Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.
Small Catechism II, “The Creed” p. 355.
Large Catechism II, “The Creed” pp. 432-441.
The second section of Luther’s Small Catechism reviews the Apostles’ Creed. It is presented for recitation with a brief explanation of each of the three portions. In the first article, we confess that God has created us and preserves us, giving all we need. Our response is thanksgiving. The second article details Jesus’ work of life, death, and resurrection. The explanation emphasizes that Jesus, as my Lord, “has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being” (Kolb 2000, 356). The third article speaks of the Holy Spirit who binds believers together for eternal life. In the explanation we confess, “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me” (Kolb 2000, 356). The discussion of the Holy Spirit’s work indicates that all of our life, redemption, preservation, and hope are in God, not ever in ourselves.
In the Large Catechism Luther begins by reminding the reader that we need the good news of the Creed because we cannot keep the Commandments, which come immediately prior to the Creed in the catechism (Kolb 2000, 432). Learning the creed itself will do wonders, even before learning an explanation. Though the Creed has been divided in various ways, Luther treats it in three articles, one for each person of the Trinity (Kolb 2000, 432).
The first article shows God as the creator. Luther links teaching on this article to the First Commandment, as it begins to explain who this God is (Kolb 2000, 433). God’s work as creator includes making and sustaining everything. “All this he does out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a kind father who cares for us so that no evil may befall us” (Kolb 2000, 433). As a response, we thank God rather than ourselves (Kolb 2000, 434).
The second article details Jesus’ life and work of redemption (Kolb 2000, 434) Out of all the possible aspects, Luther chooses to dwell on “our Lord” and discuss the lordship of Christ. The implication is that as redeemer Jesus has rescued his people and will keep them, even at a great cost (Kolb 2000, 435).
The third article, with its focus on the work of the Holy Spirit, is taken as a confession that all we are and do as Christians depends on the Holy Spirit (Kolb 2000, 436). Luther also reviews the individual parts of the third article (Kolb 2000, 437ff) discussing the implications of each to life in Christ. The constant thrust is that God has put his people together into a community of forgiveness.