It is easy to find this on a quote site, but I can't find where it is in Luther's writings. I know Luther means that each of us are personally responsible for crucifying Jesus, but wWhat is the context of the statement? What exactly did he mean, according to scholars and church leaders who have studied his theology?

Originally, I thought the quote was about universal responsibility for Christ's crucifixion, but it now appears Luther was writing about another issue, probably showing our faith by our actions. I have therefore changed the title to refer only to the quote.

1 Answer 1


The quote comes from Luther's commentary on Galatians, specifically on ch 6, vs 17. Luther's Works. Volume 27: Lectures on Galatians 1535, Chapters 5-6, Lectures on Galatians 1519, Chapters 1-6

Saint Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1964. Page 407:

Although “marks”—in Latin this word means signs that are stamped on—may be taken here as referring to the sufferings of Paul, nevertheless—because Paul likes to make use of military allegories and metaphors—he certainly understands them in the sense of the distinctive tokens of the Christian life, which are the crucifixion and subjection of the flesh. In addition, they are the fruits of the spirit. For just as slaves bear the distinctive tokens, the arms, and the colors of their masters, so Paul and every Christian carries in his own body the cross of his lusts and vices—not indeed in the way in which it is customary nowadays to picture on a wall or in paintings and books the distinctive tokens of Christ assembled on a shield. No, every Christian carries this cross in the body—and in my own body, not in someone else’s. What good will it do if you carry even in gold and precious stone, not only the distinctive tokens but also the very nails, yes, the very wounds and blood of Christ, and never express the living image in your body? Moreover, circumcision and the works required by human laws are the marks of Moses and of popes and of Caesars. These alone are looked at now, and they are of such infinite variety that the emperor, together with all his nobles, hardly has so many kinds of distinctive marks."

  • Thank you for posting this. I'm trying to find it in the public domain version, and so far not finding the same words. Are you quoting Luther's words here? He seems to say here the "marks" -- "nails" -- are scars left by sin. But I don't see any explanation for "in our pockets". I wonder if the latter is a bad translation.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jan 17, 2019 at 19:50
  • 1
    If this is from volume 27 of Pelikan's book, presumably it is from the "Lectures on Galatians" pubished by Luther in 1519 (based on lectures 1516-1517), and there may be no public domain English translation. I suspect the "never express the living image" somehow got rephrased as "in your pocket" (never displayed).
    – Bit Chaser
    Jan 18, 2019 at 0:35

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