Concordia Publishing House releases updated ‘Small Catechism with Explanation’

A new 2017 edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation is now available for pre-order from Concordia Publishing House (CPH).

The groundwork for the new edition was laid in 2013, when the Synod in convention (Resolution 3-13A) directed the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), in cooperation with the president’s office and CPH, to begin the process of updating the Explanation to the Small Catechism.

The Catechism itself (the six chief parts and questions and answers written by Martin Luther to explain them) was not revised – only the supplementary material known as the Explanation, which includes additional questions and answers and supporting Bible verses.

Why a new Explanation, and why now?

The Explanation was last revised in 1991. Resolution 3-13A, adopted by a vote of 913–7, cited the “many changes in the understanding of morals, civil law and natural law in church and society” since 1991 as well as “the need for more comprehensive catechetical materials for adults that would also provide a resource for parents and teachers.”

The resolution called for a process of drafting, field testing and revising, leading to the production of a “catechetical compendium … more comprehensive and apologetic in scope.”

The revision process began in 2014 with a survey of the Synod’s rostered workers. The survey was conducted over the course of six months — one month focusing on each of the six chief parts.

In 2015 another survey was made available online for anyone interested to give input — there were 1,300 respondents.

Then began a yearlong drafting process. In September 2016, a first-draft field-test version of the revised Explanation was mailed to all LCMS congregations and rostered church workers with feedback requested by Oct. 31 of that year.

The CTCR also requested feedback from any lay members of Synod congregations who wished to download and review the draft version.

Final revisions were made, and release of the updated version was scheduled to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Features of the new Explanation include:

  • 374 questions and 1,142 Scripture references, providing more biblical teaching and devotional aids than ever before.
  • a “Central Thought” section with simple Bible study and reflection questions.
  • a “Closer Reading” section to aid in digging deeper into the wording of the catechism.
  • ”Connections and Applications” relating Scripture to important issues in today’s culture.
  • psalms, hymns and prayers combining Scripture and catechism study with worship for devotional use.
  • Bible narrative references, expanded notes and quotes from Martin Luther and the Confessions. 
  • an expanded appendix with helpful articles, reference material and a glossary to aid in personal study.

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison says of the new resource:

“This is an extraordinary catechism. I dare say, it is perhaps the best ever produced in English. The drafters did a superb job. We listened to the helpful critique of the Church, which made it stronger. I thank God for all involved, and all who took the time to participate.“

The new edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation is available for pre-order at an introductory price of $14.49 (not including shipping) with an estimated shipping date of Nov. 10.

To place an order, or to find out more about the 2017 edition and see a side-by-side comparison with the 1991 edition, visit

Pre-order from CPH

Posted Oct. 13, 2017

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One Response to Concordia Publishing House releases updated ‘Small Catechism with Explanation’

  1. Carl Vehse October 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    As a “practical guide” does the 448-page Small Catechism with Explanation include an index?

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