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January 14, 2008 / vivator

John Calvin and 1 Corinthians 15:22 & Titus 2:11

I am just curious on what John Calvin (1509 to 1564) wrote in his Commentaries about two verses from New Testament.  Calvin wrote Commentaries of all books of New Testament except 2 & 3 John and Revelation. My readers can view or download all his Commentaries from http://www.ccel.org/.  The first verse is 1 Corinthians 15:22, which reads (RSV): For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. How did he make this verse in harmony with his double predestination teaching?   Double predestination means God, from eternity (when He created the world), through His decree appointed who will go to heaven (the Elect) and who will go to hell (the Reprobate).  Catholics, on the other hand agree that God predestines the Elect but reject the belief that He also predestines the Reprobate.  To my surprise he skipped this verse – he wrote commentaries on verse 21, and jumped directly to verse 23.  It is understandable if the skipped verse has little impact but verse 22 is too significant to be missed.  The second verse also has something to do with his double predestination view: For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men (Titus 2:11, RSV).  According to Calvin, ‘all men’ here refer to all classes of men, i.e. those belonging to higher class as well as slaves.  In Calvin’s own words:

That it is common to all is expressly testified by him on account of the slaves of whom he had spoken. Yet he does not mean individual men, but rather describes individual classes, or various ranks of life. And this is not a little emphatic, that the grace of God hath let itself down even to the race of slaves; for, since God does not despise men of the lowest and most degraded condition, it would be highly unreasonable that we should be negligent and slothful to embrace his goodness.

The footnote in the Commentary explains further on his rejection to the belief that God offers salvation to all men and that men have freewill.

“We now see why Paul speaks of all men, and thus we may judge of the folly of some who pretend to expound the Holy Scriptures, and do not understand their style, when they say, ‘And God wishes that every person should be saved; the grace of God hath appeared for the salvation of every person; it follows, then, that there is free-will, that there is no election, that none have been predestinated to salvation.’ If those men spoke it ought to be with a little more caution. Paul did not mean in this passage, or in 1 Timothy 2:6, anything else than that the great are called by God, though they are unworthy of it; that men of low condition, though they are despised, are nevertheless adopted by God, who stretches out his hand to receive them. At that time, because kings and magistrates were mortal enemies of the gospel, it might be thought that God had rejected them, and that they cannot obtain salvation. But Paul says that the door must not be shut against them, and that, eventually, God may choose some of this company, though their case appear to be desperate. Thus, in this passage, after speaking of the poor slaves who were not reckoned to belong to the rank of men, he says that God did not fail, on that account, to show himself compassionate towards them, and that he wishes that the gospel should be preached to those to whom men do not deign to utter a word. Here is a poor man, who shall be rejected by us, we shall hardly say, God bless him! and God addresses him in an especial manner, and declares that he is his Father, and does not merely say a passing word, but stops him to say, ‘Thou art of my flock, let my word be thy pasture, let it be the spiritual food of thy soul.’ Thus we see that this word is highly significant, when it is said that the grace of God hath appeared fully to all men.”

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  1. Scott / Mar 5 2013 8:42 pm

    ultimately though if we were to have an unbiased debate on the subject neither side would “win”. Our human minds can not comprehend how God uses predestination or free will. The Bible says both on the matter. For example: 2 Thessalonians 2 :13 states “…God chose you as the first fruits to be saved…” and “Romans 8 : 33 states “Who shall bring any charge against God’ elect”. You can quote me and if anyone has any questions or comments please contact me at missionary2013@aol.com

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