We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.
These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man.
Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.
Through faith we are restored to paradise and created anew.
As Christians we are all kings and priests and therefore lords of all.
It is always necessary that the substance or essence of a person be good before there can be any good works and that good works follow and proceed from a person who is already good.

Martin Luther (10 November 148318 February 1546) was a German theologian, an Augustinian monk, and an ecclesiastical reformer whose teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines and culture of the Lutheran and Protestant traditions.


  • my Latin and German propositions. You wonder I did not tell you of them. But I did not wish to have them widely circulated. I only intended submitting them to a few learned men for examination, and if they disapproved of them, to suppress them — or make them known through their publications, in the event of their meeting with your approval. But now they are being spread abroad and translated everywhere, which I never could have credited, so that I regret having given birth to them — not that I am unwilling to proclaim the truth manfully, for there is nothing I more ardently desire, but because this way of instructing the people is of little avail. As yet I am still uncertain as to some points, and would have gone into others more particularly, leaving some out entirely, had I foreseen all this.
  • If a woman becomes weary and at last dead from bearing, that matters not; let her only die from bearing, she is there to do it.
    • Sermon Von dem ehelichen Stande (1519), p. 41 — as quoted in The Ethic of Freethought: A Selection of Essays and Lectures (1888) by Karl Pearson, "The Sex-Relations in Germany", p. 424
    • The quote actually comes from Von dem eelichen Leben (1522). It can be seen in an original edition here, in a 19th century reissue here, and in English translation (as "On the Estate of Marriage") here.
  • Lastly, we must also know what Baptism signifies, and why God has ordained just such external sign and ceremony for the Sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian Church. But the act or ceremony is this, that we are sunk under the water, which passes over us, and afterwards are drawn out again. These two parts, to be sunk under the water and drawn out again, signify the power and operation of Baptism, which is nothing else than putting to death the old Adam, and after that the resurrection of the new man, both of which must take place in us all our lives, so that a truly Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever to be continued.
  • The heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God and idol. Ultimately, they put their trust in that which is nothing. So it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshipping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils. It neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for anything better than to believe that He is willing to help.
  • His Mohammed, as has been said, commands that ruling is to be done by the sword, and in his Koran the sword is the commonest and noblest work. Thus the Turk is, in truth, nothing but a murderer or highwayman, as his deeds show before men’s eyes.
  • But the exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches, follows. Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment.
    • Luther's works Vol. 7 (1965), Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 38-44
  • My whole heart and soul are stirred and incensed against the Turks and Mohammed, when I see this intolerable raging of the Devil. Therefore I shall pray and cry to God, nor rest until I know that my cry is heard in heaven.
    • Statement while being confined to residence at Coburg, as quoted in History of the Christian Church, (1910) by Philip Schaff, Vol. VII : Modern Christianity : The German Reformation, § 123. Luther at the Coburg; though it mentions Muhammad, this remark might actually be directed at those responsible for his confinement, as he makes allusions to dwelling in the "empire of birds" and his location as a "Sinai" and regularly uses other uncomplimentary comparisons of those involved in suppressing his ideas to figures unpopular to himself and his contemporaries.
  • Regarding the plan to collect my writings in volumes, I am quite cool and not at all eager about it because, roused by a Saturnian hunger, I would rather see them all devoured. For I acknowledge none of them to be really a book of mine, except perhaps the one On the Bound Will and the Catechism.
    • Letter to Wolfgang Capito (9 July 1537)
  • One should hasten to put such witches to death.
    • Statement of 20 August 1538; as quoted in Conversations With Martin Luther (1915), translated and edited by Preserved Smith and Herbert Percival Gallinger, p. 163
  • August 25, 1538, the conversation fell upon witches who spoil milk, eggs, and butter in farm yards. Dr. Luther said: “I should have no compassion on these witches; I would burn all of them. We read in the old law, that the priests threw the first stone at such malefactors, `Tis said this stolen butter turns rancid, and falls to the ground when any one goes to eat it. He who attempts to counteract and chastise these witches, is himself corporally plagued and tormented by their master, the devil. Sundry schoolmasters and ministers have often experienced this. Our ordinary sins offend and anger God. What, then, must be his wrath against witchcraft, which we may justly designate high treason against divine majesty, a revolt against the infinite power of God. The jurisconsults who have so learnedly and pertinently treated of rebellion, affirm that the subject who rebels against his sovereign, is worthy of death. Does not witchcraft, then, merit death, which is a revolt of the creature against the Creator, a denial to God of the authority it accords to the demon?”
    • Statement of 25 August 1538, in Table-Talk, as translated by William Hazlitt (1857), DLXXVII
  • Although indulgences are the very merits of Christ and of His saints and so should be treated with all reverence, they have in fact nonetheless become a shocking exercise of greed. For who actually seeks the salvation of souls through indulgences, and not instead money for his coffers? This is evident from the way indulgences are preached. For the commissioners and preachers do nothing but extol indulgences and incite the people to contribute. You hear no one instructing the people about what indulgences are, or about how much they grant, or about the purpose they serve. Instead, all you hear is how much one must contribute. The people are always left in ignorance, so that they come to think that by gaining indulgences they are at once saved.
    • Tractatus de indulgentiis per Doctorem Martinum ordinis s. Augustini Wittenbergae editus., or, A Treatise on Indulgences Published by Doctor Martin of the Order of St. Augustine in Wittenberg. To Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz (31 October 1517) Luther's "forgotten" treatise was found in the Mainz archives “among the papers making up the correspondence between Archbishop Albrecht and the Mainz University faculty in December 1517” and published by F. Herrmann in the Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte (ZKG) in 1907, vol. 28, pp. 370-373. Catholic Luther scholar Jared Wicks S. J. believes this early treatise to be of considerable historical significance: "This document is the short treatise sketching a tentative theology of indulgences which Luther sent to Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz and Magdeburg on that fateful October 31, 1517. The other two documents of Luther's intervention are well known. First, there was the respectful, though urgent letter to the Archbishop in which Luther related the misunderstandings being spread by Tetzel's preaching and in which he begged the Archbishop to issue new instructions which would bring Tetzel under control. Secondly, there was the list of Latin theses on the doctrine and practice of indulgences which Luther intended to use as the basis of a theological discussion of the many vexed questions in this area. The third document sent to Albrecht, Luther's treatise, has not received the attention it deserves from historians and theologians studying the beginning of the Reformation. This is most regrettable, since the treatise depicts in orderly and succinct fashion Luther's understanding of indulgences in 1517 and reveals his conception of their limited role in Christian living. The treatise gives us the theological standpoint on which Luther based his intervention, and it shows in miniature the rich Augustinian spirituality of penance and progress that he had forged in his early works. ...[T]he great tragedy of 1517 was that the barbed [95] theses spread over Germany in a matter of weeks, and this penetrating little treatise fell into dusty oblivion."
    • Martin Luther's Treatise on Indulgences, Theological Studies 28 (1967), pp. 481-482, 518.
  • If it were art to overcome heresy with fire, the executioners would be the most learned doctors on earth.
    • To the Christian Nobility of the German States (1520), translated by Charles M. Jacobs, reported in rev. James Atkinson, The Christian in Society, I (Luther's Works, ed. James Atkinson, vol. 44), p. 207 (1966)
  • I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme. Every institution that does not unceasingly pursue the study of God's word becomes corrupt. Because of this we can see what kind of people they become in the universities and what they are like now. Nobody is to blame for this except the pope, the bishops, and the prelates, who are all charged with training young people. The universities only ought to turn out men who are experts in the Holy Scriptures, men who can become bishops and priests, and stand in the front line against heretics, the devil, and all the world. But where do you find that? I greatly fear that the universities, unless they teach the Holy Scriptures diligently and impress them on the young students, are wide gates to hell.
    • To the Christian Nobility of the German States (1520), translated by Charles M. Jacobs, reported in rev. James Atkinson, The Christian in Society, I (Luther's Works, ed. James Atkinson, vol. 44), p. 207 (1966)
  • The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.
  • Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.
    • Statement in defense of his writings at the Diet of Worms (19 April 1521), as translated in The Nature of Protestantism (1963) by Karl Heim, p. 78 Luther is often said to have declared, "Here I stand, I can do no other," before concluding with "God help me. Amen." However, there is no indication in the transcripts of the Diet or in eyewitness accounts that he ever said this. See "Disputed" section below.
  • Dieser yrthum von freyen willen ist eyn eygen Artickel des Endchrist.
    • This error of free will is a special doctrine of the Antichrist.
    • This error about the free will is a peculiar teaching of Antichrist.
    • Grund und Ursach aller Artikel D. Martin Luthers so durch römische Bulle unrechtlich verdammt sind (Defense and Explanation of all the Articles of Dr. Martin Luther which were Unjustly Condemned by the Roman Bull; An Argument in Defense of All the Articles of Dr. Martin Luther Wrongly Condemned in the Roman Bull), Article 36, March 1521. Weimar, 7:451
  • ...God commanded in the law [Deut. 22:22-24] that adulterers be stoned . . . The temporal sword and government should therefore still put adulterers to death . . . Where the government is negligent and lax, however, and fails to inflict the death penalty, the adulterer may betake himself to a far country and there remarry if he is unable to remain continent. But it would be better to put him to death, lest a bad example be set . . .
  • The blame rests with the government. Why do they not put adulterers to death? Then I would not need to give such advice. Between two evils one is always the lesser, in this case allowing the adulterer to remarry in a distant land in order to avoid fornication . . .

Where the government fails to inflict the death penalty and the one spouse wishes to retain the other, the guilty one should still in Christian fashion be publicly rebuked and caused to make amends according to the gospel . . .

  • Here you should be guided by the words of St. Paul, I Corinthians 7 [:4–5], “The husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does; likewise the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does. Do not deprive each other, except by agreement,” etc. Notice that St. Paul forbids either party to deprive the other, for by the marriage vow each submits his body to the other in conjugal duty. When one resists the other and refuses the conjugal duty she is robbing the other of the body she had bestowed upon him. This is really contrary to marriage, and dissolves the marriage. For this reason the civil government must compel the wife, or put her to death. If the government fails to act, the husband must reason that his wife has been stolen away and slain by robbers; he must seek another. We would certainly have to accept it if someone’s life were taken from him. Why then should we not also accept it if a wife steals herself away from her husband, or is stolen away by others?
    • The Estate of Marriage, 1522, translated by Walther I. Brandt, from Luther's Works, Vol. 45, pp. 32-34); as quoted in Martin Luther: Execute Adulterers, Witches, Frigid Wives, & Prostitutes, Pagadian Diocese, October 26, 2017, Dave Armstrong
  • The mad mob does not ask how it could be better, only that it be different. And when it then becomes worse, it must change again. Thus they get bees for flies, and at last hornets for bees.
    • Whether Soldiers Can Also Be in a State of Grace (1526)
  • Concerning the female sorcerer. Roman law also prescribes this. Why does the law name women more than men here, even though men are also guilty of this? Because women are more susceptible to those superstitions of Satan; take Eve, for example. They are commonly called “wise women.” Let them be killed.
    • Sermon on Exodus, 1526, WA XVI, p. 551 as quoted in Luther on Women: A Sourcebook, edited by Susan C. Karant-Nunn, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, (2003), p. 231
  • Ein' feste burg is unser Gott,
    ein gute wehr und waffen.
    Er hilft uns frei aus aller not,
    die uns itzt hat betroffen.
    • A mighty fortress is our God,
      A bulwark never failing.
      Our helper He amid the flood
      Of mortal ills prevailing.
      • Psalm. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (1529), translated by Frederic H. Hedge, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
    • Literal Translation: A firm fortress is our God,
      a good defense and weapon.
      He frees us from all need,
      that has struck us.
    • Complete hymn, Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book translation, at Wikisource
  • I know God only as he became human, so shall I have him in no other way."
    • Das Marburger religionsgesprach 1529: Versuch einer Rekonstruction (Leipzig, 1929), p. 27; also LW 38, 3-90
  • In particular, at this point also urge governing authorities and parents to rule well and to send their children to school. Point out how they are obliged to do so and what a damnable sin they commit if they do not, for thereby, as the worst enemies of God and humanity, they overthrow and lay waste both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Explain very clearly what kind of horrible damage they do when they do not help to train children as pastors, preachers, civil servants, etc., and tell them that God will punish them dreadfully for this. For in our day and age it is necessary to preach about these things. The extent to which parents and governing authorities are now sinning in these matters defies description. The devil, too, intends to do something horrible in all this.
    • Foreword to the small catechismus, as quoted in the Preface, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (2000) by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, p. 19
  • You must not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
    Q. What does this mean?
    A. We should fear and love God so that we may not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body.
  • What can only be taught by the rod and with blows will not lead to much good; they will not remain pious any longer than the rod is behind them.
    • The Great Catechism. Second Command (1529)
  • We have now completed both the spiritual and the temporal government, that is, the divine and the paternal authority and obedience. But here now we go forth from our house among our neighbors to learn how we should live with one another, every one himself toward his neighbor. Therefore God and government are not included in this commandment nor is the power to kill, which they have taken away. For God has delegated His authority to punish evil-doers to the government instead of parents, who aforetime (as we read in Moses) were required to bring their own children to judgment and sentence them to death. Therefore, what is here forbidden is forbidden to the individual in his relation to any one else, and not to the government.
    • [The Large Catechism] by Martin Luther, 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. 565-773, (1529)
  • Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.
    • On Marriage (1530)
  • Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die.
    • On Marriage (1530)
  • Labour therefore diligently, that not only out of the time of temptation, but also in the time and conflict of death, when thy conscience is thoroughly afraid with the remembrance of thy sins past, and the devil assaileth thee with great violence, going about to overwhelm thee with heaps, floods and whole seas of sins, to terrify thee, to draw thee from Christ, and to drive thee to despair; that then I say, thou mayest be able to say with sure confidence: Christ the Son of God was given, not for the righteous and holy, but for the unrighteous and sinners.... If he gave himself to death for our sins, then undoubtedly he is no tyrant or judge which will condemn us for our sins. He is no caster-down of the afflicted, but a raiser-up of those that are fallen, a merciful reliever and comforter of the heavy and broken-hearted. Else should Paul lie in saying: "which gave himself for our sins."
    • A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (1535. Translation revised 1953 by Philip S Watson. On Galatians 1:4.)
  • Now when God sends forth his holy Gospel, He deals with us in a twofold manner, the first outwardly, then inwardly. Outwardly he deals with us through the oral word of the Gospel and through material sings, that is, baptism adndthe sacrament of the altar. Inwardly He deals with us through the Holy spirit, faith, and other gifts. But whatever their measure of order the outward factors should and must procede. The inward experience follows and is effected by the outward. God has determined to give the inward to no one except through the outward.
  • It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Vol. 11, 319-320
  • "She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Vol. 11, Vol. 24, 107
  • But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Vol. 4, 694
  • There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works (Translation by William J. Cole) Vol. 10, p. 268
  • The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works (Translation by William J. Cole) 10, III, p. 313
  • Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent's head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Vol. 51, 128-129
  • The Virgin Mary remains in the middle between Christ and humankind. For in the very moment he was conceived and lived, he was full of grace. All other human beings are without grace, both in the first and second conception. But the Virgin Mary, though without grace in the first conception, was full of grace in the second ... whereas other human beings are conceived in sin, in soul as well as in body, and Christ was conceived without sin in soul as well as in body, the Virgin Mary was conceived in body without grace but in soul full of grace.
    • As quoted in Anderson, H. George; Stafford, J. Francis; Burgess, Joseph A., eds. (1992). The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary. Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue. VIII. Minneapolis: Augsburg. ISBN 0-8066-2579-1., p. 236
  • [S]he became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed on her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in heaven, and such a Child.... Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God.... None can say of her nor announce to her greater things, even though he had as many tongues as the earth possesses flowers and blades of grass: the sky, stars; and the sea, grains of sand. It needs to be pondered in the heart what it means to be the Mother of God.
    • Luther's Works, 21:326, cf. 21:346
  • Furthermore, how will you endure [the Romanists'] terrible idolatries? It was not enough that they venerated the saints and praised God in them, but they actually made them into gods. They put that noble child, the mother Mary, right into the place of Christ. They fashioned Christ into a judge and thus devised a tyrant for anguished consciences, so that all comfort and confidence was transferred from Christ to Mary, and then everyone turned from Christ to his particular saint. Can anyone deny this? Is it not true?
    • Luther's Works, 47:45; cf. also Anderson, Stafford & Burgess (1992), p. 29
  • Mother Mary, like us, was born in sin of sinful parents, but the Holy Spirit covered her, sanctified and purified her so that this child was born of flesh and blood, but not with sinful flesh and blood. The Holy Spirit permitted the Virgin Mary to remain a true, natural human being of flesh and blood, just as we. However, he warded off sin from her flesh and blood so that she became the mother of a pure child, not poisoned by sin as we are. For in that moment when she conceived, she was a holy mother filled with the Holy Spirit and her fruit is a holy pure fruit, at once God and truly man, in one person
    • The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther (1905) edited by John Nicholas Lenker; republished as Sermons of Martin Luther (1996), p. 291
  • God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins, for she has conceived and borne the Lord Jesus.
    • D. Martin Luthers Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 61 vols., (Weimar: Verlag Hermann Böhlaus Nochfolger, 1883-1983), 52:39 [hereinafter: WA] 1544
  • All seed except Mary was vitiated [by original sin].
    • Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Vol. 11, WA, 39, II:107
  • By God's grace, I know Satan very well. If Satan can turn God's Word upside down and pervert the Scriptures, what will he do with my words -- or the words of others?
    • Confession Concerning Christ's Supper, Part 3. Robert E. Smith, tr. Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtsusgabe. (Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1909), pp. 499-500.
  • Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.
    • An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans fromDr. Martin Luthers Vermischte Deutsche Schriften. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63(Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp. 124-125. (EA 63:124-125)
  • If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.
    • Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from: Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche SchriftenDr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590.
  • What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.
    • Large Catechism 1.1-3, F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau, tr. Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), 565.
  • But since the devil's bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she's wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil's greatest whore.
    • The original German is "Vernunft … ist die höchste Hur, die der Teufel hat".
    • Martin Luther's Last Sermon in Wittenberg … Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546. Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. (Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1914), Band 51:126, Line 7ff
    • Martin Luther (1483-1546). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • When we are inclined to boast of our position [as Christians] we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are.
    • That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew Luther's Works, American Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1962), Vol. 45, p. 201
  • I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture.
    • Letter to Chancellor Gregory Brück (An Den Kanzler Brück), 1524-01-13, in Dr. Martin Luther's Briefe, Sendschreiben und Bedenken: volständig aus den verschiedenen Ausgaben seiner Werke und Briefe, aus andern Büchern und noch unbenutzten Handschriten gesammelt. From the Wilhelm Martin Leberecht De Wette Collection of Luther's Letters (Berlin: Georg reimer, 1826) vol. 2, p. 459 (Letter DLXXII; Latin text)
  • For the history of the centuries that have passed since the birth of Christ nowhere reveals conditions like those of the present. There has never been such building and planting in the world. There has never been such gluttonous and varied eating and drinking as now. Wearing apparel has reached its limit in costliness. Who has ever heard of such commerce as now encircles the earth? There have arisen all kinds of art and sculpture, embroidery and engraving, the like of which has not been seen during the whole Christian era. In addition men are so delving into the mysteries of things that today a boy of twenty knows more than twenty doctors formerly knew.
  • ...women and girls begin to bare themselves behind and in front, and there is nobody to punish and hold in check, and besides, God’s word is mocked.
  • Few are the women and maidens who would let themselves think that one could at the same time be joyous and modest. They are all bold and coarse in their speech, in their demeanor wild and lewd. That is now the fashion of being in good cheer. But it is specially evil that the young maiden folk are exceedingly bold of speech and bearing, and curse like troopers, to say nothing of their shameful words and scandalous coarse sayings, which one always hears and learns from another.
  • The First Sermon on the Day of the Visitation of Mary (Die erste Predigt am Tag der Heimsuchung Mariä). (1532).
    • Denifle, Heinrich, Luther and Lutherdom, vol.1, part 1, tr. from 2nd rev. ed. of German by Raymund Volz, Somerset, England: Torch Press, 1917, (Cornell University Library 2009), ISBN 1112168176 ISBN 9781112168178, p. 305. Denifle cites Luther’s Sämtliche Werke (Vols 4-6 in 1), Erlangen-Frankfurt edition, 1865, Heyder & Zimmer, vol. vi, p. 401
  • "For He that is mighty hath done great things for me, and Holy is His Name" (Luke 1:49). Luther comments:
  • The "great things" are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed upon her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among whom she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in Heaven, and such a child. She herself is unable to find a name for this work, it is too exceedingly great; all she can do is break out in the fervent cry: "They are great things," impossible to describe or define. Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, or grass in the fields, or stars in the sky, or sand by the sea. It needs to be pondered in the heart, what it means to be the Mother of God.
  • On coming to the house, they (the Magi), saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:11)
  • [This] adoration, too, was not the same as the worship of God. In my opinion they did not yet recognize him as God, but they acted in keeping with the custom mentioned in Scripture, according to which Kings and important people were worshiped; this did not mean more than falling down before them at their feet and honoring them.
    • Sermon on The Gospel for the Festival of the Epiphany, 1522.
    • Luther's Works, American Ed., Hans J. Hillerbrand, Helmut T. Lehmann eds., Philadelphia, Concordia Publishing House/Fortress Press, 1974, ISBN 0800603524 (Sermons II), vol. 52:198
  • Religion is not 'doctrinal knowledge,' but wisdom born of personal experience.
    • Holborn, Hajo; A HISTORY OF MODERN GERMANY: The Reformation; 1959/1982 Princeton university Press
  • Holy Christendom has, in my judgment, no better teacher after the apostles than St. Augustine.
    • Luther's Works, American Ed., Robert H. Fischer, Helmut T. Lehman, eds., Concordia Publishing House/Fortress Press, 1959, ISBN 0800603370 (Word and Sacrament III), vol. 37:107
  • And I myself, in Rome, heard it said openly in the streets, “If there is a hell, then Rome is built on it.” That is, “After the devil himself, there is no worse folk than the pope and his followers.”
    • Against the Roman Papacy, An Institution of the Devil ( Wider das Papstum zu Rom vom Teuffel Gestifft, A. D. 1545)
  • Luther's Works, Church and Ministry III, American Ed., Helmut T. Lehman, Eric W. Gritsch, eds., Augsburg Fortress Press, 1966, Vol. 41:279. ISBN 0800603419 ISBN 9780800603410
  • Tell your master that if there were as many devils at Worms as tiles on its roofs, I would enter.
    • Psalm. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (translated by Frederic H. Hedge), Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). "On the 16th of April, 1521, Luther entered the imperial city [of Worms]... On his approach… the Elector's chancellor entreated him, in the name of his master, not to enter a town where his death was decided. The answer which Luther returned was simply this". Bunsen, Life of Luther
  • Dear rulers … I maintain that the civil authorities are under obligation to compel the people to send their children to school. … If the government can compel such citizens as are fit for military service to bear spear and rifle, to mount ramparts, and perform other martial duties in time of war, how much more has it a right to compel the people to send their children to school, because in this case we are warring with the devil, whose object it is secretly to exhaust our cities and principalities of their strong men.
    • letter to the German rulers (1524), as quoted in The History of Compulsory Education in New England, John William Perrin, 1896
  • A penny saved is of more value than a penny paid out (Der Sparpfennig ist reicher denn der Zinspfenning).
    • What Luther Says, Section on “Life, Human,” No. 2438. Rules for a Thrifty Life. 2, p. 784
  • Heretics cannot themselves appear good unless they depict the Church as evil, false, and mendacious. They alone wish to be esteemed as the good, but the Church must be made to appear evil in every respect.
    • Dictata super Psalterium (Dictations on the Psalter). This is Luther's first major work from the years 1513 to 1515. (See What Luther Says, Ewald Martin Plass, ed., vol. 3, p. 1590. )
    • Denifle, Heinrich, Luther and Lutherdom, p. 15; primary source: D. Martin Luthers Werke: kritische Gesamtausgabe, Weimar, Herman Bohlau, 1883, Vol. 3, p. 445.
  • Wer anders lehret, denn ich hierinn gelehret hab, oder mich darinn verdammt, der verdamt Gott, und muß ein Kind der Höllen bleiben.
    • Whoever teaches differently from what I have taught, or whoever condemns me therein, he condemns God and must remain a child of hell.
    • Deutsche Antwort Luthers auf König Heinrichs von England Buch. German answer of Martin Luther to the Book of King Henry of England, 1522.
    • Dr. Martin Luther's Sämtliche Werke, Polemische Deutsche Schriften, Johann Konrad Irmischer, Erlangen, 1833, vol. 28, p. 347.
  • I shall not have it judged by any man, not even by any angel. For since I am certain of it, I shall be your judge and even the angels’ judge through this teaching (as St. Paul says [1 Cor. 6:3]) so that whoever does not accept my teaching may not be saved - for it is God’s teaching and not mine.
    • Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops Falsely So Called, July 1522.
    • Luther's Works, Church and Ministry I, Eric W. Gritsch, Helmut T. Lehman eds., Concordia Publishing House, 1986, ISBN 0800603397, ISBN 9780800603397, vol. 39, p. 249.
  • Of all the fathers, as many as you can name, not one has ever spoken about the sacrament as these fanatics do. None of them uses such an expression as, 'It is simply bread and wine,' or, 'Christ’s body and blood are not present.' Yet since this subject is so frequently discussed by them, it is impossible that they should not at some time have let slip such an expression as, 'It is simply bread,' or, 'Not that the body of Christ is physically present,' or the like, since they are greatly concerned not to mislead the people; actually, they simply proceed to speak as if no one doubted that Christ’s body and blood are present. Certainly among so many fathers and so many writings a negative argument should have turned up at least once, as happens in other articles; but actually they all stand uniformly and consistently on the affirmative side.
    • That These Words of Christ, 'This is My Body' Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics, 1527, in Luther's Works, Word and Sacrament III, 1961, Fortress Press, ISBN 0800603370 ISBN 9780800603373, Vol. 37, p. 54. This work appeared in vol. 2 of the Wittenberg ed. of Luther's Works (in German) and was later translated into Latin by Matthew Judex (Matthaeum Iudicem) under the title: Defensio τοῦ ρητοῦ Verborum Cenae: Accipite, Comedite: Hoc est Corpus Meum: Contra Phanaticos Sacramentariorum Spiritus.
      Luther's Latin: “Nullus ex patribus, quorum infinitus est numerus, de Sacramento sic loquutus est, ut Sacramentarii. Nam nemo ex iis talibus verbis utitur Tantum panis & vinum est: Vel Corpus & Sanguis Christi non adestProfecto non est credibile, nec possibile cum toties ab iis res ista agatur & repetatur, quod non aliquando, vel semel tantum excidissent haec verba. Est merus Panis, aut, non quod Christi corpus corporaliter adsit, aut his similia, cum tamen multum referat ne homines seducantur, Sed omnes praecise ita loquuntur, quasi nullus dubitet, quin ibi praesto sit corpus & sanguis Christi. Sane ex tot patribus, & tot scriptis, ab aliquibus, vel saltem ab uno potuisset negativa sententia proferri, ut in aliis articulis usitatum & frequens est, si non sensissent, corpus & sanguinem Christi vere inesse. Verum omnes concordes & constantes uno ore affirmatium proferunt.” See Luther's Opera Omnia, Wittenberg ed., (1558), vol., 7, p. 391.
  • Die heilige christliche Kirche ist das fürnehmeste Weil Gottes, umb welches willen Alles geschaffen ist; darinnen täglich die großen Wunder geschehen, als Sunde vergeben, Tod wegnehmen, Gerechtigkeit und ewiges Leben geben.
    • The Holy Christian Church is the principal work of God, for the sake of which all things were made. In the Church, great wonders daily occur, such as the forgiveness of sins, triumph over death . . . the gift of righteousness and eternal life. (Commentary on Psalm 143:5)
    • In The Lord's Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship, 2003, Jeffrey J. Meyers, Canon, Pr., ISBN 1591280087 ISBN 9781591280088, p. 285.
    • Auslegung vieler schöner Sprüche aus göttlicher Schrift (Exposition of Many Beautiful Verses from Divine Scripture (selection) (1547)),
    • Dr. Martin Luther's Sämmtliche Werke, 1853, Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Erlangen, Heyder & Zimmer, vol. 52, p. 324.
  • It is an unsufferable blasphemy to reject the public ministry or to say that people can become holy without sermons and Church. This involves a destruction of the Church and rebellion against ecclesiastical order; such upheavals must be warded off and punished like all other revolts.
    • In Luther, Hartmann Grisar, 1915, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, vol. 4, p. 126, (referencing, the Corpus Reformatorum, vol. 4, 737-740. )
  • Wie David sagt: An dir allein Hab ich gesündigt, auf daß du gerecht seiest in deinen Worten; und zwar rechte Christen Hörens gern, daß man sie schilt und straft mit Göltes Wort. Aber diese, so ungestraft sein wöllen, bekennen damit frei, daß sie die rechten verzweifelten Buben sind, die hiemit auch in den heiligen Geist fündigen, als die nicht leiden wollen, daß er sie durch sein Predigtamt strafe.
    • As David said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, so that thou art justified in thy sentence” [Ps. 51:4]. As a matter of fact, true Christians willingly accept the rebuke and judgment that is in the preaching of God’s word. But those who won’t receive this judgment show plainly that they are really damnable knaves. They are sinning against the Holy Spirit when they refuse to accept the rebuke of the preachers through whom he speaks. Or they are so far gone that they regard our preaching as nothing more than man’s word and so won’t tolerate it.
    • Appeal For Prayer Against the Turks [Vermannung zum Gebet wider den Türken] (1541), as translated in Luther's Works, (1968), Vol. 43, ISBN 0800603435 ISBN 9780800603434, p. 228.
    • Dr. Martin Luther's Sämmtliche Werke, 1842, Erlangen, Johann Konrad Irmischer, ed., vol. 32, p. 84.

Disputation against Scholastic Theology (1517)

Man is by nature unable to want God to be God. Indeed, he himself wants to be God, and does not want God to be God.
Translation by H. J. Grimm in Luther's Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (1957)
  • The will is not free to strive toward whatever is declared good.
    • Thesis 10
  • Man is by nature unable to want God to be God. Indeed, he himself wants to be God, and does not want God to be God.
    • Thesis 17
  • We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.
    • Thesis 40
  • Since the law is good, the will, which is hostile to it, cannot be good.
    • Thesis 87

Ninety-five Theses (1517)

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent," he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, in Luther's Works, Vol. 31: Career of the Reformer I (1957)
  • When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent," he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
    • Thesis 1
  • To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers, is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
    • Thesis 79

The Freedom of a Christian (1520)

as translated by M. Tranvik (Minneapolis: 2008)

  • When speaking of the spiritual nature or the soul, we are referring to that which is “inner” or “new.” When speaking of the bodily nature, or that which is flesh and blood, we are referring to that which is called “sensual,” “outward,” or “old.” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
    • p. 51
  • Christ ought to be preached with this goal in mind — that we might be moved to faith in him so that he is not just a distant historical figure but actually Christ for you and me.
    • p. 69
  • Faith is born and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what he brought and gave to us, and the benefits we obtain when we receive him. This happens when Christian liberty — which he gives to us — is rightly taught and we are told in what way as Christians we are all kings and priests and therefore lords of all.
    • p. 70
  • A person must take care to exercise moderate discipline over the body and subject it to the Spirit by means of fasting, vigils, and labor. The goal is to have the body obey and conform — and not hinder — the inner person and faith. Unless it is held in check, we know it is the nature of the body to undermine faith and the inner person.
    • pp. 71-72
  • One ought to fast, watch, and labor to the extent that such activities are needed to harness the body’s desires and longings; however, those who presume that they are justified by works pay no attention to the need for self-discipline but see the works themselves as the way to righteousness. They believe that if they do a great number of impressive works all will be well and righteousness will be the result. Sometimes this is pursued with such zeal that they become mentally unstable and their bodies are sapped of all strength. Such disastrous consequences demonstrate that the belief that we are justified and saved by works without faith is extremely foolish.
    • p. 73
  • Adam was created righteous, acceptable, and without sin. He had no need from his labor in the garden to be made righteous and acceptable to God. Rather, the Lord gave Adam work in order to cultivate and protect the garden. This would have been the freest of all works because they were done simply to please God and not to obtain righteousness. … The works of the person who trusts God are to be understood in a similar manner. Through faith we are restored to paradise and created anew. We have no need of works in order to be righteous; however, in order to avoid idleness and so that the body might be cared for an disciplined, works are done freely to please God.
    • pp. 73-74
  • Through faith we are restored to paradise and created anew.
    • p. 74
  • It is always necessary that the substance or essence of a person be good before there can be any good works and that good works follow and proceed from a person who is already good. Christ says in Matthew 7:18: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” ... The fruit does not make the tree good or bad but the tree itself is what determines the nature of the fruit. In the same way, a person first must be good or bad before doing a good or bad work.
    • pp. 74-75
  • A Christian has no need of any law in order to be saved, since through faith we are free from every law. Thus all the acts of a Christian are done spontaneously, out of a sense of pure liberty. As Christians we do not seek our own advantage or salvation because we are already fully satisfied and saved by God’s grace through faith. Now our only motive is to do that which is pleasing to God.
    • pp. 75-76
  • In Matthew 12:23 Christ says: “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad and its fruit bad,” as if to say: “Let the one who wishes to have good fruit begin by planting a good tree.” Therefore, let the person who wishes to do good works being not with the works but with the believing, for this alone makes a person good.
    • p. 76
  • Many have been deceived by outward appearances and have proceeded to write and teach about good works and how they justify without even mentioning faith. … Wearying themselves with many works, they never come to righteousness.
    • p. 75
  • Our preaching does not stop with the law. That would lead to wounding without binding up, striking down and not healing, killing and not making alive, driving down to hell and not bringing back up, humbling and not exalting. Therefore, we must also preach grace and the promise of forgiveness — this is the means by which faith is awakened and properly taught. Without this word of grace, the law, contrition, penitence, and everything else are done and taught in vain.
    • pp. 78-79
  • The Apostle Paul wants us to work with our hands in order to share with the needy (Ephesians 5:28). Notice that he could have said that we should work to support ourselves. But Paul says that we work to give to those in need. This is why caring for our body is also a Christian work. If the body is healthy and fit, we are able to work and save money that can be used to help those in need.
    • p. 80

A Sincere Admonition to All Christians to Guard Against Insurrection and Rebellion (1522)

in Luther's Works, vol. 45 (1962), pp. 57-74
  • Lying and guile need only to be revealed and recognized to be undone. When once lying is recognized as such, it needs no second stroke; it falls of itself and vanishes in shame.
    • p. 60
  • We must calm the mind of the common man, and tell him to abstain from the words and even the passions which lead to insurrection.
    • p. 62
  • Insurrection ... never brings about the desired improvement. For insurrection lacks discernment; it generally harms the innocent more than the guilty. Hence, no insurrection is ever right, no matter how right the cause it seeks to promote.
    • pp. 62-63
  • Those who read and rightly understand my teaching will not start an insurrection; they have not learned that from me.
    • p. 65
  • There is no need for you to develop an armed insurrection. Christ himself has already begun an insurrection with his mouth.
    • pp. 67-68
  • An armed insurrection ... would hinder and bring into disrepute this spiritual insurrection.
    • p. 68

Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed (1523)

in Luther's Works, vol. 45 (1962), pp. 81-129
  • God the Almighty has made our rulers mad; they actually think they can doand order their subjects to dowhatever they please. And the subjects make the mistake of believing that they, in turn, are bound to obey their rulers in everything.
    • p. 83
  • I would take to be quite a fool any man who would make a book full of laws and statutes for an apple tree telling it how to bear apples and not thorns, when the tree is able by its own nature to do this better than the man with all his books can describe and demand.
    • p. 89
  • Certainly it is true that Christians, so far as they themselves are concerned, are subject neither to law nor sword, and have need of neither. But take heed and first fill the world with real Christians before you attempt to rule it in a Christian and evangelical manner. This you will never accomplish; for the world and the masses are and always will be un-Christian, even if they are all baptized and Christian in name.
    • p. 91

Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments (1525)

As translated in Selected Writings of Martin Luther: 1523 - 1526 (1967) by Theodore Gerhardt Tappert; also quoted in Theological Aesthetics: A Reader edited by Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen
  • I approached the task of destroying images by first tearing them out of the heart through God’s Word and making them worthless and despised. This indeed took place before Dr. Karlstadt ever dreamed of destroying images. For when they are no longer in the heart, they can do no harm when seen with the eyes. But Dr. Karlstadt, who pays no attention to matters of the heart, has reversed the order by removing them from sight and leaving them in the heart. For he does not preach faith, nor can he preach it; unfortunately, only now do I see that. Which of these two forms of destroying images is best, I will let each man judge for himself.
    • pp. 84-85
  • I will first discuss images according to the Law of Moses, and then according to the gospel. And I say at the outset that according to the Law of Moses no other images are forbidden than an image of God which one worships. A crucifix, on the other hand, or any other holy image is not forbidden. Heigh now! you breakers of images, I defy you to prove the opposite!
    • pp. 85-86
  • Now I say this to keep the conscience free from mischievous laws and fictitious sins, and not because I would defend images. Nor would I condemn those who have destroyed them, especially those who destroy divine and idolatrous images. But images for memorial and witness, such as crucifixes and images of saints, are to be tolerated.
    • p. 91

On the Bondage of the Will (1525)

  • Throughout your treatment you forget that you said that 'free-will' can do nothing without grace, and you prove that 'free-will' can do all things without grace! Your inferences and analogies "For if man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?
    • p. 149
  • By the law is the knowledge of sin [Rom 3:20], so the word of grace comes only to those who are distressed by a sense of sin and tempted to despair.
    • p. 168
  • As to why some are touched by the law and others not, so that some receive and others scorn the offer of grace...[this is the] hidden will of God, Who, according to His own counsel, ordains such persons as He wills to receive and partake of the mercy preached and offered.
    • p. 169
  • Let all the 'free-will' in the world do all it can with all its strength; it will never give rise to a single instance of ability to avoid being hardened if God does not give the Spirit, or of meriting mercy if it is left to its own strength.
    • p. 202
  • Omnipotence and foreknowledge of God, I repeat, utterly destroy the doctrine of 'free-will' ... doubtless it gives the greatest possible offense to common sense or natural reason, that God, Who is proclaimed as being full of mercy and goodness, and so on, should of His own mere will abandon, harden and damn men, as though He delighted in the sins and great eternal torments of such poor wretches. It seems an iniquitous, cruel, intolerable thought to think of God; and it is this that has been such a stumbling block to so many great men down through the ages. And who would not stumble at it? I have stumbled at it myself more than once, down to the deepest pit of despair, so that I wished I had never been made a man. (That was before I knew how health-giving that despair was, and how close to grace
    • p. 217
  • Now, since on God's own testimony, men are 'flesh', they can savour of nothing but the flesh; therefore 'free-will can avail only to sin. And if, while the Spirit of God is calling and teaching among them, they go from bad to worse, what could they do when left to themselves, without the Spirit of God? Your [Erasmus] observation that Moses is speaking of the men of that age is not to the point at all. The same is true of all men, for all are 'flesh'; as Christ says, 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh' (John 3:6) How grave a defect this is, He Himself there teaches, when he says: 'Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (v. 5)...I call a man ungodly if he is without the Spirit of God; for Scripture says that the Spirit is given to justify the ungodly. As Christ distinguished the Spirit from the flesh, saying: "that which is born of the flesh is flesh', and adds that which is born of the flesh cannot enter the kingdom of God', it obviously follows that whatever is flesh is ungodly, under God's wrath, and a stranger to His kingdom. And if it is a stranger to God's kingdom and Spirit, it follows of necessity that it is under the kingdom and spirit of Satan. For there is no middle kingdom between the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan, which are ever at war with each other.
    • p. 241, 253
  • I say that man without the grace of God nonetheless remains the general omnipotence of God who effects, and moves and impels all things in a necessary, infallible course; but the effect of man's being carried along is nothing--that is, avails nothing in God's sight, nor is reckoned to be anything but sin.
    • p. 265
  • All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance are they that do away with "free-will", and these are countless...For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because "free-will" can do nothing.
    • p. 270
  • I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.
    • p. 313-314

Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (1535)

  • We refuse to have our conscience bound by any work or law, so that by doing this or that we should be righteous, or leaving this or that undone we should be damned.
    • Chapter 2
  • Our stubbornness is right, because we want to preserve the liberty which we have in Christ. Only by preserving our liberty shall we be able to retain the truth of the Gospel inviolate.
    • Chapter 2
  • Some will object that the Law is divine and holy. Let it be divine and holy. The Law has no right to tell me that I must be justified by it.
    • Chapter 2
  • Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain.
    • Chapter 2, Verse 14
  • The Law continues to exist and to function. But it no longer exists for me.
    • Chapter 2, Verse 19
  • When you see a person squirming in the clutches of the Law, say to him: “Brother, get things straight. You let the Law talk to your conscience. Make it talk to your flesh.
    • Chapter 2, Verse 19
  • I know that a Christian should be humble, but against the Pope I am going to be proud and say to him: “You, Pope, I will not have you for my boss, for I am sure that my doctrine is divine.”
    • Chapter 2, Verse 6
  • The true Gospel has it that we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the Law.
    • Chapter 2
  • To turn one's eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law.
    • Chapter 2
  • Paul calleth the Galatians foolish and bewitched, comparing them to children, to whom witchcraft doth much harm. As though he should say: It happeneth to you as it doth to children, whom witches, sorcerers, and enchanters are wont to charm by their enchantments, and by the illusions of the devil. Afterwards, in the fifth chapter, he rehearseth sorcery among the works of the flesh, which is a kind of witchcraft, whereby he plainly testifieth, that indeed such witchcraft and sorcery there is, and that it may be done. Moreover, it cannot be denied but that the devil, yea, and reigneth throughout the whole world. Witchcraft and sorceru therefore are the works of the devil; whereby he doth not only hurt men, but also, by the permission of God, he sometimes destroyeth them. Furthermore, we are all subject to the devil, both in body and goods; and we be strangers in this world, whereof he is the prince and god. Therefore the bread which we eat, the drink which we drink, the garments which we wear, yea, the air, and whatsoever we live by in the flesh is under his dominion.

Table Talk (1569)

Tischreden (1569)
  • ... a penny saved is better than a penny earned.
    • The Duty of a Husband and Wife (17 March 1539), No. 4408. LW 54:337
  • Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a-begging.
    • 53
  • The Clergy is the greatest hindrance to faith.
    • 58
  • For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel...Thus is the Devil ever God's ape.
    • 67. Compare "Where God hath a temple, the Devil will have a chapel", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, part III, section 4, member 1, subsection 1
  • so it is with human reason, which strives not against faith, when enlightened, but rather furthers and advances it.
    • On Justification CCXCIV
  • A faithful and good servant is a real godsend; but truly 'tis a rare bird in the land.
    • 156
  • The Mass is the greatest blasphemy of God, and the highest idolatry upon earth, an abomination the like of which has never been in Christendom since the time of the Apostles.
    • 171
  • There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
    • 292
  • I am entirely of the opinion that the papacy is the Antichrist. But if anyone wants to add the Turk, then the Pope is the spirit of the Antichrist, and the Turk is the flesh of the Antichrist. They help each other in their murderous work. The latter slaughters bodily and by the sword, the former spiritually and by doctrine.
    • 330
  • A theologian is born by living, nay dying and being damned, not by thinking, reading, or speculating.
    • 352
  • Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but--more frequently than not--struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.
    • 353
  • Out of special hatred for our faith, the devil has sent some whores here to destroy our poor young men . . . such a syphilitic whore can poison ten, twenty, thirty or more of the children of good people, and thus is to be considered a murderer, or worse, as a poisoner.
  • And I must speak plainly. If I were a judge, I would have such a poisonous, syphilitic whore tortured by being broken on the wheel and having her veins lacerated, for it is not to be denied what damage such a filthy whore does to young blood, so that it is unspeakably damaged before it is even fully grown and destroyed in the blood.
    • pp. 552-554 (1566); cited in Susan C. Karant-Nunn & Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks [editors and translators], Luther on Women: a Sourcebook, Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 157-158)
  • The reproduction of mankind is a great marvel and mystery. Had God consulted me in the matter, I should have advised him to continue the generation of the species by fashioning them of clay, in the way Adam was fashioned.
  • But the Jews are so hardened that they listen to nothing; though overcome by testimonies they yield not an inch. It is a pernicious race, oppressing all men by their usury and rapine. If they give a prince or magistrate a thousand florins, they extort twenty thousand from the subjects in payment. We must ever keep on guard against them.
    • 863
  • When the devil comes at night to worry me, this is what I say to him: “Devil, I have to sleep now. That is God’s commandment, for us to work by day and sleep at night.” If he keeps on nagging me and trots out my sins, then I answer: “Sweet devil, I know the whole list. But I have done even more sin which is not on your list. Write there also that I have shit in my breeches. Hang it around your neck and wipe your mouth on it.” Then, if he won’t cease to accuse me of sins, I say in contempt: “Holy Satan, pray for me.” ("Sancte Satane, ora pro me").
    • In, I Am a Christian: The Nun, the Devil, and Martin Luther, Carolyn M. Schneider, Fortress Press 2010, ISBN 0800697324 ISBN 978-0800697327 p. 49. (citing in Notes (p. 148), WA, Tr 2:131–32).
    • Expurgated version in, What Luther Says, Ewald M. Plass, vol. 1, pp. 403-404, (citing WA, Tr 2, No. 1557). 1191 How Luther Handled the Devil, May 20, 1532. "When the devil comes during the night to plague me..."
    • German & Latin text, Erlangen-Frankfurt ed. (1854), vol. 60, p. 101, No. 1574. "Wenn der Teufel des Nachts an mich kömpt mich zu plagen, gebe ich ihm diese Antwort..."
  • I think these things [firearms] were invented by Satan himself, for they can’t be defended against with (ordinary) weapons and fists. All human strength vanishes when confronted with firearms. A man is dead before he sees what’s coming.
    • 3552
  • They are splendidly built [Italian Hospitals], the best food and drink are at hand, the attendants are very diligent, the physicians are learned, the beds and coverings are very clean, and the bedsteads are painted. As soon as a sick man is brought in, all his clothes are taken off in the presence of a notary and are faithfully kept for him. He is then laid in a handsomely painted bed with clean sheets. Two physicians are fetched at once. Attendants come with food and drink, served in immaculate glass vessels; these are not touched with as much as a finger but are brought on a tray.
    • 3930

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Faith, like light, should ever be simple and unbending; while love, like warmth, should beam forth on every side, and bend to every necessity of our brethren.
    • p. 220
  • Faith looks to the word and the promise; that is, to the truth. But hope looks to that which the word has promised, to the gift.
    • p. 221
  • We believe that the very beginning and end of salvation, and the sum of Christianity, consists of faith in Christ, who by His blood alone, and not by any works of ours, has put away sin, and destroyed the power of death.
    • p. 224
  • Faith ever says, "If Thou wilt," not "If Thou canst."
    • p. 241
  • We may search long to find where God is, but we shall find Him in those who keep the words of Christ. For the Lord Christ saith, " If any man love me, he will keep my words; and we will make our abode with him."
    • p. 278
  • The believing man hath the Holy Ghost; and where the Holy Ghost dwelleth, He will not suffer a man to be idle, butstirreth him up to all exercises of piety and godliness, and of true religion, to the love of God, to the patient suffering of afflictions, to prayer, to thanksgiving, and the exercise of charity towards all men.
    • p. 320
  • Merit is a work for the sake of which Christ gives rewards. But no such work is to be found, for Christ gives by promise. Just as if a prince should say to me, "Come to me in my castle, and I will give you a hundred florins." I do a work, certainly, in going to the castle, but the gift is not given me as the reward of my work in going, but because the prince promised it to me.
    • p. 409
  • Let us keep to Christ, and cling to Him, and hang on Him, so that no power can remove us.
    • p. 433


  • Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.
    • Translation: Here I stand; I can do no other.
    • Often attributed as part of Luther's statement before the Diet of Worms (19 April 1521), there are no indications in the transcripts of the Diet or in eyewitness accounts that he ever said this, and most scholars now doubt these words were spoken. See 'Hier Stehe Ich!' by Elesha Coffman, in Christianity Today (1 April 2002). Diarmaid MacCulloch in 'Reformation: Europe's House Divided' (2003), attributes the origins of the quotation to Georg Rörer, the editor of Luther's collected works, who wanted to add a summary of Luther's statement.
    • Variants:
  • Here I stand; I can do no otherwise. God help me. Amen!
    • As reported in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 186; and in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
  • I’d rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian.
    • The earliest published source for such a statement yet located is in Pat Robertson — Where He Stands (1988) by Hubert Morken, p. 42, where such a comment is attributed to Luther without citation.
  • Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!
    • Widely attributed to Luther, but actually is an example given in 1658 book Ἑρμηνεια logica of faulty logic. In Latin:
      • Si vero termini in sorite sunt causae subordinatae per accidens, sorites non valet; ut ia hoc, Qui bene bibit, bene dormit; qui bene dormit, non peccat; qui non peccat, est beatus; ergo: qui bene bibit est beatus. Vitium est, quod bene bibere sit causa per accidens somni.
    • Translated via Fauxtations:
      • If, however, the conclusions in the sorite are subordinate by accident, the sorites is not valid; as in this one, He who sleeps well, drinks well; he who sleeps well, does not sin; he who does not sin, is blessed; therefore, he who drinks well is blessed. The problem is that to drink well is a cause of sleep only by accident.

Quotes about Luther

Luther, who was then at the apex of his power, ... proclaimed the servitude of the people as holy and legitimate. ... Were not these teachings, given in the name of the faith to a famishing people in revolt against the tyranny and avidity of the ruling aristocracy, fatal to the future of the peasant masses, whose very sufferings were thus legitimised in the name of the religion that should have come to their aid? ~ Francesco Saverio Nitti
  • Why, for instance, did Martin Luther succeed, whereas other important rebels against the medieval church — like John Huss — fail? Well, Luther was successful because printing had been developed by the time he advanced his cause. So his good earthy writings were put into pamphlets and spread so far and wide that the church officials couldn't have stopped the Protestant Reformation even if they had burned Luther at the stake.
  • The wish of Luther, that all his books of devotion were burnt, raises him greatly in my opinion; because he discovered, that the immoderate esteem and veneration attatched to them, caused the Scriptures to be neglected.
    • Robert Boyle, Treatises on the high veneration man's intellect owes to God (1835), p. 182
  • Rousseau, though holding views diametrically opposed to Luther's as to the character of man, finally strengthened his hand by his estimate of man's mind. Luther believed in the utter moral wretchedness of man, but Rousseau believed not only in man's goodness on the plane of character but he also was convinced (like Luther) that man is by nature intelligent. The "democrats" of the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries deducted from Luther's and Rousseau's joint declaration that man is intelligent (either by nature or by an inner light) the further conclusion that the sum total of all minds must be perfection itself.
    • Francis Stuart Campbell, pen name of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1943), Menace of the Herd, or, Procrustes at Large, Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, p. 41
  • It is particularly proper to introduce some mention of Luther in this place; not that he is in any way implicated in the question of necromancy, but that there are passages in his writings in which he talks of the devil in what we should now think a very extraordinary way. And it is curious, and not a little instructive, to see how a person of so masculine an intellect, and who in many respects so far outran the illumination of his age, was accustomed to judge respecting the intercourse of mortals with the inhabitants of the infernal world. Luther was born in the year 1483.
    It appears from his Treatise on the Abuses attendant on Private Masses, that he had a conference with the devil on the subject. He says, that this supernatural personage caused him by his visits "many bitter nights and much restless and wearisome repose." Once in particular he came to Luther, "in the dead of the night, when he was just awaked out of sleep. The devil," he goes on to say, "knows well how to construct his arguments, and to urge them with the skill of a master. He delivers himself with a grave, and yet a shrill voice. Nor does he use circumlocutions, and beat about the bush, but excels in forcible statements and quick rejoinders. I no longer wonder," he adds, "that the persons whom he assails in this way, are occasionally found dead in their beds. He is able to compress and throttle, and more than once he has so assaulted me and driven my soul into a corner, that I felt as if the next moment it must leave my body. I am of opinion that Gesner and Oecolampadius and others in that manner came by their deaths. The devil's manner of opening a debate is pleasant enough; but he urges things so peremptorily, that the respondent in a short time knows not how to acquit himself." He elsewhere says, "The reasons why the sacramentarians understood so little of the Scriptures, is that they do not encounter the true opponent, that is, the devil, who presently drives one up in a corner, and thus makes one perceive the just interpretation. For my part I am thoroughly acquainted with him, and have eaten a bushel of salt with him. He sleeps with me more frequently, and lies nearer to me in bed, than my own wife does."
  • Luther remains master of direct presentation of the truth, Kierkegaard, peer of Christian “indirect impartation” by a Socratic pedagogy. They are two complementary types of mind. In the growing complex, subtle, ratiocinate trend of modern life the bold simplicity of Luther's manly directness needs Kierkegaard's invincible “double-reflectivity” and keen appreciation of the refined intricacies of mind and life as a healthful corrective. Times change and we Christians must change with them in all things somewhat, except in the faith that saves.
    • Soren Kierkegaard in his life and literature by Adolf Hult 1906 p. 21
  • Luther’s early writings concerning the threat of Islamdom focused more on the Ottoman Turks as a military threat to Europe rather than as ideological opponents.11In the late 1520s, Luther wrote two works specifically addressing the Ottoman Turks: On War against the Turk (1528) and Sermon against the Turk (1529). In both of these works, Luther implored the Emperor, the German princes, and the German people to defend the principalities against Suleiman, the Ottoman Sultan. In his 1528 On War against the Turk, Luther promotes a live–and–let–live policy. “Let the Turk believe and live as he will, just as one lets the papacy and other false Christians live”. In fact, Luther sounds outright amiable toward the Turks when he states, “It is said that the Turks are among themselves faithful and friendly, and careful to tell the truth. I believe and I think that they probably have more fine virtues than that”. In the following year, however, with the siege of Vienna and march on Hungary, Luther changed his tune.
  • From the day on which Luther denied the authority of the Pope, and publicly declared in the Diet "that his teachings must be controverted through the words of the Bible itself, or with sensible reasons," there begins a new era in Germany. The fetters with which Saint Boniface had chained the German Church to Rome are broken. This Church, which has hitherto formed an integral part of the great hierarchy, now splits into religious democracies. The character of the religion itself is essentially changed: the Hindoo-Gnostic element disappears from it, and the Judaic-theistic element again becomes prominent. We behold the rise of evangelical Christianity. By recognising and legitimising the most importunate claims of the senses, religion becomes once more a reality. The priest becomes man, takes to himself a wife, and begets children, as God desires.
  • When [Luther] says: "I do not admit that my doctrine can be judged by anyone, not by the angels," one could almost imagine hearing Hitler speak.
    • Francis Stuart Campbell, pen name of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1943), Menace of the Herd, or, Procrustes at Large, Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, p. 170-171
  • No. 4638: Luther Rejects the Copernican Cosmology June 4, 1539 There was mention of a certain new astrologer who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the earth and the trees were moving. [Luther remarked,] “So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Josh. 10:12].”
    • Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:358). Philadelphia: Fortress Press
  • Protestantism itself, in its early phases, was plainly a movement toward mysticism: its purpose, at least in theory, was to remove the priestly veil separating man from the revealed Word of God. But that veil was restored almost instantly, and by the year 1522, five years after Wittenberg, Luther was damning the Anabaptists with all the ferocious certainty of a medieval Pope, and his followers were docily accepting his teaching.
  • Bruder Sanftleben und Vater Leisentret ... meinet, er wollte gerne seine fürgenommene Lüste alle ins Werk führen, seine Pracht und Reichtümer behalten und gleichwohl einen bewährten Glauben haben, welches doch der Sohn Gottes mit klaren Worten den Schriftgelehrten getadelt hat (Joh. am 5.), da er spricht: »Wie ist's möglich, daß ihr könnet glauben, wenn ihr eure Ehre sucht?«
  • Brother Soft-life and Father Pussyfoot ... would like to maintain his pomp and riches and simultaneously have a tested faith. The son of God accused the scribes of just this with clear words, John 5[:44], when he said, "How is it possible that you can believe when you seek your own honour?"
  • Thomas Müntzer, "Exposure of False Faith" (1524), in Revelation and Revolution: Basic Writings of Thomas Müntzer (1993), p. 121
  • The poverty-stricken rural population rose up against their despoilers; they burnt down the castles of the nobles, and swore that they would leave nothing to be seen upon the land but the cabins of the poor. The rich middle-class seemed at first to side with them, and at Strasburg, Nuremberg, and Ulm the peasants were encouraged, aided, and provided for. However, the bourgeoisie soon grew alarmed at the spreading of the insurrection, and made common cause with the nobles in smothering the revolt in the rural districts. Luther, who was then at the apex of his power, condemned the rising in the name of religion, and proclaimed the servitude of the people as holy and legitimate. "You seek," wrote he, "to free your persons and your goods. You desire the power and the goods of this earth. You will suffer no wrong. The Gospel, on the contrary, has no care for such things, and makes exterior life consist in suffering, supporting injustice, the cross, patience, and contempt of life, as of all the things of this world. To suffer! To suffer! The cross! The cross! Behold what Christ teaches!" Were not these teachings, given in the name of the faith to a famishing people in revolt against the tyranny and avidity of the ruling aristocracy, fatal to the future of the peasant masses, whose very sufferings were thus legitimised in the name of the religion that should have come to their aid?
  • Luther defined the Devil as a giant anus, and in much iconography we see Evil and Sin personified by farting, shitting, and sodomy. There is no satisfactory explanation for this anal phobia, though no doubt it had something to do with what we now call the "anal-retentive" personality of authoritarian types.
    • Rictor Norton, A History of Homophobia, "4 Gay Heretics and Witches" 15 April 2002, updated 18 February 2011, <http://rictornorton.co.uk/homopho4.htm>; originally featured in Gay News, No. 87 (1976), p. 15-16
  • Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, chief among the formative minds of Christendom, although separated by the centuries and antagonistic in many of their views, are united in their belief that war is legitimate when used in a righteous cause.
  • Freedom was the watchword of Martin Luther in his early days. His theology rested upon the foundation of the right of private judgment, and he boldly proclaimed the "universal priesthood of all Christians." …His own conduct, however, often departed widely from his abstract teaching. ... In practice he was often bitterly intolerant of his opponents. ... He favored banishment for Catholics who remained steadfast to their faith, and in 1530 signed a memorandum drafted by Melanchthon which justified the setting up of a regular system of coercion and the use of the death penalty for the most dangerous heretics or blasphemers. Concerning this point a Protestant theologian [Walther Kohler] says: "The death-penalty for heresy rested on the highest Lutheran authority."
  • Luther went so far as to rejoice over the death of Zwingli: "God knows the thoughts of the heart. It is well that Zwingli, Carlstadt, and Pellicanus lie dead on the battle field. ... Oh, what a triumph is this, that they have perished! God indeed knows His business well."
  • Lucas Cranach (1472–1553) is today acknowledged as one of the great painters of the Northern Renaissance, the creator of a large number of remarkable paintings in a distinctive, highly recognisable style. He was also responsible for the iconic series of images of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546), his friend and contemporary who had also settled in the small north German city of Wittenberg. His images of Luther and friends provide the definitive pictorial chronicle of the reformer’s life, from the time he first burst on to the public stage, and into old age. All of the many books that celebrate Luther in this run-up to the 500th anniversary in 2017 of the publishing of his 95 Theses will draw on Cranach for their image of the reformer.
  • Had Luther and Calvin been confined before they had begun to dogmatize, the states would have been spared many troubles.
    • Cardinal Richelieu as quoted in The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), edited by Charles George Herbermann
  • Luther was not the first theologian to criticize the powers of the papacy. ... John Wyclif at the end of the fourteenth century and John Hus at the beginning of the fifteenth century had attacked the excessive power of papacy. Luther was certainly well aware of John Hus's fate at the Council of Constance, where he was burned at the stake on charges of heresy.
  • Luther now had too much reason to complain of the impiety and cruelty of the Pope, who he openly declared to be the Man of Sin, and the great Antichrist.
    • John Wesley. The Arminian Magazine (1797). J. Fry & Company in Queen-Street. p. 502
  • Religion may be purified. This great work was begun two hundred years ago: but men can only bear light to come in upon them by degrees.
    • Voltaire, The critical review, or annals of literature, Vol. XXVI, by A Society of Gentlemen, (1768). p. 450
  • I am now engaged on the refutation of Luther's book, which refutation you will see about September 1st. I am indeed wholly averse to this kind of fighting; but what do they think is to be done by him who is attacked with edge and point? Do not all believe that in repelling an enemy he is to be kept away, and if this is to be accomplished in no other way, he is to be cut down? And must we not oppose engines to those battering-rams which cause not theology but faith and truth to be overthrown, friendship to perish, and whatever is sacred and in moderation to be held in contempt among mortals? That book of Luther's, what else is it than an example of denying what you a little while ago? Or a fog through which you cannot see rightly the mystery of Christ? I shall put forth nothing wild against Luther - a thing he himself ought not to have done. Since he has done it I shall remember piety and Christian decorum.
    • Huldrych Zwingli, Huldreich Zwingli, the Reformer of German Switzerland, 1484-1531 by Samuel Macauley Jackson, John Martin Vincent, Frank Hugh Foster, letter July 21 p. 288
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