Westminster Larger Catechism
In 1643 when the Long Parliament of England called the Westminster Assembly to produce the Westminster Confession, it also asked for a committee to write an associated Catechism. In January 1647 the Assembly gave up writing one catechism and split it into two. The Westminster Shorter Catechism was to be more basic and short for beginners, and the Larger Catechism was to be more exact and comprehensive. The Catechism was completed in 1647, then adopted by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1648 and by the Presbyterian Synod of New York and Philadelphia in 1788.
Navigation Note: The "Topics" portion is not part of the original document. We have added these categories for ease of navigation. Topic Contents are repeated on each page.
- God (Q1-20)
- Man and Sin (Q21-36)
- Christ (Q37-57)
- Salvation (Q58-90)
- The Law (Q91-110)
- The Law (Q111-130)
- The Law (Q131-151)
- Sin and Grace (Q152-160)
- The Sacraments (Q161-177)
- Prayer (Q178-196)
Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God1, and fully to enjoy him forever2.
1. Rom. 11:36; 1Cor. 10:31
2. Ps. 73:24-28
Question 2: How does it appear that there is a God?
Answer: The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God1; but his Word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation2.
1. Rom. 1:19-20; Ps. 19:1-3; Acts 17:28
2. 1Cor. 2:9-10; 2Tim. 3:15-17; Isa 59:21
Question 3: What is the Word of God?
Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God1, the only rule of faith and obedience2.
1. 2Tim. 3:16; 2Peter 1:19-21
2. Eph. 2:20; Rev. 22:18-19; Isa. 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Gal. 1:8-9; 2Tim. 3:15-16
Question 4: How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
Answer: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty1 and purity2; by the consent of all the parts3, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God4; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation5: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God6.
1. Hosea 8:12; 1Cor. 2:6-7,
13; Ps. 119:18, 129
2. Ps. 12:6; 119:140
3. Acts 10:43; 26:22
4. Rom. 3:19, 27
5. Acts 23:28; Heb. 4:12; James 1:18; Ps. 19:7-9; Rom. 15:4; Acts 20:32
6. John 16:13-14; 20:31; 1John 2:20, 27
Question 5: What do the Scriptures principally teach?
Answer: The Scriptures principally teach,: What man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
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Question 6: What do the Scriptures make known of God?
Answer: The Scriptures make known what God is1, the persons in the Godhead2, his decrees3, and the execution of his decrees4.
1. Heb. 11:6
2. 1John 5:17
3. Acts 15:14-15, 18
4. Acts 4:27-28
Question 7: What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit1, in and of himself infinite in being2, glory3, blessedness4, and perfection5; all-sufficient6, eternal7, unchangeable8, incomprehensible9, everywhere present10, almighty11, knowing all things12, most wise13, most holy14, most just15, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth16.
1. John 4:24
2. Exod. 3:14; Job 11:7-9
3. Acts 7:2
4. 1Tim. 6:15
5. Matt. 5:48
6. Gen. 17:1
7. Ps. 90:2
8. Mal. 3:6; James 1:17
9. 1Kings 8:27
10. Ps. 139:1-13
11. Rev. 4:8
12. Heb. 4:13; Psa 147:5
13. Rom. 16:27
14. Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4
15. Deut. 32:4
16. Exod. 34:6
Question 8: Are there more Gods than one?
Answer: There is but one only, the living and true God.
Deut. 6:4; 1Cor. 8:4, 6; Jer. 10:10
Question 9: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Answer: There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by their personal properties.
1John 5:7; Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; 2Cor. 13:14; John 10:30
Question 10: What are the personal properties of the three persons in the Godhead?
Answer: It is proper to the Father to beget the Son1, and to the Son to be begotten of the Father2, and to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son from all eternity3.
1. Heb. 1:5-6, 8
2. John 1:14, 18
3. John 15:26; Gal. 4:6
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Question 11: How does it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?
Answer: The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names1, attributes2, works3, and worship4, as are proper to God only.
1. Isa. 6:3, 5, 8; John
12:41; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25; 1John 5:20
2. John 1:1; 2:24-25; Isa. 9:6; 1Cor. 2:10-11
3. Col. 1:16; Gen. 1:2
4. Matt. 28:19; 2Cor. 13:14
Question 12: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will1, whereby, from all eternity, he has, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time2, especially concerning angels and men.
1. Eph. 1:11; Rom. 9:14-15,
2. Eph. 1:4, 11; Rom. 9:22-23; Ps. 33:11
Question 13: What has God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
Answer: God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, has elected some angels to glory1; and in Christ has chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof2: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will (whereby he extends or withholds favor as he pleases), has passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice3.
1. 1Tim. 5:21
2. Eph. 1:4-6; 2Thess. 2:13-14
3. Rom. 9:17-18, 21-22; Matt. 11:25-26; 2Tim. 2:20; Jude 1:4; 1Peter 2:8
Question 14: How does God execute his decrees?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will.
Question 15: What is the work of creation?
Answer: The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning,
by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things
therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.
Gen. ch. 1; Heb. 11:8; Prov 16:4
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Question 16: How did God create angels?
Answer: God created all the angels1, spirits2, immortal3, holy4, excelling in knowledge5, mighty in power6, to execute his commandments, and to praise his name7, yet subject to change8.
1. Col. 1:16
2. Ps. 104:4
3. Matt. 22:30
4. Matt. 25:31
5. 2Sam. 14:17; Matt. 24:36
6. 2Thess. 1:7
7. Ps. 103:20-21
8. 2Peter 2:4
Question 17: How did God create man?
Answer: After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female1; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground2, and the woman of the rib of the man3, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls4; made them after his own image5, in knowledge6, righteousness, and holiness7; having the law of God written in their hearts8, and power to fulfill it9, and dominion over the creatures10; yet subject to fall11.
1. Gen. 1:27
2. Gen. 2:7
3. Gen. 2:22
4. Gen. 2:7; Job 35:11; Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Luke 23:43
5. Gen. 1:27
6. Col. 3:10
7. Eph. 4:24
8. Rom. 2:14-15
9. Eccl. 7:29
10. Gen. 1:28
11. Gen. 3:6; Eccl. 7:29
Question 18: What are God’s works of providence?
Answer: God’s works of providence are his most holy1, wise2, and powerful preserving3 and governing4 all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions5, to his own glory6.
1. Ps. 145:17
2. Ps. 104:24; Isa. 28:29
3. Heb. 1:8
4. Ps. 103:19
5. Matt. 10:29-31; Gen. 45:7
6. Rom. 11:86; Isa. 43:14
Question 19: What is God’s providence towards the angels?
Answer: God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation1, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory2; and established the rest in holiness and happiness3; employing them all4, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice5.
1. Jude 1:6; 2Peter 2:4;
Heb. 2:16; John 8:44
2. Job 1:12; Matt. 8:31
3. 1Tim. 5:21; Mark 8:38; Heb. 12:22
4. Ps. 104:4
5. 2Kings 19:35; Heb. 1:14
Question 20: What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
Answer: The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth1; putting the creatures under his dominion2, and ordaining marriage for his help3; affording him communion with himself4; instituting the sabbath5; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience6, of which the tree of life was a pledge7; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death8.
1. Gen. 2:8, 15-16
2. Gen. 1:28
3. Gen. 2:18
4. Gen. 1:26-29; 3:8
5. Gen. 2:3
6. Gal. 3:12; Rom. 10:5
7. Gen. 2:9
8. Gen. 2:17
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