The Lutheran Witness

The 95 Theses: A reader’s guide

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Comments (10)
  1. Avatar Sheila White says:


  2. Avatar Jackie walker says:

    Could you explain number 93? I need this one explained.

    1. Avatar D. Bale says:

      Agreed. 93 is confusing.

    2. Avatar James Athey says:

      In contrast to the false security of indulgences referenced in 92, number 93 references the preaching of true repentance. With true contrition and repentance over our sins, we Christians humble ourselves to the truth that we have earned our place on the cross as punishment and condemnation. But then we find the eternal surprise and wellspring of joy that our cross has been taken away from us and made Christ’s own. In exchange He gives us forgiveness, life and salvation!

      1. Avatar E. Pierre says:

        Thank you, James Athey.

    3. Avatar Salvatore A. Luiso says:

      I myself did not fully understand this thesis yesterday, when I searched the Internet for an explanation of it. I found that I was not the only person who was confused by it. I also found that Luther explained it in a letter that he wrote to an Augustinian prior in 1516. Here is his explanation:

      You are seeking and craving for peace, but in the wrong order. For you are seeking it as the world giveth, not as Christ giveth. Know you not that God is “wonderful among His saints,” for this reason, that He establishes His peace in the midst of no peace, that is, of all temptations and afflictions. It is said “Thou shalt dwell in the midst of thine enemies.” The man who possesses peace is not the man whom no one disturbs—that is the peace of the world; he is the man whom all men and all things disturb, but who bears all patiently, and with joy. You are saying with Israel, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace. Learn to say rather with Christ: “The Cross, the Cross,” and there is no Cross. For the Cross at once ceases to be the Cross as soon as you have joyfully exclaimed, in the language of the hymn,

      Blessed Cross, above all other,
      One and only noble tree.

      It is posted here:

  3. Avatar Carl H says:

    “When our Lord and master Jesus Christ says, ‘Repent,’ he wills that the entire life of the Christian be one of repentance.”

    This seemingly joyless statement is often quoted, less often explained, and easily misunderstood. Is Jesus calling for the main theme of Christian life to be, “I’m ashamed of my sin”?

    The full sentence from Matthew 4:17 is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” spoken when Jesus was beginning His ministry. This layman might paraphrase those words as, “Change your mindset, for divine authority is coming among you.” Indeed, when a very important person is coming to visit, we depart from business as usual, adjust our priorities, focus on careful preparation, and behave as befits the status of the visitor.

    The word “repent” is recorded in Greek as “metanoeite”, which I understand to be not about remorse — not primarily about feelings at all — but about changing one’s mind or purpose.

    The Christian life has a variety of themes, of which repentance is one. But repentance is not an end in itself. It is pivoting and changing course to pursue a direction that better fulfills God’s purposes as He gives the grace. For Jesus also willed “that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8) and “that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

  4. Avatar Donna J Lippert says:

    I wish Luther was here, maybe things would change in our country and bring more folks to Jesus .

  5. Avatar Paul Herter says:

    As important as the 95 Theses were for the beginning of the Reformation, and since they are not specifically part of the Lutheran Confessions, are there any of the Theses that we Lutherans consider unimportant or would rather avoid, theologically speaking?

  6. Avatar Greg M.Johnson says:

    Very useful as I prepare a Sunday School lesson. Thanks