Girolamo Zanchi (1516–1590) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in For Whom did Christ Die?


Effectual Redemption:

A sum of the Treatise, concerning the Redemption of the Church by Christ, and the certainty of our Predestination and salvation, comprised in twenty nine positions.

5. And although there were more Israelites which were besieged of the enemies then Jews; yet not they but only these were delivered: so though there be much more Reprobate then Elect; yet the Deliverance made by Christ did not appertain to the Reprobate, but to the Elect only; so that the Prophet truly admiring spake thus, “I

6. For Christ, according to the purpose of his Father, for the Elect only, that is, for those who according to the eternal Election should believe in him, was born, suffered and died, and rose again, and makes intercession at the right hand of his Father. 335-336.

25. Christ according to the purpose, of both his Father’s and his own will, neither prayed nor suffered but for the Elect only: which is proved fully by many places of Scripture. Girolamo Zanchius, Speculum Christianum or A Christian Survey for the Conscience, (London: Printed by George Eld, 1614), 335-336, 344.

The Sum of the fourth Chapter of the Tractate touching Christ our Advocate contained in four propositions.

Christ is the Advocate of the elect only, & (that) of all which have been from the beginning of the world, and shall be to the end.

2. Christ also is the propitiation only for the sins of the elect of the whole word; therefore is he their advocate only. So the Church of Smyrna to all the parishes of Paul “saith, Christ did suffer for the salvation of all the World which are to be saved: but the Elect only are saved.” So Ambrose. To. 2. de fide ad Gratianum. lib. 4.c.1. If though does not believe, he descended not for thee, he suffered not for thee. Therefore he suffered only for the believers.

3 The (world) is sometimes taken for the whole World, and all men, as well as Elect as Reprobate; sometime for the more special part, to wit the Elect; sometime for the worse part of the World, that is, the Reprobate. The Author also of the book de vocatione Gentium. lib. 1.c.3. does declare by examples of many Scriptures often-times for a part of the Earth, the whole Earth, for a part of the World the whole World for a part of men all men to be nominated; and this as well touching the wicked as the godly. Therefore when he says, that “Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” we are not enforced by the name of (the whole World) to understand universally all men.

4. There is a difference between the work of our redemption, and the force (or fruit) of our redemption: for the first is once done; the other is eternal, extending itself as well to them which were from the beginning of the World, even before the work of our redemption was accomplished, as to them who after the work of redemption effected shall be to the end of the World. Hilasmos is properly the efficacy of redemption & propitiation; nothing therefore does let, but that Christ has been and is perpetually the Atonement for the sins even of them which were elected, even from the beginning of the world. Girolamo Zanchius, Speculum Christianum or A Christian Survey for the Conscience, (London: Printed by George Eld, 1614), 345-347.

Mankind redeemed:

1) I. The gospell, what it is.

Concerning the gospell therefore, according to the signification received and used in the church, we beleeve that it is nothing else but the heavenly doctrine concerning Christ, preached by Christ himselfe and the apostles, and contained in the bookes of the Newe testament, bringing the best and most gladsome tidings to the world, namely, that mankinde is redeemed by the death of Iesus Christ, the onely, begotten Sonne of God. So that there is prepared for al men, if they repent and beleeve in Iesus Christ, a free remission of al their sinns, salvation, and eternall life. Wherefore it is fitlie called of the Apostle: ‘The gospel of our salvation’. Source: Girolamo Zanchi De religione christiana FidesConfession of Christian Religion, Edited by Luca Baschera and Christian Moser, (London: Brill, 2007), 253.

Conditional election:

1) VII. Everie one ought stedfastlie to beleeve he is elect in Christ, yet we may be more assured by the feeling of our faith in Christ.

Hence it is manifest, although no man in generall ought to exempt himself out of the number of the elect, sith the scripture doeth not so, but rather stedfastlie to trust that, when he is called to Christ, he is called according to the eternall decree and election of God. Yet, if any man will be more assured of his certaine election, he must run to his faith and the witnes of his conscience, whether he perceive that he truely beleeveth in Christ and whether he carrie a sincere love towards God and his neighbor. Yea, if he finde himself herein not altogether soundlie and thoroughlie setled, yet let him not desparre, but desire of God that he will helpe his unbeleefe, hoping that he may in time be better assured. Source: Girolamo Zanchi De religione christiana FidesConfession of Christian Religion, Edited by Luca Baschera and Christian Moser, (London: Brill, 2007), 141-142.


Hypothetical universalism and conditional election:

1) Thirdly therefore consider we the constant Doctrine of Divines, not that reprobates are bound to believe, but that all that hear the Gospel are bound to believe: but in what sense? Piscator says, as I remember, that the thing, which all such are bound to believe, is the Gospel; according to that Mar. 1. “Repent ye and believe the Gospel.” Now to believe the Gospel is one thing, the sum whereof is this, “That Jesus Christ came unto the world to save sinners;” but to believe in Christ is another thing, which yet this Author distinguishes not, though it appears by the course of his argumentation, that he draws to this meaning, and that in a particular sense, which is this, “to believe that Christ died for them;” as appears expressly in the latter end of this Section. And no marvel if this Author carry himself so confidently in this, being, as he is, armed with such confidence. But I am glad that in one place or other, he springs his meaning, that we may have the fairer flight at him, to pull down his pride, and sweep away his vain confidence: though we deal upon the most plausible argument of the Arminians, and which they think insoluble. My answer is; first, Look in what sense Arminius says Christ died for us, in the same sense we may be held to say (without prejudice to our Tenet) of absolute reprobation, that all who hear the Gospel are bound to believe that Christ died for them. For the meaning Arminius makes of Christ’s dying for us, is this, Christ died, for this end, that satisfaction being made for sin, the Lord now may pardon sin, upon what condition he will; which indeed is to die for obtaining a possibility of the redemption of all, but for the actual redemption of none at all.

Secondly, But I lift not to content myself and this; therefore, I farther answer, by distinction of the phrase dying for us, that we may not cheat ourselves by the confounding of things that differ. To die for us, or for all, is to die for our benefit, or for the benefit of all: Now these benefits are of a different nature, whereof some are bestowed upon man only conditionally (though for Christ’s sake) and they are the pardon of sin and Salvation of the Soul, and these God does confer only upon the condition of faith and repentance. Now I am ready to profess, and that, I suppose, as out of the mouth of all our Divines, that every one who hears the Gospel (without distinction between Elect and Reprobate) is bound to believe that Christ died for him, so far as to procure both the pardon of his sins, and the salvation of his soul, in case he believe and repent. But there are other benefits, which Christ by his obedience has merited for us, namely, the benefit of faith and repentance…

Now I demand from this Author can say truly, that tis the constant opinion of our Divines, that all who hear the Gospel, whether elect or Reprobate, are bound to believe that Christ died to procure them faith and repentance. Nay does any Arminian at this day believe this, or can he name any Arminian that does avouch this? Now does himself believe this? If he does not, if he cannot show any Arminian that does, with what face can he charge this opinion upon us, as if we should extend the obligation to believe, much farther then the Arminians doe, whereas usually they criminate us, for not extending it so far as we should…

And here first I observe, Zanchi is not charged to maintain, that every hearer of the Gospel, is bound to believe, that he is elect in Christ unto faith and repentance, but only to salvation: that puts me in good heart, that Zanchi & I shall shake hands of fellowship in the end, and part good friends. Secondly I distinguish between absolute-Election unto Salvation and election unto Salvation-absolute. The first only removes all cause on man’s part of election, the latter removes all cause on man’s part of salvation. By cause of salvation I mean only a disposing cause, such as faith, repentance, and good works are, as whereby (to express it in the Apostle’s phrase) we are “made partakers of the inheritance of the Saints of light.” Now albeit Zanchi maintains as we do, that all the elect are absolutely elected unto salvation, there being no cause on man’s part of his election, as we learned: yet neither Zanchi nor we maintain that God does elect any unto salvation absolute, that is to bring him to salvation, without any disposing of him thereunto by faith and repentance. Now to accommodate that opinion of Zanchi, I say it may have a good sense, to say that every hearer is bound to believe, both that Christ died to procure salvation for him, in the case he do believe, and that God ordained that he should be saved, in case he do believe; where belief is made the condition only of salvation, not of the Divine ordination; and the confusion of these by the Arminians, does usually make then confident and insolent, and in a word, Magnas Tragaedias excitare. But take away the confusion of things that differ, their combs are cut, their locks are shorn, and they are bit as another man. Now having showed in what sense every hearer is bound to believe that Christ died for him, and in what sense not, let us consider of what worth this Author’s arguments are, breathing nothing but smoke and fire, I will not say, like the great potan, but like fell dragon; but I nothing doubt we shall pair his nails, and make him calm enough ere we have done with him, so that a child shall be able enough to lead him.

1. The first is, because it is God’s will that they shall not believe, because “it is his peremptory will, that they shall have no power to believe.” I answer, it is indeed the will of God’s decree, that is, he has decreed not to give any Reprobate a justifying faith, but hence it follows not, that both Christ has merited, and God has ordained, that as many as do believe shall be saved. For this, as I take it, is not usually account by our Divines a justifying faith, but rather it comes within the compass of such a faith, as is commonly counted faith historical…

William Twisse, The Riches of God’s Love unto the Vessels of Mercy, consistent with his absolute hatred or reprobation of the Vessels of Wrath (Oxford, 1653), 1:153-155.

Davenant: Each Man Bound to Believe he is Elect:

His second reason [Davenant’s opponnent] why absolute Reprobation is against God’s Justice, is, “Because it makes God to require faith in Christ of those to whom he has precisely in his absolute purpose denied both a power to believe, and a Christ to believe in.” And Zanchi says, “That every man is bound to believe that he is chosen in Christ to salvation,” &c. I hold it improper to say that God commands or binds any man to believe his own Predestination or Election, though some learned Divines spake in that manner. My reason is, because we are bound by way of command to believe that only which the Prophets and Apostles were bound to preach unto us: Now God’s ministers never had, neither now have, any commission to preach the Predestination of this or that singular person unto any man, though they are bound in the judgment of charity to exclude no singular person out of the number of the Elect. That which the Ministers of the Gospel require of us for the attaining of salvation is faith in Christ: and that which they command us concerning Predestination or Election, is not the immediate believing of it as an Article of faith which they have in commission to preach unto us, but the doing of those things from whence a posteriori, the Spirit of God bearing witness unto our spirit, we come to have a comfortable and lively persuasion or assurance of our Adoption and Predestination: So that this persuasion, assurance, or believing of a man’s singular Election,is rather Solatium then mandatum; a comfort which God by his Holy Spirit working on those who endeavor to live a sober, just and godly life, then a command which God by his Ministers enjoins this or that man particularly to believe. John Davenant, Animadversions Written By the Right Reverend Father in God, John, Lord Bishop of Sarisbury, upon a Treatise intitled “God’s love to Mankind,” (London: Printed for Iohn Partridge, 1641), 254-255. [Some spelling modernized.]


G. Michael Thomas quoting Zanchi:

Zanchi on God’s Conditional Will:

1) It is granted that he seems to wish many things absolutely, others conditionally, in fact however, if it is spoken of properly, all things whatever God wills he wills absolutely and simply. Consequently all that he wills is done. For whatever he is said to will conditionally refers to the revelation of his will. For there is no conditional will of God.” De Natura Dei-The Will of God,” [p., 93.]

Christ died only for the elect:

1) Christ according to the plan and will of the Father, neither prayed nor suffered except for the elect. [p., 96.]

2) The elect alone are saved… therefore God wills simply to save only them, and for them alone Christ died and for them alone he intercedes. [p., 96.]

3) regarding the plan and counsel of the Lord, and the eternal will of God, he died for the elect alone.Commentary on Ephesians, [p., 96.]

4) It cannot be said that it was properly and simply the will of God that Christ should die for the salvation of all… and… that Christ, according to the Father’s plan died for all… sufficiently. [p., 96.]

Christ died for all men:

1) It is not false that Christ died for all men, regarding the conditional will: namely, if they want to be partakers of his death by faith. For the passion of Christ is offered to all in the Gospel. No-one is excluded from it unless he excludes himself. [p., 96.]

2) We are ordered to believe the gospel, and the gospel both assumes that we have been redeemed through Christ and proclaims that we have been predestined in Christ, so we are commanded to believe simply that we have been predestined in Christ from eternity to obtain redemption. [p., 98.]

3) Those who, looking at the revealed will of God, teach that God both wills that all be saved, and that Christ died for the salvation of all, cannot be condemned. “Confessio,” [p., 102.]

Source: G. Michael Thomas, The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus, (Paternoster: UK, 1997).

This entry was posted on Friday, October 26th, 2007 at 9:06 pm and is filed under For Whom did Christ Die?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


I have updated the Zanchi file. The source is a small work which as far as I can tell is not his Confessions. The new date confirms G. Michael Thomas’ quotations. See: Primary Sources, Effectual Redemption.

June 12th, 2008 at 8:26 am

I have updated the Zanchi file by adding a secondary source note from Davenant on Zanchi’s doctrine that every man is bound to believe he is elected.

October 15th, 2008 at 9:50 am

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