Articles of Christian Doctrine which were to have been presented on our part to the Council, if any had been assembled at Mantua or elsewhere, indicating what we could accept or yield, and what we could not.–1537

Author: Martin Luther

Translator: F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau

The Smalcald Articles.

Articles of Christian Doctrine

which were to have been presented on our part

to the Council, if any had been assembled at Mantua

or elsewhere, indicating what we could accept

or yield, and what we could not.

by Dr. Martin Luther, 1537


Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau


Published in:

Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books

of the Ev. Lutheran Church.

(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921),

pp. 453-529.


Preface of Dr. Martin Luther.


Since Pope Paul III convoked a Council last year, to assemble

at Mantua about Whitsuntide, and afterwards transferred it

from Mantua, so that it is not yet known where he will or can

fix it, and we on our part either had to expect that we would

be summoned also to the Council or [to fear that we would] be

condemned unsummoned, I was directed to compile and collect

the articles of our doctrine [in order that it might be plain]

in case of deliberation as to what and how far we would be

both willing and able to yield to the Papists, and in what

points we intended to persevere and abide to the end.


I have accordingly compiled these articles and presented them

to our side. They have also been accepted and unanimously

confessed by our side, and it has been resolved that, in case

the Pope with his adherents should ever be so bold as

seriously and in good faith, without lying and cheating, to

hold a truly free [legitimate] Christian Council (as, indeed,

he would be in duty bound to do), they be publicly delivered

in order to set forth the Confession of our Faith.


But though the Romish court is so dreadfully afraid of a free

Christian Council, and shuns the light so shamefully, that it

has [entirely] removed, even from those who are on its side,

the hope that it will ever permit a free Council, much less

that it will itself hold one, whereat, as is just, they [many

Papists] are greatly offended and have no little trouble on

that account [are disgusted with this negligence of the Pope],

since they notice thereby that the Pope would rather see all

Christendom perish and all souls damned than suffer either

himself or his adherents to be reformed even a little, and his

[their] tyranny to be limited, nevertheless I have determined

meanwhile to publish these articles in plain print, so that,

should I die before there would be a Council (as I fully

expect and hope, because the knaves who flee the light and

shun the day take such wretched pains to delay and hinder the

Council), those who live and remain after me may have my

testimony and confession to produce, in addition to the

Confession which I have issued previously, whereby up to this

time I have abided, and, by God’s grace, will abide.


For what shall I say? How shall I complain? I am still living,

writing, preaching, and lecturing daily; [and] yet there are

found such spiteful men, not only among the adversaries, but

also false brethren that profess to be on our side, as dare to

cite my writings and doctrine directly against myself, and let

me look on and listen, although they know well that I teach

otherwise, and as wish to adorn their venom with my labor, and

under my name to [deceive and] mislead the poor people. [Good

God!] Alas! what first will happen when I am dead?


Indeed, I ought to reply to everything while I am still

living. But, again, how can I alone stop all the mouths of the

devil? especially of those (as they all are poisoned) who will

not hear or notice what we write, but solely exercise

themselves with all diligence how they may most shamefully

pervert and corrupt our word in every letter. These I let the

devil answer, or at last Gods wrath, as they deserve. I often

think of the good Gerson who doubts whether anything good

should be [written and] published. If it is not done, many

souls are neglected who could be delivered: but if it is done,

the devil is there with malignant, villainous tongues without

number which envenom and pervert everything, so that

nevertheless the fruit [the usefulness of the writings] is

prevented. Yet what they gain thereby is manifest. For while

they have lied so shamefully against us and by means of lies

wished to retain the people, God has constantly advanced His

work, and been making their following ever smaller and ours

greater, and by their lies has caused and still causes them to

be brought to shame.


I must tell a story. There was a doctor sent here to

Wittenberg from France, who said publicly before us that his

king was sure and more than sure, that among us there is no

church, no magistrate, no married life, but all live

promiscuously as cattle, and each one does as he pleases.

Imagine now, how will those who by their writings have

instilled such gross lies into the king and other countries as

the pure truth, look at us on that day before the

judgment-seat of Christ? Christ, the Lord and Judge of us all,

knows well that they lie and have [always] lied, His sentence

they in turn, must hear; that I know certainly. God convert to

repentance those who can be converted! Regarding the rest it

will be said, Woe, and, alas! eternally.


But to return to the subject. I verily desire to see a truly

Christian Council [assembled some time], in order that many

matters and persons might be helped. Not that we need It, for

our churches are now, through God’s grace, so enlightened and

equipped with the pure Word and right use of the Sacraments,

with knowledge of the various callings and of right works,

that we on our part ask for no Council, and on such points

have nothing better to hope or expect from a Council. But we

see in the bishoprics everywhere so many parishes vacant and

desolate that one’s heart would break, and yet neither the

bishops nor canons care how the poor people live or die, for

whom nevertheless Christ has died, and who are not permitted

to hear Him speak with them as the true Shepherd with His

sheep. This causes me to shudder and fear that at some time He

may send a council of angels upon Germany utterly destroying

us, like Sodom and Gomorrah, because we so wantonly mock Him

with the Council.


Besides such necessary ecclesiastical affairs, there would be

also in the political estate innumerable matters of great

importance to improve. There is the disagreement between the

princes and the states; usury and avarice have burst in like a

flood, and have become lawful [are defended with a show of

right]; wantonness, lewdness, extravagance in dress, gluttony,

gambling, idle display, with all kinds of bad habits and

wickedness, insubordination of subjects, of domestics and

laborers of every trade, also the exactions [and most

exorbitant selling prices] of the peasants (and who can

enumerate all?) have so increased that they cannot be

rectified by ten Councils and twenty Diets. If such chief

matters of the spiritual and worldly estates as are contrary

to God would be considered in the Council, they would have all

hands so full that the child’s play and absurdity of long

gowns [official insignia], large tonsures, broad cinctures [or

sashes], bishops’ or cardinals’ hats or maces, and like

jugglery would in the mean time be forgotten. If we first had

performed God’s command and order in the spiritual and secular

estate we would find time enough to reform food, clothing,

tonsures, and surplices. But if we want to swallow such

camels, and, instead, strain at gnats, let the beams stand and

judge the motes, we also might indeed be satisfied with the



Therefore I have presented few articles; for we have without

this so many commands of God to observe in the Church, the

state and the family that we can never fulfil them. What,

then, is the use, or what does it profit that many decrees and

statutes thereon are made in the Council, especially when

these chief matters commanded of God are neither regarded nor

observed? Just as though He were bound to honor our jugglery

as a reward of our treading His solemn commandments under

foot. But our sins weigh upon us and cause God not to be

gracious to us; for we do not repent, and, besides, wish to

defend every abomination.


O Lord Jesus Christ, do Thou Thyself convoke a Council, and

deliver Thy servants by Thy glorious advent! The Pope and his

adherents are done for; they will have none of Thee. Do Thou,

then, help us, who are poor and needy, who sigh to Thee, and

beseech Thee earnestly, according to the grace which Thou hast

given us, through Thy Holy Ghost who liveth and reigneth with

Thee and the Father, blessed forever. Amen.







Treats of the Sublime Articles Concerning the Divine Majesty,




That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in

one divine essence and nature, are one God, who has created

heaven and earth.



That the Father is begotten of no one; the Son of the Father;

the Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son.



That not the Father nor the Holy Ghost but the Son became man.



That the Son became man in this manner, that He was conceived,

without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Ghost, and was

born of the pure, holy [and always] Virgin Mary. Afterwards He

suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the

dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God, will

come to judge the quick and the dead, etc. as the Creed of the

Apostles, as well as that of St. Athanasius, and the Catechism

in common use for children, teach.


Concerning these articles there is no contention or dispute,

since we on both sides confess them. Therefore it is not

necessary now to treat further of them.







Treats of the Articles which Refer to

the Office and Work of Jesus Christ,

or Our Redemption.


The first and chief article is this,


That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and

was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4, 25.


And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of

the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the

iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6.


Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit

[freely, and without their own works or merits] by His grace,

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood,

Rom. 3, 23 f.


Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be

otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit,

it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us as

St. Paul says, Rom. 3, 28: For we conclude that a man is

justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise v.

26: That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which

believeth in Christ.


Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can

anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even

though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should

sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given

among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4, 12.

And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53, 5. And upon this

article all things depend which we teach and practice in

opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world.

Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not

doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and

all things gain the victory and suit over us.





Article II: Of the Mass.


That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most

horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts

with this chief article, and yet above and before all other

popish idolatries it has been the chief and most specious. For

it has been held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass, even

though it be rendered by a wicked [and abandoned] scoundrel,

frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory,

while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this, as has been

said above. Of this article nothing is to be surrendered or

conceded, because the first article does not allow it.


If, perchance, there were reasonable Papists we might speak

moderately and in a friendly way, thus: first, why they so

rigidly uphold the Mass. For it is but a pure invention of

men, and has not been commanded by God; and every invention of

man we may [safely] discard, as Christ declares, Matt. 15, 9:

In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the

commandments of men.


Secondly. It is an unnecessary thing, which can be omitted

without sin and danger.


Thirdly. The Sacrament can be received in a better and more

blessed way [more acceptable to God], (yea, the only blessed

way), according to the institution of Christ. Why, then, do

they drive the world to woe and [extreme] misery on account of

a fictitious, unnecessary matter, which can be well obtained

in another and more blessed way?


Let [care be taken that] it be publicly preached to the people

that the Mass as men’s twaddle [commentitious affair or human

figment] can be omitted without sin, and that no one will be

condemned who does not observe it, but that he can be saved in

a better way without the Mass. I wager [Thus it will come to

pass] that the Mass will then collapse of itself, not only

among the insane [rude] common people, but also among all

pious, Christian, reasonable, God-fearing hearts; and that the

more, when they would hear that the Mass is a [very] dangerous

thing, fabricated and invented without the will and Word of



Fourthly. Since such innumerable and unspeakable abuses have

arisen in the whole world from the buying and selling of

masses, the Mass should by right be relinquished, if for no

other purpose than to prevent abuses, even though in itself it

had something advantageous and good. How much more ought we to

relinquish it, so as to prevent [escape] forever these

horrible abuses, since it is altogether unnecessary, useless,

and dangerous, and we can obtain everything by a more

necessary, profitable, and certain way without the Mass.


Fifthly. But since the Mass is nothing else and can be nothing

else (as the Canon and all books declare), than a work of men

(even of wicked scoundrels), by which one attempts to

reconcile himself and others to God, and to obtain and merit

the remission of sins and grace (for thus the Mass is observed

when it is observed at the very best; otherwise what purpose

would it serve?), for this very reason it must and should

[certainly] be condemned and rejected. For this directly

conflicts with the chief article, which says that it is not a

wicked or a godly hireling of the Mass with his own work, but

the Lamb of God and the Son of God, that taketh away our sins.


But if any one should advance the pretext that as an act of

devotion he wishes to administer the Sacrament, or Communion,

to himself, he is not in earnest [he would commit a great

mistake, and would not be speaking seriously and sincerely].

For if he wishes to commune in sincerity, the surest and best

way for him is in the Sacrament administered according to

Christ’s institution. But that one administer communion to

himself is a human notion, uncertain, unnecessary, yea, even

prohibited. And he does not know what he is doing, because

without the Word of God he obeys a false human opinion and

invention. So, too, it is not right (even though the matter

were otherwise correct) for one to use the common Sacrament of

[belonging to] the Church according to his own private

devotion, and without God’s Word and apart from the communion

of the Church to trifle therewith.


This article concerning the Mass will be the whole business of

the Council. [The Council will perspire most over, and be

occupied with this article concerning the Mass.] For if it

were [although it would be] possible for them to concede to us

all the other articles, yet they could not concede this. As

Campegius said at Augsburg that he would be torn to pieces

before he would relinquish the Mass, so, by the help of God,

I, too, would suffer myself to be reduced to ashes before I

would allow a hireling of the Mass, be he good or bad, to be

made equal to Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior, or to be

exalted above Him. Thus we are and remain eternally separated

and opposed to one another. They feel well enough that when

the Mass falls, the Papacy lies in ruins. Before they will

permit this to occur, they will put us all to death if they



In addition to all this, this dragon’s tail, [I mean] the

Mass, has begotten a numerous vermin-brood of manifold



First, purgatory. Here they carried their trade into purgatory

by masses for souls, and vigils, and weekly, monthly, and

yearly celebrations of obsequies, and finally by the Common

Week and All Souls Day, by soul-baths so that the Mass is used

almost alone for the dead, although Christ has instituted the

Sacrament alone for the living. Therefore purgatory, and every

solemnity, rite, and commerce connected with it, is to be

regarded as nothing but a specter of the devil. For it

conflicts with the chief article [which teaches] that only

Christ, and not the works of men, are to help [set free]

souls. Not to mention the fact that nothing has been

[divinely] commanded or enjoined upon us concerning the dead.

Therefore all this may be safely omitted, even if it were no

error and idolatry.


The Papists quote here Augustine and some of the Fathers who

are said to have written concerning purgatory, and they think

that we do not understand for what purpose and to what end

they spoke as they did. St. Augustine does not write that

there is a purgatory nor has he a testimony of Scripture to

constrain him thereto, but he leaves it in doubt whether there

is one, and says that his mother asked to be remembered at the

altar or Sacrament. Now, all this is indeed nothing but the

devotion of men, and that, too, of individuals, and does not

establish an article of faith, which is the prerogative of God



Our Papists, however, cite such statements [opinions] of men

in order that men should believe in their horrible,

blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for souls in

purgatory [or in sacrifices for the dead and oblations], etc.

But they will never prove these things from Augustine. Now,

when they have abolished the traffic in masses for purgatory,

of which Augustine never dreamt, we will then discuss with

them whether the expressions of Augustine without Scripture

[being without the warrant of the Word] are to be admitted,

and whether the dead should be remembered at the Eucharist.

For it will not do to frame articles of faith from the works

or words of the holy Fathers; otherwise their kind of fare, of

garments, of house, etc., would have to become an article of

faith, as was done with relies. [We have, however, another

rule, namely] The rule is: The Word of God shall establish

articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel.


Secondly. From this it has followed that evil spirits have

perpetrated much knavery [exercised their malice] by appearing

as the souls of the departed, and with unspeakable [horrible]

lies and tricks demanded masses, vigils, pilgrimages, and

other alms. All of which we had to receive as articles of

faith, and to live accordingly; and the Pope confirmed these

things, as also the Mass and all other abominations. Here,

too, there is no [cannot and must not be any] yielding or



Thirdly. [Hence arose] the pilgrimages. Here, too, masses, the

remission of sins and the grace of God were sought, for the

Mass controlled everything. Now it is indeed certain that such

pilgrimages, without the Word of God, have not been commanded

us, neither are they necessary, since we can have these things

[the soul can be cared for] in a better way, and can omit

these pilgrimages without any sin and danger. Why therefore do

they leave at home [desert] their own parish [their called

ministers, their parishes], the Word of God, wives, children,

etc., who are ordained and [attention to whom is necessary and

has been] commanded, and run after these unnecessary,

uncertain, pernicious will-o’-the-wisps of the devil [and

errors]? Unless the devil was riding [made insane] the Pope,

causing him to praise and establish these practices, whereby

the people again and again revolted from Christ to their own

works, and became idolaters, which is worst of all; moreover,

it is neither necessary nor commanded, but is senseless and

doubtful, and besides harmful. Hence here, too, there can be

no yielding or surrendering [to yield or concede anything here

is not lawful], etc. And let this be preached, that such

pilgrimages are not necessary, but dangerous; and then see

what will become of them. [For thus they will perish of their

own accord.]


Fourthly. Fraternities [or societies], in which cloisters,

chapters, vicars have assigned and communicated (by a legal

contract and sale) all masses and good works, etc., both for

the living and the dead. This is not only altogether a human

bauble, without the Word of God, entirely unnecessary and not

commanded, but also contrary to the chief article, Of

Redemption. Therefore it is in no way to be tolerated.


Fifthly. The relics, in which there are found so many

falsehoods and tomfooleries concerning the bones of dogs and

horses, that even the devil has laughed at such rascalities,

ought long ago to have been condemned, even though there were

some good in them; and so much the more because they are

without the Word of God; being neither commanded nor

counseled, they are an entirely unnecessary and useless thing.

But the worst is that [they have imagined that] these relics

had to work indulgence and the forgiveness of sins [and have

revered them] as a good work and service of God, like the

Mass, etc.


Sixthly. Here belong the precious indulgences granted (but

only for money) both to the living and the dead, by which the

miserable [sacrilegious and accursed] Judas, or Pope, has sold

the merit of Christ, together with the superfluous merits of

all saints and of the entire Church, etc. All these things

[and every single one of them] are not to be borne, and are

not only without the Word of God, without necessity, not

commanded, but are against the chief article. For the merit of

Christ is [apprehended and] obtained not by our works or

pence, but from grace through faith, without money and merit;

and is offered [and presented] not through the power of the

Pope, but through the preaching of God’s Word.



Of the Invocation of Saints.


The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of

Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys

the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor

counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture,

and even though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while,

on the contrary, it is a most harmful thing], in Christ we

have everything a thousandfold better [and surer, so that we

are not in need of calling upon the saints].


And although the angels in heaven pray for us (as Christ

Himself also does), as also do the saints on earth, and

perhaps also in heaven, yet it does not follow thence that we

should invoke and adore the angels and saints, and fast, hold

festivals, celebrate Mass in their honor, make offerings, and

establish churches, altars, divine worship, and in still other

ways serve them, and regard them as helpers in need [as

patrons and intercessors], and divide among them all kinds of

help, and ascribe to each one a particular form of assistance,

as the Papists teach and do. For this is idolatry, and such

honor belongs alone to God. For as a Christian and saint upon

earth you can pray for me, not only in one, but in many

necessities. But for this reason I am not obliged to adore and

invoke you, and celebrate festivals, fast, make oblations,

hold masses for your honor [and worship], and put my faith in

you for my salvation. I can in other ways indeed honor, love,

and thank you in Christ. If now such idolatrous honor were

withdrawn from angels and departed saints, the remaining honor

would be without harm and would quickly be forgotten. For when

advantage and assistance, both bodily and spiritual, are no

more to be expected, the saints will not be troubled [the

worship of the saints will soon vanish], neither in their

graves nor in heaven. For without a reward or out of pure love

no one will much remember, or esteem, or honor them [bestow on

them divine honor].


In short, the Mass itself and anything that proceeds from it,

and anything that is attached to it, we cannot tolerate, but

must condemn, in order that we may retain the holy Sacrament

pure and certain, according to the institution of Christ,

employed and received through faith.





Article III: Of Chapters and Cloisters.


That chapters and cloisters [colleges of canons and

communistic dwellings], which were formerly founded with the

good intention [of our forefathers] to educate learned men and

chaste [and modest] women, ought again to be turned to such

use, in order that pastors, preachers, and other ministers of

the churches may be had, and likewise other necessary persons

[fitted] for [the political administration of] the secular

government [or for the commonwealth] in cities and countries,

and well-educated, maidens for mothers and housekeepers, etc.


If they will not serve this purpose, it is better that they be

abandoned or razed, rather than [continued and], with their

blasphemous services invented by men, regarded as something

better than the ordinary Christian life and the offices and

callings ordained by God. For all this also is contrary to the

first chief article concerning the redemption made through

Jesus Christ. Add to this that (like all other human

inventions) these have neither been commanded; they are

needless and useless, and, besides, afford occasion for

dangerous and vain labor [dangerous annoyances and fruitless

worship], such services as the prophets call Aven, i.e., pain

and labor.





Article IV: Of the Papacy.


That the Pope is not, according to divine law or according to

the Word of God the head of all Christendom (for this [name]

belongs to One only, whose name is Jesus Christ), but is only

the bishop and pastor of the Church at Rome, and of those who

voluntarily or through a human creature (that is, a political

magistrate) have attached themselves to him, to be Christians,

not under him as a lord, but with him as brethren [colleagues]

and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age of St.

Cyprian show.


But to-day none of the bishops dare to address the Pope as

brother as was done at that time [in the age of Cyprian]; but

they must call him most gracious lord, even though they be

kings or emperors. This [Such arrogance] we will not, cannot,

must not take upon our conscience [with a good conscience

approve]. Let him, however, who will do it, do so without us

[at his own risk].


Hence it follows that all things which the Pope, from a power

so false, mischievous, blasphemous, and arrogant, has done and

undertaken, have been and still are purely diabolical affairs

and transactions (with the exception of such things as pertain

to the secular government, where God often permits much good

to be effected for a people, even through a tyrant and

[faithless] scoundrel) for the ruin of the entire holy

[catholic or] Christian Church (so far as it is in his power)

and for the destruction of the first and chief article

concerning the redemption made through Jesus Christ.


For all his bulls and books are extant, in which he roars like

a lion (as the angel in Rev. 12 depicts him), [crying out] that

no Christian can be saved unless he obeys him and is subject

to him in all things that he wishes, that he says, and that he

does. All of which amounts to nothing less than saying:

Although you believe in Christ, and have in Him [alone]

everything that is necessary to salvation, yet it is nothing

and all in vain unless you regard [have and worship] me as

your god, and be subject and obedient to me. And yet it is

manifest that the holy Church has been without the Pope for at

least more than five hundred years, and that even to the

present day the churches of the Greeks and of many other

languages neither have been nor are yet under the Pope.

Besides, as often remarked, it is a human figment which is not

commanded, and is unnecessary and useless; for the holy

Christian [or catholic] Church can exist very well without

such a head, and it would certainly have remained better

[purer, and its career would have been more prosperous] if

such a head had not been raised up by the devil. And the

Papacy is also of no use in the Church, because it exercises

no Christian office; and therefore it is necessary for the

Church to continue and to exist without the Pope.


And supposing that the Pope would yield this point, so as not

to be supreme by divine right or from Gods command, but that

we must have [there must be elected] a [certain] head, to whom

all the rest adhere [as their support] in order that the

[concord and] unity of Christians may be preserved against

sects and heretics, and that such a head were chosen by men,

and that it were placed within the choice and power of men to

change or remove this head, just as the Council of Constance

adopted nearly this course with reference to the Popes,

deposing three and electing a fourth; supposing, I say, that

the Pope and See at Rome would yield and accept this (which,

nevertheless, is impossible; for thus he would have to suffer

his entire realm and estate to be overthrown and destroyed,

with all his rights and books, a thing which, to speak in few

words, he cannot do), nevertheless, even in this way

Christianity would not be helped, but many more sects would

arise than before.


For since men would have to be subject to this head, not from

God’s command, but from their personal good pleasure, it would

easily and in a short time be despised, and at last retain no

member; neither would it have to be forever confined to Rome

or any other place, but it might be wherever and in whatever

church God would grant a man fit for the [taking upon him such

a great] office. Oh, the complicated and confused state of

affairs [perplexity] that would result!


Therefore the Church can never be better governed and

preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ, and all

the bishops equal in office (although they be unequal in

gifts), be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith,

Sacraments, prayer, and works of love, etc., as St. Jerome

writes that the priests at Alexandria together and in common

governed the churches, as did also the apostles, and

afterwards all bishops throughout all Christendom, until the

Pope raised his head above all.


This teaching shows forcefully that the Pope is the very

Antichrist, who has exalted himself above, and opposed himself

against Christ because he will not permit Christians to be

saved without his power, which, nevertheless, is nothing, and

is neither ordained nor commanded by God. This is, properly

speaking to exalt himself above all that is called God as Paul

says, 2 Thess. 2, 4. Even the Turks or the Tartars, great

enemies of Christians as they are, do not do this, but they

allow whoever wishes to believe in Christ, and take bodily

tribute and obedience from Christians.


The Pope, however, prohibits this faith, saying that to be

saved a person must obey him. This we are unwilling to do,

even though on this account we must die in God s name. This

all proceeds from the fact that the Pope has wished to be

called the supreme head of the Christian Church by divine

right. Accordingly he had to make himself equal and superior

to Christ, and had to cause himself to be proclaimed the head

and then the lord of the Church, and finally of the whole

world, and simply God on earth, until he has dared to issue

commands even to the angels in heaven. And when we distinguish

the Pope s teaching from, or measure and hold it against, Holy

Scripture, it is found [it appears plainly] that the Pope s

teaching, where it is best, has been taken from the imperial

and heathen law and treats of political matters and decisions

or rights, as the Decretals show; furthermore, it teaches of

ceremonies concerning churches, garments, food, persons and

[similar] puerile, theatrical and comical things without

measure, but in all these things nothing at all of Christ,

faith, and the commandments of God. Lastly, it is nothing else

than the devil himself, because above and against God he urges

[and disseminates] his [papal] falsehoods concerning masses,

purgatory, the monastic life, one’s own works and [fictitious]

divine worship (for this is the very Papacy [upon each of

which the Papacy is altogether founded and is standing]), and

condemns, murders and tortures all Christians who do not exalt

and honor these abominations [of the Pope] above all things.

Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself

as Lord and God, we can endure his apostle, the Pope, or

Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For to lie and to

kill, and to destroy body and soul eternally, that is wherein

his papal government really consists, as I have very clearly

shown in many books.


In these four articles they will have enough to condemn in the

Council. For they cannot and will not concede us even the

least point in one of these articles. Of this we should be

certain, and animate ourselves with [be forewarned and made

firm in] the hope that Christ, our Lord, has attacked His

adversary, and he will press the attack home [pursue and

destroy him] both by His Spirit and coming. Amen.


For in the Council we will stand not before the Emperor or the

political magistrate, as at Augsburg (where the Emperor

published a most gracious edict, and caused matters to be

heard kindly [and dispassionately]), but [we will appear]

before the Pope and devil himself, who intends to listen to

nothing, but merely [when the case has been publicly

announced] to condemn, to murder and to force us to idolatry.

Therefore we ought not here to kiss his feet, or to say: Thou

art my gracious lord, but as the angel in Zechariah 3, 2 said

to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.







Concerning the following articles we may [will be able to]

treat with learned and reasonable men, or among ourselves. The

Pope and his [the Papal] government do not care much about

these. For with them conscience is nothing, but money, [glory]

honors, power are [to them] everything.


I. Of Sin.


Here we must confess, as Paul says in Rom. 5, 11, that sin

originated [and entered the world] from one man Adam, by whose

disobedience all men were made sinners, [and] subject to death

and the devil. This is called original or capital sin.


The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are

forbidden in the Ten Commandments, such as [distrust]

unbelief, false faith, idolatry, to be without the fear of

God, presumption [recklessness], despair, blindness [or

complete loss of sight], and, in short not to know or regard

God; furthermore to lie, to swear by [to abuse] God’s name [to

swear falsely], not to pray, not to call upon God, not to

regard [to despise or neglect] God’s Word, to be disobedient

to parents, to murder, to be unchaste, to steal, to deceive,



This hereditary sin is so deep and [horrible] a corruption of

nature that no reason can understand it, but it must be

[learned and] believed from the revelation of Scriptures, Ps.

51, 5; Rom. 6, 12 ff.; Ex. 33, 3; Gen. 3, 7 ff. Hence, it is

nothing but error and blindness in regard to this article what

the scholastic doctors have taught, namely:


That since the fall of Adam the natural powers of man have

remained entire and incorrupt, and that man by nature has a

right reason and a good will; which things the philosophers



Again that man has a free will to do good and omit evil, and,

conversely, to omit good and do evil.


Again, that man by his natural powers can observe and keep

[do] all the commands of God.


Again, that, by his natural powers, man can love God above all

things and his neighbor as himself.


Again, if a man does as much as is in him, God certainly

grants him His grace.


Again, if he wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need

of a good intention to do good, but it is sufficient if he has

not a wicked purpose to commit sin; so entirely good is his

nature and so efficacious the Sacrament.


[Again,] that it is not founded upon Scripture that for a good

work the Holy Ghost with His grace is necessary.


Such and many similar things have arisen from want of

understanding and ignorance as regards both this sin and

Christ, our Savior and they are truly heathen dogmas, which we

cannot endure. For if this teaching were right [approved],

then Christ has died in vain, since there is in man no defect

nor sin for which he should have died; or He would have died

only for the body, not for the soul, inasmuch as the soul is

[entirely] sound, and the body only is subject to death.



II. Of the Law


Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain

sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise

and offer of grace and benefit. But all this miscarried on

account of the wickedness which sin has wrought in man. For

thereby a part [some] were rendered worse, those, namely, who

are hostile to [hate] the Law, because it forbids what they

like to do, and enjoins what they do not like to do.

Therefore, wherever they can escape [if they were not

restrained by] punishment, they [would] do more against the

Law than before. These, then, are the rude and wicked

[unbridled and secure] men, who do evil wherever they [notice

that they] have the opportunity.


The rest become blind and arrogant [are smitten with arrogance

and blindness], and [insolently] conceive the opinion that

they observe and can observe the Law by their own powers, as

has been said above concerning the scholastic theologians;

thence come the hypocrites and [self-righteous or] false



But the chief office or force of the Law is that it reveal

original sin with all its fruits, and show man how very low

his nature has fallen, and has become [fundamentally and]

utterly corrupted; as the Law must tell man that he has no God

nor regards [cares for] God, and worships other gods, a matter

which before and without the Law he would not have believed.

In this way he becomes terrified, is humbled, desponds,

despairs, and anxiously desires aid, but sees no escape; he

begins to be an enemy of [enraged at] God, and to murmur, etc.

This is what Paul says, Rom. 4, 15: The Law worketh wrath. And

Rom. 5, 20: Sin is increased by the Law. [The Law entered that

the offense might abound.]



III. Of Repentance.


This office [of the Law] the New Testament retains and urges,

as St. Paul, Rom. 1, 18 does, saying: The wrath of God is

revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and

unrighteousness of men. Again, 3, 19: All the world is guilty

before God. No man is righteous before Him. And Christ says,

John 16, 8: The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin.


This, then, is the thunderbolt of God by which He strikes in a

heap [hurls to the ground] both manifest sinners and false

saints [hypocrites], and suffers no one to be in the right

[declares no one righteous], but drives them all together to

terror and despair. This is the hammer, as Jeremiah says, 23,

29: Is not My Word like a hammer that breaketh the rock in

pieces? This is not activa contritio or manufactured

repentance, but passiva contritio [torture of conscience],

true sorrow of heart, suffering and sensation of death.


This, then, is what it means to begin true repentance; and

here man must hear such a sentence as this: You are all of no

account, whether you be manifest sinners or saints [in your

own opinion]; you all must become different and do otherwise

than you now are and are doing [no matter what sort of people

you are], whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy

as you may. Here no one is [righteous, holy], godly, etc.


But to this office the New Testament immediately adds the

consolatory promise of grace through the Gospel, which must be

believed, as Christ declares, Mark 1,15: Repent and believe

the Gospel, i.e., become different and do otherwise, and

believe My promise. And John, preceding Him, is called a

preacher of repentance, however, for the remission of sins,

i.e., John was to accuse all, and convict them of being

sinners, that they might know what they were before God, and

might acknowledge that they were lost men, and might thus be

prepared for the Lord, to receive grace, and to expect and

accept from Him the remission of sins. Thus also Christ

Himself says, Luke 24, 47: Repentance and remission of sins

must be preached in My name among all nations.


But whenever the Law alone, without the Gospel being added

exercises this its office there is [nothing else than] death

and hell, and man must despair, like Saul and Judas; as St.

Paul, Rom. 7, 10, says: Through sin the Law killeth. On the

other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and remission not

only in one way, but through the word and Sacraments, and the

like, as we shall hear afterward in order that [thus] there is

with the Lord plenteous redemption, as Ps. 130, 7 says against

the dreadful captivity of sin.


However, we must now contrast the false repentance of the

sophists with true repentance, in order that both may be the

better understood.


Of the False Repentance of the Papists.


It was impossible that they should teach correctly concerning

repentance, since they did not [rightly] know the real sins

[the real sin]. For, as has been shown above, they do not

believe aright concerning original sin, but say that the

natural powers of man have remained [entirely] unimpaired and

incorrupt; that reason can teach aright, and the will can in

accordance therewith do aright [perform those things which are

taught], that God certainly bestows His grace when a man does

as much as is in him, according to his free will.


It had to follow thence [from this dogma] that they did [must

do] penance only for actual sins such as wicked thoughts to

which a person yields (for wicked emotion [concupiscence,

vicious feelings, and inclinations], lust and improper

dispositions [according to them] are not sins ), and for

wicked words and wicked deeds, which free will could readily

have omitted.


And of such repentance they fix three parts contrition,

confession, and satisfaction, with this [magnificent]

consolation and promise added: If man truly repent, [feel

remorse,] confess, render satisfaction, he thereby would have

merited forgiveness, and paid for his sins before God [atoned

for his sins and obtained a plenary redemption]. Thus in

repentance they instructed men to repose confidence in their

own works. Hence the expression originated, which was employed

in the pulpit when public absolution was announced to the

people: Prolong O God, my life, until I shall make

satisfaction for my sins and amend my life.


There was here [profound silence and] no mention of Christ nor

faith; but men hoped by their own works to overcome and blot

out sins before God. And with this intention we became priests

and monks, that we might array ourselves against sin.


As to contrition, this is the way it was done: Since no one

could remember all his sins (especially as committed through

an entire year), they inserted this provision, namely, that if

an unknown sin should be remembered later [if the remembrance

of a concealed sin should perhaps return], this also must be

repented of and confessed etc. Meanwhile they were [the person

was] commended to the grace of God.


Moreover, since no one could know how great the contrition

ought to be in order to be sufficient before God, they gave

this consolation: He who could not have contrition, at least

ought to have attrition, which I may call half a contrition or

the beginning of contrition, for they have themselves

understood neither of these terms nor do they understand them

now, as little as I. Such attrition was reckoned as contrition

when a person went to confession.


And when it happened that any one said that he could not have

contrition nor lament his sins (as might have occurred in

illicit love or the desire for revenge, etc.), they asked

whether he did not wish or desire to have contrition [lament].

When one would reply Yes (for who, save the devil himself,

would here say No?), they accepted this as contrition, and

forgave him his sins on account of this good work of his

[which they adorned with the name of contrition]. Here they

cited the example of St. Bernard, etc.


Here we see how blind reason, in matters pertaining to God,

gropes about, and, according to its own imagination, seeks for

consolation in its own works, and cannot think of [entirely

forgets] Christ and faith. But if it be [clearly] viewed in

the light, this contrition is a manufactured and fictitious

thought [or imagination], derived from man’s own powers,

without faith and without the knowledge of Christ. And in it

the poor sinner, when he reflected upon his own lust and

desire for revenge, would sometimes [perhaps] have laughed

rather than wept [either laughed or wept, rather than to think

of something else], except such as either had been truly

struck by [the lightning of] the Law, or had been vainly vexed

by the devil with a sorrowful spirit. Otherwise [with the

exception of these persons] such contrition was certainly mere

hypocrisy, and did not mortify the lust for sins [flames of

sin]; for they had to grieve, while they would rather have

continued to sin, if it had been free to them.


As regards confession, the procedure was this: Every one had

[was enjoined] to enumerate all his sins (which is an

impossible thing). This was a great torment. From such as he

had forgotten [But if any one had forgotten some sins] he

would be absolved on the condition that, if they would occur

to him, he must still confess them. In this way he could never

know whether he had made a sufficiently pure confession

[perfectly and correctly], or when confessing would ever have

an end. Yet he was pointed to his own works, and comforted

thus: The more fully [sincerely and frankly] one confesses,

and the more he humiliates himself and debases himself before

the priest, the sooner and better he renders satisfaction for

his sins; for such humility certainly would earn grace before



Here, too, there was no faith nor Christ, and the virtue of

the absolution was not declared to him, but upon his

enumeration of sins and his self-abasement depended his

consolation. What torture, rascality, and idolatry such

confession has produced is more than can be related.


As to satisfaction, this is by far the most involved

[perplexing] part of all. For no man could know how much to

render for a single sin, not to say how much for all. Here

they have resorted to the device of imposing a small

satisfaction, which could indeed be rendered, as five

Paternosters, a day’s fast, etc.; for the rest [that was

lacking] of the [in their] repentance they were directed to



Here, too, there was nothing but anguish and [extreme] misery.

[For] some thought that they would never get out of purgatory,

because, according to the old canons seven years’ repentance

is required for a single mortal sin. Nevertheless, confidence

was placed upon our work of satisfaction, and if the

satisfaction could have been perfect, confidence would have

been placed in it entirely, and neither faith nor Christ would

have been of use. But this confidence was impossible. For

although any one had done penance in that way for a hundred

years, he would still not have known whether he had finished

his penance. That meant forever to do penance and never to

come to repentance.


Here now the Holy See at Rome, coming to the aid of the poor

Church, invented indulgences, whereby it forgave and remitted

[expiation or] satisfaction, first, for a single instance, for

seven years, for a hundred years and distributed them among

the cardinals and bishops, so that one could grant indulgence

for a hundred years and another for a hundred days. But he

reserved to himself alone the power to remit the entire



Now, since this began to yield money, and the traffic in bulls

became profitable he devised the golden jubilee year [a truly

goldbearing year], and fixed it at Rome. He called this the

remission of all punishment and guilt. Then the people came

running, because every one would fain have been freed from

this grievous, unbearable burden. This meant to find [dig up]

and raise the treasures of the earth. Immediately the Pope

pressed still further, and multiplied the golden years one

upon another. But the more he devoured money, the wider grew

his maw.


Later, therefore, he issued them [those golden years of his]

by his legates [everywhere] to the countries, until all

churches and houses were full of the Golden Year. At last he

also made an inroad into purgatory among the dead, first, by

founding masses and vigils, afterwards, by indulgences and the

Golden Year, and finally souls became so cheap that he

released one for a farthing.


But all this, too, was of no avail. For although the Pope

taught men to depend upon, and trust in, these indulgences

[for salvation], yet he rendered the [whole] matter again

uncertain. For in his bulls he declares: Whoever would share

in the indulgences or a Golden Year must be contrite, and have

confessed, and pay money. Now, we have heard above that this

contrition and confession are with them uncertain and

hypocrisy. Likewise, also no one knew what soul was in

purgatory, and if some were therein, no one knew which had

properly repented and confessed. Thus he took the precious

money [the Pope snatched up the holy pence], and comforted

them meanwhile with [led them to confidence in] his power and

indulgence, and [then again led them away from that and]

directed them again to their uncertain work.


If, now [although], there were some who did not believe

[acknowledge] themselves guilty of such actual sins in

[committed by] thoughts, words, and works,–as I, and such

as I, in monasteries and chapters [fraternities or colleges of

priests], wished to be monks and priests, and by fasting,

watching, praying, saying Mass, coarse garments, and hard

beds, etc., fought against [strove to resist] evil thoughts,

and in full earnest and with force wanted to be holy, and yet

the hereditary, inborn evil sometimes did in sleep what it is

wont to do (as also St. Augustine and Jerome among others

confess),–still each one held the other in esteem, so that

some, according to our teaching, were regarded as holy,

without sin and full of good works, so much so that with this

mind we would communicate and sell our good works to others,

as being superfluous to us for heaven. This is indeed true,

and seals, letters, and instances [that this happened] are at



[When there were such, I say] These did not need repentance.

For of what would they repent, since they had not indulged

wicked thoughts? What would they confess [concerning words not

uttered], since they had avoided words? For what should they

render satisfaction, since they were so guiltless of any deed

that they could even sell their superfluous righteousness to

other poor sinners? Such saints were also the Pharisees and

scribes in the time of Christ.


Here comes the fiery angel, St. John [Rev. 10], the true

preacher of [true] repentance, and with one [thunderclap and]

bolt hurls both [those selling and those buying works] on one

heap, and says: Repent! Matt. 3, 2. Now, the former [the poor

wretches] imagine: Why, we have repented! The latter [the

rest] say: We need no repentance. John says: Repent ye, both

of you, for ye are false penitents; so are these [the rest]

false saints [or hypocrites], and all of you on either side

need the forgiveness of sins, because neither of you know what

true sin is not to say anything about your duty to repent of

it and shun it. For no one of you is good; you are full of

unbelief, stupidity, and ignorance of God and God’s will. For

here He is present of whose fulness have all we received, and

grace for grace, John 1, 16, and without Him no man can be

just before God. Therefore, if you wish to repent, repent

aright- your penance will not accomplish anything [is

nothing]. And you hypocrites, who do not need repentance, you

serpents’ brood, who has assured you that you will escape the

wrath to come? etc. Matt. 3, 7; Luke 3, 7.


In the same way Paul also preaches, Rom. 3, 10-12: There is

none righteous, there is none that understandeth, there is

none that seeketh after God, there is none that doeth good, no

not one; they are all gone out of the way; they are together

become unprofitable. And Acts 17, 30: God now commandeth all

men everywhere to repent. “All men,” he says; no one excepted

who is a man. This repentance teaches us to discern sin,

namely, that we are altogether lost, and that there is nothing

good in us from head to foot [both within and without], and

that we must absolutely become new and other men.


This repentance is not piecemeal [partial] and beggarly

[fragmentary], like that which does penance for actual sins,

nor is it uncertain like that. For it does not debate what is

or is not sin, but hurls everything on a heap, and says: All

in us is nothing but sin [affirms that, with respect to us,

all is simply sin (and there is nothing in us that is not sin

and guilt)]. What is the use of [For why do we wish]

investigating, dividing, or distinguishing a long time? For

this reason, too, this contrition is not [doubtful or]

uncertain. For there is nothing left with which we can think

of any good thing to pay for sin, but there is only a sure

despairing concerning all that we are, think, speak, or do

[all hope must be cast aside in respect of everything], etc.


In like manner confession, too, cannot be false, uncertain, or

piecemeal [mutilated or fragmentary]. For he who confesses

that all in him is nothing but sin comprehends all sins

excludes none, forgets none. Neither can the satisfaction be

uncertain, because it is not our uncertain, sinful work, but

it is the suffering and blood of the [spotless and] innocent

Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.


Of this repentance John preaches, and afterwards Christ in the

Gospel, and we also. By this [preaching of] repentance we dash

to the ground the Pope and everything that is built upon our

good works. For all is built upon a rotten and vain

foundation, which is called a good work or law, even though no

good work is there, but only wicked works, and no one does the

Law (as Christ, John 7, 19, says), but all transgress it.

Therefore the building [that is raised upon it] is nothing but

falsehood and hypocrisy, even [in the part] where it is most

holy and beautiful.


And in Christians this repentance continues until death,

because, through the entire life it contends with sin

remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Rom. 7, 14-25, [shows]

testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and

that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost

that follows the remission of sins. This gift daily cleanses

and sweeps out the remaining sins, and works so as to render

man truly pure and holy.


The Pope, the theologians, the jurists, and every other man

know nothing of this [from their own reason], but it is a

doctrine from heaven, revealed through the Gospel, and must

suffer to be called heresy by the godless saints [or



On the other hand, if certain sectarists would arise, some of

whom are perhaps already extant, and in the time of the

insurrection [of the peasants] came to my own view, holding

that all those who had once received the Spirit or the

forgiveness of sins, or had become believers, even though they

should afterwards sin, would still remain in the faith, and

such sin would not harm them, and [hence] crying thus: “Do

whatever you please; if you believe, it all amounts to

nothing; faith blots out all sins,” etc.–they say, besides,

that if any one sins after he has received faith and the

Spirit, he never truly had the Spirit and faith: I have had

before me [seen and heard] many such insane men, and I fear

that in some such a devil is still remaining [hiding and



It is, accordingly, necessary to know and to teach that when

holy men, still having and feeling original sin, also daily

repenting of and striving with it, happen to fall into

manifest sins, as David into adultery, murder, and blasphemy,

that then faith and the Holy Ghost has departed from them

[they cast out faith and the Holy Ghost]. For the Holy Ghost

does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand

so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so

that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it

wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present.

For St. John says, 1 Ep. 3, 9: Whosoever is born of God doth

not commit sin,… and he cannot sin. And yet it is also the

truth when the same St. John says, 1 Ep. 1, 8: If we say that

we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in




IV. Of the Gospel.


We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way

gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is

superabundantly rich [and liberal] in His grace [and

goodness]. First, through the spoken Word by which the

forgiveness of sins is preached [He commands to be preached]

in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the

Gospel. Secondly, through Baptism. Thirdly, through the holy

Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly, through the power of the

keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation

of brethren, Matt. 18, 20: Where two or three are gathered

together, etc.



V. Of Baptism.


Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in the water,

commanded by His institution, or, as Paul says, a washing in

the Word; as also Augustine says: Let the Word come to the

element, and it becomes a Sacrament. And for this reason we do

not hold with Thomas and the monastic preachers [or

Dominicans] who forget the Word (God’s institution) and say

that God has imparted to the water a spiritual power, which

through the water washes away sin. Nor [do we agree] with

Scotus and the Barefooted monks [Minorites or Franciscan

monks], who teach that, by the assistance of the divine will,

Baptism washes away sins, and that this ablution occurs only

through the will of God, and by no means through the Word or

water. Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought

to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption

made through Christ, and the Church should administer it

[Baptism and the announcement of that promise] to them.



VI. Of the Sacrament of the Altar.


Of the Sacrament of the Altar we hold that bread and wine in

the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ, and are

given and received not only by the godly, but also by wicked



And that not only one form is to be given. [For] we do not

need that high art [specious wisdom] which is to teach us that

under the one form there is as much as under both, as the

sophists and the Council of Constance teach. For even if it

were true that there is as much under one as under both, yet

the one form only is not the entire ordinance and institution

[made] ordained and commanded by Christ. And we especially

condemn and in God’s name execrate those who not only omit

both forms but also quite autocratically [tyrannically]

prohibit, condemn, and blaspheme them as heresy, and so exalt

themselves against and above Christ, our Lord and God

[opposing and placing themselves ahead of Christ], etc.


As regards transubstantiation, we care nothing about the

sophistical subtlety by which they teach that bread and wine

leave or lose their own natural substance, and that there

remain only the appearance and color of bread, and not true

bread. For it is in perfect agreement with Holy Scriptures

that there is, and remains, bread, as Paul himself calls it,

1 Cor. 10, 16: The bread which we break. And 1 Cor. 11, 28:

Let him so eat of that bread.



VII. Of the Keys.


The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church

for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known

sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to

God, as it is written in Ps. 19, 13: Who can understand his

errors? And in Rom. 7, 25 St. Paul himself complains that with

the flesh he serves the law of sin. For it is not in our

power, but belongs to God alone, to judge which, how great,

and how many the sins are, as it is written in Ps. 143, 2:

Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight

shall no man living be justified. And Paul, 1 Cor. 4, 4, says:

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified.


VIII. Of Confession.


Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and

consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by

Christ [Himself] in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought

by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on

account of [tender and] timid consciences and on account of

the untrained [and capricious] young people, in order that

they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian



But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as

to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate. For as

long as we are in the flesh, we shall not lie when we say: “I

am a poor man [I acknowledge that I am a miserable sinner],

full of sin.” Rom. 7, 23: I see another law in my members,

etc. For since private absolution originates in the Office of

the Keys, it should not be despised [neglected], but greatly

and highly esteemed [of the greatest worth], as [also] all

other offices of the Christian Church.


And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we

must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no

one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in

order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts,

i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and

before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken

Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer

did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be

acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know

not what they say or declare. For [indeed] the Papacy also is

nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that

all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he

decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right,

even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the

spoken Word.


All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted

Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward

Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and

nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words.

Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the

outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent,

but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as

though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings

and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their

writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also

omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself

come to men, without their writings and before them, as they

boast that Me has come into them without the preaching of the

Scriptures? But of these matters there is not time now to

dispute at greater length; we have elsewhere sufficiently

urged this subject.


For even those who believe before Baptism, or become believing

in Baptism, believe through the preceding outward Word, as the

adults, who have come to reason, must first have heard: He

that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, even though

they are at first unbelieving, and receive the Spirit and

Baptism ten years afterwards. Cornelius, Acts 10, 1 ff., had

heard long before among the Jews of the coming Messiah,

through whom he was righteous before God, and in such faith

his prayers and alms were acceptable to God (as Luke calls him

devout and God-fearing), and without such preceding Word and

hearing could not have believed or been righteous. But St.

Peter had to reveal to him that the Messiah (in whom, as one

that was to come, he had hitherto believed) now had come, lest

his faith concerning the coming Messiah hold him captive among

the hardened and unbelieving Jews, but know that he was now to

be saved by the present Messiah, and must not, with the

[rabble of the] Jews deny nor persecute Him.


In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from

the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world,

[its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by

the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength

of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet.

Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point,

that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through

the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself

whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and

Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the

burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah

nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments

[or spoken Word]. Neither was John the Baptist conceived

without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his

mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. And Peter says,

2. Ep. 1, 21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but

holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much

less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they

still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he,

since the Holy Ghost spake through them.


IX. Of Excommunication.


The greater excommunication, as the Pope calls it, we regard

only as a civil penalty, and it does not concern us ministers

of the Church. But the lesser, that is, the true Christian

excommunication, consists in this, that manifest and obstinate

sinners are not admitted to the Sacrament and other communion

of the Church until they amend their lives and avoid sin. And

ministers ought not to mingle secular punishments with this

ecclesiastical punishment, or excommunication.


X. Of Ordination and the Call.


If the bishops would be true bishops [would rightly discharge

their office], and would devote themselves to the Church and

the Gospel, it might be granted to them for the sake of love

and unity, but not from necessity, to ordain and confirm us

and our preachers; omitting, however, all comedies and

spectacular display [deceptions, absurdities, and appearances]

of unchristian [heathenish] parade and pomp. But because they

neither are, nor wish to be, true bishops, but worldly lords

and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize,

nor administer the Lord’s Supper, nor perform any work or

office of the Church, and, moreover, persecute and condemn

those who discharge these functions, having been called to do

so, the Church ought not on their account to remain without

ministers [to be forsaken by or deprived of ministers].


Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the

Fathers teach us, we ourselves will and ought to ordain

suitable persons to this office; and, even according to their

own laws, they have not the right to forbid or prevent us. For

their laws say that those ordained even by heretics should be

declared [truly] ordained and stay ordained [and that such

ordination must not be changed], as St. Jerome writes of the

Church at Alexandria, that at first it was governed in common

by priests and preachers, without bishops.


XI. Of the Marriage of Priests.


To prohibit marriage, and to burden the divine order of

priests with perpetual celibacy, they have had neither

authority nor right [they have done out of malice, without any

honest reason], but have acted like antichristian, tyrannical,

desperate scoundrels [have performed the work of antichrist,

of tyrants and the worst knaves], and have thereby caused all

kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity

[depraved lusts], in which they still wallow. Now, as little

as we or they have been given the power to make a woman out of

a man or a man out of a woman, or to nullify either sex, so

little have they had the power to [sunder and] separate such

creatures of God, or to forbid them from living [and

cohabiting] honestly in marriage with one another. Therefore

we are unwilling to assent to their abominable celibacy, nor

will we [even] tolerate it, but we wish to have marriage free

as God has instituted [and ordained] it, and we wish neither

to rescind nor hinder His work; for Paul says, 1 Tim. 4, 1

ff., that this [prohibition of marriage] is a doctrine of



XII. Of the Church.


We do not concede to them that they are the Church, and [in

truth] they are not [the Church]; nor will we listen to those

things which, under the name of Church, they enjoin or forbid.

For, thank God, [to-day] a child seven years old knows what

the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear

the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I

believe in one holy [catholic or] Christian Church. This

holiness does not consist in albs, tonsures, long gowns, and

other of their ceremonies devised by them beyond Holy

Scripture, but in the Word of God and true faith.


XIII. How One is Justified before God, and of Good Works.


What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I

know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as

St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will

and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake

of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not

yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not

punish or remember it.


And such faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins is followed

by good works. And what there is still sinful or imperfect

also in them shall not be accounted as sin or defect, even

[and that, too] for Christ’s sake; but the entire man, both as

to his person and his works, is to be called and to be

righteous and holy from pure grace and mercy, shed upon us

[unfolded] and spread over us in Christ. Therefore we cannot

boast of many merits and works, if they are viewed apart from

grace and mercy, but as it is written, 1 Cor. 1, 31: He that

glorieth, let him glory in the Lord, namely, that he has a

gracious God. For thus all is well. We say, besides, that if

good works do not follow, faith is false and not true.


XIV. Of Monastic Vows.


As monastic vows directly conflict with the first chief

article, they must be absolutely abolished. For it is of them

that Christ says, Matt. 24, 5. 23 ff.: I am Christ, etc. For

he who makes a vow to live as a monk believes that he will

enter upon a mode of life holier than ordinary Christians

lead, and wishes to earn heaven by his own works not only for

himself, but also for others; this is to deny Christ. And they

boast from their St. Thomas that a monastic vow is equal to

Baptism. This is blasphemy [against God].


XV. Of Human Traditions.


The declaration of the Papists that human traditions serve for

the remission of sins, or merit salvation, is [altogether]

unchristian and condemned, as Christ says Matt. 15, 9: In vain

they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of

men. Again, Titus 1, 14: That turn from the truth. Again, when

they declare that it is a mortal sin if one breaks these

ordinances [does not keep these statutes], this, too, is not



These are the articles on which I must stand, and, God

willing, shall stand even to my death; and I do not know how

to change or to yield anything in them. If any one wishes to

yield anything, let him do it at the peril of his conscience.


Lastly, there still remains the Pope’s bag of impostures

concerning foolish and childish articles, as, the dedication

of churches, the baptism of bells, the baptism of the

altarstone, and the inviting of sponsors to these rites, who

would make donations towards them. Such baptizing is a

reproach and mockery of Holy Baptism, hence should not be

tolerated. Furthermore, concerning the consecration of

wax-tapers, palm-branches, cakes, oats, [herbs,] spices, etc.,

which indeed, cannot be called consecrations, but are sheer

mockery and fraud. And such deceptions there are without

number, which we commend for adoration to their god and to

themselves, until they weary of it. We will [ought to] have

nothing to do with them.



Dr. Martin Luther subscribed.


Dr. Justus Jonas, Rector, subscribed with his own hand.


Dr. John Bugenhagen, Pomeranus, subscribed.


Dr. Caspar Creutziger subscribed.


Nicholas Amsdorf of Magdeburg subscribed.


George Spalatin of Altenburg subscribed.


I, Philip Melanchthon, also regard [approve] the above

articles as right and Christian. But regarding the Pope I hold

that, if he would allow the Gospel, his superiority over the

bishops which he has otherwise, is conceded to him by human

right also by us, for the sake of the peace and general unity

of those Christians who are also under him, and may be under

him hereafter.


John Agricola of Eisleben subscribed.

Gabriel Didymus subscribed.


I, Dr. Urban Rhegius, Superintendent of the churches in the

Duchy of Lueneburg, subscribe in my own name and in the name

of my brethren, and of the Church of Hanover.


I, Stephen Agricola, Minister at Hof, subscribe.


Also I, John Draconites, Professor and Minister at Marburg,



I, Conrad Figenbotz, for the glory of God subscribe that I

have thus believed, and am still preaching and firmly

believing as above.


I, Andrew Osiander of Nuernberg, subscribe.

I, Magister Veit Dieterich, Minister at Nuernberg, subscribe.

I, Erhard Schnepf, Preacher at Stuttgart, subscribe.

Conrad Oettinger, Preacher of Duke Ulrich at Pforzheim.

Simon Schneeweiss, Pastor of the Church at Crailsheim.


I, John Schlagenhaufen, Pastor of the Church at Koethen,



The Reverend Magister George Helt of Forchheim.

The Reverend Magister Adam of Fulda, Preacher in Hesse.

The Reverend Magister Anthony Corvinus, Preacher in Hesse.


I, Doctor John Bugenhagen, Pomeranus, again subscribe in the

name of Magister John Brentz, as on departing from Smalcald he

directed me orally and by a letter, which I have shown to

these brethren who have subscribed.


I, Dionysius Melander, subscribe to the Confession, the

Apology, and the Concordia on the subject of the Eucharist.


Paul Rhodius, Superintendent of Stettin.

Gerard Oemcken, Superintendent of the Church at Minden.


I, Brixius Northanus, Minister of the Church of Christ which

is at Soest, subscribe to the Articles of the Reverend Father

Martin Luther, and confess that hitherto I have thus believed

and taught, and by the Spirit of Christ I shall continue thus

to believe and teach.


Michael Caelius, Preacher at Mansfeld, subscribed.

The Reverend Magister Peter Geltner Preacher at Frankfort,


Wendal Faber, Pastor of Seeburg in Mansfeld.


I, John Aepinus, subscribe.

Likewise, I, John Amsterdam of Bremen.


I, Frederick Myconius, Pastor of the Church at Gotha in

Thuringia, subscribe in my own name and in that of Justus

Menius of Eisenach.


I, Doctor John Lang, Preacher of the Church at Erfurt,

subscribe with my own hand in my own name, and in that of my

other coworkers in the Gospel, namely:

The Reverend Licentiate Ludwig Platz of Melsungen.

The Reverend Magister Sigismund Kirchner,

The Reverend Wolfgang Kiswetter,

The Reverend Melchior Weitmann

The Reverend John Thall.

The Reverend John Kilian.

The Reverend Nicholas Faber.

The Reverend Andrew Menser.


And I, Egidius Mechler, have subscribed with my own hand.

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