Luther distinguishes himself from all interpretations of the Second Petition before him, in that in the catechism he bases the kingdom of God in the Gospel of Christ, which in the First Petition he had foreshadowed under the topic of pure doctrine. The ‘Kingdom of Grace’ of the heavenly Father is here on earth only there to be found where the Gospel of our salvation through Christ’s sacrificial death is “genuinely preached throughout the world.” This is and remains Luther’s fundamental insight: How the Church is ‘creatur verbi,’ thus also God’s Kingship is governance through the Word from the cross.
The words “passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus” are translated by the reformer: “suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead, and buried”; admittedly, the introductory text to the Large Catechism reads: “(who) had suffered under Pontius Pilate, is crucified, dead, and buried.”
Luther’s interpretation of the First Article is shaped through and through by his astonishment about the character of life as a gift. In this way, the reformer confronts that aspect which Martin Heidegger terms the “foundational question for metaphysics”: “Why is there that which exists rather than the more probable nothingness?” But Luther does not consider this as an abstract philosophical question; instead, from the vantage point of the wonderment of a child: “Why is there something and not nothing?” He considers this from the point of view of one who ventures to trust, on the basis of the biblical witness that tells of a God who dispenses life.
To wrap up his writings about loneliness, worry and finding comfort in God, Luther leaves readers with a final message: the ultimate victory has already been won through Christ’s death and resurrection. Read the complete passage from Volume 24 of Luther’s Works and say a prayer of thanks to God for such a victory.
Martin Luther preached that peace can be found only in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bestows on Christians the powerful gift of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to understand it and to communicate with God. In his sermon (recorded in Luther's Works Volume 24), Luther echoes Jesus' statement that although there is strife and turmoil in the world, Jesus has already overcome it.
Trying times often cause fear, worry, stress, and anxiety. Currently, it’s also the cause of isolation and social distancing, which can increase loneliness. But Luther reminds us that we are never truly alone because God is always with us—in the joyful days, the sad ones, and even the in-between ones. Read the following passage from Volume 24 of Luther’s Works as a reminder of God’s constant faithfulness and the promises of His Word.
A lot of worry and fear are currently happening in our world. This fear can shift your focus away from Christ and His love for you. In uncertain times, it can be difficult to understand that God has a certain plan for the world. The following passage from Martin Luther’s Church Postils I is a great reminder to cast all your worries and fears on Jesus because He will always provide for those who believe.
Leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, the Gospel of Matthew recounts that “the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put Him to death” (26:59). Bearing false testimony is breaking the Eighth Commandment, but through Christ’s resurrection, we are forgiven. But what encompasses the entirety of the Eighth Commandment? Read Albrecht Peters’ commentary on Luther’s interpretations of this commandment to see what this commandment fully encompasses.
The translations of the Eighth Commandment vary slightly: “You shall not speak false testimony against your neighbor.” Following tradition, Luther wavers between Zeugnis and Gezeugnis for testimonium. Loqueris he typically translates verbatim as “speak” —here and there also with “give.” . . . Luther consistently adds “against your neighbor” and thereby underlines the specific direction of the commandment toward the neighbor, which characterizes his interpretation.
Defending Lutheran beliefs can be difficult, especially against those who fervently believe differently than you. Martin Luther had to defend his theses against hostile adversaries, including Pope Leo X. Talk about a difficult battle! Lutherans commemorate him today to show thanks for his faithfulness to doctrine and to give God thanks for granting Dr. Luther the strength to profess the true faith to all who would listen. In honor of his commemoration, read a passage from a sermon given by one of his students, Johann Mathesius, from Luther’s Works, Companion Volume, Sixteenth-Century Biographies of Martin Luther.
The First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” is one of the most important to the Christian faith. Read Albrecht Peters’ Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms, Ten Commandments below.