Heidelberg Catechism, the second of our "Three
Forms of Unity," (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic
Confession, and the Canons of Dordt) received
its name from the place of its origin, Heidelberg, the capital of the
German Electorate of the Palatinate. There, in order that the Reformed
faith might be maintained in his domain, Elector Frederick III commissioned
Zacharias Ursinus, professor at Heidelberg University, and Caspar Olevianus,
the court preacher, to prepare a manual for catechetical instruction.
Out of this initiative came the Catechism, which was approved by the
Elector himself and by the Synod of Heidelberg and first published in
1563. With its comfort motif and its warm, personal style, the Catechism
soon won the love of the people of God, as is evident from the fact
that more editions of the Catechism had to be printed that same year.
While the first edition had 128 questions and answers, in the second
and third editions, at the behest of the Elector, the eightieth question
and answer, which refers to the popish mass as an accursed idolatry,
was added. In the third edition the 129 questions and answers were divided
into 52 "Lord’s Days" with a view to the Catechism’s being explained
in one of the services on the Lord’s Day. That salutary practice is
still maintained today, in harmony with the prescription of the Church
Order of Dordrecht.
In the Netherlands the Heidelberg Catechism was translated into the
Dutch language as early as 1566, and it soon became widely loved and
used in the churches there. It was adopted by several National Synods
during the later sixteenth century, and finally included by the Synod
of Dordrecht, 1618-1619, among our "Three
Forms of Unity," a place which it has to this day.
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1 – 13
That I with [a] body and soul, both in life and death,
[b] am not my own, but belong [c]
unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious [d]
blood, hath fully [e] satisfied for all my sins, and
delivered [f] me from all the power of the devil; and
so preserves me [g] that without the will of my heavenly
Father, not a hair [h] can fall from my head; yea, that
all things must be [i] subservient to my salvation,
and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me [j]
of eternal life, and makes [k] me sincerely willing
and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that
thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
Three; [l] the first, how great [m]
my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered [n]
from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude
[o] to God for such deliverance.
6:19,20 [b]: Rom.
14:7,8,9 [c]: 1Cor.
3:23 [d]: 1Pet.
1:18,19 [e]: 1John
1:7 [f]: 1John
2:14,15 [g]: John
10:28,29 [h]: Luke
10:30 [i]: Rom.
8:28 [j]: 2Cor.
5:5 [k]: Rom.
7:22 [l]: Luke
24:47 [m]: 1Cor.
3:10,19 [n]: John
17:3 [o]: Eph.
One: The Misery of Man
Out of the law of God. [a]
Christ teaches us that briefly, Matt.
22:37-40, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. [b]
This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto
it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang
all the law and the prophets."
By no means; but God created man good, [a] and
after his own image, in [b] true righteousness and
holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him
and live with him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise him. [c]
Question 8. Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable
of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?
Question 9. Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring
from him in his low, that which he cannot perform?
Not at all; [a] for God made man capable [b]
of performing it; but man, by the instigation [c] of
the devil, and his own willful disobedience, [d] deprived
himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.
By no means; [e] but is terribly displeased [f]
with our original was well as actual sins; and will punish them in his just
judgment temporally and eternally, and he hath declared, [g]
"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written
in the book of the law, to do them."
God is indeed merciful, [h] but also just; [i]
therefore his justice requires, [j] that sin which
is committed against the most high majesty of God, be also punished with
extreme, that is, with everlasting [k] punishment of
body and soul.
7:29 [b]: John
11:3 [c]: Gen.
3:4,7 [d]: Rom.
5:12 [e]: Psa.
5:5 [f]: Rom.
9:27 [g]: Deut
3:10 [h]: Ex.
24:6 [i]: Ex
34:10,11 [j]: Psa.
5:5,6 [k]: Gen.
Part 2: of Man’s Deliverance
Question 12. Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserved
temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape
that punishment, and be again received into favor?
None; for, first, God will not [e] punish any other
creature for the sin which man hath committed; and further, no mere creature
can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to [f]
deliver others from it.
Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath
sinned, should [a] likewise make satisfaction for sin;
and one, who is himself a sinner, [b] cannot satisfy
Question 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both
very God, and a real righteous man?
From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise;
[g] and afterwards published by the patriarchs [h]
and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices [i]
and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled it [j]
by his only begotten Son.
5:12,15 [b]: 1Pet
53:11 [c]: 1
Pet. 3:18; Acts
53:8 [d]: 1John
6:51 [e]: Mat.
2:11 [f]: 1Cor
1:30 [g]: Gen.
3:15 [h]: Gen.
5:46 [i]: Heb.
10:7,8 [j]: Rom.
True faith is not only a certain knowledge, [c] whereby
I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an
assured [d] confidence, which the Holy [e]
Ghost works by the gospel, [f] in my heart; that not
only the others, but to me also, [g] remission of
sin, everlasting righteousness [h] and salvation,
are freely given by God, [i] merely of grace, only
for the sake of Christ’s merits.
All things [j] promised us in the gospel, which the
articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.
- I believe
in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
- And in
Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
- Who was
conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended
- The third
day he rose again from the dead:
- He ascended
into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
- I believe
in the Holy Ghost:
- I believe
an holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
- The forgiveness
- The resurrection
of the body:
- And the
life everlasting. AMEN.
53:11 [b]: John
10:39 [c]: John
11:3,6 [d]: Eph.
3:12 [e]: Rom.
3:5 [f]: Rom.
9:2 [g]: Rom.
2:20 [i]: Rom.
3:24,25,26 [j]: John
Question 25. Since there is but one only [d]
divine essence, why speakest thou of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
Because God hath so [e] revealed himself in his word,
that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.
God the Father
Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, "I believe
in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth"?
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who [a]
of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise
upholds and [b] governs the same by his eternal counsel
and providence) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father;
on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me
with all things necessary [c] for soul and body: and
further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley
of tears [d] turn out to my advantage; for he is able
to do it, being Almighty [e] God, and willing, being
a [f] faithful Father.
33:6 [b]: Psa.
5:17 [c]: John
3:1 [d]: Psa.
6:26 [e]: Rom.
4:21 [f]: Rom.
Question 27. What dost thou mean by
the providence of God?
The almighty and everywhere present power of God; [a]
whereby, as it were by his hand, he [b] upholds and
governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain
[c] and drought, fruitful [d] and
barren years, meat and drink, [e] health and sickness,
[f] riches and poverty, yea, and all things [g]
come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
Question 28. What advantage is it
to us to know that God has created, and by his providence doth still uphold
That we may be patient in adversity [h]; thankful [i]
in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we
place our firm [j] trust in our faithful God and Father,
that nothing shall [k] separate us from his love; since
all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they [l]
cannot so much as move.
17:25,26,27,28 [b]: Heb.
1:3 [c]: Jer.
5:24 [d]: Acts
14:17 [e]: John
9:3 [f]: Prov.
1:21 [g]: Mat.
39:10 [i]: Deut.
5:18 [j]: Rom.
5:3,4,5,6 [k]: Rom.
8:38,39 [l]: Job
of God the Son
Question 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who
seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere
They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they
deny [c] Jesus the only deliverer and Savior; for one
of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Savior;
or that they, who by a true faith receive this Savior, must find all things
in him [d] necessary to their salvation.
Because he is ordained of God the Father, and [a]
anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our [b] chief
Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and
will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, [c]
who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual
[d] intercession with the Father for us; and also
to be our eternal King, [e] who governs us by his
word and Spirit, and who defends and [f] preserves
us in (the enjoyment of) that salvation, he has purchased for us.
Because I am a member of Christ [g] by faith,
and thus am partaker [h] of his anointing; that so
I may [i] confess his name, and present myself a living
[j] sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that
with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and [k]
Satan in this life: and afterwards [l] reign with
him eternally, over all creatures.
1:9 [b]: Deut.
11:27 [c]: Psa.
10:14 [d]: Rom.
8:34 [e]: Psa.
1:33 [f]: Mat.
10:28 [g]: 1Cor.
6:15 [h]: 1John
2:28 [i]: Mat.
10:32 [j]: Rom.
12:1 [k]: Eph.
1:18,19 [l]: 2Tim
Question 33. Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God,
since we are also the children of God?
Because he hath redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins,
not with gold or silver, [c] but with his precious
blood, and hath delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus hath
made us his own property.