John Marbach Entered Reformation Fray

Dan Graves, MSL

John Marbach Entered Reformation Fray

John Marbach was born at the most dramatic moment in Luther's stand against the corruption of the established church. The year before his birth, Pope Leo X issued the bull, Exsurge Domine, condemning 41 of Luther's propositions. Four days after Marbach's birth, Luther stood before an assembly in Worms, Germany and declared "Here I stand. I can do no other."

maarbach became a Lutheran. Born on this day, April 14, 1521, his studies eventually took him to the University of Wittenberg. At eighteen years of age, he joined other students who sat at the dinner table of Dr. Martin Luther. Perhaps some of Luther's controversiality and intensity rubbed off on the pupil.

In 1545, he accepted a pulpit in Strasburg. Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Schwenckfeldians, Anabaptists and other reformation groups worked there. In fact, John Calvin had founded a school in Strasburg when expelled from Geneva. At first John Marbach worked well with the others, but as time went on, he began to insist on a strictly Lutheran theology. Through his zeal, he managed to force some of the other religious leaders out of town.

He didn't always get his own way, of course. When John Sturm established a school at Strasburg that upheld a more Calvinist view of the Lord's Supper than John Marbach liked, he led those who howled against Sturm. An arbiter decided in favor of Sturm.

Marbach was a staunch advocate of a uniform, consistent Lutheranism and a trainer of many pastors. He pushed for a standard hymn book, a common liturgy (order of worship), Luther's catechism and a statement of theology that would apply to all Lutherans. Because of this, he was a strong supporter of the Formula of Concord which set forth a theology that different factions of Lutherans could accept. He also helped restore the Lutheran Reformation to the Palatinate (a region along the Rhine) when its Calvinist ruler, Frederick III died.

All in all, Marbach was the kind of zealous and loyal Lutheran on whom the Lutheran Reformation was built in Germany.


  1. "Marbach, Johann." New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1951.
  2. "Marbach, Johannes." Kirchenlexikon.
  3. "Marbach, Johannes." The Oxford encyclopedia of the Reformation. Editor in chief Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
  4. Various other web and encyclopedia articles.

Last updated June, 2007

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