The Large Catechism
Short Preface Of Dr. Martin Luther
This sermon is designed and undertaken that it might be an instruction for
children and the simple-minded. Hence of old it was called in Greek catechism,
i.e., instruction for children, what every Christian must needs know, so that he
who does not know this could not be numbered with the Christians nor be
admitted to any Sacrament, just as a mechanic who does not understand the
rules and customs of his trade is expelled and considered incapable. Therefore
we must have the young learn the parts which belong to the Catechism or
instruction for children well and fluently and diligently exercise themselves in
them and keep them occupied with them.
Therefore it is the duty of every father of a family to question and examine his
children and servants at least once a week and to ascertain what they know of it,
or are learning and, if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it. For I well
remember the time, indeed, even now it is a daily occurrence that one finds rude,
old persons who knew nothing and still know nothing of these things, and who,
nevertheless, go to Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and use everything
belonging to Christians, notwithstanding that those who come to the Lord's
Supper ought to know more and have a fuller understanding of all Christian
doctrine than children and new scholars. However, for the common people we
are satisfied with the three parts, which have remained in Christendom from of
old, though little of it has been taught and treated correctly until both young and
old who are called and wish to be Christians, are well trained in them and familiar
with them. These are the following:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain [for the Lord will not
hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain].
3. Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day. [Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.]
4. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother [that thou mayest live long upon the
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.