Luther: Why Weak And Beggarly Elements?

But why does Paul say that the Galatians are “turning back to the weak and beggarly elements,” that is, to the Law, when they never had the Law, since they were Gentiles (even though, as we shall say later, he writes this also to Jews)? Or why does he not rather speak this way: “Once, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods. But now that you know God, why do you forsake the true God and turn back again to the worship of idols?” Is defecting from the promise to the Law and from faith to works the same for Paul as serving gods that by nature are no gods? I reply: Whoever falls from the doctrine of justification is ignorant of God and is an idolater. Therefore it is all the same whether he then returns to the Law or to the worship of idols; it is all the same whether he is called a monk or a Turk or a Jew or an Anabaptist. For once this doctrine is undermined, nothing more remains but sheer error, hypocrisy, wickedness, and idolatry, regardless of how great the sanctity that appears on the outside.

Martin Luther | Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4,  ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 26 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 395–96.


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Posted by Tony Phelps | Saturday, March 23, 2024 | Categorized HeidelQuotes, Martin Luther, Scripture | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Phelps

Tony grew up in Rhode Island. He was educated at BA (University of Rhode Island) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He worked in the insurance industry for ten years. He planted a PCA church in Wakefield, RI where he served for eleven years. In 2015–18 he pastored Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Colorado Springs. He is currently pastor of Living Hope (OPC). Tony is married to Donna and together they have three children. Meet all the Heidelberg contributors»

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