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Produced by Allen Mulvey


By Martin Luther

_The Smalcald Articles.
Articles of Christian Doctrine
which were to have been presented on our part
to the Council, if any had been assembled at Mantua
or elsewhere, indicating what we could accept
or yield, and what we could not._

by Dr. Martin Luther, 1537

Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau

Published in:
_Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books
of the Ev. Lutheran Church_.
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921),
pp. 453-529.

Preface of Dr. Martin Luther.

Since Pope Paul III convoked a Council last year, to assemble
at Mantua about Whitsuntide, and afterwards transferred it
from Mantua, so that it is not yet known where he will or can
fix it, and we on our part either had to expect that we would
be summoned also to the Council or [to fear that we would] be
condemned unsummoned, I was directed to compile and collect
the articles of our doctrine [in order that it might be plain]
in case of deliberation as to what and how far we would be
both willing and able to yield to the Papists, and in what
points we intended to persevere and abide to the end.

I have accordingly compiled these articles and presented them
to our side. They have also been accepted and unanimously
confessed by our side, and it has been resolved that, in case
the Pope with his adherents should ever be so bold as
seriously and in good faith, without lying and cheating, to
hold a truly free [legitimate] Christian Council (as, indeed,
he would be in duty bound to do), they be publicly delivered
in order to set forth the Confession of our Faith.

But though the Romish court is so dreadfully afraid of a free
Christian Council, and shuns the light so shamefully, that it
has [entirely] removed, even from those who are on its side,
the hope that it will ever permit a free Council, much less
that it will itself hold one, whereat, as is just, they [many
Papists] are greatly offended and have no little trouble on
that account [are disgusted with this negligence of the Pope],
since they notice thereby that the Pope would rather see all
Christendom perish and all souls damned than suffer either
himself or his adherents to be reformed even a little, and his
[their] tyranny to be limited, nevertheless I have determined
meanwhile to publish these articles in plain print, so that,
should I die before there would be a Council (as I fully
expect and hope, because the knaves who flee the light and
shun the day take such wretched pains to delay and hinder the
Council), those who live and remain after me may have my
testimony and confession to produce, in addition to the
Confession which I have issued previously, whereby up to this
time I have abided, and, by God's grace, will abide.

For what shall I say? How shall I complain? I am still living,
writing, preaching, and lecturing daily; [and] yet there are
found such spiteful men, not only among the adversaries, but
also false brethren that profess to be on our side, as dare to
cite my writings and doctrine directly against myself, and let
me look on and listen, although they know well that I teach
otherwise, and as wish to adorn their venom with my labor, and
under my name to [deceive and] mislead the poor people. [Good
God!] Alas! what first will happen when I am dead?

Indeed, I ought to reply to everything while I am still
living. But, again, how can I alone stop all the mouths of the
devil? especially of those (as they all are poisoned) who will
not hear or notice what we write, but solely exercise
themselves with all diligence how they may most shamefully
pervert and corrupt our word in every letter. These I let the
devil answer, or at last Gods wrath, as they deserve. I often
think of the good Gerson who doubts whether anything good
should be [written and] published. If it is not done, many
souls are neglected who could be delivered: but if it is done,
the devil is there with malignant, villainous tongues without
number which envenom and pervert everything, so that
nevertheless the fruit [the usefulness of the writings] is
prevented. Yet what they gain thereby is manifest. For while
they have lied so shamefully against us and by means of lies
wished to retain the people, God has constantly advanced His
work, and been making their following ever smaller and ours
greater, and by their lies has caused and still causes them to
be brought to shame.

I must tell a story. There was a doctor sent here to
Wittenberg from France, who said publicly before us that his
king was sure and more than sure, that among us there is no
church, no magistrate, no married life, but all live
promiscuously as cattle, and each one does as he pleases.
Imagine now, how will those who by their writings have
instilled such gross lies into the king and other countries as
the pure truth, look at us on that day before the
judgment-seat of Christ? Christ, the Lord and Judge of us all,
knows well that they lie and have [always] lied, His sentence
they in turn, must hear; that I know certainly. God convert to
repentance those who can be converted! Regarding the rest it
will be said, Woe, and, alas! eternally.

But to return to the subject. I verily desire to see a truly
Christian Council [assembled some time], in order that many
matters and persons might be helped. Not that we need It, for
our churches are now, through God's grace, so enlightened and
equipped with the pure Word and right use of the Sacraments,
with knowledge of the various callings and of right works,
that we on our part ask for no Council, and on such points
have nothing better to hope or expect from a Council. But we
see in the bishoprics everywhere so many parishes vacant and
desolate that one's heart would break, and yet neither the
bishops nor canons care how the poor people live or die, for
whom nevertheless Christ has died, and who are not permitted
to hear Him speak with them as the true Shepherd with His
sheep. This causes me to shudder and fear that at some time He
may send a council of angels upon Germany utterly destroying
us, like Sodom and Gomorrah, because we so wantonly mock Him
with the Council.

Besides such necessary ecclesiastical affairs, there would be
also in the political estate innumerable matters of great
importance to improve. There is the disagreement between the
princes and the states; usury and avarice have burst in like a
flood, and have become lawful [are defended with a show of
right]; wantonness, lewdness, extravagance in dress, gluttony,
gambling, idle display, with all kinds of bad habits and
wickedness, insubordination of subjects, of domestics and
laborers of every trade, also the exactions [and most
exorbitant selling prices] of the peasants (and who can
enumerate all?) have so increased that they cannot be
rectified by ten Councils and twenty Diets. If such chief
matters of the spiritual and worldly estates as are contrary
to God would be considered in the Council, they would have all
hands so full that the child's play and absurdity of long
gowns [official insignia], large tonsures, broad cinctures [or
sashes], bishops' or cardinals' hats or maces, and like
jugglery would in the mean time be forgotten. If we first had
performed God's command and order in the spiritual and secular
estate we would find time enough to reform food, clothing,
tonsures, and surplices. But if we want to swallow such
camels, and, instead, strain at gnats, let the beams stand and
judge the motes, we also might indeed be satisfied with the

Therefore I have presented few articles; for we have without
this so many commands of God to observe in the Church, the
state and the family that we can never fulfil them. What,
then, is the use, or what does it profit that many decrees and
statutes thereon are made in the Council, especially when
these chief matters commanded of God are neither regarded nor
observed? Just as though He were bound to honor our jugglery
as a reward of our treading His solemn commandments under
foot. But our sins weigh upon us and cause God not to be
gracious to us; for we do not repent, and, besides, wish to
defend every abomination.

O Lord Jesus Christ, do Thou Thyself convoke a Council, and
deliver Thy servants by Thy glorious advent! The Pope and his
adherents are done for; they will have none of Thee. Do Thou,
then, help us, who are poor and needy, who sigh to Thee, and
beseech Thee earnestly, according to the grace which Thou hast
given us, through Thy Holy Ghost who liveth and reigneth with
Thee and the Father, blessed forever. Amen.


Treats of the Sublime Articles Concerning the Divine Majesty,

That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three distinct persons in
one divine essence and nature, are one God, who has created
heaven and earth.

That the Father is begotten of no one; the Son of the Father;
the Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son.

That not the Father nor the Holy Ghost but the Son became man.

That the Son became man in this manner, that He was conceived,
without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Ghost, and was
born of the pure, holy [and always] Virgin Mary. Afterwards He
suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the
dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God, will
come to judge the quick and the dead, etc. as the Creed of the
Apostles, as well as that of St. Athanasius, and the Catechism
in common use for children, teach.

Concerning these articles there is no contention or dispute,
since we on both sides confess them. Therefore it is not
necessary now to treat further of them.


Treats of the Articles which Refer to
the Office and Work of Jesus Christ,
or Our Redemption.

The first and chief article is this,

That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and
was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4, 25.

And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of
the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the
iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6.

Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit
[freely, and without their own works or merits] by His grace,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood,
Rom. 3, 23 f.

Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be
otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit,
it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us as
St. Paul says, Rom. 3, 28: For we conclude that a man is
justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law. Likewise v.
26: That He might be just, and the Justifier of him which
believeth in Christ.

Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can
anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even
though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should
sink to ruin. For there is none other name under heaven, given
among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4, 12.
And with His stripes we are healed, Is. 53, 5. And upon this
article all things depend which we teach and practice in
opposition to the Pope, the devil, and the [whole] world.
Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not
doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and devil and
all things gain the victory and suit over us.

Article II: Of the Mass.

That the Mass in the Papacy must be the greatest and most
horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts
with this chief article, and yet above and before all other
popish idolatries it has been the chief and most specious. For
it has been held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass, even
though it be rendered by a wicked [and abandoned] scoundrel,
frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory,
while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this, as has been
said above. Of this article nothing is to be surrendered or
conceded, because the first article does not allow it.

If, perchance, there were reasonable Papists we might speak
moderately and in a friendly way, thus: first, why they so
rigidly uphold the Mass. For it is but a pure invention of
men, and has not been commanded by God; and every invention of
man we may [safely] discard, as Christ declares, Matt. 15, 9:
In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men.

Secondly. It is an unnecessary thing, which can be omitted
without sin and danger.

Thirdly. The Sacrament can be received in a better and more
blessed way [more acceptable to God], (yea, the only blessed
way), according to the institution of Christ. Why, then, do
they drive the world to woe and [extreme] misery on account of
a fictitious, unnecessary matter, which can be well obtained
in another and more blessed way?

Let [care be taken that] it be publicly preached to the people
that the Mass as men's twaddle [commentitious affair or human
figment] can be omitted without sin, and that no one will be
condemned who does not observe it, but that he can be saved in
a better way without the Mass. I wager [Thus it will come to
pass] that the Mass will then collapse of itself, not only
among the insane [rude] common people, but also among all
pious, Christian, reasonable, God-fearing hearts; and that the
more, when they would hear that the Mass is a [very] dangerous
thing, fabricated and invented without the will and Word of

Fourthly. Since such innumerable and unspeakable abuses have
arisen in the whole world from the buying and selling of
masses, the Mass should by right be relinquished, if for no
other purpose than to prevent abuses, even though in itself it
had something advantageous and good. How much more ought we to
relinquish it, so as to prevent [escape] forever these
horrible abuses, since it is altogether unnecessary, useless,
and dangerous, and we can obtain everything by a more
necessary, profitable, and certain way without the Mass.

Fifthly. But since the Mass is nothing else and can be nothing
else (as the Canon and all books declare), than a work of men
(even of wicked scoundrels), by which one attempts to
reconcile himself and others to God, and to obtain and merit
the remission of sins and grace (for thus the Mass is observed
when it is observed at the very best; otherwise what purpose
would it serve?), for this very reason it must and should
[certainly] be condemned and rejected. For this directly
conflicts with the chief article, which says that it is not a
wicked or a godly hireling of the Mass with his own work, but
the Lamb of God and the Son of God, that taketh away our sins.

But if any one should advance the pretext that as an act of
devotion he wishes to administer the Sacrament, or Communion,
to himself, he is not in earnest [he would commit a great
mistake, and would not be speaking seriously and sincerely].
For if he wishes to commune in sincerity, the surest and best
way for him is in the Sacrament administered according to
Christ's institution. But that one administer communion to
himself is a human notion, uncertain, unnecessary, yea, even
prohibited. And he does not know what he is doing, because
without the Word of God he obeys a false human opinion and
invention. So, too, it is not right (even though the matter
were otherwise correct) for one to use the common Sacrament of
[belonging to] the Church according to his own private
devotion, and without God's Word and apart from the communion
of the Church to trifle therewith.

This article concerning the Mass will be the whole business of
the Council. [The Council will perspire most over, and be
occupied with this article concerning the Mass.] For if it
were [although it would be] possible for them to concede to us
all the other articles, yet they could not concede this. As
Campegius said at Augsburg that he would be torn to pieces
before he would relinquish the Mass, so, by the help of God,
I, too, would suffer myself to be reduced to ashes before I
would allow a hireling of the Mass, be he good or bad, to be
made equal to Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior, or to be
exalted above Him. Thus we are and remain eternally separated
and opposed to one another. They feel well enough that when
the Mass falls, the Papacy lies in ruins. Before they will
permit this to occur, they will put us all to death if they

In addition to all this, this dragon's tail, [I mean] the
Mass, has begotten a numerous vermin-brood of manifold

First, purgatory. Here they carried their trade into purgatory
by masses for souls, and vigils, and weekly, monthly, and
yearly celebrations of obsequies, and finally by the Common
Week and All Souls Day, by soul-baths so that the Mass is used
almost alone for the dead, although Christ has instituted the
Sacrament alone for the living. Therefore purgatory, and every
solemnity, rite, and commerce connected with it, is to be
regarded as nothing but a specter of the devil. For it
conflicts with the chief article [which teaches] that only
Christ, and not the works of men, are to help [set free]
souls. Not to mention the fact that nothing has been
[divinely] commanded or enjoined upon us concerning the dead.
Therefore all this may be safely omitted, even if it were no
error and idolatry.

The Papists quote here Augustine and some of the Fathers who
are said to have written concerning purgatory, and they think
that we do not understand for what purpose and to what end
they spoke as they did. St. Augustine does not write that
there is a purgatory nor has he a testimony of Scripture to
constrain him thereto, but he leaves it in doubt whether there
is one, and says that his mother asked to be remembered at the
altar or Sacrament. Now, all this is indeed nothing but the
devotion of men, and that, too, of individuals, and does not
establish an article of faith, which is the prerogative of God

Our Papists, however, cite such statements [opinions] of men
in order that men should believe in their horrible,
blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for souls in
purgatory [or in sacrifices for the dead and oblations], etc.
But they will never prove these things from Augustine. Now,
when they have abolished the traffic in masses for purgatory,
of which Augustine never dreamt, we will then discuss with
them whether the expressions of Augustine without Scripture
[being without the warrant of the Word] are to be admitted,
and whether the dead should be remembered at the Eucharist.
For it will not do to frame articles of faith from the works
or words of the holy Fathers; otherwise their kind of fare, of
garments, of house, etc., would have to become an article of
faith, as was done with relies. [We have, however, another
rule, namely] The rule is: The Word of God shall establish
articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel.

Secondly. From this it has followed that evil spirits have
perpetrated much knavery [exercised their malice] by appearing
as the souls of the departed, and with unspeakable [horrible]
lies and tricks demanded masses, vigils, pilgrimages, and
other alms. All of which we had to receive as articles of
faith, and to live accordingly; and the Pope confirmed these
things, as also the Mass and all other abominations. Here,
too, there is no [cannot and must not be any] yielding or

Thirdly. [Hence arose] the pilgrimages. Here, too, masses, the
remission of sins and the grace of God were sought, for the
Mass controlled everything. Now it is indeed certain that such
pilgrimages, without the Word of God, have not been commanded
us, neither are they necessary, since we can have these things
[the soul can be cared for] in a better way, and can omit
these pilgrimages without any sin and danger. Why therefore do
they leave at home [desert] their own parish [their called
ministers, their parishes], the Word of God, wives, children,
etc., who are ordained and [attention to whom is necessary and
has been] commanded, and run after these unnecessary,
uncertain, pernicious will-o'-the-wisps of the devil [and
errors]? Unless the devil was riding [made insane] the Pope,
causing him to praise and establish these practices, whereby
the people again and again revolted from Christ to their own
works, and became idolaters, which is worst of all; moreover,
it is neither necessary nor commanded, but is senseless and
doubtful, and besides harmful. Hence here, too, there can be
no yielding or surrendering [to yield or concede anything here
is not lawful], etc. And let this be preached, that such
pilgrimages are not necessary, but dangerous; and then see
what will become of them. [For thus they will perish of their
own accord.]

Fourthly. Fraternities [or societies], in which cloisters,
chapters, vicars have assigned and communicated (by a legal
contract and sale) all masses and good works, etc., both for
the living and the dead. This is not only altogether a human
bauble, without the Word of God, entirely unnecessary and not
commanded, but also contrary to the chief article, Of
Redemption. Therefore it is in no way to be tolerated.

Fifthly. The relics, in which there are found so many
falsehoods and tomfooleries concerning the bones of dogs and
horses, that even the devil has laughed at such rascalities,
ought long ago to have been condemned, even though there were
some good in them; and so much the more because they are
without the Word of God; being neither commanded nor
counseled, they are an entirely unnecessary and useless thing.
But the worst is that [they have imagined that] these relics
had to work indulgence and the forgiveness of sins [and have
revered them] as a good work and service of God, like the
Mass, etc.

Sixthly. Here belong the precious indulgences granted (but
only for money) both to the living and the dead, by which the
miserable [sacrilegious and accursed] Judas, or Pope, has sold
the merit of Christ, together with the superfluous merits of
all saints and of the entire Church, etc. All these things
[and every single one of them] are not to be borne, and are
not only without the Word of God, without necessity, not
commanded, but are against the chief article. For the merit of
Christ is [apprehended and] obtained not by our works or
pence, but from grace through faith, without money and merit;
and is offered [and presented] not through the power of the
Pope, but through the preaching of God's Word.

Of the Invocation of Saints.

The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of
Antichrist conflicting with the chief article, and destroys
the knowledge of Christ. Neither is it commanded nor
counseled, nor has it any example [or testimony] in Scripture,
and even though it were a precious thing, as it is not [while,
on the contrary, it is a most harmful thing], in Christ we
have everything a thousandfold better [and surer, so that we
are not in need of calling upon the saints].

And although the angels in heaven pray for us (as Christ
Himself also does), as also do the saints on earth, and
perhaps also in heaven, yet it does not follow thence that we
should invoke and adore the angels and saints, and fast, hold
festivals, celebrate Mass in their honor, make offerings, and
establish churches, altars, divine worship, and in still other
ways serve them, and regard them as helpers in need [as
patrons and intercessors], and divide among them all kinds of
help, and ascribe to each one a particular form of assistance,
as the Papists teach and do. For this is idolatry, and such
honor belongs alone to God. For as a Christian and saint upon
earth you can pray for me, not only in one, but in many
necessities. But for this reason I am not obliged to adore and
invoke you, and celebrate festivals, fast, make oblations,
hold masses for your honor [and worship], and put my faith in
you for my salvation. I can in other ways indeed honor, love,
and thank you in Christ. If now such idolatrous honor were
withdrawn from angels and departed saints, the remaining honor
would be without harm and would quickly be forgotten. For when
advantage and assistance, both bodily and spiritual, are no
more to be expected, the saints will not be troubled [the
worship of the saints will soon vanish], neither in their
graves nor in heaven. For without a reward or out of pure love
no one will much remember, or esteem, or honor them [bestow on
them divine honor].

In short, the Mass itself and anything that proceeds from it,
and anything that is attached to it, we cannot tolerate, but
must condemn, in order that we may retain the holy Sacrament

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