Category Archives: John Calvin

“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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“He is our sun” by John Calvin

“‘Wake, you who sleep, and rise from darkness and Christ will give you light‘ (Ephesians 5:14). Every day, Christ enlightens us by His teaching and His Spirit; and although we do not see Him with our eyes we know by experience that He is our sun.”

–John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries (Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXIII), Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 144.

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“A record of His majesty” by John Calvin

“God has given us a record of His majesty in the holy Scriptures.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 180. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

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“His arms outstretched” by John Calvin

“When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

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“The church is the orchestra” by John Calvin

“The whole world is a theatre for the display of God’s goodness, wisdom, justice and power, but the church is the orchestra.”

–John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009),619. Calvin is commenting on Psalm 135:13-14.

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“The treasures of Paradise have been opened to you in the gospel” by John Calvin

“When you hear that the gospel presents you Jesus Christ in whom all the promises and gifts of God have been accomplished, and when it declares that He was sent by the Father, and has descended to the earth and spoken among men perfectly all that concerns our salvation, as it was foretold in the Law and to the Prophets — it ought to be most certain and obvious to you that the treasures of Paradise have been opened to you in the gospel and that the riches of God have been exhibited and eternal life itself revealed.

For, this is eternal life; to know one, only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom He has established as the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation.

Christ is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death.

He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which He guards.

He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to acknowledge His brothers, however lowly and abject their condition.

He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all.

He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit.

He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land.

He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by His hand all rebellious power to subjection.

He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing His kingdom in peace and prosperity.

He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by His death has overwhelmed all His enemies.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; He died for Our life; so that by Him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal.

In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, ‘O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’ it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us.

And we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it. But we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in Him and are offered to us by Him from God the Father.

If one were to sift thoroughly the Law and the Prophets, he would not find a single word which would not draw and bring us to Him. And for a fact, since all the treasures of wisdom and understanding are hidden in Him, there is not the least question of having, or turning toward, another goal.”

–John Calvin, “Preface to Olivetan’s New Testament” in Calvin: Commentaries (Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXIII), Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 68-70.

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