Luther wrote this just before the beginning of the rebellion, in an attempt to reconcile peasants and nobles (after the revolt had then started for real, Luther wrote his famous, violently reactionary opinion-piece, “Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants“).
“ON THE THIRD ARTICLE
“There shall be no serfs, for Christ has made all men free.” That is making Christian liberty an utterly carnal thing. Did not Abraham and other patriarchs and prophets have slaves? Read what St. Paul teaches about servants, who, at that time, were all slaves. Therefore this article is dead against the Gospel. It is a piece of robbery by which every man takes from his lord the body, which has become his lord’s property. For a slave can be a Christian, and have Christian liberty, in the same way that a prisoner or a sick man is a Christian, and yet not free. This article would make all men equal, and turn the spiritual kingdom of Christ into a worldly, external kingdom; and that is impossible. For a worldly kingdom cannot stand unless there is in it an inequality of persons, so that some are free, some imprisoned, some lords, some subjects, etc.; and St. Paul says in Galatians 3:28, that in Christ master and servant are one thing. On this subject my friend Urban Regius has written enough; you may read further in his book.”