The Power of the Keys (Potestas clavium)

That the great freedom of the Reformation is truly the liberty of the gospel is demonstrated first of all by the fact that in the New Testament the potestas clavium [power of the keys] is not conferred once but three times: Matthew 16 to Peter, John 20 to all the Apostles, and Matthew 18 to the entire ekklesia. These bestowals dare not be separated from each other. Neither may one place one into the foreground at the expense of the others and consider that the true form. And when Jesus gives to the twelve His commission to preach the gospel to every creature, and through Baptism to make disciples of all nations, when at the Last Supper He instructs them, “This do in remembrance of me!” then who are the twelve? They are the first to stand in the office of the ministry. From them proceeds the ministerium docendi evangelii et porrigendi sacramenta. But they are at the same time the church, the ekklesia, the representatives of this new “People of God” of the Last Days. Thus it is simply impossible in the New Testament to separate the office of the ministry and the church from each other. What is said to the church is said to the ministry, and vice versa. The ministry does not stand above the congregation, but invariably within it.

Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors VIII, July 1949

HT Matthew Harrison (actually, shamelessly borrowed from Pr Harrison's blog -hope he doesn't mind)

Note - why include the Latin title for the subject? Not many pastors may still have Latin, but all should be familiar with the classical Latin names for articles of faith and other theological subjects as found in Concordia.

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