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The Reformer as Father – Luther and his Son (1530 and 1537 [?])

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2. Martin Luther to his Son Johannes

January 27, 1537 (?)

Grace and peace in the Lord. So far, my dearest son, your studies and the letters you have written me have pleased me. If you continue this way, you will not only give joy to me, your father, who loves you, but you will above all do benefit to yourself, by not creating the impression that you are cut from a different cloth than the rest of your family. Therefore take care to diligently advance that which you have started. For God, who has commanded children to obey their parents, has also promised his blessing to obedient children. See to it that you set your sights solely on this blessing, and do not let yourself be diverted from it by bad examples. For the same God has also threatened disobedient children with a curse. Therefore, fear God, the blessing and the cursing God, who, though he may postpone his promises and threats for the destruction of the wicked, fulfills them quickly for the salvation of the good. Therefore, fear God and listen to your parents, who surely want only the best for you, and flee from shameful and dishonorable company. Your Mother greets you heartily; Aunt Lena does too, likewise your sisters and brothers, all of whom also wish you good progress and a happy conclusion to your studies. Mother asks you to greet your teacher and his wife. Also, should they wish to be here with you for Shrovetide, that is, during these joyous days, then that is fine, as I will be away then. Aunt Lena very much asks that they come. Farewell, my son, and study and listen to the admonitions of good people. May the Lord be with you. Given on Saturday after the Conversion of Paul 1537.

Martinus Luther,

Your father in body and spirit

This English translation by Thomas Dunlap is based on the German version published as, “An seinen Sohn Johannes. 27. Januar 1537 (?)” in Martin Luther, Ausgewählte Schriften, Vol. 6, Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 1995, pp. 180-81.

The letter was originally written in Latin. For the Latin original, please see “Luther an seinen Sohn Johannes. [Wittenberg,] 27. Januar 1537 (?),” in D. Martin Luthers Werke. Weimarer Ausgabe (Sonderedition). Part 3: Briefwechsel. Vol. 8, pp. 18-20.

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