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Who Could Have Known That the Theses Would Be So Successful

What did you expect from the 95 Theses and how did it work out?

Luther in a letter to the councellor Christopher Scheurl at Neurenberg at 5 March 1518:

My answer, to the fact that you marvel that I did not send you those [Luther’s Latin and German Theses, Ed.]: It was not my intention and also not my wish, to spread them. First, it has to be disputed by some people, who live with us and who live in our neighbourhood, so that the Theses are either rejected and destroyed or allowed and published by the judgement of many.

Now, however, – far above my expectations – they are printed and spread to so many, that I am sorry I wrote them. Not that I am not a supporter of the truth being broadcast to the people – I want that – but the way it happened is not appropriate to teach people. I myself am uncertain about some things and would I have expected this [the wide dissemination of the Theses, ed.], I would have asserted many things completely differently and more accurately or I would have omitted some things.

Still, I deduce with pleasure from their diffusion what everyone everywhere thinks about indulgences, although secretly, namely for fear of the Jews. I was forced so to collect evidence for my theses, which I, however, am not allowed to publish yet. Your Reverence and merciful lord, the bishop of Brandenburg, whose judgement I have consulted in this affair, is very unable to attend to the matter and he holds me too long. Yes, when the Lord gives me time off, then I want to publish a booklet in German about the value of the indulgences, so that I restrain those very vague theses. By the way, I do not doubt that the people are deceived, not by indulgences, but by the use of them. I shall send this [the booklet that Luther wants to write, ed.], as soon as it is ready. 

(…) I request you and him [the famous Nuremberg painter Albrecht Dürer, ed.] that you let go of the excessive opinion you have of me and that you expect nothing greater from me than I can realize. However, I can and am entirely nothing and I become every day more and more nothing.