In his role as a professor of Old Testament, Luther never lectured or composed a full commentary on Matthew. He preached on it regularly, however, not only from the traditional lectionary texts for the church year but especially in a series of fifty-six sermons on Matthew 18–24 (LW 67–68), which he preached to the people of Wittenberg over the course of four years (1537–40), chiefly during the absence of the Wittenberg pastor Johann Bugenhagen in Denmark. Although medieval exegetes had appealed especially to St. Matthew’s Gospel to develop a theology of divine reward based upon merits, an ethics of monastic asceticism, and an ecclesiology of papal authority, Luther instead found in St. Matthew’s narrative rich testimony of God’s unmerited grace in dealing with sinful humanity, of the vocation of Christians within the world, and of Christ’s own government and protection of His Church through the Word.
The Wittenberg student Johann Stolz, who took notes on many of these sermons, noted: “With great prolixity [Luther] amplifies the things that seem to conflict with Scripture and sound doctrine, and he puts on, so to speak, the persona of the adversaries, adding to the controversy with examples and passages of Scripture, and in this way he makes the hearer attentive so that he can more easily notice and perceive the solution. But after he is thought to assent to the opposing side, he adds a brief and fitting solution” (LW 68:108n).
From Luther’s preaching on Matt. 23:39: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” [Read more…] about Preview the Next Volume of Luther’s Works!