Bible Truth & Prophecy | The Year 2017 Or “The year of Commemorations” Part 1 - 1517 Martin Luther:
martin luther 1517

The Year 2017 – Or “The year of Commemorations”

1517 :      31 October

Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the Church Door in Wittenburg to announce his university debate. They are distributed throughout northern Germany within 14 days.

In this first of a 6 part series by Beulah Edwards, we will consider Martin Luther, who, in 1517 nails his 95 Theses to the Church Door in Wittenburg to announce his university debate.

1517 Martin Luther

In 1506, St Peters in Rome began to be rebuilt. It was an expensive and slow task and, by 1514, the walls had risen only a few feet. It was time for the Pope to launch a fundraiser, the sale of indulgences.

An artist’s rendering of the marketplace sale of indulgences.

For a price, a man could pay for his sins in advance. There was such a good response that Pope Leo X shared the profits with the ruler of Brandenburg so that he could recoup his debts! The idea needed a little pushing along, a sort of spiritual commercialism.

The Pope appointed a Dominican friar called Tetzel to run the publicity campaign. Tetzel had been selling indulgences for some years and had developed a travelling exhibition, which he presented like a showman. It was claimed that he had saved more souls through the selling of indulgences than the blessed Peter himself had through the lowly preaching of the gospel! Tetzel was just the sort of man to be the final straw to anyone already fed up with the excesses of the Papacy. The money began to roll in and needed some managing, so accountants from Fuggers accompanied Tetzel, taking charge of the till and keeping the books.

Tetzel, the indulgence preacher, arrived in Wittenberg, the town of Luther, and set up the parish church like a bazaar, filling its eight aisles with relics. Plenary (complete) indulgence was to be offered. Luther objected to the practice because he said indulgences prevented a true and inward repentance before God. He opened his attack in a sermon on the eve before the church was to be opened to the public for the ‘relic show,’ 31 October 1516. Indulgences are well named, he said, because they indulge sinners. The Elector of Saxony was impressed and refused Tetzel permission to enter the city of Wittenberg. But the refusal did not stop the indulgence market.   Such trade is spoken about in the book of Revelation where the merchandise of spiritual Babylon (Rome) is listed: “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones … horses, and chariots and slaves and the souls of men”.[1] The whole Church system had become related to trade: Church positions were sold, property was traded and acquired, collections for this and that, Church tax and so on. Instead of saving men, they enslaved them to their great politico-religious system. Public opinion reacted strongly, turning so rapidly against Tetzel that he became fearful of appearing in public.[2]

A year later, when Luther saw the written instructions for those involved in the indulgence racket, he was again spurred into action. The instructions suggested that men could be reconciled to God through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther was incensed. This teaching took away from the forgiveness available in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, in effect negating the work of the cross. The forgiveness of sins involved belief and a change of life: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”[3] By “indulging sin” the Church was actually encouraging sin. Luther took issue with this travesty of the gospel. He arranged a debate at the University and drew up a list of the subjects[4] and fastened them to the church door, as was the custom for public notices. He did this as a matter of form, never foreseeing the long-term effects of the course he was now adopting. He also distributed a number of copies among friends. The same friends had the document translated and printed, and so they were widely circulated.  Within two weeks, they had been circulated across much of Germany. Two of the points he raised in his Theses were:

  • They are the enemies of Christ and the Pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  • Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.

At this stage, Luther was not merely a priest. He was Doctor of Theology in the University of Wittenburg. As a student, he had been directed to use the Greek text in his studies (Erasmus had recently produced the first Greek New Testament in parallel Greek and Latin columns), and so his mind was opened to the meaning of true Christianity. He came to see what John Colet had found, that true change in a person could only result from taking heed to the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The Printed Word

A key component in the spread of the Reformation was the development of printing. A remarkable invention of the moveable typeface around 1450 was used by Johann Gutenburg at Mainz in Germany and William Caxton in England, to speed up printing production. Within fifty years, there were more than one thousand printing shops established. It was a huge breakthrough at just the right time, providing the means to rapidly produce written material. The timing was truly a work of God. It was one thing to begin a work locally, quite another to communicate the information further afield.

The first printing techniques were laborious compared to modern standards. Metal letters were arranged in a plate, and inked, so that one piece of paper was pressed against the inked metal plate to receive the images of the letters. But it was vastly quicker than the laborious hand copied texts by monks in the monasteries. Just as the transport and roading systems in the Roman Empire aided the spread of the gospel message, so the printing press now delivered into the hands of all who could buy it, their very own copy of the Bible. Things would never be the same again.

Once the ripples started, they spread outward. In the decade from 1522 the message of the protesters spread across Europe, reaching to every part of Christendom. Reform movements began in other places.

[1] Revelation 18:12,13

[2] Todd, John M, Luther : A Life, p 149

[3] Acts 3:19 NKJV

[4] Known as the 95 theses

Sis Beulah Edwards (Christchurch NZ)

See more interesting articles here…

Bible Magazine Back Catalogue


[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] exists to serve the brotherhood in providing both preaching and Study material in video and other forms to assist in the proclamation efforts of individuals and Ecclesias alike and also as a preaching tool in itself.

This website was set up to assist in this endeavour and our aim is to Declare the God of Israel to those who are seeking the truth about the Human condition and the message of salvation found within the pages of scripture (the Bible).

We are a group of Baptised Christadelphians from all over the world who volunteer their God given time and resources to this cause.

Any Brother or Sister who would like to assist us in this work should contact [email protected] in the first instance, with a short introductory paragraph telling us about yourself and how you feel you could contribute.

Follow us on our dedicated Facebook page

Or our website

If you would like to subscribe to our channel, once you have clicked ‘Subscribe’ make sure you click the cog next to the subscribe button and select ‘Send me all notifications for this channel’

Note: Bad language and comments with links to other videos or websites will be removed.

Download our ‘Free’ Bible APP – ‘KeyToThe Bible’ for i-phone or Android

Bible App

Other Christadelphian Channels we recommend

Bible Truth and Prophecy, – Welcome to our channel run by the Christadelphians Worldwide to help promote the understanding of God’s Word to those who are seeking the Truth about the Human condition and Gods plan and Purpose with the Earth and Mankind upon it.
We are always keen to receive your feedback, you may leave comments in the comments area below or alternatively email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you with a reply as soon as we can.

For more information on the Christadelphians

Read a variety of booklets on-line concerning various key Bible subjects.

True Bible Teaching Booklets

Bible Truth & Prophecy is a remarkable on-line tool for establishing just how far removed from the teachings of the Bible mainstream Christian teaching has become.

End Time Prophecies are interpreted using the Bible, not man made ideas or notions.
Key Biblical subjects such as the Trinity, Devil/Satan worship, Holy Spirit Gifts & much more are all dealt with extensively from the Bible’s viewpoint and not man’s.We will demonstrate how Christian beliefs have become corrupted, and reveal the ‘Truth’ as taught by the 1st Century Apostles.


Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.
%d bloggers like this: