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Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, 2017 Edition

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More than a quarter of a century has passed since the Explanation to Luther’s Small Catechism was updated. During that time, society and culture have changed dramatically: our culture is increasingly diverse in worldviews and religions. Specific changes contradict Christian beliefs and values: same-sex marriage, over-the-counter abortion pills, and atheist hostility toward Christian beliefs and values—leaving many to doubt if there is such a thing as absolute truth. With these new questions and topics facing new generations, the Synod decided that the Explanation to Luther’s Small Catechism needed to address these issues for the sake of young and old. The 2017 Explanation presents a lens to faithfully understand God’s Word in the midst of changing times—providing a practical guide for living the daily Christian life.

Written by Martin Luther in 1529, the Small Catechism provides a brief, clear summary of God’s Word on the essentials of the Christian faith. In question-and-answer format, it explores the Six Chief Parts of Christian Doctrine and includes daily prayers, a table of duties for Christians in their various callings, and a guide for Christians as they prepare to receive Holy Communion.

An Explanation designed to help readers understand and apply Luther’s Small Catechism has accompanied editions of the catechism since the early days of Lutheranism. The 2017 edition offers an updated and expanded explanation, tackling issues prevalent in our culture today. With 374 questions and 1142 Scripture references, the new explanation provides more biblical teaching and devotional aids than ever before.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • The Central Thought section guides you through simple Bible study and reflection questions
  • A Closer Reading helps you dig deeper into the wording of Luther’s Small Catechism
  • Connections and Applications relates Scripture to important issues in today’s culture
  • Psalms, hymns, and prayers combine Scripture and catechism study with worship for devotional use
  • Bible narrative references, expanded notes, and quotes from Martin Luther and the Confessions delve into God’s Word
  • Expanded appendix provides helpful articles, reference material, and glossary to aid in personal study

Top Highlights

“Note: We must distinguish between what a government permits people to do and what it compels them to do. When it compels us to act contrary to God’s Word, then we must disobey and live as God intends. When government permits activities contrary to God’s Word (for example, abortion, no-fault divorce, and same-sex marriage), we bear witness by living as God intended.” (Page 84)

“The Christian faith is the confession that Jesus Christ is the world’s only Savior and Redeemer.” (Page 43)

“E. It forbids hating, despising, or slandering other groups of people (prejudice, racism, and so forth).” (Page 90)

“In many cases, we do not know why God allows some to suffer more than others. Those reasons remain hidden in God, whose purposes are often beyond our understanding, just as those who saw Jesus suffer were not at the time aware of God’s great and loving purpose behind the cross.” (Page 151)

“D. It forbids engaging in reckless and self-destructive behaviors (for example, substance abuse).” (Page 89)

Praise for the Print Edition

Bringing forth the best of previous explanations of Luther's Small Catechism, the 2017 revision adds much that will enhance the use of the catechism in the home, congregation, and school. In addition to the careful exposition of Christian doctrine in the six chief parts, material is included on the daily prayers and table of duties. These appendices added by Luther were overlooked in previous editions. The inclusion of prayers, hymns, and psalms under each section will offer yet another opportunity to use the catechism devotionally. Short interpretative essays on the liturgy and "How to Read the Bible" will help connect the Catechism even more closely with the Christian's life in the Word. This new revision of the explanation of Luther's Small Catechism is fitting in this Reformation jubilee year as we carry the Reformer's legacy forward to the next generation.

—John T. Pless, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and missions, Concordia Theological Seminary

The new catechism explanation is down-to-earth, thorough, and cares for the souls of its students. In a fresh and helpful way the explanation beautifully teaches the riches of our Lord's Word and applies this teaching in a clear, insightful, honest, and pastoral way. For example, the explanation covers abortion under the Fifth commandment with strong scriptural support for our unborn brothers and sisters, wise counsel for those considering abortion, and faithful guidance for those who have guilt over abortion. Throughout, the explanation gives our Lord's law undiluted, the Gospel in its full sweetness, and guidance for the life our Lord has called us to live.

—Pastor David C. Fleming, Our Savior Lutheran Church

  • Title: Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, 2017 Edition
  • Author: Martin Luther
  • Publisher: Concordia Publishing House
  • Print Publication Date: 2017
  • Logos Release Date: 2018
  • Pages: 429
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Lutheran Church › Catechisms--English; Catechisms, English
  • Resource ID: LLS:LUTSMCAT2017
  • Resource Type: Commentary
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2023-03-06T18:11:18Z
Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483–1546), one of the most significant figures in Western history, was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. Over the course of his life, Luther was a monk, a priest, a professor of biblical literature, a Reformer, a husband, and a father.

Luther is most noted for his Ninety-Five Theses (1517), in which he argued that indulgences were not acts of penance which could replace true repentance. His refusal to retract all his writings, demanded by Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor.

Luther has been both praised and vilified for what he preached and wrote. Luther’s translation of the Christian Bible into the vernacular greatly influenced the church. His works continue to impact all Christians and animate the movement that bears his name. Luther’s Works (55 vols.) contains many of Luther’s writings, including commentaries, sermons, and lectures.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


3 ratings

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  1. Raymond Emery

    Raymond Emery


    This book is an absolute joy to read. The explanations are very helpful. Can’t recommend it enough to Protestants of all denominations.
  2. Russel Taylor

    Russel Taylor


  3. Rev. Robert Sundquist