The Large Catechism, by Martin Luther. Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dan. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The
Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church . (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921).
with a few of our comments
The Third Commandment.
Thou shalt sanctify the holy day. [Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.]
The word holy day (Feiertag) is rendered from the Hebrew word sabbath which properly signifies to rest, that is, to abstain from
labor. Hence we are accustomed to say, Feierbend machen [that is, to cease working], or heiligen Abend geben [sanctify the
Sabbath]. Now, in the Old Testament, God separated the seventh day, and appointed it for rest, and commanded that it should be
regarded as holy above all others. As regards this external observance, this commandment was given to the Jews alone, that they
should abstain from toilsome work, and rest, so that both man and beast might recuperate, and not be weakened by unremitting
This commandment, therefore, according to its gross sense, does not concern us Christians; for it is altogether an external
matter, like other ordinances of the Old Testament, which were attached to particular customs, persons, times, and places, and
now have been made free through Christ.
Of The CREED
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
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.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the
body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer.
The First Petition.
Hallowed be Thy name.
The Second Petition.
Hallowed be Thy kingdom come.
....But what is the kingdom of God? Answer: Nothing else than what we learned in the Creed, that God sent His Son Jesus Christ
our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a
King of righteousness, life and salvation against sin death, and an evil conscience, for which end He has also bestowed His Holy
Ghost, who is to bring these things home to us by His holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power....
The Third Petition.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Fourth Petition.
Give us this day our daily bread.
The Fifth Petition.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
The Sixth Petition.
And lead us not into temptation.
The Seventh and Last Petition.
But deliver us from evil. Amen.
To be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore although it is performed by
human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work
than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?
....words of Christ above quoted: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore state it most simply thus, that the
power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a
prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved. we know. is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death,
and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever....
But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It
is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see
this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests.
Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we
have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres
in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance,
and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?
....But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what then,
becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God's (for,
as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper's baptism). God's works, however, are saving and
necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended. For by suffering
the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it
becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God's command and ordinance,
and besides in God's name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the
body; but the heart must believe it.
Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as
the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by
faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as
being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed.....
Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen
ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and
have eternal life, both in soul and body. For that is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism namely, that the body,
which can apprehend nothing but the water, is sprinkled
The word "baptism" was never translated into English. The Greek (original language of the New Testament) word "baptizo" was
only anglicized a little. This word in Greek means to plunge or dip. Romans 6:3-4 says we are buried in baptism.
Of Infant Baptism.
When an Ethiopian asked if he could be baptized, Philip told him he could if he believed (Acts 8:6).
Further, we say that we are not so much concerned to know whether the person baptized believes or not; for on that
account Baptism does not become invalid; but everything depends upon the Word and command of God. This now is perhaps
somewhat acute but it rests entirely upon what I have said, that Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and
with each other, that is when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does
not make Baptism, but receives it. Now, Baptism does not become invalid even though it be wrongly received or employed; since it
is not bound (as stated) to our faith, but to the Word....
Thus it appears what a great, excellent thing Baptism is, which delivers us from the jaws of the devil and makes us God's own,
suppresses and takes away sin, and then daily strengthens the new man, and is and remains ever efficacious until we pass from
this estate of misery to eternal glory.
Acts 2:38 says, "Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins." Infants cannot repent. In fact, they do not even know
what sin is and have not the physical or mental capacity to sin.
Of the Sacrament of the Altar.
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by
the Word of Christ to eat and to drink....Now here stands the Word of Christ: Take, eat; this is My body; Drink ye all of it; this is
the new testament in My blood, etc. Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and
make it different from what He has spoken. It is true, indeed, that if you take away the Word or regard it without the words, you
have nothing but mere bread and wine. But if the words remain with them as they shall and must, then, in virtue of the same, it is
truly the body and blood of Christ. For as the lips of Christ say and speak, so it is, as He can never lie or deceive....
When Jesus said (in the four gospels and I Corinthians 11) the bread and wine were his body and blood, he did not mean literally,
for his body was sitting at a table when he said this, and his blood was still in his body. The bread and wine of the Lord's
Supper/Communion are symbolic.
Hence it is easy to reply to all manner of questions about which men are troubled at the present time, such as this one: Whether
even a wicked priest can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be.
True, Jesus dispensed the bread and wine to his apostles. But he is no longer here. The only other example of the Lord's
Supper (Communion) is Acts 20:7 and it is silent about who dispensed the bread and wine. When bishops'/elders' qualifications
and duties were discussed in Timothy and Titus, never were they told to dispense the bread and wine.