The 39 Articles are the official doctrinal basis of the Church of England
and form the basis of the Anglican Communion
s in the United States
modified articles 36 and 37 to reflect their independence from the King of England. These articles were promulgated in 1563
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 Jerome
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 following:
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.
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 there 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.
Of the Three Creeds
The three Creeds, pNicene 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.
Of Original or Birth 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
, 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.
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
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.
The Romish doctrine concerning Pugatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as
well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saint, is a fond thing
vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather
repugnant to the word of God.
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.
Of speaking in the Congregation in such a tongue as the people understandeth
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.
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 St. Paul saith.
Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments
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.
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.
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
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.
Of the wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord's Supper
The wicked and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and
visibly press with their teeth (as St. 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.
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.
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.
Of the Marriage of Priests
s, and Deacon
s 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 godliness.
Of Excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided
That persons 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.
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.
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
- Of the right Use of the Church
- Against peril of Idolatry
- Of the repairing and keeping clean of Churches
- Of good Works: first of Fasting
- Against Gluttony and Drunkenness
- Against Excess of Apparel
- Of Prayer
- Of the Place and Time of Prayer
- That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
- Of the reverend estimation of God's Word
- Of Alms-doing
- Of the Nativity of Christ
- Of the Passion of Christ
- Of the Resurrection of Christ
- Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ
- Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
- For the Rogation-days
- Of the state of Matrimony
- Of Repentance
- Against Idleness
- Against Rebellion
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.
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 jurisdiction.
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.
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 ability.
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.