A Little Handbook

Luther's Small Catechism

for ordinary pastors and preachers



The following text is a translation of the 1531-edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with some of the original drawings mixed with drawings from today. 

From 1531 all editions of the Catechism contains 12 parts, including A Marriage Booklet and The Order of Baptism.





Many of Martin Luther’s books are rich illustrated and The Small Catechism contains 23 woodcuts. Actually these original drawings are in some way the origin of the cartoon book. The picture tells a story with several episodes. In the present picture the sacrifice as well as the killing is described in the same picture.



A Little Handbook

Luther's Small Catechism

for ordinary pastors and preachers



of Dr. Martin Luther

Luther 1529














































Original drawing



































Martin Luther to all faithful and godly pastors and preachers: Grace, mercy, and peace in Jesus Christ, our Lord.


The deplorable, miserable condition which I discovered lately when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare this Catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Good God! what manifold misery I beheld! The common people, especially in the villages, have no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine, and, alas! many pastors are altogether incapable and incompetent to teach. Nevertheless, all maintain that they are Christians, have been baptized and receive the holy Sacraments. Yet they cannot recite either the Lord's Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments; they live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs; and yet, now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse all liberty like experts. O ye bishops! what will ye ever answer to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment discharged your office? You are the persons to whom alone this ruin of the Christian religion is due. You have permitted men to err so shamefully; yours is the guilt; for you have ever done anything rather than what your office required you to do. May all misfortune flee you! You command the Sacrament in one form and insist on your human laws, and yet at the same time you do not care in the least whether the people know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of the Word of God. Woe, woe, unto you forever!

Therefore I entreat you all for God's sake, my dear sirs and brethren, who are pastors or preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office, to have pity on the people who are entrusted to you, and to help us inculcate the Catechism upon the people, and especially upon the young. And let those of you who cannot do better take these tables and forms and impress them, word for word, on the people, as follows:- In the first place, let the preacher above all be careful to avoid many kinds of or various texts and forms of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc., but choose one form to which he adheres, and which he inculcates all the time, year after year. For young and simple people must be taught by uniform, settled texts and forms, otherwise they easily become confused when the teacher to-day teaches them thus, and in a year some other way, as if he wished to make improvements, and thus all effort and labor is lost.

Also our blessed fathers understood this well; for they all used the same form of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. Therefore we, too, should teach the young and simple people these parts in such a way as not to change a syllable, or set them forth and repeat them one year differently than in another.

Hence, choose whatever form you please, and adhere to it forever. But when you preach in the presence of learned and intelligent men, you may exhibit your skill, and may present these parts in as varied and intricate ways and give them as masterly turns as you are able. But with the young people stick to one fixed, permanent form and manner, and teach them, first of all, these parts, namely, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, etc., according to the text, word for word, so that they, too, can repeat it in the same manner after you and commit it to memory.

But those who are unwilling to learn it should be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians, neither should they be admitted to the Sacrament, accepted as sponsors at baptism, nor exercise any part of Christian liberty, but should simply be turned back to the Pope and his officials, yea, to the devil himself. Moreover, their parents and employers should refuse them food and drink, and notify them that the prince will drive such rude people from the country, etc.

For although we cannot and should not force any one to believe, yet we should insist and urge the people that they know what is right and wrong with those among whom they dwell and wish to make their living. For whoever desires to reside in a town must know and observe the town laws, the protection of which he wishes to enjoy, no matter whether he is a believer or at heart and in private a rogue or knave.

In the second place, after they have well learned the text, then teach them the sense also, so that they know what it means, and again choose the form of these tables, or some other brief uniform method, whichever you like, and adhere to it, and do not change a single syllable, as was just said regarding the text; and take your time to it. For it is not necessary that you take up all the parts at once, but one after the other. After they understand the First Commandment well, then take up the Second, and so on, otherwise they will be overwhelmed, so as not to be able to retain any well.

In the third place, after you have thus taught them this Short Catechism, then take up the Large Catechism, and give them also a richer and fuller knowledge. Here explain at large every commandment, petition, and part with its various works, uses, benefits, dangers, and injuries, as you find these abundantly stated in many books written about these matters. And particularly, urge that commandment or part most which suffers the greatest neglect among your people. For instance, the Seventh Commandment, concerning stealing, must be strenuously urged among mechanics and merchants, and even farmers and servants, for among these people many kinds of dishonesty and thieving prevail. So, too, you must urge well the Fourth Commandment among the children and the common people, that they may be quiet and faithful, obedient and peaceable, and you must always adduce many examples from the Scriptures to show how God has punished or blessed such persons.

Especially should you here urge magistrates and parents to rule well and to send their children to school, showing them why it is their duty to do this, and what a damnable sin they are committing if they do not do it. For by such neglect they overthrow and destroy both the kingdom of God and that of the world, acting as the worst enemies both of God and of men. And make it very plain to them what an awful harm they are doing if they will not help to train children to be pastors, preachers, clerks, etc., and that God will punish them terribly for it. For such preaching is needed. Parents and magistrates are now sinning unspeakably in this respect. The devil, too, aims at something cruel because of these things. Lastly, since the tyranny of the Pope has been abolished, people are no longer willing to go to the Sacrament and despise it. Here again urging is necessary, however, with this understanding: We are to force no one to believe, or to receive the Sacrament, nor fix any law, nor time, nor place for it, but are to preach in such a manner that of their own accord, without our law, they will urge themselves and, as it were, compel us pastors to administer the Sacrament. This is done by telling them: Whoever does not seek or desire the Sacrament at least some four times a year, it is to be feared that he despises the Sacrament and is no Christian, just as he is no Christian who does not believe or hear the Gospel; for Christ did not say, This omit, or, This despise, but, This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, etc. Verily, He wants it done, and not entirely neglected and despised. This do ye, He says.

Now, whoever does not highly value the Sacrament thereby shows that he has no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no danger, no hell; that is, he does not believe any such things, although he is in them over head and ears and is doubly the devil's own. On the other hand, he needs no grace, life, Paradise, heaven, Christ, God, nor anything good. For if he believed that he had so much that is evil, and needed so much that is good, he would not thus neglect the Sacrament, by which such evil is remedied and so much good is bestowed. Neither will it be necessary to force him to the Sacrament by any law, but he will come running and racing of his own accord, will force himself and urge you that you must give him the Sacrament.

Hence, you must not make any law in this matter, as the Pope does. Only set forth clearly the benefit and harm, the need and use, the danger and the blessing, connected with this Sacrament, and the people will come of themselves without your compulsion. But if they do not come, let them go and tell them that such belong to the devil as do not regard nor feel their great need and the gracious help of God. But if you do not urge this, or make a law or a bane of it, it is your fault if they despise the Sacrament. How could they be otherwise than slothful if you sleep and are silent? Therefore look to it, ye pastors and preachers. Our office is now become a different thing from what it was under the Pope; it is now become serious and salutary. Accordingly, it now involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trials, and, in addition thereto, little reward and gratitude in the world. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully. To this end may the Father of all grace help us, to whom be praise and thanks forever through Christ, our Lord! Amen.


  The Ten Commandments
as the head of the family
should teach them in a simple way to his household



The First Commandment


Thou shalt have no other gods.

What does this mean?

We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.


The Second Commandment



Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.



The Third Commandment



Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.
What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.



The Fourth Commandment



Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.



The Fifth Commandment




Thou shalt not kill.


What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every need.


The Sixth Commandment

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.


The Seventh Commandment


Thou shalt not steal.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor's money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business.


The Eighth Commandment



Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.


The Ninth Commandment


Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it. 


The Tenth Commandment



Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away our neighbor's wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and do their duty.


 What Does God Say of All These Commandments?



Original drawing


He says thus: I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

What does this mean?

God threatens to punish all that transgress these commandments. Therefore we should dread His wrath and not act contrary to these commandments. But He promises grace and every blessing to all that keep these commandments. Therefore we should also love and trust in Him, and gladly do according to His commandments.


The Creed

as the head of the family

should teach them in a simple way to his household.


The First Article


Of Creation


Original drawing



I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?


I believe that God has made me and all creatures.


He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses - and still preserves them.


In addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods.


He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil.


And all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him.


 This is most certainly true.



The Second Article


Of Redemption


Original drawing




And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

What does this mean?


I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord,


who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.


Not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.


In order that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. 


 This is most certainly true.




The Third Article


Of Sanctification




I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. 

What does this mean?


I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.


But the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;


even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith;


in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers.


And at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.


 This is most certainly true.



The Lord's Prayer

as the head of the family

should teach them in a simple way to his household.

Our Father



Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean?

God would thereby tenderly urge us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.


The First Petition



God's name - JHWH


Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean?

God's name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.

How is this done?


When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than God's Word teaches profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, Heavenly Father.


The Second Petition





Thy kingdom come. 

What does this mean?

The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also. 

How is this done?

When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity. 


The Third



Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

What does this mean?

The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also. 

How is this done?

When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.


The Fourth



Give us this day our daily bread. 

What does this mean?


God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. 

What is meant by daily bread?

Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like. 


The Fifth Petition



And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean?

We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor deny such petitions on account of them;

for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment.

So will we verily, on our part, also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us. 


The Sixth Petition




And lead us not into temptation. 

What does this mean?

God, indeed, tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and gain the victory. 


The Seventh Petition




But deliver us from evil. 

What does this mean?

We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor, and at last, when our last hour shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven. 

Amen. - What does this mean?

That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised that He will hear us. Amen, Amen; that is, Yea, yea, it shall be so. 


 The Sacrament

of Holy Baptism

as the head of the family

should teach them in a simple way to his household.





What is Baptism? 


Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word. 

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.








What does Baptism give or profit? 


It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. 

Which are such words and promises of God? 

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark:


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.







Original drawing


How can water do such great things?


It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water.


For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost.

As St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three:

By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

This is a faithful saying.







What does such baptizing with water signify?

It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6:

We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  


How the unlearned should be taught

to Confess

What is Confession?



What is Confession? 


Confession embraces two parts:

the one is, that we confess our sins;

the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.


What sins should we confess?



What sins should we confess? 

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord's Prayer.

But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?


Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.


A Brief Form of Confession
Speak thus:












Pray, Propose to Me a Brief Form of Confession. 

You should speak to the confessor thus: 

Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.


I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins;

especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maidservant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc.

For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.


A master or mistress may say thus: 

In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and wife for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure.

And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.

But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.

But if you know of none at all (which, however is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.


Then shall the confessor say:




Pastoral care




God be merciful to thee and strengthen thy faith! Amen.


Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God's forgiveness?

Answer: Yes, dear sir.
Then let him say:

As thou believest, so be it done unto thee. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive thee thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Depart in peace.


But those who have great burdens upon their consciences, or are distressed and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage to faith with more passages of Scripture.

This is to be merely a general form of confession for the unlearned.   



The Sacrament of the Altar

as the head of the family

should teach them in a simple way to his household.




What is the Sacrament of the Altar? 


It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself. 

Where is this written? 
Answer: The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write thus:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink ye all of it. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.




Original drawing

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking? 

We are told in the words:

"For you" and "for the forgiveness of sins."

By these words the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given to us in the sacrament, for where there is forgiveness of sins, there are also life and salvation. 






How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? 


It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely:

”Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.”

Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.  







Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily? 


Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training;

but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words:

”Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.”

But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit; for the words ”For you” require altogether believing hearts.  




How the head of the family should teach his household

to bless themselves

in the morning and in the evening

In the morning





In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: 


In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord's Prayer.

If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray Thee to keep me this day also from sin and all evil, that all my doings and life may please Thee. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.





In the evening





In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: 

In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.


Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord's Prayer.

If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast graciously kept me this day, and I pray Thee to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night.

For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully. 




How the head of the family should teach his household

to ask a blessing and return thanks

Asking a Blessing




The children and servants shall go to the table with folded hands and reverently, and say:

The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord; and Thou givest them their meat in due season; Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

Note - To satisfy the desire means that all animals receive so much to eat that they are on this account joyful and of good cheer; for care and avarice hinder such satisfaction.

Then the Lord's Prayer, and the prayer here following:

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts, which we take from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.



Returning Thanks





Likewise also after the meal they shall reverently and with folded hands say:

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. He giveth food to all flesh; He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse; He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.

Then the Lord's Prayer, and the prayer here following:

We thank Thee, Lord God, Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, for all T hy benefits, who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.  


Table of Duties

consisting of certain passages of scripture

for various holy orders and stations

whereby these are to be admonished, as by a special lesson,

regarding their office and service.

For Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers


A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 1 Tim 3, 2-4

Not a novice; 1 Tim 3, 6

Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1, 9.


What the Hearers Owe to Their Pastors



Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. 1 Cor. 9, 14.

Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Gal. 6, 6.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and the laborer is worthy of his reward. 1 Tim. 5, 17. 18.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. Heb. 13, 17.




Concerning Civil Government






Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For the power which exists anywhere is ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For he heareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Rom. 13, 1-4.




What Subjects Owe to the Magistrates



Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. Matt. 22, 21.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, etc. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor. Rom. 13, 1. 5ff.

I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Tim. 2, 1f.

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, etc. Titus 3, 1.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him, etc. 1 Pet. 2, 13f




For Husbands



Ye husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Pet. 3, 7.

And be not bitter against them. Col. 3, 9.



For Wives

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Pet. 3, 6; 




For Parents

Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6, 4.



For Children

Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Eph. 6, 1-3.



To Workers of All Kinds




Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. Eph. 6, 5ff ; Col. 3, 22.



To Employers and Supervisors

Ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him. Eph. 6, 9; Col. 4, 1.




For Young Persons in General


Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Pet. 5, 5-6.




For Widows

She that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 1 Tim. 5, 5-6.


For All in Common

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Herein are comprehended all the commandments. Rom. 13, 8ff

And persevere in prayer for all men. 1 Tim. 2, 1.

Let each his lesson learn with care,
And all the household well shall fare.


A Marriage Booklet
for simple pastors


of Martin Luther
































































“Many lands, many customs” is a common saying. Since marriage and the marriage state is a worldly business, it behooves us pastors or ministers of the Church not to attempt to order or govern anything connected with it, but to permit every city and land to continue its own use and custom in this connection. Some lead the bride to the church twice, both evening and morning. Some only once. Some announce it formally and publish the banns from the pulpit two or three weeks in advance. All such things and the like I leave to the lords and the council to order and arrange as they see fit: it does not concern me.  

But should any one desire us to bless them before the church or in the church, to pray over them, or also to marry them, we are in duty bound to do this. For this reason I have desired to offer this advice and form to those who do not know anything better, in case some should desire to follow our custom in this matter. The others who know all about it, that is, who do not know anything about it but permit themselves to think that they do know all about it,-well, they do not need this service of mine – except that they may be overwise and conceited about it and should guard themselves very zealously lest perchance they do something that somebody else does! Otherwise one might think that they might learn something from somebody else, and that certainly would be a great pity.  

Since it has been customary up to the present to surround the consecration of monks and nuns with such great ceremonial display, (even though their estate and organization are an ungodly and purely human invention which does not have any foundation in the Scriptures,) how much the more should we honor this Divine estate and in a much more magnificent way bless, pray, and adorn it? For even if it is a worldly estate it does have God’s Word in its favor and was not invented or instituted by men, as was the estate of the monks and nuns. Therefore, too, it should be accounted more spiritual than the estate of the cloisterettes – yea, a hundred times more so – which in truth should be considered the most worldly and fleshly of all, because it was fabricated and instituted out of flesh and blood and is above all the invention of worldly cleverness and wisdom.  

And for this reason, too, in order that the young people may learn to regard this estate seriously and honor it as a Divine creation and command, and not act so disgracefully in connection with it and make fools out of themselves with their laughing and mockery and the like frivolity, as has been customary heretofore, just as if it was a joke or child’s play to enter into the marriage state or to have a wedding.  

Those who at the first instituted the practice that one should lead the bride and bridegroom to church, truly did not regard it as a joke but as a very earnest matter; for there is no doubt but that they were seeking the blessing of God thereby and the common prayers, and were not making a ridiculous burlesque out of it or a bit of heathenish monkey business.  

Thus, too, the act in itself reveals its earnestness. For whoever desires prayer and blessing from the pastor or bishop shows thereby indeed – even if he does not express it in so many words – into what peril and need he is entering and how greatly he stands in need of the Divine blessing and common prayer for the estate which he is undertaking. And this serious situation can be seen daily in the misfortunes caused by the devil in the marriage estate with adultery, unfaithfulness, discord, and all manner of ill.  

Therefore, we will deal in the following way with the bridegroom and bride – if they desire and ask it.  



First, publish the banns from the pulpit with such words as these:

Hans N. and Greta N. desire, according to the Divine institution, to enter the holy estate of marriage; they desire that common, Christian prayer be made on their behalf so that they may begin it in God’s Name and prosper therein.  

And should any one have anything to say against it, let him speak in time or hereafter keep silence. God grant them His blessing. Amen.

Before the church marry them with words such as these:

Hans, dost thou desire Greta to thy wedded wife? He says: Yes.  

Greta, dost thou desire Hans to thy wedded husband? She answers: Yes.

Then the pastor lets them give each other the weddingring and joins their right hands together, and says:

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Thereupon he speaks in the presence of all:

Since Hans N. and Greta N. desire each other in marriage and acknowledge the same here publicly before God and the world, in testimony of which they have given each other the hand and the wedding ring, I pronounce them joined in marriage, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Before the altar he reads God’s Word over the bridegroom and bride. Genesis, the second chapter:

And God the Lord said: It is not good that man should be alone: I will make a helpmeet for him who can be with him. Then the Lord God let a deep sleep fall on the man, and he went to sleep; and he took one of his ribs and closed the place with flesh. And God the Lord fashioned a wife out of the rib, which he took from the man, and brought her to him. Then the man said: This was at one time bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken from man. Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and the two will be one flesh.

Thereupon he turns to both of them and speaks
to them thus:

Since both of you have given yourselves to the marriage estate in God’s Name, hear first of all God’s commandment concerning this estate. Thus speaketh St. Paul:

Ye men love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her so that he might sanctify her and purify her through water in the word and present her to himself a glorious congregation without spot or blemish or any such thing, but that she might be holy and blameless. Thus also should men love their wives as their own body. He who loveth his wife loveth himself. For no one has ever yet hated his own flesh but has nourished it and cared for it as also the Lord for the congregation.  

The wives are to be subject to their husbands as unto the Lord, for man is the head of the woman just as Christ is the head of the congregation and he is the Savior of the body. But as now the congregation is subject to Christ, so shall the wives be subject to their husbands in all things.  

Second hear also the curse which God has placed
upon this estate:

God spoke thus to the woman: I will cause thee much sorrow when thou dost conceive. Thou shalt give birth to thy children with much sorrow, and thou shalt yield thee to thy husband, and he shall be thy lord.

And God spoke to the man: Since thou hast listened to the voice of thy wife and eaten of the tree of which! commanded thee and said, Thou shalt not eat thereof, Cursed be thy field for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou nourish thyself therefrom all thy life long; thorns and thistles shall it bear thee, and thou shalt eat the grass of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread until thou returnest again to earth from which thou wast taken. For thou art earth and shalt become earth.  

Third; and this is your comfort that ye may know and believe that this estate is pleasing to God and is blessed by Him. For thus it is written: God created man in his own image; yea, in the image of God created he him. He created them, a man and woman. And God blessed them and said to them: Be fruitful and multiply yourselves and fill the earth, and make it subject unto you, and reign over the fish in the sea and the birds in the heaven and over all animals that crawl on the earth. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, all was very good. Therefore Solomon also says: He who obtains a wife, obtains a good thing: and will receive favor from the Lord.

Here he spreads forth his hands over them
and prays thus:

O Lord God Who hast created man and woman and hast ordained them for the marriage bond and hast typified: therein the sacramental union of Thy dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church, His Bride: We beseech Thy groundless goodness and mercy that Thou wouldest not permit this Thy creation, ordinance and blessing to be disturbed or destroyed, but graciously preserve the same through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


The Order of Baptism
newly revised




of Martin Luther




























































Martin Luther to all christian readers, grace and peace in Christ our Lord

Since I see and hear daily with what indolence and little earnestness – I will not say, with frivolity – the high, holy and comforting sacrament of baptism is administered to little children – I think one reason for this is that those who are there present do not understand anything of what is said and done – because of this state of affairs I have thought it would not only be profitable but that it is also necessary to administer this Sacrament in the German language. And I have therefore begun to do in German what was heretofore performed in Latin, namely, to baptize in German, in order that the sponsors and others present may be incited the more to faith and earnest devotion, and the priests who administer the baptism show more concern for the good of the hearers.  

In all Christian earnestness I ask all those who administer baptism, who hold the children, or witness it, to take to heart this admirable work and its great seriousness and solemnity. For here in the words of this prayer you hear how plaintively, pitifully, and earnestly the Christian Church concerns itself about the little child, and confesses before God in straightforward words, which cannot be doubted, that he is possessed by the devil and is a child of sin and disfavor, and prays so diligently for help and for grace through baptism so that he may become a child of God.

Therefore please remember that it is by no means a light matter or a bit of fun to take sides against the devil and not only to drive him away from the little child but to load on his little shoulders such a mighty and life-long enemy. Remember, too, that it is very necessary to aid the poor child with all your heart and strong faith; to intercede for him earnestly, that God, in accordance with this prayer, will not only loose him from the power of the devil, but also strengthen him, so that like a good knight he may resist him in life and death. And I suspect that the reason why people turn out so badly after baptism is that our concern about them has been so indifferent and careless and that at their baptism we interceded for them with but little earnestness.  

Now remember, too, that in baptism the external things are the least important; such as, blowing under the eyes, signing with the cross, putting salt into the mouth, putting spittal and clay in the ears and nose; anointing the breast and shoulders with oil, signing the crown of the head with the chrism, drawing on the christening-robe, and placing a burning candle in the hand, and whatever else has been added thereto by man to beautify the (office of) baptism. For most assuredly baptism can be performed without all these and they are not the sort of devices and practices from which the devil shrinks or flees. He sneers at greater things than these! There must be real earnestness here.  

Rather make this your concern, to be present in true faith, and to hear God’s Word and unite earnestly in the prayer. For when the priest says, Let us pray, he is exhorting you to unite with him in the prayer. And all sponsors and the others present should repeat with him the words of his prayer in their hearts to God. For this reason the priest should say this prayer very clearly and slowly so that the sponsors may hear and comprehend it and also pray with him with one accord in their hearts, carrying the little child’s need before God most earnestly, setting themselves against the devil with all their strength on behalf of the child, and conducting themselves most earnestly – because this is no light matter as far as the devil is concerned.  

For this reason it is quite right and proper not to allow drunken and coarse priests to baptize, or to accept loose persons as sponsors, but choose excellent, moral, earnest, pious priests and sponsors of whom one is assured that they will administer the matter solemnly and in true faith, so that the holy sacrament is not made a mockery of the devil and a dishonor to God who in this showers upon us the superabundant and infinite riches of His grace, which He Himself calls a new birth, and through which we are freed from all the devil’s tyranny, loosed from sin, death, and hell, become children of life and heirs of all God’s possessions and God’s own children and Christ’s brethren. Ah, dear Christians, let us not value and administer such an unspeakable gift so indolently and indifferently; for baptism is our only comfort, and entrance into all godly blessings and all holy intercourse. God help us. Amen.  

As yet I have not desired to make any marked changes in the Order of Baptism. As much as I might be willing to endure it, it could have been better prepared, for it had careless masters whom the glory of baptism itself did not inspire sufficiently. But in order not to frighten weak consciences, I allow it to remain quite as it was, in order that they do not complain that I want to institute a new baptism, and criticize those who were baptized in the past as persons not properly baptized. For, as I have said, there is not much value in the human additions; the important thing is to be concerned about the baptism itself, together with God’s Word, proper faith and earnest prayer. Herewith the matter is committed to God.  





The Order of Baptism newly revised


The administrator says:

Depart thou unclean spirit, and give room to the Holy Spirit.

Then he signs him with a cross on his
forehead and breast, and says:

Receive the sign of the holy cross both on thy forehead and breast.

Let us pray:

 O Almighty, Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: I cry to Thee for this N. – , Thy servant, who prays for the gift of Thy baptism and desires Thy eternal grace through spiritual regeneration; receive him, Lord, and as Thou hast said, Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you, so give now the blessing (1523: lohn – reward) to him that asketh and open the door to him that knocketh so that he may obtain the eternal benediction of this heavenly bath and receive the promised kingdom of Thy grace; through Christ our Lord. Amen.  


Let us pray:

 Almighty, Eternal God, Who, according to Thy righteous judgment, didst condemn the unbelieving world through the flood and, in Thy great mercy, didst preserve believing Noah and his family; and Who didst drown hardhearted Pharaoh with all his host in the Red Sea and didst lead Thy people Israel through the same on dry ground, thereby prefiguring this bath of Thy baptism; and Who through the baptism of Thy dear Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast consecrated and set apart the Jordan and all water as a salutary flood and a rich and full washing away of sins: We pray through the same Thy groundless mercy, that Thou wilt graciously behold this N. – and bless him with true faith in spirit, that by means of this saving flood all that has been born in him from Adam and which he himself has added thereto may be drowned in him and engulfed, and that he may be sundered from the number of the unbelieving, preserved dry and secure in the Holy Ark of Christendom, serve Thy Name at all times fervent in spirit and joyful in hope, so that with all believers he may be made worthy to attain eternal life according to Thy promise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


I adjure thee, thou unclean spirit, by the Name of the Father H
and of the Son H
and of the Holy Ghost H,
that thou come out of and depart from this servant of Jesus Christ, N. – Amen.

Let us hear the Holy Gospel of St. Mark:

At that time they brought little children to Jesus, that He should touch them. But the disciples threatened those that brought them. When Jesus saw this, it annoyed and grieved Him, and He spoke to them, Let the little children come unto me, and do not prevent them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Truly, I tell you, he who does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child, will not enter into it. And He took them to His heart and laid hands on them and blessed them.

Then the priest lays his hands on the head of the child and prays the Our Father together with the sponsors who have knelt.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, as in heaven and on the earth; Our daily bread give us today; And remove from us our guilt as we free our debtors; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from the evil. Amen.

Thereupon the little child is led to the font,
and the priest says:

The Lord preserve thy coming in and going out from now on to eternity.

Then the priest requires the ,child, through his sponsors, to renounce the devil, and says:

N. – , dost thou renounce the devil?

Answer: Yes.

And all his works?

Answer: Yes.

And all his ways?

Answer: Yes.

Then he asks: :

Dost thou believe on God the Almighty Father, Creator of heaven and earth?

Answer: Yes.

Dost thou believe on Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, born and suffered?

Answer: Yes.

Dost thou believe on the Holy Ghost, a holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and after death an eternal life?

Answer: Yes.

Dost thou desire to be baptized?

Answer: Yes.

Then he takes the child and dips him in the font, and says:

And I baptize thee in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Then the sponsors shall hold the little child in the font, and the priest shall say while he puts the christening robe on the child:

The Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath regenerated thee through water and the Holy Ghost and hath forgiven thee all thy sin, strengthen thee with His grace to everlasting life. Amen.

Peace with thee.

Response: Amen.




Lutheran churchservice painted in 1561 in Denmark (Torslunde kirke).
Here with Luther himself as the preacher (manipulated).