Augsburg Confession, Articles 1 and 2

Introduction to the Augsburg Confession 

Konfessions Windsheim (610x351)When Luther finally realized that a person is made right before God because of Jesus Christ, he came to see more clearly how the Roman-Catholic Church had veered away from the historic, Christian faith.  Rome’s teachings on repentance and the forgiveness of sins, especially as tied to indulgences, led Luther to write his 95 Theses.  Later in 1521, the Pope excommunicated Luther from the Church of Rome.

Yet, Luther’s teachings continued to spread.  The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire believed that Muslim armies then attacking Austria could possibly overrun all of Western Europe.  The emperor thought that his army could only defeat the Muslim armies if the WesternChurch was reunited.

So in 1530, Emperor Charles V tried one last time to reunite the Lutherans with the Roman-Catholic Church.  He commanded the Lutherans to appear at a diet (or council) in the southern German town of Augsburg.  Since Luther was still considered an outlaw, he was not authorized to represent the Lutheran Church.  Philip Melanchthon took Luther’s place as the chief Lutheran theologian.

An official from Saxony wrote the preface.  Melanchthon wrote the rest of the Augsburg Confession, basing it on other writings of Luther and the Lutheran Church (the Schwabach Articles, Torgau Articles, and other writings).  The first 21 articles (or chapters) explained the faith and doctrine of the Lutherans.  Seven more articles followed these, explaining some of the false practices the Lutherans had corrected.

The Augsburg Confession was written in both German and Latin (our translation follows the Latin since the Latin was the official text given to the Roman Catholic Church).  However, the German copy was read to the council at Augsburg on June 25, 1530.

Article 1: God 

1Our Churches teach and fully agree with the Council of Nicea that the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true and is to be believed without any doubt.  2God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.  He is the creator and preserver of all things, visible and invisible [Nehemiah 9:6].  3Yet, He is three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19].  These three persons are coeternal and of the same essence and power.  4The term “person” is used as the Fathers have used it: to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists in itself.


Genesis 1:1-3:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Deuteronomy 6:4:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Matthew 28:19:

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 …


–       What do these verses tell us about God?


1 Corinthians 3:11:

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

–       What do we confess with St. Paul?


–       Discuss: What does “our Churches teach and fully agree” say about the nature of what it means to be Church?


–       The first verse of the first article of the Augsburg Confession does not refer to the Scriptures but to the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicea.  What does this say about the LutheranChurch?


Article 1: God, continued 


Churches — refers not to individual congregations but to German territorial churches, landskirchen.

Manicheans — taught that two substances existed in the universe, one intrinsically good, the other intrinsically evil.  The material is the evil, the spiritual is the good.  Since Christ was perfect, they reasoned that Christ could not have had a physical body, but was just a phantom.

Valentinians — Valentinus (died 150 AD), said that Christ had “a heavenly, spiritual body, which alone was worthy of Him.”  Christ passed through Mary as water passes through a canal, without assuming from Mary a human nature.

Arians — Arius taught that the Son of God is of like substance to the Father, not the same substance as the Father.  The Nicene Creed is the Church’s direct response to Arius’ heresy.

Eunomians — taught that the Son of God was of a different substance than the Father.

Muslims — are anti-Trinitarian and believe that Christ was merely a man whom God had chosen to be a prophet.

Samosatenes — believed that Christ was just a man, chosen by God, and specially gifted by the Holy Spirit.

–       What do the false teachings about Jesus all have in common?


5Our churches condemn all heresies [Titus 3:10-11] against this article, such as the Manichaeans, who assumed two “principles,” one good and the other evil.  We also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunominans, Muslims, and all others like them.  6Our churches also condemn the Samosatenes, old and new, who contend that God is but one person.  They cleverly and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons but, instead, that “Word” refers to a spoken word and “Spirit” refers to a created motion in things.

Rome’s Response:

In the first article, where they [the Lutherans] confess the unity of the divine essence in three persons according to the decree of the Council of Nicea, we accept their Confession since it agrees in every way with the rule of faith and the Roman Church.


Article 2: Original Sin 


Pelagians – A set of teachings based on an early 5th century Briton, name Pelagius.  He argued that the term “original sin” (Erbsunde in German, “hereditary sin”) does not appear in the Bible.  Because of that, he concluded that sin must be voluntary, and therefore infants cannot be held accountable for sin before God.  They admitted original depravity, but denied that it is sin, teaching that it was but a weakness that an individual could overcome.  As a result, they taught that someone could be saved by an act of will aided by God’s grace.  The entire Christian Church ruled Pelagianism a heresy at the Councils of Carthage (412, 416 and 418) and later at Ephesus (431).

–       The Pelagians held that infants cannot be held accountable for sin before God.  What false teaching exists in the Church, which isn’t in the Bible, that teaches the same thing?


–       The Pelagians taught that a person could be saved by an act of will [i.e., decision] aided by God’s grace.  What false teaching in the Church today teaches the same thing?


1Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam [Romans 5:12], all who are physically born are born with sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence [an inclination toward sin].  2Concupiscence is a disease and original depravity is truly sin, which even now damns and brings eternal death to those who are not born anew through baptism and the Holy Spirit [John 3:5].

3Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s work and benefits.  Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own power and reason.

Rome’s Response:

This article declares that because of Original Sin, a person is born without the fear of God and without trust in Him.  This we fully reject.  For a Christian to be without the fear of God and without trust in Him is, instead, the actual guilt of an adult, not the offense of a recently born infant . . .

–       Discuss: What is the difference between how the Roman-Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church view original, inherited sin?


Genesis 6:5:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

–       How does this verse show that our inclination toward sin contradicts the teachings of Pelagius?


Romans 5:6:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Ephesians 2:4-6

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

–       In what spiritual state were we in when God brought us to faith?


–       What does this mean for the “recently born infant” as the Confutation puts it?


However, Revelation 3:20 has Jesus saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Yet, the Lutheran Church still insists that an unbeliever cannot “decide for Jesus.”  This is where reading the Bible respecting the grammar and context makes a difference.

Revelation 3:14-19:

“And to the angel [messenger] of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent….

–       Who is being addressed in Revelation 3:20, Christians or non-Christians?


–       How were those Christians in Laodecia living their lives?


–       What then did Revelation 3:19 say to the Christians in Laodecia?


–       What then does Jesus knocking at the door symbolize for the Laodecian Christians?


–       What is its application for us in the Church today?


Romans 5:15-17, 21:

But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin.  For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ….  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–       Who is the “second Adam” and what are the results of His action in our lives?


Romans 7:18-19:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.   For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

–       How does this passage support what Article 2 says: that we are born “without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence [the inclination to sin]”?


–       What are the implications of this on infant baptism?


Click here to go to Lesson 2 for the Augsburg Confession.