Martin Luther
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Martin Luther's Small Catechism, translated by R. Smith


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24 Pages


The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Small Catechism of Martin Luther by Martin Luther, translated by Robert E. Smith.
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,
give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Small Catechism of Martin Luther
Author: Martin Luther
Translator: Robert E. Smith
Release Date: March 1999 [EBook #1670] [Most recently updated December 31, 2004]
Language: English
Luther's Little Instruction Book:
The Small Catechism of Martin Luther
Translation by Robert E. Smith From the German text, printed in:
Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church.
St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 538-559.
Note: This version of the Small Catechism is under continuous revision. Please check your source for this file from time
to time to obtain updated versions of this text.
Fort Wayne, Indiana: Project Wittenberg, 2004
I. The Ten Commandments
The Simple Way a Father Should Present Them to His Household
The First Commandment
You must not have other gods. (Exodus 20:3)
What does this mean?
We must fear, love, and trust God more than anything else.
The Second Commandment
You must not misuse your God's name. (Exodus 20:7)
What does this mean?
We must fear and love God, so that we will not use His name to ...



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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The SmallCatechism of Martin Luther by Martin Luther,translated by Robert E. Smith.This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Small Catechism of Martin LutherAuthor: Martin LutherTranslator: Robert E. SmithrReecleenatslye  uDpadtaet: eMd aDrcehc e1m9b9e9 r[ 3E1B,o 2o0k 0#41]670] [MostLanguage: English*E**B OSTOAK RTT HOE FS TMHAILS L PCRAOTJEECCHTI SGMU *T*E*NBERGTLhuteh eSr'ms alLli ttClaet Iencshtirsumct ioofn  MBaorotikn: LutherTranslation by Robert E. Smith From the Germantext, printed in:Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev.Lutheran Church.St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp.538-559.cNoonttei:n uTohiuss  vreervsiisoionn .o f Ptlheea sSe mcahlle cCka tyeocuhri ssmo uirs cue nfdoerrthis file from time to time to obtain updatedversions of this text.Fort Wayne, Indiana: Project Wittenberg, 2004I. The Ten CommandmentsThe Simple Way a Father Should Present Them toHis HouseholdThe First CommandmentYou must not have other gods. (Exodus 20:3)What does this mean?We must fear, love, and trust God more thananything else.
The Second CommandmentYou must not misuse your God's name. (Exodus)7:02What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will not useHis name to curse, swear, cast a spell, lie ordeceive, but will use it to call upon Him, pray toHim, praise Him and thank Him in all times oftrouble.The Third CommandmentYou must keep the Sabbath holy. (Exodus 20:8)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will notlook down on preaching or God's Word, butconsider it holy, listen to it willingly, and learn it.The Fourth CommandmentYou must honor your father and mother. [So thatthings will go well for you and you will live long onearth]. (Exodus 20:12)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will neitherlook down on our parents or superiors nor irritatethem, but will honor them, serve them, obey them,love them and value them.The Fifth CommandmentYou must not kill. (Exodus 20:13)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will neitherharm nor hurt our neighbor's body, but help himand care for him when he is ill.The Sixth CommandmentYou must not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that our words andactions will be clean and decent and so thateveryone will love and honor their spouses.The Seventh Commandment
You must not steal. (Exodus 20:15)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will neithertake our neighbor's money or property, nor acquireit by fraud or by selling him poorly made products,but will help him improve and protect his propertyand career.The Eighth CommandmentYou must not tell lies about your neighbor. (Exodus20:16 )What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will notdeceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruiningour neighbor's reputation, but will defend him, saygood things about him, and see the best side ofeverything he does.The Ninth CommandmentYou must not desire your neighbor's house.(Exodus 20:17)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will notoart theomupst et,o t tarkicek i to buyr  npreiegtehnbdoirn og utto  ohf ahvise  ian hriegrihtta tnoc iet,etc. but help him to keep & improve it.The Tenth CommandmentYou must not desire your neighbor's wife, servant,maid, animals or anything that belongs to him.(Exodus 20:17)What does this mean?We must fear and love God, so that we will notfrreolema shie mo uorr  nseeidguhcbeo rh'iss  cwaitftlee, , btuatk ue rhgies  tehmepml otyo esetsayand do what they ought to do.The Conclusion to the CommandmentsWhat does God say to us about all thesecommandments?aThmi sa i sje walhoauts  HGe osda. yI sp: l"aI gaume  tthhee  gLroarndd Ychoiludr reGno da.n Idtghreeiart -agnrcaensdtcorh'ilsd rsienn.  oBfu tt hIo smea kweh ow hhoaltee t hmoes ew itwhho
love me for a thousand generations." (Exodus)5:02What does it mean?God threatens to punish everyone who breaksthese commandments. We should be afraid of Hisanger because of this and not violate suchcommandments. But He promises grace and allgood things to those who keep suchcommandments. Because of this, we, too, shouldlove Him, trust Him, and willingly do what Hiscommandments require.II. The CreedThe Simple Way a Father Should Present it to HisHouseholdTOhne  CFriersatt ioArnticleI believe in God the Almighty Father, Creator ofHeaven and Earth.What does this mean?I believe that God created me, along with allcreatures. He gave to me: my body and soul, myeyes, ears and all the other parts of my body, mymind and all my senses. He preserves them aswell. He gives me clothing and shoes, food anddrink, house and land, wife and children, fields,animals and all I own. Every day He abundantlyprovides everything I need to nourish this body andlife. He protects me against all danger. he shieldsand defends me from all evil. He does all thisbecause of His pure, fatherly and divine goodnessand His mercy, not because I've earned it ordeserved it. For all of this, I must thank Him, praiseHim, serve Him and obey Him. Yes, this is true!TOhne  RSeedceomnpdt iAornticleAnd in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, WhowMaasr yc, osnucffeeivreedd  ubny dtehre  PHoonltyi uSsp iPriilt,a tbeo, rwn aosf  tcrhue ciVfiiregdi,ntdhiierdd  adnady  rwoasse  baugriaeind ,f rdoems ctehned deed atdo,  Haeslcl,e onnd ethd etoAHlemaivgehtny  aFnadt hseart.  dForwonm  atth tehree  rHigeh tw ihll acnod moef  tGo ojud dtgheethe living and the dead.What does this mean?I believe that Jesus Christ is truly God, born of the
Father in eternity and also truly man, born of theVirgin Mary. He is my Lord! He redeemed me, alost and condemned person, bought and won mefrom all sins, death and the authority of the Devil. Itdid not cost Him gold or silver, but His holy,precious blood, His innocent body—His death!Because of this, I am His very own, will live underHim in His kingdom and serve Him righteously,innocently and blessedly forever, just as He is risenfrom death, lives and reigns forever. Yes, this is.eurtTOhne  BTehcirodm iAnrtgi clHeolyIC bheulricehv,e  tihne t hceo mHomlyu nSitpyi riotf,  tthhee  shaoilnyt sC, htrhisetianforgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,and an everlasting life. Amen.What does this mean?I believe that I cannot come to my Lord JesusChrist by my own intelligence or power. But theHoly Spirit called me by the Gospel, enlightenedme with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in thetrue faith, just as He calls, gathers together,enlightens and makes holy the whole Church onearth and keeps it with Jesus in the one, true faith.In this Church, He generously forgives each dayevery sin committed by me and by every believer.On the last day, He will raise me and all the deadfrom the grave. He will give eternal life to me andto all who believe in Christ. Yes, this is true!III. The Our FatherThe Simple Way a Father Should Present it to HisHouseholdIntroductionOur Father, Who is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:9)What does this mean?In this introduction, God invites us to believe thatHe is our real Father and we are His real children,so that we will pray with trust and completeconfidence, in the same way beloved childrenapproach their beloved Father with their requests.The First RequestMay Your name be holy. (Matthew 6:9)What does this mean?
Of course, God's name is holy in and of itself, butby this request, we pray that He will make it holyamong us, too.How does this take place?It happens when God's Word is taught clearly andpurely, and when we live holy lives as God'schildren based upon it. Help us, Heavenly Father,to do this! But anyone who teaches and lives bysomething other than God's Word defiles God'sname among us. Protect us from this, HeavenlyFather!The Second RequestYour Kingdom come. (Matthew 6:10)What does this mean?Truly God's Kingdom comes by itself, without ourprayer. But we pray in this request that it come tous as well.How does this happen?It happens when the Heavenly Father gives us HisgHroalcy eS apinridt ,l ivseo  tghoadtl yw liev ebse liheevree  iHni st hhiosl ya gWe oarnd db tyh eHrisein eternal life.The Third RequestMay Your will be accomplished. As it is Heaven, somay it be on Earth.(Matthew 6:10)What does this mean?Tacrucloy,m pGliosdh'se dg owoitdh oauntd  ogurra pciroauyse r.will isBut we pray in this request that is accomplishedamong us as well.How does this happen?It happens when God destroys and interferes witheGvoedr'ys  eKviinl gwdilol ma ntdo  acllo emveil,  asduvcihc ea, s wthhiec hD weivlli l'ns otw ilall,lowthhaep pweonrlsd 'sw hweilnl  aGnodd  wsitllr eonf gotuhre nbso duilsy  bdye fsiaritehs . aInt da lbsyotHhies  eWnodr do f aonudr  klieveesp.s  Tuhsi sli visin Hg isb yw tilhl,e gmo ofadi tahfnudl lfyu lul notfilgrace.The Fourth Request
Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)What does this mean?Truly, God gives daily bread to evil people, evenHwiet hwoiullt  hoeulrp  pursa zBeu tt hwise  apnrda yr einc etihvise  roeuqr udeasitl ythatbread with thanksgiving.What does "Daily bread" mean?Everything that nourishes our body and meets itsneeds, such as: Food, drink, clothing, shoes,house, yard, fields, cattle, money, possessions, adevout spouse, devout children, devoutemployees, devout and faithful rulers, goodgovernment, good weather, peace, health,discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighborsand other things like these.The Fifth RequestsAinnndi fnogr gaigvaei nosutr  ugsu.i l(t,M aastt hwee wf o6r:g1iv2)e those guilty ofWhat does this mean?We pray in this request that our Heavenly Fatherwill neither pay attention to our sins nor refuserequests such as these because of our sins andbecause we are neither worthy nor deserve thethings for which we pray. Yet He wants to givethem all to us by His grace, because many timeseach day we sin and truly deserve onlypunishment. Because God does this, we will, ofcourse, want to forgive from our hearts andwillingly do good to those who sin against us.The Sixth RequestAnd lead us not into temptation. (Matthew 6:12)What does this mean?God tempts no one, of course, but we pray in thisrequest that God will protect us and save us, sothat the Devil, the world and our bodily desires willneither deceive us nor seduce us into heresy,despair or other serious shame or vice, and so thatwe will win and be victorious in the end, even ifthey attack us.The Seventh RequestBut set us free from the Evil One. ( Matthew 6:12)What does this mean?
We pray in this request, as a summary, that ourFather in Heaven will save us from every kind ofevil that threatens body, soul, property and honor.We pray that when at last our final hour has come,He will grant us a blessed death, and, in His grace,bring us to Himself from this valley of tears. AmenWhat does this mean?That I should be certain that such prayers areacceptable to the Father in Heaven and will begranted, that He Himself has commanded us topray in this way and that He promises to answerus. Amen. Amen. This means: Yes, yes it willhappen this way.IV. The Sacrament of Holy BaptismThe Simple Way a Father Should Present it to HisHouseholdWhat is Baptism?Baptism is not just plain water, but it is watercontained within God's command and united withGod's Word.Where in the Word of God is this?Where our Lord Christ spoke in the last chapter ofMatthew (Matthew28:19):"Go into all the world, teaching all heathen nations,and baptizingthem in the name of the Father, the Son and of theHoly Spirit."What does Baptism give? What good is it?It gives us the forgiveness of sins, redeems usfrom death and theDevil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believethis, just asGod's words and promises declare.What are these words and promises of God?Our Lord Christ spoke one of them in the lastchapter of Mark (Mark16:16):"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;but whoever does notbelieve will be damned."How can water do such great things?Water doesn't make these things happen, of
course. It is God's Word, which is with and in thewater. Because, without God's Word, the water isplain water and not baptism. But with God's Word itis a Baptism, a grace-filled water of life, a bath ofnew birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul said to Titusin the third chapter (Titus 3:5-8): "Through thisbath of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whichHe poured out on us abundantly through JesusChrist, our Savior, that we, justified by the samegrace are made heirs according to the hope ofeternal life. This is a faithful saying."What is the meaning of such a water Baptism?It means that the old Adam in us should bedrowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and diewith all sins and evil lusts, and, in turn, a newperson daily come forth and rise from death again.He will live forever before God in righteousnessand purity.Where is this written?St. Paul says to the Romans in Chapter Six(Romans 6:4): "We are buried with Christ throughBaptism into death, so that, in the same way Christis risen from the dead by the glory of the Father,thus also must we walk in a new life."V. How You Should Teach the Uneducated toConfessWhat is confession?Confession has two parts: First, a person admitshis sin Second, a person receives absolution orforgiveness from the confessor, as if from GodHimself, without doubting it, but believing firmly thathis sins are forgiven by God in Heaven through it.Which sins should people confess?When speaking to God, we should plead guilty toall sins, even those we don't know about, just aswe do in the "Our Father," but when speaking tothe confessor, only the sins we know about, whichwe know about and feel in our hearts.Which are these?Consider here your place in life according to theTen Commandments. Are you a father? A mother?A son? A daughter? A husband? A wife? Aservant? Are you disobedient, unfaithful or lazy?Have you hurt anyone with your words or actions?Have you stolen, neglected your duty, let things go
or injured someone?Please suggest to me a simple way to confess.You should speak to your confessor this way:Honorable, dear Sir: Would you please hear myconfession and pronounce forgiveness accordingto God's will.He will respond: Yes. Please go ahead.Then say: I confess in the presence of God that Iam a poor sinner and guilty of every kind of sin. Ispecifically admit to you that I am a servant, maid,etc., but I'm afraid that I have served my masterunfaithfully. >From time to time, I have not donewhat I was told to do. I have angered them andcaused them to swear at me. I have neglected myduty and allowed damage to be done. My wordsand actions have been shameful. I have beenangry with my peers. I have complained about mymaster's wife and sworn at her, etc. I am sorry forall of this and ask for grace. I want to do better.A master or a lady of the house should speak thisway: I specifically confess to you that I have notfaithfully led my children, servants or wife to God'sglory. I have cursed. I have set a bad example withmy obscene words and actions. I have hurt myneighbor and spoken evil things about him. I havecharged him too much, cheated him and sold himbadly made goods.Let him also confess any other sins against God'scommandments and his place in life, etc.If a person is not burdened with sins such as theseor greater sins, he should not look for other sins orinvent them, because that would turn confessioninto torture. Instead, he should mention one or twothat he knows about. For example: specifically Iconfess that I once cursed. Once I usedinappropriate language. Once I neglected to do thisor that thing, etc. Let that be enough.If you do not know of anything you have donewrong (which does not seem possible), do not sayanything in specific, but receive forgiveness basedupon the general confession you make to God inthe presence of your confessor.After this, the Confessor will say:May God be merciful to you and strengthen yourfaith!