The Heidelberg Catechism


The Heidelberg Catechism was composed in Heidelberg at the request of Elector

Frederick III, who ruled the Palatinate, an influential German province, from

1559 to 1576. An old tradition credits Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus

with being coauthors of the new catechism. Both were certainly involved in its

composition, although one of them may have had primary responsibility. All we

know for sure is reported by the Elector in his preface of January 19, 1563. It

was, he writes, "with the advice and cooperation of our entire theological

faculty in this place, and of all superintendents and distinguished servants of

the church" that he secured the preparation of the Heidelberg Catechism. The

catechism was approved by a synod in Heidelberg in January 1563. A second and

third German edition, each with small additions, as well as a Latin translation

were published the same year in Heidelberg. Soon the catechism was divided into

fifty-two sections so that one Lord's Day could be explained in preaching each

Sunday of the year.


The Synod of Dort in 1618-1619 approved the Heidelberg Catechism, and it soon

became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms and confessions. The

catechism has been translated into many European, Asian, and African languages

and is the most widely used and most warmly praised catechism of the Reformation



The 1968 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church appointed a committee to prepare

"a modern and accurate translation ... which will serve as the official text of

the Heidelberg Catechism and as a guide for catechism preaching." A translation

was adopted by the Synod of 1975, and some editorial revisions were approved by

the Synod of 1988.


The English translation follows the first German edition of the catechism except

in two instances explained in footnotes to questions 57 and 80. The result of

those inclusions is that the translation therefore actually follows the German

text of the third edition as it was included in the Palatinate Church Order of

November 15, 1563. This is the "received text" used throughout the world.


Biblical passages quoted in the catechism are taken from the New International

Version. In the German editions, biblical quotations sometimes include additional

words not found in the Greek text and therefore not included in recent

translations such as the NIV. The additions from the German are indicated in

footnotes in Q & A 4, 71, and 119.






1   Q.  What is your only comfort

        in life and in death?


    A.  That I am not my own,^1

        but belong—;

          body and soul,

          in life and in death—;^2

        to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.^3


          He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,^4

          and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.^5

          He also watches over me in such a way^6

          that not a hair can fall from my head

          without the will of my Father in heaven:^7

          in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.^8


        Because I belong to him,

        Christ, by his Holy Spirit,

        assures me of eternal life^9

        and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready

        from now on to live for him.^10


    ^1  1 Cor. 6:19-20

    ^2  Rom. 14:7-9

    ^3  1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14

    ^4  1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2

    ^5  John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11

    ^6  John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5

    ^7  Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18

    ^8  Rom. 8:28

    ^9  Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14

    ^10   Rom. 8:1-17



2   Q.  What must you know

        to live and die in the joy of this comfort?


    A.  Three things:

          first, how great my sin and misery are;^1

          second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;^2

          third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.^3


    ^1  Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10

    ^2  John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43

    ^3  Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10



Part I: Human Misery




3   Q.  How do you come to know your misery?


    A.  The law of God tells me.^1


    ^1  Rom. 3:20; 7:7-25



4   Q.  What does God's law require of us?


    A.  Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22—;


          Love the Lord your God

          with all your heart

          and with all your soul

          and with all your mind

          and with all your strength.^1^*

          This is the first and greatest commandment.


          And the second is like it:

          Love your neighbor as yourself.^2


          All the Law and the Prophets hang

          on these two commandments.


    ^1  Deut. 6:5

    ^2  Lev. 19:18

    *Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 22 omit the words "and with all

your strength." They are found in Mark 12:30.



5   Q.  Can you live up to all this perfectly?


    A.  No.^1

        I have a natural tendency

        to hate God and my neighbor.^2


    ^1  Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10

    ^2  Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3





6   Q.  Did God create people

        so wicked and perverse?


    A.  No.

        God created them good^1 and in his own image,^2

          that is, in true righteousness and holiness,^3

        so that they might

          truly know God their creator,^4

          love him with all their heart,

          and live with him in eternal happiness

        for his praise and glory.^5


    ^1  Gen. 1:31

    ^2  Gen. 1:26-27

    ^3  Eph. 4:24

    ^4  Col. 3:10

    ^5  Ps. 8



7   Q.  Then where does this corrupt human nature

        come from?


    A.  From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,

          Adam and Eve, in Paradise.^1

        This fall has so poisoned our nature^2

          that we are born sinners—;

          corrupt from conception on.^3


    ^1  Gen. 3

    ^2  Rom. 5:12, 18-19

    ^3  Ps. 51:5



8   Q.  But are we so corrupt

        that we are totally unable to do any good

        and inclined toward all evil?


    A.  Yes,^1 unless we are born again,

        by the Spirit of God.^2


    ^1  Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:6

    ^2  John 3:3-5





9   Q.  But doesn't God do us an injustice

        by requiring in his law

        what we are unable to do?


    A.  No, God created humans with the ability to keep the law.^1

        They, however, tempted by the devil,^2

          in reckless disobedience,^3

          robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.^4


    ^1  Gen. 1:31; Eph. 4:24

    ^2  Gen. 3:13; John 8:44

    ^3  Gen. 3:6

    ^4  Rom. 5:12, 18, 19



10  Q.  Will God permit

        such disobedience and rebellion

        to go unpunished?


    A.  Certainly not.

        He is terribly angry

          about the sin we are born with

          as well as the sins we personally commit.


        As a just judge

        he punishes them now and in eternity.^1


        He has declared:

          "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do

          everything written in the Book of the Law.\9^2


    ^1  Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:27

    ^2  Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26



11  Q.  But isn't God also merciful?


    A.  God is certainly merciful,^1

        but he is also just.^2

        His justice demands

          that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,

          be punished with the supreme penalty—;

          eternal punishment of body and soul.^3


    ^1  Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 103:8-9

    ^2  Ex. 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30-31

    ^3  Matt. 25:35-46



Part II: Deliverance




12  Q.  According to God's righteous judgment

        we deserve punishment

        both in this world and forever after:

        how then can we escape this punishment

        and return to God's favor?


    A.  God requires that his justice be satisfied.^1

        Therefore the claims of his justice

        must be paid in full,

        either by ourselves or another.^2


    ^1  Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11

    ^2  Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3-4



13  Q.  Can we pay this debt ourselves?


    A.  Certainly not.

        Actually, we increase our guilt every day.^1


    ^1  Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4-5



14  Q.  Can another creature—;any at all—;

        pay this debt for us?


    A.  No.

        To begin with,

          God will not punish another creature

          for what a human is guilty of.^1


          no mere creature can bear the weight

          of God's eternal anger against sin

          and release others from it.^2


    ^1  Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18

    ^2  Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3



15  Q.  What kind of mediator and deliverer

        should we look for then?


    A.  One who is truly human^1 and truly righteous,^2

          yet more powerful than all creatures,

          that is, one who is also true God.^3


    ^1  Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17

    ^2  Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26

    ^3  Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1





16  Q.  Why must he be truly human

        and truly righteous?


    A.  God's justice demands

          that human nature, which has sinned,

          must pay for its sin;^1

          but a sinner could never pay for others.^2


    ^1  Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16

    ^2  Heb. 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:18



17  Q.  Why must he also be true God?


    A.  So that,

          by the power of his divinity,

        he might bear the weight of God's anger in his humanity

          and earn for us

          and restore to us

        righteousness and life.^1


    ^1  Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21



18  Q.  And who is this mediator—;

        true God and at the same time

        truly human and truly righteous?


    A.  Our Lord Jesus Christ,^1

          who was given us

          to set us completely free

          and to make us right with God.^2


    ^1  Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5

    ^2  1 Cor. 1:30



19  Q.  How do you come to know this?


    A.  The holy gospel tells me.

          God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;^1

          later, he proclaimed it

            by the holy patriarchs^2 and prophets,^3

          and portrayed it

            by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;^4

          finally, he fulfilled it

            through his own dear Son.^5


    ^1  Gen. 3:15

    ^2  Gen. 22:18; 49:10

    ^3  Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1-2

    ^4  Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10

    ^5  Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 2:17




20  Q.  Are all saved through Christ

        just as all were lost through Adam?


    A.  No.

        Only those are saved

        who by true faith

          are grafted into Christ

          and accept all his blessings.^1


    ^1  Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21



21  Q.  What is true faith?


    A.  True faith is

          not only a knowledge and conviction

            that everything God reveals in his Word is true;^1

        it is also a deep-rooted assurance,^2

          created in me by the Holy Spirit^3 through the gospel,^4

          that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,^5

            not only others, but I too,^6

              have had my sins forgiven,

              have been made forever right with God,

              and have been granted salvation.^7


    ^1  John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19

    ^2  Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16

    ^3  Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14

    ^4  Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21

    ^5  Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10

    ^6  Gal. 2:20

    ^7  Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10


22  Q.  What then must a Christian believe?


    A.  Everything God promises us in the gospel.^1

          That gospel is summarized for us

          in the articles of our Christian faith—;

          a creed beyond doubt,

          and confessed throughout the world.

    ^1  Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30-31



23  Q.  What are these articles?


    A.  I believe in God, the Father almighty,

          creator of heaven and earth.


        I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

          who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

          and born of the virgin Mary.

          He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

          was crucified, died, and was buried;

          he descended to hell.

          The third day he rose again from the dead.

          He ascended to heaven

          and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

          From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.


        I believe in the Holy Spirit,

          the holy catholic church,

          the communion of saints,

          the forgiveness of sins,

          the resurrection of the body,

          and the life everlasting. Amen.





24  Q.  How are these articles divided?


    A.  Into three parts:

          God the Father and our creation;

          God the Son and our deliverance;

          God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.



25  Q.  Since there is but one God,^1

        why do you speak of three:

        Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?


    A.  Because that is how

          God has revealed himself in his Word:^2

          these three distinct persons

          are one, true, eternal God.


    ^1  Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6

    ^2  Matt. 3:16-17; 28:18-19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Cor.


        Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5-6



God the Father




26  Q.  What do you believe when you say,

        "I believe in God, the Father almighty,

        creator of heaven and earth"?


    A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          who out of nothing created heaven and earth

            and everything in them,^1

          who still upholds and rules them

            by his eternal counsel and providence,^2

        is my God and Father

          because of Christ his Son.^3


        I trust him so much that I do not doubt

          he will provide

            whatever I need

            for body and soul,^4

          and he will turn to my good

            whatever adversity he sends me

            in this sad world.^5


        He is able to do this because he is almighty God;^6

        he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.^7


    ^1  Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15

    ^2  Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11

    ^3  John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5

    ^4  Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25-26; Luke 12:22-31

    ^5  Rom. 8:28

    ^6  Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39

    ^7  Matt. 7:9-11





27  Q.  What do you understand

        by the providence of God?


    A.  Providence is

          the almighty and ever present power of God^1

          by which he upholds, as with his hand,


            and earth

            and all creatures,^2

          and so rules them that

            leaf and blade,

            rain and drought,

            fruitful and lean years,

            food and drink,

            health and sickness,

            prosperity and poverty—;^3

            all things, in fact, come to us

              not by chance^4

              but from his fatherly hand.^5


    ^1  Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28

    ^2  Heb. 1:3

    ^3  Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2

    ^4  Prov. 16:33

    ^5  Matt. 10:29



28  Q.  How does the knowledge

        of God's creation and providence

        help us?


    A.  We can be patient when things go against us,^1

          thankful when things go well,^2

          and for the future we can have

          good confidence in our faithful God and Father

          that nothing will separate us from his love.^3

          All creatures are so completely in his hand

            that without his will

            they can neither move nor be moved.^4


    ^1  Job 1:21-22; James 1:3

    ^2  Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18

    ^3  Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39

    ^4  Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28



God the Son




29  Q.  Why is the Son of God called "Jesus,"

        meaning "savior"?


    A.  Because he saves us from our sins.^1

          Salvation cannot be found in anyone else;

          it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.^2


    ^1  Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25

    ^2  Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:5



30  Q.  Do those who look for

        their salvation and security

        in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere

        really believe in the only savior Jesus?


    A.  No.

        Although they boast of being his,

        by their deeds they deny

        the only savior and deliverer, Jesus.^1


        Either Jesus is not a perfect savior,

        or those who in true faith accept this savior

        have in him all they need for their salvation.^2


    ^1  1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal. 5:4

    ^2  Col. 1:19-20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7





31  Q.  Why is he called "Christ,"

        meaning "anointed"?


    A.  Because he has been ordained by God the Father

        and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit^1

          to be

          our chief prophet and teacher^2

            who perfectly reveals to us

            the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;^3

          our only high priest^4

            who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,^5

            and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;^6

          and our eternal king^7

            who governs us by his Word and Spirit,

            and who guards us and keeps us

            in the freedom he has won for us.^8


    ^1  Luke 3:21-22; 4:14-19 (Isa. 61:1); Heb. 1:9 (Ps. 45:7)

    ^2  Acts 3:22 (Deut. 18:15)

    ^3  John 1:18; 15:15

    ^4  Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4)

    ^5  Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14

    ^6  Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24

    ^7  Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9)

    ^8  Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10-11



32  Q.  But why are you called a Christian?


    A.  Because by faith I am a member of Christ^1

        and so I share in his anointing.^2

          I am anointed

          to confess his name,^3

          to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,^4

          to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil

            in this life,^5

          and afterward to reign with Christ

            over all creation

            for all eternity.^6


    ^1  1 Cor. 12:12-27

    ^2  Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27

    ^3  Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 13:15

    ^4  Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9

    ^5  Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18-19

    ^6  Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12





33  Q.  Why is he called God's "only Son"

        when we also are God's children?


    A.  Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.^1

        We, however, are adopted children of God—;

          adopted by grace through Christ.^2


    ^1  John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Heb. 1

    ^2  John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Eph. 1:5-6



34  Q.  Why do you call him "our Lord"?


    A.  Because—;

          not with gold or silver,

          but with his precious blood—;^1

        he has set us free

          from sin and from the tyranny of the devil,^2

        and has bought us,

          body and soul,

        to be his very own.^3


    ^1  1 Pet. 1:18-19

    ^2  Col. 1:13-14; Heb. 2:14-15

    ^3  1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:5-6





35  Q.  What does it mean that he

        "was conceived by the Holy Spirit

        and born of the virgin Mary"?



    A.  That the eternal Son of God,

          who is and remains

          true and eternal God,^1

        took to himself,

          through the working of the Holy Spirit,^2

          from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,^3

        a truly human nature

          so that he might become David's true descendant,^4

          like his brothers in every way^5

            except for sin.^6


    ^1  John 1:1; 10:30-36; Acts 13:33 (Ps. 2:7); Col. 1:15-17; 1 John 5:20

    ^2  Luke 1:35

    ^3  Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14

    ^4  2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3

    ^5  Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:17

    ^6  Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27



36  Q.  How does the holy conception and birth of Christ

        benefit you?


    A.  He is our mediator,^1

        and with his innocence and perfect holiness

        he removes from God's sight

        my sin—;mine since I was conceived.^2


    ^1  1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:13-15

    ^2  Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19





37  Q.  What do you understand

        by the word "suffered"?


    A.  That during his whole life on earth,

        but especially at the end,

        Christ sustained

          in body and soul

          the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race.^1


        This he did in order that,

          by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice,^2

          he might set us free, body and soul,

            from eternal condemnation,^3

          and gain for us

            God's grace,


            and eternal life.^4


    ^1  Isa. 53; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18

    ^2  Rom. 3:25; Heb. 10:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10

    ^3  Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13

    ^4  John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26



38  Q.  Why did he suffer

        "under Pontius Pilate" as judge?


    A.  So that he,

          though innocent,

        might be condemned by a civil judge,^1

        and so free us from the severe judgment of God

          that was to fall on us.^2


    ^1  Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16

    ^2  Isa. 53:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13



39  Q.  Is it significant

        that he was "crucified"

        instead of dying some other way?


    A.  Yes.

        This death convinces me

        that he shouldered the curse

        which lay on me,

        since death by crucifixion was accursed by God.^1


    ^1  Gal. 3:10-13 (Deut. 21:23)





40  Q.  Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?


    A.  Because God's justice and truth demand it:^1

        only the death of God's Son could pay for our sin.^2


    ^1  Gen. 2:17

    ^2  Rom. 8:3-4; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:9



41  Q.  Why was he "buried"?


    A.  His burial testifies

        that he really died.^1


    ^1  Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3-4



42  Q.  Since Christ has died for us,

        why do we still have to die?


    A.  Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.^1

        Rather, it puts an end to our sinning

        and is our entrance into eternal life.^2


    ^1  Ps. 49:7

    ^2  John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9-10



43  Q.  What further advantage do we receive

        from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?

    A.  Through Christ's death

        our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him,^1

        so that the evil desires of the flesh

          may no longer rule us,^2

        but that instead we may dedicate ourselves

          as an offering of gratitude to him.^3


    ^1  Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11-12

    ^2  Rom. 6:12-14

    ^3  Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1-2



44  Q.  Why does the creed add,

        "He descended to hell"?


    A.  To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation

        that Christ my Lord,

          by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul,

            especially on the cross but also earlier,

        has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.^1


    ^1  Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10





45  Q.  How does Christ's resurrection

        benefit us?


    A.  First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,

          so that he might make us share in the righteousness

          he won for us by his death.^1


        Second, by his power we too

          are already now resurrected to a new life.^2


        Third, Christ's resurrection

          is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.^3


    ^1  Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16-20; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

    ^2  Rom. 6:5-11; Eph. 2:4-6; Col. 3:1-4

    ^3  Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12-23; Phil. 3:20-21





46  Q.  What do you mean by saying,

        "He ascended to heaven"?


    A.  That Christ,

          while his disciples watched,

        was lifted up from the earth to heaven^1

        and will be there for our good^2

        until he comes again

          to judge the living and the dead.^3


    ^1  Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11

    ^2  Rom. 8:34; Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 7:23-25; 9:24

    ^3  Acts 1:11



47  Q.  But isn't Christ with us

        until the end of the world

        as he promised us?^1


    A.  Christ is truly human and truly God.

          In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;^2

          but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit

          he is not absent from us for a moment.^3


    ^1  Matt. 28:20

    ^2  Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21

    ^3  Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:16-19



48  Q.  If his humanity is not present

        wherever his divinity is,

        then aren't the two natures of Christ

        separated from each other?


    A.  Certainly not.

        Since divinity

          is not limited

          and is present everywhere,^1

        it is evident that

          Christ's divinity is surely beyond the bounds of

            the humanity he has taken on,

          but at the same time his divinity is in

          and remains personally united to

            his humanity.^2


    ^1  Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 7:48-49 (Isa. 66:1)

    ^2  John 1:14; 3:13; Col. 2:9



49  Q.  How does Christ's ascension to heaven

        benefit us?


    A.  First, he pleads our cause

          in heaven

          in the presence of his Father.^1


        Second, we have our own flesh in heaven—;

          a guarantee that Christ our head

          will take us, his members,

          to himself in heaven.^2


        Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth

          as a further guarantee.^3

          By the Spirit's power

            we make the goal of our lives,

              not earthly things,

            but the things above where Christ is,

              sitting at God's right hand.^4


    ^1  Rom. 8:34; 1 John 2:1

    ^2  John 14:2; 17:24; Eph. 2:4-6

    ^3  John 14:16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5

    ^4  Col. 3:1-4





50  Q.  Why the next words:

        "and is seated at the right hand of God"?


    A.  Christ ascended to heaven,

        there to show that he is head of his church,^1

          and that the Father rules all things through him.^2


    ^1  Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18

    ^2  Matt. 28:18; John 5:22-23



51  Q.  How does this glory of Christ our head

        benefit us?


    A.  First, through his Holy Spirit

          he pours out his gifts from heaven

            upon us his members.^1


        Second, by his power

          he defends us and keeps us safe

            from all enemies.^2


    ^1  Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12

    ^2  Ps. 110:1-2; John 10:27-30; Rev. 19:11-16



52  Q.  How does Christ's return

        "to judge the living and the dead"

        comfort you?


    A.  In all my distress and persecution

        I turn my eyes to the heavens

        and confidently await as judge the very One

          who has already stood trial in my place before God

          and so has removed the whole curse from me.^1

        All his enemies and mine

          he will condemn to everlasting punishment:

        but me and all his chosen ones

          he will take along with him

          into the joy and the glory of heaven.^2


    ^1  Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:22-25; Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13-14

    ^2  Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10



God the Holy Spirit




53  Q.  What do you believe

        concerning "the Holy Spirit"?


    A.  First, he, as well as the Father and the Son,

          is eternal God.^1


        Second, he has been given to me personally,^2

          so that, by true faith,

          he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,^3

          comforts me,^4

          and remains with me forever.^5


    ^1  Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4

    ^2  1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6

    ^3  Gal. 3:14

    ^4  John 15:26; Acts 9:31

    ^5  John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14





54  Q.  What do you believe

        concerning "the holy catholic church"?


    A.  I believe that the Son of God

          through his Spirit and Word,^1

          out of the entire human race,^2

          from the beginning of the world to its end,^3

        gathers, protects, and preserves for himself

          a community chosen for eternal life^4

            and united in true faith.^5

        And of this community I am^6 and always will be^7

          a living member.


    ^1  John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18

    ^2  Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9

    ^3  Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26

    ^4  Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14

    ^5  Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6

    ^6  1 John 3:14, 19-21

    ^7  John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5



55  Q.  What do you understand by

        "the communion of saints"?


    A.  First, that believers one and all,

        as members of this community,

        share in Christ

        and in all his treasures and gifts.^1


        Second, that each member

        should consider it a duty

        to use these gifts

          readily and cheerfully

          for the service and enrichment

            of the other members.^2


    ^1  Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3

    ^2  Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8



56  Q.  What do you believe

        concerning "the forgiveness of sins"?


    A.  I believe that God,

          because of Christ's atonement,

        will never hold against me

          any of my sins^1

          nor my sinful nature

            which I need to struggle against all my life.^2


        Rather, in his grace

          God grants me the righteousness of Christ

          to free me forever from judgment.^3


    ^1  Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2

    ^2  Rom. 7:21-25

    ^3  John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2





57  Q.  How does "the resurrection of the body"

        comfort you?


    A.  Not only my soul

          will be taken immediately after this life

          to Christ its head,^1

        but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,

          will be reunited with my soul

          and made like Christ's glorious* body.^2


    ^1  Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23

    ^2  1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2



58  Q.  How does the article

        concerning "life everlasting"

        comfort you?


    A.  Even as I already now

          experience in my heart

          the beginning of eternal joy,^1

        so after this life I will have

          perfect blessedness such as

            no eye has seen,

            no ear has heard,

            no human heart has ever imagined:

        a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.^2


    ^1  Rom. 14:17

    ^2  John 17:3; 1 Cor. 2:9

         *The first edition had here the German word for "holy." This was later

corrected to the German word for "glorious."





59  Q.  What good does it do you, however,

        to believe all this?


    A.  In Christ I am right with God

        and heir to life everlasting.^1


    ^1  John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2



60  Q.  How are you right with God?


    A.  Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.^1


        Even though my conscience accuses me

          of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments

          and of never having kept any of them,^2

        and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,^3


          without my deserving it at all,^4

          out of sheer grace,^5

        God grants and credits to me

        the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,^6

          as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,

          as if I had been as perfectly obedient

            as Christ was obedient for me.^7


        All I need to do

        is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.^8


    ^1  Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11

    ^2  Rom. 3:9-10

    ^3  Rom. 7:23

    ^4  Tit. 3:4-5

    ^5  Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8

    ^6  Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2

    ^7  Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21

    ^8  John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31



61  Q.  Why do you say that

        by faith alone

        you are right with God?


    A.  It is not because of any value my faith has

          that God is pleased with me.

        Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness

          make me right with God.^1

        And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine

          in no other way than

          by faith alone.^2


    ^1  1 Cor. 1:30-31

    ^2  Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12





62  Q.  Why can't the good we do

        make us right with God,

        or at least help make us right with him?


    A.  Because the righteousness

        which can pass God's scrutiny

          must be entirely perfect

          and must in every way measure up to the divine law.^1

        Even the very best we do in this life

          is imperfect

          and stained with sin.^2


    ^1  Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26)

    ^2  Isa. 64:6



63  Q.  How can you say that the good we do

        doesn't earn anything

        when God promises to reward it

        in this life and the next?^1


    A.  This reward is not earned;

        it is a gift of grace.^2


    ^1  Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6

    ^2  Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8



64  Q.  But doesn't this teaching

        make people indifferent and wicked?

    A.  No.

        It is impossible

          for those grafted into Christ by true faith

        not to produce fruits of gratitude.^1


    ^1  Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5



The Sacraments




65  Q.  It is by faith alone

        that we share in Christ and all his blessings:

        where then does that faith come from?


    A.  The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts^1

          by the preaching of the holy gospel,^2

        and confirms it

          through our use of the holy sacraments.^3


    ^1  John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8

    ^2  Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25

    ^3  Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16



66  Q.  What are sacraments?


    A.  Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see.

        They were instituted by God so that

          by our use of them

        he might make us understand more clearly

           the promise of the gospel,

        and might put his seal on that promise.^1


        And this is God's gospel promise:

          to forgive our sins and give us eternal life

            by grace alone

            because of Christ's one sacrifice

            finished on the cross.^2


    ^1  Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11

    ^2  Matt. 26:27-28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10



67  Q.  Are both the word and the sacraments then

        intended to focus our faith

        on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross

        as the only ground of our salvation?


    A.  Right!


        In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us

        and through the holy sacraments he assures us

          that our entire salvation

          rests on Christ's one sacrifice for us on the cross.^1


    ^1  Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 3:27



68  Q.  How many sacraments

        did Christ institute in the New Testament?


    A.  Two: baptism and the Lord's Supper.^1


    ^1  Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26







69  Q.  How does baptism

        remind you and assure you

        that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross

        is for you personally?


    A.  In this way:

        Christ instituted this outward washing^1

        and with it gave the promise that,

          as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body,

          so certainly his blood and his Spirit

          wash away my soul's impurity,

            in other words, all my sins.^2


    ^1  Acts 2:38

    ^2  Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21



70  Q.  What does it mean

        to be washed with Christ's blood and Spirit?


    A.  To be washed with Christ's blood means

          that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins

            because of Christ's blood

            poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.^1


        To be washed with Christ's Spirit means

          that the Holy Spirit has renewed me

          and set me apart to be a member of Christ

            so that more and more I become dead to sin

            and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.^2


    ^1  Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5

    ^2  Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12



71  Q.  Where does Christ promise

        that we are washed with his blood and Spirit

        as surely as we are washed

        with the water of baptism?


    A.  In the institution of baptism where he says:


          "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,

          baptizing them in the name of the Father

          and of the Son

          and of the Holy Spirit."^1


          "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

          but whoever does not believe will be condemned."^2*


          This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism

            the washing of rebirth^3 and

            the washing away of sins.^4


    ^1  Matt. 28:19

    ^2  Mark 16:16

    ^3  Tit. 3:5

    ^4  Acts 22:16

    *Earlier and better manuscripts of Mark 16 omit the words "Whoever believes

and is baptized . . . condemned."






72  Q.  Does this outward washing with water

        itself wash away sins?


    A.  No, only Jesus Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit

        cleanse us from all sins.^1


    ^1  Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7



73  Q.  Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism

        the washing of rebirth and

        the washing away of sins?


    A.  God has good reason for these words.

        He wants to teach us that

          the blood and Spirit of Christ wash away our sins

          just as water washes away dirt from our bodies.^1


        But more important,

        he wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign,

          that the washing away of our sins spiritually

          is as real as physical washing with water.^2


    ^1  1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14

    ^2  Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27


74  Q.  Should infants, too, be baptized?


    A.  Yes.

        Infants as well as adults

          are in God's covenant and are his people.^1

        They, no less than adults, are promised

          the forgiveness of sin through Christ's blood

          and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.^2


        Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant,

          infants should be received into the Christian church

          and should be distinguished from the children

            of unbelievers.^3

        This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,^4

          which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.^5


    ^1  Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14

    ^2  Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31

    ^3  Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 7:14

    ^4  Gen. 17:9-14

    ^5  Col. 2:11-13



The Lord's Supper




75  Q.  How does the Lord's Supper

        remind you and assure you

        that you share in

        Christ's one sacrifice on the cross

        and in all his gifts?


    A.  In this way:

        Christ has commanded me and all believers

        to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup.

        With this command he gave this promise:^1



          as surely as I see with my eyes

            the bread of the Lord broken for me

            and the cup given to me,

          so surely

            his body was offered and broken for me

            and his blood poured out for me

              on the cross.



          as surely as

            I receive from the hand of the one who serves,

            and taste with my mouth

              the bread and cup of the Lord,

              given me as sure signs of Christ's body and blood,

          so surely

            he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life

          with his crucified body and poured-out blood.


    ^1  Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25



76  Q.  What does it mean

        to eat the crucified body of Christ

        and to drink his poured-out blood?


    A.  It means

          to accept with a believing heart

            the entire suffering and death of Christ

          and by believing

            to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.^1


        But it means more.

          Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us,

          we are united more and more to Christ's blessed body.^2

            And so, although he is in heaven^3 and we are on earth,

            we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.^4

            And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,

              as members of our body are by one soul.^5


    ^1  John 6:35, 40, 50-54

    ^2  John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13

    ^3  Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1

    ^4  1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13

    ^5  John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24



77  Q.  Where does Christ promise

        to nourish and refresh believers

        with his body and blood

        as surely as

        they eat this broken bread

        and drink this cup?


    A.  In the institution of the Lord's Supper:


          "The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed,

          took bread, and when he had given thanks,

          he broke it and said,

            'This is my body, which is for you;

            do this in remembrance of me.'

          In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying,

            'This cup is the new covenant in my blood;

            do this, whenever you drink it,

            in remembrance of me.'

          For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup,

          you proclaim the Lord's death

          until he comes."^1


        This promise is repeated by Paul in these words:


          "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks

            a participation in the blood of Christ?

          And is not the bread that we break

            a participation in the body of Christ?

          Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body,

          for we all partake of the one loaf."^2


    ^1  1 Cor. 11:23-26

    ^2  1 Cor. 10:16-17





78  Q.  Are the bread and wine changed into

        the real body and blood of Christ?


    A.  No.

        Just as the water of baptism

          is not changed into Christ's blood

          and does not itself wash away sins

          but is simply God's sign and assurance,^1

        so too the bread of the Lord's Supper

          is not changed into the actual body of Christ^2

          even though it is called the body of Christ^3

            in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.^4


    ^1  Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5

    ^2  Matt. 26:26-29

    ^3  1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26-28

    ^4  Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 12:11, 13; 1 Cor. 10:1-4



79  Q.  Why then does Christ call

        the bread his body

        and the cup his blood,

        or the new covenant in his blood?

        (Paul uses the words,

        a participation in Christ's body and blood.)


    A.  Christ has good reason for these words.

        He wants to teach us that

          as bread and wine nourish our temporal life,

          so too his crucified body and poured-out blood

          truly nourish our souls for eternal life.^1


        But more important,

        he wants to assure us, by this visible sign and pledge,

          that we, through the Holy Spirit's work,

            share in his true body and blood

            as surely as our mouths

            receive these holy signs in his remembrance,^2

          and that all of his suffering and obedience

            are as definitely ours

            as if we personally

            had suffered and paid for our sins.^3


    ^1  John 6:51, 55

    ^2  1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:26

    ^3  Rom. 6:5-11





*80 Q.  How does the Lord's Supper

        differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?


    A.  The Lord's Supper declares to us

          that our sins have been completely forgiven

          through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ

          which he himself finished on the cross once for all.^1

        It also declares to us

          that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,^2

          who with his very body

          is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father^3

          where he wants us to worship him.^4


        But the Mass teaches

          that the living and the dead

          do not have their sins forgiven

          through the suffering of Christ

          unless Christ is still offered for them daily by the priests.

        It also teaches

          that Christ is bodily present

          in the form of bread and wine

          where Christ is therefore to be worshiped.

        Thus the Mass is basically

          nothing but a denial

          of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ

          and a condemnable idolatry.


    ^1  John 19:30; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 25-26; 10:10-18

    ^2  1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16-17

    ^3  Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 8:1

    ^4  Matt. 6:20-21; John 4:21-24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-3

    *Question and answer 80 were altogether absent from the first edition of the

catechism but were present in a shorter form in the second edition. The

translation here given is of the expanded text of the third edition.



81  Q.  Who are to come

        to the Lord's table?


    A.  Those who are displeased with themselves

          because of their sins,

        but who nevertheless trust

          that their sins are pardoned

          and that their continuing weakness is covered

            by the suffering and death of Christ,

        and who also desire more and more

          to strengthen their faith

          and to lead a better life.


        Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however,

        eat and drink judgment on themselves.^1


    ^1  1 Cor. 10:19-22; 11:26-32



82  Q.  Are those to be admitted

        to the Lord's Supper

        who show by what they say and do

        that they are unbelieving and ungodly?


    A.  No, that would dishonor God's covenant

        and bring down God's anger upon the entire congregation.^1

        Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ

            and his apostles,

          the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people,

            by the official use of the keys of the kingdom,

          until they reform their lives.


    ^1  1 Cor. 11:17-32; Ps. 50:14-16; Isa. 1:11-17





83  Q.  What are the keys of the kingdom?


    A.  The preaching of the holy gospel

        and Christian discipline toward repentance.

        Both preaching and discipline

          open the kingdom of heaven to believers

          and close it to unbelievers.^1


    ^1  Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23



84  Q.  How does preaching the gospel

        open and close the kingdom of heaven?


    A.  According to the command of Christ:


        The kingdom of heaven is opened

        by proclaiming and publicly declaring

          to all believers, each and every one, that,

          as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith,

          God, because of what Christ has done,

          truly forgives all their sins.


        The kingdom of heaven is closed, however,

        by proclaiming and publicly declaring

          to unbelievers and hypocrites that,

          as long as they do not repent,

          the anger of God and eternal condemnation

          rest on them.


        God's judgment, both in this life and in the life to come,

          is based on this gospel testimony.^1


    ^1  Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23



85  Q.  How is the kingdom of heaven

        closed and opened by Christian discipline?


    A.  According to the command of Christ:


          Those who, though called Christians,

            profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives,

          and after repeated and loving counsel

            refuse to abandon their errors and wickedness,

          and after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers,

            fail to respond also to their admonition—;

          such persons the officers exclude

              from the Christian fellowship

            by withholding the sacraments from them,

          and God himself excludes them from the kingdom of Christ.^1


          Such persons,

            when promising and demonstrating genuine reform,

          are received again

            as members of Christ

            and of his church.^2


    ^1  Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15

    ^2  Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11



Part III: Gratitude





86  Q.  We have been delivered

        from our misery

        by God's grace alone through Christ

        and not because we have earned it:

        why then must we still do good?


    A.  To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood.

        But we do good because

          Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself,

          so that in all our living

          we may show that we are thankful to God

            for all he has done for us,^1

          and so that he may be praised through us.^2


        And we do good

          so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,^3

          and so that by our godly living

            our neighbors may be won over to Christ.^4


    ^1  Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10

    ^2  Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20

    ^3  Matt. 7:17-18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10-11

    ^4  Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1-2



87  Q.  Can those be saved

        who do not turn to God

        from their ungrateful

        and impenitent ways?


    A.  By no means.

        Scripture tells us that

          no unchaste person,

          no idolater, adulterer, thief,

          no covetous person,

          no drunkard, slanderer, robber,

          or the like

          is going to inherit the kingdom of God.^1


    ^1  1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14





88  Q.  What is involved

        in genuine repentance or conversion?


    A.  Two things:

          the dying-away of the old self,

          and the coming-to-life of the new.^1


    ^1  Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10



89  Q.  What is the dying-away of the old self?


    A.  It is to be genuinely sorry for sin,

        to hate it more and more,

        and to run away from it.^1


    ^1  Ps. 51:3-4, 17; Joel 2:12-13; Rom. 8:12-13; 2 Cor. 7:10



90  Q.  What is the coming-to-life of the new self?


    A.  It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ^1

        and a delight to do every kind of good

          as God wants us to.^2


    ^1  Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa.57:15; Rom. 5:1; 14:17

    ^2  Rom. 6:10-11; Gal. 2:20



91  Q.  What do we do that is good?


    A.  Only that which

          arises out of true faith,^1

          conforms to God's law,^2

          and is done for his glory;^3

        and not that which is based

          on what we think is right

          or on established human tradition.^4


    ^1  John 15:5; Heb. 11:6

    ^2  Lev. 18:4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10

    ^3  1 Cor. 10:31

    ^4  Deut. 12:32; Isa. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18-19; Matt. 15:7-9





92  Q.  What does the Lord say in his law?


    A.  God spoke all these words:


            "The First Commandment"

        I am the Lord your God,

          who brought you out of Egypt,

          out of the land of slavery.

        You shall have no other gods before me.


            "The Second Commandment"

        You shall not make for yourself an idol

          in the form of anything in heaven above

          or on the earth beneath

          or in the waters below.

        You shall not bow down to them or worship them;

          for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

          punishing the children for the sin of the fathers

            to the third and fourth generation

            of those who hate me,

          but showing love to a thousand generations of those

            who love me and keep my commandments.


            "The Third Commandment"

        You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,

          for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless

          who misuses his name.


            "The Fourth Commandment"

        Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

        Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

        but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.

        On it you shall not do any work,

          neither you, nor your son or daughter,

          nor your manservant or maidservant,

          nor your animals,

          nor the alien within your gates.

        For in six days the Lord made

          the heavens and the earth, the sea,

          and all that is in them,

        but he rested on the seventh day.

        Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day

        and made it holy.


            "The Fifth Commandment"

        Honor your father and your mother,

          so that you may live long

          in the land the Lord your God is giving you.


            "The Sixth Commandment"

        You shall not murder.


            "The Seventh Commandment"

        You shall not commit adultery.


            "The Eighth Commandment"

        You shall not steal.


            "The Ninth Commandment"

        You shall not give false testimony

          against your neighbor.


            "The Tenth Commandment"

        You shall not covet your neighbor's house.

        You shall not covet your neighbor's wife,

          or his manservant or maidservant,

          his ox or donkey,

          or anything that belongs to your neighbor.^1


    ^1  Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21



93  Q.  How are these commandments divided?


    A.  Into two tables.

        The first has four commandments,

          teaching us what our relation to God should be.

        The second has six commandments,

          teaching us what we owe our neighbor.^1


    ^1  Matt. 22:37-39


94  Q.  What does the Lord require

        in the first commandment?


    A.  That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation,

        avoid and shun

          all idolatry,^1 magic, superstitious rites,^2

          and prayer to saints or to other creatures.^3


        That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God,^4

          trust him alone,^5

          look to him for every good thing^6

            humbly^7 and patiently,^8

          love him,^9 fear him,^10 and honor him^11

            with all my heart.


        In short,

          that I give up anything

          rather than go against his will in any way.^12


    ^1  1 Cor. 6:9-10; 10:5-14; 1 John 5:21

    ^2  Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-12

    ^3  Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9

    ^4  John 17:3

    ^5  Jer. 17:5, 7

    ^6  Ps. 104:27-28; James 1:17

    ^7  1 Pet. 5:5-6

    ^8  Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36

    ^9  Matt. 22:37 (Deut. 6:5)

    ^10   Prov. 9:10; 1 Pet. 1:17

    ^11   Matt. 4:10 (Deut. 6:13)

    ^12   Matt. 5:29-30; 10:37-39



95  Q.  What is idolatry?


    A.  Idolatry is

          having or inventing something in which one trusts

          in place of or alongside of the only true God,

            who has revealed himself in his Word.^1


    ^1  1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8-9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19





96  Q.  What is God's will for us

        in the second commandment?


    A.  That we in no way make any image of God^1

        nor worship him in any other way

          than he has commanded in his Word.^2


    ^1  Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:22-23

    ^2  Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22-23; John 4:23-24


97  Q.  May we then not make

        any image at all?


    A.  God can not and may not

        be visibly portrayed in any way.


        Although creatures may be portrayed,

        yet God forbids making or having such images

          if one's intention is to worship them

          or to serve God through them.^1


    ^1  Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5



98  Q.  But may not images be permitted in the churches

        as teaching aids for the unlearned?


    A.  No, we shouldn't try to be wiser than God.

        He wants his people instructed

          by the living preaching of his Word—;^1

          not by idols that cannot even talk.^2


    ^1  Rom. 10:14-15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19

    ^2  Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20





99  Q.  What is God's will for us

        in the third commandment?


    A.  That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God

          by cursing,^1 perjury,^2 or unnecessary oaths,^3

        nor share in such horrible sins

          by being silent bystanders.^4


        In a word, it requires

          that we use the holy name of God

            only with reverence and awe,^5

          so that we may properly

            confess him,^6

            pray to him,^7

            and praise him in everything we do and say.^8


    ^1  Lev. 24:10-17

    ^2  Lev. 19:12

    ^3  Matt. 5:37; James 5:12

    ^4  Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24

    ^5  Ps. 99:1-5; Jer. 4:2

    ^6  Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10

    ^7  Ps. 50:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8

    ^8  Col. 3:17


100 Q.  Is blasphemy of God's name by swearing and cursing

        really such serious sin

        that God is angry also with those

        who do not do all they can

        to help prevent it and forbid it?


    A.  Yes, indeed.^1

          No sin is greater,

          no sin makes God more angry

          than blaspheming his name.

        That is why he commanded the death penalty for it.^2


    ^1  Lev. 5:1

    ^2  Lev. 24:10-17





101 Q.  But may we swear an oath in God's name

        if we do it reverently?


    A.  Yes, when the government demands it,

        or when necessity requires it,

          in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness

          for God's glory and our neighbor's good.


        Such oaths are approved in God's Word^1

        and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.^2


    ^1  Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Jer. 4:1-2; Heb. 6:16

    ^2  Gen. 21:24; Josh. 9:15; 1 Kings 1:29-30; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23



102 Q.  May we swear by saints or other creatures?


    A.  No.

        A legitimate oath means calling upon God

        as the one who knows my heart

          to witness to my truthfulness

          and to punish me if I swear falsely.^1

        No creature is worthy of such honor.^2


    ^1  Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:23

    ^2  Matt. 5:34-37; 23:16-22; James 5:12





103 Q.  What is God's will for you

        in the fourth commandment?


    A.  First,

          that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,^1

          and that, especially on the festive day of rest,

          I regularly attend the assembly of God's people^2

            to learn what God's Word teaches,^3

            to participate in the sacraments,^4

            to pray to God publicly,^5

            and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.^6



          that every day of my life

            I rest from my evil ways,

            let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,

            and so begin already in this life

          the eternal Sabbath.^7


    ^1  Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5

    ^2  Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25

    ^3  Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13

    ^4  1 Cor. 11:23-25

    ^5  Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1

    ^6  Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9

    ^7  Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11





104 Q.  What is God's will for you

        in the fifth commandment?


    A.  That I honor, love, and be loyal to

          my father and mother

          and all those in authority over me;

        that I obey and submit to them, as is proper,

          when they correct and punish me;^1

        and also that I be patient with their failings—;^2

        for through them God chooses to rule us.^3


    ^1  Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-


    ^2  Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18

    ^3  Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21





105 Q.  What is God's will for you

        in the sixth commandment?


    A.  I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor—;

          not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,

          and certainly not by actual deeds—;

        and I am not to be party to this in others;^1

        rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.^2


        I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.^3


        Prevention of murder is also why

          government is armed with the sword.^4


    ^1  Gen. 9:6; Lev. 19:17-18; Matt. 5:21-22; 26:52

    ^2  Prov. 25:21-22; Matt. 18:35; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:26

    ^3  Matt. 4:7; 26:52; Rom. 13:11-14

    ^4  Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Rom. 13:4



106 Q.  Does this commandment refer only to killing?


    A.  By forbidding murder God teaches us

          that he hates the root of murder:

          envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.^1


        In God's sight all such are murder.^2


    ^1  Prov. 14:30; Rom. 1:29; 12:19; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11

    ^2  1 John 3:15



107 Q.  Is it enough then

        that we do not kill our neighbor

        in any such way?


    A.  No.

        By condemning envy, hatred, and anger

        God tells us

          to love our neighbors as ourselves,^1

          to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,

            merciful, and friendly to them,^2

        to protect them from harm as much as we can,

        and to do good even to our enemies.^3


    ^1  Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10

    ^2  Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12;

1 Pet. 3:8

    ^3  Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22)





108 Q.  What is God's will for us

        in the seventh commandment?


    A.  God condemns all unchastity.^1

          We should therefore thoroughly detest it^2

          and, married or single,

          live decent and chaste lives.^3


    ^1  Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5

    ^2  Jude 22-23

    ^3  1 Cor. 7:1-9; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4


109 Q.  Does God, in this commandment,

        forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?


    A.  We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul,

        and God wants both to be kept clean and holy.

        That is why he forbids

          everything which incites unchastity,^1

          whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.^2


    ^1  1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18

    ^2  Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3-4





110 Q.  What does God forbid

        in the eighth commandment?


    A.  He forbids not only outright theft and robbery,

          punishable by law.^1


        But in God's sight theft also includes

          cheating and swindling our neighbor

          by schemes made to appear legitimate,^2

          such as:

            inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;

            fraudulent merchandising;

            counterfeit money;

            excessive interest;

            or any other means forbidden by God.^3


        In addition he forbids all greed^4

        and pointless squandering of his gifts.^5


    ^1  Ex. 22:1; 1 Cor. 5:9-10; 6:9-10

    ^2  Mic. 6:9-11; Luke 3:14; James 5:1-6

    ^3  Deut. 25:13-16; Ps. 15:5; Prov. 11:1; 12:22; Ezek. 45:9-12; Luke 6:35

    ^4  Luke 12:15; Eph. 5:5

    ^5  Prov. 21:20; 23:20-21; Luke 16:10-13



111 Q.  What does God require of you

        in this commandment?


    A.  That I do whatever I can

          for my neighbor's good,

        that I treat others

          as I would like them to treat me,

        and that I work faithfully

          so that I may share with those in need.^1


    ^1  Isa. 58:5-10; Matt. 7:12; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:28





112 Q.  What is God's will for you

        in the ninth commandment?


    A.  God's will is that I

          never give false testimony against anyone,

          twist no one's words,

          not gossip or slander,

          nor join in condemning anyone

            without a hearing or without a just cause.^1


        Rather, in court and everywhere else,

        I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind;

          these are devices the devil himself uses,

          and they would call down on me God's intense anger.^2

        I should love the truth,

          speak it candidly,

          and openly acknowledge it.^3

        And I should do what I can

          to guard and advance my neighbor's good name.^4


    ^1  Ps. 15; Prov. 19:5; Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom. 1:28-32

    ^2  Lev. 19:11-12; Prov. 12:22; 13:5; John 8:44; Rev. 21:8

    ^3  1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:25

    ^4  1 Pet. 3:8-9; 4:8





113 Q.  What is God's will for you

        in the tenth commandment?


    A.  That not even the slightest thought or desire

          contrary to any one of God's commandments

          should ever arise in my heart.


        Rather, with all my heart

          I should always hate sin

          and take pleasure in whatever is right.^1


    ^1  Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8



114 Q.  But can those converted to God

        obey these commandments perfectly?


    A.  No.

        In this life even the holiest

        have only a small beginning of this obedience.^1


        Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose,

        they do begin to live

        according to all, not only some,

        of God's commandments.^2


    ^1  Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10

    ^2  Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16



115 Q.  No one in this life

        can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly:

        why then does God want them

        preached so pointedly?


    A.  First, so that the longer we live

          the more we may come to know our sinfulness

          and the more eagerly look to Christ

            for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.^1


        Second, so that,

          while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit,

        we may never stop striving

          to be renewed more and more after God's image,

        until after this life we reach our goal:



    ^1  Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9

    ^2  1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3







116 Q.  Why do Christians need to pray?


    A.  Because prayer is the most important part

          of the thankfulness God requires of us.^1

        And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit

        only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly,

          asking God for these gifts

          and thanking him for them.^2


    ^1  Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18

    ^2  Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13



117 Q.  How does God want us to pray

        so that he will listen to us?


    A.  First, we must pray from the heart

          to no other than the one true God,

            who has revealed himself in his Word,

          asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for.^1


        Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery,

          hiding nothing,

          and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.^2


        Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation:

          even though we do not deserve it,

          God will surely listen to our prayer

            because of Christ our Lord.

          That is what he promised us in his Word.^3


    ^1  Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15

    ^2  2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4

    ^3  Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6



118 Q.  What did God command us to pray for?


    A.  Everything we need, spiritually and physically,^1

        as embraced in the prayer

        Christ our Lord himself taught us.


    ^1  James 1:17; Matt. 6:33



119 Q.  What is this prayer?


    A.  Our Father in heaven,

        hallowed be your name,

        your kingdom come,

        your will be done

          on earth as it is in heaven.

        Give us today our daily bread.

        Forgive us our debts,

          as we also have forgiven our debtors.

        And lead us not into temptation,

          but deliver us from the evil one.

        For yours is the kingdom

          and the power

          and the glory forever.



    ^1  Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4

    *Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 6 omit the words "For yours is

. . . Amen."





120 Q.  Why did Christ command us

        to call God "our Father"?


    A.  At the very beginning of our prayer

        Christ wants to kindle in us

        what is basic to our prayer—;

          the childlike awe and trust

          that God through Christ has become

        our Father.


        Our fathers do not refuse us

          the things of this life;

        God our Father will even less refuse to give us

          what we ask in faith.^1


    ^1  Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13



121 Q.  Why the words

        "in heaven"?


    A.  These words teach us

          not to think of God's heavenly majesty

            as something earthly,^1

          and to expect everything

            for body and soul

            from his almighty power.^2


    ^1  Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-25

    ^2  Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:31-32





122 Q.  What does the first request mean?


    A.  "Hallowed be your name" means,


        Help us to really know you,^1

        to bless, worship, and praise you

          for all your works

          and for all that shines forth from them:

            your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,

            justice, mercy, and truth.^2


        And it means,


        Help us to direct all our living—;

          what we think, say, and do—;

        so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us

        but always honored and praised.^3


    ^1  Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3

    ^2  Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36

    ^3  Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16





123 Q.  What does the second request mean?


    A.  "Your kingdom come" means,

        Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way

          that more and more we submit to you.^1


        Keep your church strong, and add to it.^2


        Destroy the devil's work;

        destroy every force which revolts against you

        and every conspiracy against your Word.^3


        Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect

          that in it you are

            all in all.^4


    ^1  Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33

    ^2  Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47

    ^3  Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8

    ^4  Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20





124 Q.  What does the third request mean?


    A.  "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means,


        Help us and all people

          to reject our own wills

          and to obey your will without any back talk.

          Your will alone is good.^1


        Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,^2

          as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.^3


    ^1  Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12

    ^2  1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9

    ^3  Ps. 103:20-21





125 Q.  What does the fourth request mean?


    A.  "Give us today our daily bread" means,


        Do take care of all our physical needs^1

        so that we come to know

          that you are the only source of everything good,^2

          and that neither our work and worry

          nor your gifts

          can do us any good without your blessing.^3


        And so help us to give up our trust in creatures

        and to put trust in you alone.^4


    ^1  Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34

    ^2  Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17

    ^3  Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58

    ^4  Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6





126 Q.  What does the fifth request mean?


    A.  "Forgive us our debts,

        as we also have forgiven our debtors" means,


        Because of Christ's blood,

        do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,

          any of the sins we do

          or the evil that constantly clings to us.^1


        Forgive us just as we are fully determined,

          as evidence of your grace in us,

        to forgive our neighbors.^2


    ^1  Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2

    ^2  Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35





127 Q.  What does the sixth request mean?


    A.  "And lead us not into temptation,

        but deliver us from the evil one" means,


        By ourselves we are too weak

        to hold our own even for a moment.^1


        And our sworn enemies—;

          the devil,^2 the world,^3 and our own flesh—;^4

        never stop attacking us.


        And so, Lord,

        uphold us and make us strong

          with the strength of your Holy Spirit,

        so that we may not go down to defeat

          in this spiritual struggle,^5

        but may firmly resist our enemies

          until we finally win the complete victory.^6


    ^1  Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5

    ^2  2 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8

    ^3  John 15:18-21

    ^4  Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17

    ^5  Matt. 10:19-20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5

    ^6  1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23


128 Q.  What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?


    A.  "For yours is the kingdom

        and the power

        and the glory forever" means,


        We have made all these requests of you

        because, as our all-powerful king,

          you not only want to,

          but are able to give us all that is good;^1

        and because your holy name,

          and not we ourselves,

        should receive all the praise, forever.^2


    ^1  Rom. 10:11-13; 2 Pet. 2:9

    ^2  Ps. 115:1; John 14:13



129 Q.  What does that little word "Amen" express?


    A.  "Amen" means,


        This is sure to be!


        It is even more sure

          that God listens to my prayer,

        than that I really desire

          what I pray for.^1


    ^1  Isa. 65:24; 2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:13