The following explanation of the Communion of Saints is adapted from Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Creed.
The Communio Sanctorum as a “Holy Community”
In keeping with some paraphrases of the Symbols from the twelfth century, [Martin] Luther wanted to render “association of saints” (Gemeinschaft der Heiligen), which did not sound right in German, as “congregation of saints” (Gemeinde der Heiligen), as “communion or assembly (Gemeine or Sammlung) ... of those who live in true faith, hope, and love.” But this would forfeit the biblical sense of the word “Koinonia.” For this reason, κοινωνία, in the specific meaning of the word, cannot be used as another way to say ἐκκλησία, and is thus to be interpreted, with respect to its context, as needless repetition. Luther’s translation “a holy community” (ein heilige Gemeine) conceals the original meaning. For this reason, the modern ecumenical rendering returns to “communion of saints” (Gemeinschaft der Heiligen); one can justify this translation on the basis of the fact that “community” can be understood too much in the sense of a physical assembly.
Oneness of the Church Is Rooted in Christ’s Oneness with the Heavenly Father
Blog post adapted from Commentary on Luther’s Catechism: Creed © 2011 Concordia Publishing House.
Albrecht Peters’s commentary places the catechisms in the larger context of Luther’s writings and within the history of Christian teaching and theology.