2. Out of Zion the loveliness of His beauty. The church is the loveliness of His, Christ’s, beauty, because it is conformed to Him and receives of His fullness. He is Himself comely and most beautiful with every kind of beauty, and from this beauty comes the loveliness (species), that is, His form and image, in the church. And it went out of Zion into the whole world, because “He called it from the sun’s rising to its setting” (v. 1). But this calling began in Zion and first went out from there, as Luke 24:471 says: “beginning at Jerusalem unto the uttermost part of the earth.” [Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2, “The Law shall go forth from Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” So also the church, for with the Law and in the Law go also the people who are in the Law. For the Law did not go out into the world by itself, without its observers. Therefore the Law and synagog are comely, but the Gospel is the loveliness of that beauty, likewise also the church.] In another way the loveliness of His beauty is the manifestation and brightness of His beauty, and this is the evangelical law preached throughout the whole world, for in that loveliness and brightness it became plain to all what the beauty of Christ is, namely, that it is spiritual. As a star showed the Magi that Christ was born, so this loveliness and brightness of the Gospel shows the beauty and glory of Christ. Third, “loveliness” (species) is the revealed face of the beauty of Christ, who was first hidden in the letter but then began to be seen. For He was indeed comely, but His loveliness had not yet appeared. Therefore, after the letter was discarded and the light brought in, the truth finally appeared, which the shadow did not permit to be loveliness, though it could not keep Him from being beauty. And Christ showed this on the mountain when He brought the beauty of His divinity and glory openly into view. Hence also species comes from specere (“to look at”), so that the only kind of beauty there is is that which can be seen and placed into the light. This was not the case in the Law. Perhaps this could be the meaning of the passage in Ps. 45: “With Your comeliness and Your beauty,” so that the Spirit Himself is the comeliness and beauty, but His passive manifestation through the Gospel is His appearance actively. [See also above, Ps. 47:4: “The beauty of Jacob whom he loved.”] With this the Hebrew agrees, “Thy glory and beauty,” for without the glory, the beauty is not seen and is hidden under the letter. Glory is beauty made illustrious, and loveliness is beauty made manifest. So the Lord says, John 17:5, 5 “Father, glorify Me with the glory which I had (behold it was hidden) before the world was made.” Along the same line, and also here according to the Hebrew, Jerome can be understood as saying: “Out of Zion God appeared in perfect beauty,” For the Law is imperfect, and its beauty is made perfect by the Gospel. Such is also this statement: “Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5), and “Glory and great beauty shalt Thou lay upon him” (Ps. 21:5).
Luther’s works, vol. 10: First Lectures I