readers, have received a wealthy estate as a gift.

b.     God looked over the horizon (pro-horizo) and predestined believers.[21]



"For few receive the Word and follow it; the greatest number despise the Word, and will not come to the wedding, Matthew 22:3ff. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God's foreknowledge [or predestination], but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says, 'How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!' Matthew 23:37."

Solid Declaration, Article XI, Election, 41, Formula of Concord, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1077. Tappert, p. 623. Heiser, p. 290.



"But this resolve is then also infallibly executed, that fact is especially emphasized in this place. That is a characteristicum of God's, God is o ta panta energwn (o ta panta energon), etc. We humans resolve upon many things, we make many resolutions, but by no means is all that is thus resolved upon carried out. Whatever God resolves upon, that He also carries out, that He executes in spite of all opposition or obstacles. God's determination cannot fail and cannot be avoided. Whatever God has purposed with Himself and what He wills, that must finally be accomplished. Just this is emphatically true also of His resolve in our election and predestination. All those whom God has elected and predestinated will certainly, infallibly arrive at the goal fixed for them."

G. Stoeckhardt, Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, trans. Martin S. Sommer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1952, p. 75.


KJV Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.


c.      God’s predestination has a purpose, as shown in Romans 8:28. Faith in Christ reveals to us that God predestined us. We know, then, that we have a purpose, because predestination is not a sign of God’s arbitrary and senseless will, but a sign of His loving purpose.


d.     God’s predestination and purpose are linked to His working all things according to the counsel of His will. God alone is effective in carrying out His plans. The greatness of His power is revealed in the singular divine act known to all people, even to scoffers, raising Christ from the dead and placing Him above all creatures in heaven, on earth, and below the earth (Philippians 2:10).


KJV Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,


BYZ Ephesians 1:19 kai. ti, to. u`perba,llon me,geqoj th/j duna,mewj auvtou/ eivj h`ma/j tou.j pisteu,ontaj kata. th.n evne,rgeian tou/ kra,touj th/j ivscu,oj auvtou/ 20 h]n evnh,rghsen evn tw/| Cristw/| evgei,raj auvto.n evk tw/n nekrw/n kai. evka,qisen evn dexia/| auvtou/ evn toi/j evpourani,oi.


God accomplishes a similar miracle with us, when we Christians die:


KJV Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.


BYZ Philippians 3:21 o]j metaschmati,sei to. sw/ma th/j tapeinw,sewj h`mw/n eivj to. gene,sqai auvto. su,mmorfon tw/| sw,mati th/j do,xhj auvtou/ kata. th.n evne,rgeian tou/ du,nasqai auvto.n kai. u`pota,xai e`auvtw/| ta. pa,nta.


Divine energy is also experienced in the Church, portrayed as a body where each and every part builds up in a unified whole, growing together through God’s grace.


1.10    The Great Quickening in Ephesians 2:1-10


KJV Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


BYZ Ephesians 2:2 evn ai-j pote periepath,sate kata. to.n aivw/na tou/ ko,smou tou,tou kata. to.n a;rconta th/j evxousi,aj tou/ ave,roj tou/ pneu,matoj tou/ nu/n evnergou/ntoj evn toi/j ui`oi/j th/j avpeiqei,aj\


Satan’s war against God’s Word is clarified when we see how the same word-group is used for God at work through the Gospel and for the devil’s work in maintaining and expanding his power. The entire passage, Ephesians 2:1-10, is reproduced above because its extended, single sentence in the Greek text summarizes how God alone has converted people who once were dead to Him. Therefore, since church leaders are consumed with effective methods, we are obliged to study exactly how God works.

The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, tells us that we were “dead because of trespasses and sins” before our conversion to faith. The Ephesian Christians once walked with Satan, the same spirit who now effectively works (2:2) in the “children of disobedience.” When we belonged to the same group of unbelievers, our cooperation with the Prince of this world was three-fold: following the desires of our flesh, the will of our flesh, and our human reason.


“Hence the natural free will according to its perverted disposition and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God.”

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, Article II, Of Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 883. Tappert, p. 521. Heiser, p. 242.

All this is revealed not only to warn Christians about falling back into doubt and sin but also to show the reality of the continuing warfare between Christ and Satan, whose spirit is also active, energetic, powerful, and effective.



"And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Ephesians 2:2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses."

Apology to the Augsburg Confession, XVIII, #5, Free Will, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 335. Tappert, p. 225. Heiser, p. 102.

The objective nature of the Gospel shines with a special brilliance in verses four and five because the love, mercy, and grace of God are not deserved or sought by man. Salvation does not rest upon man seeking, deciding, or being worthy of Christ’s forgiveness. Quite the contrary! God makes dead people alive with Christ through the Means of Grace. One could hardly find a more passive role in conversion. A dead person cannot cooperate.[22] Our quickening with Christ calls to mind the quickening of Jesus’ corpse in the grave. The spiritually dead cannot believe or begin to believe, but spiritual life causes movement. Christ, made alive, left the sealed tomb and later entered the locked room where the disciples unsuccessfully hid. The unbeliever, made alive in Christ, is moved by his converted spirit to worship, study the Word, pray, and glorify God in good works. However, salvation is accomplished by God’s grace and received through faith, apart from the works of the Law. If man’s merit were a cause of salvation, those who have faith would boast of their worthiness, a condition we find in all false religions and among those who misunderstand the Christian faith. The Great Quickening teaches us the monergism of God, His work alone, in making the dead alive in Christ to glorify the Father though good works done in thankfulness to their Creator.


1.11    Divine Unity in Ephesians 4:16


KJV Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.


BYZ Ephesians 4:16 evx ou- pa/n to. sw/ma sunarmologou,menon kai. sumbibazo,menon dia. pa,shj a`fh/j th/j evpicorhgi,aj kat evne,rgeian evn me,trw| e`no.j e`ka,stou me,rouj th.n au;xhsin tou/ sw,matoj poiei/tai eivj oivkodomh.n e`autou/ evn avga,ph|.


Those who feel compelled to make all accomplishments dependent upon man’s ability can only bow their heads in shame at this brief summary of why we should pray with complete confidence:[23]


KJV Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,


BYZ Ephesians 3:20 Tw/| de. duname,nw| u`pe.r pa,nta poih/sai u`pe.r evk perissou/

w-n aivtou,meqa h' noou/men kata. th.n du,namin th.n evnergoume,nhn evn h`mi/n.


God’s power is so great that He can do far more than we imagine or dare to ask in prayer. The power working in us is not what charismatics and Pentecostals try to display with shakes, tongue-speaking, and rigged miracles, but the power of the Gospel to set off a chain reaction of blessings into distant lands and far into the future.


1.12    Conversion of St. Augustine


People think of St. Augustine (354-430) as a religious leader of the distant past, but he was once a famous, hedonistic pagan. His mother Monica gave him Christian instruction as a child and prayed for his conversion to the faith. Augustine’s unique intellectual gifts made him a powerful intellectual leader and the finest orator at a time when rhetoric was the pathway to fame. He was so brilliant that he felt the Scriptures were beneath him. In addition, Christianity was one of many religions of his day and not very successful in the marketplace of ideas. Monica never ceased her prayers. Another burden in her life was an unbelieving husband. One day, as Augustine felt the weight of his sins, he was overwhelmed with a sense of contrition. Weeping under a fig tree, he heard a child’s voice sing out a Latin song, “Tolle, lege. Take and read.” The song had no religious content, but Augustine felt compelled to pick up the Scriptures where he read the damning words of the Law and the comfort of the Gospel:


KJV Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.



Augustine wrote: “I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” Augustine then went to tell his mother Monica, who “leaped for joy triumphant, and she blessed Thee, Who art ‘able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.’” (Ephesians 3:20)[24]

Monica prayed to have a believing son, but God gave her something she never imagined, a son who became one of the greatest of all teachers of Christianity. Augustine became a bishop and served the African church, writing such classics of the faith as his Confessions and The City of God. It is impossible to study Christian thought apart from Augustine or find a topic he did not write about, using the gifts abundantly given him by God. At the last bookstore I visited, not long ago, I saw a well known highly respected biography of Augustine in paperback, a testimony to the kind and loving Father Who blessed Monica far beyond her ability to think or ask. That power gave her, like many heart-broken mothers afterwards, the faith to pray, the hope to find comfort in waiting, and the patience to wait for the effectual working of the Triune God, who can use a child and a secular song to fashion a bishop and theologian out of a rogue.



"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us."[25]

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p.179f.



"A very fine example of the power of prayer is provided by Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. She asked for nothing in her prayer for her son except that he might be liberated from the madness of the Manichaeans [pagans] and be baptized...But the more she prayed, the more stiff-necked and stubborn the son became, and her prayer seemed to her to have become a sin. But when the time for hearing her solicitous prayer had come (for God usually defers His help), Augustine is not only converted and baptized but devotes himself entirely to the study of theology and turns out to be such a teacher that he shines in the church to this day, teaching and instructing the church. Monica had never asked for this. It would have been enough for her if her son had been freed from error and had turned Christian. But God wants to give us greater blessings than we can ask for, as long as we do not weaken in our prayer."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959 II, p. 1094. Genesis 17:19-22.


1.13    The Conversion of Paul, Ephesians 3:7

KJV Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;


BYZ Ephesians 3:7 ou- evgeno,mhn dia,konoj kata. th.n dwrea.n th/j ca,ritoj tou/ qeou/ th.n doqei/san moi kata. th.n evne,rgeian th/j duna,mewj auvtou/.


The monergism of God is also manifested in how Paul was called to be an apostle, and most significantly, the apostle to the Gentiles. No one would have predicted that the man who checked the cloaks at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) would one day write the inspired letters of the New Testament. That God chose a hardened persecutor of the Gospel to proclaim the saving grace of God is a testimony to the unexplainable ways of the Creator. (Romans 11:34 “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?”) The hardest materials make the finest instruments, as we see with the popularity of modern surgical knives made from stone, which work so well that doctors must wait six months to receive their order. In the same way, God took the hardness and energy of the self-righteous persecutor and used those qualities for preaching the mercy of Christ across the civilized world. The risen Christ appeared before Saul (Acts 9:4) and addressed him, sending him for a colloquy with the skeptical Ananias, who had heard only evil things about Saul. But God told Ananias:


KJV Acts 9:15 Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.



"Finally Paul, v. 7, returns to the thought expressed in vv. 1-3, namely, that the specific grace which God has bestowed upon him is this, that through him and his service the Gospel is to be made known among the Gentiles and is to draw them into the Kingdom of God. In speaking of this he calls attention to the fact that in this his service of preaching the Gospel of the Gentiles the effectual working of God's power is demonstrated. The transcendant greatness of God's power and might is effective both in those who preach and in those who hear and believe the Gospel, 1:19."

G. Stoeckhardt, Commentary on St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, trans. Martin S. Sommer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1952, p. 161.


Paul’s earlier life as a persecutor of the Gospel serves as a source of comfort for new Christians who may think that they have committed such great sins that they do not deserve to be forgiven. In fact, no one deserves mercy, but Jesus has given us His worthiness. We have a special sense of God’s mercy when we consider how He converted Paul instead of allowing him to run heedless into Hell, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord….” (Acts 9:1). We then are able to consider the dramatic change in Paul’s life, due to God’s grace alone, and the profound sense of joy he experienced in knowing his sins were forgiven, eternal life promised, and Satan defeated.


O the depth

of the riches

both of the wisdom and

knowledge of God!

how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Romans 11:33[26]


BYZ Romans 11:33

W ba,qoj


kai. sofi,aj

kai. gnw,sewj qeou/\

w`j avnexereu,nhta ta. kri,mata auvtou/ kai. avnexicni,astoi ai` o`doi. auvtou/.




1.13.1                 Law and Gospel, Romans 7:5

In these last days of a mad old world, sin is simply a choice made, a clarified value, an option. In the Bible, however, sin belongs to the kingdom of Satan. The Law works through the power of the Holy Spirit and by itself can only awaken man to his sinfulness.


KJV Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.


BYZ Romans 7:5 o[te ga.r h=men evn th/| sarki, ta. paqh,mata tw/n a`martiw/n ta. dia. tou/ no,mou evnhrgei/to evn toi/j me,lesin h`mw/n eivj to. karpoforh/sai tw/| qana,tw|



"The Apostle here refers to the Law of Moses. Through this Law the old man was made alive; for this, while leading to the knowledge of sin, increases sin all the more as long as (divine) grace is lacking. The old man, revealed and made manifest by the Law, now does what the corrupt nature desires, as we read in 7:13: 'Sin by the commandment (becomes) exceeding sinful.' By divine grace, however, the old man dies and the Law can no longer bring him forth and make him manifest. In this way we die to the condemnation and dominion of the Law, though not to the Law itself, or absolutely, for we have the law, even when we are no longer under the Law."

Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1954, p. 109.



“In another place, Romans 7:5, he calls it concupiscence, working in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article II, #30. Of Original Sin, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 113. Tappert, p. 104. Heiser, p. 30.



"If we had the Law only—as we have it now—and nothing besides, we should have to perish forever and go to hell. The smiting effects and the curse of the divine Law will first be felt in hell; for the Law must be fulfilled; it must preserve its divine authority."

C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 14f. Romans 7:7-9.



"The Law of God is good and wise And sets His will before our eyes,

Shows us the way of righteousness, And dooms to death when we transgress.

(2) Its light of holiness imparts The knowledge of our sinful hearts

That we may see our lost estate And seek deliverance ere too late."

Matthias Loy, 1863, "The Law of God Is Good and Wise," The Lutheran Hymnal, #295, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Psalm 19:8.


1.14    Energies Energized by God; 1 Corinthians 12


KJV 1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 12:6 kai. diaire,seij evnerghma,twn eivsi,n o` de. auvto.j evsti,n qeo,j o` evnergw/n ta. pa,nta evn pa/sin.


The word play in Greek is bypassed in most translations. If we use the transliteration of the word-group, as Lenski does, the gifts of the Spirit are energies energized by God. Paul uses three terms: charismata (gifts), administrations (diakonia), and energies (energemata), indicating the unity of the Triune God at work. Paul labors to create a sense of unity in the Spirit among the divided, destructive, and unloving Corinthians who boast so much about the Holy Spirit. Believers serve in many different ways, but the same God is at work in all genuine manifestations of the Spirit.[27]                J-138

"The term workings, or operations, has reference to remarkable works of God wrought through certain individuals in an exceptional way. For instance, He grants to Paul a ministerial office of unusual influence: Paul is permitted to convert more souls than other apostles, to perform more wonders and to accomplish more. He says himself (1 Corinthians 15:10) that by the grace of God he labored more abundantly than all."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicolaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 214.


1.15    Note the Spirit, Not the Gift, 1 Corinthians 12:11

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.


BYZ 1 Corinthians 12:11 pa,nta de. tau/ta evnergei/ to. e]n kai. to. auvto. pneu/ma diairou/n ivdi,a| e`ka,stw| kaqw.j bou,letai

One is tempted to think of the gift rather than of the Spirit. Then people will compare their gifts and either will feel proud or short-changed. We must consider that the power and energy of the one Spirit is always at work.



"Person and office may be apparently inferior, but the office is of God and God is no inferior being. His greatness cannot be equaled by a hundred thousand worlds. He accomplishes things incomprehensible to the world and impossible to angels."

            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicolaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 218.


KJV 2 Corinthians 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.


BYZ 2 Corinthians 1:6 ei;te de. qlibo,meqa u`pe.r th/j u`mw/n paraklh,sewj kai. swthri,aj\ th/j evnergoume,nhj evn u`pomonh/| tw/n auvtw/n paqhma,twn w-n kai. h`mei/j pa,scomen kai. h[ evlpi,j h`mw/n bebai,a u`pe.r u`mw/n ei;te parakalou,meqa u`pe.r th/j u`mw/n paraklh,sewj kai. swthri,aj.


The difficulties associated with believing and teaching the pure Word of God are described as the experience of the cross. These afflictions need to be distinguished from the normal difficulties of life, such as illness, economic hardship, and emotional stress. “Taking up the cross daily” means accepting the hardships directly associated with the Word of God, when friends turn into enemies, or a job is lost, or slander runs rampant, solely because of the Word and not due to our own sinfulness.[28]


KJV 2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God….


The afflictions described by Paul are not known precisely to us, which is good, but they are associated with his work as an apostle. Experiences of the cross work (create) endurance. The cross and the Word cannot be separated, so the Holy Spirit is effective in times of difficulties.


KJV Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.


1.16    The Word and the Cross


"Patient continuance is so altogether necessary that no work can be good in which patient continuance is lacking. The world is so utterly perverse and Satan is so heinously wicked that he cannot allow any good work to be done, but he must persecute it. However, in this very way God, in His wonderful wisdom, proves what work is good and pleasing to Him. Here the rule holds: As long as we do good and for our good do not encounter contradiction, hatred, and all manner of disagreeable and disadvantageous things, so we must fear that our good work as yet is not pleasing to God; for just so long it is not yet done with patient continuance. But when our good work is followed by persecution, let us rejoice and firmly believe that it is pleasing to God; indeed, then let us be assured that it comes from God, for whatever is of God is bound to be crucified by the world. As long as it does not bring the cross, that is, as long as it does not bring shame and contempt as we patiently continue in it, it cannot be esteemed as a divine work since even the Son of God was not free from it—(suffering for the sake of the good He did)—but left us an example in this. He Himself tells us in Matthew 5:10, 12: 'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake...Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.'"

Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, Romans 2:6-10, trans. J. Theodore Mueller, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, p. 55.

1.16.1                 Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 2 Corinthians 4

KJV 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.


BYZ 2 Corinthians 4:7 :Ecomen de. to.n qhsauro.n tou/ton evn ovstraki,noij skeu,esin i[na h` u`perbolh. th/j duna,mewj h=| tou/ qeou/ kai. mh. evx h`mw/n\ 8 evn panti. qlibo,menoi avll ouv stenocwrou,menoi avporou,menoi avll ouvk evxaporou,menoi 9 diwko,menoi avll ouvk evgkataleipo,menoi kataballo,menoi avll ouvk avpollu,menoi 10 pa,ntote th.n ne,krwsin tou/ Kuri,ou VIhsou/ evn tw/| sw,mati perife,rontej i[na kai. h` zwh. tou/ VIhsou/ evn tw/| sw,mati h`mw/n fanerwqh/| 11 avei. ga.r h`mei/j oi` zw/ntej eivj qa,naton paradido,meqa dia. VIhsou/n i[na kai. h` zwh. tou/ VIhsou/ fanerwqh/| evn th/| qnhth/| sarki. h`mw/n 12 w[ste o` me.n qa,natoj evn h`mi/n evnergei/tai h` de. zwh. evn u`mi/n.


The classic passage, “Treasure in Earthen Vessels,” expresses the power of God’s Word with great force and clarity. Paul describes his ministry in four great contrasts:[29]

a.      Afflicted, but not hopelessly trapped,

b.     Perplexed, but not in despair,

c.      Persecuted, but not abandoned (to Hell),

d.     Cast down, but not destroyed.

A difference must be noted between the lower concept of life (psyche),[30] which means our mortal life, and eternal life (I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – zwh, zoe). Paul cannot defeat the forces that will end his mortal life, so death is working effectively in him, whether disease or violence brings about his death. But the use of “death” is deliberately ironic, since Paul does not offer himself as anything other than a fragile, clay vessel containing the great treasure of the life-giving Gospel. Believers are the living ones (verb of zoe), delivered to death in Jesus in order to portray publicly the eternal life of Jesus offered to believers in the midst of death.

No greater opportunity for evangelism is offered a pastor and congregation than the funeral of a faithful member. Many people will find reasons to skip a Baptism or wedding, but a funeral demands respectful attendance by the greatest scoundrels and scoffers. The audience will include a rainbow coalition of all denominations and varieties of religious experience, unified by the common experience of death. A great and effectual door is opened for the pastor and congregation trusting in the energy, power, and operation of the Law and Gospel. The hymns, Scriptures, and sermon can present a worship service that expresses the personal faith of the believer, the relationship between sin and death, and the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Christ. A funeral bulletin printed with the Scripture and hymn texts will be a source of comfort for uncounted souls. The death of a Christian is at work bringing eternal life to others.



"Despised and scorned, they sojourned here

But now, how glorious they appear!

Those martyrs stand a priestly band,

God’s throne forever near.

So oft, in troubled days gone by,

In anguish they would weep and sigh.

At home, above the God of love

For aye their tears shall dry.

They now enjoy their Sabbath rest,

The paschal banquet of the blest;

The Lamb, their Lord, at festal board

Himself is Host and Guest."

Hans A. Brorson, “Behold a Host, Arrayed in White,” The Lutheran Hymnal, #656, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.[31]



"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright."

Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159. Tappert, p. 125. Heiser, p. 42.

1.17    Effective in Galatia

KJV Galatians 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)


BYZ Galatians 2:8 o` ga.r evnergh,saj Pe,trw| eivj avpostolh.n th/j peritomh/j evnh,rghsen kai. evmoi. eivj ta. e;qnh.


In this passage Paul is presenting his case against the Judaizers in Galatia, establishing his status as the apostle to the Gentiles and destroying the necessity of circumcision. While Peter worked among the Jews and Paul among the non-Jews, God was actively at work in both men, because the effect of the Gospel does not depend on man. Therefore, the argument of the false teachers, that Peter alone worked miracles, is false.



Clark's translation: "For he who infused the supernatural spirit for Peter in order that he might authoritatively preach among the Jews, infused me too with that same spirit, so that I might as authoritatively preach among the pagans."

Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 94.


KJV Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?


BYZ Galatians 3:5 o` ou=n evpicorhgw/n u`mi/n to. pneu/ma kai. evnergw/n duna,meij evn u`mi/n evx e;rgwn no,mou h' evx avkoh/j pi,stewj


The question posed by Paul about the circumcision party offers a comparison that needs no answer.

1.     God provided all of the effort in giving you the Spirit. The verb form is related to the act of outfitting a chorus, that is, providing all of the expenses of a drama or pageant. God provided all of the cost in bringing the Spirit through the Word to the Galatians, sending His Son and commissioning the apostles.

2.     God also worked (en-erg-ew; erg is the root for work) great miracles, which are recorded in Acts 14:3. “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

3.     Did He work miracles (evnergw/n duna,meij; energon dynameis) through the works (ergoi; ergoi) of the Law or the preaching of faith? The Judaizers could not teach the Gospel, could not therefore provide the Spirit, and could not perform any miracles or wonders. The works of the Judaizers do not work.



“Since Paul, then, clearly testifies that he did not even wish to seek for the confirmation of Peter [for permission to preach] even when he had come to him, he teaches that the authority of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, and that Peter was not superior to the other apostles, and that it was not from this one individual Peter that ordination or confirmation was to be sought [that the office of the ministry proceeds from the general call of the apostles, and that it is not necessary for all to have the call or confirmation of this one person, Peter, alone].”

            The Smalcald Articles, Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, IV, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 507. Tappert, p. 321. Heiser, p. 150.

1.18    Faith Works by Love, Galatians 5:6

KJV Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.


BYZ Galatians 5:6 evn ga.r Cristw/| VIhsou/ ou;te peritomh, ti ivscu,ei ou;te avkrobusti,a avlla. pi,stij di avga,phj evnergoume,nh.



"But after man has been justified by faith, then a true living faith worketh by love, Galatians 5:6, so that thus good works always follow justifying faith, and are surely found with it, if it be true and living; for it never is alone, but always has with it love and hope."

Formula of Concord, Epitome, III, #11. Righteousness of Faith, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 795. Tappert, p. 474. Heiser, p. 220.


This verse refutes the error of Roman Catholics, who damn to Hell those who teach that faith means trust in God, that faith alone receives God’s forgiveness.[32]



"If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than trust in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this trust alone by which we are justified, let him be anathema [damned to Hell]." [Session Six, Canon XII]

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 460.



"If anyone says that a man is absolved from sins and justified because of this that he confidently believes that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified except he who believes that he is justified, and that through this faith alone absolution and justification is effected, let him be anathema [damned to Hell]."

[Sixth Session, Canon XIV]

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 551.


The law-merchants win if we think the energy of God’s salvation comes from circumcision or non-circumcision. They can even turn faith into a work of the Law, by making trust in God into a “decision for Christ,” or cooperation with God (synergism), or as the Church of Rome teaches, faith requiring good works to make the believer pleasing to God. Although the Roman concept seems to be the worst perversion, any addition of the Law to the Gospel destroys salvation by grace alone. The proper understanding of Galatians 5:6 is that the justified sinner, receiving forgiveness through faith, will be active in the works of love, in the spirit of gratitude rather than obligation toward God.[33]



“Therefore justification does not require the works of the Law; but it does require a living faith, which performs its works.”

            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed. Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 721.



“He that hears the Word of Christ in all sincerity, and adheres to it in faith, will also soon be clothed with the spirit of love.”

            Martin Luther, 8, 1572, cited in P. E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, II, p. 251.



"At this point, Paul uses the antonym katargoumai, in the aorist passive, of which notice may be taken here. All of you who seek to be pronounced dikaios through the Law, he says, katergethete apo christou, i. e. 'have been deprived of the efficacious spirit of Christ.' No longer is He in you, nor you in Him; you have been exorcised from him."

Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 99.


1.19    To Will and to Do God’s Will, Philipians 2:13


KJV Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.


BYZ Philippians 2:13 o` qeo.j ga,r evstin o` evnergw/n evn u`mi/n kai. to. qe,lein kai. to. evnergei/n u`pe.r th/j euvdoki,aj.


Kittel considers Philippians 2:13 the only instance of the word-group being used for human activity.[34] Non-Lutherans have trouble with this verse, since they think in terms of the Arminian position of free will or the Calvinistic position of double predestination.[35] However, Lutherans understand that the Holy Spirit works in the Word and Sacraments not only to make us love His will, but also to move us in serving Him willingly. Therefore, good works done by Christians are motivated by the Triune God and also activated by divine power. Walther: “We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling for the very reason that our heavenly Father must do everything that is necessary for our salvation.”[36]



"Paul is not using law but gospel. He is assuring his Christian readers that, in their complete dependence on God for their salvation, this God will never, never disappoint them but by working in them by means of Word and Sacrament will ever bring them to keep on in their willing and to keep on in their working, both object infinitives being present and durative."

R. C. H. Lenski, Philippians, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House: 1962, p. 800.



"And Paul, Philippians 2:13: It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end."

            Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II, #14, Of Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 885. Tappert, p. 523. Heiser, p. 242.



“And although the regenerate even in this life advance so far that they will what is good, and love it, and even do good and grow in it, nevertheless this (as above stated) is not of our will and ability, but the Holy Ghost, as Paul himself speaks concerning this, works such willing and doing, Philippians 2:12. As also in Ephesians 2:10 he ascribes this work to God alone, when he says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, II, #39, Of Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 895. Tappert, p. 528. Heiser, p. 245.

1.20    Effective in Transforming, Philipians 3:20


KJV Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.


BYZ Philippians 3:20 h`mw/n ga.r to. poli,teuma evn ouvranoi/j u`pa,rcei evx ou- kai. swth/ra avpekdeco,meqa ku,rion VIhsou/n Cristo,n 21 o]j metaschmati,sei to. sw/ma th/j tapeinw,sewj h`mw/n eivj to. gene,sqai auvto. su,mmorfon tw/| sw,mati th/j do,xhj auvtou/ kata. th.n evne,rgeian tou/ du,nasqai auvto.n kai. u`pota,xai e`auvtw/| ta. pa,nta.


Here Paul contrasts the city to which we belong, in Heaven, to the earthly nature of those who are sworn enemies of Christ (verse 19) whose God is their belly, whose end is destruction, whose glory is their shame, because they think only about the things on the earth. Believers, in contrast, belong to the City of God, where our Savior will come from at the end of time. He will call our bodies from the dead, (John 5), giving believers a glorious body which is like His glorified body, through His activity in subordinating every created thing and all powers to Himself.



"From this earthly city issue the enemies against whom the City of God must be defended. Some of them, it is true, abjure their worldly error and become worthy members in God's City. But many others, alas, break out in blazing hatred against it and are utterly ungrateful, notwithstanding its Redeemer's signal gifts. For, they would no longer have a voice to raise against it, had not its sanctuaries given them asylum as they fled before the invaders' swords, and made it possible for them to save the life of which they are so proud."

Augustine, The City of God, Garden City: Image Books, 1962, p. 40.


1.21    Active in Colosse; 1:28, 2:12


KJV Colossians 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.


BYZ Colossians 1:28 o]n h`mei/j katagge,llomen nouqetou/ntej pa,nta a;nqrwpon kai. dida,skontej pa,nta a;nqrwpon evn pa,sh| sofi,a| i[na parasth,swmen pa,nta a;nqrwpon te,leion evn Cristw/|\ VIhsou/ 29 eivj o] kai. kopiw/ avgwnizo,menoj kata. th.n evne,rgeian auvtou/ th.n evnergoume,nhn evn evmoi. evn duna,mei.


Paul had to strive against Judaizers in Colosse, so he preached the Gospel and also warned against the false teachers. He could present every soul perfect in Christ only if the leaven of salvation by the Law was completely removed in all respects. His task is not easy, for he speaks of hard labor and agonizing according to the divine energy God has given him to work miracles. We can see that the old Pharisaical pride of Paul in being such a hard worker is now converted into praising God for working through him. The style of self-congratulations is still present, but Paul is now only the instrument.


Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.


BYZ Colossians 2:12 suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| bapti,smati( evn w-| kai. sunhge,rqhte dia. th/j pi,stewj th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ tou/ evgei,rantoj auvto.n evk tw/n nekrw/n\


The monergism of the Bible is repeatedly connected to this word-group. In this passage we have the utter defeat of synergism, that is, any notion that man cooperates with God in salvation, even if it only means to complete what God has begun. Baptism is symbolic, but the sacrament is not merely symbolic. Baptism is the energy of God in burying the old Adam and raising up the new Creation. Water represents our burial, our washing, our rebirth, but the power of Baptism comes from the Holy Spirit at work in the Word. We are raised through the faith worked by God who raised Him from the dead. The creation of faith by One so powerful cannot be denied, especially since the actual resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.[37]



"Luther heads the list of those who regard the genitive as a genitive of cause: 'the faith which God works,' etc., 'of the operation of God' (KJV), i.e., produced in us by His work. So this passage has come to be a dictum probans against synergism. The fact that faith is in toto God's production is the teaching of all Scripture."[38]

R. C. H. Lenski, Colossians, Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1937, p. 109f.



“Just as Paul says to the Colossians, 2:12, that faith is efficacious through the power of God, and overcomes death: Wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God. Since this faith is a new life, it necessarily produces new movements and works. [Because it is a new light and life in the heart, whereby we obtain another mind and spirit, it is living, productive, and rich in good works.”

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, #250, Justification. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 191. Tappert, p. 143. Heiser, p. 53.



“Paul almost everywhere, when he describes conversion or renewal, designates these two parts, mortification and quickening, as in Colossians 2:11: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, namely, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. And afterward, v. 12: Wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God. Here are two parts. [Of these two parts he speaks plainly Romans 6:2, 4, 11, that we are dead to sin, which takes place by contrition and its terrors, and that we should rise again with Christ, which takes place when by faith we again obtain consolation and life.”

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XII, #46. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 263. Tappert, p. 188. Heiser, p. 81.

1.22    Effectual in Acknowledging, Philemon 1:6


Philemon 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.


BYZ Philemon 1:6 o[pwj h` koinwni,a th/j pi,stew,j sou evnergh.j ge,nhtai evn evpignw,sei panto.j avgaqou/ tou/ evn h`mi/n eivj Cristo,n VIhsou/nÅ


Communication (koinonia) is used exclusively in the New Testament for fellowship with God. The English term, koinonia, has degenerated into a name for socializing and cell groups. In the New Testament, koinonia means fellowship with God:


1 Corinthians 10:16 “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion koinonia) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (koinonia) of the body of Christ?


When we understand that koinonia means fellowship with God, then we can see how Philemon’s faith can become energetic, divinely active, in being aware of all worthwhile things in him in Christ. The letter is a Gospel-centered plea by Paul to a rich man, Philemon, to accept back his runaway slave, Onesimus. The request in Philemon 1:6 is for Philemon to show mercy, which will then be influential among all the Christians, when they see someone give up his rights under the law in order to show forgiveness through Christ. This would also be a way of acknowledging the good things, the blessings, of Christian fellowship. In contrast, non-believers “lord it over one another (Matthew 20:25).”

1.23    Synoptic Energy, Matthew 14:2; Mark 6:14


KJV Matthew 14:2 (parallel: Mark 6:14) And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.


BYZ Matthew 14:2 kai. ei=pen toi/j paisi.n auvtou/ Ou-to,j evstin VIwa,nnhj o` baptisth,j\ auvto.j hvge,rqh avpo. tw/n nekrw/n kai. dia. tou/to ai` duna,meij evnergou/sin evn auvtw/|.


Herod the Tetrarch, in a guilty panic after he murdered John the Baptist, claimed that Jesus was John come back to life. While others saw wonderful miracles attesting the divinity of Jesus, God’s only-begotten Son, Herod saw a haunting memory of a dead prophet. If we did not have the efficacious verb in this passage, we would still be struck by the terror induced in Herod by the presence of the Savior. The mighty works active in Christ have the effect of the Law for Herod, because he only knows the agony of the unrepentant sinner who has hardened his own heart against the Gospel. Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”


1.24    Appendix One: The Word As a Sword


KJV Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:


Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.


Revelation 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;


Revelation 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.


Revelation 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.


Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.


Revelation 19:21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

1.25    Efficacy In The Book Of Concord[39]


Augsburg Confession


"Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: 'The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc.' Matthew 23:2. Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men."

Augsburg Confession, VIII. What the Church Is, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 47. Matthew 23:2. Tappert, p. 33. Heiser, p. 13.


Apology of the Augsburg Confession


"For Christ wishes to assure us, as was necessary, that we should know that the Word delivered by men is efficacious, and that no other word from heaven ought to be sought. 'He that heareth you heareth Me,' cannot be understood of traditions. For Christ requires that they teach in such a way that [by their mouth] He Himself be heard, because He says: 'He heareth Me.' Therefore He wishes His own voice, His own Word, to be heard, not human traditions."

            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, XXVIII. #18. Eccles. Power, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 449. Tappert, p. 284. Heiser, p. 134.


The Large Catechism


"Besides, it is an exceedingly effectual help against the devil, the world, and the flesh and all evil thoughts to be occupied with the Word of God, and to speak of it, and meditate upon it, so that the First Psalm declares those blessed who meditate upon the Law of God day and night. Undoubtedly, you will not start a stronger incense or other fumigation against the devil than by being engaged upon God's commandments and words, and speaking, singing, or thinking of them. For this is indeed the true holy water and holy sign from which he flees, and by which he may be driven away."

            The Large Catechism, Preface, #10, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 570f. Tappert, p. 359f. Heiser, p. 167.



"For let me tell you this, even though you know it perfectly and be already master in all things, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against the foregoing and all the commandments. Therefore you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle, and the Word does not sound, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware. On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words."

            The Large Catechism, Third Commandment. #100. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 609. Tappert, p. 378f. Heiser, p. 175f.



"Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God's own, suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man; and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory."

            The Large Catechism, Part Fourth, Of Baptism. #83. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 751. Tappert, p. 446. Heiser, p. 209.


Formula of Concord


"Therefore, before the conversion of man there are only two efficient causes, namely, the Holy Ghost and the Word of God, as the instrument of the Holy Ghost, by which He works conversion. This Word man is [indeed] to hear; however, it is not by his own powers, but only through the grace and working of the Holy Ghost that he can yield faith to it and accept it."

            Formula of Concord, Epitome, II, Of the Free Will, #19, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 791. Tappert, p. 472. Heiser, p. 219.



"And although God, according to His just, strict sentence, has utterly cast away the fallen evil spirits forever, He has nevertheless, out of special, pure mercy, willed that poor fallen human nature might again become and be capable and participant of conversion, the grace of God and eternal life; not from its own natural, active [or effective] skill, aptness, or capacity (for the nature of man is obstinate enmity against God), but from pure grace, through the gracious efficacious working of the Holy Ghost." Luther, Psalm 90.

            Formula of Concord, SD, II, #20. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1921, p. 889. Tappert, p. 525. Heiser, p. 243.



"Thirdly, in this manner, too, the Holy Scriptures ascribe conversion, faith in Christ, regeneration, renewal, and all that belongs to their efficacious beginning and completion, not to the human powers of the natural free will, neither entirely, nor half, nor in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part, but in solidum, that is, entirely, solely to the divine working and the Holy Ghost, as also the Apology teaches."

            Formula of Concord, SD II. #25. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 891. Tappert, p. 526. Heiser, p. 244.



"For this reason we shall now relate, furthermore, from God's Word how man is converted to God, how and through what means [namely, through the oral Word and the holy Sacraments] the Holy Ghost wants to be efficacious in us, and to work and bestow in our hearts true repentance, faith, and new spiritual power and ability for good, and how we should conduct ourselves towards these means, and [how we should] use them."

Formula of Concord SD II. #48. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 901. Tappert, p. 530. Heiser, p. 246.



"Now, all who wish to be saved ought to hear this preaching [of God's Word]. For the preaching and hearing of God's Word are instruments of the Holy Ghost, by, with, and through which He desires to work efficaciously, and to convert men to God, and to work in them both to will and to do. This Word man can externally hear and read, even though he is not yet converted to God and regenerate; for in these external things, as said above, man even since the Fall has to a certain extent a free will, so that he can go to church and hear or not hear the sermon."

            Formula of Concord, SD, II, #52. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1921, p. 901f. Tappert, p. 531. Heiser, p. 246.



"Now, although both, the planting and watering of the preacher, and the running and willing of the hearer, would be in vain, and no conversion would follow it if the power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost were not added thereto, who enlightens and converts the hearts through the Word preached and heard, so that men believe this Word and assent thereto, still, neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers."

            Formula of Concord SD II. #55-56. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 903. Tappert, p. 531f. Heiser, p. 246.



"The other eating of the body of Christ is oral or sacramental, when the true, essential body and blood of Christ are also orally received and partaken of in the Holy Supper, by all who eat and drink the consecrated bread and wine in the Supper—by the believing as a certain pledge and assurance that their sins are surely forgiven them, and Christ dwells and is efficacious in them, but by the unbelieving for the judgment and condemnation, as the words of the institution by Christ expressly declare...."

            Formula of Concord, SD, VII. #63. Holy Supper. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House 1921, p. 995. Tappert, p. 581. Heiser, p. 270.



"For the true and almighty words of Jesus Christ which He spake at the first institution were efficacious not only at the first Supper, but they endure, are valid, operate, and are still efficacious [their force, power, and efficacy endure and avail even to the present], so that in all places where the Supper is celebrated according to the institution of Christ, and His words are used, the body and blood of Christ are truly present, distributed, and received, because of the power and efficacy of the words which Christ spake at the first Supper. For where His institution is observed and His words are spoken over the bread and cup [wine], and the consecrated bread and cup [wine] are distributed, Christ Himself, through the spoken words, is still efficacious by virtue of the first institution, through His word, which He wishes to be there repeated."

            Formula of Concord, SD VII, #75. Holy Supper. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 999. Tappert, p. 583. Heiser, p. 270f.



"Also, Tom. III, Jena, Fol. 446: 'Thus here also, even though I should pronounce over all the words: This is Christ's body, nothing, of course, would result therefrom; but when in the Supper we say, according to His institution and command: 'This is My body,' it is His body, not on account of our speaking or word uttered [because these words, when uttered, have this efficacy], but because of His command—that He has commanded us thus to speak and to do, and has united His command and act with our speaking."

            Formula of Concord, SD VII, #78. Holy Supper. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1001. Tappert, p. 583. Heiser, p. 271.



"Now, it is not our faith that makes the sacrament, but only the true word and institution of our almighty God and Savior Jesus Christ, which always is and remains efficacious in the Christian Church, and is not invalidated or rendered inefficacious by the worthiness or unworthiness of the minister, nor by the unbelief of the one who receives it."

            Formula of Concord, SD VII, #89. Holy Supper. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1003. Tappert, p. 585. Heiser, p. 272.



"1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life. 2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments. 3. That by His Holy Ghost, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, He will be efficacious and active in us, convert hearts to true repentance, and preserve them in the true faith. 4. That He will justify all those who in true repentance receive Christ by a true faith, and will receive them into grace, the adoption of sons, and the inheritance of eternal life." ..."God in His purpose and counsel ordained [decreed]:

Formula of Concord, SD, XI. #15. Of God's Eternal Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1069. 2 Corinthians 5:19ff. Tappert, p. 619. Heiser, p. 288.



"And this call of God, which is made through the preaching of the Word, we should not regard as jugglery, but know that thereby God reveals His will, that in those whom He thus calls He will work through the Word, that they may be enlightened, converted, and saved. For the Word, whereby we are called, is a ministration of the Spirit, that gives the Spirit, or whereby the Spirit is given, 2 Corinthians 3:8, and a power of God unto salvation, Romans 1:16. And since the Holy Ghost wishes to be efficacious through the Word, and to strengthen and give power and ability, it is God's will that we should receive the Word, believe and obey it."

            Formula of Concord, SD XI. #29. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1073. 2 Corinthians 3:8; Romans 1:16. Tappert, p. 621. Heiser, p. 289.



"For few receive the Word and follow it; the greatest number despise the Word, and will not come to the wedding, Matthew 22:3ff. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God's foreknowledge [or predestination], but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says, 'How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!' Matthew 23:37."

            Formula of Concord, SD XI. #41. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1077. Matthew 22:3ff.; 23:37. Tappert, p. 623. Heiser, p. 290.



"Moreover, the declaration, John 6:44, that no one can come to Christ except the Father draw him, is right and true. However, the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained for this purpose His Word and Sacraments as ordinary means and instruments; and it is the will neither of the Father nor of the Son that a man should not hear or should despise the preaching of His Word, and wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Ghost, however, according to His usual order [the order decreed and instituted by Himself], by the hearing of His holy, divine Word, as with a net, by which the elect are plucked from the jaws of the devil. Every poor sinner should therefore repair thereto [to holy preaching], hear it attentively, and not doubt the drawing of the Father. For the Holy Ghost will be with His Word in His power, and work by it...."

Formula of Concord, SD XI. #76-77. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1089. John 6:44. Tappert, p. 629. Heiser, p. 293.



[1] "We observe that energeo in our eleven occurrences is associated twice with dynamis (once as a subject and once as object), three times with the cognates energeia and energema, and once with the kratos tes ixchuos of God. But even when such terms are not present, energeo itself has a supernatural connotation. Eight times the verb refers to the action of God, and once to the action of Satan, while the remaining two occurrences (Matthew 14:2 = Mark 6:14; Philippians 2:13) clearly relate to supernatural sources of power. In every case the context bears the atmosphere of supernatural forces at work, and the action is at home in the practical dualism of first century thought, where so much of the conduct of daily life was explained as the operation of good or evil spirits from outside the human realm." Kenneth W. Clark, "The Meaning of Energeo and Katargeo in the New Testament," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 54, 1935, p. 95.

[2] William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago: Uinversity of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 30.

[3] Lenski was highly esteemed in all Lutheran synods during his productive lifetime, but the tide was turning against Biblical inerrancy and the efficacy of the Word. He opposed the waffling on inerrancy that led to the 1930 merger of the American Lutheran Church. Church officials silenced him. Augsburg took over publishing rights to Lenski’s commentaries but gave them up during the ELCA Babylonian Captivity.

[4] G. Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964 , II, p. 652.

[5] James H. Moulton, George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930, p. 214. The authors state this about the verb form, that it “seems always to have the idea of effective working….” The adjective form is used for a mill “in working order,” for “wrought” iron, and “tilled” land, as well as “tolerably strong” medicine.

[6] Would any faculty member or graduate of Fuller Seminary give such a clear testimony today about the power of the Word alone? The founder of Fuller believed in the inerrancy of the Word. His wife believed in the efficacy of the Word. The Fuller faculty rejects both.

[7] A triadic structure is an indication of divine activity. The fruits of the Spirit are nine-fold in Galatians 5:22ff. Jack Cascione has a fascinating study of lists in his book, In Search of the Biblical Order, Fairview Park: Biblion Publishing, 1987. We can find many examples of triads - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3).

[8] KJV 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy… 1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

[9] KJV Psalm 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

[10] Autobiography, Letters of a Slave Trader Freed by God’s Grace, Chicago: Moody Press, 1963, p. 7. Those who doubt the value of memory work at an early age may want to consider the efficacy of the Word as it continued to influence Newton, even when he seemed to emulate Jonah in running away from God.

[11] Luther constantly emphasized the value of the external (spoken) Word in conversion.

[12] A scoffer asked a believer how God, who is omnipotent, could lift an unmovable rock. The believer answered, “But the natural (yuciko.j) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).”

[13] The introduction to the Means of Grace chapter in Isaiah reminds us of the weakness of man’s weapons: Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

[14] Matthew 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

[15] The Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:22) and the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8) are two examples of prayer answered.

[16]Paul wrote sternly to the Galatians specifically about those who wanted to require circumcision for the faith, thus destroying the Gospel. Acts 20:30 – “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

[17] The Bible often reveals God’s attributes and works in groups of three to remind us of the three-fold nature of the Trinity. Some examples are: “The Lord” repeated three times in the Aaronic benediction, Numbers 6; “Holy, holy, holy” in Isaiah ;the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love; 1 Corinthians 13.

[18] "With the infallibility bestowed on her by the Lord, the Church clearly teaches that Jesus appointed Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible head of the whole Church; he also immediately and personally gave Peter a true primacy of jurisdiction over the Church." [Anyone who denies this is anathema, damned to Hell, according to Vatican I - Denzinger 1823 - Baker, p. 108], Kenneth Baker, S.J., Fundamentals of Catholicism, 3 vols., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982, III, p. 107. Matthew 16:17-19.

[19] Popular Commentary of the New Testament, 2 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, II, p. 262.

[20] Ephesians 1:11 is cited in the Formula of Concord, Thorough Declaration, Article XI, Of God’s Eternal Election, Concordia Triglotta, p. 1073.

[21] Many erroneously believe that Lutherans and Calvinists agree on predestination. "Calvin and his adherents boldly rejected the universality of God's grace, of Christ's redemption, and of the Spirit's efficacious operation through the means of grace, and taught that, in the last analysis, also the eternal doom of the damned was solely due to an absolute decree of divine reprobation (in their estimation the logical complement of election), and this at the very time when they pretended adherence to the Augsburg Confession and were making heavy inroads into Lutheran territory with their doctrine concerning the Lord's Supper and the person of Christ,--which in itself was sufficient reason for a public discussion and determined resentment of their absolute predestinarianism." F. Bente, Concordia Triglotta, Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 195f.


[22] “It is certain, however, that the wicked are in the power of the devil, and members of the kingdom of the devil, as Paul teaches, Ephesians 2:2, when he says that the devil now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article VII and VIII, #16, Of the Church. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 231. Tappert, p. 170f. Heiser, p. 72.

[23] "Whatever THE MIND OF MAN can CONCEIVE and BELIEVE it can ACHIEVE." Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, New York: Fawcett Crest Books, 1937, revised 1960, p. 32. [Emphasis in original]

[24] Augustine, Confessions.

[25] This statement is contrary to everything taught by Lutheran followers of the Church Growth Movement.

[26] As Kretzmann noted, Paul did not brag about his special role in Ephesians 3:7, but wrote with great meekness. Sadly, many gifted ministers stumble because of their inordinate pride in what God has generously bestowed on them, as if inherited talents and special opportunities grant a license to jettison sound doctrine to be more popular or to break the Ten Commandments to have more fun.

[27] Lutheran Church Growth advocates have demeaned this chapter and Romans 12 by turning spiritual gifts into a talent search, the results placed in a database for getting the congregation’s housekeeping chores done. The need for weekly cleaning volunteers is turned into a category in a “spiritual gifts inventory,” a cry for help in a doctrinal wasteland.

[28] Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.


[29] Four is used for completeness, as noted by Lenski, Corinthians, p. 977, and Cascione.

[30] John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life (psyche) that I might take it again.


[31] Our daughters Bethany and Erin Joy were often shunned for being weak and disabled, and they suffered from severe pain and distress from their neurological degeneration, from medical tests, and from failed experimental treatments. This hymn combines ethereal beauty with the reality of suffering, providing comfort for the mourners in a continuing reminder of the Gospel promises.

[32] C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 232.

[33] “The inefficiency of a faith that fail to work by love is not due to a lack of love, but to the fact that it is not real, honest faith. Love must not be added to faith but grow out of it.” C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 211.

[34] Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdman's, 1964, II. "In the OT and NT energeia, and in the NT the verb energein, are used almost exclusively for the work of divine or demonic powers, so that we almost have a technical use." (p. 652) Only in Philippians 2:13 does the active energein refer to human activity. (p. 653) In the NT the med. energeisthai is found only in Paul and James 5:16 and it is always in the intr (p. 654) "In the NT, then, the word group is used of irrational operations, whether divine or demonic." (p. 654)

[35] Robertson does this in his Word Pictures, cited in Lenski, Philippians, p. 799.

[36] Law and Gospel, p. 369.

[37] C. F. W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 364.

[38] Lenski considers this an objective genitive, not a causal genitive, p. 110. Not everyone can discern a difference in types of genitives, and grammatical rules can be a type of commentary. Is this faith created by God (causal) or is it “faith in the working of God as the One who raised Him from the dead (objective)?” The Bible clearly teaches that God creates faith through His Word.

[39] The quotations below, many of which are used in the book, are all the significant uses of efficacy in the Book of Concord, where the term efficacy is explicit. The quotations are listed according to page number.