(My comments are in parentheses)
Out of love and zeal for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following theses will be publicly discussed at Wittenberg under the chairmanship of the reverend father Martin Lutther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and regularly appointed Lecturer on these subjects at that place. He requests that those who cannot be present to debate orally with us will do so by letter.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
(Notice how Luther spells his name.)
(No one actually responded to his invitation. Of course with this being the first viral best seller there would be plenty of feedback. 14 K copies sent out in 12 different languages- in one month!)
1) When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
(To “repent” is to think at a higher level or think again, so it is always related to sin. For Luther this means always being honest before God with our whole life and think deeply.)
2) This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
(Luther couldn’t stand the practice of confession he is put through as a monk. Jesus and his disciples didn’t practice this kind of repentance so why should he?)
3) Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
(Luther wants to see action as a result of repentance and so he mentions mortification of the flesh. How about whipping yourself, sleeping naked on the freezing brick floor or, even worse, out in the snow? Luther did all of those things in the past, but now that he is clear on the gospel of grace I wonder if Luther is still doing these things?)
4) The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
(In Catholic teaching there is a difference between the penalty of sin and the guilt of sin.)
5) The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
(The canons are the laws of Catholicism and are level with the Bible. Not for Luther!)
6) The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
(To “remit” guilt is to cancel it.)
7) God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
(A vicar is a representative to the bishop.)
8) The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
(No confession after you are dead.)
9) Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
(Luther speaks kindly about the pope.)
10) Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
(Confession after you are dead and in purgatory? Not for Luther.)