Posts tagged ‘Commentary’

December 1, 2015

The Incarnation in the Gospels (Reformed Expository Commentary)

Incarnation in the GospelsStatus: Available

Book Description

This seasonal addition to the Reformed Expository Commentary series presents twelve biblically and theologically grounded Christmas messages, as the authors explore the canonical teaching on the birth of Jesus Christ in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.

As a sample of the exposition found in the series, this volume is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each commentary gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.

In addition, this volume includes four special appendices of Advent material and worship aids useful in the planning of a Christ-centered Christmas service. With five new carols, essays and reflections on the Advent season, and a program of lessons and carols, this material is valuable to any pastor or worship leader seeking meaningful ways to celebrate the coming of Christ during the season commemorating his birth.

All Christians seeking a deep, worshipful, and gospel-centered Advent season will benefit from the insight and worship material in this helpful commentary.

Table of Contents

Series Introduction
Preface

Part 1: The Incarnation in Matthew: The Hope of Israel
DANIEL M. DORIANI
1. The Identity of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:1-17)
2. The Origin of Jesus, Our Immanuel (Matt. 1:18-25)
3. The Adoration of Jesus (Matt. 2:1-12)
4. The Protection of Jesus (Matt. 2:13-23)

Part 2: The Incarnation in Luke: Songs for the Savior
PHILIP GRAHAM RYKEN
5. MAgnificat (Luke 1:39-55)
6. Benedictus (Luke 1:56-80)
7. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Luke 2:1-20)
8. Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:21-38)

Part 3: The Incarnation in John: The Coming of the Light
RICHARD D. PHILLIPS
9. The Divine Word (John 1:1-3)
10. The Light of Men (John 1:4-5)
11. Light for Everyone (John 1:6-13)
12. The Word Became Flesh (John 1:14-18)

Appendix 1: Gospel-Centered Worship Connected to Christ’s Nativity
MARK L. DALBEY

Appendix 2: A Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols
RICHARD D. PHILLIPS

Appendix 3: Five Recent Advent Carols
PAUL S. JONES, JAMES MONTGOMERY BOICE, ERIC J. ALEXANDER, DEREK W.H. THOMAS, PHILIP GRAHAM RYKEN

Appendix 4: Meditations on Christmas Customs
DANIEL M. DORIANI

Index of Scripture

Source: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing

About the Editors

Daniel M Doriani

Dr. Daniel M. Doriani

Daniel M. Doriani (M.Div., Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary; S.T.M., Yale Divinity School) is vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology at Covenant Theological Seminary. Previously he was senior pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton, Missouri.

Richard Phillips

Dr. Richard D. Phillips

Richard D. Phillips (M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary) is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina. He is a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and coeditor of the Reformed Expository Commentary series.

Philip Graham Ryken

Dr. Philip Graham Ryken

Philip Graham Ryken (D.Phil., Oxford University) is president of Wheaton College. He is Bible teacher for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, speaking nationally on the radio program Every Last Word. He is the author and editor of more than fifteen books and coeditor of the Reformed Expository Commentary series.

Source: Dust jacket

Hardcover, 227 pages

Publisher: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing

Publication Date(s): 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59638-140-7

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

July 21, 2015

Consecration of the Priests and the Altar (Exodus 29)

Chuck CainOn Sunday, July 19, 2015, the Adult Sunday School Lesson completed a review of Exodus 29 regarding consecration of the priests and the altar.

Three animal sacrifices are identified as part of the ceremony. In each case the blood of the animal is applied in various ways to the altar.

The first sacrifice is a bull for the sin offering. Curtain organs are burned on the altar. The remainder is burned outside the camp. Hebrews 13:11-12 identifies this practice as a foreshadowing of Jesus being crucified outside the city as a sacrifice for our sin.

The second sacrifice is a ram for the burnt offering. This offering represented full commitment of the priests and the people.

The third sacrifice is a ram for the fellowship offering. This offering is also identified elsewhere as a peace offering or wave offering. In this case after specified organs are burned on the altar, the breast and thigh are eaten by the priests symbolizing a fellowship meal between them (and the people) and God.

The order of these three offerings differs in Leviticus as identified by J. A. Motyer. In Exodus 29 the order highlights individual need for being forgiven. In Leviticus 1-5 the order is burnt offering (1:3), fellowship offering (3:1), and sin offering (4:2-3) highlighting the order of divine desire. In Leviticus 6-7 the order is burnt offering (6:9), sin offering (6:25), and fellowship offering (7:11) highlighting the order of priestly ministry.

Exodus 29 states that the consecration ceremony for the priests was to last seven days.
The chapter closes with the highly important and oft repeated statement, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.”

Listen to “Consecration of the Priests and the Altar” (Exodus 29) at mcopc.org.

July 18, 2015

The Westminster Confession: A Commentary

The Westminster Confession A Commentary CoverStatus: Available

Publisher’s Description

In this commentary A.A. Hodge, son and successor of Charles Hodge at Princeton Theological Seminary, analyses the chapters and sections of the Confession, gives proofs and illustrations of its teaching, and helps the learner and teacher by adding a series of questions to each chapter. The result is a fine handbook of Christian doctrine explaining all the leading doctrines of Scripture in simple language.

Archibald Alexander Hodge

Archibald Alexander Hodge

About the Author

Pastor, preacher, missionary, theologian, educator, and churchman, Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823 – 1886) was the first-born son of Charles and Sarah Hodge. Born and raised in the pleasant and intellectually stimulating environment of Princeton, New Jersey, the young Hodge enjoyed the inestimable privilege of being nurtured in the home of Presbyterianism’s greatest biblical scholar and theologian in mid-nineteenth century America. Charles Hodge was a devoted husband and loving father to his children. The loving atmosphere that characterized the Hodge family home bore a rich spiritual harvest in the life of A. A. Hodge. Named after his father’s spiritual mentor and surrogate father, Archibald Alexander, A. A.’s life was embedded in the rich spiritual soil of the Calvinistic orthodoxy and redolent piety for which Princeton Theological Seminary was so well known.

A. A. Hodge graduated from Princeton College in 1841 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1846. Having developed a love for missions, he and his young bride set sail to serve as Presbyterian missionaries in Allahabad, India. The couple ministered in India for only a few short years; health-related complications necessitated their return to the United States, whereupon A. A. served as a pastor in rural congregations in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

During these years A. A. began writing his major work, Outlines on Theology, which was first published in 1860 and later in a revised and enlarged edition in 1879. He was an emotional and captivating preacher whose popularity grew during the years of his pastoral charges. His gifts as a preacher, teacher, pastor, and author led to his receiving a call, in 1864, to serve as Professor of Systematic Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

In 1878 he returned to Princeton Theological Seminary as Professor of Didactic and Exegetical Theology. A beloved professor, he continued the theological legacy begun by Archibald Alexander and perpetuated by his father. His publications on The Atonement, a popular series of talks published as Lectures on Theology, and A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, all demonstrate his self-conscious commitment to the Reformed confessional heritage, as well as the purposeful integration of piety and learning that Princeton Theological Seminary was founded upon. He also co-authored with B. B. Warfield an important article on the inspiration of the Scriptures that remains a classic statement on the subject.

An active spokesman against the dangers of nationalized government-sponsored public education based upon a foundation of scientific naturalism, A. A. Hodge supported an amendment to the United States Constitution that would affirm recognition of the lordship of Jesus Christ over the United States government. His outlook predates modern evangelicalism’s interest in the integration of faith with learning and the development of a Christian worldview which seeks to integrate all aspects of the created order under Christ’s lordship.

Additional publications by A. A. Hodge include an important intellectual and spiritual biography of his father, The Life of Charles Hodge. A compassionate man with a burden for the lost, Archibald Alexander Hodge’s life-long passion for missions and earnest preaching of the gospel — often with tears streaming down his cheeks — endeared him to his students, congregations, and community. He lived as a man who walked with God and whose life was spent bringing others into the same true and living way.

[James M. Garretson in Princeton and the Work of the Christian Ministry, Volume 2 (Banner of Truth, 2012)]

Book Details

432 Pages
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Publication Date: June 1958

Source: WTS Books

Library patrons who have read this book are invited to share their comments, reviews, questions or criticisms for discussion in the comments below this post.

April 6, 2015

Genesis (Geneva Series of Commentaries)

Genesis Geneva Commentary CoverStatus: Available
Publisher’s Description

Because Calvin was a sound exegete, little of what he wrote is dated. Although his treatment of the early chapters is thorough, it is not disproportionate, and the later narratives concerning Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are not passed over hastily. Indeed, Calvin excels in bringing out the principles of God’s dealings with men, as individuals and in covenant, and in showing faithfully yet tenderly the human weakness and sin all too evident in Genesis.

About the Author

John Calvin (1509-64), the French theologian and pastor of Geneva, was one of the principal 16th-century Reformers.

Calvin was born on 10 July 1509, in Noyon, about sixty miles north-east of Paris. His father – Gérard Cauvin – held legal office in the service of the bishops of Noyon, and wanted his son to enter the church. He used his influence to obtain a chaplaincy at Noyon Cathedral when Calvin was 11, the income helping to fund his education. The young man was privately tutored, before being sent to Paris at the age of 14 to study theology at the University. He first attended the Collège de la Marche, then the Collège de Montaigu, where he received the equivalent of his Master of Arts in 1528 at the unusually young age of 17. Some of Calvin’s instruction was given by the brilliant Latin scholar Mathurin Cordier, and he obtained a first-class education.

At about the same time as he received his M.A., Calvin’s father changed his mind about his son’s future, and directed him from theology to study law at the University of Orléans. It was here that Calvin learned Greek, and developed his powers of analysis and rhetoric – not unhelpful skills for a man whom God was making a minister of the gospel. Within a year, Calvin was sufficiently advanced to begin teaching incoming scholars.

He moved on to Bourges in about 1529, returning to Noyon for the burial of his father, who had died quite suddenly. Released from his father’s seemingly quite heavy governance, Calvin spread his wings as a humanist, publishing his first and only humanist work at the age of 23, a commentary on the younger Seneca’s De Clementia (On Mercy). In the same year, 1532, he received his doctor of laws degree. Calvin’s fierce dedication to study during these years was near-legendary, but almost certainly laid the foundation for his subsequent struggle with ill-health.

John Calvin, (ReformationArt.com)

John Calvin, (ReformationArt.com)

Calvin had been exposed during this time to some of Luther’s teachings, which were by then widely circulated. His own cousin, Jean Pierre Olivétan, had been attracted to Lutheran teaching, and Calvin had studied alongside Olivétan for a period. The only plain record of his conversion comes from Calvin himself in the ‘Preface’ to his Commentary on the Psalms (Robert Reymond’s translation):

I tried my best to work hard [in the study of law], yet God at last turned my course in another direction by the secret rein of his providence. What happened first, since I was too obstinately addicted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire, was that God by an unexpected [or ‘sudden’] conversion subdued and reduced my mind to a teachable frame. And so this taste of true godliness . . . set me on fire with such a desire to progress that I pursued the rest of my studies [in law] more coolly, although I did not give them up altogether. Once converted, there was no looking back for Calvin – he embraced the new teachings that accorded with the Word of the living God, and his life was never again the same. Forced to flee from Paris in 1533 – he was lowered by sheets from a window and escaped the city dressed as a manual labourer – Calvin sought rest where he could. He studied the Scriptures, and by May 1534 had resigned his holdings in the Roman Catholic church. By 1535 he was forced to leave France altogether, departing from Angoulême, and heading to Basel in Switzerland. There he wrote the preface for the French translation of the Bible made by his cousin Olivétan.

In France, some of Calvin’s dear friends were already dying in martyr’s fires at the hands of Francis I of France. By 1536 Calvin had completed and published the first edition of what has become known as Protestantism’s magnum opus, his Institutio Christianae Religionis, or The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Repeatedly revised and expanded to its final form, this was originally a fairly brief outline of the true Christian faith (published by the Trust as Truth for All Time, as a small paperback and a Gift Edition Pocket Puritan) designed to demonstrate to the persecuting French monarch the realities of the belief and lives of the Protestants of France. At the young age of 26, Calvin’s grasp on the fullness of God’s revelation, and his genius for precise statement and comprehensive organization and systematization of the truth, were becoming more publicly evident.

Calvin headed to Strasbourg in July of 1536, determined to live a life with his head among his beloved books. Avoiding a raging war between Francis I and Charles V of Spain, he took a long detour south, arriving in Geneva for an overnight stay. Here, William Farel heard of his arrival in the city and sought him out. The fiery Farel was a powerful advocate for the gospel cause, and he set out to persuade Calvin to give his gifts and energies to that cause in Geneva. Calvin, by no means weak-willed himself, insisted that his heart was set on private study. However, he was persuaded to stay, and in September 1536, all necessary business addressed, Calvin took up residence in Geneva as a ‘Reader in Holy Scripture’. He received no pay until the following February, and was generally referred to in official papers as ille Gallus – ‘that Frenchman’.

Calvin quickly rose to prominence. He and Farel sought to bring the whole city into conformity to Scripture, bringing them into conflict with the civil authorities both politically and personally. Among other things, Calvin and his fellow-workers attempted to fence the Lord’s table by withholding the elements from those living in open sin. This was not acceptable to the Councils, and in April 1538 – without a hearing – the Reformers were simply banished from the city at short notice.

Calvin made his way to Strasbourg, in Germany, where he found a friend and mentor in Martin Bucer. He spent three years in that city, preaching, pastoring, writing, teaching, and learning. He also found ‘a good thing’ – in 1540, at the age of 31, he married Idelette de Bure, a widow in his congregation. Though their married life was in many respects a great joy, it was tempered with profound griefs: Idelette miscarried once, lost a daughter at birth, and delivered a son who died after only two weeks. Idelette herself died on 29 March, 1549, at the age of 40, and Calvin never remarried.

Calvin was not in Strasbourg for long. By 1540, the Genevan situation was awful: there seems to have been a widespread collapse of public morals and civil order. In desperation, the authorities turned to the man whom they had banished, and the reluctant Reformer re-entered the city on 13 September, 1541, never again to relocate. When Calvin climbed back into the pulpit at the cathedral of St Pierre, he resumed his ministry at the precise point at which he had paused three years before, taking up the next verse of his systematic exposition of Scripture.

This second period in Geneva lasted until Calvin’s death on 6 February 1564. Most biographers and historians view it in terms of years of struggle (1541-1555) and years of triumph (1555-1564).

In November 1541, Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances – his constitution setting out proposed church order – were accepted with some emendations by the Genevan authorities. However, despite the political decree, there was no plain sailing. The party opposed to Calvin was known as the Libertines, and they openly confronted him. But God spared his servants, though further struggles and threats of violence followed for many months.

Slowly, Calvin and his associates pressed for the application of God’s Word to the life of the church and to society at large. By 1555 the political opposition of the Libertines was essentially ended. Calvin was primarily a preacher of God’s Word. On his return to Geneva from Strasbourg, he preached twice every Sunday, and then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Later he preached only every second week (by which stage there were Tuesday and Thursday sermons also). The New Testament was his text on Sundays, the Old on weekdays, with the Psalms sometimes on a Sunday afternoon. This preaching effected a massive moral change in Geneva, as the church and then society found the Word of God brought to bear unflinchingly upon them. We have two thousand sermons still available, of perhaps more than four thousand preached.

Calvin’s international influence was vast, not only by means of correspondence, but also through visitors. Exiles came from France, England and Scotland; refugees fled to Geneva from Germany and Italy – they came seeking both safety and instruction. Among them was John Knox, who declared the church which Calvin was reforming in Geneva as ‘the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles.’ In 1559 Calvin founded the Geneva Academy. Calvin was its professor of theology, and more than a thousand students from across Europe sat to hear him and Theodore Beza declare God’s truth. The Academy was known as ‘Calvin’s school of death’ because so many of its alumni were put to death as a result of their witness for Christ.

From his early thirties Calvin had begun to suffer physically, and bore numerous afflictions. He had become a chronic sufferer from ague, catarrh, asthma, indigestion, and migraine headaches which sometimes kept him awake all night. In 1558 he suffered at length from quartan fever (an intermittent malarial fever) from which he never fully recovered. He also suffered from close-to-crippling arthritis, gout, kidney stones, ulcerated haemorrhoids, gum disease, chronic indigestion, and pleurisy that finally led to malignant pulmonary tuberculosis. For years, so afflicted, Calvin had often coughed up blood on account of his public speaking.

Calvin was naturally timid, even fearful, which makes his courage all the more amazing. He was an affectionate and faithful friend, an intense man of deep feeling and penetrating thought. Worn out by his labours, he preached his last sermon in Geneva on 6 February 1564. On Easter Sunday he went to church for the last time, singing with the rest of the congregation at the conclusion, ‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace . . . for my eyes have seen your salvation.’ On 25 April he dictated his last will and testimony, and entered his rest and reward on 27 May, at the age of 54 years. His body was buried in a simple coffin at the common cemetery on Sunday 28 May, in accordance with his wishes. His grave was unmarked, and remains unknown.

[Adapted from Jeremy Walker’s outline of Calvin’s life in Banner Articles: http://www.banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2009/an-outline-of-the-life-of-john-calvin/.%5D

Book Details

1088 Pages
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Publication Date: August 1965
ISBN 10: 0851510930
ISBN 13: 9780851510934

Source: WTS Books

March 27, 2015

Daniel (Geneva Series of Commentaries)

Daniel_Calvin Status: Available

Publisher’s Description

In his Introduction Dr. Wilbur Smith writes: ‘In a day like this in which we are living, when the governments of the world are breaking up, in a day when a vast part of the earth is controlled by a merciless dictatorship, when multitudes of Christians have already known persecution, and many more will before this age ends, there is hardly any book in the Old Testament we could read with more profit than the book of Daniel and scarcely a commentary on any portion of the Old Testament quite so profitable as Calvin’s two volumes on Daniel.

I suppose nothing on the prayer of Daniel, occupying most of the ninth chapter of his prophecy, has ever been written so rich and deep and comprehensive as the 17,000 words which Calvin devotes to the sixteen verses of this marvellous outpouring of the heart of the ancient prophet.’

This volume has been reprinted from the Calvin Translation Society two volume edition of 1852-53, edited by Thomas Myers.

John_Calvin_by_HolbeinAbout the Author

John Calvin (1509-64), the French theologian and pastor of Geneva, was one of the principal 16th-century Reformers.

Calvin was born on 10 July 1509, in Noyon, about sixty miles north-east of Paris. His father – Gérard Cauvin – held legal office in the service of the bishops of Noyon, and wanted his son to enter the church. He used his influence to obtain a chaplaincy at Noyon Cathedral when Calvin was 11, the income helping to fund his education. The young man was privately tutored, before being sent to Paris at the age of 14 to study theology at the University. He first attended the Collège de la Marche, then the Collège de Montaigu, where he received the equivalent of his Master of Arts in 1528 at the unusually young age of 17. Some of Calvin’s instruction was given by the brilliant Latin scholar Mathurin Cordier, and he obtained a first-class education.

At about the same time as he received his M.A., Calvin’s father changed his mind about his son’s future, and directed him from theology to study law at the University of Orléans. It was here that Calvin learned Greek, and developed his powers of analysis and rhetoric – not unhelpful skills for a man whom God was making a minister of the gospel. Within a year, Calvin was sufficiently advanced to begin teaching incoming scholars.

He moved on to Bourges in about 1529, returning to Noyon for the burial of his father, who had died quite suddenly. Released from his father’s seemingly quite heavy governance, Calvin spread his wings as a humanist, publishing his first and only humanist work at the age of 23, a commentary on the younger Seneca’s De Clementia (On Mercy). In the same year, 1532, he received his doctor of laws degree. Calvin’s fierce dedication to study during these years was near-legendary, but almost certainly laid the foundation for his subsequent struggle with ill-health.

Calvin had been exposed during this time to some of Luther’s teachings, which were by then widely circulated. His own cousin, Jean Pierre Olivétan, had been attracted to Lutheran teaching, and Calvin had studied alongside Olivétan for a period. The only plain record of his conversion comes from Calvin himself in the ‘Preface’ to his Commentary on the Psalms (Robert Reymond’s translation):

I tried my best to work hard [in the study of law], yet God at last turned my course in another direction by the secret rein of his providence. What happened first, since I was too obstinately addicted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire, was that God by an unexpected [or ‘sudden’] conversion subdued and reduced my mind to a teachable frame. And so this taste of true godliness . . . set me on fire with such a desire to progress that I pursued the rest of my studies [in law] more coolly, although I did not give them up altogether. Once converted, there was no looking back for Calvin – he embraced the new teachings that accorded with the Word of the living God, and his life was never again the same. Forced to flee from Paris in 1533 – he was lowered by sheets from a window and escaped the city dressed as a manual labourer – Calvin sought rest where he could. He studied the Scriptures, and by May 1534 had resigned his holdings in the Roman Catholic church. By 1535 he was forced to leave France altogether, departing from Angoulême, and heading to Basel in Switzerland. There he wrote the preface for the French translation of the Bible made by his cousin Olivétan.

In France, some of Calvin’s dear friends were already dying in martyr’s fires at the hands of Francis I of France. By 1536 Calvin had completed and published the first edition of what has become known as Protestantism’s magnum opus, his Institutio Christianae Religionis, or The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Repeatedly revised and expanded to its final form, this was originally a fairly brief outline of the true Christian faith (published by the Trust as Truth for All Time, as a small paperback and a Gift Edition Pocket Puritan) designed to demonstrate to the persecuting French monarch the realities of the belief and lives of the Protestants of France. At the young age of 26, Calvin’s grasp on the fullness of God’s revelation, and his genius for precise statement and comprehensive organization and systematization of the truth, were becoming more publicly evident.

Calvin headed to Strasbourg in July of 1536, determined to live a life with his head among his beloved books. Avoiding a raging war between Francis I and Charles V of Spain, he took a long detour south, arriving in Geneva for an overnight stay. Here, William Farel heard of his arrival in the city and sought him out. The fiery Farel was a powerful advocate for the gospel cause, and he set out to persuade Calvin to give his gifts and energies to that cause in Geneva. Calvin, by no means weak-willed himself, insisted that his heart was set on private study. However, he was persuaded to stay, and in September 1536, all necessary business addressed, Calvin took up residence in Geneva as a ‘Reader in Holy Scripture’. He received no pay until the following February, and was generally referred to in official papers as ille Gallus – ‘that Frenchman’.

Calvin quickly rose to prominence. He and Farel sought to bring the whole city into conformity to Scripture, bringing them into conflict with the civil authorities both politically and personally. Among other things, Calvin and his fellow-workers attempted to fence the Lord’s table by withholding the elements from those living in open sin. This was not acceptable to the Councils, and in April 1538 – without a hearing – the Reformers were simply banished from the city at short notice.

Calvin made his way to Strasbourg, in Germany, where he found a friend and mentor in Martin Bucer. He spent three years in that city, preaching, pastoring, writing, teaching, and learning. He also found ‘a good thing’ – in 1540, at the age of 31, he married Idelette de Bure, a widow in his congregation. Though their married life was in many respects a great joy, it was tempered with profound griefs: Idelette miscarried once, lost a daughter at birth, and delivered a son who died after only two weeks. Idelette herself died on 29 March, 1549, at the age of 40, and Calvin never remarried.

Calvin was not in Strasbourg for long. By 1540, the Genevan situation was awful: there seems to have been a widespread collapse of public morals and civil order. In desperation, the authorities turned to the man whom they had banished, and the reluctant Reformer re-entered the city on 13 September, 1541, never again to relocate. When Calvin climbed back into the pulpit at the cathedral of St Pierre, he resumed his ministry at the precise point at which he had paused three years before, taking up the next verse of his systematic exposition of Scripture.

This second period in Geneva lasted until Calvin’s death on 6 February 1564. Most biographers and historians view it in terms of years of struggle (1541-1555) and years of triumph (1555-1564).

In November 1541, Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances – his constitution setting out proposed church order – were accepted with some emendations by the Genevan authorities. However, despite the political decree, there was no plain sailing. The party opposed to Calvin was known as the Libertines, and they openly confronted him. But God spared his servants, though further struggles and threats of violence followed for many months.

Slowly, Calvin and his associates pressed for the application of God’s Word to the life of the church and to society at large. By 1555 the political opposition of the Libertines was essentially ended. Calvin was primarily a preacher of God’s Word. On his return to Geneva from Strasbourg, he preached twice every Sunday, and then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Later he preached only every second week (by which stage there were Tuesday and Thursday sermons also). The New Testament was his text on Sundays, the Old on weekdays, with the Psalms sometimes on a Sunday afternoon. This preaching effected a massive moral change in Geneva, as the church and then society found the Word of God brought to bear unflinchingly upon them. We have two thousand sermons still available, of perhaps more than four thousand preached.

Calvin’s international influence was vast, not only by means of correspondence, but also through visitors. Exiles came from France, England and Scotland; refugees fled to Geneva from Germany and Italy – they came seeking both safety and instruction. Among them was John Knox, who declared the church which Calvin was reforming in Geneva as ‘the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles.’ In 1559 Calvin founded the Geneva Academy. Calvin was its professor of theology, and more than a thousand students from across Europe sat to hear him and Theodore Beza declare God’s truth. The Academy was known as ‘Calvin’s school of death’ because so many of its alumni were put to death as a result of their witness for Christ.

From his early thirties Calvin had begun to suffer physically, and bore numerous afflictions. He had become a chronic sufferer from ague, catarrh, asthma, indigestion, and migraine headaches which sometimes kept him awake all night. In 1558 he suffered at length from quartan fever (an intermittent malarial fever) from which he never fully recovered. He also suffered from close-to-crippling arthritis, gout, kidney stones, ulcerated haemorrhoids, gum disease, chronic indigestion, and pleurisy that finally led to malignant pulmonary tuberculosis. For years, so afflicted, Calvin had often coughed up blood on account of his public speaking.

Calvin was naturally timid, even fearful, which makes his courage all the more amazing. He was an affectionate and faithful friend, an intense man of deep feeling and penetrating thought. Worn out by his labours, he preached his last sermon in Geneva on 6 February 1564. On Easter Sunday he went to church for the last time, singing with the rest of the congregation at the conclusion, ‘Lord, now let your servant depart in peace . . . for my eyes have seen your salvation.’ On 25 April he dictated his last will and testimony, and entered his rest and reward on 27 May, at the age of 54 years. His body was buried in a simple coffin at the common cemetery on Sunday 28 May, in accordance with his wishes. His grave was unmarked, and remains unknown.

[Adapted from Jeremy Walker’s outline of Calvin’s life in Banner Articles:

Book Details

808 Pages

Publisher: Banner of Truth

Publication Date: April 1965

ISBN 10: 0851510922

ISBN 13: 9780851510927

HT: WTS Books