Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1563)

Article I Of faith in the Holy Trinity
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite
power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things both visible and
invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and
eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Article II Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very
and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the
blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the
Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is
one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to
reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all
actual sins of men.
Article III Of the going down of Christ into Hell
As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed that He went down into Hell.
Article IV Of the Resurrection of Christ
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, with flesh, bones, and all
things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherefore He ascended into heaven, and
there sitteth until He return to judge all men at the last day.
Article V Of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and
glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Article VI Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read
therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be
believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.
In the name of Holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New
testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the names and number of the Canonical Books:
The First Book of Samuel.
The Second Book of Samuel.
The First Book of Kings.
The Second Book of Kings.
The First Book of Chronicles.
The Second Book of Chronicles.
The First Book of Esdras.
The Second Book of Esdras.
The Book of Esther.
The Book of Job.
The Psalms.
The Proverbs.
Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher.
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon.
Four Prophets the Greater.
Twelve Prophets the Less.
All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and
account them canonical.
And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and
instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine. Such are these
The Third Book of Esdras.
The Fourth Book of Esdras.
The Book of Tobias.
The Book of Judith.
The rest of the Book of Esther.
The Book of Wisdom.
Jesus the Son of Sirach.
Baruch the Prophet.
The Song of the Three Children.
The Story of Susanna.
Of Bel and the Dragon.
The Prayer of Manasses.
The First Book of Maccabees.
The Second Book of Maccabees.
Article VII Of the Old Testament
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament
everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and
man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard which feign that the old
fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as
touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought
of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man
whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.
Article VIII Of the Three Creeds
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the
Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by
most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.
Article IX Of Original or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is
the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the
offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his
own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore
in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this
infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the
flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some
sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God.
And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle
doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.
Article X Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself,
by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we
have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by
Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that
good will.
Article XI Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by
faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is
expressed in the Homily of Justification.
Article XII Of Good Works
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put
away our sins and endure the severity of God’s judgement, yet are they pleasing and
acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch
that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
Article XIII Of Works before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to
God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to
receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that
they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they
have the nature of sin.
Article XIV Of Works of Supererogation
Voluntary works besides, over and above, God’s commandments which they call Works of
Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare
that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more
for His sake than of bounden duty is required: Whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have
done all that are commanded to you, say, We be unprofitable servants.
Article XV Of Christ alone without Sin
Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from
which He was clearly void, both in His flesh and in His spirit. He came to be the lamb without
spot, Who by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin,
as S. John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in
Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us.
Article XVI Of Sin after Baptism
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and
unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin
after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given and
fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again and amend our lives. And therefore
they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny
the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Article XVII Of Predestination and Election
Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of
the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from
curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them
by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued
with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working
in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons
of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they
walk religiously in good works; and at length by God’s mercy they attain to everlasting
As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet,
pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the
working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members
and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly
establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because
it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the
Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination is a
most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into
wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in
Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly
declared unto us in the word of God.
Article XVIII Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law
or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and
the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ,
whereby men must be saved.
Article XIX Of the Church
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of
God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all
those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem,
Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their
living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.
Article XX Of the Authority of the Church
The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith;
and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written,
neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore,
although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ: yet, as it ought not to decree
anything against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce anything to be believed
for necessity of salvation.
Article XXI Of the authority of General Councils
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of
princes. And when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men,
whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have
erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to
salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out
of Holy Scripture.
Article XXII Of Purgatory
The Romish doctrine concerning Pugatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of
Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and
grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.
Article XXIII Of Ministering in the Congregation
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching or ministering the
sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same.
And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this
work by men who have public authority given unto them in the congregation to call and send
ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.
Article XXIV Of speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people
It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church, to
have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the sacraments in a tongue not understanded
of the people.
Article XXV Of the Sacraments
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but
rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God’s good will towards
us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen
and confirm, our faith in Him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism
and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five, commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders,
Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being
such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life
allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the
Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that
we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, have they a
wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves
damnation, as S. Paul saith.
Article XXVI Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometime the evil
have chief authority in the ministration of the word and sacraments; yet forasmuch as they do
not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His commission and
authority, we may use their ministry both in hearing the word of God and in the receiving of
the sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor
the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the
sacraments ministered unto them, which be effectual because of Christ’s institution and
promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church that inquiry be made of evil
ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and
finally, being found guilty by just judgement, be deposed.
Article XXVII Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are
discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of regeneration or new birth,
whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church;
the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy
Ghost are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of
prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as
most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Article XXVIII Of the Lord’s Supper
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among
themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death:
insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which
we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking
of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the
Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture,
overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and
spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the
Supper is faith
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about,
lifted up, or worshipped.
Article XXIX Of the wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord’s
The wicked and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press
with their teeth (as S. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in
no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign
or sacrament of so great a thing.
Article XXX Of Both Kinds
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both parts of the Lord’s
sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian
men alike.
Article XXXI Of the one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross
The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for
all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction
for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said
that the priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt,
were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.
Article XXXII Of the Marriage of Priests
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are not commanded by God’s laws either to vow the estate of
single life or to abstain from marriage. Therefore it is lawful also for them, as for all other
Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to
Article XXXIII Of Excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the
Church and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful as an
heathen and publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance and received into the Church
by a judge that hath authority thereto.
Article XXXIV Of the Traditions of the Church
It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike; for at all
times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries,
times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s word.
Whosoever through his private judgement willingly and purposely doth openly break the
traditions and ceremonies of the Church which be not repugnant to the word of God, and be
ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly that other may fear
to do the like, as he that offendeth against common order of the Church, and hurteth the
authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the conscience of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish ceremonies
or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Article XXXV Of Homilies
The second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article,
doth contain a godly and wholesome doctrine and necessary for these times, as doth the
former Book of Homilies which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth: and therefore
we judge them to be read in Churches by the ministers diligently and distinctly, that they may
be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies
1. Of the right Use of the Church
2. Against peril of Idolatry
3. Of the repairing and keeping clean of Churches
4. Of good Works: first of Fasting
5. Against Gluttony and Drunkenness
6. Against Excess of Apparel
7. Of Prayer
8. Of the Place and Time of Prayer
9. That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10. Of the reverend estimation of God’s Word
11. Of Alms-doing
12. Of the Nativity of Christ
13. Of the Passion of Christ
14. Of the Resurrection of Christ
15. Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ
16. Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
17. For the Rogation-days
18. Of the state of Matrimony
19. Of Repentance
20. Against Idleness
21. Against Rebellion
Article XXXVI Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers
The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops and ordering of Priests and Deacons,
lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth and confirmed at the same time by authority of
Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it
anything that of itself is superstitious or ungodly.
And therefore whosoever are consecrate or ordered according to the rites of that book, since
the second year of King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered
according to the same rites, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated
or ordered.
Article XXXVII Of the Civil Magistrates
The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this realm of England and other her dominions,
unto whom the chief government of all estates of this realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or
civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not nor ought to be subject to any foreign
Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief government, by which titles we
understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended, we give not to our princes the
ministering either of God’s word or of sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately
set forth by Elizabeth our Queen doth most plainly testify: but only that prerogative which we
see to have been given always to all godly princes in Holy Scriptures by God himself, that is,
that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they
be temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.
The laws of the realm may punish Christian men with death for heinous and grievous
It is lawful for Christian men at the commandment of the Magistrate to wear weapons and
serve in the wars.
Article XXXVIII Of Christian men’s good which are not common
The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and
possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast; notwithstanding every man
ought of such things as he possesseth liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his
Article XXXIX Of a Christian man’s Oath
As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus
Christ, so we judge that Christian religion doth not prohibit but that a man may swear when
the magistrate requireth in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet’s
teaching in justice, judgement, and truth.