At the Grossmünster in Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli [1] begins sermons on the New Testament. This event is generally credited as the birth of the Swiss Reformation.[2]

Meanwhile in Wittenberg, Prof. Luther may have squeezed in a lecture or two on the Psalms before heading to Altenburg to meet with the pope’s chamberlain, Karl von Miltitz.


Commentary on Psalm 8:2. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. … Let everyone who is called or who attempts to teach the Word, be instructed and assured that he will have adversaries who will not only not hear what he has to say, but will, when he offends against their opinions and pursuits — which he must of necessity do — become his most bitter enemies and persecutors. These words of the Spirit, however, which bring the babies into contention with enemies and avengers will not lie. The contest may be fearful, but it is so managed by divine power, and will end so well, that — if the baby only believes that the matter is conducted by the counsels of God and not his own, and if he only concerns himself about offering his mouth to him who speaks in him, leaving himself in his [God’s] hands as the mere instrument of the Word — that Word perfecting will perfect strength and destroying will destroy the adversary.

Moreover, he who teaches as not to find an enemy to resist, and an avenger to persecute, because he teaches out of the rule laid down in this verse, let him not presume to himself that he is a perfect and pure preacher of the Word. But, if enemies and avengers rise up and rush upon him, saying, “Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us,”[Ps. 2:3] or if they shall taunt him as they did the prophets, saying, “What is the burden of the Lord?”[Jer. 23:33] or shall serve them as Zedekiah did Micaiah, and say, “Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?”[1 Kn. 22:24] Are you the only wise one in the world? Let such a preacher be of good hope, knowing that, according to this verse, he is a baby and an infant, but that his enemies are Nimrods [3] and giants: for this is what we see came upon all the prophets, upon Christ himself, upon the apostles, and upon all the ministers of the Word. The example of whom, like a thick cloud, ought to animate us, for we see that all such examples accord precisely with this scripture. (Second Lectures on the Psalms, published as Operationes in Psalmos, “Works on the Psalms”, beginning in Mar 1519)


[1] Ulrich (or Huldrych) Zwingli (1484–1531), the Reformer of Zürich and of the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, had studied at the Universities of Vienna and Basel (M.A. Basel, 1506). He was ordained into the priesthood in 1506 and served as pastor in Glarus, 1506-1516 and as Leutpriester (“people’s priest”: chief pastor and preacher) in Einsiedeln, 1516-18. At the end of 1518 he was called as Leutpriester to the Grossmünster (cathedral) in Zürich, a position he held for the remainder of his life. Through the influence of Erasmus, Zwingli developed from a religiously unconcerned papistic preacher into a reform-minded Christian Humanist. While at Einsiedeln, he preached against some ecclesiastical abuses and seriously studied the New Testament and Augustine. In the fall of 1519, Zwingli was very ill with the plague and read some of Luther’s writings. In 1522, he broke officially with the papal church by disregarding the regulations on fasting during Lent. The Zürich city council asked the bishop of Constance (the ecclesiastical superior of the city) to call a synod to deal with Zwingli’s teachings. When the bishop refused, the city council sponsored a disputation (Jan 29, 1523), which resulted in a clear victory for Zwingli, who, with the consent of the city council, introduced the Reformation to Zürich.

[2] By 1526, the Reformation had completely taken over Zürich and was spreading to other Swiss city republics, including Bern. In May of 1526 the assembly of the Swiss republics, dominated by a pro-papal majority, excommunicated and banned Zwingli, and the pro-papal republics (supported by the Hapsburgs) began a political campaign against Zürich. Zwingli managed to head off any possible danger and strengthen Zürich’s position, but failed to create an anti-Hapsburg, anti-Roman alliance of all Protestant territories of the Empire (including Switzerland). Zürich, isolated from Protestants in the Empire, had to face the pro-papal Swiss republics alone and was defeated. Zwingli died in the battle at Cappel on Oct 11, 1531. Luther observed: “Zwingli‍‍ drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’ [Matt. 26:52]. If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule.” (Table Talk No. 1451, recorded Apr 1532).

[3] According to Gen. 10:8-10, Nimrod (son of Noah’s son Cush) founded, among others, Babel and Assyria, a mortal enemy of Israel [Mic. 5:4-6].

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