the genius and complexity of john calvin:

citations from calvin on the unlimited work of

expiation and redemption of Christ


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Explanatory Notes

 

1) The first thing that needs to be said is that the reader should endeavor to read all of these citations before making a judgement about any given quotation. Too often readers of Calvin rush to hasty generalizations. This is often due to their zeal to read Calvin in the light of what he should have thought, should have said and should have taught. Many people read Calvin in the light of later 17th century theological categories. For, hermeneutically, much of Calvin scholarship errs on reading Calvin in the light of newer and later theological trajectories, and not as the closing era of an older previous and classical trajectory. We would not do this with regard to Zwingli, Bullinger, Musculus, Gualther, Luther, Vermigli, but many are arbitrarily insistent that we do exactly this for Calvin. I argue that Calvin stood at the close of the Medieval-Synthesis with its classic Augustine-Prosper soteriology. He was not the forerunner of a new soteriological trajectory as many claim. For example, compare Calvin’s language and theology with those listed here, “Moderated Forms of “Calvinism” Documented Thus Far,” specially the ‘early Reformation era.’ Thus, to say again, one really should take the effort to read the following documentation before rushing to refutations or modern secondary sources.

2) With regard to sources. I have worked on the assumptions that the translations are ‘basically reliable.’ In some places I have endeavored to verify the quotations from the original Latin and French. For some of the sermon material, I have chosen to use the Old Paths publications. This is not because they can claim to be more accurate, but because they are more established translations. For Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians, the page number after the forward slash refers to the pages in the Kathy Childress translation. For other editions of Calvin’s Sermons, I have relied on the facsimile editions now published by the Banner of Truth, and the Banner’s other modern publications. For Calvin’s Institutes, I am using the Battles’ translation. I have used the Tracts translated by Henry Beveridge. For Commentaries I have used the older editions now published by Baker. The New Testament edition, edited by Torrance, is actually more accurate, but less well received. With regard to publication details, I have opted for a basic short-title approach as these works are easily accessible.

3) The following list, I believe, will be the most comprehensive list regarding Calvin’s view on the extent of the expiation and redemption that is available either online or in hard-print. My methodological approach has been to be as original as I can in my reading and searching. However, I have cross-referenced my list with lists by Alan Clifford, Jonathan Rainbow, and others such as Curt Daniel.1 For sure, not every quotation has ‘equal evidential value,’ as some may be vulnerable to objection. Often criticisms directed at Clifford’s list claim that some of the quotations he supplies do not prove Clifford’s case in a bullet-proof manner. Then it seems that these critics will summarily dismiss the whole list as irrelevant. It seems to me that sometimes this objection assumes that every quotation must have equal evidential value. I believe, however, that when every quotation is read in the light of the whole, Calvin’s true position becomes undeniable to honest minds.

4) I have tried to be as honest and faithful as possible in providing needed context for the quotations. This has often been a charge labeled against the lists supplied by Clifford and others, that they are taking Calvin out of context. In none of the quotations below does Calvin ever seek to delimit the meanings of terms and phrases such as “world,” “whole world,” “the whole human race” to mean the elect or the church, except in two instances that I am aware of: his understanding of John’s use of “whole world” in 1 John 2:2, and the meaning of the field as the world, in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Though Calvin can be cited as referring to the human race as a species and indeterminately, there is no justification to take his many statements regarding terms like the whole human race as referring to the church or the elect. Indeed, it would be a strong claim to just insist that in the following quotations that wherever Calvin refers to ‘world,’ ‘the whole world,’ ‘the human race,’ ‘the whole human race,’ mankind,’ ‘all mankind,’ and so forth, he intended nothing more than to describe the church or the elect.

5) I believe that when the total theology as expressed in these quotations is absorbed and comprehended, the various evasive strategies often expressed by Calvin scholars will be seen as quite naturally impossible. By this I mean, the claims that because the extent of the atonement was not (allegedly) debated in Calvin’s time, we cannot press him to express an opinion on the matter. This is fallacious. Just because an issue was not debated by a given theologian or group of theologians, it does not follow that a man would not, indeed, could not, have an opinion on the matter. Further, the claims that Calvin often spoke from the perspective of the naive observer (Michael White) or that of the judgement of charity (Rainbow) or simply expressing the breadth of Scripture (Paul Archbald) or was simply being “wonderfully broad” (Iain Murray) is unsustainable by an honest and serious reading of the following material.

6) I should add that there are some theological strategies which are no more than ‘entailment’ arguments.’ These often go something like this: Substitutionary atonement entails limited atonement. Calvin held to substitutionary atonement, therefore Calvin held to limited atonement (Paul Helm). This entailment argument begs the question. For Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, Musculus, Vermigli, and many others of this same time period, held to substitutionary atonement, yet did not hold to limited atonement. Those who use the above entailment argument need to establish textually from Calvin that he is an exception. Rather, what is happening is that many are unaware that there have been two versions of substitutionary atonement. Other entailment arguments are the assertions regarding the alleged connections between impetration and application, and expiation and intercession (Roger Nicole). Unfortunately, men like Nicole, retroject these later theological constructs into Calvin without demonstrating their use from Calvin’s corpus or as operative within Calvin’s theology.

7) Concerning the “wasted blood” and “redemption voided” quotations I have opted to combine these into one section. The redemption voided quotations are more vulnerable to critique as one may be tempted to say that Calvin was speaking purely hypothetically. For myself, I do not find that persuasive. Calvin’s supposition does seem to be that if we, or any, for whom Christ died reject him, the benefit of that death for the ‘rejector’ is actually and properly rendered void.

8) In response to the force of these quotations, some Calvin scholars have alleged that when Calvin spoke of Christ suffering for the sins of the whole world, he spoke simply to the free offer of the gospel (Nicole, Murray). However, in many of the following quotations, the offer of the gospel is not mentioned. Rather Calvin was directly expressing his opinion concerning the objective nature and extent of the expiation and sin-bearing. Therefore, I find no credible grounds for their contention. One other point needs to be made, when Calvin spoke of wretched souls or silly souls, in so doing Calvin consistently refers to unbelievers. Failure to see this is surely behind Rainbow’s persistent confusion regarding Calvin.

9) Regarding dates. In the 19th century some scholars thought that Calvin started out holding to limited expiation and redemption, but later came to embrace an unlimited expiation and redemption position. In the 21st century, sometimes this is reversed at the popular level. Many think that Calvin first embraced the unlimited position and, then, later came to embrace particular or limited atonement. The simple tabulation and cross-referencing publication dates shows both these claims to be unacceptable. For example:

Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans 1540

The Bondage and Liberation of the Will 1543

Commentary on all the Epistles of Paul 1548

Sermons on Jeremiah 1548

Sermons on Acts 1549-1551

Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Epistles of Peter 1551

Sermons on Micah 1550-1551

Commentary on John, Jude, and James 1551

Commentary on Isaiah 1551

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles 1552

Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God 1553

Sermons on Psalm 1554

Commentary on Genesis 1554

Sermons on Job 1554-55

Sermons on Deuteronomy 1556-1556

Commentary on Hosea 1557

Commentary on the Psalms 1557

Sermons on Galatians 1557-1558

Sermons on Ephesians 1558

Sermons on Isaiah 53 1558

Sermons on the Deity of Christ and other Sermons Selection, 1558, 1559 and 1560

Commentary on the Twelve Minor Prophets 1559

Sermons on the Synoptic Gospels 1559

Sermons on 2 Samuel 1561-1564

Commentary on Daniel 1561

Commentary on Joshua 1562

Commentary on Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy 1563

Commentary on Jeremiah 1563

Commentary on the Three Gospels and Commentary on St John 1563

10) Readers are encouraged to interact with me on this material in the comments. There I am prepared to defend my assumptions, interpretations and conclusions regarding Calvin. However, I will not entertain abuse or accusative comments. Only comments that advance an adult and civil conversation will be allowed. All advice regarding typos and such errors will be welcomed.

11) The following material is the result of quite a few years of research. Originally my intention was to use this as a basis for a Ph.D project, but I have come to the consideration that the material needs to be made available to the wider public. Therefore I ask that while anyone may repost or republish these quotations that they give the source (URL or link) back to this site and further request that others do so as well. I will update this file as I find more relevant statements, and I will update these introductory remarks on an ‘as needed’ basis.

 

Calvin on occasional definitions and comments of value

 

The blood of Christ as the price of our salvation:

For this knowledge alone, that the death of Christ was ordained by the eternal counsel of God, did cut off all occasion of foolish and wicked cogitation’s, and did prevent all offenses which might otherwise be conceived. For we must know this, that God doth decree nothing in vain or rashly; whereupon it followeth that there was just cause for which he would have Christ to suffer. The same knowledge of God’s providence is a step to consider the end and fruit of Christ’s death. For this meeteth us by and by in the counsel of God, that the just was delivered for our sins, and that his blood was the price of our death. Calvin, Acts 2:23.

The nature of justification:

There is indeed nothing less reasonable than to remove from ceremonies only the power of justifying, since Paul excludes all works indefinitely. To the same purpose is the negative clause,—that God justifies men by not imputing sin: and by these words we are taught that righteousness, according to Paul, is nothing else than the remission of sins; and further, that this remission is gratuitous, because it is imputed without works, which the very name of remission indicates; for the creditor who is paid does not remit, but he who Spontaneously cancels the debt through mere kindness. Calvin, Romans 4:6.

Who is our neighbour:

For if we recall that man is made in the image of God, we must consider our neighbour to be holy and sacred, in such a way that it is impossible to abuse him without abusing the image of God which is in him. Calvin, Truth for All Time, (Banner of Truth, 1998, trans., by Stuart Olyott), 18-19,

Moreover, it must be observed that, in the second passage, they are commanded to love strangers and foreigners as themselves. Hence it appears that the name of neighbor is not confined to our kindred, or such other persons with whom we are nearly connected, but extends to the whole human race; as Christ shows in the person of the Samaritan, who had compassion on an unknown man, and performed towards him the duties of humanity neglected by a Jew, and even a Levite. (Luke 10:30.) Calvin, Leviticus 19:33.

How does our neighbour perish:

Everyone would have to think that God does not judge us and that we will not experience his punishment unless we offend him. He invites us ever so gently to repent, but our hearts are hard. We do not want to come to him, and it has been a long time since we have individually stirred our neighbours, or rather urged him, to come to God. Consequently we are so insensitive that we do not feel the hand of God upon us to correct us. We see in this passage the trouble the Jews go to in order to ease their neighbours’ pain. There is not one who does not help those in need because of their physical health. As for us, we are not moved even when we see our neighbours perish in body or soul. We would not lift a finger. Their sense of brotherhood does not exist among us today, and that comes from the fact that there is no gratitude in either the small or the great. The small suffer may ills, but if you look at their ill will and their perversity, you will find they are filled with fraud, trickery, and deception. If they could. they would be ravening wolves. As for the great, they think the poor exist for them to prey upon. Their disposition to be merciless is so great that they will suck out their life’s blood and gnaw the bones. Calvin, Sermons on Acts, 222.

Who is our brother:

Yet we see who are our brethren, namely even our very enemies, such as persecute us, and such as could find in their hearts to eat us up. And yet for all that, even with them must we maintain brotherhood…

And whereas in this text the word “brother,” indeed it had respect to the lineage of Abraham. But nowadays we all have one father, who is called upon in all languages and in all countries (1 Tim 2:4). He has not chosen the race of any one man, nor shut up his service within any one certain country. For he partition wall is broken down (Eph 2:16), so as there is not now any difference of Jews and Gentiles, according as is told us that we be all one body in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that seeing God is proclaimed by the Gospel to our Saviour and Father, we must maintain a brotherhood among us.

As touching the word “neighbour,” the law has used it of purpose to show men that they may well shrink away one from another, but yet they be all of one known kind, according to his saying of the prophet Isaiah say, Thou shalt not despise thine own flesh (Isa 58:7). if I can say, This man is of a far country, there was never any acquaintances betwixt us, one of us can not speak a word that the other can understand: what s all this to the purpose? Let me look upon him and behold him thoroughly, and I shall find the same nature in him that is in my self: I shall see that God has made him so like me, as if we were but one flesh. And all mankind is of such shape and fashion, that we have good cause to love one another, and to know that we ought to be all one. Although here be some differences as touching this present life: yet ought we to consider that we should tend all to one end, even unto God who is the father of us all. And therefore it is not without cause that instead of saying, thou shalt do so to all men, our Lord says thou shalt do so to thy neighbour… yet we cannot bring to pass that all men should not be our neighbours, because we are all one self same nature, whereby God has knit us and linked us all together. The thing then which we have to mark in this part of the text upon the word “Brother,” is that whereas God speaks after the manner to the Jews, because he had adopted the lineage of Abraham: it shows us nowadays that we must all be as brothers, for as much as our Lord Jesus Christ has proclaimed peace through the whole world, and God is at one again with all nations and all men. See it is so, it behooves us to maintain the brotherhood which was procured by Christ’s bloodshed, and whereunto God calls us. And although many spiteful persons go about to violate it by their unkindness in shrinking away from the Church, and become our enemies, by giving us occasion to do them harm: yet notwithstanding et us strive against their naughtiness, and labour to procure their salvation of their souls, and that welfare of their bodies so as far as we can. Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 125, 22:1-4, 771 and 772.

The elect can never perish:

Also Luke teacheth in the same words, that it cannot be that any of the elect should perish. For he saith not that one or a few of the elect did believe, but so many as were elect. For though God’s election be unknown to us until we perceive it by faith, yet is it not doubtful or in suspense in his secret counsel; because he commendeth all those whom he counteth his to the safeguard and tuition of his Son, who will continue a faithful keeper even unto the end. Calvin, Acts 13:48.

There was another, a general election; for he received his whole seed into his faith, and offered to all his covenant. At the same time, they were not all regenerated, they were not all gifted with the Spirit of adoption. This general election was not then efficacious in all. Solved now is the matter in debate, that no one of the elect shall perish; for the whole people were not elected in a special manner; but God knew whom he had chosen out of that people; and them he endued, as we have said, with the Spirit of adoption, and supplied with his own grace, that they might never fall away. Others were indeed chosen in a certain way, that is, God offered to them the covenant of salvation; but yet through their ingratitude they caused God to reject them, and to disown them as children. Calvin, Hosea 12:3-5.

Accordingly, while he “profanes” his Church, that is, abandons her, and gives her up as a prey to her enemies, still the elect do not perish, and his eternal covenant is not broken. Calvin, Isaiah 47:6.

If God knows whom he wishes to save, the elect cannot perish and are therefore left unimpeded. What good would it do to go to all that trouble? And why? Those whom God has ordained to salvation cannot fail, so let them go on their way. Calvin, Sermons on Acts, 278.

 

 

Part I: Unlimited Imputation and Expiation

 

[1] THE SINS OF THE WORLD

sermons

1) Furthermore, to the end we may be discharged of all self-trust, let us look upon the notable example that was given us at the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if we will go the right way to heaven, we must follow the poor thief to whom he said, This day shalt thou be with me in paradise. How can we be sure that God will in the kingdom of heaven, seeing that we seek hell, and our all our affections, all our thoughts, all of our desires, all our powers , and all our works, tend wholly thither, even to separate us from God, wand to alienate us from his kingdom, and to drive us away from life and salvation? How may we (say I) be sure that God will take us up into his heavenly kingdom? We must have recourse to his word that was spoken to the poor thief: This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise. Seeing it is so that our Lord died, & that he entered into such gulfs of sorrow, that he was pinched so far as to abide the torments that were due to unto us, and not only abode the reproach and grief of bodily death, but also felt the Justice of God, and became as a wretched offender to bear all the sins of the world: let us not doubt but he has delivered us from the pains & anguish which we should have felt, and will lift us up to himself, and therefore now must us not be afraid of death. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 5, 1:19-21, p., 29.

2) And moreover, besides that the son of God has offered up himself for redemption: let us understand that he makes us partakers of that benefit at this day, by means of the Gospel. For he gathers us to him to the intent that we should be of his flock. That is true he is the lamb without spot which wipes away the sins of the world, and that he has offered himself up to reconcile men unto God [John 1:29, 2 Tim 1:9, 10 Rom 5:10, and 2 Cor 5:19]. But yet for all that, we see a great number of people are that are let alone, against whom the gate is shut, and GOD does not grant them the grace to be enlightened by faith as we be. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 31, 5: 4-7, p., 187.

3) Also there was the great sanctuary whereunto the high-priest entered all alone with great solemnity. And all this served to show yet more lively the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. But now all those things are come to an end. For there is no more shadowing, the veil (as it is said) is broken asunder, and we have the heavenly sanctuary whereunto we be called right forth, and Jesus Christ has set it open for us. And so there needs now no more burn offering, there needs no more sacrificing for sins: for our Lord Jesus Christ has by his one only sacrifice wiped away the sins of the world, and made an everlasting atonement [reconciliation], the virtue whereof can never be diminished. As often then as we will preach unto God, it is not for us to bring thither either calf or sheep, but we must resort to the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus Christ, because that thereby the everlasting redemption is purchased unto us. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 194, 33:9-11, p., 1207.

4) Let us mark then, that he [Job] was not possessed or oppressed with such a despair as he utters here, but that God made him to feel his goodness in some sort. We see this yet much better in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ He says, Why has thou forsaken me? And indeed he is there in extremity, as the party that bears the burden of all the sins of the world. Therefore it was requisite that for a while Jesus Christ should feel himself as it were forsaken of God his Father. But yet nevertheless he had a comfort to the contrary as he showed by saying, “My God, my God” (Matt 27:46). John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon 35, Job 9:16-22, p., 161.

5) So we must take careful note of these words of the prophet when he says that the correction of our peace was on our Lord Jesus Christ; seeing that by his mediation God is satisfied and appeased, for He bore all the wickednesses and all the iniquities of the world. John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, Sermon 3, 53:4-6, p., 74.2

6) That, then, is the intention of our Lord Jesus. For He surely prayed throughout His whole life, and even previously in this great combat which He had sustained, He prays to God that if it were possible this drink might be turned away from Him. But now He has taken up His conclusion, because He was so ordained by God His Father and He saw that He must acquit Himself of the charge which was committed to Him, that is, to offer the perpetual sacrifice to blot out the sins of the world. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 5, Matt 25:51-56 , p., 87.

7) There is no doubt that God wished to testify to the innocence of Jesus Christ in many ways; as even by the mouth of Pilate (as already we have mentioned and as we shall see still more fully), not that God had not already concluded what ought to be done by His Only Son. So, since He willed that He be the Sacrifice to wipe out the sins of the world, Scripture had to be fulfilled. Yet our Lord Jesus also had to be proved righteous and innocent, in order that we might know all the better that He suffered the condemnation which was due to us and which we deserved, and that we might always look at our faults and sins in everything that is here told us of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 7, Mt 27:11-26, p., 123.

8) However, this is not to exclude what is shown in all other passages, and even to derogate from the article that the death and passion of our Lord Jesus would not have served to wipe away the iniquities of the world except insofar as He obeyed, indeed, abasing Himself even to so frightful a death. Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 9, Matt 27-45-54, p., 156.3

9) It is not, then, without cause that St. Peter declares that what Jesus Christ endured was through the providence of God. Jesus Christ had to be the sacrifice offered to God His Father to blot out the sins of the world. When, then, we see such a purpose to the counsel of God, that we may know that all He does is for our benefit, we ought no longer to inquire why Jesus Christ suffered, because in that we see the infinite goodness of God, we see His love which appeared to us (as St. Paul says) in that He spared not His own Son, but has delivered Him to death for us. (Romans 8:32.) John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 19, Acts 2:22- 24, p., 284.

10) Therefore we must repair to our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is he that hath borne all our burdens, as I have alleged already. Truly the redeeming of us did cost him dear, and if we seek heaven and earth throughout for the price of a ransom, we shall not find any other than him, that is able to pacify God. Then had we never been sanctified, except the son of God had given himself for us. And in very deed the prophet Isaiah shows how he bear our burdens. ( Isaiah 53:4, 5) Namely that he felt the pains of death, and that the Father was fain [pleased] to wreak himself upon him, as though he had been an offender and guilty of all the sins of the world. John Calvin Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 39, 6:2-5, p., 836/597.

11) Therefore Jesus Christ will not answer before Pontius Pilate. Why so? Because he sought to satisfy the will of God his father, & that decree which he had concluded: he knew that by his sacrifice, he puts away the sins of the world. And therefore Jesus Christ being in the place of sinners, & their persons, defended not himself: & as it has been said by the Prophet Isaiah, he is led to death, as a lamb that is shorn and opens not his mouth…

To be short this is that the Apostle says in the tenth of Hebrews, if we will be partakers of all that was gotten us by the son of God, we must have patience: after that he has shown himself, that when Jesus Christ had suffered for the sins of the world, he went up into heaven, he added That this was to arm us to patience.” For it is nothing, if the fruit of this redemption, which was purchased for us, does not show itself by faith: for otherwise, it will be a thing come to nought. John Calvin, Sermons on 1 Timothy, Sermon 51, 6:13-16, p., 612.

12) Now howsoever it be let us mark, that Altars in old time, and specially in the time of the law, were always erected to this end, that the faithful might know that they were not worthy to pray unto God, nor to call upon him in their own name: but that always they must come to him by the means our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the virtue of that sacrifice which he must offer up to his Father, for the reconciliation of the world. And indeed we must not think that Abraham and Isaack devised Altars according to their own fantasies: For their sacrifices were never acceptable but through faith as the Apostle shows. Now they could never have been grounded in Faith, unless the word of god had gone before to enlighten them. Let us know then, that Isaac offered not up a sacrifice, at all adventures, as if he had thought, O this shall be found good: but he was taught, that he being a wretched sinner, he must not presume to call upon the name of God, unless he put his whole trust in him, who must be sent to make satisfaction and to purge the sins of the world. John Calvin, Sermons on Election and Reprobation, Sermon, 9, Gen 26:23-25, pp., 209-10.

commentaries

13) Thus far my wish has been to teach that the Levitical priest was ordained, that he might be a type of the true Mediator. It will now be worth our while briefly to advert to the marks by which our perpetual and only Priest, the Son of God, is to be distinguished from those of old; for a fuller exposition will follow hereafter in its proper place… The last distinction consisted in the sacrifices themselves, respecting which I abstain at present from speaking more fully, because they will have their proper place hereafter. This only we must now recollect, that Christ expiated the sins of the world, not with the blood of beasts, but with His own blood. John Calvin, Exodus 28, Introductory Comments.

14) And he shall take the two goats. A twofold mode of expiation is here presented to us; for one of the two goats was offered in sacrifice according to the provisions of the Law, the other was sent away to be an outcast, or offscouring (katharma vel peripsema.) The fulfillment of both figures, however, was manifested in Christ, since He was both the Lamb of God, whose offering blotted out the sins of the world, and, that He might be as an offscouring, (katharma,) His comeliness was destroyed, and He was rejected of men. A more subtle speculation might indeed be advanced, viz., that after the goat was presented, its sending away was a type of the resurrection of Christ; as if the slaying of the one goat testified that the satisfaction for sins was to be sought in the death of Christ; whilst the preservation and dismissal of the other showed, that after Christ had been offered for sin, and had borne the curse of men. John Calvin, Leviticus 16: 17.

15) “Without shedding of blood,” says Paul, “is no remissions” ( Hebrews 9:22 ;) and this, which was intimated by God to the ancient Church under figures, has been fully made known by the coming of Christ. The sinner, if he would find mercy, must look to the sacrifice of Christ, which expiated the sins of the world, glancing, at the same time, for the confirmation of his faith, to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for it were vain to imagine that God, the Judge of the world, would receive us again into his favor in any other way than through a satisfaction made to his justice. John Calvin, Psalms 51:9.

16) He speaks of them as observed by the proud and the ignorant, under an impression of meriting the divine favor. Diligent as he was, therefore, in the practice of sacrifice, resting his whole dependence upon the satisfaction of Christ, who atoned for the sins of the world, he could yet honestly declare that he brought nothing to God in the shape of compensation, and that he trusted entirely to a gratuitous reconciliation. The Jews, when they presented their sacrifices, could not be said to bring anything of their own to the Lord, but must rather be viewed as borrowing from Christ the necessary purchase-money of redemption. John Calvin, Psalms 51:16.

17) Hence, after Christ had appeared and expiated all the sins of the world, it became necessary for all sacrifices to cease. John Calvin, Daniel, Lecture, 52.

18) Whatever might be the reason, it is certain that no miracle was performed by him in order to remain perpetually buried, but that he intended to have it concealed along with many others, till, after having expiated by his death the sins of the world, he should ascend to the glory of the Father.

Translator’s footnote:

“Iusques a ce qu’ayant par sa mort accompli la satisfaction des pechez du monde;”– “till having by his death rendered full satisfaction for the sins of the world.” John Calvin, Mark 8:26.

19) No sooner is the resurrection mentioned than the disciples imagine that the reign of Christ is commenced; for they explain this word to mean that the world would acknowledge him to be the Messiah. That they imagined the resurrection to be something totally different from what Christ meant, is evident from what is stated by Mark… And, indeed, there is some plausibility in that error, for it springs from a true principle. The Scripture, too, speaks of a first and a second coming of the Messiah; for it promises that he will be a Redeemer, to expiate by his sacrifice the sins of the world. John Calvin, Matthew 17:10.

20) Two purposes were thus served by this statement: to testify, first, that the Son of God willingly surrendered himself to die, in order to reconcile the world to the Father, (for in no other way could the guilt of sins have been expiated, or righteousness obtained for us;) and, secondly, that he did not die like one oppressed by violence which he could not escape, but because he voluntarily offered himself to die. He therefore declares that he comes to Jerusalem with the express intention of suffering death there… In like manner, it is of singular utility to us at the present day, because we behold, as in a bright mirror, the voluntary sacrifice, by which all the transgressions of the world were blotted out, and, contemplating the Son of God advancing with cheerfulness and courage to death, we already behold him victorious over death. John Calvin, Matthew 26:1-13; Mark 14:1-9; Luke 22:1-2, Introductory Comments.

21) But the usefulness of this doctrine extends much farther; for never are we fully confirmed in the result of the death of Christ, till we are convinced that he was not accidentally dragged by men to the cross, but that the sacrifice had been appointed by an eternal decree of God for expiating the sins of the world. For whence do we obtain reconciliation, but because Christ has appeased the Father by his obedience? Wherefore let us always place before our minds the providence of God, which Judas himself, and all wicked men–though it is contrary to their wish, and though they have another end in view–are compelled to obey. Let us always hold this to be a fixed principle, that Christ suffered, because it pleased God to have such an expiation… In short, God’s determination that the world should be redeemed, does not at all interfere with Judas being a wicked traitor. Hence we perceive, that though men can do nothing but what God has appointed, still this does not free them from condemnation, when they are led by a wicked desire to sin. John Calvin, Matthew 26:24.

22) That would not have been consistent, if Christ had simply feared death; for the dread he was not delivered from it. Hence it follows, that what led him to pray to be delivered from death was of a greater evil. When he saw the wrath of God exhibited to him, as he stood at the tribunal of God charged with the sins of the whole world. John Calvin, Matthew 26:39.

23) Meanwhile, we ought to consider the purpose of God, by which Christ was appointed to be crucified, as if he had been the basest of men. The Jews, indeed, rage against him with blinded fury; but as God had appointed him to be a sacrifice (katharma) to atone4 for the sins of the world, he permitted him to be placed even below a robber and murderer.

Translator’s footnote:

D’autant que Dieu l’avoit ordonné pour estre celuy sur lequel seroyent mis tousles pechez du monde,, B fin que l’expiation et purgation en fust faite;”–“because God had appointed him to be the person on whom should be laid the sins of the world, in order that the expiation and cleansing of them might be accomplished.” John Calvin, Matthew 27:15.

24) Let us learn from this to rise to meditation on the cause of the death of Christ; for since God revenged it with such severity, he would never have permitted his Son to endure it, unless he had intended that it should be an expiation for the sins of the world. John Calvin, Luke 23:28.

25) First, whence came his assurance of pardon, but because in the death of Christ, which all others look upon as detestable, he beholds a sacrifice of sweet savor, efficacious for expiating the sins of the world.

Translator’s footnote:

“Ayant ceste efficace de purger et nettoyer tous les pechez du monde;”–“having that efficacy to cleanse and wash away all the sins of the world.” John Calvin, Luke 23:42.

26) There is no room to doubt that our Lord discoursed to them about the office of Messiah, as it is described by the Prophets, that they might not take offense at his death; and a journey of three or four hours afforded abundance of time for a full explanation of those matters. Christ did not, therefore, assert in three words, that Christ ought to have suffered, but explained at great length that he had been sent in order that he might expiate, by the sacrifice of his death, the sins of the world,–that he might become a curse in order to remove the curse,–that by having guilt imputed to him he might wash away the pollutions of others. John Calvin, Luke 24:26

27) Yet there is also this difference between them, that the other three are more copious in their narrative of the life and death of Christ, but John dwells more largely on the doctrine by which the office of Christ, together with the power of his death and resurrection, is unfolded. They do not, indeed, omit to mention that Christ came to bring salvation to the world, to atone for the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and, in short, to perform every thing that was required from the Mediator, (as John also devotes a portion of his work to historical details;) but the doctrine, which points out to us the power and benefit of the coming of Christ, is far more clearly exhibited by him than by the rest. John Calvin, John, The Argument.

28) “Who taketh away the sin of the world.” He uses the word sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, the sin OF THE WORLD,5 he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we infer that the whole world is involved in the same condemnation; and that as all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to him. John the Baptist, therefore, by speaking generally of the sin of the world, intended to impress upon us the conviction of our own misery, and to exhort us to seek the remedy. Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by the guidance of faith. Besides, he lays down but one method of taking away sins. John Calvin, John 1:29.

29) He calls the Spirit another Comforter, on account of the difference between the blessings which we obtain from both. The peculiar office of Christ was, to appease the wrath of God by atoning for the sins of the world, to redeem men from death, to procure righteousness and life; and the peculiar office of the Spirit is, to make us partakers not only of Christ himself, but of all his blessings. And yet there would be no impropriety in inferring from this passage a distinction of Persons; for there must be some peculiarity in which the Spirit differs from the Son so as to be another than the Son. John Calvin, John 14:16.

30)

Whenever, therefore, we hear this designation applied to the devil, let us be ashamed of our miserable condition; for, whatever may be the pride of men, they are the slaves of the devil, till they are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ; for under the term world is here included the whole human race. John Calvin, John 14:30.

“But that the world may know.” Some think that these words should be read as closely connected with the words, “Arise, let us go hence,” so as to make the sense complete. Others read the former part of the verse separately, and suppose that it breaks off abruptly. As it makes no great difference in regard to the meaning, I leave it to the reader to give a preference to either of these views. What chiefly deserves our attention is, that the decree of God is here placed in the highest rank; that we may not suppose that Christ was dragged to death by the violence of Satan, in such a manner that anything happened contrary to the purpose of God. It was God who appointed his Son to be the Propitiation, and who determined that the sins of the world should be expiated by his death. In order to accomplish this, he permitted Satan, for a short time, to treat him with scorn; as if he had gained a victory over him. Christ, therefore, does not resist Satan, in order that he may obey the decree of his Father, and may thus offer his obedience as the ransom of our righteousness. John Calvin, John, 14:31.

31) Father, the hour is come. Christ asks that his kingdom may be glorified, in order that he also may advance the glory of the Father. He says that the hour is come, because though, by miracles and by every kind of supernatural events, he had been manifested to be the Son of God, yet his spiritual kingdom was still in obscurity, but soon afterwards shone with full brightness. If it be objected, that never was there any thing less glorious than the death of Christ, which was then at hand, I reply, that in that death we behold a magnificent triumph which is concealed from wicked men; for there we perceive that, atonement having been made for sins, the world has been reconciled to God, the curse has been blotted out, and Satan has been vanquished. John Calvin, John 17:1.6

32) The Son of God. The Evangelist adds this, because not one of the ordinary rank of men could have been found, who was competent to perform so great undertakings; that is, to reconcile the Father to us, to atone for the sins of the world, to abolish death, to destroy the kingdom of Satan, to bring to us true righteousness and salvation. John Calvin, John 20:30.

33) It was very pertinent to the matter that they should know that Christ was put to death guiltless, for we could not have been justified by his death, if he had suffered death for his own evil deeds; therefore it was requisite that he should be guiltless, that his death might be a satisfaction for the sins of the world. John Calvin Acts 13:28.

34) Luke sets down first what was the sum of the disputation; to wit, that Jesus, the son of Mary, is Christ, who was promised in times past in the law and the prophets, who, by the sacrifice of his death, did make satisfaction for the sins of the world, and brought righteousness and life by his resurrection; secondly, how he proved that which he taught. John Calvin, Acts 17:2

35) Secondly, this is worth the noting, that these were the principal points of the disputation which Luke doth now touch; that this was the proper office of Christ, by his death to make satisfaction for the sins of the world, by his resurrection to purchase righteousness and life for men; and that the fruit of his death and resurrection is common both to Jews and Gentiles. John Calvin, Acts 26:21.

36) But Paul labored another point, which was not so well known; that the Messiah was promised, who should, with the sacrifice of his death, make satisfaction for the sins of the world; who should reconcile God to men; who should purchase eternal righteousness; who should fashion men after the image of God, being regenerate with his Spirit; who should, finally, make his faithful servants heirs with him of eternal life; and that all those things were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ crucified. John Calvin, Acts 28:24

37) “Would that they were even cut off.” His indignation proceeds still farther, and he prays for destruction on those impostors by whom the Galatians had been deceived. The word, “cut off,” appears to be employed in allusion to the circumcision which they pressed. “They tear the church for the sake of circumcision: I wish they were entirely cut off.” Chrysostom favors this opinion. But how can such an imprecation be reconciled with the mildness of an apostle, who ought to wish that all should be saved, and that not a single person should perish? So far as men are concerned, I admit the force of this argument; for it is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world. But devout minds are sometimes carried beyond the consideration of men, and led to fix their eye on the glory of God, and the kingdom of Christ. The glory of God, which is in itself more excellent than the salvation of men, ought to receive from us a higher degree of esteem and regard. Believers earnestly desirous that the glory of God should be promoted, forget men, and forget the world, and would rather choose that the whole world should perish, than that the smallest portion of the glory of God should be withdrawn. John Calvin, Galatians, 5:12.

38) In whom we have redemption. He now proceeds to set forth in order, that all parts of our salvation are contained in Christ, and that he alone ought to shine forth, and to be seen conspicuous above all creatures, inasmuch as he is the beginning and end of all things. In the first place, he says that we have redemption and immediately explains it as meaning the remission of sins; for these two things agree together by apposition. For, unquestionably, when God remits our transgressions, he exempts us from condemnation to eternal death. This is our liberty, this our glorying in the face of death–that our sins are not imputed to us. He says that this redemption was procured through the blood of Christ, for by the sacrifice of his death all the sins of the world have been expiated. Let us, therefore, bear in mind, that this is the sole price of reconciliation, and that all the trifling of Papists as to satisfactions is blasphemy. John Calvin Colossians, 1:14.

39) We must always hold this truth that when the Apostle speaks of the death of Christ, he regards not the external action, but the spiritual benefit. He suffered death as men do, but as a priest he atoned for the sins of the world in a divine manner; there was an external shedding of blood, but there was also an internal and spiritual purgation; in a word, he died on earth, but the virtue and efficacy of his death proceeded from heaven. John Calvin, Hebrews, 8:4.

40) Then the meaning is, “No wonder if the rites of the Law have now ceased, for this is what was typified by the sacrifice which the Levites brought without the camp to be there burnt; for as the ministers of the tabernacle did eat nothing of it, so if we serve the tabernacle, that is, retain its ceremonies, we shall not be partakers of that sacrifice which Christ once offered, nor of the expiation which he once made by his own blood; for his own blood he brought into the heavenly sanctuary that he might atone for the sin of the world.” John Calvin, Hebrews, 13:10.

41) Thus, then, we have the whole gospel; for we know that he, the long-promised Redeemer, came from heaven, put on our flesh, lived in the world, died and rose again; and, in the second place, we perceive the end and fruit of all these things, that is, that he might be God with us, that he might exhibit in himself a sure pledge of our adoption, that he might cleanse us from the defilement’s of the flesh by the grace of his Spirit, and consecrate us temples to God, that he might deliver us from hell, and raise us up to heaven, that he might by the sacrifice of his death make an atonement for the sins of the world, that he might reconcile us to the Father, that he might become to us the author of righteousness and of life. He who knows and understands these things, is fully acquainted with the gospel. John Calvin, 2 Peter 1:16.

42) But he again points out the cause of Christ’s coming and his office, when he says that he was sent to be a propitiation for our sins. And first, indeed, we are taught by these words, that we were all through sin alienated from God, and that this alienation and discord remains until Christ intervenes to reconcile us. We are taught, secondly, that it is the beginning of our life, when God, having been pacified by the death of his Son, receives us unto favor: for propitiation properly refers to the sacrifice of his death. We find, then, that this honor of expiating for the sins of the world, and of thus taking away the enmity between God and us, belongs only to Christ. John Calvin, 1 John 4:10.

institutes

43) From these numerous testimonies we must choose those particular ones which serve to edify our minds in true confidence. Such are these: when it is said that he did not so concern himself with angels [Hebrews 2:16] as to take their nature, but took ours, that “in flesh and blood …he might through death destroy him who had the power of death” [Hebrews 2:14 p.]. Another: we are reckoned his brethren by the benefit of association with him [cf. Hebrews 2:11]. Again: “He had to be made like his brethren …so that he might be a merciful and faithful intercessor.” [Hebrews 2:17 p.] “We have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our infirmities.” [Hebrews 4:15a.] And like passages. What we touched on a little while ago pertains to this same point: the sins of the world had to be expiated in our flesh, as Paul clearly declares [Romans 8:3]. John Calvin, Institutes 2.13.1.

44) Yet to define the way of salvation more exactly, Scripture ascribes this as peculiar and proper to Christ’s death. He declares that “he gave his life to redeem many” [Matthew 20:28 p.]. Paul teaches that “Christ died for our sins” [Romans 4:25 p.]. John the Baptist proclaimed that he came “to take away the sins of the world,” for he was “the Lamb of God” [John 1:29 p.]. John Calvin, Institutes 2.16.5.7

45) On this point John the Baptist’s words apply: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. For he sets Christ over against all the sacrifices of the law, to teach that what those figures showed was fulfilled in him alone. John Calvin, Institutes 2.17.4.

46) “God was once for all reconciled to you through Christ; now seek for yourselves another means.” But he makes him a perpetual advocate in order that by his intercession he may always restore us to the Father’s favor; an everlasting propitiation by which sins may be expiated. For what the other John said is ever true: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” [John 1:29; cf. ch. 1:36]. He, I say, not another, takes them away; that is, since he alone is the Lamb of God, he also is the sole offering for sins, the sole expiation, the sole satisfaction. John Calvin, Institutes 3.4.26.

47) John said that Christ was the Lamb of God, through whom the sins of the world would be taken away [John 1:29]. In this, he made Him a sacrifice acceptable to the Father, and the propitiator of righteousness and author of salvation. What could the apostles add to this confession? John Calvin, Institutes 4.15.7.

tracts

48) Westphal will deny that he imagines a physical presence of Christ, because he does not include the body lineally under the bread. I rejoin, that he does no less erroneously when assigning an immense body to Christ, he contends that it is present wherever the Supper is celebrated. For to say that the body which the Son of God once assumed, and which, after being once crucified, he raised to heavenly glory, is “atopos” (without place,) is indeed very “atopos” (absurd.) What he afterwards triflingly says about a spiritual body, he falsely and without color applies to us. Let him with his band dream as they will of a spiritual body, which has no affinity with a real body, I deem it unlawful to think or speak of any other body than that which was offered on the cross to expiate the sins of the world, and has been received into heaven. John Calvin, “Second Defense of the Pious and Orthodox Faith Concerning the Sacraments in Answer to the Calumnies of Joachim Westphal,” in Selected Works, 2:282.7

49) Human reason did not dictate to us that the Son of God, to reconcile us to the Father by the sacrifice of his death, assumed our flesh: and in order to become our brother, was made like unto us, sin excepted. That true flesh, by which the sins of the world were shortly after to be taken away, was then before the eyes of the Apostles, and they behooved to fix their faith on the view of it, so as not to hope for salvation anywhere else. For their minds to fly off to some kind of invisible body, had been nothing else than to avert their eyes from the true and only price of redemption. John Calvin, Selected Works, 2:442.

50) We too therefore, may extract from the same context that the body and blood of Christ are offered to us in the Supper in a different way from that which they imagine. What do Luke and Paul affirm to be given in the cup? A covenant in the blood. As the same thing must be true of the body, it follows that nothing else can be inferred from the words of Christ., than that under the bread there is the ratification of a covenant in the body of the Son of God which was crucified for us. We are ordered to eat the body which was crucified for us; in other words, to become partakers of the sacrifice by which the sins of the world were expiated. If they insist that the two things are conjoined, viz., the fruit of the sacrifice and the communion of the flesh, I myself press the very same point–that since by the same law and in the same words the Son of God offers his body, and the covenant in the body, the one is not to be taken without the other. John Calvin, Selected Works, 2:481.

51) Still he insists, and exclaims that nothing can be clearer than the declaration, that the wicked do not discern the Lord’s body, and that darkness is violently and intentionally thrown on the clearest truth by all who refuse to admit that the body of Christ is taken by the unworthy. He might have some color for this, if I denied that the body of Christ is given to the unworthy; but as they impiously reject what is liberally offered to them, they are deservedly condemned for profane and brutish contempt, inasmuch as they set at nought that victim by which the sins of the world were expiated, and men reconciled to God. John Calvin, Clear Explanation of Sound Doctrine Concerning the True Partaking of the Flesh and Blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, in Order to Dissipate The Mists of Tileman Heshusius., Selected Works, 2:525.

52) The doctrine of Scripture is simple, and by no means ambiguous, that in the Sacrifice by which it behooved men to be reconciled to God, Christ died once–that the efficacy of his Sacrifice is eternal–and that the benefit of it is received by us every day. In order to our enjoying it the Son of God instituted the holy Supper, in which he holds forth his body, once sacrificed for us, as food that we may eat. In this way the virtue of that one Sacrifice is applied to us, and we become partakers of it . Turn over the whole of Scripture, and you will find nothing else than that our Passover has been sacrificed, that our only Priest entered once into the Holy of Holies, in order that by one offering he might expiate the sins of the world. John Calvin, The Adultero-German Interim: To which is Added the True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom, and of Reforming the Church, Selected Works, 3:309.

53) I know the objections which many make here: when Paul says that those are predestinated whom God foreknew, he means that each is elected in view of his faith. But I cannot allow them this false supposition. God is not to be understood as foreseeing something in them which procures grace for them; rather they are foreknown because they were freely chosen Hence Paul elsewhere teaches the same thing: God knows them that are His (II Tim 2.19), because, that is, He holds them marked and as it were numbered in His roll. Nor is the point omitted by Augustine the term foreknowledge is to be taken as meaning the counsel of God by which He predestines His own to salvation. No one denies that it was foreknown by God who were to be heirs of eternal life. The real question is whether what He foresees is what He will make of them or what they will be in themselves. It is a futile subtlety to seize on the word foreknowledge and to attach to the merits of man that election which Paul always ascribes to the purpose of God alone. Peter, too, salutes the elect as elect according to the foreknowledge of God (I Pet 1.2). Is this because some foreseen virtue in them inclined God’s favour towards them? Not at all: Peter is not comparing men among themselves to make some better than others; he puts high above all causes the decree which God determined in Himself. It is as if he had said they are now to reckon themselves among the sons of God, because, before they were born, they had been elected. On this ground in the same chapter he teaches that Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world to wash away the sins of the world by His sacrifice. Without a doubt this means that the expiation of sin executed by Christ was ordained by the eternal decrees of God. Nor can what is found in Peter’s sermon recorded by Luke be otherwise explained: Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2.23). Peter thus joins foreknowledge with counsel that we may learn that Christ is not driven to death by chance or by the violent assault of men, but because God, the most good and wise knower of all things, had deliberately so decreed it. Indeed one passage from Paul suffices to put a stop to all controversy. God, he says, declines to repudiate His people whom He foreknew (Rom II.2). John Calvin, The Eternal Predestination of God, 70-1.

54) Georgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficiently for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me. Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ’s death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3:15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom he gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God’s children who will be partakers of Christ. The evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ as nothing else than by His death to gather the children of God into one (Jn 11:52). Hence we conclude that the reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul’s testimony (II Cor 5.18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. John Calvin, The Eternal Predestination of God, p., 148-9.


[2] the sins of the many

when ‘the many’ is not all

In the last Lecture we explained how Christ confirmed the covenant with many during the last week; for he gathered together the sons of God from their state of dispersion when the devastation of the Church was so horrible and wretched. Although the Gospel was not instantly promulgated among foreign nations, yet Christ is correctly said to have confirmed the covenant with many, as the nations were directly called to the hope of salvation. (Matthew 10:5.) Although he forbade the disciples to preach the Gospel then to either the Gentiles or Samaritans, yet he taught them that many sheep were dispersed abroad, and that the time at which God would make one sheep-fold was at hand. (John 10:16.) This was fulfilled after his resurrection. During his lifetime he began to anticipate slightly the calling of the Gentiles, and thus I interpret these words of the Prophet, he will confirm the covenant with many. For I take the word “many” here, rebim, comparatively, for the faithful Gentiles united with the Jews. It is very well known that God’s covenant was deposited by a kind of hereditary right with the Israelites until the same favor was extended to the Gentiles also. Therefore Christ is said not only to have renewed God’s covenant with a single nation, but generally with the world at large. I confess, indeed, the use of the word many for all, as in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in other places, (Romans 5:19,) but there seems to be a contrast between the ancient Church, included within very narrow boundaries, and the new Church, which is extended over the whole world. We know how many, formerly strangers, have been called from the distant regions of the earth by the gospel, and so joined in alliance to the Jews as to be all in the same communion and all reckoned equally sons of God. John Calvin, Daniel, Lect 52.

when ‘the many’ is all

sermons

1) That, then, is how our Lord Jesus bore the sins and iniquities of many. But in fact, this word “many” is often as good as equivalent to all“. And indeed, our Lord Jesus was offered to all the world. For it is not speaking of three or four when it says: ‘For God so loved the world, that he spared not His only Son.” But yet we must notice that the Evangelist adds in this passage: “That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but obtain eternal life.” Our Lord Jesus suffered for all, and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation through him. Unbelievers who turn away from Him and who deprive themselves of him by their malice are today doubly culpable. For how will they excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which the could share by faith? John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, 52:12, p., 140-1.

commentaries

2) I have followed the ordinary interpretation, that “he bore the sin of many,” though we might without impropriety consider the Hebrew word (rabbim,) to denote “Great and Noble.” And thus the contrast would be more complete, that Christ, while “he was ranked among transgressors,” became surety for every one of the most excellent of the earth, and suffered in the room of those who hold the highest rank in the world. I leave this to the judgment of my readers. Yet I approve of the ordinary reading, that he alone bore the punishment of many, because on him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that “many” sometimes denotes “all.” John Calvin, Isaiah 53:12.

3) “And to give his life a ransom for many.” Christ mentioned his death, as we have said, in order to withdraw his disciples from the foolish imagination of an earthly kingdom. But it is a just and appropriate statement of its power and results, when he declares that his life is the price of our redemption; whence it follows, that we obtain an undeserved reconciliation with God, the price of which is to be found nowhere else than in the death of Christ. Wherefore, this single word overturns all the idle talk of the Papists about their abominable satisfactions. Again, while Christ has purchased us by his death to be his property, this submission, of which he speaks, is so far from diminishing his boundless glory, that it greatly increases its splendor. The word “many” (pollon) is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others. And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race. John Calvin, Matthew 20:28.

4) “Which is shed for many.” By the word “many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke–Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated. John Calvin, Mark 14:24.

5) “To bear,” or, “take away sins”, is to free from guilt by his satisfaction those who have sinned. He says the sins of many, that is, of all, as in Romans 5:15. It is yet certain that not all receive benefit from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief prevents them. At the same time this question is not to be discussed here, for the Apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died for others and not for himself; and therefore he opposes many to one. John Calvin, Hebrews 9:28.


[3] Christ represents all sinners

sermons

1) He loved Him, and yet his was His will to afflict Him for our sins. For He did not look upon the righteousness, integrity and perfection that was in Jesus Christ; but rather took Him has being there in the place of all sinners.9 So we see that Jesus Christ was laden with all our sins and iniquities; not because he was guilty of them, but because He was willing for them to be imputed to Himself, and to render account for them and make the payment. John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, Sermon 3, 53:4-6, p., 70.

2) Well, from that example we can see how one sin draws on another! However, when it says that our Lord Jesus Christ has borne the payment of our sins; that the chastisements of our peace was upon him, does it not blot out all frivolous imaginations which the devil has invented to obscure, and even destroy, the glory of God? That is why it says that our Lord Jesus Christ ‘bore our sins on the tree’ (1Pet. 2:24). And how much of our sins? Does it mean only the guilt? Not at all, for the satisfaction is also included. That is why, also, it is so often said that in the Gospel to be ‘the ransom’ (Rom. 3:24, 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). What is a ransom if not setting a man at liberty? Suppose I owe this much money. Very well, here is the payment, and in doing this it is discharged. So, as it says in the Psalm, our Lord Jesus has paid the debts of all sinners. This is what I have mentioned from Isaiah: That all the chastisements were laid upon him (Isa. 53:4). What is the chastisements, if not satisfaction for all sins that we have committed? This truth is witnessed to over and over again in Scripture, which would not be the case if we wanted to insist on what the papists believe. John Calvin, Sermons on 2 Samuel, 38, 12:13-14, p., 575-6.

3) Let us note well, then, that the Son of God was not content merely to offer His flesh in full measure to appear before the judgment-seat of God His Father in the name and in the person of all sinners, being then ready to be condemned, inasmuch since the Son of God exposed Himself to such humiliation…

When we see that, we must notice that our Lord Jesus Christ had no companion when he offered himself as a sacrifice for us, but He alone completed and accomplished that which was required for our salvation. And even that is again better indicated to us, when the disciples sleep, and cannot even be awakened, although the hour was approaching in which our Lord would have to suffer for the redemption of mankind… In this it is shown to us in a vivid picture that it was most necessary that the Son of God bear all our burdens, for he could not expect anything else…

When, then, we see that God summons all those who have deserved eternal damnation and who are guilty of sin and that He is there to pronounce sentence such that as they have deserved, who would not conceive in the full measure all the deaths, doubts and terrors which could be in each one? And what a depth will there be in that! Now it was necessary that our Lord Jesus Christ by himself without aid sustained such a burden

Let us have mutual concord and brotherhood together, since He has sustained and borne the condemnation which was pronounced by God His Father upon us all. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 3, Matt 26:36-39, pp., 52, 55, 60, and 65 .

4) So then, since God has shown Him to what He was called, that is upon what He relies. That is why He is taken as a captive, in order not to draw back when He knew that He had to achieve the charge which was committed to Him, that is, to offer Himself in sacrifice for the redemption of us all… For Jesus Christ, after having fasted in the desert, was sent by God His Father to publish the doctrine of the Gospel… But here there is a special regard. It is that He must be Redeemer of the world. He must be condemned, indeed, not for having preached the Gospel, but for us He must be oppressed, as it were, to the lowest depths and sustain our cause, since He was there, as it were, in the person of all cursed ones and of all transgressors, and of those who had deserved eternal death. Since, then, Jesus Christ has this office, and He bears the burdens of all those who had offended God mortally, that is why He keeps silence. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 5, Matt 25:51-56, pp., 89 and 95.

5) We saw yesterday that the mockeries and blasphemies of the enemies of God did not hinder the death and passion of our Lord Jesus from producing and showing His power in the midst of such contempt and ingratitude of the world. For here we see all those who were in some reputation and dignity among the Jews, who openly mock the Son of God. Yet that did not hinder Him from pitying a poor robber and receiving him into eternal life. It is not necessary at all that personality obscure or diminish the glory of the Son of God. If it is argued that a poor robber is not at all to be compared with those who rule the Church, who were teachers of the law; it is not proper, when we speak of the salvation which was acquired for us through the gratuitous goodness of God, to seek any excellence in our personalities, but rather we must come back to what St. Paul says, “This is a faithful teaching, that Jesus came to save poor sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15.)

So then, when we shall consider the fruit of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, all men have to be humbled, and there will have to be found in them only poverty and shame, in order that God may by this means pour out upon them the treasures of His mercy, having no other consideration to provide for us, except inasmuch as He sees that we are cast into the depths in all miseries.  Since then, this robber was a man disapproved of by all, and God called him so suddenly, when our Lord made effective for him His death and passion which He suffered and endured for all mankind, that ought all the more to confirm us….

But though our Lord Jesus Christ by nature held death in horror and indeed it was a terrible thing to Him to be found before the judgment-seat of God in the name of all poor sinners (for He was there, as it were, having to sustain all our burdens), nevertheless He did not fail to humble himself to such condemnation for our sakes… John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 9, Matt 27:45-54, pp., 151, and 155-156.

6) But we have to note that since our Lord Jesus Christ was formed of the seed of Abraham to perform the things that were promised, yes, and that he could not be the mediator between God and us, unless he had been of our nature, for he could not have atoned for the offences through which we were bound to endless damnation, unless he had clothed himself with out body, and had a soul, in order to present himself in the person of all men; and so it was necessary fo for our Lord Jesus Christ to be of our flesh in our body. Hence we may say that he is of our bones and of our flesh. And why? He descended from Adam’s race, as I said before. John Calvin, Sermon on Ephesians, Sermon 41, 5:28-30, p., 600.

commentaries

7) Now, since the Son of God, although He was not only pure, but purity itself, still was the representative of the human race, He subjected himself to the Law; and (as Paul teaches) submitted Himself to the Law, “to redeem them that were under the Law.” (Galatians 3:13, and 4:5.) John Calvin, Leviticus 12:2.

8) It is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Now, Christ hung upon the cross, therefore he fell under that curse. But it is certain that he did not suffer that punishment on his own account. It follows, therefore, either that he was crucified in vain, or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might be delivered from it. Now, he does not say that Christ was cursed, but, which is still more, that he was a curse,–intimating, that the curse “of all men was laid upon him” (Isaiah 53:6.) If any man think this language harsh, let him be ashamed of the cross of Christ, in the confession of which we glory. It was not unknown to God what death his own Son would die, when he pronounced the law, “He that is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23.).

But how does it happen, it will he asked, that a beloved Son is cursed by his Father? We reply, there are two things which must be considered, not only in the person of Christ, but even in his human nature. The one is, that he was the unspotted Lamb of God, full of blessing and of grace; the other is, that he placed himself in our room, and thus became a sinner, and subject to the curse, not in himself indeed, but in us, yet in such a manner, that it became necessary for him to occupy our place. He could not cease to be the object of his Father’s love, and yet he endured his wrath. For how could he reconcile the Father to us, if he had incurred his hatred and displeasure? John Calvin, Galatians 3:13.


[4] suffered for all

sermons

1) Also when Pilate condemned him thereto, his meaning was not to put to it, as in respect to the reproachfulness thereof before God: but God governs it in such sort by his secret providence, that Jesus Christ was accursed when he hung upon the cross, according to that which had been spoken of him afore. And that is Saint Paul’s meaning (Gal 3:13). For in telling us that we be set free from the curse of the law, he says that our Lord Jesus bare it in his body by being hanged upon [a] tree. Also it is the same thing as Saint Peter meant in saying that he bears our sins upon the tree (1 Pet 2:24). And otherwise this saying of the prophet Isaiah had not been fulfilled, that the chastisements of our peace was laid upon him (Isa 53:5), so as he was fain to bear our punishment, whereby we might be reconciled God. And in the aforesaid text which I alleged out of the Galatians, S. Paul treats of two things. He says that because we cannot attain to righteousness, but by the fulfilling of the law in all points, and by being discharged before God: it behooved our Lord Jesus Christ to be subject to the law, so the intent that his obedience might now be imputed to us, and God accept thereof as though we brought the like obedience of own…

Who is able to show himself before thy judgement seat? Needs must all men be confounded: and not for some one sin, but for a number of wicked deeds shall we be put to shame, if God doe once enter into account with us. Then shall we all be undone and damned as in respect to the law, there is no more remedy, Cursed shall be which does not all those things (Lev 8:5). Alas we be never able to do the hundredth part of them… You see we be undone and past hope of recovery, unless the curse be abolished. And that was done in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has performed all righteousness, so has he also received the curse to himself which lay upon our heads, and he has borne it in his person, to the intent that henceforth we should be set free from it. And how? For he was not hanged upon [a] tree without the providence of God his Father: we must always look back to that point…

Notwithstanding forasmuch as God has given his Son to death, as the Scripture bears witness, that he loved the world that he has not spared his only Son, but has delivered him up to death for us: Let us assure ourselves that God meant to show to our faces, that he laid upon him the curse due to us, so as the thing which we had deserved was laid upon the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore when we behold Jesus Christ hanging on the tree, we know that he has taken our bondage upon him, even to the intent that we should not be any more bound to the curse of the law, but free, and that the said threat should no more take place to condemn us, Cursed shall he be which performs not all those things. For why? When we flee for refuge to the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, our sins are wiped out, God lays them not any more to our charge, they be quite and clean done away. And why so? Because the curse lies not any longer upon the transgressors, when they trust and rest upon the satisfaction that was offered unto God the Father, by him that was ordained to that office…

It was prophesied concerning the redeemer of the world that he had been promised…

Yet then we see how the sacrifices and such other like things were as matters of record and authority, to assure all folks the more of their sins, and to make them the more to abhor their misdeeds. But was Jesus Christ hanged on [a] tree? Saint Paul says that in so doing he took upon him the bond that was against us (Col 2:4), that is to say, all the things whereto the Law bound us, all the fetters, all the condemnations, all the sentences that served to put us to shame, and to bewray our lewdness. All these things took he upon him, and cancelled them, as if a man should take a handwriting and tear it to pieces, so to make it of no force by defacing it after that fashion, and even so dealt our Lord Jesus Christ with us…

Also let us mark therewithal, that notwithstanding his being accursed before God, yet he ceases not to be God’s well-beloved Son, according to this saying uttered by the heavenly Father himself, this is my dearly beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Matt 3:17), and in whom I am pacified. And served that but for one instant. Nay it was to continue for ever. How is it then that Jesus Christ was accursed, seeing that the Father was pacified by him? And that he was not only well liked himself, but also the mean to reconcile the whole world. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 124, 20:22-23, pp., 763, 764 and 765.

2) And by the way let us mark, that to the intent we lift not up ourselves against God, ne [nor?] strive against the rods wherewith he scourges us in this extremity: which is, that although we go forward unto death, and have always one foot in the grave: yet we know that God has stretched out his hand to deliver us thence. For to what end came Jesus Christ into the world? Yea why went he down into hell, that is to say why suffered he the anguishes that were due to all wretched sinners, but to deliver us from them? So then if men cannot now conceive good hope to be comforted in death: it is all one as if they would deny that our Lord Jesus Christ has suffered it in his person. For whereas the Son of God abased himself so far, as to be subject to our curse, and to feel God’s hand against him: that was to the end to deliver us from death, and to assure us that the victory which he has purchased for us. Seeing then that he has power over death: let his resurrection always come before our eyes, and let us assure ourselves that God has stretched out his strong and victorious hand, to deliver us from the bondage of Satan. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon 110, 30:21-31, p., 518-9.

3) And again, has not our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed men’s souls: true it is that the effect of his death comes not to the whole world: Nevertheless for as much as it is not in us too discern between the righteous and the sinners that go to destruction, but that Jesus Christ has suffered his death and passion as well for them as for us: therefore it behooves us to labour to bring every man to salvation that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be available to them. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon 116 31: 29-32., p., 548.10

4) So likewise, when it is said in the holy scripture, (1 Timothy 1:15) that this is a true and undoubted saying, that God hath sent his only begotten son, to save all miserable sinners: we must include it within this same rank I say, that every [one] of us apply the same particularly to himself: when as we hear this general sentence, that God is merciful. Have we heard this? Then may we boldly call upon him, and even say, although I am a miserable and forlorn creature, since it is said that God is merciful to those which have offended him: I will run unto him and to his mercy, beseeching him that he will make me to feel it. And since it is said. That God so loved the world, that he spared not his only begotten son: but delivered him to death for us. (John 3:16; Romans 8:32) It is meet I look to that. For it is very needful, that Jesus Christ should pluck me out from that condemnation, wherein I am. Since it is so, that the love and goodness of God is declared unto the world, in that that his son Christ Jesus hath suffered death, I must appropriate the same to myself, that I may know that it is to me, that God hath spoken, that he would I should take the possession of such a grace, and therein to rejoice me. We see now, how we must practice this sentence, that we may say unto God, Think upon thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word. If any man will reply, that it cannot be said, that God hath spoken to him, when as he speaketh to all in general: let us consider, that God offereth his grace to men in common, to the end that every man might afterward enter into himself, and not to doubt being a member of the church, but that he hath a part and portion of that, which is common to all the faithful. John Calvin, Sermons on Psalm 119, Sermon 7, 119:49-56, pp., 133-134.

commentaries

5) He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him. John Calvin. Romans 5:18.

6) “Who loved me.” This is added to express the power of faith; for it would immediately occur to any one,–whence does faith derive such power as to convey into our souls the life of Christ? He accordingly informs us, that the love of Christ, and his death, are the objects on which faith rests; for it is in this manner that the effect of faith must be judged. How comes it that we live by the faith of Christ? Because “he loved us, and gave himself for us.” The love of Christ led him to unite himself to us, and he completed the union by his death. By giving himself for us, he suffered in our own person; as, on the other hand, faith makes us partakers of every thing which it finds in Christ. The mention of love is in accordance with the saying of the apostle John, “Not that we loved God, but he anticipated us by his love.” (1 John 4:10) For if any merit of ours had moved him to redeem us, this reason would have been stated; but now Paul ascribes the whole to love: it is therefore of free grace. Let us observe the order: “He loved us, and gave himself for us.” As if he had said, “He had no other reason for dying, but because he loved us,” and that “when we were enemies,” (Romans 5:10,) as he argues in another Epistle. He gave himself. No words can properly express what this means; for who can find language to declare the excellency of the Son of God? Yet he it is who gave himself as a price for our redemption. Atonements20 , cleansing, satisfaction, and all the benefits which we derive from the death of Christ, are here represented. The words for me, are very emphatic. It will not be enough for any man to contemplate Christ as having died for the salvation of the world, unless he has experienced the consequences of this death, and is enabled to claim it as his own.

Translator’s footnote:

“Car cene seroit point assez de considerer que Christ est mort pour le salut du monde, si avec cela un chaeun n’applique particulierement a sa personne l’efficace et jouissance de ceste grace.” “For it would not be enough to consider that Christ died for the salvation of the world, unless each individual specially apply to his own person the efficacy and enjoyment of that grace.” John Calvin, Galatians 2:20.

7) Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world. John Calvin, 1 John 2:2.

institutes

8) For example, suppose someone is told: “If God hated you while you were still a sinner, and cast you off, as you deserved, a terrible destruction would have awaited you. But because he kept you in grace voluntarily, and of his own free favor, and did not allow you to be estranged from him, he thus delivered you from that peril.” This man then will surely experience and feel something of what he owes to God’s mercy. On the other hand, suppose he learns, as Scripture teaches, that he was estranged from God through sin, is an heir of wrath, subject to the curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, beyond every blessing of God, the slave of Satan, captive under the yoke of sin, destined finally for a dreadful destruction and already involved in it; and that at this point Christ interceded as his advocate, took upon himself and suffered the punishment that, from God’s righteous judgment, threatened all sinners;11 that he purged with his blood those evils which had rendered sinners hateful to God; that by this expiation he made satisfaction and sacrifice duly to God the Father; that as intercessor he has appeased God’s wrath; that on this foundation rests the peace of God with men; that by this bond his benevolence is maintained toward them. Will the man not then be even more moved by all these things which so vividly portray the greatness of the calamity from which he has been rescued? John Calvin, Institutes, 2.16.2.

9) How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son–not for Christ’s own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men? First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. John Calvin, Institutes 3.1.1.

 

[5] christ the head of all mankind

sermons

1) It is true that the angels well knew that Jesus Christ was the Head of all mankind, but how that should come to pass, or what time, or by what means, that was hidden from them. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 18, 3:-12, p., 264

2) It seems that St. Paul would make Jesus Christ, as it were, the root of mankind, so that we should be his descendants, for he speaks of us as his race. But we have to note that since our Lord Jesus Christ was formed of the seed of Abraham to perform the things that were promised, yes, and that he could not be the mediator between God and us, unless he had been of our nature, for he could not have atoned for the offences through which we were bound to endless damnation, unless he had clothed himself with our body, and had also a soul, in order to present himself in the person of all men; so it was necessary that our Lord Jesus Christ to be our flesh. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 41, 5:28-30, pp., 600-1.

Part II: Redeemer of the World

 

[6] redeemed souls perishing and redemption voided

sermons

1) It is enough for them [the papal clergy] that they may lord it, & they bear themselves on hand that they may hold poor souls under their tyranny, which were redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ Again we see that such as should maintain God’s truth, do let all slip, and though they see never so much disorder: it grieves them never a whit, neither do they pass though all go to havoc. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 5, 4:1-2, p., 113.

2) Behold our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory, abased himself for a time, as says S. Paul. Now if there were no more but this, that he being the fountain of life, became a moral man, and that he having dominion over the angels of heaven, took upon him the shape of a servant, yea even to shed his blood for our redemption, and in the end to suffer the curse that was due unto us (Gal 3:13): were it convenient that notwithstanding all this, he should nowadays in recompense be torn to pieces, by stinking mouths of such as name themselves Christians? For when they swear by his blood, by his death, by his wounds and by whatsoever else: is it not a crucifying of God’s son again as much as in them lies, and as a rending of him in pieces? And are not such folk worthy to be cut of from God’s Church, yea, and even from the world, and to be no more numbered in the array of creatures? Should our Lord Jesus have such reward at our hands, for his abasing and humbling of himself after that manner? (Mich 6:30) God in upbraiding his people says thus: My people, what have I done to you? I have brought you out of Egypt, I have led you up with all gentleness and loving-kindness, I have planted you as it were in my own inheritance, to the intent you should have been a vine that should have brought me forth good fruit, and I have tilled thee and manured thee: and must thou now be bitter to me, and bring forth sower fruit to choke me withal? The same belongs to us at this day. For when the son of God, who is ordained to be judge of the world (John 5:22), shall come at the last day: he may well say to us: how now Sirs? You have borne my name, you have been baptised in remembrance of me and record that I was your redeemer, I have drawn you out of the dungeons where into you were plunged, I delivered you from endless death by suffering most cruel death myself, and for the same cause I became man, and submitted myself even to the curse of GOD my father, that you might be blessed by my grace and by my means: and behold the reward that you have yielded me for all this, is that you have (after a sort) torn me in pieces and made a jestingstock of me, and the death that I suffered for you has been made a mockery among you, the blood which is the washing and cleansing of your souls has been as good as trampled under your feet, and to be short, you have taken occasion to ban and blaspheme me, as though I had been some wretched and cursed creature. When the sovereign judge shall charge us with these things, I pray you will it not be as thundering upon us, to ding us down to the bottom of hell? Yes: and yet are there very few that think upon it. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 33, 5:11, p., 196.

3) Now if be demanded here, whether it be not lawful to be conversant with the wicked and froward to win them: I answer, yes, verily, until a man find them to be past remedy. For to give over a man at the first dash when he has done amiss, or when he is as it were in the highway to destruction: is a furthering of the destruction of the wretched soul that was redeemed by the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 119, 20:16-20, p., 731.

4) It is true that Saint John says generally, that he loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offers himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer. It is said afterward in the covenant, that God loved the world when he sent his only son: but he loved us, us (I say) which have been taught by his Gospel, because he gathered us to him. And the faithful that are enlightened by the holy Ghost, have yet a third use of God’s love, in that he reveals himself more familiarly to them, and seals up his fatherly adoption by his holy Spirit, and engraves it upon their hearts. Now then, let us in all cases learn to know this love of God, & when we be once come to it, let us go no further.

Thus we see three degrees of the love that God has shown us in our Lord Jesus Christ. The first is in respect of the redemption that was purchased in the person of him that gave himself to death for us, and became accursed to reconcile us to God his father. That is the first degree of love, which extends to all men, inasmuch as Jesus Christ reaches out his arms to call and allure all men both great and small, and to win them to him. But there is a special love for those to whom the gospel is preached: which is that God testifies unto them that he will make them partakers of that benefit that was purchased for them by the death and passion of his son.

And for as much as we be of that number, therefore are we  double bound already to our God: here are two bonds which hold us as it were straightened unto him. Now let us come to the third bond, which depends upon the third love that God shows us: which is, that he not only causes the gospel to be preached unto us, but also makes us to feel the power thereof, so as we know him to be our Father and savior, not doubting but that our sins are forgiven us for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake… Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon, 28, 4:36-37, p., 167.

5) Again in general, if I see my neighbour go astray and to destruction, I ought to reclaim him, accordingly as S. James warns us saying: If any of you bring back his neighbour into the right way, when he has gone astray: he has won a soul to God (James 1:19). Now if our Lord extend his love even unto Oxen and Asses; what ought we do to those whom he has created after his own image, & which are like ourselves, & to whom we be linked by a kind of brotherhood; not only in respect to our bodies; but also in respect to our souls? Shall we see them run astray & go to destruction, & not reach then our hand nor do our endeavor to bring them back to salvation? Therefore when we see men’s souls in danger to be lost, let us learn to reclaim them, and let us apply ourselves thereto as much as we can possibly. . . . Behold, God tells us that we belong to him, & that we be his heritage. Now if a poor man go astray like a beast that is lost, and I shall suffer God to be bereft of his right, or to have his possessions diminished? True it is, that we cannot enrich him: but yet does he show how dearly he loves us, in that he has purchased us with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I see God’s possession go to havoc, and make no account of it, and so is lost from him through my own default: and how shall I excuse myself? John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 125, 22:1-4, p., 768-9.

6) But if I make my neighbour to stumble, not only to the breaking of his arm or of his leg, yea or even of his neck” but also to the destroying of his soul: and what a thing is that? For we see that the stumbling blocks which are case in men’s ways, serve to the utter destruction and casting down of the silly souls that were purchased by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore when men procure troubles and stumbling blocks in the Church, do they not cause the things to go to destruction, which God has begin to build up? Therefore let us look to ourselves and seeing that God has such a care of our persons, let every [one] of us follow his example: and if we provide afore hand that no hurt may befall to men’s bodies, let us have much greater regard of their souls. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 126, 22:5-8, p., 777.

7) And thus men steal themselves away, both from God & and from his church. They make merchandise & sale of their own souls, as it were for a mess of potage, as it is said of Esau: that is to say, for earthly food they sell themselves(Gen25:32) & become the bond-slaves of Satan. And so we see that this law is nowadays very ill kept: and therefore we ought to so much the more to note the intent & meaning of God, to the end that every many after that God has vouchsafed him the grace to gather him unto the number of his people, may keep himself among them: and the better to maintain the liberty we have, lust us consider (as S. Paul says) how dearly it has cost the Son of God (Rom 6:17 & 1 Cor 7:23): let us not enter again into bondage of Satan and of sin, seeing that we are freed thence by the blood of only Son of God: but let us walk according unto that privilege which God has given unto us, and to hold fast the possession thereof as long as we live. And when every [one] of us shall have had such regard of himself, let us do the like to wards all our brethren, that they whom God has joined unto us depart not out of his house: but let us employ our pains as every [one] of us may keep his estate, that none may be diminished, that none wander nor go astray. And farther let us be afraid to make merchandise of those souls which have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ which are so dear a price, and let us not seek after our own commodity in that behalf, as we see how wretchedly many give themselves over to this point, and so they find the fatter fare, they care not one whit whether they remain in the Church of God or no. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 138, 24:7-8, p., 847.

8) And so in the next where it is said, It is he that has created thee and fashioned thee: it is because it is a more excellent gift, that is to wit, that God prints is mark upon us, as who should say that we should be reckoned for his children, so as he gathers us unto him, and makes us in effect new creatures; by reason whereof our sin becomes more heinous, if we deface the same again, and fall to wallowing ourselves again in the filth of uncleanness of this world, as who would say it grieved us that God had not made us brute beasts at such a time as he took us to be his children…

For we have the very pledge itself, which the Jews had not: that is to wit, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only Son of God, and is come down to us from the bosom of the Father. He has yielded us record of our adoption: the gate of paradise is now opened unto us: we may now not only call upon God as our Father, bit also call unto him with full mouth, so as we may cry Abba Father,” for that is the word which Saint Paul uses expressly. Seeing then has discoursed himself more fully to us than to the fathers that have lived under the law: Surely our fault will be more grievous and less excusable, if we yield so poor a recompense as is spoken of here. Again, has he not purchased us to himself? If he possesses the people of old time because he brought them out of the land of Egypt: let us see how much more he has done now for us than for them. True it is that God’s redeeming of the Jews was by the power of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ: but that thing was not yet declared unto them, they had but the figures and shadows thereof. But as now we see that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ has been shed for our redemption, and for the purchase of our salvation. And shall we now go trample under our feet the holy blood, whereby the covenant of the spiritual kindred which God has entered into with us, is ratified and confirmed? And as touching the law, how does the Apostle speak of it in the epistle of Hebrews? As many (says he) as violated the tabernacle that was made by Moses, were not spared, their fault was unpardonable (Heb 2:3): and what shall become of us nowadays?

Is not our lewdness much more shameful? Therefore let us bear now in mind that we be God’s precious possession, to the intent that we give not ourselves over to Satan. Moreover let us understand, after what manner he has created us and fashioned us, and let us not refuse that grace: but sith [since] he has vouchsafed to reform us, let us not stain ourselves with reproach, by going about to deface the image and workmanship which he has put into us. John Calvin Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 179, 32:5-7, p., 1114.

9) But there is great reason in respect of us than of the Israelites; because he has not only reserved us in creating the world, but also purchased us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Does not this price which God has bestowed for our salvation to the intent we should be his heritage, deserve to have us wholly at his devotion, and that every man should so endeavor to dedicate himself to his service, as that he night have the dominion over us? So then, let us not play the traitors in bereaving God of the thing which he retained to himself when he vouchsafed to have us to be of his Church. Also let this move us that he will not possess us, but upon the condition that as we enjoy him, so he may enjoy us: and what an exchange is that? Consider what we be. We be dung, filth, and utter cursedness, and yet we see how God accepts us for his heritage, and for his part would that we should posses him. Sith [since] it is so, what unthankfulness is it, if we continue not to obey him, that he may posses us? John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, 180, 32:8-11, p., 1118.

10) Again when we see a man scourged at God’s hand as fore as may be: let us consider not only that he was created after the image of God: but also that he is our neighbour, and in manner all one with us. We be all of one nature, all one flesh, all one mankind, so as it may be said that we be issued all out of one selfsame spring. Sith [since] it is so, ought we not to have consideration one of another? I see moreover a poor soul that is going to destruction: ought I not to pity him and to help him if it lie in my power? And although I be not able: yet ought I to be sorry for it. This (say I) are the two reasons which ought to move us to pity when we see that God afflicts such as are worthy of it. Then we bethink ourselves, sure either we must needs to be hard-hearted and dull-witted, or else we consider thus, behold a man that is formed after the image of God, he is of the selfsame nature that I am, and again behold a soul that was purchased with the blood of the Son of God if the same perish ought not we be grieved. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon, 71, 19:17-25, p., 333

11) No if it be said that God made that thing available which was but a little dim shadow: What shall be done now that he has appointed his own only son to be the Priest, and commanded him, not to offer up Goats and Calves or sheep, but to offer up his body and soul in sacrifice? Seeing then that the Son of God has in his own person offered himself for our redemption and to do away all our sins, and ceases not to make intercession for us still: should we doubt of obtaining forgiveness and favour at God’s hand? But (as I have touched already) the naughtiness of the world shows itself in this, that men cannot content themselves with one mediator alone. The Papists run seeking their own He-saints and She-saints to be their Patrons and Advocates. And what is the cause thereof? For that they yield not so much worship unto Jesus Christ as to acknowledge that he has bought them with his death and passion. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon 159, 42:9-17, p., 748.

12) Moreover, seeing we cannot bring anything to redeem ourselves out of his hand: let us resort to the ransom which he has given us in the person of his own son, according also as S. Peter tells us, hay we be not bought with gold nor silver, but with the precious blood of the unspotted Lamb ( 1 Pet. 1:8,19). Thus ye see that the point whereunto we must come for the concluding of this text, is that after we once know that we be bereft of all means to escape God’s hand, and that we should of necessity be utterly consumed, but that he uses pity towards us: we must understand that he has given us a good remedy, in that it pleased him to offer up his only Son in sacrifice for us: for then were we fully ransomed, and that is a sufficient discharge to put away all our faults, so as the Devil shall not have any interest in us. For although we were overwhelmed with the infinite multitude of our sins: yet notwithstanding if the blood of Jesus Christ answer for us, it is a sufficient satisfaction for all our offences, and enough to appease the wrath of God. Ye see then whereunto our refuge must be. But we cannot come to the blood of Jesus Christ, until we bereft of all stateliness, as well past as to come. Past, to the end we may consider that we should utterly perish in our sins, & be quite and clean overwhelmed if God had not given us this means of being purged by the blood of his Son. And to come to the end, we be no more carried away with such rage, as to lift up ourselves against God, as thought we could escape his hand, but rather hold ourselves in such awe, even with a willing mind, as we look not that God should chain us up like wild beasts, but as every [one] of us may bridle himself of his own accord. Let us have such modesty in us, as not to attempt anything against him: but whensoever it shall please him to chastise us, let every [one] of us thing thus himself: Go to, my God chastises me for such sin, and after such a manner: and it behooves me to make my profit of it. Therefore let us not be deaf when God warns us after that fashion: according to the examples he gives us, to the intent we grow not past grace, and so the thing befall us which is spoken heretofore, namely that we heap up continuously a greater wrath and a more horrible vengeance of God upon us. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon 141, 36:15-19, p., 665.

13) Thus all the more ought we groan, seeing that the world is too perverse to return to God, but rather elects to oppose him. This seeing how truly the Devil has blinded humankind, we are right to feel dejected and sad. Why? Because to see souls created in the image of God move toward their own damnation is hardly a light matter, especially souls that were redeemed at such a cost by the blood of God’s Son. It ought to make us sad to see them perish so miserably. Above all, we must keep in mind the purpose for which our Lord ordained the preaching of the Gospel, that by faith, as Saint Paul says, we might render to God the obedience and honor that God is due [1 Timothy 1:17; 6;16], and that humankind might be saved, “for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” [Romans 1:16]. Consequently, in view of the fact that human malice frustrates God’s intentions, we are justified in raising a lament similar to Micah’s. John Calvin, Sermons on Micah, Sermon 25, 7:1-3, pp., 370-371.

14) When we show mercy to those who have erred, we must never indulge them by outright flattery, nor ignore their wrongdoings so that it grows even worse. We should show pity when we see that our neighbours are still subject to many weaknesses, and we should be patient with them, not in order to imitate them but to rebuke them with kindness. We should never gloat as many do who laugh and smirk over someone else’s misfortune. Instead, we should mourn and say, ‘How sad, that poor man has given offence to God.’ It should distress us to see someone perishing who has been so dearly redeemed by Christ’s precious blood; it should distress us to see God’s righteousness and his glory diminished. John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes, Sermon 3, Matt. 5:5-7 and Luke 6:20-21a, p., 46.

15) Imagine someone who takes care not to stir up trouble or annoy anybody, and who instead tries to please everyone: whether he is given a hard time or not; he will gently put up with many wrongs rather than make a fuss. Even so, we are bound to follow our Lord’s precept here, and strive for peace in every place. So it is not enough to refrain from violence, ill-will or injury to others: when someone is in the wrong, we must resist; when innocent people suffer affliction, we should support them as much as we can, bring them help and relief. When we see two people at odds with each other, we should feel pity for two souls redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who are in danger of perdition. We should grieve when victory goes to the devil, who is the prince of discord, and when God, who is the author of peace, is shut out. That thought should make us want to put an end to quarreling. That is also why, God curses all who stir up dissension and conflict among men. They are like firebrands, who by their gossip incite former friends to hate each other; and when mutual suspicion is aroused, they sneak in and fan the flames. It is as if there were an open wound, and someone were to come and, instead of applying good ointment, rubbed in poison or venom, making it flare up even worse. John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes, Sermon 4, Matt. 5:8-10 and Luke 6:22-23, pp., 54-55.

16) On the other hand, when Luke speaks of the priests, he is speaking of the responsibility of those who hold public office. Principally, they are ordained to bear God’s word. So when some falsehood appears or Satan’s wicked disseminations proliferate, it is their duty to be vigilant, confront the situation, and do everything in their power to protect poor people from being poisoned by false teachings and to keep the souls redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from perishing, from entering into eternal death. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 9, Acts 4:1-4, p., 112.

17) And that speaks not only to those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching God’s word, but to everyone in general. For on this point the Holy Spirit, who must be our guide, is not disparaging the right way to teach. If we wish to serve our Master, that is the way we must go about it. We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way.

But still Stephen had a special reason. He. was speaking to the Jews, who professed to be God’s people. ‘That then has to do with the ‘brothers’ Stephen was talking about at the outset. ‘That is the relationship we now have with the papists, although they differ from us. ‘They confess that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world and then destroy his power while still retaining some sign of the gospel. They confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that what the Evangelists wrote about him must be adhered to as God’s truth, even though they do not believe it. So if we have that in common with the papists, there is some appearance of brotherhood. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 41, Acts 7:51, pp., 587-588.

18) And now there is another reason we must extend this teaching a bit further. It is, as I have already said, that, seeing that men are created in the image of God and that their souls have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we must try in every way available to us to draw them to the knowledge of the gospel. First, we try to reach them through gentleness and kindness. But have we determined whether men can be brought into obedience unto God in this way? Since we see that there is such hardness and rebellion in them that they cannot be won in this way, it is no longer a matter of using gentle tactics. Rather, we must storm out against them, as the Holy Spirit shows us here. And because of that, we understand why many people think they would like for us to refrain from all harshness when we speak of the pope and his ilk, calling him an antichrist, a murderer, a robber who kills poor souls, a thief who pillages God’s honour. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 41, Acts 7:51, p., 593.

19) In short, let us do to men as we would have them do to us (Matt. 7: I 2 ) . ‘That is a rather easy lesson to learn, but it is very difficult to practice. We must make an even greater effort when we recognize the great resistance our nature puts up and we go against what God commands. We must make a greater effort to fortify ourselves with these two teachings in order to regulate our lives along these two lines: the trust that God demands we have in him and in our Lord Jesus Christ; then the love he commands toward our neighbours. As for the first, we will not repeat what has already been said. What remains, then, is that each of us must realize that we have to lean on God’s mercy in the assurance that Jesus Christ did not die and rise again in vain, but that it was through him that we have our salvation and the boldness to call upon God and find our complete refuge in him. If we are cruel to our neighbours and seek only their ruin and destruction, how can we think that God is granting us grace? Jesus Christ shed his blood for the redemption of the world. Now if we ask for the destruction of what he has redeemed at a high price, do we think we are sharers in the blessing he has acquired for us? Do we think he is obligated to acknowledge us as his own? To the contrary! We must consider it a certain fact that he will avenge such cruelty and visit upon us a punishment much more severe and horrible than the pain we have inflicted upon our neighbours because of our inhumanity.

So, do we want to possess Stephen’s kind of faith? Do we want to enjoy the privilege of calling upon our Lord Jesus Christ to receive our souls into his safekeeping? ‘Then we must be in accord with and united with people in sincere love, for we know God has indeed given us that nature so we will live in love and brotherly affection. But we must surpass that, for Stephen not only prayed for all men but especially for his enemies, even those who were stoning him and engaging in such horrible cruelty against him. Even so, he says, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’ Although they are putting him to death, he is asking God not to punish them for this sin, but to receive them compassionately and show them mercy. It is true this is the opposite of our human understanding and all the dispositions of our flesh. But the fact is that the Holy Spirit has recounted this story for us so we will know our responsibility and imitate Stephen, who at his death prayed for his enemies. What he did becomes a command for us all. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not speak to just one man when he said, ‘Pray for those who speak evil of you, do good to those who wrong you, and love those who hate you’ (Matt. 5:44). That is a general teaching which we must follow if we wish to be disciples of the Son of God. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 44, Acts 7:58-60, pp., 638-639.

20) For the faithless have no profit at all by the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather are so much the more damnable, because they reject the mean that God had ordained: and their unthankfulness shall be so much the more grievously punished, because they have trodden under foot the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was the ransom for their souls. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 2, 1:3-5, p., 39/27

21) Nevertheless howsoever the case stands, our Lord Jesus Christ is not come to give us occasion to abuse the grace that he hath purchased us, for that were a mocking of him to his face. If we should go wallow again in our own filthiness after that he hath washed us in his blood, were it not a willful defiling of the thing that is most holy, yea and which makes all the whole world holy? Now forasmuch as we are all of us corrupted, and the whole world is subject to cursing, and all of us are condemned: there is not anything to sanctify us again, but [only] the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 2, 1:3-5, p., 42-3/29.

22) And secondly again, thereafter as we see the mischief prevail, let us bring these back unto God which are gone astray, and labor to stop those that lead their neighbors after that fashion to destruction, and seek nothing but to turn all upside down: let such men be repressed, and let every one that hath the zeal of God show himself their deadly enemy, breaking asunder whatsoever may hold us back: and whither there be friendship or kindred between us, or any other or the straightest bonds in the world: let us bury everywhit of it in forgetfulness, when we see the souls that were bought with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, so led to ruin and destruction: or when we see things that were well settled… John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 10, 2:11-14, p., 216-7/155.

23) …[A]nd men make us to alter our mind in less than the turning of a hand, what else betokens it, but that we willfully refuse God’s grace, as if we would shut the gate against him that he might not come in unto us? Or else, if after we have once known, that he offers us so inestimable a benefit in his Gospel, we cast it down and trample it under our feet: think we that God will suffer his grace to be so lightly esteemed and held scorn of? No. For we cannot despise the doctrine of the Gospel, but we must unhallow the blood of God’s son, which he did shed for our redemption: for the one cannot be separated from the other. Whensoever and how often soever God speaks to us, and offers us forgiveness of our sins, showing himself ready to receive us to mercy: so often is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ sprinkled upon us. All the teaching in the world cannot do us any good, except our Lord Jesus Christ be with it, to apply the shedding of his blood unto us. And if we despise the doctrine of the Gospel, it is all one as if we did spit at the holy blood of God’s son, which thing is an intolerable traitorousness. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 15, 3:1-3, p., 319/226.

24) Therefore when we see any man do amiss, let us learn that it is no love nor charity to cloak his evil doings, so as we should dissemble them and make no countenance at all of them: but that if we have a care of him that is so fallen, we must turn him away. If a man be in the mire, we will reach him our hand to help him out: and if we pass by him and will not seem to see him, shall he not say it is too shameful an unkindness? Even so is it when we suffer a man to fall asleep in his sins: for by that means he is sunk down to the bottom of perdition. Then is it too great a traitorousness, if we do wittingly suffer a man to undo himself utterly: and therewithal we show also that there is no zeal of God in us. For if he be our father, ought it not at leastwise to grieve us and make us sorry, when we see wrong and injury offered unto him? So then, if the souls which our Lord Jesus Christ hath bought so dearly be precious unto us, or if we set so much by God’s honor as it deserves it is certain that we will not so bear with men’s faults, but that we will endeavor to amend them. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 38, 6:1-2, p., 540-1/571.

25) Also we ought to have good care of those that have been redeemed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we see souls which have been so precious to God go to perdition, and we make nothing of it, that is to despise the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, 5:11-14, p., 521.

26) It follows, moreover, that the poor souls whom our Lord Jesus Christ has bought so dearly that he did not spare himself to save them, perish and are given into Satan’s possession. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, 5:11-14, p., 525.

27) However, St. Paul speaks here expressly of the saints and the faithful, but this does not imply that we should not pray generally for all men. For wretched unbelievers and the ignorant have a great need to be pleaded for with God; behold them on the way to perdition. If we saw a beast at the point of perishing, we would have pity on it. And what shall we do when we see souls in peril, which are so precious before God, as he has shown in that he has ransomed them with the blood of his own Son? If we see then a poor soul going thus to perdition, ought we not to be moved with compassion and kindness, and should we not desire God to apply the remedy. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 47, 6:18-19, pp., 684-5.

28) And this is well worthy to be marked, because (as I said before) were it not that we are afraid to cast our selves in this sort into Satan’s bands, there is none of us but hath itching ears: and we trie that too much which is said in the second canonical Epistle of S. Peter, to wit, that our ears are always itching, desiring novelties, & curious things. But when we hear that they which disguise the word of God in such sort, as merchants of our souls, (as S. Peter also saith) (1 Pet 2:2) and make traffic of us and of our salvation and make no bones at it, to cast us headlong into hell, yea, and to abolish the price that was given for our redemption, it is certain that they destroy souls and besides that, make a mock of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on 1 Timothy, 6:3-7, pp., 572-3.

29) Therefore Jesus Christ will not answer before Pontius Pilate. Why so? Because he seeks to satisfy the will of God his father, & the decree which he had concluded: he knows that by his sacrifice, he puts away the sins of the world. And therefore Jesus Christ being in the place of sinners, & in their persons, defended not himself… we must lift up our eyes to the blood of the unspotted lamb, that was shed… For else what honour should we do to Jesus Christ, if his death did not suffice us for that certainty of our faith: were not this to make the passion which he suffered a thing of naught? Were it not to tread his blood under our feet, seeing it is called the blood of the everlasting testament, which is the true seal as we have said already? and therefore it is not in vain that S. Paul protests in this place, that we do injury to our Lord Christ & do not honour the blood that he shed for our salvation, if we follow not this confession that he made when he gave his life to assure us… If we will be partakes of all that was gotten us by the Son of God, we must have patience: after that he has shown that when Jesus Christ had suffered for the sins of the world, he went up into heaven… For it is nothing if the fruit of this redemption, which was purchased for us, does not show itself by faith: for otherwise, it will become a thing of naught. John Calvin, Sermons on 1 Timothy, Sermon 51, 6:13-16, p., 610.

30) But when we see pestilent plagues, that go about to empoison the church of God, when we see ravening wolves that seek nothing, but to breed dissension in the flock, when we see robbers and thieves, that would rob Jesus Christ of that belongs to him, when we see church robbers, that labour to mar the doctrine of salvation must we bear with them, and cover their filthiness? What gear call you that? That is a terrible honesty, when we shall suffer silly souls, which were so dearly bought, to go to destruction John Calvin, Sermons on 2 Timothy, Sermon, 7, 1:15-18, 735.

31) As for example, behold the Turks, which cast away the grace which was purchased for all the world by Jesus Christ: the Jews do the like: the Papists, although they say not so openly, they show it in effect. And all they are as well shut out, and banished from the redemption which was purchased for us, as if Jesus Christ had never come into the world. And why so? For they have not this witness, That Jesus Christ is their redeemer: and although they have some little taste, yet they remain always starved, and if they hear but this word, Redeemer, it brings them no substance, neither get they any profit by that which is contained in the Gospel. And thus we see now, how men are not partakers of this benefit, which was purchased them by our Lord Jesus Christ. And why so? For they receive not the witness… So then let us mark, that in this Saint Paul’s handling of the matter, we have set out unto us, that the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ were unprofitable to us, unless it were witnessed to us by the Gospel. For it is faith that puts us in possession of this salvation: although we find it not but in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be (as it were) strange to us, and all that he has suffered, shall not profit us one whit, as indeed, it belongs not to us. This is a profitable doctrine: for there is no man but confesses, that it is the greatest benefit which Jesus Christ has brought us, but there are a very few that take the right way… Therefore we must weigh that that Saint Paul says here, so much the more, to wit, that then we enjoy the redemption purchased by the death of Jesus Christ, when God bears witness that he is with us: when such a benefit is presented to us: and we can receive it by faith, thus we enjoy it. And this is the reason, why there are so few nowadays, that are reconciled to God, by the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we see how a great part of the world deprives itself of this witness, and we see how other[s] cast it away, or at the least, profit so little by it, that Jesus Christ dwells not in them by faith, to make them partakers of all his benefits. John Calvin, Sermons on Timothy, Sermon 15, 1Tim 2:5-6, p., 177 and 178.

32) On the contrary side, when we feel not the glory of God to submit ourselves to it, when we know not the riches of the kingdom of heaven, when we are not drawn to his service to live in pureness of conscience , when know we not what the salvation means, which was purchased for us in our Lord Jesus Christ, we abide in this world and so by this means are profaned… And therefore if this day we see men become very beasts, after that they have known the truth of God, and become as dogs without reason, know we that God will thereby magnify his word, and cause us to feel what majesty it is of… And therefore we must not only be offended when we see them which have tasted of the Gospel, revolt from the obedience of God, but it must rather be a conformation of our faith: For God shows that he makes such account of his word, that he cannot abide in any wise to have men abuse it, and take it so in vain, and disguise and profane it. John Calvin, Sermons on 2 Timothy, Sermon 13, 2:16-18, 807.

33) We ought also to have care for our brethren, and to be very sorry to see them perish, for it is no small matter to have souls perish who were bought by the blood of Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on 2 Timothy, Sermon 14, 2:19, p., 817.

34) As God did once draw us out of the bottomless pit of death, when he spared not his only son: for he makes us partakers of this inestimable treasure, of this benefit that was purchased for us, when the Gospel is preached. And for this cause. S. Paul says that it is the mighty power of God to salvation to all that believe. Therefore if God will draw us to him, and to his inheritance, he uses the Gospel. And therefore it ought to be a most precious thing to us, seeing that the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is thereby applied to us, to the end we may receive the fruit of it, and be not unprofitable and fruitless to us… And moreover, we shall be made partakers of everlasting salvation, which was purchased for us by his death and passion. Therefore if there be no preaching, the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ will come to nothing, the world will not know him to be the Redeemer of the world: it will avail us nothing at all, that he was so delivered to death for us…

[H]is death and passion shall be a payment for us, to exempt us from all our debts: for he will always do the part of an Advocate, though he be our judge. And let us mark well, that this is general to all, though Saint Paul speaks to Timothy, that whensoever we are called and cited before the throne or judgment seat of the son of GOD, we must think on the one side, that if we vouchsafe not to receive this inestimable treasure which is so offered us, to wit, that we may enjoy this redemption which he has purchased for us, he will not suffer it to be despised… If nowadays we stop out ears, when the Son of God admonishes us, we shall hear this horrible trumpet, which shall confound us in the bottomless pit of hell, we shall hear the sentence of condemnation upon our heads, if we will not obey the sweet and loving voice, whereby we are called this day to be partakers of the salvation purchased for us. John Calvin, Sermons on 2 Timothy, Sermon 25, 4:1-2, pp, 946, 951, and 952 .

35) Must we leave the poor church of God in the power of wolves and robbers? Must all the flock be scattered, the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ trampled under foot, and souls which he redeemed at so costly a price go to destruction, and all order be set aside, and must we still be silent and shut our eyes… Moreover let us mark that also that which is added, “That they subvert whole houses.” If one man only were misled by them, it would be too much: for mens souls ought to be precious to us seeing that our Lord Jesus Christ has esteemed so high of them, as not to spare his own life, for our salvation and redemption.” John Calvin, Sermons on Titus, Sermon 7, 1:10-13, p., 1103.

36) When we see that men will not suffer themselves to be brought to good pass willingly, we must use that remedy, which God commands us here, that is to say, we must reprove them sharply, we must go roundly to it. For the word which S. Paul uses, imports as much: we must cut them short, we may not use great Rhetoric with them, we may not deal gently with them that are so stubborn, but summon them in a word. Come on you wretched creatures, with whom think you play with all? Do you not see that you fight against God? what a master is he? Think you, he will always suffer you? If he deal gently with you now, and call you to come to him, in the person of mortal man, think you this will continue? Will he not cast forth his lightening at the length? Will you be devils instead of creatures, which has fashioned to his own image? Do you not think, what a woe is to you, to forget the price of your redemption, by thus despising the grace of his Gospel? Therefore when ministers of the word of God know, that the world is so hard to govern, they must come to the rough kind of dealing, & to these hard speeches. John Calvin, Sermons on Titus, Sermon 8, 1:12-15, p., 1116.

37) Thus, to head off those who keep on asking about what should be perfectly obvious and familiar to them, as well as those who look for any excuse to dodge God’s judgment, I thought it worthwhile to review and revise a sermon which I preached on the topic, the essentials of which had been taken down in writing. The first sermon, therefore, contains a warning against the craven behavior of those who, through God, have come to know the truth of the gospel, but who defile themselves with popish abominations which are completely opposed to the Christian religion, since in doing so they disown, so far as they can, the Son of God who has redeemed them. John Calvin, Faith Unfeigned: Four Sermons Concerning Matters Most Useful for the Present Time, With a Brief Exposition of Psalm 87 Trans. Robert White (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2010), 1-2.

commentaries

38) To apply these observations to our own times, we ought to consider whether our condition be not equal, or even superior to that which the Jews formerly enjoyed. Their adoption into the family of God bound them to maintain the purity of his worship. Our obligation is twofold; for not only have we been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but he who once redeemed us is pleased to favor us with his Gospel, and in this manner prefers us to all those whom he still allows to remain blinded by ignorance. If we do not acknowledge these things, how much severer punishment shall we deserve? For the more full and abundant the grace of God which hath been poured out on us, the higher will be the ingratitude of which it shall convict us. John Calvin, Isaiah 1:2.

39) Hence it ought to be observed, that whenever the Church is afflicted, the example of the Prophet ought to move us to be touched (sumpatheia) with compassion, if we are not harder than iron; for we are altogether unworthy of being reckoned in the number of the children of God, and added to the holy Church, if we do not dedicate ourselves, and all that we have, to the Church, in such a manner that we are not separate from it in any respect. Thus, when in the present day the Church is afflicted by so many and so various calamities, and innumerable souls are perishing, which Christ redeemed with his own blood, we must be barbarous and savage if we are not touched with any grief. And especially the ministers of the word ought to be moved by this feeling of grief, because, being appointed to keep watch and to look at a distance, they ought also to groan when they perceive the tokens of approaching ruin. John Calvin, Isaiah 22:4.

40) He then declares, in the first clause, that they hoped for mercy in vain from God, because their ultimate destruction was decreed. Then follows the reason for this, because they had foolishly and impiously abused the favor of God, inasmuch as, having been redeemed by him, they yet went on in their own wickedness, and even acted perfidiously towards God, while yet they pretended to act differently. Since, then, there was no change for the better, God now shows that he would spend his favor no longer on men so impious. Now this place teaches how intolerable is our ingratitude, when, after having been redeemed by the Lord, we keep not the faith pledged to him, and which he requires from us; for God is our deliverer on this condition, that we be wholly devoted to him. For he who has been redeemed ought not so to live, as if he had a right to himself and to his own will; but he ought to be wholly dependent on his Redeemer. If, then, we thus act perfidiously towards God, after having been delivered by his grace, we shall be guilty of such impiety and perfidiousness as deserve a twofold vengeance: and this is what the Prophet here teaches. John Calvin, Hosea 7:13.

41) “Which he hath purchased.” The four reasons, whereby Paul doth carefully prick forward the pastors to do their duty diligently, because the Lord hath given no small pledge of his love toward the Church in shedding his own blood for it. Whereby it appears how precious it is to him; and surely there is nothing which ought more vehemently to urge pastors to do their duty joyfully, than if they consider that the price of the blood of Christ is committed to them. For hereupon it follows, that unless they take pains in the Church, the lost souls are not only imputed to them, but they be also guilty of sacrilege, because they have profaned the holy blood of the Son of God, and have made the redemption gotten by him to be of none effect, so much as in them lies. And this is a most cruel offense, if, through our sluggishness, the death of Christ do not only become vile or base, but the fruit thereof be also abolished and perish; and it is said that God hath purchased the Church, to the end we may know that he would have it remain wholly to himself, because it is meet and right that he possess those whom he hath redeemed. John Calvin, Acts 20:28.

42) The next thing is–that when the weak conscience is wounded, the price of Christ’s blood is wasted; for the most abject brother has been redeemed by the blood of Christ: it is then a heinous crime to destroy him by gratifying the stomach. John Calvin, Romans 14:15.

43) There is, however, still greater force in what follows–that even those that are ignorant or weak have been redeemed with the blood of Christ; for nothing were more unseemly than this, that while Christ did not hesitate to die, in order that the weak might not perish, we, on the other hand, reckon as nothing the salvation of those who have been redeemed with so great a price. A memorable saying, by which we are taught how precious the salvation of our brethren ought to be in our esteem, and not merely that of all, but of each individual in particular, inasmuch as the blood of Christ was poured out for each individualFor if the soul of every one that is weak is the price of Christ’s blood, that man, who, for the sake of a very small portion of meat, hurries back again to death the brother who has been redeemed by Christ, shows how contemptible the blood of Christ is in his view. John Calvin, 1 Corinthians 8:11 & 12.

44) And, indeed, in like manner as God showed by an inestimable pledge, when he spared not his only–begotten Son, how great is the care which he has for the Church, so he will not suffer to remain unpunished the negligence of pastors, through whom souls, which he hath redeemed at so costly a price, perish or are exposed as a prey. John Calvin, 2 Tim 4:1.

45) If the faith of one individual were in danger of being overturned, (for we are speaking of the perdition of a single soul redeemed by the blood of Christ) the pastor should immediately gird himself for the combat; how much less tolerable is it to see whole houses overturned? John Calvin, Titus 1:11.

46) Who gave himself for us;” This is another argument of exhortation, drawn from the design or effect of the death of Christ, who offered himself for us, that he might redeem us from the bondage of sin, and purchase us to himself as his heritage. His grace, therefore, necessarily brings along with it “newness of life,” (Romans 6:4,) because they who still are the slaves of sin make void the blessing of redemption; but now we are released from the bondage of sin, in order that we may serve the righteousness of God; and, therefore, he immediately added,–“A peculiar people, zealous of good works;” by which he means that, so far as concerns us, the fruit of redemption is lost, if we are still entangled by the sinful desires of the world. And in order to express more fully, that we have been consecrated to good works by the death of Christ, he makes use of the word purify; for it would be truly base in us to be again polluted by the same filth from which the Son of God hath washed us by his blood. John Calvin, Titus 2:14.

47) So we must beware, or souls redeemed by Christ may perish by our carelessness, for their salvation to some degree was put into our hands by God. John Calvin, James 5:20.12

48) Hence at the very beginning he proclaims in express words the grace of God made known to us in Christ; and at the same time he adds, that it is received by faith and possessed by hope, so that the godly might raise up their minds and hearts above the world. Hence he exhorts them to holiness, lest they should render void the price by which they were redeemed, and lest they should suffer the incorruptible seed of the Word, by which they had been regenerated into eternal life, to be destroyed or to die. John Calvin, 1 Peter, The Argument.

49) But he says that they had been “redeemed from” their “vain conversation”, in order that we might know that the whole life of man, until he is converted to Christ, is a ruinous labyrinth of wanderings. He also intimates, that it is not through our merits that we are restored to the right way, but because it is God’s will that the price, offered for our salvation, should be effectual in our behalf. Then the blood of Christ is not only the pledge of our salvation, but also the cause of our calling. Moreover, Peter warns us to beware lest our unbelief should render this price void or of no effect. John Calvin 1 Peter 1:18.

50) He now expresses more clearly that they who profess a naked faith are wholly without any true knowledge. He then says that they go astray like the blind in darkness, because they do not see the right way which is shown to us by the light of the gospel. This he also confirms by adding this reason, because such have forgotten that through the benefit of Christ they had been cleansed from sin, and yet this is the beginning of our Christianity. It then follows, that those who do not strive for a pure and holy life, do not understand even the first rudiments of faith. But Peter takes this for granted, that they who were still rolling in the filth of the flesh had forgotten their own purgation. For the blood of Christ has not become a washing bath to us, that it may be fouled by our filth. He, therefore, calls them old sins, by which he means, that our life ought to be otherwise formed, because we have been cleansed from our sins; not that any one can be pure from every sin while he lives in this world, or that the cleansing we obtain through Christ consists of pardon only, but that we ought to differ from the unbelieving, as God has separated us for himself. Though, then, we daily sin, and God daily forgives us, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from our sins, yet sin ought not to rule in us, but the sanctification of the Spirit ought to prevail in us; for so Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you; but ye are washed,” etc. John Calvin, 2 Peter 1:9.

51) Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness ,and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. John Calvin, 2 Peter 2:1.

52) The Apostle in the meantime exhorts us to be mutually solicitous for the salvation of one another; and he would also have us to regard the falls of the brethren as stimulants to prayer. And surely it is an iron hardness to be touched with no pity, when we see souls redeemed by Christ’s blood going to ruin. John Calvin, 1 John 5:16.

53) “The only Lord God,” or, God who alone is Lord. Some old copies have, “Christ, who alone is God and Lord.” And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price. John Calvin, Jude 4.

tracts

54) You should have kept silence, says Pighius. It would have been a treacherous and abominable silence by which God’s glory, Christ, and the gospel were betrayed. Is it possible? So God shall be held up as a laughingstock before our eyes, all good religion shall be torn apart, wretched souls redeemed by the blood of Christ shall perish, and it shall be forbidden to speak? …shall the church be plundered by the thieving of the ungodly, shall God’s majesty be stamped under foot, shall Christ be robbed of his kingdom, while we watch and say nothing? John Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, 19.

55) Protestants complain that the worship of God is corrupted, his glory extinguished, or, at least, greatly obscured, the kingdom of Christ overturned, religion adulterated, the doctrine of truth partly vitiated, partly buried, the Church miserably torn and wasted, the sacraments prostituted to a vile and shameful gain, souls redeemed by the blood of Christ made the subject of a sacrilegious trafficking, and the ministry or pastoral office, than which nothing ought to be more salutary to the world, converted into a deadly tyranny. They charge the Pope and his adherents with the guilt of all these evils, and they are prepared to demonstrate, as with the finger, that he is Antichrist John Calvin, “Remarks on the of Letter to Pope Paul III,” in Selected Works, 1:282.

56)

Behold on the other part, many defiling (as much as in them is) the profession of the Gospel with their dissolute and filthy life: whereupon rises another stumbling-block, next cousin to that which went before. And surely seeing that we (as Paul says) by living holy and honestly, do adorn the Gospel, look how many do cocker themselves with a licentiousness of living, so many reproaches and spots of Christendom are there. And it is not to be doubted but that the horrible vengeance of God hangs over the heads of all such, as by their lewd behavior do defame the doctrine of godliness, and make the holy name of God a laughing-stock to others. They shall one day feel how intolerable a crime it is, to have profaned the holy treasure of the Gospel: and how it was not spoken in vain, that they should not escape unpunished that abuse the name of God. They shall feel how precious the souls are to God, to whom through their evil example they have foreclosed the way of salvation. First it is a point of to much lewdness, to confess God with their mouth, whom they deny in their deeds, as Paul says: and to pretend to be the Disciples of the heavenly wisedom, when their whole life argues a manifest contempt of God. John Calvin, The woork of Iohn Calvine concerning Offences, (Imprinted at London, by William Seres, Dwelling at the Weastend of Powels, at the sign of the Hedghogge, 1567), 63b-64a.

For who sees not, that in like manner as drunken men do ease themselves by vomit, to the extent that anon after, as if they were fresh and fasting they may return to glutting themselves new again: Even so the Papists utter their secret whisperings unto the Priest’s ear, to the intent of being lightened of their former fardell, they may more boldly heap sin upon sin. They pretend by their words, to confess themselves to God. But I say it is the common intent of them all, to disclose their privities covertly to the Priest, to the intent they may be hidden from God and man. And therefore we see that after they are dispatched of their thievish mumbling, that follow their lusts far more carelessly than before. But let us grant them that some are so kept in awe with that slavish scare, that they abstain from sinning: yet infer they slanderously upon us, that we seek fleshly liberty in this behalf. We condemn the law of [Pope] Innocent, which binds the consciences with the necessity, from which God absolves and sets free. Let them reason the matter with God, who so precisely forbids that any man should snarl himself in such matters, or suffer the souls which Christ has redeemed with his blood, to be snarled. We say it proceeds of traitorous boldness, that the Remission of sins was bound to the device of man. If we cannot avouch unto Christ, his right and honor, otherwise than by taking upon us this reproach which they charge us with: it is verily the greatest honor to us that it may be….

What sweetness of liberty is there so great herein, that it should enforce us to turn the world upside down? Surely if I were minded to delight my mouth, I would for one half year, choose me other manner of meats rather than flesh. My acquaintance know I am very much delighted in fish, and certain other things, from which I willingly abstain, least I should by my delicates with the loss of my health. I confess it is a fondness, to confute such slender slanders. But my readers must bear with me, if in setting myself against Offences, I play the fool a little. Wherefore it needs not to tarry any longer, about these toys. For this part of doctrine which I entreat of, consists of two members. We uphold that it is unlawful for the consciences to be entangled with man’s laws, which should be rules by the one only word of God. Although that nothing were more profitable than this kind of exercise: yet notwithstanding we say it is a wicked boldness, when men make a law to bind the souls with an inward fear. For God challenges this right to himself alone, that he be our lawgiver and our Judge. Therewithal we say, that extreme wrong is done unto Christ, while the liberty purchased by his blood, is brought to nothing.  John Calvin, The woork of Iohn Calvine concerning Offences, (Imprinted at London, by William Seres, Dwelling at the Weastend of Powels, at the sign of the Hedghogge, 1567), 91a-92ab and 92b-93a.


[7]. Redeemer and redemption of the world: general comments

sermons

1) That, then, is how the blood of our Lord Jesus, which ought to be the salvation of all the world, and indeed especially of the Jews, since the birthright belonged to them, cried vengeance against them. John Calvin, The Deity of Christ, Sermon 7, Mt 27:11-26, p., 133.

2) And it is not without cause that many understand Jesus Christ only as their Judge; for they were not willing to receive Him when God wished to give Him to them as Redeemer. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 15, Acts 1:9-11, pp., 241-2.

3) Now forasmuch as here is mention made of the land that was promised to the Jews: let us mark that we nowadays ought to be much more provoked to serve God, seeing that he has dedicated the whole earth to himself, & and will have his name to be called upon everywhere. For the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus Christ, has sanctified the whole world which was then in uncleanness. For we know that there were no more lands but this, which God reserved to himself, and wherein he would reign until the coming of his son. But when our Lord Jesus Christ was once come: then he got the possession of the whole world, so as his kingdom was extended from one side thereof to the other, specially at the publishing of the Gospel. Seeing it is so, let us mark that we nowadays are so much the more straightly bound to serve God, because he has sanctified the whole earth by the precious blood of his son, that we might dwell in it, and live under his reign, and beware that we addict ourselves under him, as well as we should be that he should have us in his protection and safekeeping. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 45, 6:1-4, p., 268.

4) But now let us apply the lesson to ourselves also. For we see what the Prophet Isaiah says where he speaks of the redemption that was to be wrought in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is said in the 59th chapter; that God sought and looked about him if he could find any help to redeem the world. Not that God was cumbered with the matter, or that he wished not what he had to do: but by that figure the Prophet expresses the better, that it was only God that redeems us, and hat he was not helped by any other. Therefore when he had sought, he found that he should be fain to use his only power. Then armed he himself with his justice, he fenced himself with his own power, and so finished and performed the thing which he had determined, that is to wit, the redemption of his people, seeing then God has so purchased us to himself in the person of his Son, as that he had not any companion in the doing thereof, but has uttered forth the infinite treasures of his goodness, justice, and power: let us learn to hold ourselves wholly to him, and not to be so fickle-headed as to set up idols, and to run gadding here and there, and to let ourselves loose to no benefit. Let us rather consider how God himself alone has redeemed us once for all, and that henceforth he will have the guiding of us all himself alone, and that he will have us to stick to him alone. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 181, 32: 11-15, p., 1123.

5) As for us, we have not that office, that is to wit, t be as in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ to make sacrifices. But we have the sacraments; we have Baptism, which serves to show how we be made clean before God: and we have the Lord’s supper, wherein it is shown us that we be nourished with the substance of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now then let us understand, that as the Priests were ordained to represent in the Temple the mediator which was to come: so we at this day do represent him after another manner… For they serve us to show in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we have been once washed and made clean and that by means thereof men are reconciled by the sacrifice of the death which was offered up for them. Also when we minister the Lord’s Supper, we rehearse what was said by our Lord Jesus Christ: This is my body which is delivered for you: this is my blood which is shed for the salvation of the world (Matt 26:26 and 1 Cor 11:24). Seeing then that we nowadays do minister the Sacraments after that manner, we take not upon us the thing that belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, or to his office: but rather we send the people to the everlasting sacrifice whereby we be reconciled unto God, so as we need not any other mean or help than that. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 194, 33:9-11, pp., 1207- 8.

6) Now the Jews forgot this commandment, so it is certain they also forgot God. Indeed, if we think that we can go away with being nonchalant when we come to temple, we are deceiving ourselves; for it is not enough that we receive baptism and communion. No, no! Anyone like Judas could receive them, but what this profit them? Absolutely nothing. True, the sermon is not main thing. But will those who do not come to hear it be excused? No! They will say, “I did not go hear the sermons. I do not understand how those who do have the time for it.” They think that this is a valid excuse. Bt those who do not come for the sermon or take communion show well that Jesus Christ is nothing to them. Their contempt for these signs shows their contempt for the truth. When the prophet reprimands the Jews, he is not thinking of ceremonies but of the truth. Thus, as strongly as we can, and in as much as God has said so: “Indeed, you do not take baptism seriously? That is a sign you do not prize the blood of His Son. You do not take communion? That is a sign that you do not value the redemption He made for you.”

Not only will we be reprimanded for polluting the Sabbath but also for lacking reverence towards the sacraments. It pleases God to have this great assembly here, provided that it performs its functions. When we have a baptism here, some of you walk around, others chat with one another. This is a good illustration that we do not prize this sign, which also means that we do not believe the truths of this sign and that the redemption made for us is truly nothing to us. None of you can come to communion without having to be chastised for blasphemies and adulteries. Well we show that we do not prize the truth, which is Jesus Christ, when we hold this sign in such contempt. Therefore, we will be reproached that the sacraments were of no importance to us.

Furthermore, it is said that the prophet went “to all the gates,” to show that it was necessary for him to speak to everyone. This means that God wished none to claim ignorance. When the clock sounds today, that serves to condemn all those who do not come to hear the sermon. God wishes to speak to us, yet we do not wish to take a step! There is no doubt that we will be reproached before God. Why is there an ordinance to preach the Word of God every day at the same time and place? To eliminate all ignorance. Let each profit, so that none have complaint against us and so that we merit not condemnation. John Calvin, Sermons on Jeremiah, Sermon 19, 17:17-23, pp,. 221-2.

7) For in the same way that the city of Bethlehem was little more than a tiny village, Jesus Christ was unable to find the tiniest room or lodge, but was relegated to a stable. Thereby we see how God willed to attribute the entire world’s redemption and salvation to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, is Son. That decision provides us with a living image of the nature of the entire Church of God. For in the same manner that Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, revealed himself in Bethlehem, a town of ostensible insignificance, so also will our Lord rescue his Church whenever events become confused and chaotic and appear destined for ruin; at that time he will cause it to flourish and triumph. John Calvin, Sermons on Micah, Sermon 18, 5:1-2, p., 269.

8) Now God’s power has not diminished. His kindness to help his own is the same as it has always been. Let us not doubt, however, that he makes us participants in that same grace and power which he bestowed upon our predecessors. Yet, at first glance we might have said that Herod and Pilate were predominant over Jesus Christ. For when Jesus comes to that dreadful moment of hanging on the tree and dying such and ignominious death, what could one say except that God had given leeway to the wicked to do whatever they wished? But the disciples are well aware that Jesus Christ had to suffer for the redemption of the world. Yet they returned to what God had ordained and said, ‘Indeed, Lord, it is true that Herod and Pilate crucified your Son Jesus Christ. That is to say, after they had worked all their conspiracies and everything else they could against him, he was crucified. But that did not happen because of their power or their authority over him to put him to death, as if they had conquered him. But it was your counsel and your divine providence which brought it to pass for the salvation of men.’ John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 13, Acts 4:24-31, pp., 170-171.

9) And we must pay even closer attention to this passage, which says, ‘Behold those who killed the prophets; they are completely without excuse before God’ (Matt. 23:37; 1 Thess. 2:15). And how is that? They sinned doubly. In the first place, they did not render to God the honour that he was due. And then they were ungrateful because they heard about the Redeemer of the world but refused share in that great blessing. And if they were punished for such wickedness, what will our lot be? True, our Lord spoke about those days, but he is now speaking in a different way. He declares that his Son has already been sent to us and we are no longer under the figure of the law. We have clearly revealed truth! Therefore, let us know that a much more horrible punishment hangs over our heads if we do not in all humility receive that good thing God wishes to do for us. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 42, Acts 7:52-56, pp., 601-602.

10) Thus ye see in effect, whereunto we should refer this saying, where Saint Paul tells us expressly, that the Son of God gave himself. And he contents not himself to say, that Christ gave himself for the world in common, for that had been but a slender saying: but [shows that] every of us must apply to himself particularly, the virtue of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas it is said that the Son of God was crucified, we must not only think that the same was done for the Redemption of the world: but also every of us must on his own behalf join himself to our Lord Jesus Christ, and conclude, It is for me that he has suffered. . . .

Also when we receive the holy Supper, every man takes his own portion, to show us that our Lord Jesus Christ is communicated unto us, yea even to every one of us. Saint Paul therefore doth purposely use that manner of speech, to the end we should not have any cold imagination, after the manner of diverse ignorant persons, which take themselves to be Christians, and yet in the meanwhile are as wretched beasts. But when we once know that the thing which was done for the redemption of the whole world, pertains to every of us severally13: it behooves every of us to say also on his own behalf, The son of God hath loved me so dearly, that he has given himself to death for me But when we once know that the thing which was done for the redemption of the whole world, pertains to every of us severally The love that he bear us. Seeing it is so: must we not needs be worse than out of our wits, if we accept not such a benefit? But it is a very common doctrine in the holy Scripture, that God so loved the world, that he spared not his only son, but gave him to death for us: (John 3:16) and also that our Lord Jesus Christ, at such time as we were his deadly enemies as saith Saint Paul, did confirm a marvelous love towards us, in that he offered himself in sacrifice to make atonement between God and us, and to do away all our sins, (Romans 5:8) so as they might no more come to account. Lo here a warrant of our salvation, so as we ought to think ourselves thoroughly assured of it. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 14, 2:20:21, p., 299-300/212-13.14

11) Therefore let us not doubt but that mercy is ready for us, as oft as we seek it in his name, for if we should come with any opinion of our own deservings, what were that worth? But when we know how dearly the Son is beloved of the Father, and how precious his death was: that is the thing wherewith we have full certainty that God will always hear us, and that we shall find him merciful and favorable towards us, namely if we rest wholly upon that which is told us here: which is, that our Lord Jesus Christ forbear not even to become accursed for our sakes. Herewithal let us mark how Saint Paul saith, that by that means the promise of the spirit came unto the Gentiles, as it had been given unto Abraham. Now by naming Abraham here, he shows that the promise belonged first and foremost to those that came of his race. For the Jews had as it were a peculiar interest in the heritage of salvation, till such time as God opened the gate to the whole world, and published his Gospel to the end that all men should be made partakers of the redemption that was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ. Now then, although the said promise belonged to the Jews, and was after a sort peculiar to them: yet was it after them made common to the whole world. John Calvin. Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 19, 3:13-14, pp., 404-5/287-8.

12) After that Saint Paul hath said, that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to be the redeemer of all, and that the message of salvation is carried in his name to all people, both great and small, now he exhorts every man to call upon God… Therefore we must wait till God calls by his word. For in that he promises us that he will be always ready to receive us: and tarries not till we come to seek him, but he offers himself, and exhorts us to pray to him, yea and proves our faith therein. John Calvin, Sermons on Timothy and Titus, Sermon 16, 2:8, p., 185-186.

commentaries

13) The Lord therefore promises that he will supply them with water, and with everything else that is necessary for the journey. Now, these things were fulfilled when the Lord brought his people out of Babylon, but much more abundantly when he converted the whole world to himself by Christ the Redeemer, from whom flow in great abundance throughout the whole world waters to quench the thirst of poor sinners. John Calvin, Isaiah 41:19.

14) And to them who have turned away from iniquity. That the bastard children of Abraham may not apply indiscriminately to themselves what he has just now said, he proceeds to show to whom the redemption shall come, namely, to those only who have been truly consecrated to the Lord. It is certain that many returned from Babylon, who were not moved by any feeling of repentance, and yet who became partakers of the same blessing. But the Prophet speaks of the complete redemption which the elect alone enjoy; for, although the fruit of external redemption extends also to hypocrites, yet they have not embraced the blessing of God for salvation. The design of the Prophet is, to show that the punishment; of banishment will be advantageous, that God may gather his Church, after having purified it from filth and pollution; for we must always bear in remembrance what we saw elsewhere as to the diminution of the people. John Calvin Isaiah 59:20.

15) But the Prophet had another thing in view, even this–that the Jews would become partakers of this blessing, or would enjoy, so to speak, this favor, if they embraced God’s promise, and obediently submitted to his law. For though Christ has already come as the Redeemer of the world, yet we know that this benefit is not come to all, and why? Because many through unbelief close the door against God and his grace through Christ. Hence the faithful alone really know that God has spoken, and really partake of his favor, and for this reason, because they hear his voice; that is, they first by faith receive what God offers, and then they fall not away from his truth, but continue in the obedience of faith to the end. John Calvin, Zechariah 6:15.

16) We must attend to what Paul says, “that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,” (Romans 15:8) with which agrees that saying of Christ, “Salvation is of the Jews,” (John 4:22.) Matthew, therefore, presents him to our contemplation as belonging to that holy race, to which he had been expressly appointed. In Matthew’s catalogue we must look at the covenant of God, by which he adopted the seed of Abraham as his people, separating them, by a “middle wall of partition,” (Ephesians 2:14,) from the rest of the nations. Luke directed his view to a higher point; for though, from the time that God had made his covenant with Abraham, a Redeemer was promised, in a peculiar manner, to his seed, yet we know that, since the transgression of the first man, all needed a Redeemer, and he was accordingly appointed for the whole world. It was by a wonderful purpose of God, that Luke exhibited Christ to us as the son of Adam, while Matthew confined him within the single family of Abraham. For it would be of no advantage to us, that Christ was given by the Father as “the author of eternal salvations” (Hebrews 5:9,) unless he had been given indiscriminately to all. Besides, that saying of the Apostle would not be true, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,” (Hebrews 13:8,) if his power and grace had not reached to all ages from the very creation of the world. Let us know; therefore, that to the whole human race there has been manifested and exhibited salvation through Christ; for not without reason is he called the son of Noah, and the son of Adam. But as we must seek him in the word of God, the Spirit wisely directs us, through another Evangelist, to the holy race of Abraham, to whose hands the treasure of eternal life, along with Christ, was committed for a time, (Romans 3:1.) John Calvin, Matthew 1:1-17, Introductory Comments.

17) He came into his own. Here is displayed the absolutely desperate wickedness and malice of men; here is displayed their execrable impiety, that when the Son of God was manifested in flesh to the Jews, whom God had separated to himself from the other nations to be His own heritage, he was not acknowledged or received. This passage also has received various explanations. For some think that the Evangelist speaks of the whole world indiscriminately; and certainly there is no part of the world which the Son of God may not lawfully claim as his own property. According to them, the meaning is: “When Christ came down into the world, he did not enter into another person’s territories, for the whole human race was his own inheritance.” But I approve more highly of the opinion of those refer it to the Jews alone; for there is an implied comparison, by which the Evangelist represents the heinous ingratitude of men. The Son of God had solicited an abode for himself in one nation; when he appeared there, he was rejected; and this shows clearly the awfully wicked blindness of men. In making this statement, the sole object of the Evangelist must have been to remove the offense which many would be apt to take in consequence of the unbelief of the Jews. For when he was despised and rejected by that nation to which he had been especially promised, who would reckon him to be the Redeemer of the whole world? We see what extraordinary pains the Apostle Paul takes in handling this subject. John Calvin, John 1:11.

18) He now says that the love of the Father is the cause of it; and, therefore, it follows that he was beloved, in so far as he was appointed to be the Redeemer of the world. With such a love did the Father love him before the creation of the world, that he might be the person in whom the Father would love his elect. John Calvin, John 17:24.

19) But so many ages having passed away since the death of John, seem to prove that this prophecy is not true: to this I answer, that the Apostle, according to the common mode adopted in the Scripture, declares to the faithful, that nothing more now remained but that Christ should appear for the redemption of the world. John Calvin 1 John 2:18.

institutes

20) Once for all, therefore, he gave his body to be made bread when he yielded himself to be crucified for the redemption of the world; daily he gives it when by the word of the gospel he offers it for us to partake, inasmuch as it was crucified, when he seals such giving of himself by the sacred mystery of the Supper, and when he inwardly fulfills what he outwardly designates. John Calvin, Institutes 4.17.5.

tracts

21) Now it is certain that our Lord did not want to change anything about the government or the civil order, but without reviling it in any way, He made His office, for which he came into the world, that of forgiving sins. For he was not sent by God His Father in order to perform the office of an earthly judge, but to ransom the world by his death and to testify, by the preaching of the gospel, to the grace of this redemption and similarly to all the benefits which we receive through Him. John Calvin, Treatise Against the Anabaptists, p., 83.

22) Wherefore, if God were to approach his people, whether Jew or Gentile, a new covenant was needed: one which would be certain, sure, and inviolable. And to establish and confirm it, it was necessary to have a Mediator, who would intercede and come between the two parties, to make concord between them; for without this, man would have had always to live under the ire and indignation of God, and would have had no means of relief from the curse, misery, and confusion into which he was snared and had fallen. And it was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the true and only eternal Son of God, who had to be sent and given to mankind by the Father, to restore a world otherwise wasted, destroyed, and desolate…

But when the fullness of time had come and the period foreordained by God was ended, this great Messiah, so promised and so awaited, came; he was perfect, and accomplished all that was necessary to redeem us and save us. He was given not only to the Israelites, but to all men, of every people and every land, to the end that by him human nature might be reconciled to God. John Calvin, ‘Preface to Olivetan’s New Testament,” in John Calvin: Commentaries, trans., and ed., by Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), pp., 61 and 63.

Part III: Reconciliation of the World

 

[8] reconciliation as accomplished

sermons

1) And therefore Ministers thereof must have this consideration with them: Behold Again, forasmuch as the same deliverance was a figure of the deliverance that was to be hoped for by our Lord Jesus Christ: this feast of Passover extended yet further, that is to wit, that when the people ate the pascal lamb (as they called it) they should think thus with themselves: This is a shadow & figure of the Sacrifice which shall be once offered up, whereby the world shall be reconciled and set free. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 97, 16: 1-4, p., 597.

2) Yet we see who are our brethren, namely even our very enemies, such as persecute us, and such as could find in their eats to eat us up. And yet for all that, even with them must we maintain brotherhood…

And whereas in this text the word “brother,” indeed it had respect to the lineage of Abraham. But nowadays we all have one father, who is called upon in all languages and in all countries (1 Tim 2:4). He has not chosen the race of any one man, nor shut up his service within any one certain country. For he partition wall is broken down (Eph 2:16), so as there is not now any difference of Jews and Gentiles, according as is told us that we be all one body in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that seeing God is proclaimed by the Gospel to our Saviour and Father, we must maintain a brotherhood among us.

As touching the word “neighbour,” the law has used it of purpose to show men that they may well shrink away one from another, but yet they be all of one known kind, according to his saying of the prophet Isaiah say, Thou shalt not despise thine own flesh (Isa 58:7). if I can say, This man is of a far country, there was never any acquaintances betwixt us, one of us can not speak a word that the other can understand: what s all this to the purpose? Let me look upon him and behold him thoroughly, and I shall find the same nature in him that is in my self: I shall see that God has made him so like me, as if we were but one flesh. And all mankind is of such shape and fashion, that we have good cause to love one another, and to know that we ought to be all one. Although here be some differences as touching this present life: yet ought we to consider that we should tend all to one end, even unto God who is the father of us all. And therefore it is not without cause that instead of saying, thou shalt do so to all men, our Lord says thou shalt do so to thy neighbour.

…yet we cannot bring to pass that all men should not be our neighbours, because we are all one self same nature, whereby God has knit us and linked us all together. The thing then which we have to mark in this part of the text upon the word “Brother,” is that whereas God speaks after the manner to the Jews, because he had adopted the lineage of Abraham: it shows us nowadays that we must all be as brothers, for as much as our Lord Jesus Christ has proclaimed peace through the whole world, and God is at one again with all nations and all men. See it is so, it behooves us to maintain the brotherhood which was procured by Christ’s bloodshed, and whereunto God calls us. And although many spiteful persons go about to violate it by their unkindness in shrinking away from the Church, and become our enemies, by giving us occasion to do them harm: yet notwithstanding let us strive against their naughtiness, and labour to procure the salvation of their souls, and that welfare of their bodies so as far as we can. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 125, 22:1-4, p., 771 and 772.

3) There is, however, a second point which is not to be forgotten, which is, that although the Jews had obtained such grace, yet they lived in suspense until the coming of the Redeemer. And for that reason we shall see in another place that those who were near and those who were far off were reconciled by him. For we know that there is no atonement to be made with God without shedding of blood. [Lev. 17:11; Heb 9:22] Now the sacrifices of the law could not put away sin, nor pacify God’s wrath and curse. When men offered the blood of an ox, or of a calf, or of a lamb, it was not to make atonement with God. There is was no such power in brute beasts, for what is corruptible does not touch the soul. Therefore it is to be concluded that the Jews were God’s children by hope, and yet they were utterly separated, until the atonement made in the person of the Redeemer. And by that means God showed himself favourable towards them, as he did towards the rest of the world. And for that reason also, St. Paul adds that ‘God, being rich in mercy, has quickened them,’ as he did the Gentiles, ‘even according to his great love wherewith he loved us.’ John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermons 10, 2:3-6, p., 145.

4) But yet he says all this comes from God’s pure mercy and eternal election, which is remote and unknown to us, but we have knowledge of it by means of the gospel which is its means and its instrument. For what would the purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ offering himself to in sacrifice to reconcile the world to God his Father, unless we are made partakers of it by faith? John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 5, 1:13-14, p., 71.

commentaries

5) Speak unto Aaron, saying. Priests in whom there was any notable bodily defect are here forbidden from approaching the altar. I will not curiously inquire into the defects which Moses enumerates, since the same rule is here laid down, which is afterwards applied to the sacrifices, whereof none but perfect ones were to be offered. For God rejected whatever was defective or mutilated, in order that the Israelites might know that no victim would suffice for the expiation of sin, except such as possessed complete perfection; and this is justly required in a priest, who cannot be a mediator between God and men unless he is free from every spot. But the analogy must be kept in view between the external figures and the spiritual perfection which existed only in Christ. God could bear no defect in the priests; it follows, then, that a man of angelic purity was to be expected, who should reconcile God to the world. John Calvin Leviticus 21:17.

6) We have stated elsewhere why the priests were to be dressed in garments different from others, since he who is the mediator between God and men should be free from all impurity and stain; and since no mortal could truly supply this, a type was substituted in place of the reality, from whence believers might learn that another Mediator was to be expected; because the dignity of the sons of Aaron was only typical, and not true and substantial. For whenever the priest stripped himself of his own garments, and assumed those which were holy and separated from common use, it was equivalent to declaring openly that he represented another person. But if this symbol were not sufficient, the ablution again taught that none of the sons of Aaron was the genuine propitiator; for how could he purify others, who himself required purification, and made open confession of his uncleanness? A third symbol also was added; for he who by a sacrifice of his own atoned for himself and his house, how was he capable of meriting God’s favor for others? Thus then the holy fathers were reminded, that under the image of a mortal man, another Mediator was promised, who, for the reconciliation of the human race, should present Himself before God with perfect and more than angelical purity. John Calvin, Leviticus 16:3

7) The same apostle calls it, in another passage, an Embassy by which the reconciliation of the world to God, once accomplished by the death of Christ, is daily offered to men, (2 Corinthians 5:20.) Secondly, Paul means not only that Christ is the pledge of all the blessings that God has ever promised, but that we have in him a full and complete exhibition of them; as he elsewhere declares that all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, (2 Corinthians 1:20.) And, indeed, the freely bestowed adoption, by which we are made sons of God, as it proceeds from the good pleasure which the Father had from eternity, has been revealed to us in this respect, that Christ (who alone is the Son of God by nature) has clothed himself with our flesh, and made us his brethren. That satisfaction by which sins are blotted out, so that we are no longer under the curse and the sentence of, death, is to be found nowhere else than in the sacrifice of his death. Righteousness, and salvation, and perfect happiness, are founded on his resurrection. The Gospel, therefore, is a public exhibition of the Son of God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16,) to deliver a ruined world, and to restore men from death to life. It is justly called a good and joyful message, for it contains perfect happiness. Its object is to commence the reign of God, and by means of our deliverance from the corruption of the flesh, and of our renewal by the Spirit, to conduct us to the heavenly glory. For this reason it is often called the kingdom of heaven, and the restoration to a blessed life, which is brought to us by Christ, is sometimes called the kingdom of God: as when Mark says that Joseph waited for the kingdom of God, (Mark 15:43,) he undoubtedly refers to the coming of the Messiah… The power and results of his coming are still more fully expressed in other books of the New Testament. And even in this respect John differs widely from the other three Evangelists: for he is almost wholly occupied in explaining the power of Christ, and the advantages which we derive from him; while they insist more fully on one point, that our Christ is that Son of God who had been promised to be the Redeemer of the world… John Calvin, Harmony of the Gospels, The Argument.

8) The Father calls him my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, and thus declares him to be the Mediator, by whom he reconciles the world to himself. John Calvin, Matt 17:5.

9) Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled [Lat. propitious] to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life. John Calvin, John 3:16.

10) For though Christ reconciled the world to his Father, yet they [the Jews] were former in order, who were already near unto God, and of his family. Therefore, that was the most lawful order, that the apostles should gather the Church first of the Jews, afterward of the Gentiles, as we saw in the first chapter. John Calvin, Acts 13:46.

11) “Who was delivered for our offences, etc.” He expands and illustrates more at large the doctrine to which I have just referred. It indeed greatly concerns us, not only to have our minds directed to Christ, but also to have it distinctly made known how he attained salvation for us. And though Scripture, when it treats of our salvation, dwells especially on the death of Christ, yet the Apostle now proceeds farther: for as his purpose was more explicitly to set forth the cause of our salvation, he mentions its two parts; and says, first, that our sins were expiated by the death of Christ,–and secondly, that by his resurrection was obtained our righteousness. But the meaning is, that when we possess the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection, there is nothing wanting to the completion of perfect righteousness. By separating his death from his resurrection, he no doubt accommodates what he says to our ignorance; for it is also true that righteousness has been obtained for us by that obedience of Christ, which he exhibited in his death, as the Apostle himself teaches us in the following chapter. But as Christ, by rising from the dead, made known how much he had effected by his death, this distinction is calculated to teach us that our salvation was begun by the sacrifice, by which our sins were expiated, and was at length completed by his resurrection: for the beginning of righteousness is to be reconciled to God, and its completion is to attain life by having death abolished. Paul then means, that satisfaction for our sins was given on the cross: for it was necessary, in order that Christ might restore us to the Father’s favor, that our sins should be abolished by him; which could not have been done had he not on their account suffered the punishment, which we were not equal to endure. Hence Isaiah says, that the chastisement of our peace was upon him. (Isaiah 53:5.) But he says that he was delivered, and not, that he died; for expiation depended on the eternal goodwill of God, who purposed to be in this way pacified. John Calvin, Romans 4:25.

12) “For Christ, etc.” I ventured not in my version to allow myself so much liberty as to give this rendering, “In the time in which we were weak;” and yet I prefer this sense. An argument begins here, which is from the greater to the less, and which he afterwards pursues more at large: and though he has not woven the thread of his discourse so very distinctly, yet its irregular structure does not disturb the meaning. “If Christ,” he says, “had mercy on the ungodly, if he reconciled enemies to his Father, if he has done this by the virtue of his death, much more easily will he save them when justified, and keep those restored to favor in the possession of it, especially when the influence of his life is added to the virtue of his death.” The time of weakness some consider to be that, when Christ first began to be manifested to the world, and they think that those are called weak, who were like children under the tuition of the law. I apply the expression to every one of us, and I regard that time to be meant, which precedes the reconciliation of each one with God. For as we are all born the children of wrath, so we are kept under that curse until we become partakers of Christ. And he calls those weak, who have nothing in themselves but what is sinful; for he calls the same immediately afterwards ungodly. And it is nothing new, that weakness should be taken in this sense. He calls, in (1 Corinthians 12:22), the covered parts of the body weak; and, in (2 Corinthians 10:10), he designates his own bodily presence weak, because it had no dignity. And this meaning will soon again occur. When, therefore, we were weak, that is, when we were in no way worthy or fit that God should look on us, at this very time Christ died for the ungodly: for the beginning of religion is faith, from which they were all alienated, for whom Christ died. And this also is true as to the ancient fathers, who obtained righteousness before he died; for they derived this benefit from his future death. John Calvin, Romans 5:6.

13) This is an explanation of the former verse, amplified by introducing a comparison between life and death. We were enemies, he says, when Christ interposed for the purpose of propitiating the Father: through this reconciliation we are now friends; since this was effected by his death; much more influential and efficacious will be his life. We hence have ample proofs to strengthen our hearts with confidence respecting our salvation. By saying that we were reconciled to God by the death of Christ, he means, that it was the sacrifice of expiation, by which God was pacified15 towards the world, as I have showed in the fourth chapter. But the Apostle seems here to be inconsistent with himself; for if the death of Christ was a pledge of the divine love towards us, it follows that we were already acceptable to him; but he says now, that we were enemies. To this answer, that as God hates sin, we are also hated by him his far as we are sinners; but as in his secret counsel he chooses us into the body of Christ, he ceases to hate us: but restoration to favor is unknown to us, until we attain it by faith. Hence with regard to us, we are always enemies, until the death of Christ interposes in order to propitiate God. And this twofold aspect of things ought to be noticed; for we do not know the gratuitous mercy of God otherwise than as it appears from this–that he spared not his only-begotten Son; for he loved us at a time when there was discord between him and us: nor can we sufficiently understand the benefit brought to us by the death of Christ, except this be the beginning of our reconciliation with God, that we are persuaded that it is by the expiation that has been made, that he, who was before justly angry with us, is now propitious to us. Since then our reception into favor is ascribed to the death of Christ, the meaning is, that guilt is thereby taken away, to which we should be otherwise exposed. John Calvin, Romans, 5:10.

14) Thus the goodness of God is said to have appeared, when he exhibited a pledge of it, and gave actual demonstration, that not in vain did he so often promise salvation to men. “God so loved the world”, says John, “that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16.) Paul also says in another passage, “Hereby God confirms his love towards us, that, while we were enemies, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8.) It is a customary way of speaking in Scripture, that the world was reconciled to God through the death of Christ, although we know that he was a kind Father in all ages. But because we find no cause of the love of God toward us, and no ground of our salvation, but in Christ, not without good reason is God the Father said to have strewn his goodness to us in him. Yet there is a different reason for it in this passage, in which Paul speaks, not of that ordinary manifestation of Christ which took place when he came as a man into the world, but of the manifestation which is made by the gospel, when he exhibits and reveals himself, in a peculiar manner, to the elect. At the first coming of Christ, Paul was not renewed; but, on the contrary, Christ was raised in glory, and salvation through his name shone upon many, not only in Judea, but throughout the neighboring countries, while Paul, blinded by unbelief, labored to extinguish this grace by every means in his power. He therefore means that the grace of God “appeared” both to himself and to others, when they were enlightened in the knowledge of the gospel. John Calvin, Titus, 3:4.

tracts

15) IV. We must therefore regard Christ in His flesh as a Priest, who has expiated our sins by His death, the only Sacrifice, blotted out all our iniquities by His obedience, procured for us a perfect righteousness, and now intercedes for us that we may have access to God; as an expiatory Sacrifice whereby God was reconciled to the world; as a Brother, who from wretched sons of Adam has made us blessed sons of God; as a Restorer (Reparator), who by the power of His Spirit transforms all that is corrupt (vitiosum) in us, that we may no longer live unto the world and the flesh, and God himself may lire in us; as a King, who enriches us with every kind of good, governs and preserves us by His power establishes us with spiritual arms, delivers us from every evil, and restrains and directs us by the sceptre of His mouth; and He is to be so regarded, that He may lift us up to Himself, very God, and to the Father, until that shall be fulfilled which is to be at last, that God be all in all. John Calvin, The Consensus Tigurinus: The Formula Consensus Helvetica, in AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology, 652.


[9] reconciliation as process
16

sermons

1) Now the text says that God ‘smelled a sweet savor of rest’. Moses understands by Noah’s sacrifice that God was appeased and that the reconciliation was mutual. But he uses the simile of God’s smelling, as we often see God representing himself in proportion to our understanding, for we cannot reach his exalted majesty. So he must come down to our level, which he does when he conforms himself to our senses. In summary, Moses signifies that God accepted Noah’s sacrifice and uses the word ‘rest’ because there was previously open warfare. We know how God displayed his wrath against the entire human race when the earth was overwhelmed by the Flood and so many men and animals perished. Now he says there was rest, that is, God so completely pardoned Noah’s sins that he was received in grace. Here we have to note again that God did not look at what men were presenting to him, for Noah  butchered so many different kinds of animals, except those which were unclean, that it is certain God did not take pleasure in that, but he looked upon the affection of Noah, who declared in this way that the life of the animals was a singular benefit from God, who had preserved all the species of the animals that we saw in the ark. And that is why Noah chose from each species to offer in sacrifice. Moreover, Noah knew that he was not worthy of making any kind of offering and that the sacrifice was consecrated by the shedding of blood to be the figure of the unique sacrifice by which the world was to be reconciled to God and restored to the state of grace. Thereupon, Noah embraced the promise given him concerning the Redeemer and relied on it. ‘That, I say, is how God smelled the sweet savor of Noah’s sacrifice. John Calvin, Sermons on Genesis: Chapters 1:1-11:4 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2009), 700-701. [Underlining mine; footnote from translator not included.]

 

2) But now let us come to declare how God’s word tends unto life, and how it has that property: notwithstanding tat men through their own wickedness, do turn it to their deadly condemnation. This is sufficiently expressed in that it is said, “That Moses sent a message of peace to Sehon King of the Amorites.” His desire then is to abstain from all annoyance, if Sehon could abide it. Now let us see to what end the Gospel is preached, and after what manner. What else is contained in it, but that God intended to be reconciled to the world, as says Saint Paul in his fifth of the second to the Corinthians? In as much then as God sends us tidings of peace, so as his desire is to show himself a Father to all such as yield themselves teachable unto him, and our Lord Jesus Christ is offered us as the means to bring us again into the love and favour of our God: it is surely a message of peace. And indeed the Gospel is so instituted, and not without cause. True it is that the law also was a message of peace, as in respect of the promises: if we look upon the law strictly, as Saint Paul speaks divers times of it: it will be a very message of wrath. But if we look upon the promises that were made to the fathers of old time: [we shall find that] even from the beginning of the world, God’s will was that sinners should know his mercy, and come unto him. And for that cause is it said that Jesus Christ brings peace, both to them that are a far off, and to them that are near hand, as says Saint Paul to the Ephesians: and he will have it be preached through the whole world that God’s only desire is to hold us in his love. Thus you see how we may find salvation in the Gospel. Now then we see, that God’s word considered in itself , is a commission of peace, furthering us to be enjoined and made one with him, so as we may call upon him ad rest in his goodness. And the means to have this word to redound to our salvation, is this, if we can receive it as we ought to do, according as Saint Paul treats thereof in the first to the Romans. And therefore the Ministers thereof must have this consideration with them: Behold, God seeks them.” John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 13, 2:24-29, pp., 77-8.

3) That was part of the charge of the Levites. Also they were to teach the meaning of the Ceremonies, as namely that the sacrifices served to show even to eyesight, that all men are accursed, and condemned to death, and that they ought not in any wise to come in God’s presence without sacrifice. And there was not any sacrifice sufficient to make atonement17 between God and the world, but only our Lord Jesus Christ’s offering up of himself. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon, 107, 18:1-8, p., 660.

commentaries

4) At the present day, this distinction, I admit, has been abolished, and the message of the gospel, by which God reconciles the world to himself, is common to all men. John Calvin, Ps 81:11.

5) Christ having come, in order to reconcile the world to God by the removal of the curse, it is not without reason that the restoration of a perfect state is ascribed to him; as if the Prophets had said that that golden age will return in which perfect happiness existed, before the fall of man and the shock and ruin of the world which followed it… As if he had said, “When God shall have been reconciled to the world in Christ, he will also give tokens of fatherly kindness, so that all the corruptions which have arisen from the sinfulness of man will cease.” John Calvin, Isaiah 11:6.

6) The draught appointed for Christ was, to suffer the death of the cross for the reconciliation of the world. He says, therefore, that he must drink the cup which his Father measured out and delivered to him. John Calvin, John 18:11.

7) Yet the wickedness and insolence of the soldiers is indulged more freely than had been ordered by the judge; as ungodly men eagerly seize on the opportunity of doing evil whenever it is offered to them. But we see here the amazing cruelty of the Jewish nation, whose minds are not moved to compassion by so piteous a spectacle; but all this is directed by God, in order to reconcile the world to himself by the death of his Son. John Calvin, John 19:2.

8) The honor of reconciling the Father to the whole world must be given to Christ. From the effects of this grace its excellence is demonstrated; for faith, which is possessed by Gentiles in common with Jews, admits them into the presence of God. When the words, through Christ and by the faith of him, are used by Paul, in connection with the name of God, there is always an implied contrast, which shuts up every other approach, which excludes every other method of obtaining Divine fellowship. John Calvin, Ephesians 3:12.

 

Part IV: the Salvation of the World

 

[10] saviour of the world

sermons

1) In addition, we must realize that just as the gospel cannot be preached except by the grace of the Holy Spirit, those who receive it must likewise be enlightened by the same grace. For example, I am obligated to be here to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, that by him alone w have access to the Father because of the forgiveness of sins which he has acquired for us. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 20, Acts 5:30-32, p., 273.

2) We come now to our situation, for we have a better vantage point on the spiritual life than Abraham had. True, God worked harder in him than he ordinarily does in men. But if we consider the promises of the gospel, it is certain we have to have a much greater teaching and a more excellent witness concerning this eternal salvation than Abraham could have had. These were much more obscured then. Jesus Christ had not yet been revealed. Abraham desired to see the Saviour of the world, but he did not see him (cf. Heb. 11:13). But he has been made manifest. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 28, Acts 7:4-6, p., 384,

3) There is one only God, and one Mediator, who is [a] man. Why should he bring us to the consideration of that, but only that we may in his name, and by his means come familiarly to God, knowing that we are Jesus Christ’s brethren, who is His only Son? Moreover if we should seek our salvation without our nature, in what case were we? Should we not rather have our eyes dazzled, and become blind? Therefore seeing but sin in all mankind, we must also find righteousness in us as well, and life in our flesh. And therefore if Christ were not indeed truly become our brother to be [a] man like unto us, in what case were we? Let us leave all the rest and take only his life and passion. Behold the death of Jesus Christ is called an only and everlasting sacrifice, whereby we are set at one with God. And why so? Saint Paul shows us the reason in the fifth to the Romans when he says, As by one man’s presumption, so by one man’s obedience, we have all recovered salvation. John Calvin, Sermons on 1 Timothy, Sermon 27, 3:16, p., 327.

4) Lo here a handful of people whom God keeps even after an incomprehensible manner. Anon after, out of this, he raised a great multitude of people until that Jesus Christ himself was come. Be the wicked and the contemners of God and his law escape thereby? No, God has punished them. But now we must benefit ourselves by this doctrine. For albeit that our Lord Jesus Christ has appeared for the salvation of the world: yet must the church remain until the end: we have the promise that cannot fail. But in the meanwhile we see that the thanklessness which is too common in the world, yea and it is so overflows the world, that God must needs withdraw his goodness, and exclude us from being partakers thereof, because we have thrust him far from us. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 29, 30:1-5, p., 1047-8.

commentaries

5) What was the office of Christ is well known. It was to advance the kingdom of God, to restore to life lost souls, to spread the light of the Gospel, and, in short, to bring salvation to the world. The excellence of these things caused him, when fatigued and hungry, to forget meat and drink. Yet we derive from this no ordinary consolation, when we learn that Christ was so anxious about the salvation of men, that it gave him the highest delight to procure it; for we cannot doubt that he is now actuated by similar feelings towards us. John Calvin, John 4:34.

6) We know how furious were the efforts of adversaries to extinguish the glory of Christ. That violence, indeed, reached its extreme point when he was crucified. But by means of his crucifixion salvation was obtained for the world. John Calvin, John 6:14.

7) “And God.” Hereby it appeareth more plainly to what end he made mention of ignorance; for when he telleth them that God hath accomplished those things which he had foretold, he doth so touch their offense in the death of Christ, that it turneth to their salvation. Ignorance, saith he, hath made you guilty, yet God hath brought that to pass which he had determined, that Christ should redeem you by his death. This is a most notable consideration, when as we ponder and consider with ourselves, that through the wonderful counsel of God our evils are turned to another end to us, yet this doth no whir excuse us, for so much as in us lieth we cast away ourselves by sinning; but that conversion whereof I have spoken is a notable work of God?s mercy, whereof we must speak, and which we must extol with humility. The Jews did what they could to extinguish all hope of life in the person of Christ; and yet, nevertheless, that death gave life as well to them as to the whole world. We must also remember that which we saw elsewhere, lest there should any false and absurd opinion creep in, that Christ was laid open to the lust of the wicked, that God is made the chief author by whose will his only Son did suffer. Calvin, Acts 3:18.

8) He saith that Jesus was raised up to Israel; because, though salvation belong to the whole world, yet was he first a minister of circumcision to fulfill the promises made to the fathers. John Calvin, Acts 13:23.

9) For this may be the sense, Forasmuch as you have deprived yourselves of eternal life, there is no cause why ye should think that the grace of God is profaned, if, leaving you, we take care and charge of the Gentiles; for the Messiah is not given to you alone, but he is appointed to be the Savior of the whole world. John Calvin Acts 13:47.

10) I expound it thus: when he had thoroughly taught the Jews concerning the office of the Redeemer, he declared by testimonies of Scripture that this is he which was to be hoped for, because all those things agree to him which the law and the prophets attribute to Christ. Therefore, he did not simply affirm, but using a solemn testification, he proved Jesus, the Son of Mary, to be that Christ who should be the Mediator between God and men, that he might restore the world from destruction to life. John Calvin, Acts 18:10.

11) He again by a comparison amplifies the grace of God, with which he had peculiarly favored the men of that age. For it was not a common or a small favor that God deferred the manifestation of Christ to that time, when yet he had ordained him in his eternal council for the salvation of the world. John Calvin, 1 Peter, 1:20.

12) When the Apostle says, We have, seen and do testify, he refers to himself and others. And by seeing, he does not mean any sort of seeing, but what belongs to faith by which they recognized the glory of God in Christ, according to what follows, that he was sent to be the Savior of the world; and this knowledge flows from the illumination of the Spirit. 1 John 4:14.

institutes

13) Now they sophistically disport themselves over Matthew’s version of the genealogy of Christ. Matthew does not list Mary’s ancestors, but Joseph’s [Matthew 1:16]. Still, because he is mentioning something well known at the time, he considers it sufficient to show that Joseph sprang from the seed of David, since it was clear enough that Mary came from the same family. Luke emphasizes this even more, teaching that the salvation provided by Christ is common to all mankind. For Christ, the Author of salvation, was begotten of Adam, the common father of us all [Luke 3:38]. John Calvin, Institutes, 2.13.3.

[11] Christ seeks the salvation of the world and reprobates

sermons

1) Here Peter makes special mention of the high priest. He mentions the entire priestly family; he mentions the elders of the people, the scribes and rulers, as if to say, ‘These are all those who have spiritual authority of the church, who are enemies and adversaries of God.’ It is true Peter does well to use these honourable titles at the outset of when he calls them ‘rulers of the people and elders of Israel’, but then he adds, ‘You are enemies of God, you who crucified the author of life, you who rejected the salvation of the world, you who did all you could to hinder the advancement of the kingdom of God.  John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 10, Acts 4:5-12, p., 132.

2) Luke also adds that they took counsel how they might kill the apostles. Such is the ingratitude unbelievers offer those who bring them the gospel. When God’s servants proclaim that God’s Son came into the world to bring all men salvation, men are so ungrateful that they gnash their teeth against the teaching and try to kill those who seek to help them in this way. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 21, Acts 5:33-35, 38-39, p., 277.

3) Thus then we do not only take hold of the goodness of God to make us merry, as touching the eternal life which is yet hidden from us, although we hope for it: but also as concerning all the benefits that we do receive daily of him. In this he shows that he will make us feel that he has not made us his children in vain. This then is the sum of that which we must bear in mind. Now it is said that “the hill of Sion is rejoicing of all the earth.” He confirms much better that we have already expounded: For without this word a man might have said that the prophet spake of one town only and that it concerned us nothing at all. But he says that it is the foyer[?] of all the world, because that the doctrine of salvation which God had set there as in charge unto them for a time should be preached and published throughout all the world. And, indeed, we have where at to rejoice plentifully seeing God has broken the wall which was the mean between the Jews and us which were heathen. For before that, we were excluded out of all the promises, but when Jesus Christ appeared, and said that he was not come only for the children that were descended of the line of Abraham, but for all people and nations, as it is said in the other Psalm, “God reigns that other countries far off rejoice at it.” Seeing then that this was done, instead that there was but one handful of people which worshiped God under the law and the prophets: we are partakers of that benefit, and of the same inestimable felicity, when it is said that the hill of Sion shall be the Joy of all the earth. And this is that which is also showed us by Isaiah the prophet, that the law should come from thence. And in the Psalm 110, that God has stretched out his scepter even unto the furthermost ends of the earth, and to the countries far off. To be short, God was called upon and known throughout all the world. But yet the root and beginning came from that temple, and the hope that we of our salvation.  John Calvin, Three Notable sermons made by the godly and famous Clerke Maister John Caluyn, on three seueral Sondayes in Maye, the year 1561 upon Psalm 46, (Printed at London by Rouland Hall, dwellinge in Gutter Lane, at the sygn of the halfe Egle and the Keye, 1562), 3rd sermon. [No pagination, page manually numbered from third sermon: 12-14.]

commentaries

3) It was not without astonishment that they heard, that those who were at that time strangers, would be citizens and heirs of the kingdom of God: and not only so, but that the covenant of salvation would be immediately proclaimed, that the whole world might be united in one body of the Church. John Calvin, Matthew 8:11.

4) But go rather to the lost sheep. The first rank, as we have said, is assigned to the Jews, because they were the firstborn; or rather, because at that time they alone were acknowledged by God to belong to his family, while others were excluded. He calls them lost sheep, partly that the apostles, moved by compassion, may more readily and with warmer affection run to their assistance, and partly to inform them that there is at present abundant occasion for their labors. At the same time, under the figure of this nation, Christ taught what is the condition of the whole human race. The Jews, who were near to God, and in covenant with him, and therefore were the lawful heirs of eternal life, are nevertheless pronounced to be lost, till they regain salvation through Christ. What then remains for us who are inferior to them in honor? Again, the word sheep is applied even to the reprobate, who, properly speaking, did not belong to the flock of God, because the adoption extended to the whole nation; as those who deserved to be rejected, on account of their treachery, are elsewhere called the children of the kingdom, Matthew 8:12.) In a word, by the term sheep, Christ recommends the Jews to the apostles, that they may dedicate their labors to them, because they could recognize as the flock of God none but those who had been gathered into the fold. John Calvin Matthew 10:6.

5) To the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He bestows the designation of sheep of the house of Israel not on the elect only, but on all who were descended from the holy fathers; for the Lord had included all in the covenant, and was promised indiscriminately to all as a Redeemer, as he also revealed and offered himself to all without exception. It is worthy of observation, that he declares himself to have been sent to LOST sheep, as he assures us in another passage that he came to save that which was lost, (Matthew 18:11.) Now as we enjoy this favor, at the present day, in common with the Jews, we learn what our condition is till he appear as our Savior. John Calvin Matthew 15:24.

6) Hence arises another proof, that Christ is God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16.) He discharged, indeed, the office of Mediator from the beginning of the world; but as this depended wholly on the latest revelation, he is justly called Immanuel at that time, when clothed, as it were, with a new character, he appears in public as a Priest, to atone for the sins of men by the sacrifice of his body, to reconcile them to the Father by the price of his blood, and, in a word, to fulfill every part of the salvation of men.

Translator’s comment:

“Somme, pour faire et accomplir toutes choses requises au salut du genre humain;”—”in a word, to do and accomplish all things requisite for the salvation of the human race.” John Calvin, Matthew 18:23

7) The bare mention of the burying ought to have softened a heart of iron; for it would have been easy to infer from it, that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of the human race. John Calvin, Matthew 26:14

8) Simon’s mistake lies only in this: Not considering that Christ came to save what was lost, he rashly concludes that Christ does not distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy. That we may not share in this dislike, let us learn, first, that Christ was given as a Deliverer to miserable and lost men, and to restore them from death to life.

Translator’s footnote:

“Que Christ a este donne pour liberateur au genre humain, miserable et perdu;”–that Christ was given as a deliverer to the human race, miserable and lost.” John Calvin, Luke 7:36.

9) “And wept over it.” As there was nothing which Christ more ardently desired than to execute the office which the Father had committed to him, and as he knew that the end of his calling was to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matthew 15:24,) he wished that his coming might bring salvation to all. This was the reason why he was moved with compassion, and wept over the approaching destruction of the city of Jerusalem. For while he reflected that this was the sacred abode which God had chosen, in which the covenant of eternal salvation should dwell–the sanctuary from which salvation would go forth to the whole world, it was impossible that he should not deeply deplore its ruin. And when he saw the people, who had been adopted to the hope of eternal life, perish miserably through their ingratitude and wickedness, we need not wonder if he could not refrain from tears. John Calvin, Luke 19:41.

10) Again, when they affirm that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world, they undoubtedly have learned this from hearing him. Hence we infer that, within two days, the sum of the Gospel was more plainly taught by Christ than he had hitherto taught it in Jerusalem. And Christ testified that the salvation, which he had brought, was common to the whole world, that they might understand more fully that it belonged to them also; for he did not call them on the ground of their being lawful heirs, as the Jews were, but taught that he had come to admit strangers into the family of God, and to bring peace to those who were far off, ( Ephesians 2:17.) John Calvin, John 4:43.

11) If any man hear my words. After having spoken concerning his grace, and exhorted his disciples to steady faith, he now begins to strike the rebellious, though even here he mitigates the severity due to the wickedness of those who deliberately–as it were–reject God; for he delays to pronounce judgment on them, because, on the contrary, he has come for the salvation of all. In the first place, we ought to understand that he does not speak here of all unbelievers without distinction, but of those who, knowingly and willingly, reject the doctrine of the Gospel which has been exhibited to them. Why then does Christ not choose to condemn them? It is because he lays aside for a time the office of a judge, and offers salvation to all without reserve, and stretches out his arms to embrace all, that all may be the more encouraged to repent. And yet there is a circumstance of no small moment, by which he points out the aggravation of the crime, if they reject an invitation so kind and gracious, for it is as if he had said, “Lo, I am here to invite all, and, forgetting the character of a judge, I have this as my single object, to persuade all, and to rescue from destruction those who are already twice ruined.” No man, therefore, is condemned on account of having despised the Gospel, except he who, disdaining the lovely message of salvation, has chosen of his own accord to draw down destruction on himself. The word judge, as is evident from the word save, which is contrasted with it, here signifies to condemn. Now this ought to be understood as referring to the office which properly and naturally belongs to Christ; for that unbelievers are not more severely condemned on account of the Gospel is accidental, and does not arise from its nature, as we have said on former occasions. John Calvin, John 12:47

12) He who rejecteth me. That wicked men may not flatter themselves as if their unbounded disobedience to Christ would pass unpunished, he, adds here a dreadful threatening, that though he were to do nothing in this matter, yet his doctrine alone would be sufficient to condemn them, as he says elsewhere, that there would be no need of any other judge than Moses, in whom they boasted, (John 5:45.) The meaning, therefore, is: “Burning with ardent desire to promote your salvation, I do indeed abstain from exercising my right to condemn you, and am entirely employed in saving what is lost; but do not think that you have escaped out of the hands of God; for though I should altogether hold my peace, the word alone, which you have despised, is sufficient to judge you. John Calvin, John 12:48.

13) Christ doth not only declare his power, but also his goodness; to the end he may allure men unto himself with the sweetness of his grace. For he came to save the world, and not to condemn it. John Calvin, Acts 5:12.

14) For it was not meet that the fearful power of God should be showed forth in him, but such as might allure the world with the sweet taste of goodness and grace to love him and to desire him. John Calvin, Acts 10:38.

15) And forasmuch (as the same Paul doth witness) that Christ was declared to be the Son of God in power when he rose from the dead, (Romans 1:4,) we gather that this was the principal token of celestial excellency, and that the Father did then bring him truly to light, that the world might know that he was begotten of him. John Calvin, Acts 13:33.

tracts

16) The bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. I wish they had been less accustomed to unbridled license in lacerating Scripture. I not only admit their postulate, that the bread is truly flesh, but I go farther, and add what they injuriously and shamefully omit, that this bread is given daily, as the flesh was offered once on the cross for the salvation of the world. Nor is the repetition of the expression, I will give, superfluous. The bread, therefore, is truly and properly the flesh of Christ, inasmuch as he is there speaking not of a corruptible or fading but of heavenly aliment. John Calvin, “Second Defence of the Pious and Orthodox Faith Concerning the Sacraments in Answer to the Calumnies of Joachim Westphal,” in Selected Works, vol, 2, p., 425.

 

Part V: OTHER HELPFUL CITATIONS


[12] John Calvin and the meaning of world

sermons

1) For under the word World, is comprehended all that belongs to man in his own nature. The world of itself hath in it neither vice nor corruption: but all the evilness of it cometh of the sin that dwells in us. So then, whereas it is said that the world is wicked, according also as Saint John in his canonical Epistle (1 John 5:19) saith that all the world is saped [steeped] and plunged in naughtiness: that wickedness is neither in the Sun, nor in the Moon, nor in the earth, nor in the water, nor in any of all the things that are contained in them: but in that we be so perverted, that we have infected all things here below with our uncleanness: and that as long as men continue in themselves and in their own nature, they be but filthiness, so as they must of necessity displease God. For surely there can be none agreement between righteousness and unrighteousness. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon, 2, 1:3-5, p., 41/28.

commentaries

2) 1. …for under the term world is here included the whole human race. John Calvin, John 14:30.

3) Under the term world are, I think, included not only those who would be truly converted to Christ, but hypocrites and reprobates. For there are two ways in which the Spirit convinces men by the preaching of the Gospel. John Calvin John 16:8.

4) Under the term World, Christ here includes all that is opposed to the salvation of believers, and especially all the corruptions which Satan abuses for the purpose of laying snares for us. John Calvin, John 16:33.

5) “That the world may believe.” Some explain the word world to mean the elect, who, at that time, were still dispersed; but since the word “world“, throughout the whole of this chapter, denotes the reprobate, I am more inclined to adopt a different opinion. It happens that, immediately afterwards, he draws a distinction between all his people and the same world which he now mentions. John Calvin John 17:21.

6) What then is meant by the word “World” in this passage? Men separated from the kingdom of God and the grace of Christ. So long as a man lives to himself, he is altogether condemned. The World is, therefore, contrasted with regeneration, as nature with grace, or the flesh with the spirit. Those who are born of the world have nothing but sin and wickedness, not by creation, but by corruption. Christ, therefore, died for our sins, in order to redeem or separate us from the world… We are of the world; and, till Christ take us out of it, the world reigns in us, and we live to the world. John Calvin, Galatians 1:4

 

[13] ‘sins of the world’ used in non-controversial contexts

commentaries

1) God in the first place accused their fathers, not that punishment ought to have fallen on their children, except they followed the wickedness of their fathers, but the men of that age fully deserved to be visited with the judgment their fathers merited. Besides well known is that declaration, that God reckons the iniquities of the fathers to their children; (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9) and he acts thus justly, for he might justly execute vengeance for sins on the whole human race, according to what Christ says, “On you shall come the blood of all the godly, from righteous Abel to Zachariah the son of Barachiah.” (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51). John Calvin, Jeremiah 16:10-13.

2) We have to consider the last words of the ninth verse, in which God promises to remove the iniquity of the land in one day. Some refinedly take the one day for the one sacrifice, by which Christ once for all expiated for ever for the sins of the world; but the Prophet in my view speaks in a simpler manner; for he mentions one day for suddenly or quickly. I indeed allow that expiation was to be sought through the one sacrifice of Christ; but the Prophet intimates, that God would be so propitious to the Jews, as to deliver them from all the wrongs and molestations of their enemies. He then assigns a reason why he purposed to deal so bountifully with his people, even because he would not impute their sins. And we know this to be the fountain of all the blessings which flow from God to us, that is, when he forgives us and blots out our sins. We now then apprehend the Prophet’s meaning: I will take away the iniquity of the land in one day, that is, “Though hitherto I have in various ways punished this people, I shall of a sudden be pacified towards them, so that no iniquity shall come to an account before me, or prevent me from favoring this people.” John Calvin, Zechariah, lecture 141, Introductory Comments.

3) But that the election of God is not to be separated from the outward call, I allow; and yet this order ought to be maintained, that God, before he testifies his election to men, adopts them first to himself in his own secret counsel. The meaning is, that calling is here opposed to all human merits, and also to virtue and human efforts; as though he said, “Men attain not this for themselves, that they continue a remnant and are safe, when God visits the sins of the world. John Calvin Joel 3:32

4) I answer, that there be many causes for which it is expedient that men should be warned before in time when the judgments of God hang over their heads, and punishments [are] due to their sins. I omit others which are usual in the prophets, because [viz. that] they have a space granted wherein to repent, that they may prevent God’s judgment, who have provoked his wrath against themselves; because [that] the faithful are instructed in time to arm themselves with patience; because [that] the obstinate wickedness of wicked men is convict; because [that] both good and evil learn that miseries do not come by chance, but that they are punishments wherewith God does punish the sins of the world; because [that] those are awakened out of their sleep and sluggishness by this means, who took great delight in their vices. The profit of this present prophecy appears by the text, because the men of Antioch were thereby pricked forward to relieve their brethren which were in misery. John Calvin, Acts 11:28.

tracts

5) What resemblance is there between the observance which corresponds to our Lord’s command and the Papal Mass, in which they pretend that Christ offers himself to the Father to expiate the sins of the world by the sacrifice of himself, and not only so, but also to obtain redemption for the dead–in which no invitation is given to partake, but one individual sets himself apart from the whole flock–and where, if any one comes forward to partake, the half is withheld from him? John Calvin, “Acts of the Council of Trent: With the Antidote,” in Selected Works, vol. 3, p., 59.

[14] John Calvin’s association of john 3:16 with romans 8:32

1) So likewise, when it is said in the holy scripture, (1 Timothy 1:15) that this is a true and undoubted saying, that God hath sent his only begotten son, to save all miserable sinners: we must include it within this same rank I say, that every of us apply the same particularly to himself: when as we hear this general sentence, that God is merciful. Have we heard this? Then may we boldly call upon him, and even say, although I am a miserable and forlorn creature, since it is said that God is merciful to those which have offended him: I will run unto him and to his mercy, beseeching him that he will make me to feel it. And since it is said. That God so loved the world, that he spared not his only begotten son: but delivered him to death for us. (John 3:16; Romans 8:32)

It is meet I look to that. For it is very needful, that Jesus Christ should pluck me out from that condemnation, wherein I am. Since it is so, that the love and goodness of God is declared unto the world, in that that his son Christ Jesus hath suffered death, I must appropriate the same to myself, that I may know that it is to me, that God hath spoken, that he would I should take the possession of such a grace, and therein to rejoice me. We see now, how we must practice this sentence, that we may say unto God, Think upon thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word. If any man will reply, that it cannot be said, that God hath spoken to him, when as he speaketh to all in general: let us consider, that God offereth his grace to men in common, to the end that every man might afterward enter into himself, and not to doubt being a member of the church, but that he hath a part and portion of that, which is common to all the faithful. John Calvin, Sermons on Psalms 119, Sermon 7, 119:49-55.

2) But this must conduct us to God a great deal higher: that is, unto the inestimable love of God the Father, who spared not his only son, but delivered him to death for us [Romans. 8:32]. When the principal cause of our salvation is showed unto us, the scripture [John 3:16] sets before us the love of God: God then so loved the World, as that he spared not his only son. Thus we see how we are blessed by the priestly power of this Son of GOD. Howbeit, the Father notwithstanding calls us unto him, that we might honor him, and acknowledge so great a benefit that it hath pleased him to bestow upon us, even through that springhead. John Calvin, Sermons on Melchizidek & Abraham, (Willow Street, PA: Old Paths, 2000), Sermon 2, Gen 14:18-20, 50-51.

 

[15] of general interest

sermons

1) Now let us kneel down in the presence of our good God with acknowledgment of our faults, praying him to make us feel them better than we have done, so as we may repent us rightly of them, and being ashamed in our selves resort unto him, assuring ourselves that (as he has promised to receive all wretched sinners that come unto him upon trust of his grace by the means of his death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ) we shall be accepted of him and his wrath pacified towards us, though we be have provoked him never so much. And let us pray him, not only that he may obtain forgiveness of our sins past: but also to guide us from all the vanities of the world, so as he fashion us according to his own righteousness, and make us feel the fruit of the victory and the triumph that he prepared for us in heaven. That it may please him to grant this grace, not only to us but also to peoples and nations. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, 1:22-28.

2) And for thereof, let us think upon the outcry whereof the Apostle speaks in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 12:25), saying that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cries much better than did the blood of Abel. Not to ask vengeance of God against us, so we receive him in such wise as our sins be washed and cleansed away. For to that purpose was that holy blood of his shed. True it is that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ shall cry out for vengeance against all the faithless and froward sort, and against such as have refused the doctrine of the Gospel, and trodden it under foot, and made a scorn of it, and all the profane folk; for all such shall be guilty of the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus Christ. But when we receive his blood by faith, and know that it ought to serve us as a purgation to make us righteous and innocent before God: let us assure ourselves that the same blood has his cry. And indeed we see how the Gospel sounds and rings in our ears to that intent we should know that the virtue of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 21, 20:1-9, p., 742.

3) Now here upon we have to consider the remedy which God has left: which is that yet nevertheless we be righteous by means of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he has delivered us from the curse which was due to unto us: and for that cause was he hanged on [a] tree says Saint Paul (Gal 3:13)… But here withall, we must also embrace our Lord Jesus Christ, who was cursed for our sakes. And if that this Curse be not in vain, then must we now be needs set free. What thing were it, that the Son of God should be cursed; and yet no fruit redound thereof to us? That he which is the fountain of all blessedness, should be accursed; and yet we not know wherefore, but that it should be unprofitable? Now then seeing that the curse which Jesus Christ suffered in his own person, is not vain and to no purpose: let us know that by the same mean we be delivered before God

True it is that in very rigor, this saying (Cursed shall he be which performs not all these words,) will stand in force: but behold, Jesus Christ is our borow, and pays for us out of hand, delivering us from our cursedness, and making satisfaction to God his Father. For we know that his death and passion are accepted for the price and ransom of our salvation, that by that means we should be reconciled unto God. You see then how that on the one side it behooves us to feel our own cursedness, that we may be afraid of God’s judgement: and that on the other side we must take courage, not doubting but seeing that our Lord Jesus Christ answers for us, we shall be received for his sake, and that God will accept us together with our works, notwithstanding that they be not so exquisite as they should be, but have some blots and blemishes in them, so as they deserve to be condemned and utterly rejected. To be short, the faithful being justified by the grace of God, have therewithal this benefit and privilege, that God accepts their works, and charges them not with his curse which they have deserved…

And this ought to make the faithful to rejoice, that although they perceive their own imperfections, yet must the not therefore cease to embrace God’s promises with gladness, assuring themselves that they shall not be disappointed of them. And why? Because they have the enjoying of all good things in our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and by whose means the curse that was due to them is done away. Te see then how that on the one side it behooves the faithful to be utterly cast down: and against that on the other side to be lifted up again in our Lord Jesus Christ, forasmuch as they know that look what they have not in themselves, they shall find it, if they see it there, whither God sends them.

And therefore let us not beguile ourselves any more with the fancies of Satan which reign in the Popedome, of being desirous to offer our own merits unto God, and to indent with him as though we had performed his law: assuring ourselves that on our part, all the covenants which are made in the law, are utterly vain; and that all the promises which import any condition of well doing, and of holy conversation, should be unavailable towards us, and never come to effect; unless we resort to the free promise, Whosoever believes that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and that God by his power has raised him again to make us righteous, believing the same in his heart and confessing it with his mouth; shall be saved.

And thereunto Saint Paul brings us back in the ten tenth chapter to the Romans (Rom 10:9), which is the very exposition that will give us the understanding of this place. The righteousness of the law shows us that we be all accursed, and that there is not any manner or way to save us, so long as we stay there. What are we to do then, that we may have access unto God? Let us with our hearts believe unto righteousness, and with our mouths confess unto salvation, that we put our trust in him which has acquitted us towards God his Father; and let us embrace the righteous obedience which he has yielded unto God, and likewise his sustaining of the curse which was due unto us, to the intent to set us free from it. John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 152, 20:24-26, pp., 940 and 941.

4) But yet notwithstanding, here withal Saint Paul brings us always back to the will of God, to show that when our Lord Jesus Christ did in that wise perform all that belonged to our salvation, it was no lett but that God in the meanwhile uttered his mercy in the same, according as it is said in another text, (John 3:16) that God so loved the world, that he spared not his only son, but delivered him to death for us. To the intent therefore that we should not think that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to pacify God his father, was after such a sort that he persuaded him to alter his purpose, (as men are inclined to such gross and earthly imaginations:) Saint Paul (to show us that God was not reconciled unto us after the manner of men) tells us expressly that the cause why Jesus Christ was delivered for our sins, was for that God had so ordained it. For if a man be angry with his child, some other man may step in, to appease his wrath, and such a one shall supply the room of a third party. But the case stood not so with our Lord Jesus Christ when he offered himself in Sacrifice to do away all our sins, and to make us way unto God from whom we were shut out before. He came not as one that stepped in of his own head, and as though God had not meddled with the matter. How then? God (as hath been touched not long since) did both hate us and love us before the reconciliation [was made.] And why loved he us? Because we be his creatures. And again, although he saw we were so wretched, and utterly forlorn and damned folk by reason of sin: yet notwithstanding he had pity upon us, and would not have mankind to perish utterly. Thus ye see how God loved us, notwithstanding that in the person of Adam we were fallen away from him and utterly corrupted. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 2, 1:1-5, p., 34/23 .

5) Then had faith his full strength at all times, and there was never any other means to set God and men at one: but yet was not the faith revealed in Abraham’s time, because our Lord Jesus Christ who is the very pledge and substance thereof, was not yet come into the world. Thus ye see how we be justified freely at this day, and without any desert of our own. And why is that? For he that believes that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and is risen again for our justification: has all the whole. And it is said in another place, (Romans 10:10) our believing in our heart makes us righteous, and our confessing with our mouth makes us safe. But now had Abraham had our Lord Jesus Christ discovered unto him as we have him at this day,(insomuch that he is as good as crucified among us as Saint Paul hath said heretofore:) his faith had been all one with ours. John Calvin, Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 22, 3:21-25, p., 469/333-4.

commentaries

6) “Every one hath turned to his own way.” By adding the term every one, he descends from a universal statement, in which he included all, to a special statement, that every individual may consider in his own mind if it be so; for a general statement produces less effect upon us than to know that it belongs to each of us in particular. Let every one, therefore, arouse his conscience, and present himself before the judgment-seat of God, that he may confess his wretchedness. Moreover, what is the nature of this going astray the Prophet states more plainly. It is, that every one hath followed the way which he had chosen for himself, that is, hath determined to live according to his own fancy; by which he means that there is only one way of living uprightly, and if any one turn aside from it, he can experience nothing but going astray. John Calvin, Isaiah 53:6.

7) For I take the word “many” here, rebim, comparatively, for the faithful Gentiles united with the Jews. It is very well known that God’s covenant was deposited by a kind of hereditary right with the Israelites until the same favor was extended to the Gentiles also. Therefore Christ is said not only to have renewed God’s covenant with a single nation, but generally with the world at large. I confess, indeed, the use of the word many for all, as in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in other places, (Romans 5:19,) but there seems to be a contrast between the ancient Church, included within very narrow boundaries, and the new Church, which is extended over the whole world. We know how many, formerly strangers, have been called from the distant regions of the earth by the gospel, and so joined in alliance to the Jews as to be all in the same communion and all reckoned equally sons of God. John Calvin, Daniel 9:27, Lecture 52.

8) The reason why the Lord, to whose government the whole world is subject, is here called the God of Israel, will more fully appear from what follows, that to the seed of Abraham, in a peculiar manner, the Redeemer had been promised… God looked upon (epeskepsato) his people, that he might redeem them. Now, as those whom God redeems must be prisoners, and as this redemption is spiritual in its nature, we conclude from this passage, that even the holy fathers were made free from the yoke of sin and the tyranny of death, only through the grace of Christ; for it is said that Christ was sent as a Redeemer to the holy and elect people of God. John Calvin, Luke 1:68.

9) It may be thought that the Evangelist reverses the natural order by making regeneration to precede faith, whereas, on the contrary, it is an effect of faith, and therefore ought to be placed later. I reply, that both statements perfectly agree; because by faith we receive the incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) by which we are born again to a new and divine life. And yet faith itself is a work of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in none but the children of God. So then, in various respects, faith is a part of our regeneration, and an entrance into the kingdom of God, that he may reckon us among his children. The illumination of our minds by the Holy Spirit belongs to our renewal, and thus faith flows from regeneration as from its source; but since it is by the same faith that we receive Christ, who sanctifies us by his Spirit, on that account it is said to be the beginning of our adoption. John Calvin, John 1:13.

10) But it may be asked, How were the Gentiles brought to be associated with the Jews? For the Jews were not under the necessity of rejecting the covenant which God made with their fathers, in order to become Christ’s disciples; and the Gentiles, on the other hand, were not under the necessity of submitting to the yoke of the Law, that, being ingrafted in Christ, they might be associated with the Jews. Here we must attend to the distinction between the substance of the covenant and the outward appendages. For the Gentiles could not assent to the faith of Christ in any other way than by embracing that everlasting covenant on which the salvation of the world was founded. John Calvin, John 10:16.

11) “To all whom thou hast given me.” Christ does not say that he has been made Governor over the whole world, in order to bestow life on all without any distinction; but he limits this grace to those who have been given to him. But how were they given to him? For the Father has subjected to him the reprobate. I reply, it is only the elect who belong to his peculiar flock, which he has undertaken to guard as a Shepherd. So then, the kingdom of Christ extends, no doubt, to all men; but it brings salvation to none but the elect, who with voluntary obedience follow the voice of the Shepherd; for the others are compelled by violence to obey him, till at length he utterly bruise them with his iron scepter. John Calvin, John 17:2.

12) The eunuch knew before that there was one God, who had made the covenant with Abraham, who gave the law by the hand of Moses, which separated one people from the other nations, who promised Christ, through whom he would be merciful to the world. Now he confesses that Jesus Christ is that Redeemer of the world, and the Son of God; under which title he comprehends briefly all those things which the Scripture attributes to Christ. John Calvin, Acts 8:37.

13) Also, when the prophets will declare the force hereof, they foretell everywhere that the inheritance of salvation shall be common to the Gentiles. And hereby it appeareth that the covenant of God, which was then proper to the Jews alone, is not only common to all men, but is made with us expressly; otherwise, we could not conceive that hope of salvation which is firm enough out of the gospel. Therefore, let us not suffer this promise to be wrung from us, which is, as it were, a solemn declaration, whereby the Lord maketh us his heirs together with the fathers. Whereunto Peter also had respect, when as he saith shortly after, that Christ was first sent unto the Jews; for he doth signify that the Gentiles also have their order, though it be secondary. John Calvin, Acts 3:26.

14) Therefore Peter durst never have opened the gate of heaven unto the Gentiles, unless God himself had made a plain way and entrance for all men, by taking away the wall of separation. I said even now that there was no time wherein it was not lawful to admit the Gentiles unto the worship of God, so they were circumcised; but so long as they continued in uncircumcision they were strangers with God. But now God made the covenant of life common to all the whole world, which he had shut up in one nation, as in a treasure. Whence we gather that this vision is not a little profitable for us; for, when as it teaches that the difference between Jews and Gentiles continued only for a season, it is as much as if God should pronounce from heaven that he receives all people of the world into favor, that he may be God over all. Finally, we have an evident proclamation from heaven, which putts us in hope of eternal life. John Calvin Acts 10:12.

15) And also in these words is given us to understand, that the Jews were not therefore the holy people of the Lord, because they excelled through their own worthiness, but only by reason of God’s adoption. Now, after that God had received the Gentiles into the society of the covenant, they have all equal right. John Calvin Acts 10:15.

16) Paul also saith that their children remain unclean until they be cleansed by faith. Finally, if faith alone do purge and purify the hearts of men, unbelief doth make the same profane. But Peter compareth the Jews and the Gentiles together in this place; and because the wall of separation was pulled down, and the covenant of life is now common to them both alike, he saith that those are not to be counted aliens who are made partakers of God’s adoption. John Calvin Acts 10:29.

17) Notwithstanding, the doubt is not as yet dissolved, because it cannot be denied but that circumcision did please God, so that he counted him one of his people who had that token of sanctification. But we may easily answer this also that circumcision followed after the grace of God, forasmuch as it was a seal thereof. Whereupon it follows that it was no cause thereof. Nevertheless, it was unto the Jews a pledge of free adoption; in such sort, that uncircumcision did not hinder God, but that he might admit what Gentiles he would unto the society of the same salvation. But the coming of Christ had this new and especial thing, that after that the wall of separation was pulled down, (Ephesians. 2:14,) God did embrace the whole world generally. And this do the words in every nation import. For so long as Abraham’s seed was the holy inheritance of God, the Gentiles might seem to be quite banished from his kingdom; but when Christ was given to be a light of the Gentiles, the covenant of eternal life began to be common to all alike. John Calvin, Acts 10:34.

18) As unreasonable as it would be for the branches to boast against the root, so unreasonable would it have been for the Gentiles to glory against the Jews, that is, with respect to the excellency of their race; for Paul would have them ever to consider whence was the origin of their salvation. And we know that after Christ by his coming has pulled down the partition-wall, the whole world partook of the favor which God had previously conferred on the chosen people. It hence follows, that the calling of the Gentiles was like an ingrafting, and that they did not otherwise grow up as God’s people than as they were grafted in the stock of Abraham. John Calvin, Romans 11:18.

19) As, however, while remaining in this world, we are nevertheless redeemed, and rescued, from the pollutions of the world, so we are not to quit life with the view of departing from all uncleanness, but must simply avoid all participation. The sum is this. “If with a true affection of the heart, we aim at the benefit of redemption, we must beware of defiling ourselves by any contamination from its pollutions.” John Calvin, 2 Corinthians 6:18.

20) “Unto obedience”. He adds two things to sanctification, and seems to understand newness of life by obedience, and by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ the remission of sins. But if these be parts or effects of sanctification, then sanctification is to be taken here somewhat different from what it means when used by Paul, that is, more generally. God then sanctifies us by an effectual calling; and this is done when we are renewed to an obedience to his righteousness, and when we are sprinkled by the blood of Christ, and thus are cleansed from our sins. And there seems to be an implied allusion to the ancient rite of sprinkling used under the law. For as it was not then sufficient for the victim to be slain and the blood to be poured out, except the people were sprinkled; so now the blood of Christ which has been shed will avail us nothing, except our consciences are by it cleansed. There is then to be understood here a contrast, that, as formerly under the law the sprinkling of blood was made by the hand of the priest; so now the Holy Spirit sprinkles our souls with the blood of Christ for the expiation of our sins. John Calvin, 1 Peter 1:1-2.

21) For ye were as sheep. This also has Peter borrowed from Isaiah, except that the Prophet makes it a universal statement, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6.) But on the word sheep there is no particular stress; he indeed compares us to sheep, but the emphasis is on what the Prophet adds, when he says that every one had turned to his own way. The meaning then is, that we are all going astray from the way of salvation, and proceeding in the way of ruin, until Christ brings us back from this wandering. John Calvin, 1 Peter 2:25.

Tracts

22) How then since the Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth, not to diminish the grace of God his Father, but to extend the covenant of salvation over all the world, instead of confining it as formerly to the .Jews, there is no doubt that our children are heirs of the life which he has promised to us. And hence St. Paul says, (2 Corinthians 7:14) that God sanctifies them from their mothers’ womb, to, distinguish them from the children of Pagans and unbelievers. For this reason our Lord Jesus Christ received the children that were brought to him, as is written in the nineteenth chapter of St. Matthew, “Then were brought unto him little children, that he might put. his hands on them, and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. And Jesus said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” John Calvin, “Form of Administering the Sacraments,” in Selected Works, 2:115.

To conclude

I farther testify and declare that, as a suppliant, I humbly implore of him to grant me to be so washed and purified by the blood of that sovereign Redeemer, shed for the sins of the human race, that I may be permitted to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself. I likewise declare, that according to the measure of grace and mercy which God has vouchsafed me, I have diligently made it my endeavor, both in my sermons, writings, and commentaries, purely and uncorruptly to preach his word, and faithfully to interpret his sacred Scriptures.

The Will of John Calvin

______________________

 

1Alan Clifford, Calvinus: Authentic Calvinism, A Clarification (Great Britain: Charenton Press, 1996); Jonathan Rainbow, The Will of God and the Cross (Pennsylvania: Pickwick, 1990); and Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill. Ph.D diss., University of Edinburgh, 1983.
2This should also be read in the connection with his other comments from Isaiah (below).
3A few lines prior to this he says that Christ represented all sinners (see below).
4Latin and French read: “expiation.”
5Emphasis, John Calvin’s.
6Interestingly, a little later John Calvin says that for John, world in chapter 17 denotes the world of the reprobates (see below John Calvin on 17:21 and on 16:8). And so it is against this backdrop, John Calvin makes this comment on verse 1.
7The reader should recall that John Calvin in his Commentaries and Sermons has defined the extent of these terms, and that nowhere in the context of these comments in the Institutes does he limit them to the elect or the church.
8See also the parallel statement to this from John Calvin to Wesphal (see below).
9Whenever John Calvin uses the phrase “all sinners” it is quite apparent he means all without exception: as in every other instance the phrase is used in this sermon. See also Nixon’s translation of this: “Jesus Christ was taken to represent all sinners without exception.”
10Once again, I have removed the later interpolated comments found in the English edition.
11Again, there is no evidence in the Institutes (or anywhere else) that for John Calvin, “all sinners” ever meant ‘all kinds of sinners,’ ‘some of all kinds of sinners,’ or ‘the elect’ or ‘the church’–see 2.2.27; 2.8.21; 3.11.2; and 3.24.16;
12Torrance edition.
13Childress: “each one of us.”
14John Calvin, to my knowledge, never uses the phrase “in general” to denote some of all kinds, or all kinds of elect.
15“Reconciled”; Torrance edition.
16Some of these citations are ambiguous, as it is not clear if John Calvin is speaking of reconciliation (pacification) accomplished, or reconciliation as ongoing process. I have sided with caution and listed any ambiguous reference in this section.
17I.e., reconciliation. In this century, the English ‘atonement’ denoted ‘reconciliation.’

 

 

key words Calvin limited atonement Calvin unlimited atonement

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 1st, 2008 at 5:05 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.

41 comments so far

Reid Ferguson
 1 

Flynn – On behalf of many many folks, and hopefully generations to come, thank you for your tireless efforts in this regard. We will all be better for it. I only wish I could contribute more myself. We simply must recover this for our age and those to follow. We are in your debt.

March 1st, 2008 at 9:03 pm
Martin Thorley
 2 

A great big “here, here” to what Reid said. He said it so much better than I could anyway. Thankyou David.
It seems to me that anyone who claims to have read all of this with an open mind and remains convinced that Calvin taught “limited atonement” is either unaware of how deceitful the heart is and thus that they are trusting in a ‘functional’ Lord (HT: Keller) that depends on keeping their beloved doctrines intact or else is a liar. I would say the same to anyone who tries to argue that this mass of statements doesn’t mean what it looks like when you read Calvin in context. That would be a bit like arguing that just because 999 peas in my bumber pea-pod are green doesn’t mean the 1000th one is.

March 2nd, 2008 at 1:22 pm
Martin Thorley
 3 

Ok, dreadful analogy, typed quickly. My point is that to respond that this mass of quotes proves nothing because “each statement must be read in context and it just doesn’t fit with what Calvin taught” is to be either blindly or willfully stubborn.

March 2nd, 2008 at 1:25 pm
 4 

I would sincerely hope that, before anyone is swayed one way or the other by this accumulation of quotations, consideration be given to Dr. Nicole’s article, “John Calvin’s View of the Extent of the Atonement”, Westminster Theological Journal (Fall, 1985) 47:2:197-225, and to that of William Cunningham, “Calvin and Beza”, British and Foreign Evangelical Review (July, 1861) 10:641-702, reprinted in The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation (Edinburgh: Clark, 1862; Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d., 1967 and 1979 printings), pp. 345-412.

At the end of the day the following statement by Calvin must be reckoned with from his tract “On Partaking of the Flesh and Blood”: “Scire velim quomodo Christi carnem edant impii pro quibus non est crucifixa, et quomodo sanguinem bibant qui expiandis eorum peccatis non est effusus.” (translated as “I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins.”).
[Note: the documentation of the extant sources for this tract may be found in Cunningham, The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, pg. 396, and in Nicole, op. cit., pg. 200, note 14.]

After everyone has finished painting Calvin into their corner on this issue, Sola Scriptura should call us back to what should be the first, and will be the final Word on the matter.

May I add that the comments of Mr. Thorley above would appear to cross the line Mr. Flynn drew concerning abusive and accusative content, and seem especially inappropriate and ungracious if leveled against authors of the caliber and stature of Cunningham and Nicole.

Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

March 2nd, 2008 at 10:37 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 5 

Hey John,

Some of us have already addressed that comment to Heshusius, here: John Calvin and Tileman Heshusius and here: Understanding Calvin’s argument against Heshusius

You are welcome to table any argument from Nicole you wish in which you think establishes Nicole’s argument.

Also, I am going to update my introductory comments to add a point to explain a critical line of argument adduced by Nicole et al.

Thanks for stopping by.
David

March 2nd, 2008 at 11:44 pm
Jerry M
 6 

Excellent stuff. Thanks for posting.

At the end of the day the strength of the unlimited position is that it is in fact what the Bible teaches.

March 3rd, 2008 at 9:24 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 7 

I want to try and deal with some of the objections I have seen here and in other places.

To the Heshusius comment, the best place to start is here:

3) “Wicked” doesn’t mean “non-elect”

Look at Calvin’s statement again. Does Calvin say that he would like to know how the non-elect (or the reprobate) eat the flesh of Christ offered in the Lord’s Supper?

No. He asks how the wicked eat the flesh of Christ. Calvin does not here distinguish between elect and reprobate, but between believers and unbelievers, between worthy and unworthy partakers. There is no hint of Calvin’s argument treating of the unworthiness of the non-elect. Rather Calvin argues of the unworthiness of unbelievers.

It will eventually be pointed out that the end of the same paragraph in which the famous quote is found contains a distinction between elect and reprobate:

When he afterwards says that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Saul, we must send him to his rudiments, that he may learn how to discriminate between the sanctification which is proper only to the elect and the children of God, and the general power which even the reprobate possess. These quibbles, therefore, do not in the slightest degree affect my axiom, that Christ, considered as the living bread and the victim immolated on the cross, cannot enter any human body which is devoid of his Spirit.

“Clearly,” the limited atonement advocate will say, “Calvin has the distinction between elect and reprobate in his mind.”

But this is a sloppy approach. Careless readers often will look simply for the proximity of words rather than a connection of meaning and argument. The words “elect” and “reprobate” appear on the same page, and all analysis is at an end. “Context,” they will cry. They eagerly stamp their presuppositions on any mention of right-sounding words regardless of grammar and reason.

But any sensible reader will see that in the sentence about Saul, Calvin speaks of the difference between elect and reprobate with respect to the presence of the Holy Spirit, not with respect to who is a worthy partaker and who not. That such is the case is conclusively proved by the last part of the concluding sentence: “Christ, considered as the living bread and the victim immolated on the cross, cannot enter any human body which is devoid of his Spirit.” The unbelieving (even if elect) have not Christ’s Spirit and therefore cannot participate in the spiritual benefits of the Lord’s Supper.

The Source is here: Understanding Calvin’s argument against Heshusius, and here: Calvin and Heshusius.

Many Calvin scholars just make the leap from wicked to reprobate without justification. We are asking for that justification to be established.

March 3rd, 2008 at 10:18 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 8 

Regarding Cunningham, this should be considered as well:

After stating that ‘This is a very explicit denial of the universality of the atonement,’ Cunningham adds ‘But it stands alone-so far as we know-in Calvin’s writings, and for this reason we do not found much upon it’ (Reformers, p. 396).

Cunningham goes on to try and ground his view on Calvin upon Calvin’s exegesis of 1 Tim 2:4 and 1 Jn 2:2. But these clearly do not work for him.

March 3rd, 2008 at 10:23 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 9 

Regarding 1 John 2:2, the simplest response is to point out that by “extend” both Calvin and his opponent mean “apply”. And it is clear that Calvin is reading the import of the verse as speaking to those to whom the propitiatio is finally applied: which for Calvin, is the Church, present and future. Here Calvin follows Augustine exactly.

So yes, as Reid says, the expiation is not extended (applied) to the reprobate, but nonetheless, for Calvin, the expiation pertains the sins of all men, reprobate included, as Christ also suffered for them as well. Scan the above file for where Calvin explicitly states in various ways that Christ suffered for all men.

And I can add, even in the very 1 John 2:2 comments, Calvin affirms an unlimited expiation and suffering for all men (see above).

March 3rd, 2008 at 10:29 am
 10 

It might also be noted that Calvin, in 1 John 2:2, affirms the Lombardian formula as true, and not in the modern sense of a bare sufficiency. He does not use it to make sense that particular text, but he does say it is theologically true in passing that Christ suffered sufficiently for all.

Also, kosmos, for Calvin, does not mean elect as such, but the believing elect scattered abroad, just as Augustine thought on 1 John 2:2.

March 3rd, 2008 at 3:46 pm
Cadis
 11 

I just wanted to say thankyou for your work , It is appreciated. I also liked Jerry M’s comment “At the end of the day the strength of the unlimited position is that it is in fact what the Bible teaches.”

March 3rd, 2008 at 6:41 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 12 

The following is a response to some comments found here: Calvin, Unlimited Expiation, and Stuff Calvinists Probably Don’t Believe.

I have posted this over there, but wanted to post it here too. Here I have deleted references to personal names.

Regarding cherry-picking.

I would like to know what does that mean exactly? Normally when I think of cherry-picking, I think of someone taking this cherry, but leaving that cherry. There is a process of selection involved.

So when I read the accusation one is cherry-picking Calvin, I get the impression one is being accused of selectively quoting Calvin. Now, if I am wrong as to the intent, please do correct me.

Let me assume I have understood the cherry-picking accusation correctly for now.

How would you prove it? What cherries would you pick? If you point to the Heshusius comment, it has already been listed that and discussed in detail. If you point to Calvin’s point on 1 Jn 2:2 it too has actually been listed both occasions within the file.

The cherry-picking accusation seems to some us to be an unhelpful assertion.

Lets assume that Calvin was inconsistent. Lets assume that your two cherries have been correctly picked by you and incorrectly picked by us, for example, what then?

We have 2 cherries versus (approx) 150? What happens then? Why should one discount the approximate 150 cherries for the sake of 2? Or, why could not one say, when Calvin made those 2 comments, he was speaking inconsistently, and out of sync with his entire corpus and life-time of writing?

So we have two teams claiming Calvin by sourcing their ideas in two apparently diverse modes of thought in Calvin. At the least, that should give us something like a permissive parity: that is, our claim to Calvin should be just as valid as your claim. Right? Or else you would need to show us why your two cherries, and what other arguments you can supply, should be taken as so forceful as to negate or delimit or restrict our sources in Calvin. Do you have anything like that?

I mean, sometimes people say, “Well early on Calvin held to unlimited expiation, but later he rejected it and embraced limited expiation.” That’s one way to deal with the permissive parity problem. But we now know that that line is untenable. From his earliest days to his last, he was affirming an unlimited aspect of the expiation and redemption.

Or you would need to show how it is that all these quotations do not mean what they–to all intents and purposes–as saying what they appear to say.

So we need something from your side to refute the other team.

We can see, then, that there are actually a few alternative lines of thought open, rather than just asserting that the 2 cherries should interpretatively constrain and delimit the life-time of his writings?

However, we on our side are not left there. We can show why it is fairly probable that in one of your cherries he is not attempting to delimit the scope of the expiation: as Calvin says the blood-shedding of Christ is not for the wicked. He does not say not for the reprobate. If you want to take him literally, he is now saying Christ did not die for sinners. The irony is, that’s most likely what is going on here (Cf Rollock Those for whom Christ did not come to save

Thus, there is a good case for claiming that something else is going on for Calvin there.

And 1 John 2:2 is also very interesting in that Calvin right there affirms that Christ suffered for all. What he does not affirm is that the expiation is applied to all: as per Pighius and co. The universalism of Pighius was prevalent even into the later 15thC.

Anyway, I would just like to see some evidence that Calvin has been selectively cited by us. I totally agree on the moratorium of citing Nicole. Some of us are so non-plussed by such retorts. If one thinks that Nicole has supplied the definitive refutation, and given that we don’t see it, please put up for discussion his best argument(s) and let’s talk about it. What happens is that so many just do a sort of ‘drive-by’ comment, claiming we must read Nicole, but never tell us why Nicole’s arguments are to be granted.

Regarding Neo-Amyraldianism: Again some of us find that an unhelpful response. The theology being claimed, and argued to, predates Amyraut by a century–at least. Amyraut sought to integrate classic aspects on the expiation with the new emergent Federalist schemas. When he originally stressed that Christ died for all, he later clarified that as referring to the sufficiency of the expiation. He affirmed over and over that Christ died effectually and especially for the elect. Turretin’s critique of Amyraut also misses the point and misrepresents the man. At times Turretin defines Amyraut’s position correctly, but then responds to it as if it is identical to the Arminian position. Overall, Turretin’s replies are off-target and irrelevant in our opinion. The term “amyraldianism” is just a shibboleth used to scare away good thinking. Absolutely nothing argued for in the Calvin file hinges on Amyraut in anyway. Amyraut might never have existed and nothing from Calvin, from Bullinger, from Luther, from Zwingli, from Vermigli, and many others, changes.

To conclude: in all the above, I don’t think that we, for our part, are being unreasonable in asking you and others to take your claims further, beyond mere assertions.

David

March 4th, 2008 at 10:41 am
Martin Thorley
 13 

I feel I should respond to Pastor John. If I have caused offense I am truly sorry. I certainly did not mean in any way to be abusive or ungracious. I meant it more as a challenge. I think it may be that we operate under such different presuppositions. I have been influenced by what we might call modern gospel-centred teaching – Tim Keller being one of the better known proponents. This has taught me a lot about how deep our sin runs and how, when we are not satisfied in Christ alone and actively rejoicing in God’s grace, then sinful motives will all-too-readily be mixed up with good ones. This is because we are all, believers and non-believers alike, (amongst other things like something to worship) constantly seeking a sense of worth, justification and righteousness. Though we as believers do objectively have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us yet we often forget this and seek to justify and promote ourselves before others. (As a consequence, we inadvertently shift the focus to our own performance: when we do well, we can so easily and subtly start to feel proud of ourselves. When we screw up we start to beat ourselves up. We don’t think our performance affects our righteousness before God but we do mistakenly think it affects our relationship with Him). If we are not constantly thankful in prayer, thinking of things above, focusing on Christ, reminding ourselves that all progress is by faith alone through God’s grace alone, etc, we end up, as Keller says, with another, “functional” saviour – whether it be our image, our possessions, our family, our doctrines, what others think of us, or whatever. Through this teaching (of which this was a very poor and incomplete attempt at a summary!) I have come to see that, for example, in disagreement with others, we can so easily approach the discussion, without even realising it, by trying to find a way to win, to be seen as ‘in the right’. I believe this can blind us and stop us from taking what is said at face value. In essence, then, what I am trying to say is this: I believe that the evidence is incontestable that Calvin did NOT hold to the currently popular (amongst the Reformed) doctrine of Limited Atonement and I am struggling to see how anyone can reject that. Therefore, I do not really believe that people are being deliberately deceptive, I was using it as a sort of crude ‘literary device’ to arrest the reader’s attention. The idea being that people would naturally reel away from it in horror with the hope that they might be prompted to more carefully examine their motives. In other words I really do believe that many who strongly defend limited atonement are just not self-aware in this way. I foolishly hoped that I might make a difference for perhaps one reader. I myself had to go through this process. You see, I once held fervently to limited argument but now find all the arguments, including those of Nicole, Cunningham, et al unconvincing.

It was a painful moment when I had to admit to myself and before God that I had not really been engaging in an honest enquiry or in earnest debate fully prepared to change my view. This I found, in part, to be because I was getting, if you like, a sense of identity from being part of a band of people with the same beliefs. So hopefully you will see that whilst I can say that I believe many advocates of limited atonement don’t realise that they are not really open to be persuaded – or at least the doctrine is so embedded that it takes some dislodging – I am not being hypocritical and suffering from the same lack of self-awareness since I was once also in the same camp.

Also please understand that those of us who hold to this position are often on the receiving end of many ad homs and dismissive comments that don’t really engage with the arguments so perhaps a little of my frustration surfaced there. I can only apologise that I didn’t put the time and effort in to try to explain myself better which hopefully I have now done?

Having said all that, I am hoping that you might also realise how the comment about “painting Calvin into(our) corner” is an example of just the sort of dismissive comment we often receive. Of course sola scriptura should be our primary concern in such matters (and naturally I think scripture is indeed very clear on this matter). However, this post wasn’t about what the scriptures say but what Calvin said. Assuming that you are not someone whose mind is made up but are open to challenging your own beliefs and presuppositions, why not engage with all that has been written here and show us where we have got Calvin wrong? By all means use Nicole as has been suggested but please understand that simply naming Nicole, great and respected though he may be, does not refute us. Neither myself, nor, I am sure David, thinks themselves greater than Nicole, we just find his arguments unconvincing. Do please show us where we err…

I think your other comments have been dealt with. I do hope you are able to take the time for a careful reading of the Heshusius article and look forward to your further response.

Warmest regards in Christ Jesus,
Martin

March 20th, 2008 at 6:33 pm
Martin Thorley
 14 

I wish you could go back and edit your typos. I bet it doesn’t frustrate me as much as David though :-)

David adds: you are asking ME to fix your typos, and then you slam me in the same breath. Oi vey… ;-)

I fixed up the spelling errors as much as I could see. If you want to edit any more let me know. You can even resubmit it to me and I can simply swap the old out and in the new.

Now, should I email that fellow and let him know you have replied?

Take care and thanks,
David

March 20th, 2008 at 6:35 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 15 

I have updated this file. See Entry #53 under Sins of the World. The citation is from, John Calvin, The Eternal Predestination of God, 70-1.

March 31st, 2008 at 2:42 pm
Richard
 16 

Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal Predestination of God & the Secret Providence of God

Quote: p.165-166
Georgius imagines himself to argue very cleverly when he says, ” Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, those who would exclude the reprobate from a participation in the benefits of Christ, must, of necessity, place them somewhere out of the world.” Now we will not permit the common solution of this question to avail on the present occasion, which would have it that Christ suffered sufficiently for all men, but effectually for His elect alone. This great absurdity, by which our monk has procured for himself so much applause amongst his own fraternity, has no weight whatever with me. John does indeed extend the benefits of the atonement of Christ, which was completed by His death, to all the elect of God throughout what climes of the world soever they may be scattered. But though the case be so, it by no means alters the fact that the reprobate are mingled with the elect in the world. It is also a fact, without controversy, that Christ came to atone for the sins ” of the whole world.” But the solution of all difficulty is immediately at hand, in the truth and fact, that it is ” whosoever believeth in Him” that ” shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.” For our present question is, not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. Now if the possession of Christ stands in faith, and if faith flows from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that he alone is numbered of

166 CALVIN’S CALVINISM.

God among His children who is designed of God to be a partaker of Christ. Indeed, the evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ to be none other than that of ” gathering together all the children of God ” in one by His death. From all which we conclude that although reconciliation is offered unto all men through Him, yet, that the great benefit belongs peculiarly to the elect, that they might be ” gathered together ” and be made ” together ” partakers of eternal life.

Be it observed, however, that when I speak of reconciliation through Christ being offered to all, I do not mean that that message or embassy, by which Paul says God ” reconciles the world unto Himself,” really comes or reaches unto all men; but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all those to whom it does come, so as to be effectual in them. And as to our present opponent’s prating about there being ” no acceptance of persons with God,” he must first ” go and learn ” what the word ” person ” meaneth agreeably to our preceding explanations of it; and then we shall have no more trouble with him on that score.

May 10th, 2008 at 11:39 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 17 

Hey Richard, thanks for posting this. Can you tell us tho what specific point you want to make?

How you read this may be very different to how we are reading it. For example, if you are telling us that Calvin denied that the expiation is “extended” (ie applied) to all, we agree. Or if you are telling us that Calvin believed that John’s point here was that the elect and children of God scattered throughout the world will be gathered in, we understand that too.

Thanks
David

May 10th, 2008 at 1:37 pm
 18 

“Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” If Calvin believed that the world meant the elect scattered throughout the world, (John does indeed extend the benefits of the atonement of Christ, which was completed by His death, to all the elect of God throughout what climes of the world soever they may be scattered.)then how this is not limiting? What do you mean by limited atonement/redemption? What then is unlimited atonement/redemption?

I notice something in your response. (Or if you are telling us that Calvin believed that John’s point here was that the elect and children of God …..) Help me understand who the elect are and who the children of God are?

Thanks,

Eager to learn

May 10th, 2008 at 6:42 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 19 

Hey Richard,

I have edited out your parentheses, in your first paragraph, the make the sentence smoother.

You ask: “Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” If Calvin believed that the world meant the elect scattered throughout the world… then how this is not limiting? What do you mean by limited atonement/redemption? What then is unlimited atonement/redemption?

David:

I would say, there are two levels here. There is the exegetical level at which Calvin believes John here is making a statement, and then there is the level of Calvin’s own wider views on the extent of the expiation.

There are plenty of good reasons for supposing this, internal markers and the full weight of all of Calvin’s other statements.

Internally we can place this comment from the tract with his comments from his commentary on 1 John from a year earlier.

Let us do the tract:

Calvin:
Georgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world.

David: There are a couple of things to keep in mind: 1) Both, I think, Calvin and Goergius, are reading the Latin propitiatio as relating to reconciliation. 2) Goergius is using this verse directly to prove his universalism.

Georgius and his crowd, for some wild reason were even trying to extend (apply) the expiation to the reprobate and to demons. Here we have an early form of universalism. Georgius objects that if we deny this, then we must take the reprobate out of the world. Goergius is using a classic style of dialectic and reductio, by stating a thesis and then positing an absurd counter-thesis. The counter-thesis is to be denied. He is trying to grip his opponent upon the horns of an inescapable dilemma.

Calvin: For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficiently for the elect.

David: Now Calvin sees the false-dilemma and seeks to resolve it by positing a way out of it.

David: Here Calvin notes the classic formula. Here he makes no claim against it or for it. In his commentary on this verse, he grants it to be true, just not applicable to this verse.

Calvin: By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me.

David: Now here is the diff., part. Is Calvin calling the formula absurd or Georgius’ claims? I think the latter. He is now referring back to the wild claims.

Calvin: Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, “John” extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ’s death.

David: I have emphasized extend. For Calvin, extend is to apply (see below) So here Calvin asserts the true proposition. Calvin asserts his own set of theses.

Calvin: But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world.

David: It seems to me that Calvin uses “world” as the totality of the elect and non-elect. Both are in the world. When Calvin uses the term “world” he always means the total collection of mankind, elect and non-elect.

Cavlin: It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the world.

David: This is his other thesis. Again, I argue that whenever HE uses world, he means all of us.

So Calvin has reset the theses, contra-Goergius.

1) The expiation is only extended to believers.

2) The expiation was made for the world.

Both are true. And there is no evidence that “he” is using world to mean the elect alone.

Calvin: But the “solution” lies close at hand,

David: So there it is. He sees that between these two propositions a solution is needed. I would ask, if he meant world = elect, he would see no need for a solution.

Calvin: that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3:15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom he gives Himself to be enjoyed.

David: Whosoever believes does not perish. He is sustaining premise 1 of his here. And so, the question is not the nature of the expiation, its efficacy, but to whom is it applied.

Calvin: If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God’s children who will be partakers of Christ.

David: Again, here is enforcing the point that the expiation is only efficacious to whom it is applied: and that to the elect alone by the agency of the Spirit.

Calvin: The evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ as nothing else than by His death to gather the children of God into one (Jn 11:52).

David: Now he moves to what he thinks John is saying.

Calvin: Hence we conclude that the reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul’s testimony (II Cor 5.18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. John Calvin, The Eternal Predestination of God, p., 148-9.

David: the solution is that even tho it is “incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the world” the application is only to believers, and thus he solves Goergius’ false-dilemma. The problem one must face is what and why did Calvin say “It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the world.” Someone like Nicole would have to say that Calvin was equivocating on world here, that he meant elect, and so differently to his opponent. But it seems to me that Calvin has not told us he has coded “world” to mean elect. The irony is, if Calvin was as Nicole alleges, then its far from incontestable that Christ came to expiate the sins of the world. Its the very issue being contested.

David: Now lets look at the commentary:

Cavlin: Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated?

David: Here he sets out the question: how has the sins of the world been expiated?

Calvin: I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself.

David: Here is the proof that to extend means to apply.

Calvin: Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage;

David: So here we see that Calvin asserts that Christ suffered for all sufficiently? Here is where I ask people to tell me what that meant for Calvin? If you go back to the file, you will see that for Calvin, Christ suffered for all men. He says this over and over. Thus when Calvin says Christ suffered for all, he meant, Christ bore the curse of the law for all men. Go up and read the file or search on the word suffer/suffered.

Calvin: for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church.

David: Here we see that Calvin thinks John here is specifically saying that the application is to the church.

Calvin: Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world.

David: Here he says “John” uses the terms to denote the believers of the world, so “world” for John here, thinks Calvin, is sort of short-hand for the believers of the world. Calvin is tacitly using Augustine against Georgius, as he is following Augustine here.

Calvin: For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world. John Calvin, 1 John 2:2.

David: His closing comment. This goes back to his idea that grace is offered for all the world, but not applied to all but to the believing alone.

You ask:

I notice something in your response. (Or if you are telling us that Calvin believed that John’s point here was that the elect and children of God …..) Help me understand who the elect are and who the children of God are?

David: Does the above help?

There are two ways of reading Calvin. Both interpretations are determined by wider assumptions. I say because of the total weight of his other comments where he clearly asserts unlimited expiation, he is not here denying it. And what is more, I say that Calvin’s particularistic reading of John here is not evidence that he held to limited expiation himself, just as the fact that Vermigli and others took a particularistic reading of 1 Tim 2:4 proves that they held to limited redemption either.

So, I know that my interpretation is not bullet-proof, as someone committed to reading Calvin as and advocate of limited expiation/redemption will insist that when he speaks of the incontestability of the expiation for the world, etc, he really didn’t mean world inclusively. But I say, given his overwhelming and undeniable statements from all over his corpus that Christ did suffer for all the sins of all the world, there is a greater weight of evidence to read his comments here as I have done.

Hope that helps,
David

May 11th, 2008 at 1:05 pm
 20 

Calvin’s Calvinism p.99

Just so it is with respect to the conditional promises of God, which invite all men to salvation. They do not positively prove that which God has decreed in His secret counsel, but declare only what God is ready to do to all those who are brought to faith and repentance.

I can see the statement “Christ is the propitiation of the sins of the world.” being unlimited if the conditional statements repent and believe are in view.

I do not believe that the sins of all mankind where imputed to Christ on the cross.

May 12th, 2008 at 7:03 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 21 

Hey Richard,

Assuming I understand you, you say Calvin could speak as he did because he held to something like a conditional imputation of the world’s sins. If I have understood correctly:

Can you prove that connection? I mean, its fine to assert that Calvin simply spoke of a conditional imputation of the sins of all the world to Christ (in a way analogous to his conditional willing that all be saved etc), but can you demonstrate from Calvin that posited such a conditional imputation?

Further, on the conditional will and promise, I put it to you that you have misunderstood Calvin there too. For Calvin, God wills the salvation of all men, but through faith and repentance. His desire that all men be saved is not “unconditional” ie absolute. The same with the promise. The promise is made to all, but the application of the benefit is conditioned by faith.

So if we apply that to your assertion, the sins of all mean imputed to Christ, but the benefit f the expiation is only applied by condition. Thats actually closer and truer: but I doubt thats what you meant.

Are there any other parallel examples from his friends and contemporaries who held to something like a conditional imputation as you mean it? No.

As I think about that too, you would then land solidly into hypothetical universalism in saying that.

But, I respect your assertion here, but until I see some evidence…

Did you read the file itself? Calvin is very clear. I was going to post some here, but I wont. They are all there. And you have many statements about unbelieving souls redeemed as well.

All I will do is encourage you to read the direct affirmation from Calvin the very thing you here deny. You say: “I do not believe that the sins of all mankind where imputed to Christ on the cross.” To that I would say please check out the section “the sins of the many” in the Calvin file, where he says that Christ bore the sin not of part of the world, but of the whole world, all of it, the whole human race, etc. If that is not clear, Richard, I sincerely dont know what could be for you.

One last thing, whats also odd with the Nicole-Helm type of reading is that its now clear that no one contemporary to Calvin, say from the 1500s to the 1560s held to limited expiation. I am not even convinced Bucer did. But I could grant him, there is no one else.

Anyway, thanks for interacting. But you need some evidence for your claim to be plausible. I say that with respect btw. I am not trying to be snippy.

Take care,
David

May 12th, 2008 at 7:27 pm
Adithia Kusno
 22 

It’s a delight for me to read your article on Calvin view of atonement. Here I want to give comment and ask you:
1. What do you mean with ‘high Calvinism,’ is that mean Calvinist who’s denied that God sincerely offered salvation to all (elect and reprobate)? Because I actually hold to supralapsarian which is high Calvinist but I also believe in general redemption, as noted in footnote on Calvin Comm. on Romans 5:18.
2. I’m totally agree with term that Christ died for all (elect and reprobate), only the elect being effected by saving faith and the reprobate get temporary faith. Because in 1 Cor. 15:20-24, Paul said that this is the reason why then all resurrected. Elect to glorification and reprobate to damnation. Do you hold this view like me?
3. For good advice I think it is better if you differentiated between effective limited atonement which is God hidden counsel only to the elect and graciously general atonement which is God permissive will to the reprobate and elect alike. Because even I hold on general redemption like Calvin, I’m also high Calvinist and five point Calvinist. And I see no contradiction.
4. Calvin in Comm. on Hosea hold on twofold election, general election for reprobate and special election only to elect; Calvin also hold resistible grace for unregenerate to against the external calling but also hold irresistible grace for regenerate to freely receives internal calling. Even I noticed in your article Calvin said God’s love is threefold, and God’s will also twofold, one permissive will to sincerely offer salvation to all and second hidden decree to regenerate only elect.
I’m pray that through this sincere dialog we can see God’s name be glorified. Amen.

Your brother in Christ,
Adithia Kusno

July 13th, 2008 at 7:52 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 23 

Hey there Adithia,

You say
1. What do you mean with ‘high Calvinism,’ is that mean Calvinist who’s denied that God sincerely offered salvation to all (elect and reprobate)? Because I actually hold to supralapsarian which is high Calvinist but I also believe in general redemption, as noted in footnote on Calvin Comm. on Romans 5:18.

David: High Calvinism is generally characterised by something like Banner of Truth Calvinism, or John Murray Calvinism. High Calvinists are strict TULIPers, who believe in the free offer on the one hand, but a limitation in the nature of the expiation and the redemption on other hand. By limitation, Christ only bore the sins of elect Peter, but not non-elect Judas. Thus, Christ only sustained a proper penal relationship with Peter.

You say:

2. I’m totally agree with term that Christ died for all (elect and reprobate), only the elect being effected by saving faith and the reprobate get temporary faith. Because in 1 Cor. 15:20-24, Paul said that this is the reason why then all resurrected. Elect to glorification and reprobate to damnation. Do you hold this view like me?

David: Sure, as stated. I do believe with Calvin that Christ came into this world to save all mankind.

You say:

3. For good advice I think it is better if you differentiated between effective limited atonement which is God hidden counsel only to the elect and graciously general atonement which is God permissive will to the reprobate and elect alike. Because even I hold on general redemption like Calvin, I’m also high Calvinist and five point Calvinist. And I see no contradiction.

David: For this file my aim was to set out Calvin’s theology. Calvin posits no limitation in the nature of the expiation itself. The limitation is only in the application. Calvin also held to unconditional election, which must be set out side by side with unlimited expiation (sin-bearing etc.) and redemption. For my file to add too much interpretation or commentary is not what I wanted to directly do, unless if it was to defend or explain the documentation. Make sense?

You say:

4. Calvin in Comm. on Hosea hold on twofold election, general election for reprobate and special election only to elect; Calvin also hold resistible grace for unregenerate to against the external calling but also hold irresistible grace for regenerate to freely receives internal calling. Even I noticed in your article Calvin said God’s love is threefold, and God’s will also twofold, one permissive will to sincerely offer salvation to all and second hidden decree to regenerate only elect.

David: Yes Calvin held to general election of the nation etc. I have a few posts from Calvin on that documented. I have posted some here. The other comments you make there are right.

You sya:
I’m pray that through this sincere dialog we can see God’s name be glorified. Amen.

David: me too, and thanks for stopping by.

Take care,
David

July 13th, 2008 at 1:29 pm
Adithia Kusno
 24 

Halo David, here I want to ask and give more comment:

You say:
1. High Calvinists are strict TULIPers, who believe in the free offer on the one hand, but a limitation in the nature of the expiation and the redemption on other hand. By limitation, Christ only bore the sins of elect Peter, but not non-elect Judas. Thus, Christ only sustained a proper penal relationship with Peter.
Adithia:
I believe that Christ died for all and redeemed all, but not all get the benefit because only true church in special election being regenerated. Do we have the same position?

You say:
2. Sure, as stated. I do believe with Calvin that Christ came into this world to save all mankind.
Adithia:
Do you mean universalism that all eventually will be saved even not regenerated? Or Christ died to save all is the external redemption and only true church being regenerated on complete redemption as Calvin stated? I believe the latter.

You say:
3. Calvin posits no limitation in the nature of the expiation itself. The limitation is only in the application.
Adithia:
I’m totally agree with you.

Here I want to ask a few questions:
1. From whose did Calvin view being deflected on this issue? Did Beza did this?
2. May I know where I can get complete eSermon from Calvin?
3. May I know your position on TULIP? It’s rare to know Calvinist like you compared to other Bezian.
4. Do you hold single or double predestination? Do you have article on that position? I’m first.
5. Do you hold supra, infra, sub, or agnostic? If you have article about Calvin and other Reformers on this issue please tell me. I’m supra.

Thank you for your article, it’s trully a blessing. May God bless you.

Your brother in Christ,
Adithia Kusno.

July 15th, 2008 at 9:18 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 25 

Greetings Adithia

You ask:
Halo David, here I want to ask and give more comment:

David: Sure.

Adithia:
I believe that Christ died for all and redeemed all, but not all get the benefit because only true church in special election being regenerated. Do we have the same position?

David: yes we do have the same position.

Adithia:
Do you mean universalism that all eventually will be saved even not regenerated? Or Christ died to save all is the external redemption and only true church being regenerated on complete redemption as Calvin stated? I believe the latter.

David: No, I don’t hold to UniversalISM, that all men will actually be saved. I do believe that Christ came into this world “to save” all, and that his Gospel is further outworking of this desire.

Adithia:

I’m totally agree with you.

David: So how came you to this understanding? Are you part of a church which holds to the same?

Adithia:
1. From whose did Calvin view being deflected on this issue? Did Beza did this?

David: I cant say Beza for certain. It may be that he started a trajectory away from Calvin’s original position, or that he was a part of an already established trajectory of limited expiation. The two candidates for this limited expiation have always been Beza and Bucer. But I have my doubts about Bucer. And it may be that we are to think in terms of incremental steps which came to form a trajectory or movement. It may be that Beza just modified a few critical exegetical points (eg 2 Pet 3:9, Matt., 23:37, John 3:16, etc) which others took up and ran with. A good source on this is: Thomas, G.M., The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus, UK: Paternoster: 1997.

Adithia:
2. May I know where I can get complete eSermon from Calvin?

David: I don’t know about sermons specifically. You can get a lot of his material online here: And you can purchase the Ages cd which has nearly all his works (but mostly in older translations.

Adithia: 3. May I know your position on TULIP? It’s rare to know Calvinist like you compared to other Bezian.

David: I would say: Dort is not TULIP. Dort is not about negating the nature of the expiation or limiting that nature to any. What Dort is seeking to refute is the Arminian idea that Christ did not come to die and thereby save anyone effectually. Dort counters this by acknowledging that Christ did come to die effectually for some alone. TULIP on the other hand posits a limitation in the very nature of the expiaton, of its sin-bearing actions. So if by TULIP one means that Christ died effectually and infallibly for the elect, which is not to the negation that he died for the non-elect with another or other intention, then I would hold to TULIP. As to Beza, many argue that Beza was the first to posit a limitation in the extent and nature of the atonement itself. I have stopped relying on secondary sources, and so until I read something from a primary source itself, I will be agnostic on Beza.

Adithia: 4. Do you hold single or double predestination?

David: I hold to the classic position of unconditional election and preterition. However, with regard to damnation, I hold to conditional predamnation. Men are pre-damned in the decree, on account of known sin. This decree, tho, is not conditioned by bare foreknowledge, or based on bare foreknowledge, as all God’s foreknowledge is based on decree. However, with regard to sin, God’s permissively decrees to ordain it. You can read excerpts I have posted in the categories of this blog.

Adithia: Do you have article on that position? I’m first.

David: No not really… well I do… I will have to think about that.

Adithia: 5. Do you hold supra, infra, sub, or agnostic? If you have article about Calvin and other Reformers on this issue please tell me. I’m supra.

David: I agree with Dabney and reject all attempts to posit an ordered decretal system. However, if you were to push me, I would say I am infra, with the proviso that the infra-lapsarian ordering is not taken as an exhaustive capturing of all of God’s redemptive dealings with men.

Adithia: Thank you…

David: no, thank you. I will post some more stuff on the decrees and on reprobation later if I can.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

David

July 16th, 2008 at 7:36 am
Adithia Kusno
 26 

Halo David, you say:

David: So how came you to this understanding?

Adithia: Went I read 1 Tim. 4:10, I’m convinced that Christ came to die for all. In 1 Cor. 15:20-24, Paul said that this is the reason why then all resurrected, because Christ died for all and being the first ressurected. And in 2 Pet. 2:1, the word ‘bought’ for false teacher is the same as for elect in 1 Cor. 6:20 and 7:23. Finally when I read John’s Gospel and his letters, I realise the word ‘world’ means not only the elect in the whole world but whole human race.

David: Are you part of a church which holds to the same?

Adithia: I’m from Reformed Evangelicals Church in Indonesia, my Pastor is Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong which recently got (Hon.) D. Div. from WTS. I’m never ask him on this subject. But from his sermon I never heard him said that Christ only die for the elect only.

David: So if by TULIP one means that Christ died effectually and infallibly for the elect, which is not to the negation that he died for the non-elect with another or other intention, then I would hold to TULIP.

Adithia: Yes, I think we’re on the same understanding. Because L is inter-dependent with U in the sense that only the elect being regenerated. Which is not a contradiction with Christ died for all so that all being ressurected on the last day.

David: I hold to the classic position of unconditional election and preterition. However, with regard to damnation, I hold to conditional predamnation. Men are pre-damned in the decree, on account of known sin. This decree, tho, is not conditioned by bare foreknowledge, or based on bare foreknowledge, as all God’s foreknowledge is based on decree. However, with regard to sin, God’s permissively decrees to ordain it.

Adithia: I agree with you, I think we got the same reason for damnation but we’re separate on the meaning of ‘conditional’. I hold that this election is not conditioned outside of God but only conditioned on His good pleasure. And His decree is fourfold: ordain, guide, permit, left. On the elect God ordain to marry His only beggoten Son to the Church, the other left to Fall and remain unregenerated. Therefore election is prior to decree of Fall, to actualize this plan God permit Adam and Eve Fall, so both the Church and non-elect Fall. Then decree to save all to ressurected all, elect to glorification and reprobate to damnation because they against the One who bought them (2 Pet. 2:1). Here I came to supra position, which J. V. Fesko in Diversity with the Reformed Tradition: Supra- and Infralapsarianism in Calvin,Dort, and Westminster, has prove side-by-side that Calvin and Beza both are supra.

David: I agree with Dabney and reject all attempts to posit an ordered decretal system. However, if you were to push me, I would say I am infra, with the proviso that the infra-lapsarian ordering is not taken as an exhaustive capturing of all of God’s redemptive dealings with men.

Adithia: I agree with Bavink that God’s decree inter-dependent and should not be viewed with sequence. Therefore what I mean with ordered decree is the same with Edwards view that there is a relation between one decree and the reason why God dicided to make another decree in relation to the former decree. When I ask Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong, he said that this is not an important subject to speculate, but he also said that supra position maybe not wrong.

David: no, thank you. I will post some more stuff on the decrees and on reprobation later if I can.

Adithia: I hope you have time to write on that issue, and especially abot Calvin on that issue. I believe Calvin hold supra position as T. H. L. Parker say about Calvin position on predestination. Because after all Calvin in Institutio say that not because they will sin that God reprobate them (because elect also will Fall) but because they are reprobate they go to damnation.

Your brother in Christ,
Adithia Kusno

July 16th, 2008 at 11:06 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 27 

Hey Adithia,

I will move this discussion to the a comments box under Turretin and Supralapsarianism, if you dont mind. That seems to be a better place given the shifting of the subject matter between us. I dont want to cut off conversation, but just keep this thread crisp and relative to Calvin specifically.

Thanks,
David

July 17th, 2008 at 6:59 am
Josh Follansbee
 28 

Wow, David! You have come along way since I talked you into blogging.

I love this page! I am waiting till you finally succumb to our desires to write a book. Or, with all the material you have, a series of books!

Keep em coming!

July 27th, 2008 at 4:17 pm
 29 

Bro! I’m with Josh. You definitely need to write a book.

November 17th, 2008 at 1:54 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 30 

Hey Barry,

I wont consider writing a book until at least you add me to your blog-roll. ;-)

Thanks for the kind words.

David

November 17th, 2008 at 2:17 pm
 31 

David,

Your wish has been granted!

November 18th, 2008 at 2:04 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 32 

Hey Barry,

You are very kind. I reciprocated. I hope this site can be a blessing to you. About the book, just to let you know, my main desire is still a Ph.D project first. Right now I am very content in working through the material and publishing the raw data.

God Bless,
David

November 18th, 2008 at 2:11 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 33 

I have updated the Calvin file. See entry #55 under the sub-header: Redeemed souls perishing and redemption voided.

David

May 7th, 2009 at 8:37 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 34 

Update for the Calvin file. See entry #3 under the sub-header: [11] Christ seeks the salvation of the world and reprobates: sermons.

David

May 8th, 2009 at 7:55 am
Dan R
 35 

I don’t think Calvin ever believed that what he taught would be called “Calvinism” :-)
My comment is on the word “world”. I do believe the main problem is Westernizing this word to mean every person on the face of the earth. Hebrew thought would never accept this. The idea concerning “world” as understood by the Jewish people at that time is that God sent His Savior not just for Jews, as they believed that Gentiles were dogs subject to the wrath of God and that God would never save them, but for Gentiles too. See Jo. 3:16,17 etc. as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in v.17 that God did not send His Son to “condemn” the world…. You see, the meaning of “world” to Nicodemus was Gentile dogs. John wrote that He is the propitiation for our sins and not our sins only but for the whole world. Did he really mean for everybody on the face of the earth? I cannot possibly see that what was meant. Jews believed that God was only going to send the Messiah for them. That is indisputable. Now the question is did Calvin mean by “world” everyone on the face of the earth? “And when he says, the sin OF THE WORLD, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone.”

September 26th, 2009 at 10:04 am
Dan R
 36 

(continued). I borrowed this quote from the blog. Also, concerning the OT sacrifices the offerer laid hands on the sacrifice leaning on it to show how that individual’s sins were being laid on this particular sacrifice. Atonement was always particular and not just a general shedding of blood for whomever. Therefore, when the Scripture says, “All that the Father has given me WILL come to me” it is stating that Christ (Messiah) has a particular people given to Him. Perhaps, Calvin meant by the “whole human race” all races without exception not every being upon the face of the earth. Now as regards how we preach the Gospel, I believe that who these elect are is God’s business. We have absolutely no idea who they are so as far as we are concerned everyone we talk to or see might be one of the elect. If they repent and believe in the Lord then we see the “elect” coming out of the woodwork, so to speak.

September 26th, 2009 at 10:10 am
Dan R
 37 

(final). I believe we in the West have committed some serious errors in interpretation and translation by not being submerged in the Hebrew thought and culture of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments were couched in Hebrew thought. In conclusion, I think we can see from the Bible that God has an elect people but an unbeliever is to hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins. This elect stuff has absolutely no meaning to one before he is saved. That is God’s divine mystery and that is His business. Yet, I believe that as we preach the true Gospel “all that the Father has given me” (Messiah) WILL come to Him and ALL the glory and honor is His ALONE.

September 26th, 2009 at 10:16 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 38 

Hey there Dan,

Thanks for stopping by.

#1) I doubt that Calvin or Scripture understood John’s “world” as the Gentiles. That idea started about the second half of the 17th century. It was sometimes popular among Puritan writers. Modern scholarship generally reject that now. The world for John means apostate mankind (which includes all postential ethnic distinctions). For Calvin, he understood world in about 3 relevant senses, all mankind in unbelief, all of us. All the reprobate as opposed to the elect. And in two places, as the church scattered throughout the world. For Calvin on Jn 3:16-17, he took as all mankind, elect and non-elect in unbelief. You can see this by reading his comments on that and on Jn 12:47. The idea that world meant for John, the Gentiles, was itself actually a 17th century Western development (eg the Puritan Hebraist John Lightfoot).

What evidence do you have that Hebrew thought could never mean every man on the face of the earth? What is more, don’t make the mistake of juxtaposing only two alternatives, ie, world means either absolutely all living (and/or who have died, and/or who shall live) as opposed to the Gentiles. There are other options. Calvin knew this as well.

#2. A) The yearly OT sacrifices were for all the sins of all the people. Calvin builds on this as a type for Christ bearing all the sins of all the world’s people. B) For Calvin, there is no conflict or denial of Christ’s unconditional election and effectual calling of those elected. In no way does this preclude universal expiation. C) There is no evidence in Calvin that by the term “whole human race” that he meant all races without exception. Indeed, he goes out of his way deny that.

#3. I think the substance of your third comment is beyond Calvin specifically, so for the most I shall pass on that. If we go back to John and his use of world, the important thing is that he, like Paul, was including the Jews within the scandal of the cross, within the scandal of rebellion. They were in opposition to God as much as the Gentiles. For Calvin, as Ive read him, he never makes the sort of ethnic distinction that arose later in the 17thC. He sees it as Ive outlined, and where he does deviate from his normal usage (of world equaling all mankind or all the reprobate) he follows Augustine and makes the distinction rest upon the church verses those outside of the church. He doesn’t actually ever make world, all races, or all kinds of races within the church or in the world, or anything like that.

Have you read the entire Calvin file? Also compare his wording and categories with that of Bullinger, Musculus and others Ive documented. If you do so, Calvin you should get a better feel for what Calvin is saying.

Thanks for stopping by,
David

September 26th, 2009 at 6:08 pm
Dan R
 39 

Thanks for your reply but if you would be so kind, David, would you research Jesus’s reply to Nicodemus and consider these things. Why did Jesus tell Nicodemus that “God so loved the world”? Wouldn’t you think that meant Nicodemus didn’t believe that. Also, why would Jesus continue by saying, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world”? Wouldn’t you think that meant Nicodemus thought Messiah came to condemn the world? As far as Jewish thought on the word world, this is not an original though by Lightfoot. I don’t have any direct quotations for you yet but it is absolutely true that Jewish people believe there are 2 kinds of people, Jews and Gentiles. They refer to Gentiles as “world.” I will get you some quotes from Jewish writings on that. Also, the word translated world which is kosmos does not carry the idea of every individual on the face of the earth. There is a word like that but I believe it is “oikomenos”. The Scriptures constantly make it clear that the idea that God did not come for the Gentiles was believed by the Jews at that time. There is absolutely nothing that could prove it otherwise. Therefore, when the word “world” is used, many times it refers to Gentiles and not to every individual on the face of the earth. That is why John could say and “not for us only…” Obviously, he is showing that the Gospel is not just for Jews, as it comes to the Jew first, but also for Gentiles. As far as Calvin, I have to admit that I have not yet read all of the “Institutes” but am in the process of doing so. Whether he believed that world meant everybody on the face of the earth or not doesn’t mean that is the truth. If he really did believe that then I believe he made an error. The thing is that everything must be in context or you can make Calvin say whatever you think he meant. From the impressive work you’ve done I can see that we(general) might have made some of his teachings say things that he really didn’t. I also see that in Spurgeon and whether he was premillenial or postmillenial or whatever. At times, he seems like one view and other times like the opposing view. There is definitely a universal use for the preaching of the Gospel. That cannot be denied but then there is also the truth that God has chosen his elect “before the foundation of the world” and “all that the Father has given me will come to me” and “no one can come to me except the Father draw (like dragging in a net full of fish) him,etc. Your appeal to the word “world” and the several quotes from Calvin is based on the Western idea that world means “everyone on the face of the earth” vs all mankind, in general. That’s different than using the word world in a way when researched shows that it was never meant to be translated that way. Your whole argument of making the atonement for everyone who ever lived on the face of the earth rests on that error. Yes, Christ (Messiah) died for the sins of the world which means not just Jews but people of all races (Gentiles). It is not a specific teaching that Messiah died for everyone who ever lived or will live or died or will die on the face of the earth. That is the strong point of all this. That is, Christ (Messiah) did not come for Jews only but for non-Jews too. This is constantly repeated because the prevailing idea at that time was that God would never send His Son (Messiah) to atone for Gentile dogs. I pray that God might open your eyes to sincerely look into this and pray for God’s truth. If I am dead wrong then I pray that God will show that to me too.

September 27th, 2009 at 9:40 am
CalvinandCalvinism
 40 

Hey Dan,

If you wouldn’t mind, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but the Theology Online blog is a better place to discuss some of this, or the Calvin and Calvinism Yahoo list. The C&C blog is focused on historical theology, with the view of examining the history of Reformation soteriology.

I take a brief stab at some of this here, but if you wish to reply, can you reply over at Theology Online. The Wardlaw post will do if you like.

Dan: Thanks for your reply but if you would be so kind, David, would you research Jesus’s reply to Nicodemus and consider these things. Why did Jesus tell Nicodemus that “God so loved the world”? Wouldn’t you think that meant Nicodemus didn’t believe that.

David: Basically, is the idea here that how the hearer would understand the terms delimits the meaning of the author’s intent? That’s valid to a certain degree. However, we may have good evidence that the authors, in his case, Jesus and John, may have had a different meaning, to which they were trying to bring their respective audiences to. Further, even if we factor in ethnic exclusivism, the point still holds, in Jesus and John, the whole world is involved in the scandal, not just the Gentiles.

Dan: Also, why would Jesus continue by saying, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world”? Wouldn’t you think that meant Nicodemus thought Messiah came to condemn the world?

David: My reply would be the same again. And we can add the typical serpent. The serpent a provision for the Jews. Christ is the anti-type and is a provision not only for the Jews–so wake up Nicodemus–but for the world. Jesus does this quite a few times, the bread for the nation, is now the bread for the world. and so on.

Dan: As far as Jewish thought on the word world, this is not an original though by Lightfoot. I don’t have any direct quotations for you yet but it is absolutely true that Jewish people believe there are 2 kinds of people, Jews and Gentiles.

David: I can only deal with the latter at this point. Sure, that’s not the problem. The question is, could Jewish language speak of a category of the world as including all individuals without any exception? You said that’s impossible. Secondly, the next question here is, what was John and Jesus thinking?

Dan: They refer to Gentiles as “world.” I will get you some quotes from Jewish writings on that. Also, the word translated world which is kosmos does not carry the idea of every individual on the face of the earth.

David: That would be good. A few things though. Do you have any instances where the Jews spoke of the world as containing all living members of it? Secondly, in terms of church history, I believe I am still correct. In terms interpretative history, the idea that world for John meant the Gentiles, as opposed the Jews, etc, really took off in the 17thC. For the most part, from what I can see, the basic interpretation was the church scattered throughout the world (Augustine), or all mankind etc.

Dan: There is a word like that but I believe it is “oikomenos”. The Scriptures constantly make it clear that the idea that God did not come for the Gentiles was believed by the Jews at that time. There is absolutely nothing that could prove it otherwise. Therefore, when the word “world” is used, many times it refers to Gentiles and not to every individual on the face of the earth.

David: There are some layers here that are being conflated. There is the point regarding what Calvin believed. There is my personal opinion about what Scripture and classic lexicography imply, your opinion, what the Jews allegedly thought, and the idea that world must mean all men without any exception.

So lets separate some of this. I am not committed to saying that kosmos for John means all men alive without any exception. I can extend this to mean, all who have lived, live, and shall live, as well as the more simple: all men without any exception alive at any given time. I dont need to defend this in regard to John 3:16, etc.

Rather I am committed to the idea that John, and Jesus, primarily used kosmos to denote the apostate world in opposition to God alive at any given time. I think this is Calvin’s intent. The world means all of us, as we are in unbelief.

Dan: That is why John could say and “not for us only…” Obviously, he is showing that the Gospel is not just for Jews, as it comes to the Jew first, but also for Gentiles.

David: I address the use of John 11 here John 11:51-52 and 1 John 2:2

cut

Dan: …Your appeal to the word “world” and the several quotes from Calvin is based on the Western idea that world means “everyone on the face of the earth” vs all mankind, in general.

David: The question is: did Calvin commit this alleged Western error?

Dan: That’s different than using the word world in a way when researched shows that it was never meant to be translated that way. Your whole argument of making the atonement for everyone who ever lived on the face of the earth rests on that error. Yes, Christ (Messiah) died for the sins of the world which means not just Jews but people of all races (Gentiles).

David: Sure, I understand the formal argument. I don’t find it convincing. I find the idea platonic, as it makes John and Jesus define world in the terms of “forms” and “kinds” which opposed the generally Semitic idea of concrete particulars. When some say Christ died for the world, it works like this: World=Gentiles, Gentiles=elect. That has to follow if we believe that within the term “world” Jesus, and John, had identifiable concrete particulars in mind.

Dan: It is not a specific teaching that Messiah died for everyone who ever lived or will live or died or will die on the face of the earth. That is the strong point of all this. That is, Christ (Messiah) did not come for Jews only but for non-Jews too.

David: Sure, I understand the claim. The question though, should “world” be taken by way of Plato or by way of Aristotle? If we say Plato, we end in irrationality. If we say Aristotle, we have to face further questions.

Dan: This is constantly repeated because the prevailing idea at that time was that God would never send His Son (Messiah) to atone for Gentile dogs.

David: Okay… We also have to ask ourselves, this, Did Jesus mean to Nicodemus, that God so loved the Gentiles *a group set apart in opposition* to the Jews? is that the thought, Dan?

For the sake of this blog’s purpose, what I will do if you chose to reply, is repost your future comment over at Theology Online and reply there if you don’t mind. If you do mind, email me.

If you want to speak to Calvin directly, we can deal with that here.

Thanks for your patience.

David

September 27th, 2009 at 5:12 pm
CalvinandCalvinism
 41 

Did John Calvin teach Limited Atonement? See: John Calvin (1509-1564) on Unlimited Expiation, Sin-Bearing, Redemption and Reconciliation.

November 15th, 2014 at 9:09 pm

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