Table of Duties
CERTAIN PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE FOR VARIOUS HOLY ORDERS AND POSITIONS, ADMONISHING THEM ABOUT THEIR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
And any other commandment[s], are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Rom. 13:9]
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. [1 Tim. 2:1]
Let each his lesson learn with care,
and all the household well shall fare.
In Dr. Martin Luther’s booklet entitled, “On the Holy Supper of Christ,” written in 1526, he said the following about the various stations in life listed in the Table of Duties:
“But none of these stations in life provides a path toward salvation, for there is only one path that remains above all of these, namely, faith in Jesus Christ; for it is most assuredly something else to be holy and saved. We are saved through Christ alone, and yet holy both through such faith and through such divine estates and orders.”
The love of the neighbor is the basis for the Second Table of the Ten Commandments, but also is the basis for all that we do in the various vocations God gives us, this is love that flows out from the saving Christian faith God gives. As we’ve seen in each of the individual parts of Table of Duties, God gives us in His Word the foundational institution of each possible vocation we may have. These vocations are blessed and made holy by the redeeming work of Christ our Lord, and are put into practice in the community by the service and prayer that is performed by the members of the Holy Christian Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The concluding verse of poetry brings to mind the original German title to this section of the Small Catechism: “List (or Table) of Household Responsibilities” – emphasis on “household.” The Catechism was published as placards that could be posted in the home and wherever the Catechism was to be taught. But it also functions to draw the Catechism as a whole to its conclusion. Learning one’s lessons was more than just memorizing certain bible passages that apply. “Where it is not simply learned but also applied daily will all go well in the household that gathers around the father of the house with the Catechismin hand.” (Albrecht Peters, Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms, Confession and Christian Life, p. 140)