Category Archives: John Calvin

“Jesus Christ holds out His arms to receive us as often as the gospel is preached to us” by John Calvin

“If our Lord is so good to us to have His doctrine still preached to us, we have by that a sure and infallible sign that He is near at hand to us, and that He seeks our salvation, and that He calls us to Himself as though He spoke with open mouth, and as if we see Him personally before us. Jesus Christ holds out His arms to receive us as often as the gospel is preached to us.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Sermon on Ephesians 4:11-12 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1973), 368.

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“Being Lord He became a servant” by John Calvin

He became obedient. (Philippians 2:8) Even this was immense humility, that from being Lord He became a servant.

But he says that He went farther than this, because, while He was not only immortal but the Lord of life and death, He nevertheless became obedient to His Father, even so far as to undergo death.

This was extreme abasement, especially when we consider the kind of death, which he immediately adds to emphasize it. For by dying in this way He was not only covered with ignominy in the sight of men, but also accursed in the sight of God.

It is assuredly such an example of humility as ought to absorb the attention of all men. It is impossible to explain it in words suitable to its greatness.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 249. Calvin is commenting on Philippians 2:8.

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“Everything for us” by John Calvin

“Christ has been given us by the Father in such a way that His whole life is a mirror that is set before us. As, then, a mirror is bright, yet not for itself, but so that it may be useful and profitable to others, so Christ did not seek or receive anything for Himself, but everything for us. For what need, I ask, had He, who was equal with the Father, of a new exaltation?”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 250-251. Calvin is commenting on Philippians 2:9.

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“Christ, the Sun of Righteousness” by John Calvin

“The Lord held to this orderly plan in administering the covenant of His mercy: as the day of full revelation approached with the passing of time, the more He increased each day the brightness of its manifestation.

Accordingly, at the beginning when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam (Gen. 3:15) it glowed like a feeble spark.

Then, as it was added to, the light grew in fullness, breaking forth increasingly and shedding its radiance more widely. At last– when all the clouds were dispersed– Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, fully illumined the whole earth.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1: 446. (2.10.20)

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“The breadth and length and height and depth” by John Calvin

“By these dimensions, Paul means nothing other than the love of Christ, of which he speaks afterwards. The meaning is, that he who knows it truly and perfectly is in every respect a wise man.

As if he had said, ‘In whatever direction men may look, they will find nothing in the doctrine of salvation that should not be related to this.’ The love of Christ contains within itself ever aspect of wisdom.

The meaning will be clearer if we paraphrase it like this: ‘That ye may be able to comprehend the love which is the length, breadth, depth, and height, that is, the complete perfection of our wisdom.’

The metaphor is taken from mathematics, denoting the whole from the parts. Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge.

Therefore this admonition is very useful: what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.

The love of Christ is held out to us to meditate on day and night and to be wholly immersed in. He who holds to this alone has enough.

Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful, nothing, in short, that is right or sound. Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 168-169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3:18.

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“250,000 published words per year” by Scott Manetsch

“Calvin’s literary corpus is well known, with around one hundred discrete volumes published from the time he arrived in Geneva in 1536 until his death twenty-eight years later. During the 1550s, Calvin’s literary output ranged from 100,000 to a remarkable 250,000 published words per year.

Late nights spent writing at his desk by candlelight or long days spent dictating from bed inevitably took a toll on his health and spirits: ‘I get so tired from that endless writing that at times I have a loathing for it, and actually hate writing,’ Calvin complained to Bullinger in 1551.

But true religion needed to be defended in print as well as from the pulpit. ‘I would be a real coward if I saw God’s truth being attacked and remained quiet without a sound.'”

–Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 225-226.

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“How can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?” by John Calvin

“We are taught in this passage that the knowledge of Christ must be sought from the Scriptures. Those who imagine what they like about Christ will ultimately have nothing but a shadowy ghost in His place.

First then, we must hold that Christ cannot be properly known from anywhere but the Scriptures. And if that is so, it follows that the Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them.

Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, will never reach the knowledge of the truth. For how can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?

Moreover, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so He declares in this passage that our work will not be fruitless, for there the Father bears witness to His Son in such a way that He will manifest Him to us beyond all fought.

But what hinders most men is that they look at them only carelessly and as it were in passing. But it needed the utmost application, and so Christ commanded them to search diligently for this hidden treasure.

Accordingly, the abhorrence for Christ which the Jews feel, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their laziness. For the brightness of God’s glory shines clearly in Moses, but they want to have a veil to obscure that brightness.

‘By the Scriptures,’ of course, is here meant the Old Testament. For Christ did not first begin to be manifested in the Gospel; but the One to whom the Law and the Prophets bore witness was openly revealed in the Gospel.”

–John Calvin, The Gospel According to St John: 1-10, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 4; trans. T.H.L. Parker, Ed. David Torrance and Thomas Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961), 139. Calvin is commenting on John 5:39.

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