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Martin Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans


Martin Luther died nearly 450 years ago but his writing still speaks to us. He was awakened to the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and the effects of his renewal quickly spread through Germany. His testimony to justification through faith alone continues to spread around the world.

In his longing for freedom of conscience, Luther was advised to read the Scriptures for himself. He did this, and lectured on it also. During AD 1515 he lectured on Romans, and, in the next two years, on Galatians. Somewhere in this time the passage, 'The just shall live by faith' brought personal assurance to him that he was accepted by God—through faith alone. He wrote: 'I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise'.

By 1521 he was before an ecclesiastical court in Worms, to give an account of his beliefs. It was here that he made his now famous statement: 'Here I stand! I cannot do otherwise'. An edict was pronounced against him, and, for 'safe keeping', he was spirited away by friends to Wartburg Castle where he stayed—disguised as a knight and under an assumed name—for nine months.

During this time he translated the entire New Testament from Greek to German. He also wrote brief summaries, or prefaces, to each book—similar to the Vulgate Bible. This 'Luther Bible', and its Prefaces, were phrased in the language of the common people.

The Preface which he wrote for Romans is longer than the others. It contains a summary of the whole letter and an outline of its doctrine. Its main terms are defined and related to each other. More particularly, it conveys the joy and power of the gospel so evident in Paul's Letter to the Romans. Luther said about Romans: 'The more thoroughly it is treated, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes'.

This small document has had a wide and deep influence through its history. The best known incident concerns John Wesley, who, in 1738, found his heart 'strangely warmed' as he listened to this Preface being read. He was converted, and again, the world felt the power of God's forgiveness.

May this booklet encourage many to read Paul's letter and, particularly, to know the truth of God's grace.

Rev. Grant Thorpe

July, 1995

Martin Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans

Martin Luther

by Martin Luther

Preface by Rev. Grant Thorpe

Publisher: NCPI

Subject: Doctrine, Romans

Book Code: 295

Pages: 26 pp, Booklet

Pub. Date: 1993

ISBN: 0 86408 188 x

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