In 1553, The Thirty Nine Articles of Faith was authored by a group led by Thomas
Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer writes, We are desirous of setting forth in
our churches the true doctrine of God, and have no wish to adapt it to all tastes and to trifle
with ambiguities but, laying aside all carnal and prudential motives, to transmit to posterity
a true and explicit of doctrine agreeable to the rule of the sacred writings.
Thirty Nine Articles of Faith can be summarized in 5 categories: Christian truths (Articles 1 - 5),
the rule of faith (Articles 6 - 8), individual religion (Articles 9 - 18), corporate religion
(Articles 19 - 36), and national religion (Articles 37 - 39).
These articles later
became the historical doctrinal standard of the Church of England and the worldwide network of
Episcopal churches associated with the Archbishop of Canterbury. In1784, the articles were used
by John Wesley to make up the 25 Articles of Religion for the Methodists, and by 1801, the
articles formed the basis of the 39 Articles of Religion the Protestant Episcopal Church in the
As established by the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in
the United States of America, in Convention, on the twelfth day of September, in the Year of our
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.
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 actual sins of men.
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.
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; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and
there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.
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.
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures 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 the 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.
Genesis, The First Book of Samuel, The Book of Esther,
Exodus, The Second Book of Samuel, The Book of Job,
Leviticus, The First Book of Kings, The
Numbers, The Second Book of Kings, The Proverbs,
Deuteronomy, The First Book of
Chronicles, Ecclesiastes or Preacher,
Joshua, The Second Book of Chronicles, Cantica, or Songs
Judges, The First Book of Esdras, Four Prophets the greater,
Ruth, The Second
Book of Esdras, Twelve Prophets the less.
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 rest of the Book of Esther,
The Fourth Book of
Esdras, The Book of Wisdom,
The Book of Tobias, Jesus the Son of Sirach,
The Book of Judith,
Baruch the Prophet,
The Song of the Three Children, The Prayer of Manasses,
The Story of
Susanna, The First Book of Maccabees,
Of Bel and the Dragon, The Second Book of Maccabees.
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive,
and account them Canonical.
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.
VIII. Of the Creeds.
The Nicene 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
[The original Article given Royal assent in 1571 and reaffirmed in 1662, was
entitled "Of the Three Creeds; and began as follows, "The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius's
Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed..."]
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
of itself the nature of sin.
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.
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.
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 judgment; 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.
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.
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 are unprofitable servants.
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 Saint John saith) was not in him. But all we the rest, although baptized and horn 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.
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.
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 felicity.
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 to us 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.
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 unto us only the Name of Jesus
Christ, whereby men must be saved.
XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in 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
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 any thing that is 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
any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed
for necessity of Salvation.
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
[The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a
local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801,
reads as follows: "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 sometimes have erred, even
in things pertaining unto 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."]
XXII. Of Purgatory.
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, 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.
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.
XXIV. 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.
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 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, they have
a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves
damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
XXVI. 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 sometimes
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 receiving 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 judgment be deposed.
XXVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian
men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it 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.
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,
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried
about, lifted up, or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not 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 Saint 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.
XXX. Of both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of
the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that 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 Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt,
were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the
estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other
Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to
XXXIII. Of excommunicate 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 thereunto.
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly
like; for at all times they have been divers, 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 judgment, 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 others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the
common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences
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
XXXV. Of the 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 he
understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1 Of the right Use of the Church.
2 Against Peril of Idolatry.
repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4 Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5 Against Gluttony
6 Against Excess of Apparel.
7 Of Prayer.
8 Of the Place and Time of
9 That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
Of the reverend Estimation of God's Word.
11 Of Alms-doing.
12 Of the Nativity of Christ.
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.
18 Of the State of Matrimony.
19 Of Repentance.
20 Against Idleness.
[This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares the Books of
Homilies to be an explication of Christian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals. But all
references to the constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable to the circumstances
of this Church; which also suspends the order for the reading of said Homilies in churches, until
a revision of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as well from obsolete words
and phrases, as from the local references.]
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as
set forth by the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to
such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and
ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we decree all
such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
[The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: "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 any thing, that of itself
is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the
Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed 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 and ordered."]
XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity,
in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the
duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority,
regularly and legitimately constituted.
[The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: "The King's Majesty
hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his 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 King's
Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to
be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God's Word, or of the Sacraments,
the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify;
but that only 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 Ecclesiastical or 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."]
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, 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.
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man's Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord
Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, 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, judgment, and truth.