Calvin: Commentaries by Calvin, John

By Calvin, John

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1:15, he insists that Christ is "the image of the invisible God," not only by virtue of his essence, but also as one in whom God makes himself known to us. We know nothing about Christ's divine nature apart from what he has done and continues to do for us. And he has done and continues to do his work as a human being and our brother. Our brother is our King, and our King is our brother. This situation is stated properly in terms, not of essence, but of God's saving work; provided we bear in mind with Calvin that the one and the same saving work was at once the Father's and the Son's by the Spirit.

Calvin knew this, and felt it adequately. He knew the misery of this body of death, and he knew also that a mind conjoined with this body must inevitably be overwhelmed by a life that is in fact a shadow of death (on II Cor. 4:11-12). Sufferings of this life act as portents of death, and before death, says Calvin, "all the powers of men succumb with terror" (on II Cor. 1:8). Calvin was deeply impressed, doubtless in himself as in others, with the elemental desire to live and the shrinking of the flesh from its destruction (on II Cor.

The failings of patriarch, king, and apostle, not to mention those of God's people in general, are set down impressively in the Bible, and Calvin does not fail to point them out. He points out the infidelities, rebellions, cowardices, and malefactions of men which have brought contempt for God and misery upon themselves. History is tragic; but it is neither hopeless nor futile. Universal though evil is, men act as responsible beings, under the mercy as well as the judgment of God, who is wise and knows what he is doing.

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