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In Martin Luther's Biography, In his final hour, Justus Jonas and Michael Coelius who were his companions shouted loudly and asked this question:

"Reverend father, are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?"

Luther was known to say Yes to this question. How should I understand this situation?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Hard to be certain, but if I were to guess, I'd explain the reasoning like this:

Luther had done something unprecedented. There was one Catholic (universal) Church, who claimed that they alone held the keys to salvation. But Luther had dared to claim that salvation could be found outside the authority of the Catholic Church.

Obviously this gained him a great deal of notoriety, and some amount of power as well, as he ended up with followers and disciples. And he could easily have imagined that this would end up happening when he started out. This leaves the lingering question, did he do it all for the glory? Or did he genuinely do it because he believed it was the right thing to do?

If he was a fraud, his disciples are in big trouble and they'd better get back on the path as quickly as they can, and go back to the Catholic Church and seek forgiveness. Otherwise, they end up damned for eternity! So they ask him on his deathbed, when he knows his time is over and he has no more reason to lie, (if it was a lie) whether the whole thing was genuine. And he affirmed, with no reason to lie, that yes, it was.

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+1. I don't know that we can know for sure but baring some other evidence this sure makes a lot of sense. – Caleb Aug 27 '11 at 14:01
+1 This explaination seems to be the best. – Phonics The Hedgehog Aug 27 '11 at 15:28

I would read this simply as a verbal confession that showed how Luther persisted in his faith to the end. His heart did not waver nor did he abandon the hope that was an anchor for his soul when his body became frail and his hearing faded.

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