The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) was composed in the city of Heidelberg, Germany, at the request of Elector Frederick III, who ruled the province of the Palatinate from 1559 to 1576. The new catechism was intended as a tool for teaching young people, a guide for preaching in the provincial churches, and a form of confessional unity among the several Protestant factions in the Palatinate. An old tradition credits Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus with being the coauthors of the catechism, but the project was actually the work of a team of ministers and university theologians under the watchful eye of Frederick himself. Ursinus probably served as the primary writer on the team, and Olevianus had a lesser role. 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. The third edition was included in the Palatinate Church Order of November 15, 1563, at which time the catechism was divided into fifty-two sections or Lord's Days, so that one Lord's Day could be explained in an afternoon worship service each Sunday of the year.
The Synod of Dort approved the Heidelberg Catechism in 1619, and it soon became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms and confessions. It has been translated into many European, Asian, and African languages and is still the most widely used and warmly praised catechism of the Reformation period.
Most of the footnoted biblical references in this translation of the catechism were included in the early German and Latin editions, but the precise selection was approved by Synod 1975 of the Christian Reformed Church.
Lord’s Day 1
Q & A 1
Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,1
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 way6
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 life9
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.10
Q & A 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
Part I: Misery
Lord’s Day 2
Q & A 3
Q. How do you come to know your misery?
A. The law of God tells me.1
Q & A 4
Q. What does God’s law require of us?
A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew 22:37-40:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.’1
This is the greatest and first commandment.
“And a second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’2
“On these two commandments hang
all the law and the prophets.”
Q & A 5
Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?
I have a natural tendency
to hate God and my neighbor.2
Lord’s Day 3
Q & A 6
Q. Did God create people
so wicked and perverse?
God created them good1 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 God in eternal happiness,
to praise and glorify him.5
Q & A 7
Q. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents,
Adam and Eve, in Paradise.1
This fall has so poisoned our nature2
that we are all conceived and born
in a sinful condition.3
Q & A 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
Lord’s Day 4
Q & A 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 human beings with the ability to keep the law.1
They, however, provoked by the devil,2
in willful disobedience,3
robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.4
Q & A 10
Q. Does God permit
such disobedience and rebellion
to go unpunished?
A. Certainly not.
God is terribly angry
with the sin we are born with
as well as the sins we personally commit.
As a just judge,
God will punish them both now and in eternity,1
“Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey
all the things written in the book of the law.”2
Q & A 11
Q. But isn’t God also merciful?
A. God is certainly merciful,1
but also just.2
God’s justice demands
that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,
be punished with the supreme penalty—
eternal punishment of body and soul.3
Part II: Deliverance
Lord’s Day 5
Q & A 12
Q. According to God’s righteous judgment
we deserve punishment
both now and in eternity:
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 this justice
must be paid in full,
either by ourselves or by another.2
Q & A 13
Q. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A. Certainly not.
Actually, we increase our debt every day.1
Q & A 14
Q. Can another creature—any at all—
pay this debt for us?
To begin with,
God will not punish any other creature
for what a human is guilty of.1
no mere creature can bear the weight
of God’s eternal wrath against sin
and deliver others from it.2
Q & A 15
Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer
should we look for then?
A. One who is a true1 and righteous2 human,
yet more powerful than all creatures,
that is, one who is also true God.3
Lord’s Day 6
Q & A 16
Q. Why must the mediator be a true and righteous human?
A. God’s justice demands
that human nature, which has sinned,
must pay for sin;1
but a sinful human could never pay for others.2
Q & A 17
Q. Why must the mediator also be true God?
A. So that the mediator,
by the power of his divinity,
might bear the weight of God’s wrath in his humanity
and earn for us
and restore to us
righteousness and life.1
Q & A 18
Q. Then who is this mediator—
true God and at the same time
a true and righteous human?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ,1
who was given to us
to completely deliver us
and make us right with God.2
Q & A 19
Q. How do you come to know this?
A. The holy gospel tells me.
God began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;1
later God proclaimed it
by the holy patriarchs2 and prophets3
and foreshadowed it
by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;4
and finally God fulfilled it
through his own beloved Son.5
Lord’s Day 7
Q & A 20
Q. Are all people then saved through Christ
just as they were lost through Adam?
Only those are saved
who through true faith
are grafted into Christ
and accept all his benefits.1
Q & A 21
Q. What is true faith?
A. True faith is
not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true
all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;1
it is also a wholehearted trust,2
which the Holy Spirit creates in me3 by the gospel,4
that God has freely granted,
not only to others but to me also,5
forgiveness of sins,
These are gifts of sheer grace,
granted solely by Christ’s merit.7
Q & A 22
Q. What then must a Christian believe?
A. All that is promised us in the gospel,1
a summary of which is taught us
in the articles of our universal
and undisputed Christian faith.
Q & A 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 begotten 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.
Lord’s Day 8
Q & A 24
Q. How are these articles divided?
A. Into three parts:
God the Father and our creation;
God the Son and our deliverance;
and God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.
Q & A 25
Q. Since there is only one divine being,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.
God the Father
Lord’s Day 9
Q & A 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 the Son.3
I trust God so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,4
and will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends upon me
in this sad world.5
God is able to do this because he is almighty God6
and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.7
Lord’s Day 10
Q & A 27
Q. What do you understand
by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever present power of God1
by which God upholds, as with his hand,
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 chance4
but by his fatherly hand.5
Q & A 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 in creation will separate us from his love.3
For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.4
God the Son
Lord’s Day 11
Q & A 29
Q. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,”
A. Because he saves us from our sins,1
and because salvation should not be sought
and cannot be found in anyone else.2
Q & A 30
Q. Do those who look for
their salvation in saints,
in themselves, or elsewhere
really believe in the only savior Jesus?
Although they boast of being his,
by their actions they deny
the only savior, 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
Lord’s Day 12
Q & A 31
Q. Why is he called “Christ,”
A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit1
our chief prophet and teacher2
who fully reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;3
our only high priest4
who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body,5
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;6
and our eternal king7
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us
in the freedom he has won for us.8
Q & A 32
Q. But why are you called a Christian?
A. Because by faith I am a member of Christ1
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 free conscience against sin and the devil
in this life,5
and afterward to reign with Christ
over all creation
Lord’s Day 13
Q & A 33
Q. Why is he called God’s “only begotten 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
Q & A 34
Q. Why do you call him “our Lord”?
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
Lord’s Day 14
Q & A 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 also become David’s true descendant,4
like his brothers and sisters in every way5
except for sin.6
Q & A 36
Q. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ
A. He is our mediator1
and, in God’s sight,
he covers with his innocence and perfect holiness
my sinfulness in which I was conceived.2
Lord’s Day 15
Q & A 37
Q. What do you understand
by the word “suffered”?
A. That during his whole life on earth,
but especially at the end,
in body and soul
the wrath 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 deliver us, body and soul,
from eternal condemnation,3
and gain for us
and eternal life.4
Q & A 38
Q. Why did he suffer
“under Pontius Pilate” as judge?
A. So that he,
might be condemned by an earthly judge,1
and so free us from the severe judgment of God
that was to fall on us.2
Q & A 39
Q. Is it significant that he was “crucified”
instead of dying some other way?
By this I am convinced
that he shouldered the curse
which lay on me,
since death by crucifixion was cursed by God.1
Lord’s Day 16
Q & A 40
Q. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
A. Because God’s justice and truth require it: 1
nothing else could pay for our sins
except the death of the Son of God.2
Q & A 41
Q. Why was he “buried”?
A. His burial testifies
that he really died.1
Q & A 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
Q & A 43
Q. What further benefit do we receive
from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?
A. By Christ’s power
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 offer ourselves
as a sacrifice of gratitude to him.3
Q & A 44
Q. Why does the creed add,
“He descended to hell”?
A. To assure me during attacks of deepest dread and temptation
that Christ my Lord,
by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul,
on the cross but also earlier,
has delivered me from hellish anguish and torment.1
Lord’s Day 17
Q & A 45
Q. How does Christ’s resurrection
A. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death,
so that he might make us share in the righteousness
he obtained for us by his death.1
Second, by his power we too
are already raised to a new life.2
Third, Christ’s resurrection
is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.3
Lord’s Day 18
Q & A 46
Q. What do you mean by saying,
“He ascended to heaven”?
A. That Christ,
while his disciples watched,
was taken up from the earth into heaven1
and remains there on our behalf2
until he comes again
to judge the living and the dead.3
Q & A 47
Q. But isn’t Christ with us
until the end of the world
as he promised us?1
A. Christ is true human and true God.
In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;2
but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit
he is never absent from us.3
Q & A 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.
is not limited
and is present everywhere,1
it is evident that
Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of
the humanity that has been taken on,
but at the same time his divinity is in
and remains personally united to
Q & A 49
Q. How does Christ’s ascension to heaven
A. First, he is our advocate
in the presence of his Father.1
Second, we have our own flesh in heaven
as a sure pledge that Christ our head
will also take us, his members,
up to himself.2
Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth
as a corresponding pledge.3
By the Spirit’s power
we seek not earthly things
but the things above, where Christ is,
sitting at God’s right hand.4
Lord’s Day 19
Q & A 50
Q. Why the next words:
“and is seated at the right hand of God”?
A. Because Christ ascended to heaven
to show there that he is head of his church,1
the one through whom the Father rules all things.2
Q & A 51
Q. How does this glory of Christ our head
A. First, through his Holy Spirit
he pours out gifts from heaven
upon us his members.1
Second, by his power
he defends us and keeps us safe
from all enemies.2
Q & A 52
Q. How does Christ’s return
“to judge the living and the dead”
A. In all distress and persecution,
with uplifted head,
I confidently await the very judge
who has already offered himself to the judgment of God
in my place and removed the whole curse from me.1
Christ will cast all his enemies and mine
into everlasting condemnation,
but will take me and all his chosen ones
into the joy and glory of heaven.2
God the Holy Spirit
Lord’s Day 20
Q & A 53
Q. What do you believe
concerning “the Holy Spirit”?
A. First, that the Spirit, with the Father and the Son,
is eternal God.1
Second, that the Spirit is given also to me,2
so that, through true faith,
he makes me share in Christ and all his benefits,3
and will remain with me forever.5
Lord’s Day 21
Q & A 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 life4
and united in true faith.5
And of this community I am6 and always will be7
a living member.
Q & A 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 joyfully
for the service and enrichment
of the other members.2
Q & A 56
Q. What do you believe
concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?
A. I believe that God,
because of Christ’s satisfaction,
will no longer remember
any of my sins1
or my sinful nature
which I need to struggle against all my life.2
Rather, by grace
God grants me the righteousness of Christ
to free me forever from judgment.3
Lord’s Day 22
Q & A 57
Q. How does “the resurrection of the body”
A. Not only will my soul
be taken immediately after this life
to Christ its head,1
but also my very flesh will be
raised by the power of Christ,
reunited with my soul,
and made like Christ’s glorious body.2
Q & A 58
Q. How does the article
concerning “life everlasting”
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 forever.2
Lord’s Day 23
Q & A 59
Q. What good does it do you, however,
to believe all this?
A. In Christ I am righteous before God
and heir to life everlasting.1
Q & A 60
Q. How are you righteous before 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,
of never having kept any of them,2
and of still being inclined toward all evil,3
without any merit of my own,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,
and as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.7
All I need to do
is accept this gift with a believing heart.8
Q & A 61
Q. Why do you say that
through faith alone
you are righteous?
A. Not because I please God
by the worthiness of my faith.
It is because only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness
make me righteous before God,1
and because I can accept this righteousness and make it mine
in no other way
than through faith.2
Lord’s Day 24
Q & A 62
Q. Why can’t our good works
be our righteousness before God,
or at least a part of our righteousness?
A. Because the righteousness
which can pass God’s judgment
must be entirely perfect
and must in every way measure up to the divine law.1
But even our best works in this life
and stained with sin.2
Q & A 63
Q. How can our good works
be said to merit nothing
when God promises to reward them
in this life and the next?1
A. This reward is not earned;
it is a gift of grace.2
Q & A 64
Q. But doesn’t this teaching
make people indifferent and wicked?
It is impossible
for those grafted into Christ through true faith
not to produce fruits of gratitude.1
The Holy Sacraments
Lord’s Day 25
Q & A 65
Q. It is through faith alone
that we share in Christ and all his benefits:
where then does that faith come from?
A. The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts1
by the preaching of the holy gospel,2
and confirms it
by the use of the holy sacraments.3
Q & A 66
Q. What are sacraments?
A. Sacraments are visible, holy signs and seals.
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 seal that promise.1
And this is God’s gospel promise:
to grant us forgiveness of sins and eternal life
because of Christ’s one sacrifice
accomplished on the cross.2
Q & A 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?
In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us
and by the holy sacraments confirms
that our entire salvation
rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.1
Q & A 68
Q. How many sacraments
did Christ institute in the New Testament?
A. Two: holy baptism and the holy supper.1
Lord’s Day 26
Q & A 69
Q. How does holy baptism
remind and assure you
that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross
benefits you personally?
A. In this way:
Christ instituted this outward washing1
and with it promised 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,
that is, all my sins.2
Q & A 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 our sins
because of Christ’s blood
poured out for us in his sacrifice on the cross.1
To be washed with Christ’s Spirit means
that the Holy Spirit has renewed
and sanctified us to be members of Christ,
so that more and more
we become dead to sin
and live holy and blameless lives.2
Q & A 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:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.”1
“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved;
but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”2
This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism
“the water of rebirth”3 and
the washing away of sins.4
Lord’s Day 27
Q & A 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
Q & A 73
Q. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism
the water of rebirth and
the washing away of sins?
A. God has good reason for these words.
To begin with, God wants to teach us that
the blood and Spirit of Christ take away our sins
just as water removes dirt from the body.1
But more important,
God wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign,
that we are as truly washed of our sins spiritually
as our bodies are washed with water physically.2
Q & A 74
Q. Should infants also be baptized?
Infants as well as adults
are included in God’s covenant and people,1
and they, no less than adults, are promised
deliverance from sin through Christ’s blood
and the Holy Spirit who produces faith.2
Therefore, by baptism, the sign of the covenant,
they too should be incorporated into the Christian church
and distinguished from the children
This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,4
which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5
The Holy Supper of Jesus Christ
Lord’s Day 28
Q & A 75
Q. How does the holy supper
remind and assure you
that you share in
Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross
and in all his benefits?
A. In this way:
Christ has commanded me and all believers
to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup
in remembrance of him.
With this command come these promises:1
as surely as I see with my eyes
the bread of the Lord broken for me
and the cup shared with me,
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,
he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life
with his crucified body and poured-out blood.
Q & A 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
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 heaven3 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 the members of our body are by one soul.5
Q & A 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 when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
‘This is my body that is [broken]* for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death
until he comes.”1
This promise is repeated by Paul in these words:
“The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.”2
Lord’s Day 29
Q & A 78
Q. Do the bread and wine become
the real body and blood of Christ?
Just as the water of baptism
is not changed into Christ’s blood
and does not itself wash away sins
but is simply a divine sign and assurance1 of these things,
so too the holy bread of the Lord’s Supper
does not become the actual body of Christ,2
even though it is called the body of Christ3
in keeping with the nature and language of sacraments.4
Q & A 79
Q. Why then does Christ call
the bread his body
and the cup his blood,
or the new covenant in his blood,
and Paul use the words,
a sharing in Christ’s body and blood?
A. Christ has good reason for these words.
He wants to teach us that
just as bread and wine nourish the temporal life,
so too his crucified body and poured-out blood
are the true food and drink of 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 made satisfaction for our sins.3
Lord’s Day 30
Q & A 80*
Q. How does the Lord’s Supper
differ from the Roman Catholic Mass?
A. The Lord’s Supper declares to us
that all our sins are completely forgiven
through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
which he himself accomplished on the cross once for all.1
It also declares to us
that the Holy Spirit grafts us into Christ,2
who with his true body
is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father3
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
under 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.]**
Q & A 81
Q. Who should 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 remaining 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
Q & A 82
Q. Should those be admitted
to the Lord’s Supper
who show by what they profess and how they live
that they are unbelieving and ungodly?
A. No, that would dishonor God’s covenant
and bring down God’s wrath 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.
Lord’s Day 31
Q & A 83
Q. What are the keys of the kingdom?
A. The preaching of the holy gospel
and Christian discipline toward repentance.
Both of them
open the kingdom of heaven to believers
and close it to unbelievers.1
Q & A 84
Q. How does preaching the holy 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 Christ’s merit,
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 wrath 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
Q & A 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 who after repeated personal and loving admonitions,
refuse to abandon their errors and evil ways,
and who after being reported to the church, that is,
to those ordained by the church for that purpose,
fail to respond also to the church’s admonitions—
such persons the church excludes
from the Christian community
by withholding the sacraments from them,
and God also excludes them from the kingdom of Christ.1
when promising and demonstrating genuine reform,
are received again
as members of Christ
and of his church.2
Part III: Gratitude
Lord’s Day 32
Q & A 86
Q. Since we have been delivered
from our misery
by grace through Christ
without any merit of our own,
why then should we do good works?
A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood,
is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image,
so that with our whole lives
we may show that we are thankful to God
for his benefits,1
so that he may be praised through us,2
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
Q & A 87
Q. Can those be saved
who do not turn to God
from their ungrateful
and unrepentant 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
will inherit the kingdom of God.1
Lord’s Day 33
Q & A 88
Q. What is involved
in genuine repentance or conversion?
A. Two things:
the dying-away of the old self,
and the rising-to-life of the new.1
Q & A 89
Q. What is the dying-away of the old self?
A. To be genuinely sorry for sin
and more and more to hate
and run away from it.1
Q & A 90
Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?
A. Wholehearted joy in God through Christ1
and a love and delight to live
according to the will of God
by doing every kind of good work.2
Q & A 91
Q. What are good works?
A. Only those which
are done out of true faith,1
conform to God’s law,2
and are done for God’s glory;3
and not those based
on our own opinion
or human tradition.4
The Ten Commandments
Lord’s Day 34
Q & A 92
Q. What is God’s law?
A. God spoke all these words:
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
“I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of slavery;
you shall have no other gods before me.”
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
“You shall not make for yourself an idol,
whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is on the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,
punishing children for the iniquity of parents,
to the third and the fourth generation
of those who reject me,
but showing love to the thousandth generation of those
who love me and keep my commandments.”
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God,
for the LORD will not acquit anyone
who misuses his name.”
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
“Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God;
you shall not do any work—
you, your son or your daughter,
your male or female slave,
or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made
heaven and earth, the sea,
and all that is in them,
but rested the seventh day;
therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day
and consecrated it.”
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
“Honor your father and your mother,
so that your days may be long
in the land that the Lord your God is giving to 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 bear false witness
against your neighbor.”
THE TENTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
or male or female slave,
or ox, or donkey,
or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”1
Q & A 93
Q. How are these commandments divided?
A. Into two tables.
The first has four commandments,
teaching us how we ought to live in relation to God.
The second has six commandments,
teaching us what we owe our neighbor.1
Q & A 94
Q. What does the Lord require
in the first commandment?
A. That I, not wanting to endanger my own salvation,
avoid and shun
all idolatry,1 sorcery, superstitious rites,2
and prayer to saints or to other creatures.3
That I rightly know the only true God,4
trust him alone,5
and look to God for every good thing6
humbly7 and patiently,8
and love,9 fear,10 and honor11 God
with all my heart.
that I give up anything
rather than go against God’s will in any way.12
Q & A 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 the Word.1
Lord’s Day 35
Q & A 96
Q. What is God’s will for us
in the second commandment?
A. That we in no way make any image of God1
nor worship him in any other way
than has been commanded in God’s Word.2
Q & A 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
Q & A 98
Q. But may not images be permitted in churches
in place of books for the unlearned?
A. No, we should not try to be wiser than God.
God wants the Christian community instructed
by the living preaching of his Word—1
not by idols that cannot even talk.2
Lord’s Day 36
Q & A 99
Q. What is the aim of 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
we should use the holy name of God
only with reverence and awe,5
so that we may properly
pray to God,7
and glorify God in all our words and works.8
Q & A 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 and forbid it?
A. Yes, indeed.1
No sin is greater
or provokes God’s wrath more
than blaspheming his name.
That is why God commanded it to be punished with death.2
Lord’s Day 37
Q & A 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 grounded in God’s Word1
and were rightly used by the people of God
in the Old and New Testaments.2
Q & A 102
Q. May we also swear by saints or other creatures?
A legitimate oath means calling upon God
as the only 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
Lord’s Day 38
Q & A 103
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the fourth commandment?
that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,1
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people2
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 in this life
the eternal Sabbath.7
Lord’s Day 39
Q & A 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 submit myself with proper obedience
to all their good teaching and discipline;1
and also that I be patient with their failings—2
for through them God chooses to rule us.3
Lord’s Day 40
Q & A 105
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the sixth commandment?
A. I am not to belittle, hate, insult, 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
Q & A 106
Q. Does this commandment refer only to murder?
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 disguised forms of murder.2
Q & A 107
Q. Is it enough then
that we do not murder our neighbor
in any such way?
By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God wants us
to love our neighbors as ourselves,1
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly toward them,2
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies.3
Lord’s Day 41
Q & A 108
Q. What does the seventh commandment teach us?
A. That God condemns all unchastity,1
and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it2
and live decent and chaste lives,3
within or outside of the holy state of marriage.
Q & A 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 God forbids
all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires,1
and whatever may incite someone to them.2
Lord’s Day 42
Q & A 110
Q. What does God forbid
in the eighth commandment?
A. God forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
punishable by law.1
But in God’s sight theft also includes
all scheming and swindling
in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves,
whether by force or means that appear legitimate,2
inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
or any other means forbidden by God.3
In addition God forbids all greed4
and pointless squandering of his gifts.5
Q & A 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
Lord’s Day 43
Q & A 112
Q. What is the aim of the ninth commandment?
A. That I
never give false testimony against anyone,
twist no one’s words,
not gossip or slander,
nor join in condemning anyone
rashly or without a hearing.1
Rather, in court and everywhere else,
I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind;
these are the very devices the devil uses,
and they would call down on me God’s intense wrath.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
Lord’s Day 44
Q & A 113
Q. What is the aim of the tenth commandment?
A. That not even the slightest desire or thought
contrary to any one of God’s commandments
should ever arise in our hearts.
Rather, with all our hearts
we should always hate sin
and take pleasure in whatever is right.1
Q & A 114
Q. But can those converted to God
obey these commandments perfectly?
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
Q & A 115
Q. Since no one in this life
can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly,
why 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
we may never stop striving,
and never stop praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit,
to be renewed more and more after God’s image,
until after this life we reach our goal:
The Lord’s Prayer
Lord’s Day 45
Q & A 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 God for them.2
Q & A 117
Q. What is the kind of prayer
that pleases God and that he listens to?
A. First, we must pray from the heart
to no other than the one true God,
revealed to us in his Word,
asking for everything God has commanded us to ask for.1
Second, we must fully recognize our need and misery,
so that we humble ourselves in God’s 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 God promised us in his Word.3
Q & A 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.
Q & A 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 this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.*
For the kingdom
and the power
and the glory are yours forever.
Lord’s Day 46
Q & A 120
Q. Why did Christ command us
to call God “our Father”?
A. To awaken in us
at the very beginning of our prayer
what should be basic to our prayer—
a childlike reverence and trust
that through Christ God has become our Father,
and that just as our parents do not refuse us
the things of this life,
even less will God our Father refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.1
Q & A 121
Q. Why the words
A. These words teach us
not to think of God’s heavenly majesty
as something earthly,1
and to expect everything
needed for body and soul
from God’s almighty power.2
Lord’s Day 47
Q & A 122
Q. What does the first petition mean?
A. “Hallowed be your name” means:
Help us to truly know you,1
to honor, glorify, 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
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
Lord’s Day 48
Q & A 123
Q. What does the second petition 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
Preserve your church and make it grow.2
Destroy the devil’s work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your holy Word.3
Do this until your kingdom fully comes,
when you will be
all in all.4
Lord’s Day 49
Q & A 124
Q. What does the third petition 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
Lord’s Day 50
Q & A 125
Q. What does the fourth petition mean?
A. “Give us this day our daily bread” means:
Do take care of all our physical needs1
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 trust in you alone.4
Lord’s Day 51
Q & A 126
Q. What does the fifth petition 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
Lord’s Day 52
Q & A 127
Q. What does the sixth petition mean?
A. “And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue 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
Q & A 128
Q. What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?
A. For the kingdom
and the power
and the glory are yours forever” means:
We have made all these petitions of you
because, as our all-powerful king,
you are both willing and 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
Q & A 129
Q. What does that little word “Amen” express?
A. “Amen” means:
This shall truly and surely be!
It is even more sure
that God listens to my prayer
than that I really desire
what I pray for.1