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CALVIN I." — Beza. 


History of Genera. 

[0nterfli at Stationers' ?^aU.] 




The Commentaries of Calvin on tlie Epistles of Paul are 
generally considered to be among the most successful of his 
Expositions of Scripture, In the writings, indeed, of one 
whose vast powers have been applied to the exposition of 
nearly the whole of the Inspired Volume, and whose rare 
endowments, as an interpreter of Scripture, have drawn forth 
expressions of the profoundest admiration even from the 
most inveterate adversaries of the system of doctrine main- 
tained by him, there is room for some diversity of opinion 
as to the particular portions of Divine truth which he has 
most successfully expounded. It is mentioned by M. Teis- 
sier, in his extracts from M. de Thou's History,^ that " al- 
though all the works of Calvin have merited the esteem of 
persons of good taste, he has in the opinion of some suc- 
ceeded best in unfolding the doctrine of Providence," while, 
according to Joseph Scaliger, who " reckoned Calvin to 
have had a divine genius, and to have excelled in the expli- 
cation of Scripture, so that no one among the ancients could 
be compared" to him, " the best of his theological treatises 
was his Commentary on Daniel." 

While, however, there may be some difference of opinion 
among the many admirers of Calvin as to the particular 
portion of his expository writings, in which his vast powers 
shine forth to most advantage, there can be no question that 
his expositions of the Epistles of Paul are singularly felici- 

^ " Les Eloges des Ilommes Savans.'' — Tom. i. p. 240. 


tons. It is stated by Tholuck, in his view of Calvin as an 
interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, that among his Com- 
mentaries on the New Testament, " those on the Epistles 
of Paul are by far the best,'' and that " in the Pauline 
Epistles, he merges himself in the spirit of the Apostle, and 
becoming one with him, as eveiy one clearly feels, he de- 
duces everywhere the explanation of that which is parti- 
cular from that which is general." ^ A similar view of the 
peculiar excellence of Calvin's expositions of the Epistles of 
Paul is given by Bohmer, of Berlin, in his introduction to 
the Epistle to the Colossians, (as quoted by the late Di\ 
Pye Smith, in his encomium on the writings of Calvin.) 
" John Calvin well merited the epithet, often given to him, 
of The Great Divine. Independent, in the highest degree, 
of other men, he most often discerns, with piercing eye, the 
spiritual mind of Paul, and with his masterly command of 
language, makes it so clear, that both the most learned stu- 
dent of theology, and the plain aiFectionate believer, are 
equally benefited and satisfied."^ 

That the Expository Treatises of Calvin on Paul's Epistles 
should be considered by the most eminent critics to be pecu- 
liarly successful is the more remarkable, when we take into 
view the disadvantageous circumstances under which most, 
if not all, of them were prepared. His Commentaries on 
six of Paul's Epistles were written by him (as we are in- 
formed by Beza, in his Life of Calvin^) in 1548, a year of 
most harassing conflict with the enemies of the truth. His 
Correspondence, however, at this period, clearly shews that 
his devout mind found tranquillity in an assurance of Divine 
support. In writing to Brentius, who was then living in exile 
at Basle, he saj's : " Amidst all these calamities one consi- 
deration supports and refreshes my mind : I assure mj'^self 
that God, in commencing the wonderful restoration of his 
Church, which we have witnessed, has not held out a vain 
and transient hope to us, but has begun a work that he will 
not fail to accomplish in spite of the malice of men and the 
opposition of Satan. In the meantime let us 2>atiently un- 

' " Merits of Calvin," pp. G, 31. « Ibid., pp. 65, GQ. 

* Calvin's Tracts, vol. i. p. liii. 


(lergo the purification which is necessary for us."^ It mani- 
festly appears, also, from the Dedicatory Epistle prefixed to his 
Commentaries on four of Paul's Epistles, addressed to Chris- 
topher, Duke of Wirtemberg, that he had found the Epistles 
of Paul peculiarly consoling to his mind amidst outward 
troubles, Calvin is thought, indeed, to have had a marked 
resemblance in disposition and character to the great Apostle 
of the Gentiles, so that he has been termed by an eloquent 
writer,^ " the Paul of the Reformation," — a circumstance 
which is thought to have contributed to render him more 
successful in the exposition of Paul's Epistles, while, as is 
justly observed by the Translator of Calvin on Galatians 
and Ephesians in the Biblical Cabinet, (vol. xxx.) " the chief 
cause unquestionably lay in his singularly clear perception 
of that system of doctrine which Paul was honoured to 

ated with a most interesting event in the history of the pro- 
gress of Christianity. While the charge given to the Apostles 
as to the universal promulgation of the Gospel was most ex- 
plicit, it was in a gradual manner, and for the most part under 
the guidance of circumstances seemingly fortuitous, that their 
sphere of labour was extended. " Beginning at Jerusalem," 
(Luke xxiv. 47,) as expressly instructed by their Master, they 
would, to all appearance, have continued to pursue their 
labours in and around that city, had not occurrences taken 
place from time to time, and these, too, of an untoward 
nature, considered in themselves, which led them to extend 
the benefits of the Gospel to countries more and more re- 
mote from their original sphere of labour. 

PiiiLiPPi was the first place in Europe in which the Gospel 
of Christ was proclaimed, and it is sufficiently manifest from 
Luke's narrative, that the introduction of the Gospel at that 
time into Europe was not the result of any preconcerted plan 
on the part of the Apostles themselves. Had they been left 

' " CaIvVIN and the Svvi^s Reformution," p. 350. 
^ Dr. Miison of New York. 


to their own choice, they would, it appears, have dissemi- 
nated the Gospel in Bithynia, or some other province of 
Asia Minor ; but, instead of this, they were specially directed 
by the Spirit of God to " come over into Macedonia," (Acts 
xvi. 9,) by which means the Gospel was for the first time 
introduced into Europe. And when we consider the import- 
ant place which Europe has held during so many ages in 
connection with the progress of Christianity, and more espe- 
cially the high honour assigned to European Christians, as 
being chiefly instrumental in its diffusion throughout the 
world, we cannot fail to mark with deep interest the circum- 
stances connected with the first preaching of the Gospel at 
Philippi, " The little rilV says Foster, " near the source 
of one of the great American rivers, is an interesting object 
to the traveller, who is apprized, as he steps across it, or 
walks a few miles along its bank, that this is the stream 
which runs so far, and which gradually swells into so im- 
mense a flood." ^ For a similar reason, the preaching of the 
Gospel by Paul in the hearing of a few women by a river's 
side near Philippi, trivial as the circumstance may appear 
in itself, becomes invested with the deepest interest, when 
viewed in connection with the state and prospects of Chris- 
tianity at the present day. 

While Luke makes mention only of two individuals — 
Lydia and the Jailer — with their respective households, as 
the fruits of the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi, 
it clearly appears, from the Epistle to the Philippians, that 
from these small beginnings a flourishing Christian Church 
had sprung up, which, at the time when the Epistle was 
written, was in so prosperous a state, that the Apostle, who 
reproves so sharply the Churches of Corinth and Galatia, 
finds no occasion for censuring the Philippians, but com- 
mends in the highest terms their exemplary deportment. 

Philippi was originally called Crenides, from the numer- 
ous /owntoms of water in its neighbourhood, and afterwards 
Dathos, or Datos, from its gold and silver mines. The city 
received the name of Philippi from Philip, father of Alex- 

* Foster's Essays, (Lond. 1819,) p. 5. 


ander the Great, by whom it was rebuilt and greatly en- 
larged. It is celebrated in profane history, as is noticed by 
Calvin in the Argument on the Epistle to the Philippians, 
for a signal victory which was gained by Octavius, after- 
wards Augustus Caesar, and Antony over Brutus and Cas- 
sius ; and it is not a little remarkable, that a city which 
was the scene of a victory that decided the fate of the 
Roman Empire, should have been afterwards illustrious as 
the scene of a nobler victory, intimately connected with the 
signal triumph of the Gospel in Europe. 

The Epistle bears evidence of having been written by 
Paul when a prisoner for the sake of Christ ; and there 
seems every reason to believe that it was written by him 
during his first imprisonment at Rome. Dr. Foley, in his 
Horse PaulinaB, adduces a variety of arguments, founded on 
incidental notices in the Epistle itself, to prove that it was 
written " near the conclusion of St. Paul's imprisonment at 
Rome, and after a residence in that city of considerable 
duration.'' It is generally believed to have been written 
about A.D. 62. The Epistle "breathes," says Barnes, " the 
spirit of a ripe Christian, whose piety was mellowing for the 
harvest ; of one who felt that he was not far from heaven, 
and might soon be with Christ. ... At the mercy of such 
a man as Nero ; a prisoner ; among strangers, and with 
death staring him in the face, it is natural to suiDpose that 
there would be a peculiar solemnity, tenderness, pathos, and 
ardour of affection breathing through the entire Epistle. 
Such is the fact ; and in none of the writings of Paul are 
these qualities more apparent than in this letter to the 

supposed to have been written by Paul about a.d. 62, in the 
ninth year of the reign of the Emperor Nero. It bears evi- 
dence of having been written during Paul's first imprison- 
ment at Rome, The Apostle, in the course of the Epistle, 
makes repeated allusions to the circumstance of his being at 
the time in "bonds" (Col. iv. 18) for the sakeof Christ. Colosse 


(or, as several ancient manuscripts read, Colassa)) was, at the 
time when the Epistle to the Colossians was written, a flourish- 
ing city in the south of Phrygia, situated most picturesquely 
under the immense range of Mount Cadmus, and near the 
confluence of the rivers Lycus and Meander ; but, about a 
year after Paul's Epistle was written, was, along with the 
neighbouring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis, destroyed 
by an earthquake, as is noticed by Calvin in the Argument 
of the Epistle. The site of the ancient city, tlie only re- 
maining vestiges of which consist of arches, vaults, squared 
stones, and broken pottery, is now occupied by the village 
of Khonas, in which, as stated by the General Assembly's 
Deputation to Palestine in 1839, " a band of about thirty 
Greek Christians are found." ^ 

It has been matter of controversy by whom the Church 
OF CoLOSSE was planted. Dr. Lardner adduces a variety of 
considerations tending to shew that it was founded by Paul, 
chiefly the following : — That as Paul was twice in Phrygia, 
as stated by Luke, (Acts xvi. 6, and xviii. 23,) it is ex- 
tremely probable, that on one or other of those occasions he 
was at Colosse, and planted a Church there; that he expresses 
himself toward the close of the first chapter in such terms 
as seem to imply that he had himself dispensed the Gospel 
to the Colossians, and that the general tenor of the Epistle 
seems to indicate that he is not writing to strangers, but to 
persons with whom he had been personally conversant, and 
to whom he had been, under God, the instrument of conver- 
sion. On the other hand, many distinguished commentators 
are of opinion that the Church of Colosse was not founded 
by Paul. Calvin, in the Argument of the Epistle, speaks 
of the Colossians as having been instructed in the Gospel, 
not by Paul, but by Epapiiras and other Ministers. Hug 
and Koppe are decidedly of opinion that Paul did not plant 
the Church of Colosse, and had no personal acquaintance 
with the Christians there. Davenant is of opinion that the 
Church of Colosse was planted by Epapiiras. By field, in 
liis Exposition of the Colossians, thinks it probable that the 

' " Narrative of a j\lissiou of Inquiry to the Jews," p. oo'd. 


Churcli of Colosse was planted, 7iot by Paul, but by Epaphras 
or Archippus. Doddridge thinks the Epistle " contains no 
argument from whence it can certainly be inferred that he" 
(Paul) " was personally acquainted with the Colossians." 
Scott, in his Preface to the Epistle, gives it as his " decided 
opinion, that the evidence against the Apostle's having been 
at Colosse is far stronger than any that has been adduced 
on the affirmative side of the question.'" In short, there is 
no inconsiderable force in the arguments adduced on both 
sides, and " uncertainty still lies on the dispute whether 
Paul was ever at Colosse." ^ 

While, however, there is so much uncertainty as to the 
person by whom the Church of Colosse was planted, that 
uncertainty, it is to be noticed, does not by any means arise 
from any indication of comj^arative indifference on the part of 
the Apostle Paul to the welfare of the Colossian converts in 
the Epistle which he addresses to them. While a prisoner 
at Rome for the sake of the Gospel, he had heard with deep 
concern of the insidious attempts which had been made by 
certain false teachers to draw off the Colossian Christians 
from the doctrine in which they had been insti'ucted. It 
is not certain what were the precise tenets, that were at- 
tempted to be disseminated among them. There seems to 
have been a strange blending of the doctrines of the Essenes 
with the subtleties of Platonism, and the asceticism of Orien- 
tal Philosojjhy. 

The general scope of the Epistle is briefly stated by Dave- 
nant as follows — that the hope of man's salvation is placed 
entirely in Christ alone, and that consequently we must rest 
satisfied with faith in Christ, and live according to the rule 
laid down in the Gospel, to the rejection of Mosaic ceremo- 
nies and philosophical speculations. The attentive reader 
of the New Testament cannot fail to observe a striking simi- 
larity between the Epistle to the Colossians and that address- 
ed to the Ephesians, not merely in their general structure, 
but also in the subjects treated of, and even in the order and 
connection in which they are introduced — ►a closeness of 

1 Eadies IJibliciil Cyclopx'dia, Art. Colossians. 


resemblance wliich clearly indicates, not merely that the 
Epistles were written by the same person, and about the 
same time, but also that the Churches to whom they were 
addressed, were in many respects similarly situated. 

Among the expository treatises on the Epistle to the 
Colossians, there is, apart from that of Calvin, no one that 
better deserves, or will more amply repay attentive perusal, 
than that of Bishop Davenant, as a sound, judicious, and 
eminently practical exposition of a portion of the New Testa- 
ment, in wliich the distinctive doctrines and principles of 
Christianity are so largely brought into view. It deserves 
also to be mentioned in connection with this, that Mr. Howe, 
in his funeral sermon on the death of his intimate friend, 
the Rev. Richard Adams of Oxford, afterwards of London, 
speaks with high commendation of his "judicious and dilucid 
expositions of the Epistles to the Philippians and the Colos- 
sians — which was the part he bore in the supplement to that 
useful work — the English Annotations on the Bible, by the 
Rev. Mr. Matthew Pool"^ 


is generally believed to have been the first Epistle written 
by Paul to any of the Churches of Christ. It appears to have 
been written towards the close of a.d. 52, about two years 
subsequently to the introduction of the Gospel into Thessa- 
lonica by the instrumentality of Paul and Silas. Thessalo- 
NiCA was a large and populous city, situated on the Thermean 
Bay. The city was originally called Thermae, but came to 
receive the name of Thessalonica from Philip, King of Mace- 
don, by whom it was rebuilt and enlarged, in memory of the 
victory which he there gained over the Thessalians. Its 
present name is Saloniki — manifestly a corruption of Thes- 
salonica. It contains a population of 70,000, and is a city 
of great commercial importance. 

In the account which Luke gives of the introduction of 
the Gospel into Thessalonica, mention is made of Paul's 

' Howe's Works, (Loud. 1822,) vol. iii. p. 435. 


entering into a Synagogue of the Jews and " reasoning with 
them three Sabbath days out of the Scriptures." (Acts xvii. 2.) 
This was the means of converting to the Christian faitli 
some of his Jewish hearers ; but, as is manifest from Paul's 
First Epistle to the Thessalonians, the converts gained were 
chiefly from among the idolatrous Gentiles. Thessalonica 
" adored many gods, but principally Jupiter, as the father 
of Hercules, the alleged founder of its ancient royal family."^ 
A violent tumult which had been raised against Paul and 
Silas by the unbelieving Jews constrained them to quit 
Thessalonica on a sudden, and escape to Berea, and after- 
wards to Athens ; and the abrupt manner in which the 
Apostle's labours at Thessalonica were broken off, seems to 
have led him to feel the more solicitous as to the prosperity 
of the Gospel in that city, and to have given occasion for 
the Church of the Thessalonians being favoured to receive 
the earliest of Paul's Epistles. 

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians eoncludes with a 
special direction that we do not find to be given in con- 
nection with any other of Paul's Epistles : " I charge you by 
the Lord, that this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." 
(1 Thess. V. 27.) The strict charge thus given as to the public 
reading of the Epistle is justly adduced by Foley , in his Horse 
Paulinae, as a most convincing evidence of the authenticity of 
the Epistle. " Either the Epistle was publicly read in the 
Church of Thessalonica during St. Paul's lifetime, or it was 
not. If it was, no publication could be more authentic, no 
species of notoriety more unquestionable, no method of pre- 
serving the integrity of the copy more secure. If it was 
not, the clause we produce would remain a standing con- 
demnation of the forgery, and, one would suppose, an invin- 
cible impediment to its success." 

It is an interesting circumstance, that the first Epistle 
written by Paul to any Christian Church affords a most 
pleasing view of the fruits of the Gospel among the Chris- 
tians to whom it is addressed ; while it presents a most 
attractive picture of zeal and devotedness on the part of the 

* Illustrated Commentary, vol. v. p. 297. 


writer. " If I wished/' says Fuller of Kettering, " to be 
impressed with a pattern of a Christian minister, I would 
study the second chapter of this Epistle" (1st Thessalonians) ; 
" and if I wished to see a pattern of a Christian people, I 
know not where I could look better than to the Church of 
the Thessalonians."^ The general design of the Epistle is 
to express the high satisfaction afforded to the mind of the 
writer by the favourable accounts which had been brought 
him by Timothy resj)ecting the Christians at Thessalonica, 
as well as to encourage them to stedfast adherence to the 
truth amidst more than ordinary temptations to apostasy. 
" Imagine," says Benson, in his Preface to the Epistle, " the 
Great Apostle of the Gentiles to be full of a just resent- 
ment and generous indignation against his countrymen, the 
unbelieving Jews, who had lately treated him and them so 
maliciously ; and at the same time having the most tender 
and parental care and affection for the young converts at 
Thessalonica, and you will have the very posture of his mind 
during the writing of this Epistle, for these two things appear 
everywhere throughout the Epistle." 

appears to have been written a short time after Paul's former 
Epistle to that Church The Apostle had learned, that some 
expressions in his former Epistle in reference to the hopes 
of Christians beyond the grave had been misapprehended by 
the Thessalonian converts, as though he had intended to 
intimate that Christ's second advent was near at hand. In 
correcting this mistaken idea, he takes occasion to predict a 
great apostasy that was to overspread to a large extent the 
Christian Church, and when we consider how directly opposed 
" The Mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. ii. 7) here predicted 
is to the nature of Christianity, and how unlikely the break- 
ing out of such a system of error must have appeared at the 
time when the prediction was given forth, this portion of 
the Apostolical Writings must be regarded as affording un- 

» Fuller's Works, vol. iv. p. .'SIS. 


equivocal evidence of tlieir Divine authority. It is not a 
little remarkable that the Apostle Paul, in one of the earliest 
of his EjDistles, and when writing to a Church that was in a 
most flourishing condition, foretells with the utmost distinct- 
ness and minuteness, the rise and progress of a system of 
delusive error, which was not to be fully developed until 
several centuries subsequently to the time when the predic- 
tion was committed to writing ; while it manifests itself 
even at the present day so strikingly in accordance with 
Paul's prediction, that no historian of recent times could 
have furnished a more accurate delineation of the appalling 
system in all its leading features, than was thus presented 
to the mind of Paul eighteen hundred years ago by the 
Spirit of Inspiration. Thus the Second Epistle to the Tlies- 
salonians, while it is the shortest of Paul's Epistles to the 
Churches, is invested with more than ordinary interest, as 
predicting the rise, progress, and final destinies of the Papal 

" The Epistle naturally divides itself," as is remarked by 
Dr. Adam Clarke, " into three parts, and each is contained 
in a separate chapter : 

" Part I., Chap. I., contains the Address, and Motives of 
Consolation in their afflicted and persecuted state. 

" Part II., Chap. II., is partly Prophetical, and partly Di- 
dactic. It contains the doctrine concerning Christ's Coming 
to Judgment, and a Prophecy concerning some future but 
great Apostasy from the Christian Faith. 

" Part III., Chap. Ill, is wholly Hortatory, and contains 
a number of important Advices relative to Christian Virtues 
and a proper behaviour in those situations in life in which 
it had pleased God to call them." 

The Reader will find prefixed to the present translation of 
Calvin's Commentary on the Colossians, a copy of the 
Translator's " Epistle Dedicatorie " to the old English trans- 
lation of Calvin's Commentary on that Epistle, published in 
black letter in 1581. The Translator, who gives merely liis 
initials, (R. V.,) aj^pears to have been Robert Vahne, or 


Vaughan, who published also in 1581 a translation of Cal- 
vin's Commentary on the Galatians. The title-page is as 
follows : — " A Commentarie of M. lohn Caluine, vpon the 
Epistle to the Colossians. And translated into English by 
R. V. 

Pray for the peace of Hierusalem, they shall prosper that 
loue thee, Psal. 121. 6. 

At London, Printed by Thomas Purfoote, and are to be sold 
at his shop ouer against S. Sepulchers Church/' 

He is also the author of " A Dialogue defensyue for women 
agaynst malicyous detractoures/' published in 1542; and of 
a translation published in 1582, of " Examination of the 
Councell of Trent, touching the Decree of Traditions, by 
Mart. Kemnicious." 

It will be observed, that there is no separate Dedication 
by Calvin of his Commentaries on the Philippians and Co- 
lossians — his Commentaries on these Epistles having been 
dedicated by him, along with those on Galatians and Ephe- 
siANS, to Christopher, Duke of Wirtemberg. The Dedica- 
tion will be inserted in a future volume of The Calvin 
Translations, which will contain the Translation of the 
Commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians. 

Maturinus Corderius, {Mathurin Cordier,) to whom Cal- 
vin dedicates his Commentary on the First Epistle to the 
Thessalonians, was, as stated by Beza, in his Life of Calvin,^ 
" a man of great worth and erudition, and in the highest 
repute in almost all the schools of France as a teacher of 
youth." He taught at Paris, Nevers, Bordeaux, Neufchatel, 
Lausanne, and Geneva. He was the author of the " Collo- 
quies," so much used in the education of youth throughout 
Europe. Calvin was his pupil at the College de la Marche. 
He died at Geneva, where he taught till within a few days 
of his death, in 1564, at the age of eighty-five. 

Benedict Textor, to whom Calvin dedicates his Com- 
mentary on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, appears 
to have been the son or nephew of Jean Tixier de Ravisi, 
or Ravisius Textor (Lord of Ravisi,) who was Rector of the 

1 Calvin's Tracts, vol. i. p. xxi. 



University of Navarre at Paris, and was the author of vari- 
ous works. He died in 1524. There is a small volume still 
extant containing "Epistles" (to the number of 149,) which 
appears to have been written by a relative of Benedict Tex- 
tor. It bears date 1602, and is entitled "Epistolse Joannis 
Ravisii Textoris (Nivernensis) — non vulgaris eruditionis." 

While The Commentaries of Calvin everywhere abound 
with important statements in reference to Popery, so that 
the reader will find able and successful refutations of the 
errors of that corrupt and delusive system brought forward 
in connection with the interpretation of passages of the Word 
of God, which might have seemed to have no particular 
bearing on the Papal system, and introduced by him for the 
most part with less abruptness than is to be observed in the 
writings of some of his contemporaries, the present Volume 
of his Commentaries is rendered the more interesting, and 
will, we trust, under the Divine blessing, be productive of 
the greater utility, in the present eventful times, from its 
containing Calvin's exposition of a portion of the new 
TESTAMENT that presents the minutest and most compre- 
hensive view that is to be found in any part of the Sacred 
Writings, of the rise, progress, and ultimate overthrow of 

J. P. 

ELaiN, March 1851. 


and reuerende fatliers maister Noel, 

Doanc of Poules, M. Mullins Archdeacon of London, 

mntstcr "5B. SSEalkr, .^rcljlicacon of dBssc.x, $c maister 

Towers professor of diuinity, his singuler good 

fiienDes anti patrons, R. V. tBi= 

sf)ct]^ all f)£alt]&. 

Many in the dedications of their trauails are accustomed to set forth the 
pi'aises of such persons as they do dedicate the same vnto. And surely 
I thinke it 7iot amisse if flattery he absent. For who is ignorant that 
virtus laudiitii crescit, pj-aise virtue, and it shall encrease. I speake 
not this, right worshipful and reverende fathers, to the ende that I meane 
to do the like to you, although no man that knoweth you but he will say 
you u'orthclye deserue the same: for if I shoulde either praise your 
learning or diligence in your vocation which euery tvhere is knoioen, or 
your godly conuersation which vnto your nighest frendes is ivell tried, or 
your liberality tvhich all those that haue neede, but spetially the Godly 
poore haue found and daily do fjnde, who might iustly reprehend me : 
but letting passe these thinges to the consideration of vpright iiidges, I 
jmrpose to shew and that very brieflye what hath moued me to dedicate 
this present booke vnto your worshippes. You knoive that I receaued at 
your handes {that worthye man maister D. Watts beynge then aliue, 
tvhom with reuerence I remember) that liuinge which I haue : and 
althoughe you sell not your benefices (as manye in these dayes do) yet 
1-eason woulde that I should not remaine vnthankefull for the same, 
though it were a greate deale lesse then it is. And wheras want of 
abilitye would not suffer me to recompence othervvyse your good will, yet 
rather then still I should continue vntliankeful, I chose this title com- 
mentary of that worthye father M. Caluine to supply that which els 
might be left vndon : vvherin I wish that my hart lay open to be viewed: 
then would you iiot more regard the thinge it selfe, which no doubt is 
worthy the accepting, then the good vnl of him that presenteth the same 
vnto you. Fare you vvel. At high Easter the first of Nouember. 

1f)ours to commauntr 

R. V. 





It is generally known that Puilippi was a city of Macedonia, 
situated on the confines of Thrace, on the plains of which Pompey 
was conquered by Cesar ;i and Brutus and Cassms were afterwards 
conquered by Antony and Octaviusr Thus Roman insurrections 
rendered this place illustrious by two memorable engagements. 
When Paul was called into Macedonia by an express revelation,^ 
he first founded a Church in that city, (as is related by Luke in Acts 
xvi. 12,) which did not merely persevere steadfastly in the faith, 
but was also, in process of time, as this Epistle bears evidence, 
enlarged both in the number of individuals, and in their profi- 
ciency in respect of attainments. 

The occasion of Paul's writing to the Philippians was this, — As 
they had sent to him by Epaphroditus, their pastor, such things 
as were needed by him when in prison, for sustaining life, and for 
other more than ordinary expenses, there can be no doubt that 
Epaphroditus explained to him at the same time the entire con- 

* Cesar's celebrated victory over Pompey took place on the plains of 
Pharsalia, in Thessaly, with which Philippi in Macedonia is sometimes 
confounded by the poets. (See Virg. Gr. I. 490, Juvenal, viii. 242.) Their 
being sometimes confounded with each other appears to have arisen from 
the circumstance that there was near Pharsalos, in Thessaly, a town named 
Philippi, the original name of which was Thebae, distinguished from Thebae 
in Boeotia by its being called Thebae Thessaliae, or Pliikioticae, but having 
fallea under the power of Philip, King of Macedon, was in honour of the 
conqueror called Philippi, or Philippopolis. — Ed. 

2 The decisive engagement referred to was, as Dio Cassius observes, the 
most important of all that were fought during the civil wars, as it deter- 
mined the fate of Roman liberty, so that the contest thenceforward was 
not for freedom, but — what master the Romans should serve. From its 
having been fought on the plains of Philippi, it is called by Suetonius 
Philippense helium, (the battle of Philippi,) l^vet. Aug. 13; and by Pliny, 
Philippense praelium, {the engagement at Philippi.) — Ed 

* " Vne vision enuoyee de Dieu;" — " A vision sent from God." 


dition of the Church, and acted the part of an adviser in suggesting 
those things, respecting which they required to be admonished. It 
appears, however, that attempts had been made upon them by false 
apostles,^ who wandered hither and thither, with the view of 
spreading corruptions of sound doctrine ; but as they had remained 
steadfast in the truth, the Apostle commends their steadfastness. 
Keeping, however, in mind human frailty, and having, perhaps, 
been instructed by Epaphroditus that they required to be season- 
ably confirmed, lest they should in process of time fall away, he 
subjoins such admonitions as he knew to be suitable to them. 

And having, first of all, with the view of securing their confi- 
dence, declared the pious attachment of his mind towards them, he 
proceeds to treat of himself and of his bonds, lest they should feel 
dismayed on seeing him a prisoner, and in danger of his life. He 
shews them, accordingly, that the glory of the gospel is so far from 
being lessened by this means, that it is rather an argument in 
confirmation of its truth, and he at the same time stirs them up 
by his own example to be prepared for every event.^ He at length 
concludes the First Chapter with a short exhortation to unity and 

As, however, ambition is almost invariably the mother of dis- 
sensions, and comes, on this account, to open a door for new and 
strange doctrines, he, in the commencement of the Second Chapter, 
entreats them, with great earnestness, to hold nothing more highly 
in esteem than humility and modesty. With this view he makes use 
of various arguments. And that he may the better retain them,^ he 
})romises to send Timothy to them shortly, nay more, he expresses 
a hope of being able to visit them himself. He afterwards assigns 
a reason for delay on the part of Epaphroditus.^ 

In the Third Chapter he inveighs against the false apostles, and 
sets aside both their empty boastings and the doctrine of circum- 
cision, which they eagerly maintained.^ To all their contrivances 

1 " Auoyent essayer les esbranler ;" — " Had attempted to shake them." 

* " De s'apprcstre a tout ce qu'il plaira a Dieii leur enuoyer ;" — " To be 
prepared for everything that it shall please God to send upon them." 

^ " Et pour leur donner courage, afin qu'ils ne se laissent cependaiit 
abuser ;" — " And with the view of encouraging them, that they may not 
allow themselves in the meantime to go astray." 

* " 11 excuse Epaphrodite de ce qu'il auoit tant demeure sans retourner 
vers eux ;"' — " He excuses Epaphroditus for having remained so long, 
instead of returning to thcni." 

•'■ " Pour laquelle ils debatoyent, voulans qu'elle fust obscniee ;" — " Fur 
which they contended, being desirous that it should be observed." 


he opposes the simple doctrine of Christ. To their arrogance ^ he 
opposes his former life and present course of conduct, in which ii 
true image of Christian piety shone forth. He shews, also, that 
the summit of perfection, at which we must aim during our whole 
life, is this — to have fellowship with Christ in his death and resur- 
rection ; and this he establishes by his own example. 

He begins the Fourth Chapter with particular admonitions, but 
proceeds afterwards to those of a general nature. He concludes 
the Epistle with a declaration of his gratitude to the Philippians, 
that they may not think that what they had laid out for relieving 
his necessities had been ill bestowed. 




1. Paul and Timotheus, the ser- 1. Paulus et Timotheus, serA-i 
vants of Jesiis Christ, to all the saints lesu Christi, omnibus Sanctis in 
in Christ Jesus which are at Phi- Christo lesu, qui sunt Philippis, cmii 
lippi, with the bishops and deacons : Episeopis et Diaconis : 

2. Grace he unto you, and peace, 2. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo 
from God our Father, and /rom the Patre nostro, et Domino lesu 
Lord Jesus Christ. Cln-isto. 

3. I thank my God upon every 3. Gratias ago Deo nieo in omni 
remembrance of yovi, memoria vestri.° 

4. Always in every prayer of mine 4. Semper in omni precatione mea 
for you all, making request with joy, pro vobis omnibus cum gaudio pre- 

cationcm feciens, 

5. For your fellowship in the gos- 6. Super comniunicatione vestra 
pel from the first day imtil now; inEvangelium,aprimodiehucusquc; 

6. Being confident of this very 6. Hoc ipsum persuasus, quod qui 
thing, that he which hath begun a coepit in vobis opus honum, perficiet 
good work in you, will perform it usque in diem lesu Christi. 

until the day of Jesus Christ. 

1 " Ai-rogance et vanterie ;" — " Arrogance and boasting." 

* " Toutes les fois que i'ay sonucnance de vous. oit, auec entierc souuen- 

ance de vous ;" — " Every time that 1 have remembrance of you, or, with 

constant reuiembrance of you." 


1. Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ While 
Paul is accustomed, in the inscription of his epistles, to 
employ titles of distinction, with the view of procuring credit 
for himself and his ministry, there was no need of lengthened 
commendations in writing to the Philippians, who had known 
him by experience as a true Apostle of Christ, and still 
acknowledged him as such beyond all controversy. For they 
had persevered in the calling of God steadfastly, and in an 
even tenor. ■^ 

Bisho2)s. He names the pastors separately, for the sake 
of honour. We may, however, infer from this, that the name 
of bishop is common to all the ministers of the Word, inas- 
much as he assigns several bishops to one Church. The 
titles, therefore, of bishop and pastor, are synonymous. And 
this is one of the passages which Jerome quotes for proving 
this in his epistle to Evagrius,^ and in his exposition of the 
Epistle to Titus.^ Afterwards* there crept in the custom of 
applying the name of bishop exclusively to the person whom 
the presbyters in each church appointed over their company.^ 
It originated, however, in a human custom, and rests on no 
Scripture authority. I acknowledge, indeed, that, as the 
minds and manners of men are, there cannot be order main- 
tained among the ministers of the word, without one pre- 
siding over the others. I speak of particular bodies,*^ not of 
whole provinces, much less of the whole world. Now, although 
we must not contend for words, it were at the same time 
better for us in speaking to follow the Holy Spirit, the author 
of tongues, than to change for the worse forms of speech 
which are dictated to us by Him. For from the corrupted 

^ " Sans se desbauclicr;" — "Without cnrruptinn^ themselves." 
^ " Evagrius, a native of Antioch, and a presbyter apparently of the 
Church of Antioch. He travelled into the west of Europe, and was ac- 
quainted with Jerome, Avho describes him as a man arris ac fcrvaitis in- 
fjniii, (of a keen and warm temper.)" — Smith's Dictionary of Greek 
liio^^raphy and Mythology. — Ed. 

' The reader will find both of the passages referred to quoted at full 
length in the Insiititte.i, vol. iii. pp. 7.5, 70. — Ed. 

* " Depuis les temps de I'Apostre ;" — " After the times of the Apostle." 
_' " Ordonnoyent conducteur de leur congregation:" — " Ajjpointed leader 
of their congregation." 

» " De chacun corps d'Eglise en particulier :" — " Of each body of tlic 
Church ill iiarticuhir." 


signification of the word this evil has resulted, that, as if all 
the presbyters^ were not colleagues, called to the same office, 
one of them, under the pretext of a new appellation, usurped 
dominion over the others. 

Deacons. This term may be taken in two ways — either 
as meaning administrators, and curators of the poor, or for 
elders, who were appointed for the regulation of morals. As, 
however, it is more generally made use of by Paul in the 
former sense, I understand it rather as meaning stewards, 
who superintended the distributing and receiving of alms. 
On the other points consult the preceding commentaries. 

3. I give thanks. He begins with thanksgiving^ on two 
accounts — first, that he may by this token shew his love to 
the Philippians ; and secondly, that, by commending them 
as to the past, he may exhort them, also, to perseverance in 
time to come. He adduces, also, another evidence of his 
love — the anxiety which he exercised in supplications. It 
is to be observed, however, that, whenever he makes men- 
tion of things that are joyful, he immediately breaks forth 
into thanksgiving — a jpractice with which we ought also to 
be familiar. We must, also, take notice, what things they 
are for which he gives thanks to God, — the fellowship of the 
Philippians in the gospel of Christ ; for it follows from this, 
that it ought to be ascribed to the grace of God. When he 
says, upon every remembrance of you, he means, " As often 
as I remember you." 

4. Always in every prayer. Connect the words in this 
manner : " Always presenting prayer for you all in every 
prayer of mine." For as he had said before, that the 
remembrance of them was an occasion of joy to him, so he 
now subjoins, that they come into his mind as often as he 
prays. He afterwards adds, that it is with joy that he pre- 
sents prayer in their behalf. Joy refers to the past ; prayer 
to the future. For he rejoiced in their auspicious begin- 
nings, and was desirous of their perfection. Thus it becomes 
us always to rejoice in the blessings received from God in 

' " Tons prestres et pasteiirs ;" — " All priests ami pastors." 
2 " Vne protestation, qu'il est ioyeux de leur bien ;" — " A protestation, 
that he is deliolited on account of their welfare." 


such a manner, as to remember to ask from him those things 
that we are still in need of. 

5. For your fellowship. He now, passing over the other 
clause, states the ground of his joy — that they had come 
into the fellowship of the gospel, that is, had become par- 
takers of the gospel, which, as is well known, is accomplished 
by means of faith ; for the gospel appears as nothing to us, 
in respect of any enjoyment of it, until we have received it 
by faith. At the same time the term fellowship may be 
viewed as referring to the common society of the saints, as 
though he had said that they had been associated with all 
the children of God in the faith of the gospel. When he 
says, f?-om the first day, he commends their promptitude in 
having shewn themselves teachable immediately upon the 
doctrine being set before them. The phrase until now de- 
notes their perseverance. Now we know how rare an excel- 
lence it is, to follow God immediately upon his calling us, 
and also to persevere steadfastly unto the end. For many are 
slow and backward to obey, while there are still more that 
fall short through fickleness and inconstancy.^ 

6. Persuaded of this very thing. An additional ground 
of joy is furnished in his confidence in them for the time to 
come.^ But some one will say, why should men dare to 
assure themselves for to-morrow amidst so great an infirmity 
of nature, amidst so many impediments, ruggednesses, and 
precipices f Paul, assuredly, did not derive this confidence 
from the steadfastness or excellence of men, but simply from 
the fact, that God had manifested his love to the Philippians. 
And undoubtedly this is the true manner of acknowledging 
God's benefits — when we derive from them occasion of hoping 
well as to the future.* For as they are tokens at once of 

1 " Qiii se reuoltent ou defaillent en chemin par legerete ;" — " Who revolt 
or fall back in the way through fickleness." 

' " Qu'il se confioit d'eux qu'ils perseuereroyent de reste de leiir vie ;" — 
" That he had confidence in them that they would persevere diu-ing the 
remainder of their life." 

* " pLntre tant d'empeschemens, mauuais passages et fascheuscs rencon- 
tres, voire mesme des dangers de tomber tout a plat en perdition ;"' — 
" Amidst so many impediments, hard passes, and disagreeal)lc coUisions, 
nay, even so many hazards of falling headlong into perdition." 

* See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 121. 


his goodness, and of his fatherly benevolence towards us, 
wliat ingratitude were it to derive from this no confirmation 
of hope and good courage ! In addition to this, God is not 
like men, so as to be wearied out or exhausted by conferring 
kindness.^ Let, therefore, believers exercise themselves in 
constant meditation upon the favours which God confers, 
that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time 
to come, and always ponder in their mind this syllogism : 
God does not forsake the work which his own hands have 
begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (Psalm cxxxviii. 8 ; 
Isaiah Ixiv. 8 ;) w^e are the work of his hands ; therefore he 
will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that 
we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere crea- 
tion, but to the calling b}'' which we are adopted into the 
number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, 
tiiat the Lord has called us eifectually to himself by his 

It is asked, however, whether any one can be certain as 
to the salvation of others, for Paul here is not speaking of 
himself but of the Philippians. I answer, that the assurance 
which an individual has respecting his own salvation, is very 
different from what he has as to that of another. For the 
Spirit of God is a witness to me of my calling, as he is to 
each of the elect. As to others, we have no testimony, 
except from the outward efficacy of the Spirit ; that is, in so 
far as the grace of God shews itself in them, so that we come 
to know it. There is, therefore, a great difference, because 
the assurance of faith remains inwardly shut up, and does 
not extend itself to others. But wherever we see any such 
tokens of Divine election as can be perceived by us, we 
ought immediately to be stirred up to entertain good hope, 
both in order that we may not be envious^ towards our 
neighbours, and withhold from them an equitable and kind 
judgment of charity ; and also, that we may be grateful to 
God.^ This, however, is a general rule both as to ourselves 

* " Tl ne se lasse point en bien faisant, et son thresor ne diminue point ;" 
— " He does not weary himself in doing good, and does not diminish his 

^ " Knuieux et desdaigneux ;" — " I'^nvious and disdainful." 

^ '• i'our recognoistre le bien que Dieu leiur a fait, et n'estre point ingrats 


and as to others — that, distrusting our own strength, we 
depend entirely upon God alone. 

Until the day of Jesus Christ. The chief thing, indeed, 
to be understood here is — until the termination of the con- 
flict. Now the conflict is terminated by death. As, how- 
ever, the Spirit is accustomed to speak in this manner in 
reference to the last coming of Christ, it were better to extend 
the advancement of the grace of Christ to the resurrection 
of the flesh. For although those who have been freed from 
the mortal body do no longer contend with the lusts of the 
flesh, and are, as the expression is, beyond the reach of a 
single dart,^ yet there will be no absurdity in speaking of 
them as in the way of advancement,^ inasmuch as they 
have not yet reached the point at which they aspire, — 
they do not yet enjoy the felicity and glory which they 
have hoped for ; and in fine, the day has not yet shone 
which is to discover the treasures which lie hid in hope. 
And in truth, when hope is treated of, our eyes must always 
be directed forward to a blessed resurrection, as the grand 
object in view. 

7. Even as it is meet for me to 7. Sicuti iustum est mihi hoc de 
think this of you all, because I have vobis omnibus sentire, propterea 
you in my heart ; inasmuch as both quod in corde vos habeam, esse om- 
in my bonds, and in the defence and nes participes gratife mete, et in vin- 
contirmation of the gospel, ye all are culis meis, et in defensione, et con- 
partakers of my grace. firmatione Evangehi. 

8. P'or God is my record, how 8. Testis enim mihi est Dens, ut 
greatly I long after you all in the desidercm vos omnes in visceribus^ 
bowels of Jesus Christ. lesu Cliristi. 

9. And this I pray, that your love 0. Et hoc prccor, ut caritas ves- 
may abound yet more and more in tra adhuc niagis ac magis abundet 
knowledge and in all judgment : cum agnitione, omnique intelligcn- 


enuers hiy ;" — " That we may acknowledge the kindness which God has 
shewn them, and may not be ungrateful to him." 

' " Extra teli jactum" — Virgil makes use of a corresponding phrase — 
" intra jactimi teU;" — " Within the reach of a dart." Virg. vEn. xi. 608. 

* " En voye de proutiter, ou auancer ;" — " In the way of making pro- 
gress, or advancement.'' 

^ " Aux entriulles de Jesus Christ, on, Es cordiale affection de Jesus 
Christ ;" — " In the bowels of Jesus Christ, or, In the cordial affection of 
Jesus Christ." 


10. That ye may approve things 10. Ut probetis quas utilia sunt, 
that are excellent ; that ye may be quo sitis sinceri, et inoft'ensi usque 
sincere, and without ofl'ence, till the in diem Christi, 

day of Christ ; 

11. Being filled with the fruits of 11. Impleti fructibus iustitise, qui 
righteousness, which are by Jesus sunt per lesum Cliristum, in gloriam 
Christ, unto the glory and praise of et laudem Dei. 


7. As it is reasonable. For we are envious^ valuators of 
the gifts of God if we do not reckon as children of God those 
in whom there shine forth those true tokens of piety, which 
are the marks by which the Spirit of adoption manifests 
himself Paul accordingly says, that equity itself dictates 
to him,^ that he should hope well of the Philippians in all 
time to come, inasmuch as he sees them to be associated 
with himself in participation of grace. It is not without 
due consideration that I have given a different rendering of 
this passage from that of Erasmus, as the judicious reader 
will easily perceive. For he states what opinion he has of 
the Philippians, which was the ground of his hoping well re- 
specting them. He says, then, that they are partakers with 
him of the same grace in his bonds, and in the defence of 
the gospel. 

To have them in his heart is to reckon them as such in 
the inmost affection of his heart. For the Philippians had 
always assisted Paul according to their ability, so as to 
connect themselves with him as associates for maintaining 
the cause of the gospel, so far as was in their power. Thus, 
although they were absent in body, yet, on account of the 
pious disposition which they shewed by every service in their 
power, he recognises them as in bonds along with him. " / 
have you, therefore, in my heart;" that is, sincerely and 
without any pretence, assuredly, and with no slight or 
doubtful opinion — as what ? as partakers of grace — in what ? 
in 'my bonds, by which the gospel is defended. As he 
acknowledged them to be such, it was reasonable that he 
should hope well respecting them. 

Of my grace and in the bonds. It were a ludicrous thing 

' " Maigres et desdaigncux ;" — " Miserable and disdainful." 
'^ " Raison mesme et equitc luy diseut ;" — " Even reason and equity tell 


in the view of the world to reckon a prison to be a benefit 
from God, but if we estimate the matter aright, it is no 
common honour that God confers upon us, when we suffer 
persecution for the sake of his truth. For it was not in vain 
that it was said, (Matt. v. 11,) Blessed shall ye he, when men 
shall afflict and harass you with all kinds of reproaches for 
iny names sake. Let us therefore bear in remembrance 
also, that we must with readiness and alacrity embrace the 
fellowship of the cross of Christ as a special favour from 
God. In addition to bonds he subjoins the defence and con- 
firmation of the gospel, that he may express so much the 
better the honourableness of the service which God has en- 
joined upon us in placing us in opposition to his enemies, so 
as to bear testimony to his gospel. For it is as though he had 
entrusted us with the defence of his gospel. And truly it was 
when armed with this consideration, that the martyrs were 
prepared to contemn all the rage of the wicked, and to rise 
superior to every kind of torture. And would that there 
were present to the mind of all that are called to make a 
confession of their faith, that they have been chosen by 
Christ to be as advocates to plead his cause ! For were they 
sustained by such consolation they would be more coura- 
geous than to be so easily turned aside into a perfidious 

Here, however, some one will inquire, whether the con- 
firmation of the gospel depends on the steadfastness of men. 
I answer, that the truth of God is in itself too firm to re- 
quire that it should have support from any other quarter ; 
for though we should all of us be found liars, God, never- 
theless, remains true. (Rom. iii. 4.) There is, however, no 
absurdity in saying, that weak consciences are confirmed in 
it by such helps. That kind of confirmation, therefore, of 
which Paul makes mention, has a relation to men, as we 
learn from our own experience that the slaughter of so many 
martyrs has been attended at least with this advantage, that 
they have been as it were so many seals, by which the gospel 

' " lis seroyent si constans ct fermcs, qu'ils ne pourroyent cstre aisee- 
ment induits a se reuolter lascliement et desloyaument ;" — " They would 
be so steadfast and firm, that they could not be easily induced to revolt 
in a cowardly and disloyal ijianner." 


has been sealed in our liearts. Hence that saying of Ter- 
tullian, that " the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the 
Church," — which I have imitated in a certain poem : " But 
that sacred blood/ the maintainer of God's honour, will be 
like seed for producing offspring."^ 

8. Fo7^ God is my luitness. He now declares more ex- 
plicitly his affection for them, and, with the view of giving 
proof of it, he makes use of an oath, and that on good 
grounds, because we know how dear in the sight of God is 
the edification of his Church. It w^as, too, more especially of 
advantage, that Paul's affection should be thoroughly made 
known to the Philippians. For it tends in no small degree 
to secure credit for the doctrine, when the people are per- 
suaded that they are beloved by the teacher. He calls 
God as a witness to the truth, inasmuch as he alone is the 
Truth, and as a witness of his affection, inasmuch as he 
alone is the searcher of hearts. In the word rendered long 
after, a particular tenn is made use of instead of a general, 
and it is a token of affection, inasmuch as we long after 
those things which are dear to us. 

In the bowels. He places the bowels of Christ in opposi- 
tion to carnal affection, to intimate that his affection is holy 
and pious. For the man that loves according to the flesh 
has respect to his own adA'antage, and may from time to 
time change his mind according to the variety of circum- 
stances and seasons. In the meantime he instructs us by 
what rule the affections of believers ought to be regulated, 

' Sanctus at ille cruor, divini assertor honoris, 
Gignendam ad sobolem seminis iiistar erit. 
2 " A I'imitation duquel au chant de victoire compose par moy en Latin 
en I'honneur de Jesus Christ, 1541, et lequel depuis a este reduit en rime 
Francois, i'ay dit : — 

' Or le sang precieux par martyre espandu 
Pour auoir a son Dieu tesmoignage rendu, 
A I'Eglise de Dieu seruira de semence 
Dont enfans sorteront remplis d'intelligence.'" 
" In imitation of which, in the song of victory composed hy me in Latin 
in honour of Jesus Christ, in 1541, and which has since that (ime been 
rendered into French rhyme, 1 have said : — 

' But the precious blood shed by martyrs 
That it might be as a testimony rendered to its God, 
Will in the Church of God serve as seed 
From which children shall come forth, filled -with understanding.'" 


SO that, renouncing" tlieir own will, they may allow Christ to 
sit at the helm. And, unquestionably, true love can flow 
from no other source tlian from the bowels of Crkist, and this, 
like a goad, ought to affect us not a little — that Christ in a 
manner opens his bowels, that by them he may cherish mu- 
tual affection between us.^ 

9. This I pray that your love. He returns to the prayer, 
which he had simply touched upon in one word in passing. 
lie states, accordingly, the sum of those things which he asked 
from God in their behalf, that they also may learn to pray 
after his example, and may aspire at proficiency in those gifts. 
The view taken by some, as though the love of the Philip- 
pians denoted the Philippians themselves, as illiterate persons 
are accustomed very commonly to say, " Your reverence," — 
" Your paternity," is absurd. For no instance of such an 
expression occurs in the writings of Paul, nor had such 
fooleries come into use. Besides, the statement would be 
less complete, and, independently of this, the simple and 
natural meaning of the words suits admirably well. For the 
true attainments of Christians are when they make progress 
in knowledge, and understanding, and afterwards in love. 
Accordingly the particle in, according to the idiom of the 
Hebrew tongue, is taken here to mean with, as I have also 
rendered it, unless perhaps one should prefer to explain it 
as meaning by, so as to denote the instrument or formal 
cause. For, the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, 
so much the more ought our love to increase. The meaning 
in that case would be, " That your love may increase accord- 
ing to the measure of knowledge.'' All knowledge, means 
what is full and complete — not a knowledge of all things." 

' Beza, when commenting on the expression, in the bowels of Jesus 
Christ, observes, " Alibi solet dicere, In Christo. Ut aufeni significet 
ex quo fonte promanet aftectus iste, et quo etiam feratur, additum visceri- 
hus nomen magnum pondus addit sententine, ut intimus amor signiticetur. 
(Solent enim Ilebraei D''Om, rarhamim, id est, viscera omnes tencros ac 
veluti maternos afiectus vocare ;" — " lie is accustomed in other cases to 
say, In Christ. P>ut to intimate from what fountain that aHection flows, 
and in what direction also it tends, the addition of the term huwds adds 
great wciglit to the statement, so as to express intimate affection. For 
tlie Hebrews are accustomed to employ the tenn D"'Om rochamim, that 
is, bowels, to denote all tender and as it were motherly affections." — Ed. 

° " The word reu^XercA judgment is capable of being rendered sense {-rao-ri 


10. That ye may approve the things that are. Here we 
have a definition of Christian wisdom — to know what is ad- 
vantageous or expedient — not to torture the mind with 
empty subtleties and speculations. For the Lord does not 
wisli that his believing people should eraj)loy themselves 
fruitlessly in learning what is of no profit : From this you 
may gather in what estimation the Sorbonnic theology ought 
to be held, in which you may spend your whole life, and yet 
not derive more of edification from it in connection with the 
hope of a heavenly life, or more of spiritual advantage, than 
from the demonstrations of Euclid. Unquestionably, although 
it taught nothing false, it well deserves to be execrable, on 
the ground that it is a pernicious profanation of spiritual doc- 
trine. For Scripture is useful, as Paul says, in 2 Tim. iii. 1 6, 
but there you will find nothing but cold subtleties of words. 

That ye may he sincere. This is the advantage which we 
derive from knoivledge — not that every one may artfully con- 
sult his own interests, but that we may live in pure con- 
science in the sight of God. 

It is added — and without offence. The Greek word 
aTrpocKoiroi is ambiguous. Chrysostom explains it in an 
active sense — that as he had desired that they should be 
pure and upright in the sight of God, so he now desires that 
they should lead an honourable life in the sight of men, that 
they may not injure their neighbours by any evil examples. 
This exposition I do not reject : the passive signification, 
however, is better suited to the context, in my opinion. For 
he desires wisdom for them, with this view — that they may 
with unwavering step go forward in their calling until the 
day of Christ, as on the other hand it happens through igno- 
rance,^ that we frequently slip our foot, stumble, and turn 
aside. And how many stumbling-blocks Satan from time to 
time throws in our way, with the view of either stopping our 

ulirSriffii) in all sense. ' I pray that you may have your spiritual senses in 
exercise — that you may have a judicious distinguishing sense.' For what ? 
Why, ' that ye may approve things that are excellent,' — so it follows, or, 
as the words there may be read, to ' distinguish things that differ.' " — 
Howe's Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. v. p. Ii5.— Ed. 

' " Par ignorance et faute de prudence ;" — " Through ignorance and want 
of prudence." 


course altogether, or impeding it, every one of us knows from 
his own experience. 

11. Filled with the fruits of righteousness. This now be- 
longs to the outward life, for a good conscience produces its 
fruits by means of works. Hence he desires that they may 
be fruitful in good works for the glory of God. Such fruits, 
he says, are by Christ, because they flow from the grace of 
Christ. For the beginning of our well-doing is, when we 
are sanctified by his Spirit, for he rested upon him, that we 
might all receive of his fulness. (John i. 16.) And as Paul 
here derives a similitude from trees, we are wild olive-trees, 
(Rom. xi. 24,) and unproductive, until we are ingrafted into 
Christ, who by his living root makes us fruitbearing trees, 
in accordance with that saying, (John xv. 1,) / am the vine, 
ye are the branches. He at the same time shews the end — 
that we may promote the glory of God. For no life is so excel- 
lent in appearance as not to be corrupted and become offensive 
in the view of God, if it is not directed towards this object. 

Paul's speaking here of works under the term righteous- 
ness, is not at all inconsistent with the gratuitous righteous- 
ness of faith. For it does not immediately follow that there 
is righteousness wherever there are the fruits of righteous- 
ness, inasmuch as there is no righteousness in the sight of 
God, unless there be a full and complete obedience to the 
law, which is not found in any one of the saints, though, 
nevertheless, they bring forth, according to their measure, 
the good and pleasant^ fruits of righteousness, and for this 
reason, that, as God begins righteousness in us, through the 
regeneration of the Spirit, so what is wanting is amply sup- 
plied through the remission of sins, in such a way that all 
righteousness, nevertheless, depends upon faith. 

12. But I would ye should under- 12. Scire autem vos volo, fralres, 
stand, brethren, that the things quod, quae mihi acciderunt, niagis 
which happened unto me have fallen in profectum cesserunt Evangelii, 
out rather unto the furtherance of 

the gospel ; 

13. So that my bonds in Christ 13. Ut vincula mea in Christo 
are manifest in all the palace, and illustria fucrint in toto praotoriu, et 
in all other places ; reliquis omnibus locis : 

14. And many of the brethren in 14. Et multi ex fratribus in Do- 
(he Lord waxiiig confident by my niino, vinculis mcis conlisi, ubcrius 

' " Bons ct aimables;" — " Good and amiable." 


bonds, are much more bold to speak ausi fuerint absque timore sermonera 

the word without fear. Dei loqui. 

15. Some indeed preach Christ 15. NonnuUi quidem per invidiam 
even of envy and strife; and some etcontentionem, alii autemetiam per 
also of good will. benevolentiam,Christum praedicant. 

16. The one preach Christ of con- 16. Alii, inquam, ex contentione 
tention, not sincerely, supposing to Christum annuntiant, non pure, ex- 
add atHiction to my bonds ; istimantes afflictionem se suscitare 

raeis vinculis : 

17. But the other of love, know- 17. Aliiautemexcaritate, scientes 
ing that I am set for the defence of quod in defensionem Evangehi po- 
the gospel. situs sira. 

12. But I wish yoti to know. We all know from our own 
experience, how much the flesh is wont to be offended by the 
abasement of the cross. We allow, indeed, Christ crucified 
to be preached to us; but when he appears in connection with 
liis cross, then, as though we were thunderstruck at the 
novelty of it,^ we either avoid him or hold him in abhorrence, 
and that not merely in our own persons, but also in tlie per- 
sons of those who deliver to us the gospel. It may have 
happened to the Philippians, that they were in some degree 
discouraged in consequence of the persecution of their Apostle. 
We may also very readily believe, that those bad workmen^ 
who' eagerly watched every occasion, however small, of doing 
injury, did not refrain from triumphing over the calamity 
of this holy man, and by this means making his gospel 
contemptible. If, however, they were not successful in this 
attempt, they might very readily calumniate him by repre- 
senting him as hated by the whole world ; and at the same 
time leading the Philippians to dread, lest, by an unfortunate 
association with him,^ they should needlessly incur great 
dislike among all ; for such are the usual artifices of Satan. 
The Apostle provides against this danger, Avhen he states 
that the gospel had been promoted by means of his bonds. 
The design, accordingly, of this detail is, to encourage the 
PJiilippians, that they may not feel deterred^ by the perse- 
cution endured by him. 

' " Estans estonnez comme d'vne chose nouuelle etnon ouye ;" — " Being 
astonished as at a thing new and unheard of." 

'^ " Et faux apostres ;" — " And false apostles." 

2 " En prenant ceste dangereuse accointance de S. Paul ;" — •' By con- 
tracting this dangerous acquaintance with St. Paul." 

* " Afin qu'ils ne soyent point destournez ;" — " Tliat they may not be 
turned aside." 


13. So that my bonds. He employs the expression — in 
Christ, to mean, in the affairs, or in the cause of Christ, 
for he intimates that his bonds had become illustrious, so as 
to promote the honour of Christ.^ The rendering given by 
some — through Chy-ist, seems forced. I have also employed 
the word illustria (illustrious) in preference to manifesta, 
{manifest^ — as having ennobled the gospel by their fame.^ 
" Satan, indeed, has attempted it, and the wicked have 
thought that it would turn out so, that the gospel would be 
destroyed ; but God has frustrated both the attempts of the 
former and the expectations of the latter,'^ and that in two 
ways, for while the gospel was previously obscure and un- 
known, it has come to be well known, and not only so, but 
has even been rendered honourable in the Fraetorium, no 
less than in the rest of the city/' 

By the praetorium I understand the hall and palace of 
Nero, which Fabius* and writers of that age call Augustale, 
{the Augustal.) For as the name praetor was at first a 
general term, and denoted all magistrates who held the chief 
sway, (hence it came that the dictator was called the sove- 
reign praetor,^) it, consequently, became customary to em- 
ploy the term praetorium in war to mean the tent, either of 
the consul,*" or of the person who j^'^'esided,'^ while in the city 

1 " Ses liens ont este rendus celebres, et ont excellement serui a auancer 
la gloire de Christ ;" — " His bonds had become celebrated, and had ad- 
mirably contributed to advance the glory of Christ." 

'^ " Pource qu'il entend que le bruit qui auoit este de ses liens, auoit 
donne grand bruit a I'Euangile ;" — " Because he means that the fame, 
which had arisen from his bonds, had given great fame to the gospel." 

^ " Dieu a aneanti les efforts malicieux de Satan, et a frustre les mes- 
chans de leur attente ;" — " God has made void the malicious eflbrts of 
Satan, and has disappointed the wicked of their expectation." 

* Our author has most probably in view an expression which occurs in 
the writings of Quinctilian, (Instit. Orator., lib. 8, 2, 8,) — " tabernaculum 
ducis Augustale ;" — (" a general's tent is called the Augustal.") In the 
best editions of Quinctilian, however, the reading is Augurale, as syno- 
nymous with auguraculum., or auguratorium ; — {an apartment for tlie 
augur's taking omens.) — Ed. 

'' The dictator is called by Livi/, " praetor maximus ;'' — " the highest 
praetor." — (Liv. vii. 3.) — Ed. 

* " La tente ou du consul, ou de celuy qui estoit chef de I'armoe, quel- 
que nom qu'on luy donast ;" — " The tent of the consul, or of the person 
who was head of the army, whatever name Avas applied to him." 

' " Praeibat." — There is manifestly an allusion here to the etymology 
of praetor, as being derived from praeire, to go before, or preside. — Ed. 


it denoted the palace of Cesar/ from the time that the Cesars 
took possession of the monarchy.^ Independently of this, 
the bench of praetor is also called the jyraetorium? 

14. Many of the brethren. By this instance we are taught 
that the tortures of the saints, endured by them in behalf of 
the gospel, are a ground of confidence^ to us. It were in- 
deed a dreadful spectacle, and such as might tend rather to 
dishearten us, did we see nothing but the cruelty and rage 
of the persecutors. When, however, we see at the same 
time the hand of the Lord, which makes his people uncon- 
querable,^ under the infirmity of the Cross, and causes them 
to triumph, relying upon this,^ we ought to venture farther 
than we had been accustomed, having now a pledge of our 
victory in the persons of our brethren. The knowledge of 
this ought to overcome our fears, that we may speak boldly 
in the midst of dangers. 

1 5. Some indeed. Here is another fruit of Paul's bonds, 
that not only were the brethren stirred up to confidence by 
his example — some by maintaining their position, others by 
becoming more eager to teach — but even those who wished 
him evil were on another account stirred up to publish the 

1 6. Some, I say, from contention. Here we have a length- 
ened detail, in which he explains more fully the foregoing 
statement ; for he repeats that there are two classes of men 

^ " At Rome it " (the terra praetorium) " signified the public hall 
Avhere causes were tried by the praetor; but more usually it denoted the 
camp or quarters of the praetorian cohorts without the city. . . . The 
name of praetorium was, in the provinces, given to the palace of the 
governors, both because they administered justice, and had their guards 
stationed in their residence. Hence it is inferred that, although the 
Apostle was at Rome when he wrote this, and although the circumstances 
to which he refers occurred in that city, yet, writing to persons residing in 
the provinces, he uses the word praetorium in the provincial sense, and 
means by it the emperor^ s palace." — Illustrated Commentary. — Ed. 

^ " Depuis que les empereurs usurperent la monarchic ;" — " From the 
time that the emperors usurped the monarchy." 

8 " Pretoire signifioit aussi le lieu ou le preteiu- tenoit la cour, et exer9oit 
sa iurisdiction ;" — "The praetorium signified also the place where the 
praetor held his court, and exercised jurisdiction." 

* " Confiance et asseurance :" — '■ Confidence and assurance." 

6 " Courageux et inuincibles ;" — " Courageous and unconquerable." 

* " Estans asseurez sur ceste main et puissance du Seigneur ;" — " Con- 
fidently relying upon this hand and power of the Lord." 


that are stirred up by his bonds to preach Christ — the one 
influenced by contention, that is, by depraved affection — 
the other by pious zeal, as being desirous to maintain along 
with him the defence of the gospel. The former, he says, 
do not preach Christ purely, because it was not a right zeal.^ 
For the term does not apply to doctrine, because it is pos- 
sible that the man who teaches most purely, may, neverthe- 
less, not be of a sincere mind.^ Now, that this impurity was 
in the mind, and did not shew itself in doctrine, may be in- 
ferred from the context. Paul assuredly would have felt 
no pleasure in seeing the gospel corrupted ; yet he declares 
that he rejoices in the preaching of those persons, while it 
was not simple or sincere. 

It is asked, however, how such preaching could be injuri- 
ous to him ? I answer, that many occasions are unknown 
to us, inasmuch as we are not acquainted with the circum- 
stances of the times. It is asked farther, " Since the gospel 
cannot be preached but by those that understand it, what 
motive induced those j)ersons to persecute the doctrine of 
which they approved?" I answer, that ambition is blind, 
nay, it is a furious beast. Hence it is not to be wondered if 
false brethren snatch a weapon from the gospel for harass- 
ing good and pious pastors.^ Paul, assuredly, says nothing 
here'^ of which I have not myself had experience. For there 
are living at this very day those who have preached the 
gospel with no other design, than that they might gratify 
the rage of the wicked by persecuting pious pastors. As to 
Paul's enemies, it is of importance to observe, if they were 
Jews, how mad their hatred was, so as even to forget on 

^ " Pource que leur zele n'estoit pas pur ;" — " Because their zeal was 
not pure." 

" " II se peut bicn faire, que celuy qui enseignera vne doctrine pure ct 
sainc, aura toutesfois vne mauvaise affection ;" — " It may quite well hap- 
pen, that the man who teaches pure and sound doctrine, will have, never- 
theless, an evil disposition." 

^ " II lie se faut esbahir si les faux-freres prenent occasion de I'evangile, 
et s'ils s'en forgent des bastons pour tormenter les bons et fidcles pas- 
teurs ;" — " It ought not to appear surprising, if false brethren take occa- 
sion from tlie gospel, and contrive weapons for themselves for torturing 
good and faithful pastors." 

* " Certes le sainct Apostre ne dit rien yci;" — " Certainly Ihe holy 
Apostle says nothing here." 


what account they hated him. For while they made it their 
aim to destroy him, they exerted themselves to promote the 
gospel, on account of which they were hostile to him ; but 
they imagined, no doubt, that the cause of Christ would 
stand or fall^ in the person of one individual. If, however, 
there were envious persons,^ who were thus hurried away by 
ambition, we ought to acknowledge the wonderful goodness 
of God, who, notwithstanding, gave such a prosperous issue 
to their depraved affections. 

1 7. That for the defence. Those who truly loved Christ 
reckoned that it would be a disgrace to them if they did not 
associate themselves with Paul as his companions, when main- 
taining the cause of the gospel ; and we must act in such a 
manner, as to give a helping hand, as far as possible, to the 
servants of Christ when in difficulty.^ Observe, again, this 
expression — for the defence of the gosjiel. For since Christ 
confers upon us so great an honour, what excuse shall we 
have, if we shall be traitors to his cause,^ or what may we 
expect, if we betray it by our silence, but that he shall in 
return desert our cause, who is our ?,o\q Advocate, or Patron, 
with the Father ?^ (1 John ii. 1.) 

18. What then ? notwithstanding, 18. Quidenim? caeterum quovis 
every way, whether in pretence, or modo, sive per occasionem, sive per 
in truth, Christ is preached ; and I veritatem, Christus annuntiatur : 
therein do rejoice, yea, and will re- atque in hoc gaudeo, quin etiam 
joice. gaudebo. 

19. For I know that this shall 19. Novi enim quod hoc mihi 
turn to my salvation through your cedet in salutem per vestram preca- 
prayer, and the supply of the Spirit tionem, et subministrationem Spiri- 
of Jesus Christ, tus lesu Christi, 

20. According to my earnest ex- 20. Secundum expectationem et 
pectation and mi/ hope, that in no- spem meam, quod in nullo re pu- 
thing I shall be ashamed, but that defiani, sed cum omni fiducia, quem- 

' " Mais voyla : il leur sembloit que la doctrine consistoit ou tomboit 
bas;" — " But mark! it seemed to them that doctrine stood or fell." 

' " Que si "c'estoit d'autres que Juifs, ascauoir quelques enuieux de 
Sainct Paul ;" — " But if there were other than Jews — some that were 
envious of St. Paul." 

^ " Estans en quelque necessite ;" — " When they are in any emergency." 

* " Praeuaricatores." The term is employed by classical writers in the 
sense of betraying the cause of one's client, and by neglect or collusion 
assisting his opponent. See Quinct. ix. 2. — Ed. 

6 " Si nous nous entendons auec la partie aduerse d'iceluy ;" — " If we 
should connect ourselves with the party opposed to him." 


with all boldness, as ahvays, so now admodum semper, ita et nunc mag- 
also Christ shall be magnified in my nificabitur Christus in corpore meo, 
body, whether it be by life, or by sive per vitam, sive per mortem, 

21. For to me to live is Christ, 21. Mihi enim vivendo Christus 

and to die is gain. est, et moriendo lucrum. 

18. But in every way. As the wicked disposition of those 
of whom he has spoken might detract from the acceptable- 
ness of the doctrine,^ he says that this ouglit to be reckoned 
of great importance, that they nevertheless promoted the 
cause of the gospel, whatever their disposition might be. 
Per God sometimes accomplishes an admirable work by 
means of wicked and depraved instruments. Accordingly, 
he says that he rejoices in a happy residt of this nature; 
because this one thing contented him — if he saw the king- 
dom of Christ increasing — just as we, on hearing that that 
impure dog Carolus^ was scattering the seeds of pure doc- 
trine at Avignon and elsewhere, we gave thanks to God 
because he had made use of that most profligate and 
worthless villain for his glory : and at this day we rejoice 
that the progress of the gospel is advanced by many Avho, 
nevertheless, had another design in view. But though Paul 
rejoiced in the advancement of the gospel, yet, had the 
matter been in his hand, he would never have ordained such 
persons as ministers. We ought, therefore, to rejoice if God 
accomplishes anything that is good by means of wicked 
persons ; but they ought not on that account to be either 
placed by us in the ministry, or looked upon as Christ's 
lawful ministers. 

19. For I know that. As some published the gospel with 
the view of rendering Paul odious, in order that they might 
kindle up against him the more tlie rage of his enemies, he 
tells them beforehand that their wicked attempts will do 
him no harm, because the Lord will turn them to a contrary 
design, " Though they plot my destruction, yet I trust that 
all their attempts will have no other effect but that Christ 

> " Pouuoit diminuer I'authorite de la doctrine ;"— " Might diminisii 
the authority of the doctrine." 

' Our Author appears to refer hero to Peter Carolus, of whom the 
reader will find particular mention made by Beza in his Life of Calvik.— 
Calvin's Tracts, vol. i. pp. xxx. xxxi. — £d. 


will be glorified in me — which is a thing most salutary to 
me." For it is evident from what follows, that he is not 
speaking of the safety of the body. But whence this con- 
fidence on the part of Paul ? It is from what he teaches 
elsewhere, (Rom. viii. 28,) — that all things contribute to the 
advantage of God's true worshippers, even though the whole 
world, with the devil, its prince, should conspire together 
for their ruin. 

Through your jjrayer. That he may stir them up to pray 
more ardently, he declares that he is confident that the Lord 
will give them an answer to their prayers. Nor does he use 
dissimulation : for he who depends for help on the prayers 
of the saints relies on the promise of God. In the mean time, 
nothing is detracted from the unmerited goodness of God, 
on which depend our prayers, and what is obtained by means 
of them. 

And the supply. Let us not suppose, that because he 
joins these two things in one connection, they are con- 
sequently alike. The statement must, therefore, be ex- 
plained in this manner : — " I know that all this will turn 
out to my advantage, through the administration of the 
Spirit, you also helping by prayer," — so that the suppl}^ of 
the Spirit is the efficient cause, while prayer is a subordinate 
help. We must also observe the propriety of the Greek 
term, for iTn-^opri^ia is employed to mean the furnishing of 
what is wanting,^ just as the Spirit of God pours into us 
everything of which we are destitute. 

He calls him, too, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to intimate, 
that if we are Christians, he is common to all of us, inas- 
much as he was poured upon him with all fulness, that, 
according to the measure of his grace, he might give out, so 
far as is expedient, to each of his members. 

20. According to my expectation. Should any one object, 
" From what do you derive that knowledge ?" he answers, 
" From hope." For as it is certain that God does not by 
any means design to frustrate our hope, hope itself ought 
not to be Avavering. Let then the pious reader carefully 

> " The word i-!rix'>ziyia, -which we translate supply, signifies also fur- 
nisliiny ivliatever is necessari/." — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. 


observe this adverb secundum, {according to,) that he may 
be fully assured in his own mind, that it is impossible but 
that the Lord will fulfil our expectation, inasmuch as it is 
founded on his own word. Now, he has promised that he 
will never be wanting to us even in the midst of all tortures, 
if we are at any time called to make confession of his name. 
Let, therefore, all the pious entertain hope after Paul's 
example, and they will not be put to shame. 

With all confidence. We see that, in cherishing hope, he 
does not give indulgence to carnal desires, but places his 
hope in subjection to the promise of God. " Christ," says 
he, " will he magnified in my body, whether by life or by 
death." By making express mention, however, of the body, 
he intimates that, amongst the conflicts of the present life, 
he is in no degree doubtful as to the issue, for we are assured 
as to this by God. If, accordingly, giving ourselves up to the 
good pleasure of God, and having in our life the same object 
in view as Paul had, we expect, in whatever way it may be, 
a prosperous issue, we shall no longer have occasion to fear 
lest any adversity should befall us ; for if we live and die to 
him, we are his in life and in death. (Rom. xiv. 8.) He 
expresses the way in which Christ luill be magnified — by 
full assurance. Hence it follows, that through our fault he 
is cast down and lowered, so far as it is in our power to do 
so, when we give way through fear. Do not those then 
feel ashamed who reckon it a light oflence to tremble,^ when 
called to make confession of the truth ? But how much 
ashamed ought those to feel, who are so shamelessly impu- 
dent as to have the hardihood even to excuse renunciation ? 

He adds, as ahuays, that they may confirm their faith 
from past experience of the grace of God. Thus, in Romans 
V. 4, he says, Experience begets hope. 

21. For to me to live. Interpreters have hitherto, in my 
opinion, given a wrong rendering and exposition to this 
passage ; for they make this distinction, that Clirist was life 
to Paul, and death was gain. I, on the other hand, make 
Christ the subject of discourse in both clauses, so that he 
is declared to be gain to him both in life and in death ; for 
1 " Dc varicr ct clianceler ;" — " To shift and waver." 


it is customary with the Greeks to leave the word 7rpo<; to 
be understood. Besides that this meaning is less forced, it 
also corresponds better with the foregoing statement, and 
contains more complete doctrine. He declares that it is 
indifferent to him, and is all one, whether he lives or dies, 
because, having Christ, he reckons both to be gain. And 
assuredly it is Christ alone that makes us happy both in 
death and in life ; otherwise, if death is miserable, life is in 
no degree happier; so that it is difficult to determine whether 
it is more advantageous to live or to die out of Christ. On 
the other hand, let Christ be with us, and he will bless our 
life as well as our death, so that both will be happy and 
desirable for us. 

22. But if I live in the flesh, this 22. Quodsi vivere in came operae 
is the fruit of my labour : yet what pretium mihi est, etiam quid eli- 
I shall choose I wot not. gamignoro.* 

23. For I am in a strait betmxt 23. Coarctor enim ex duobus cu- 
two, having a desire to depart, and piens dissolvi et esse cum Christo : 
to be with Christ ; which is far better : multo enim hoc melius. 

24. Nevertheless to abide in the 24. Manere vero in came, magis 
flesh is more needful for you. necessarium propter vos. 

25. And having this confidence, I 25. Atque hoc confisus novi, quod 
know that I shall abide and continue manebo et permanebo cum omnibus 
with you all, for your furtherance vobis, in vestrum profectum et gau- 
and joy of faith ; dium fidei, 

26. That your rejoicing may be 26. Ut gloriatio vestra exsuperet 
more abundant in Jesus Christ for in Christo lesu de me, per meum 
me, by my coming to you again. rursus adventum ad vos. 

22. But if to live in the flesh. As persons in despair feel 
in perplexity as to whether they ought to prolong their life 
any farther in miseries, or to terminate their troubles by 
death, so Paul, on the other hand, says that he is, in a spirit 
of contentment, so well prepared for death or for life, be- 
cause the condition of believers, both in the one case and in 
the other, is blessed, so that he is at a loss which to choose. 
If it is worth while ; that is, " If I have reason to believe 
that there will be greater advantage from my life than from 
my death, I do not see which of them I ought to prefer." To 

' " Or encore que viure en chair me fust proiifitable, ie ne scay lequel ie 
doy eslire, ou, Or si viure en chair me est proufitable, et que c'est qu' ie 
doy eslire, ie ne scay rien ;" — " But although to live in the flesh would not 
be profitable to me, I know not what I ought to choose ; or, But if to live 
in the flesh is profitable to me, and that it is what I ought to choose, I 
know not." 


live in the Jlesh, is an expression which he has made use of 
in contempt, from comparing it with a better life. 

23. For I am in a strait. Paul did not desire to live 
with any other object in view than that of promoting the 
glory of Christ, and doing good to the brethren. Hence he 
does not reckon that he has any other advantage from living 
than the welfare of the brethren. But so far as concerns 
himself personally, it were, he acknowledges, better for him 
to die soon, because he would be luith Christ. By his choice, 
however, he shews what ardent love glowed in his breast. 
There is nothing said here as to earthly advantages, but as 
to spiritual benefit, which is on good grounds supremely 
desirable in the view of the pious. Paul, however, as if 
forgetful of himself, does not merely hold himself unde- 
termined, lest he should be swayed by a regard to his own 
benefit rather than that of the Philippians, but at length 
concludes that a regard to them preponderates in his mind. 
And assuredly this is in reality to live and die to Christ, 
when, with indifference as to ourselves, we allow ourselves 
to be carried and borne away whithersoever Christ calls us. 

Having a desire to he set free and to he with Christ. These 
two things must be read in connection. For death of itself 
Avill never be desired, because such a desire is at variance 
with natural feeling, but is desired for some particular rea- 
son, or with a view to some other end. Persons in despair 
have recourse to it from having become weary of life ; be- 
lievers, on the other hand, willingly hasten forward to it, 
because it is a deliverance from the bondage of sin, and an 
introduction into the kingdom of heaven. What Paul now 
says is this ; " I desire to die, because I will, by this means, 
come into immediate connection with Christ." In the mean 
time, believers do not cease to regard death with horror, but 
when they turn their eyes to that life which follows death, 
tliey easily overcome all dread by means of that consolation. 
Unquestionably, every one that believes in Christ ought to 
be so courageous as to lift up his head on mention being 
made of death, delighted to have intimation of his redemjHion. 
(Luke xxi. 28.) From this we see how many are Christians 
only in name, since the greater part, on hearing mention made 


of death, are not merely alarmed, but are rendered almost 
lifeless tlirougli fear, as though they had never heard a single 
word respecting Christ. the worth and value of a good 
conscience ! Now faith is the foundation of a good con- 
science ; nay more, it is itself goodness of conscience. 

To he set free. This form of expression is to be observed. 
Profane persons speak of death as the destruction of man, 
as if he altogether perished. Paul here reminds us, that 
death is the separation of the soul from the body. And this 
he expresses more fully immediately afterwards, explaining as 
to what condition awaits believers after death — that of dwell- 
ing with Christ. We are with Christ even in this life, inas- 
much as the kingdom of God is within us, (Luke xvii. 21,) 
and Christ dwells in iis by faith, (Eph. iii. 17,) and has pro- 
mised that he will he with us even unto the end of the world, 
(Matt, xxviii. 20,) but that presence we enjoy only in hope. 
Hence as to our feeling, we are said to be at present at a dis- 
tance from him. See 2 Cor. v. 6. This passage is of use for set- 
ting aside the mad fancy of those who dream that souls sleep 
when separated from the body, for Paul openly declares that 
we enjoy Christ's presence on being set free from the body. 

25. And having this confidence. Some, reckoning it an 
inconsistent thing that the Apostle^ should acknowledge 
himself to have been disappointed of his expectation, are of 
opinion that he was afterwards freed from bonds, and went 
over many countries of the world. Their fears, however, as 
to this are groundless, for the saints are accustomed to regu- 
late their expectations according to the word of God, so as 
not to promise themselves more than God has promised. 
Thus, when tliey have a sure token of God's will, they in that 
case place their reliance also upon a sure persuasion, which 
admits of no hesitation. Of this nature is a persuasion re- 
specting a perpetual remission of sins, respecting the aid of 
the Spirit for the grace of final perseverance, (as it is called,) 
and respecting the resurrection of the flesh. Of this nature, 
also, was the assurance of the Prophets respecting their 
prophecies. As to other tilings, they expect nothing except 
conditionally, and hence they subject all events to the pro- 
' " Vn tcl sainct Apostre ;"— " So holy an Apostle." 


vidence of God, who, they allow, sees more distinctly than 
they. To remain, means here, to stay for a little while : to 
continue, means, to remain for a long time. 

26. That your glorying. The exjDression which he em- 
ploys, ev ifxot, I have rendered de me {as to me,) because the 
preposition is made use of twice, but in different senses. 
No one assuredly will deny that I have faithfully brought 
out Paul's mind. The rendering given by some — per Chris- 
tum, {through Christ,) I do not approve of For in Christ is 
employed in place of Secundum Christum, {According to 
Christ,) or Christiane, {Christianly,) to intimate that it was 
a holy kind of glorying. For otherwise w^e are commanded 
to glory in God alone. (1 Cor. i. 31.) Hence malevolent per- 
sons might meet Paul with the objection, How is it allow- 
able for the Philippians to glory as to thee ? He anticipates 
this calumny by saying that they will do this according to 
Christ — glorying in a servant of Christ, with a view to the 
glory of his Lord, and that with an eye to the doctrine rather 
than to the individual, and in opposition to the false apostles, 
just as David, by comparing himself with hypocrites, boasts 
of his righteousnesses. (Psalm vii. 8.) 

27. Only let your conversation be 27. Tantum digne Evangelio 
as it becometh the gospel of Christ: Christi conversamini : ut sive ve- 
that whether I come and see you, or niens videam vos, sive absens, audiam 
else be absent, I may hear of your de vobis, quod stetis in uno spiritu, 
affairs, that ye stand fast in one una anima, concertantes fide Evan- 
spirit, with one mind striving to- gelii. 

gether for the faith of the gospel ; 

28. And in nothing terrified by 28. Nee uUa in re terreamini ab 
your adversaries : which is to them adversariis, quae illis est demon stra- 
an evident token of perdition, but tio exitii: vobis autem salutis, idque 
to you of salvation, and that of God. a Deo. 

29. For unto you it is given in the 29. Quia vobis donatum est pro 
behalf of Christ, not only to believe Christo, non tantum ut in ilium cre- 
on him, but also to suffer for his datis, sed etiam ut pro ipso patia- 
sake ; mini : 

;iO. Having the same conflict 30. Idem habentcs certaincn, 
which ye saw in me, and now hear quale vidistis in me, et nunc auditis 
tu be in me. de me. 

27. Only in a manner icorthy of the gospel. We make use 
of this form of expression, when we are inclined to pass on 
to a new subject. Thus it is as though he had said, " But 
as for me, the Lord will provide, but as for you, &c., wliatcver 


may take place as to me, let it be your care, nevertheless, to 
go forward in tlie right course." When lie speaks of a pure 
and honourable conversation as being worthy of the gospel, 
he intimates, on the other hand, that those who live other- 
wise do injustice to the gospel. 

That whether I come. As the Greek phrase made use of 
by Paul is elliptical, I have made use of videam, {I see,) in- 
stead of videns {seeing) If this does not appear satisfactory, 
you may supply the principal verb Tntelligam, {I may learn,) 
in this sense : " Whether, when I shall come and see you, 
or whether I shall, when absent, hear respecting your con- 
dition, I may learn in both ways, both by being present and 
by receiving intelligence, that ye stand in one spirit." We 
need not, however, feel anxiety as to particular terms, when 
the meaning is evident. 

Stand in one spirit. This, certainly, is one of the main 
excellences of the Church, and hence this is one means of 
preserving it in a sound state, inasmuch as it is torn to 
pieces by dissensions. But although Paul was desirous by 
means of this antidote to provide against novel and strange 
doctrines, yet he requires a twofold unit}'^ — of spirit and soul. 
1l\\q first is, that we have like views ; the second, that we be 
united in heart. For when these two terms are connected to- 
gether, spiritus (spirit) denotes the understanding, yvhile anima 
(soul) denotes the will. Farther, agreement of views comes 
first in order ; and then from it springs union of inclination. 

Striving together for the faith. This is the strongest bond 
of concord, when we have to fight together under the same 
banner, for this has often been the occasion of reconciling even 
the greatest enemies. Hence, in order that he may confirm 
the more the unity that existed among the Philippians, he 
calls them to notice that they are fellow-soldiers, who, having 
a common enemy and a common warfare, ought to have their 
minds united together in a holy agreement. The expression 
which Paul has made use of in the Greek {avva&\.ovvTe<; rrj 
TTiaTet) is ambiguous. The old interpreter renders it Colla- 
horantes fidei, {labouring together tvith thefaith.y Erasmus 

' In accordance with the Vulgate, Wiclif (1380) renders as follows: 
" traueilynge to gidre to the feith of the gospel." — Ed. 


renders it Adiuvantes fidem, {Helping the faith,) as if meaning, 
that they gave help to the faith to the utmost of their power. 
As, however, the dative in Greek is made use of instead of 
the ablative of instrumentality, (that language having no 
ablative,) I have no doubt that the Apostle's meaning is 
this : " Let the faith of the gospel unite you together, 
more especially as that is a common armory against one 
and the same enemy." In this way the particle avv, which 
others refer to faith, I take as referring to the Philippians, 
and with greater propriety, if I am not mistaken. In the 
first place, every one is aware how effectual an inducement 
it is to concord, yhen we have to maintain a conflict to- 
gether ; and farther, we know that in the spiritual warfare 
we are armed with the shield of faith, (Eph. vi. 16,) for re- 
pelling the enemy ; nay, more, faith is both our panoply and 
our victory. Hence he added this clause, that he might shew 
what is the end of a pious connection. The wicked, too, con- 
spire together for evil, but their agreement is accursed : let 
us, therefore, contend with one mind under the banner of 

28. And in nothing tei^rified. The second thing which he 
recommends to the Philippians is fortitude of mind,^ that 
they may not be thrown into confusion by the rage of 
their adversaries. At that time the most cruel persecutions 
raged almost everywhere, because Satan strove with all his 
might to impede the commencement of the gospel, and was 
the more enraged in proportion as Christ put forth power- 
fully the grace of his Spirit. He exhorts, therefore, the 
Philippians to stand forward undaunted, and not be thrown 
into alarm. 

Which is to them a manifest proof. This is the proper 
meaning of the Greek word, and there was no consideration 
that made it necessary for others to render it cause. For 
the wicked, when they wage war against the Lord, do already 
by a trial-fight, as it were, give a token of their ruin, and 
the more fiercely they insult over the pious, the more do 
they prepare themselves for ruin. The Scripture, assuredly, 

' " La force et Constance de courage ;" — " Strength and constancy of 


nowliere teaches, that the afflictions which the saints endure 
from the wicked are the cause of their salvation, but Paul 
in another instance, too, speaks of them as a inanifest token 
or proof, (2 Thess. i. 5,) and instead of evhei^uv, which we 
have here, he in that passage makes use of the term evSeijfia} 
This, therefore, is a choice consolation, that when we are 
assailed and harassed by our enemies, we have an evidence 
of our salvation.^ For persecutions are in a manner seals of 
adoption to the children of God, if they endure them with 
fortitude and patience : the wicked give a token of their 
condemnation, because they stumble against a stone by which 
they shall be bruised to pieces. (Matt. xxi. 44.) 

And that from God. This is restricted to the last clause, 
that a taste of the grace of God may allay the bitterness of 
the cross. No one will naturally perceive the cross a token 
or evidence of salvation, for they are things that are contrary 
in appearance. Hence Paul calls the attention of the Phi- 
lippians to another consideration — that God by his blessing- 
turns into an occasion of welfare things that might other- 
wise seem to render us miserable. He proves it from this, 
that the endurance of the cross is the gift of God. Now it 
is certain, that all the gifts of God are salutary to us. To 
you, says he, it is given, not only to believe in Christ, hut also 
to suffer for him. Hence even the sufferings themselves are 
evidences of the grace of God ; and, since it is so, you have 
from this source a token of salvation. Oh, if this persua- 
sion were effectually inwrought in our minds — that persecu- 
tions^ are to be reckoned among God's benefits, what progress 
would be made in the doctrine of piety !^ And yet, what is 
more certain, than that it is the highest honour that is con- 
ferred upon us by Divine grace, that we suffer for his name 
either reproach, or imprisonment, or miseries, or tortures, or 
even death, for in that case he adorns us with his marks of 

' " La ou il vse d'vn mot qui descend d'vn niesme verba que ccluy dont 
il vse yci ;" — " Where he makes use of a word which comes from the same 
verb as that which he employs here." 

" " Cela nous est vne demonstrance et tesmoignage de nostre salut ;" — 
" This is to us a clear proof and token of our salvation." 

^ '• Les afflictions et persecutions ;" — " Afflictions and persecutions." 

^ •' Combien aurions — nous proufite en la doctrine de vraye religion ;" — 
*• How much progress we would make in the doctrine of true religion." 


distinction.^ But more will be found that will rather bid 
God retire with gifts of that nature, than embrace with 
alacrity the cross when it is presented to them. Alas, then, 
for our stupidity !^ 

29. To believe. He wisely conjoins faith with the cross 
by an inseparable connection, that the Philippians may 
know that they have been called to the faith of Christ on 
this condition — that they endure persecutions on his account, 
as though he had said that their adoption can no more be 
separated from the cross, than Christ can be torn asunder 
from himself Here Paul clearly testifies, that faith, as well 
as constancy in enduring persecutions,^ is an unmerited gift 
of God. And certainly the knowledge of God is a wisdom 
that is too high for our attaining it by our own acuteness, 
and our weakness shews itself in daily instances in our own 
experience, when God withdraws his hand for a little while. 
That he may intimate the more distinctly that both are un- 
merited, he says expressly — for Christ's sake, or at least that 
tliey are given to us on the ground of Christ's grace ; by 
which he excludes every idea of merit. 

This passage is also at variance with the doctrine of the 
schoolmen, in maintaining that gifts of grace latterly con- 
ferred are rewards of our merit, on the ground of our having 
made a right use of those which had been previously be- 
stoAved. I do not deny, indeed, that God rewards the right 
use of his gifts of grace by bestowing grace more largely 
upon us, provided only you do not place merit, as they do, 
in opposition to his unmerited liberality and the merit of 

30. Having the same conflict. He confirms, also, by his 
own example what he had said, and this adds no little 
authority to his doctrine. By the same means, too, he shews 
them, that there is no reason why they should feel troubled 
on account of his bonds, when they behold the issue of the 

1 " II nous vest de sa liiirce ;" — " lie arrays us in his livery." 
* " Mauditc done soit nostre stupidite :"— " Accursed, then, be our 

^ " Les iifflidions ct persecutions;" — " Afllictions and persecutions." 




1. If there be therefore any con- 1. Si qua igitur consolatio (vel, 
solation in Christ, if any comfort of exhortatio) in Christo, si quod sola- 
love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, tium dilectionis, si qua communi- 
if any bowels and mercies, catio Spiritus, si qua viscera et mi- 

sericordiae. ' 

2. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be 2. Implete gaudium meum ut 
like-minded, having the same love, idem sentiatis, eandem habentes ca- 
being of one accord, of one mind. ritatem, unanimes, unum sentientes. 

3. Let nothing he done through 3. Nihil per contentionem, aut 
strife or vain-glory; but in lowli- inanem gloriam, sed perhumilitatera 
ness of mind let each esteem other ahi alios existiment se ipsis excel- 
better than themselves. lentiores. 

4. Look not every man on his own 4. Non considerans quisque quod 
things, but every man also on the suum est, sed quisque quod est ali- 
things of others. orum. 

1. If there is therefore any consolation. There is an extra- 
ordinary tenderness in this exhortation,^ in which he entreats 
hy all means the Philippians mutually to cherish harmony 
among themselves, lest, in the event of their being torn 
asunder by intestine contentions, they should expose them- 
selves to the impostures of the false apostles. For when there 
are disagreements, there is invariably a door opened for Satan 
to disseminate impious doctrines, w^hile agreement is the 
best bulwark for repelling them. 

As the term 7rapaK\i](rea)<; is often taken to mean exhor- 
tation, the commencement of the passage might be explained 
in this manner : " If an exhortation which is delivered in 
the name and by the authority of Christ, has any weight 
with you." The other meaning, however, corresponds better 
with the context : " If there is among you any consola- 
tion of Christ," by means of Avhich you may alleviate my 
griefs, and if you would afford me any consolation and relief, 
v:hich you assuredly owe me in the exercise of love ; if you 
take into view that felloivship of the Spirit, which ought to 
make us all one ; if any feeling of humanity and mercy 
resides in you, which might stir you up to alleviate my 
miseries, filfil ye my joy, &c. From this we may infer, how 

' " EntraUles et misericordes, ou, cordiales affections et misericordes ;" 
— '•' Bowels and mercies, or, cordial affections and mercies." 

* " Ceste exhortation est plene d'aflections vehementes ;" — " This ex- 
hortation is full of intense affections." 


great a blessing- unity in the Churcli is, and witli wliat eager- 
ness pastors should endeavour to secure it.^ We must also 
at the same time take notice, how he humbles himself by 
beseechingly imploring their pity, while he might have 
availed himself of his paternal authority, so as to demand 
respect from them as his sons.^ He knew how to exercise 
authority when it was necessary, but at present he prefers 
to use entreaties, because he knew that these would be better 
fitted to gain an entrance into their affections,^ and because 
he was aware that he had to do with persons who were docile 
and compliant. In this manner the pastor must have no hesi- 
tation to assume different aspects for the sake of the Church.* 
2. Fulfil ye my joy. Here again we may say, how little 
anxiety he had as to himself, provided only it went well 
with the Church of Christ, He was kept shut up in prison, 
and bound with chains ; he was reckoned worthy of capital 
punishment — before his view were tortures — near at hand 
was the executioner ; yet all these things do not prevent his 
experiencing unminglcd joy, provided he sees that the 
Churches are in a good condition. Now what he reckons 
the chief indication of a prosperous condition of the Church 
is — when mutual agreement prevails in it, and brotherly 
harmony. Thus the 137th Psalm teaches us in like manner, 
that our crowning joy is the remembrance of Jerusalem. 
(Ps. cxxxvii. 6.) But if this were the completion of Paul's 
joy, the Phili})pians would have been worse than cruel if 
they had tortured the mind of this holy man with a twofold 
anguish by disagreement among themselves. 

* " Et que les pasteurs le doyuent procurer d'me affection vehemente et 
zoic ardent ;" — " And that pastors shoidd endeavour to procure it with 
intense desire and ardent zeal." 

" " II peust vser d'authorite patemelle, et deniander que \w\\r la reuer- 
ence qu'ils luy deuoyent comme ses enfans, ils fcissent ce qu'il enseigne 
yci ;" — " lie might have exercised paternal authority, and have demanded 
that in consideration of the respect which they owed him as his children, 
they should do what he here inculcates." 

'^ " I'our entrer dedans leurs caeurs, et es mouuoir Icurs affections ;" — 
" For entering into their hearts, and moving their aSections." 

< " Ne doit faire difficulte de se transformer selon qu'il cognoistra que 
ce sera la proufit de I'Kglise ;" — " Shovdd have no hesitation in (ransfonii- 
ing himself according as he may perceive that this will be for the advan- 
tage of the Church." 


That ye think the same thing. The sum is this — that tliey 
be joined together in views and inclinations. For he makes 
mention of agreement in doctrine and mutual love ; and 
afterwards, repeating the same thing, (in my opinion,) he 
exhorts them to be of one mind, and to have the same 
views. The expression to avrb, {the same thing,) implies 
that they must accommodate themselves to each other. 
Hence the beginning of love is harmony of views, but that 
is not sufficient, unless men's hearts are at the same time 
joined together in mutual affection. At the same time there 
were no inconsistency in rendering it thus : — " that ye may 
be of the same mind — so as to have mutual love, to be one 
in mind and one in views ;" for participles are not unfre- 
quently made use of instead of infinitives. I have adopted, 
however, the view which seemed to me less forced. 

8. Nothing through strife or vain-glory. These are two 
most dangerous pests for disturbing the peace of tlie Church^ 
Strife is awakened when every one is prepared to maintain 
pertinaciously his own opinion ; and when it has once begun 
to rage it rushes headlong^ in the direction from which it 
has entered. Yain-glory^ tickles men's minds, so that every 
one is delighted witli his own inventions. Hence the only 
way of guarding against dissensions is — when we avoid 
strifes by deliberating and acting peacefully, especially if 
we are not actuated by ambition. For ambition is a means 
of fanning all strifes.^ Vain-glory means any glorying in 
the flesh ; for what ground of glorying have men in them- 
selves that is not vanity ? 

But hy humility. For both diseases he brings forward one 
remed}^ — humility, and with good reason, for it is the mother 
of moderation, the effect of which is that, yielding up our 

* " Sans pouuoir estre arrestee ;" — " Without being capable of being 

" " K£vaSa|a/, persons whose object is to acquire power, and who, if they 
.see others superior to themselves, are offended. (Gal. v. 26.) This xs»»- 
^il'ta., vain-glort/, produces contentions of all kinds ; and it produces this 
evil besides, that persons who have gone wrong, and who might have been 
restored to truth and virtue by humble, friendly admonition, are often, by 
the interference of vain-glorlous, ostentatious instructors, confirmed in 
error and vice." — Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. xl. p. 132, note Ed. 

' " Est le sufHet qui allume toutes contentions ;" — " Is the bellows that 
kindles up all strifes." 


own right, we give the preference to others, and are not 
easily thrown into agitation. He gives a definition of true 
humility — when every one esteems himself less than others. 
Now, if anything in our whole life is difficult, this above every- 
thing else is so. Hence it is not to be wondered if humility 
is so rare a virtue. For, as one says,^ " Every one has in 
himself the mind of a king, by claiming everything for him- 
self." See ! here is pride. Afterwards from a foolish ad- 
miration of ourselves arises contempt of the brethren. And 
so far are we from what Paul here enjoins, that one can 
hardly endure that others should be on a level with him, for 
there is no one that is not eager to have superiority. 

But it is asked, how it is possible that oneTwho is in 
reality distinguished above others can reckon those to be 
superior to him who he knows are greatly beneath him ?^j I 
answer, that this altogether depends on a right estimate of 
God's gifts, and our own infirmities. For however any one 
may be distinguished by illustrious endowments, he ought 
to consider with himself that they have not been conferred 
upon him that he might be self-comj^lacent, that he might 
exalt himself, or even that he might hold himself in esteem. 
Let him, instead of this, employ himself in correcting and 
detecting his faults, and he will have abundant occasion for 
humility. In others, on the other hand, he will regard with 
honour whatever there is of excellences, and will by means 
of love bury their faults. The man who will observe this 
rule, will feel no difficulty in preferring others before himself 
And this, too, Paul meant when he added, that they ought 
not to have every one a regard to themselves, but to their 
neighbours, or that they ought not to be devoted to them- 
selves. Hence it is quite possible that a pious man, even 
though he should be aware that he is superior, may never- 
theless hold others in greater esteem. 

5. Let this mind be in you, which 5. Hoc enini scntiatur in vol)is 
was also in Christ Jesus : quod et in Christo lesu : 

6. Who, being in the form of God, (>. Qui quuni in forma Dei esset, 
thought it not robbery to be equal non rapinam arbitratus essct, Deo 
with God ; aequalem se esse : 

' " Conime quolqu'v-n a dit anciennement ;" — "As some one luis s;iid 


7. But made himself of no repu- 7. Sed se ipsiim exinaniyit, forma 
tation, and took upon him the form ser^d accepta, in siuiilitudine homi- 
of a servant, and was made in the num constitutus, et forma repertus 
likeness of men : ut homo. 

8. And being fomid in fashion as 8. liumihavit, inquam, se ipsum, 
a man, he humbled himself, and be- factus obedicns iisque ad mortem, 
came obedient unto death, even the mortem vero crucis. 

tlpifli OT i iit^ cross 

9. Wherefore God also hath 9. Quamobrem et Bens ilium 
highly exalted him, and given him superexaltavit, et dedit illi nomen 
a name which is above every name : quod esset super omne nomen, 

10. That at the name of Jesus 10. Ut in nomine lesu omne 
every knee should bow, of things in genu llectatur, ca^lestium, terres- 
heaven, and things in earth, and trium, et mfernorum, 

things imder the earth ; 

11. And that every tongue should 11. Et omnis lingua confiteatur, 
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to quod Dominus lesus in gloriam est 
the glory of God the Father. Dei Patris. 

5. He now recommends, from the example of Christ, the ex- 
ercise of humility, to which he had exhorted them in words. 
There are, however, two departments, in the first of whicli 
he invites us to imitate Christ, because this is the rule of 
life •} in the second, he allures us to it, because this is the 
road by which we attain true glory. Hence he exhorts every 
one to have the same disposition that was in Christ. He 
afterwards shews what a pattern of humility has been pre- 
sented before us in Christ. I have retained the passive 
form of the verb, though I do not disapprove of the render- 
ing given it by others, because there is no difference as to 
meaning. I merely wished that the reader should be in 
possession of the very form of expression which Paul has 

6. Inasmuch as he was in the form of God. This is not a 
comparison between things similar, but in the way of greater 
and less. Christ's humility consisted in his abasing himself 
from the highest pinnacle of glory to the lowest ignominy : 
our humility consists in refraining from exalting ourselves 
by a false estimation. He gave up his right : all that is 
required of us is, that we do not assume to ourselves more 
than we ought. Hence he sets out with this — that, inas- 
much as he luas in the form of Ood, he reckoned it not an 

1 " Pourceque Timitation d' iceluy est la regie de bien viure ;" — " Be- 
cause imitation of him is the rule of right living." 


unknvful thing for him to shew himself in that form ; yet 
he emptied himself. Since, then, the Son of God descended 
from so great a height, how unreasonable that we, who are 
nothing, should be lifted up with pride ! 

T\\eform of Ood means here his majesty. For as a man 
is known by the appearance of his form, so the majesty, 
which shines forth in God, is his figure.^ Or if you would 
prefer a more apt similitude, the form of a king is his equi- 
page and magnificence, shewing him to be a king — his 
sceptre, his crown, his mantle,^ his attendants,^ his judg- 
ment-throne, and other emblems of royalty ; the form of a 
consul was — his long robe, bordered with purple, his ivory 
seat, his lictors with rods and hatchets. Christ, then, be- 
fore the creation of the world, was in the form of God, 
because from the beginning he had his glory with the Father, 
as he says in John xvii. 5. For in the wisdom of God, jirior 
to his assuming our flesh, there was nothing mean or con- 
temptible, but on tlie contrary a magnificence worthy of God. 
Being such as he was, he could, witliout doing wrong to any 
one, sheiu himself equal with God ; but he did not manifest 
himself to be what he really was, nor did he openly assume 
in the view of men what belonged to him by right. 

Thought it not robbery. There would have been no wrong- 
done though he had shewn himself to be equal with God. 
For when he says, he would not have thought, it is as though 
lie had said, " He knew, indeed, that this was lawful and 
right for him," that we might know that his abasement was 
voluntary, not of necessity. Hitherto it has been rendered 
in the indicative — he thought, but the connection requires 
the subjunctive. It is also quite a customary thing for Paul 
to employ the past indicative in the place of the subjunctive, 
by leaving the potential particle av, as it is called, to be 
supplied — as, for example, in Romans ix. 3, t^v^oixi^v, for / 
would have wished ; and in 1 Cor. ii. 8, el jiip ejvcoa-av, if 

' " Car tout ainsi qu'vn homme est cognu quand on conteniple la forme 
de son visage et sa personne, aussi la maieste, qui reluit en Diou, est la 
forme ou figure d'iceluy ;" — " For just as a man is known, when we mark 
the form of his appearance and his person, so the majesty, which shines 
forth in God, is his form or figiu-e." 

" " Le manteau royal;" — " His royal mantle." 

» « La garde a I'entour ;" — " The guard in attendance." 


they had knmvn. Every one, however, must jierceive tliat 
Paul treats hitherto of Christ's glory, which tends to enhance 
his abasement. Accordingly he mentions, not what Christ 
did, but what it was allowable for him to do. 

Farther, that man is utterly blind who does not perceive 
that his eternal divinity is clearly set forth in these words. 
Nor does Erasmus act with sufficient modesty in attempting, 
by his cavils, to explain away this passage, as well as other 
similar passages.^ He acknowledges, indeed, everywhere 
that Christ is God ; but what am I the better for his or- 
thodox confession, if my faith is not supported by any 
Scripture authority? I acknowledge, certainly, that Paul 
does not make mention here of Christ's divine essence ; but 
it does not follow from this, that the passage is not suffi- 
cient for repelling the impiety of the Arians, who pretended 
that Christ was a created Grod, and inferior to the Father, 
and denied that he was consubstantial.^ For where can 
there be equality with God without robbery, excepting only 
where there is the essence of God ; for God always remains 
the same, who cries by Isaiah, I live ; I luill not give my 
glory to another. (Isaiah xlviii. 11.) Form means figure or 
appearance, as they commonly speak. This, too, I readily 
grant ; but will there be found, apart from God, such a/orm, 
so as to be neither false nor forged ? As, then, God is known 
by means of his excellences, and his works are evidences of 
his eternal Godhead, (Rom. i. 20,) so Christ's divine essence 
is rightly proved from Christ's majesty, which he possessed 
equally with the Father before he humbled himself. As to 
myself, at least, not even all devils would wrest this pas- 
sage from me — inasmuch as there is in God a most solid 
argument, from his glory to his essence, which are two things 
that are inseparable. 

7. Emptied himself. This emptying is the same as the 
abasement, as to which we shall see afterwards. The ex- 
pression, however, is used, €fj.(f)aTiKOTepot)<;, (more emphatically^ 
to mean, — being brought to nothing. Christ, indeed, could 

^ " Comnie s'ils lie faisoyent rien a ce propos-la ;" — " As if they liad no 
bearing on that point." 

' " C'est a dire d'vne mesme substance auec le Pere ;" — " That is to 
say, of the same substance as the Father." 



not divest himself of Godhead ; but ho kept it concealed foj- 
a time, that it might not be seen, under the weakness of the 
flesh. Hence he laid aside his glory in the view of men, not 
by lessening it, but by concealing it. 

It is asked, whether he did this as man ? Erasmus an- 
swers in the affirmative. But where was the for'tn of Ood 
before he became man ? Hence we must rej)ly, that Paul 
speaks of Christ wholly, as he was Ood manifested in the 
flesh, (1 Tim. iii. 16;) but, nevertheless, this emptying is appli- 
cable exclusively to his humanity, as if I should say of man, 
" Man being mortal, he is exceedingly senseless if he thinks 
of nothing but the world," I refer indeed to man wholly ; 
but at the same time I ascribe mortality only to a part of 
him, namely, to the body. As, then, Christ has one person, 
consisting of two natures, it is with propriety that Paul 
says, that he who was the Son of God, — in reality equal 
to God, did nevertheless lay aside his glory, when he in the 
flesh manifested himself in the appearance of a servant. 

It is also asked, secondly, how he can be said to be 
emptied, while he, nevertheless, invariably proved himself, 
by miracles and excellences, to be the Son of God, and in 
whom, as John testifies, there was always to be seen a gloiy 
worthy of the Son of God ? (John i. 14.) I answer, that the 
abasement of the flesh was, notwithstanding, like a vail, by 
which his divine majesty was concealed. On this account he 
did not wish that his transfiguration should be made public 
until after his resurrection ; and when he perceives that 
the hour of his death is approaching, lie then says. Father, 
(jlorify thy Son. (John xvii. 1.) Hence, too, Paul teaches 
elsewhere, that he was declared to he the So?i of God by 
means of his resurrection. (Rom. i. 4.) He also declares in 
another place, (2 Cor. xiii. 4,) that he suffered through the 
weakness of the flesh. In fine, the image of God shone forth 
in Christ in such a manner, that he was, at the same time, 
abased in his outward appearance, and brought down to 
nothing in the estimation of men ; for he carried about Avith 
him i\\c form of a servant, and had assumed our nature, ex- 
pressly with the view of his being a servant of the Fatlier, 
nay, even of men. Paul, too, calls liim the Minister of the 


Circumcision, (Rom. xv. 8;) and he himself testifies of himself, 
that he came to minister, (Matt. xx. 28;) and that same thing- 
had longbefore been foretold by Isaiah — Behold myservant,&c. 

In the likeness of men. revo/xevo^; is equivalent here to 
constitutus — {having been ajij^ointed.) For Paul means that 
lie had been brought down to the level of mankind, so that 
there was in appearance nothing that differed from the com- 
mon condition of mankind. The Marcionites perverted this 
declaration for the purpose of establishing the phantasm of 
which they dreamed. They can, however, be refuted without 
any great difficulty, inasmuch as Paul is treating here simply 
of the manner in which Christ manifested himself, and the 
condition with which he was conversant when in the world. 
Let one be truly man, he will nevertheless be reckoned unlike 
others, if he conducts himself as if he were exempt from the 
condition of others. Paul declares that it was not so as to 
Christ, but that he lived in such a manner, that he seemed 
as though he were on a level with mankind, and yet he was 
very difterent from a mere man, although he was truly man. 
The Marcionites therefore shewed excessive childishness, in 
drawing an argument from similarity of condition for the 
purpose of denying reality of nature.^ 

Found means here, knotvn or seen. For he treats, as has 
been observed, of estimation. In other words, as he had 
aflirmed previously that he was truly God, the equal of the 
Father, so he here states, that he was reckoned, as it were, 
abject, and in the common condition of mankind. We must 
always keep in view what I said a little ago, that such abase- 
ment was voluntary. 

8. He became obedient. Even this was great 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 be- 
came obedient to his Father, even so far as to endure death. 
This was extreme abasement, especially when we take into 
view the kind of death, which he immediately adds, with 
the view of enhancing it.^ For by dying in this manner he 

' See Calvin's Institutes, vol. ii. 18-15. 

" '•' Pour amplifier et exaggerer la chose ;" — " For the sake of amplify- 
m"; and enhancmsi: the thing." 


was not only covered witli ignominy in the sight of God, hut 
was also accursed in the sight of God. It is assuredly sucli 
a pattern of humility as ought to ahsorb the attention of all 
mankind ; so far is it from being possible to unfold it in 
words in a manner suitable to its dignity. 

9. Therefore God hath highly exalted. By adding conso- 
lation, he shews that abasement, to which the human mind 
is averse, is in the highest degree desirable. There is no 
one, it is true, but will acknowledge that it is a reasonable 
thing that is required from us, when we are exhorted to 
imitate Christ. This consideration, however, stirs us up to 
imitate him the more cheerfully, when we learn that nothing- 
is more advantageous for us than to be conformed to his 
image. Now, that all are happy who, along with Christ, 
voluntarily abase themselves, he shews by his example ; for 
from the most abject condition he was exalted to the highest 
elevation. Every one therefore that humbles himself will in 
like manner be exalted. Who would now be reluctant to 
exercise humility, by means of which the gloiy of the hea- 
venly kingdom is attained? 

This passage has given occasion to sophists, or rather they 
have seized hold of it, to allege that Christ merited first for 
himself, and afterwards for others. Now, in the first place, 
even though there were nothing false alleged, it would never- 
theless be proper to avoid such profane speculations as ob- 
scure the grace of Christ — in imagining that he came for 
any other reason than with a view to our salvation. Who 
does not see that this is a suggestion of Satan — that Christ 
suffered upon the cross, that he might acquire for himself, 
by the merit of his work, what he did not possess ? For it 
is the design of the Holy Spirit, that we should, in the death 
of Christ, see, and taste, and ponder, and feel, and recognise 
nothing but God's unmixed goodness, and the love of Christ 
toward us, which was great and inestimable, that, regardless 
of himself, he devoted himself and his life for our sakes. In 
every instance in which the Scriptures speak of the death of 
Christ, they assign to us its advantage and price ; — that by 
means of it we are redeemed — reconciled to God — restored 
to rigliteousness — cleansed from our pollutions — life is pro- 


cured for us, and the gate of life opened. Who, then, 
would deny that it is at the instigation of Satan that the 
persons referred to maintain, on the other hand, that the 
chief part of the advantage is in Christ himself — that a re- 
gard to himself had the precedence of that which he had to 
us — that he merited glory for himself before he merited sal- 
vation for us ? 

Farther, I deny the truth of what they allege, and I 
maintain that Paul's words are impiously perverted to the 
establishment of their falsehood ; for that the expression, 
for this cause, denotes here a consequence rather than a 
reason, is manifest from this, that it would otherwise follow, 
that a man could merit Divine honours, and acquire the 
very throne of God — which is not merely absurd, but even 
dreadful to make mention of For of what exaltation of 
Christ does the Apostle here speak ? It is, that everything 
may be accomplished in him that G6d, by the prophet 
Isaiah, exclusively claims to himself Hence the glory of 
God, and the majesty, which is so peculiar to him, that it 
cannot be transferred to any other, will be the reward of 
man's work ! 

Again, if they should urge the mode of expression, with- 
out any regard to the absurdity that will follow, the reply 
will be easy — that he has been given us by the Father in 
such a manner, that his whole life is as a mirror that is set 
before us. As, then, a mirror, though it has splendour, has 
it not for itself, but with the view of its being advantageous 
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 the equal of the Father, of a new 
exaltation ? Let, then, pious readers learn to detest the 
Sorbonnic sophists with their perverted speculations. 

Hath given him a name. Naine here is employed to mean 
dignity — a manner of expression which is abundantly com- 
mon in all languages — " Jacet sine nomine truncus ; He 
lies a headless nameless carcass."^ The mode of expression, 
however, is more especially common in Scripture. The mean- 
ing therefore is, that supreme power was given to Christ, 
' Virg. JEn. ii. 557, 558. 


and that he was placed in the highest rank of honour, so 
that there is no dignity found either in heaven or in earth 
that is equal to his. Hence it follows that it is a Divine 
name.^ This, too, he explains by quoting the words of 
Isaiah, where the Prophet, when treating of the propagation 
of the worship of God throughout the whole world, introduces 
God as speaking thus : — " I live : every knee will bow to 
me, and every tongue will swear to me,'' &c. (Isaiah xlv. 23.) 
Now, it is certain that adoration is here meant, which be- 
longs peculiarly to God alone. I am aware that some phi- 
losophise with subtlety as to the name Jesus, as though it 
were derived from tlie ineffable name Jehovah.^ In the 
reason, however, which they advance, I find no solidity. As 
for me, I feel no pleasure in empty subtleties f and it is 
dangerous to trifle in a matter of such importance. Besides, 
who does not see that it is a forced, and anything rather than 
a genuine, exposition, when Paul speaks of Christ's whole 
dignity, to restrict his meaning to two syllables, as if any 
one were to examine attentively the letters of the word 
Alexander, in order to find in them the greatness of the 
name that Alexander acquired for himself Their subtlety, 
therefore, is not solid, and the contrivance is foreign to Paul's 
intention. But worse than ridiculous is the conduct of the 
Sorbonnic sophists, who infer from the passage before us 
that we ouo'ht to bow the knee whenever the name of Jesus 
is pronounced, as though it were a magic word wdiich had 
all virtue included in the sound of it.* Paul, on the other 
hand, speaks of the honour that is to be rendered to the 
Son of God — not to mere syllables. 

10. Every knee anight hoiu. Though respect is shewn to 
men also by means of this rite, there can nevertheless be no 

^ " Et de cela il s'en ensuit, que c'est vn nom ou dignite propre a Dieu 
seul ;" — " And from this it follows, that it is a name or dignity that belongs 
to God alone." 

^ " Conime s'il estoit deduit du nom Jehoiiah, lequel les Juifs par super- 
stition disent qu'il n'est licite de proferer;" — "As if it were derived from 
the name Jehovah, which the Jews superstitiously say that it is not lawful 
to utter." 

3 " En ces subtilitez values et frivoles ;" — " In these empty and frivolous 

* " Duquel toute la vertu consistast au son et en la prononciation ;" — 
" The whole virtue of which consisted in the soiuid and the pronunciation." 


doubt tliat what is liere meant is that adoration which be- 
longs exclusively to God, of which the bending of the knee 
is a token.^ As to this, it is proper to notice, that God is 
to be worshipped, not merely with the inward affection of 
the heart, but also by outward profession, if we would render 
to him what is his due. Hence, on the other hand, when he 
would describe his genuine worshippers, he says that they 
have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (1 Kings 
xix. 18.) 

But here a question arises— whether this relates to the 
divinity of Christ or to his humanity, for either of the two 
is not without some inconsistency, inasmuch as nothing new 
could be given to his divinity ; and his humanity in itself, 
viewed separately, has by no mefins such exaltation belong- 
ing to it that it should be adored as God ? I answer, that 
this, like many things else, is affirmed in reference to Christ's 
entire person, viewed as God manifested in the flesh. (1 Tim. 
iii. 16.) For he did not abase himself either as to his hu- 
manity alone, or as to his divinity alone, but inasmuch as, 
clothed in our flesh, he concealed himself under its infirmity. 
So again God exalted his own Son in the same flesh, in 
which he had lived in the world abject and despised, to the 
highest rank of honour, that he may sit at his right hand. 

Paul, however, appears to be inconsistent with himself ; for 
in Rom. xiv. 11, he quotes this same passage, when he has it 
in view to prove that Christ will one day be the judge of the 
living and the dead. Now, it would not be applicable to that 
subject, if it Avere already accomplished, as he here declares. 
I answer, that the kingdom of Christ is on such a footing, 
that it is every day growing and making improvement, 
while at the same time perfection is not yet attained, nor 
will be until the final day of reckoning. Thus both things 
hold true — that all things are now subject to Christ, and 
that this subjection will, nevertheless, not be complete 
until the day of the resurrection, because that which is now 
only begun will then be completed. Hence, it is not without 
reason that this prophecy is applied in different ways at 
different times, as also all the other prophecies, which speak 

' " Vn signe et ceremonie externe ;" — "An outward sign and rite." 


of the reign of Christ, do not restrict it to one particular 
time, but describe it in its entire course. From this, how- 
ever, we infer that Christ is that eternal God who spoke by 

Things in heaven, things on earth, things under the earth. 
Since Paul represents all things from heaven to hell as 
subject to Christ, Papists trifle childishly when they draw 
purgatory from his words. Their reasoning, however, is 
this — that devils are so far from bowing the knee to Christ, 
that they are in every way rebellious against him, and stir 
up others to rebellion, as if it were not at the same time 
written that they tremble at the simple mention of God. 
(James ii. 19.) How will it be, then, when they shall come 
before the tribunal of Christ ? I confess, indeed, that they 
are not, and never will be, subject of their own accord and 
by cheerful submission ; but Paul is not speaking here of 
voluntary obedience ; nay more, we may, on the contrary, 
turn back upon them an argument, by way of retortion, 
{avTicTTpe^ov,) in this manner : — " The fire of purgatory, 
according to them, is temporary, and will be done away at 
the day of judgment: hence this passage cannot be under- 
stood as to purgatory, because Paul elsewhere declares that 
this prophecy will not be fulfilled until Christ shall manifest 
himself for judgment." Who does not see that they are 
twice children in respect of these disgusting frivolities ?^ 

11. /5 Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It might also 
be read. In the glory, because the particle eU (to) is often 
used in place of ev, (in.) I prefer, however, to retain its 
proper signification, as meaning, that as the majesty of God 
has been manifested to men through Christ, so it shines 
forth in Christ, and the Father is glorified in the Son. See 
John V. 1 7, and you will find an exposition of this passage. 

12. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 12. Itaque amici mei, quemad- 
liave always obeyed, not as in my modum semper obedistis, ne quasi 
presence only, but now much more in praesentia mea solum, sed nunc 
in my absence, work out your own multo magis in absentia mea, cum 
salvation with fear and trembling : timore et tremore vestram salutem 

operamini : 

_ ^_ " Qui ne voit qu'ils sont plus qu' enfans en telles subtilitez friuolcs et 
niaiseries qu'ils affectent ?" — " Who does not see that they are worse than 
children in such frivolous subtleties and fooleries which they affect ?" 


13. For it is God which worketh 13. Deus enim est, qui efficit in 
in you, both to will and to do of his vobis et velle et efficere, pro bona 
good pleasure. voluntate. 

14. Do all things without mur- 14. Omnia facite absque mur- 
murings and disputings ; murationibus et disceptationibus, 

15. That ye may be blameless and 15. Ut sitis tales, de quibus nemo 
harmless, the sons of God, without conqueratur, et sinceri filii Dei irre- 
rebuke, in the midst of a crooked prehensibiles, in medio generationis 
and perverse nation, among whom pravae ettortuosae, inter quoslucete, 
ye shine as lights in the world : tanquam luminaria in mundo : 

16. Holding forth the word of 16. Sermonem vitae sustinentes, 
life ; that I may rejoice in the day in gloriam meam, in diem Christi, 
of Christ, that I have not run in quod non frustra cucurrerim, nee 
vain, neither laboured in vain. frustra laboraverim, 

12. Therefore, &c. He concludes the wliole of tlie pre- 
ceding exhortation with a general statement — that they 
should humble themselves under the Lord's liand, for that 
will very readily secure, that, laying aside all arrogance, they 
will be gentle and indulgent to each other. This is the only 
befitting way in which the mind of man may learn gentle- 
ness, when one who, while viewing himself apart, pleased 
himself in his hiding-places, comes to examine himself as 
compared with God. 

As ye have always obeyed. He commends their previous 
obedience, that he may encourage them the more to perse- 
vere. As, however, it is the part of hypocrites to approve 
themselves before others, but so soon as they have with- 
drawn from public view, to indulge themselves more freely, 
as if every occasion of reverence and fear were removed, he 
admonishes them not to shew themselves obedient in his 
presence merely, but also, and even much more, in his absence. 
For if he were present, he could stimulate and urge them on 
by continued admonitions. Now, therefore, when their 
monitor is at a distance from thcm,^ there is need that tliey 
should stir up themselves. 

With fear and trembling. In this way lie would have the 
Philippians testify and approve their obedience — by being 
submissive and humble. Now the source of humility is this 
— acknowledging how miserable we are, and devoid of all 

1 " Maintenant done qu'il est loin d'eux, et qu'il ne les pent plus admo- 
ncster en presence ;" — " Now, therefore, when he is at a distance from 
them, and can no longer admonish them when present." 


good. To this he calls tliem in this statement. For whence 
comes jDride, but from the assurance which blind confidence 
produces, when we please ourselves, and are more puffed up 
with confidence in our own virtue, than prepared to rest 
upon the grace of God. In contrast with this vice is that 
fear to which he exhorts. Now, although exhortation comes 
before doctrine, in the connection of the passage, it is in 
reality after it, in point of arrangement, inasmuch as it is 
derived from it. I shall begin, accordingly, with doctrine. 

13. It is God that luorhetli. This is the true engine for 
bringing down all haughtiness — this the sword for i^utting 
an end to all pride, when we are taught that we are utterly 
nothing, and can do nothing, except through the grace of 
God alone. I mean supernatural grace, which comes forth 
from the spirit of regeneration. For, considered as men, we 
already are, and live and move in God. (Acts xvii. 28.) But 
Paul reasons here as to a kind of movement different from 
that universal one. Let us now observe how much he as- 
cribes to God, and how much he leaves to us. 

There are, in any action, two principal departments — the 
inclination, and the power to carry it into effect. Both of 
these he ascribes wholly to God ; what more remains to us 
as a ground of glorying? Nor is there any reason to doubt 
that this division has the same force as if Paul had expressed 
the whole in a single word ; for the inclination is the ground- 
Avork ; the accomplishment of it is the summit of the build- 
ing brought to a completion. He has also expressed much 
more than if he had said that God is the Author of the be- 
ginning and of the end. For in that case sophists would 
have alleged, by way of cavil, that something laetween the 
two was left to men. But as it is, what will they find that 
is in any degree peculiar to us ? They toil hard in their 
schools to reconcile with the grace of God free-will — of such 
a nature, I mean, as they conceive of — which might be ca- 
pable of turning itself by its own movement, and might have 
a peculiar and separate power, by which it might co-operate 
with the grace of God. I do not dispute as to the name, 
but as to the thing itself In order, therefore, that free-will 
may harmonize with grace, they divide in such a manner, 


that God restores in us a free choice, that we may have 
it in our power to will aright. Thus they acknowledge to_ 
have received from God the power of willing aright, hut 
assign to man a good inclination. Paul, however, declares 
this to be a work of God, without any reservation. For he 
does not say that our hearts are simply turned or stirred up, 
or that the infirmity of a good will is helped, but that a 
good inclination is wholly the work of God. 

Now, in the calumny brought forward by them against us 
— that we make men to be like stones, when we teach that 
they have nothing good, except from pure grace, they act a 
shameless part. For we acknowledge that we have from 
nature an inclination, but as it is depraved through the 
corruption of sin, it begins to be good only when it has been 
renewed by God. Nor do we say that a man does anything 
good without willing it, but that it is only when his inclination 
is regulated by the Spirit of God. Hence, in so far as concerns 
this department, we see that the entire praise is ascribed to 
God, and that what sophists teach us is frivolous— that grace 
is offered to us, and placed, as it were, in the midst of us, 
that we may embrace it if we choose ; for if God did not work 
in us efficaciously, he could not be said to produce in us a 
good inclination. As to the second department, we must 
entertain the same view. " God," says he, " is 'O evepycov to 
evep'yelv — he that loorketh in us to do." He brings, there- 
fore, to perfection those pious dispositions which he has 
implanted in us, that they may not be unproductive, as he 
promises by Ezekiel, — " I will cause them to walk in my 
commandments." (Ezek. xi. 20.) From this we infer that 
perseverance, also, is his free gift. 

According to his good pleasure. Some explain this to mean 
— the srood intention of the mind.^ I, on the other hand, take 
it rather as referring to God, and understand by it his bene- 
volent disposition, which they commonly call beneplacitiim, 
(good pleasure.) For the Greek word evBoKia is very frequently 

* See Institutes, vol. i. pp. 350, 353. 

2 " Aucuns exposent le mot Groe, bon propos et bon cceur, le rapportans 
aux honimes :"— " Some explain the Greek word as meaning, a good pur- 
pose and a good heart, making it refer to men." 


employed in this sense ; and the context requires it. For 
Paul has it in view to ascribe everything to God, and to take 
everything from us. Accordingly, not satisfied with having 
assigned to God the production both of willing and of doing 
aright, he ascribes both to his unmerited mercy. By this 
means he shuts out the contrivance of the sophists as to sub- 
sequent grace, which tliey imagine to be the reward of merit. 
Hence he teaches, that the whole course of our life, if we 
live aright, is regulated by God, and that, too, from his 
unmerited goodness. 

With fear and trembling. From this Paul deduces an 
exhortation — that they must with fear wor-k out their own 
salvation. He conjoins, as he is accustomed, fear and 
trembling, for the sake of greater intensity, to denote — seri- 
ous and anxious fear. He, accordingly, represses drowsiness 
as well as confidence. By the term work he reproves our 
indolence, which is always ingenious in seeking advantages.^ 
Now it seems as if it had in the grace of God a sweet occa- 
sion of repose ; for if He worketh in us, why should we not 
indulge ourselves at our ease? The Holy Spirit, however, 
calls us to consider, that he wishes to work upon living or- 
gans, but he immediately represses arrogance by recom- 
mending/ear and trembling. 

The inference, also, is to be carefully observed : " You 
have," says he, " all things from God ; therefore be solicit- 
ous and humble." For there is nothing that ought to train 
us more to modesty and fear, than our being taught, that it 
is by the grace of God alone that we stand, and will in- 
stantly fall down, if he even in the slightest degree with- 
draw his hand. Confidence in ourselves produces careless- 
ness and arrogance. We know from experience, that all 
who confide in their own strength, grow insolent through 
presumption, and at the same time, devoid of care, resign 
themselves to sleep. The remedy for both evils is, when, 
distrusting ourselves, we depend entirely on God alone. And 
assuredly, that man has made decided progress in the know- 
ledge, both of the grace of God, and of his own weakness, 

' " Ingenieuse a cercher ses auantages, et quelques vaines excuses;" — 
'• Ingenious in seeking its advantages, and some vain pretexts." 


who, aroused from carelessness, diligently seeks^ God's help; 
while those that are puffed up with confidence in their own 
strength, must necessarily be at the same time in a state of 
intoxicated security. Hence it is a shameless calumny that 
Papists bring against us, — that in extolling the grace of 
God, and putting down free-will, we make men indolent, 
shake off the fear of God, and destroy all feeling of con- 
cern. It is obvious, however, to every reader, that Paul 
finds matter of exhortation here — not in the doctrine of 
Papists, but in what is held by us. " God," says he, '^ works 
all things in us ; therefore submit to him with fear." I do 
not, indeed, deny that there are many who, on being told 
that there is in us nothing that is good, indulge themselves 
the more freely in their vices ; but I deny that this is the 
fault of the doctrine, which, on the contrary, when received 
as it ought to be, produces in our hearts a feeling of concern. 
Papists, however, pervert this passage so as to shake the as- 
surance of faith, for the man that trembles^ is in uncertainty. 
They, accordingly, understand Paul's words as if they meant 
that we ought, during our whole life, to waver as to assur- 
ance of salvation. If, however, we would not have Paul 
contradict himself, he does not by any means exhort us to 
hesitation, inasmuch as he everywhere recommends con- 
fidence and (7rX')]po(f)opiav) full assurance. The solution, 
however, is easy, if any one is desirous of attaining the true 
meaning without any spirit of contention. There are two 
kinds of fear ; the one produces anxiety along with humi- 
lity ; the other hesitation. The former is opposed to fleshly 
confidence and carelessness, equally as to arrogance ; the 
latter, to assurance of faith. Farther, we must take notice, 
that, as believers repose with assurance upon the grace of 
God, so, when they direct their views to their own frailty, 
they do not by any means resign themselves carelessly to 
sleep, but are by /ear of dangers stirred up to prayer. Yet, 
so far is thisyear from disturbing tranquillity of conscience, 
and shaking confidence, that it rather confirms it. For dis- 
trust of ourselves leads us to lean more confidently upon the 

1 " Cerche songneusement et implore ;" — " Diligently seeks and implores." 
" " Car celuy qui tremble, disent-ils;" — " J^'or he that trembles, say they." 


mercy of God. And this is wliat Paul's words import, for 
he requires nothing from the Philippians, hut that they 
submit themselves to God with true self-renunciation. 

Work out your own salvation. As Pelagians of old, so 
Papists at this day make a proud boast of this passage, with 
the view of extolling man's excellence. Nay more, when the 
preceding statement is mentioned to them by way of objec- 
tion. It is God that worketh in us, &c., they immediately by this 
shield ward it off (so to speak) — Work out your own salvation. 
Inasmuch, then, as the work is ascribed to God and man in 
common, they assign the half to each. In short, from the 
word work they derive free-will; from the term salvation they 
derive the merit of eternal life. I answer, that salvation is 
taken to mean the entire course of our calling, and that this 
term includes all things, by which God accomplishes that 
perfection, to which he has predestinated us by his gracious 
choice. This no one will deny, that is not obstinate and im- 
pudent. We are said to perfect it, when, under the regula- 
tion of the Spirit, we aspire after a life of blessedness. It is 
God that calls us, and oifers to us salvation ; it is our part 
to embrace by faith what he gives, and by obedience act 
suitably to his calling ; but we have neither from ourselves. 
Hence we act only when he has prepared us for acting. 

The word which he employs properly signifies — to con- 
tinue until the end ; but we must keep in mind what I have 
said, that Paul does not reason here as to how far our ability 
extends, but simply teaches that God acts in us in such a 
manner, that he, at the same time, does not allow us to be 
inactive,^ but exercises us diligently, after having stirred us 
up by a secret influence.^ 

14. Without murmurings. These are fruits of that humi- 
lity to which he had exhorted them. For every man that has 
learned carefully to submit himself to God, without claiming 
anything for himself, will also conduct himself agreeably 
among men. When every one makes it his care to please him- 

^ " Deuenir paresseux et oisifs ;" — " To become idle and indolent." 
^ " Mais apres nous auoir poussez et incitez par vne inspiration secrete 
et_ cachee, nous employe et exerce songneusement ;" — " But, after having 
stimulated and incited us by a secret and hidden inspiration, he diligently 
employs and exercises us." 


self, two faults prevail: First, they calumniate one another; and 
secondly, they strive against one another in contentions. In 
the first place, accordingly, he forbids malignity and secret 
enmities ; and then, secondly, open contentions. He adds, 
thii-dly, that they give no occasion to others to complain of 
them — a thing which is wont to arise from excessive morose- 
ness. It is true that hatred is not in all cases to be dreaded ; 
but care must be taken, that we do not make ourselves odious 
through our own fault, so that the saying should be fulfilled 
in us, They hated me without a cause. (Psalm xxxv. 19.) If, 
however, any one wishes to extend it farther, I do not object 
to it. For murmurings and disputations spring up, whenever 
any one, aiming beyond measure at his own advantage,^ gives 
to others occasion of complaint.^ Nay, even this expression 
may be taken in an active sense, so as to mean — not trouble- 
some or querulous. And this signification will not accord 
ill with the context, for a querulous temper {fieixy^nfioipLof 
is the seed of almost all quarrels and slanderings. He adds 
sincere, because these pollutions will never come forth from 
minds that have been purified. 

15. The sons of God, unreprovable. It ought to be ren- 
dered — unreprovable, because ye are the sons of God. For 
God's adoption of us ought to be a motive to a blameless 
life, that we may in some degree resemble our Father. Now, 
although there never has been such perfection in the Avorld 
as to have nothing worthy of reproof, those are, nevertheless, 
said to be un7'eprovahle who aim at this with the whole 
bent of their mind, as has been observed elsewhere.* 

In the midst of a wicked generation. Believers, it is true, 
live on earth, intermingled with the wicked f they breathe the 

1 " Cerchant outre mesure son proufit et vtilite particuHcre ;" — " Seek- 
ing beyond measure his own particular profit and advantage." 

* " Le vice qui est en plusieurs qu'ils sont pleins de complaints centre 
les autres ;" — " The fault that is in very many — that they are full of com- 
plaints as to others." 

^ The term is used by Aristotle. See Arist. Virt. et Vit. 7. 0. — Ed. 

* Our Author most probably refers to what he had stated when com- 
menting on 1 Cor. i. 8. See Calvin on the CorintMans, vol. i. pp. 58, 
09.— Ed. 

^ " Mesles auec les infidcles et meschans ;" — " jMingled Vtith the unbe- 
lieving and the wicked." 


same air, they enjoy the same soil, and at that time^ they 
were even more intermingled, inasmuch as there could 
scarcely be found a single pious family that was not sur- 
rounded on all sides by unbelievers. So much the more does 
Paul stir up the Philippians to guard carefully against all 
corruptions. The meaning therefore is this : " You are, it is 
true, inclosed in the midst of the wicked ; but, in the mean 
time, bear in mind that you are, by God's adoption, separated 
from them : let there be, therefore, in your manner of life, 
conspicuous marks by which you may be distinguished. Nay 
more, this consideration ought to stir you up the more to aim 
at a pious and holy life, that we may not also be a part of 
the crooked generation^ entangled by their vices and con- 

As to his calling them a wicked and crooked generation, 
this corresponds with the connection of the passage. For 
he teaches us that we must so much the more carefully take 
hoed on this account — that many occasions of oifence are 
stirred up by unbelievers, which disturb their right course ; 
and the whole life of unbelievers is, as it were, a labyrinth 
of various windings, that draw us oif from the right way. 
They are, however, notwithstanding, epithets of perpetual 
application, that are descriptive of unbelievers of all nations 
and in all ages. For if the heart of man is wicked and un- 
searchable, (Jcr. xvii. 9,) what will be the fruits springing 
from such a root? Hence we are taught in these words, 
that in the life of man there is nothing pure, nothing right, 
until he has been renewed by the Spirit of God. 

Among whom shine ye. The termination of the Greek 
word is doubtful, for it might be taken as the indicative — ye 
shine ; but the imperative suits better with the exhortation. 
He would have unbelievers be as lamps, which shine amidst 
the darkness of the world, as though he had said, "■ Unbe- 
lievers, it is true, are children of the night, and there is in 
the world nothing but darkness ; but God has enlightened 
you for this end, that the purity of your life may shine forth 

* " Et lors mesme que S. Paul escriuoit ceci ;" — " And even at the time 
that St. Paul wrote this."' 

"- " De la generation peruerse et maudite;" — " Of the perverse and ac- 
cursed jreneration." 


amidst that darkness, that his grace may appear the more 
illustrious." Thus, also, it is said by the Prophet, " The Lord 
will arise upon thee, and his glory will be seen upon thee." 
(Isaiah Ix. 2.) He adds immediately afterwards, " The Gen- 
tiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of 
thy countenance." Though Isaiah speaks there rather of doc- 
trine, while Paul speaks here of an exemplary life, yet, even 
in relation to doctrine, Christ in another passage specially 
designates the Apostles the light of the world. (Matt v. 14.) 

16. Holding f 07-th the word of life. The reason why they 
ought to be luminaries is, that they carry the word of life, by 
which they are enlightened, that they may give light also to 
others. Now he alludes to lamps, in which wicks are placed 
that they may burn, and he makes us resemble the lamps ; 
while he compares the word of God to the wick, from which 
the light comes. If you prefer another figure — we are can- 
dlesticks : the doctrine of the gospel is the candle, which, 
being placed in us, diffuses light on all sides. Now he inti- 
mates, that we do injustice to the word of God, if it does not 
shine forth in us in respect of purity of life. This is the 
import of Christ's saying, " No man lighteth a candle, and 
putteth it tinder a bushel," &c. (Matt. v. 15.) We are said, 
however, to carry the word of life in such a way as to be, in 
the mean time, carried by it,^ inasmuch as we are founded 
upon it. The manner, however, of carrying it, of which Paul 
speaks, is, that God has intrusted his doctrine with us on con- 
dition, not that we should keep the light of it under restraint, 
as it were, and inactive, but that we should hold it forth to 
others. The sum is tliis : that all that are enlightened with 
heavenly doctrine carry about with them a light, which 
detects and discovers their crimes,^ if they do not walk in 
holiness and chastity ; but that this light has been kindled 
up, not merely that they may themselves be guided in the 
right way, but that they may also shew it to others. 

That I may have glory. That he may encourage them the 
more, he declares that it will turn out to his glory, if he has 
not laboured among them in vain. Not as if those who 

1 " Soustenus ou portez d'elle ;" — " Sustained or carried by it." 
* " Leiir turpitude et vileuic;" — " Their disgrace and villany." 


laboured faithfully, but unsuccessfully, lost their pains, and 
had no reward of their labour. As, however, success in our 
ministry is a singular blessing from God, let us not feel sur- 
prised, if God, among his other gifts, makes this the crown- 
ing one. Hence, as Paul's ApostleshijD is now rendered 
illustrious by so many Churches, gained over to Christ 
through his instrumentality, so there can be no question 
that such trophies^ will have a place in Christ's kingdom, 
as we will find him saying a little afterwards, You are my 
crown. (Phil. iv. 1.) Nor can it be doubted, that the greater 
the exploits, the triumph will be the more splendid.^ 

Should any one inquire how it is that Paul now glories in 
his labours, while he elsewhere forbids us to glory in any but 
in the Lord, (1 Cor. i. 31 ; 2 Cor. x. 17,) the answer is easy — 
that, when we have prostrated ourselves, and all that we 
have before God, and have placed in Christ all our ground 
of glorying, it is, at the same time, allowable for us to glory 
through Christ in God's benefits, as we have seen in the 
First Epistle to the Corinthians.^ The expression, at the 
day of the Lord, is intended to stimulate the Philippians to 
perseverance, while the tribunal of Christ is set before their 
view, from which the reward of faith is to be expected. 

17. Yea, and if I be oftered upon 17. Quin etiam si immoler super 
the sacrifice and service of your Iiostia et sacrificio fidei vestrae, 
faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. gaudeo et congaudeo vobis omnibus. 

18. For the same cause also do 18. De hoe ipso gaudete, et con- 
ye joy, and rejoice with me. gaudete mihi. 

19. But I trust in the Lord Jesus 19. Spero autem in Domino, Ti- 
to send Timotheus shortly unto you, motheum brevi me ad vos missurura, 
that I also may be of good comfort ut ego tranquillo sim animo, post- 
when I know your state. quam statum vestrura cognoverim. 

20. For I have no man like- 20. Neminem enim habeo pari 
minded, who will naturally care for animo praeditmii, qui germane res 
your state. vestras curaturus sit. 

21. For all seek their own, not 21. Omnes enim quae sua sunt 
the things which are Jesus Christ's, quaerunt: non quae sunt Christilesu. 

^ " Telles conquestes et marques de triomphe ;" — " Such conquests and 
tokens of triumph." The term tropciea made use of by our Author, (cor- 
responding to the Greek term T^i-^aicc,) properly signifies, monuments of 
the enemy's defeat, (Tjjocr-,?.) — Ed. 

^ " Tant plus qu'il y aura de faits cheualeureux, que le triomphe aussi 
n'en soit d'autant plus magnifique et honourable ;" — " The more there are 
of illustrious deeds, the triumph also will be so much the more magnifi- 
cent and honourable." 

= See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. pp. 94, 95. 


22. But ye know the proof of 22. Poito experimentum eius te- 
him, that, as a sou with the father, netis, quod tanquam cum patretihus, 
he hath served with me in the gospel, ita mecum servivit in EuangeUum. 

23. II ini therefore I hope to send 23. Hunc igitur spero me mis- 
presently, so soon as I shall see how surum, simulac raea negotia videro. 
it will go with me. 

24. But I trust in the Lord that 24. Confido aut em in Domino quod 
I also myself shall come shortly. ipse quoque brevi sim venturus. 

17. If I should he offered} The Greek word is aTrevSo/nai., 
and accordingly there appears to be an allusion to those ani- 
mals, hy the slaughter of which agreements and treaties 
were confirmed among the ancients. For the Greeks spe- 
cially employ the term o-7rovha<; to denote the victims by 
which treaties are confirmed. In this way, he calls his 
death the confirmation of their faith, which it certainly 
would be. That, however, the whole passage may bo more 
clearly understood, he says that he offered sacrifice to God, 
when he consecrated them by the gospel. There is a similar 
expression in Romans xv. 16; for in that passage he repre- 
sents himself as a priest, who offers up the Gentiles to God 
by the gospel. Now, as the gospel is a spiritual sword for 
slaying victims,^ so faith is, as it were, the oblation ; for 
there is no faith without mortification, by means of which 
we are consecrated to God. 

He makes use of the terms, Ovalav kcu 'Xecroupjiav — sacri- 
fice and service, the former of which refers to the Pliilip- 
pians, who had been offered up to God; and the latter to 
Paul, for it is the very act of sacrificing. The term, it is 
true, is equivalent to administration, and thus it includes 
functions and offices of every kind ; but here it relates pro- 
perly to the service of God — corresponding to the phrase 
made use of by the Latins — oijerari sacris — (to be employed 
in sacred rites.^) Now Paul says that he will rejoice, if he 
shall be offered up upon a sacrifice of this nature — that it 

1 Paul's statement here is interpre'Led by Dr. John Brown as equivalent 
to the following : — '• If my hfe be poin-ed out as a libation over your con- 
version to Christ, 'I joy and rejoice with you all.' It could not be better 
sacrificed than in the cause of his glory and your salvation." — Brown's 
Discourses and Sayings of our Lord illustrated, vol. iii. p. 379. — Ed. 

2 " I'our tuer les bestes qu'on doit sacrilicr ;" — " For killing the animals, 
that ought to be sacrificed." 

» See Liv. 1. i. c. 31, ad Jin.— Ed. 


may be the more ratified and confirmed. This is to teach 
the gospel from the heart — when we are prepared to confirm 
with our own blood what we teach. 

From this, however, a useful lesson is to be gathered as to 
tlie nature of faith — that it is not a vain thing, but of such 
a nature as to consecrate man to God. The ministers of the 
gospel have, also, here a singular consolation in being called 
priests of God, to present victims to him ;^ for with what 
ardour ought that man to ajjply himself to the pursuit of 
preaching, who knows that this is an acceptable sacrifice to 
God ! The wretched Papists, having no knowledge of this 
kind of sacrifice, contrive another, which is utter sacrilege. 

I rejoice with you, says he — so that if it should happen that 
he died, they would know that this took place for their profit, 
and would receive advantage from his deatli. 

18. Rejoice ye. By the alacrity which he thus discovers, 
he encourages the Philippians, and enkindles in them a 
desire to meet death with firmness,^ inasmuch as believers 
suflTer no harm from it. For he has formerly taught them 
that death would be gain to himself, (Phil. i. 21 ;) here, on 
the other hand, he is chiefly concerned that his death 
may not disconcert the Philippians.^ He, accordingly, de- 
clares that it is no ground of sorrow ; nay, that they have 
occasion of joy, inasmuch as they will find it to be produc- 
tive of advantage. For, although it was in itself a serious loss 
to be deprived of such a teacher, it was no slight compensa- 
tion tliat the gospel was confirmed by his blood. In the 
mean time, he lets them know that to himself personally 
death would be matter of joy. The rendering of Erasmus, 
taking it in the present tense, Ye rejoice, is altogether un- 

19. But I hojje. He promises them the coming of Timo- 
thy, that, from their expecting him, they may bear up more 

' " Pour luy ofFrir en sacrifice les ames des fideles ;" — " To offer to him 
in sacrifice the souls of the beUevers." 

^ " Les enflambe a mourir constamment, et receuoir la mort d'vn coeur 
magnanime ;"— " Enkindles them to die ^\'itli firmness, and meet death 
Avith magnanimity." 

^ " Que sa mort ne trouble et estonne les Philippians ;" — " That his death 
may not distress and alarm the Philippians." 


courageously, and not give way to impostors. For as in war 
an expectation of help animates soldiers, so as to keep them 
from giving way, so this consideration, too, was fitted to 
encourage greatly the Philippians : " There will one come 
very shortly, who will set himself in opposition to the con- 
trivances of our enemies." But if the mere expectation of 
him had so much influence, his presence would exert a much 
more powerful effect. We must take notice of the condition^ 
— in respect of which he submits himself to the providence 
of God, forming no purpose, but with that leading the way, 
as assuredly it is not allowable to determine anything as to 
the future, except, so to speak, under the Lord's hand. When 
he adds, that I may he in tranquillity, he declares his affec- 
tion towards them, inasmuch as he was so much concerned 
as to their dangers, that he was not at ease until he received 
accounts of their prosperity. 

20. 1 have no man like-minded. While some draw an- 
other meaning from the passage, I interpret it thus : " I 
have no one equally well-afFected for attending to your inter- 
ests." For Paul, in my opinion, compares Timothy with 
others, rather than with himself, and he pronounces this 
eulogium upon him, with the express design that he may be 
the more highly esteemed by them for his rare excellence. 

21, For all seek their own things. He does not speak of 
those who had openly abandoned the pursuit of piety, but of 
those very persons whom he reckoned brethren, nay, even 
those whom he admitted to familiar intercourse with him. 
These persons, he nevertheless says, were so warm in the 
pursuit of their own interests, that they were unbecomingly 
cold in the work of the Lord, It may seem at first view as 
if it were no great fault to seek one's own profit ; but how 
insufierable it is in the sei-vants of Christ, appears from this, 
that it renders those that give way to it utterly useless. 
For it is impossible that the man who is devoted to self, 
should apply himself to the interests of the Church. Did 
then, you will say, Paul cultivate the society of men that were 
worthless and mere pretenders ? I answer, that it is not to 

' " En ces mots, au Seigneur Jesus, il faut noter la condition ;" — " lu 
these words, in tlie Lord Jesus, we must notice the condition." 


be understood, as if they had been intent exclusively on 
their own interests, and bestowed no care whatever upon 
the Church, but that, taken uj) with their own individual 
interests, they were to some extent negligent to the promo- 
tion of the public advantage of the Church. For it must 
necessarily be, that one or other of two dispositions prevails 
over us — either that, overlooking ourselves, we are devoted 
to Christ, and those things that are Christ's, or that, unduly 
intent on our own advantage, we serve Christ in a superfi- 
cial manner. 

From this it appears, how great a hinderance it is to 
Christ's ministers to seek their own interests. Nor is there 
any force in these excuses : " I do harm to no one" — " I must 
liave a regard, also, to my own advantage" — " I am not so 
devoid of feeling as not to be prompted by a regard to my 
own advantage." For you must give up your own right if 
you would discharge your duty : a regard to your own inter- 
est must not be put in preference to Christ's glory, or even 
placed upon a level with it. Whithersoever Christ calls you, 
you must go promptly, leaving off all other things. Your 
calling ought to be regarded by you in such a way, that you 
shall turn away all your powers of perception from every- 
thing that would impede you. It might be in your power 
to live elsewhere in greater opulence, but God has bound you 
to the Church, wliich affords you but a very moderate sus- 
tenance : you might elsewhere have more honour, but God 
has assigned you a situation, in which you live in a humble 
style : ^ you might have elsewhere a more salubrious sky, or 
a more delightful region, but it is here that your station is 
appointed. You might wish to have to do with a more 
humane people : you feel offended with their ingratitude, or 
barbarity, or pride ; in short, you have no sympathy with 
the disposition or the manners of the nation in which you 
are, but you must struggle with yourself, and do violence 
in a manner to opposing inclinations, that you may^ keep 

1 " Sans estre en plus grande reputation ;" — " Without being in very 
great reputation." 

2 " En sorte que tu te contentes du lieu qui t'est ordonne, et que t'eni- 
ployes a ta charge ;" — " So as to content yourself with the place that is 
appointed for you, and employ yourself in your own department." 


bj the trade you have got ;^ for you are not free, or at 
your own disposal. In fine, forget yourself, if you would 
serve God. 

If, however, Paul reproves so severely those who were 
influenced by a greater concern for themselves than for the 
Church, what judgment may be looked for by those who, 
while altogether devoted to their own aifairs, make no account 
of the edification of the Church ? However they may now 
flatter themselves, God will not spare them. An allowance 
must be given to the ministers of the Church to seek their 
own interests, so as not to be prevented from seeking the 
kingdom of Christ ; but in that case they will not be repre- 
sented as seeking their own interests, as a man's life is esti- 
mated according to its chief aim. When he says all, we are 
not to understand the term denoting universality, as though 
it implied that there was no exception, for there were 
others also, such as Epaphroditus,^ but there were few 
of these, and he ascribes to all what was very generally 

When, however, we hear Paul complaining, that in that 
golden age, in which all excellences flourished, that there were 
so few that were rightly aflected,^ let us not be disheartened, 
if such is our condition in the present day : only let every 
one take heed to himself, that he be not justly reckoned to 
belong to that catalogue. I should wish, however, that 
Papists would answer me one question — where Peter was at 
that time, for he must have been at Rome, if what they say 
is true. the sad and vile description that Paul gave of 
him ! They utter, therefore, mere fables, when they pretend 
that he at that time presided over the Church of Rome. 
Observe, that the edification of the Church is termed the 
things of Christ, because we are truly engaged in his work, 
when we labour in the cultivation of his vineyard. 

^ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. p. 249. 

2 " Car il y en auoit d'autres qui auoyent plus grand soin de I'Eglise de 
Dieu, que d'eux-mesmes, comme Kpaphrodite ;" — " For there were others 
of them that had greater concern as to the Church of God, than as to 
themselves, such as I^paphroditus." 

^ " Qu'il y auoit si peu de gens sages et qui eusscnt vn coeur entier a 
nostre Seigneur ;" — " That there were so few persons that were wise, and 
had devotedness of heart to our Lord." 


22. But the pi'oof. It is literally, ye know the proof of 
him, unless you prefer to understand it in the imperative 
mood, know ye ; (for there had scarcely been opportunity 
during that short time to make trial,) but this is not of great 
moment. What is chiefly to be noticed is, that he furnishes 
Timothy with an attestation of fidelity and modesty. In 
evidence of his fidelity, he declares, that he had served with 
him in the gospel, for such a connection was a tolcen of true 
sincerity. In evidence of his modesty, he states, that he had 
submitted to /u'm as to a father. It is not to be wondered, 
that this virtue is expressly commended by Paul, for it has 
in all ages been rare. At the present day, where will you 
find one among the young that will give way to his seniors, 
even in the smallest thing ? to such an extent does imper- 
tinence triumph and prevail in the present age ! In this 
passage, as in many others, we see how diligently Paul makes 
it his aim to put honour upon pious ministers, and that not 
so much for their own sakes, as on the ground of its being 
for the advantage of the whole Church, that such persons 
should be loved and honoured, and possess the highest 

24. / trust that I myself He adds this, too, lest they 
should imagine that anything had happened to change his 
intention as to the journey of which he had previously made 
mention. At the same time, he always speaks conditionally 
• — If it shall please the Lord. For although he expected 
deliverance from the Lord, yet there having been, as we have 
observed, no express promise, this expectation was by no 
means settled, but was, as it were, suspended upon the secret 
purpose of God. 

25. Yet I supposed it necessary 25. Porro necessarium existimavi 
to send to you Epaphroditus, my B^paphroditum, fratrem et coope- 
brother, and companion in labour, rarium, et commilitonem meum, 
and fellow-soldier, but your messen- Apostolum autem vestrum, et niinis- 
ger, and he that ministered to my trura necessitatis meae mittere ad 
wants. vos. 

26. For he longed after you all, 26. Quandoquidem desiderabat 
and was full of heaviness, because vos omnes, et erat anxius animi, 
that ye had heard that he had been propterea quod audieratis ipsum in- 
s^ck. hrmatum fuisse. 

27. For indeed he was sick nigh 27. Et certe infirmatus fuit, ut 
unto death : but God had mercy on esset morti vicinus, sed Deus miser- 


him ; and not on him only, but on tus est illius : neque illius solum, sed 

me also, lest I should have sorrow etiam mei ; ut ne tristitiam super 

upon sorrow. tristitiam haberem. 

28. I sent him therefore the more 28. Studiosius itaque misi ilium, 
carefully, that, when ye see him ut eo viso rursus gaudeatis, et ego 
again, ye may rejoice, and that I may magis vacem dolore. 

be the less sorrowful. 

29. Receive him therefore in the 29. Excipite ergo ilium in Domi- 
Lord with all gladness ; and hold no cum omni gaudio : et qui tales 
such in reputation : sunt, in pretio habete : 

30. Because for the work of Christ 30. Quia propter opus Christi 
he was nigh unto death, not regard- usque ad mortem accessit, exponens 
ing his life, to supply your lack of periculo animam, ut sufficeret quod 
service toward me. deerat vestro erga me ministerio, {vel, 


25. / thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. 
After having encouraged tliem by the promise of his own 
coming and that of Timothy, he fortifies them also for tlie 
present, by sending previousl}^ Epaphroditus, tliat in the 
mean time, while he waited the issue of his own affairs, (for 
this was the cause of his delay,) they might not be in want 
of a pastor who should take care that matters were properly 
managed. Now, he recommends Epaphroditus by many dis- 
tinctions — that he is his hi^other, and helper in the affairs of 
the gospel — that he is his felloiu-soldier, by which term he 
intimates what is the condition of the ministers of the 
gospel ; that they are engaged in an incessant warfare, for 
Satan will not allow them to promote the gospel without 
maintaining a conflict. Let those, then, who prepare them- 
selves for edifying the Church, know that war is denounced 
against them, and prepared. This, indeed, is common to all 
Christians — to be soldiers in the camp of Christ,^ for Satan 
is the enemy of all. It is, however, more particularly appli- 
cable to the ministers of the word, who go before the army 
and bear the standard. Paul, however, more especially might 
boast of his military service,^ inasmuch as he was exercised 
to a very miracle in every kind of contest. He accordingly 

^ " De batailler sous I'enseigne de Christ ;" — " To fight mider Christ's 

* " S. Paul pouuoit se vanter plus que pas on des autres, que sa 
condition estoit semblable a celle d'vn gendarme ;" — " St. Paul might 
boast more than any other that his condition resembled that of a sol- 


commends Epajjlivoditus, because he liad been a companion 
to him in liis conflicts. 

Tlie term Apostle here, as in many other passages, is taken 
generally to mean any evangelist,^ unless any one prefers 
to understand it as meaning an ambassador sent by the 
Philippians, so that it may be understood as conjoining 
these two things — an ambassador to aflford service to Paul.^ 
The former signification, however, is in my opinion more 
suitable. He mentions also, among other things, to his 
praise, that he had ministered to him in 'prison — a matter 
which will be treated of more fully ere long. 

26. He longed after you. It is a sign of a true pastor, 
that while he was at a great distance, and was willingly 
detained by a pious engagement, he was nevertheless af- 
fected with concern for his flock, and a longing after them ; 
and on learning that his sheep were distressed on his ac- 
count,^ he was concerned as to their grief On the other 
hand, the anxiety of the Philippians for their pastor is here 

27. But God had mercy on him. He had expressed the 
severity of the disease — that Epaphroditus had been sick, 
so that life was despaired of. in order that the goodness of 
God might shine forth more clearly in his restored health. 
It is, however, surprising that he should ascribe it to the 
mercy of God that Epaphroditus had had his period of life 
prolonged, while he had previously declared that he desired 
death in preference to life. (Phil. i. 28.) And what were 
better for us than that we should remove hence to the king- 
dom of God, delivered from the many miseries of this world, 
and more especially, rescued from that bondage of sin in 
which he elsewhere exclaims that he is turetched, (Rom. 
vii. 24,) to attain the full enjoyment of that liberty of the 
Spirit, by which we become connected with the Son of God f 
It were tedious to enumerate all the things which tend to 

' " Pour tons presclieurs de I'euangile ;" — " For all preachers of the 

- " Ambassade pour administrer a Sainct Paul en sa necessite ;" — " An 
ambassador to minister to St. Paul m his necessity." 

' " Pour I'amour de luy ;" — " From love to him." 

* " Par laquelle nous soyons parfaitement conioints auec le Fils de 
Dieu ;" — " By which we are perfectly united with the Son of God." 



make death better than life to believers, and more to be 
desired. Where, then, is there any token of the mercy of 
God, when it does nothing but lengthen out our miseries ? 
I answer, that all these things do not prevent this life from 
being, nevertheless, considered in itself, an excellent gift of 
God. More especially those who live to Christ are happily 
exercised here in hope of heavenly glory ; and accordingly, 
as we have had occasion to see a little ago, life is gain to 
them.^ Besides, there is another thing, too, that is to be 
considered — that it is no small honour that is conferred 
upon us, when God glorifies himself in us ; for it becomes 
us to look not so much to life itself, as to the end for which 
we live. 

Bat on me also, lest I sliould have sorrow. Paul acknow- 
ledges that the death of Epaphroditus would have been bit- 
terly painful to him, and he recognises it as an instance of 
God's sparing mercy toward himself, that he had been re- 
stored to health. He does not, therefore, make it his boast 
that he has the o/pathy (airdOetav) of the Stoics, as if lie 
were a man of iron, and exempt from human afl'ections." 
"What then \" some one will say, "where is that unconquerable 
magnanimity ? — where is that indefatigable perseverance 1" 
I answer, that Christian jiatience diftcrs widely from philo- 
sophical obstinacy, and still more from the stubborn and 
fierce sternness of the Stoics. For what excellence were 
tliere in patiently enduring the cross, if there were in it no 
feeling of pain and bitterness ? But when the consolation 
of God overcomes that feeling, so that we do not resist, but, 
on the contrary, give our back to the endurance of tlie rod, 
(Isaiah 1. 5,) we in that case present to God a sacrifice of 
obedience that is acceptable to him. Tims Paul acknow- 
ledges that he felt some uneasiness and pain from his bonds, 
but' that he nevertheless cheerfully endured these same 
bonds for the sake of Christ.^ He acknowledges that he 
would have felt the death of Epaphroditus an event hard to 

^ Calvin seems to refer here to what he had said when coiiinientiiig 
on Phil. i. 21.— Ed. 

- Calvin, in the French version, makes reference to what he has said 
on this subject in the Institutes. See /nstitntes. vol. ii. p. 281. — Ed. 

^ " Pour I'amour de Christ;" — " From love to Christ." 


be endured, but lie would at leng'tli have brought his temper 
of mind into accordance with the will of God, although all 
reluctance was not yet fully removed ; for we give proof of 
our obedience, only when we bridle our depraved affections, 
and do not give way to the infirmity of the flesh.^ 

Two things, therefore, are to be observed : in the first 
place, that the dispositions which God originally implanted 
in our nature are not evil in themselves, because they do not 
arise from the fault of corrupt nature, but come forth from 
God as their Author ; of this nature is the grief that is felt 
on occasion of the death of friends : in the second j^lace, that 
Paul had many other reasons for regret in connection with 
the death of Epaphroditus, and that these were not merely 
excusable, but altogether necessary. This, in the first place, 
is invariable in the case of all believers, that, on occasion 
of the death of any one, they are reminded of the anger of 
God against sin ; but Paul was the more affected with the 
loss sustained by the Church, which he saw would be de- 
prived of a singularly good pastor at a time when the good 
w^ere so few in number. Those who would have dispositions 
of this kind altogether subdued and eradicated, do not 
picture to themselves merely men of flint, but men that are 
fierce and savage. In the depravity of our nature, however, 
everything in us is so perverted, that in whatever direction 
our minds are bent, they always go beyond bounds. Hence 
it is that there is nothing that is so pure or right in itself, 
as not to bring with it some contagion. Nay more, Paul, 
as being a man, would, I do not deny, have experienced in his 
grief something of human error, "^ for he was subject to infir- 
mity, and requii'ed to be tried with temptations, in order 
that he might have occasion of victory by striving and 

28. / have sent Jtini the more carefully. The presence of 
Epaphroditus was no small consolation to him ; yet to such 

' " Ne nous laissons point vaincre par Tinfirmite de nostre chair ;" — 
" Do not allow ourselves to be overcome by the infirmity of our flesh." 

^ " Mesme ie ne nie pas que sainct Paul (comme il estoit homnie) ne 
se trouue surprins de quelque exces vicieux en sa doulem* ;" — " Nay 
more, I do not deny that St. Paul (inasmuch as he was a man) miglit 
find himself overtaken with some faulty excess in his grief." 


a degree did lie prefer the welfare of the Philippians to his 
own advantage, that he says that he rejoices on occasion of 
his departure, because it grieved him that, on his account, 
he was taken away from the flock that was intrusted to him, 
and was reluctant to avail himself of his services, though 
otherwise agreeable to him, when it was at the expense of 
loss to them. Hence he says, that he will feel more hap- 
piness in the joy of the Philippians. 

29. Receive him with all joy. He employs the word all 
to mean sincere and abundant. He also recommends him 
again to the Philippians ; so intent is he upon this, that 
all that approve themselves as good and faithful pastors 
may be held in the highest estimation : for he does not 
speak merely of one, but exhorts that all such should be held 
in estimation ; for they are precious pearls from God's trea- 
suries, and the rarer they are, they are so much the more 
worthy of esteem. Nor can it be doubted that God often 
punishes our ingratitude and proud disdain, by depriving us 
of good pastors, when he sees that the most eminent that 
are given by him are ordinarily despised. Let every one, 
then, who is desirous that the Church should be fortified 
against the stratagems and assaults of wolves, make it his 
care, after the example of Paul, that the authority of good 
pastors be established -^ as, on the other hand, there is no- 
thing upon which the instruments of the devil are more in- 
tent, than on undermining it by every means in their power. 

SO. Because for the ivork of Christ. I consider this as 
referring to that infirmity, which he had drawn down upon 
himself by incessant assiduity. Hence he reckons the 
distemper of Epaphroditus among his excellences, as it 
certainly was a signal token of his ardent zeal. Sickness, 
indeed, is not an excellence, but it is an excellence not to 
spare yourself that you may serve Christ. Epapliroditus 
felt that his health would be in danger if he applied himself 
beyond measure ; yet he would rather be negligent as to 
health than be deficient in duty ; and that he may commend 
this conduct the more to the Philippians, he says that it was 

» " Soit establie et demeure entiere ;" — " Be established, and remain 


a filling up of their deficiency/ because, being situated at a 
distance, they could not furnish aid to Paul at Rome. Hence 
Epaphroditus, having been sent for this purpose, acted in 
their stead.^ He speaks of the services rendered to him as 
the work of the Lord, as assuredly there is nothing in which 
we can better serve God, than when we help his servants 
who labour for the truth of the gospel. 


1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice 1. Quod reliqmxm est, fratres moi, 
in the Lord. To write the same gaiulete in l_)omino ; eadem scribere 
things to you, to me indeed is not vobis, me quidem baud piget, vobis 
grievous, but for you it is safe. autem tutum est. 

2. Beware of dogs, bewai-e of evil 2. Videte canes, videte malos ope- 
workers. beware of the concision. rarios, videte concisionem. 

3. For we are the circumcision, 3 Nos enim sumus circumcisio, 
which worship God in the spirit, qui spiritu Deura colimus, et gloria- 
and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have mur in Christo lesu, non autem in 
no contidence in the flesh. carne contidimus. 

4. Though I might also have con- 4. Tametsi ego etiam in carne 
fidence in the flesh. If any other fiduciam habeo. Si quis alius vide- 
man thinketh that he hath whereof tur contidere in carne, ego magis : 
he might trust in the flesh, I more : 

5. Circumcised the eighth day, 5. Circumcisus die octavo, ex ge- 
of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of nere Israel, tribu Beniamin, He- 
Benjamin, an Hebrew of the He- braeus ex Hebraeis, secundum legem 
brews ; as touching the law, a. Pha- Pbarisaeus : 

risee ; 

6. Concerning zeal, persecuting 6. Secundum zelnm pcrsequens 
the Church ; touching the righteous- Ecclesiam, secundum iustitiam, quae 
ness which is in the law, blameless. est in lege, irreprehensibilis. 

1. Rejoice in the Lord. This is a conclusion from what 
goes before, for as Satan never ceased to distress them with 
daily rumours, he bids them divest themselves of anxiety 
and be of good courage. In this way he exhorts them to 
constancy, that they may not fall back from the doctrine 
which they have once received. The phrase henceforward 
denotes a continued course, that, in the midst of many hin- 
derances, they may not cease to exercise holy joy. It is a 

' " Vn accomplissement, ou moyeii de suppleer ce qui defailloit de leur 
seruice ;" — " A filling up, or a means of supplying what was defective in 
their service." 

" " Faisoit en cest endroit ce qu'ils deuoyent faire :" — " Did in this 
matter what they ought to have done." 


rare excellence when Satan endeavours to exasperate us^ by 
means of tlic bitterness of the cross, so as to malvc God's 
name unpleasant,^ we take such satisfaction in the simple 
tasting of God's grace, that all annoyances, sorrows, anxie- 
ties, and griefs are sweetened. 

To write the same things to you. Here he begins to speak 
of the false Apostles, with whom, however, he docs not fight 
hand to hand, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, but in a 
few words severely^ exposes them, as far as was sufficient. 
For as they had simply made an attempt upon the Philip- 
pians, and had not made an inroad upon them,* it was not 
so necessary to enter into any regular disputation with the 
view of refuting errors, to which they had never lent an 
ear. Hence he simply admonishes them to be diligent and 
attentive in detecting impostors and guarding against them. 

In i\\Q first place, however, he calls them dogs ; the meta- 
phor being grounded upon this — that, for the sake of filling 
their belly, they assailed true doctrine with their impure 
barking. Accordingly, it is as though ho had said, — impure 
or profane persons ; for I do not agree with those who think 
that they are so called on the ground of envying others, or 
biting them.'' 

In the second place, he calls them evil workers, meaning, 
that, under the pretext of building up the Church, they did 
nothing but ruin and destroy everything ; for many are 
busily occupied'' who would do better to remain idle. As 
the public crier'^ on being asked by Gracchus in mockery, 

' " De nous troutler et cffaroucher ;" — " To trouble and frigliten us." 
^ " Fascheux et ennuyeux ;" — " Disagreeable and irksome." 
^ " II les rembarre ruderaent et auec authorite ;" — " He baffles them 
sternly and with authority." 

4 " Pource qu'ils auoyent seulement fait leurs efforts, et essaye' de diuer- 
tir les IMiilippiens, et ne les auoyent gaignez et abbatus ;" — " As they had 
merely employed their efforts, and had attem])ted to turn aside the Phi- 
lippians, and liad not prevailed over them and subdued them." 

5 " Pour autant qu'ils portoyent enuie auec autres, on les mordoycnt et 
detractoyent d'eux ;" — " On the ground of their bearing envy to others, 
and biting and calumniating them." 

" Car il y en a plusieurs qui se tom-mentent tant et plus, et se mcslent 
de beaucoup de clioses ;" — " For there .are many that torture themselves 
on this occasion and on that, and intermeddle with many things." 

' " Comme anciennement a Rome ce crier public ;" — " As anciently at 
Rome that public crier." 


on tliG ground of his sitting idle, what he was doing ? had 
liis answer ready, " Nay, but what are you doing ?" for he 
was the ringleader of a ruinous sedition. Hence Paul would 
have a distinction made among workers, that believers may 
be on their guard against those that are evil. 

In the tliird term employed, there is an elegant (Trpoacovo- 
jjuaaia) ])^ciy upon words. They boasted that they were the 
circumcision : he turns aside this boasting by calling them 
the €oncision^ inasmuch as they tore asunder the unity of 
the Clnirch. In this we have an instance tending to shew 
that the Holy Spirit in his organs^ has not in every case 
avoided wit and humour, yet so as at the same time to keep 
at a distance from such pleasantry as were unworthy of Iiis 
majesty. There are innumerable examples in the Prophets, 
and especially in Isaiah, so that there is no profane author 
that abounds more in agreeable plays upon words, and figur- 
ative forms of expression. We ought, however, more care- 
fully still to observe the vehemence with which Paul in- 
veighs against the false Apostles, which will assuredly break 
forth wherever there is the ardour of pious zeal. But in the 
mean time we must be on our guard lest any undue warmth 
or excessive bitterness should creep in under a pretext of zeal. 

When he says, that to write the same things is not griev- 
ous to him, he seems to intimate that he had already written 
on some other occasion to the Philippians. There would, 
however, be no inconsistency in understanding him as mean- 
ing, that he now by his writings reminds them of the same 
things as they had frequently heard him say, when he was 
with them. For there can be no doubt that he had often 
intimated to them in words, when he was with them, how 
much they ought to be on their guard against such pests : 
yet he does not grudge to repeat these things, because the 

' " The Concision — that is, those who rend and divide the Chnrch. 
Compare Rom. xvi. 17, 18. They gloried in being the TEjcra^j), (the cir- 
cv/mcision,) which name and character St. Paul will not here allow them, 
but claims it for Christians in the next words, and calls them the xccrcerif/.h, 
or concision, expressing his contempt of their pretences, and censure of 
their practices . " — Pierce . — Ed. 

- " En ses organes et instrumens c'est a dire ses seruiteurs par lesquels 
il a parle ;" — " In his organs and instruments, that is to say, his servants, 
by whom he has spoken." 


Pliilippians would have incurred danger in tlic event of liis 
silence. And, unquestionably, it is tlio part of a good pastor, 
not merely to supply the flock with pasture, and to rule the 
sheep by his guidance, but to drive away the wolves when 
threatening to make an attack upon the fold, and that not 
merely on one occasion, but so as to be constantly on the 
watch, and to be indefatigable. For as thieves and robbers 
(John X. 8) are constantly on the watch for the destruction of 
the Church, what excuse will the pastor have if, after cour- 
ageously repelling them in several instances, he gives way 
on occasion of the ninth or tenth attack ? 

He says also, that a repetition of this nature is profitable 
to the Philippians, lest they should be — as is wont to hap- 
pen occasionally — of an exceedingly ftistidious humour, and 
despise it as a thing that was superfluous. For many are 
so difiicult to please, that they cannot bear that the same 
thing should be said to them a second time, and, in the 
mean time, they do not consider that what is inculcated upon 
them daily is with difticulty retained in their memory ten 
years afterwards. But if it was profitable to the Philippians 
to listen to tliis exhortation of Paul — to be on their guard 
against wolves, what do Papists mean who will not allow 
that any judgment should be formed as to their doctrine ? 
For to whom, I pray you, did Paul address himself when he 
said. Beware f Was it not to those whom they do not allow 
to possess any right to judge ? And of the same persons 
Christ says, in like manner, My sheep hear my voice, and they 
folloiu me ; they flee from a stranger, and they hear not his 
voice. (John x. 5, 27.) 

8. For we are the circumcision — that is, we are the true 
seed of Abraham, and heirs of the testament which was con- 
firmed by the sign of circumcision. For the true circumci- 
sion is of the spirit and not of the letter, inward, and situated 
in the heart, not visible according to the flesh. (Rom. ii. 29.) 

B}'- spiritual worship he means that which is recommended 
to us in the gospel, and consists of confidence in" God, and 
invocation of him, self-renunciation, and a pure conscience. 
We must supply an antithesis, for he censures, on the other 
hand, legal worship, which was exclusively pressed upon 


tliem by the false Apostles. " They command that God 
should be worshipped with outward observances, and because 
they observe the ceremonies of the law, they boast on false 
grounds that they are the people of God ; but we are the 
truly circumcised, who worship God in spirit and in truth." 
(John iv. 23.) 

But here some one will ask, whether truth excludes the 
sacraments, for the same thing might be said as to Baptism 
and the Lord's Supper. I answer, that this principle must 
always be kept in view, that figvires were abolished by the 
advent of Christ, and that circumcision gave way to baptism. 
It follows, also, from this principle, that the pure and genu- 
ine worship of God is free from the legal ceremonies, and 
that believers have the true circumcision without any figure. 

And we glory in Christ. We must always keep in view 
the antithesis. " We have to do with the reality, while they 
rest in the symbols : we have to do with the substance, 
while they look to the shadows." And this suits sufficiently 
well with the corresponding clause, which he adds by way 
of contrast — We have no confidence in the flesh. For under the 
term flesh he includes everything of an external kind in which 
an individual is prei)ared to glory, as will appear from the 
context, or, to express it in fewer words, he gives the name 
oi flesh to everything that is apart from Christ. He thus 
reproves, and in no slight manner, the perverse zealots of 
the law, because, not satisfied with Christ, they have re- 
course to grounds of glorying apart from him. He has 
employed the terms glorying, and having confldence, to de- 
note the same thing. For confidence lifts up a man, so that 
he ventures even to glory, and thus the two things are 

4. Though I might also. He does not speak of the dis- 
position exercised by him, but he intimates, that he has 
also ground of glorying, if he were inclined to imitate their 
folly. The meaning therefore is, " My glorying, indeed, is 
placed in Christ, but, were it warrantable to glory in the 
flesh, I have also no want of materials." And from this we 
learn in what manner to reprove the arrogance of those who 
glory in something apart from Clirist. If we are ourselves 


in possession of those very things in which they glory, let 
us not allow them to triumph over Christ by an unseemly 
boasting, without retorting upon them also our grounds of 
glorying, that they may understand that it is not through 
envy that we reckon of no value, nay, even voluntarily re- 
nounce those things on which they set the highest value. 
Let, however, the conclusion be always of this nature — that 
all confidence in the flesh is vain and preposterous. 

If any one has coyifidence in the flesh, I more. Not satis- 
fied with putting himself on a level with any one of them, 
he even gives himself the preference to them. Hence he 
cannot on this account be suspected, as though he were 
envious of their excellence, and extolled Christ with the 
view of making his own deficiencies appear the less incon- 
siderable. He says, therefore, that, if it were coming to be 
matter of dispute, he would be superior to others. For they 
liad nothing (as we shall see erelong) tliat he had not on his 
part equally with them, while in some things he greatly ex- 
celled them. He says, not using the term in its strict sense, 
that he has confidence in the flesh, on the ground that, while 
not placing confidence in them, he was furnished with those 
grounds of fleshly glorying, on account of which they were 
puffed up. 

5. Circumcised on the eighth day. It is literally — " The 
circumcision of the eighth day." There is no difference, 
however, in the sense, for the meaning is, that he was cir- 
cumcised in the proper manner, and according to the ap- 
pointment of the law.^ Now this customary circumcision 
was reckoned of superior value ; and, besides, it was a token 
of tlie race to which lie belonged ; on which he touches im- 
mediately afterwards. For the case was not the same as to 
foreigners, for after they had Ijecomo proselytes they were 
circumcised in youth, or when grown up to manhood, and 
sometimes even in old age. He says, accordingly, tliat he 
is of the race o/ /s?-aeZ. He names the tribe," — not, in my 

' " Circoncis deucmcnt ct selon I'urflonnance et les obseruations do la 
loy ;" — " Circumcised duly and according to the appointment and the ob- 
servances of the law." 

2 " II note la tribu et le chef do la ligneo do laquelle il estoit descendu;" — 
" lie names the tribe and the head of the lino from which he was descended." 


opinion, on the ground that the tribe of Benjamin had 
a superiority of excellence above others, but for shewing 
more fully that he belonged to the race of Israel, as it was 
the custom that every one was numbered according to his par- 
ticular tribe. With the same view he adds still farther, that 
he is an Hebrew of the Hebrews. For this name was the most 
ancient, as being that by which Abraham himself is desig- 
nated hy Moses. (Gen. xiv. 13.)^ The sum, therefore, is this 
— that Paul was descended from the seed of Jacob from the 
most ancient date, so that he could reckon up grandfathers 
and great-grandfathers, and could even go still farther back. 
According to the law, a Pharisee. Having spoken of the 
nobility of his descent, he now proceeds to speak of spe- 
cial endowments of persons, as they are called. It is very 
generally known, that the sect of the Pharisees was cele- 
brated above the others for the renown in which it was held 
for sanctity and for doctrine. He states, that he belonged 
to that sect. The common opinion is, that the Pharisees 
were so called from a term signifying separation ;^ but I 
approve rather of what I learned at one time from Capito, a 
man of sacred memory,^ that it was because they boasted 
that they were endowed with the gift of interpreting Scrip- 
ture, for ti^lS, (parash,) among the Hebrews, conveys the 
idea of interpretation.* While others declared themselves 
to be literals,^ they preferred to be regarded as Pharisees,*" 
as being in possession of the interpretations of the ancients. 
And assuredly it is manifest that, under the pretext of an- 
tiquity, they corrupted the whole of Scripture by their in- 
ventions; but as they, at the same time, retained some sound 
interpretations, handed down by the ancients, they were 
held in the highest esteem. 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. pp. 357, 358. 

^ " Que les Pharisiens ont este ainsi nonimez, pource qu'ils estoyent 
separez d'auec les autres, comnie estans saincts ;" — " That the Pharisees 
were so called, because they were separated from others, as being holy." 

3 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 82. 

* The reader will find the etymology of the term Pharisees, discussed 
at considerable length in the Harmony, vol. i. p. 281, n. 4. — Ed. 

^ The meaning is, that in interpreting Scripture, they did not go be- 
yond the bare letter. — Ed. 

^ See Harmony, vol. i. pp. 281, 282, and vol. iii. p. 74. 


But what is meant by tlie clause, according to the law ? 
For unquestionably nothing is more opposed to the law of 
God than sects, for in it is communicated the truth of God, 
which is the bond of unity. Besides this, Josephns tells us 
in the 18th book of his Antiquities, that all the sects took 
their rise during the high priesthood of Jonathan. Paul 
employs the term law, not in its strict sense, to denote the 
doctrine of religion, however much corrupted it was at that 
time, as Christianity is at this day in the Papacy. As, how- 
ever, there were many that were in the rank of teachers, who 
were less skilful, and exercised,^ he makes mention also of 
his ^eal It was, indeed, a very heinous sin on the part of 
Paul to persecute the Church, but as he had to dispute with 
unprincipled persons, who, by mixing up Christ with Moses, 
pretended zeal for the law, he mentions, on the other hand, 
that he was so keen a zealot of the law, that on that ground 
he persecuted the Church. 

6. As to the righteousness ivhich is in the law. There can 
be no doubt he means by this the entire righteousness of the 
law, for it were too meagre a sense to understand it exclu- 
sively of the ceremonies. The meaning, therefore, is more 
general — that he cultivated an integrity of life, such as might 
be required on the part of a man that was devoted to the 
law. To this, again, it is objected, that the righteousness of 
the law is perfect in the sight of God. For the sum of it is 
• — that men be fully devoted to God, and what beyond this 
can be desired for the attainment of perfection ? I answer, 
that Paul speaks here of that righteousness which would 
satisfy the common opinion of mankind. For he separates 
the law from Christ. Now, what is the law without Christ 
but a dead letter ? To make the matter plainer, I observe, 
that there are two righteousnesses of the law. The one is 
spiritual — perfect love to God, and our neighbours : it is 
contained in doctrine, and had never an existence in the life of 
any man. The other is literal — such as appears in the view 
of men, while, in the mean time, hypocrisy reigns in the 
heart, and there is in the sight of God nothing but iniquity. 
Thus, the law has two aspects ; the one has an eye to God, 
* " Exercoz en rEcriture;" — '• Exercised in Scripture." 


the other to men. Paul, then, was in the judgment of men 
holy, and free from all censure — a rare commendation, cer- 
tainly, and almost unrivalled ; yet let us observe in what 
esteem he held it. 

7. But what things were gain to 7. Verum quae mihi lucra ei-ant, 
me, those I counted loss for Christ. ea existimavi propter Christum iac- 


8. Yea doubtless, and I count all 8. Quin etiam omnia existimo 
things but loss for the excellency of iacturam esse, propter eminentiam 
the knowledge of Christ Jesus my cognitionis Christi lesu Domini mei : 
Lord : for whom I have suflered the propter quem omnium iacturam feci 
loss of all things, and do count them et existimo reiectamenta esse, ut 
but dimg, that I may win Christ. Christum lucrifaciam. 

9. And be found in him, not hav- 9. Et inveniam' in ipso, non ha- 
ing mine own righteousness, which bens raeam iustitiam quae ex Lege 
is of the law, but that which is est, sed quae est per fidem Christi : 
through the faith of Christ, the right- quae, inquam, ex Deo est iustitia 
eousness which is of God by faith: in fide. 

10. That I may know him, and 10. Ut cognoscam ipsum, et po- 
the power of his resurrection, and tentiam resurrectionis eius, et coni- 
the fellowship of his sufferings, being municationem passionum eius, dum 
made conformable unto his death ; configurer morti eius, 

11. If by any means I might at- 11. Si quo modo perveniam ad 
tain unto the resurrection of the dead, resurrec tionem mor tuorum . 

7. What things were gain to me. He says, that those 
things were gain to him, for ignorance of Christ is the sole 
reason why we are puffed up with a vain confidence. Hence, 
where we see a false estimate of one's own excellence, where 
we see arrogance, where we see pride, thei^e let us be assured 
that Christ is not known. On the other hand, so soon as 
Christ shines forth, all those things that formerly dazzled our 
eyes with a false splendour instantly vanish, or at least are 
disesteemed. Those things, accordingly, which had been 
gain to Paul when he was as yet blind, or rather had im- 
posed upon him under an appearance of gain, he acknow- 
ledges to have been loss to him, when he has been enlightened. 
Why loss ? Because they were hinderances in the way of 
his coming to Christ. What is more hurtful than anything 
that keeps us back from drawing near to Christ ? Now he 
speaks chiefly of his own righteousness, for we are not re- 
ceived by Christ, except as naked and emptied of our own 
righteousness. Paul, accordingly, acknowledges that nothing 

1 " Et que ie les retrouue en iceluy, ou, soye trouue en iceluy ;" — " And 
that I may find them in hini, or, be found in him." 


was so injurious to him as his own righteousness, inasmuch 
as he was by means of it shut out from Christ. 

8. Nay more, I reckon. He means, that he continues to 
be of the same mind, because it often happens, that, trans- 
jjorted with dehght in new things, we forget everything else, 
and afterwards we regret it. Hence Paul, having said that 
he renounced all hinderances, that lie might gain Christ, 
now adds, that he continues to be of this mind. 

For the sake of the excellency of the knowledge. He extols 
the gospel in oi)position to all such notions as tend to beguile 
us. For there are many things that have an appearance of 
excellence, but the knowledge of Christ surpasses to such a 
degree everything else by its sublimity,^ that, as compared 
with it, there is nothing that is not contemptible. Let us, 
therefore, learn from this, what value we ought to set upon 
the knowledge of Christ alone. As to his calling him his 
Lord, he does this to express the intensity of his feeling. 

For luhom I have suffered the loss of all things. He ex- 
presses more than he had done previously ; at least he 
expresses himself with greater distinctness. It is a simili- 
tude taken from seamen, who, when urged on by danger of 
shipwreck, throw everything overboard, that, the ship being 
lightened, they may reach the harbour in safety. Paul, then, 
was prepared to lose everything that he had, rather than 
be deprived of Christ. 

But it is asked, whether it is necessary for us to renounce 
riches, and honours, and nobility of descent, and even ex- 
ternal righteousness, that we may become paiiakers of Christ, 
(Heb. iii. 14,) for all these things are gifts of God, which, in 
themselves, are not to be despised ? I answer, that the 
Apostle does not speak here so much of the things them- 
selves, as of the quality of them. It is, indeed, true, that the 
kingdom of heaven is like a precious peaii, for the purchase 
of which no one should hesitate to sell everything that he has. 
(Matt. xiii. 46.) There is, however, a difference between the 
substance of things and the quality. Paul did not reckon it 
necessary to disown connection with his own tribe and with 
the race of Abraham, and make himself an alien, that he 
' " Par son excellence et hautesse;"— " By its excellence and loftiness." 


might become a Christian, but to renounce dependence upon 
his descent. It was not befitting, that from being chaste he 
should become unchaste ; that from being sober, he should 
become intemperate ; and that from being respectable and 
honourable, he should become dissolute ; but that he should 
divest himself of a false estimate of his own righteousness, 
and treat it with contempt. We, too, when treating of the 
righteousness of faith, do not contend against the substance 
of works, but against that quality with which the soj^hists 
•invest them, inasmuch as they contend that men are justi- 
fied by them. Paul, therefore, divested himself — not of works, 
but of that mistaken confidence in works, with which he had 
been j)ufied up. 

As to riches and honours, when we have divested ourselves 
of attachment to them, we will be prepared, also, to renounce 
the things themselves, whenever the Lord will require this 
from us, and so it ought to be. It is not expressly necessary 
that you be a poor man, in order that you may be a Chris- 
tian ; but if it please the Lord that it should be so, you 
ought to be prepared to endure poverty. In fine, it is not 
lawful for Christians to have anything apart from Christ. 
I consider as apart from Christ everything that is a hinder- 
ance in the way of Christ alone being our ground of glorying, 
and having an entire sway over us. 

And I count them hut refuse. Here he not merely by 
words, but also by realities, amplifies greatly what he had 
before stated. For those who cast their merchandise and other 
things into the sea, that they may escape in safety, do not, 
therefore, despise riches, but act as persons prepared rather 
to live in misery and want,^ than to be drowned along with 
their riches. They part with them, indeed, but it is witli 
regret and with a sigh ; and when they have escaped, they 

• Pierce adduces the two following instances of the same form of expres- 
sion as made use of among the Romans— Ptot^ws says, {Trucul. Act ii. 
sc vii. ver. .5,) when speaking of one that was chargeable with prodigal- 
ity — " Qui bona sua pro stercore habet, foras jubet ferri," (" who counts 
his goods but dwng, and orders them to be carried out of the house.'") 
Thus, also, Apideius, (Florid, c. 14,) speaks of CixUcr, when he turned 
Cynic : " Rem familiarem abjicit velut onus stercoris, magis labori quam 
Usui :" — ('• He casts away his goods as a heap of dmiy, that was more 
troublesome than useful.") — Ed. 


bewail the loss of them. Paul, however, declares, on the 
other hand, that he had not merely abandoned everything 
that he formerly reckoned precious, but that they were like 
dung, offensive to him, or were disestcemed like things that 
are thrown away in contempt. Chrysostom renders the word — 
straws. Grammarians, how^ever, are of opinion, that aKv^aXov 
is employed as though it were Kval^aXov — what is throtvn 
to dogs} And certainly there is good reason why everything 
that is opposed to Christ should be ofFensive to us, inasmuch 
as it is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke xvi. ] 5.)' 
There is good reason why it should be offensive to us also, 
on the ground of its being an unfounded imagination. 

That I may gain Christ. By this expression he intimates 
that we cannot gain Christ otherwise than by losing every- 
thing that we have. For he would have us rich by his grace 
alone : he w^ould have him alone be our entire blessedness. 
Now, in what way we must suffer the loss of all things, has 
been already stated — in such a manner that nothing will turn 
us aside from confidence in Christ alone. But if Paul, with 
such innocence and integrity of life, did not hesitate to reckon 
his own righteousness to be loss and dung, what mean those 
Pharisees of the present day, who, while covered over wuth 
every kind of wickedness, do nevertheless feel no shame in 
extolling their own merits in opposition to Christ ? 

9. And mag find them in him. The verb is in the passive 
voice, and hence all others have rendered it, 7 maybe foimd. 
They pass over the context, however, in a very indifferent 
manner, as though it had no peculiar force. If you read it 
in the passive voice, an antithesis must be understood — that 
Paul was lost before he was found in Christ, as a rich mer- 
chant is like one lost, so long as he has his vessel laden with 
riches ; but wdien they have been thrown overboard, he is 
found? For here that saying^ is admirably in point—" I 
' Such is the etymolog-y given by Suidas, " t» to7; kvo-) liot.xxiy.ivo\> " — 
'• wiiat is thrown to dogs."-— Ed. 

2 '• Mais apres que les richesses sont iettees en la mer, il est trouue', 
pource qu'il connnonce a avoir esperance d'eschapper, d'autaut que le 
vaisseau est allege ;" — " But after his riches have been thrown into the 
sea, he is found, inasmuch as he begins to have hope of escaping, because 
the vessel has been lightened." 

= " Le prouerbc ancien;" — " The ancient proverb." 


had been lost, if I had not been lost," But as the verb 
euplaKOfiai, wliile it has a jDassive termination, has an active 
signification, and means — torecoverwhat you have voluntarily 
given up, (as Budaeus shews by various examples,) I have 
not hesitated to differ from the opinion *of others. For, in 
this way, the meaning will be more complete, and the doc- 
trine the more ample — that Paul renounced everything that 
he had, that he might recover them in Christ ; and this 
corresponds better with the word gain, for it means that it 
was no trivial or ordinary gain, inasmuch as Christ contains 
everything in himself. And, unquestionably, we lose no- 
thing when we come to Christ naked and stript of every- 
thing, for those things which we previously imagined, on false 
grounds, that we possessed, we then begin really to acquire. 
He, accordingly, shews more fully, how great the riches of 
Christ, because we obtain and find all things in him. 

Not having mine own righteousness. Here we have a re- 
markable passage, if any one is desirous to have a particular 
description of the righteousness of faith, and to understand 
its true nature. For Paul here makes a comparison between 
two kinds of righteousness. The one he speaks of as belong- 
ing to the man, while he calls it at the same time the right- 
eousness of the laiu ; the other, he tells us, is from God, is 
obtained through faith, and rests upon faith in Christ. 
These he represents as so directly opposed to each other, 
that they cannot stand together. Hence there are two 
things that are to be observed here. In the fii^st place, that 
the righteousness of the law must be given up and renounced, 
that you may be righteous through faith ; and secondly, that 
the righteousness of faith comes forth from God, and does 
not belong to the individual. As to both of these we have 
in the present day a great controversy with Papists ; for on 
the one hand, they do not allow that the righteousness of faith 
is altogether from God, but ascribe it partly to man ; and, 
on the other hand, they mix them together, as if the one 
did not destroy the other. Hence we must carefully ex- 
amine the several words made use of by Paul, for there is 
not one of them that is not very emphatic. 

He says, that believers have no righteousness of their 



own. Now, it Ccannot be denied, tliat if there were any 
righteousness of works, it might with propriety be said to 
be ours. Hence he leaves no room whatever for the riglit- 
eousness of works. Wliy he calls it the righteousness of the 
law, he shews in Romans x. 5 ; because this is the sentence 
of the law. He that doeth these things shall live in them. 
The law, therefore, pronounces the man to be righteous 
through works. Nor is there any ground for the cavil of 
Papists, that all this must be restricted to ceremonies. For 
in the first place, it is a contemptible frivolity to affirm tliat 
Paul was righteous only through ceremonies ; and secondly, 
he in this way draws a contrast between those two kinds of 
righteousness — the one being of man, the other, from God. 
He intimates, accordingly, that the one is the reward of 
works, while the other is a free gift from God. He thus, in 
a general way, places man's merit in opposition to Christ's 
grace ; for while the law brings works, faith presents man 
before God as naked, that he may be clothed with the right- 
eousness of Christ. Wlien, therefore, he declares that the 
righteousness of faith is from God, it is not simply because 
faith is the gift of God, but because God justifies us by his 
goodness, or because we receive by faith tlie righteousness 
wliich he has conferred upon us. 

10. That I may know him. He points out the efficacy 
and nature of faith — that it is the knowledge of Christ, and 
that, too, not bare or indistinct, but in such a manner that 
the power of his resurrection is felt. Resurrection he em- 
ploys as meaning, the completion of redemption, so that it 
comprehends in it at the same time the idea of death. But 
as it is not enough to know Christ as crucified and raised up 
from the dead, unless you experience, also, the fruit of this, he 
speaks expressly of efficacy.^ Christ therefore is rightly 
known, when we feel how powerful his death and resurrec- 
tion are, and how efficacious they are in us. Now all things 
are there furnished to us — expiation and destruction of sin, 
freedom from condemnation, satisfaction, victory over death, 
the attainment of righteousness, and the hope of a blessed 

1 " De I'efficace ou puissance ;'' — " Of the efficacy or power." 


And the fellowship of his sufferings. Having spoken of 
that freely-conferred righteousness^ which was procured for 
us through the resurrection of Christ, and is obtained by us 
through faith, he proceeds to treat of the exercises of the 
pious, and that in order tliat it might not seem as though 
he introduced an inactive faith, which produces no effects 
in the life. He also intimates, indirectly, that these are 
the exercises in which the Lord would have his people 
employ themselves ; while the false Apostles pressed for- 
ward upon them the useless elements of ceremonies. Let 
every one, therefore, who has become through faith a par- 
taker of all Christ's benefits, acknowledge that a condi- 
tion is presented to him — that his whole life be conformed 
to his death. 

There is, however, a twofold participation and fellowship 
in the death of Christ. The one is inward — what the Scrip- 
ture is wont to term the mortification of the flesh, or the 
crucifianon of the old man, of which Paul treats in the sixth 
chapter of the Romans ; the other is outward — what is 
termed the mortification of the outward man. It is the 
endurance of the Cross, of which he treats in the eighth 
chapter of the same Epistle, and here also, if I do not mis- 
take. For after introducing along with this the power of his 
res7t7^rection, Christ crucified is set before us, that we may 
follow him through tribulations and distresses ; and hence 
the resurrection of the dead is expressly made mention of, 
that we may know that we must die before we live. This 
is a continued subject of meditation to believers so long as 
they sojourn in this world. 

This, however, is a choice consolation, that in all our 
miseries we are partakers of Christ's Cross, if we are his 
members ; so that through afflictions the way is opened up 
for us to everlasting blessedness, as we read elsewhere, 
(2 Tim. ii. 11,) If we die with him, we shall also live with 
him; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. 
We must all therefore be prepared for this — that our whole 
life shall represent nothing else than the image of death, 
until it produce death itself, as the life of Christ is nothing 
else than a prelude of death. Wc enjoy, however, in the 


mean time, tins consolation — that the end is everlasting 
blessedness. For the death of Christ is connected with the 
resurrection. Hence Paul says, that he is conformed to his 
death, that he may attain the glory of the resurrection. The 
phrase, if hy any means, does not indicate doubt, but ex- 
presses difficulty, with a view to stimulate our earnest en- 
deavour '^ for it is no light contest, inasmuch as we must 
struggle against so many and so serious hinderances. 

12. Not as though I had already 12. Non quod iam apprehenderim, 
attamed, either were akeady per- aut iam perfectus sim: sequor autem, 
feet ; but I follow after, if that I si ego quoque apprehendam, quem- 
may apprehend that for which also adraodum^ et apprehensus sum a 
I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Christo lesu. 

13. Bretliren, I count not myself 13. Fratres, ego me ipsum non- 
to have apprehended : but this one dura arbitror apprehendisse, imum 
thing / do, forgetting those things autem, ea quae retro sunt oblitus, 
which are behind, and reaching forth ad ea quae ante sunt me extendens, 
unto those things which are before, 

14. I press toward the mark, for 14. Secundum scopura sequor ad 
the prize of the high calling of God palmam supernae vocationis Dei in 
in Clurist Jesus. Christo lesu. 

15. Let us therefore, as many as 15. Quicunque perfecti sumus, 
be perfect, be thus minded : and if hoc sentiamus : et si quod aliter 
in any thing ye be otherwise minded, sentitis, etiam hoc vobis Deus reve- 
God shall reveal even this unto you. labit. 

16. Nevertheless, whereto we have IG. Caeterum quo perveniamus, 
already attained, let us walk by the ut idem sentiamus, eadem proceda- 
same rule, let us mind the same mus regula. 


17. Brethren, be followers to- 17. Simul imitatores mei estote, 
gether of me, and mark them which fratres, et considerate eos qui sic 
walk so, as ye have us for an en- ambulant: quemadmodum nos ha- 
sample. betis pro exemplari. 

12. Not as though I had already apprehended. Paul in- 
sists upon this, that he may convince the Philippians that 
he thinks of nothing but Christ — knows nothing else — de- 
sires nothing else — is occupied with no other subject of 
meditation. In connection with this, there is much weight 
in what he now adds — that he himself, while he had given 
up all hinderances, had nevertheless not attained that object 

^ " Afin de nous resueiller et aiguiser a nous y addonner de tant plus 
grande afl'cction ;" — " That it may arouse and stimulate us to devote our- 
selves to it with so much the greater zeal." 

^ " Comme, ou, pour laquelle cause;" — "As, or, for which cause." 


of aim, and that, on this account, he always aimed and 
eagerly aspired at something- further. How much more 
was this incumbent on the Philippians, who were still far 
behind liim ? 

It is asked, however, what it is that Paul says he has not 
yet attained? For unquestionably, so soon as we are by 
faith ingrafted into the body of Clirist, we have already 
entered the kingdom of God, and, as it is stated in Ephesians 
ii. 6, we already, in hope, sit in heavenly places. I answer, 
that our salvation, in the mean time, is in hope, so that the 
inheritance indeed is secure ; but we nevertheless have it 
not as yet in possession. At the same time, Paul here looks 
at something else — the advancement of faith, and of that 
mortification of which he had made mention. He had said 
that he aimed and eagerly aspired at the resurrection of the 
dead through fellowship in the Cross of Christ. He adds, 
that he has not as yet arrived at this. At what ? At the 
attainment of having entire fellowship in Christ's sufferings, 
having a full taste of the power of his resurrection, and 
knowing him perfectly. He teaches, therefore, by his own 
example, that we ought to make progress, and that the 
knowledge of Clirist is an attainment of such difficulty, that 
even those who apply themselves exclusively to it, do never- 
theless not attain perfection in it so long as they live. This, 
however, does not detract in any degree from the authority 
of Paul's doctrine, inasmuch as he had acquired as much as 
was sufficient for discharging the office committed to him. 
In the mean time, it was necessary for him to make pro- 
gress, that this divinely-furnished instructor of all might be 
trained to humility. 

As also I have been apprehended. This clause he has in- 
serted by way of correction, that he might ascribe all his 
endeavours to the grace of God. It is not of much import- 
ance whether you read as, or in so far as ; for the meaning 
in either case remains the same — that Paul was apprehended 
by Christ, that he might apprehend Clirist ; that is, that he 
did nothing except under Christ's influence and guidance. 
I have chosen, however, the more distinct rendering, as it 
seemed to be optional. 


13. / 7-eckon not myself to have as yet apprehended. He 
does not liere call in question the certainty of his salvation, 
as though he were still in suspense, but repeats what he had 
said before — that he still aimed at making farther progress, 
because he had not yet attained the end of his calling. He 
shews this immediately after, by saying that he was intent 
on this one thing, leaving off everything else. Now, he 
compares our life to a race-course, the limits of w^liich God 
has marked out to us for running in. For as it would profit 
the runner nothing to have left the starting-point, unless he 
went forward to the goal, so we must also pursue the course 
of our calling until death, and must not cease until we have 
obtained what we seek. Farther, as the way is marked out 
to the runner, that he may not fatigue himself to no purpose 
by wandering in this direction or in that, so there is also a goal 
set before us, towards which we ought to direct our course 
undeviatingly ; and God does not permit us to wander about 
heedlessly. Thirdly, as the runner requires to be free from 
entanglement, and not stop his course on account of any im- 
pediment, but must continue his course, surmounting every 
obstacle, so we must take heed that we do not aj)ply our 
mind or heart to anything that may divert the attention, 
but must, on the contrary, make it our endeavour, that, free 
from every distraction, we may apply the whole bent of our 
mind exclusively to God's calling. These three things Paul 
comprehends in one similitude. When he says that he does 
this one thing, and forgets all things that are behind, he in- 
timates his assiduity, and excludes everything fitted to dis- 
tract. When he says that he presses toiuard the mark, he 
intimates that he is not wandering from the way. 

Forgetting those things that are behind. He alludes to 
runners, who do not turn their eyes aside in any direction, 
lest they should slacken the speed of their course, and, 
more especially, do not look behind to see how much ground 
they have gone over, but hasten forward unremittingly to- 
wards the goal. Thus Paul teaches us, that he does not 
think of what he has been, or of what he has done, but simply 
presses forward towards the appointed goal, and that, too, 
with such ardour, that he runs forward to it, as it were, with 


outstretched arras. For a metaphor of this nature is implied 
ill the participle which he employs.^ 

Should any one remark, by way of objection, that the re- 
membrance of our past life is of use for stirring us up, both 
because the favours that have been already conferred uj)on us 
give us encouragement to entertain hope, and because we 
are admonished by our sins to amend our course of life, I 
answer, that thoughts of this nature do not turn away our 
view from what is before us to what is behind, but rather 
help our vision, so that we discern more distinctly the goal. 
Paul, however, condemns here such looking back, as either 
destroys or impairs alacrity. Thus, for example, should any 
one persuade himself that he has made sufficiently great 
progress, reckoning that he has done enough, he will become 
indolent, and feel inclined to deliver up the lamp'^ to others ; 
or, if any one looks back with a feeling of regret for the 
situation that he has abandoned, he cannot apply the whole 
bent of his mind to what he is engaged in. Such was the 
nature of the thoughts from which Paul's mind required to 
be turned away, if he would in good earnest follow out 
Christ's calling. As, however, there has been mention made 
here of endeavour, aim, course, perseverance, lest any one 
should imagine that salvation consists in these things, or 
should even ascribe to human industry what comes from 
another quarter, with the view of pointing out the cause of 
all these things, he adds — in Christ Jesus. 

15. As many as are perfect. Lest any one should under- 
stand this as spoken of the generality of mankind, as thougli 
he were explaining the simple elements to those that are 
mere children in Christ, he declares that it is a rule which 
all that are perfect ought to follow. Now, the rule is this — 
that we must renounce confidence in all things, that we may 

^ The participle referred to is I'^ixTiivi/^ivo;, which, as is remarked by Dr. 
Bloomfield, " is highly appropriate to the racer, whether on foot, or on 
horseback, or in the chariot ; since the racer stretches his head and hands 
forward in anxiety to reach the goal." — Ed. 

2 A proverbial expression, founded on the circumstance that in certain 
games at Athens the runners had to carry a lamp, or burning torch, in 
such a way that it should not go out, and, on any one of the competitors 
giving up the contest, he delivered up the lamp, or torch, to his successor. 
See Auct. ad Ilerenn. 1. 4, c. 46 ; Lucret. 1. 2, v. 77. — Ed. 


glory in Christ's righteousness alone, and preferring it to 
everything else, aspire after a participation in his sufferings, 
which may be the means of conducting us to a blessed re- 
surrection. Where now will be that state of perfection 
which monks dream of — where the confused medley of such 
contrivances — where, in short, the whole system of Popery, 
wliich is nothing else than an imaginary perfection, that has 
nothing in common with this rule of Paul ? Undoubtedly, 
whoever will understand this single term, will clearly per- 
ceive that everything that is taught in the Papacy, as to the 
attainment of righteousness and salvation, is nauseous dung. 
If in anything otherwise. By the same means he both 
humbles them, and inspires them with good hope, for he 
admonishes them not to be elated in their ignorance, and at 
the same time he bids them be of good courage, when he 
says that we must wait for the revelation of God. For we 
know how great an obstacle to truth obstinacy is. This, 
therefore, is the best preparation for docility — when we do 
not take pleasure in error. Paul, accordingly, teaches 
indirectly, that we must make way for the revelation of 
God, if we have not yet attained what we seek. Farther, 
when he teaches that we must advance by degrees, he en- 
courages them not to draw back in the middle of the course. 
At the same time, he maintains beyond all controversy what 
he has previously taught, when he teaches that others who 
differ from him will have a revelation given to them of what 
they do not as yet know. For it is as though he had said, — 
" The Lord will one day shew you that the very thing which 
I have stated is a perfect rule of true knowledge and of right 
living." No one could speak in this manner, if he were not 
fully assured of the reasonableness and accuracy of his doc- 
trine. Let us in the mean time learn also from this passage, 
that we must bear for a time with ignorance in our weak 
brethren, and forgive them, if it is not given them immedi- 
ately to be altogether of one mind with us. Paul felt as- 
sured as to his doctrine, and yet he allows those who could 
not as yet receive it time to make progress, and he does not 
cease on that account to regard them as brethren, only he 
cautions them asrainst flattcrina' themselves in their io-no- 


ranee. Tlie rendering of the Latin copies^ in the preterite, 
revelavit, (he has revealed,) I have no hesitation in rejecting 
as unsuitable and inappropriate. 

1 6. Nevertheless, so far as we have attained. Even the 
Greek manuscripts themselves differ as to the dividing of the 
clauses, for in some of them there are two complete sen- 
tences. If any one, however, prefer to divide the verse, the 
meaning will be as Erasmus has rendered it.^ For my part, 
I rather prefer a different reading, implying that Paul ex- 
horts the Philippians to imitate him, that they may at last 
reach the same goal, so as to think the same thing, and walk 
hy the same rule. For where sincere affection exists, such 
as reigned in Paul, the way is easy to a holy and pious con- 
cord. As, therefore, they had not yet learned what true 
perfection was, in order that they might attain it he wishes 
them to be imitators of him ; that is, to seek God with a 
pure conscience, (2 Tim. i. 3,) to arrogate nothing to them- 
selves, and calmly to subject their understandings to Christ. 
For in the imitating of Paul all these excellences are in- 
cluded — pure zeal, fear of the Lord, modesty, self-renuncia- 
tion, docility, love, and desire of concord. He bids them, 
however, be at one and the same time imitators of him ; that 
is, all with one consent, and with one mind. 

Observe, that the goal of perfection to which he invites the 
Philippians, by his example, is, that they think the sam,e 
thing, and walk hy the same ride. He has, however, assigned 
the first place to the doctrine in which they ought to har- 
monize, and the rule to which they should conform them- 

17. Mark them. By this expression he means, that it is 
all one to him what persons they single out for themselves 
for imitation, provided they conform themselves to that 
purity of which he was a pattern. By this means all sus- 

1 The rendering of the ViJgate (revelavit) is followed in the Rheims 
version — (1582 )—liath reuealed. — Ed. 

= The rendering of Erasmus is as follows : — « Eadem incedamus regnla, 
tit simus Concordes ;" — " Let us walk by the same rule, that we may he of 
tliesame mind." The words inserted in the common text ' ^ '^ 

xavovi TO auTO 

<p^onT> (^rule — mind the same thing,) are omitted, as is noticed by Gran- 
ville Penn, in the Vat. and Alex. MSS., the Copt, and Ethiop. versions, 
and by Hilary and Augustine. — Ed. 



picion of ambition is taken away, for the man that is devoted 
to his own interests wishes to have no rival. At the same 
time he warns them that all are not to be imitated indis- 
criminately, as he afterwards explains more fully, 

18. (For many walk, of whom I 18. Multi enim ambulant (quos 
have told you often, and now tell saepe dicebam vobis, ac nunc etiam 
you even weeping, that they are the flens dico, inimicos esse crucis 
enemies of the cross of Christ : Christi : 

19. Whose end is destruction, 19. Quorum finis perdi tic, quorum 
whose god is their belly, and whose deus venter est, et gloria in confu- 
glory is in their shame, who mind sione ipsorum terrena cogitantes.) 
earthly things.) 

20. For our conversation is in 20. Nostra autem conversatio in 
heaven ; from whence also we look coelis est, e quibus etiam salvatorem 
for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus respectamus, Dominum lesum 
Christ : Christum. 

21. "Who shall change our vile 21. Qui transformabit corpus nos- 
body, that it may be fashioned like trum humile, ut sit conforme corpori 
unto his glorious body, according to suo glorioso, secundum etficaciam, 
the working whereby he is able even qua potest etiam sibi subiicere 
to subdue all things unto himself. omnia. 

18. For many walk. The simple statement, in my opi- f 
nion, is this : Many walk who mind earthly things, meaning 
by this, that there are many who creep upon the ground,^ 
not feeling the power of God's kingdom. He mentions, 
however, in connection with this, the marks by which such 
persons may be distinguished. These we will examine, each 
in its order. By earthly things some understand ceremonies, 
and the outward elements of the world, which cause true 
piety to be forgotten. I prefer, however, to view the term 
as referring to carnal affection, as meaning that those who 
are not regenerated by the Spirit of God think of nothing 
but the world. This will appear more distinctly from what 
follows ; for he holds them up to odium on this ground — 
that, being desirous exclusively of their own honour, ease, 
and gain, they had no regard to the edification of the Church. 
Of whom I have told you often. He shews that it is not 
without good reason that he has often warned the Philip- 
pians, inasmuch as he now endeavours to remind them by 
letter of the same things as he had formerly spoken of to 
them when present with them. His tears, also, are an evi- 

* " Qui ont leurs affections enracines en la terre ;" — " Who have their 
affections rooted in the earth." 


dence that he is not influenced by envy or hatred of men, 
nor by any disposition to revile, nor by insolence of temper, 
but by pious zeal, inasmuch as he sees that the Church is 
miserably destroyed^ by such pests. It becomes us, assur- 
edly, to be affected in such a manner, that on seeing that 
the place of pastors is occupied by wicked and worthless per- 
sons, we shall sigh, and give evidence, at least by our tears, 
that we feel deeply grieved for the calamity of the Church. 

It is of importance, also, to take notice of whom Paul 
speaks — not of open enemies, who were avowedly desirous 
that doctrine might be undermined — but of impostors and 
profligates, who trampled under foot the power of the gospel, 
for the sake of ambition or of their own belly. And un- 
questionably persons of this sort, who weaken the influence 
of the ministry by seeking their own interests,^ sometimes 
do more injury than if they openly opposed Christ. We must, 
therefore, by no means spare them, but must point them out 
with the finger, as often as there is occasion. Let them 
complain afterwards, as much as they choose, of our sever- 
ity, provided they do not allege anything against us that it 
is not in our power to justify from Paul's example. 

That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Some 
explain cross to mean the whole mystery of redemption, 
and they explain that this is said of them, because, by 
preaching the law, they made void the benefit of Christ's 
death. Others, however, understand it as meaning, that 
they shunned the cross, and were not prepared to expose 
themselves to dangers for the sake of Christ. I understand 
it, however, in a more general way, as meaning that, while 
they pretended to be friends, they were, nevertheless, the 
worst enemies of the gospel. For it is no unusual thing for 
Paul to employ the term cross to mean the entire preaching 
of the gospel. For as he says elsewhere. If any man is in 
Christ, let him ho a new creature. (2 Cor. v. 1 7.)^ 

1 " Perdue et ruiiiee ;" — " Destroyed and ruined." 

* " Ne regardans qu'a eux-mesnies et a leur proufit, font perdre toute 
la faueiu- et la force du ministere ;" — " Looking merely to themselves and 
their own advantage, undermine all the iniluence and power of the ministry." 

3 Such is Calvin's rendering of the passage referred to. See Calvin 
on the Corinthians, vol. ii. pp. 229, 233. — Ed. 


19. Whose end is destruction. He adds this in order that 
the Philippians, appalled by the danger, may be so much 
the more carefully on their guard, that they may not involve 
themselves in the ruin of those persons. As, however, pro- 
fligates of this description, by means of show and various 
artifices, frequently dazzle the eyes of the simple for a time, 
in such a manner that they are preferred even to the most 
eminent servants of Christ, the Apostle declares, with great 
confidence,^ that the glory with which they are now puffed 
up will be exchanged for ignominy. 

Whose god is the belly. As they pressed the observance of 
circumcision and other ceremonies, he says that they did not 
do so from zeal for the law, but with a view to the favour of 
men, and that they might live peacefully and free from an- 
noyance. For they saw that the Jews burned with a fierce 
rao-e against Paul, and those like him, and that Christ could 
not be proclaimed by them in purity with any other result, 
than that of arousing against themselves the same rage. 
Accordingly, consulting their own ease and advantage, they 
mixed up these corruptions with the view of mitigating the 
flames of others.^ 

20. But our conversation is in heaven. This statement 
overturns all empty shows, in which pretended ministers of 
the gospel are accustomed to glory, and he indirectly holds 
up to odium all their objects of aim,^ because, by flying about 
above the earth, they do not aspire towards heaven. For he 
teaches that nothing is to be reckoned of any value except 
God's spiritual kingdom, because believers ought to lead a 
lieavenly life in this world. " They mind earthly things : 
it is therefore befitting that we, whose conversation is in 
heaven, should be separated from them.'''* We are, it is true, 

1 " Ilardiment et d'vne grande asseiirance ;" — "Boldly, and with great 

^ " Pour esteindre et appaiscr le feu des autres :" — « For the sake of 
mitigating and allaying the fire of others." Calvin's meaning appears to 
be, that they made it their endeavour to screen themselves as far as pos- 
sible from the fiery rage of those around them. — Ed. 

^ " Toutes leurs inuentions et fa9ons de faire ;" — " All their contrivances 
and modes of acting." 

* " Que nous soyons diuisez et separez d'auec eux ;" — " That we be 
divided and separated from them." 


intermingled here with unbelievers and hypocrites ; nay 
more, the chaiF has more of apisearance in the granary of the 
Lord than wheat. Farther, we are exposed to the common 
inconveniences of this earthly life ; we require, also, meat 
and drink, and other necessaries, but we must, nevertheless, 
be conversant with heaven in mind and affection. For, on 
the one hand, we must pass quietly through this life, and, 
on the other hand, we must be dead to the world that Christ 
may live in us, and that we, in our turn, may live to him. 
This passage is a most abundant source of many exhorta- 
tions, which it were easy for any one to elicit from it. 

Whence also. From the connection that we have with 
Christ, he proves that our citizenship^ is a heaven, for it is 
not seemly that the members should be separated from their 
Head. Accordingly, as Christ is in heaven, in order that 
we may be conjoined with him, it is necessary that we 
should in spirit dwell apart from this world. Besides, where 
our ti'easure is, there is our heart also. (Matt. vi. 21.) 
Christ, who is our blessedness and glory, is in heaven : let 
our souls, therefore, dwell with him on high. On this ac- 
count he expressly calls him Saviour. Whence does salva- 
tion come to us ? Christ will come to us from heaven as a 
Saviour. Hence it were unbefitting that we should be taken 
up with this earth.^ This epithet, Saviour, is suited to the 
connection of the passage ; for we are said to be in heaven 
in respect of our minds on this account, that it is from that 
source alone that the hope of salvation beams forth upon us. 
As the coming of Christ will be terrible to the wicked, so it 
rather turns away their minds from heaven than draws them 
thither : for they know that he will come to them as a Judge, 
and they shun him so far as is in their power. From these 
words of Paul pious minds derive the sweetest consolation, 
as instructing them that the coming of Christ is to be desired 
by them, inasmuch as it will bring salvation to them. On 
the other hand, it is a sure token of incredulity, when persons 
tremble on any mention being made of it. See the eighth 
^ Politiam — a term corresponding to that employed in the original, 

^ " Que nous soyons occupez et enueloppez en terre ;" — " That we 
should be occupied and entangled with the earth." 


chapter of tlio Romans. While, however, others are trans- 
ported with vain desires, Paul would have believers con- 
tented with Christ alone. 

Farther, we learn from this passage that nothing mean or 
earthly is to be conceived of as to Christ, inasmuch as Paul 
bids us look upward to heaven, that we may seek him. Now, 
those that reason with subtlety that Christ is not shut up 
or hid in some corner of heaven, with the view of proving 
that his body is everywhere, and fills heaven and earth, say 
indeed something that is true, but not the whole ; for as it 
were rash and foolish to mount up beyond the heavens, and 
assign to Christ a station, or seat, or place of walking, in this 
or that region, so it is a foolish and destructive madness to 
draw him down from heaven by any carnal consideration, so 
as to seek him upon earth. Up, then, with our hearts/ that 
they may be with the Lord. 

21. Who will change. By this argument he stirs up the 
Philippians still farther to lift up their minds to heaven, and 
be wliolly attached to Christ — because this body which we 
carry about with us is not an everlasting abode, but a frail 
tabernacle, which will in a short time be reduced to nothing. 
Besides, it is liable to so many miseries, and so many dis- 
honourable infirmities, that it may justly be spoken of as 
vile and full of ignominy. Whence, then, is its restoration 
to be hoped for ? From heaven, at Christ's coming. Hence 
there is no part of us that ought not to aspire after heaven 
with undivided affection. We see, on the one hand, in life, 
but chiefly in death, the present meanness of our bodies ; 
the glory which they will have, conformably to Christ's 
body, is incomprehensible by us : for if the disciples could 
not endure the slight taste which he aiforded^ in his trans- 
figuration, (Matt. xvii. 6,) which of us could attain its ful- 
ness ? Let us for the present be contented with the evidence 
of our adoption, being jiestined to know the riches of our 
inheritance when we shall come to the enjoyment of them. 

' corda. Our Autlior most probably alludes to the circum- 
stance, that this expression was wont to be made use of among Christians 
in ancient times, wlien the ordinance of the supper was about to be ad- 
ministered. See Calvin's Institutes, vol. iii. p. 440. — Ed. 

" " De sa gloire ;" — " Of his glory." 


According to the efficacy. As nothing- is more difficult to 
believe, or more at variance with carnal perception, than 
the resurrection, Paul on this account places before our eyes 
the boundless power of God, that it may entirely remove all 
doubt ; for distrust arises from this — that we measure the 
thing itself by the narrowness of our own understanding. 
Nor does he simply make mention of power, but also of 
efficacy, which is the eifect, or power shewing itself in action, 
so to speak. Now, when we bear in mind that God, who 
created all things out of nothing, can command the earth, 
and the sea, and the other elements, to render back what 
has been committed to them,^ our minds are immediately 
roused up to a firm hope — nay, even to a spiritual contem- 
plation of the resurrection. 

But it is of importance to take notice, also, that the right 
and power of raising the dead, nay more, of doing every- 
thing according to his own pleasure, is assigned to the 
person of Christ — an encomium by which his Divine majesty 
is illustriously set forth. Nay, farther, we gather from this, 
that the world was created by him, for to subject all tJmigs 
to himself belongs to the Creator alone. 


1. Therefore, my brethren, dearly 1. Itaque, fratres mei dilecti et 
beloved and longed for, my joy and desiderati, gaudium et corona mea, 
crown, so stand fast in the Lord, m^/ sic state in Domino, dilecti. 
dearly beloved. 

2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech 2. Evodian hortor, et Syntychen 
Syntyche, that they be of the same hortor, ut unvmi sentiant in Do- 
mind in the Lord. mino. 

3. And I entreat thee also, true 3. Sane rogo etiam te, germane 
yoke-fellow, help those women which compar, adiiiva eas, quae in evangelio 
laboured with me in the gospel, with idem mecum certamen sustinuerunt, 
Clement also, and with other my cum Clemente etiam, et reliquis 
fellow-labourers, whose names are in adiutoribus meis, quorum nomina 
the book of life. sunt in libro vitae. 

1. Therefore, my brethren. He concludes his doctrine, as 
he is wont, with most urgent exhortations, that he may fix 

' " Qu'il leur auoit donne en garde ;" — " What he had given to them 
to keep." 


it the more firmly in the minds of men. He also insi- 
nuates himself into their affections by endearing appella- 
tions/ which at the same time are not dictated by flattery, 
but by sincere affection. He calls them his joy and crown ; 
because, delighted to see those who had been gained over 
through his instrumentality persevering in the faith,^ he 
hoped to attain that triumph, of which we have spoken,^ 
when the Lord will reward with a crown those things which 
have been accomplished under his guidance. 

When he bids them so stand fast in the Lord, he means 
that their condition is approved of by him. At the same 
time, the particle so might be taken as referring to the 
doctrine going before ; but the former view is more suit- 
able, so that, by praising their present condition, he exhorts 
them to perseverance. They had already, it is true, given 
some evidence of their constancy. Paul, however, well know- 
ing human weakness, reckons that they have need of con- 
firmation for the future. 

2. 1 exhort Euodias and Syntyche. It is an almost uni- 
versally received opinion that Paul was desirous to settle a 
quarrel, I know not of what sort, between those two women. 
While I am not inclined to contend as to this, the M^ords of 
Paul do not afford ground enough for such a conjecture to 
satisfy us that it really was so. It appears, from the testi- 
mony which he gives in their favour, that they were very 
excellent women ; for he assigns to them so much honour 
as to call them fellow-soldiers in the gospel.* Hence, as 
their agreement was a matter of great moment,^ and, on 

» " Et les appelant par noms amiables et gracieux, il tasche de gaigner 
leurs coeurs ;" — " And calling them by lovely and kind names, he endea- 
vours to gain their hearts." 

^ " Estant ioyeux de les veoir perseuerer en la foy, a laquelle ils auoyent 
este amenez par son moyen ;" — " Being delighted to see them persevere 
in the faith, to which they had been brought through his instrumentaUty." 

' Calvin seems to refer here to what he had said when commenting 
on Phil. ii. 16. See p. 72.— Ed. 

* " II les appelle ses compagnes de guerre, d'autant qu'elles ont bataille' 
auec luy en I'euangile ;" — " lie calls them his companions in war, inas- 
much as they had struggled hard with him in the gospel." 

" " C'estoit vne chose grandement requise et necessaire qu'elles fussent 
d'vn consentement ;" — " It was a thing greatly requisite and necessary that 
they should be in a state of agreement," 


the other hand, there would he great danger attendant on 
their disagreement, he stirs them up particularly to concord. 

We must take notice, however, that, whenever he speaks 
of agreement, he adds also the bond of it— in the Lord. 
For every combination will inevitably be accursed, if apart 
from the Lord, and, on the other liand, nothing is so dis- 
joined, but that it ought to be reunited in Christ. 

3. / entreat thee, also, true yoke-fellow. I am not inclined 
to dispute as to the gender of the noun, and shall, accord- 
ingly, leave it undetermined,^ whether he addresses here a 
man or a woman. At the same time there is excessive weak- 
ness in the argument of Erasmus, who infers that it is a 
woman from the circumstance, that mention is made here of 
other women — as though he did not immediately subjoin the 
name of Clement in the same connection. I refrain, how- 
ever, from that dispute : only I maintain that it is not Paul's 
wife that is designated by this appellation. Those who main- 
tain this, quote Clement and Ignatius as their authorities. 
If they quoted correctly, I would not certainly despise men 
of such eminence. But as writings are brought forward from 
Eusebius^ which are spurious, and were contrived by igno- 
rant monks,^ they are not deserving of much credit among 
readers of sound judgment."* 

Let us, therefore, inquire as to the thing itself, Avithout 
taking any false impression from the opinions of men. When 
Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, he was, as he 
mentions, at that time unmarried. (1 Cor. vii. 8.) To the 
unmari'ied, says he, and widows, I say : it is good that they 
should continue even as I am. He wrote that Epistle at 
Ephesus,^ when he was prepared to leave it. Not long after, 
he proceeded to Jerusalem, where he was put in prison, and 

' " Je le laisse a disputer aux autres ;"— " I leave it to others to dispute 
as to this." 

2 " Comme ainsi soit qu'on mette en auant ie ne scay quels faux escrits 
sous le nom d'Eusehe :"— " As they set forth I know not what spurious 
writings under the name of Eusebius." 

» " Et adioustez a son histoire ;"— " And added to his history." 

* « lis ne meritent point enuers les lecteurs de bon iugement, qu'on y 
adiouste grande foy ;"— « They do not deserve, as to readers of good judg- 
ment, that much credit should be attached to them." 

^ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. pp. 70, 72 78. 

11 4 COMMENT Affi^ ON THE CHAP. IV. o. 

sent to Rome. Every one must perceive how unsuitable 
a period of time it would have been for marrying a wife, 
spent by him partly in journeying, and partly in prison. In 
addition to this, he was even at that time prepared to endure 
imprisonment and persecutions, as he himself testifies, 
according to Luke. (Acts xxi. 13.) I am, at the same time, 
v/ell aware what objection is usually brought forward in 
opposition to this— that Paul, though married, refrained 
from conjugal intercourse. The words, however, convey 
another meaning, for he is desirous that unmarried persons 
may have it in their power to remain in the same condition 
with himself. Now, what is that condition but celibacy ? 
As to their bringing forward that passage— 7s it not lawful 
for me to lead about a loife ? (1 Cor. ix. 5.) for the purpose of 
proving he had a wife, it is too silly to require any refuta- 
tion.^ But gt-anting that Paul was married, how came his 
wife to be at Philippi— a city which we do not read of his 
entering on more than two occasions, and in which it is pro- 
bable he never remained so much as two whole months ? In 
fine, nothing is more unlikely than that he speaks here of 
his wife ; and to me it does not seem probable that he speaks 
of any female. I leave it, however, to the judgment of my 
readers. The word which Paul makes use of here {a-vWdfi- 
^aveadaC) means, to take hold of a thing and embrace it 
along with another person, with the view of giving help.*^ 

Whose names are in the hook of life. The hook of life is 
the roll of the righteous, who arc predestinated to life, as in 
the writings of Moses. (Exod. xxxii. 82.) God has this roll 
beside himself in safe keeping. Hence the book is nothing else 
than His eternal counsel, fixed in His own breast. In place 
of this term, Ezekiel employs this expression— ^Ae writing 
of the house of Israel. With the same view it is said in 
Psalm Ixix. 29, Let them he hlotted out of the hook of the 
living, and let them not he written among the righteous; 
that is, let them not be numbered among the el^ct of 

* See Calvin on the CovinthianH, vol. i. pp. '234, 2H5, 292. 

° It is defined by Wahl, in his Clavis N. T. Philologica, as follows : 
Una manum admoveo, i.e., opitulor, opem fero, iiivo; (/ knd a helping- 
hand ; that is, I assist, I bring assistance, I aid.) — Ed. 


God, whom he receives within the limits of ]iis Church and 

Should any one allege, that Paul therefore acts rashly in 
usurping to himself the right of pronouncing as to the secrets 
of God, I answer, that we may in some measure form a judg- 
ment from the token by which God manifests his election, 
but only in so far as our capacity admits. In all those, 
therefore, in Mdiom we see the marks of adoption shine 
forth, let us in the mean time reckon those to be the sons of 
God until the hooks are opened, (Rev. xx. 12,) which will 
thoroughly bring all things to view. It belongs, it is true, 
to God alone now to know them that are his, (2 Tim. ii, 19,) 
and to separate at least the lambs from the kids f but it is 
our part to reckon in charity all to be lambs who, in a spirit 
of obedience, submit themselves to Christ as their Shepherd,^ 
who betake themselves to his fold, and remain there con- 
stantly. It is our part to set so high a value upon the gifts 
of the Holy Spirit, which he confers peculiarly on his elect, 
that they shall be to us the seals, as it were, of an election 
which is hid from us. 

4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: anc? 4. Gaudete in Domino semper, 
again I say, Rejoice. iterum dico, gaudete. 

5. Let your moderation be known 5. INIoderatio vestra nota sit omni- 
unto all men. The Lord is at hand, bus hominibus. Dominus prope est. 

6. Be_ careful for nothing: but in 6. De nulla re sitis solliciti: sed 
every thing by prayer and supplica- in omnibus, oratione et precatione, 
tion, with thanksgiving, let your re- cum gratiarum actione, petitiones 
quests be made known unto God. vestrae innotescant apud Deum. 

7. And the peace of God, which 7. Et pax Dei, quae exsuperat 
passeth all understanding, shall keep omnem intelligentiam, custodiet 
your hearts and minds through Christ corda vestra et cogitationes vestras 
Jesus. _ in Christo lesu. 

8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever 8. Quod reliquum est, fratres, 
things are true, whatsoever things quaecunque sunt vera, quaecunque 
are honest, whatsoever things are gravia, quaecunque iusta, quaecun- 
just, whatsoever things are pure, que pura, quaecunque amabilia, 
whatsoever things are lovely, what- quaecunque honesta : si qua virtus, 
soever things are of good report ; if et qua laus, haec cogitate. 

there he any virtue, and if there be 
any praise, think on these things. 

9. Those things, which ye have 9. Quae et didicistis, et' suscepis- 
both learned, and received, and tis, et audistis, et vidistis in me: 

1 See Calvin on the Psalms, vol. iii. pp. 73, 74. 

2 " Les agneux des boucs ;" — " The lambs from the goats." 
» " Christ vray Pasteur;" — '• Christ the true Shepherd." 


heard, and seen in me, do : and the haec facite, et Deus pacis erit vo- 
God of peace shall be with you. biscum. 

4. Rejoice in the Lord. It is an exliortation suited to 
the times ; for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly 
troublous, and dangers threatened them on every side, it was 
possible that they might give way, overcome by grief or 
impatience.^ Hence he enjoins it upon them, that, amidst 
circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should 
nevertheless rejoice in theLord,^ as assuredly these spiritual 
consolations, by means of which the Lord refreshes and glad- 
dens us, ought then most of all to show their efficacy when the 
whole world tempts us to despair. Let us, however, in con- 
nection with the circumstances of the times, consider what 
efficacy there must have been in this word uttered by the 
mouth of Paul, who might have had special occasion of sor- 
row.^ For if they are appalled by persecutions, or imprison- 
ments, or exile, or death, here is the Apostle setting himself 
forward, who, amidst imprisonments, in the very heat of per- 
secution, and in fine, amidst apprehensions of death, is not 
merely himself joyful, but even stirs up others to joy. The 
sum, then, is this — that come what may, believers, having 
the Lord standing on their side,^ have amply sufficient 
ground of joy. 

The repetition of the exhortation serves to give greater 
force to it : Let this be your strength and stability, to re- 
joice in the Lord, and that, too, not for a moment merely, 
but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated.^ For un- 
questionably it differs from the joy of the world in this 
respect — that we know from experience that the joy of the 
world is deceptive, frail, and fading, and Christ even pro- 

' " II se pouuoit faire que les Philippiens, estans vaincus de tristesse ou 
impatience, venissent a perdre courage ;" — " It might be, that the Philip- 
pians, being overcome by grief or impatience, might come to lose heart." 

^ " Non obstant les troubles et les fascheries qu'ils voyoyent deuant 
leurs yeux ;" — " Notwitlistanding the troubles and annoyances that they 
saw before their eyes." 

* " Qui plus que tous les autres pouuoit auoir matiere de se contrister ;" 
— " Who might more than all others have had occasion to indulge sorrow." 

■• •' Ont le Seigneur pour eux ;" — " Have the Lord for them." 

^ " Que vostre ioye se continue en iceluy iusques a la fin :" — " That 
your joy may maintain itself in him until the end." 


nounces it to be accursed. (Luke vi, 25.) Hence, that only 
is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken away 
from us. 

5. Your moderation. This may be explained in two ways. 
We may understand him as bidding them rather give up their 
right, than that any one should have occasion to complain 
of their sharpness or severity. " Let all that have to deal with 
you have experience of your equity and humanity." In this 
way to know, will mean to experience. Or we may under- 
stand him as exhorting them to endure all things with 
equanimity.^ This latter meaning I rather prefer ; for to 
eVtet/ce? is a term that is made use of by the Greeks them- 
selves to denote moderation of spirit — Mdien we are not easily 
moved by injuries, when we are not easily annoyed by adver- 
sity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with 
this, Cicero makes use of the following expression, — " My 
mind is tranquil, which takes everything in good part."^ 
Such equanimity — which is as it were the mother of patience 
— he requires here on the part of the Philippians, and, indeed, 
such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion will 
require, by producing its proper effects. The term modesty 
does not seem appropriate here, because Paul is not in this 
passage cautioning them against haughty insolence, but 
directs them to conduct themselves peaceably in everything, 
and exercise control over themselves, even in the endurance 
of injuries or inconveniences. 

The Lord is at hand. Here we have an anticipation, by 
which he obviates an objection that might be brought for- 
ward. For carnal sense rises in opposition to the foregoing 
statement. For as the rage of the wicked is the more in- 
flamed in proportion to our mildness,^ and the more they 
see us prepared for enduring, are the more emboldened to 
inflict injuries, we are with difficulty induced to possess our 

* " En douceur et patience;" — " With sweetness and patience." 

'■' " Tranquillus animus nieus, qui aequi boni facit omnia." Calvin here 
gives the sense, but not the precise words, of Cicero, which are as follows : 
" Tranquilhssimus autem animus mens, qui totum istuc aequi boni facit:" 
— " My mind, however, is most tranquil, which takes all that in good 
part." See Cic. Att. 7, 7. — Ed. 

* " D'autant plus que nous-nous monstrons gracieux et debonnaires ;" 
— " The more that we show ourselves agreeable and gentle." 


souls in patience. (Luke xxL 19.) Hence those proverbs, — 
" We must howl when among wolves." " Those who act like 
sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves," Hence we con- 
clude, that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by 
corresponding violence, that they may not insult us with 
impunity/ To such considerations Paul here opposes confi- 
dence in Divine providence. He replies, I say, that the Lord 
is at hand, whose power can overcome their audacity, and 
whose goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that 
he will aid us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, 
who would not rather be protected by the hand of God alone, 
than have all the resources of the world at his command ? 

Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we 
learn, in the first place, that ignorance of the providence of 
God is the cause of all impatience, and that this is the reason 
why we are so quickly, and on trivial accounts, thrown into 
confusion,^ and often, too, become disheartened because we 
do not recognise the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the 
other hand, we learn that this is the only remedy for tran- 
quillizing our minds — when we repose unreservedly in his pro- 
vidential care, as knowing that we are not exposed either to 
the rashness of fortune, or to the caprice of the wicked,^ but 
are under the regulation of God's fatherly care. In fine, the 
man that is in possession of this truth, that God is present 
with him, has what he may rest upon with security. 

There are, however, two ways in which the Lord is said to 
be at hand — either because his judgment is at hand, or be- 
cause he is prepared to give help to his own people, in which 
sense it is made use of here ; and also in Psalm cxlv. 18, 
The Lord is near to all that call upon him. The meaning 
therefore is, — " Miserable were the condition of the pious, if 
the Lord were at a distance from them." But as he has 
received them under his protection and guardianship, and 

' " Afin qn'ils ne s'esleuent point a Fencontre de nous a leur plaisir et 
sans resistance ;" — " That they may not rise up against us at their plea- 
sure, and without resistance." 

- " Que nous sommes tout incontinent et pour vn rien troublez et 
esmeus ;" — " That we are all at once and for nothino- troubled and moved." 

= " Ni au plaisir desborde des meschans ;"' — " Nor to the unbridled in- 
clination of the wicked." 


defends tliem by Iiis hand, which is everywhere present, let 
them rest upon this consideration, that they may not be 
intimidated by the rage of the wicked. It is well known, 
and matter of common occurrence, that the term solicitudo 
(carefulness) is employed to denote that anxiety which pro- 
ceeds from distrust of Divine power or lielj). 

6. But in all things. It is the singular number that is 
made use of by Paul, but is the neuter gender; the ex- 
pression, therefore, ev Travrl, is equivalent to in omni negotio, 
{in every matter^ for Trpoaeuxv {prayer) and her^ai,^ {suppli- 
cation) are feminine nouns. In these words he exhorts the 
Philippians, as David does all the pious in Psalm Iv. 23, and 
Peter also in 1 Peter v. 7, to cast all their care upon the 
Lord. For we are not made of iron,^ so as not to be shaken 
by temptations. But this is our consolation, this our solace 
— to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disbur- 
den in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Con- 
fidence, it is true, brings tranquillity to our minds, but it is 
only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. 
Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let 
us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred 

The term requests he employs here to denote desires or 
wishes. He would have us make these known to God by 
prayer and supplication, as though believers poured forth 
their hearts before God, when they commit themselves, and 
all that they have, to Him. Those, indeed, who look hither 
and thither to the vain comforts of the world, may appear to 
be in some degree relieved ; but there is one sure refuge — 
leaning upon the Lord. 

With thanksgiving. As many often pray to God amiss,^ 
full of complaints or of murmurings, as though they had 
just ground for accusing him, while others cannot brook de- 
lay, if he does not immediately gratify their desires, Paul on 
this account conjoins thanksgiving with prayers. It is as 

* " Car nous ne sonimes de fer ni d'acicr (comnie on dit) ne si insen- 
sibles ;" — " For we are not of iron nor steel, as they say, nor so insensible." 
- " Comme a vne franchise;" — " As to a privilege." 
^ " Auti-emcnt qu'ils ne dojuent;"^" Otherwise than they ought." 


tlioiigli lie had said, that those things which are necessary 
for us ought to be desired by us from the Lord in such a 
way, that we, nevertheless, subject our affections to his 
good pleasure,- and give thanks while presenting petitions. 
And, unquestionably, gratitude^ will have this effect upon 
us — that the will of God will be the grand sum of our 

7. And the peace of God. Some, by turning the future 
tense into the optative mood, convert this statement into a 
prayer, but it is without proper foundation. For it is a pro- 
mise in which he points out the advantage of a firm confi- 
dence in God, and ■ invocation of him. " If you do that," 
says he, " the j^eace of God will keep your minds and hearts." 
Scripture is accustomed to divide the soul of man, as to its 
frailties, into two parts — the mind and the heart. The mind 
means the understanding, while the heart denotes all the 
dispositions or inclinations. These two terms, therefore, 
include the entire soul, in this sense, — " The peace of God 
will guard you, so as to prevent you from turning back from 
God in wicked thoughts or desires." 

It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, in- 
asmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things,^ 
and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world,^ 
but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God. It 
is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as surpassing 
all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign 
to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, 
nevertheless, a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to 
see opulence, and in the depth of weakness to keep from 
giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves that nothing 
will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things ; 
and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself 
known otherwise than through the word, and the inward 
earnest of the Spirit. 

' " La recognoissance des benefices de Dieu ;"— " Gratitude for God's 

- " De ces choses basses ;" — " Of these low things." 

^ " N'est point en branle pour chanceler selon les changeniens diuers 
du monde ;" — " Is not in suspense so as to turn about according to the 
various shiftings of the world." 


8. Finally. What follows consists of general exhortations 
which relate to the whole of life. In the first place, he com- 
mends truth, which is nothing else than the integrity of a 
good conscience, with the fruits of it : secondly, gravity, or 
sanctity, for to cre^ivov^ denotes both — an excellence which 
consists in this, that we walk in a manner worthy of our 
vocation, (Eph. iv. 1,) keeping at a distance from all profane 
filthiness : thirdly, justice, which has to do with the mutual 
intercourse of mankind — that we do not injure any one, that 
we do not defraud any one : and, fourthly, purity, which 
denotes chastity in every department of life. Paul, how- 
ever, does not reckon all these things to be sufficient, if we 
do not at the same time endeavour to make ourselves agree- 
able to all, in so far as we may lawfully do so in the Lord, 
and have regard also to our good name. For it is in this 
way that I understand the words Trpoa^tXrj koI evcf^rj/xa. 

If any praise,^ that is, anything praiseworthy, for amidst 
such a corruption of manners there is so great a perversity 
in men's judgments that praise is often bestowed^ upon what 
is blameworthy, and it is not allowable for Christians to be 
desirous even of true praise among men, inasmuch as they 
are elsewhere forbidden to glory, except in God alone. (1 Cor. 
i. 31.) Paul, therefore, does not bid them try to gain ap- 
plause or commendation by virtuous actions, nor even to 
regulate their life according to the judgments of the people, 
but simply means, that they should devote themselves to the 
performance of good works, which merit commendation, that 
the wicked, and those who are enemies of the gospel, while 
they deride Christians and cast reproach upon them, may, 
nevertheless, be constrained to commend their deportment. 

' " The word o-e^vov means that which has digniti/ connected with it. 
Hence o-s^vos and i^syaXo'r^s'rr,- are joined together by Aristotle, as quoted 
by Wetstein, and in 2 Mace. viii. 15." — Starr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. 
xl. p. 178, note. — Ed. 

2 " The Clermont copy reads here, I'l n; tVaivas WirTrifivis, If there be 
any praise of knowledge. Instead of iTiirrtif^ris, the Valesian readings 
have vai^iix;, with which the Vidg. Latin agrees, reading, Jf there be 
any praise of discipline, (disciplinae,) as does also the Ethiopic, and two 
ancient Commentators mentioned by Dr. Mills." — Pierce. — Ed. 

* " Bien soiment on loue ;" — " Very frequently they praise." 


The word Xoyi^eaOat, however, among the Greeks, is em- 
ployed, like cogitai^e among the Latins, to mean, meditate} 
Now meditation comes first, afterwards follows action. 

.9. What things ye have learned, and received, and heard. 
By this accumulation^ terms he intimates, that he was assi- 
duous in inculcating these things. " This was my doctrine — 
my instruction — my discourse among you." Hypocrites, on 
the other hand, insisted upon nothing but ceremonies. Now, 
it was a dishonourable thing to abandon the holy instruction,^ 
which they had wholly imbibed, and with which they had 
been thoroughly imbued. 

You have seen in me. Now, the main thing in a public 
speaker^ should be, that he may speak, not with his mouth 
merely, but by his life, and procure authority for his doc- 
trine by rectitude of life. Paul, accordingly, procures 
authority for his exhortation on this ground, that he had, 
by his life no less than by his mouth, been a leader and 
master of virtues. 

A nd the God of peace. He had spoken of the peace of 
God ; he now more particularly confirms what he had said, 
by promising that God himself, the Author of peace, will be 
with them. For the presence of God brings us every kind 
of blessing : as though he had said, that they would feel 
that God was present with them to make all things turn out 
well and prosperously, provided they apply themselves to 
pious and holy actions. 

10. But I rejoiced in the Lord 10. Ga\nsus sum autera in Do- 
greatly, that now at the last your mino valde, quod aliquando revi- 
care of me hath flourished again ; guistis in studio mei, de quo etiam 

* " Like the Latin terms cogitare, meditari, the Greek //.tXiTav signifies 
to contemplate a thing, with the view oi finding means for effecting it. . . . 
According to this view, TaZTo. Xoyli^nrh, in the passage hefore us. will be 
equivalent to TaZra touJv Xoyi'(iirh^ ' think to do these things,' — ' give 
diligence to do them.'" — Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. xl. p. 180, 
note. — Ed. 

2 " C'eugt este vne chose dishonneste aux Philippiens de delaisser la 
sainte doctrine et instruction ;" — " It would have been a dishonoiirable 
tiling for the Philippians to abandon the holy doctrine and instruction." 

2 " En vn prescheur ;" — '• In a preacher." 


wherein ye Avere also careful, but ye cogitabatis, sed deerat opportuni- 

lacked opportunity. tas. 

1 1 . Not that I speak in respect of 11. Non quod secundum penu- 
want : tor I have learned, in what- riara loquar ; ego enim didiei, in 
soever state I am, therewith to be quibus sum, lis contentus esse, 

12. I know both how to be abased, 12. Novi et humilis esse, novi et 
and I know how to abound : every exoellere : ubique et in onniibus 
A\'here, and in all things, I am in- institutus sum, et saturari, et esurire, 
structed both to be full and be et abundare, et penuriam pati. 
hungry, both to abound and to suffer 


13. I can do all things through 1.3. Omnia possum in Christo, 
Christ which strengtheneth me. qui me corroborat. 

14. Notwithstanding ye have well 14. Caeterum benefecistis simul 
done that ye did communicate with communicando afflictioni meae. 

my affliction. 

10. But I rejoiced. He now declares the gratitude of his 
mind towards the Philippians, that they may not regret 
their beneficence,^ as is usually the case when we think that 
our services are despised, or are reckoned of no account. 
They had sent him by Epaphroditus supplies for the relief 
of his necessity ; he declares that their present had been 
accej^table to him, and he says, that he rejoiced that they 
had plucked up new vigour so as to exercise care respecting 
him. The metaphor is borrowed from trees, the strength of 
which is drawn inward, and lies concealed during winter, 
and begins to flourish^ in spring. But immediately after- 
wards subjoining a correction, he qualifies what he had said, 
that he may not seem to reprove their negligence in the 
past. He says, therefore, that they had formerly, too, been 
concerned respecting him, but that the circumstances of the 
times had not admitted of his being sooner relieved by their 
benignity. Thus he throws the blame upon the want of 
opportunity. I take the phrase e^' oo as referring to the 
person of Paul, and that is its proper signification, as well 
as more in accordance with the connection of Paul's words. 

11. Not that I speak with respect to want. Here we have 

a second correction, by which he guards against its being 

suspected that his spirit was pusillanimous and broken down 

* " Afin qu'ils ne se repentent point de luy auoir assiste ;" — " That they 
may not regret their having assisted>him." 

' " A reprendre vigueur et fleurir ;" — " To recover strength and flourish," 


by adversities. For it was of imjiortance that his constancy 
and moderation should be known by the Philippians, to 
whom he was a pattern of life. Accordingly he declares, 
that he had been gratified by their liberality in such a way 
that he could at the same time endure want with patience. 
Want refers here to disposition, for that man can never be 
poor in mind, who is satisfied with the lot which has been 
assigned to him by God. 

In what state I am, says he, that is, " Whatever my con- 
dition may be, I am satisfied with it.'' Why ? because saints 
know that they thus please God. Hence they do not mea- 
sure sufficiency by abundance, but by the will of God, which 
they judge of by what takes place, for they are persuaded 
that their affairs are regulated by his providence and good 

12. 7 know both how to be abased. There follows here a 
distinction, with the view of intimating that he has a mind 
adapted to bear any kind of condition.^ Prosperity is wont 
to puif up the mind beyond measure, and adversity, on the 
other hand, to depress. From both faults he declares him- 
self to be free. / know, says he, to be abased — that is, to 
endure abasement with patience. TlepLa-creuetv is made use 
of twice, but in the former instance it is employed as mean- 
ing, to excel ; in the second instance, as meaning, to abound, 
so as to correspond with the things to which they are ex- 
posed. If a man knows to make use of present abundance 
in a sober and temperate manner, with thanksgiving, pre- 
pared to part with everything whenever it may be the good 
pleasure of the Lord, giving also a share to his brother, ac- 
cording to the measure of his ability, and is also not puffed 
up, that man has learned to excel, and to abound. This is 
a peculiarly excellent and rare virtue, and much superior to 
the endurance of poverty. Let all who wish to be Christ's 
disciples exercise themselves in acquiring this knowledge 
which was possessed by Paul, but in the mean time let them 

' " II fait yci vne tliuision, disant qu'il est tellemeiit dispose en son cceur 
qu'il scait se comporter et en prospcrite et en adversite ;" — " He makes a 
distinction here, saying that he is prepared in his mind in such a manner, 
that he knows how to conduct himself both in prosperity and in adversity." 


accustom themselves to the endurance of poverty in such a 
manner that it will not be grievous and burdensome to them 
when they come to be deprived of their riches. 

13. 7 can do all things through Christ. As he had boasted 
of things that were very great/ in order that this might not 
be attributed to pride or furnish others with occasion of 
foolish boasting, he adds, that it is by Christ that he is 
endowed with this fortitude. " / can do all things," says 
he, " but it is in Christ, not by my own power, for it is 
Christ that supplies me with strength."' Hence we infer, 
that Christ will not be less strong and invincible in us also, 
if, conscious of our own weakness, we place reliance upon 
his power alone. When he says all things, he means merely 
those things which belong to his calling. 

14. Nevertheless ye did well. How prudently and cau- 
tiously he acts, looking round carefully in both directions, 
that he may not lean too much to the one side or to the 
other. By proclaiming in magnificent terms his steadfast- 
ness, he meant to provide against the Philippians supposing 
that he had given way under the pressure of want.^ He 
now takes care that it may not, from his speaking in high 
terms, appear as though he despised their kindness — a thing 
that would not merely shew cruelty and obstinacy, but also 
haughtiness. He at the same time provides for this, that if 
any other of the servants of Christ should stand in need of 
their assistance they may not be slow to give him help. 

15. Now, ye Philippians, know 15. Nostis autera et vos Phi- 
also, that in the beginning of the lippenses, quod initio Evangehi, 
gospel, when I departed from Mace- quando exivi ex Macedonia, nulla 
donia, no church communicated with mecum Ecclesia in ratione dati et 
me, as concerning giving and receiv- accepti, nisi vos soli. 

ing, but ye only. 

16. For even in Thessalonica ye 16. Nam et Thessalonicam semel 
sent once and again imto my neces- atque iterum mihi, quod opus erat, 
sity. misistis : 

17. Not because I desire a gift ; 17. Non quia requiram donuni, 
but I desire fruit that may abound sed requiro fructum, qui exsuperet 
to your account. in rationem vestram. 

' " De choses grandes et excellentes ;" — " Of things great and excellent." 
* " Qu'il fust abbattu, et eust perdu courage estant en indigence ;" — 
" That he had been overcome, and had lost heart, being in poverty." 


18. But I have all. and abound: 18. Accepi autem omnia et 
I am full, having received of Epa- abundo, imjjletus sum, postquam 
phroditus the things which were sent ab Epaphrodito accepi, quae niissa 
from you, an odour of a sweet smell, sunt a vobis in odorem bonae fra- 
a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing grantiae, sacrificium acceptum gra- 
to God. turn Deo. 

19. But my God shall supply all 19. Deus autem meus implebit, 
your need according to his riches in quicquid vobis opus est, secundum 
glory by Christ Jesus. divitias svias in gloria per Christum 


20. Now unto God and our Father 20. Porro Deo et Patri nostro 
be glory for ever and ever. Amen. gloria in secula seculorum. Amen. 

21. Salute every saint in Christ 21. Salutate omnes sanctos in 
Jesus. The brethren which are Christo lesu. Salutant vos qui 
with me greet you. mecum stmt fratres. 

22. All the saints salute you, chiefly 22. Salutant vos omnes sancti : 
they that are of Cesar's household. maxinie qui sunt ex domo Caesaris. 

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus 23. Gratia Domini nostri lesu 
Christ be with with you all. Amen. Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen. 

It was written to the Philippians Scripta est a Roma per Epa- 

from Rome by Epaphroditus. phroditum. 

15. And ye know. I understand this to have been added 
by way of excuse, inasmuch as he often received something- 
from them, for if the other Churches had discharged their 
duty, it miglit have seemed as though he were too eager to 
receive. Hence in clearing himself he praises them, and in 
praising them he modestly excuses others. We must also, 
after Paul's example, take heed lest the pious, on seeing us 
too much inclined to receive from others, should on good 
grounds reckon us to be insatiable. You also know, says 
he. " I do not require to call in other witnesses, for ye 
yourselves also know." For it frequently happens, that 
when one thinks that others are deficient in duty, he is the 
more liberal in giving assistance. Thus the liberality of 
some escapes the notice of others. 

In the matter of giving and receiving. He alludes to 
pecuniary matters, in which there are two parts, the one 
receiving, the other expending. It is necessary that these 
should be brought to an equality by mutual compensation. 
There was an account of this nature carried on between 
Paul and the Churches.^ While Paul administered the 

' " II y auoit quelque telle condition et eonuenance entre Sainct Paul et 
les Eglises ;" — " There was some such condition and correspondence be- 
tween St. Paul and the Churches." 


gospel to tliem, there was an obligation devolving upon 
them in return for supplying what was necessary for the 
support of his life, as he says elsewhere, If we dispense 
to you spiritual things^ is it a great matter if you give 
in return carnal things ^^ (1 Cor. ix. 11.) Hence, if the 
other churches had relieved Paul's necessities, they would 
have been giving nothing gratuitously, but would have been 
simply paying their debt, for they ought to have acknow- 
ledged themselves indebted to him for the gospel. This, 
however, he acknowledges, had not been the case, inasmuch 
as they had not laid out anything on his account. What 
base ingratitude, and how very unseemly, to treat such an 
Apostle with neglect, to whom they knew themselves to be 
under obligation beyond their power to discharge ! On the 
other hand, how great the forbearance of this holy man, to 
bear with their inhumanity with so much gentleness and 
indulgence, as not to make use of one sharp word by way of 
accusing them ! 

1 7. Not that I demand a gift. Again he repels an un- 
favourable opinion that might be formed of immoderate 
cupidity, that they might not suppose that it was an indirect 
hint,^ as if they ought singly to stand in the room of all,^ 
and as if he abused their kindness. He accordingly declares, 
that he consulted not so much his own advantage as theirs. 
" While I receive from you," says he, " there is proportion- 
ably much advantage that redounds to yourselves ; for there 
are just so many articles that you may reckon to have been 
transferred to the table of accounts." The meaning of this 
word^ is connected with the similitude formerly employed 
of exchange or compensation in pecuniary matters. 

18. I have received all things, and abound. He declares 

' " Pour les induire a continuer;" — " To induce them to hold on " 
^ " Comme si eux deussent tenir la place de tons, et faire pour les 
autres;" — " As if they ought to hold the place of all, and to act in the 
room of others." 

^ Calvin evidently refers to the word xiyoM, (account,) which the 
Apostle had made use of in the fifteenth verse, in the phrase ih ^'oy'^ 
lUiui; Ktx.) Xr,-^iai;, (in the matter of giving and receiving.) It is noticed 
by Beza, that the Rabbins make use of a corresponding phrase ii^lD) JflD 
(mattan u'inassa) — giving and taking. — Ed. 


in more explicit tenns, that he has what is sufficient, and 
honours their liberality Avith a remarlvable testimony, by 
saying, that he has been filled. It was undoubtedly a mo- 
derate sum that they had sent, but he says, that by means 
of that moderate sum he is filled to satiety. It is, however, 
a more distinguished commendation that he bestows upon 
the gift in what follows, when he calls it a sacrifice accept- 
able, and presented as the odour of a good fragrance. For 
what better thing can be desired than that our acts of kind- 
ness should be sacred offerings, which God receives from our 
hands, and takes pleasure in their sweet odour ? For the 
same reason Christ says, Whatsoever ye shall have done unto 
one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me. 

The similitude of sacrifices, however, adds much emphasis, 
by which we are taught, that the exercise of love which 
God enjoins upon us, is not merely a benefit conferred upon 
man, but is also a spiritual and sacred service which is per- 
formed to God, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
that he is well pleased with such sacrifices. (Heb. xiii. 16.) 
Alas for our indolence !^ — which appears in this, that while 
God invites us with so much kindness to the honour of 
priesthood, and even puts sacrifices in our hands, we never- 
theless do not sacrifice to him, and those things which were 
set apart for sacred oblations we not only lay out for pro- 
fane uses, but squander them wickedly upon the most pol- 
luted contaminations.^ For the altars, on which sacrifices 
from our resources ought to be presented, are the poor, and 
the servants of Christ. To the neglect of these some squan- 
der their resources on every kind of luxury, others upon the 
palate, others upon immodest attire, others upon magnifi- 
cent dwellings.'^ 

' " Or maudite soit nostre paresse ;" — " But accursed be our indolence." 
- " Les consunions prodigalement et meschamment en choses infames 
et abominables ;" — " We lay them out lavishly and Avickedly on things 
infamous and abominable." 

» " Les vns dependent tout leur bien en toutes de dissolutions, les autres 
en gouermandise et yurognerie, les autres en brauetes excessiues, les autres 
a bastir des palais somptucux ;" — " Some lay out all their wealth on all 
kinds of luxuries, others on eating and drinking, others superfluous ele- 
gance of dress, others in building simiptuous palaces." 


1 9. My God will supply. Some read impleat — in the op- 
tative — May he supply !^ While I do not reject this read- 
ing, I api^rove more of tlie other. He expressly makes men- 
tion of Gfod as his, because he owns and acknowledges as 
(lone to himself whatever kindness is shewn to his servants. 
They had tlierefore been truly sowing in the Lord's field, 
from which a sure and abundant harvest might be expected. 
Nor does lie promise them merely a reward in the future 
life, but even in respect of the necessities of the present 
life : " Do not think that you have impoverished your- 
selves ; God, whom I serve, will abundantly furnish you with 
everything necessary for you." The phrase, in glory, ought 
to be taken in place of the adverb gloriously, as meaning 
magnificently, or splendidly. He adds, however, hy Christ, 
in whose name everything that we do is acceptable to God. 

20. Now to our God and Father. This may be taken as 
a general thanksgiving, by which he closes the epistle ; or it 
may be viewed as bearing more particularly upon the last 
clause in reference to the liberality shewn to Paul.^ For in 
respjct of the assistance which the Philippians had afforded 
him, it became him to reckon himself indebted to them for 
it in such a manner as to acknowledge, that this aid had 
been afforded to them by the mercy of God. 

22. The brethren that are with me salute you. In these 
salutations he names first of all his intimate associates,^ 
afterwards all the saints in general, that is, the whole Church 
at Rome, but chiefly those of the household of Nero — a thing 
Avell deserving to be noticed ; for it is no common evidence 
of divine mercy, that the gospel had made its way into that 
sink of all crimes and iniquities. It is also the more to be 
admired, in proportion as it is a rare thing for holiness to 
reign in the courts of sovereigns. The conjecture formed by 
some, that Seneca is here referred to among others, has no 

1 " Comme si c'estoit vn souhait que sainct Paul feist ;"— " As if it were 
a wish that St. Paul expressed." 

2 " La liberalite de laquelle les Philippiens auoyent vse' enuers sainct 
Paul ;" — " The liberality which the Philippians had exercised towards St. 

' " Ijes compagnons, qui demeuroyent auec luy ;" — " His associates who 
Hvcd with him." 


appearance of foundation ; for he never gave any evidence, 
even the smallest, of his being a Christian ; nor did he be- 
long to the household of Cesar, but was a senator, and had 
at one time held the office of praetor.^ 

^ " Some imagine," says Dr. A. Clarke, " that Seneca, the preceptor of 
Nero, and the poet Lucan, were converted by St. Paul ; and there are 
still extant, and in a MS. now before me, letters which profess to have 
passed between Paul and Seneca ; but they are Avorthy of neither. They 
have been printed in some editions of Seneca's works." — Ed. 






There were three neighbouring cities in Phrygia, as made men- 
tion of by Paul in this Epistle — Laodicea, IIierapolis, and 
CoLOSSE — which, as Oi^osius^ informs us, were overthrown^ by an 
earthquake in the times of the emperor Nero. Accordingly, not 
long after this Epistle was written, three Churches of great renown 
perished by a mournful as well as horrible occurrence — a bright 
mirror truly of divine judgment, if we had but eyes to see it. The 
CoLOSSiANS had been, not indeed by Paul, but with fidelity and 
purity by Epaphras and other ministers, instructed in the gospel ; 
but immediately afterwards, Satan had, with his tares, crept in, 
(Matt. xiii. 25,)^ according to his usual and invariable manner, that 
he might there pervert the right faith.* 

Some are of opinion that there were two classes of men that 
endeavoured to draw aside the Colossians from the purity of the 
gospel ; — that, on the one hand, the philosophers, by disputing in 
reference to stars, late, and trifles of a like nature, and that the 
Jews, on the other hand, by urging the observance of their cere- 
monies, had raised up many mists with the view of throwing Christ 
into the shade.^ Those, however, who ai-e of this opinion are in- 

1 Orosius, (Paidus.) a " Spanish presbyter, a native of Tarraj^ona, 
nourished under Arcadius and Honorius." — ttmitlis Dictionary of Greek 
Biography and Mythology. — Ed. 

2 " Toutes trois furent destructes et renversees :" — " They were, all the 
three, destroyed and overthrown." 

3 " Satan y estoit entre cauteleusement auec son yuroye ;" — " Satan had 
entered in there craftily with his tares." 

•• " Pour y corronipre et peruertir la vraye foy;" — " That he might there 
corrupt and pervert the true faith." 

* " Auoyent comme fait leuer beaucoup de brouillars pour offusquer la 
clarte de Christ, voire pour la suffoquer ;" — " Had, as it were, raised up 
many mists with the view of darkening Christ's brightness ; nay, more, 
with the view of choking it." 


fluenced by a conjecture of exceedingly little weight — on the 
ground that Paul makes mention of thrones, and powers, and 
heavenly creatures. For as to their adding also the term elements,^ 
it is worse than ridiculous. As, however, it is not my intention 
to refute the opinions of others, I shall simply state what appears 
to me to be the truth, and what may be inferred by sound 

In the first place, it is abundantly evident, from Paul's words, 
that those profligates were intent upon this — that they might 
mix up Christ with Moses, and might retain the shadows of the 
law along with the gospel. Hence it is probable that they were 
Jews. As, however, they coloured over their fallacies with spe- 
cious disguises,^ Paul, on this account, calls it a vain philosojyhy. 
(Col. ii, 8.) At the same time, in employing that term, he had in 
his eye, in my opinion, the speculations with which they amused 
tliemselves, which were subtle, it is true, but at the same time 
useless and profane : for they contrived a way of access to God 
through means of angels, and put forth many speculations of that 
nature, such as are contained in the books of Dionysius on the 
Celestial Hierarchy,^ drawn from the school of the Platonists. 
This, therefore, is the principal object at which he aims — to teach 
that all things are in Christ, and that he alone ought to be reckoned 
amply sufficient by the Colossians. 

The order, however, which he follows is tliis : — After the in- 
scription usually employed by him, he commends them, with the 
view of leading them to listen to him more attentively. He then, 
with the view of shutting up the way against all new and strange 
contrivances, bears testimony to the doctrine which they had pre- 
viously received from Epaphras, Afterwards, in entreating that 
the Lord would increase their faith, he intimates that something is 
still wanting to them, that he may pave the way for imparting to 
them more solid instruction. On the other hand, he extols with 
suitable commendations the grace of God towards them, that they 
may not lightly esteem it. Then follows the instruction, in which 
he teaches that all parts of our salvation are to be found in Christ 

' " Car quant au mot d'elemens, sur lequel aussi ils fondent leur opi- 
nion ;" — " For as to the word elements, on which also they found their 

^ " Poiu"ce qu'ils couuroyent de belles couleurs leurs fallaces et trompe- 
ries, et fardoyent leur doctrine ;" — " As they covered over their fallacies 
and deceptions with beautiful colours, and painted their doctrine." 

^ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 370, w. 3. 


alone, that they may not seek anything elsewhere ; and he puts 
them in mind that it was in Christ that they had obtained every 
blessing that they possessed, in order that they might the more 
carefully make it their aim to retain him to the end.^ And, truly, 
even this one article were of itself perfectly sufficient to lead us to 
reckon this Epistle, short as it is, to be an inestimable treasure ; 
for what is of greater importance in the whole system of heavenly 
doctrine than to have Christ drawn to the life, that we may dis- 
tinctly behold 2 his excellence, his office, and all the fruits that 
arise to us from it? 

For in this respect especially we differ from Papists, that while 
we are both of us called Christians, and profess to believe in Christ, 
they picture to themselves one that is torn, disfigured, divested of 
his excellence, denuded of his office, in fine, such as to be a spectre^ 
rather than Christ himself: we, on the other hand, embrace him 
such as he is here described by Paul — loving and efficacious. 
This Epistle, therefore, to express it in one word, distinguishes the 
true Christ from a fictitious one'* — than which nothing better or 
more excellent can be desired. Towards the end of the First 
Chapter he again endeavours to secure authority for himself from 
the station assigned him,^ and in magnificent terms extols the 
dignity of the gospel. 

In the Second Chapter he opens up more distinctly than he had 
done the reason which had induced him to write — that he might 
provide against the danger which he saw to be impending over 
them, while he touches, in passing, on the affection which he 
cherishes towards them, that they may know that their welfare is 
the object of his concern. From this he proceeds to exhortation, 
by which he applies the foregoing doctrine, as it were, to present 

' " Et pour les faire plus songneux de la retenir iusqu'a la fin, et s"ar- 
rester tousiours en luy, il recite que par Christ ils sont entrez en partici- 
pation de tout bien et benediction ;" — " And with the view of making them 
more careful to retain him imto the end, and remain always in him, lie 
reminds them that it is through Christ that they have begun to participate 
of every benclit and blessing." 

2 " Afin que nous puissions aiseement veoir et contenipler ;" — " That 
we may be able easily to perceive and contemplate." 

^ " Tel, que c'est plustost vn phantasme qu' vn vray Christ ;" — " Such, 
that it is rather a phantasm than a true Christ." 

^ '• Imaginatif, ou faict a plaiser ;" — " Imaginary, or fictitious." 

'' '• Pour estre plus autliorize' entr' eux, il fait dcreclief mention de la 
charge qu'il auoit receuii de Dieu ;" — " That he may have more authority 
among them, he again makes mention of the cliarge whicli he had re- 
ceived from God." 


use ;^ for he bids them rest in Christ alone, and brands as vanity 
everything that is apart from Christ.^ He speaks particularly of cir- 
cumcision, abstinence from food, and of other outward exercises — 
in which they mistakingly made the service of God to consist ; and 
also of the absurd worship of angels, whom they put in Christ's 
room. Having made mention of circumcision, he takes occasion 
to notice also, in passing, what is the office, and what is the nature 
of ceremonies — from which he lays it down as a settled point that 
they have been abrogated by Christ. These things are treated of 
till the end of the Second Chapter. 

In the Third Chapter, in opposition to those vain prescriptions, 
to the observance of which the false apostles were desirous to bind 
believers, he makes mention of those true offices of piety in which 
the Lord would have us employ ourselves ; and he begins with 
the very spring-head — that is, mortification of the flesh and newness 
of life. From this he derives the streams — that is, particular ex- 
hortations, some of which apply to all Chi'istians alike, while others 
relate more especially to particular individuals, according to the 
nature of their calling. 

In the beginning of the Fourth Chapter he follows out the same 
subject : afterwards, having commended himself to their prayers, 
he shews by many tokens^ how much he loves them, and is desir- 
ous to promote their welfare. 

' " A son propos, et a ce dont ils auoyent affaire ;" — " To his subject, 
and to what they had to do with." 

2 " Monstrant. que tout ce qui hors Christ, n'est que vanite ;" — " Shew- 
ing that everything that is apart from Christ is mere vanity." 

^ " Par plusieurs signes et tesmoignages ;" — " By many signs and evi- 




1 . Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ 
by the will of God, and Timotheus 
our brother, 

2. To the saints and faithful 
brethren in Christ which are at Co- 
losse : Grace be unto you, and peace, 
from God our Father, and the Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

3. We give thanks to God and 
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
praying always for you, 

4. Since we heard of your faith 
in Christ Jesus, and of the love 
which ye have to all the saints ; 

5. For the hope which is laid up 
for you in heaven, whereof ye heard 
before in the word of the truth of 
the gospel ; 

(5. Which is come unto you, as it 
is in all the world ; and bringeth 
forth fruit, as it doth also in you, 
since the day ye heard uf it, and 
knew the grace of God in truth : 

7. As ye also learned of Epaphras 
our dear fellow-servant, who is for 
you a faithful minister of Christ ; 

8. Who also declared unto us your 
love in the Spirit. 

1. Paul an Apostle. I have already, in repeated in- 
stances, explained the design of sucli inscriptions. As, 
however, the Colossians had never seen him, and on that 
account liis authority was not as yet so firmly established 

1. Paulus apostolus lesu Christi, 
per voluntatem Dei, et Timotheus 

2. Sanctis qui sunt Colossis, et 
fidelibus fratribus in Christo ; gratia 
vobis et pax a Deo et Patre nostro, 
et Domino lesu Christo. 

3. Gratias agiraus Deo. et Patri 
Domini nostri lesu Christi, semper 
pro vobis orantes, 

4. Audita fide vestra, quae est in 
Christo lesu, et caritate erga omnes 

5. Propter spem repositam vobis 
in coelis, de qua prius audistis, per 
sermonem veritatis, nempe Evan- 

6. Quod ad vos pervenit: quem- 
admodum et in universo mundo 
fructificat et propagatur, sicut etiam 
in vobis, ex quo die audistis, et cog- 
novistis gratiam Dei in veritate. 

7. Quemadmodura et didicistis ab 
Epaphra, dilecto converso nostro, qui 
est fidelis erga vos minister Christi : 

8. Qui etiam nobis manifestavit 
caritatem vestram in Spiritu. 


among them as to make Lis private name^ by itself sufficient, 
he premises that he is an Apostle of Christ set apart by the 
will of God. From this it followed, that he did not act 
rashly in writing to persons that were not known by him, 
inasmUcli as he was discharging an embassy with which 
God had intrusted him. For he was not bound to one 
Church merely, but his Apostleship extended to all. The 
term saints which he applies to them is more honourable, 
but in calling them faithful brethren, he allures them more 
winningly to listen to him. As for other things, they may 
be found explained in the foregoing Epistles. 

3. We give thanks to God. He praises the faith and love 
of the Colossians, that he may encourage them the more to 
alacrity and constancy of perseverance. Farther, by shew- 
ing that he has a persuasion of this kind respecting them, he 
procures their friendly regards, that they may be the more 
favourably inclined and teachable for receiving his doctrine. 
We must always take notice that he makes use of thanks- 
giving in place of congratulation, by which he teaches us, 
that in all our joys we must readily call to remembrance the 
goodness of God, inasmuch as everything that is pleasant and 
agreeable to us is a kindness conferred by him. Besides, he 
admonishes us, by his example, to acknowledge with grati- 
tude not merely those things which the Lord confers upon 
us, but also those things which he confers upon others. 

But for what things does he give thanks to the Lord ? 
For i\\e faith and love of the Colossians. He acknowledges, 
therefore, that both are conferred by God : otherwise the 
gratitude were pretended. And what have we otherwise 
than through his liberality ? If, however, even the smallest 
favours come to us from that source, how much more 
ought this same acknowledgment to be made in reference 
to those two gifts, in which the entire sum of our excellence 
consists ? 

To the God and Father? Understand the expression thus 
— To God who is the Father of Christ. For it is not lawful for 

V " Son simple et priue nom ;" — " Flis simple and private name." 
2 " A Dieu qui est le Pere. II y auroit mot a mot, A Dieu et Pere ;" — 
" To God who is the Father. It were literally, To God and Father. " 


US to acknowledge any other God than him who has manifested 
himself to us in his Son. And this is the only key for open- 
ing the door to us, if we are desirous to have access to the 
true God, For on this account, also, is he a Father to us, 
because he has embraced us in his only begotten Son, and in 
him also sets forth his paternal favour for our contemplation. 
Always for us. Some explain it thus — We give thanks to 
God always for you, that is, continually. Others explain it 
to mean — Praying always for you. It may also be inter- 
preted in this way, " Whenever we pray for you, we at the 
same time give thanks to God ;" and this is the simple 
meaning, " We give thanks to God, and we at the same 
time pray." By this he intimates, that the condition of be- 
lievers is never in this world perfect, so as not to have, in- 
variably, something wanting. For even the man who has 
begun admirably well, may fall short in a hundred instances 
every day ; and we must ever be making progress while we 
are as yet on the way. Let us therefore bear in mind tliat we 
must rejoice in the favours that we have already received, 
and give thanks to God for them in such a manner, as to seek 
at the same time from him perseverance and advancement. 

4. Having heard of your faith. This was a means of 
stirring up his love towards them, and his concern for their 
welfare, when he heard that they were distinguislied hj faith 
and love. And, unquestionably, gifts of God that are so ex- 
cellent ought to have such an effect upon us as to stir us up 
to love them wherever they appear. He uses the expression, 
faith in Christ, that we may always bear in mind that Christ 
is the proper object of faith. 

He employs the expression, love towards the saints, not 
with the view of excluding others, but because, in propor- 
tion as any one is joined to us in God, we ought to embrace 
him the more closely with a special affection. True love, 
therefore, will extend to mankind universally, because they 
all are our flesh, and created in the image of God, (Gen. ix. 
6 ;) but in respect of degrees, it will begin with those who 
are of the household of faith. (Gal. vi. 10.) 

5. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven. For 
the Aojje of eternal life will never be inactive in us, so as 


not to produce love in us. For it is of necessity, that the 
man who is fully persuaded that a treasure of life is laid up 
for him in heaven will aspire thither, looking down upon this 
world. Meditation, however, upon the heavenly life stirs up 
our affections both to the worship of God, and to exercises 
of love. The Sophists pervert this passage for the purpose of 
extolling the merits of works, as if the hope of salvation de- 
pended on works. The reasoning, however, is futile. For 
it does not follow, that because hope stimulates us to aim 
at upright living, it is therefore founded upon works, inas- 
much as nothing is more efficacious for this purpose than 
God's unmerited goodness, which utterly overthrows all con- 
fidence in works. 

There is, however, an instance of metonymy in the use of 
the term hope, as it is taken for the thing hoped for. For 
the hope that is in our hearts is the glory Avhich we hope for 
in heaven. At the same time, when he says, that there is 
a hope that is laid up for us in heaven, he means, that be- 
lieA'ers ought to feel assured as to the promise of eternal feli- 
city, equally as though they had already a treasure laid up^ 
in a particular place. 

Of which ye heard before. As eternal salvation is a thing 
that surpasses the comprehension of our understanding, he 
therefore adds, that the assurance of it had been brought to 
the Colossians by means of the gospel ; and at the same 
time he says in the outset,^ that he is not to bring forward 
anything new, but that he has merely in view to confirm 
them in the doctrine which they had previously received. 
Erasmus has rendered it — the true word of the gospel. I 
am also well aware that, according to the Hebrew idiom, the 
genitive is often made use of by Paul in place of an epithet ; 
but the words of Paul here are more emphatic.'"^ For he 
calls the gospel, Kar e^o'xfiv, {by way of eminence,) the word 
of truth, with the view of putting honour upon it, that they 
may more steadfastly and firmly adhere to the revelation 

1 " Yn tresor en seure garde ;" — " A treasure in safe keeping." 

^ " II dit auant que passer plus outre ;" — " He says before proceeding 


* " Ont yci plus grande signifiance, et emporteut plus ;"— " HaA'e here 

more significancy, and are more emphatic." 


which they have derived from that source. Thus the term 
gospel is introduced by way of apposition} 

6. As also in all the world it brings forth fruit. This has 
a tendency both to confirm and to comfort the pious — to 
see the effect of the gospel far and wide in gatliering many 
to Christ. The faith of it does not, it is true, depend on its 
success, as though we should believe it on the ground that 
many believe it. Though the whole world should fail, thougli 
heaven itself should fall, the conscience of a pious man must 
not waver, because God, on whom it is founded, does never- 
theless remain true. This, however, does not hinder our 
faith from being confirmed, whenever it perceives God's ex- 
cellence, which undoubtedly shews itself with more power 
in proportion to the number of jDersons tliat are gained over 
to Christ. 

In addition to this, in the multitude of the believers at 
that time there was beheld an accomplishment of the many 
predictions which extend the reign of Christ from the East 
to the West. Is it a trivial or common aid to faith, to see 
accomplished before our eyes what the Prophets long since 
predicted as to the extending of the kingdom of Christ 
through all countries of the world? What I speak of, 
there is no believer that does not experience in himself 
Paul accordingly had it in view to encourage the Colossians 
the more by this statement, that, by seeing in various places 
the fruit and progress of the gospel, they might embrace it 
with more eager zeal. Av^avo/u,€vov, which I have rendered 
propagatur, (is propagated,) does not occur in some copies ; 
but, from its suiting better with the context, I did not choose 
to omit it. It also appears from the commentaries of the 
ancients that this reading was always the more generally 

Since the day ye heard it, and knew the grace. Here he 
praises them on account of their docility, inasmuch as they 
immediately embraced sound doctrine ; and he praises them 
on account of their constancy, inasmuch as they persevered 

1 The term apposition, in grammar, signifies the putting of two nomis 
in the same case. — Ed. 

^ "This" (««' av^avifiivov) "is the reading of the V(Zti€a)i and all the 
most ancient authorities." — Peiui. — Ed. 


in it. It is also with propriety that the faith of the gospel 
is called the knowledge of God's grace ; for no one has ever 
tasted of the gospel but the man that knew himself to be 
reconciled to God, and took hold of the salvation that is held 
forth in Christ. 

In truth means truly and without pretence ; for as he had 
previously declared that the gospel is undoubted truth, so 
he now adds, that it had been purely administered by them, 
and that hy Epaphras. For while all boast that they preacli 
the gospel, and yet at the same time there are many evil 
workers, (Phil. iii. 2,) through whose ignorance, or ambition, 
or avarice, its purity is adulterated, it is of great importance 
that faithful ministers should be distinguished from the less 
upright. For it is not enough to hold the term gospel, un- 
less we know that this is the true gospel — what was preached 
by Paul and Epaphras. Hence Paul confirms the doctrine of 
Epaphras by giving it his approbation, that he may induce the 
Colossians to adhere to it, and may, by the same means, call 
them back from those profligates who endeavoured to intro- 
duce strange doctrines. He at the same time dignifies Epa- 
phras with a special distinction, that he may have more autho- 
rity among them ; and lastly, he presents him to the Colossians 
in an amiable aspect, by saying that he had borne testimony 
to him of their love. Paul everywhere makes it his particular 
aim, that he may, by his recommendation, render those who 
he knows serve Christ faithfully, very dear to the Churches ; 
as, on the other hand, the ministers of Satan are wholly in- 
tent on alienating, by unfivourable representations,^ the 
minds of the simple from faithful pastors. 

Love in the Spirit I take to mean, spiritual love, accord- 
ing to the view of Chrysostom, with whom, however, I do 
not agree in the interpretation of the preceding words. 
Now, spiritual love is of such a nature as has no view to the 
world, but is consecrated to the service of piety,^ and has, 
as it were, an internal root, while carnal friendships depend 
on external causes. 

' " Par faux rapports et calomnies :" — " By false reports and calumnies." 
^ " Mais est commencee et comme consacree a I'adueu de la piete et 

coy,noissance de Dieu ;" — " But is commenced and, as it were, consecrated 

to the service of piety and the knowledge of CJod." 


9. For this cause we also, since 9. Propterea nos quoque, ex quo 
the day we heard it, do not cease to die audivimus, non cessamus pro 
pray for you, and to desire that ye vobis orare, et petere ut impleamini 
might be filled with the knowledge cognitione voluntatis ipsius, in omni 
of his will in all wisdom and spiri- sapientia et prudentia' spirituali : 
tual understanding ; 

10. That ye might walk worthy 10. Ut ambuletis digne Deo, in 
of the Lord unto all pleasing, being omne obsequium, in omni bono opere 
fruitful in every good work, and in- fructificantes, et crescentes in cogni- 
creasing in the knowledge of God ; tione Dei : 

11. IStrengthened with all might, 11. Omni robore roborati, secun- 
according to his glorious power, unto dum potentiam gloriae ipsius, in 
all patience and long-sutlering with omnem tolerantiam et patientiam, 
joyfulness. cum gaudio. 

9. For this cause we also. As he has previously shewn 
liis aifection for them in his thanksgivings, so he now shews 
it still farther in the earnestness of his prayers in their be- 
half.^ And, assuredly, the more that the grace of God is 
conspicuous in any, we ought in that proportion specially to 
love and esteem them, and to be concerned as to their wel- 
fare. But what does he pray for in their behalf? That 
they may know God more fully ; by which he indirectly in- 
timates, that something is still wanting in them, that he 
may prepare the way for imparting instruction to them, and 
may secure their attention to a fuller statement of doctrine. 
For those who think that they have already attained every- 
thing that is worthy of being known, despise and disdain 
everything farther that is presented to them. Hence he re- 
moves from the Colossians an impression of this nature, lest 
it should be a hinderance in the way of their cheerfully 
making progress, and allowing what had been begun in them 
to receive an additional polish. But what knowledge does 
he desire in their behalf? The knowledge of the divine will, 
by which expression he sets aside all inventions of men, and 
all speculations that are at variance with the word of God. 
For his will is not to be sought anywhere else than in his word. 

1 " Prudeiice, on intelligence ,•" — " Prudence, or understanding." 
" " Comme il a ci dcssus demonstre I'amour qu'il auoit enuers eux, en 
protestant qu'il s'esiouit de leurs auancemens, et en rend graces a Dieu, 
aussi le fait-il maintenant en son aflection vehemente, et continuation de 
prier ;" — " As he has already shewn the love which he cherished towards 
them, by declaring that he rejoices in their proficiency, and gives thanks 
to God for it, so he does the same now by his intense eagerness and pei*- 
severance in prayer." 


He adds — in all wisdom ; by which he intimates that the 
will of God, of which he had made mention, was the only 
nde of right knowledge. For if any one is desirous simply 
to know those things which it has pleased God to reveal, 
that is the man who accurately knows what it is to be truly 
wise. If we desire anything beyond that, this will be no- 
thing else than to be foolish, by not keeping within due 
bounds. By the word avveaea)<i, which we render pruden- 
tiam, (prudence,) I understand — that discrimination which 
proceeds from intelligence. Both are called spiritual by 
Paul, because they are not attained in any other way than 
by the guidance of the Spirit. For the animal man does 
not perceive the things that are of God. (1 Cor. ii. 14.) So 
long as men are regulated by their own carnal perceptions, 
they have also their own wisdom, but it is of such a nature 
as is mere vanity, however much they may delight them- 
selves in it. We see what sort of theology there is under 
the Papacy, what is contained in the books of philosophers, 
and what wisdom profane men hold in estimation. Let us, 
however, bear in mind, that the wisdom which is alone com- 
mended by Paul is comprehended in the will of God. 

10. That ye may walk worthy of God. In the first place 
he teaches, what is the end of spiritual understanding, and 
for what purpose we ought to make proficiency in God's 
school — that we may walk worthy of God, that is, that it 
may be manifest in our life, that we have not in vain been 
taught by God. Whoever they may be that do not direct 
their endeavours towards this object, may possibly toil and 
labour much, but they do nothing better than wander about 
in endless windings, without making any progress.^ Farther, 
he admonishes us, that if we would walk worthy of God, we 
must above all things take heed that we regulate our whole 
course of life according to the will of God, renouncing our 
own understanding, and bidding farewell to all the inclina- 
tions of our flesh. 

This also he again confirms by saying — unto all obedience, 

1 " Mais ils ne feront que tracasser 9a et la, et tourner a I'entour du 
pot (comme on dit) sans s'auancer ;" — " But they will do nothing else 
than hurry hither and thither, and go about the bush (as they say) with- 
out making progress." 


01-, as they commonly say, well-pleasing. Hence if it is asked, 
what kind of life is worthy of God, let us always keep in 
view this definition of Paul — that it is such a life as, leav- 
ing the opinions of men, and leaving, in short, all carnal in- 
clination, is regulated so as to be in subjection to God alone. 
From this follow good works, which are the fruits that God 
requires from us. 

Increasing in the knowledge of God. He again repeats, 
that they have not arrived at such perfection as not to stand 
in need of farther increase ; by which adnionition he pre- 
pares them, and as it were leads them by the hand, to an 
eagerness for proficiency, that they may shew themselves 
ready to listen, and teaciiable. What is here said to the 
Colossians, let all believers take as said to themselves, and 
draw from this a common exhortation — that we must always 
make progress in the doctrine of piety until death. 

11. Strengthened with all might. As he has previously 
prayed that they might have both a sound understanding 
and the right use of it, so also now he prays that they may 
have courage and constancy. In this manner he puts them 
i;i mind of their own weakness, for he says, that they will 
not be strong otherwise than by the Lord's help ; and not 
only so, but with the view of magnifying this exercise of 
grace the more, he adds, according to his glorious power. 
" So far from any one being able to stand, through depend- 
ence on his own strength, the power of God shews itself 
illustriously in helping our infirmity." Lastly, he shews in 
what it is that the strength of believers ought to display itself 
— in all patience and long-suffering. For they are constantly, 
while in this world, exercised with the cross, and a thousand 
temptations daily present themselves, so as to weigh them 
down, and they see nothing of what God has promised. They 
must, therefore, arm themselves with an admirable patience, 
that what Isaiah says may be accomplished, In hope and 
in silence shall he your strength} (Isaiah xxx. 15.) It is 
preferable to connect with this sentence the clause, tvithjoy. 
For although the other reading is more commonly to be met 

' Lowth's rendering of the passage is similar : " In silence, and in pious 
confidence, shall be your strength."— Ed. 


^vith in the Latin versions, this is more in accordance with 
the Greek maiiuscripts, and, unquestionably, patience is not 
sustained otherwise than by alacrity of mind, and will never 
be maintained with fortitude by any one that is not satisfied 
with his condition. 

12. Giving thanks unto the Father, 12. Gratias agentcs Deo ct Patn,^ 
which hath made us meet to be par- qui nos fecit idoneos ad participa- 
takers of the inheritance of the saints tionem hereditatis sanctorum in 
in hght : luniine. 

13. Who hath delivered us from 13, Qui eripuit nos ex potestate 
tlie power of darkness, and hath tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum 
translated us into tlie kingdom of FiUi sui dilecti : 

his dear Son ; 

1-4. In whom Ave have redemption 14. In quo habemus redcmp- 

through his blood, even the forgive- tionem per sanguinem eius, remis- 

ness of sins : sionem peccatorum : 

15. Who is the image of the in- 15. Qui est imago Dei invisibilis, 
visible God, the first-born of every primogenitus universae creaturae. 
creature : 

16. For by him were all things 16. Quoniam in ipso creata sunt 
created that are in heaven, and that omnia, tum quae in coelis sunt, tiun 
are in earth, visible and invisible, quae super terram ; Aisibilia et in- 
whether ilicy he thrones, or domin- visibiha ; sive throni, sive domi- 
ions, or principalities, or powers ; all nationes, sive principatus, sive po- 
things were created by him, and for testates. 

him : 

17. And he is before all things, 17. Omnia per ipsum, et in ipsum 
and by him all things consist. creata svmt : et ipse est ante omnia, 

et omnia in ipso constant. 

12. Giving thanks. Again he returns to thanksgiving, 
that he may take this opportunity of enumerating the bless- 
ings which had been conferred upon them through Christ, 
and thus he enters upon a full delineation of Christ. For 
this was the only remedy for fortifying the Colossians against 
all the snares, by which the false Apostles endeavoured to 
entrap them — to understand accurately what Christ was. 
For how comes it that we are carried about luith so many 
strange doctrines, (Heb. xiii. 9,) but because the excellence 
of Christ is not perceived by us ? For Christ alone makes 
all other things suddenly vanish. Hence there is nothing 
that Satan so much endeavours to accomplish as to bring on 
mists with the view of obscuring Christ, because he knows, 

' " A Dleu ct Pere, qui noiis a faits, ou, au Fere, qui nous a faits ;" — 
'• To Gud and the Father, who hath made vs, or, to the Fathei-, who hath 
made us." 


that by this means the way is opened iqo for every kind of 
ftilschood. This, therefore, is the only means of retaining, 
as well as restoring pure doctrine — to place Christ before 
the view such as he is with all his blessings, that his excel- 
lence may be truly perceived. 

The question here is not as to the name. Papists in com- 
mon with us acknowledge one and the same Christ ; yet in 
the mean time how great a difference there is between us 
and them, inasmuch as they, after confessing Christ to be 
the Son of God, transfer his excellence to others, and scatter 
it hither and thither, and thus leave him next to empty,^ 
or at least rob him of a great part of his glory, so that he is 
called, it is true, by them the Son of God, but, nevertheless, 
he is not such as the Father designed he should be towards 
us. If, however. Papists would cordially embrace what is 
contained in this chapter, we would soon be perfectly agreed, 
but the whole of Popery would fall to the ground, for it 
cannot stand otherwise than through ignorance of Christ. 
This will undoubtedly be acknowledged by every one that 
will but consider the main article^ of this first chapter; for 
his grand object here is that we may know that Christ is 
the beginning, middle, and end — that it is from him that all 
things must be sought — that nothing is, or can be found, 
apart from him. Now, therefore, let the readers carefully 
and attentively observe in what colours Paul depicts Christ 
to us. 

WJiO hath made us meet. He is still speaking of the 
Father, because he is the beginning, and efficient cause (as 
they speak) of our salvation. As the term God is more dis- 
tinctly expressive of majesty, so the term Father conveys 
the idea of clemency and benevolent disposition. It becomes 
us to contemplate both as existing in God, that his majesty 
niciy inspire us with fear and reverence, and that his fatherly 
love may secure our full confidence. Hence it is not with- 
out good reason that Paul has conjoined these two things, 

* " lis Ic laissent quasi vuide et inutile ;" — " They leave him in a man- 
ner empty and useless." 

- Statiim. The term is commonly employed amonj;: the Latins like 
a-rdffif among the Greeks, to mean the puint at issue. See Cic. Top. 25. 


if, after all, you prefer the rendering wliicli the old in- 
terpreter has followed, and which accords witli some very 
ancient Greek manuscripts.^ At the same time there will 
be no inconsistency in saying, that he contents himself with 
the single term, Father. Farther, as it is necessary that his 
incomparable grace should be expressed by the term Father, 
so it is also not less necessary that we should, by the term 
God, be roused up to admiration of so great goodness, that 
he, who is God, has condescended thus far.^ 

But for what kindness does he give thanks to God ? For 
his having made him, and others, meet to he partakers of the 
inheritance of the saints. For we are born children of wrath, 
exiles from God's kingdom. It is God's adoption that alone 
makes us meet. Now, adoption depends on an unmerited 
election. The Spirit of regeneration is the seal of adoption. 
He adds, in light, that there might be a contrast — as op- 
l^osed to the darkness of Satan's kingdom.^ 

1 3. Who hath delivered us. Mark, liere is the beginning 
of our salvation — when God delivers us from the depth of 
ruin into which we were plunged. For wherever his grace 
is not, there is darkness,* as it is said in Isaiah, (Ix. 2,) Be- 
hold darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the 
nations ; hut the Lo7'd shall arise upon thee, and his gloi'y 
shall he seen upon thee. In the first place, we ourselves are 
called darkness, and afterwards the whole world, and Satan, 
the Prince of darkness,^ under whose tyranny we are held 
captive, until we are set free by Christ's hand.^ From this 
you may gather that the whole world, with all its pretended 

' It is stated by Beza, that some Greek manuscripts have tm esf xaJ 
Ueir^i, (to God and the Father,) and that this is the reading in some 
copies of the Vulgate. Wiclif (1380) reads, " To God and to the Fadir." 
Rheims (1582) " To God and the Father."— Ed. 

- " S'est abbaise iusques la de voidoir estre nostre Pere ;" — " lias abased 
himself so far as to be willing to be our Father." 

3 " Afin qu'il y eust vne opposition entre les tenebres du royanme de 
Satan, et la luraiere du royaume de Dieu ;" — " That there might be a 
contrast between the darkness of Satan's kingdom, and the liglit of God's 

* " La il n'y a que tenebres;" — " There is nothing but darkness." 

5 " One of the names which the Jews gave to Satan was "Jt^TI — dark- 
ness." — Illustrated Commentary. — Ed. 

8 " lusqu'a ce que nous soyons deliurez et aflf'ranchis par la puissance de 
Christ ;" — " Until Ave are delivered and set free by the power of Christ." 


wisdom and righteousness, is regarded as nothing but dark- 
ness in the sight of God, because, apart from the kingdom 
of Christ, there is no light. 

Hath translated us into the kingdom. These form already 
the beginnings of our blessedness — when we are translated 
into the kingdom of Christ, because we pass from death into 
life. (1 John iii. 14.) This, also, Paul ascribes to tlie grace 
of God, that no one may imagine that he can attain so great 
a blessing by his own efforts. As, then, our deliverance from 
the slavery of sin and death is the work of God, so also our 
passing into the kingdom of Christ. He calls Christ the Son 
of his love, or the Son that is beloved by God the Father, 
because it is in him alone that his soul takes pleasure, as we 
read in Matt. xvii. 5, and in whom all others are beloved. 
For we must hold it as a settled point, that we are not ac- 
ceptable to God otherwise than through Christ. Nor can it 
be doubted, that Paul Lad it in view to censure indirectly 
the mortal enmity that exists between men and God, until 
love shines forth in the Mediator. 

14. In whom we have redemption. He now proceeds to set 
forth in order, that all parts of our salvation are contained 
in Christ, and that he alone ought to shine forth, and to be 
seen conspicuous above all creatures, inasmuch as he is the 
beginning and end of all things. In tlie first place, he says 
that we have redemption^ and immediately explains it as 
meaning the remission of sins ; for these two things agree 
together by apposition?' For, unquestionably, when God 
remits our transgressions, he exempts us from condemnation 
to eternal death. This is our liberty, this our glorying in 
the face of death — that our sins are not imputed to us. He 
says that this redemption was procured through the hlood of 
Christ, for by the sacrifice of his death all the sins of the 
world have been expiated. Let us, therefore, bear in mind, 

1 " lledemption et deliunuicc :" — " Redemi)lion and deliverance." 

2 The following explanation of the meaning- of the term apposition is 
fm'nished in a marginal note in onr author's l*>ench version : " (J'est quand 
deux noms substantifs appartenaiis a vne nicsme chose, sont mis ensemble 
sans conionction, comme par declaration I'n n et I'autre ;" — " This is when 
two substantive nouns, relating to the same thing, are placed together 
without being conjoined, as if by waj of explanation, the one and the other." 


that this is the sole price of reconciliation, and that all the 
trifling" of Papists as to satisfactions is blasphemy/ 

1-5. Who is the image of the invisible God. He mounts 
up higher in discoursing as to the glory of Christ, He calls 
liim the image of the invisible God, meaning by this, that it 
is in him alone that God, who is otherwise invisible, is ma- 
nifested to us, in accordance with what is said in John i. 18, 
— No man hath ever seen God : the only begotten Son, who is 
in the bosom of the Father, hath himself manifested him to us. 
I am well aware in what manner the ancients were accus- 
tomed to explain this ; for having a contest to maintain with 
Arians, they insist upon tlie equality of the Son with the 
Father, and his (ofioovacav) identity of essence,^ while in the 
mean time they make no mention of what is the chief point 
— in what manner the Father makes himself known to us in 
Christ. As to Chrysostom's laying the whole stress of his 
defence on the term image, by contending that the creature 
cannot be said to be the image of the Creator, it is exces- 
sively weak ; nay more, it is set aside by Paul in 1 Cor. xi. 
7, whose words are — The man is the image and glory of God. 

That, therefore, w^e may not receive anything but what is 
solid, let us take notice, that the term image is not made 
use of in reference to essence, but has a reference to us ; for 
Christ is called the image of God on this ground — that he 
makes God in a manner visible to us. At the same time, 
we gather also from this his (p/jioovaia) identity of essence, 
for Christ would not truly represent God, if he were not 
the essential Word of God, inasmuch as the question here is 
not as to those things wdiich by communication are suitable 
also to creatures, but the question is as to the perfect wisdom, 
goodness, righteousness, and power of God, for the represent- 
ing of which no creature were competent. We shall have, 
therefore, in this term, a powerful weapon in opposition to 
the Arians, but, notwithstanding, we must begin with that 
reference '"^ that I have mentioned ; wo must not insist upon 
the essence alone. The sum is this — that God in himself, 

' " Blasphemes execrables ;" — " Execrable blasphemies." 
^ See Calvin on the Corintbians, vol. ii. p. 196, n. I. 
" Relation et correspondancc ;" — " Reference and correspondence." 


that is, in his naked majesty, is invisible, and that not to 
the eyes of the body merely, but also to the understandings 
of men, and that he is revealed to us in Christ alone, that 
we may behold him as in a mirror. For in Christ he shews 
us his righteousness, goodness, wisdom, power, in short, his 
entire self. We must, therefore, beware of seeking him 
elsewhere, for everything that would set itself off as a repre- 
sentation of God, apart from Christ, Avill be an idol. 

The jirst-hoi'n of every creature. The reason of this ap- 
pellation is immediately added — For in him all things are 
created, as he is, three verses afterwards, called the Jirst- 
hegotten from the dead, because by him we all rise again. 
Hence, he is not called the first-horn, simply on the ground 
of his having preceded all creatures in point of time, but 
because he was begotten by the Father, that they might be 
created by him, and that he might be, as it were, the sub- 
stance or foundation of all things. It was then a foolish 
part that the Arians acted, who argued from this that he 
was, consequently, a creature. For what is here treated of 
is, not what he is in himself, but what he accomplishes in 

16, Visible and invisible. Both of these kinds were in- 
cluded in the foregoing distinction of heavenly and eartlhy 
things ; but as Paul meant chiefly to make that affirmation 
in reference to Angels, he now makes mention of things 
invisible. Not only, therefore, have those heaveidy creatures 
which are visible to our eyes, but spiritual creatures also, 
been created by the Son of God. What immediately follows, 
whether thrones, &c., is as though he had said — " by whatever 
name they are called." 

By thrones some understand Angels. I am rather, however, 
of opinion, that the heavenly palace of God's majesty is meant 
by the term, which we are not to imagine to be such as our 
mind can conceive of, but such as is suitable to God himself. 
We sec the sun and moon, and the Avhole adorning of heaven, 
but the glory of God's kingdom is hid from our perception, 
because it is spiritual, and above the heavens. In fine, lot 
us understand by the term thrones that seat of blessed im- 
mortality which is exempted from all change. 


By tliG other terms he undoubtedly describes the angels. 
He calls them powers, principalities, and dominions, not as 
if they swayed any separate kingdom, or were endowed with 
peculiar power/ but because they are the ministers of Divine 
])Ower and dominion.^ It is customary, however, that, in so 
far as God manifests his power in creatures, his names are, 
in that proportion, transferred to them. Thus he is himself 
alone Lord and Father, but those are also called lo7'ds and 
fathers whom he dignifies with this honour. Hence it comes 
tliat angels, as well as judges, are called gods? Hence, in 
this passage also, angels are signalized by magnificent titles, 
which intimate, not what they can do of themselves, or apart 
from God, but what God does by them, and what functions 
he has assigned to them. These things it becomes us to 
understand in such a manner as to detract nothing from tlie 
glory of God alone ; for he does not communicate his power 
to angels as to lessen his own ; he does not work by them 
in such a manner as to resign his power to them ; he does 
not desire that his glory sliould shine forth in them, so as to 
be obscured in himself Paul, however, designedly extols 
the dignity of angels in terms thus magnificent, that no one 
may think that it stands in the way of Christ alone having 
the pre-eminence over them. He makes use, therefore, of 
these terms, as it were by way of concession, as though he 
had said, that all their excellence detracts nothing from 
Christ,'* however honourable the titles with which they are 
adorned. As for those who philosophize on these terms with 
excessive subtlety, that they may draw from them the dif- 
ferent orders of angels, let them regale themselves with 
their dainties, but they are assuredly very remote from 
Paul's design. 

17. All things were created hy him, and for him. He 
places angels in subjection to Christ, that they may not 

* " Ayent vertu ou puissance d'eux-mesmes ;" — " Have power or autho- 
rity of themselves." 

2 " Sont executeurs de la puissance Diuine, et ministres de sa domina- 
tion ;" — " Are the executors of God's power, and ministers of his do- 

^ See Calvin on John, vol. i. p. 419. 

* " N'oste rien a la gloire de Christ;" — " Takes nothing from the glory 
of Christ." 


obscure Iiis glory, fov four reasons: In tlic first place, be- 
cause they were created by him; secondly, because tlieir 
creation ought to be viewed as having a relation to him, as 
their legitimate end ; thirdly, because he himself existed 
always, prior to their creation ; fourthly, because he sustains 
them by his power, and upholds them in their condition. At 
the same time, he does not affirm this merely as to angels, 
but also as to the whole w^orld. Thus he places the Son of 
Grod in the highest seat of honour, that he may have the 
pre-eminence over angels as well as men, and may bring 
under control all creatures in heaven and in earth. 

18. And he is the head of the 18. Et ipse est caput corporis 
body, the church; who is the be- Ecclesiae, ipse principium, prime, 
ginning, the first-born from the dead; genitus mortuis, lit sit in omnibus 
that in all things he might have the ipse primas tenens : 
pre-eminence : 

19. For it pleased i^e i^a</ier, that 19. Quoniam in ipso placuit om- 
in him should all fulness dwell : nem plenitudinem inhabitare. 

20. And (having made peace 20. Et per ipsuni reconciliare 
through the blood of his cross) by omnia sibi, pacilicando per sangid- 
him to reconcile all things unto him- nem crucis eius, per ipsum, tam quae 
self; by him, I sai/, whether thei/ be sunt super tcrram, quam quae sui.t 
things in earth, or things in heaven, in coelis. 

18. The head of the body. Having discoursed in a general 
way of Christ's excellence, and of his sovereign dominion 
over all creatures, he again returas to those things which 
relate peculiarly to the Cliurch. Under the term head some 
consider many things to be included. And, unquestionably, 
he makes use afterwards, as we shall find, of the same me- 
taphor in this sense — that as in the human body it serves 
as a root, from which vital energy is diffused through all the 
members, so the life of the Church flows out from Christ, &e. 
(Col. ii. 19.) Here, however, in my opinion, he speaks chiefly 
of government. lie shews, therefore, that it is Christ that 
alone has authority to govern the Church, that it is he to 
whom alone believers ought to have an eye, and on whom 
alone the unity of the body depends. 

Papists, with the view of supporting the tyranny of their 
idol, allege that the Church would be {uKecf:a\ov) ivithoid 
a head,^ if the Pope did not, as a head, exercise rule in it. 
' See Ivftihiic", vol. ii. p. 11. 


Paul, however, docs not allow this honour even to angels, 
and yet he does not maim the Church, by depriving her of 
her head ; for as Christ claims for himself this title, so he 
truly exercises the office. I am also well aware of the cavil 
by which they attempt to escape — that the Pope is a minis- 
terial head. The name, however, of head is too august to 
be rightfully transferred to any mortal man,^ under any 
pretext, especially without the command of Christ. Gregory 
shews greater modesty, who says (in his 9 2d Epistle, 4th 
Book) that Peter was indeed one of the chief members of 
the Church, but that he and the other Apostles were mem- 
bers under one head. 

He is the beginning. As dpxh is sometimes made use of 
among the Greeks to denote the end, to which all things 
bear a relation, we might understand it as meaning, that 
Christ is in this sense (dpxv) ^^^^ ^''^d. I prefer, however, to 
explain Paul's words thus — that he is the beginning, because 
he IS the Jirst-born from the dead; for in the resurrection 
there is a restoration of all things, and in this manner the 
commencement of the second and new creation, for the for- 
mer had fallen to pieces in the ruin of the first man. As, 
then, Christ in rising again had made a commencement of 
the kingdom of God, he is on good grounds called the 
beginning; for theii do we truly begin to have a being 
in the sight of God, when we are renewed, so as to be new 
creatures. He is called the first-begotten from the dead, not 
merely because he was the first that rose again, but be- 
cause he has also restored life to others, as he is elsewhere 
called the first-fruits of those that rise again. (1 Cor. 
XV. 20.) 

That he may in all things. From this he concludes, that 
supremacy belongs to him in all things. For if he is the 
Author and Restorer of all things, it is manifest that this 
honour is justly due to him. At the same time the phrase 
in omnibus (in all things) may be taken in two ways — either 
over all creatures, or, iji everything. This, however, is of no 

1 " Est si honorable et magnifiqiie qu'il ne peut estre traiisfere a homnie 
niortel ;"— " Is so honourable and magnificent,, that it cannot be transferred 
to a mortal man." 


great im23ortance, for the simple meaning is, tliat all things 
are subjected to his sway. 

19. Because it hath pleased the Father that in him. With 
the view of confirming what he has declared resjjecting 
Christ, he now adds, that it was so arranged in the provi- 
dence of God. And, unquestionably, in order that we may 
with reverence adore tliis mystery, it is necessary that we 
should be led back to that fountain. "This/' says he, "has 
been in accordance with the counsel of God, that all fulness 
Tnay divell in him." Now, he means a fulness of righteousness, 
wisdom, power, and every blessing. For whatever God has 
he has conferred upon his Son, tliat he may be glorified in 
him, as is said in John v. 20. He shews us, however, at the 
same time, that we must draw from the fulness of Christ 
everytliing good that we desire for our salvation, because 
such is the determination of God — not to communicate him- 
self, or his gifts to men, otherwise than by his Son. " Christ 
is all things to us : apart from him we have nothing." Hence 
it follows, that all that detract from Christ, or that impair 
his excellence, or rob him of his ofiices, or, in fine, take away 
a drop from his fulness, overturn, so far as is in their power, 
God's eternal counsel. 

20. And by him to reconcile all things to himself. This, 
also, is a magnificent commendation of Christ, that we can- 
not be joined to God otherwise than through him. In the 
first place, let us consider that our happiness consists in our 
cleaving to God, and that, on the other hand, there is nothing 
more miserable than to be alienated from him. He declares, 
accordingly, that we are blessed through Christ alone, inas- 
much as he is the bond of our connection with God, and, on 
the other hand, that, apart from him, we are most miserable, 
because we are shut out from God.^ Let us, however, bear 
in mind, that what he ascribes to Christ belongs peculiarly 
to him, that no portion of this praise may be transferred 
to any other.^ Hence we must consider the contrasts to 
these things to be understood — that if tliis is Christ's prero- 

' " Bannis de la compagnie de Dieu ;" — " Banished from the sociely of 

'^ " Taut excellent .soit-il ;" — " However excellent he may be." 


gative, it does not belong to others. For of set purpose lie 
disputes against those who imagined that the angels were 
pacificators, through whom access to Grod might be opened up. 

Making peace through the blood of his a-oss. He speaks 
of the Father, — that he has been made propitious to his 
creatures by the blood of Christ. Now he calls it the blood 
of the cross, inasmuch as it was the pledge and price of the 
making up of our peace with God, because it was poured out 
upon the cross. For it was necessary that the Son of God 
should be an expiatory victim, and endure the punishment 
of sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him. 
(2 Cor. V. 21.) The blood of the cross, therefore, means the 
blood of the sacrifice which was offered upon the cross for 
appeasing the anger of God. 

In adding by him, he did not mean to express anything new, 
but to express more distinctly what he had previously stated, 
and to impress it still more deeply on their minds — that 
Christ alone is the author of reconciliation, as to exclude all 
other means. For there is no other that has been crucified 
for us. Hence it is he alone, by whom and for whose sake 
we have God propitious to us. 

Both upon earth and in heaven. If you are inclined to 
understand this as referring merely to rational creatures, it 
will mean, men and angels. There were, it is true, no ab- 
surdity in extending it to all without exception ; but that I 
may not be under the necessity of philosoi^hizing with too 
much subtlety, I prefer to understand it as referring to 
angels and men ; and as to the latter, there is no difficulty 
as to their having need of a peace-maker in the sight of 
God. As to angels, however, there is a question not easy of 
solution. For what occasion is there for reconciliation, where 
there is no discord or hatred ? Many, influenced by this con- 
sideration, have explained the passage before us in this 
manner — that angels have been brought into agreement 
with men, and that by this means heavenly creatures jiave 
been restored to favour with earthly creatures. Another 
meaning, however, is conveyed by Paul's words, that Ood 
hath reco)iciled to himself That explanation, therefore, is 


It remains, that we see what is the reconciliation of angels 
and men. I say that men have been reconciled to God, be- 
cause they Avcre previously alienated from him by sin, and 
because they would have had him as a Judge to their ruin,^ 
had not the grace of the Mediator interposed for appeasing his 
anger. Hence the nature of the peace-making between God 
and men was this, that enmities have been abolished through 
Christ, and thus God becomes a Father instead of a Judge. 

Between God and angels the state of matters is very dif- 
ferent, for there was thei^e^ no revolt, no sin, and conse- 
quently no separation. It was, however, necessary that 
angels, also, should be made to be at peace with God, for, 
being creatures, they were not beyond the risk of falling, 
had they not been confirmed by the grace of Christ. This, 
however, is of no small importance for the perpetuity of 
peace with God, to have a fixed standing in righteousness, 
so as to have no longer any fear of fall or revolt. Farther, 
in that very obedience which they render to God, there is 
not such absolute perfection as to give satisfaction to God 
« in every respect, and without the need of pardon. And this 
beyond all doubt is what is meant by that statement in 
Job iv. 18, He will find iniquity in his angels. For if it is 
explained as referring to the devil, what mighty thing were 
it ? But the Spirit declares there, that the greatest purity 
is vile,''' if it is brought into comparison with the righteous- 
ness of God. We must, therefore, conclude, that there is 
not on the part of angels so much of righteousness as would 
suffice for their being fully joined with God. They have, 
therefore, need of a peace-maker, through whose grace they 
may wholly cleave to God. Hence it is with propriety that 
Paul declares, that the grace of Christ does not reside among 
mankind alone, and on the other hand makes it common 
also to angels. Nor is there any injustice done to angels, 
in sending them to a Mediator, that they may, through his 
kindness, have a well-grounded peace with God. 

' " A leiir confusion et mine ;" — " To their confusion and ruin." 

- " En eux;" — " Amon;^' them." 

3 " Que la phis grande ].urete qu'on pourroit trouuer, ne sera que 
vilenie et ordure ;" — " Tliat the greatest purity that could be found will 
be nothing but filth and pollution." 


Should any one, on the joretext of the universality of the 
expression/ move a question in reference to devils, whether 
Christ be their peace-maker also? I ansvvei', No, not even of 
wicked men : though I confess that there is a difference, inas- 
much as the benefit of redemption is offered to the latter, but 
not to the former.^ This, however, has nothing to do with 
Paul's words, which include nothing else than this, that it is 
through Christ alone, that all creatures, who have any con- 
nection at all with God, cleave to him. 

21. And you, that were sometime 21. Et vos qiium aliquanilo esse- 
tilienated. and enemies in i/our mind tis alienati, et inimici cogitatione in 
tjy wicked works, yet now hath he operibus nialis, 


22. In the body of his flesh through 22. Nunc reconciliavit in corpore 
death, to present you holy, and un- carnis suae per mortem ; ut sisteret 
blameable, and unreproveable, in his vos sanctos et irreprehensibiles in 
sight ; conspectu suo : 

23. If ye continue in the faith 23. Si quidem permanetis fide 
grounded and settled, and be not fundati et firmi, et non dimoveamini 
moved away from the hope of the a spe Evangelii quod audistis : quod 
gospel, which ye have heard, and praedicatum est apud universam 
which was preached to every crea- creaturam, quae sub coelo est : cuius 
ture which is under heaven; where- factus sum ego Paulus minister. 

of I Paul am made a minister : 

21. And whereas ye were formerly. The general doctrine 
which he had set forth he now applies particularly to them, 
that they may feel that they are guilty of very great ingra- 
titude, if they allow themselves to be drawn away from Christ 
to new inventions. And this arrangement must be carefully 
observed, because the particular application of a doctrine, so 
to speak, aifects the mind more powerfully. Farther, he 
leads their views to experience, that they may recognise in 
themselves the benefit of that redemption of which he had 
made mention. " You are yourselves a sample^ of that 
grace which I declare to have been offered to mankind 
through Christ. For ye were alienated, that is, from God. 
Ye were enemies ; now ye are received into favour : whence 
comes this ? It is because God, being appeased by the death 

1 " Sous ombre de ce mot, Toutes choscs;" — " Under the pretext of this 
word. All things." 

■ " Est oflert aux meschans et reprouuez, et non pas aux diables;" — 
" Is offered to the wicked and reprobate, but not to devils." 

3 •• Vn miroir;" — " A mirror." 


of Clii'ist, lias become reconciled to you." At the same time, 
there is in this statement a change of person, for what he 
has previously declared as to the Father, he now affirms re- 
specting Christ; for we must necessarily exj^lain it thus, in 
the body of his fiesh. 

The term 8iavoca<; (thought) I explain, as employed by way 
of amplification, as though he had said, that they were alto- 
gether, and in the whole of their mental system, alienated 
from God, that no one may imagine, after the manner of 
philosoj^hcrs, that the alienation is merely in a particular 
part, as Popish theologians restrict it to the lower appetites. 
" Nay/' says Paul, "what made you odious to God, had taken 
possession of your whole mind." In fine, he meant to inti- 
mate, that man, whatever he may be, is wholly at variance 
with God, and is an enemy to him. The old interpreter 
renders it (sensuni) sense. Erasmus renders it onentem, 
(mind.) I have made use of the term cogitationis, to denote 
what the French call intention. For such is the force of the 
Greek word, and Paul's meaning requires that it should be 
rendered so. 

Farther, while the term enemies has a passive as well as 
active signification, it is well suited to us in both respects, 
so long as we are apart from Christ. For we are born chil- 
dren of wrath, and every thought of the flesh is enmity 
against God. (Rom. viii. 7.) 

In wicked works. He shews from its effects the inward 
hatred which lies hid in the heart. For as mankind endea- 
vour to free themselves from all blame, until they have been 
openly convicted, God shews them their impiety by outward 
works, as is more amply treated of in Rom. i. 19. Farther, 
what is told us here as to the Colossians, is applicable to us 
also, for we differ nothing in respect of nature. There is 
only this difference, that some arc called from their mother's 
womb, whose malice God anticipates, so as to prevent them 
from breaking forth into open fruits, while others, after 
having wandered during a great part of their life, are brought 
back to the fold. We all, however, stand in need of Christ 
as our peace-maker, because we are the slaves of sin, and 
where sin is, there is enmity between God and men. 


22. In the body of his flesh. The expression is in appearance 
absurd, but the body of his flesh means that human body, 
which the Son of God had in common with us. He meant, 
therefore, to intimate, that the Son of God had put on the 
same nature with us, that he took upon him this vile earthly 
body, subject to many infirmities, that he might be our Me- 
diator. When he adds, by death, he again calls us back to 
sacrifice. For it was necessary that the Son of God should 
become man, and be a partaker of our flesh, that he miglit 
be our brother : it was necessary that he should by dying 
become a sacrifice, that he might make his Father propi- 
tious to us. 

Tliat he might jiresent us holy. Here we have the second 
and principal part of our salvation — newness of life. For the 
entire blessing of redemption consists mainly in these two 
things, remission of sins, and spiritual regeneration. (Jer. 
xxxi. 38.) What he has already spoken of was a great 
matter, that righteousness has been procured for us thiough 
the death of Christ, so that, our sins being remitted, we are 
acceptable to God. Now, however, he teaches us, that there 
is in addition to this another benefit equally distinguished — 
the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are renewed in the 
image of God. This, also, is a passage worthy of observa- 
tion, as shewing that a gratuitous righteousness is not con- 
ferred upon us in Christ, without our being at the same time 
regenerated by the Spirit to the obedience of righteousness, 
as he teaches us elsewhere, that Christ is made to us right- 
eousness and sanctification. (1 Cor. i. 30.) The former we 
obtain by a gratuitous acceptance ;^ and the latter by the 
gift of the Holy Spirit,- when we are made new creatures. 
There is however an inseparable connection between these 
two blessings of grace. 

Let us, however, take notice, that this holiness is nothing- 
more than begun in us, and is indeed every dnj making- 
progress, but will not be perfected until Christ shall appear 
for the restoration of all things. For the Ccelestinians^ and 

1 " Par I'acceptiition gratuite de Dieu, c'est a dire poiirce qu'il nous ac- 
cepte et ha agreables ;" — " By God's gratuitous acceptance, that is, be- 
cause he accepts of us, and regards us with favoiu-." 

- The followers of Ccelestius, who, along with l*elagius, held views 


tlie Pelagians in ancient times mistakingly perverted this 
passage, so as to shut out the gracious benefit of the remis- 
sion of sins. For they conceived of a 2:)erfection in this 
world which could satisfy the judgment of God, so that 
mercy was not needed. Paul, however, does not by any 
means shew us here what is accomplished in this world, but 
what is the end of our calling, and what blessings arc 
brought to us by Christ. 

23. If ye continue. Here we have an exhortation to 
perseverance, by which he admonishes tliem that all the 
grace that had been conferred upon them hitherto would 
be vain, unless they persevered in the purity of the gospel. 
And thus he intimates, that they are still only making pro- 
gress, and have not yet reached the goal. For the stability 
of their faith was at that time exposed to danger through 
the stratagems of the false apostles. Now he paints in 
lively colours assurance of faith when he bids the Colossians 
be grounded and settled in it. For faith is not like mere 
opinion, which is shaken by various movements, but has a 
firm steadfastness, which can withstand all the machinations 
of liell. Hence the whole system of Popish theology will 
never aff'ord even the slightest taste of true faith, which 
holds it as a settled point, that we must always be in doubt 
respecting the present state of grace, as well as respecting 
final perseverance. He afterwards takes notice also of a re- 
lationship^ which subsists between faith and the gospel, \vhen 
he says that the Colossians will be settled in the faith, only 
in the event of their not falling back from the hope of the 
gospel ; that is, the hope which sliines forth upon us through 
means of the gospel, for where the gospel is, there is the hope 
of everlasting salvation. Let us, however, bear in mind, that 
the sum of all is contained in Christ. Hence he enjoins it 
upon them hei'e to shun all doctrines which lead away from 
Christ, so that the minds of men are otherwise occupied. 

Which ye have heard. As the false apostles themselves, 

who tear and rend Christ in pieces, are accustomed proudly 

subversive of the doctrine of original sin, the necessity of divine grace, and 
other doctrines of ii kindred character. — Ed. 

' " V'ne relation ot correspondence nnituelle;" — " A mutual relationship 
und correspou !l uce. " 


to glory in the name of the gospel, and as it is a common arti- 
fice of Satan to trouble men's consciences under a false pretext 
of the gospel, that the truth of the gospel may be brought 
into confusion,^ Paul, on this account, expressly declares, 
that that was the genuine,^ that the undoubted gospel, which 
the Colossians had heard, namely, from Epaphras, that they 
might not lend an ear to doctrines at variance with it. He 
adds, besides, a confirmation of it, that it is the very same 
as was preached over the whole world. It is, I say, no 
ordinary confirmation when they hear that they have the 
wliole Church agreeing with them, and that they follow no 
other doctrine than what the Apostles had alike taught and 
was everywhere received. 

It is, however, a ridiculous boasting of Papists, in respect 
of their impugning our doctrine by this argument, that it 
is not preached everywhere with approbation and applause, 
inasmuch as we have few that assent to it. For though they 
should burst, they will never deprive us of this — that we at 
this day teach nothing but what was preached of old by Pro- 
phets and Apostles, and is obediently received by the whole 
band of saints. For Paul did not mean that the gospel 
should be approved of by the consent of all ages^ in such a 
way that, if it were rejected, its autliority would be shaken. 
He had, on the contrary, an eye to that commandment of 
Christ, Go, preacJi the gospel to every creature ; (Mark xvi. 
15 ;) which commandment depends on so many predictions 
of the Prophets, foretelling that the kingdom of Christ would 
be spread over the whole world. What else then does Paul 
mean by these words than that the Colossians had also been 
watered by those living streams, which, sjjringing forth 
from Jerusalem, were to flow out through the whole world ? 
(Zech. xiv. 8.) 

We also do not glory in vain, or without remarkable fruit 

' " Demeure eu confus, et qu'on ne scaclie que c'est ;" — " May remain in 
confusion, and it may not be known what it is." 

- " Vray et nature] ;" — " True and genuine." 

^ " Car Sainct Paul n' a pas voulu dire que I'approbation de I'Euangile 
dependist du consentement de tons siecles ;" — " For St. Paul did not mean 
to say, that the approbation of the Gospel depended on the consent of 
all a<;es." 


and consolation,^ that we have the same gospel, which is 
preached among all nations by the commandment of the 
Lord, which is received by all the Churches, and in the pro- 
fession of which all pious persons have lived and died. It 
is also no common help for fortifying us against so many 
assaults, that we have the consent of the whole Church — 
such, I mean, as is worthy of so distinguished a title. We 
also cordially subscribe to the views of Augustine, who re- 
futes the Donatists^ by this argument particularly, that they 
bring forward a gospel that is in all the Churches unheard 
of and unknown. This truly is said on good grounds, for if 
it is a true gospel that is brought forward, while not ratified 
by any approbation on the part of the Church, it follows, 
that vain and false are the many promises in which it is 
predicted that the preaching of the gospel will be carried 
through the whole world, and which declare that the sons of 
God shall be gathered from all nations and countries, &c. 
(Hosea i. 10, 11.) But what do Papists do? Having bid 
farewell to Prophets and Apostles, and passing by the 
ancient Church, they would have their revolt from the gos- 
pel be looked upon as the consent of the universal Church. 
Where is the resemblance ? Hence, when there is a dispute 
as to the consent of the Church, let us return to the Apos- 
tles and their preaching, as Paul does here. Farther, lest 
any one should explain too rigidly the term denoting uni- 
versality,^ Paul means simply, that it had been preached 
everywhere far and wide. 

Of which I am made. He speaks also of himself person- 
ally, and this was very necessary, for we must always take 
care, that we do not rashly intrude ourselves into the office 
of teaching.^ He accordingly declares, that this office was 
appointed him, that he may secure for himself right and 
authority. And, indeed, he so connects his apostleship with 
their faith, that they may not have it in their power to re- 

^ " Ne sans vn fruit singulier et consolation merueilleuse ;" — " Not with- 
out remarkable fruit, and wonderful consolation." 

^ The Donatists were a sect that sprung up in Africa during the fourth 
century, and were vigorously opposed by Augustine. — Ed. 

^ " Ce mot, Toute;" — " This word, All." 

* " De preschcr et enseigncr;" — " Of preaching and teaching." 


ject his doctrine otlierwise than by abandoning the gospel 
which they had embraced. 

24. Who now rejoice in my suffer- 24. Nunc gaudeo in passionibus 
ings for you, and fill up that which pro vobis, et adimpleo ea quae desunt 
is behind of the afflictions of Christ afflictionibus Christi in carne niea, 
in my flesh for his body's sake, which pro corpore eius, quod est Ecclesia : 
is the church ; 

25. Whereof I am made a minister, 25. Cuius factus sum minister, 
according to the dispensation of God secimdum dispensationem Dei, quae 
which is given to me for you, to ful- mihi data est erga vos, ad implen- 
ful the word of God ; dum sermonem Dei : 

26. Even the mystery which hath 26. J\Iysterium reconditimi a sae- 
been hid from ages and from gene- culis et generationibus, quod nunc 
rations, but now is made manifest revelatum est Sanctis eius. 

to his saints : 

27. To whom God would make 27. Quibus voluit Deus patefa- 
known what is the riches of the glory cere, quae sint divitiae gloriae mys- 
of this mystery among the Gentiles; tei'ii huius in Gentibus, qui est 
Avhich is Christ in you, the hope of Christus in vobis, spes gloriae : 
glory : 

28. Whom we preach, warning 28. Quem nos praedicamus, ad- 
every man, and teaching every man monentes omnem hominem, et do- 
in all wisdom ; that we may present centes omnem hominem in orani 
every man perfect in Christ Jesus : sapientia, ut sistamus omnem homi- 
nem perfectum in Christo lesu. 

29. Whereunto I also labour, striv- 29. In quam rem etiam laboro, 
ing according to his working, which decertans secundum potentiam eius, 
worketh in me mightily. quae operatur in me potenter. 

24. / now rejoice. He has previously claimed for himself 
authority on the ground of his calling. Now, however, 
he provides against the honour of his apostleship being 
detracted from by the bonds and persecutions, which he 
endured for the sake of the gospel. For Satan, also, per- 
versely turns these things into occasions of rendering the 
servants of God the more contemptible. Farther, he encour- 
ages them by his example not to be intimidated by persecu- 
tions, and he sets forth to their view his zeal, that he may 
have greater weight.^ Nay more, he gives proof of his 
affection towards them by no common jDledge, when he de- 
clares that he willingly bears for their sake the afflictions 
which he endures. " But whence," some one will ask, 
" arises this joy ?" From his seeing the fruit that springs 
from it. " The affliction that I endure on your account is 

^ " Et monsfre le grand zele qu'il auoit, afin qu'il y ait plus de poids 
et authorite en ce qu'il dit ;" — " And shews the great zeal that he had, 
that there may be greater weight and authority in what he says.'* 


pleasant to me, because I do not suffer it in vain."^ In the 
same manner, in liis First Epistle to the Thessalonians, he 
sa,js, that he rejoiced in all necessities and afflictions, on the 
ground of what he had heard as to their faith. (1 Thess. 
iii. 6, 7.) 

And fill up what is wanting. The particle and I under- 
stand as meaning /or, for he assigns a reason why he is joy- 
ful in his sufferings, because he is in this thing a partner 
with Christ, and nothing happier can be desired than this 
partnership.^ He also brings forward a consolation common 
to all the pious, that in all tribulations, especially in so far 
as they suffer anything for the sake of the gospel, they are 
partakers of the cross of Christ, that they may enjoy fellow- 
ship with him in a blessed resurrection. 

Nay more, he declares that there is thus filled up what is 
wanting in the affliction of Christ. For as he speaks in Rom. 
viii. 29, Whom God elected, he also hath predesti'imted to be 
conformed to the image of Christ, that he may he the first-horn 
among the hrethren. Fartlier, we know that there is so 
great a unity between Christ and his members, that the 
name of ChHst sometimes includes the whole body, as in 
1 Cor. xii. 12, for while discoursing there respecting the 
Church, he comes at length to the conclusion, that in Christ 
the same thing holds as in the human body. As, therefore, 
Christ has suffered once in his own person, so he suffers daily 
in his members, and in this way there are filled up those 
sufferings which the Father hath appointed for his body by 
his decree.^ Here we have a second consideration, which 
ought to bear up our minds and comfort them in afflictions, 
that it is thus fixed and determined by the providence of 
God, that we must be conformed to Christ in the endurance 
of the cross, and tliat the fellowship that we have with him 
extends to this also. 

1 " M'est douce et gracieuse, pource qu'elle n'est point inutile ;" — " Is 
sweet and agreeable to me, because it is not improfitable." 

2 " Ceste societe et conionction ;" — " This fellowship and connection." 

' " It is worthy of remark, that the Apostle does not say •r«^»^ara, the 
passion of Christ, but simply 9-x,-4^us, the ajffictions ; such as are common 
to all good men who bear a testimony against the ways and fashions of a 
•wicked world. In these the Apostle had his share, in the passion of Christ 
he could have none." — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. 


He adds, also, a third reason — that his sufferings are ad- 
vantageous, and that not merely to a few, but to the whole 
Church. He had previously stated that he suffered in be- 
half of the Colossians, and he now declares still farther, that 
the advantage extends to the whole Church. This advant- 
age has been spoken of in Phil. i. 12, What could be clearer, 
less forced, or more simple, than this exposition, that Paul 
is joyful in persecution, because he considers, in accordance 
with what he writes elsewhere, that we must carry about with 
us in our body the mortification of Christ, that his life may 
be manifested in us? (2 Cor. iv. 10.) He says also in Timothy, 
//"we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him: if we 
die with him, we shall also live with him, (2 Tim. ii. 11, 12,) 
and thus the issue will be blessed and glorious. Farther, he 
considers that we must not refuse the condition which God 
has appointed for his Church, that the members of Christ 
may have a suitable correspondence with the head ; and, 
thirdly, that afflictions must be cheerfully endured, inasmuch 
as they are profitable to all the pious, and promote the wel- 
fare of the whole Church, by adorning the doctrine of the 

Papists, however, disregarding and setting aside all these 
things,^ have struck out a new contrivance in order that 
they may establish their system of indulgences. They give 
the name of indulgences to a remission of punishments, ob- 
tained by us through the merits of the martyrs. For, as 
they deny that there is a gratuitous remission of sins, and al- 
lege that they are redeemed by satisfactory deeds, when the 
satisfactions do not fill up the right measure, they call into 
their help the blood of the martyrs, that it may, along with 
the blood of Christ, serve as an expiation in the judgment 
of God. And tliis mixture they call the treasure of the 
Church,^ the keys of which they afterwards intrust to whom 
they think fit. Nor are they ashamed to wrest this passage, 
with the view of supporting so execrable a blasphemy, as if 

' " Mais quoy ? Les Papistes laissans tout ceci ;" — " But what ? Papists 
leaving all this." 

^ See Calvin's Institutes, vol. ii. p. 237, and Calvin on Corinthians, 
vol. i. p. 68. 


Paul here affirmed that his sufferings are of avail for expiat- 
ing the sins of men. 

They urge in their support the term ua-Teprj/jiaTa, (things 
wanting,) as if Paul meant to say, that the sufferings which 
Christ has endured for the redemption of men were insuffi- 
cient. There is no one, however, that does not see that Paul 
speaks in this manner, because it is necessary, that by the 
afflictions of the pious, the body of the Church should be 
brought to its perfection, inasmuch as the members are con- 
formed to their head.^ I should also be afraid of being 
suspected of calumny in repeating things so monstrous," if 
their books did not bear witness that I im]3ute nothing to 
them groundlessly. 

They urge, also, what Paul says, that he suffers foi' the 
Church. It is surprising that this refined interpretation had 
not occurred to any of the ancients, for they all interpret it 
as we do, to mean, that the saints suffer /or the Church, in- 
asmuch as they confirm the faith of the Church. Papists, 
however, gather from this that the saints are redeemers, 
because they shed their blood for the expiation of sins. That 
my readers, however, may perceive more clearly their impu- 
dence, allow that the martyrs, as well as Christ, suffered /or 
the Church, but in different ways, as I am inclined to ex- 
press in Augustine's words rather than in my own. Por he 
writes thus in his 84th treatise on John : " Though we 
brethren die for brethren, yet there is no blood of any 
martyr that is poured out for the remission of sins. This 
Christ did for us. Nor has he in this conferred upon us 
matter of imitation, but ground of thanksgiving." Also, in 
the fourth book to Bonifacius : " As the only Son of God be- 

1 " We are not to suppose that our Lord left any sufferings to be endured 
by Paul, or any one else, as the expiation of the sins or the ransom of the 
souls of his people. . . . The filling up spoken of by the Apostle is not the 
supplementing Christ's personal sufferings, but it is the completing that 
share allotted to himself as one of the members of Christ, as sufferings 
which, from the intimacy of union between the head and the members, 
may be called his suft'erings. Christ lived in Paul, spoke in Paul, wrought 
in Paul, suffered in Paul ; and in a similar sense, the sufferings of every 
Christian for Christ are the sufferings of Christ." — Brown's Expository 
Discourses on Peter, vol. iii. pp. 69, 70. — Ed. 

- " Tels blasphemes horribles ;" — " Such horrible blasphemies." 


came tlie Sou of man, that lie might make us sous of God, 
so he has aloue, witliout offence, eudured punishmeut for us, 
that we may through him, without merit, obtain undeserved 
favour." Similar to these is the statement of Leo Bishop of 
Rome ; " The righteous received crowns, did not give them ; 
and for the fortitude of believers there have come forth ex- 
amples of patience, not gifts of righteousness. For their 
deaths were for themselves, and no one by his latter end 
paid the debt of another/' ^ 

Now, that this is the meaning of Paul's words is abund- 
antly manifest from the context, for he adds, that he suffers 
according to the dispensation that was given to him. And 
we know that the ministry was committed to him, not of re- 
deeming the Church, but of edifying it ; and he himself 
immediately afterwards expressly acknowledges this. This 
is also what he writes to Timothy, that he endures all things 
for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation 
which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. ii. 10.) Also, in 2 Cor. 
i. 4, that he willingly endures all things for their consolation 
and salvation. Let, therefore, pious readers learn to hate 
and detest those profane sophists, who thus deliberately 
corrupt and adulterate the Scriptures, in order that they 
may give some colour to their delusions. 

25. Of which I am made a minister. Mark under what 
character he suffers for the Church — as being a minister, not 
to give the price of redemption, (as Augustine dexterously 
and piously expresses himself,) but to proclaim it. He calls 
himself, however, in this instance, a minister of the Church 
on a different ground from that on which he called himself 
elsewhere, (1 Cor. iv. 1,) a minister of God, and a little ago, 
(verse 23,) a minister of the gospel. For the Apostles serve 
God and Christ for the advancement of the glory of both : 
they serve the Church, and administer the gospel itself, 
with a view to promote salvation. There is, therefore, a 
different reason for the ministry in these expressions, but 
the one cannot subsist without the other. He says, how- 

' The reader will find the same passage as above quoted by Calvin in 
tlie Institutes, vol. ii. pp. 238, 239. See also Calvin on the Corintliians, 
vol. i. p. 69, n. I.— Ed. 


ever, towards you, that tliey may know that his office has a 
connection also with them. 

To fulfil the ico7'd. He states the end of his ministry — 
that the word of God may be effectual, as it is, when it is 
obediently received. For this is the excellence of the gospel, 
that it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that 
helieveth. (Rom. i. 16.) God, therefore, gives efficacy and 
influence to his word through means of the Apostles. For 
although preaching itself, Avhatever may be its issue, is the 
fulfilling of the word, yet it is the fruit that shews at length^ 
that the seed has not been sown in vain. 

26. Hidden mystery. Here we have a commendation of 
the gospel — that it is a wonderful secret of God. It is not 
without good reason that Paul so frequently extols the 
gospel by bestowing upon it the highest commendations in 
his power ; for he saw that it was a stumhlinghlock to the 
Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks. (1 Cor. i. 23.) We see 
also at this day, in what hatred it is held by hypocrites, and 
how haughtily it is contemned by the world. Paul, accord- 
ingly, with the view of setting aside judgments so unfair 
and perverse, extols in magnificent terms the dignity of the 
gospel as often as an opportunity presents itself, and for that 
purpose he makes use of various arguments, according to the 
connection of the passage. Here he calls it a sublime secret, 
which was hid from ages and generations, that is, from the 
beginning of the world, through so many revolutions of ages.^ 
Now, that it is of the gospel that he speaks, is evident from 
Rom. xvi. 25, Eph. iii. 9, and other similar passages. 

The reason, however, why it is so called, is demanded. 
Some, in consequence of Paul's making express mention of 
the calling of the Gentiles, are of opinion, that the sole rea- 
son why it is so called is, that the Lord had, in a manner, 
contrary to all expectation, poured out his grace upon the 
Gentiles, whom he had appeared to have shut out for ever 
from particijxation in eternal life. Any one, however, that 
will examine the whole passage more narrowly, will perceive 

' " Toutesfois c'est a proprement parler, le fruit qui moustre en fin ;" — 
" Yet it is, properly speaking, the fruit that shews at last." 
2 " D'annees et siecles ;"— " Of years and ages." 


tliat this is the third reason, not the only one, in so far, I 
mean, as relates to the passage before us, and that other in 
the Romans, to which I have referred. For the first is — 
that whereas God had, previously to the advent of Christ, 
governed his Church under dark coverings, both of words 
and of ceremonies, he has suddenly shone forth in full 
brightness by means of the doctrine of the gospel. The 
second is — that whereas nothing was previously seen but 
external figures, Christ has been exhibited, bringing with 
him the full truth, which had lain concealed. The third is, 
what I have mentioned — that the whole world, which had 
up to this time been estranged from God, is called to the 
hope of salvation, and the same inheritance of eternal life is 
offered to all. An attentive consideration of these things 
constrains us to reverence and adore this mystery which 
Paul proclaims, however it may be held in contempt by 
the world, or even in derision. 

Which is now revealed. Lest any one should turn aside 
to another meaning the term mystery, as though he were 
speaking of a thing that was still secret and unknown, 
he adds, that it has now at length been published,^ that it 
might be known by mankind. What, therefore, was in its 
own nature secret, has been made manifest by the will of 
God. Hence, there is no reason why its obscurity should 
alarm us, after the revelation that God has made of it. He 
adds, however, to the saints, for God's arm has not been re- 
vealed to all, (Isaiah liii. 1,) that they might understand his 

27. To whom God was pleased to make known. Here he 
puts a bridle upon the presumption of men, that they may 
not allow themselves to be wise, or to inquire beyond what 
they ought, but may learn to rest satisfied with this one 
thing — that it has so pleased God. For the good pleasure 
of God ought to be perfectly sufficient for us as a reason. 
This, however, is said principally for the purpose of com- 
mending the grace of God ; for Paul intimates, that man- 
kind did by no means furnish occasion for God's making 
them participants of this secret, when he teaches that he 
* " Publie et manifeste ;" — " Published and manifested." 


was led to this of his own accord, and because he was pleased 
to do so. For it is customary for Paul to place the good 
pleasure of God in opposition to all human merits and ex- 
ternal causes. 

What are the riches. We must always take notice, in 
what magnificent terms he speaks in extolling the dignity 
of the gospel. For he was well aware that the ingratitude 
of men is so great, that notwithstanding that this treasure is 
inestimable, and the gi-ace of God in it is so distinguished, 
they, nevertheless, carelessly despise it, or at least think 
lightly of it. Hence, not resting satisfied with the term 
mystery, he adds glory, and that, too, not trivial or common. 
For riches, according to Paul, denote, as is well known, 
amplitude.^ He states particularly, that those WcAes have 
been manifested among the Gentiles ; for what is more 
wonderful than that the Gentiles, who had during so many 
ages been sunk in death, so as to appear to be utterly 
ruined, are all on a sudden reckoned among the sons of God, 
and receive the inheritance of salvation ? 

Which is Christ in you. What he had said as to the Gen- 
tiles generally he applies to the Colossians themselves, that 
they may more effectually recognise in themselves the grace 
of God, and may embrace it with greater reverence. He 
says, therefore, which is Christ, meaning by this, that all that 
secret is contained in Christ, and that all the riches of hea- 
venly wisdom are obtained by them when they have Christ, 
as we shall find him stating more openly a little afterwards. 
He adds, in you, because they now possess Christ, from 
whom they were lately so much estranged, that nothing 
could exceed it. Lastly, he calls Christ the hope of glory, 
that they may knoAV that nothing is wanting to them for 
complete blessedness when they have obtained Christ. This, 
however, is a wonderful work of God, that in earthen and 
frail vessels (2 Cor. iv. 7) the hope of heavenly glory resides. 

28. Whom we preach. Here he applies to his own preach- 
ing everything that he has previously declared as to the 
wonderful and adorable secret of God ; and thus he ex- 
plains what he had already touched upon as to the dispen- 
' " Signilient magnijicence ;" — " Denote magnificence." 


sation which had been committed to him ; for he has it in 
view to adorn his apostleship, and to claim authority for 
his doctrine : for after having extolled the gospel in the 
highest terms, he now adds, that it is that divine secret 
which he preaches. It was not, however, without good 
reason that he had taken notice a little before, that Christ 
is the sum of that secret, that they might know that no- 
thing can be taught that has more of perfection than Christ. 

The expressions that follow have also great weight. He 
represents himself as the teaclier of all men ; meaning by 
this, that no one is so eminent in respect of wisdom as to be 
entitled to exempt himself from tuition. " God has placed 
me in a lofty position, as a public herald of his secret, that 
the whole world, without exception, may learn from me." 

In all wisdom. This expression is equivalent to his affirm- 
ing that his doctrine is such as to conduct a man to a wisdom 
that is perfect, and has nothing wanting ; and this is what 
he immediately adds, that all that shew themselves to be 
true disciples will become perfect. See the second chapter 
of First Corinthians. (1 Cor. ii. 6.) Now, what better thing- 
can be desired than what confers upon us the highest per- 
fection ? He again repeats, in Christ, that they may not 
desire to know anything but Christ alone. From this 
passage, also, we may gather a definition of true wisdom — 
that by Avhich we are presented perfect in the sight of 
God, and that in Christ, and nowhere else.^ 

29. For which thing. He enhances, by two circumstances, 
the glory of his apostleship and of his doctrine. In the first 
place, he makes mention of his aim,^ which is a token of the 
difficulty that he felt ; for those things are for the most 
part the most excellent that are the most difficult. The 
second has more strength, inasmuch as he mentions that the 
power of God shines forth in his ministry. He does not 
speak, however, merely of the success of his preaching, 
(though in that too the blessing of God appears,) but also 
of the efficacy of the Spirit, in which God manifestly shewed 
himself; for on good grounds he ascribes his endeavours, 

' " Et non en autre ;" — " And not in another." 

^ " Son travaille et peine ;" — " His labour and trouble." 



CHAP. II. 1. 

inasmucli as they exceeded Imman limits, to the power of 
God, which, he decLares, is seen working 'powerfully in tliis 


1. For I would that ye knew what 
great conilict I have for you, and /wr 
them at Laodicea, and for as many 
as have not seen ray face in the flesh; 

2. That their hearts might be com- 
forted, being knit together in love, 
and unto all riches of the full assur- 
ance of understanding, to the aclcnow- 
iedgment of the mystery of God, and 
of the Father, and of Christ ; 

3. In whom are hid all the trea- 
sures of wisdom and knowledge. 

4. And this I say, lest any man 
should beguile you with enticing 

5. For though I be absent in the 
flesh, yet am 1 with you in the spirit, 
joying and beholding your order, and 
the stedfastness of your faith in 

1. Yolo auteni vos scire, quan- 
tum certamen habeam pro vobis et 
iis qui sunt Laodiceae, et quicunque 
non viderunt faciem meam in carne ; 

2. Ut consolationem accipiant 
corda ipsorum, ubi compact! fuerint 
in caritate, et in omnes divitias cer- 
titudinis intelligentiae, in agnitionem 
mysterii Dei, et I'atris, et Christi ; 

3. In quo sunt omnes thesauri sa- 

pientiae et intelligentiae absconditi. 

4. Hoc autem dico, ne quis vos 
decipiat persuasorio sermone. 

5. Nam etsi corpore sum absens, 
spiritu tamen sum vobiscum, gau- 
dens et videns ordinem vestrum, et 
stabilitatem vestrae in Christum 

1. / would have you know. Ho decLares his affection to- 
wards them, that he may have more credit and authority ; 
for we readily believe those whom we know to be desirous 
of our welfare. It is also an evidence of no ordinary aifec- 
tion, that he was concerned about them in the midst of 
death, that is, when he was in danger of his life ; and that 
he may express the more emphatically the intensity of his 
affection and concern, he calls it a confiict I do not find 
fault with the rendering of Erasmus — anxiety ; but, at the 
same time, the force of the Greek word is to be noticed, 
for dr^oiv is made use of to denote contention. By the same 
proof he confirms his statement, that his ministry is directed 
to them ; for whence springs so anxious a concern as to 
their welfare, but from this, that the Apostle of the Gentiles 
was under obligation to embrace in his affection and concern 
even those who were unknown to him ? As, however, there 
is commonly no love between those who are unknown to 


eacli other, lie speaks slightingly of the acquaintance that 
is contracted from sight, when he says, as many as have not 
seen my face in the flesh ; for there is among the servants of 
God a sight different from that of the flesh, which excites 
love. As it is almost universally agreed that the First 
Epistle to Timothy was written from Laodicea, some, on 
this account, assign to Galatia that Laodicea of which Paul 
makes mention here, while the other was the metropolis of 
Phrygia Pacatiana.^ It seems to me, however, to be more 
probable that that inscription is incorrect, as will be noticed 
in its proper place. 

2. That their hearts may receive consolation. He now in- 
timates what he desires for them, and shews that his affec- 
tion is truly apostolic ; for he declares that nothing else is 
desired by him than that they may be united together in 
faith and love. He shews, accordingly, that it was by no 
unreasonable affection (as happens in the case of some) that 
he had been led to take upon himself so great a concern for 
the Colossians and others, but because the duty of his office 
required it. 

The term consolation is taken here to denote that true 
quietness in which they may repose. This he declares they 
will at length come to enjoy in the event of their being 
united in love and faith. From this it appears where the 
chief good is, and in what things it consists — when mutually 
agreed in one faith, we are also joined together in mutual 
love. This, I say, is the solid joy of a pious mind — this is 
the blessed life. As, however, love is here commended from 
its effect, because it fills the mind of the pious with true joy; 
so, on the other hand, the cause of it is pointed out by him, 
when he says, in all fulness of understanding^ The bond 
also of holy unity is the truth of God, when we embrace it 
with one consent ; for peace and agreement with men flow 
forth from that fountain. 

Riches of the assurance of understanding. As many, con- 

1 After the time of Constantine the Great, " Phrygia was divided into 
Phrygia Pacatiana and Phrygia Salutaris. . . . Colosse was the sixth 
city of the first division." — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. 

2 "En toutes richesses de certitude d' intelligence;" — "In all riches of 
assurance of understanding." 


tenting themselves with a slight taste, have nothing but a 
confused and evanescent knowledge, he makes mention ex- 
pressly of the riches of understanding. By this phrase he 
means full and clear perception ; and at the same time ad- 
monishes them, that according to the measure of under- 
standing they must make progress also in love. 

In the term assurance, he distinguishes between faith 
and mere opinion ; for that man truly knows the Lord who 
does not vacillate or waver in doubt, but stands fast in a 
firm and constant persuasion. This constancy and stability 
Paul frequently calls {irXrjpocpopLav) fidl assurance, (which 
term he makes use of here also,) and always connects it with 
faith, as undoubtedly it can no more be separated from it 
than heat or light can be from the sun. The doctrine, there- 
fore, of the schoolmen is devilish, inasmuch as it takes away 
assurance, and substitutes in its place moral conjecture,^ as 
they term it. 

Is an acknowledgment of the mystery. This clause must 
be read as added by way of apposition, for he explains what 
that knowledge is, of which he has made mention — that it 
is nothing else than the knowledge of the gospel. For the 
false apostles themselves endeavour to set off their imj)os- 
tures under the title of wisdom, but Paul retains the sons 
of God within the limits of the gospel exclusively, that they 
may desire to know nothing else. (1 Cor. ii. 2.) Why he 
uses the term mystery to denote the gospel, has been already 
explained. Let us, however, learn from this, that the gospel 
can be understood by faith alone — not by reason, nor by 
the perspicacity of the human understanding, because other- 
wise it is a thing that is hid from us. 

The mystery of God I understand in a passive significa- 
tion, as meaning — that in which God is revealed, for he 
immediately adds — and of the Father, and of Christ — by 
which expression he means that God cannot be known other- 
wise than 171 Christ, as, on the other hand, the Father must 
necessarily be known where Christ is known. For John afiirms 
both : He that hath the Son, hath the Father also : he that hath 
not the Son, hath also not the Father. (1 John ii. 23.) Hence 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. p. 112, and vol. ii. p. 397. 



all that think that they know anything of God apart from 
Christ, contrive to themselves an idol in the place of God ; 
as also, on the other hand, that man is ignorant of Christ, 
who is not led by him to the Father, and who does not in 
him embrace God wholly. In the mean time, it is a memor- 
able passage for proving Christ's divinity, and the unity of 
his essence with the Father. For having spoken previously 
as to the knowledge of God, he immediately applies it to the 
Son, as well as to the Father, whence it follows, that the Son 
is God equally with the Father. 

3. In whom are all the treasxires. The expression in quo 
{in whom, or in which) may either have a reference collec- 
tively to everything he has said as to the acknowledgment of 
the mystery, or it may relate simply to what came imme- 
diately before, namely, Christ. While there is not much dif- 
ference between the one or the other, I rather prefer the latter 
view, and it is the one that is more generally received. The 
meaning, therefore, is, that all the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge are hid in Christ — by which he means, that we 
are perfect in wisdom if we truly know Christ, so that it is 
madness to wish to know anything besides Him. For since 
the Father has manifested himself wholly in Him, that man 
wishes to be wise apart from God, who is not contented with 
Christ alone. Should any one choose to interpret it as refer- 
ring to the mystery, the meaning will be, that all the wisdom 
of the pious is included in the gospel, by means of which 
God is revealed to us in his Son. 

He says, however, that the treasures are hidden, because 
they are not seen glittering with great splendour, but do 
rather, as it were, lie hid under the contemptible abasement 
and simplicity of the cross. For the preaching of the cross 
is always foolishness to the world, as we found stated in 
Corinthians. (1 Cor. i. 18.) I do not reckon that there is 
any great difference between wisdom and understanding in 
this passage, for the employment of two different terms 
serves only to give additional strength, as though he had 
said, that no knowledge, erudition, learning, wisdom, can be 
found elsewhere. 

4. This 1 say, that no man may deceive you. As the con- 


trivances of men have (as we shall afterwards see) an ap- 
pearance of wisdom, the minds of the pious ought to be pre- 
occupied with this persuasion — that the knowledge of Christ 
is of itself amply sufficient. And, unquestionably, this is 
the key that can close the door against all base errors.^ For 
what is the reason why mankind liave involved themselves 
in so many wicked opinions, in so many idolatries, in so 
many foolish speculations, but this — that, despising the sim- 
plicity of the gospel, they have ventured to aspire higher ? ■ 
All the errors, accordingly, that are in Popery, must be 
reckoned as proceeding from this ingratitude — that, not 
resting satisfied with Christ alone, they have given them- 
selves up to strange doctrines. 

With propriety, therefore, does the Apostle act in writing 
to the Hebrews, inasmuch as, when wishing to exhort be- 
lievers not to allow themselves to be led astray^ by strange 
or new doctrines, he first of all makes use of this foundation 
— Christ yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. (Heb. xiii. 8.) 
By this he means, that those are out of danger who remain 
in Christ, but that those who are not satisfied with Christ 
are exposed to all fallacies and deceptions. So Paul here 
would have every one, that would not be deceived, be forti- 
fied by means of this principle — that it is not lawful for a 
Christian man to know anything except Christ. Everything 
that will be brought forward after this, let it have ever so 
imposing an appearance, will, nevertheless, be of no value. 
In fine, there will be no persuasiveness of speech^ that can 
turn aside so much as the breadth of a finger the minds of 
those tliat have devoted their understanding to Christ. It 
is a passage, certainly, that ought to be singularly esteemed. 
For as he who has taught men to know nothing except 
Christ, has provided against all wicked doctrines,'* so there is 
the same reason why we should at this day destroy the 

' " Tous erreurs et faussetez ;" — " All errors and impostures." 

" " Qu'ils ne se laissent point distraire (;a et la ;" — " That they do not 
allow themselves to be distracted hither and thither." 

' Pithanologia — our author having here in view the Greek term made 
use of by Paul, •pn^avoXoyia, (persuasive speech.) See Calvin on 1 Corin- 
thians, vol. i. p. 100; also I'lat. Theaet. 1G3, A. — Ed. 

'^ " Toutes fausscs et meschautes doctrines ;" — " All false and wicked 


whole of Popery, which, it is manifest, is built on ignorance 
of Christ. 

5. For though I am absent in body. Lest any one should 
object that the admonition was unseasonable, as coming- from 
a place so remote, he says, that his affection towards them 
made him be present with them in spirit, and judge of what 
is expedient for them, as though he were present. By 
praising, also, their present condition, he admonishes them 
not to fall back from it, or turn aside. 

Rejoicing, says he, and seeing, that is — " Because / see." 
For and means for, as is customary among the Latins and 
Greeks. " Gro on as you have begun, for I know that hitherto 
you have pursued the right course, inasmuch as distance of 
place does not prevent me from beholding you with the eyes 
of the mind." 

Order and steadfastness. He mentions two things, in 
which the perfection of the Church consists — order among 
themselves, and faith in Christ, By the term order, he 
means — agreement, no less than duly regulated morals, and 
entire discipline. He commends their faith, in respect of 
its constancy and steadfastness, meaning that it is an empty 
shadow of faith, when the mind wavers and vacillates be- 
tween diiferent opinions.^ 

6. As ye have therefore received 6. Quemadmodum igitur susce- 
Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye pistis Christum lesum Dominum, in 
in him ; ipso ambulate : 

7. Rooted and built up in him, 7. Radicati in ipso, et aedificati, 
and stablished in the faith, as ye et confirmati in fide, quemadmodum 
have been taught, abounding therein edocti estis, abundantes in ea cum 
with thanksgiving. gratiarum actione. 

6. As ye have received. To commendation he adds exhor- 
tation, in which he teaches them that their having once 
received Christ will be of no advantage to them, unless they 
remain in him. Farther, as the false apostles held forth 
Christ's name with a view to deceive, he obviates this dan- 
ger twice, by exhorting them to go on as they had been 
taught, and as they had received Christ. For in these words 

^ ' " Quand I'esprit est en branle, maintenant d'vne opinion, maintenant 
d' autre ;" — " When the mind is in suspense, now of one opinion, then of 



he admonishes them, that they must adhere to the doctrine 
which they had embraced, as delivered to them by Epaiahras, 
with so much constancy, as to be on their guard against every 
other doctrine and faitli, in accordance with what Isaiah 
said, This is the ivay, walk ye in it. (Isaiali xxx. 21.) And, 
unquestionbly, we must act in such a manner, that the truth 
of the gospel, after it lias been manifested to us, may be to 
us as a brazen walP for keeping back all impostures." 

Now he intimates by three metaphors what steadfastness 
of faith he requires from them. The first is in the word 
walk. For he compares the pure doctrine of the gosj)el, as 
they had learned it, to a way that is sure, so that if any one 
will but keep it he will be beyond all danger of mistake. 
He exhorts them, accordingly, if they would not go astray, 
not to turn aside from the course on which they have entered. 

The second is taken from trees. For as a tree that has 
struck its roots deep has a sufficiency of support for with- 
standing all the assaults of winds and storms, so, if any one 
is deeply and thoroughly fixed in Clirist, as in a firm root, 
it will not be possible for him to be thrown down from his 
proper position by any machinations of Satan. On the other 
hand, if any one lias not fixed his roots in Christ,^ he will 
easily be carried about with every wind of doctrine, (Eph. 
iv. 14,) just as a tree that is not supported by any root."* 

The third metaphor is that of a foundation, for a house 
that is not supported by a foundation quickly falls to ruins. 
The case is the same with those who lean on any other foun- 
dation than Christ, or at least are not securely founded on 
him, but have the building of their faith suspended, as it were, 
in the air, in consequence of their weakness and levity. 

These two things are to be observed in the Apostle's words 
— that the stability of those who rely upon Christ is im- 
movable, and their course is not at all wavering, or liable to 

' Murus aheneus. Our author has probably in liis eye the celebrated 
sentiment of Horace — " Hie murus aheneus esto — nil conscire sibi ;" — 
" Let this be the brazen wall — to be conscious to one's self of no crime." 
— {Hor. Ep. I. i. 60, 61.) See also Ilor. Od. HI. 3, Q5.—Ed. 

* " Toutes fallaces et astutes ;" — " All fallacies and wiles." 

* " Si quelque vn n'ha la racine de son canir plantee et lichee en Christ ;" 
■ — '• If any one has not the root of his heart planted and fixed in Christ." 

* " Que n'ha point les racincs profondes;" — " That has not deep roots." 


error, (and this is an admirable commendation of faith from 
its effect ;) and, secondly, that we must make progress in 
Christ aye and until we have taken deep root in him. From 
this we may readily gather, that those who do not know 
Christ only wander into bypaths, and are tossed about in 

7. And confirmed in the faith. He now repeats without 
a figure the same thing that he had expressed by metaphors, 
— that the prosecution of the way, the support of the root, 
and of the foundation, is firmness and steadfastness of faith. 
And observe, that this argument is set before them in con- 
sequence of their having been well instructed, in order that 
they may safely and confidently secure their footing in the 
faith with which they had been made acquainted. 

Abounding. He would not have them simply remain im- 
movable, but would have them grow every day more and 
more. When he adds, with thanksgiving, he would have 
them always keep in mind from what source faith itself 
proceeds, that they may not be puffed up with presumption, 
but may rather with fear repose themselves in the gift of 
God. And, unquestionably, ingratitude is very frequently 
the reason why we are deprived of the light of the gospel, 
as well as of other divine favours. 

8. Beware lest any man spoil you 8. Videtene quisvos praedeturper 
through philosophy and vain deceit, philosophiam et inanem decepti- 
after the tradition of men, after the oneni, secundum traditionem homi- 
rudiments of the world, and not num secundum elementa mundi,' et 
after Christ : non secundum Christum : 

9. For in him dwelleth all the 9. Quoniam in ipso habitat omnis 
fulness of the Godhead bodily. plenitudo Deitatis corporaliter.* 

10. And ye are complete in him, 10. Et estis in ipso completi, qui 
which is the head of all principality est caput omnis principatus et po- 
and power : testatis, 

11. In whom also ye are circum- 11. In quo etiam estis circumcisi 
cised with the circumcision made circumcisione non manufacta, ex- 
without hands, in putting off the uendo corpus peccatorum carnis, 
body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcisione, inquam, Christi. 
circumcision of Christ ; 

12. Buried with him in baptism, 12 Consepulti cum ipso per 
wherein also ye are risen with him baptismura, in quo et consurrexistis 

^ " Selon les rudimens du monde ;" — " According to the rudiments of 
the world." 

* " Corporelletnent, ou, essenciellement ;" — " Bodily, «r, essentially/." 


through the feith of the operation of per fidem efficaciae Dei, qui susei- 

God, who hath raised him from the ta\it ilium ex mortuis. 


8. Beware lest any one plunder you. He again instructs 
them as to the poison, which the antidote presented by him 
should be made use of to counteract. For although this, as we 
have stated, is a common remedy against all the impostures of 
the deviV it had, nevertheless, at that time a peculiar ad- 
vantage among the Colossians, to which it required to be, 
applied. Beware, says he, lest any one plunder you. He 
makes use of a very appropriate term, for he alludes to 
plunderers, who, when they cannot carry off the flock by 
violence, drive away some of the cattle fraudulently. Thus 
he makes Christ's Church a sheep-fold, and the pure doctrine 
of the gospel the enclosures of the fold. He intimates, ac- 
cordingly, that we who are the sheep of Christ repose in 
safety when we hold the unity of the faith, while, on the 
other hand, he likens the false apostles to plunderers that 
carry us away from the folds. Would you then be reckoned 
as belonging to Christ's flock ? Would you remain in his 
folds ? Do not deviate a nail's-breadth from purity of doc- 
trine. For unquestionably Christ will act the part of the 
good Shepherd by protecting us if we but hear his voice, and 
reject those of strangers. In short, the tenth chapter of John 
is the exposition of the passage before us. 

Through philosophy. As many have mistakingly imagined 
that philosophy is here condemned by Paul, we must point 
out what he means by this term. Now, in my opinion, 
he means everything that men contrive of themselves when 
wishing to be wise through means of their own understand- 
ing, and that not without a specious pretext of reason, so 
as to have a plausible appearance. For there is no difficulty 
in rejecting those contrivances of men which have nothing 
to set them off!,^ but in rejecting those that captivate men's 
minds by a false conceit of wisdom. Or should any one 
prefer to have it expressed in one word, philosophy is no- 

' Our Author evidently refers to Avhat he had said as to the advantage 
to be derived from steadfastness in the faith. See p. 178. — Ed. 

- " Quand elles n'ont ni monstre ni couleur ;" — " When they have 
neither show nor appearance." 


thing else than a persuasive speech, which insinuates itself 
into the minds of men by elegant and plausible arguments. 
Of such a nature, I acknowledge, will all the subtleties of 
philosophers be, if they are inclined to add anything of their 
own to the pure word of God. Hence philosophy will be 
nothing else than a corruption of spiritual doctrine, if it is 
mixed up with Christ. Let us, however, bear in mind, that 
under the term philosophy Paul has merely condemned all 
spurious doctrines which come forth from man's head, what- 
ever appearance of reason they may have. What imme- 
diately follows, as to vain deceit, I explain thus, " Beware of 
philosophy, which is nothing else than vain deceit," so that 
this is added by way of apposition} 

According to the tradition of men. He points out more 
precisely what kind of philosophy he reproves, and at the 
same time convicts it of vanity on a twofold account — be- 
cause it is not according to Christ, but according to the in- 
clinations of men f and because it consists in the elements 
of the world. Observe, however, that he places Christ in 
opposition to the elements of the world, equally as to the 
tradition of men, by which he intimates, that whatever is 
hatched in man's brain is not in accordance with Christ, 
who has been appointed us by the Father as our sole Teacher, 
that he might retain us in the simplicity of his gospel. Now, 
that is corrupted by even a small portion of the leaven of 
human traditions. He intimates also, that all doctrines are 
foreign to Christ that make the worship of Grod, which we 
know to be spiritual, according to Christ's rule, to consist in 
the elements of the world,^ and also such as fetter the minds 
of men by such trifles and frivolities, while Christ calls us 
directly to himself 

But what is meant by the phrase — elements of the world ?^ 
There can be no doubt that it means ceremonies. For he 

1 See p. 148, w. 2. 

* " Selon les ordonnances et plaisirs des hommes ;" — " According to 
the appointments and inclinations of men." 

" " Es choses visibles de ce monde ;" — " In the visible things of this 

* " Rudimens, ou elemens du monde " — " Rudiments, or elements of 
the u'orld." 


immediately afterwards adduces one instance by way of ex- 
ample — circumcision. The reason why he calls them by such 
a name is usually explained in two ways. Some think that it 
is a metaphor, so that the elements are the rudiments of chil- 
dren, which do not lead forward to mature doctrine. Others 
take it in its proper signification, as denoting- things that are 
outward and are liable to corruption, which avail nothing 
for the kingdom of God. The former exposition I rather 
approve of, as also in Gal. iv. 3. 

9. For in him dwelleth. Here we have the reason why 
those elements of the world, which are taught by men, do not 
accord with Christ — because they are additions for supplying 
a deficiency, as they speak. Now in Christ there is a perfec- 
tion, to which nothing can be added. Hence everything that 
mankind of themselves 'mix up, is at variance with Christ's 
nature, because it charges him with imperfection. This 
argument of itself will suflice for setting aside all the con- 
trivances of Papists. For to what purpose do they tend,^ 
but to perfect what was commenced by Christ f Now this 
outrage upon Christ^ is not by any means to be endured. 
They allege, it is true, that they add nothing to Christ, in- 
asmuch as the things that they have appended to the gospel 
are, as it were, a part of Christianity, but they do not effect 
an escape by a cavil of this kind. For Paul does not speak 
of an imaginary Christ, but of a Christ preached,* who has 
revealed himself by express doctrine. 

Further, when he says that the fulness of the Godhead 
dwells in Christ, he means simply, that God is wholly found 
in him, so that he who is not contented with Christ alone, 
desires something better and more excellent than God. The 
sum is this, that God has manifested himself to us fully and 
perfectly in Christ. 

Interpreters explain in diff'erent ways the adverb bodily. 
For my part, I have no doubt that it is employed — not in a 

* " Toutes leurs inuentions ;" — " All their inventions." 

^ " Ce que Christ a commence seulement :" — " What Christ has only 

' " Vn tel outrage fait au Fils de Dieu ;" — " Such an outrage committed 
upon the Son of God." 

* " D'vn vray Christ ;" — " Of a true Christ." 


strict sense — as meaning substantially} For lie places this 
manifestation of God, which we have in Christ, to all others 
that have ever been made. For Grod has often manifested him- 
self to men, but it has been only in^part. In Christ, on the 
other hand, he communicates himself to us wholly. He has 
also manifested himself to us otherwise, but it is in figures, 
or by power and grace. Tn Christ, on the other hand, he 
has appeared to us essentially. Thus the statement of John 
holds good : He that hath the Son, hath the Father also. 
(1 John ii. 23.) For those who possess Christ have God 
truly present, and enjoy Him wholly. 

10. And ye are complete in him. He adds, that this per- 
fect essence of Deity, which is in Christ, is profitable to us 
in this respect, that we are also perfect in him. " As to God's 
dwelling wholly in Christ, it is in order that we, having ob- 
tained him, may possess in him an entire perfection." Those, 
therefore, who do not rest satisfied with Christ alone, do 
injury to God in two ways, for besides detracting from the 
glory of God, by desiring something above his perfection, 
they are also ungrateful, inasmuch as they seek elsewhere 
what they already have in Christ. Paul, however, does not 
mean that the perfection of Christ is transfused into us, but 
that there are in him resources from which we may be filled, 
that nothing may be wanting to us. 

Who is the head. He has introduced this clause again on 
account of the angels, meaning that the angels, also, will 
be ours, if we have Christ. But of this afterwards. In the 
mean time, we must observe this, that we are hemmed in, 
above and below, with railings,^ that our faith may not devi- 
ate even to the slightest extent from Christ. 

11. In whom ye also are circumcised. From this it ap- 
pears, that he has a controversy with the false apostles, who 
mixed the law with the gospel, and by that means made 
Christ have, as it were, two faces. He specifies, however, 

'■ " ^eofixriKus Signifies truly, really, in opposition to typically, figura- 
tively , There was a symbol of the Divine presence in the Hebrew taher- 
tiack, and in the Jewish temple ; but in the body of Cniiisx the Deity, 
witli all its plenitude of attributes, dwelt really and sudstantially, for so 
the word cra'i/.aTtxai; means." — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. 

'{ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. p. 474, ii. 2. 


one instance by way of example. He proves that the cir- 
cumcision of Moses is not merely unnecessary, but is opposed 
to Christ, because it destroys the spiritual circumcision of 
Christ. For circumcision was given to the Fathers that it 
might be the figure of a thing that was absent : those, there- 
fore, who retain that figure after Christ's advent, deny the 
accomplishment of what it prefigures. Let us, therefore, 
bear in mind that outward circumcision is here compared 
with spiritual, just as a figure with the reality. The figure 
is of a thing that is absent : hence it puts away the presence 
of the reality. What Paul contends for is this — that, inasmuch 
as what was shadowed forth by a circumcision made with 
hands, has been completed in Christ, there is now no fruit or 
advantage from it.^ Hence he says, that the circumcision 
which is made in the heart is the circumcision of Christ, 
and that, on this account, that which is outward is not now 
required, because, where the reality exists, that shadowy 
emblem vanishes,^ inasmuch as it has no place except in 
the absence of the reality. 

By the ])utting off of the body. He employs the term body, 
by an elegant metaphor, to denote a mass, made up of all 
vices. For as we are encompassed by our bodies, so we are 
surrounded on all sides by an accumulation of vices. And 
as the body is composed of various members, each of which has 
its own actings and ofiices, so from that accumulation of cor- 
ruption all sins take their rise as members of the entire body. 
There is a similar manner of expression in Romans vi. 13. 

He takes the term flesh, as he is wont, to denote corrupt 
nature. The body of the sins of the flesh, therefore, is the 
old man with his deeds ; only, there is a difference in the 
manner of expression, for here he expresses more properly 
the mass of vices which proceed from corrupt nature. He 
says that we obtain this^ through Christ, so that unques- 
tionably an entire regeneration is his benefit. It is he that 
circumcises the foreskin of our heart, or, in other words, 

1 " Maintenant le fruit et I'vsat^e d"icelle est anoanti ;" — " The fruit and 
advantage of it are now made void." 

2 " Le signe qui la figuroit s'esuanouit comnie vn ombre ;" — " The sign 
which prefigured it A^anishes like a shadow." 

3 « Ce despouillement ;" — " This divesture." 


mortifies all the lusts of the flesh, not with the hand, but 
by his Spirit. Hence there is in him the reality of the 

12. Buried with him in baptism. He explains still more 
clearly the manner of spiritual circumcision — because, being 
buried with Christ, we are partakers of his death. He ex- 
pressly declares that we obtain this by means of baptism, 
that it may be the more clearly apparent that there is no 
advantage from circumcision under the reign of Christ. 
For some one might otherwise object : " Why do you abo- 
lish circumcision on this pretext — that its accomplishment 
is in Christ ? "Was not Abraham, also, circumcised spiritu- 
ally, and yet this did not hinder the adding of the sign to 
the reality? Otf^ward circumcision, therefore, is not super- 
fluous, although that which is inward is conferred by Christ." 
Paul anticipates an objection of this kind, by making men- 
tion of baptism. Christ, says he, accomplishes in us spiri- 
tual circumcision, not through means of that ancient sign, 
which was in force under Moses, but by baptism. Baptism, 
therefore, is a sign of the thing that is presented to us, 
which while absent was prefigured by circumcision. The argu- 
ment is taken from the economy^ which God has appointed ; 
for those who retain circumcision contrive a mode of dispen- 
sation different from that which God has appointed. 

When he says that we are buried with Christ, this means 
more than that we are crucified with him ; for burial ex- 
presses a continued process of mortification. When he says, 
that this is done through means of baptism, as he says also 
in Rom. vi. 4, he speaks in his usual manner, ascribing effi- 
cacy to the sacrament, that it may not fruitlessly signify 
what does not exist.^ By baptism, therefore, we are buried 
with Christ, because Christ does at the same time accomplish 
efficaciously that mortification, which he there represents, 
that the reality may be conjoined with the sign. 

^ " Du gouuernement et dispensation que Dieu a ordonne en son Eglise ;" 
— " From the government and dispensation which God has appointed in 
his Church." 

" " Afin que la signification ne soit vaine, comme d'vne chose qui n'est 
point :" — " That the signification may not be vain, as of a thing that 
is not." 


In which also ye are risen. He magnifies the grace which 
we obtain in Christ, as being greatly superior to circumcision. 
" We are not only/' says he, " ingrafted into Christ's death, 
but we also rise to newness of life :" hence the more injury 
is done to Christ by those who endeavour to bring us back to 
circumcision. He adds, by faith, for unquestionably it is by 
it that we receive what is presented to us in baptism. But 
what faith ? That of his efficacy or operation, by which he 
means, that faith is founded upon the power of God. As, 
however, faith does not wander in a confused and undefined 
contemplation, as they speak, of divine power, he intimates 
what efficacy it ought to have in view — that by which God 
raised Christ from the dead. He takes this, however, for 
granted, that, inasmuch as it is impossible that believers 
should be severed from their head, the same power of God, 
which shewed itself in Christ, is difiused among them all in 

13. And you, being dead in your 13. Et vos, quuni mortui essetis 
sins and the uncircuracision of your delictis et in praeputio carnis ves- 
flesh, hath he quickened together trae, siraul viviticavit cum ipso, con- 
with him, having forgiven you all donando vobis omnia peccata : 
trespasses ; 

14. Blotting out the hand- writing 14. Et deleto, quod contra nos 
of ordinances that was against us, erat, chirographo in decretis, quod 
which was contrary to us, and took erat nobis contrarium, et illud sus- 
it out of the way, nailing it to his tulit e medio affixum cruei, 

cross ; 

15. And, having spoiled princi- 15. Exspolians principatus et 
palities and powers, he made a shew potestates, traduxit palam trium- 
of them openly, triumphing over phans de his in ilia, (t'e^, mse zpso.) 
them in it. 

13. And you, when ye were dead. He admonishes the 
Colossians to recognise, what he had treated of in a general 
way, as applicable to themselves, which is by far the most 
effectual way of teaching. Farther, as they were Gentiles 
when they were converted to Christ, he takes occasion from 
this to shew them how absurd it is to pass over from Christ 
to the ceremonies of Moses. Ye were, says he, dead in 
UNCiRCUMCisiON. This term, however, may be understood 
either in its proper signification, or figuratively. If you 
understand it in its proper sense, the meaning will be, 
" Uncircuincision is the badge of alienation from God ; for 



where the covenant of grace is not, there is pollution/ and, 
consequently, curse and ruin. But God has called you to 
himself from uncircumcision, and, therefore, from death."^ 
In this way he would not represent uncircumcision as the 
cause of death, but as a token that they were estranged 
from God. We know, however, that men cannot live other- 
wise than by cleaving to their God, who alone is their life. 
Hence it follows, that all wicked persons, however they may 
seem to themselves to be in the highest degree lively and 
flourishing, are, nevertheless, spiritually dead. In this 
manner this passage will correspond with Eph. ii. 11, where 
it is said, Remember that, in time past, when ye were Gen- 
tiles, and called uncircumcision, hy that circumcision which 
is made with hands in the flesh, ye were at that time without 
Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and 
strangers to the promises. Taking it metaphorically, there 
would, indeed, be an allusion to natural uncircumcision, but 
at the same time Paul would here be speaking of the obsti- 
nacy of the human heart, in opposition to God, and of a 
nature that is defiled by corrupt aifections. I rather prefer 
the former exposition, because it corresponds better with 
the context ; for Paul declares that uncircumcision was no 
hinderance in the way of their becoming partakers of Christ's 
life. Hence it follows, that circumcision derogated from the 
grace of God, which they had already obtained. 

As to his ascribing death to uncircumcision, this is not as 
though it were the cause of it, but as being the badge of it, 
as also in that other passage in the Epistle to the Ephesians, 
which we have quoted. It is also customary in Scripture 
to denote deprivation of the reality by deprivation of the 
sign, as in Gen. iii. 22, — Lest peradventure Adam eat of the 
fruit of life, and live. For the tree did not confer life, but 
its being taken away was a sign of death.^ Paul has in this 
place briefly expressed both. He says that these were dead 

^ '• La il n'y a que souillure et ordure ;" — " There, there is nothing but 
filth and pollution." 

■i a II vous a done retirez de la mort ;" — " He has, therefore, drawn you 
back from death." 

^ See Calvin on Genesis, vol. i. p. 184. 


in sins : this is the cause, for our sins alienate us from God. 
He adds, in the uncircumcision of your flesh. This was out- 
ward 23ollution, an evidence of spiritual death. 

By forgiving you. God does not quicken us by the mere 
remission of sins, but he makes mention here of this parti- 
cularly, because that free reconciliation with God, which 
overthrows the righteousness of works, is especially connected 
with the point in hand, where he treats of abrogated cere- 
monies, as he discourses of more at large in the Epistle to 
the Galatians. For the false apostles, by establishing cere- 
monies, bound them with a halter, from which Christ has set 
them free. 

1 4. Having blotted out the hand-wi^iting ivhich was against 
us. He now contends with the false apostles in close com- 
bat. For this was the main point in question, — whether 
the observance of ceremonies was necessary under the reign 
of Christ ? Now Paul contends that ceremonies have been 
abolished, and to prove this he compares them to a hand- 
writing, by which God holds us as it were bound, that we 
may not be able to deny our guilt. He now says, that we 
have been freed from condemnation, .in such a manner, that 
even the hand-writing is blotted out, that no remembrance of 
it might remain. For we know that as to debts the obligation 
is still in force, so long as the hand-writing remains ; and that, 
on the other hand, by the erasing, or tearing of the hand- 
writing, the debtor is set free. Hence it follows, that all 
those who still urge the observance of ceremonies, detract 
from the grace of Christ, as though absolution were not 
procured for us through him ; for they restore to the hand- 
writing its freshness, so as to hold us still under obligation. 

This, therefore, is a truly theological reason for proving 
the abrogation of ceremonies, because, if Christ has fully 
redeemed us from condemnation, he must have also effaced 
the remembrance of the obligation, that consciences may be 
pacified and tranquil in the sight of God, for these two 
things are conjoined. "While interpreters explain this pas- 
sage in various ways, there is not one of them that satisfies 
me. Some think that Paul speaks simply of the moral law, 
but there *s no ground for this. For Paul is accustomed to 


give the name of ordinances to that department which con- 
sists in ceremonies, as he does in the Epistle to the Ephesians, 
(Eph. ii, 15,) and as we shall find he does shortly afterwards. 
More especially, the passage in Ephesians shews clearly, that 
Paul is here speaking of ceremonies. 

Others, therefore, do better, in restricting it to ceremonies, 
but they, too, err in this respect, that they do not add the 
reason why it is called hand-writing, or rather they assign a 
reason different from the true one, and they do not in a 
proper manner apply this similitude to the context. Now, 
the reason is, that all the ceremonies of Moses had in them 
some acknowledgment of guilt, which bound those that ob- 
served them with a firmer tie, as it were, in the view of God's 
judgment. For example, what else were washings than an 
evidence of pollution ? Wlienever any victim was sacrificed, 
did not the people that stood by behold in it a representa- 
tion of his death ? For when persons substituted in their 
place an innocent animal, they confessed that they were 
themselves deserving of that death. In fine, in proportion 
as there were ceremonies belonging to it, just so many ex- 
hibitions were there of human guilt, and hand-iuritings of 

Should any one object that they were sacraments of the 
grace of God, as Baptism and the Eucharist are to us at 
this day, the answer is easy. For there are two things to 
be considered in the ancient ceremonies — that they were 
suited to the time, and that they led men forward to the 
kingdom of Christ. Whatever was done at that time shewed 
in itself nothing but obligation. Grace was in a manner 
suspended until the advent of Christ — not that the Fathers 
were excluded from it, but they had not a present manifesta- 
tion of it in their ceremonies. For thev saw nothing in the 
sacrifices but the blood of beasts, and in their washings 
nothing but water. Hence, as to present view, condemna- 
tion remained ; nay more, the ceremonies themselves sealed 
the condemnation. The Apostle speaks, also, in this man- 
ner in the whole of his Epistle to the Hebrews, because he 
places Christ in direct opposition to ceremonies. But how 
is it now ? The Son of God has not only by his death do- 


livered us from the condemnation of death, but in order 
that absolution might be made more certain, he abro- 
gated those ceremonies, that no remembrance of obligation 
might remain. This is full liberty — that Christ has by his 
blood not only blotted out our sins, but every hand-writing 
which might declare us to be exposed to the judgment of 
God. Erasmus in his version has involved in confusion the 
thread of Paul's discourse, by rendering it thus — " which 
was contrary to us by ordinances."' Retain, therefore, the 
rendering which I have given, as being the true and genu- 
ine one. 

Took it out of the way, fastening it to his cross. He shews 
the manner in which Christ has effaced the hand-writing ; 
for as he fastened to the cross our curse, our sins, and also 
the punishment that was due to us, so he has also fastened 
to it that bondage of the law, and everything that tends to 
bind consciences. For, on his being fastened to the cross, 
he took all things to himself, and even bound them upon 
him, that they might have no more power over us. 

15. Spoiling principalities. There is no doubt that he 
means devils, whom Scripture represents as acting the part 
of accusing us before God. Paul, however, says that they 
are disarmed, so that they cannot bring forward anything 
against us, the attestation of our guilt being itself destroyed. 
Now, he expressly adds this with the view of shewing, that 
the victory of Christ, which he has procured for himself and 
us over Satan, is disfigured by the false apostles, and that 
we are deprived of the fruit of it when they restore the 
ancient ceremonies. For if our liberty is the spoil which 
Christ has rescued from the devil, what do others, who would 
bring us back into bondage, but restore to Satan the spoils 
of which he had been stript bare ? 

Triumphing over them in it. The expression in the Greek 
allows, it is true, of our reading — in himself; nay more, 
the greater part of the manuscripts have ei^ avrcp, with an 
aspirate. The connection of the passage, however, impera- 
tively requires that we read it otherwise ; for what would be 
meagre as applied to Christ, suits admirably as applied to 
the cross. For as he had previously compared the cross to 


a signal trophy or show of triumph, in which Christ led 
about his enemies, so he now also compares it to a trium- 
phal car, in which he shewed himself conspicuously to view.^ 
For although in the cross there is nothing but curse, it was, 
nevertheless, swallowed up by the j)ower of God in such a 
way, that it^ has put on, as it were, a new nature. For 
there is no tribunal so magnificent, no throne so stately, no 
show of triumph so distinguished, no chariot so elevated,^ 
as is the gibbet on which Christ has subdued death and the 
devil, the prince of death ; nay more, has utterly trodden 
them under his feet. 

16. Let no man therefore judge 16. Itaque ne quis vos iudicet* 
you in meat, or in drink, or in re- vel in cibo, vel in potu, vel in parte =< 
spect of an holiday, or of the new- diei festi, vel neomeniae, vel sab- 
moon, or of the sabbath-c^aj/s ; batorum : 

17. Which are a shadow of things 17. Quae sunt umbra futurorum, 
to come ; but the body is of Christ, corpus autem Christi. 

18. Let no man beguile you of IS. Ne quis palmam eripiat, vo- 
your reward in a voluntary humi- lens in humilitate et cultu Angelo- 
lity, and worshipping of angels, in- rum, (id facere,) in ea quae non 
truding into those things which he vidit se ingerens, frustra inflatus a 
hath not seen, vainly puffed up by mente carnis suae, 

his fleshly mind ; 

19. And not holding the head, 19. Et non tenens caput, ex quo 
from which all the body by joints totum corpus per iuncturas et con- 
and bands having nourishment minis- nexiones subministratum et com- 
tered, and knit together, increaseth pactum crescit incremento Dei. 
with the increase of God. 

16. Let no one therefore judge you. What he had pre- 
viously said of circumcision he now extends to the difference 
of meats and days. For circumcision was the first intro- 
duction to the observance of the law : other things^ followed 
afterwards. To judge means here, to hold one to be guilty 
of a crime, or to impose a scruple of conscience, so that we 
are no longer free. He says, therefore, that it is not in the 
power of men to make us subject to the observance of rites 
which Christ has by his death abolished, and exempts us 

1 " En grande magnificence ;" — " In great magnificence." 

2 " La croix ;" — " The cross." 

8 " Tant eminent et honorable ;" — " So lofty and honourable." 

* " Jiige, ou, condamiie ;" — " Judge, or, condemn." 

^ " En partie, ou, en distinction, ou, de la part, ou, au respect ;" — " In 
part, or, in distinguishing, or, of the part, or, in respect of." 

* " Les autres ceremonies ;" — " Other rites." 


from tlieir yoke, tliat we may not allow ourselves to be 
fettered by the laws wliich tliey have imposed. He tacitly, 
however, places Christ in contrast with all mankind, lest 
any one should extol himself so daringly as to attempt to 
take away what he has given him. 

In respect of a festival-day. Some understand ro fi€po<s 
to mean -participation. Chrysostom, accordingly, thinks 
that he used the term part, because they did not observe 
all festival-days, nor did they even keep holidays strictly, in 
accordance with the appointment of the law. This, how- 
ever, is but a poor interpretation.^ Consider whether it 
may not be taken to mean separation, for those that make 
a distinction of days, separate, as it were, one from another. 
Such a mode of partition was suitable for the Jews, that 
they might celebrate religiously^ the days that were ap- 
pointed, by separating them from others. Among Chris- 
tians, however, such a division has ceased. 

But some one will say, " We still keep up some observ- 
ance of days."' I answer, that we do not by any means 
observe days, as though there were any sacredness in holi- 
days, or as though it were not lawful to labour upon them, 
but that respect is paid to government and order — not to 
days. And this is what he immediately adds. 

1 7. Which are a shadow of things to come. The reason 
why he frees Christians from the observance of them is, that 
they were shadows at a time when Christ was still, in a 
manner, absent. For he contrasts shadows with revelation, 
and absence with manifestation. Those, therefore, who still 
adhere to those shadows, act like one who should judge of a 
man's appearance from his shadow, Avhile in the mean time 
he had himself personally before his eyes. For Christ is 
now manifested to us, and hence we enjoy him as being pre- 
sent. The body, says he, is of Christ, that is, in Christ. 
For the substance of those things wliich the ceremonies 
anciently prefigured is now presented before our eyes in 
Christ, inasmuch as he contains in himself everything that 

' " Mais c'est vne coniecture bien maigre ;" — " But this is a very slender 

= "Estroittement;"—" Strictly." 


tliey marked out as future. Hence, the man that calls 
back the ceremonies into use, either buries the manifesta- 
tion of Christ, or robs Christ of his excellence, and makes 
him in a manner void.^ Accordingly, should any one of 
mortals assume to himself in this matter the office of judge, 
let us not submit to him, inasmuch as Christ, the only com- 
petent Judge, sets us free. For when he says, Let no man 
judge you, he does not address the false apostles, but pro- 
hibits the Colossians from yielding their neck to unreason- 
able requirements. To abstain, it is true, from swine's flesh, 
is in itself harmless, but the binding to do it is pernicious, 
because it makes void the grace of Christ. 

Should any one ask, " What view, then, is to be taken of 
our sacraments ? Do they not also represent Christ to us as 
absent f I answer, that they differ widely from the ancient 
ceremonies. For as painters do not in the first draught bring- 
out a likeness in vivid colours, and (et/coi^t/cco?) expressively, 
but in the first instance draw rude and obscure lines with 
charcoal, so the representation of Christ under the law was 
unpolished, and was, as it were, a first sketch, but in our 
sacraments it is seen drawn out to the life. Paul, how- 
ever, had something farther in view, for he contrasts the 
bare asj)ect of the shadow with the solidity of the body, and 
admonishes them, that it is the part of a madman to take 
hold of empty shadows, when it is in his power to handle 
the solid substance. Farther, while our sacraments repre- 
sent Christ as absent as to view and distance of place, it is in 
such a manner as to testify that he has been once manifested, 
and they now also present him to us to be enjoyed. They 
are not, therefore, bare shadows, but on the contrary sym- 
bols^ of Christ's presence, for they contain that Yea and Amen 
of all the promises of God, (2 Cor. i. 20,) which has been 
once manifested to us in Christ. 

18. Let no one take from you the palm? He alludes to 
runners, or wrestlers, to whom the palm^ was assigned, on 

^ " Inutile et du tout vuide ;" — " Useless and altogether void." 
" " Signes et tesmoignages :" — " Signs and evidences." 
• " The Latin, ' seducat,' correctly gives the intention of xarccli^aliiuiTai, 
which signifies, to cause a competitor to lose his prize, by drawing him 
aside from the goal, {seorsim ducendo, or seducendo.)" — Pean. — Ed.. 



condition of their not giving way in the middle of the course, 
or after the contest had been commenced. He admonishes 
them, therefore, that the false apostles aimed at nothing else 
than to snatch away from them the palm, inasmuch as they 
draw them aside from the rectitude of their course. Hence 
it follows that they must be shunned as the most injurious 
pests. The passage is also carefully to be marked as inti- 
mating, that all those who draw us aside from the simplicity 
of Christ cheat us out of the prize of our high calling. 
(Phil. iii. 14.) 

Desirous in humility. Something must be understood ; 
hence I have inserted in the text id facere, {to do it.) For 
he points out the kind of danger which they required to 
guard against. All are desirous to defraud you of the palm, 
who, under the pretext of humility, recommend to you the 
worship of angels. For their object is, that you may wander 
out of the way, leaving the one object of aim. I read humi- 
lity and worship of angels conjointly, for the one follows the 
other, just as at this day the Papists make use of the same 
pretext when philosophizing as to the worship of saints. 
For they reason on the ground of man's abasement,^ that we 
must, therefore, seek for mediators to help us. But for this 
very reason has Christ humbled himself — that we might 
directly betake ourselves to him, however miserable sinners 
we may be. 

I am aware that the worship of angels is by many inter- 
preted otherwise, as meaning such as has been delivered to 
men by angels; for the Devil has always endeavoured to set 
off his impostures under this title. The Pope at this day 
boasts, that all the trifles with which he has adulterated the 
pure worship of God are revelations. In like manner the 
Theurgians^ of old alleged that all the superstitions that 

* " Car ayans propose I'lndignite de rhomme, et prcsche d'humilite, de 
la ils concluent ;" — " For having set forth man's miworthiness, and having 
preached of humility, they conclude from this." 

- The Theurgians were the followers of Ammonius Saccas, who pre- 
scribed an austere discipline with the view of " reiining," as he pretended, 
" that faculty of the mind which receives the images of things, so as to ren- 
der it capable of perceiving the demons, and of perforaiing many marvel- 
lous things by their assistance." See Mushehu's Ecclesia.stical History, 
vol. i. p. 174. — Ed. 


they contrived were delivered over to tliem by angels, as if 
from hand to hand} They, accordingly, think that Paul 
here condemns all fanciful kinds of worship that are falsely 
set forth under the authority of angels.^ But, in my opinion, 
he rather condemns the contrivance as to the worshipping 
of angels. It is on this account that he has so carefully ap- 
plied himself to this in the very commencement of the Epistle, 
to bring angels under subjection, lest they should obscure 
the splendour of Christ.^ In fine, as he had in the first 
chapter prepared the way for abolishing the ceremonies, so 
he had also for the removal of all other hindcrances which 
draw us away from Christ alone.* In this class is the wor- 
ship of angels. 

Superstitious persons have from the beginning worshipped 
angels,*" that through means of them there might be free 
access to God. The Platonists infected the Christian Church 
also with this error. For although Augustine sharply in- 
veighs against them in his tenth book "On the City of God," 
and condemns at great length all their disputations as to the 
worship of angels, we see nevertheless what has happened. 
Should any one compare the writings of Plato with Popish 
theology, he will find that they have drawn wholly from Plato 
their prattling as to the worship of angels. The sum is this, 
that we must honour angels, whom Plato calls demons, ')(apLv 
Trj<; ev^rjfjLov Sia7ropeta<i, {for the sake of their auspicious inter- 
cession.y He brings forward this sentiment in Epinomis, 
and he confirms it in Cratylus,^ and many other passages. 
In what respect do the Papists differ at all from this ? " But," 
it will be said, " they do not deny that the Son of God is 

' Per manus, {from one hand to another.^ The reader will find the 
same proverbial expression made use of by Calvin on the Corinthians, 
vol. i. pp. 150, 373, and vol. ii. p. 9. — Ed. 

^ " Lesquelles on fait receuoir au poure monde sous la fausse couuer- 
ture de I'authorite des anges ;" — " Which they make the world receive 
under the false pretext of the authority of angels." 

^ " La splendeur de la maieste de Christ ;" — " The splendour of Christ's 

* " De seul vray but, qui est Christ ;" — " From the only true aim, which 
is Christ." 

5 See Calvin's Institutes, vol. i. p. 200. 

* " A cause de I'heureuse intercession qu'ils font pour les hommes ;" — 
" On account of the blessed intercession which they make for men." 

' See Calvin's Institutes, vol. i. p. 202. 


Mediator." Neither did those with whom Paul contends ; 
hut as they imagined that God must he approached hy the 
assistance of the angels, and that, consequently, some wor- 
ship must he rendered to them, so they placed angels in the 
seat of Christ, and honoured them with Christ's office. Let 
us know, then, that Paul here condemns all kinds of worship 
of human contrivance, which are rendered either to angels 
or to the dead, as though they were mediators, rendering 
assistance after Christ, or along with Christ.^ For just so 
far do we recede from Christ, when we transfer the smallest 
part of what belongs to him to any others, whether they be 
angels or men. 

Intruding into those things which he hath not seen. The 
verb e/jb/Sareiiecv, the participle of which Paul here makes use 
of, has various significations. The rendering which Erasmu.s, 
after Jerome, has given to it, lualking proudly, would not 
suit ill, were there an example of such a signification in any 
author of sufficient note. For we see every day with how much 
confidence and pride rash persons pronounce an opinion as 
to things unknown. Nay, even in the very subject of which 
Paul treats, there is a remarkable illustration. For when 
the Sorbonnic divines put forth their trifles^ respecting the 
intercession of saints or angels, the}'- declare,^ as though it were 
from an oracle,"* that the dead^ know and behold our neces- 
sities, inasmuch as they see all things in the reflex light of 
God.^ And yet, what is less certain ? Nay more, what is 
more obscure and doubtful 1 But such, truly, is their magis- 
terial freedom, that they fearlessly and daringly assert what 

1 " Comme s'ils estoyent mediateurs ou auec Christ, ou eu second 
lieu apres Christ, pour suppleer ce qui defaut de son coste ;" — " As if they 
were mediators either with Christ, or in the second place after Christ, to 
supply what is wanting on his part." 

2 " IMettent en auaiit leurs mensonges ;" — " Bring forward their false- 

3 " lis prononcent et determinent comme par arrest ;" — •' They declare 
and determine as if by decree." 

4 ii Perinde atque ex tripode" (just as though it were from the tri- 
pod.) Our author manifestly alludes to the three-footed stool on which 
the Priestess of Apollo at Delphi sat, while giving forth oracular responses. 

6 '•' Les saincts trespassez ;" — " Departed saints." 
6 " En la reuerberation de la lumiere de Dieu :" — " In the reflection of 
the light of God." 


is not only not known by them, but cannot bo known by 

This meaning-, therefore, would be suitable, if that signifi- 
cation of the term were usual. It is, however, among the 
Greeks taken simply as meaning to lualk. It also some- 
times means to inquire. Should any one choose to under- 
stand it thus in this passage, Paul will, in that case, reprove 
a foolish curiosity in. the investigation of things that are 
obscure, and such as are even hid from our view and tran- 
scend it.^ It appears to me, however, that I have caught 
Paul's meaning, and have rendered it faitlifully in this man- 
ner — intruding into those things which he hath not seen. For 
that is the common signification of the word ifi^areveiv — to 
enter upon an inheritance,^ or to take possession, or to set 
foot anywhere. Accordingly, Budaeus renders this passage 
tlius : — " Setting foot upon, or entering on the possession of 
those things which he has not seen." I have followed his 
authority, but have selected a more suitable term. For 
such persons in reality break through and intrude into secret 
things,^ of vvhich God would have no discovery as yet made 
to us. The passage ought to be carefully observed, for the 
purpose of reproving the rashness^ of those who inquire 
farther than is allowable. 

Faffed up in vain hy a fleshly mind. He employs the ex- 
pression fleshly mind to denote the perspicuity of the human 
intellect, however great it may be. For he places it in con- 
trast with that spiritual wisdom which is revealed to us from 
heaven in accordance with that statement — Flesh and blood 
hath not revealed it unto thee. (Matt. xvi. 17.) Whoever, 
therefore, depends upon his own reason, inasmuch as the 
acuteness of the flesh is wholly at work in him,^ Paul de- 
clares him to be puffed up in vain. And truly all the wisdom 

' " Et siirmontent toute nostre capacite;" — " And exceed all our ca- 

^ Thus, £^/3aT£U£;v u; r/)v abff'ixv is made use of by Demosthenes, as mean- 
ing — " to come in to the property." — See Dem. 108(i. 19. — Ed. 

^ " Es choses secretes et cachees;" — " Into things secret and hidden." 
^ " La fole outrecuidance ;" — " The foolish presumption." 
* " Pource qu'il n'est gomierne que par la subtilite charnelle et natu- 
relle;" — " Because he is regulated exclusively by carnal and natural acute- 


that men have from themselves is mere wind : hence tliere 
is nothing solid except in the word of God and the illumi- 
nation of the Spirit. And observe, that those are said to be 
jmffed up who insinuate themselves^ under a show of humi- 
lity. For it happens, as Augustine elegantly writes to Pau- 
linus, by wonderful means, as to the soul of man, that it is 
more puffed up from a false humility than if it were openly 

19. Not holding the head. He condemns in the use of one 
word whatever does not bear a relation to Christ. He also 
confirms his statement on the ground that all things flow 
from him, and depend upon him. Hence, should any one 
call us anywhere else than to Christ, though in other respects 
he were big with heaven and earth, he is empty and full of 
wind : let us, therefore, without concern, bid him farewell. 
Observe, however, of whom he is speaking, namely, of those 
who did not openly reject or deny Christ, but, not accurately 
understanding his ofiice and power, by seeking out other 
helps and means of salvation, (as they commonly speak,) 
were not firmly rooted in him. 

From whom the whole body by joints. He simply means 
this, that the Church does not stand otherwise than in the 
event of all things beino; furnished to her bv Christ, the 
Head, and, accordingly, that her entire safety^ consists in 
him. The body, it is true, has its nerves, its joints, and liga- 
ments, but all these things derive their vigour solely from 
the Head, so that the whole binding of them together is from 
that source. What, then, must be done ? The constitution 
of the body will be in a right state, if simply the Head, which 
furnishes the several members with everj^thing that they 
have, is allowed, without any hinderance, to have the pre- 
eminence. This Paul speaks of as the increase of God, by 
which he means that it is not every increase that is approved 
by God, but only that which has a relation to the Head. 
For we see that the kingdom of the Pope is not merely tall 
and large, but swells out into a monstrous size. As, how- 

' " En la grace des homines;" — " Into the favour of men." 
- '• Toiite la perfection de son estre;" — " The entire perfection of her 


ever, we do not there see what Paul here requires in the 
Church, what shall we say, but that it is a humpbacked 
body, and a confused mass that will fall to pieces of itself. 

20. Wherefore, if ye be dead with 20. Si igitur niortui estis cum 
Christ from the rudiments of the Christo ab elementis huius mundi, 
world, yvhj, as though hving in the quid tanquam viventibus in mundo 
world, are ye subject to ordinances, decreta vobis perscribuntur ? 

21. (Touch not, taste not, handle 21. Ne esitaveris, ne gustaveris, 
not ; ne attigeris : 

22. Which all are to perish with 22. Quae sunt omnia in corrup- 
the using,) after the commandments tionem ipso abusu, secundum prae- 
and doctrines of men ? cepta et doctrinas hominum, 

23 Which things have indeed a 23. Quae speciem' quidem habent 

shew of wisdom in will- worship, and sapientiae in superstitione,^ et humi- 

humility, and neglecting of the body ; litate animi, et neglectu corporis:^ 

not in any honour to the satisfying non in honore aliquo ad expletionem 

of the flesh. carnis* 

20. If ye are dead. lie had previously said, that the ordi- 
nances were fastened to the cross of Christ. (Ver. 14.) He 
now employs another figure of speech — that we are dead to 
them, as he teaches us elsewhere, that we are dead to the 
law, and the law, on the other hand, to us. (Gal. ii. 19.) 
The term death means abrogation,^ but it is more expressive 
and more emphatic, {jcai efKparLKojrepov.) He says, there- 
fore, that the Colossians have nothing to do with ordinances. 
Why ? Because they have died with Christ to ordinances ; 
that is, after they died with Clirist by regeneration, they 
were, through his kindness, set free from ordinances, that 
they may not belong to them any more. Hence he con- 
cludes that they are by no means bound by the ordinances, 
which the false apostles endeavoured to impose upon them. 

21. JEat not, taste not. Hitherto this has been rendered — 
Handle not, but as another v/ord immediately follows, which 

' " Espece, ou, forme;" — " Appearance, or, form." 

* " Superstition, on, deuotion volontaire ;" — " Superstition, or, will-wor- 

* " E7i mespris du corps, ou, en ce qu'elles n'espargnent le corps ;'' — 
" In contempt of tke body, or, inasmuch as they do not spare the body." 

* " Sans aucun honneur a rassasier la chair, ou, et ne ont aucun esgard 
au rassasiement d'iceluy : ou, mais nefont d' aucune estime, n'appartenans 
qu'a ce qxii remplit le corps ;" — " Without any honour to the satisfying of 
the fesh, or, and they have no regard to the satisfying of it, or, but they 
hold it in no esteem, not caring as to what Jills the body." 

■' " Et abolissement ;" — " And abolishment." 


signifies the same thing, every one sees how cold and absurd 
were such a repetition. Farther, the verb airTeadai is em- 
ployed by the Greeks, among its other significations, in the 
sense of eating,^ in accordance with the rendering that I have 
given. Plutarch makes use of it in the life of Cesar, when 
he relates that his soldiers, in destitution of all things, ate 
animals which they had not been accustomed previously to 
use as food.^ And this arrangement is both in other respects 
natural and is also most in accordance with the connection 
of the passage ; for Paul points out, (/i,tyu.7;Ti«&)?,) hy way of 
imitation, to what length the waywardness of those who bind 
consciences by their laws is wont to proceed. From the 
very commencement they are unduly rigorous: hence he 
sets out with their prohibition — not simply against eating, but 
even against slightly partaking. After they have obtained 
what they wish they go beyond that command, so that they 
afterwards declare it to be unlawful to taste of what they 
do not wish should be eaten. At length they make it cri- 
minal even to touch. In short, when persons have once taken 
upon them to tyrannize over men's souls, there is no end of 
new laws being daily added to old ones, and new enactments 
starting up from time to time. How bright a mirror there 
is as to this in Popery ! Hence Paul acts admirably well 
in admonishing us that human traditions are a labyrinth, 
in which consciences are more and more entangled ; nay 
more, are snares, which from the beginning bind in such 
a way that in course of time they strangle in the end. 

22. All which things tend to corruption. He sets aside, by 
a twofold argument, the enactments of which he has made 
mention — because they make religion consist in things out- 
ward and frail, which have no connection with the spiritual 
kingdom of God ; and secondly, because they are from 
men, not from God. He combats the first argument, also, 
in Rom. xiv. 1 7, when he says, The kingdom of God is not in 

' An example occurs in Homer's Odyssey, (iv. 60,) (rirou S' aVrsa-Sov 
Kui x,"'i^irii)i — " Take food and rejoice." See a\.s,o Xenoph. Mem. 1. 3. 7. 

* The passage referred to is as follows: — " 'E/3ja^» Ss x.a.) <pxoios, <us 
xiyirai, xcci '^umv ayiuffrajv ■x^'oti^ov Hipavro.". — " Even the bark of trees, it is 
said, was devoured, and they ate animals not previously tasted." — Ed. 


meat and drink ; likewise in 1 Cor. vi. 13, Meat for the belli/, 
a7id the belly for meats : God will destroy both. Christ also 
himself says, Whatever entereth into the mouth defileth not 
the m,a7i, because it goes down into the belly, and is cast forth. 
(Matt. XV. 11.) The sum is this — that the worship of God, 
true piety, and the holiness of Christians, do not consist in 
drink, and food, and clothing, which are things that are 
transient and liable to corruption, and perish by abuse. For 
abuse is properly applicable to those things which are cor- 
rupted by the use of them. Hence enactments are of no 
value in reference to those things which tend to excite 
scruples of conscience. But in Popery you would scarcely 
find any other holiness, than what consists in little observ- 
ances of corruptible things. 

A second refutation is added^ — that they originated with 
men, and have not God as their Author ; and by this thun- 
derbolt he prostrates and swallows up all traditions of men. 
For why ? This is Paul's reasoning : " Those who bring con- 
sciences into bondage do injury to Christ, and make void 
his death. For whatever is of human invention does not 
bind conscience." 

23. Which have irideed a show. Here we have the anti- 
cipation of an objection, in which, while he concedes to his 
adversaries what they allege, he at the same time reckons it 
wholly worthless. For it is as though he had said, that he 
does not regard their having a show of wisdom. But show 
is placed in contrast with reality, for it is an appearance, as 
they commonly speak, which deceives by resemblance.^ 

Observe, however, of what colours this show consists, ac- 
cording to Paul. He makes mention of three — self-invented 
worship,^ humility, and neglect of the body. Superstition 
among the Greeks receives the name of edeXd^prjaKeia — the 
term which Paul here makes use of. He has, however, an 
eye to the etymology of the term, for edeXo^prjaKela literally 

1 " Le second argument par lequcl il refute telles ordonnances, est ;" — 
" The second argument by which he sets aside such enactments, is." 

* " Par simiHtude qu'elle ha auec la verite ;" — " By the resemblance 
which it bears to the reality." 

8 " Le seruice forge' a plaisir, c'est a dire inuente par les hommes ;" — 
" Worship contrived at pleasure, that is to say, invented by men." 


denotes a voluntary service, wliich rnen choose for them- 
selves at their own option, without authority from God. 
Human traditions, therefore, are agreeable to us on this 
account, that they are in accordance with our understanding, 
for any one will find in his own brain the first outlines of 
them. This is the^irs^ pretext. 

The second is humility, inasmuch as obedience both to 
God and men is pretended, so that men do not refuse even 
unreasonable burdens.^ And for the most part traditions of 
this kind are of such a nature as to appear to be admirable 
exercises of humility. 

They allure, also, by means of a third -pretext, inas- 
much as they seem to be of the greatest avail for the 
mortification of the flesh, while there is no sparing of the 
body. Paul, however, bids farewell to those disguises, for 
what is in high esteem among men is often an abomination 
in the sight of God. (Luke xvi. 15.) Farther, that is a 
treacherous obedience, and a perverse and sacrilegious 
humility, which transfers to men the authority of God ; and 
neglect of the body is not of so great importance, as to be 
worthy to be set forth to admiration as the service of God. 

Some one, however, will feel astonished, that Paul docs 
not take more pains in pulling off those masks. I answer, 
that he on good grounds rests contented with the simj^le 
term show. For the principles which he had taken as 
opposed to this are incontrovertible — that the body is in 
Christ, and that, consequently, those do nothing but im- 
pose upon miserable men, who set before them shadows. 
Secondly, the spiritual kingdom of Christ is by no means 
taken up wath frail and corruptible elements. Thirdly, by 
the death of Christ such observances were j)ut an end to, 
that we might have no connection with them ; and, fom^thly, 
God is our only Lawgiver. (Tsaiah xxxiii. 22.) AVhatever 
may be brought forward on the other side, let it have ever 
so much splendour, is fleeting show. 

Secondly, he reckoned it enough to admonish the Colos- 

sians, not to be deceived by the putting forth of empty 

things. There was no necessity for dwelling at greater 

' " Iniqucs ct (lures a porter;" — " Unreasonable and hard to be borne." 


length in reproving them. For it should be a settled point 
among all the pious, that the worship of God ought not to 
be measured according to our views ; and that, consequently, 
any kind of service is not lawful, simply on the ground 
that it is agreeable to us. This, also, ought to be a com- 
monly received point — that we owe to God such humility as 
to yield obedience simply to his commands, so as not to lean 
to our own understanding, &c., (Prov. iii. 5,) — and that the 
limit of humility towards men is this — that each one submit 
himself to others in love. Now, when they contend that the 
wantonness of the flesh is repressed by abstinence from 
meats, the answer is easy — that we must not therefore 
abstain from any particular food as being unclean, but must 
eat sparingly of what we do eat of, both in order that we 
may soberly and temperately make use of the gifts of God, 
and that we may not, impeded by too much food and drink, 
forget those things that are God's. Hence it was enough 
to say that these^ were masks, that the Colossians, being- 
warned, might be on their guard against false pretexts. 

Thus, at the present day, Papists are not in want of spe- 
cious pretexts, by which to set forth their own laws, how- 
ever they may be — some of them impious and tyrannical, and 
others of them silly and trifling. When, however, we have 
granted them everything, there remains, nevertheless, this 
refutation by Paul, which is of itself more than sufficient for 
dispelling all their smoky vapours f not to say how far 
removed they^ are from so honourable an appearance as that 
which Paul describes. The principal holiness of the Pajjacy,'* 
at the present day, consists in monkhood, and of what 
nature that is, I am ashamed and grieved to make men- 
tion, lest I should stir up so abominable an odour. Farther, 
it is of importance to consider here, how prone, nay, how 
forward the mind of man is to artificial modes of worship. 

* " Ces traditions;" — " These traditions." 

^ " Tous les brouillars desquels ils taschent d'esblouir les yeux au poure 
monde ;" — " All the mists by which they endeavour to blind the eyes of the 
poor world." 

^ "Leurs traditions;" — " Their traditions." 

* " La premiere et la principale honnestete et sainctete de la I'apaute ;" 
— "The first and principal decency and sanctity of the Papacy." 


For the Apostle here graphically describes^ the state of the 
old system of monkhood, which came into use a hundred 
years after his death, as though he had never spoken a 
word. The zeal of men, therefore, for superstition is sur- 
passingly mad, which could not be restrained by so plain a 
declaration of God from breaking forth, as historical records 

Not in any honour. Honour means care, according to 
the usage of the Hebrew tongue. Honour widows, (1 Tim. v. 
3,) that is, take care of them. Now Paul finds fault with 
this, that they^ teach to leave off care for the body. For 
as God forbids us to indulge the body unduly, so he com- 
mands that these be given it as much as is necessary for it. 
Hence Paul, in Rom. xiii. 14, does not expressly condemn 
care for the flesh, but such as indulges lusts. Have no care, 
says he, /or thefiesh, to the gratifying of its lusts. What, then, 
does Paul point out as faulty in those traditions of which 
he treats ? It is that they gave no honour to the body for the 
satisfying the flesh, that is, according to the measure of neces- 
sity. For satisfying here means a mediocrity, which restricts 
itself to the simple use of nature, and thus stands in oppo- 
sition to pleasure and all superfluous delicacies ; for nature 
is content with little. Hence, to refuse wliat it requires for 
sustaining the necessity of life, is not less at variance with 
piety, than it is inhuman. 


1. If ye then be risen with Christ, 1. E:rgo si consurrexistis cum 
seek those things which are above, Christo, quae sursum sunt quaerite, 
where Christ si'tteth on the right ubi Christus est in dextera Dei se- 
hand of God. dens : 

2. Set your affection on things 2. Quae sursum sunt cogitate, 
above, not on things on the eartli. non quae super terram. 

3. For ye are dead, and your life 3. Mortui enim estis, et vita 
is hid with Christ in God. nostra abscondita est cum Christo 

in Deo. 

4. When Christ, who is our life, 4. Ubi autem Christus apparuerit, 
shall appear, then shall ye also ap- vita vestra, time etiam vos cum ipso 
pear with him in glory. apparebitis in gloria. 

^ " i'eind yci au vif ;" — " Paints here to the life." 
" Les traditions ;" — " The traditions." 


To those fruitless exercises wliicli the false apostles urged,^ 
as though perfection consisted in them, he opposes those 
true exercises in which it becomes Christians to employ them- 
selves ; and this has no slight bearing upon the point in 
hand ; for when we see what God would have us do, we 
afterwards easily despise the inventions of men. When we 
jierceive, too, that what God recommends to us is much 
more lofty and excellent than what men inculcate, our ala- 
crity of mind increases for following God, so as to disregard 
men. Paul here exhorts the Colossians to meditation upon 
the heavenly life. And what as to his opponents ? They 
were desirous to retain their childish rudiments. This 
doctrine, therefore, makes the ceremonies be the more 
lightly esteemed. Hence it is manifest that Paul, in this 
passage, exhorts in such a manner as to confirm the 
foregoing doctrine ; for, in describing solid piety and holi- 
ness of life, his aim is, that those vain shows of human ti'a- 
ditions may vanish.^ At the same time, he anticipates an 
objection with which the false apostles might assail him. 
What then ? " Wouldst thou rather have men be idle than 
addict themselves to such exercises, of whatever sort they 
may be?" Wlien, therefore, he bids Christians apply them- 
selves to exercises of a greatly superior kind, he cuts off the 
handle for this calumny ; nay more, he loads them with no 
small odium, on the ground that they impede the right course 
of the pious by worthless amusements.^ 

1. If ye are risen with Christ. Ascension follows resur- 
rection : hence, if we are the members of Christ, we must 
ascend into heaven, because he, on being raised up from the 
dead, was received up into heaven, (Mark xvi. 19,) that he 
might draw us up w4th him. Now, we seek those things 
which are above, when in our minds* we are truly sojourners 
in this world, and are not bound to it. The word rendered 
think upon expresses rather assiduity and intensity of aim : 
" Let your whole meditation be as to this : to this apply 

' " Recommandoyent estroittement ;" — " Urgently recommended." 
" S'en aillent en fumee;" — " May vanish into smoke." 
" Par des amusemens plus que pueriles ;" — " By worse than childish 

* " Dc cteur el esprit:" — " In heart and spirit " 


your Intellect — to this your mind." But if we ought to 
think of nothing but of what is heavenly, because Christ is 
in heaven, how much less becoming were it to seek Christ 
upon the earth. Let us therefore bear in mind that that is a 
true and holy thinking as to Christ, w^hich forthwith bears 
us up into heaven, that we may there adore him, and that 
our minds may dwell with him. 

As to the right hand of God, it is not confined to 
heaven, but fills the whole world. Paul has made men- 
tion of it here to intimate that Christ encompasses us by 
his power, that we may not think that distance of place is 
a cause of separation between us and him, and that at the 
same time his majesty may excite us wholly to reverence 

2. Not the things that are on earth. He does not mean, 
as he does a little afterwards, depraved appetites, which 
reign in earthly men, nor even riches, or fields, or houses, 
nor any other things of the present life, which we must tise, 
as though we did not use them, (1 Cor. vii. 30, 31,)^ but is 
still following out his discussion as to ceremonies, which 
he represents as resembling entanglements which constrain 
us to creep upon the ground. " Christ," says he, " calls us 
upwards to himself, while these draw us downwards."' For 
this is the winding-up and exposition of what he had lately 
touched upon as to the abolition of ceremonies through the 
death of Christ. " The ceremonies are dead to you through 
the death of Christ, and you to them, in order that, being 
raised up to heaven with Christ, you ma}^ think onl}' of 
those things that are above. Leave off therefore earthly 
things." I shall not contend against others who are of a 
different mind ; but certainly the Apostle appears to me to 
go on step by step, so that, in the first instance, he places 
traditions as to trivial matters in contrast with meditation 
on the heavenly life, and afterwards, as we shall see, goes a 
step farther. 

3. For ye are dead. No one can rise again with Christ, 
if he has not first died with him. Hence he draws an ar- 
gument from rising again to dying, as from a consequent 

' See Calvia on the Corinthians, vcl. i. p. 257. 


to an antecedent/ meaning that we must be dead to the 
world that we may live to Christ. Why has he taught, that 
we must seek those things that are above 1 It is because the 
life of the pious is above. Why does he now teach, that the 
things which are on earth are to be left off? Because they 
are dead to the world. " Death goes before that resurrection, 
of which I have spoken. Hence both of them must be seen 
in you." 

It is worthy of observation, that our life is said to be hid, 
that we may not murmur or complain if our life, being 
buried under the ignominy of the cross, and under various 
distresses, differs nothing from death, but may patiently 
wait for the day of revelation. And in order that our wait- 
ing may not be painful, let us observe those expressions, in 
God, and with Christ, which intimate that our life is out of 
danger, although it does not appear. For, in the first jjlace, 
God is faithful, and therefore will not deny what has been 
committed to him, (2 Tim. i. 12,) nor deceive in the guardian- 
shijj which he has undertaken ; and, secondly, the fellowship 
of Christ brings still greater security. For what is to be 
more desired by us than this — that our life remain with the 
very fountain of life ? Hence there is no reason wdiy we 
should be alarmed if, on looking around on every side, we 
nowhere see life. For we are saved by hope. But those 
things which are already seen with our eyes are not hoped 
for. (Rom. viii. 24.) Nor does he teach that our life is hid 
merely in the opinion of the world, but even as to our own 
view, because this is the true and necessary trial of our 
hope, that being encompassed, as it were, with death, we 
may seek life somewhere else than in the world. 

4. But when Christ, our life, shall apjiear. Here we have 
a choice consolation — that the coming of Christ will be the 
manifestation of our life. And, at the same time, he admo- 
nishes us how unreasonable were the disposition of the man, 
who should refuse to bear up ^ until that day. For if our life 
is shut up in Christ, it must be hid, until he shall appear.' 

^ " C'est a dire de ce qui suit a ce qui va deuant ;" — " That is to say, 
from what follows to what comes before." 

^ " D'endurer et attendre :" — " To endure and wait," 


5. Mortify therefore your members 5. Mortificate igitur membra ves- 
wliich are upon the earth ; fornica- tra, quae sunt super terram. scorta- 
tion, uncleanness, inordinate aftec- tionem, immunditiem, mollitiem, 
tion, evil concupiscence, and covet- concupiscentiam malam, et avariti- 
ousness, which is idolatry : am, quae est idololatria. 

6. For which things' sake the 6. Propter quae venit ira Dei in 
wrath of God cometh on the children filios inobedientiae ; 

of disobedience. 

7. In the which ye also walked 7. In quibus vos quoque ambula- 
sometime, when ye lived in them. batis aliquando, quum viveretis in 


8. But now ye also put off all 8. Nunc autem deponite et vos 
these ; anger, wrath, malice, bias- omnia, iram, indignationem, malili- 
phemy, filthy communication out of am, maledicentiam, turpiloquentiam 
your mouth. ex ore vestro. 

5. Mortify therefore. Hitherto lie has been speaking- of 
contempt of the world. He now proceeds further, and enters 
upon a higher i^hilosophy, as to the mortification of the f^esh. 
That tliis may be the better understood, let us take notice 
that there is a twofold mortification. The former relates to 
those things that are around us. Of tliis he has hitherto 
treated. The other is inward — that of the understanding 
and will, and of the whole of our corrupt nature. He makes 
mention of certain vices which he calls, not with strict accu- 
racy, but at the same time elegantly, members. For he con- 
ceives of our nature as being, as it were, a mass made up of 
different vices. They are, therefore, our members, inasmuch 
as they in a manner stick close to us. He calls them also 
earthly, alluding to what he had said — not the things that 
are on earth, (ver. 2,) but in a different sense. " I have 
admonished you, that earthly things are to be disregarded : 
you must, however, make it your aim to mortify those vices 
which detain you on the earth.'' He intimates, however, 
that we are earthly, so long as the vices of our flesh are 
vigorous in us, and that we are made heavenly by the renew- 
ing of the Spirit. 

After fornication he adds uncleanness, by which term he 
expresses all kinds of wantonness, by which lascivious per- 
sons pollute themselves. To these is added, 7rdOo<i, that is, 
lust, which includes all the allurements of unhallowed desii'c. 
This term, it is true, denotes mental perturbations of other 
kinds, and disorderly motions contrary to reason ; but lust is 
not an unsuitable rendering of this passage. As to the rea- 


son why covetousjiess is here spoken of as a worshipj^ing of 
images,^ consult the Epistle to the Ephesians, that I may not 
say the same thing twice. 

6. On account of which things the wrath of God cometh. 
I do not find fault with the rendering of Erasmus — solet 
venir-e — (;is wont to come,) but as the present tense is often 
taken in Scripture instead of the future, according to the 
idiom of the Hebrew language, I have preferred to leave tlie 
rendering undecided, so that it might be accommodated to 
either meaning. He warns the Colossians, then, either of 
the ordinary judgments of God, which are seen daily, or of 
the vengeance which he has once denounced upon the wicked, 
and which impends over them, but will not be manifested 
until the last day. I willingly, however, admit the former 
meaning — that God, who is the perpetual Judge of the world, 
is accustomed to punish the crimes in question. 

He says, however, expressly, that the wrath of God will 
come, or is wont to come, upon the unbelieving or disobe- 
dient, instead of threatening them with anything of this 
nature.^ For God would rather that we should see his wrath 
upon the reprobate, than feel it in ourselves. It is true, 
that Avhen the promises of grace are set before us, every one 
of the pious ought to embrace them equally as though they 
were designed for himself particularly ; but, on the other 
hand, let us dread the threatenings of wrath and destruction 
in such a manner, that those things which are suitable for 
the reprobate, may serve as a lesson to us. God, it is true, 
is often said to be angry even with his children, and some- 
times chastens their sins with severity. Paul speaks here, 
however, of eternal destruction, of which a mirror is to be seen 
only in the reprobate. In short, whenever God threatens, he 
shews, as it were, indirectly the punishment, that, beholding 
it in the reprobate, we may be deterred from sinning. 

7. In which ye walked. Erasmus mistakingly refers this 
to men, rendering it, " inter quos," (" among whom,") for 
there can be no doubt that Paul had in vicAv the vices, 

' " Est appelee Idolatrie;" — " Is called Idolatry." 
* " Plustot que de menacer les Colossiens de tellcs choses;' — " Instead 
of threatening the Colossians with such things." 


in which he savs that the Colossians had walked, during: 
the time that they lived in them. For living and walking 
differ from each other, as power does from action. Liv- 
ing holds the first place : walking comes afterwards, as in 
Gal. V. 25, If ye live in the Spirit, walk also in the Spii-it. 
By these words he intimates, that it were an unseemly 
thing that they should addict themselves any more to the 
vices, to which they had died through Christ. See the 
sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is an argu- 
ment from a withdrawment of the cause to a withdrawment 
of the effect. 

8, But now — that is, after having ceased to live in the 
fiesh. For the power and nature of mortification are such, 
that all corrupt affections are extinguished in us, lest sin 
should afterwards produce in us its wonted fruits. What I 
have rendered indignationem, {indignation,) is in the Greek 
^viJb6<i — a term, which denotes a more impetuous passionate- 
ness than op'y-q, (anger.) Here, however, he enumerates, as 
may easily he perceived, forms of vice that were different 
from those previously mentioned. 

9. Lie not one to another, seeing 9. Ne mentiamini alii diversus 
that ye have put off the old man with alios, postquam exuistis veterem ho- 
his deeds ; minera cum actionibus suis : 

10. And have put on the new man, 10. Et induistis novum, qui reno- 
which is renewed in knowledge after vatur in agnitionem, secundimi ima- 
the image of him that created him : giuem eius, qui creavit eum : 

11. Where there is neither Greek 11. Ubi non est Graecus nee 
nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircum- Judaeus, circumcisio nee praepu- 
cision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor tium, barbarus, Scytha, servus, liber : 
free : but Christ is all, and in all. sed omnia et in omnibus Christus. 

12. l*ut on therefore, as the elect 12. Induite igitur, tanquam electi 
of God, holy and beloved, bowels of Dei sancti et dilecti, viscera misera- 
mercies, kindness, humbleness of tionum, comitatem, humilitatem, 
mind, meekness, long-suffering ; mansuetudinem, tolerantiam, 

13. Forbearing one another, and 13. Sufferentes vos mutuo, et con- 
forgiving one another, if any man donantes si quis adversus alium litem 
have a quarrel against any : even as habeat : quemadmodum Christus 
Christ forgave you, so also do ye. condonavit vobis, ita et vos. 

9. Lie not. When he forbids lying, 'he condemns every 
sort of cunning, and all base artifices of deception. For I do 
not understand the term as referring merely to calumnies, 
but I view it as contrasted in a general way with sincerity. 
Hence it might be allowable to render it more bricflv, and I 


am not sure but that it might also be a better rendering, 
thus — Lie not one to another. He follows out, however, his 
argument as to the fellowship, which believers have in the 
death and resurrection of Christ, but employs other forms of 

The old man denotes — whatever we bring from our mo- 
ther's womb, and whatever we are by nature.^ It is put off 
by all that are renewed by Christ. The new man, on the 
other liand, is that which is renewed by the Spirit of Christ 
to the obedience of righteousness, or it is nature restored to 
its true integrity by the same Spirit. The old man, how- 
ever, comes first in order, because we are first-born from 
Adam, and afterwards are born again througli Christ. And 
as what we have from Adam becomes old,^ and tends towards 
ruin, so what we obtain through Christ remains for ever, 
and is not frail ; but, on the contrary, tends towards immor- 
tality. This passage is worthy of notice, inasmuch as a 
definition of regeneration may be gathered from it. For it 
contains two parts — the putting off of the old man, and the 
putting on of the new, and of these Paul here makes men- 
tion. It is also to be noticed, that the old man is distin- 
guished by his works, as a tree is by its fruits. Hence it 
follows, that the depravity that is innate in us is denoted by 
the term old 

10. Which is renewed in knowledge. He shews in the ^irs^ 
place, that newness of life consists in knowledge — not as 
though a simple and bare knowledge were sufficient, but lie 
sjjeaks of the illumination of the Holy Spirit, which is lively 
and effectual, so as not merely to enlighten the mind by 
kindling it up with the light of truth, but transforming the 
whole man. And this is what he immediately adds, that 
we are renewed after the image of God. Now, the image of 
God resides in the whole of the soul, inasmuch as it is not 
the reason merely that is rectified, but also the will. Hence, 
too, we learn, on the one hand, what is the end of our re- 
generation, that is, that we may be made like God, and that 

■ See Calvin on the Romans, p. 224 ; also Calvin on the Corinthians, 
vol. i. p. 188. 
2 " Deuient vieil et caduque ;" — " Becomes old and frail." 


liis glory may sliine fortli in us ; and, on the other hand, 
what is the image of God, of which mention is made by 
Moses in Gen. ix. 6,^ the rectitude and integrity of the wliole 
soul, so that man reflects, like a mirror, the wisdom, right- 
eousness, and goodness of God. He speaks somewhat differ- 
ently in the Epistle to the Ephesians, hut the meaning is 
the same. See the passage — Eph. iv. 24. Paul, at the same 
time, teaches, that there is nothing more excellent at which 
the Colossians can aspire, inasmuch as this is our highest 
perfection and blessedness — to bear the image of God. 

1 1 . Whei^e there is neither Jeiu. He has added this in- 
tentionally, that he may again draw away the Colossians 
from ceremonies. For the meaning of the statement is this, 
that Christian perfection does not stand in need of those 
outward observances, nay, that they are things that are alto- 
gether at variance with it. For under the distinction of 
circumcision and uncircumcision, oi Jew and Greek, he in- 
cludes, by synecdoche^^ all outward things. The terms that 
follow, barbarian, Scythian,^ bond, free, are added by way of 

Cltrist is all, and in all, that is, Christ alone holds, as 
they say, the prow and the stern — the beginning and the end. 
Farther, by Christ, he means the spiritual righteousness of 
Christ, which puts an end to ceremonies, as we have formerly 
seen. They are, therefore, superfluous in a state of true per- 
fection, nay more, they ought to have no place, inasmuch as 
injustice would otherwise be done to Christ, as though it 
were necessary to call in those helps for making up his 

13. Put on therefore. As he has enumerated some parts 

of the old man, so he now also enumerates some parts of the 

' " De laquelle Moyse fait mention au Gen. i. chap. c. 26, et ix. b. 6 ;" 
— -" Of which Moses makes mention in Gen. i. 26, and ix. 6." 

* tSynecdoche, a figure of speech, by which a part is taken for the whole. 

* Howe supposes that Paul " may possibly refer hei-e to a Scythian 
who, having an inclination to learning, betook himself to Athens, to study 
the principles of philosophy that were taught there. But meeting one 
day with a person that very insolently upbraided him on the account of 
his country, he gave him this smart repartee : ' True indeed it is, my 
country is a reproach to me ; but you, for your part, are a reproach to 
your country.'" — //oit'e's Works, (Lond. 1822.) vol. v. p. 497. — Ed. 


new. " Theji," says he, " will it ajipear that ye are renewed 
by Christ, when ye are merciful and kind. For these are 
the effects and evidences of renovation." Hence the exhorta- 
tion depends on the second clause, and, accordingly, he keeps 
up the metaphor in the word rendered jnit on. 

He mentions, first, bowels of mercy, by which expression 
he means an earnest affection, with yearnings, as it were, of 
the bowels : Secondly, he makes mention of kindness, (for in 
this manner I have chosen to render ')(^pr)aTdr7]Ta,) by which 
we make ourselves amiable. To this he adds humility, be- 
cause no one will be kind and gentle but the man who, 
laying aside haughtiness, and high-mindedness, brings him- 
self down to the exercise of modesty, claiming nothing for 

Gentleness — the term which follows — has a wider accepta- 
tion than kindness, for that is chiefly in look and speech, 
while this is also in inward disposition. As, however, it 
frequently happens, that we come in contact with wicked 
and ungrateful men, there is need of patience, that it may 
cherish mildness in us. He at length explains what he 
meant by long-suffering — that we embrace each other in- 
dulgently, and forgive also where any offence has been given. 
As, however, it is a thing that is hard and difficult, he con- 
firms this doctrine by the example of Christ, and teaches, 
that the same thing is required from us, that as we, who 
have so frequently and so grievously offended, have never- 
theless been received into favour, we should manifest the 
same kindness towards our neighbours, by forgiving what- 
ever offences they have committed against us. Hence he 
says, if any one have a quarrel against another. By this he 
means, that even just occasions of quarrel, according to the 
views of men, ought not to be followed out. 

As the chosen of God. Elect I take here to mean, set 
apart. " God has chosen you to himself, has sanctified you, 
and received you into his love on this condition, that ye be 
mercifid, &c. To no purpose does the man that has not 
these excellences boast that he is holy, and beloved of God ; 
to no purpose does he reckon himself among the number of 


14. And above all these things jou( 14. Propter omnia haec cari- 
on charity, which is the bond of per- tatem, quae est vinculum perfec- 
fectness. tionis : 

15. And let the peace of God rule 15. Et pax Dei palmam obtineat* 
in yoiu: hearts, to the which also ye in cordibus vestris, ad quam etiam 
are called in one body ; and be ye estis vocati in uno corpore, et grati 
thankful. sitis. 

16. Let the word of Christ dwell IG. Sermo Christi inhabitet in 
in you richly in all wisdom ; teach- vobis opulente in omiii sapientia, 
ing and admonishing one another in docendo et commonefaciendo vos 
psalms, and hymns, and spiritual psalmis, hymnis, et canticis spirit- 
songs, singing with grace in your ualibus cum gratia, cauentes in cor- 
hearts to the Lord. dibus vestris Domino. 

17. And whatsoever ye do in word 17. Et quiquid feceritis sernione 
or deed, do all in the name of the vel opere, omnia in nomine Domini 
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God lesu, gratiae agentes Deo et I*atri, 
and the Father by him. per ipsum. 

14. On account of all these things. The rendering that 
has been given by others, " super omnia haec,'' (above all 
these things,) instead of insuper, {over and above,) is, in my 
opinion, meagre. It would be more suitable to render it. 
Before all these things. I have chosen, however, the more 
ordinary signification of the word eiri. For as all the things 
that he has hitherto enumerated flow from love, he now on 
good grounds exhorts the Colossians to cherish love among 
themselves, for the sake of these things — that they may be 
merciful, gentle, ready to forgive, as though he had said, 
that they would be such only in the event of their having 
love. For where love is wanting, all these things are souglit 
for in vain. That he may commend it the more, he calls it 
the bond of perfection, meaning by this, that the troop of 
all the virtues'^ is comprehended under it. For this truly is 
the rule of our Avhole life, and of all our actions, so that 
everything that is not regulated according to it is faulty, 
whatever attractiveness it may otherwise possess. This is 
the reason why it is called here the bond of perfection ; be- 
cause there is nothing in our life that is well regulated if it 
be not directed towards it, but everything that we attempt 
is mere waste. 

The Paj)ists, however, act a ridiculous part in abusing this 
declaration, with the view of maintaining justification by 

1 " Regne, ou, goiterne;" — " Reign, or, rule." 

■ Virlatuiii omnium chorum. See Cic. I. 3, Offic. c. uli. — Ed. 


works. " Love," say they, " is tlie hond of perfection : now 
perfection is righteousness ; therefore we are justified by 
love." The answer is twofold ; for Paul here is not reason- 
ing as to the manner in which men are made perfect in the 
sight of God, hut as to the manner in which they may live 
perfectly among themselves. For the genuine exposition of 
tlie passage is this — that other things will be in a desirable 
state as to our life, if love be exercised among ns. When, 
however, we grant that love is righteousness, they ground- 
, lessly and childishly take occasion from this to maintain, 
that we are justified by love, for where will perfect love 
be found ? We, however, do not say that men are justified 
by faith alone, on the ground that the observance of the law 
is not righteousness, but rather on this ground, that as we 
are all transgressors of the law, we arc, in consequence of 
our being destitute of any righteousness of our own, con- 
strained to borrow righteousness from Christ. There re- 
mains nothing, therefore, but the righteousness of faith, 
because perfect loA^e is nowhere to be found. 

15. A7id the peace of God. He gives the name of the 
peace of Ood to that which -God has established among us, 
as will appear from what follows. He would have it 7-eign 
in our hearts.^ He employs, however, a very appropriate 
metaphor ; for as among wrestlers,^ he who has vanquished 
all the others carries off the palm, so he would have the 
peace of Ood be superior to all carnal affections, which often 
hurry us on to contentions, disagreements, quarrels, secret 
grudges. He accordingly prohibits us from giving loose 
reins to corrupt aifections of this kind. As, however, it is 
difficult to restrain them, he points out also the remedy, that 
the^^eace of Ood may carry the victory, because it must be 
a bridle, by which carnal affections may be restrained. 
Hence he says, in our hearts ; because we constantly feel 

' " Rule in your hearts, (/3^a/3eu'sTa.) Let the peace of Christ jW^'e, de- 
cide, and govern in your hearts, as the brabcus, or judge, does in the 
Olympic contests. . . . While peace rules, aU is safe." — Dr. A. Clarke. 

2 " Le mot Grec signifie aucunesfois, Enclins a rendre graces, et recog- 
noistre les benefices que nous receuons ;" — " The Greek word means 
sometimes — having a disposition to give thanks, and to acknowledge the 
favours that we receive." 


there great conflicts, while the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. 
(Gal. V. 17.) 

The clause, to which ye are called, intimates what manner 
of peace this is — that unity which Christ has consecrated 
among us under his own direction.^ For God has reconciled 
us to himself in Christ, (2 Cor. v. 18,) with this view, that 
we may live in entire harmony among ourselves. He adds, 
in one body, meaning by this, that we cannot be in a state 
of agreement with God otherwise than by being united 
among ourselves as members of one body. When he bids, 
us be thankful, I do not take this as referring so much to 
the remembrance of favours, as to sweetness of manners. 
Hence, with the view of removing ambiguity, I prefer to render 
it, " Be amiable." At the same time I acknowledge that, 
if gratitude takes possession of our minds,^ we shall without 
fail be inclined to cherish mutual affection among ourselves. 

16. Let the word of Christ dwell. He would have the 
doctrine of the gospel be familiarly known by them. Hence 
we may infer by what spirit those are actuated in the pre- 
sent day, who cruelly^ interdict the Christian people from 
making use of it, and furiously vociferate, that no pestilence is 
more to be dreaded, than that the reading of the Scriptures 
should be thrown open to the common people. For, unques- 
tionably, Paul here addresses men and women of all ranks ; 
nor would he simply have them take a slight taste merely 
of the word of Christ, but exhorts that it should dwell in 
them ; that is, that it should have a settled abode, and that 
largely, that they may make it their aim to advance and in 
crease more and more every day. As, however, the desire 
of learning is extravagant on the part of many, while they 
pervert the word of the Lord for their own ambition, or for 
vain curiosity, or in some way corrupt it, he on this account 
adds, in all wisdom — that, being instructed by it, we may be 
wise as we ought to be. 

1 " En son noni et authorite ;" — " In his own name and authority.'" 
' " Si nous auons les cceurs et les sens abbreuuez de ceste attection de 
n'estre point ingrats ;" — " If we have our hearts and minds thoroughly im- 
bued with this disposition of being not unthankful." 

^ " 8i cstroitement et auec si grande cruaute ;" — " So strictly and with 
such great cruelty." 


Farther, lie gives a short definition of this wisdom — that 
tlie Colossians teach one another. Teaching is taken here to 
mean profitable instruction, which tends to edification, as 
in Romans xii. 7 — He that teacheth, on teaching ; also in 
Timothy — " All Scripture is profitable for teaching." (2 Tim. 
iii. 16.) This is the true use of Christ's word. As, how- 
ever, doctrine is sometimes in itself cold, and, as one says,^ 
when it is simply shewn what is right, virtue is praised"^ and 
left to starve,^ he adds at the same time admonition, which 
is, as it were, a confirmation of doctrine and incitement to 
it. Nor does he mean that the word of Christ ought to be 
of benefit merely to individuals, that they may teach them- 
selves, but he requires mutual teaching and admonition. 

Psalms, hyinns. He does not restrict the word of Christ 
to these particular departments, bu# rather intimates that 
all our communications should be adapted to edification, 
that even those which tend to hilarity ma}' have no empty 
savour. " Leave to unbelievers that foolish delight which 
they take from ludicrous and frivolous jests and witticisms ;* 
and let your communications, not merely those that are grave, 
but those also that are joyful and exhilarating, contain some- 
thing profitable. In place of their obscene, or at least barely 
modest and decent songs, it becomes you to make use of 
hymns and songs that sound forth God's praise." Farther, 
under these three terms he includes all kinds of songs. 
They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psahn 
is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument be- 
sides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song 
of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or other- 
wise ; while an ode contains not merely praises, but ex- 
hortations and other matters. He would have the songs of 

' " Comme a dit anciennement vn poete Latin ;" — " As a Latin poet 
has anciently said." 

- " Probitas laudatur et alget;" — "Virtue is praised and starves," — 
that is, is slighted. See Juv. i. 74. — Ed. 

^ " II se trouue assez de gens qui louent vertu, niais cependant elle se 
morfond : c'est a dire, il n'y en a gueres qui se mettent a I'ensuyure ;" — 
'• There are persons enough who praise virtue, but in the mean time it 
starves ; that is to say, there are scarcely any of them that set themselves 
to pursue it." 

* " Plaisanteries pleines de vanite et niaiserie :" — " Pleasantries full of 
vanity and silliness." 


Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivoli- 
ties and worthless trifles. For this has a connection with 
his argument. 

The clause, in grace, Chrysostom explains in different 
ways. I, however, take it simply, as also afterwards, in 
chapter iv. 6, where he says, " Let your speech be seasoned 
with salt, in grace," that is, by way of a dexterity that may 
be agreeable, and may please the hearers by its profitableness, 
so that it may be opposed to buffoonery and similar trifles. 

Singing in yoiir hearts. This relates to disposition ; for 
as we ought to stir up others, so we ought also to sing from 
the heart, that there may not be merely an external sound 
with the mouth. At the same time, we must not under- 
stand it as though he would have every one sing inwardly 
to himself, but he woukl have both conjoined, provided the 
heart goes before the tongue. 

1 7. And whatsoever ye do. We have already explained 
these things, and what goes before, in the Epistle to the 
Ephesians, where the same things are said almost word for 
word. As he had already begun to discourse in reference to 
different parts of the Christian life, and had simply touched 
upon a few precepts, it would have been too tedious a thing 
to follow out the rest one by one, he therefore concludes in a 
summary way, that life must be regulated in such a manner, 
that whatever we say or do may be wholly governed by the 
authority of Christ, and may have an eye to his glory as the 
mark.^ For we shall fitly comprehend under this term the 
two following things — that all our aims^ may set out with 
invocation of Christ, and may be subservient to his glory. 
From invocation follows the act of blessing God, which sup- 
plies us with matter of thanksgiving. It is also to be ob- 
served, that he teaches that we must give thanks to the 
Father through Christ, as we obtain through him every good 
thing that God confers upon us. 

18. Wives, submit yourselves unto 18. Muliercs, subditae estote pro- 
your own husbands, as it is fit in the priis maritis, quemadmodum decet 
Lord. in Domino. 

' " Comme a son but principal ;" — " As to its chief aim." 
^ " Toutes nos cjeuurcs et entreprinses ;" — " All our works and enter- 


19. Husbands, love your wives, 19. Viri, diligite uxores, et ne 
and be not Litter against them. amari sitis adversus illas. 

20. Children, obey your parents 20, Filii, obedite parentibus ves- 
in all things : for this is well-pleasing tris per omnia : hoc enim placet 
unto the Lord. Domino. 

21. Fathers, provoke not your 21. Patres, ne provocetis liberos 
children to anger, lest they be dis- vestros, ne deiiciantur animis. 

22. Servants, obey in all things 22. Servi, obedite per omnia iis, 
your masters according to the flesh ; qui secundum carnem sunt domini : 
not with eye-service, as men-pleasers ; non exhibitis ad oculum obsequiis, 
but in singleness of heart, fearing tanquam hominibus placere studen- 
God : tes, sed in simplicitate cordis, ut qui 

timeatis Deum. 

23. And whatsoever ye do, do it 23. Et quicquid feceritis, ex animo 
heartily, as to the Lord, and not facite, tanquam Domino, et non ho- 
unto men ; minibus : 

24. Knowing that of the Lord ye 24. Scientes quod a Domino re- 
shall receive the reward of the in- cipietis mercedem hereditatis, nam 
heritance : for ye serve the Lord Domino Christo servitis. 


25. But he that doeth wrong shall 25. Qui autem iniuste egerit, 
receive for the wrong which he hath mercedem reportabit suae iniquita- 
done : and there is no respect of tis : et non est personarum acceptio. 
persons. (Deut. x. 17.) 

18. Wives, he subject. Now follow particular duties, as 
they are called,^ which depeud on the calling of individuals. 
In handling these it were superfluous to take up many words, 
inasmuch as I have already stated in the Epistle to the 
Ephesians almost everything that was necessary. Here I 
shall only add briefly such things as are more particularly 
suited to an exposition of the passage before us. 

He commands wives to be subject. This is clear, but what 
follows is of doubtful signification — as it is fit in the Lord. 
For some connect it thus — " Be subject in the Lord, as it is 
fit." I, however, view it rather diiferently, — As it is fit in 
the Lord, that is, according to the appointment of the Lord, 
so that he confirms the subjection of wives by the authority 
of God. He requires love on the part of husbands, and that 
they be not bitter, because there is a danger lest they should 
abuse their authority in the way of tyranny. 

20. Children, obey your parents. He enjoins it upon 
children to obey their parents,^ without any exception. But 

1 " Les enseignemens concernans le deuoir particulier d'vn chacun ;" — 
" Instructions relating to the particular duty of each individual." 
* " Leurs peres et meres;" — " Their fathers and mothers." 


what if parents^ should feel disposed to constrain them to 
anything that is unlawful ; will they in that case, too, obey 
without any reservation ? Now it were worse than unreason- 
able, that the authority of men should prevail at the expense 
of neglecting- God. I answer, that here, too, we must un- 
derstand as' implied what he expresses elsewhere, (Eph. vi. 1) 
— in the Lord. But for what purpose does he employ a term 
of universality? I answer again, that it is to shew, that 
obedience must be rendered not merely to just commands, 
but also to such as are unreasonable.^ For many make 
themselves compliant with the wishes of their parents only 
where the command is not grievous or inconvenient. But, 
on the other hand, this one thing ought to be considered by 
children — that whoever may be their parents, they have been 
allotted to them by the providence of God, who by his ap- 
pointment makes children subject to their parents. 

In all things, therefore, that they may not refuse anything, 
however difficult or disagreeable — in all things, that in things 
indifferent they may give deference to the station which their 
parents occupy — in all things, that they may not put them- 
selves on a footing of equality with their parents, in the way 
of questioning and debating, or disputing, it being always 
understood that conscience is not to be infringed upon.^ He 
prohibits parents from exercising an immoderate harshness, 
lest their children should be so disheartened as to be in- 
capable of receiving any honourable training ; for we see, 
from daily experience, the advantage of a liberal education. 

22. Servants, he obedient. Anything that is stated here 

respecting servants requires no exposition, as it has been 

already expounded in commenting on Eph. vi. 1, with the 

exception of these two expressions, — For we serve the Lord 

Christ ; and, He that will act unjustly will receive the reward 

of his iniquity. 

1 " Les peres ou Ics meres ;" — " Fathers or mothers." 
" " C'est a dii'c, fasoheux et rigoureux ;" — " That is to say, grievous and 

' " Ou entrant en dispute auec eux, comme compagnon a compagnon, 
ainsi qu'on dit. Toutesfois, que ce soit tant que faire se pourra sans oti'euser 
Dieu;" — " Or entering into dispute with them, as associate Avith associate, 
as they say. At the same time, let it be only in so far as it can be done 
without offending God." 


By tlie former statement he means, that service is done 
to men in such a way that Christ at the same time holds 
supremacy of dominion, and is the supreme master. Here, 
truly, is choice consolation for all that are under suhjection, 
inasmuch as they are informed that, while they willingly 
serve their masters, their services are acceptable to Christ, 
as though they had been rendered to him. From this, also, 
Paul gathers, that they will receive from him a reward^ but 
it is the reward of inheritance, by which lie means that the 
very thing- that is bestowed in reward of works is freely given ' 
to us by God, for inheritance comes from adoption. 

In the second clause he again comforts servants, by saying 
that, if they are oppressed by the unjust cruelty of their 
masters, God himself will take vengeance, and will not, on 
the ground that they are servants, overlook the injuries in- 
flicted \\])o\\ them, inasmuch as tliere is no respect of persons 
tvith him. For this consideration might diminish their 
courage, if they imagined that God had no regard for them, 
or no great regard, and that their miseries gave him no 
concern. Besides, it often happens that servants themselves 
endeavour to avenge injurious and cruel treatment. He 
obviates, accordingly, this evil, by admonishing them to wait 
patiently the judgment of God. 


1. Masters, give unto i/our ser- 1. Domini, quod iustum est, ser- 
vants that which is just and equal ; vis exhibete, mutuamque aequabili- 
knowing that ye also have a Master tatem, s-cientes quod vos quoque 
in heaven. Dominum habeatis in coelis. 

2. Continue in prayer, and watch 2. Orationi instate, vigilantes in 
in the same with thanksgiving ; ea, cum gratiarum actione. 

3. Withal praying also lor us, 3. Orate siniul et pro nobis, ut 
that God would open imto us a door Deus aperiat nobis ianuam sermonis 
of utterance, to speak the mystery ad loquendum mysterium Christi, 
of Christ, for which I am also in cuius etiam causa vinctus sum. 
bonds ; 

4. That I may make it manifest, 4. Ut manifestem illud, quemad- 
as I ought to speak. modum oportet me loqui. 

1. Masters, ivhat is just. He mentions first, what is just, 
by which term he expresses that kindness, as to which he 


has given injunction in the Epistle to the Ephesians. (Eph. 
vi. 8.) But as masters, looking down as it were from aloft, 
despise the condition of servants, so that they think that 
they are bound by no law, Paul brings them under control,^ 
because both are equally under subjection to the authority 
of God. Hence that equity of which he makes mention. 

And mutual equity. Some understand it otherwise, but I 
have no doubt that Paul here employed laoTTjra to mean 
analogical^ or distributive right,^ as in Ephesians, ra avra, 
{tJie same things.y For masters have not their servants 
bound to them in such a manner as not to owe something to 
them in their turn, as analogical right to be in force among 
all ranks.^ 

2. Continue in prayer. He returns to general exhortations, 
in which we must not expect an exact order, for in that case 
he would have begun with prayer, but Paul had not an eye 
to that. Farther, as to prayer, he commends here two things; 
Ji7'st, assiduity ; secondly, alacrity, or earnest intentness. For, 
when he says, continue, he exhorts to perseverance, while 
he makes mention of watching in opposition to coldness, and 

He adds, thanksgiving, because God must be solicited for 
present necessity in sucli a way that, in the mean time, we do 
not forget favours already received. Farther, we ought not to 

' " Et rabbaisse leur presoniption ;" — " And beats down their presump- 

2 Our author has here in view a definition of Aristotle, quoted by him 
Avhen commenting on 2 Cor. viii. 13. See Calvin on the Corinthians, 
vol. ii. p. 29i.— Ed. 

' " C'est a dire, qui est regie et compasse selon la circonstance, qualite, 
ou vocation des personnes ;" — " That is to say, which is regulated and 
proportioned according to the circumstances, station, or calling of indivi- 

* " Comme aux Ephesiens il a vse de ce mot, Le mesme, ou Le sem- 
blable, en ceste signification, comme iL a este la touche ;" — " As in the 
Ephesians he has made use of this word, the same, or the like, in this sense, 
as he has there noticed." 

5 " Comme il y a vn droict mutuel, regie selon la consideration de I'office 
et vocation d'vn cliacun, Icquel droict doit auoir lieu entre tons estats ;" — 
" As there is a mutual right, regulated according to a consideration of the 
office and caUing of each individual, which right ought to have a place 
among all ranks." 

* " Ou facon d'y proceder laschement, et comme par acquit ;" — " < )r a 
way of acting in it listlessly, and as a mere form." 


be so importunate as to murmur, and feel offended if God 
does not immediately gratify our wishes, but must receive 
contentedly whatever he gives. Tims a twofold giving o 
thanks is necessary. As to this point something has also 
been said in the Epistle to the Philippians. (Phil. iv. 6.) 

3. Pray also for us. He does not say this by way of pre- 
tence, but because, being conscious to himself of his own 
necessity, he was earnestly desirous to be aided by their 
prayers, and was fully persuaded that they would be of ad- 
vantage to them. Who then, in tlie present day, would dare 
to despise the intercessions of brethren, wOiich Paul openly 
declares himself to stand in need of? And, unquestionably, 
it is not in vain that the Lord has appointed this exercise 
of love between us — that we pray for each other. Not only, 
therefore, ought each of us to pray for his brethren, but we 
ought also, on our part, diligently to seek help from the 
prayers of others, as often as occasion requires. It is, how- 
ever, a childish^ argument on the part of Papists, who infer 
from this, that the dead must be implored^ to pray for us. 
For what is there liere that bears any resemblance to this ? 
Paul commends himself to the prayers of the brethren, with 
whom he knows that he has mutual fellowship according to 
the commandment of God : who will deny that this reason 
does not hold in the case of the dead? Leaving, therefore, 
such trifles, let us return to Paul. 

As we have a signal example of modesty, in the circum- 
stance that Paul calls others to his assistance, so we are 
also admonished, that it is a thing that is rejDlete with the 
greatest difficulty, to persevere steadfastly in the defence of 
the gospel, and especially when danger presses. For it is 
not without cause that he desires that the Churches may 
assist him in this matter. Consider, too, at the same time, 
his amazing ardour of zeal. He is not solicitous as to his 
own safety f he does not ask that prayers may be poured 
forth by the Churches on his behalf, that he may be delivered 

1 " Plus que puerile ;" — " Worse than childish." 

« " Qu'il nous faut implorer I'aide des saincts trespassez ;" — " That we 
must implore the aid of departed saints." 

s " 11 ne se soucie point d'estre sauue des mains de ses ennemis :" — " He 
does not feel anxiety to be saved from the hands of his enemies." 


from danger of death. He is contented with this one thing-, 
tliat he ma}^, unconquered and undaunted, persevere in a 
confession of the gospel ; nay more, he fearlessly makes his 
own life a secondary matter, as compared with the glory of 
Christ and the spread of the gospel. 

By a door of utterance, however, he simply means what, in 
Eph. vi. 19, he terms the opening of the mouth, and what 
Christ calls a mouth and wisdom. (Luke xxi. 15.) For the 
expression differs nothing from the other in meaning, but 
merely in form, for he here intimates, by an elegant meta- 
phor, that it is in no degree easier for us to speak confidently 
respecting the gospel, than to break through a door that is 
barred and bolted. For this is truly a divine work, as Christ 
himself said. It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your 
Father that speaketh in you. (Matt. x. 20.) Having, there- 
fore, set forward the difficulty, he stirs up the Colossians the 
more to prayer, by declaring that he cannot speak right, ex- 
cept in so far as his tongue is directed by the Lord. Secondly, 
he argues from the dignity^ of the matter, when he calls the 
gospel the mystery of Christ. For we must labour in a more 
perfunctory manner in a matter of such importance. Thirdly, 
he makes mention also of his danger. 

4t. As I ought. This clause sets forth more strongly the 
difficulty, for he intimates that it is no ordinary matter. In 
the Epistle to the Ephesians, (Eph. vi. 20,) he adds, Iva Trap- 
pr}acdaco/j,ai, {that I may speak boldly,) from which it appears 
that he desired for himself an undaunted confidence, such as 
befits the majesty of the gospel. Farther, as Paul here does 
nothing else than desire that grace may be given him for 
the discharge of his office, let us bear in mind that a rule is 
in like manner prescribed to us, not to give way to the fury 
of our adversaries, but to strive even to death in the publi- 
cation of the gospel. As this, however, is beyond our power, 
it is necessary that we should continue in prayer, that the 
Lord may not leave us destitute of the spirit of confidence. 

6. Walk in wisdom toward them 5. Sapienter ambulate erga cx- 

that are witliout, redeeming the time, traneos, tempus redimentes. 

6. Let your speech be ahvny with fi. Sermo vester semper in jrratia 

grace, seasoned with salt, that ye sit sale conditus : ut sciatis quomodo 

' " La dignite et I'excellcnce ;"" — " Tlie dignity and excellence.'"' 


may know how ye ought to answer ojjorteat vos unicuique respon- 

every man. dere. 

7. All my state shall Tychicus de- 7. Res meas omnes patefaeiet vo- 
clare unto you, ivho is a beloved bis Tychicus dilectus frater et fidelis 
brother, and a faithful minister and minister ac conservus in Domino, 
fellow- servant in the Lord : 

8. Whom I have sent unto you 8. Quern misi ad vos hac de causa, 
for the same purpose, that he might ut sciretis statum meum, et conso- 
know your estate, and comfort your laretur corda vestra : 

hearts ; 

9. With Onesimus, a faithful and 9. Cum Onesimo fideli et dilecto 
beloved brother, who is one of you : fratre, qui est ex vobis. Omnia 
they shall make known unto you all patefacient vobis quae hie sunt, 
things which are done here. 

5. Walk wisely. He makes mention of tliose that are 
without, in contrast with tliose that are of the household of 

faith. (Gal. vi. 10.) For the Church is like a city of which 
all believers are the inhabitants, connected with each other 
by a mutual relationship, while unbelievers are strangers. 
But why would he have regard to be had to them, rather 
than to believers ? There are three reasons : first, lest any 
stumhlingblock be put in the way of the blind, (Lev. xix. 14,) 
for nothing is more ready to occur, than that unbelievers are 
driven from bad to worse through our imprudence, and their 
minds are wounded, so that they hold religion more and 
more in abhorrence. Secondly, it is lest any occasion may be 
given for detracting from the honour of the gospel, and thus 
the name of Christ be exposed to derision, persons be ren- 
dered more hostile, and disturbances and persecutions be 
stirred up. Lastly, it is lest, while we are mingled together, 
in partaking of food, and on other occasions, we be defiled 
by their pollutions, and by little and little become profane. 

To the same effect, also, is what follows, redeeming the 
time, that is, because intercourse with them is dangerous. 
For in Eph. v. 1 6, he assigns the reason, because the days are 
evil. " Amidst so great a corruption as prevails in the world 
we must seize opportunities of doing good, and we must 
struggle against impediments.'' The more, therefore, that 
our path is blocked up with occasions of offence, so much 
the more carefully must we take heed lest our feet should 
stumble, or we should stop short through indolence. 

6. Your speech. He requires suavity of speech, such as 



may allure the hearers by its profitableness, for he docs not 
merely condemn communications that are openly wicked or 
impious, but also such as are worthless and idle. Hence he 
would have them seasoned with salt. Profane men have their 
seasonings of discourse,^ but he does not speak of them ; nay 
more, as witticisms are insinuating, and for the most part 
procure favour,^ he indirectly prohibits believers from the 
practice and familiar use of them. For he reckons as taste- 
less everything that does not edify. The term grace is 
employed in the same sense, so as to be opposed to talkative- 
ness, taunts, and all sorts of trifles which are either injurious 
or vain.^ 

That ye may knoiu how. The man who has accustomed 
himself to caution in his communications will not fall into 
many absurdities, into which talkative and prating persons 
fall into from time to time, but, by constant practice, will 
acquire for himself expertness in making proper and suitable 
replies ; as, on the other hand, it must necessarily happen, 
that silly talkers expose themselves to derision whenever 
they are interrogated as to anything ; and in this they pay 
the just punishment of their silly talkativeness. Nor does 
he merely say what, but also how, and not to all indiscrimi- 
nately, but to every one. For this is not the least important 
part of prudence — to have due regard to individuals.* 

7. My things. That the Colossians may know what con- 
cern he has for them, he confirms them, by giving them, in 
a manner, a pledge. For although he was in prison, and 
was in danger of his life, making care for himself a secon- 
dary matter, he consults for their interests by sending 
Tychicus to them. In this the singular zeal, no less than 

^ Sales. The term is frequently employed by classical writers to de- 
note witticisms. See Cic. Fam. ix. 15; Juv. ix. 11 ; Hor. Ep. ii. 2, 60. 

' " Et que par ce moyen il seroit a craindre que les fideles ne s'y addon- 
assent ;" — " And as on this account it was to be feared that believers 
would addict themselves to this." 

a " Ou s'en vont en fumee ;" — " Or vanish into smoke." 

'■ " Car c"est des principales parties de vraye prudence, de scauoir dis- 
ccrncr les personnes pour parler aux vns et aux autrcs comnie il est de 
besoin ;" — " For it is one of the chief departments of (rue ])rudence, to 
know how to discriminate as to individuals, in speaking to one and to another, 
as there may be occasion." 


])rudence of the holy Apostle, shines forth ; for it is no small 
matter that, while he is held prisoner, and is in the most 
imminent danger on account of the gospel, he, nevertheless, 
does not cease to employ himself in advancing the gospel, 
and takes care of all the Churches. Thus, the body, indeed, 
is under confinement, but the mind, anxious to employ itself 
in everything good, roams far and wide. His prudence shews 
itself in his sending a fit and prudent person to confirm them, 
as far as was necessary, and withstand the craftiness of the 
false apostles ; and, farther, in his retaining Epaphras beside 
himself, until they should come to learn what and how great 
an agreement there was in doctrine among all true teachers, 
and might hear from Tychicus the same thing that they had 
previously learned from Epaphras. Let us carefully medi- 
tate on these examples, that they may stir us up to an 
imitation of the like pursuit. 

fie adds, Onesimus, that the embassy may have the more 
weight. It is, however, uncertain who this Onesimus was. 
For it can scarcely be believed that this is the slave of Phi- 
lemon, inasmuch as the name of a thief and a fugitive would 
have been liable to reproach.^ He distinguishes both of them 
by honourable titles, that they may do the more good, and 
especially Tychicus, who was to exercise the office of an 

10. Aristarchus my fellow-pri- 10. Salutat vos Aristarchus, con- 
sonei' saluteth you, and Marcus, captivus meus, et Marcus, cogiiatus 
sister's son to Barnabas; (touching Barnabae, de quo accepistis mandata 
whom ye received commandments : si venerit ad vos, ut suscipiatis ipsum. 
if he come unto you, receive him ;) 

11. And Jesus, which is called 11, Et lesus qui dicitur Justus, 

1 Paley, in his Horae Paulinae, finds the statement here made respect- 
ing Onesimus, " luho is one of you," one of the many undesigned coinci- 
dences which he adduces in that admirable treatise, in evidence of the 
credibility of the New Testament. The train of his reasoning in this 
instance may be briefly stated thus — that while it appears from the Epistle 
to Philemon, that Onesimus was the servant or slave of Philemon, it is not 
stated in that Epistle to what city Philemon belonged; but that it appears 
from the Epistle, (Philem. 1, 2,) that he was of the same place, whatever 
that place was, with an eminent ■Christian, named Archippus, whom we 
find saluted by name amongst the Colossian Christians ; while the expres- 
sion made use of by Paul here respecting Onesimus, ''who is one of you," 
clearly marks him out as being of the same city, viz., Colosse. — Ed. 


Justus, who are of the circumcision, qui sunt ex circumcisione, hi soli 

These only are my fellow- workers co-operarii in regnum Dei, qui niihi 

unto the kmgdom of God, which fuerunt solatio. 
liave been a comfort luito me. 

12. Epaphras, who is one of you, 12. Salutat vos Epaphras, qui est 
a servant of Christ, saluteth you, ex vobis servus Christi, semper de- 
always labouring fervently for you certans pro vobis in precationibus, ut 
in prayers, that ye may stand perfect stetis perfecti et conipleti in onini 
and complete in all the will of God. voluntate Dei. 

13. For I bear him record, that 13. Testimonium enim illi reddo, 
he hath a great zeal for you, and quod multum studium vestri habeat, 
them that are in Laodicea, and them et eorum qui sunt Laodiceae et 
in Hierapolis. Hierapoli. 

10. Fellow-prisoner. From this it appears that there were 
others that were associated with Paul/ after he was brought 
to Pbome. It is also probable that his enemies exerted them- 
selves, in the outset, to deter all pious persons from giving 
him help, by threatening them with the like danger, and 
that this for a time had the desired effect ; but that after- 
wards some, gathering up courage, despised everything that 
was held out to them in the way of terror. 

That ye receive him. Some manuscripts have receive in 
the imperative mood ; but it is a mistake, for he expresses 
the nature of the charge which the Colossians had received 
— that it was a commendation of either Barnabas, or of 
Marcus. The latter is the more probable. In the Greek it 
is the infinitive mood,^ but it may be rendered in the way 
I have done. Let us, however, observe, that they were 
careful in furnishing attestations, that they might distin- 
guish good men from false brethren — from pretenders, from 
impostors, and multitudes of vagrants. The same care is 
more than simply necessary at the present day, both because 
good teachers are coldly received, and because credulous and 
foolish men lay themselves too open to be deceived by im- 

1 1. These only are fellow-tvorkers, — that is, of the circum- 

* " D'autres furent mis prisonniers auec sainct Paul ;"— " Some others 
were made prisoners along with St. Paul." 

^ " Excipite 'iila.irii, vel li^aa-^ai, ut excipiatis, si conjungas cimi IXafLin, 
ut habet Syrus interpres, ut exprimatur quod fuerit illud mandatum ;" — 
" Receive ye, liluffh, or lila<r(ai, that ye may receive, if you connect it with 
IXajitTi, {ye received,) as the Syrian interpreter has it, so as to express what 
the charge was." — Beza. — Ed. 


cision ; for he afterwards names others, but they were of tlie 
imcircumcision. He means, therefore, that there were few 
Jews at Rome who shewed themselves to be heljDors to the 
gosj)el, nay more, that the whole nation was opposed to 
Christ. At the same time, by workers he means those only 
who were endowed with gifts that were necessary for j^ro- 
moting the gospel. But where was Peter at that time ? 
Unquestionably, he has either been shamefully passed over 
here, and not without injustice, or else those speak falsely 
who maintain that he was then at Rome. Farther, he calls 
the gospel the kingdom of God, for it is the sceptre by which 
God reigns over us, and by means of it we are singled out 
to life eternal.^ But of this form of expression we shall treat 
more fully elsewhere. 

12. Always striving. Here we have an example of a good 
pastor, whom distance of place cannot induce to forget the 
Church, so as to prevent him from taking the care of it with 
him beyond the sea. We must notice, also, the strength of 
entreaty that is expressed in the word striving. For although 
the Apostle had it in view here to express intensity of 
affection, he at the same time admonishes the Colossians 
not to look upon the prayers of their pastor as useless, but, 
on the contrary, to reckon that they would aiford them no 
small assistance. Lastly, let us infer from Paul's words, that 
the perfection of Christians is, when they stand complete in 
the will of God, that they may not suspend their scheme of 
life upon anything else. 

14. Luke, the beloved physician, 14. Salutat vos Lucas medicus 
and Demas, greet you. dilectus, et Demas. 

15. Salute the brethren which are 15. Salutate fratres qui sunt Lao- 
in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the diceae, et Nympham, et Ecelesiam 
church which is in his house. quae est domi ipsius ; 

16. And when this epistle is read 16. Et quum lecta fuerit apud vos 
among you, cause that it be read epistola, facite ut etiam in Laodicen- 
also in the church of the Laodiceans; slum Ecclesia legatur : et earn quae 
and that ye likewise read the epistle ex Laodicea est ut vos legatis. 
from Laodicea. 

17. And say to Archippus, Take 17. Et dicite Archippo : Vide 

' " Nous sommes receus a la vie eternelle ;" — " We are received to life 

230 COMMENTARY Oil THE CHAP. lY. 1 0. 

heed to the ministry which thou ministerium quod accepisti in Do- 
hast received in the Lord, tliat thou uiino, lit illud impleas. 
fulfil it. 

18. The salutation by the hand of 18. Salutatio, mea manu Pauli. 

me Paul. Remember my bonds. Memores estote vinculorum meo- 

(irace be with you. Amen. rum. Gratia vobiscum. Amen. 

^ Written from Rome to the Missa e Roma per Tychicum et 

Colossians by Tychicus and Onesi- Onesimum. 

14. Liike saluteth you. I do not agree with those who 
understand this to be Luke the Evangelist ; for I am of 
opinion that he was too well known to stand in need of such 
a designation, and he would have been signalized by a more 
magnificent eulogium. He would, undoubtedly, have called 
him his fellow-helper, or at least his companion and partici- 
pant in his conflicts. T rather conjecture that he was absent 
at that time, and that it is another of the same name that is 
called a, physician, to distinguish him from the other. Demas, 
of whom he makes mention, is undoubtedly the person of 
whom he complains — that he afterwards deserted him. 
(2 Tim. iv. 10.) 

When he speaks of the Church which was in the house of 
Nymphas, let us bear in mind, that, in the instance of one 
household, a rule is laid down as to what it becomes all 
Christian households to be — that they be so many little 
Churches.^ Let every one, therefore, know that this charge 
is laid upon him — that he is to train up his house in the fear 
of the Lord, to keep it under a holy discipline, and, in fine, 
to form in it the likeness of a Church. 

16. Let it be read in the Church of the Laodiceans. Hence, 
though it was addressed to the Colossians, it was, neverthe- 
less, necessary that it should be profitable to others. The 
same view must also be taken of all the Epistles. They were 
indeed, in the first instance, addressed to particular Churches, 
but, as they contain doctrine that is always in force, and is 
common to all ages, it is of no importance what title they 
bear, for the subject-matter belongs to us. It has been 
groundlessly supposed that the other Epistle of which he 
makes mention was written by Paul, and tliose labour under 
' Sec Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 78. 


a double mistake who think that it was written by Paul to the 
Laodiceans. I have no doubt that it was an Epistle that 
had been sent to Paul, the perusal of which might be profit- 
able to the Colossians, as neighbouring towns have usually 
many things in common. There was, however, an exceed- 
ingly gross imposture in the circumstance that some worth- 
less person, I know not who, had the audacity to forge, under 
this pretext, an Epistle that is so insipid,^ that nothing can 
be conceived to be more foreign to Paul's spirit. 

17. 8ay to ArcJiippiis. So far as I can conjecture, this 
Arehippus was, in the mean time, discharging the office of 
l)astor, during the absence of Epaphras ; but perhaps he was 
not of such a disposition as to be sufficiently diligent of him- 
self without being stirred up. Paul, accordingly, would 
have him be more fully encouraged by the exhortation of the 
whole Church. He might have admonished him in his own 
name individually ; but he gives this charge to the Colossians 
that they may know that they must themselves employ in- 
citements,^ if they see their pastor cold, and the pastor him- 
self does not refuse to be admonished by the Church. For 
the ministers of the word are endowed with signal authority, 
but such at the same time as is not exempt from laws. 
Hence, it is necessary that they should shew themselves 
teachable if they would duly teach others. As to Paul's 
calling attention again^ to his bonds, he intimates by this 
that he was in no slight degree afflicted. For he was mind- 
ful of human infirmity, and without doubt he felt some 
twinges of it in himself, inasmuch as he was so very urgent 
that all pious persons should be mindful of his distresses. 
It is, however, no evidence of distrust, that he calls in from 
all quarters the helps that were appointed liim by the Lord. 

^ " Contrefaire et mettre en auant vne lettre conime escrite par sainct 
Paul aux Laodiciens, voire si sotte et badine ;" — " To forge and put for- 
ward a letter as if written by St. Paul to the Laodiceans, and that too so 
foolish and silly." 

2 " Qu'eux-mcsmes aussi doyuent faire des remonstrances et inciter leur 
pasteur ;" — '• That they must themselves employ remonstrances and stir 
up their pastor." 

" Paul had previously made mention of his bonds, in the 3d verse of the 
chapter. — Ed. 


Tlio subscription, with his oivn hand, means, as we have seen 
elsewhere, that there were even then sjiurious ei^istles in 
circulation, so that it was necessary to provide against im- 

^ " Que des lors on faisoit courir des epistres a faux titre. et sous le uom 
des seruitevirs de Dieu : a laquelle meschancete il leur estoit force de re- 
medier par quelque moyen ;" — " Tliat even then they put hito circulation 
epistles under a false title, and in the name of the servants of God : to 
which wickedness he was under the necessity of employing a remedy by 
some means." 









It is befitting that you should come in for a share in my labours, 
inasmuch as, under your auspices, having entered on a course of 
study, I made proficiency at least so far as to be prepared to profit 
in some degree the Chui'ch of God. When my father sent me, 
while yet a boy, to Paris, after I had simply tasted the first elements 
of the Latin tongue. Providence so ordered it that I had, for a short 
time, the privilege of having you as my instructor,^ that I mi^ht 
be taught by you the true method of learning, in such a way that 
1 might be prepared afterwards to make somewhat better profi- 
ciency. For, after presiding over the first class with the highest 
renown, on observing that pupils who had been ambitiously trained 
up by the other masters, produced nothing but mere show, nothin"' 
of solidity, so that they required to be formed by you anew, tired of 
this annoyance, you that year descended to the fourth class. This, 
indeed, was what you had in view, but to me it was a sincular 
kindness on the part of God that I happened to have an auspicious 
commencement of such a course of ti'aining. And although I was 
permitted to have the use of it only for a short time, from the cir- 
cumstance that we were soon afterwards advanced higher by an 
injudicious man, who regulated our studies according to his ovs^n 
pleasure, or rather his capi'ice, yet I derived so much assistance 
afterwards from your training, that it is with good reason that I 
acknowledge myself indebted to you for such progress as has since 
been made. And this I was desirous to testify to posterity, that, 
if any advantage shall accrue to them from my writings, they shall 
know that it has in some degree originated with you. 

(jENEVA, 17th February 1550. 

' See p. xvi. 



The greater part of this Epistle consists of exhortations. Paul, 
had instructed the TnEgsALONiANS in the right faith. On hearing, 
however, that persecutions were raging there,^ he had sent Timothy 
with the view of animating them for the conflict, that they might 
not give way through fear, as human infirmity is apt to do. Having 
been afterwards informed by Timothy respecting, their entire 
condition, he employs various arguments to confirm them in stead- 
fastness of faith, as well as in patience, should they be called to 
endure anything for the testimony of the gospel. These things he 
treats of in the Jirst three Chapters. 

In the beginning of the Fourth Chapter, he exhorts them, in 
general terms, to holiness of life, aiterwards he recommends 
mutual benevolence, and all offices that flow from it. Towards 
the end, liowevei', he touches upon the question of the resurrection, 
and explains in what way we shall all be raised up from death. 
From this it is manifest, that there were some wicked or light- 
minded persons, who endeavoured to unsettle their fjiith by un- 
seasonably bringing forward many frivolous things.^ Hence with 
the view of cutting off all pretext for foolish and needless disputa- 
tions, he instructs them in few words as to the views which they 
should entertain. 

In the Fifth Chapter he prohibits them, even more strictly, from 
inquiring as to times ; but admonishes them to be ever on the watch, 
lest they should be taken unaAvares by Christ's sudden and unex- 
pected approach. From this he proceeds to employ various exhor- 
tations, and then concludes the Epistle. 

1 " Ayant ouy qu'il y estoit suruenu des persecutions, et qii'elles con- 
tinuoyent ;" — " Having heard that there were some persecutions that had 
broken out there, and that they were still continuing." 

2 " En mettant en auant sur ce propos Leaucoup de choses frivoles cl 
curieuses ;'"' — •' By bringing forward upon this subject many frivolous and 
curious things." 




1. Paul, and Silvanus, and Timo- 1. Paulus et Silvanus et Timo- 

theus, unto the Church of the Thes- theus p:cclesiae Thessalonicensiuni, 

salonians io/«c/i is ha God the Father, in Deo Patre, et Domino lesu 

and in the Lord Jesus Christ : Grace Cliristo, gratia vobis et pax a Deo 

fc^ unto you, and peace, from God our Patre nostro, et Domino lesu 

Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Christo. 

The brevity of the inscription clearly shews that Paul's 
doctrine had been received with reverence among the Thes- 
SALONIANS, and that without controversy they all rendered 
to him the honour that he deserved. For when in other 
Epistles he designates himself an Apostle, he does this for 
the purpose of claiming for himself authority. Hence the 
circumstance, that he simply makes use of his own name 
without any title of honour, is an evidence that those to 
whom he writes voluntarily acknowledged him to be such 
as he was. The ministers of Satan, it is true, had endea- 
voured to trouble this Church also, but it is evident that 
their machinations were fruitless. He associates, however, 
two others along with himself, as being, in common with 
himself, the authors of the Epistle. Nothing farther is 
stated here that has not been explained elsewhere, except- 
ing that he says, " the Church in 'God the Father, and in 
Christ ;" by which terms (if I mistake not) he intimates, 
that there is truly among the Thessalonians a Church of 
God. This mark, therefore, is as it w^ere an approval of a 
true and lawful Church. We may, however, at the same 


time infer from it, that a Church is to be sought for only 
where God presides, and where Christ reigns, and that, in 
short, there is no Church but what is founded upon God, 
is gathered under the auspices of Christ, and is united in 
his name. 

2. We give thanks to God always 2. Gratias agimus Deo semper de 
for you all, making mention of you omnibus vobis, memoriam vestri 
in our prayers ; facientes in precibus nostris, 

3. Remembering without ceasing 3. Indesinenter' memores vestri, 
your work of faith, and labour of propter opus fidei, et laborem cari- 
love, and patience of hope in our tatis,- et patientiam spei Domini 
Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of nostri lesu Christi coram Deo et 
God and our Father ; Patre nostro, 

4. Knowing, brethren beloved, 4. Scientes, fratres dilecti,^ a Deo 
yom* election of God. esse electionem vestram. 

5. For our gospel came not unto 5. Quia Evangelium nostrum non 
you in word only, but also in power, fuit erga vos in sermone solum, sed 
and in the Holy Ghost, and in much in potentia, et in Spiritu sancto, et 
assurance ; as ye know what manner in certitudine multa : quemadmodum 
of men we were among you for your nostis quales fuerimus in vobis 
sake. propter vos. 

2. We give thanks to God. He praises, as he is wont, 
their faith and other virtues, not so much, however, for the 
purpose of praising tliera, as to exhort them to perseverance. 
For it is no small excitement to eagerness of pursuit, when 
we reflect that God has adorned us with signal endowments, 
that he may finish what he has begun, and that we have, 
under his guidance and direction, advanced in the right 
course, in order that we may reach the goal. For as a 
vain confidence in those virtues, which mankind foolishly 
arrogate to themselves, puffs them up with pride, and makes 
them careless and indolent for the time to come, so a recog- 
nition of the gifts of God humbles pious minds, and stirs 
them up to anxious concern. Hence, instead of congratula- 

^ " En nos prieres, sans cesse ayans souuenance ; ou, En nos prieres 
sans cesse, Ayans souuenance;" — " In our prayers, without ceasing having 
remembrance ; or, In ovu- prayers without ceasing, Having remembrance." 

" " De vous pour I'ceuure de la foy, et pour le trauail de vostre charite ; 
ou, de I'effect de vostre foy, et du trauail de vostre charite ;" — " Of you 
for the work of faith, or for the labour of your love ; or, of the effect of 
your faith, or of the labour of your love." 

3 « Freres bien-aimez, vostre election estre de Dieu ; ou, freres bien- 
aimez de Dieu, vostre election ; ox, vostre election, qui est de Dieu ;" — 
" Brethren beloved, your election to be of God ; or, brethren beloved of 
God, your election; or, your election, which is of God." 


tions, he makes use of thanksgivings, that lie may put them 
iu mind, that everything- in them that he dechires to be 
worthy of praise, is a kindness from God.^ He also turns 
immediately to the future, in making- mention of his prayers. 
We thus see for what purpose he commends their previous life. 

3. Unceasingly remembering you. While the adverb un- 
ceasingly might be taken in connection with what goes 
before, it suits better to connect it in this manner. What 
follows might also be rendered in this vvay : Remembering 
your work of faith and labour of love, &c. Nor is it any 
objection to this that there is an article interposed between 
the pronoun vjjuwv and the noun epyov,^ for this manner of 
expression is frequently made use of by Paul. I state this, 
lest any one should charge the old translator with ignorance, 
from his rendering it in this manner.^ As, however, it 
matters little as to the main point'' which you may choose, I 
have retained the rendering of Erasmus.'' 

He assigns a reason, however, why he cherishes so strong 
an affection towards them, and prays diligently in their be- 
half — because he perceived in them those gifts of God which 
should stir him up to cherish towards them love and respect. 
And, unquestionably, the more that any one excels in piety 
and other excellences, so much the more ought we to hold 
him in regard and esteem. For what is more worthy of love 
than God ? Hence there is nothing that should tend more 
to excite our love to individuals, than when the Lord mani- 
fests himself in them by the gifts of his Spirit. This is the 
highest commendation of all among the pious — this the most 
sacred bond of connection, by which they are more espe- 
cially bound to each other. I have said, accordingly, that it 

1 " KiSt vn benefice procedant de la liberalite de Dieu ;" — " Is a kind- 
ness proceeding from God's liberality." 

^ The words are y,"»v toZ 'i^you. — Kd. 

5 The rendering of the Vulgate is as follows : " Sine intermissione me~ 
mores operis jidel veHtrae." VViclif (1380) renders as follows: " With 
outen ceeysynge hauynge mynde of the werk of youre feithe." Cranmer, 
(1.539,) on the other hand, renders thus : " And call you to remembraunce 
because of the worke of your fayth." — Ed. 

'^ " Quant a la substance du propos ;" — " As to the substance of the 

* The rendering of Erasmus is as follows : " Mcmores vestri propter 
opus tidei ;" — •' Mindful of you on account of your work of faiili." 


is of little importance, whether you render it mindful of 
your faith, or mindful of you on account of your faith. 

Work of faith I understand as meaning the effect of it. 
This effect, however, may be explained in two ways — passively 
or actively, either as meaning tliat faith was in itself a signal 
token of the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit, inasmuch 
as he has wrought powerfully in the exciting of it, or as 
meaning that it afterwards produced outwardly its fruits. I 
reckon the effect to be in the root of faith rather than in its 
fruits. — " A rare energy of faith has shewn itself powerfully 
in you." 

He adds labour of love, by which he means that in the 
cultivation of love they had grudged no trouble or labour. 
And, assuredly, it is known by experience, how laborious 
love is. That age, however, more especially aiforded to be- 
lievers a manifold sphere of labour, if they were desirous to 
discharge the offices of love. The Church was marvellously 
pressed down by a great multitude of afflictions •} many were 
stript of their wealth, many were fugitives from their country, 
many were tlirown destitute of counsel, many were tender 
and weak.^ The condition of almost all was involved. So 
many cases of distress did not allow love to be inactive. 

To hope he assigns 2:)atience, as it is always conjoined with 
it, for what we hope for, we in patience tvait for, (Rom. viii. 
24,) and the statement should be explained to mean, that 
Paul remembers their patience in hoping for the coming of 
Christ. From this we may gather a brief definition of 
true Christianity — that it is a faith that is lively and full of 
vigour, so that it spares no labour, when assistance is to be 
given to one's neighbours, but, on the contrary, all the pious 
employ themselves diligently in offices of love, and lay out 
their efforts in them, so that, intent upon the hope of the 
manifestation of Christ, they despise everything else, and, 
armed with patience, they rise superior to the wearisomeness 
of length of time, as well as to all the temptations of the 

' " D'nfflictions quasi sans nombre ;" — " By afflictions, as it were, with- 
out number." 

- " Foibles et debiles en la foy ;" — '• Weak and feeble in faith." 


The clause, before our God and Father, may be viewed as 
referring to Paul's remembrance, or to the three things spoken 
immediately before. I explain it in this way. As he had 
spoken of his prayers, he declares that as often as he raises 
his thoughts to the kingdom of God, he, at the same time, re- 
calls to his remembrance the /at^/i, hope, und patience, of the 
Thessalonians, but as all mere pretence must vanish when 
persons come into the pres^ice of God, this is added, ^ in 
order that the affirmation may have more weight. Farther, 
by this declaration of his good-will towards them he designed 
to make them more teachable and prepared to listen.^ 

4. Knowing, brethren beloved. The participle knowing may 
apply to Paul as well as to the Thessalonians. Erasmus 
refers it to the Thessalonians. I prefer to follow Chrysos- 
tom, who understands it of Paul and his colleagues, for it is 
(as it appears to me) a more ample confirmation of the fore- 
going statement. For it tended in no small degree to recom- 
mend them — that God himself had testified by many tokens, 
that they were acceptable and dear to him. 

Election of God. I am not altogether dissatisfied with 
t]ie interpretation given by Chrysostom — that God had 
made the Thessalonians illustrious, and had established their 
excellence. Paul, however, had it in view to express some- 
thing farther ; for he touches upon their calling, and as 
there had appeared in it no common marks of God's power, he 
infers from this that they had been specially called with evi- 
dences of a sure election. For the reason is immediately added 
— that it was not a bare preaching that had been brought 
to them, but such as was conjoined with the efficacy of the 
Holy Spirit, that it might obtain entire credit among them. 
When he says, in poiuer, and in the Holy Spirit, it is, in 
my opinion, as if he had said — in the power of the Holy 
Spirit, so that the latter term is added as explanatory of the 
former. Assurance, to which he assigned the third place, was 

' " Ce poinct a nommeement c: le adiousle par Sainct Paul;" — " This 
point has been expressly added by St. Paul." 

^ " Car ce n'estoit vne petite consideration pour inciter St. Paul et 
les autres, a auoir les Thessalonieiens pour recommandez, et en faire es- 
teme ;" — " For it was no slight motive to induce St. Paul and others to 
hold the Thessalonians in estimation, and to regard them with esteem." 


either in the thing itself, or in the disposition of the Thes- 
salonians. I am rather inclined to think that the meaning 
is, that Paul's gospel had been confirmed by solid proofs/ 
as though God had shewn from heaven that he had ratified 
their calling." When, however, Paul brings forward the 
proofs by which he had felt assured that the calling of the 
Thessalonians was altogether from God, he takes occasion 
at the same time to recommend his ministry, that the}^ may 
themselves, also, recognise him and his colleagues as having 
been raised up by God. 

By the term power some understand miracles. I extend 
it farther, as referring to spiritual energy of doctrine. 
For, as we had occasion to see in the First Epistle to the 
Corinthians, Paul places it in contrast with speech^ — the 
voice of God, as it were, living and conjoined with effect, 
as opposed to an empty and dead eloquence of men. It 
is to be observed, however, that the election of God, which 
is in itself hid, is manifested by its marks — when he gathers 
to himself the lost sheep and joins them to his flock, and 
holds out his hand to those that were wandering and 
estranged from him. Hence a knowledge of our election 
must be sought from this source. As, however, the secret 
counsel of God is a labyrinth to those who disregard his 
calling, so those act jDerversely who, under jiretext of faith 
and calling, darken this first grace, from which faith itself 
flows. " By faith," say they, '' we obtain salvation : there is, 
therefore, no eternal predestination of God that distinguishes 
between us and reprobates." It is as though they said — 
" Salvation is of faith: there is, therefore, no grace of God that 
illuminates us in faith." Nay rather, as gratuitous election 
must be conjoined with calling, as with its effect, so it must 
necessarily, in the mean time, hold the first place. It matters 
little as to the sense, whether you connect vTro with the par- 
ticiple beloved or with the term election} 

' " A la este conime seelle et ratifie par bons tesmoignages et approba- 
tions suffisantes ;"' — " Had been there, as it were, sealed and ratified by 
good testimonies and sufficient attestations." 

" " Et en estoit I'autheur;" — •' And was the author of it." 

^ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. pp. 100, 101. 

'' " Au reste, les mots de ceste sentence sont ainsi couchez an lexte 



5. As ye know. Paul, as I have said before, has it as his 
aim, that the Thessalonians, influenced by the same con- 
siderations, may entertain no doubt tliat they were elected 
by God. For it had been the design of God, in honouring 
Paul's ministry, that he might manifest to them their adop- 
tion. Accordingly, having said that thej know what manner 
of persons they had been,^ he immediately adds that he was 
such /or their sake, by which he means that all this had 
been given them, in order that they might be fully persuaded 
that they were loved by God, and that their election was 
beyond all controversy. 

6. And ye became followers of us, 6. Et vos imitatores nostri facti 
and of the Lord, havinp^ received the estis et Domini, dura sermonem 
word in nuich attiiction, with joy of amplexi estis in tribulatione multa, 
the Holy Ghost : cum gaudio Spivitus saucti : 

7. So that ye were ensaniples to 7. Ita ut fueritis exemplaria 
all that believe in Macedonia and omnibus credentibus in Macedonia 
Achaia. et in Achaia. 

8. For from you sounded out the 8. A vobis enini porsonuit sermo 
word of the Lord not only in Mace- Domini : nee in Macedonia tantuni 
donia and Achaia, but also in every et in Achaia, sed eliam in omni loco, 
place your faith to God-ward is fides vestra quae in Deum est mana- 
spread abroad ; so that we need not vit : ita ut non opus habeamus quic- 
to speak any thing. quam loqui. 

6. And ye became imitatoi's. With the view of increas- 
ing their alacrity, he declares that there is a mutual agree- 
ment, and harmony, as it were, between his preaching and 
their faith. For unless men, on their part, answer to God, 
no proficiency will follow from the grace that is offered to 
tliem — not as though they could do this of themselves, but 
inasmuch as God, as he begins our salvation by calling us, 
perfects it also by fashioning our hearts to obedience. The 
sum, therefore, is this — that an evidence of Divine election 

Grec de SainctPaul, Scachans freres bien-aimez de Dieu, vostre election : 
tenement que ce mot de Dien, pent estre rapporte a deux endroits, ascauoir 
Bien-aimez de Dieu, ou vostre election estre de Dieu: mais c'cst tout vn 
comment on le prene quant au sens ;" — " Farther, the words of this sen- 
tence are thus placed in the Greek text of St. Paul ; knowing, brethren 
beloved of Go:l, your election : in such a way, that this phrase of God may 
be taken as referring to two things, as meaning beloved of God, or, your 
election to be of God; but it is all one as to the in what way you 
take it." 

' " Quels auoyent cste St. Paul et ses corapagnons;" — " What manner 
of persons St. Paul and his associates had been." 


shewed itself not onlj in Paul's ministry, in so far as it was 
furnished with the power of the Holy Spirit, but also in tlic 
faith of the Thessalonians, so that this conformity is a 
])Owerful attestation of it. He says, however, "Ye were 
imitators of God and of its," in the same sense in which it is 
said, that the people believed God and his servarit Moses, 
(Exod. xiv. lo,) not as though Paul and Moses had any- 
thing different from Grod, but because he wrought powerfully 
by them, as his ministers and instruments.^ While ye em- 
braced. Their readiness in receiving the gospel is called an 
imitation of God, for this reason, that as God had presented 
himself to the Thessalonians in a liberal spirit, so they had, 
on their part, voluntarily come forward to meet him. 

He says, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, that we may 
know that it is not by the instigation of the flesh, or by the 
promptings of their own nature, that men will be ready and 
eager to obey God, but that this is the work of God's Spirit. 
The circumstance, that amidst much tribulation they had 
embraced the gospel, serves by way of amplification. For 
we see very many, not otherwise disinclined to the gospel, 
who, nevertheless, avoid it, from being intimidated through 
fear of the cross. Those, accordingly, who do not hesitate 
with intrepidity to embrace along with the gospel the 
afflictions that threaten them, furnish in this an admirable 
example of magnanimity. And from this it is so much the 
more clearly apparent, how necessary it is that the Spirit 
sliould aid us in this. For the gospel cannot be properly, 
or sincerely received, unless it be with a joyful heart. 
Nothing, however, is more at variance with our natural dis- 
position, than to rejoice in afflictions. 

7. So that ye were. Here we have another amplification — 
that they had stirred up even believers by their example ; 
for it is a great thing to get so decidedly the start of those 
who had entered upon the course before us, as to furnish 
assistance to them for prosecuting their course. Typits (the 
word made use of by Paul) is employed by the Greeks in 
the same sense as Exemplar is among the Latins, and Patron 
among the French. He says, then, that the courage of the 
^ See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 288. 


Thessalonians had been so illustrious, tliat other believers 
had borrowed from thera a rule of constancy. I preferred, 
however, to render it patterns, that I might not needlessly 
make any change upon the Greek phrase made use of by 
Paul ; and farther, because the plural number expresses, in 
my opinion, something more than if he had said that that 
Church as a body had been set forward for imitation, for 
the meaning is, that there were as \\\2i\\j patterns as there 
were individuals. 

8. For from you sounded forth. Here we have an elegant 
metaphor, by which he intimates that their faith was so 
lively,^ that it did, as it were, by its sound, arouse other 
nations. For he says that the word of God sounded forth 
from them, inasmuch as their faith was sonorous^ for pro- 
curing credit for the gospel. He says that this had not only 
occurred in neighbouring places, but this sound had also 
extended far and wide, and had been distinctly heard, so 
that the matter did not require to be published by him.^ 

9. For they themselves shew of 9. Ipsi enim de vobis anniintiant, 
us what manner of entering in we qualem habnerimus ingressum ad 
had unto you, and how ye turned to vos: et quomodo conversi fueritis ad 
God from idols, to serve the living Deum ab idoHs, ut serviretis Deo 
and true God, viventi et vero : 

10. And to wait for his Son from 10. Et exspectaretis e coelis Fi- 
heaven, whom he raised from the lium eius, quern excitavit a mortuis, 
dead, even Jesus, which dehvered us lesnm qui nos Hberat ab ira vcn- 
from the wrath to come. tura. 

He says that the report of their conversion had obtained 
great renown everywhere. What he mentions as to his en- 
tering in among them, refers to that power of the Spirit, by 
which God had signalized his gospel.* He says, however, 
that both things are freely reported among other nations, as 
things worthy of being made mention of In the detail which 
follows, he shews, first, what the condition of mankind is, 

1 " Si vine et vertueuse ;" — " So lively and virtuous." 

" " Auoit resonne haut et clair ;"' — '• llad resounded loud and clear." 

' " Tellemcnt que la chose n'ha point besoin destre par luy diuulgec et 

magnifiee d'auantage :" — " So that the matter does not need to be farther 

published and extolled by him." 

* " Par laquelle Dieu auoit orne et magnifiquement authorize son Euan- 

gile :" — " By which God had adorned and magnificently attested his 



before the Lord enliglitens tlicm by tlie doctrine of bis gospel; 
and farther, for what end he would have us instructed, and 
what is the fruit of the gospel. For although all do not wor- 
ship idols, all are nevertheless addicted to idolatry, and are 
immersed in blindness and madness. Hence, it is owino^ to 
the kindness of God, that we are exempted from the impos- 
tures of the devil, and every kind of superstition. Some, 
indeed, he converts earlier, others later, but as alienation is 
common to all, it is necessary that we be converted to God, 
before we can serve God. From this, also, we gather the 
essence and nature of true foith, inasmuch as no one gives 
due credit to God but the man, who renouncing the vanity 
of his own understanding, embraces and receives the pure 
worship of God. 

9. To the living God. This is the end of genuine conver- 
sion. We see, indeed, that many leave off superstitions, 
who, nevertheless, after taking this step, are so far from 
making progress in piety, that they fall into what is worse. 
For having thrown off all regard to God, they give them- 
selves up to a profane and brutal contempt.-^ Thus, in 
ancient times, the suj)erstitions of the vulgar were derided 
by Epicurus, Diogenes the Cynic, and the like, but in such 
a way that they mixed up the worship of God so as to make 
no difference between it and absurd trifles. Hence we must 
take care, lest the pulling down of eiTors be followed by 
the overthrow of the building of faith. Farther, the Apostle, 
in ascribing to God the epithets true and living, indirectly 
censures idols as being dead and worthless inventions, and 
as being falsely called gods. He makes the end of conver- 
sion to be what I have noticed — that they miglit serve God. 
Hence the doctrine of the gospel tends to this, that it may 
induce us to serve and obey God. For so long as we are 
the servants of sin, we diie free from righteousness, (Rom. vi. 
20,) inasmuch as we sport ourselves, and wander up and 
down, exempt from any yoke. No one, therefore, is pro- 
perly converted to God, but the man who has learned to 
place himself wholly under subjection to him. 

As, however, it is a thing that is more than simply difii- 
1 " De toute religion ;" — " Of all religion." 


cult, in so great a corruption of our nature, he sliews at the 
same time, wliat it is that retains and confirms us in the 
fear of God and obedience to him — waiting for Christ For 
unless we are stirred up to the hope of eternal life, the world 
will quickly draw us to itself For as it is only confidence 
in the Divine goodness that induces us to serve God, so it 
is only the expectation of final redemption that keeps us 
from giving way.^ Let every one, therefore, that would per- 
severe in a course of holy life, apply his whole mind to an 
expectation of Christ's coming. It is also worthy of notice, 
that he uses tlie expression ivaiting for Ch7-ist, instead of the 
hope of everlasting salvation. For, unquestionably, without 
Christ we are ruined and thrown into despair, but when 
Christ shews himself, life and prosperity do at the same time 
shine forth upon us.^ Let us bear in mind, however, that 
this is said to believers exclusively, for as for the wicked, as 
he will come to be their Judge, so they can do nothing but 
tremble in looking for him. 

This is what he afterwards subjoins — that Christ de- 
livereth us from the wrath to come. For this is felt by none 
but those who, being reconciled to God by faith, have con- 
science already pacified ; otherwise,^ his name is dreadful. 
Christ, it is true, delivered us by his death from tlie anger 
of God, bvit the import of that deliverance will become ap- 
parent on the last day.^ This statement, however, consists 
of two departments. The first is, that the wrath of God 
and everlasting destruction are impending over the human 
race, inasmuch as all have sinned, and come short of the 
glory of God. (Rom. iii. 23.) The second is, that thei'e is 
no way of escape but through the grace of Christ ; for it is 
not without good grounds that Paul assigns to him this 
office. It is, however, an inestimable gift, tliat the pious, 
whenever mention is made of judgment, know that Christ 
will come as a Redeemer to them. 

' "■ Que no nous lussious ot perdions courage ;" — " That we do not give 
way and lose heart." 

2 " Jettent sur nous leurs rayons;" — " Cast upon us their rays." 

3 " Aux autres ;" — " To others." 

* " Mais au dernier iour sera veu a Treil le fruit de ceste deliurance, et 
do quelle importance elle est ;" — " But on the last day will be visible to 
the eye the fruit of ihut deliverance, and of what importance it is." 


In addition to this, he says emphatically, the wratJi to 
COME, that he may rouse up pious minds, lest they should 
fail from looking at the present life. For as faith is a look- 
ing at things that do not appear, (Heb. xi. 1,) nothing is less 
befitting than that we should estimate the wrath of God, 
according as any one is afflicted in the world ; as nothing is 
more absurd than to take hold of the transient blessings 
which we enjo}', that we may from them form an estimate 
of God's favour. While, therefore, on the one hand, the 
wicked sport themselves at their ease, and we, on the other 
hand, languisli in misery, let us learn to fear the vengeance 
of God, which is hid from the eyes of flesh, and take our 
satisfaction in the secret delights of the spiritual life.^ 

10. Whom he raised up. He makes mention here of 
Christ's resurrection, on which the hope of our resurrection 
is founded, for death everywhere besets us. Hence, unless 
we learn to look to Christ, our minds will give way at every 
turn. By the same consideration, he admonishes them that 
Christ is to be waited for from heaven, because we will find 
nothing in the world to bear us up,^ while there are innumer- 
able trials to overwhelm us. Another circumstance must be 
noticed f for as Christ rose for this end' — that he might 
make us all at length, as being his members, partakers of 
the same glory with himself, Paul intimates that his re- 
surrection would be vain, unless he again appeared as their 
Redeemer, and extended to the whole body of the Church 
the fruit and eff"ect of that power which he manifested in 


1. For yourselves, brethren, know 1. Ipsi enim nostis, fratres, quod 
our entrance in unto you, that it was ingressus noster ad vos non inanis 
not in vain : fuerit : 

^ " En dehces et plaisirs de la vie spirituelle, lesquels nous ne voyons 
point ;" — " In the delights and pleasures of the spiritual life, which we do 
not see." 

2 '• Et faire denieurer fermes ;" — " And make us remain firm." 

3 " A laquelle ceci se rapporte :" — " To wliat this refers." 

* " Laquelle il a vne fois monstree en sa personne;" — " Which he oiue 
shewed in his own person." 


2. But even after that we had 2. Imoquod persequiitioneni passi, 
suffered before, and were shamefully et probro affecti Philippis (ut scitis) 
entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, fiduciam sumpsimus in Deo nostro 
we were bold in our God to speak proferendi apud vos evangelium Dei, 
unto you the gospel of God with cimi multo certamine. 

much contention. 

3. For our exhortation ivas not 3. Nam exhortatio nostra, non 
of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in ex impostura, neque ex immunditia, 
guile : neque in dolo : 

4. But as we were allowed of God 4. Sed quemadmodum probati 
to be put in trust with the gospel, fuimus a Deo, ut crederetur nobis 
even so we speak ; not as pleasing evangelium. sic loquimur. non quasi 
men, but God, which trieth our hominibus placentes, sed Deo qui 
hearts. probat corda nostra. 

He now, leaving out of view the testimony of other 
Churches, reminds the Thessalonians of what they had 
tliemselves experienced,^ and explains at large in what 
Avay he, and in like manner the two others, his asso- 
ciates, had conducted themselves among them, inasmuch as 
this was of the greatest importance for confirming their 
faith. For it is with this view that he declares his integ- 
rity — that the Thessalonians may perceive that they had 
been called to the faith, not so much by a mortal man, as 
by God himself. He says, therefore, that his entering in 
unto them had not been vain, as ambitious persons manifest 
much show, while they have nothing of solidity ; for he 
employs the word vain here as contrasted with efficacious. 

He proves this by two arguments. ^\\e first is, that he had 
suffered persecution and ignominy at Philippi ; the second 
is, that there was a great conflict prepared at Thessalonica. 
We know that the minds of men are weakened, nay, are alto- 
gether broken down by means of ignominy and persecutions. 
It was therefore an evidence of a Divine work that Paul, 
after having been subjected to evils of various kinds and to 
ignominy, did, as if in a perfectly sound state, shew no hesi- 
tation in making an attempt upon a large and opulent city, 
with the view of subjecting the inhabitants of it to Christ. 
In this entering in, nothing is seen that savours of vain os- 
tentation. In the second department the same Divine power 
is beheld, for he does not discharge his duty with applause 
and favour, but required to maintain a keen conflict. In the 
' " Veues et esprouuez ;" — " Seen and ex])erienced." 


mean time lie stood firm and undaunted, from wliicli it ap- 
pears that he was held up^ by the hand of God ; for this is 
what he means when he says that he was emboldened. And, 
unquestionably, if all these circumstances are carefully con- 
sidered, it cannot be denied that God there magnificently 
displayed his power. As to the history, it is to be found in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Acts. 

3. For our exhortation. He confirms, by another argument, 
the Thessalonians in the faith which they had embraced — 
inasmuch as they had been faithfully and purely instructed 
in the word of the Lord, for he maintains that his doctrine 
was free from all deception and uncleanness. And with the 
view of placing this matter beyond all doubt, he calls their 
conscience to witness. The three terms Avhich he makes use 
of may, it would seem, be distinguished in this manner : 
imposture may refer to the substance of doctrine, unclean- 
ness to the afiections of the heart, guile to the manner of 
acting. In the first place, therefore, he says that they had 
not been deluded or imposed upon by fallacies, when they 
embraced the kind of doctrine that had been delivered to 
them by him. Secondly, he declares his integrity, inasmuch 
as he had not come to them under the influence of any im- 
13ure desire, but actuated solely by upright disposition. 
Thirdly, he says that he had done nothing fraudulently or 
maliciously, but had, on the contrary, manifested a simpli- 
city befitting a minister of Christ. As these things were well 
known to the Thessalonians, they had a sufficiently firm 
foundation for their faith. 

4. As we have been approved. He goes even a step higher, 
for he appeals to God as the Author of his apostleship, and 
he reasons in this manner : " God, when he assigned me 
this office, bore witness to me as a faithful servant ; there is 
no reason, therefore, why men should have doubts as to my 
fidelity, which they know to have been approved of by God. 
Paul, however, does not glory in having been approved of, 
as though he were such of himself; for he does not dispute 
here as to what he had by nature, nor does he place his own 
power in collision with the grace of God, but simply says 

' •• Soustenu et fortifie;" — " Sustained and strcno'thened." 


that the Gospel had been committed to him as a faithful 
and approved servant. Now, God ajsproves of those whom 
lie has formed for himself according to his own pleasure. 

I^ot as pleasing men. What is meant by pleasing men has 
been explained in the Epistle to the Galatians, (Gal. i. 10,) 
and this passage, also, shews it admirably. For Paul contrasts 
pleasing men, and ptleasing God, as things that are opposed 
to each other. Farther, when he says — God, who trieth our 
hearts, he intimates, that those who endeavour to obtain the 
favour of men, are not influenced by an upright conscience, 
and do nothing from the heart. Let us know, therefore, that 
true ministers of the gospel ought to make it their aim to 
devote to God their endeavours, and to do it from the heart, 
not from any outward regard to the world, but because con- 
science tells them that it is right and proper. Thus it will 
be secured that they will not make it their aim to please 
men, that is, that they will not act under the influence of 
ambition, with a view to the favour of men. 

5. For neither at any time used 5. Neque enim unquani in ser- 
Ave flattering words, as ye know, nor mone adulationis fuimus, queniad- 
a cloak of covetousness ; God is wit- modum nostis, neque in oceasione 
ness : avaritiae : JJeus testis. 

6. Nor of men sought we glory, 6. Nee quaesivimus ab homini- 
neither of you, nor 2/et of others, bus gloriani, neque a vobis, neque ab 
when we might have been burden- aliis. 

some, as the apostles of Christ. 

7. But we were gentle among you, 7. Quum possemus in pondere 
even as a nurse cherisheth her chil- esse tanquam Christi Apostoli, faeti 
dren : tamen sumus mites in medio vestri, 

perinde acsi nutrix alerettilios suos. 

8. So, being affectionately desir- 8. Ita erga vos affecti, libenter 
ous of you, we were willing to have voluissemus distribuere vobis non so- 
imparted unto you, not the gospel of lum Evangelir.m Dei, sed nostras ip- 
God only, but also our own souls, sorum animas. propterea quod carl 
because ye were dear unto us. nobis facti estis. 

5. For neither have ive ever. It is not without good reason 
that he repeats it so frequently, tliat the Thessaloniansknew 
that what he states is true. For there is not a surer attes- 
tation, than the experience of those with whom we speak. 
And this was of the greatest importance to them, because 
Paul relates with what integrity he had conducted himself, 
with no other intention, thnn that his doctrine may have 


the greater respect, for the building up of their faith. It is, 
however, a confirmation of the foregoing statement, for he 
that is desirous to please men, must of necessity stoop shame- 
fully to flattery, while he that is intent upon duty with an 
earnest and upright disposition, will keep at a distance from 
all appearance of flattery. 

When he adds, nor for an occasion of covetonsness, he 
means that he had not, in teaching among them, been in 
quest of anything in the way of personal gain. Ilpocpaait; 
is employed by the Greeks to mean both occasion and pre- 
text, but the former signification suits better with the pas- 
sage, so as to be, as it were, a trap.^ " I have not abused 
the gospel so as to make it an occasion of catching at gain." 
As, however, the malice of men has so many winding retreats, 
that avarice and ambition frequently lie concealed, he on 
this account calls God to witness. Now, he makes mention 
here of two vices, from which he declares himself to be ex- 
empt, and, in doing so, teaches that the servants of Christ 
should stand aloof from them. Thus, if we would distin- 
guish the genuine servants of Christ from those that are 
pretended and spurious, they must be tried according to this 
rule, and every one that would serve Christ aright must also 
conform his aims and his actions to the same rule. For 
where avarice and ambition reign, innumerable corruptions 
follow, and the whole man passes away into vanity, for these 
are the two sources from which the corruption of the whole 
ministry takes its rise. 

7. When we might have exercised authority. Some inter- 
pret it — when we might have been burdensome, that is, might 
have loaded you with expense, but the connection requires 
that TO ^apv should be taken to mean authority. For Paul 
says that he was so far removed from vain pomp, from boast- 
ing, from arrogance, that he even waived his just claim, so 
far as the maintenance of authority was concerned. For in- 
asmuch as he was an Apostle of Christ, he deserved to be 
received with a higher degree of respect, but he had refrained 

' " Tellement que ce soit vne ruse ou finesse, scmblable a celle de ceux 
qui tendent les filets pour prendre les oiseaux ;" — " So that it is a trick or 
artifice, similar to that of those who set traps for catching birds."' 


from all show of dignity/ as though he had been some mi- 
nister of the common rank. From tliis it appears how far 
removed he was from haughtiness.^ 

What we have rendered mild, the old translator renders 
Fuimus par^vuli, (we have been little,Y but the reading Avhich 
I have followed is more generally received among the Greeks ; 
but whichever you may take, there can be no doubt that 
lie makes mention of his voluntary abasement."* 

As if a nurse. In this comparison he takes in two points 
that he had touched upon — that he had sought neither 
glory nor gain among the Thessalonians. For a mother in 
nursing her infant shews nothing of power or dignity. Paul 
says that he was such, inasmuch as he voluntarily refrained 
from claiming the honour that was due to him, and with 
calmness and modesty stooped to every kind of office. ^S'e- 
condly, a mother in nursing her children manifests a certain 
rare and wonderful affection, inasmuch as she spares no 
labour and trouble, shuns no anxiety, is wearied out by no 
assiduity, and even with cheerfulness of spirit gives her own 
blood to be sucked. In the same way, Paul declares that 
he was so disposed towards the Thessalonians, that he was 
prepared to lay out his life for their benefit. This, assu- 
redly, was not the conduct of a man that was sordid or ava- 
ricious, but of one that exercised a disinterested affection, 
and he expresses this in the close — because ye were dear 
unto us. In the mean time, we must bear in mind, that all 
that would be ranked among true pastors must exercise this 
disposition of Paul — to have more regard to the welfare of 
tlie Church than to their own life, and not be impelled to 
duty by a regard to their own advantage, but by a sincere 
love to those to whom they know that they are conjoined, 
and laid under obligation."'^ 

* " De toute apparence de preeminence et maieste ;" — " From all ap- 
pearance of preeminence and majesty." 

2 " De toute hautesse et presomption ;" — '• From all haughtiness and 

' The rendering of Wiclifl' (1380) is, as usual, in accordance with the 
Vulgate — '• wc weren made litil." — Ed. 

< " Abaissement ot humilite ;" — " Abasement and humility." 

* '• Pour vne vraye anjour ot non feinte qu'ils portent a ceux. ausquels 
ils scauent que Dieu les a conionts et liez on oblige/. ;'" — " From a true 


9. For ye remember, brethren, 9. Memoria enim tenetis, fratres, 
our labour and travail : for labour- laborem nostrum et sudorem . nam 
inf^ night and day, because we would die ac nocte opus facientes, ne gra- 
notbechargeableimtoany ofyou, we A^aremus quenquam vestruni, prae- 
preached unto you the gospel of God. dicavimus apud vos Evangelium Dei. 

10. Ye are witnesses, and God 10. Vos testes estis et Deus, lit 
also, how holily, and justly, and un- sancte, et iuste, et sine querela vo- 
blameably, we behaved ourselves bis, qui creditis, fuerimus. 

among you that believe : 

11. As ye know how we exhorted 11. Quemadmodum nostis, ut 
and comforted, and charged every unumquemque vestrum, quasi pater 
one of you, (as a father doth his suos liberos, 


12. That ye would walk worthy 12. Exhortati simus, et monueri- 
of God, who hath called you unto mus et obtestati simus, ut ambula- 
his kingdom and glory. retis digne Deo, qui vocavit vos in 

suum regnum et gloriam. 

9. For ye remember. These things tend to confirm what 
lie had stated previously — that to spare them he did not 
spare himself. He must assuredly have burned with a won- 
derful and more than human zeal, inasmuch as, along with 
the labour of teaching, he labours with his hand as an ope- 
rative, with the view of earning a livelihood, and in this 
respect, also, refrained from exercising his right. For it is 
the law of Christ, as he also teaches elsewhere, (1 Cor. ix. 14,) 
that every church furnish its ministers with food and other 
necessaries. Paul, therefore, in laying no burden upon the 
Thessalonians, does something more than could, from the 
requirements of his office, have been required from him. 
In addition to this, he does not merely refrain from incur- 
ring public expense, but avoids burdening any one individu- 
ally. Farther, there can be no doubt, that he was influenced 
by some good and special consideration in thus refraining 
from exercising his right,^ for in other churches he exer- 
cised, equally with others, the liberty allowed him.^ He 
received nothing from the Corinthians, lest he should give 
the false apostles a handle for glorying as to this matter. 
In the mean time, he did not hesitate to ask^ from other 
churches, what was needed by him, for he writes that, while 

and unfeigned love which they bear to those, to whom they know that God 

has conjoined, and tied, or bound them." 

^ "Entre les Thessaloniciens ;" — " Among the Thessalonians." 
^ " La liberte que Dieu donne ;" — " The liberty that God gives." 
" II n'a pohit fait de conscience de prendre lors des autres Eglises ;" — 

" He made no scruple to take at that time from other Churches." 



lie bestowed labour ii]ion the Corinthians, free of charge, he 
robbed the Churches that he did not serve. (2 Cor. xi. 8.)^ 
Hence, although the reason is not expressed here, we may, 
nevertheless, conjecture that the ground on which Paul was 
unwilling that his necessities should be ministered to, was — 
lest such a thing should put any hinderance in the way of 
the gospel. For this, also, ought to be matter of concern to 
good pastors — that they may not merely run with alacrity 
in their ministry, but may, so far as is in their power, remove 
all hinderances in the way of their course. 

10. Ye are witnesses. He again calls God and them to 
witness, with the view of affirming his integrity, and cites, 
on the one hand, God as a witness of his conscience, and 
them,^ on the other hand, as witnesses of what they had 
known by experience. How holily, says he, and justly, that 
is, with how sincere a fear of God, and with what lidelity 
and blamelessness towards men ; and thirdly, unreproach- 
ably, by which he means that he had given no occasion of 
complaint or obloquy. For the servants of Christ cannot 
avoid calumnies, and unfavourable reports ; for being hated 
by the world, they must of necessity be evil-spoken of among 
the wicked. Hence he restricts this to believers, who judge 
uprightly and sincerely, and do not revile malignantly and 

11. Every one as a father. He insists more especiall}^ on 

those things which belong to his office. He has compared 

himself to a, nurse : he now compares himself to di, father. 

What he means is this — that he was concerned in regard to 

them, just as a father is wont to be as to his sons, and that 

he had exercised a truly paternal care in instructing and 

admonishing them. And, unquestionably, no one will ever 

be a good pastor, unless he shews himself to be a father to 

the Church that is committed to him. Nor does he merely 

declare himself to be such to the entire body,^ but even to 

the individual members. For it is not enough that a pastor 

in the pulpit teach all in common, if he does not add also 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 347 
' " Les ThoKsaloniciens ;" — " The Thessalonians." 
•'' " Tout lo corps de ceste Eglise-la ;" — " The whole body of the Church 


particular instruction, according as necessity requires, or 
occasion oifers. Hence Paul himself, in Acts xx. 26, de- 
clares himself to be free from the blood of all men, because 
lie did not cease to admonish all publicly, and also individu- 
ally in private in their own houses. For instruction given 
in common is sometimes of little service, and some cannot 
be corrected or cured without particular medicine. 

12. Exhorted. He shews with what earnestness he de- 
voted himself to their welfare, for he relates that in preaching 
to them respecting piety towards God and the duties of the 
Christian life, it had not been merely in a perfunctory way,^ 
but he says that he had made 'use of exhortations and adju- 
rations. It is a lively preaching of the gospel, when jiersons 
are not merely told what is right, but are jwicked (Acts 
ii. 37) by exhortations, and are called to the judgment-seat 
of God, that they may not fall asleep in their vices, for this 
is what is properly meant by adjuring. But if pious men, 
whose promptitude Paul so higlily commends, stood in ab- 
solute need of being stimulated by stirring exhortations, nay, 
adjurations, what must be done with us, in whom sluggish- 
ness^ of the flesh does more reign? In the mean time, as to 
tlie wicked, whose obstinacy is incurable, it is necessary to 
denounce upon them the horrible vengeance of God, not so 
much from hope of success, as in order that they may be 
rendered inexcusable. 

Some render the participle Trapafjuvdovfievot, comforted. If 
we adopt this rendering, he means that he made use of con- 
solations in dealing with the afflicted, who need to be sus- 
tained by the grace of God, and refreshed by tasting of 
heavenly blessings,^ that they may not lose heart or become 
impatient. The other meaning, however, is more suitable to 
the context, that he admonished; for the three verbs, it is 
manifest, refer to the same thing. 

1 " II ii'y a point este par acquit, comme on clit ;" — " It had not been 
in the mere performance of a task, as they say."' 

2 " La paresse et nonchalance de la chair :'' — " Indolence and negligence 
of the flesh." 

' '• Fortiflez on sonlagez en leur rafrechissant le goust des biens celestes;" 
— " Strengthened or comforted in the way of refreshing their taste with 
heavenly blessings." 


That ye might walk. He presents in a few words the sum 
and substance of his exhortations, that, in magnifying the 
mercy of God, he admonished them not to fail as to their 
calling. His commendation of the grace of God is con- 
tained in the expression, who hath called us into Jtis kingdom. 
For as our salvation is founded upon God's gracious adop- 
tion, every blessing that Christ has brought us is compre- 
hended in this one term. It now remains that we answer 
God's call, that is, that we shew ourselves to be such chil- 
dren to him as he is a Father to us. For he who lives other- 
wise than as becomes a child of God, deserves to be cut off 
from God's household. 

13. For this cause also thank we 13. Quapropter nos quoqiie in- 
God without ceasing, because, when desinenter gratias agimus Deo, quod, 
ye received the word of God which quum sermonem Dei praedicatum 
ye heard of us, ye received H not as a nobis perccpistis, amplexi estis, 
the word of men, but (as it is in non ut sermonem hominum, sed 
truth) the word of God, which effec- quemadmodum revera est, sermo- 
tually worketh also in you that be- nem Dei : qui etiam efficaciter agit 
lieve. in vobis credentibus. 

14. For ye, brethren, became fol- 14. Vos enim imitatores facti 
lowers of the churches of God which estis, fi-atres, Ecclesiarum Dei, quae 
in Judea are in Christ Jesus : for ye sunt in ludaea in Christo lesu : quia 
also have suffered like tliuigs of your eadeni passi estis et vos a propriis 
own countrymen, even as they liave tribulibus, quemadmodum et ipsi a 
of the Jews ; ludaeis, 

15. Vv'ho both killed the Lord 15. Qui Dominum lesum occi- 
Jesus and their own prophets, and derunt, et proprios Frophetas, et 
have persecuted us ; and they please nos persequuti sunt, et Deo non 
not God, and are contrary to all placent, et cunctis hominibus ad- 
men ; versi sunt : 

16. Forbidding us to speak to the 16. Qvii obsistunt ne Gentibus 
Gentiles, that they might be saved, loquamur, ut salvae fiant, ut com- 
to till up their sins alway : for the pleantur eorum peccata semper : 
wrath is come upon them to the ut- pervenit enim in eos ira usque in 
termost. tinem. 

18. Wherefore we give thanks. Having spoken of his 

ministry, he returns again to address the Thessalonians, that 

he may always commend that mutual harmony of which he 

has previously made mention.^ He says, therefore, that he 

gives thanks to God, because they had embraced the vjord of 

God which they heard from, his mouth, as the word of God, as 

it truly was. Now, by these expressions he means, that it 

' Calvin refers here to the harmony which happily subsisted between 
the preaching of Paul and the laith of the Thessalonians. See p. 242. — 


lias been received by them reverently, and with the obedience 
with which it ought. For so soon as this persuasion has 
gained a footing, it is impossible but that a feeling of obli- 
gation to obey takes possession of our minds.^ For who 
would not shudder at the thought of resisting God ? who 
would not regard contempt of God with detestation ? The 
circumstance, therefore, that the word of God is regarded by 
many with such contempt, that it is scarcely held in any 
estimation — that many are not at all actuated by fear, arises 
from this, that they do not consider that they have to do 
with God. 

Hence we learn from this passage what credit ought to be 
given to the gospel — such as does not depend on the authority 
of men, but, resting on the sure and ascertained truth of God, 
raises itself above the world; and, in fine, is as far above mere 
opinion, as heaven is above earth •} and, secondly, such as 
produces of itself reverence, fear, and obedience, inasmuch as 
men, touched with a feeling of Divine majesty, will never 
allow themselves to sport with it. Teachers^ are, in their 
turn, admonished to beware of bringing forward anything but 
the pure word of God, for if this was not allowable for Paul, 
it will not be so for any one in the present day. He proves, 
however, from the effect produced, that it was the word of 
God that he had delivered, inasmuch as it had produced that 
fruit of heavenly doctrine which the Prophets celebrate, 
(Isaiah Iv. 11, 13 ; Jer. xxiii. 29,) in renewing their life,* for 
the doctrine of men could accomplish no such thing. The 
relative pronoun may be taken as referring either to God or 
to his word, but whichever way you choose, the meaning 
will come all to one, for as the Thessalonians felt in them- 
selves a Divine energy, which proceeded from faith, they 
might rest assured that what they had heard was not a mere 

1 " II ne se peut faire que nous ne venions quant et quant a auoir vne 
saincte affection d'obeir ;" — " It cannot but be that we come at the same 
time to have a holy disposition to obey." 

^ " Aussi lois d'vue opinion, ou d'vn cuider ;" — " As far above opinion, 
or imagination." 

' " Les Docteurs, c'est a dire ceux qui ont la charge d'enseigner ;" — 
" Teachers, that is to say, those that have the task of instructing." 

* " En renouelant et reformant la vie des Thessaloniciens ;" — " In re- 
nowing and reforming the life of the Thessalonians." 



sound of the human voice vanishing into air, but tlic living 
and efficacious doctrine of God. 

As to the expression, the luord of the preaching of God, it 
means simply, as I have rendered it, the ivord of God preached 
hy man. For Paul meant to state expressly that they had 
not looked upon the doctrine as contemptible, although it 
had proceeded from the mouth of a mortal man, inasmuch 
as they recognised God as the author of it. He accordingly 
praises the Thessalonians, because they did not rest in 
mere regard for the minister, but lifted up their eyes to 
God, that they might receive his word. Accordingly, I 
have not hesitated to insert the particle ut, (that,) which 
served to make the meaning more clear. There is a mistake 
on the part of Erasmus in rendering it, "the word of the 
hearing of God," as if Paul meant that God had been mani- 
fested. He afterwards changed it thus, "the word by which 
you learned God," for he did not advert to the Hebrew 

14. For ye became imitators. If you are inclined to re- 
strict this to the clause in immediate connection with it, the 
meaning will be, that the power of God, or of his word, shews 
itself in their patient endurance, while they sustain perse- 
cutions with magnanimity and undaunted courage. I pre- 
fer, however, to view it as extending to the whole of the 
foregoing statement, for he confirms what he has stated, 
that the Thessalonians had in good earnest embraced the 
gospel, as being presented to them by God, inasmuch as tliey 
courageously endured the assaults which Satan made upon 
them, and did not refuse to suffer anything rather than leave 
off obedience to it. And, unquestionably, this is no slight 
test of faith when Satan, by all his machinations, has no 
success in moving us away from the fear of God. 

In the mean time, he prudently provides against a danger- 
ous temptation which might prostrate or harass them ; for 
they endured grievous troubles from that nation which was 
the only one in the world that gloried in the name of God. 

' " Car il n'a pas prins ofarde que c'estoit yci vne facon ile parlcr priiise 
(le la laiigue llebraique ;"' — " i^'or he did not take notice that it was a 
niamior of expression taken from the Ilehrcw language." 


This, I say, miglit occur to their minds : " If this is the true 
religion, why do the Jews, who are the sacred people of God, 
oppose it witli such inveterate hostility ?" With the view of 
removing this occasion of offence,^ he, in the first place, 
shews them that they have this in common with the first 
Churches that were in Judea : afterwards, he says that the 
Jews are determined enemies of God and of all sound doctrine. 
For although, when he says that they suffered from their 
own countrymen^ this may be explained as referring to others 
rather than to the Jews, or at least ought not to be restricted 
to the Jews exclusively, yet as he insists farther in describ- 
ing their obstinacy and impiet}^, it is manifest that these 
same persons are adverted to by him from the beginning. 
It is probable, that at Thessalonica some from that nation 
were converted to Christ. It appears, however, from the 
narrative furnislied in the Acts, that there, no less than in 
Judea, the Jews were persecutors of the gospel. I accord- 
ingly take this as being said indiscriminately of Jews as well 
as of Gentiles, inasmuch as both endured great conflicts and 
fierce attacks from their own countrymen. 

15. Who killed the Lord Jesus. As that people had been 
distinguished by so many benefits from God, in consequence 
of the glor}^ of the ancient fathers, the very name ^ was of great 
authority among many. Lest this disguise should dazzle the 
eyes of any one, he strips the Jews of all honour, so as to 
leave them nothing but odium and the utmost infamy. " Be- 
hold," says he, "the virtues for which they deserve praise 
among the good and pious ! — they killed their own prophets 
and at last tlie Son of God, they have persecuted me his 
servant, they wage war with God, they are detested by the 
whole world, they are hostile to the salvation of the Gentiles; 
in fine, they are destined to everlasting destruction." It is 
asked, why he says that Christ and the prophets were killed 
by the same persons ? I answer, that this refers to the entire 
body,'"' for Paul means that there is nothing new or unusual 
in their resisting God, but that, on the contrary, they are, 

* " Aux Thessaloniciens :"' — " To the Tliessalonians." 

' «])e Juif;"— "Of Jew." 

^ " A tout le corps du peuple ;" — " To the v.hole hody of the people." 


in tills manner, filling up the w.easure of their fathers, as 
Christ speaks. (Matt, xxiii. 32.) 

16. Who hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles. It is 
not without good reason that, as has been observed,^ he en- 
ters so much into detail in exposing the malice of the Jews.^ 
For as thej furiously opposed the Gospel everywhere, there 
arose from this a great stumblingbloclc, more especially as 
they exclaimed that the gospel was profaned by Paul, when 
he published it among the Gentiles. By this calumny they 
made divisions in the Churches, they took away from the 
Gentiles the hope of salvation, and they obstructed the pro- 
gress of the gospel. Paul, accordingly, charges them with 
this crime — that they regard the salvation of the Gentiles 
with env}^ but adds, that matters are so, in order that their 
sins may he filled tq), that he may take away from them all 
reputation for \netj ; just as in saying previously, that they 
p>leased not God, (verse 15,) he meant, that they were un- 
worthy to be reckoned among the worshippers of God. The 
manner of expression, however, must be observed, implying 
that those who persevere in an evil course fill up by this 
means the measure of their judgment,^ until they come to 
make it a heap. This is the reason why the punishment of 
the wicked is often delayed — because their impieties, so to 
speak, are not yet ripe. By this we are- warned that we 
must carefully take heed lest, in the event of our adding 
from time to time* sin to sin, as is wont to happen generally, 
the heap at last reaches as high as heaven. 

For wrath has come. He means that they are in an 
utterly hopeless state, inasmuch as they are vessels of the 
Lord's wrath. " The just vengeance of God presses upon 
them and pursues them, and will not leave them until they 
perish — as is the case with all the reprobate, who rush on 
headlong to death, to which they are destined." The Apostle, 
however, makes this declaration as to the entire body of tlie 

' " See p. 259. 

'■^ " II insiste si longuenient a doschiffrer et toucher an vif la malice des 
Juifs ;" — " He insists to so s^reat a length in distinctly unfolding and 
touching to the quick the malice of the Jews." 

^ " Et condamnation ;" — " And condenmation." 

* " C'hacun iour ;"— " Evorv day." 


people, ill such a manner as not to deprive tlie elect of hope. 
For as the greater proportion resisted Christ, he speaks, it is 
true, of the whole nation generally, but we must keej) in 
view the exception which he himself makes in Rom. xi. 5, 
— tliat the Lord will always have some seed remaining. We 
must always keep in view Paul's design — that believers must 
carefully avoid the society of those whom the just vengeance 
of God pursues, until tliey perish in their blind obstinacy. 
Wrath, witliout any additional term, means the judgment of 
God, as in Rom. iv. 15, — the law worketh wrath ; also in 
Rom. xii. \d,— neither give place unto wrath. 

17. But we, brethren, being taken 17. Nos vero, fratres, orbati vobis 

from you for a short time in presence, ad tempus horae ^ aspectu, non 

not in heart, endeavoured the more corde, abundantius studuimus fa- 

abundautl}' to see your face with ciem vestram videre in multo desi- 

great desire. derio. 

IS. Wherefore we would have 18. Itaque voluimus venire ad 

come unto you (even I Paul) once vos, ego quidem Paulus, et semel et 

and again ; but Satan hindered us. bis, et obstitit nobis Satan. 

19. P'or Mhat ?s our hope, or joy, 19. Quae enim nostra spes, vel 

or crown of rejoicing ? ^rt- not even gaudium, vel corona gloriationis ? 

ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus annon etiam vos coram Domino nos- 

Christ at his coming ? tro lesu Christo in eius adventu ? 

20. For ye are our glory and joy. 20. Vos enim estis gloria nostra 

ct gaudium. 

17. But we, brethren, bereaved of you. This excuse has 
been appropriately added, lest the Thessalonians should 
think that Paul had deserted them while so great an emer- 
gency demanded his presence. He has spoken of the perse- 
cutions which they endured from their own people : he, in 
the mean time, whose duty it was above all others to assist 
them, was absent. He has formerly called himself n father ; 
now, it is not the part of a father to desert his children in 
the midst of such distresses. He, accordingly, obviates all 
suspicion of contempt and negligence, by saying, that it was 
from no want of inclination, but because he had not oppor- 
tunity. Nor does he say simj^ly, " I was desirous to come to 
you, but my way was obstructed ;" but by the peculiar terms 
that he employs he expresses the intensity of his affection : 
" When," says he, " I was bereaved of you."^ By the word 

' " Pour vn moment du temps ;" — " For a moment of time." 

' •' The original word is here very emphatical. It is an allusion to that 


bereaved, he declares how sad and distressing a tiling it was 
to him to be absent from them.^ This is followed by a fuller 
expression of his feeling of desire — that it was with difficulty 
that he could endure their absence for a short time. It is 
not to be wondered, if length of time should occasion weari- 
ness or sadness ; but we must have a strong feeling of at- 
tachment when we find it difficult to wait even a single hour. 
Now, by the S2)ace of an hour, he means — a small space of 

This is followed by a correction — that he had been separ- 
ated from them in appearance, not in lieart, that they may 
know that distance of place does not by any means lessen 
his attachment. At the same time, this might not less ap- 
propriately be applied to the Thessalonians, as meaning that 
they, on their part, had felt united in inind while absent in 
body; for it was of no small importance for the point in 
hand that he should state how fully assured he was of their 
affection towards him in return. He shews, however, more 
fully his affection, when he says that he endeavoured the 
more abundantly ; for he means that his affection was so far 
from being diminished by his leaving them, that it had been 
the more inflamed. When he says, we would once and 
again, he declares that it was not a sudden heat, that 
quickly cooled, (as we see sometimes happen,) but that he 
had been steadfast in this purpose,^ inasmuch as he sought 
various opportunities. 

18. Satan hindered us. Luke relates that Paul was in 
one instance hindered, (Acts xx. 3,) inasmuch as the Jews 
laid an ambush for him in the way. The same thing, or 
something similar, may have occurred frequently. It is not 
without good reason, however, that Paul ascribes the whole 

grief, anxiety, and rolucfance of heart, with wliich dying, affectionate 
parents take leave of tlicir own children, when they are just goinj^ to 
leave them helpless orphans, exposed to the injuries of a merciless and 
wicked world, or that sorrow of heart with which poor destitute orphans 
close the eyes of their dying* parents." — Benson. — Ed. 

1 " Le mot Grec signitie I'estat d'vn pere qui a perdu ses enfans, ou des 
enfans qui ont perdu leur pere ;" — " The Gi-eek word denotes the condition 
of a father that has lost his children, or of children that have lost their 

* IJiijiis propositi tenaccm. Sec //oj-. Od. 3, 3. 1. — Ed. 


of this to Satan, for, as he teaches elsewhere, (Eph. vi. 12,) 
we have to lurestle not with Jiesh and blood, hiit with prin- 
cipalities of the air, and spiritual wickednesses, &c. For, 
whenever the wicked molest us, they fig-ht under Satan's 
banner, and are his instruments for harassing us. More 
especially, when our endeavours are directed to the work of 
the Lord, it is certain that everything that hinders proceeds 
from Satan ; and would to God that this sentiment were 
deeply impressed upon the minds of all pious persons — that 
Satan is continually contriving, by every means, in what 
way he may hinder or obstruct the edification of the Church ! 
We would assuredly be more careful to resist him ; we would 
take more care to maintain sound doctrine, of which that 
enemy strives so keenly to deprive us. We would also, 
whenever the course of the gospel is retarded, know whence 
the hinderance proceeds. He says elsewhere, (Rom. i. 18,) 
that God had not permitted him, but both are true : for 
although Satan does his part, yet God retains supreme 
authority, so as to open up a way for us, as often as he sees 
good, against Satan's will, and in spite of his opposition. 
Paul accordingly says truly that God does not permit, al- 
though the hinderance comes from Satan. 

19. For what is our hope. He confirms that ardour of 
desire, of which he had made mention, inasmuch as he has 
his happiness in a manner treasured up in them. " Unless 
I forget myself, I must necessarily desire your presence, for 
ye are our glory and joy." Farther, when he calls them his 
hope and the crown of his glory, we must not understand 
this as meaning that he gloried in any one but God alone, 
but because we are allowed to glory in all God's favours, in 
their own place, in such a manner that he is always our 
object of aim, as I have explained more at large in the^^rs^ 
Epistle to the Corinthians.^ We must, however, infer from 
this, that Christ's ministers will, on the last day, according 
as they have individually promoted his kingdom, be par- 
takers of glory and triumph. Let them tlierefore now learn 
to rejoice and glory in nothing but the prosperous issue of 

_lL^r la premiere aux Corinth., cliaj,). i. d. 31 ;" — " On 1 Corinthians 


tlieir ]abours, wlien tliey see that the gloiy of Christ is pro- 
moted by their instrumentality. The consequence will be, 
that they will be actuated by that spirit of affection to the 
Church with which they ought. The particle also denotes 
that the Thessrtlonians were not the only persons in whom 
Paul triumphed, but that they held a place among many. 
The causal particle yap, {for,) which occurs almost imme- 
diately afterwards, is employed here not in its strict sense, 
by way of affirmation — " assuredly you are." 


1. Wherefore, when we could no 1. Quare non amplius sufferentcs 
longer forbear, we thought it good censuinius, ut Athenis relinquere- 
to be left at Athens alone, niur soli : 

2. And sent Timotheus, our 2. Et niisimusTiniotheumfratrem 
brother, and minister of God, and nostrum, et miiiistrum Dei, et co- 
our fellow-labourer in the gospel of operarium nostrum in evangelio 
Christ, to establish jou, and to Christi, ut confirmaret vos, et vobis 
comfort you concerning your faith ; animum adderet ex tide nostra, 

3. That no man should be moved 3. Ut nemo turbaretur in his af- 
by these afflictions : for yourselves flictionibus : ipsi enim nostis quod 
know that we are appointed there- in hoc sumus constitute 


4. For verily, when we were with 4. Etenim quum essemus apud 
you, we told you before that we vos, praediximus vobis quod esse- 
should suffer tribulation ; even as it mus afflictiones passuri ; quemad- 
came to pass, and ye know. modum etiam accidit, et nostis. 

5. For this cause, when I could 5. Quamobrem et ego non am- 
no longer forbear, I sent to know plius sustinens, misi ut cognoscerem 
your faith, lest by some means the fidem vestram : ne forte tentasset 
tempter have tempted you, and our vos. is qui tentat, et exinanitus esset 
labour be in vain. labor noster. 

1. WJterefore, when we could no longer endure. By the 
detail which follows, he assures them of the desire of which 
he had spoken. For if, on being detained elsewhere, he had 
sent no other to Thessalonica in his place, it might have 
seemed as though he were not so much concerned in regard 
to them ; but when he substitutes Timothy in his place, he 
removes that suspicion, more especially when he prefers 
them before himself. Now that he esteemed them above 
himself, he shews from this, that he chose rather to be 
left alone than that thev should be deserted : for these 


words, we judged it good to he left alone, are emphatic. 
Timothy was a most faithful companion to him : he had at 
that time no others with him ; hence it was inconvenient 
and distressing- for him to he without him. It is therefore a 
token of rare affection and anxious desire that he does not re- 
fuse to deprive himself of all comfort, with the view of reliev- 
ing the Thessalonians. To the same effect is the word evSoKi}- 
aa/jiev, which expresses a prompt inclination of the mind.^ 

2. Our brother. He assigns to him these marks of com- 
mendation, that he may shew the more clearly how much 
inclined he was to consult their welfare : for if he had sent 
them some common person, it could not have afforded them 
much assistance ; and inasmuch as Paul would have done 
this without inconvenience to himself, he would have given 
no I'emarkahle proof of his fatherly concern in regard to 
them. It is, on the other hand, a great thing that he de- 
prives himself of a brother and fellow-labourer, and one to 
whom, as he declares in Phil. ii. 20, he found no equal, inas- 
much as all aimed at the promotion of their own interests. 
In the mean time," he procures authority for the doctrine 
which they had received from Timothy, that it may remain 
the more deeply impressed upon their memory. 

It is, however, with good reason that he says that he had 
sent Timothy with this view — that they might receive a con- 
firmatioii of their faith from his example. They might be 
intimidated by unpleasant reports as to persecutions ; but 
Paul's undaunted constancy was fitted so much the more to 
animate them, so as to keep them from giving way. And, 
assuredly, the fellowship which ought to subsist between 
the saints and members of Christ extends even thus far — 
that the faith of one is the consolation of others. Thus, 
M-hen the Thessalonians heard that Paul was going on with 
indefatigable zeal, and was by strength of faith surmounting 
all dangers and all difficulties, and that his faith continued 
everywhere victorious against Satan and the world, this 
brought them no small consolation. More especially we are, 

' " Viie afiection promple et procedante d'vn franc coeui*;" — " A 
prompt disposition, proceeding from a ready mind." 
' " En parlant ainsi ;" — '• By speaking thus." 


or at least ought to be, stimulated by the examples of those 
by whom we were instructed in the faith, as is stated in the 
end of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Heb. xiii. 7.) Paul, 
accordingly, means that they ought to be fortified by his 
example, so as not to give way under their afflictions. As, 
however, they might have been offended if Paul had enter- 
tained a fear lest they should all give way under perse- 
cutions, (inasmuch as this would have been an evidence of 
excessive distrust,) he mitigates this harshness by saying* — 
lest any one, or, that no one. There was, however, good rea- 
son to fear this, as there are always some weak persons in 
every society. 

S. For ye yourselves know. As all would gladly exempt 
themselves from the necessity of bearing the cross, Paul 
teaches that there is no reason why believers should feel 
dismayed on occasion of persecutions, as though it were a 
thing that was new and unusual, inasmuch as this is our 
condition, which the Lord has assigned to us. For this man- 
ner of expression — we are appointed to it — is as though he 
had said, that we are Christians on this condition. He says, 
however, that they knoiu it, because it became them to fight 
the moi'e bravely,^ inasmuch as they had been forewarned 
in time. In addition to this, incessant afilictions made Paul 
contemptible among rude and ignorant persons. On this 
account he states that nothing had befallen him but what 
he had long before, in the manner of a prophet, foretold. 

5. Lest perhaps the tempter has tempted you. By this 
term he teaches us that temptations are always to be dreaded, 
because it is the proper ofiice of Satan to tempt. As, how- 
ever, he never ceases to place ambushes for us on all sides, 
and to lay snares for us all around, so we must be on our 
watch, eagerly taking heed. And now he says openly wdiat 
in the outset he had avoided saying, as being too harsh — 
that he had felt concerned lest his labours should be vain, 
if, pcradventure, Satan should prevail. And this he does 
that they may bo carefully upon their watch, and may stir 
themselves up the more vigorously to resistance. 

1 " Plus vailliimmcnt et courageiisement ;" — " More valiantly and cour- 


6. But now, when Timotheus 6. Nupcr autem quum venisset 

came from you unto us, and brought Timotheus ad nos a vobis, et annun- 

us good tidings of your faith and tiasset nobis lideni et dilectionem 

charity, and that ye have good re- vestram, et quod bonam nostn me- 

membrance of us always, desiring moriam habetis semper, desideran- 

greatly to see us, as we also to see tes nos videre, quemadmodum et nos 

you ; ipsi vos : 

7. Therefore, brethren, we were 7. Indeconsolationempercepimus 
comforted over you in all our attlie- fratres de vobis, in omni tribula- 
tion and distress by your faith : tione et necessitate nostra per ves- 
tram fidem : 

8. For now we live, if ye stand 8. Quia nunc vivimus, si vos statis 
fast in the Lord. in Domino. 

9. For what thanks can we render 9. Quam enim gratiarum actio- 
to God again for you, tor all the joy nem possumus Deo reddere de vobis, 
wherewith we joy for your sakes in omni gaudio quod gaudemus prop- 
before our God; ter vos coram Deo nostro ; 

lU. Night and day praying ex- 10. Nocte ac die supra modum 

ceedingly that we might see your precantes, ut videamus faciem ves- 

f:H"o, and might perfect that which tram, et suppleamus quae fidei ves- 

is lacking in your faith ? trae desunt ? 

He shews here, by another argument, by what an extra- 
ordinary affection he was actuated towards them, inasmuch 
as he was transported almost out of his senses by the joyful 
intelligence of their being in a prosperous condition. For 
we must take notice of the circumstances which he relates. 
He was in affliction and necessity : there might have seemed, 
therefore, no room for cheerfulness. But when he hears 
what was much desired by him respecting the Thessalonians, 
as though all feeling of his distresses had been extinguished, 
he is carried forward to joy and congratulation. At the 
same time he proceeds, by degrees, in expressing the great- 
ness of his -joy, for he says, in the first place, we received 
consolation : afterwards he speaks of a joy that was plen- 
tifully poured fortli.^ This congratulation,^ however, has the 
force of an exhortation ; and Paul's intention was to stir up 
the Thessalonians to perseverance. And, assuredly, this 
must have been a most powerful excitement, when they 
learned that the holy Apostle felt so great consolation and 
joy from the advancement of their piety. 

1 " Ample et abondante ;" — " Large and overflowing." 

^ " Ceste facon de tesmoigner la ioye qu'il sent de la fermete des Thes- 

saloniciens ;" — " This manner of testifying the joy which he feels in the 

steadfastness of the Thessalonians " 


6. Faith and love. This form of expression should be the 
more carefully observed by us in proportion to the frequency 
with which it is made use of by Paul, for in these two words 
lie comprehends briefly the entire sum of true piety. Hence 
all that aim at this twofold mark during their whole life are 
beyond all risk of erring : all others, however much they 
may torture themselves, wander miserably. The third thing 
that he adds as to their good remembrance of him, refers to 
respect entertained for the Gospel. For it was on no other 
account that they held Paul in such aff"ection and esteem. 

8. For now we live. Here it appears still more clearly 
that Paul almost forgot himself for the sake of the Thessa- 
lonians, or, at least, making regard for himself a mere secon- 
dary consideration, devoted his first and chief tlioughts to 
them. At the same time he did not do that so much from 
affection to men as from a desire for the Lord's glory. For 
zeal for God and Christ glowed in his holy breast to such a 
degree that it in a manner swallowed up all other anxieties, 
" We live," says he, that is, " we are in good health, if you 
persevere in tlie Lord." And under the adverb now, he repeats 
what he had formerly stated, that he had been greatly pressed 
down by affliction and necessity ; yet he declares that what- 
ever evil he endures in his own person does not hinder his joy, 
" Though in myself I am dead, yet in your welfare I live." 
By this all pastors are admonished what sort of connection 
ought to subsist between them and the Church — that they 
reckon themselves happy when it goes well with the Church, 
although they should be in other respects encom,passed with 
many miseries, and, on the other hand, that they pine away 
with grief and sorrow if they see the building which they 
have constructed in a state of decay, although matters other- 
wise should be joyful and prosperous, 

9. For what thanksgiving. Not satisfied with a simple 
affirmation, he intimates how extraordinary is the gTeatness 
of his joy, by asking himself what thanks he can render to 
God ; for by speaking thus he declares that he cannot find 
an expression of gratitude that can come up to the measure 
of his joy. He says that he rejoices before God, that is, 
trul}' and without any pretence. 


10. Praying beyond measure. He returns to an expression 
of his desire} For it is never allowable for us to congratulate 
men, while they live in this world, in such unqualified terms 
as not always to desire something better for them. For they 
are as yet in the way : they may fall back, or go astray, or 
even go back. Hence Paul is desirous to have opportunity 
given him of supplying what is wanting in the faith of the 
Thessalonians, or, which is the same thing, completing in all 
its parts their faith, which was as yet imperfect. Yet this 
is the faith which he had previously extolled marvellously. 
But from this we infer, that those who far surpass others are 
still far distant from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we 
may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, 
(vaTepri/uiara,)^ that we may not be reluctant to aim at some- 
thing farther. 

From this also it appears how necessary it is for us to 
give careful attention to doctrine, for teachers^ were not ap- 
pointed merely with the view of leading men, in the course 
of a single day or month, to the faith of Christ, but for the 
purpose of perfecting the faith which has been begun. But 
as to Paul's claiming for himself what he elsewhere declares 
belongs peculiarly to the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. xiv. 14,) this 
must be restricted to the ministry. Now, as the ministry of 
a man is inferior to the efficacy of the Spirit, and to use the 
common expression, is subordinate to it, nothing is detracted 
fi'om it. When he says that he prayed 7iight and day beyond 
all ordinary measure,'*^ we may gather from these words how 
assiduous he was in praying to God, and with what ardour 
and earnestness he discharged that duty. 

11. Now God himself and our 11. Ipse autem Dens et Pater nos- 
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, ter,etDominusnoster lesusChristus 
direct our way unto you. viam nostram ad vos dirigat. 

1 See p. 202. 

2 '• 'Xfri^r,f/.a.ra. -Tr'arTiui. — Aftcrhigs of faith, as it may be significantly 
enough rendered, let but the novelty of the expression be pardoned." — 
Howe's Works, (London, 1822,) vol. iii, p. 70. — Ed. 

' " Les Docteurs et ceux qui ont charge d'enseigner en I'Eglise ;" — 
" Teachers and those that have the task of instructing in the Church." 

* " Night and day praying exceedingly — Supplicating God at all times ; 
mingling this with all my prayers; otij »»T£f/(ro-oy Seo^ei/a/, abounding and 
superabounding in mv entreaties to God, to permit me to revisit you." — 
Dr. A. Clarke.— Ed. 


12. And the Lord make you to 12. VosaiiteniDomimisimpleatet 
increase and abound in love one to- abimdare faciat caritate mutua inter 
ward another, and toward all men, vos et erga omnes : quemadmodum 
even as we '/o toward you : et nos ipsi aifecti sumus erga vos : 

13. To the end he may stablish 13. Ut confirniet corda vestra ir- 
your hearts unblamcable in holiness reprehensibilia, in sanctitate coram 
before God, even our Father, at the Deo et Patre nostro, in adventu Do- 
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ mini nostri lesu Christi, cum onini- 
•with all his saints. bus Sanctis eius. 

11. Now God himself. He now prays that the Lord, 
having removed Satan's obstructions, may open a door for 
himself, and be, as it were, the leader and director of his way 
to the Thessalonians. By this he intimates, that we cannot 
move a step with success,^ otherwise than under God's guid- 
ance, but that when he holds out his hand, it is to no pur- 
pose that Satan employs every effort to change the direction 
of our course. We must take notice that he assigns the 
same office to God and to Christ, as, unquestionably, the 
Father confers no blessing upon us except through Christ's 
hand. When, however, he thus speaks of both in the same 
terms, he teaches that Christ has divinity and power in 
common with the Father. 

12. And the Lord fill you. Here we have another pra^^er 
— that in the mean time, while his way is obstructed, the 
Lord, during his absence, may confirm the Thessalonians in 
holiness, and fill them with love. And from this again we 
learn in what the perfection of the Christian life consists — • 
in love and pure holiness of heart, flowing from faith. He 
recommends love mutually cherished towards each other, 
and afterwards towards all, for as it is befitting that a com- 
mencement should be made with those that are of the house- 
hold of faith, (Gal. vi. 10,) so our love ought to go forth to the 
whole human race. Farther, as the nearer connection must 
be cherished,^ so we must not overlook those who are farther 
removed from us, so as to prevent them from holding their 
proper place. 

He would have the Thessalonians abound in love and 

' "Nous ne pouuons d'vn coste ne d'aufre faire vn pas qui proufite et 
viene a bien ;" — " We cannot on one side or another take a step that may 
be profitabk- or prosperous." 

' " II faut recognoistre et entretenir :"— *• We must recognise and 


be filled with it, because in so far as we malce progress in 
acquaintance with God, the love of the brethren must at the 
same time increase in us, until it take possession of our 
whole heart, the corrupt love of self being- extirj^ated. He 
prays that the love of the Thessalonians may be perfected 
by God, intimating that its increase, no less than its com- 
mencement, was from God alone. Hence it is evident how 
preposterous a part those act who measure our strength by 
tlie precepts of the Divine law. The end of the law is love, 
says Paul, (1 Tim. i. 5 ;) yet he himself declares tliat it is 
a work of God. When, therefore, God marks out our life,^ 
he does not look to what we can do, but requires from us 
what is above our strength, that we may learn to ask from 
him power to accomplisli it. When he says — as we also 
toiuards you, he stimulates them by his own example. 

13. That he may confirm youi^ hearts. He employs the 
term hearts here to mean conscience, or the innermost part 
of the soul ; for he means that a man is acceptable to God 
only when he brings holiness of heart ; that is, not merely 
external, but also internal. But it is asked, whether by 
means of holiness we stand at God's judgment-seat, for if so, 
to what purpose is remission of sins ? Yet Paul's words seem 
to imply this — that their consciences might be irreproveable 
in holiness. I answer, that Paul does not exclude remission 
of sins, through which it comes that our holiness, which is 
otherwise mixed up with many pollutions, bears God's eye, 
for faith, by which God is pacified towards us, so as to pardon 
our faults,^ precedes everything else, as the foundation comes 
before the building. Paul, however, does not teach us what 
or how great the holiness of believers may be, but desires 
that it may be increased, until it attain its perfection. On 
this account he says — at the coming of our Lord, meaning 
that the completion of tliose things, which the Lord now 
begins in us, is delayed till that time. 

With all his saints. This clause may be explained in two 
ways, either as meaning that the Thessalonians, with all 

' "Nous prescrit en ses commandemcns la regie de viure;" — "Pre- 
scribes to us in his commandments the rule of life." 

' " Nous fautes et intirniitez vicieuses ;" — " Our faults and culpable 



saints, may have pure liearts at Christ's coming, or tliat 
Christ will come with all his saints. While I adopt this 
second meaning, in so far as concerns the construction of the 
Avords, I have at the same time no doubt that Paul employed 
the term saints for the purpose of admonishing us that we 
are called by Christ for this end — that we may be gathered 
with all his saints. For this consideration ought to whet 
our desire for holiness. 


1. Furthermore then, we beseccli 1. Ergo quod reliquuni est, fra- 
you, brethren, and exhort t/ou by tres, rogamus vos et obsecramus in 
the L(jrd Jesus, that as ye have re- Douiino lesu, quemadmodum acce- 
ceived of us how ye ought to walk pistis a nobis, quomodo oporteat 
and to please God, so ye would vos ambuhare et placere ])eo, ut 
abound more and more. abundetis magis : 

2. For ye know what command- 2. Nostis enim quae praecepta 
ments we gave you by the Lord dederimus vobis per Domiuum le- 
Jesus. sura. 

3. For this is the will of God, ew/i 3. Haec enim est voluntas Dei, 
your sanctification, that ye should sanctificatio vestra : ut vos abstine- 
abstain from fornication : atis ab omni scortatione, 

4. That every one of you should 4. Et sciat unusquisque vestrum 
know how to possess his vessel in suum vas possidere in sanctificatione 
sanctification and honour ; et honore : 

5. Not in the lust of concupis- 5. Non in affectu concupiscentiae, 
cence, even as the Gentiles which quemadmodum et Gentes, quae non 
know not God. noverunt Deum. 

1. Furthermore. This chapter contains various injunc- 
tions, by which he trains up the Thessalonians to a holy life, 
or confirms them in the exercise of it. They had previously 
learned what was the rule and method of a pious life : he 
calls this to their remembrance. As, says he, ye have been 
taught. Lest, however, he should seem to take away from 
them what he had previously assigned them, he does not 
simply exhort them to walk in such a manner, but to abound 
more and more. When, therefore, he urges them to make 
progress, he intimates that they are already in the way. The 
sum is this, that they should be more especially careful to make 
progress in the doctrine which they had received, and this Paul 
places in contrast with frivolous and vain pursuits, in which 


we see that a good part of the world very generally busy 
themselves, so that profitable and holy meditation as to the 
due regulation of life scarcely obtains a place, even the most 
inferior. Paul, accordingly, reminds them in what manner 
they had been instructed, and bids them aim at this with 
their whole might. Now, there is a law that is here enjoined 
upon us — that, forgetting the things that are behind, we 
always aim at farther progress, (Phil. iii. 13,) and pastors 
ought also to make this their endeavour. Now, as to his 
beseeching, when he might rightfully enjoin — it is a token of 
humanity and modesty which pastors ought to imitate, that 
they may, if possible, allure people to kindness, rather than 
violently compel them.^ 

3. For this is the luill of Ood. This is doctrine of a 
general nature, from which, as from a fountain, he immedi- 
ately deduces special admonitions. When he says that this 
is thetvill of God, he means that we have been called by God 
with this design. " For this end ye are Christians — this the 
gospel aims at — that ye may sanctify yourselves to God." The 
meaning of the term sanctification we have already explained 
elsewhere in repeated instances — that renouncing the world, 
and clearing ourselves from the pollutions of the flesh, we 
offer ourselves to God as if in sacrifice, for nothing can with 
propriety be offered to Him, but what is pure and holy. 

That ye abstain. This is one injunction, which he derives 
from the fountain of which he had immediately before made 
mention ; for nothing is more opposed to holiness than the 
defilement o^ fornication, which pollutes the whole man. On 
this account he assigns the lust of concupiscence to the Gen- 
tiles, who know not God. " Where the knowledge of God 
reigns, lusts must be subdued." 

By the lust of concupiscence, he means all base lusts of 
the flesh, but, at the same time, by this manner of expres- 
sion, he brands with dishonour all desires that allure us to 
pleasure and carnal delights, as in Rom. xiii. 14, he bids us 
have no care for the flesh in respect of the lust thereof. For 
when men give indulgence to their appetites, there are no 

1 " Que de les contraindre rudement et d'vne fa(;on violente ;" — " Rather 
than constrain them rudely and in a violent manner." 



bounds to lasciviousness.^ Hence the only means of main- 
taining temperance is to bridle all lusts. 

As for tlie expression, that every one of you may hiow to 
possess Ids vessel, some explain it as referring' to a wife,' as 
though it had been said, " Let husbands dwell with their 
wives in all chastity." As, however, he addresses husbands 
and wives indiscriminately, there can be no doubt that he 
employs the term vessel to mean body. For every one has 
his body as a house, as it were, in which he dwells. He 
would, therefore, have us keep our body pure from all 

And honour, that is, honourably, for the man that pro- 
stitutes his body to fornication, covers it with infamy and 

6. That no man go bej'ond and 6. Ne quis opprimat vel circum- 
defraiid his brother in any matter : veniat in negotio fratrem suuni: quia 
because that the Lord is the avenger vindex erit Dominus omniimi isto- 
of all such, as we also have fore- rum, quemadmodura et praediximus 
warned you, and testified. vobis, et obtestati sumus. 

7. For God hath not called us un- 7. Non enim vocavit vos Deus ad 
to uncleanness, but unto holiness. immunditiam, sed ad sanctificatio- 


8. He therefore that despiseth, 8. Itaque qui hoc repudiat, non 
despiseth not man, but God, who hath hominem repudiat, sed Deum, qui 
also given unto us his Holy Spirit. etiam dedit Spiritum suum sanctum 

in nos. 

6. Let no man oppress. Here we have another exhorta- 
tion, which flows, like a stream, from the doctrine of sanc- 
tification. " God," says he, " has it in view to sanctify us, 
that no man may do injury to his brother." For as to Chry- 
sostom's connecting this statement with the preceding one, 
and explaining vTrep^aivetv koI TrXeoveKTelv to mean' — neigh- 
ing after the wives of others, (Jer. v. 8,) and eagerly desiring 
them, is too forced an exposition. Pavd, accordingly, having 
adduced one instance of unchastity in respect of lascivious- 
ness and lust, teaches that this also is a department of holi- 
ness — that we conduct ourselves righteously and harmlessly 
towards our neighbours. The former verb refers to violent 
oppressions — where the man that has more power emboldens 

^ " II n'y a mesure ne fin de desbauchement et dissolution ;" — " There 
is no measure or end of debauchery and wantonness." 

^ " Au regard du mari ;" — " In relation to her husband." 


himself to inflict injury. The latter includes in it all im- 
moderate and unrighteous desires. As, however, mankind, 
for the most part, indulge themselves in lust and avarice, he 
reminds them of what he had formerly taught — that God 
would be the avenger of all such things. We must obser\^e, 
however, what he says — we have solemnly testified;^ for 
such is the sluggishness of mankind, that, unless they are 
wounded to the quick, they are touched with no apprehen- 
sion of God's judgment. 

7. For God hath not called us. This appears to be the 
same sentiment with the preceding one — that the luill of 
God is our sanctification. There is, however, a little differ- 
ence between them. For after having discoursed as to the 
correcting of the vices of the flesh, he proves, from the end 
of our calling, that God desires this. For he sets us apart 
to himself as his peculiar possession.^ Again, that God 
calls us to holiness, he proves by contraries, because he 
rescues us, and calls us back, from unchastity. From this he 
concludes, that all that reject this doctrine reject not men, 
hut God, the Author of this calling, which altogether falls 
to the ground so soon as this j^rinciple as to newness of life 
is overthrown. Now, the reason why he rouses himself so 
vehemently is, because there are always wanton persons 
who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule 
all threatenings of his judgment, and at the same time hold 
in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such 
persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe 
rej) roofs as with the stroke of a hammer. 

8. Who hath also given. That he may the more efi'ectu- 
ally turn away the Thessalonians from such contempt and 
obstinacy, he reminds them that they had been endowed 
with the Spirit of God, fio^st, in order that they may distin- 
guish what proceeds from God ; secondly, that they make 
such a diff'erence as is befitting between holiness and im- 
purity ; and thirdly, that, with heavenly authority, they may 
pronounce judgment against all manner of unchastity — such 

1 " Nous vous auons testifie et comme adiure ;" — " We have testified to 
you, and, as it were, adjured." 

" " Comme pour son propre heritage et particulier ;" — " As for his pe- 
culiar and special inheritance." 


as will fall upon their own heads, unless they keep aloof from 
contagion. Hence, however wicked men may treat with ridi- 
cule all instructions that are given as to a holy life and the 
fear of God, those that are endowed with the Spirit of God 
have a very diiferent testimony sealed upon their hearts. 
We must therefore take heed, lest we should extinguish or 
obliterate it. At the same time, this may refer to Paul and 
the other teachers, as though he had said, tliat it is not from 
human perception that they condemn unchastity, but they 
j^ronounce from the authority of God what has been suggested 
to them by his Spirit. I am inclined, however, to include 
both. Some manuscripts have the second person — you, 
which restricts the gift of the Spirit to the Thessalonians. 

9. But as touching brotherly love, 9. De fraterno autem amore non 
ye need not that I write unto you : opus habetis, ut sci'ibam vobis : ipsi 
for ye yoiu-selves are taught of God enim vos a Deo estis edocti, ut dili- 
to love one another. gatis invicem. 

10. And indeed ye do it toward 10. Etenim hoc facitis erga em- 
ail the brethren which are in all nes fratres, qui sunt in tota Mace- 
Macedonia : but we beseech you, donia. Hortamur autem vos, fratres, 
brethren, that ye increase more and ut abundetis magis, 

more ; 

11. And that ye study to be quiet, 11. Et altius contendatis, ut co- 
and to do your own business, and to latis quietem, et agatis res vestras, 
work with your own hands, as we et laboretis manibus vestris, quem- 
commanded you ; admodum vobis denuntiavimus, 

12. That ye may walk honestly 12. Ut ambuletis decenter erga 
toward them that are without, and extraneos, et nulla re opus habeatis. 
that ye may have lack of nothing. 

9. As to brotherly love. Having previously, in lofty terms, 
commended their love, he now speaks by way of anticipa- 
tion, saying, ye need not that I write to you. He assigns a 
reason — because they had been divinely taught — by which he 
means that love was engraven upon their hearts, so that 
there was no need of letters written on paper. For he does 
not mean simply what John says in his first Canonical^ 

' The Epistles of John, along with those of James, Peter, and Jude, 
" were termed Canonical by Cassiodorus in the middle of the sixth century, 
and by the writer of the prologue to these Epistles, which is erroneously 
ascribed to Jerome. . . . Du Pin says that some Latin writers have 
called these Epistles Canonical, either confounding the name with Ca- 
tholic, or to denote that they are a part of the Canon of the books of the 
New Testament." — Home's Introduction, vol. iv. p. 409. On the origin 
and import of the epithet General, or Catholic, usually applied to these 


Epistle, the anointing will teach you, (1 John ii. 27,) but that 
their hearts were framed for love ; so that it appears that 
the Holy Spirit inwardly dictates efficaciously what is to be 
done, so that there is no need to give injunctions in writing. 
He subjoins an argument from the greater to the less ; for 
as their love diifuses itself through the whole of Macedonia, 
he infers that it is not to be doubted that they love one 
another. Hence the particle for means likewise, or nay 
more, for, as I have already stated, he adds it for the sake 
of greater intensity. 

\0. And we exhort you. Though he declares that they were 
sufficiently prepared of themselves for all offices of love, he 
nevertheless does not cease to exhort them to make progress, 
there being no perfection in men. And, unquestionably, 
whatever appears in us in a high state of excellence, we must 
still desire that it may become better. Some connect the 
verb f^LkoTLfjuela^at, with what follows, as if he exhorted them 
to strive at the maintaining of peace ; but it corresponds 
better with the expression that goes before. For after hav- 
ing admonished them to increase in love, he recommends to 
them a sacred emulation, that they may strive among them- 
selves in mutual affection, or at least he enjoins that each 
one strive to conquer himself/ and I rather adopt this 
latter interpretation. That, therefore, their love may be 
perfect, he requires that there l)e a striving among them, 
such as is wont to be on the part of those who eagerly^ aspire 
at victory. This is the best emulation, when each one strives 
to overcome himself in doing good. As to my not subscrib- 
ing to the opinion of those who render the words, strive to 
maintain peace, this single reason appears to me to be 
sufficiently valid — that Paul would not in a thing of less 
difficulty have enjoined so arduous a conflict — which suits 
admirably well with advancement in love, where so many 
hinderances present themselves. Nor would I have any ob- 

Epistles, the reader will find some valuable observations in Brown's Ex- 
pository Discourses on Peter, vol. i. pp. 4, 5. — Ed. 

' " En cest endroit ;" — " In this matter." 

' " Courageusement et d'vn grand desir ;" — " Courageously and wait a 
great desire." 


jection to the other meaning of the verb — that they should 
exercise liberality generally towards others. 

11. Colatis quietem. I have already stated that this 
clause must be separated from what goes before, for this is 
a new sentence. Now, to be at peace, means in this pas- 
sage — to act peacefully and without disturbance, as we also 
say in French — sans bruit, {without noise.) In short, he ex- 
horts them to be peaceable and tranquil. This is the pur- 
port of what he adds immediately afterwards — to do your 
own business : for we commonly see, that those who intrude 
themselves with forwardness into the affairs of others, make 
great disturbance, and give trouble to themselves and others. 
This, therefore, is the best means of a tranquil life, when 
every one, intent upon the duties of his own calling, dis- 
charges those duties which are enjoined upon him by the 
Lord, and devotes himself to these things : while the hus- 
bandman employs himself in rural labours, the workman 
carries on his occupation, and in this way every one keeps 
within his own limits. So soon as men turn aside from this, 
everything is thrown into confusion and disorder. He does 
not mean, however, that every one shall mind his own business 
in such a way as that each one should live apart, having no 
care for others, but has merely in view to correct an idle 
levity, which makes men noisy bustlers in public, who ought 
to lead a quiet life in their own houses. 

Labour with your hands. He recommends manual labour 
on two accounts — that they may have a sufficiency for main- 
taining life, and that they may conduct themselves honourably 
even before unbelievers. For nothing is more unseemly than 
a man that is idle and good for nothing, who profits neither 
himself nor others, and seems born only to eat and drink. 
Farther, this labour or system of working extends far, for 
what he says as to hands is by way of synecdoche ; but there 
can be no doubt that he includes every useful employment 
of human life. 

13. But I would not have you to 13. Nolo autem vos ignorare, fra- 

be ignorant, brethren, concerning tres, de iis qui obdormierunt, ut ne 

them which are asleep, that ye sor- contristemini, sicut et caeteri qui 

row not, even as others which have si)em non habent. 
no hope. 


14. For if we believe that Jesus 14. Nam si credinius, quod lesus 
died, and rose again, even so them mortuus est, et resurrexit, ita et 
also which sleep in Jesus will God Deus eos, qui dorniierunt per Chris- 
bring with him. tum, adducet cum eo. 

13. But 1 would not have you ignorant. It is not likely 
that the hope of a resurrection had been torn up among the 
Thessalonians by profane men, as had taken place at Corinth. 
For we see how he chastises the Corinthians with severity, 
but here he speaks of it as a thing that was not doubtful. 
It is possible, however, that this persuasion was not suffi- 
ciently fixed in their minds, and that they accordingly, in 
bewailing the dead, retained something of the old supersti- 
tion. For the sum of the whole is this— that we must not 
bewail the dead beyond due bounds, inasmuch as we are all 
to be raised up again. For whence comes it, that the mourn- 
ing of unbelievers has no end or measure, but because they 
have no hope of a resurrection ? It becomes not us, there- 
fore, who have been instructed as to a resurrection, to mourn 
otherwise than in moderation. He is to discourse afterwards 
as to the manner of the resurrection ; and he is also on this 
account to say something as to times ; but in this passage 
he meant simply to restrain excessive grief, which would never 
have had such an influence among them, if they had seriously 
considered the resurrection, and kept it in remembrance. 

He does not, however, forbid us altogether to mourn, but 
requires moderation in our mourning, for he says, that ye 
may not sorrow, as others who have no hope. He forbids 
them to grieve in the manner of unbelievers, who give loose 
reins to their grief, because they look upon death as final 
destruction, and imagine that everything that is taken out 
of the world perishes. As, on the other hand, believers 
know that they quit the world, that they may be at last 
gathered into the kingdom of God, they have not the like 
occasion of grief Hence the knowledge of a resurrection is 
the means of moderating grief He speaks of the dead as 
asleep, agreeably to tlie common practice of Scripture — a 
term by which the bitterness of death is mitigated, for there 
is a great difference between sleep and destruction} It 

1 " Entre dormir, et estre du tout reduit a neant ;" — " Between sleep- 
ing, and being altogether reduced to nothing." 


refers, liowever, not to the soul, but to the body, for the 
dead body lies in the tomb, as in a couch, until God raise 
up the man. Those, therefore, act a foolish part, who infer 
from this that souls sleep.^ 

"We are now in possession of Paul's meaning — that he lifts 
up the minds of believers to a consideration of the resurrec- 
tion, lest they should indulge excessive grief on occasion of 
the death of their relatives, for it were unseemly that there 
should be no difference between them and unbelievers, who 
put no end or measure to their grief for this reason, that in 
death they recognise nothing but destruction.^ Those that 
abuse this testimony, so as to establish among Christians 
Stoical indifference, that is, an iron hardness,^ will find no- 
thing of this nature in Paul's words. As to their objecting 
that we must not indulge grief on occasion of the death of 
our relatives, lest we should resist God, this would apply in 
all adversities ; but it is one thing to bridle our grief, that it 
may be made subject to God, and quite another thing to 
harden one's self so as to be like stones, by casting away 
human feelings. Let, therefore, the grief of the pious be 
mixed with consolation, which may train them to patience. 
The hope of a blessed resurrection, which is the mother of 
patience, will effect this. 

14. For if we believe. He assumes this axiom of our 
faith, that Christ Avas raised up from the dead, that we might 
be partakers of the same lesurrection : from this he infers, 
that we shall live with him eternally. This doctrine, how- 
ever, as has been stated in 1 Cor. xv. 13, depends on another 
principle — that it was not for himself, but for us that Christ 
died and rose again. Hence those who have doubts as to the 
resurrection, do great injury to Christ: nay more, they do in a 
manner draw him down from heaven, as is said in Rom. x. 6. 

1 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. pp. 20, 21. 
* •' Ruine et destniction ;" — " Ruin and destruction." 
' " Pour introduire et establir entre les Chrestiens ceste fa^on tant 
estrange, que les Stoiciens requeroyent en Fhoninie, ascauoir qu'il ne fust 
esmeu de douleur quelconque, mais qu'il fust comme de fer et stupide sans 
rien sentir ;" — " For introducing and establishing among Christians that 
strange manner of acting, which the Stoics required on the part of an indi- 
vidual — that he should not he moved by any grief, but shoidd be as it 
were of iron, and stupid, so as to be devoid of feeling." 


To sleep in Clwist, is to retain in death the connection 
that we have with Christ, for those that are by faith ingrafted 
into Christ, have death in common with him, that they may 
he partakers witli him of life. It is asked, however, whether 
unbelievers will not also rise again, for Paul does not affirm 
that there will be a resurrection, except in the case of 
Christ's members. I answer, that Paul does not liere touch 
upon anything but what suited his present design. For he 
did not design to terrify the wicked, but to correct^ the im- 
moderate grief of the pious, and to cure it, as he does, by 
the medicine of consolation. 

15. For this we say iinto you by 15. Hoc eiiim vobis dicinius in 
the word of the Lord, that we which sermone Domini, quod nos, qui vive- 
are alive and remain unto the com- mus et superstites eritnus in adven- 
ing of the Lord, shall not prevent turn Domini, non praeveniemus eos, 
them which are asleep. qui dormierunt. 

16. For the Lord himself shall IG. Quoniam ipse Dominus cum 
descend from heaven with a shout, clamore, cum voce Archangeli et 
with the voice of the archangel, and tuba Dei descendet e coelo : acmor- 
with the trump of God : and the tui, qui in Christo- sunt, resurgent 
dead in Christ shall rise first : primum. 

17. Then we which are alive and 17. Deinde nos qui vivemus, ac 
remain shall be caught up together residui erimus, simul cum ipsis ra- 
with them in the clouds, to meet the piemur in nubibus, in occursum Do- 
Lord in the air : and so shall we ever mini in aera : et sic semper cum 
be with the Lord. Domino erimus. 

18. Wherefore comfort one an- 18. Itaque consolamini vos mutuo 
other with these words. in sermonibus istis. 

15. For this we say unto you. He now briefly explains 
the manner in which believers will be raised up from death. 
Now, as he speaks of a thing that is very great, and is incre- 
dible to the human mind, and also promises what is above the 
power and choice of men, he premises that he does not bring- 
forward anything that is his own, or that proceeds from men, 
but that the Lord is the Author of it. It is probable, how- 
ever, that the word of the Lord means what was taken from 
his discourses.^ For though Paul had learned by revelation 
all the secrets of the heavenly kingdom, it was, nevertheless, 
more fitted to establish in the minds of believers the belief 
of a resurrection, when he related those things that had 

* " Mais seulement de corriger ou reprimer ;" — " But merely to correct 
or repress." 

* " Prins des sermons de Christ ;"— « Taken from the sermons of Christ." 


been uttered by Christ's own moutli. " Wc are not tlie first 
witnesses of the resurrection, but instead of this the Master 
himself declared it." ^ 

We who live. This has been said by him with this view — 
that they might not think that those only would be par- 
takers of the resurrection who would be alive at the time of 
Christ's coming, and that those would have no part in it 
who had been previously taken away by death. " The order 
of the resurrection," says he, " will begin with them :^ we 
shall accordingly not rise witliout them." From this it ap- 
pears that the belief of a final resurrection had been, in the 
minds of some, slight and obscure, and involved in various 
errors, inasmuch as they imagined that the dead would be 
deprived of it ; for they imagined that eternal life belonged 
to those alone whom Christ, at his last coming, would find 
still alive upon the earth. Paul, with the view of remedying 
these errors, assigns the first place to the dead, and after- 
wards teaches that those will follow who will be at that 
time remaining in this life. 

As to the circumstance, however, that by speaking in the 
first person he makes himself, as it were, one of the number 
of those who will live until the last day, he means by this 
to arouse the Thessalonians to wait for it, nay more, to hold 
all believers in suspense, that they may not promise them- 
selves some particular time : for, granting that it was by a 
special revelation that he knew that Christ would come at a 
somewhat later time,^ it was nevertheless necessary that this 
doctrine should be delivered to the Church in common, that 
believers might be prepared at all times. In the mean 
time, it was necessary thus to cut off all pretext for the 
curiosity of many — as we shall find him doing afterwards at 
greater length. When, however, he says, we that are alive, 
he makes use of the present tense instead of the future, in 
accordance with the Hebrew idiom. 

16. Fo}' the Lord himself. He employs the term KeXeva- 

1 " L'a afFermee et testifiee assurecnient par ses propos ;" — " Has affirmed 
and testified it with certainty in his discourses." 

2 " Commencera par ceux qiu seront decedez anparauant ;" — " Will 
commence with those who shall have previously departed." 

^ " Ne viendroit si tost;" — " Would not come so soon." 


^aro<i, (shout,) and afterwards adds, the voice of the arch- 
angel, by way of exposition, intimating what is to be the 
nature of that arousing shout — that the archangel will dis- 
charge the office of a herald to summon the living and the 
dead to the tribunal of Christ. For though this will be 
common to all the angels, yet, as is customary among dif- 
ferent ranks, he appoints one in the foremost place to take 
the lead of the others. As to the trumpet, however, I leave 
to others to dispute with greater subtlety, for I have nothing 
to say in addition to what I briefly noticed in the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians.^ The Apostle unquestionably 
had nothing farther in view here than to give some taste of 
the magnificence and venerable appearance of the Judge, 
until we shall behold it fully. With this taste it becomes 
us in the mean time to rest satisfied. 

The dead who are in Christ. He again says that the dead 
who are in Christ, that is, who are included in Christ's body, 
will rise first, that we may know that the hope of life is laid 
up in heaven for them no less than for the living. He says 
nothing as to the reprobate, because this did not tend to the 
consolation of the pious, of which he is now treating. 

He says that those that survive will be carried up together 
with them. As to these, he makes no mention of death : 
hence it appears as if he meant to say that they would be 
exempted from death. Here Augustine gives himself much 
distress, both in the twentieth book on the City of God and 
in his Answer to Dulcitius, because Paul seems to contradict 
himself, inasmuch as he says elsewhere, that seed cannot 
spring up again unless it die. (1 Cor. xv. 36.) The solution, 
however, is easy, inasmuch as a sudden change will be like 
death. Ordinary death, it is true, is the separation of the 
soul from the body ; but this does not hinder that the Lord 
may in a moment destroy this corruptible nature, so as to 
create it anew by his power, for thus is accomplished what 
Paul himself teaches must take place — that mortality shall 
he swallowed up of life. (2 Cor. v. 4.) What is stated in 
our Confession,^ that " Christ will be the Judge of the 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. pp. 59, 60. 

* " En la confession de nostre foy ;" — " In the confession of our faith." 


dead and of the living/'^ Augustine acknowledges to be true 
without a figure.^ He is only at a loss as to this — how those 
that have not died will rise again. But, as I have said, that 
is a kind of death, when this flesh is reduced to nothing, as 
it is now liable to corruption. The only difference is this — 
that those who sleep^ put off the substance of the body for 
some space of time, but those that will be suddenly changed 
will put off nothing but the quality. 

17. And so we shall he ever. To those who have been 
once gathered to Christ he promises eternal life with him, 
by which statements the reveries of Origen and of the Chi- 
liasts^ are abundantly refuted. For the life of believers, 
when they have once been gathered into one kingdom, will 
have no end any more than Christ's. Now, to assign to 
Christ a thousand years, so that he would afterwards cease 
to reign, were too horrible to be made mention of Those, 
however, fall into this absurdity who limit the life of be- 
lievers to a thousand years, for they must live with Christ as 
long as Christ himself will exist. We must observe also 
what he says — we shall he, for he means that we profitably 
entertain a hope of eternal life, only when we hope that it 
has been expressly appointed for us. 

18. Comfort. He now shews more openly what I have 
previously stated — that in the faith of the resurrection we 
have good ground of consolation, provided we are members 
of Christ, and are truly united to him as our Head. At the 
same time, the Apostle would not have each one to seek for 
himself assuagement of grief, but also to administer it to 

* Our author manifestly refers here to the Formula of Confession, com- 
monly called the " Apostles' Creed," which the reader ivdll tind explained 
at considerable length by Calvin in the " Catechism of the Church of 
Geneva." See Calvin's Tracts, vol. ii. pp. 39, 49. — Ed. 

^ " Sans aucune figure ;" — " Without any figure." Our author, in his 
French translation, appends the following marginal note : — " C'est a dire 
sans le prendre conirae ceux qui entendent par ces mots les bons et les 
mauuais ;"— " That is to say, without taking it as those do, who under- 
stand by the words the good and the bad." 

« ■' Ceux qui dorment, c'est a dire qui seront morts auant le dernier 
iour ;" — " Those who sleep, that is to say, who will have died before the 
last day." 

< See Calvin's Institutes, vol. ii. pp. 6 15, 61G. 



1. But of the times and the sea- 1. Porro de temporibus et arti- 
sons, brethren, ye have no need that cuhs temporam non opus habetis, 
I write unto you. ut vobis scribatur. 

2. For yourselves know perfectly, 2. Ipsi enim optime scitis, quod 
that the day of the Lord so cometh dies Domini tanquam fur in nocte 
as a thief in the night. sic veniet. 

3. For when they shall say, Peace 3. Quando enim dixerint, Pax et 
and safety, then sudden destruction securitas, tunc repentinus ipsis super- 
cometh upon them, as travail upon veniet interitus, quasi dolor partus 
a woman with child ; and they shall mulieri praegnanti, nee effugient. 
not escape. 

4. But ye, brethren, are not in 4. Vos autem, fratres, non estis in 
darkness, that that day should over- tenebris, ut dies ille vos quasi fur 
take you as a thief. opprimat. 

5. Ye are all the children of light, 5. Omnes vos filii lucis estis, et 
and the children of the day : we are filii diei : non suraus noctis, neque 
not of the night, nor of darkness. tenebrarum. 

1. But as to times. He now, in the third place, calls them 
back from a curious and unprofitable inquiry as to times, 
but in the mean time admonishes them to be constantly in a 
state of preparation for receiving Christ.^ He speaks, how- 
ever, by way of anticipation, saying, that they have no need 
that he should write as to those things which the curious 
desire to know. For it is an evidence of excessive incre- 
dulity not to believe what the Lord foretells, unless he 
marks out the day by certain circumstances, and as it were 
points it out with the finger. As, therefore, those waver 
between doubtful opinions who require that moments of 
time should be marked out for them, as if they would draw 
a conjecture^ from some plausible demonstration, he accord- 
ingly says that discussions of this nature are not necessary 
for the pious. There is also another reason — that believers 
do not desire to know more than they are permitted to learn 
in God's school. Now Christ designed that the day of his 
coming should be hid from us, that, being in suspense, we 
might be as it were upon watch. 

2. Ye know 'perfectly. He places exact knowledge in con- 
trast with an anxious desire of investigation. But what is 

^ " Quand il viendra en iugement ;" — " When he will come to judgment." 
* " De ce qu'ils en doyuent croire;" — " Of what they must believe." 


it that he says the Thessalonians know accurately f It is, 
that the day of Christ will come suddenly and unexpectedly, 
so as to take unbelievers by surprise, as a thief does those 
that are asleep. This, however, is opposed to evident tokens, 
which might portend afar off his coming to the world. Hence 
it were foolish to wish to determine the time precisely from 
presages or prodigies. 

3. For when they shall say. Here we have an explana- 
tion of the similitude, the day of the Lord will be like a thief 
in the night. Why so ? because it will come suddenly to 
unbelievers, when not looked for, so that it will take them 
by surprise, as though they were asleep. But whence comes 
that sleep ? Assuredly from deep contempt of God. The 
prophets frequently reprove the wicked on account of this 
supine negligence, and assuredly they await in a spirit of 
carelessness not merely that last judgment, but also such as 
are of daily occurrence. Though the Lord threatens destruc- 
tion,^ they do not hesitate to promise themselves peace and 
every kind of prosperity. And the reason why they fall into 
this destructive indolence^ is, because they do not see those 
things immediately accomplished, which the Lord declares 
will take place, for they reckon that to be fabulous that does 
not immediately present itself before their eyes. For this 
reason the Lord, in order that he may avenge this careless- 
ness, which is full of obstinacy, comes all on a sudden, and 
contrary to the expectation of all, precipitates the wicked 
from the summit of felicity. He sometimes furnishes tokens 
of this nature of a sudden advent, but that will be the 
l^rincipal one, when Christ will come down to judge the 
world, as he himself testifies, (Matt. xxiv. 37,) comparing 
that time to the age of Noe, inasmuch as all will give way 
to excess, as if in the profoundest repose. 

As the pains of child-bearing. Here we have a most apt 
similitude, inasmuch as there is no evil that seizes more 
suddenly, and that presses more keenl}' and more violently 

1 " Plenement et certainement ;" — " Fully and certainly." 

* " Leur denonce mine et confusion ;" — " Threatens them with ruin and 

* " Ceste paresse tant dangcreusc et mortelle;" — " This indolence so 
•dangerous and deadly." 


on the very first attack ; besides tliis, a woman that is with 
child carries in her womb occasion of grief without feeling- 
it, until she is seized amidst feasting and laughter, or in the 
midst of sleep. 

4. But ye, hrethren. He now admonishes them as to what 
is the duty of believers, that they look forward in hope to 
that day, though it be remote. And this is what is intended 
in the metaphor of day and light. The coming of Christ will 
take by surprise those that are carelessly giving way to in- 
dulgence, because, being enveloped in darkness, they see 
nothing, for no darkness is more dense than ignorance of 
God. "We, on the other hand, on whom Christ has shone 
by the faith of his gospel, differ much from them, for that 
saying of Isaiah is truly accomplished in us, that while dark- 
ness covers the earth, the Lord arises upon us, and his glory 
is seen in us. (Isaiah Ix. 2.) He admonishes us, therefore, 
that it were an unseemly thing that we should be caught by 
Christ asleep, as it were, or seeing nothing, while the full 
blaze of light is shining forth upon us. He calls them chil- 
dren of light, in accordance with the Hebrew idiom, as 
meaning — furnished with light ; as also children of the day, 
meaning — those who enjoy the light of day.^ And this he 
again confirms, when he says that we are not of the night 
nor of darkness, because the Lord has rescued us from it. 
For it is as though he had said, that we have not been 
enlightened by the Lord with a view to our walking in 

6. Therefore let us not sleep, as 6. Ergo ne clormiamiis lit reliqui, 
do others ; but let us watch and be sed vigilemus, et sobrii simus. 

7. For they that sleep, sleep in 7. Qui enim dormiunt, nocte dor- 
the night ; and they that be drunken, miunt : et qui ebrii sunt, nocte ebrii 
are drunken in the night. sunt. 

8. But let us, who are of the day, 8. Nos autem qui sumus diei, 
be sober, putting on the breastplate sobrii simus, induti thorace lidei et 
of faith and love ; and for an helmet caritatis, et galea, spe salutis : 

the hope of salvation. 

9. For God hath not appointed 9. Quia non constituit nos Deus in 
us to wrath, but to obtain salvation iram, sed in acquisitionem salutis, per 
by our Lord Jesus Christ. Dominum nostrum lesum Christum : 

' " It is « day' wnth them. It is not only ' day' round about them, 
(so it is wherever the gospel is afforded to men,) but God hath made it 
' day' within." — Howe's Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. vi. p. 294. — Ed. 


10. Who died for us, that, whe- 10. Qui mortuus est pro nobis, ut 
ther we Avake or sleep, we should sive vigilemus, sive dormiamus, simul 
Uve together with him. cum ipso vivamus. 

6. Therefore let us not sleep. He adds other metaphors 
closely allied to the preceding one. For as he lately shewed 
that it were by no means seemly that they should be blind 
in the midst of light, so he now admonishes that it were 
dishonourable and disgraceful to sleep or be drunk in the 
middle of the day. Now, as he gives the name of day to the 
doctrine of the gospel, by which the Christ, the Sun of right- 
eousness (Mai. iv. 2) is manifested to us, so when he speaks 
of sleep and drunkenness, he does not mean natural sleep, or 
drunkenness from wine, but stupor of mind, when, forgetting 
God and ourselves, we regardlessly indulge our vices. Let 
us not sleep, says he ; that is, let us not, sunk in indolence, 
become senseless in the world. As others, that is, unbe- 
lievers,^ from whom ignorance of God, like a dark night, 
takes away understanding and reason. But let us watch, 
that is, let us look to the Lord with an attentive mind. And 
be sober, that is, casting away the cares of the world, which 
weigh us down by their pressure, and throwing off base 
lusts, mount to heaven with freedom and alacrity. For 
this is spiritual sobriety, when we use this world so spar- 
ingly and temperately that we are not entangled with its 

8. Having put on the breastplate. He adds this, that he 
may the more effectually shake us out of our stupidity, for 
he calls us as it were to arms, that he may shew that it is 
not a time to sleep. It is true that he does not make use 
of the term war ; but when he arms us with a breastplate and 
a helmet, he admonishes us that we must maintain a warfare. 
Whoever, therefore, is afraid of being surprised by the enemy, 
must keep awake, that he may be constantly on watch. As, 
therefore, he has exhorted to vigilance, on the ground that 
the doctrine of the gospel is like the light of day, so he now 

' " The refuse, as the word Xoifro'i emphatically signifies, or the repro- 
bate and worst of men. . . . The word xahv^Mfnv, signifies a deeper or a 
more intense sleep. It is the word that is used in the Septuagint to sig- 
nify the sleep of death." (Dan. xii. 2.) — Howe's Works, (Lond. 1822,) 
vol. vi. p. 290.— Ed. 


stirs us uj) b}'- another argument- — that we must wage war 
with our enemy. From this it follows, that idleness is too 
hazardous a thing. For we see that soldiers, though in other 
situations they may be intemperate, do nevertheless, when 
the enemy is near, from fear of destruction, refrain from glut- 
tony^ and all bodily delights, and are diligently on watch so 
as to be upon their guard. As, therefore, Satan is on the 
alert against us, and tries a thousand schemes, we ought at 
least to be not less diligent and watchful.^ 

It is, however, in vain, that some seek a more refined ex- 
position of the names of the kinds of armour, for Paul speaks 
here in a different way from what he does in Eph. vi. 14, for 
there he makes righteousness the breastplate. This, there- 
fore, will suffice for understanding his meaning, that he 
designs to teach, that the life of Christians is like a per- 
petual warfare, inasmuch as Satan does not cease to trouble 
and molest them. He would have us, therefore, be dili- 
gently prepared and on the alert for resistance : farther, he 
admonishes us that we have need of arms, because unless 
we be well armed we cannot withstand so powerful^ an 
enemy. He does not, however, enumerate all the j^arts of 
armour, {rravoifkLav,) but simply makes mention of two, the 
hreastplate and the helmet. In the mean time, he omits no- 
thing of what belongs to spiritual armour, for the man that 
is provided with faith, love, and hope, will be found in no 
dejmrtment unarmed. 

9. For God hath not ajipointed tis. As he has spoken of 
the hope of salvation, he follows out that department, and 
says that God has appointed us to this — that we may 
obtain salvation through Christ. The passage, however, 
might be explained in a simple way in this manner — that 
we must put on the helmet of salvation, because God wills not 
that we should perish, but rather that we should be saved. 
And this, indeed, Paul means, but, in my opinion, he has in 
view something farther. For as the day of Christ is for the 

' " Et yurognerie ;" — " And drunkenness." 

° " Pour le nioins ne deuons-nous pas estre aussi vigilans que les gen- 
darmes?" — " Should we not at least be as vigilant as soldiers are?" 
* " Si puissant et si fort:" — " So powerful and so strong." 



most part regarded with alarm/ having it in view to close with 
the mention of it, he says that we are appointed to salvation. 

The Greek term TreptTrotrjcri'; means enjoyment, (as they 
speak,) as well as acquisition. Paul, undouhtedly, does not 
mean that God has called us, that we may procure salva- 
tion for ourselves, but that we may obtain it, as it has been 
acquired for us by Christ. Paul, however, encourages be- 
lievers to fight strenuously, setting before them the certainty 
of victory ; for the man who fights timidly and hesitatingly 
is half-conquered. In these words, therefore, he had it in 
view to take away the dread which arises from distrust. 
There cannot, however, be a better assurance of salvation 
gathered, than from the decree^ of God. The term wrath, 
in this passage, as in other instances, is taken to mean the 
judgment or vengeance of God against the reprobate. 

10. Who died. From the design of Christ's death he con- 
firms what he has said, for if he died with this view — that 
he might make us partakers of his life, there is no reason 
why we should be in doubt as to our salvation. It is doubt- 
ful, however, what he means now by sleeping and waking, 
for it might seem as if he meant life and death, and this 
meaning would be more complete. At the same time, we 
might not unsuitably interpret it as meaning ordinary sleep. 
The sum is this — that Christ died with this view, that he 
might bestow upon us his life, which is perpetual and has no 
end. It is not to be wondered, however, that he affirms that 
we now live luith Christ, inasmuch as we have, by entering 
through faith into the kingdom of Christ, passed from death 
into life. (John v. 24.) Christ himself, into whose body 
we are ingrafted, quickens us by his power, and the Spirit 
that dwelleth in us is life, because of justification!^ 

11. Wherefore comfort yourselves 11. Quare exhortamini {vel, con- 
together, and edifj one another, even solamini) vos invicem, et aedificate 
as also ye do. singuli singulos, sicut et facitis. 

* " D'autant que volontiers nous auons en horreur et craignons le iour 
du Seigneur ;" — " Inasmuch as we naturally regard with horror, and view 
with dread the day of the Lord." 

2 •' Du decret et ordonnance de Dieu ;" — " From the decree and appoint- 
ment of God." 

* " Comuie il est dit en I'Epistre aux Rom. viii. b. 10 ;" — " As is stated 
in the Epistle to the Romans viii. 10." 


12. And we beseech you, brethren, 12. Rogamus autem vos, fratres, 
to know tliem which labour among ut agnoscatis eos, qui laborant in 
you, and are over you in the Lord, vobis, et praesunt vobis in Domino, 
and admonish you ; et admonent vos : 

13. And to esteem them very 13. Ut eos habeatis in sumnio 
highly in love for their works' sake, pretio cum caritate propter opus 
-(4 5j(i be at peace among yourselves, ipsorum : pacem habete cum ipsis, 

(^vel, inter vos.) 

14. Now we exhort you, brethren, 14. Hortamur autem vos, fratres, 
warn them that are unruly, comfort monete inordinatos, consolamini pu- 
the feeble-minded, support the weak, sillanimos, suscipite infirmos, patien- 
be patient toward all men. tes estote erga omnes. 

11. Exhort. It is the same word that we had in the close 
of the preceding chapter, and which we rendered comfort, 
because the context required it, and the same would not suit 
ill with this passage also. For what he has treated of pre- 
viously furnishes matter of both — of consolation as well as 
of exhortation. He bids them, therefore, communicate to one 
another what has been given them by the Lord. He adds, 
that they may edify one another — that is, may confirm each 
other in that doctrine. Lest, however, it might seem as if 
he reproved them for carelessness, he says at the same time 
that they of their own accord did what he enjoins. But, 
as we are slow to what is good, those that are the most 
favourably inclined of all, have always, nevertheless, need 
to be stimulated. 

12. And we beseech you. Here we have an admonition 
that is very necessary. For as the kingdom of God is lightly 
esteemed, or at least is not esteemed suitably to its dignity, 
there follows also from this, contempt of pious teachers. 
Now, the most of them, offended with this ingratitude, not 
so much because they see themselves despised, as because 
they infer from this, that honour is not rendered to their 
Lord, are rendered thereby more indifferent, and God also, 
on just grounds, inflicts vengerince upon the world, inasmuch 
as he deprives it of good ministers,^ to whom it is ungrate- 
ful. Hence, it is not so much for the advantage of minis- 
ters as of the whole Church, that those who faithfully pre- 
side over it should be held in esteem. And it is for this 
reason that Paul is so careful to recommend them. To ac- 
knowledge means here to have regard, or respect ; but Paul 

1 '' Fideles niinistres do la parolle ;" — " Faithful ministers of the word." 


intimates that the reason why less honour is shewn to teachers 
themselves than is befitting, is because their labour is not 
ordinarily taken into consideration. 

We must observe, however, with what titles of distinction 
he honours pastors. In the first place, he says that they 
labour. From this it follows, that all idle bellies are ex- 
cluded from the number of pastors. Farther, he expresses 
the kind of labour when he adds, those that admonish, or 
instruct, you. It is to no purpose, therefore, that any, that do 
not discharge the office of an instructor, glory in the name of 
pastors. The Pope, it is true, readily admits such persons into 
his catalogue, but the Spirit of God expunges them from his. 
As, however, they are held in contempt in the world, as has 
been said, he honours them, at the same time, Avith the 
distinction of presidency. 

Paul would have such as devote themselves to teaching, 
and preside with no other end in view than that of serving 
the Church, be held in no ordinary esteem. For he says 
literally — let them he ')nore than abundantly honoured, and 
not without good ground, for we must observe the reason 
that he adds immediately afterwards — on account of their 
work. Now, this work is the edification of the Church, the 
everlasting salvation of souls, the restoration of the world, 
and, in fine, the kingdom of God and Christ. The excellence 
and dignity of this work are inestimable : hence those 
whom God makes ministers in connection with so great a 
matter, ought to be held by us in great esteem. We may, 
however, infer from Paul's words, that judgment is com- 
mitted to the Church, that it may distinguish true pastors.^ 
For to no purpose were these marks pointed out, if lie did 
not mean that they should be taken notice of by believers. 
And while he commands that honour be given to those that 
labour, and to those that by teaching^ govern properly and 
faithfully, he assuredly does not bestow any honour upon 
those that are idle and wicked, nor does he mark them 
out as deserving of it. 

Preside in tJie Lord. This seems to be added to denote 

' " Et les ministres fideles :" — " And faithful ministers." 
* " Et admonestant :" — " And adnionisliini.':." 


spiritual government. For although kings and magistrates 
also preside by tlie appointment of God, yet as the Lord 
would have the government of the Church to be specially 
recognised as his, those that govern the Church in the name 
and by the commandment of Christ, are for this reason 
spoken of particularly as presiding in the Lord. We may, 
however, infer from this, how very remote those are from 
the rank of pastors and prelates who exercise a tyranny 
altogether opposed to Christ. Unquestionably, in order that 
any one may be ranked among lawful pastors, it is necessary 
that he should shew that he presides in the Lokd, and has 
nothing apart from him. And what else is this, but that by 
pure doctrine he puts Christ in his own seat, that he may be 
the only Lord and Master? 

18. With love. Others render it by love; for Paul says in 
love, which, according to the Hebrew idiom, is equivalent to 
by or ivith. I prefer, however, to explain it thus — as mean- 
ing that he exhorts them not merely to respect them,^ but 
also love them. For as the doctrine of the gospel is lovely, 
so it is befitting that the ministers of it should be loved. It 
were, however, rather stiff to speak of having in esteem by 
love, while the connecting together of love with honour suits 

Be at peace. While this passage has various readings, 
even among the Greeks, I approve rather of the rendering 
which has been given by the old translator, and is followed 
by Erasmus — Pacem habete cum, eis, vel colite — {Have or 
cultivate peace with them.y For Paul, in my opinion, had 
in view to oppose the artifices of Satan, who ceases not to 
use every endeavour to stir up either quarrels, or disagree- 
ments, or enmities, between people and pastor. Hence we 
see daily how pastors are hated by their Churches for some 
trivial reason, or for no reason whatever, because this desire 
for the cultivation of peace, which Paul recommends so 
strongly, is not exercised as it ought. 

14. Admonish the unruly. It is a common doctrine — that 

' " De porter honneur aux fideles ministres ;" — '• To do honour to faith- 
ful ministers." 

'^ Wiclif (1380) renders as follows : " Ilaue ye pees with hem." 


the welfare of our brethren should be the object of our con- 
cern. This is done by teaching, admonishing, correcting, and 
arousing ; but, as the dispositions of men are various, it is 
not without good reason that the Apostle commands that 
believers accommodate themselves to this variety. He com- 
mands, therefore, that the unruly^ beadmonished,that is, those 
who live dissolutely. The term admonition, also, is employed 
to mean sharp reproof, such as may bring them back into the 
right way, for they are deserving of greater severity, and 
they cannot be brought to repentance by any other remedy. 

Towards the faint-hearted another system of conduct must 
be pursued, for they have need of consolation. The weak 
must also be assisted. By faint-hearted, however, he means 
those that are of a broken and afflicted spirit. He accord- 
ingly favours them, and the weak, in such a way as to desire 
that the un7'uly should be restrained with some degree of 
sternness. On the other hand, he commands that the unruly 
should be admonished sharply, in order that the weak may 
be treated with kindness and humanity, and that the faint- 
hearted may receive consolation. It is therefore to no pur- 
pose that those that are obstinate and intractable demand 
that they be soothingly caressed, inasmuch as remedies 
must be adapted to diseases. 

He recommends, however, patience towards all, for severity 
must be tempered with some degree of lenity, even in deal- 
ing with the unruly. This patience, however, is, properly 
speaking, contrasted with a feeling of irksomeness,^ for no- 
thing are we more prone to than to feel wearied out when 
we set ourselves to cure the diseases of our brethren. The 
man who has once and again comforted a person who is 
faint-hearted, if he is called to do the same thing a third 
time, will feel I know not what vexation, nay, even indig- 
nation, that will not permit him to j)ersevere in discharging 

^ " The whole phraseology of this verse is military .... 'Atccktov; — 
those who are out of their ranks, and are neither in a disposition nor situa- 
tion to perform the work and duty of a soldier : those who will not do the 
work prescribed, and who will meddle with what is not commanded." — Dr. 
A. Clarke.— Ed. 

' " A I'ennuy qu'on con9oit aiseement en tels afiaires ;" — " To the irk- 
someness which one readily feels in such matters." 


his duty. Thus, if by admonishing or reproving, we do not 
immediately do the good that is to be desired, we lose all hojDe 
of future success. Paul had in view to bridle impatience of 
this nature, by recommending to us moderation towards all. 

15. See that none render evil for 15. Videte, ne quis malum pro 
evil unto^ any man ; but ever follow malo cuiquam reddat : sed semper 
that which is good, both among benignitatem sectamini, et mutuam 
yourselves, and to all men. inter vos, et in oranes. 

16. Rejoice evermore. 16, Semper gaudete. 

17. Pray without ceasing. 17. Indesincuter orate. 

18. In everything give thanks: 18. In omnibus gratias agite : 
for this is the will of God in Christ haec enim Dei voluntas in Christo 
Jesus concerning you. lesu erga vos. 

19. Quench not the Spirit. 19. Spiritum ne extinguatis. 

20. Despise not prophesyings. 20. Prophetias ne contemnatis. 

21. Prove all things: hold fast 21. Omnia probate, quod bonum 
that which is good. est tenete. 

22. Abstain from all appearance 22. Ab omni specie mala absti- 
ofevil. nete. 

1 5. See that no one render evil for evil. As it is difficult 
to observe this precept, in consequence of the strong bent of 
our nature to revenge, he on this account bids us take care 
to be on our guard. For the word see denotes anxious care. 
Now, although he simply forbids us to strive with each other 
in the way of inflicting injuries, there can, nevertheless, be 
no doubt that he meant to condemn, at the same time, every 
disposition to do injury. For if it is unlawful to render evil 
for evil, every disposition to injure is culpable. This doctrine 
is peculiar to Christians — not to retaliate injuries, but to 
endure them patiently. And lest the Thessalonians should 
think that revenge was prohibited only towards their bre- 
thren, he expressly declares that they are to do evil to no one. 
For particular excuses are wont to be brought forward in 
some cases. " What ! why should it be unlawful for me to 
avenge myself on one that is so worthless, so wicked, and 
so cruel ?" But as vengeance is forbidden us in every case, 
without exception, however wicked the mxan that has injured 
us may be, we must refrain from inflicting injury. 

But ahuays follow benignity. By this last clause he teaches 
that we must not merely refrain from inflicting vengeance, 
when any one has injured us, but must cultivate beneficence 
towards all. For although he means that it should in the 


first instance be exercised among believers mutually, he 
afterwards extends it to all, however undeserving of it, that 
we may make it our aim to overcome evil with good, as he 
himself teaches elsewhere. (Rom. xii. 21.) The first step, 
therefore, in the exercise of patience, is, not to revenge in- 
juries ; the second is, to bestow favours even upon enemies. 

16. Rejoice aliuays. I refer tliis to moderation of spirit, 
when the mind keeps itself in calmness under adversity, 
and does not give indulgence to grief. I accordingly con- 
nect together these three things — to rejoice akvays, to pray 
without ceasing, and to give thanks to God in all things. For 
when he recommends constant praying, he points out the 
way of rejoicing perpetually, for by this means we ask from 
God alleviation in connection with all our distresses. In 
like manner, in Phil. iv. 4, having said, Rejoice in the Lord 
ahvays; again I say, Rejoice. Let your moder'ation he knoivn 
to all. Be not anxious as to anything. The Lord is at hand. 
He afterwards points out the means of this — but in every 
prayer let your requests he made known to God, ivith giving 
of thanks. In that passage, as we see, he presents as a source 
of joy a calm and composed mind, that is not unduly dis- 
turbed by injuries or adversities. But lest we should be borne 
down by grief, sorrow, anxiety, and fear, he bids us repose 
in the providence of God. And as doubts frequently obtrude 
themselves as to whether God cares for us, he also prescribes 
the remedy — that by prayer we disburden our anxieties, as 
it were, into his bosom, as David commands us to do in 
Psalm xxxvii. 5, and Iv. 22 ; and Peter also, after his ex- 
ample. (1 Peter v. 7.) As, however, we are unduly precipi- 
tate in our desires, he imposes a check upon them — that, 
while we desire what we are in need of, we at the same time 
do not cease to give thanks. 

He observes, here, almost the same order, though in fewer 
words. For, in the first place, he would have us hold God's 
benefits in such esteem, that the recognition of them and 
meditation upon them shall overcome all sorrow. And, un- 
questionably, if we consider what Christ has conferred upon 
us, there will be no bitterness of grief so intense as may not 
be alleviated, and give way to spiritual joy. For if this joy 


does not reign in us, the kingdom of God is at the same timo 
banished from us, or we from it.^ And very ungrateful is 
that man to God, who does not set so high a value on the 
righteousness of Christ and the hope of eternal life, as to 
rejoice in the midst of sorrow. As, however, our minds are 
easily dispirited, until they give way to impatience, we must 
observe the remedy that he subjoins immediately after- 
wards. For on being cast down and laid low we are raised 
up again by prayers, because we lay upon God what bur- 
dened us. As, however, there are every day, nay, every 
moment, many things that may disturb our peace, and mar 
our joy, he for this reason bids us p7-ay without ceasing. 
Now, as to this constancy in prayer, we have spoken of else- 
where.^ Thanksgiving, as I have said, is added as a limita- 
tion. For many pray in such a manner, as at the same 
time to murmur against God, and fret themselves if he does 
not immediately gratify their wishes. But, on the contrary, 
it is befitting that our desires should be restrained in such 
a manner that, contented with what is given us, we always 
mingle thanksgiving with our desires. We may lawfully, it 
is true, ask, nay, sigh and lament, but it must be in such a 
way that the will of God is more acceptable to us than our own. 
18. For this is the luill of God — that is, according to 
Chrysostom's opinion — that we give thanks. As for myself, 
I am of opinion that a more ample meaning is included 
under these terms — that God has such a disposition towards 
us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occa- 
sion of thanksgiving. For what is fitter or more suitable 
for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us 
in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and 
welfare everything that befalls us ? Let us, therefore, bear 
in mind, that this is a special remedy for correcting our im- 
patience — to turn away our eyes from beholding present 
evils that torment us, and to direct our views to a consider- 
ation of a different nature — how God stands affected towards 
us in Christ. 

• " N'est point en nous, ou pour mieux dire, nous en somraes hors;" — 
" Is not in us, or as we may rather say, we are away from it." 

^ Our author probably refers here to what he has said on this subject 
when commenting on Eph. vi. 18. — Ed. 


19. Quench not the Spirit. This metaphor is derived from 
the power and nature of tlie Spirit ; for as it is the proper 
office of the Spirit to illuminate the understandings of men, 
and as he is on this account called our light, it is with pro- 
priety that we are said to quench him, when we make void 
his grace. There are some that think that it is the same 
thing that is said in this clause and the succeeding one. 
Hence, according to them, to quench the Spirit is precisely 
the same as to despise prophesyings. As, however, the Spirit 
is quenched in various ways, I make a distinction between 
these two things — that of a general statement, and a parti- 
cular. For although contenipit of prophesying is a quenching 
of the Spirit, yet those also quench the Spirit who, instead 
of stirring up, as they ought, more and more, by daily pro- 
gress, the sparks that God has kindled in them, do, by 
their negligence, make void the gifts of God. This admo- 
nition, therefore, as to not quenching the Spirit, has a wider 
extent of meaning than the one that follows as to not 
despising prophesyings. The meaning of the former is : " Be 
enlightened by the Spirit of God. See that you do not lose 
that light through your ingratitude." This is an exceed- 
ingly useful admonition, for we see that those who have been 
once enlightened, (Heb. vi. 4,) when they reject so j)recious a 
gift of God, or, shutting their eyes, allow themselves to be 
hurried away after the vanity of the world, are struck with 
a dreadful blindness, so as to be an example to others. "We 
must, therefore, be on our guard against indolence, by which 
the light of God is choked in us. 

Those, however, who infer from this that it is in man's 
option either to quench or to cherish the light that is pre- 
sented to him, so tluxt they detract from the efficacy of grace, 
and extol the powers of free will, reason on false grounds. 
For although God works efficaciously in his elect, and does 
not merely present the light to them, but causes them to 
see, opens the eyes of their heart, and keej)s them open, yet 
as the flesh is always inclined to indolence, it has need of 
being stirred up by exhortations. But what God commands 
by Paul's mouth, He himself accomplishes inwardly. In the 
mean time, it is our part to ask from the Lord, that lie would 


furnish oil to the lamps which he has lighted up, that he 
may keep the wick pure, and may even increase it. 

20. Despise not pi^ophesyings. This sentence is appro- 
priately added to the preceding one, for as the Spirit of 
Grod illuminates us chiefly by doctrine, those who give not 
teaching its proper place, do, so far as in them lies, quench the 
Spirit, for we must always consider in what manner or by 
what means God designs to communicate himself to us. Let 
every one, therefore, who is desirous to make progress under 
the direction of the Holy Spirit, allow himself to be taught 
by the ministry of prophets. 

By the term prophecy, however, I do not understand the 
gift of foretelling the future, but as in 1 Cor. xiv. 3, the 
science of interpreting Scripture,^ so that a prophet is an 
interpreter of the will of God. For Paul, in the passage 
which I have quoted, assigns to jjvophets teaching for edifi- 
cation, exhortation, and consolation, and enumerates, as it 
were, these departments. Let, therefore, prophecy in this 
passage be understood as meaning — interpretation made 
suitable to present use.^ Paul prohibits us from despising 
it, if we would not choose of our own accord to wander in 

The statement, however, is a remarkable one, for the com- 
mendation of external preaching. It is the dream of fana- 
tics, that those are children who continue to employ them- 
selves in the reading of the Scripture, or the hearing of the 
word, as if no one were spiritual, unless he is a despiser of doc- 
trine. They proudly, therefore, despise the ministry of man, 
nay, even Scripture itself, that they may attain the Spirit. 
Farther, whatever delusions Satan suggests to them,^ they 
presumptuously set forth as secret revelations of the Spirit. 
Such are the Libertines,* and other furies of that stamp. 
And the more ignorant that any one is, he is puffed up and 
swollen out with so much the greater arrogance. Let us, how- 

* See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. pp. 415, 436. 

* *' Interpretation de I'Escritnre applicquee proprement selon le temps, 
les personnes, et les choses presentes ;" — " Interpretation of Scripture pro- 
perly appHed, according to time, persons, and things present." 

' " Leur souffle aux aureilles ;" — " Breathes into their ears." 

* See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 7, n. 3. 


ever, learn from the example of Paul, to conjoin the Spirit 
with the voice of men, which is nothing else than his organ.^ 

21, Prove all things. As rash men and deceiving spirits 
frequently pass oif their trifles under the name of prophecy, 
prophecy might by this means he rendered suspicious or 
even odious, just as many in the present day feel almost 
disgusted with the ycrj name of preaching, as there are so 
many foolish and ignorant persons that from the pulpit blab 
out their worthless contrivances,^ wliile there are others, 
also, that are wicked and sacrilegious persons, who babble 
forth execrable blasphemies.^ As, therefore, through the 
fault of such persons it might be, that prophecy was regarded 
with disdain, nay more, was scarcely allowed to hold a place, 
Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to prove all things, meaning, 
that although all do not speak precisely according to set 
rule, we must, nevertheless, form a judgment, before any 
doctrine is condemned or rejected. 

As to this, there is a twofold error that is wont to be 
fallen into, for there are some who, from having either been 
deceived by a felse pretext of the name of God, or from their 
knowing that many are commonly deceived in this way, 
reject every kind of doctrine indiscriminately, while there 
ai-e others that by a foolish credulity embrace, without dis- 
tinction, everything that is presented to them in the name 
of God. Both of these ways are faulty, for the former class, 
saturated with a presumptuous prejudice of that nature, 
close up the way against their making progress, while the 
other class rashly expose themselves to all winds of errors. 
(Eph. iv. 14) Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to keep the 
middle path between these two extremes, while he prohibits 
them from condemning anything without first examining it ; 
and, on the other hand, he admonishes them to exercise judg- 
ment, before receiving, what may be brought forward, as 
imdoubted truth. And unquestionably, this respect, at least, 
ought to be sliewn to the name of God — that w^e do not despise 
prophecy, which is declared to have proceeded from him. As, 

1 "L'organe et instrument d'celuy ;" — " His organ and instrument." 
- " Leurs speculations ridicules;" — " Their ridiculous speculations." 
» " Horribles et execrables ;" — " Horrible and execrable." 


liowever, examination or discrimination ought to precede 
rejection, so it must, also, j)recede the reception of true and 
sound doctrine. For it does not become the pious to shew 
such lightness, as indiscriminately to lay hold of what is 
false equally with Avliat is true. From this we infer, that 
they have the spirit of judgment conferred upon them by 
God, that they may discriminate, so as not to be imposed 
upon by the impostures of men. For if they were not en- 
dowed with discrimination, it were in vain that Paul said — 
Prove : hold fast that which is good. If, however, we feel 
that we are left destitute of the power of proving aright ; 
it must be sought by us from the same Spirit, who speaks 
by his prophets. But the Lord declares in this i:)lace by the 
mouth of Paul, that the course of doctrine ought not, by any 
faults of mankind, or by any rashness, or ignorance, or, in 
fine, by any abuse, to be hindered from being always in a 
vigorous state in the Church. For as the abolition of pro- 
phecy is the ruin of the Church, let us allow heaven and earth 
to be commingled, rather than that prophecy should cease. 

Paul, however, may seem here to give too great liberty in 
teaching, when he would have all things proved ; for things 
must be heard by us, that they may be jJi-oved, and by this 
means a door would be opened to impostors for disseminating 
their falsehoods. I answer, that in this instance he does 
not by any means require that an audience should be given 
to false teachers, whose moutli he elsewhere teaches (Tit. i. 
1 1) must he stopped, and whom he so rigidly shuts out, and 
does not by any means set aside the arrangement, which he 
elsewhere recommends so highly (1 Tim. iii. 2) in the elec- 
tion of teachers. As, however, so great diligence can never 
be exercised as that there should not sometimes be persons 
prophesying, who are not so well instructed as they ouglit 
to be, and that sometimes good and pious teachers fail to 
hit the mark, he requires such moderation on the part of 
believers, as, nevertheless, not to refuse to hear. For nothing 
is more dangerous, than that moroseness, by which every 
kind of doctrine is rendered disgusting to us, while we do 
not allow ourselves to prove what is right.^ 

' " Tellement que nostre impatience ou chagrin nous empesche d'es- 


22. From every evil aj)pearance. Some think that this is 
a universal statement, as though he commanded to abstain 
from all things that bear upon their front an appearance of 
evil. In that case the meaning would be, that it is not 
enough to have an internal testimony of conscience, unless 
regard be at the same time had to brethren, so as to provide 
against occasions of offence, by avoiding every thing that can 
have the appearance of evil. 

Those who explain the word speciem after the manner of 
dialecticians as meaning the subdivision of a general term, 
fall into an exceedingly gross blunder. For he^ has emj)loyed 
the term speciem as meaning what we commonly term ap- 
pearance. It may also be rendered either — evil appearance, 
or appearance of evil. The meaning, however, is the same. 
I rather prefer Chrysostom and Ambrose, who connect this 
sentence with the foregoing one. At the same time, neither 
of them explains Paul's meaning, and perhaps have not alto- 
gether hit upon what he intends. I shall state briefly my 
view of it. 

In the first place, the phrase appearance of evil, or evil 
appearance, I understand to mean — when falsity of doctrine 
has not yet been discovered in such a manner, that it can on 
good grounds be rejected; but at the same time an unhappy 
suspicion is left upon the mind, and fears are entertained, 
lest there should be some poison lurking. He, accordingly, 
commands us to abstain from that kind of doctrine, which 
has an appearance of being evil, though it is not really so — 
not that he allows that it should be altogether rejected, but 
inasmuch as it ought not to be received, or to obtain belief. 
For why has he previously commanded that ivhat is good 
should be held fast, while he now desires that we should 
abstain not simply from evil, but from all appearance of 
evil ? It is for this reason, that, when truth has been brought 
to light by careful examination, it is assuredly becoming in 
that case to give credit to it. When, on the other hand, there 
is any fear of false doctrine, or when the mind is involved 

prouuer qui est la vraye ou la fausse ;" — " So that our iniiJatience or 
chagrin keeps us from proving -what is true or fiilse." 
"SS. Paul;"— "St. I'aul.'' 


in doubt, it is proper in that case to retreat, or to suspend 
our step, as they say, lest we should receive anytliing with 
a doubtful and perplexed conscience. In short, he shews us 
in what way prophecy will bo useful to us without any 
danger — in the event of our being attentive in proving all 
things, and our being free from lightness and haste. 

23. And the very God of peace 23. Ipse autem Deus pacis sanc- 
sanctify you wholly: and I pray God tificet vos totos : et integer spiritus 
your whole spirit, and soul, and body, vester, et anima et corpus sine re- 
be preserved blameless unto the prehensione in adventu Domini nos- 
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. tri lesu Christi custodiatur : 

24. Faithful is he that calleth 24. Fidelis qui vos vocavit, qui et 
you, who also will do it. faciei. 

25. Brethren, pray for us, 25, Fratres, orate pro nobis. 

26. Greet all the brethren Avith 26, Salutate fratres omnes in 
an holy kiss. osculo sancto. 

27. I charge you by the Lord, 27. Adiuro vos per Dominum, ut 
that this epistle be read unto all the legatur epistola omnibus Sanctis 
holy brethren. fratribus. 

28. The grace of our Lord Jesus 28. Gratia Domini nostri lesu 
Christ he with you. Amen. Christi vobiscum. Amen. 

1[The first epistle unto the Thes- Ad Thessalonicenses prima scripta 
salonians was written from Athens. fuit ex Athenis. 

23, Now the God of peace himself. Having given various 
injunctions, he now proceeds to prayer. And unquestionably 
doctrine is disseminated in vain,^ unless God implant it in 
our minds. From this we see how preposterously those act 
who measure the strength of men by the precepts of God. 
Paul, accordingly, knowing that all doctrine is useless until 
God engraves it, as it were, with his own finger upon our 
hearts, beseeches God that he would sanctify the Thessalo- 
nians. Why he calls him here the Ood of peace, I do not 
altogether apprehend, unless you choose to refer it to what 
goes before, where he makes mention of brotherly agreement, 
and patience, and equanimity.^ 

We know, however, that under the term sanctification is 
included the entire renovation of the man. The Thessalo- 
nians, it is true, had been in part renewed, but Paul desires 
that God would perfect what is remaining. From this we 
infer, that we must, during our whole life, make progress in 

' " Que proufitera-on de prescher la doctrine ?" — " What profit will be 
derived from preaching doctrine ?" 

* " Repos d'esprit;" — " Repose of mind." 


the pursuit of holiness.^ But if it is tlie part of God to 
renew the whole man, there is nothing left for free will. 
For if it had been our part to co-operate with God, Paul 
would have spoken thus — " May God aid or promote your 
sanctification." But when he says, sanctify you wholly, he 
makes him the sole Author of the entire work. 

And your entire spirit. This is added hy way of exposi- 
tion, that we may know what the sanctification of the whole 
onan is, when he is kept entire, or pure, and unpolluted, in 
spirit, soul, and body, until the day of Christ. As, however, 
so complete an entireness is never to be met with in this 
life, it is befitting that some progress be daily made in 
purity, and something be cleansed away from our pollutions, 
so long as we live in the world. 

We must notice, however, this division of the constituent 
parts of a man ; for in some instances a man is said to con- 
sist simply of hody and soul, and in that case the term soul 
denotes the immortal spirit, which resides in the body as in 
a dwelling. As the soid, however, has two principal faculties 
— the understanding and the will — the Scripture is accus- 
tomed in some cases to mention these two things separately, 
when designing to express the power and nature of the soul ; 
but in that case the term soul is employed to mean the seat 
of the affections, so that it is the part that is opposed to the 
spirit. Hence, when we find mention made here of the 
term spirit, let us understand it as denoting reason or in- 
telligence, as on the other hand by the term soul, is meant 
the will and all the affections. 

I am aware that many explain Paul's words otherwise, 
for they are of opinion that by the term soid is meant 
vital motion, and by the spirit is meant that part of man 
which has been renewed ; but in that case Paul's prayer 
were absurd. Besides, it is in another way, as I have said, 
that the term is wont to be made use of in Scripture, When 
Isaiah says, " My soul hath desired thee in the night, my 
SPIRIT hath thought of thee," (Isaiah xxvi. 9,) no one doubts 
that he speaks of his understanding and affection, and thus 

1 " En restiule et exercice de sainctete ;'' — " In the study and exercise 
of holiness." 


enumerates two departments of the 50it^. These two terms 
are conjoined in the Psahiis in the same sense. This, also, 
corresponds better with Paul's statement. For how is the 
whole man entire, except when his thoughts are pure and 
holy, when all liis affections are right and properly regu- 
lated, when, in tine, the body itself lays out its endeavours 
and services only in good works ? For the faculty of under- 
standing is held by philosophers to be, as it were, a mistress : 
the affections occupy a middle place for commanding ; the 
body renders obedience. We see now how well everything 
corresponds. For then is the man pure and entire, when he 
thinks nothing in his mind, desires nothing in his heart, 
does nothing with his body, except what is approved by 
God. As, however, Paul in this manner commits to God 
the keeping of the whole man, and all its parts, we must 
infer from this that we are exposed to innumerable dangers, 
unless we are protected by his guardianship. 

2-i. Faithful is he that hath called you. As he has shewn 
by his prayer what care he exercised as to the welfare of the 
Thessalonians, so he now confirms them in an assurance of 
Divine grace. Observe, however, by what argument he pro- 
mises them the never-failing aid of God — because he has 
called them ; by which words he means, that when the Lord 
has once adopted us as his sons, we may expect that his 
grace will continue to be exercised towards us. For he does 
not promise to be a Father to us merely for one day, but 
adopts us with this understanding, that he is to cherish us 
ever afterwards. Hence our calling ought to be held by us 
as an evidence of everlasting grace, for he luill not leave the 
luorh of his hands incomplete. (Psalm cxxxviii. 8.) Paul, 
however, addresses believers, wlio had not been merely called 
by outward preaching, but had been effectually brought by 
Christ to the Father, that they might be of the number of 
his sons. 

26. Salute all the brethren tvith an holy kiss. As to the 
kiss, it was a customary token of salutation, as has been 
stated elsewhere.^ In these words, however, he declares his 
affection towards all the saints. 

* See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 78. 



27. / adjure you hy the Lord. It is not certain whether 
he feared that, as often happened, spitefid and envious per- 
sons would suppress the Epistle, or whether he wished to 
provide against another danger — lest by a mistaken pru- 
dence and caution on the part of some, it should be kept 
among a few.^ For there will always be found some who 
say that it is of no advantage to j^ublish generally things that 
otherwise they recognise as very excellent. At least, what- 
ever artifice or pretext Satan may have at that time con- 
trived, in order that the Epistle might not come to the know- 
ledge of all, we may gather from Paul's words with what 
earnestness and keenness he sets himself in opposition to it. 
For it is no light or frivolous thing to adjure hy the name of 
God. We find, therefore, that the Spirit of God would have 
those things which he had set forth in this Epistle, through 
the ministry of Paul, to be published throughout the whole 
Church. Hence it appears, that those are more refractory 
than even devils themselves, who in the present day pro- 
hibit the people of God from reading the Avritings of Paul, 
inasmuch as they are no way moved by so strict an adjuration. 

' " Qu'aucuns par vne prudence indiscrete, la comnmnicassent seule- 
ment a quelque petit nombre sans en faire les autres participans :" — 
" That some by an ill-advised prudence, wovdd communicate it only to 
some small number without making others participate in it." 







While you are reckoned to excel in the knowledge of your 
profession by those who are competent judges in that matter, I, for 
my part, have always regarded as a very high excellence that strict 
fidelity and diligence which you are accustomed to exercise, both 
in attending upon tlie sick, and in giving advice. But more espe- 
cially in either restoring or establishing my own health, I have 
observed you to be so carefully intent, that it was easy to perceive 
that you were influenced not so much by regard to a particular 
individual, as by anxiety and concern for the common welfare of 
the Church. Another, perhaps, might think, that the kindness 
was smaller from its not having been shewn simply to himself as 
an individual; but as for me, I think myself on the contrary to be 
under a double obligation to you, on the ground, that while you 
omitted nothing whatever in discharging the office of a friend, you 
were at the same time equally concerned as to my ministry, too, 
which ought to be dearer to me than my life. The remembrance, 
besides, of my departed wife reminds me daily how much I owe 
you, not only because she was frequently through your assistance 
raised up, and was in one instance restored fx'om a serious and 
dangerous distemper, but that even in that last disease, which took 
her away from us, you left nothing undone in the way of industry, 
labour, and effort, with a view to her assistance. Farther, as you 
do not allow me to give you any other remuneration, I have 
thought of inscribing your name upon this Commentary, in order 
that there may be some token of my good wishes towards you in 

Geneva, 1st July 15.'>0. 



It does not appear to me probable that tliis Epistle was sent 
from Rome, as the Greek manuscripts commonly bear ; for he 
would have made some mention of his bonds, as he is accustomed to 
do in other Epistles. Besides, about the end of the third Chapter, 
he intimates that he is in danger from unreasonable^ men. From 
this it may be gathered, that when he was going to Jeiusalem, he 
wrote this Epistle in the course of the journey. It was also from 
an ancient date a very generally received opinion among the 
Latins, that it was written at Athens. The occasion, however, of 
his writing was this — that the Thessalonians might not reckon 
themselves overlooked, because Paul had not visited them, when 
hastening to another quarter. In the first Chapter, he exhorts 
them to patience. In the second, a vain and groundless ftincy, 
which had got into circulation as to the coming of Christ being at 
hand, is set aside by him by means of this argument — that there 
must previously to that be a revolt in the Church, and a great part 
of the world must treacherously draw back from God, nay more, 
that Antichrist must reign in the temple of God. In the tJiii-d 
Chapter, after having commended himself to their prayers, and 
having in a few words encouraged them to perseverance, he com- 
mands that those be severely chastised who live in idleness at the 
expense of others. If they do not obey admonitions, he teaches 
that they should be excommunicated. 

' " Importuns et malins;'"' — "Unreasonable and vvicketl." 




1 . Paul, and Silvanus, and Timo- 
theus, unto tlie church of the Thes- 
salonians in God our Father, and the 
Lord Jesus Christ : 

2. Grace unto you, and peace, 
from God our Father, and the Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

3. We are bound to thank God 
always for you, brethren, as it is 
meet, because that your faith grow- 
eth exceedingly, and the charity of 
every one of you all toward each 
other aboundeth : 

4. So that we ourselves glory in 
you in the churches of God, for your 
patience and faith in all your perse- 
cutions and tribulations that ye en- 

5. Which is a manifest token of 
the righteous judgment of God, that 
ye may be counted worthy of the king- 
dom of God, for which ye also sutler : 

6. Seeing it is a righteous thing 
with God to recompense tribulation 
to them that trouble you ; 

7. And to you who are troubled 
rest with us. 

1. To the Church of the Thessalonians which is in God. 
As to the form of salutation, it were superfluous to speak. 
This only it is necessary to notice — that by a Church in God 
and Chi'ist is meant one that has not merely been gathered 
together under the banner of faith, for the purpose of wor- 

1. Paulus et Silvanus et Timo- 
theus Ecclesiae Thessalonicensiura 
in Deo Fatre nostro et Domino lesu 

2. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo 
Patre nostro et Domino lesu Christo. 

3. Gratias agere debemus Deo 
semper de vobis, fratres, quemad- 
modum dignum est, quia vehemen- 
ter augescit fides vestra, et exuberat 
caritas mutua uniuscuiusque omni- 
um vestrum ; 

4. Ut nos ipsi de vobis gloriemur 
in Ecclesia Dei, de tolerantia vestra 
et fide in omnibus pcrsequutionibus 
vestris et afflictionibus quas susti- 

5. Ostensionem iusti iudicii Dei : 
ut digni habeamini regno Dei, pro 
quo et patimini. 

6. Siquidem iustum est apud 
Deum reddcre iis, qui vos affligunt, 
afflictionem : 

7. Et vobis, qui affligimini, relax- 
ationem nobiscum. 


shipping one God the Father, and confiding in Christ, but is 
the work and building as well of the Father as of Christ, 
because while God adopts us to himself, and regenerates us, 
we from him begin to be in Christ. (1 Cor. i. 30.) 

3. To give thanks. He begins with commendation, that he 
may have occasion to pass on to exhortation, for in this way 
we have more success among those who have ah'eady entered 
upon the course, when without passing over in silence their 
former progress, we remind them howfardistanttheyare asyet 
from the goal, and stir them up to make progress. As, how- 
ever, he had in the former Epistle commended their faith and 
love, he now declares the increase of both. And, unques- 
tionably, this course ought to be pursued by all the pious — 
to "examine themselves daily, and see how far they have 
advanced. This, therefore, is the true commendation of 
believers — their gi'oiuing daily in faith and love. When he 
says always, he means that he is constantly supplied with 
new occasion. He had previously given thanks to God on 
their account. He says that he has now occasion to do so 
again, on the ground of daily progress. When, however, he 
gives thanks to God on this account, he declares that the 
enlargements, no less than the beginnings, of faith and love 
are from him, for if they proceeded from the power of men, 
thanksgiving would be pretended, or at least -worthless. 
Farther, he shews that their proficiency was not trivial, or 
even ordinary, but most abundant. So much the more dis- 
graceful is our slowness, inasmuch as we scarcely advance 
one foot during a long space of time. 

As is meet. In these words Paul shews that we are 
bound to give thanks to God, not only when he does us 
good, but also when we take into view the favours bestowed 
by him upon our brethren. For wherever the goodness of 
God shines forth, it becomes us to extol it. Farther, the 
welfare of our brethren ought to be so dear to us, that we 
ought to reckon among our own benefits everything that has 
been conferred upon them. Nay more, if we consider the 
nature and sacredncss of the unity of Christ's body, such a 
mutual fellowship will have place among us, that we shall 
reckon the benefits conferred upon an individual member as 


gain to the wliole Cliurch. Hence, in extolling God's bene- 
fits, we must always have an eye to the whole body of the 

4. So that we ourselves glory in you. He could not have 
bestowed higher commendation upon them, than by saying 
tliat he sets them forward before other Churches as a pat- 
tern, for such is the meaning of those words: — We glory in 
you in the presence of other C/iurches. For Paul did not 
boast of the faitli of the Thessalonians from a spirit of ambi- 
tion, but inasmuch as his commendation of them might be 
an incitement to make it their endeavour to imitate them. 
He does not say, however, that he glories in their foith and 
love, but in the'iv j^attence and faith. Hence it follows, that 
patience is the fruit and evidence of faith. These wonxls 
ouglit, therefore, to be explained in this manner: — "We 
glory in the patience which s]n-ings from faith, and we bear 
witness that it eminently shines forth in you ;" otherwise 
the context would not correspond. And, undoubtedly, there 
is nothing that sustains us in tribulations as ftiith does ; 
which is sufficiently manifest from this, that we altogether 
sink down so soon as the promises of God leave us. Hence, 
the more proficiency any one makes in fiiith, he will be so 
much the more endued with patience for enduring all things 
with fortitude, as on the other hand, softness and impatience 
under adversity betoken unbelief on our part; but more es^ie- 
cially when persecutions are to be endured for the gospel, 
the influence of faith in that case discovers itself. 

5. A demonstration of the righteous judgment of God. 
Witliout mentioning tlie exposition given by otliers, I am of 
opinion that the true meaning is this — that tlie injuries and 
persecutions which innocent and pious persons endure from 
tlie wicked and abandoned, shew clearly, as in a mirror, tliat 
God will one day be the judge of the world. And this state- 
ment is quite at antipodes with that profi\ne notion, which 
we are accustomed to entertain, whenever it goes well with 
the good and ill with the wicked. For we tliink tliat the 
world is under the regulation of mere chance, and we leave 
God no control. Hence it is that impiety and contempt 
take possession of men's hearts, as Solomon speaks, (Eccl. 


ix. 3,) for those that suffer anything undeservedly either 
throw the bkirae upon God, or do not think tliat he con- 
cerns himself as to the affairs of men. We hear what Ovid 
says, — " I am tempted to think that there are no gods."^ 
Nay more, David confesses (Psalm Ixxiii. 1-12) that, because 
he saw things in so confused a state in the world, he had 
well-nigh lost his footing, as in a slippery place. On the 
other hand, the wicked become more insolent through 
occasion of prosperity, as if no punishment of their crimes 
awaited them ; just as Dionysius, when making a prosperous 
voyage,^ boasted that the gods favoured the sacrilegious.^ 
In fine, when we see that the cruelty of the wicked against 
the innocent walks abroad with impunity, carnal sense con- 
cludes that there is no judgment of God, that there are no 
punishments of the wicked, that there is no reward of 

Paul, however, declares on the other hand, that as God 
tlius spares the wicked for a time, and winks at the injuries 
inflicted upon his people. His judgment to come is shewn us 
as in a mirror. For he takes for granted that it cannot but 
be that God, inasmuch as he is a just Judge, will one day 
restore peace to the miserable, who are now unjustly 
harassed, and will pay to the oppressors of the pious the 
reward that they have merited. Hence, if we hold this 
principle of faith, that God is the just Judge of the world, 
and that it is his office to render to every one a recompense 
according to his works, this second principle will follow 
incontrovertibly — that the present disorderly state of mat- 
ters {ara^lav) is a demonstration of the judgment, which 
does not yet appear. For if God is the righteous Judge of 
the world, those things that are now confused must, of 

' " Solicitor nullos esse putare decs." — Ovidm. Am. ix. 36. In orfler 
to see the appropriateness of the quotation, it is necessary to notice the 
connection of the words " Cum rapiant mala fata bonos. . . . iSolicitor," 
&c. : — "When misfortunes overtake the good, I am tempted," &c. — Ed. 

2 " Comme Denys le tyran, apres auoir pille vn temple, s estant mis sur 
le mer, et voyant qu'il auoit bon vent;" — "As Hionysius the tyrant, after 
he had plundered a temple, having- embarked upon the sea, and observing 
that he had a favourable wind." 

^ Our author alludes to a saying- of Dionysius the younger, tyrant of 
Sicily, on occasion of his plundering the temple of Proserpine. See 
Calvin on the Psalms, vol. i. p. 141, vol. iii. p. 126, vol. v. p. 114. — Ed. 


necessity, be restored to order. Now, notliing is more dis- 
orderly than that the wicked, with impunity, give molesta- 
tion to the good, and walk abroad with unbridled violence, 
while the good are cruelly harassed without any fault on 
their part. From this it may be readily inferred, that God 
will one day ascend the judgment-seat, that he may remedy 
the state of matters in the world, so as to bring them into a 
better condition. 

Hence the statement which he subjoins — that it is 
righteous with God to appoint affliction, &c., is the ground- 
work of this docti'ine — that God furnishes tokens of a judg- 
ment to come when he refrains, for the present, from 
exercising the office of judge. And unquestionably, if 
matters were now arranged in a tolerable way, so that the 
judgment of God might be recognised as having been fully 
exercised, an adjustment of this nature would detain us 
upon earth. Hence God, in order that he may stir us up 
to the hope of a judgment to come, does, for the present, 
only to some extent judge the world. He furnishes, it is 
true, many tokens of his judgment, but it is in such a 
manner as to constrain us to extend our hope farther. A 
remarkable passage truly, as teaching us in what manner 
our minds ought to be raised up above all the impediments 
of the world, whenever we suffer any adversity — that the 
righteous judgment of God may present itself to our mind, 
which will raise us above this world. Thus death will be an 
image of life. 

May be accounted worths/. There are no persecutions that 
are to be reckoned of such value as to make us worthy of the 
kingdom of God, nor docs Paul dispute here as to the ground 
of worthiness, but simply takes the common doctrine of 
Scripture — that God destroys in us those things that are of 
the world, that he may restore in us a better life ; and 
farther, that by means of afflictions he shews us the value 
of eternal life. In short, he simply points out the manner 
in which believers are prepared and, as it were, polished 
under God's anvil, inasmuch as, by afflictions, they are 
taught to renounce the world and to aim at God's heavenly 
kingdom. Farther, they are confirmed in the hope of 


eternal life while they fight for it. For this is the entrance 
of which Christ discoursed to his disciples. (Matt. vii. 13 ; 
Luke xiii. 24.) 

6, To appoint affliction. We have already stated why it 
is that he makes mention of the vengeance of God against 
tlie wicked — that we may learn to rest in the expectation 
of a judgment to come, because God does not as yet avenge 
the wicked, while it is, nevertlieless, necessary that they 
should suffer the punishment of their crimes. Believers, 
however, at the same time, understand by this that tliere is 
no reason why they should envy the momentary and 
evanescent felicity of the wicked, which will ere long bo 
exchanged for a dreadful destruction. Wliat he adds as to 
the rest of the pious, accords with the statement of Paul, 
(Acts iii. 20,) where he calls the day of the last judgment 
the day of refreshing. 

In this declaration, however, as to the good and the bad, 
lie designed to shew more clearly how unjust and confused 
the government of the world M'ould be, if God did not defer 
punishments and rewards till another judgment, for in this 
way the name of God were a thing that was dead.^ Hence 
he is deprived of his office and power by all that are not 
intent on that righteousness of which Paul speaks. 

He adds with us, that he may gain credit to his doctrine 
from his experience of belief in his own mind ; for he shews 
that he does not philosophize as to things unknown, by 
putting himself into the same condition, and into the same 
rank with them. We know, however, how much more 
authority is due to those who have, by long practice, been 
exercised in those things which they teach, and do not 
require from others anything but what they are themselves 
prepared to do. Paul, therefore, does not, while himself in 
the shade, give instructions to the Thessalonians as to how 
they should fight in the heat of the sun, but, fighting 
vigorously, exhorts them to the same warfare.^ 

^ "Morte et sans vertu ;" — " Dead and powerless." 

^ " S. Paid, done, enseignant les Thessaloniciens comment ils doyuent 
combattre au milieu des aftlictions, ne parle point comme vn gendarme 
qui estant en I'ombre et a son aise, accourageroit les autres a faire leur 
deuoir a la campagne au milieu de la poussiere et a la chalcur du soleil : 


7. When the Lord Jesus shall be 7. Quum manifestabitiir Domi- 
revealed from heaven with his nus lesus e ccelo cum angehs po- 
inighty angels, tentiae suae, 

8. in naming fire, taking van- 8. In igne flammanti, qui ultio- 
geance on them that know not God, nem hifliget iis, qui non noverunt 
and that obey not the gospel of our Deuni, et non obediunt evangelio 
Lord Jesus Christ : Domini nostri lesu Christi : 

9. Who shall be punished with 9. Qui poenam dabunt interitum 
everlasting deslructicm from the aeternum a facie Domini, et a gloria 
presence of the Lord, and from the potentiae ipsius, 

glory of his power ; 

10. When he shall come to be 10. Quum venerit ut sanctificetur 
glorified in his saints, and to be ad- in Sanctis suis, et adrairabilis redda- 
mired in all them that believe, (be- tur in omnibus, qui credunt (quia 
cause our testimony among you was fides habita sit testimonio nostro 
believed,) in that day. erga vos) in ilia die. 

7. When the Lord shall be manifested. Here we have a 
confirmation of the foregoing statement. For as it is one of 
the articles of our faith, that Christ v/ill come from heaven, 
and will not come in vain, faith ought to seek the end of 
his coming. Now this is — that he may come as a Redeemer 
to his own people ; nay more, that he may judge the whole 
world. The description which follows has a view to this — 
that the pious may understand that God is so much the 
more concerned as to their afflictions in proportion to the 
dreadfuliiess of the judgment that awaits his enemies. For 
tlie chief occasion of grief and distress is this — that we think 
that God is but lightly affected with our calamities. We 
see into what complaints David from time to time breaks 
forth, wliile he is consumed by the pride and insolence of 
his enemies. Hence he has brought forward all this for 
the consolation of believers, while he represents the tribunal 
of Christ as full of horror,^ that they may not be disheart- 
ened by their present oppressed condition, while they see 
themselves proudly and disdainfully trampled upon by the 

What is to be the nature of that fire, and of what mate- 

mais combattant luy-mcsme vaillamment, il les exhorte a combattre de 

mesme ;" " St Paul, therefore, instructing the Tiiessalonians how they 

ought to fight in the midst of afHictions, does not speak like a soldier who, 
while in the shade and at his ease, would encourage others to do their 
duty in the campaign in the midst of dust, and in the heat of the sun ; 
but, while fighting himself valiantly, he exhorts them to contend in like 

' " Plein d'horrcur ct d'espouvantement ;" — " Full of horror and terror." 


rials, I leave to the disputations of persons of foolisli curi- 
osity. I am contented with holding what Paul had it in 
view to teach — that Christ will he a most strict avenger of 
the injuries which the wicked inflict upon us. The meta- 
phor, however, of fiame and fire, is abundantly common in 
Scripture, when the anger of God is treated of. 

By the angels of his power, he means those in whom he 
Avill exercise his power ; for he will bring the angels with 
him for the purpose of displaying the glory of his kingdom. 
Hence, too, they are elsewhere called the angels of his 

8. Who ivill inflict vengeance. That he may the better 
persuade believers that the persecutions which they endure 
will not go unpunislied, he teaches that this also involves 
the interests of God himself, inasmuch as the same persons 
that persecute the pious are guilty of rebellion against God. 
Hence it is necessary that God sliould inflict vengeance 
upon them not merely with a view to our salvation, but also 
for the sake of his own glory. Fartlier, this expression, 
who will inflict vengeance, relates to Christ, for Paul inti- 
mates that this oflice is assigned to him by God the Father. 
It may be asked, however, whether it is lawful for us to 
desire vengeance, for Paul promises it, as though it could be 
lawfully desired. I answer, that it is not lawful to desire 
vengeance upon any one, inasmuch as we are commanded to 
wish well to aU. Besides, although we may in a general 
way desire vengeance upon the wicked, yet, as we do not as 
yet discriminate them, we ought to desire the welfare of all. 
In the mean time, the ruin of the wicked may be lawfully 
looked forward to with desire, provided there reigns in our 
hearts a pure and duly regulated zeal for God, and there is 
no feeling of inordinate desire. 

Who know not. He distinguishes unbelievers by these 
two marks — that they know not God, and obey not the gospel 
of Christ. For if obedience is not rendered to the gospel 
through feith, as he teaches in the flrst and in the last 
chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, unbelief is the occa- 
sion of resistance to it. He charges them at the same time 
with ignorance of God, for a lively acquaintance with God 


l")roduces of itself reverence towards him. Hence unbelief 
is always blind, not as tlioug-li unbelievers were altogether 
devoid of light and intelligence, but because they have the 
understanding darkened in such a manner, that seeing they 
do not see. (Matt. xiii. IS.) It is not without good grounds 
that Christ declares that this is life eternal, to know the true 
God, &c. (John xvii. 3.) Accordingly, from the want of 
this salutary knowledge, there follows contempt of God, and 
in fine, death. On this point I have treated more fully in 
commenting on the first chapter of First Corinthians.^ 

9. Everlasting destruction from the face. He shews, b}^ 
apposition,^ what is the nature of the punishment of which 
he had made mention — destruction without end, and an un- 
dying death. The perpetuity of the death is proved from 
the circumstance, that it has the glorj'- of Christ as its oppo- 
site. Now, this is eternal, and has no end. Accordingly, 
the influence of that death will never cease. From this also 
the dreadful severity of the punishment may be inferred, in- 
asmuch as it will be great in proportion to the glory and 
majesty of Christ. 

10. When he shall come to he sanctified. As he has 
hitherto discoursed as to the punishment of the wicked, he 
now returns to the pious, and says that Christ will come, 
that he may be glorified in them ; that is, that he may irra- 
diate them with his glory, and that they may be partakers 
of it. " Christ will not have this glory for himself indivi- 
dually ; but it will be common to all the saints." This is the 
crowning and choice consolation of the pious, that when the 
Son of God will be manifested in the glory of his kingdom, 
he will gather them into the same fellowship with himself^ 
There is, however, an implied contrast between the present 
condition in which believers labour and groan, and that fina,l 
restoration. For they are noiu exposed to the reproaches of 
the world, and are looked upon as vile and worthless ; but 
then they will be precious, and full of dignity, when Christ 
will pour forth his glory upon them. The end of this is, 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. i. pp. 84-86. 
» See p.l4S, «. 2. 

' " II les recueillera on plene conionction, et les fora ses censors ;"' — 
«•' He will gather them in full union, and will make tliem his partners." 



that tlic pious may as it were, witli closed eyes, pursue the 
brief journey of this earthly life, having their minds always 
intent upon the future manifestation of Christ's kingdom. 
For to Avhat purpose does he make mention of His coming in 
]io\ver, but in order that they may in hope leap forward to 
that blessed resurrection which is as yet hid ? 

It is also to be observed, that after having made use of 
the term saints, he adds, by way of explanation — those that 
believe, by which he intimates that there is no holiness in 
men without faith, but that all are profane. In the close 
he again repeats the terms — in that day, for that expression 
is connected with this sentence. Now, he repeats it with 
this view, that he may repress the desires of believers, lest 
they should hasten forward beyond due bounds. 

Because credit ivas given. What he had said in a general 
way as to saints, he now applies to the Thessalonians, that 
they may not doubt that they are of that number. " Be- 
cause," says he, " my preaching has obtained credit among 
you, Christ has already enrolled you in the number of his 
own people, whom he will make partakers of his glory."' He 
calls his doctrine a testimony, because the Apostles are 
Christ's witnesses. (Acts i. 8.) Let us learn, therefore, 
that the promises of God are ratified in us, when they gain 
credit with us. 

11. Wherefore also we pray al- 11. In qiiam rem etiam oramus 
Avays for you, that our God would semper pro vobis : ut vos habeat 
count you worthy of this calling, and dignos vocatione Deus noster, et im- 
fulfil all the good pleasure of his pleat omne beneplacitimi bonitatis, 
goodness, and the work of faith with et opus fidei cum potenlia :* 
power ; 

12. That the name of our Lord 12. Quo glorificetur nomcn Do- 
Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, mini nostri lesu Christi in vobis, et 
and ye in him, according to the grace vos in ipso, secundum gratiam Dei 
of our God and the Lord Jesus nostri, et Domini lesu Christi. 

11. On which account we pray always. That they may 
know that they need continual help from God, he declares 
that he prays in their behalf When he says on this account, 
he means, in order that they may reach that final goal of 
their course, as appears from the succeeding context, that he 

* " Auec puissance, ou puissammcnt ;" — " With power, or powerfully." 


would fulfil all the good pleasure, See. It may seem, however, as 
if what he has mentioned tirst were unnecessary, for God had 
ah-eady accounted them worthy of his calling. He speaks, 
however, as to the end or completion, which depends on per- 
severance. For as we are liahle to give way, our calling 
would not fail, so far as we are concerned, to prove sooner 
or later vain, if God did not confirm it. Hence he is said 
to account us worthy, when he conducts us to the point at 
which we aimed. 

And fulfil. Paul goes to an amazing height in extolling 
the grace of God, for not contenting himself with the term 
good pleasure, he says tliat it flows from his goodness, unless 
perliaps any one should prefer to consider the beneficence^ 
as arising from this good pleasure, which amounts to the 
same thing. When, however, we are instructed tliat the 
gracious purpose of God is the cause of our salvation, and 
tliat that has its foundation in the goodness of the same God, 
are we not worse than mad, if we venture to ascribe any- 
thing, however small, to our own merits ? For the words are 
in no small degree emphatic. He might have said in one 
word, that your faith may he fulfilled, but he terms it good 
pleasure. Farther, he expresses the idea still more distinctly 
by saying, that God was prompted by nothing else than his 
own goodness, for he finds nothing in us but misery. 

Nor does Paul ascribe to the grace of God merely the be- 
ginning of our salvation, but all departments of it. Thus 
that contrivance of the Soi)hists is set aside, that we are, in- 
deed, anticipated by the grace of God, but that it is helped 
by subsequent merits. Paul, on the other hand, recognises 
in tlie whole progress of our salvation nothing but the pure 
grace of God. As, however, the good pleasure of God has 
been already accomplished in him, referring in the term 
subsequently employed by him to the effect which appears 
in us, he explains his meaning when he says — and work of 
faith. And he calls it a work, with regard to God, M-ho 
works or produces fliith in us, as though he had said — " that 
he may complete the building of faith which he has begun." 

It is, also, not without good reason, that he says with 

' " Ceste honle et beneficence;" — " This goodness and beneficence." 


power, for he intimates that the perfecting of faith is an 
arduous matter, and one of the greatest difficulty. This, 
also, we know but too well from experience ; and the reason, 
too, IS not far to seek, if we consider how great our weakness 
is, how various are the hinderances that obstruct us on every 
side, and how severe are the assaults of Satan. Hence, un- 
less the power of Grod afford us help in no ordinary degree, 
faith will never rise to its full height. For it is no easier 
task to bring faith to perfection in an individual, than to 
rear upon water a tower that may by its firmness withstand 
all storms and fury of tempests, and may surmount the clouds 
in height, for we are not less fluid than water, and it is ne- 
cessary that the height of faith reach as high as heaven. 

12. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may he glori- 
fied. He calls us back to the chief end of our whole life— that 
we may promote the Lord's glory. What he adds, however, 
is more especially worthy of notice, that those who have ad- 
vanced the glory of Christ will also in their turn be glorified 
in him. For in this, first of all, the wonderful goodness of 
God shines forth — that he will have his glory be conspicuous 
in us who are covered over with ignominy. This, however, is 
a twofold miracle, that he afterwards irradiates us with his 
glory, as though he would do the same to us in return. On 
this account he adds, according to the grace of God and 
Christ. For there is nothing here that is ours eitlier in the 
action itself, or in the effect or fruit, for it is solely by the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit that our life is made to contri- 
bute to the glory of God. And the circumstance that so 
much fruit arises from this ought to be ascribed to the great 
mercy of God. In the mean time, if we are not worse than 
stupid, we must aim with all our might at the advancement 
of the glory of Christ, which is connected with ours. I deem 
it unnecessary to explain at present in what sense he repre- 
sents the glory as belonging to God and Christ in common, 
as I have explained this elsewhere.^ 
' See p. 370. 



1. Now we beseech you, brethren, 1. Rogo autem vos, fratres, per 
by the coming of our Lord Jesus adventuiu (vel,, de adventu) Domini 
Christ, and by our gathering to- nostri lesu Christi, et nostri in ip- 
gether unto him, sum aggregationera, 

2. That ye be not soon shaken in 2. Ne cito dinioveamini a nieate, 
inind, or be troubled, neither by neque turberaini vel per spiritum, 
spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as vel per sermonem, vel per epistolam, 
from us, as that the day of Christ tanquam a nobis scriptam, quasi 
is at hand. instet dies Christi. 

1. Now I beseech you, by the coming. It may indeed be 
read, as I have noted on the margin, concerning the coming, 
but it suits better to view it as an earnest entreaty, taken 
from the subject in hand, just as in 1 Cor. xv. 3i, when dis- 
coursing- as to the hope of a resurrection, he makes use of 
an oath by that glory which is to be lioped for by believers. 
And this lias mucli more efficacy when he adjures believers 
by the coming of Clirist, not to imagine rashly that his day 
is at liand, for he at the same time admonishes us not to 
think of it but with reverence and sobriety. For it is cus- 
tomary to adjure by those things which are regarded by us 
with reverence. The meaning therefore is, " As you set a 
high value on the coming of Christ, when he will gather us 
to himself, and will truly perfect that unity of the body 
which we cherish as yet only in part through means of faith, 
so I earnestly beseech you by his coming not to be too cre- 
dulous, should any one affiirn, on whatever pretext, that his 
day is at hand." 

As he had in his former Epistle adverted to some extent 
to the resurrection, it is possible that some fickle and fana- 
tical persons took occasion from this to mark out a near 
and fixed day. For it is not likely that this error had taken 
its rise earlier among the Thessalonians. For Timothy, on 
returning thence, had informed Paul as to their entire con- 
dition, and as a prudent and experienced man had omitted 
nothing that was of importance. Now if Paul had received 
notice of it, he could not have been silent as to a matter of 
so great consequence. Thus I am of opinion, that when 
Paul's Epistle had been read, which contained a lively view 


of the resurrection, some that were disposed to indulge curi- 
osity pliilosophized unseasonably as to the time of it. This, 
however, was an utterly ruinous fancy,^ as were also other 
things of the same nature, which were afterwards dissemi- 
nated, not without artifice on the part of Satan. For when 
an}'- day is said to be near, if it does not quickly arrive, man- 
kind being naturally impatient of longer delay, their spirits 
begin to languish, and that languishing is followed up shortly 
afterwards by despair. 

This, therefore, was Satan's subtlety : as he could not 
openly overturn the hope of a resurrection with the view of 
secretly undermining it, as if by pits underground,^ he pro- 
mised that the day of it would be near, and would soon 
arrive. Afterwards, too, he did not cease to contrive various 
things, with the view of effacing, by little and little, the belief 
of a resuiTection from the minds of men, as he could not 
openly eradicate it. It is, indeed, a plausible thing to say 
that the day of our redemption is definitely fixed, and on 
this account it meets with applause on the part of the mul- 
titude, as we see that the dreams of Lactantius and the 
Chiliasts^ of old gave much delight, and yet they had no 
other tendency than that of overthrowing the hope of a 
resurrection. This was not the design of Lactantius, but 
Satan, in accordance with his subtlety, perverted his curio- 
sity, and that of those like him, so as to leave nothing in 
religion definite or fi.xed, and even at the present day he 
does not cease to employ the same means. We now see how 
necessary Paul's admonition was, as but for this all reli- 
gion Avould have been overturned among the Thessalonians 
under a specious pretext. 

2. That ye he not soon shaken in judgment. He employs 
the term judgment to denote that settled faith which rests 
on sound doctrine. Now, by means of that fancy which he 
rejects, they would have been carried away as it were into 
ecstasy. He notices, also, three kinds of imposture, as to 

' " Vne fantasie merueilleusement pernicieuse, et pour ruiner tout;" — 
" A fancy that was singularly destructive, and utterly ruinous." 
' See Calvin on the Corintliians, vol. i. p. 38. 
" See p. 20G. 


which they must be on their guard — spirit, word, and spu- 
rious epistle. By the term spirit he means pretended pro- 
phecies, and it appears that this mode of speaking was com- 
mon among the pious, so that they applied the term spirit 
to prophesyings, with the view of putting honour upon them. 
For, in order that propliecies may have due authority, we 
must look to the Spirit of God rathei than to men. But as 
the devil is wont to transform himself into an angel of light, 
(2 Cor. xi. 14,) impostors stole this title, in order that they 
might impose upon the simple. But although Paul could 
have stript them of this mask, he, nevertheless, preferred to 
speak in this manner, by way of concession, as though he 
had said, " However they may pretend to have the spirit of 
revelation, believe them not." John, in like manner, says : 
" Try the sjnrits, whether they a7'e of God." (1 John iv. 1.) 

Speech, in my opinion, includes every kind of doctrine, 
while false teachers insist in the way of reasons or conjec- 
tures, or other pretexts. What he adds as to epistle, is an 
evidence that this impudence is ancient — that of feigning 
the names of others.^ So much the more wonderful is the 
mercy of God towards us, in that while Paul's name was on 
false grounds made use of in spurious writings, his writings 
have, nevertheless, been preserved entire even to our times. 
This, unquestionably, could not have taken place accident- 
ally, or as the effect of mere human industry, if God him- 
self had not by his j)ower restrained Satan and all his 

As if the day of Christ were at hand. This may seem to 
be at variance Avith many passages of Scripture, in which 
the Spirit declares that that day is at hand. But the solu- 
tion is easy, for it is <it hand with regard to God, with Avhom 
one day is as a thousand years. (2 Peter iii. 8.) In the 
mean time, the Lord would have us be constantly waiting for 
liim in such a way as not to limit him to a certain time. 
Watch, says he, for ye knoiu neither the day nor the hour. 
(Matt. xxiv. 32.) On tlie other hand, those false prophets 
whom Paul exposes, while they ought to have kept men's 
minds in suspense, bid them feel assured of his speedy 
' '•' Dgs grands personnages ;" — " Of great personages." 


advent, that they might not be wearied out with the irk- 
someness of delay. 

3. Let no man deceive you by 3. Ne quis vos decipiat ullo modo : 
any means : for that day shall not quia nisi prius venerit discessio, et 
come, except there come a falling nisi revelatus fuerit sceleratus ille 
away first, and that man of sin 1)6 filius perditus, 

revealed, the son of perdition ; 

4. Who opposeth and exalteth 4. Adversarius, et qui se extollit 
himself above all that is called God, adversus omne, quod dicitur Deus, 
or that is worshipped ; so that he, aut numen : ita ut ipse in templo 
as God, sitteth in the temple of God, Dei tanquam Deus sedeat, osten- 
shewing himself that he is God. dens se ipsum quasi sit Deus. 

o. Let no man deceive you. That they may not ground- 
lessly jn'omise themselves the arrival in so short a time of 
the joyful day of redemption, he presents to them a melan- 
choly prediction as to the future scattering of the Church. 
This discourse entirely corresponds with that which Christ 
held in the presence of his disciples, when they had asked 
him respecting the end of the world. For he exhorts them 
to prejiare themselves for enduring hard conflicts,^ (Matt. xxiv. 
6,) and after he has discoursed of the most grievous and pre- 
viously unheard of calamities, by which the earth was to be 
reduced almost to a desert, he adds, that the end is not yet, 
but that these things are the beginnings of sorrows. In the 
same way, Paul declares that believers must exercise war- 
fare for a long period, before gaining a triumph. 

We have here, however, a remarkable passage, and one 
that is in the highest degree worthy of observation. This 
was a grievous and dangerous temptation, which might shake 
even the most confirmed, and make them loose their footing 
— to see the Church, which had by means of such labours 
been raised up gradually and with difficulty to some consi- 
derable standing, fall down suddenly, as if torn down by a 
tempest. Paul, accordingly, fortifies beforehand the minds, 
not merely of the Thessalonians, but of all the pious, that 
when the Church should come to be in a scattered condition, 
they might not be alarmed, as though it were a thing that 
was new and unlooked for. 

As, however, interpreters have twisted this passage in 

1 « Merveilleux et durs combats ;" — " Singular and hard conflicts." 


various ways, we must first of all endeavour to ascertain 
Paul's true meaning. He says that the day of Christ will 
not come, until the world has fallen into apostasy, and the 
reign of Antichrist has obtained a footing in the Church ; for 
as to the exposition that some have given of this passage, as 
referring to the downfal of the Roman empire, it is too silly 
to require a lengthened refutation. I am also surprised, 
that so many writers, in other respects learned and acute, 
have fallen into a blunder in a matter that is so easy, were 
it not tliat when one has committed a mistake, others follow 
in troops without consideration. Paul, therefore, employs the 
term apostasy to mean — a treacherous departure from God, 
and that not on the part of one or a few individuals, but such 
as would spread itself far and wide among a largo multitude 
of persons. For when apostasy is made mention of without 
anything being added, it cannot be restricted to a few. Now, 
none can be termed apostates, but such as have previously 
made a profession of Christ and the gospel. Paul, therefore, 
predicts a certain general revolt of the visible Church. " The 
Church must be reduced to an unsightly and dreadful state 
of ruin, before its full restoration be effected." 

From this we may readily gather, how useful this predic- 
tion of Paul is, for it might have seemed as though that 
could not be a building of God, that w^as suddenly over- 
thrown, and lay so long in ruins, had not Paul long before 
intimated that it would be so. Nay more, many in the pre- 
sent day, when they consider with themselves the long-con- 
tinued dispersion of the Churcli, begin to waver, as if this 
had not been regulated by the purpose of God. The Roman- 
ists, also, with the view of justifying the tyranny of their 
idol, make use of this pretext — that it was not possible that 
Christ would forsake his spouse. Tlie weak, however, have 
something here on which to rest, when they learn that the 
unseemly state of matters which they behold in the Churcii 
was long since foretold ; while, on the other hand, the im- 
pudence of the Romanists is openly exposed, inasmucli as 
Paul declares that a revolt will come, wlien the world has 
been brought under Christ's authority. Now, we sliall see 
presently, why it is that the Lord lia'^ jiormitted the Cliurcli, 


or at least what appeared to be such, to fall off in so shame- 
ful a manner. 

Has been revealed. It was no better than an old wife's fable 
that was contrived respecting Nero, that he was carried up 
from the world, destined to return again to liarass the 
Church^ by his t^a'anny ; and yet the minds of the ancients 
were so bewitched, that they imiigined that Nero would be 
Antichrist.^ Paul, however, does not speak of one indi- 
vidual, but of a kingdom, that was to be taken possession of 
by Satan, that he might set up a seat of abomination in the 
midst of God's temple — which we see accomplished in Popery. 
The revolt, it is true, has spread more widely, for Mahomet, 
as he was an apostate, turned away the Turks, his followers, 
from Christ. All heretics have broken the unity of the 
Church by their sects, and thus there have been a corre- 
sponding number of revolts from Christ. 

Paul, however, when he has given warning that there 
would be such a scattering, that the greater part would 
revolt from Christ, adds something more serious — that there 
would be such a confusion, that the vicar of Satan would 
hold supreme power in the Church, and would preside there 
in the place of God. Now he describes that reign of 
abomination under the name of a single person, because it 
is only one reign, though one succeeds another. My readers 
now understand, that all the sects by which the Church has 
been lessened from the beginning, have been so many streams 
of revolt which began to draw away the water from the right 
course, but that the sect of Mahomet was like a violent 
bursting forth of water, that took away about the half of the 
Church by its violence. It remained, also, that Antichrist 
should infect the remaining part with his poison. Thus, 

' " Pour tovirmenter griefuement I'Eglise ;" — '• To torment the Church 

* The strange notion here referred to by Calvin as to Nero, is accounted 
for by Cornelius a Lapide in his Commentary on the Revelation, p. 212, 
from the circumstance that Alcazar having explained the expression which 
occurs in Rev. xiii. 3. " 1 saw one of the heads as it were killed to death," 
as rtferring to Nero killed, and soon afterwards raised up, as it u ere, and 
reviving in the person of Domitian his succe.'-sor, some of the ancients, 
understiinding liierally \\\\2ii was meant by him figuratively, conceived the 
idea that Kero would be Antichrist, and would be raised up, and appear 
aeainin the end of the world. — Kd. 


we see with our own eyes, that this memorable prediction of 
Paul has been confirmed by the event. 

In the exposition which I bring forward, there is nothing 
forced. Believers in that age dreamed that they would be 
transported to heaven, after having endured troubles during 
a short period. Paul, however, on the other hand, foretells 
that, after they have had foreign enemies for some time 
molesting them, they will have more evils to endure from 
enemies at home, inasmuch as many of those that have made 
a profession of attachment to Christ would be hurried away 
into base treachery, and inasmuch as the temple of God 
itself would be polluted by sacrilegious tyranny, so that 
Christ's greatest enemy would exercise dominion there. The 
term revelation is taken here to denote manifest possession of 
tyranny, as if Paul had said that the day of Christ Avould not 
come until this tyrant had openly manifested himself, and 
had, as it were, designedly overturned the whole order of the 

4. An adversary, and that exalteth himself. The two epi- 
thets — man of sin, and so7i of pe7'dition — intimate, in the 
first place, how dreadful the confusion would be, that the 
unseemliness of it might not discourage weak minds ; and 
farther, they tend to stir up the pious to a feeling of detesta- 
tion, lest they should degenerate along wnth others. Paul, 
however, now draws, as if in a picture, a striking likeness of 
Antichrist ; for it may be easily gathered from these words 
what is the nature of his kingdom, and in what things it 
consists. For, when he calls him an adversary, when he 
says that he will claim for himself those things which belong 
to God, so that he is worshipped in the temple as God, he 
places his kingdom in direct opposition to the kingdom of 
Christ. Hence, as the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so this 
tyranny must be upon souls, that it may rival the kingdom 
of Christ. We shall also find him afterwards assigning to 
him the power of deceiving, by means of wicked doctrines 
and pretended miracles. If, accordingly, you would know 
Antichrist, you must view him as diametrically opposed to 
' " The name of the Man of Sm is not Antitheos, but <i>T/;^j/<rT«; — nut one 


Where I have rendered — everything that is called God, the 
reading more generally received among the Greeks is, every 
one that is called. It may, however, be conjectured, both 
from the old translation^ and from some Greek commentaries, 
that Paul's words have been corrupted. The mistake, too, 
of a single letter was readily fallen into, especially when the 
shape of the letter was much similar ; for, where there 
was written Trav to, (everything,) some transcriber, or too 
daring reader, turned it into iravTa, {every one) This differ- 
ence, however, is not of so much importance as to the sense, 
for Paul undoubtedly means that Antichrist would take to 
himself those things that belonged to God alone, so that he 
would exalt himself ahove every divine claim, that all religion 
and all worship of God might lie under his feet. This ex- 
pression then, every thing that is reckoned to be God, is equiva- 
lent to everything that is reckoned as Divinity, and ae/Sacrfxa, 
that is, in which the veneration due to God consists. 

Here, however, the subject treated of is not the name of 
God himself, but his majesty and worship, and, in general, 
everything that he claims for himself " True religion is 
that by which the true God alone is worshipped ; that, the 
son of perdition will transfer to himself" Now, every one 
that has learned from Scripture what are the things that 
more especially belong to God, and will, on the other hand, 
observe what the Pope claims for himself — though he 
wei'e but a boy of ten years of age — will have no great 
difficulty in recognising Antichrist. Scripture declares that 
God is tlie alone Lawgiver (James iv. 12) tuho is able to save 
and to destroy ; the alone King, whose office it is to govern 
souls by his word. It represents him as the author of all 
sacred rites ;^ it teaches that righteousness and salvation are 

that directly invadeth the properties of the supreme God, but of God 
incarnate, or Christ as Mediator. ... he usurpeth the authority due to 
Christ." — Dr. Manton's Sermons on 2d Thess. ii. p. 8t). — Ed. 

' The renderinf^ of the Vulgate is as follows, — " Supra omne quod dicitur 
Deus aut quod colitur ;" — " Above everything that is called God, or that is 
worshipped." Wyclif {^dSO) renders thus: " Ouer alle thing that is 
seid God, or that is worschipid." — Ed. 

2 " Que c'est a luy seul d'establir seruice diuin, et ceremonies qui en 
dependent ;" — " That it belongs to him alone to establish divine worship, 
and the rites that are connected with it." 

330 COMMENTARY ON Tllli ( IIAP. 11. 4. 

to be sought from Christ alone ; and it assigns, at tlie same 
time, the manner and means. There is not one of these 
things tliat the Pope does not affirm to be under his 
authority. He boasts that it is his to bind consciences with 
such laws as seem good to him, and subject them to ever- 
lasting punishment. As to sacraments, he either institutes 
new ones, according to his own inclination,^ or he corrupts 
and deforms those which had been instituted by Christ — 
nay, sets them aside altogether, that he may substitute in 
their place the sacrileges^ which he has invented. He con- 
trives means of attaining salvation that are altogether at 
variance with the doctrine of the Gospel ; and, in fine, he 
does not hesitate to cliange the whole of religion at his own 
pleasure. What is it, I pray you, for one to lift up himself 
above everything that is reckoned God, if the Pope does 
not do so? When he thus robs God of his honour, he 
leaves him nothing remaining but an empty title of Deity,^ 
while he transfers to himself the wliole of his power. And 
this is what Paul adds shortly afterwards, that the son of 
perdition would skew himself as God. For, as has been said, 
he does not insist upon the simple term God, but intimates, 
that the pride* of Antichrist would be such, that, raising 
himself above the number and rank of servants, and mount- 
ing the judgment-seat of God," would reign, not with a 
human, but with a divine authority. For we know that 
whatever is raised up into the place of God is an idol, 
though it should not bear the name of God. 

In the temple of God. By this one term there is a sufficient 
refutation of the error, nay more, the stupidity of those wdio 
reckon the Pope to be Vicar of Clirist, on the ground that he 
has his seat in the Church, in whatever manner he may con- 
duct himself; for Paul places Antichrist nowhere else than 
in the very sanctuary of God. For this is not a foreign, but 

> " Selon son plaisir et fantasie;" — " According to his own pleasure and 

s '' Sacrileges aborainables ;" — " Abominable sacrileges." 

* " Le litre de Dieu par ini,"<;inalion ;"' — " The title of God by imagina- 

* " L'orgiieil et arrogance ;" — " The pride and arrogance." 

' " Aiiec vno fierete intolerable ;" — " With an intolerable presumption.'' 


a domestic enemy, who Christ under the very name 
of Christ. But it is asked, how the Church is represented 
as the den of so many superstitions, while it was destined to 
he the pillar of the truth ? (I Tim. iii. 15.) I answer, that it 
is thus represented, not on the ground of its retaining all the 
qualities of the Church, but because it has something of it 
remaining. I accordingly acknowledge, that that is the 
temple of God in which the Pope bears rule, but at the same 
time profaned by innumerable sacrileges. 

5. Remember ye not, that, when 5. Annon memoria tenetis, quod, 
I was yet with you, I told you these quum adhuc essem apud vos, haec 
things ? vobis dicebam ? 

6. And now ye know what with- 6. Et nunc quid defineat, scitis, 
holdeth, that he might be revealed doiiec ille reveletur suo tempore. 

in his time. 

7. For tlie mystery of iniquity 7. Mysterium enim iam operatur 
doth already work : only he who now iniquitatis, solum tenens modo donee 
letteth imll let, until he be taken e medio tollatiu*. 

out of the way : 

8. And then shall that Wicked 8. Et tunc revelabitur iniquus 
be revealed, whom the Lord shall ille, quem Dorainus destruet spiritu 
consume with the spirit of his mouth, oris sui, et abolebit iilustratioue ad- 
and shall destroy with the bright- ventus sui. 

ness of his coming. 

5. Do ye not remember ? This added no small weight to 
the doctrine, that they had previously heard it from the 
mouth of Paul, that they might not think that it had been 
contrived by him at the instant. And as he had given 
them early warning as to the reign of Antichrist, and the 
devastation that was coming upon the Church, when no 
question had as yet been raised as to such things, he saw 
beyond all doubt that the doctrine was specially useful to 
be known. And, unquestionably, it is really so. Those 
whom he addressed were destined to see many things tliat 
would trouble them ; and when posterity would see a large 
proportion of those who had made profession of the faith of 
Christ revolt from piety, maddened, as it were, by a gad-fly, 
or rather bv a furv,^ what could thev do but waver ? This, 

' " Se reuolter de la vraye religion, et se precipiter en mine comme 
gens forcenez, ou plustost endiablez ;" — " Revolt from the true religion, 
and plunge themselves in ruin like persons enraged, or rather possessed." 


however, was as a hi^azen^ wall' — tliat matters were so ap- 
pointed by God, because the ingratitude of men^ was worthy 
of such vengeance. Here we may see how forgetful men 
are in matters affecting their everlasting salvation. We 
must also observe Paul's mildness ; for while he might have 
been vehemently incensed,* he does but mildly reprove them ; 
for it is a fatherly way of reproving them to say to them, 
that they had allowed forgetfulness of a matter so important 
and so useful to steal in upon their minds. 

6. And now what withholdeth. To Kare-)(ov means here 
properly an impediment or occasion of delay. Chrysostom, 
who thinks that this can only be understood as referring to 
the Spirit, or to the Roman Empire, prefers to lean to the 
latter opinion. He assigns a plausible reason — because Paul 
would not have spoken of the Spirit in enigmatical terras,^ 
but in speaking of the Roman Empire wished to avoid ex- 
citing unpleasant feeling. He states also the reason why 
the state of the Roman Empire retards the revelation of 
Antichrist — that, as the monarchy of Babylon was over- 
thrown by the Persians and Medes, and the Macedonians, 
having conquered the Persians, again took possession of the 
monarchy, and the Macedonians were at last subdued by the 
Romans, so Antichrist seized hold for himself of the vacant 
supremacy of the Roman Empire. There is not one of 
these things that was not afterwards confirmed by actual 
occurrence. Chrysostom, therefore, speaks truly in so far as 
concerns history. I am of opinion, however, that Paul's 
intention was different from this — that the doctrine of the 
gospel would require to be spread hither and thither, until 
nearly the whole world were convicted of obstinacy and deli- 
berate malice. For there can be no doubt that the Thes- 
salonians had heard from Paul's mouth as to this imjjediment. 

' Murus ahenens. See Ilor. Ep. i. 1, 60. See p. 178, n. 1. 

* " Mais voici en cest endroit qui leur deuoit seruir d'vne forteresse 
iniiincible ;" — " But behold in this matter what would furnish them with 
an invincible fortress." 

3 " L'ingratitude execrable et vileine des hommes ;" — " The execrable 
and base ingratitude of men." 

* " Contra les Tiiessaioniciens ;" — " Against the Thessalonians." 

* '• En termes couuerts ou obscurs ;" — " In hidden or obscure terms." 


of whatever sort it was, for he recalls to their remembrance 
what he had previously taught in their presence. 

Let my readers now consider which of the two is the more 
probable — either that Paul declared that the light of the 
gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth be- 
fore God would thus give loose reins to Satan, or that the 
power of the Roman Empire stood in the way of the rise of 
Antichrist, inasmucli as he could only break through into a 
vacant possession. I seem at least to hear Paul discoursing 
as to the universal call of the Gentiles — that the grace of 
God must be oifered to all — that Christ must enlighten the 
whole world by his gospel, in order that the impiety of men 
might be the more fully attested and demonstrated. This, 
therefore, was the delay, until the career of the gospel should 
be completed, because a gracious invitation to salvation was 
first in order.^ Hence he adds, in his time, because vengeance 
was ripe after grace had been rejected.^ 

7. The mystei^y of iniquity. This is opposed to revelation ; 
for as Satan had not yet gathered so much strength, as that 
Antichrist could openly oj)press the Church, he says that he 
is carrying on secretly and clandestinely^ what he would do 
openly in his own time. He was therefore at that time 
secretly laying the foundations on which he would after- 
wards rear the edifice, as actually took place. And this 
tends to confirm more fully what I have already stated,'* 
that it is not one individual that is represented under the 
term Antichrist, but one kingdom, which extends itself 
through many ages. In the same sense, John says that 
Antichrist will come, but that there were already many in 
his time. (1 John ii. 18.) For he admonishes those who 
were then living to be on their guard against that deadly 
pestilence, which was at that time shooting up in various 
forms. For sects were rising up which were the seeds, as it 

' " D'autant que I'ordre que Dieu vouloit tenir, requeroit que le monde 
premierenient fust d'vne liberalite gratuite conuie a saliit ;" — " Inasmucli 
as the order that God designed to maintain, required that the world should 
first of all be invited to salvation by a gracious liberality." 

^ " La droite saison de la vengeance estoit apres la grace reiette ;" — 
'• The right season of vengeance was after grace had been rejected." 

^ " Et comme par dessous terre;" — " And as it were under groimd." 

♦ See p. 327. 


were, of that unhappy weed which has well-nigh choked 
and destroyed God's entire tillage.^ But altliough Paul 
conveys the idea of a secret manner of working, yet he has 
made use of the term mystery rather than any other, allud- 
ing to the mystery of salvation, of which he speaks else- 
where, (Col. i. 26,) for he carefully insists on the struggle of 
repugnancy between the Son of God and this son of j^erdition. 

Only now withholding. While he makes both statements 
in reference to one person — that he will hold supremacy for 
a time, and that he will shortly be taken out of the way, I 
have no doubt that he refers to Antichrist; and the participle 
withholding must be explained in the future tense.'"^ For he 
has, in my opinion, added this for the consolation of believers 
— that the reign of Antichrist will be temporary, the limits 
of it having been assigned to it by God ; for believers might 
object — " Of what avail is it that the gospel is preached, 
if Satan is now hatching a tyranny that he is to exercise for 
ever?" He accordingly exhorts to patience, because God 
afflicts his Church only for a time, that he may one day 
afford it deliverance ; and, on the other hand, the perpetuity 
of Christ's reign must be considered, in order that believers 
may repose in it. 

8. And then will be revealed — that is, when that impedi- 
ment (to Kurexov) shall be removed ; for he does not point 
out the time of revelation as being when he, who now holds 
the supremacy, will be taken out of the way, but he has an 
eye to what he had said before. For he had said that there 
was some hinderance in the way of Antichrist's entering upon 
an open possession of the kingdom. He afterwards added, 
that he was already hatching a secret work of impiet}^ In 
the third place, he has interspersed consolation, on the ground 
that this tyranny would come to an end.'^ He now again 
repeats, that he* who was as yet hidden, would be revealed 

' " Le bon ble que Dieu auoit seme en son champ ;" — " The good wheat 
that God had sown in his field."' 

'^ " Faut resoudre ce participe Tenant en vn temps fntur Tiendra ;" — 
" We must explain this participle, witliholdhig, in the future tense — He 
will witlthold." 

* " Que sa tyrannic deuoit prendre fin quelque fois;" — " That his 
tyranny must at some time have an end." 

* " Ce fils de perdition;'' — " This son of perdition." 


in his time ; and the repetition is with this view — that be- 
lievers, being furnished with spiritual armour, may, never- 
theless, fight vigorously under Christ,^ and not allow them- 
selves to be overwhelmed, although the deluge of impiety 
should thus overspread.^ 

Whom the Lord. He had foretold the destruction of 
Antichrist's reign ; he now points out the manner of his 
destruction — that he will be reduced to nothing by the word 
of the Lord. It is uncertain, however, whether he speaks of 
the last appearance of Christ, when he will be manifested 
from heaven as the Judge. The words, indeed, seem to have 
this meaning, but Paul does not mean that Christ would 
accomplish this^ in one moment. H^nee we must under- 
stand it in this sense — that Antichrist would be wholly and 
in every respect destroyed,* when that final day of tlie re- 
storation of all things shall arrive. Paul, however, intimates 
that Christ will in the mean time, by the rays which he will 
emit previously to his advent, put to flight the darkness in 
which Antichrist will reign, just as the sun, before he is seen 
by us, chases away the darkness of the night by the pouring 
forth of his rays.*^ 

Tliis victory of the word, therefore, will shew itself in this 
world, for the spirit of his mouth simply means the word, as 
it also does in Isaiah xi. 4, to which passage Paul seems to 
allude. For the Prophet there takes in the same sense the 
sceptre of his mouth, and the breath of his lips, and he also 
furnishes Christ with these very arms, that he may rout his 
enemies. This is a signal commendation of true and sound 
doctrine — that it is represented as sufficient for putting an 
end to all impiety, and as destined to be invariably victo- 
rious, in opposition to all the machinations of Satan ; as also 
when, a little afterwards, the proclamation of it is spoken of 
as Christ's coming to us. 

Wlien Paul adds, the brightness of his coming, he inti- 

' " Sous I'enseigne cle Christ;" — " Under Christ's banner." 
' " Si outrageusement :" — " So outrageously." 
» " Cela tout;"—" All this." 

* " Descomtit;" — " Defeated." 

* " Estendant la vertu de ses rayons tout a I'enuiron ;" — " DiiFusing the 
virtue of his ravs all around. ' 


mates that the light of Christ's presence will be such as will 
swallow up the darkness of Antichrist. In the mean time, 
he indirectly intimates, that Antichrist will be permitted to 
reign for a time, when Christ has, in a manner, withdrawn, 
as usually happens, whenever on his presenting himself we 
turn our back upon him. And, undoubtedly, that is a sad 
departure^ of Christ, when he has taken away his light from 
men, which has been improperly and unworthily received,^ 
in accordance with what follows. In the mean time Paul 
teaches, that by his presence alone all the elect of God will 
be abundantly safe, in opposition to all the subtleties of 

9. Even him, whose coming is 9. Cuius adventiis est secundum 
after the working of Satan, with all operationera (vel, efficaciam) Sa- 
power, and signs, and lying wonders, tanae, in omni potentia, et signis et 

prodigiis mendacibus, 

10. And with all deceivableness 10. Et in omni deceptione inius- 
of unrighteousness in them that titiae, in iis qui pereunt: pro eo 
perish ; because they received not quod dilectionem veritatis non .sunt 
the love of the truth, that they might amplexi, ut salvi fierent. 

be saved. 

11. And for this cause God shall 11. Propterea mittet illis Deus 
send them strong delusion, that they operationem {vel, efficaciam) impos- 
should believe a lie ; turae, ut credant mendacio : 

12. That they all might be damned 12. Ut iudicentur omnes qui non 
who believed not the truth, but had crediderunt veritati, sed oblectati 
pleasure in unrighteousness. sunt iniustitia. 

9. Whose coming. He confirms what he has said by an 
argument from contraries. For as Antichrist cannot stand 
otherwise than through the impostures of Satan, he must 
necessarily vanish as soon as Christ shines forth. In fine, 
as it is only in darkness that he reigns, the dawn of the 
day puts to flight and extinguishes the thick darkness of 
his reign. We are now in possession of Paul's design, for 
he meant to say, that Christ would have no difficulty in 
destroying the tyranny of Antichrist, which was supported by 
no resources but those of Satan. In the mean time, however, 
he points out the marks by which that wicked one may be 

' " Vn triste et pitoyable department ;" — " A sad and lamentable de- 

" " Laquelle ils auoyent reiettee on receue irreueremment, et autrement 
qu'il n'appartenoit ;" — " Which they had rejected or received irreverently, 
and otherwise than was befittinjr." 


distinguished. For after having spoken of the working or 
efficacy of Satan, he marks it out particularly when he says, 
in signs and lying wonders, and in all deceivableness. And 
assuredly, in order that this may be opposed to the kingdom 
of Christ, it must consist partly in false doctrine and errors, 
and partly in pretended miracles. For the kingdom of Christ 
consists of the doctrine of truth, and the power of the Spirit. 
Satan, accordingly, with the view of opposing Christ in the 
person of his Vicar, puts on Christ's mask,^ while he, never- 
theless, at the same time chooses armour, with which he may 
directly oppose Christ. Christ, by the doctrine of his gos- 
pel, enlightens our minds in eternal life ; Antichrist, trained 
up under Satan's tuition, by wicked doctrine, involves the 
wicked in ruin f Christ puts forth the power of his Spirit 
for salvation, and seals his gospel by miracles; the adversary,^ 
by the efficacy of Satan, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, 
and by his enchantments confirms miserable men^ in error. 

He gives the name of miracles of falsehood, not merely to 
such as are falsely and deceptively contrived by cunning men 
with a view to impose upon the simple — a kind of deception 
with which all Papacy abounds, for they are a part of his 
power which he has previously touched upon ; but takes 
falsehood as consisting in this, that Satan draws to a con- 
trary end works which otherwise are truly works of God, and 
abuses miracles so as to obscure God's glory.^ In the mean 
time, however, there can be no doubt, that he deceives by 
means of enchantments — an example of which we have in 
Pharaoh's magicians. (Exod. vii. 11.) 

10. In those that j^erisk. He limits the power of Satan, 
as not being able to injure the elect of God, just as Christ, 
also, exempts them from this danger. (Matt. xxiv. 24.) From 

' " Et s'en desguise;" — " And disguises himself with it." 

■ " En ruine et perdition eternelle;" — '• In eternal ruin and perdition." 

= Our author evidently means Antichrist, alluding to the term applied 

to him by Paul in the 4th verse. — Ed. 

* " Les poures aveugles ;" — " The poor blhid." 

5 It is observed by Dr. INIanton, in his Sermons on 2d Thess. ii., (pp. 

175-177;) that "there are seven points in Popery that are sought to be 

confirmed by Miracles.— 1. Pilgrimages. 2. Prayers for the Dead. 3. 

Purgatory. 4. The Invocation of faints. 5. The Adoration of Images. 

6. The Adoration of the Host. 7. The Primacy of the Pope."— iV/. 



this it appears, that Antichrist has not so great power other- 
wise than by his permission. Now, this consolation was ne- 
cessary. For all the pious, but for this, would of necessity be 
overpowered with fear, if they saw a yawning gulf pervading 
the whole path, along which they must pass. Hence Paul, 
however he may wish them to be in a state of anxiety, that 
they may be on their guard, lest by excessive carelessness 
they should ftxll back, nay, even throw themselves into ruin, 
does, nevertheless, bid them cherish good hope, inasmuch as 
Satan's power is bridled, that he may not be able to involve 
any but the wicked in ruin. 

Because they received not the love. Lest the wicked should 
complain that they perish innocently,^ and that they have 
been appointed to death rather from cruelty on the part of 
God, than from any fault on their part, Paul shews on what 
good grounds it is that so severe vengeance from God is to 
come upon them — because they have not received in the 
temper of mind with which they ought the truth which was 
presented to them, nay more, of their own accord refused 
salvation. And from this appears more clearly what I have 
alread}' stated — that the gospel required to be preached to the 
world before God would give Satan so much permission,^ for 
he would never have allowed his temple to be so basely pro- 
faned,^ had he not been provoked by extreme ingratitude on 
the part of men. In short, Paul declares that Antichrist 
Avill be the minister of God's righteous vengeance against 
those who, being called to salvation, have rejected the gospel, 
and have preferred to apply their mind to impiety and 
errors. Hence there is no reason Avhy Papists should now 
object, that it is at variance with the clemency of Christ to 
cast oif his Church in this manner. For though the domi- 
nation of Antichrist has been cruel, none have i^erished but 
those who were deserving of it, nay more, did of their own 
accord choose death. (Prov. viii. 86.) And unquestionably, 
v.-liile the voice of the Son of God has sounded forth every- 

^ " Sans cause et estans innocens ;"' — '• Without cause, and being 
^ See p. 332. 
' " Vileincment et horriblement ;" — " Basely and horribly." 


where, it finds tlie ears of men deaf, nay obstinate,^ and 
while a profession of Christianity is common, there are, 
nevertheless, few that have truly and heartily given them- 
selves to Christ. Hence it is not to he wondered, if similar 
vengeance quickly follows such a criminal^ contempt. 

It is asked whether the punishment of blindness does not 
fall on any but those who have on set purpose rebelled against 
the gospel. I answer, that this special judgment by which God 
has avenged open contumacy,^ does not stand in the way of his 
striking down with stupidity,* as often as seems good to him, 
those that have never heard a single word respecting Christ, for 
Paul does not discourse in a general way as to the reasons why 
God has from thebeginningpermitted Satan to go at large with 
his falsehoods, but as to what a horrible vengeance impends 
over gross despisers of new and previously unwonted grace.^ 

He uses the expression — receiving the love of the truth, to 
mean — applying the mind to the love of it. Hence we learn 
that faith is always conjoined with a sweet and voluntary 
reverence for God, because we do not properly believe the 
word of God, unless it is lovely and pleasant to us. 

1 1. Tlte working of delusion. He means that errors will not 
merely have a place, but the wicked will be blinded, so 
that they will rush forward to ruin without consideration. 
For as God enlightens us inwardly by his Spirit, that his 
doctrine may be efficacious in us, and opens our eyes and 
hearts, that it may make its way thither, so by a righteous 
judgment he delivers over to a reprobate mind (Rom. i. 28) 
those whom he has appointed to destruction, that with closed 
eyes and a senseless mind, they may, as if bewitched, deli- 
ver themselves over to Satan and his ministers to be de- 
ceived. And assuredlj^ we have a notable specimen of this 
in the Papacy. No words can express how monstrous a sink 
of errors^ there is there, how gross and shameful an absurdity 

' " Endurcies et obstinees;" — " Hardened and obstinate." 
^ " Si execrable ;" — " So execrable." 

* " Le mespris orgueilleux de sa Parolle ;" — " Prond contempt of his 

■* " Estourdissement et stupidite ;" — " Giddiness and stupidity." 
^ " C'est aseauoir de I'Euangile ;" — " That is, of the Gospel." 

* " Quel monstrueux et horrible retrait d'erreurs ;" — " What a mon- 
strous and horrible nest of errors." 


of superstitions there is, and what delusions at variance with 
common sense. None that have even a moderate taste of 
sound doctrine, can think of such monstrous things without 
the greatest horror. How, then, could the Avhole world be 
lost in astonishment at them, were it not that men have 
been struck with blindness by the Lord, and converted, as it 
were, into stumps ? 

1 2. TJiat all may he condemned. That is, that they 
may receive the punishment due to their impiety. Thus, 
those that perish have no just ground to expostulate with 
God, inasmuch as they have obtained what they sought. For 
we must keep in view what is stated in Deut. xiii. 8, that 
the hearts of men are subjected to trial, when false doc- 
trines come abroad, inasmuch as they have no power except 
among those who do not love God with a sincere heart. 
Let those, then, who take pleasure in unrighteousness, reap 
the fruit of it. When he says all, he means that contempt 
of God finds no excuse in the great crowd and midtitude of 
those who refuse to obey the gospel, for God is the Judge 
of the whole world, so that he will inflict punishment upon 
a hundred thousand, no less than upon one individual. 

The particij)lo evBoKijaavre^ (taking pleasure) means (so 
to speak) a voluntary inclination to evil, for in this way 
every excuse is cut oif from the ungrateful, when they take 
so much pleasure in unrighteousness, as to prefer it to the 
righteousness of God. For by what violence will they say that 
they have been impelled to alienate themselves by a mad 
revolt^ from God, towards whom they Avere led by the guid- 
ance of nature? It is at least manifest that they willingly 
and knowingly lent an car to falsehoods. 

13. But we are bound to give 13. Nos aiiteni debemus gratias 
thanks ahvay to God for you, bre- agere Deo semper de vobis, fratres 
thren beloved of the Lord, because dilecti a Domino, quia elegit vos 
God hath from the beginning chosen Deus ab initio in saluteni, in sancti- 
you to salvation through sanctifica- ficatione Spiritus, et fide veritatis : 
tion of the Spirit, and belief of the 

truth : 

14. Wbereunto he called you by 14. Quo vocavit vos per evan- 
our gospel, to the obtaining of the geliuni nostrum, in possessionem 
glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. gloriae {vel, gloriosam) Domini nos- 

tri lesu Christi. 

' " En se reuoltant nialicieiisement :" — " By revolting maliciously." 


IS. But we are hound to give thanks. He now separates 
more openly the Thessalonians from the reprobate, that their 
faith may not waver from fear of the revolt that was to take 
place. At the same time, he had it in view to consult, not 
their welfare only, but also that of posterity.^ And he does 
not merely confirm them that they may not fall over the 
same precipice with the world, but by this comparison he 
extols the more the grace of God towards them, in that, 
while they see almost the whole world hurried forward to 
death at the same time, as if by a violent tempest, they are, 
by the hand of God, maintained in a quiet and secure con- 
dition of life.^ Thus we must contemplate the judgments 
of God upon the reprobate in such a way that they may be, 
as it were, mirrors to us for considering his mercy towards 
us. For we must draw this conclusion, that it is owing 
solely to the singular grace of God that we do not miserably 
perish with them. 

He calls them beloved of the Lord, for this reason, that 
they may the better consider that the sole reason why the}^ 
are exempted from the almost universal overthrow of the 
world, was because God exercised towards them unmerited 
love. Thus Moses admonished the Jews — " God did not 
elevate you so magnificently because ye were more powerful 
than others, or were numerous, but because he loved your 
fathers." (Deut. vii. 7, 8.) For, when we hear the term love, 
that statement of John must immediately occur to our mind 
— Not that we first loved him. (1 John iv. 19.) In short, 
Paul here does two things ; for he confirms faith, lest the 
pious should give way from being overcome with fear, and 
he exhorts them to gratitude, that they may value so much 
the higher the mercy of God towards them. 

Hath chosen you. He states the reason why all are not 
involved and swallowed up in the same ruin — because Satan 
has no power over any that God has chosen, so as to pre- 
vent them from being saved, though heaven and earth were 
to be confounded. This passage is read in various ways. 

' " Mais aiissi pour les autres fideles, qui viendroyent apres ;" — '• But 
also for other believers, who should come after." 

'■^ " En vn estat ferme et paisible, qui mene a la vie ;" — " In a secure 
and peaceable condition, which leads to life." 


The old interpreter has rendered it first-fruits,^ as being in 
the Greek aTTap')(r]v ; but as ahnost all the Greek manuscripts 
have aiT apxv'i> ^ have in preference followed this reading. 
Should any one prefer first-fruits, the meaning will be, that 
believers have been, as it were, set aside for a sacred ofter- 
ing, by a metaphor taken from the ancient custom of the 
law. Let us, however, hold by what is more generally 
received, that he says that the Thessalonians were chosen 
from, the beginning. 

Some understand the meaning to be, tliat they had 
been called among the first ; but this is foreign to Paul's 
meaning, and does not accord with the connection of the 
passage. For he does not merely exempt from fear a few 
individuals, who had been led to Christ immediately on 
the commencement of the gospel, but this consolation belongs 
to all the elect of God, without exception. When, there- 
fore, he says from the beginning, he means that there is no 
danger lest their salvation, which is founded on God's eter- 
nal election, should be overthrown, whatever tumultuous 
changes may occur. " However Satan may mix and con- 
found all things in the world, your salvation, notwithstand- 
ing, has been placed on a footing of safety, prior to the 
creation of the world." Here, therefore, is the true port of 
safety, that God, who elected us of old,^ will deliver us from 
all the evils that threaten us. For we are elected to salva- 
tion ; we shall, therefore, be safe from destruction. But as 
it is not for us to penetrate into God's secret counsel, to seek 
there assurance of our salvation, he specifies signs or tokens 
of election, which should suffice us for the assurance of it. 

In sanctification of the spirit, says he, and belief of the 
truth. This may be explained in two ways, with sanctifica- 
tion, or BY sanctification. It is not of much importance 
which of the two you select, as it is certain^ that Paul 

' Primiiias. Wiclif (1380) following, as he is wont, the reading of the 
Vulgate, renders it '• the first fruytis." 

2 " Des le commencement ;" — " From the beginning." 
" " S. Paul ne veut autre chose, sinon apres auoir parle' de I'election de 
Dien, adiouster maintenant des signes plus prochains qui nous la mani- 
festent ;" — " St. Paul means simply, after having spoken of the election 
of God, to add now those nearer tokens which manifest it to us." 


meant simply to introduce, in connection with election, those 
nearer tokens which manifest to us what is in its own nature 
incomprehensible, and are conjoined w^ith it by an indis- 
soluble tie. Hence, in order that we may know^ that we are 
elected by God, there is no occasion to inquire as to what 
he decreed before the creation of the world, but we find in 
ourselves a satisfactory proof if he has sanctified us by his 
Spirit, — if he has enlightened us in the faith of his gospel. 
For the gospel is an evidence to us of our adoption, and the 
Spirit seals it, and those that are led hy the Spirit are the 
sons of God, (Rom. viii. 14,) and he who by faith possesses 
Christ has everlasting life. (1 John v. 1 2.) These things 
must be carefully observed, lest, overlooking the .revelation 
of God's will, with which he bids us rest satisfied, we should 
plunge into a profound labyrinth from a desire to take it from 
his secret counsel, from the investigation of which he draws 
us aside. Hence it becomes us to rest satisfied with the 
faith of the gospel, and that grace of the Spirit by which we 
have been regenerated. And by this means is refuted the 
wickedness^ of those avIio make the election of God a pre- 
text for every kind of iniquity, while Paul connects it with 
faith and regeneration in such a manner, that he would not 
have it judged of by us on any other grounds. 

14. To which he called us. He repeats the same thing, 
though in somewhat diiferent terms. For the sons of God 
are not called otherwise than to the belief of the truth. Paul, 
however, meant to shew here how -competent a witness he 
is for confirming that thing of which he was a minister. 
He accordingly puts himself forward as a surety, that the 
Thessalonians may not doubt that the gospel, in which they 
had been instructed by him, is the safety-bringing voice of 
God, by w^hich they are aroused from death, and are de- 
livered from the tyranny of Satan. He calls it his gospel, 
not as though it had originated wdth him,^ but inasmuch as 
the preaching of it had been committed to him. 

What he adds, to the acquisition or 2:)ossession of the glory 

' " Ija meschancete horrible ;" — " The horrible wickedness." 
^ " Non pas qu'il soit creu en son ceruean ;" — " Not as though it had 
been contrived in his bi'ain." 

844 cojMmentary on the chap. ii. 15. 

of Christ, may be taken either in an active or in a passive 
signification — either as meaning, tliat they are called in 
order that they may one day j^ossess a glory in common 
with Christ, or that Christ acquired them with a view to his 
glory. And thus it will be a second means of confirmation, 
that he will defend them, as being nothing less than his own 
inheritance, and, in maintaining their salvation, will stand 
forward in defence of his ow^i glory ; which latter meaning, 
in my opinion, suits better. 

15. Therefore, brethren, stand 15. Itaque fratres, state, et tenete 
fast, and hold the traditions which institutiones, quas didicistis vel per 
ye have been taught, whether by sermoneni, vel per epistolam nos- 
word, or our epistle. tram. 

16. Now our Lord Jesus Christ 16. Ipse vero Dominus noster 
himself, and God, even our Father, lesus Christus, et Deus, ac Pater 
which hath loved us, and hath given noster, qui dilexit nos, et dedit con- 
us everlasting consolation, and good solationem eeternam, et spem bonam 
hope through grace, per gratiam, 

17. Comfort your hearts, and 17. Consoletur corda vestra, et 
stablish you in every good word and stabihat vos in omni opere et ser- 
work. mone bono. 

He deduces this exhortation on good grounds from what 
goes before, inasmuch as our steadfastness and power of pei- 
severance rest on nothing else than assurance of divine 
grace. When, however, God calls us to salvation, stretching 
forth, as it were, his hand to us; when Christ, by the doc- 
trine of the gospel, presents himself to us to be enjoyed ; 
when the Spirit is given us as a seal and earnest of eternal 
life, thougli the heaven -should fall, we must, nevertheless, 
not become disheartened. Paul, accordingly, would have 
the Thessalonians stand, not merely when others continue 
to stand, but with a more settled stability ; so that, on see- 
ing almost all turning aside from the faith, and all things 
full of confusion, they will, nevertheless, retain their footing. 
And assuredly the calling of God ought to fortify us against 
all occasions of oiTence in such a manner, that not even the 
entire ruin of the world shall shake, much less overthrow, 
our stability. 

lo. Hold fast the institutions. Some restrict this to pre- 
cepts of external polity ; but this does not please me, for lie 
points out the manner of standing firm. Now, to be I'ur- 


nished with invincible strength is a much higher thing than 
external discipline. Hence, in my opinion, he includes all 
doctrine under this term, as though he had said that they 
have ground on which they may stand firm, provided they 
persevere in sound doctrine, according as they had been in- 
structed by him. I do not deny that the term irapahoaet^ 
is fitly applied to the ordinances which are appointed by 
the Churches, with a view to the promoting of peace and 
the maintaining of order, and I admit that it is taken in 
this sense when human traditions are treated of, (Matt. xv. 6.) 
Paul, however, will be found in the next chapter making 
use of the term tradition, as meaning the rule that he had 
laid down, and the very signification of the term is general. 
The context, however, as I have said, requires that it be 
taken here to mean the whole of that doctrine in which 
they had been instructed. For the matter treated of is the 
most important of all — that their faith may remain secure 
in the midst of a dreadful agitation of the Church. 

Papists, however, act a foolish part in gathering from 
this that their traditions ought to be observed. They reason, 
indeed, in this manner — that if it was allowable for Paul 
to enjoin traditions, it was allowable also for other teachers; 
and that, if it was a pious thing^ to observe the former, the 
latter also ought not less to be observed. Granting them, 
however, that Paul speaks of precepts belonging to the 
external government of the Church, I say that they were, 
nevertheless, not contrived by him, but divinely communi- 
cated. For he declares elsewhere, (1 Cor. vii. 35,) that it 
was not his intention to ensnare consciences, as it was not 
lawful, either for himself, or for all the Apostles together. 
They act a still more ridiculous part in making it their aim 
to pass off", under this, the abominable sink of their own 
superstitions, as though they were the traditions of Paul. 
But farewell to these trifles, when we are in possession of 
Paul's true meaning. And we may judge in part from this 
Epistle what traditions he here recommends, for he says — 
whether hy word, that is, discourse, or hy epistle. Now, 
what do these Epistles contain but pure doctrine, which 
' " Une bonne cliose et saincte ;" — " A good thing and holy." 


overturns to the very foundation the whole of tlie Papac}^ 
and every invention that is at variance witli the simplicity 
of the Gospel ? 

16. Now the Lord himself. When he ascribes to Christ a 
work altogether Divine, and represents him, in common with 
the Father, as the Author of the choicest blessings, as we 
have in this a clear proof of the divinity of Christ, so Ave are 
admonished, that we cannot obtain anything from God 
unless we seek it in Christ himself: and when he asks that 
God may give him those things which he had enjoined, he 
shews clearly enough how little influence exhortations have, 
unless God inwardly move and aftect our hearts. Unques- 
tionably there will be but an empty sound striking upon the 
ear, if doctrine does not receive efficacy from the Spirit. 

Wliat he afterwards adds, who hath loved you, and hath 
given consolation, &c., relates to confidence in asking ; for 
he would have the Thessalonians feel persuaded that God 
will do what he prays for. And from what does he prove 
this ? Because he once shewed that they were dear to him, 
while he has already conferred upon them distinguished 
favours, and in this manner has bound himself to them for 
the time to come. This is what he means by everlasting 
consolation. The term hope, also, has the same object in 
view — that they may confidently expect a never-failing con- 
tinuance of gifts. But what does he ask ? That God may 
sustain their hearts by his consolation ; for this is his office, 
to keep them from giving way through anxiety or distrust ; 
and farther, that he may give them perseverance, both in a 
pious and holy course of life, and in sound doctrine ; for I 
am of opinion, that it is rather of this than of common dis- 
course that he speaks, so that this agrees with what goes 


1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, 1. Quod reliquura est, orate fra- 

that the word of the Lord may have tres pro nobis : ut sernio Domini 

free course, and be glorilicd, even as curratet glorificctur.quemadniodum 

it is with you ; et apud vos ; 



2. And that we may be delivered 2. Et ut liberemur ab importunis 
from unreasonable and wicked men; et malignis hominibus: non enim 
for all men have not faith. omnium est fides. 

3. But the Lord is faithful, who 3. Fidelis autem Dominus, qui 
shall stablish you, and keep 3/ott from confirmabit vos, et custodiet a ma- 
evil, ligno. 

4. And we have confidence in the 4. Confidimus autem in Domino 
Lord touching you, that ye both do de vobis, quod quae vobis praeci- 
and will do the things which we com- pimus, et facitis, et facturi estis. 
mand you. 

5. And the Lord direct your 5. Dominus autem dirigat corda 
hearts into the love of God, and vestra in dilectionem Dei, et exspec- 
into the patient waiting for Christ. tationem Christi. 

1. Pray for us. Though the Lord powerfully aided him, 
and though he surpassed all others in earnestness of prayer, 
he nevertheless does not despise the prayers of believers, by 
which the Lord would have us aided. It becomes us, after 
his example, eagerly to desire this aid, and to stir up our 
brethren to pray for us. 

When, however, he adds — that the word of God may have 
its course, he shews that he has not so much concern and 
regard for himself personally, as for the entire Church. For 
why does he desire to be recommended to the prayers of the 
Thessalonians ? That the doctrine of the gospel may have 
its course. He does not desire, therefore, so much that re- 
gard should be had to himself individually, as to the glory 
of God and the common welfare of the Church. Course 
means here dissemination ;* glory means something farther, — 
that his preaching may have its power and efficacy for re- 
newing men after the image of God. Hence, holiness of life 
and uprightness on the part of Christians is the glory of the 
gospel ; as, on the other hand, those defame the gospel who 
make profession of it with the mouth, while in the mean- 
time they live in wickedness and baseness. He says — as 
among you ; for this should be a stimulus to the pious, to 
see all others like them. Hence those that have already 
entered into the kingdom of God are exhorted to pray daily 
that it may come. (Matt. vi. 10.) 

2. That we may he delivered. The old interpreter has 
rendered it, not unhappily, in my opinion — unreasonable.'^ 

' "Estendue et auancement;" — " Extension and advancement." 
" /mportunos. Wiclif (1380) renders it j?oyo?M. — Ed. 


Now, by tliis term, as also by that which immediately fol- 
lows, (twv TTovripCdv,) evil, Paul means wicked and treacherous 
men, who lurked in the Church, under the name of Christians, 
or at least Jews, who with a mad zeal for the law furiously 
persecuted the gospel. He knew, however, how much 
danger impended over them from both these classes. Chry- 
sostom, however, thinks that those only are meant who 
maliciously oppose the gospel by base doctrines,^ — not by 
weapons of violence, as for example, Alexander, Hymeneus, 
and the like ; but for my part, I extend it generally to all 
kinds of dangers and enemies. He was at that time pro- 
ceeding towards Jerusalem, and wrote in the midst of his 
journeyings. Now, he had already been divinely forewarned 
that imprisonments and persecutions awaited him there. 
(Acts XX. 28.) He means, however, deliverance, so that he 
may come off victorious, whether by life or by death. 

All have not faith. This might be explained to mean, 
" Faith is not in all." This expression, however, were both 
ambiguous and more obscure. Let us therefore retain Paul's 
words, by which he intimates that faith is a gift of God that 
is too rare to be found in all. God, therefore, calls many 
who do not come to him by faith. Many pretend to come 
to him, who have their heart at the farthest distance from 
him. Farther, he does not speak of all indiscriminately, but 
merely animadverts upon those that belong to the Church : 
for the Thessalonians saw that very many held faith in 
abhorrence f nay, they saw how small was the number of 
believers. Hence it would have been unnecessary to say 
this as to strangers ; but Paul simply says that all that 
make a profession of faith are not such in reality. Should 
you take in all Jews, they appeared to have nearness to 
Christ, for they ought to have recognised him by means of 
the law and the prophets. Paul, there can be no question, 
specially marks out those with whom he would have to do. 
Now, it is probable that they were those who, while they had 
the appearance and honorary title of piety, were neverthe- 
less very far from the reality. From this came the conflict. 

' '• Fausses et peruerses doctrines ;"— " False and perverse doctrines." 
« " En horreur et disdain ;"" — " In horror and disdain." 


With the view of shewing, therefore, that it was not 
groundlessly, or without good reason, that he dreaded contests 
with wicked and perverse men, he says that faith is not 
common to all, because the wicked and reprobate are always 
mixed with the good, as tares are with the good wheat. 
(Matt. xiii. 25.) And this ought to be remembered by us 
whenever we have annoyance given us by Avicked persons, 
who nevertheless desire to be reckoned as belonging to the 
society of Christians — that all men have not faith. Nay 
more, when we hear in some instances that the Church is 
disturbed by base factions, let this be a shield to us against 
offences of this nature ; for we shall not merely inflict injury 
upon pious teachers, if we have doubts as to their fidelity, 
whenever domestic enemies do tliem harm, but our faith 
will from time to time waver, unless we keep in mind that 
among those who boast of the name of Christians there are 
many that are treacherous.^ 

8. But God is faithfal. As it was possible that their 
minds, influenced by unfavourable reports, might come to 
entertain some doubts as to Paul's ministiy, having taught 
them that faith is not always found in men, he now calls 
them back to God, and says that he \^ faithful, so as to con- 
firm them against all contrivances of men, by which they 
will endeavour to shake thom. " They, indeed, are treacher- 
ous, but there is in God a support that is abundantly secure, 
so as to keep you from giving way.'' He calls the Lord 
faithful, inasmuch as he adheres to his purpose to the end 
in maintaining the salvation of his people, seasonably aids 
them, and never forsakes them in dangers, as in 1 Cor. x. 13, 
God is faithfid, who will not suffer you to he tried above that 
ye are able to hear. 

These words, however, themselves shew that Paul was 
more anxious as to others than as to himself Malicious 
men directed against him the stings of their malignit}"" ; the 
whole violence^ of it fell upon him. In the mean time, he 

' " Qu'il y a beaiicoup d'infideles, desloytiux, et traistres ;" — " That 
there are many that are unbelievina:, disloyal, and traitorous." 

" " Toute la violence et impetuosite ;" — " The whole violence and im- 


directs all his anxieties towards the Thessalonians, lest this 
temptation should do them any injury. 

The term evil may refer as well to the thing, that is, 
malice, as to the persons of the wicked. I prefei', however, 
to interpret it of Satan, the head of all the wicked. For it 
were a small thing to be delivered from the cunning or 
violence of men, if the Lord did not protect us from all 
spiritual injury. 

4. We have confidence. By this preface he prepares the 
Avay for proceeding to give the instruction, which Ave shall 
find him immediately afterwards subjoining. For the con- 
fidence which he says he has respecting them, made them 
much more ready to obey than if he had required obe- 
dience from them in a way of doubt or distrust. He says, 
however, that this hope, which he cherished in reference to 
them, was founded upon the Lord, inasmuch as it is his 
to bind their hearts to obedience, and to keep them in 
it ; or by this expression, (as appears to me more pro- 
bable,) he meant to testify, that it is not his intention to 
enjoin anything but by the commandment of the Lord. 
Here, accordingly, he marks out limits for himself as to en- 
joining, and for them as to obeying — that it should be only 
in the Lord.^ All, therefore, that do not observe this limi- 
tation, do to no purpose resort to Paul's examide, with the 
view of binding the Church and subjecting it to their laws. 
Perhaps he had this also in view, that the respect which was 
due to his Apostleship might remain unimpaired among the 
Thessalonians, however the wicked might attempt to deprive 
him of the honour that belonged to him ; for the prayer 
which he immediately subjoins tends towards this object. 
For provided men's hearts continue to be directed towards 
love to God, and patient waiting for Christ, other things Avill 
bo in a desirable state, and Paul declares that he desires 
nothing else. From this it is manifest, how very far he is 
from seeking dominion for himself peculiarly. For he is 

^ " Voyci done les bournes qu'il liniite, et pour soy et pour eux : pour 
soy, de ne commander rien que par Ic Seigneur : a. eux, de ne rendre 
obeissance sinon au Seigneur ;"' — " Mark then the limits which he pre- 
scribes both for himself and for them : fur himself, not to command anything 
but by tiie Lord : for them, not to render obedience except to the Lord." 


satisfied provided they persevere in love to God, and in the 
hope of Christ's coming-. In following up with prayer his 
expression of confidence/ he admonishes us that we must 
not relax in eagerness of prayer on the ground that we 
cherish good hope. 

As, however, he states here in a summary manner the 
things that he knew to be most necessary for Christians, 
let every one make it his endeavour to make proficiency in 
these two things, in so far as he desires to make progress 
towards perfection. And, unquestionably, the love of God 
cannot reign in us unless brotherly love is also exercised. 
Waiting for Christ, on the other hand, teaches us to exercise 
contempt of the world, mortification of the flesh, and endur- 
ance of the cross. At the same time the expression might 
be explained as meaning, the patience of Christ — that which 
Christ's doctrine begets in us ; but I prefer to understand it 
as referring to the hope of ultimate redemption. For this is 
the only thing that sustains us in the warfare of the present 
life, that we wait for the Redeemer ; and farther, this wait- 
ing requires patient endurance amidst the continual exer- 
cises of the cross. 

6. Now we command you, bre- 6. Praecipimus aiitem vobis, fra- 
tliren, in the name of our Lord Jesus tres in nomine Domini nostri lesu 
Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves Christi, ut vos subducatis ab omni 
from every brother that walketh dis- fratre, qui inordinate ambulet, et 
orderly, and not after the tradition nou iuxta institutionem, quam ac- 
which he received of vis. cepit a nobis. 

7. For yourselves know how ye 7. Ipsi enim scitis, quomodo 
ought to follow us : for we behaved oporteat nos imitari, quia non inor- 
not ourselves disorderly among you ; dinate egimus inter vos : 

8. Neither did we eat any man's 8. Neque gratis panem coraedi- 
bread for nought : but wrought with mus a quoquam, sed cum labore 
labour and travail night and day, et sudore nocte dieque facientes 
that we might not be chargeable to opus, ne cui vestrum graves esse- 
any of you : mus. 

9. Not because we have not power, 9. Non quod non habeamus potes- 
but to make ourselves an ensample tatem, sed ut nos ipsos exemplar 
unto you to follow us. proponeremus vobis ad imitandum 


10. For even when we were with 10. Etenim quum essemus apud 
you, this we commanded you, that vos, hoc vobis praecepimus, ut, 

' " Quand apres auoir proteste de sa confiance, il ne laisse pas d'ad- 
iouster encore la priere auec la confiance ;" — " When after having declared 
his confidence, he omits not to add besides, prayer along with confidence." 


if any would not work, neither should qui laborare uon vult, is neque 
he eat. coniedat. 

He now proceeds to the correcting of a particular fault. 
As there were some indolent, and at tlie same time curious 
and prattling persons, who, in order that they might scrape 
together a living at the expense of others, wandered about 
from house to house, he forbids that their indolence should 
be encouraged bj indulgence,^ and teaches that those live 
holily who procure for themselves the necessaries of life by 
honourable and useful labour. And in the first place, he 
applies the appellation of disorderly persons, not to those 
that are of a dissolute life, or to those whose characters are 
stained by flagrant crimes, but to indolent and worthless 
persons, who employ themselves in no honourable and useful 
occupation. For this truly is ara^ia, (disorder,^) — not con- 
sidering for what purpose we were made, and regulating 
our life with a view to that end, while it is only when we 
live according to the rule prescribed to us by God that tliis 
life is duly regulated. Let this order be set aside, and there 
is nothing but confusion in human life. This, also, is worthy 
to be noticed, lest any one sliould take pleasure in exercising 
himself apart from a legitimate call from God : for God 
has distinguished in such a manner the life of men, in order 
that every one may lay himself out for the advantage of 
others. He, therefore, who lives to himself alone, so as to 
be profitable in no way to the human race, nay more, is a 
burden to others, giving help to no one, is on good grounds 
reckoned to be aTaKTo<;, (disorderly.) Hence Paul declares 
that such persons must be put away from the society of be- 
lievers, that they may not bring dishonour upon the Church. 

6. Now we command you in the name. Erasmus renders 
it — "% the name," as if it were an adjuration. While I do 
not altogether reject this rendering, I, at the same time, am 
rather of opinion that the particle in is redundant, as in 
very many other passages, and that in accordance with the 

' " II defend aux Thessaloniciens d'entretenir par leur liberalite ou dis- 
simulation I'oisiuete de telles gens ;" — " He prohibits the Thessalonians 
from encouraging by their liberality or dissimulation the indolence of such 

- " Desordre et grande confusion ;" — " Disorder and great confusion." 


Hebrew idiom. Thus the meaning will be, that this com- 
mandment ought to be received with reverence, not as from 
a mortal man, but as from Christ himself ; and Chrysostom 
explains it in this manner. This withdrawment,^ however, 
of which he speaks, relates — not to public excommunication, 
but to private intercourse. For he simply forbids believers 
to have any familiar intercourse with drones of this sort, who 
have no honourable means of life, in which they may exer- 
cise themselves. He says, however, expressly — -from every 
brother, because if they profess themselves to be Christians, 
they are above all others intolerable, inasmuch as they are, 
in a manner, the pests and stains of religion. 

Not according to the injunction — namely, that which we 
shall find him sliortly afterwards adding — that food should 
not be given to the man that refuses to labour. Before 
coming to this, however, he states what example he has 
given them in his own person. For doctrine obtains much 
more of credit and authority, when we impose upon others 
no other burden than we take upon ourselves. Now he men- 
tions that he himself was engaged in working tuith his hands 
night and day, that he might not burden any one with ex- 
pense. He had, also, touched somewhat on this point in the 
preceding Epistle — to which my readers must have recourse 
for a fuller explanation of this point.^ 

As to his saying, that he had not eaten any ones bread 
for nought, he assuredly would not have done this, though 
he had not laboured with his hands. For that which is duo 
in the way of right, is not a thing that is gratuitous, and 
the price of the labour which teachers^ lay out in behalf of 
the Church, is much greater than the food which they re- 
ceive from it. But Paul had here in his eye inconsiderate 
persons, for all have not so much equity and judgment as to 
consider what remuneration is due to the ministers of the 
word. Nay more, such is the niggardliness of some, that, 
though they contribute nothing of their own, tliey envy them 

1 " Ceste separation ou retirement ;" — " This separation or witliclraw- 

2 See p. 25.S. ' 

' " Les Docteiirs et Ministres;" — "Teaeliers and ministers." 



their living, as if they were idle men.^ He, also, imme- 
diately afterwards declares that he waived his right, when 
he refrained from taking any remuneration, by which he 
intimates, that it is much less to be endured, that those, w^ho 
do nothing, shall live on what belongs to others.^ When he 
says, that they knoiu how they ought to imitate, he does not 
simply mean that his example should be regarded by them 
as a law, but the meaning is, that they knew what they had 
seen in him that was worthy of imitation, nay more, that 
the very thing of which he is at present speaking, has been 
set before them for imitation. 

9. Not because we have not. As Paul wnshed by his 
labouring to set an example, that idle persons might not 
like drones^ eat the bread of others, so he was not willing 
that this ver}" thing* should do injury to the ministers of 
the word, so that the Churches should defraud them of their 
proper livelihood. In this we may see his singular modera- 
tion and humanity, and how far removed he was from the 
ambition of those who abuse their powers, so as to infringe 
upon the rights of their brethren. There was a danger, lest 
the Thessalonians, having had from the beginning the preach- 
ing of the gospel from Paul's mouth gratuitously,^ should lay 
it down as a law for the future as to other ministers ; the dis- 
position of mankind being so niggardly. Paul, accordingly, 
anticipates this danger, and teaches that he had a right to more 
than he had made use of, that others may retain their liberty 
unimpaired. He designed by this means to inflict the greater 
disgrace, as I have already noticed above, on those that do 
nothing, for it is an argument from the greater to the less. 

10. He that will not labour. From its being written in 
Psalm cxxviii. 2 — Thou art blessed, eating of the labour of 

> " Comme s'ils viuoyent iiiutiles et oiseux ;" — " As if they lived uselessly 
and idly." 

- " Viiient du labour et bien d'aulruy ;"' — " Should live on the labour 
and substance of others." 

3 « Ainsi que les bourdons cntre abeillcs ne font point de miel. et neant- 
nioins viuent de celiiy des aulres;" — "As drones among bees do not make 
any honey, and yet live on that of others." 

< " Son exemple :" — "His example." 

'•" " Gratuiteinent et sans luy baillor aiicuns gages;" — "Gratuitously, 
and without giving him any remuneration." 


thy hands, also in Prov. x. 4, The blessing of the Lord is upon 
the hands of him that lahoureth, it is certain that indolence and 
idleness are accursed of God. Besides, we know that man was 
created with this view, that he might do something. Not 
only does Scripture testify this tons, hut nature itself taught 
it to the heathen. Hence it is reasonable, that those, who 
wish to exemi^t themselves from tlie common law,^ should 
also be deprived of food, the reward of labour. When, how 
ever, the Apostle commanded that such persons should not 
eat, he does not mean that he gave commandment to those 
persons, but forbade that the Thessalonians should encourage 
their indolence by supplying them with food. 

It is also to be observed, that there are different ways of 
labouring. For whoever aids^ the society of men by his in- 
dustry, either by ruling his family, or by administering pub- 
lic or private affairs, or bj' counselling, or by teaching,^ or 
in any other way, is not to be reckoned among the idle. For 
Paul censures those lazy drones who lived by the sweat of 
others, while they contribute no service in common for aid- 
ing the human race. Of this sort are our monks and priests 
who are largely pampered by doing nothing, excepting that 
they chant in the temples, for the sake of preventing weari- 
ness. This truly is, (as Plautus speaks,)"* to "live musically."^ 

11. For we hear that there are 11. Audimus enim quosdani ver- 
some which walk among you dis- santes inter vos inordinate niliil ope- 
orderly, working not at all, but are ris agentes, sed curiose satagentes. 

12. Now them that are such we 12. Talibus autem praecipimus, 
command and exhort by our Lord et obsecramus'= per Dominum nos- 

^ " De la loy et regie commune :" — " From the common law and rule." 
2 " Aide et porte proufit ;" — " Aids and brings advantage." 
^ " En enseignant les autres ;" — " By instructing others." 
* The passage alluded to is as follows : " Musice, Hercle, agitis aetatem" 
^("By Hercules, you pass life musically") Plaui, Mostellarkie, Act 
iii. Sc. 2, iO.—Ed. 

^ " Plaute poete Latin ancien, quand il veut parler de gens qui viuent 
a leur aise, il dit qu'ils viuent musicalement, c'est a dire, en chantres. 
Mais a la verite on pent bien dire de ceux-ci, en tout sens qu'on le voudra 
prendre, qu'ils viuent musicalement ;." — " Plautus, the ancient Latin poet, 
when he has it in view to speak of persons who live at their case, says that 
they live musically, that is to say, like singers. But truly it may be well 
said of those persons, in every sense in which one might choose to take it, 
that they live musically." 

^ "Prions, ou, exhort ons;" — "We pray, 07\ we exhort." 


Jesus Christ, that with quietness trum lesum Christum, ut cum quiete 
they work, and eat their own bread, operantes suum ipsorum panem 

13. But ye, brethren, be not weary I'A. Vos autem fratres, no defati- 
in well-doing. gemini benefaciendo. 

11. We hear that there are some among you. It is pro- 
bable that this kind of drones were, as it were, the seed of 
idle monkhood. For, from the very beginning, there were 
some who, under pretext of religion, either made free with 
the tables of others, or craftily drew to themselves the sub- 
stance of the simple. They had also, even in the time of 
Augustine, come to prevail so much, that he was constrained 
to write a book expressly against idle monks, where he com- 
plains with good reason of their pride, because, despising the 
admonition of the Apostle, they not only excuse themselves 
on the ground of infirmity, but they wish to appear holier than 
all others, on the ground that they are exempt from labours. 
He inveighs, with good reason, against this unseemliness, 
that, while the senators are laborious, the woi'kman, or per- 
son in humble life, does not merely live in idleness,^ but 
would fain have his indolence pass for sanctity. Such are 
his views.^ In the mean time, however, the evil has increased 
to such an extent, that idle bellies occupy nearly the tenth 
part of the world, whose only religion is to be well stufted, 
and to have exemption from all annoyance^ of labour. And 
this manner of life they dignify, sometimes with the name 
of the Order, sometimes with that of the Rule, of this or 
that personage.^ 

But what does the Spirit say, on the other hand, by the 
mouth of Paul ? He pronounces them all to be irregular 
and disorderly, by whatever name of distinction they may 
be dignified. It is not necessary to relate here how much 
the idle life of monks has invariably displeased persons of 
sounder judgment. That is a memorable saying of an old 

' " Les senateurs et les nobles ayent la main a la besogne, et cependant 
les manouuriers et mechaniques, non seulement viuront en oisiuete ;" — 
" The senators and the nobles have their hand in the work, and in the 
mean time the workmen and mechanics will not only live in idleness." 

- " Voyla que dit S. Augustin ;" — "There you have what St. Augui>tine 

■^ " Et solicitude:" — '' And anxiety." 

■* '• D'vn tel sainct, ou d'vn tel;" — " Of this saint, or that." 


luoiik, which is recorded by Socrates in tlie Eighth Book of 
the Tripartite History— that he who does not labour with 
his hands is like a plunderer.^ I do not mention other in- 
stances, nor is it necessary. Let this statement of the 
Apostle suffice us, in Mdiich he declares that they are dis- 
solute, and in a manner lawless. 

Doing nothing. In the Greek participles there is an 
elegant (Trpoacovo/iiaaia) play upon words, which I liave 
attempted in some manner to imitate, by rendering it as 
meaning that they do nothing, but have enough to do in the 
way of curiosity.^ He censures, however, a fault with which 
idle persons are, for the most part, chargeable, that, by un- 
seasonably bustling about, they give trouble to themselves 
and to others. For we see, that those who have nothing to 
do ai'e much more fatigued by doing nothing, than if they 
were employing themselves in some very important work ; 
they run hither and thither ; wherever they go, they have the 
appearance of great fatigue ; they gather all sorts of reports, 
and they put them in a confused way into circulation. You 
would say that they bore the weight of a kingdom upon their 
shoulders. Could there be a more remarkable exemplifica- 
tion of this than there is in the monks ? For what class of 
men have less repose ? Where does curiosity reign more 
extensively ? Now, as this disease has a ruinous effect upon 
the public, Paul admonishes that it ought not to be encour- 
aged by idleness. 

12. Now lue command such. He corrects both of the faults 
of which he had made mention — a Wustering restlessness, and 
retirement from useful employment. He accordingly exhorts 
them, in the first place, to cultivate repose — that is, to keep 
themselves quietly yviilun the limits of their calling, or, as we 
commonly say, ^^ sans faire hruit," {without making a yioise.) 
For the truth is this : those are the most peaceable of all, that 
exercise themselves in lawful employments ,^ while those that 

' " Vn vagabond qui va pillaiit ;" — " A vagabond that goes a-pliinder- 

^ '' Nihil eos agere operis, sed cnriose satagere." 

^ " Ceux qui s'exercent a bon escient en quelque labour licite ;" — 
" Those that exercise themselves in good earnest in any lawful employ- 


have nothing to do give trouble both to themselves and to 
others. Further, he subjoins another precept — that they 
should labour, that is, that they should be intent upon their 
calling, and devote themselves to lawful and honourable em- 
ployments, without which the life of man is of a wandering, 
nature. Hence, also, there follows this third injunction — 
that they should eat their own bread ; by which he means, 
that they should be satisfied with what belongs to them, that 
they may not be oppressive or unreasonable to others. 
Drink water, says Solomon, /?'om thine own fountains, and 
let the streams flow down to neighbours. (Prov. v. 15.) This is 
ih.Q first law of equity, that no one make use of what belongs 
to another, but only use what he can properly call his own. 
The second is, that no one swallow up, like some abyss, what 
belongs to him, but that he be beneficent to neighbours, and 
that he may relieve their indigence by his abundance.^ In 
the same manner, the Apostle exhorts those who liad been 
formerly idle to labour, not merely that they may gain for 
themselves a livelihood, but that they may also be helpful 
to the necessities of their brethren, as he also teaches else- 
where. (Eph. iv. 28.) 

13. And you, brethren. Ambrose is of opinion that this is 
added lest the rich should, in a niggardh' spirit, refuse to 
lend their aid to the poor, because he had exhorted them to 
eat every one his oiun bread. And, unquestionably, we see 
how many are unbefittingly ingenious in catching at a pre- 
text for inhumanity.^ Chrysostom explains it thus — that 
indolent persons, however justly they may be condemned, 
must nevertheless be assisted when in want. I am simj)ly 
of opinion, that Paul had it in view to provide against an 
occasion of offence, which might arise from the indolence of 
a few. For it usually happens, that tliose that are otherwise 
particularly ready and on the alert for beneficence, become 
cool on seeing that they have thrown away their favours by 
misdirecting them. Hence Paul admonishes us, that, al- 
though there are many that are undeserving,^ while others 

' See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. ii. p. 286. 
^ " Enuei-s les poiires ;" — " Towards the poor." 
" Ne meritent point qu'on leur face du bien;" — " Do not deserve that 
any shouKl do them good ." 


abuse our liberality, we must not on this account leave off 
helping" those that need our aid. Here we have a statement 
worthy of being observed — that however ingratitude, morose- 
ness, pride, arrogance, and other unseemly dispositions on 
the part of the poor, may have a tendency to annoy us, or 
to dispirit us, from a feeling of weariness, we must strive, 
nevertheless, never to leave off aiming at doing good. 

14. And if any man obey not our 14. Si quis aiitem non obedit 
word by this epistle, note that man, sermoni nostro per epistolam, hunc 
and have no company with him, that notate : et ne commisceamini illi,' 
he may be ashamed. ut pudefiat : 

15. Yet count him not as an 15. Et ne tanquam inimicum 
enemy, but admonish him as a sentiatis, sed adraonete tanquam 
brother. fratrem. 

16. Now the Lord of peace him- 16. Ipse autem Deus pacis det 
self give you peace always by all vobis pacem semper omnibus modis. 
means. The Lord be with you all. Dominus sit cum omnibus vobis. 

17. The salutation of Paul with 17. Salutatio, mea manu Pauli : 
mine own hand, which is the token quod est signum in omni epistola. 
in every epistle : so I write. 

18. The grace of our Lord Jesus IS. Gratia Domini nostri lesu 
Christ be with you all. Amen. Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen. 

^ The second epistle to the Thes- Ad Thessalonicenses secunda mis- 
salonians was written from Athens. sa fuit ex Athenis. 

14. 7/ any one obeys not. He has already declared pre- 
viously, that he commands nothing but from the Lord. 
Hence the man, that would not obey, would not be con- 
tumacious against a mere man, but would be rebellious 
against God himself;^ and accordingly he teaches that such 
persons ought to be severely chastised. And, in the first 
place, he desires that they be reported to him, that he may 
repress them by his authority ; and, secondly, he orders them 
to be excommunicated, that, being touched with shame, they 
may repent. From this we infer, that we must not spare 
the reputation of those who cannot be arrested otherwise 

1 " N'obeit a nostre parolle, marquez-le par lettres, et ne conuersez 
])oint, or, ni obeit a nostre parolle par ces lettres, marquez-le, et ne con- 
versez ;" — '• Does not obey our word, mark him by letters, and keep no 
company with him ; or, does not obey our word by these letters, mark 
him and keep no company." 

" " Ce n'eust point contre vn homme niortel qu'il eust addressc son opi- 
niastre et rebellion ;" — " It would not have been against a mortal man 
that he had directed his stubboi-nness and rebellion." 


than by their faults being exposed ; but we must take care 
to make known their distempers to the physician, that he 
may make it his endeavour to cure them. 

Keep no company. I ]iave no doubt that he refers to 
excommunication ; for, besides that the {ara^la) disorder 
to which he had adverted deserved a severe chastisement, 
contumacy is an intolerable vice. He had said before, With- 
draw yourselves from them, for tliey live in a disorderly 
manner, (verse 6.) And now he says, Keep no company, for 
tliey reject my admonition. He expresses, therefore, some- 
thing more by this second manner of expression than by the 
former ; for it is one thing to withdraw from intimate ac- 
quaintance with an individual, and quite another to keep 
altogether aloof from his society. In short, those that do 
not obey after being admonished, he excludes from the com- 
mon society of believers. By this we are taught that we 
must employ the discipline of excommunication against all 
the obstinate^ persons who will not otherwise allow them- 
selves to be brought under subjection, and must be branded 
with disgrace, until, having been brought under and sub- 
dued, they learn to obey. 

That he may be ashamed. There are, it is true, other ends 
to be served by excommunication — that contagion may 
spread no farther, that the personal wickedness of one indi- 
vidual may not tend to the common disgrace of the Church, 
and that the example of severity may induce others to fear, 
(1 Tim. V. 20 ;) but Paul touches upon this one merely — 
that those who have sinned may by shame be constrained 
to repentance. For those, that please themselves in their 
vices become more and more obstinate : thus sin is nourished 
by indulgence and dissimulation. This, therefore, is the 
best remedy — when a feeling of shame is awakened in the 
mind of the offender, so that he begins to be disj)leased 
with himself It would, indeed, be a small point gained to 
have individuals made ashamed ; but Paul had au eye to 
farther progress — when the offender, confounded by a dis- 
covery of his own baseness, is led in this way to a full amend- 
ment : for shame, like sorrow, is a useful preparation for 
' '• El endurcis ;" — " And hardened." 


hatred of sin. Hence all that become wanton^ must, as I 
have said, be restrained by this bridle, lest their audacity 
sliould be increased in consequence of impunity. 

15. Regard him not as an enemy. He immediately adds 
a softening of his rigour ; for, as he elsewhere commands, 
we must take care that the offender be not swalloiued up 
with soi'vow, (2 Cor. ii. 7,) which would take place if severity 
were excessive. Hence we see that the use of discipline 
ought to be in such a way as to consult the welfare of those 
on whom the Church inflicts punishment. Now, it cannot 
but be that severity will fret,^ when it goes beyond due 
bounds. Hence, if we wish to do good, gentleness and 
mildness are necessary, that those that are reproved may 
know that they are nevertheless loved. In short, excom- 
munication does not tend to drive men from the Lord's 
flock, but rather to bring them back when wandering and 
going astray. 

We must observe, however, by what sign he would have 
brotherly love shewn — not by allurements or flattery, but by 
admonitions ; for in this way it will be, that all that will 
not be incurable will feel that concern is felt for their wel- 
fare. In the mean time, excommunication is distinguished 
from anathema: for as to those that the Church marks out 
by the severity of its censure, Paul admonishes that they 
should not be uttei'ly cast away, as if they were cut ofl" from 
all hope of salvation ; but endeavours must be used, that 
they may be brought back to a sound mind. 

16. Now the Lord of i)eace. This prayer seems to be con- 
nected with the preceding sentence, with the view of recom- 
mending endeavours after concord and mildness. He had 
forbidden them to treat even the contumacious^ as enemies, 
but rather with a view to their being brought back to a sound 
mind^ by brotherly admonitions. He could appropriately, 

' " Tous ceux qui se desbo-rdent et follastrent ;" — " All those that break 
out and become wanton." 

- " Face entameure et trop grande blessure ;" — " Make an incision, and 
too great a wound." 

^ " Mesme Ics rebelles et obstinez ;" — " Even the rebellious and ob- 

* " A repentance ct amendment ;" — " To repentance and amendment." 


after this, subjoin an injunction as to the cultivation of 
peace ; but as this is a work that is truly Divine, he betakes 
himself to prayer, which, nevertheless, has also the force of 
a precept. At the same time, he may also have another 
thing in view — that God may restrain unruly persons,^ that 
they may not disturb the peace of the Church. 

17. The salutation, with my own hand. Here again he 
provides against the danger, of which he had previously 
made mention^ — lest epistles falsely ascribed to him should 
fmd their way into the Churches. For this was an old 
artifice of Satan — to put forward spurious writings, that he 
might detract from the credit of those that are genuine ; 
and farther, under pretended designations of the Apostles, 
to disseminate wicked errors with the view of corrupting 
sound doctrine. By a singular kindness on the part of God, 
it has been brought about that, his frauds being defeated, 
the doctrine of Christ has come down to us sound and entire 
through the ministry of Paul and others. The concluding 
prayer explains in what manner God aids his believing 
people — by the presence of Christ's grace. 

1 " Ceux qui sont desobeissans ;" — " Those that are disobedient." 
' See p. 324. The reader will find the same subject adverted to by 
Calvin in p. 232. 















Chap. Ver. Page 

i. 26 212, n. 1 
iii. 22 187 


Chap. Ver. Page 

^ ix. 6 138,212 

Chap. Ver. Page 
xiv. 13 91 

vii. 11 337 


xiv. 18 243 

xxxii. 32 114 

xix. 14 225 

vii. 7, 8 341 


X. 17 219 

xiii. 3 340 


xix. 18 62 


iv. 18 156 




























26, 305 



Chap. Ver. Page Chap. Ver. Page Chap. Ver. Page 

iii. 5 203 viii. 36 338 x. 4 355 

V. 15 358 
















































Iv. 11,13 257 
Ix. 2 72, 147 
liii. 1 169 Ixiv. 8 26 


8 274 xxiii. 29 257 xxxi. 33 159 

9 71 


xi. 20 66 


xii. 2 288, n. 1 


i. 10,11 162 


xiv. 8 161 


iv. 2 288 


xiii. 25 132,349 xxi. 44 48 

46 94 xxiii. 32 260 

XV. 6 345 xxiv. 6 325 

11 201 24 337 

xvi. 17 197 32 324 

xvii. 5 148 37 286 

6 110 XXV. 40 128 

XX. 28 58 xxviii. 20 44 

































45, 73, 


263, n. 1 









4 185 xi. 5 261 


8 70, «. 4 ii. 14 143 















Chap. Ver. Page 

































































































290, n. 3 













207, 239 























87, n. 1 

































































































52, n. 2 
























». 2 














178, 300 













67, 62 




3 105 ii. 11 99 iii. 16 32,217 

12 207 11,12 165 iv. 10 230 

10 167 19 115 


i. 11 301 


1,2 227, «.l 


14 94 xiii. 7 266 xiii. 9 145 

4 298 8 176 16 128 


19 63 iv. 12 329 



Chap Ver Page Chap. Ver. Page Chap. Ver. Page 

'■ V. 7 119,296 


Hi. 8 324 


ii. 1 38 ii. 27 277 iv. 19 341 

18 333 iii. 14 148 v. 12 343 

23 174,183 iv. 1 324 


xiii. 3 327, «. 2 xx. 12 115 



viii. 15 121, H.l 







sv auTUJ 












sv Ifioi 



328, 71. 










iv Tocvri 


OCT' ag-xjiZ 



121, n. 2 




103, n. 1 






200, n 







121, n. 2 






















215, n. 














¥ <f> 



228, n. 





228, n. 



200, n. 2 



0£w xai UaT^i 

147, n. I 






127, n. 








ii ydg 'iyvueav 







105, n. 2 




288, n. 1 


228, n. 



193, n. 3 




87, n. 1 



xar 'sh,oy/lv 





332, 334 




52, n. 2 

2 A 
















71. 1 

















































71. 1 

















71. 2 

























n. 1 



TO. aurd 


vav TO 






TO auTo (p^ovsTv 


71. 2 





71. 1 





n. 1 





^raff^j aiadriSii 








V'TTS^ iX'TTS^lSaoU 


71. 4 





























KtJ'DI jn» 127, n. 3 

nc'n 147, 71. 5 


Admonition, Christians exhorted to 
practise mutual, 217 ; necessary 
for the unruly, 294. 

Adoption, the persecutions endured by 
Christians are in a manner seals 
of, 48 ; is a motive to a blameless 
life, 70; depends on an unmerited 
election, 147 ; the Holy Spirit is 
the seal of, 147 ; prepares for the 
heavenly inheritance, 147 ; is a 
pledge of the continued exercise of 
grace, 805. 

Adoration, is due to God alone, 61 ; is 
to be rendered to Christ, 61 ; bow- 
ing the knee is a token of, 62. 

AflBictions, of Christians, are not the 
cause of their salvation, 48; are, to 
believers, benefits fi-om God, 48 ; 
are common to Christ and to the 
martyrs, 164 ; should be endured 
by Christians with cheerfulness, 
165 ; are, to the wicked, tokens of 
a judgment to come, 314 ; the ad- 
vantages afforded by them to be- 
lievers, 314, 315. 

Agreement, among Christians, is the 
best bulwark for repelling impious 
doctrines, 50 ; is a token of the 
prosperous condition of the Church, 
51 ; the importance of it, 112 ; the 
bond of it, 113. 

Almsgiving, is a sacrifice, 128. 

Ambition, is an occasion of strife, 52 ; 
is the source of innumerable cor- 
ruptions, 251. 

Ambrose quoted, 302, 358. 

Anathema, differs from excommunica- 
tion, 3G1. 

Angels, were created by Christ, 150 ; 
are in subjection to Christ, 151, 
152 ; in what sense they needed a 
peace-maker, 156; the worshipping 
of, condemned, 194 ; the Theur- 
gians pretended to have received 

communications from, 194, 195; the 
worship of, traced to the writings 
of Plato, 195; will come with Christ 
on the final day, 317. 

Antichrist, supposed by some of the 
ancients to have been Nero, 327 ; 
represents — not one individual, but 
one kingdom, 827, 333 ; is diame- 
trically opposed to Christ, 328; 
the marks by which he may be re- 
cognised, 329, 380 ; his reign will 
be but for a time, 334 ; his destruc- 
tion foretold, 335; derives all his 
influence from Satan's impostm-es, 
336 ; will be utterly overthrown by 
Christ, 386 ; is directly opposed to 
Christ, 337 ; his dominion is cruel, 

Apostasy, the great, predicted by Paul, 
325, 326. 

Apostles, import of the term, 81 ; 
Popish Bishops have no claim to 
be successors of, 292, 293 ; were 
Christ's witnesses, 319. 

Apostles' Creed, referred to by Caivin, 
284, n. 1. 

Apposition, a figure of speech, 140, 
174, 318. 

Apuleius quoted, 95, n. 1. 

Archangel, what is meant by the Toice 
of the, 283. 

Archippus supposed by some to have 
planted the Church of Colosse, xi ; 
Paul's admonition to him, 281. 

Arians, the, denied Christ's equality 
with the Father, 56; looked upon 
Christ as a mere creature, 150. 

Aristotle quoted, 70, n. 3 ; 121, n. 1. 

Assurance of faith, does not extend to 
others, 26 ; fear not necessarily 
opposed to, 68 ; the doctrine of 
Papists tends to shake, 68, 160, 174. 

Augustine quoted, 105, n. 2 ; 162, 166, 
167, 195, 198, 283, 284 ; his expo- 
sure of the indolence of the monks, 



Avarice, is the source of innumerable 
corruptions, 251. 


Baptism, came in the place of circum- 
cision, 89 ; is a sign of spiritual 
circumcision, 185 ; is a saci'ament 
of the grace of God, 189. 

Barnes quoted, ix. 

Believers should always conjoin prayer 
with joy, 24, 25 ; will not attain 
perfection luitil the final day, 27 ; 
have fellowship with Christ in suf- 
fering, 29 ; tlieir true attainments, 
31 ; the Spirit of Christ is common 
to all, 40 ; their happiness is wholly 
derived from Christ, 42 ; overcome 
the fear of death, 43 ; death intro- 
duces them into the pi-esence of 
Christ, 44 ; their glorying should 
be in God alone, 45 ; should be 
united in a holy agreement, 46, 47 ; 
their consolation under persecution, 
48 ; their agreement is the best 
bulwark for repelling impious doc- 
trines, 50 ; are intermingledwith the 
wicked, 70-, should shine as lamps, 
71 ; are soldiers in the camp of 
Christ, 80 ; must glory in nothing, 
apart from Christ, 95 ; have a two- 
fold participation in the death of 
Christ, 99 ; should endeavour to 
make progress in the divine life, 
101, 102 ; have a race to run, 102 ; 
should be daily conversant with 
heaven, 109 ; have always ground 
of joy, 116; find consolation in 
prayer, 119 ; the dispositions which 
they ought to cultivate, 121 ; are 
honourably termed sniiifs, 137 ; are 
imperfect, while hei'e, 138 ; their 
ftiith is confirmed, when multitudes 
embrace the gospel, 140 ; are al- 
ways, while here, exercised with 
the cross, 144 ; their happiness 
consists in cleaving to God, 154 ; 
their holiness is only commenced, 
159 ; their fellowship Avith Christ, 
164 ; their wisdom is wholly in- 
cluded in the gospel, 175 ; Satan 
accuses them before God, 1 90 ; 
should not be taken up with tlie 
things of earth ; 206, 207 ; should 
avoid all unprofitable talk, 226 ; 
the perfection to be aimed at by 
them, 229 ; their hope is founded 
on Christ's resurrection, 247 ; need 
to be stimulated by exhortations, 

255 ; must strive against Satan, 
263 ; the fellowship that ought to 
subsist between them, 265 ; must 
lay their account with persecution, 
266 ; holiness is the design of their 
calling, 275 ; their glorious resur- 
rection, 282, 283 ; are children of 
light, 287 ; have need of watchful- 
ness, 288, 289 ; their victory is 
certain, 290 ; the sanctification 
needed by them, 304 ; their mutual 
fellowship, 311 ; death is to them 
an image of life, 314 ; the contrast 
between their present and future 
condition, 318; their warfare, 325 ; 
have need of patience, 334 ; are or- 
dinarily few in number, 339. 

Benson quoted, xiv; 261, n. 2. 

Beza quoted, vi ; 31, v. 1 ; 39, »?. 2 ; 
127, n. 3; 147, ». 1 ; 228, n. 2. 

Biblical cabinet quoted, vii ; 52, ?;. 2; 
121, n. ] ; 122, n. 1. 

Bishop, and Pastor, are convertible 
terms, 23. 

Bishops, Popish, have no claim to be 
regarded as successors of the 
Apostles, 292, 293. 

Bloomfield quoted, 103, n. 1. 

Body, the frailty of, 110; of Christ's 
flesh, employed to denote his human 
nature, 159 ; the term made use of 
by Paul to denote a mass of vices, 

Bodily, the adverb, employed by Paul 
to mean — s\ihstahtiall;i, 182, 183. 

Bohmer, of Berlin, quoted, vi. 

Bonds, the fruit of Paul's, 35, 36 ; 
Paul calls the Colossiaus to re- 
member his, 231. 

Book of life, import of the expression, 

Brentius, letter of Calvin to, vi. 

Bi'own's (Rev. Dr. John) " Expository 
Discourses on Peter" quoted, 166, 
n. 1 ; 276, n. 1 ; his " Discourses 
and Sayings of our Lord Illus- 
trated," quoted, 74, n. 1. 

Budaeus quoted, 197. 

Byfield, on the Colossians, quoted, x. 


Calling. (See Eifectual Calling.) 
Calvin wrote his Commentaries on 
Paul's Epistles under unfavour- 
able circumstances, vi ; is, not- 
withstanding, peculiarly successful 
in the exposition of them, vi, vii; 
is thought to have resembled Paul, 



vii ; dedicated his Commentaries 
on four of Paul's Epistles to Chris- 
topher, Duke of Wirtemberg, vii, 
xvi ; was a pupil of jMaturinus Cor- 
derius, xvi, 234 ; dedicated to him 
his Commentary on the Firs^ Epistle 
to the Thessalonians, xvi, 234 ; de- 
dicated to Benedict Textor his Com- 
mentary on the Second Epistle to 
the Thessalonians, xvi, 308 ; fre- 
quently animadverts upon the 
tenets of Popery, xvii. 

"Calvin and the Swiss Reformation" 
quoted, vii. 

Canonical, origin of the epithet as ap- 
plied to the general Epistles of the 
New Testament, 276, n. 1. 

Capito, Wolfgang, quoted, 91. 

Carefulness, the term employed to de- 
note distrustful anxiety, 119. 

Carolus, Peter, undesignedly promoted 
the spread of the truth, 39. 

Ceremonies of the law, the, were abo- 
lished by the coming of Christ, 181 ; 
why called the elenients of the world, 
181, 182 ; had in them an acknow- 
ledgment of sin, 189 ; the substance 
of them is presented to iis in Christ, 
192 ; abrogated by the death of 
Christ, 202, 206. 

Children, obedience to their parents 
enjoined, 219, 220. 

Chiliasts, their errors refuted, 284. 

Christ is our sole Advocate, 38 ; we must 
not be ashamed to confess him, 41 ; 
renunciation of him is inexcusable, 
41 ; makes us happy both in life 
and in death, 42 ; his original dig- 
nity, 55 ; his eternal Divinity, 56; 
his extreme abasement, 68 ; pre- 
sents an unrivalled pattern of hu- 
mility, 59; adoration is due to him, 
62 ; is the eternal God, 63 ; all 
Christians are soldiers in his camp, 
80 ; the knowledge of him is trans- 
cendently desirable, 94 ; the fruits 
of his death and resurrection, 98 ; 
there is a twof )ld fellowship in his 
death, 99 ; Avill come to his people 
on the final day as a tSariour, 109 ; 
has authority and power to raise 
the dead, 111 ; is the proper object 
of faith, 138 ; Popery is founded on 
ignorance of him, 146 ; all the parts 
of our salvation are contained in 
him, 148; is the image of God, 149; 
angels are in sulyection to him, 
151 ; all things were created by 
Lim, 152 ; is the Head of the 

Church, 152, 153; reconciles us to 
God, 154; his blood was the pledge 
and price of our peace with God, 
155 ; is our peace-maker, 158 ; the 
name of, sometimes includes the 
whole body of believers, 164; no- 
thing is wanting to those that have 
obtained him, 170 ; a striking proof 
of his Divinity, 175 ; Popery is 
wholly built on ignorance of him, 
177; God has manifested himself 
to us fully and perfectly in him, 
182, 183; his ^-ictory over Satan, 
190; the magnificence of his tri- 
umph, 191 ; is the beginning and 
end of our salvation, 212; we must 
wait for his second coming, 246 ; 
the design of liis resurrection, 280 ; 
his second advent will be sudden, 
286 ; will avenge the injuries done 
to his people, 317 ; Antichrist is 
diametrically opposed to him, 328 ; 
will utterly overthrow Antichrist, 
336; of what his kingdom consists, 
337 ; a clear proof of his Divinity, 

Christianity, Popery is a grievous cor- 
ruption of, 92 ; a brief definition of, 

Christians. See Believers. 

Christopher, Duke of Wirtemberg, 
Calvin dedicated to him his Com- 
mentaries on four of Paul's EjDistlcs, 
vii, xvi. 

Chrysostom, quoted, 82, 96, 141, 149, 
192, 218, 240, 274, 297, 302, 332, 
348, 353, 358. 

Church, The, the blood of the martyrs 
the seed of the, 30 ; the Pope is not 
the head of the, 152,153; the Papal, 
differs widely from the ancient, 
162 ; the blood of Christ, and of the 
martyrs, constitutes, according to 
Papists, a treasure of, 165 ; in what 
its perfection consists, 177 ; Christ 
is the head of, 198; is like a city, 
225 ; in tht honse, what is meant 
by, 230 ; the marks of a true, 237 ; 
Satan is constantly endeavouring 
to hinder the edification of, 263 ; its 
government is spiritual, 293 ; Paul 
predicts a grievous scattering of, 

Cicero quoted, 117, 214, n. 2 ; 226, n. 1. 

Circumcision gave way to Baptism, 
89 ; that on the eighth day was 
reckoned by the Jews of superior 
value, 90 ; was abolished by the 
coming of Christ, 184 ; was an 



emblem of the mortification of tlie 
flesh, 184, 185 ; spiritual, what is 
meant by, 1 85. 

Clarke (Dr. Adam) quoted, xv, 40, n. 
1 ; 130, «. 1 ; 164, n. 3 ; 173, n. 1 ; 
183, K. 1 ; 215, u. 1 ; 269, n. 4 ; 294, 
n. 1. 

Clement quoted, 113. 

Ccelestinians, the, held the doctrine of 
a sinless perfection attainable in 
this Ufe, 159, IGO. 

Colosse, was a city of Phi-ygia, x ; was 
destroyed by an earthquake, x, 
132 ; it is not certain by whom the 
gospel was first introduced into, 
X, xi, 132. 

Colossian Christians, highly commend- 
ed by Paul, 137, 140 ; P.aul's in- 
tense concern for their welfare, 172 ; 
warned against false teachers, 180; 
admonished to guard against se- 
ductive errors, 192, 194. 

Conjectui-e, Moral, a contrivance of the 
Schoolmen, 174. 

Conscience, the unspeakable value of a 
good, 44 ; faith is the foundation of 
a good, 44 ; human traditions en- 
snare, 200 ; must not be bound, 
201 ; the term heart employed to 
denote, 271. 

Contention, in the Church, opens a 
door for the spread of impious doc- 
trines, 50 ; a most dangerous pest, 
52 ; ambition is a fruitful source 
of, 52 ; a querulous temper gives 
rise to, 70. 

Contentment, Christian, a rare and 
excellent virtue, 124 ; Paul was an 
illustrious pattern of, 124. 

Conversion, is necessary before we can 
serve God, 245; the end of genuine, 

Corderius, Maturinus, Calvin was a 
pupil of, xvi, 284 ; Calvin's Dedi- 
catory Epistle to, 234. 

Cornelius a Lapide quoted, 327, n. 2. 

Covetousness, is idolatry, 209 ; is the 
source of innumerable corruptions, 

Cranmer's version of the Scriptures 
quoted, 238, n. 3. 

Cross, the offence of the, 34 ; faith is 
inseparably connected with the, 49 ; 
the term employed to denote the 
preaching of the gospel, 107 ; of 
Christ, was like a triumphal car, 
• Curiosity, a spirit of, ought not to be 
indulged, 169, 197. 


Darkness, Satan is the prince of, 147 ; 
the whole world is by nature in, 
147 ; believers have been called out 
of, 148. 

Davenant on the Colossians quoted, 
X, xii. 

Day, of Christ, may be understood as 
referring either to death or to the 
resurrection, 27 ; of the Lord, will 
come suddenly, 286 ; believers are 
the children of the, 287. 

Deacon, import of the term, 24. 

Dead, the, are not to be prayed to, 
223 ; we are not forbidden to mourn 
for, 279 ; we must moderate our 
grief for, 280. 

Death, is not in itself desirable, 43 ; is 
not viewed by believers with ex- 
cessive di-ead, 48 ; the term em- 
ployed to mean abroijatlon, 199 ; of 
believers, is often compared to a 
sleep, 279 ; is the separation of the 
soul from the body, 283 ; is to be- 
lievers an image of life, 314 ; ever- 
lasting, awaits the impenitent, 318. 

Demas, honourably made mention of 
by Paul in writing to the Colos- 
sians, 230 ; Paul was afterwards 
deserted by him, 230. 

Demosthenes quoted, 197, n. 2. 

Devils, Christ is not their peace-maker, 
157 ; Christ's victory over them. 

Diogenes, the Cj-nic, his imperfect 
views of the nature of religion, 

Dionysius, on the Celestial Hierarchy, 
quoted, 133. 

Dionysius the younger, tjTant of Sicily, 
his profane boast, 313. 

Discipline, must be strictly exercised 
when necessary, 360 ; yet not with 
excessive severity, 361 ; must be 
exercised with a view to the good of 
the offender, 361. 

Disorderly, Paul's use of the term, 
352 ; those that are such must be 
excluded from the society of believ- 
ers, 352. 

Docility, the best preparation for, 104; 
the Colossians commended for their, 

Doctrine, agi'ecment among Christians 
is the best bulwark for repelling 
impious, 50; recjuires to be followed 
up with urgent exhortations. 111 ; 
the means of retaining, and restor- 



ing pure, 146 ; must be carefully 
examined by us, 301 ; Antichrist 
will be overthrown by pure and 
sound, 336. 

Doddridge quoted, xi. 

Donatists, the, refuted by Augustine, 


Eadie's (Dr.) Biblical Cyclopaedia, 

Edification, our speech ought to be 
such as tends to promote, 226 ; 
Christians must aim at promoting 
mutual, 291 ; that of the Church is 
the work of Pastors, 292. 

EiFectual calling, is a token of election, 
26 ; perfection in holiness is its 
ultimate design, 271, 275 ; is an 
evidence of evei-lasting grace, 805. 

Elect, the term sometimes employed to 
meau set apart, 213 ; Satan is re- 
strained from injuring, 337 ; their 
salvation is secured, 342. 

Election, effectual calling is a token of 
it, 26 ; adoption depends upon it, 
147 ; the practical evidences of it, 
240, 241 ; the only sure tokens of 
it, 342, 343. 

Elements of the world, import of the 
expression, 181, 182. 

Epaphras, sujiposed by some to have 
planted the Church of Colosse, x, 
132, 133 ; highly commended by 
Paul, 141. 

Epajjhroditus, Paul's high commenda- 
tion of him, 80 ; his anxious con- 
cern for his flock, 81 ; was merci- 
fully restored from a dangerous 
distemper, 81, 82 ; his sickuess was 
occasioned by incessant labour, 

Ephesus, Paul's Epistle to the Colos- 
sians bears a close resemblance 
to the Epistle addressed to the 
Church of, xi, xii ; Paul wrote his 
Firet Epistle to the Corinthians 
from, 113. 

Epicurus, his imperfect views of the 
nature of religion, 245. 

Epistles, spurious, were in circulation 
in the first aaes of the Church, 232, 

Equity, the twofold law of, 358. 

Erasmus quoted, 46, 47, 56, 75, 105, 
113, 139, 168, 172, 190, 196, 209, 
288, 240, 258, 352. 

Eusebius quoted, 113. 

Evagrius, Jerome's epistle to, 23, 

Evil, the prevalence of, a motive to the 
redeeming of time, 225; we must 
not render evil for, 2S5. 

Excommunication, is necessary to be 
inflicted upon the contumacious, 
359 ; the ends to be served by it, 
360 ; differs from anathema, 361. 

Exhortations, should accompany doc- 
trine, 111 ; are necessary even for 
believers, 255. 


Faith, the Gospel is as nothing to us 
unless received by, 25 ; the fruits 
of righteousness spring from, 33 ; 
is the foundation of a good con- 
science, 44 ; is both our panoply 
and our victory, 47 ; is inseparably 
connected with the cross, 49; is an 
unmerited gift of God, 49 ; the 
righteousness of, 97; and love, con- 
stitute the entire sum of Christian 
excellence, 137 ; Christ is the pro- 
per object of it, 188 ; the increase of 
believers is a confirmation of it,140; 
the relationship that it bears to the 
Gospel, 160 ; differs from mere 
opinion, 160, 174; steadfastness of, 
represented by three metaphors, 
178; is founded upon the power of 
God, 186 ; we are justified by it 
alone, 215; its practical fruits, 239 ; 
its nature and essence, 245; resist- 
ance of Satan's temptation is a test 
of it, 258; constitutes the Chris- 
tian's armour, 289; the increase of 
it is from God, 311; there is no 
holiness without it, 319 ; what is 
meant by the work of, 320; the per- 
fecting of it is an arduous matter, 
321; has always reverence for God 
conjoined with it, 339; is not to be 
found in all, 348, 349. 

Faithfulness of God, the, is the security 
of the believer's life, 207 ; gives the 
ftillest assurance of ultimate salva- 
tion, 305. 

Fathers of the Old Testament, the, 
were participants in the grace of 
Christ, 189 ; their views were com- 
paratively obscui-e, 189. 

Fanatics, some in the times of Calvin 
despised the outward ministry of 
the word, 299. 

Fear, two kinds of, 68 ; not necessarily 
opposed to assurance, 68 ; the dis- 



cipline of the Church tends to pro- 
duce a salutary, 360. 
Flesh, tlie term made use of to mean 

whatever is apart from Christ, 89; 

employed to denote corrupt nature, 

Fornication, Christians warned against, 

208; pollutes the whole man, 273; 

involves infamy and disgrace, 274. 
Foster's Essays quoted, viii. 
Fuller, Rev. Andrew, quoted, xiv. 


Gentiles, the, are under the Gospel 
placed on an entire equality with 
the Jews, 212; the universal call 
of, predicted, 333. 

Glorying, it is only in the Lord that we 
have ground of, 45 ; vain, is a dan- 
gerous pest for disturbing the 
peace of the Church, 52 ; the doc- 
trine of grace cuts off all ground 
of, 65. 

God, faith is the gift of, 49 ; the right use 
of his gifts, 53; adoration is due to 
him alone, 61, 62; a right inclina- 
tion of the will is from, 65, 66 ; ig- 
norance of his Providence is the 
cause of all impatience, 118 ; the 
advantage to be derived from invo- 
cation of him, 120 ; is the Author 
of peace, 122 ; his will is to be 
sought for in his word, 142; we 
must study to make progress in 
the knowledge of him, 144 ; is in- 
visible 149; is revealed to us in 
Christ alone, 150; our happiness 
consists in our cleaving to him, 154 ; 
his truth is the bond of holy unity, 
173 ; has manifested himself to us 
fully and perfectly in Christ, 182, 
183; his worship ought not to be 
regulated according to human fan- 
cies, 203; his fixithfulness secures 
the believer's salvation, 207; his 
wrath is greatly to be deprecated, 
209; why the gospel is called his 
ki/igihm, 229 ; is worthy of supreme 
love, 238; our salvation is wholly 
from him, 242, 271 ; how he stands 
affected towards us in Christ, 297; 
his fixithfulness secures the be- 
liever's salvation, 305; is the right- 
eous Judge of the world, 313; fur- 
nishes in his providence tokens of 
a judgment to come, 314. 

Gospel, the, affords no enjoyment to 
us until received by fliith, 25; whe- 

ther the confirmation of it depends 
on the steadfastness of men, 29; 
was promoted by Paul's bonds, 34; 
believers ought to stand forth for 
the defence of it, 38 ; the wicked 
are sometimes undesignedly the 
means of promoting it, 39; its tran- 
scendent dignity, 94; is, by way of 
eminence, the word of truth, 139; 
the relationship that faith bears to 
it, 160; why called a secret, 168 -, 
can be understood only by means 
of faith, 174 ; the wisdom of be- 
lievers is wholly comprehended in 
it, 175; the simplicity of it despised 
by Papists, 176; is corrupted by 
human traditions, 181; should be 
familiarly known by all believers, 
216; is the mystery of Christ, 224; 
why called the kingdom of God, 
229 ; must be received with a joyful 
heart, 243 ; its tendency, 245; the 
lively preaching of it, 255 ; the 
credit due to it, 257 ; its doctrine 
is lovely, 293 ; unbelief is the oc- 
casion of resistance to it, 317 ; 
holiness on the part of Christians 
is the glory of it, 347; false profes- 
sors defame it, 347. 
Gregory quoted, 153. 


Harmony, is indispensable for the 
prosperity of the Church, 46; is 
the best bulwark for repelling im- 
pious doctrines, 50 ; the great de- 
sirableness of it, 51 ; God has recon- 
ciled us to himself with a view to 
the promotion of it, 216. 

Head of the Church, the comprehen- 
siveness of the expression, 152 ; 
Christ is the, 152; the Pope has no 
title to be regarded as the, 152, 
153; the Church is entirely depend- 
ent on Christ, as the, 198. 

Hebrew, the antiquity of the name, 91, 

Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia, was de- 
stroyed by an cartlujuake, x, 132. 

Holiness, is rarely foinid in the courts 
of sovereigns, 129; is nothing more 
than commenced in the present life, 
159; that of Popery, consists in 
trifling observances, 201 ; monk- 
hood, in the Papacy, constitutes the 
chief part of, 203 ; the Gospel tends 
to promote, 245; there is need of 
internal, no less than external, 271 ; 



Gk)d calls us to, 275; there is none 
without faith, 319. 

Holy Spirit, The, why called the Spirit 
of Christ, 40 ; is common to all be- 
lievers, 40; there is nothing right 
in man till he has been renewed by, 
71; why called an earnest, 120; is 
the seal of adoption, 147 ; we are 
renewed by him in the image of 
God, 159 ; we are made heavenly 
by the renewing of, 208; his illu- 
minating mflnence transforms the 
whole man, 211; obedience to God 
is the fruit of his operations, 243 ; 
how he may be quenched, 298; illu- 
minates us chiefly by doctrine, 
299 ; is a seal and earnest of eternal 
life, 344 ; his influence necessary in 
connection with doctrine, 346. 

Homer's Odyssey quoted, 200, n. 1. 

Hojje, the goodness of God in the past 
ought to encourage, 25; that of the 
Christian will not put to shame, 
41 ; of eternal life, will not be inac- 
tive, 138; the term employed to de- 
note the object of hope, 139 ; of be- 
lievers, is founded on Christ's resur- 
rection, 247 ; leads to patience, 305. 

Horace quoted, 178, «. 1; 226, n. 1; 262, 
n. 2; 332, n. 1. 

Home's Introduction quoted, 276, k. 1. 

Howe quoted, xii, 31, n. 2; 212, »;. 3; 
269, n. 2;287, n. 1;288, «. 1. 

Hug quoted, x. 

Humility, a definition of true, 53 ; is a 
rare virtue, 53 ; Christ fvirnishes 
an extraordinary pattern of, 54, 
69 ; the source of, 64 ; its fruits, 
69 ; the worship of saints practised 
by Papists under pretext of, 194 ; 
the exercise of it in relation to God, 
203 ; its limit towards men, 203 ; 
leads to kindness and gentleness, 

Husbands, their duties enjoined, 219. 

Hymn, imjaort of the term, 217. 

Idleness, is fraught with danger to 
the Christian, 289 ; must be care- 
fully guarded against, 298 ; cen- 
sured by Paul, 352 ; is accursed, 

Idolatry, to seek God, apart from 
Christ, involves, 150 ; that of 
Papists, practised under the pre- 
text of humility, 194 ; that of wor- 
shipping angels, traced to the writ- 

ings of Plato, 195; covetousness is, 

Ignatius quoted, 113. 

Ignorance, of Christ, leads to a vain 
confidence, 93 ; in weak brethren, 
how it should be dealt with, 104 ; 
of God's providence, is the cause of 
all impatience, 118 : that of Papists, 
146 ; is the source of all errors, 
176; of Christ, the foundation of 
Popery, 177 ; leads to arrogance, 

Illustrated commentary quoted, xiii, 
36, «. 1 ; 147, n. 5. 

Impatience, ignoi-ance of God's provi- 
dence is the source of, 118 ; the 
means by which it is to be guarded 
against, 239 ; prayer an antidote 
to, 297. 

Imposture, three kinds of, mentioned 
by Paul, 323. 

Indulgences, the corrupt system of, 

Ingratitude condemned, 179. 

Invocation of God, the unspeakable 
advantage of, 120. 

Jerome quoted, 23, 196. 

Jews, The, the Gentiles are under the 
Gospel placed on an entire equality 
with them, 212 ; persecuted Christ 
and his Apostles, 259 ; incurred, in 
consequence of this, the wrath of 
God, 260 ; were not, however, 
finally cast off, 261. 

Josephus quoted, 92. 

Joy, of the world, is evanescent, 116; 
that of Christians, is permanent, 
117 ; the Gospel ought to be re- 
ceived with, 243 ; was largely ex- 
perienced by Paul in the midst of 
deep aflliction, 268. 


Kingdom, of God, why the Gospel is 
called the, 229 ; Antichrist repre- 
sents not one individual, but a, 
327, 333. 

Kiss, of charity, customary among the 
early Christians, 305. 

Knowledge, of Christ, transcendently 
desirable, 94 ; of the will of God, 
to be sought in his word, 142 ; of 
God, we must endeavour to increase 
in, 144. 

Koppe quoted, x. 



Labour, Paul supported himself at 
Thessalonica by engaging in man- 
ual, 253 ; recommended by Paul 
on two accounts, 278 ; those should 
not eat who refuse to undergo, 353 ; 
there are various kinds of useful, 

Lactantius, his fanciful speculations as 
to the time of Christ's second com- 
ing, 323. 

Laodicea, was destroyed by an earth- 
quake, X, 132 ; there was a spm-i- 
ous epistle from, 230, 231. 

Lardner, Dr., quoted, x. 

Law, a twofold righteousness of the, 
92 ; the ceremonial, was abolished 
by the coming of Christ, 188 ; of 
Moses, why called a handwriting, 
189 ; our strength is not to be 
measured by the precepts of the 
Divine, 271, 303. 

Leo, bishop of Rome, quoted, 167. 

Libertines, the, despised the ministry 
of the word, 299. 

Life, the houk of, import of the expi'es- 
sion, 11-4; newness of, the principal 
part of our salvation, 159 ; the 
rule, according to which it should 
be regulated, 352. 

Livy quoted, 35, n. 5 ; 74, n. 3. 

Love, to the brethren, the gift of God, 
137 ; should extend to mankind uni- 
versally, 138; bi-otherly, the hojie of 
salvation tends to encourage, 139 ; 
in the Spirit, import of the expres- 
sion, 141 ; is the bond of perfection, 

214 ; we are not justified by it, 

215 ; God is worthy of supreme, 
238 ; in connection with faith, com- 
prehends the entire sum of true 
piety, 268 ; its commencement and 
increase are from God, 271 ; forms 
part of the Christian's armour, 
289 ; the Thessalonians highly com- 
mended for their, 311. 

Lowth, on Isaiah, quoted, 144, w. 1 . 

Lucretius quoted, 103, n. 2. 

Luke, the physician, commended by 

Paul, 230. 
Lying, the vice of, condeixmed, 210. 


Mahomet, the injury done by him to 
the Church of Christ, 327. 

Man, has need of a Peace-maker with 
God, 156 ; the old, what is meant 

by, 211 ; the neu; import of the ex- 
pression, 211 ; what properly be- 
longs to God is sometimes ascribed 
to, 269 ; his strength is not to be 
measured by the precepts of the 
Divine law, 271, 303 ; the division 
of the constituent parts of, 304 ; 
is prone to forget the concerns of 
his salvation, 332. 

Manton, Dr., his Sermons on 2 Thessa- 
lonians quoted, 328, n. 1 ; 337, «. 5. 

Marcionites, the, denied the reality of 
Christ's human nature, 58. 

Martyrs, The, tlie consolations by 
which they were sustained, 29 ; 
their blood is the seed of the 
Church, 30 ; their blood, along 
with that of Christ, conceived by 
Papists to be the treasure of the 
Church, 165. 

Mason, Dr., of New York, quoted, vii. 

Masters, their duties enjoined, 221, 

IMerit, the doctrine of grace utterly 
excludes the idea of, 49 ; the con- 
trivance of the Sophists as to that 
of Christ, 59, 60 ; the contrivance 
of the Sophists as to subsequent 
grace, as the reward of, 67 ; the 
rigliteousness of foith leaves no 
room for, 97 ; Scripture perverted 
by the Sophists to support their- 
doctrine of, 139. 

" Merits of Calvin" quoted, vi. 

Metonymy, a figure of sjjeech, 139. 

Ministers of the Gospel, must not seek 
their own interests, 77 ; are en- 
gaged in an warfare, 80 ; 
faithful, are worthy of high esteem, 
84 ; Satan endeavours to render 
them contemptible, 163 ; must make 
it their aim to please God, 250 ; 
should exercise a disinterested af- 
fection, 252 ; must be careful not 
to put any hinderance in the way 
of the Gospel, 254 ; will, if fiiithful, 
be partakers of Christ's triumph, 
263 ; tlie interest they should feel 
in the welfare of the Church, 268 ; 
should endeavour to allure by kind- 
ness, 273 ; faithful, should be held 
in no ordinary esteem, 291, 292. 

-Moderation of spirit recommended,. 
117; prayer an important means 
of promoting, 296. 

jMoukhood, the principal holiness of 
Popery consists in, 203 ; its appal- 
ling abominations, 203 ; the time 
when it first came into use in 



the Church, 20-1 ; the seed of it, 

Monks, the, their absurd pretensions 
to a state of perfection, 10-± ; their 
idleness, 356. 

Moral conjecture, a contrivance of the 
schoolmen, 174. 

Mortification, a twofold, 99, 20-8. 

Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History quot- 
ed, 194, «. 2. 

Mystery of iniquity, import of the ex- 
pression, 334. 


" Narrative of a Mission to the Jews" 
quoted, x. 

'Nero, his palace was termed the pa~ 
latiwm, 35 ; some members of his 
household were converts to Chi'is- 
tianity, 129; Seneca was his pre- 
ceptor, 130, 11. 1 ; supposed by 
some of the ancients to be Anti- 
christ, 327. 

Oath, solemn forms of, made use of 

by Paul, 30, 306. 
Obedience to God, a merely pretended, 

202; the doctrine of the gospel 

leads to, 245. 
Ode, import of the term, 217. 
Onesimus, commended by Paul, 227. 
Opinion, faith differs from mere, 160, 

Origen, his strange notions refuted, 

Orosius, Paulus, an ancient historian, 

quoted, 132. 
Ovid quoted, 313. 


Paley's HordB Paulince quoted, ix, xiil, 
227, n. 1. 

Papists, their doctrine of purgatory is 
altogether groundless, 63 ; their 
doctrine tends to shake assurance 
of faith, 68 ■; their extravagant 
estimate of man's excellence, 69 ; 
their sacrifice of the Mass is utter 
sacrilege, 75 ; deny tlie right of 
private judgment, 88 ; mix up 
works with faith, 97 ; picture to 
themselves an imaginary Christ, 
134 ; rob Christ of a gTeat part of 
his glory, 146 ; their doctrine as to 
satisfactions is blasphemy, 149 ; 

make the Pope the head of the 
Church, 152 ; their claim to an- 
tiquity and universality ground- 
less, 161, 162 ; their system of 
indulgences, 165 ; look upon the 
saints as redeemers, 166 ; despise 
the simplicity of the gospel, 176 ; 
do, in effect, charge Christ with 
impeifection, 182 ; their i>retext 
for the worship of saints, 194 ; 
their worship of angels traced to 
the writings of Plato, 195; their 
specious pretexts, 203 ; the reading 
of the Scriptures is interdicted 
among them, 216 ; would have iis 
pray to departed saints, 223 ; their 
baseness in prohibiting the Scrip- 
tures from being read, 306 ; their 
traditions are destitute of authority, 

Parents, their duty to their children 
enjoined, 220. 

Pastors, the term synonymous with 
that of 13ishops,'23 ; must exercise 
both authority and affection, 51 ; 
in what sense they are prksls, 74 ; 
must not seek their own interests, 
77 ; are engaged in an incessant 
warfare, 80 ; should be concerned 
for the welfare of their flock, 81 ; 
faithful, are worthy of high esteem, 
84 ; must be constantly on the 
watch, 88 ; Satan endeavours to 
render them contemptible, 163 ; are 
ser rants of the Church, not lords 
over it, 167 ; the care which they 
ought to feel for their, flock, even 
when at a distance fi-om them, 229; 
must make it their aim to please 
God, 250 ; must avoid covetous- 
ness, 251 ; should manifest a dis- 
interested affection for the welfare 
of the Church, 252; should be care- 
fid not to put any hinderance in 
the way of the gospel, 254 ; must 
bring forward nothing but the pure 
word of God, 257; will, if faithful, 
he sharers in Christ's ti'iumph, 
263 ; should, even in aflliction, 
rejoice in the prosperity of the 
Church, 268 ; the titles of distinc- 
tion with which Paul honours them, 
292 ; faithful, should be not merely 
respected but loved, 293. 

Patience, is the gift of God, 48 ; differs 
widely from Stoical apathy, 82 ; 
the contemplation of Divine Pro- 
vidence tends to promote it, 118; 
is necessary for believers, 207 ; 



leads to mildness of disposition, 
'213 ; is encouraged by the hope of 
a blessed resurrection, 280 ; must 
be exercised towards all, 294 ; de- 
grees of it, 29C ; is the fruit and 
evidence of faith, 312. 
Paul, Calvin is thought to have re- 
sembled him, vii; the fruit of his 
bonds, 34, 36 ; why he desired to 
live, 43 ; rejoiced, even in affliction, 
in the prosperity of the Church, 51 ; 
needed to be tried with tempta- 
tions, 83 ; gloried in Christ, 89 ; 
his illustrious descent, 91 ; was 
prepared to renounce everything 
f(ir Christ, 94 ; needed, no less than 
others, to make progress in the 
divine life, 101 ; sets himself forth 
as an example, 105 ; gives evidence, 
by his tears, of his concern for the 
welfore of the Church, 106, 107 ; 
was unmarried, 113, 114 ; his joy 
amidst occasions of sorrow, 116; 
was joyful even under persecution, 
165 ; in what respect he suffered 
fur the Church, 166 ; earnestly de- 
sired the prayers of others in his 
behalf, 223 ; his singular zeal and 
prudence, 226, 227; his Epistles 
contain doctrine that is in force in 
all ages, 230 ; his admirable stead- 
fastness, 249 ; his amazing, 

253 ; his irreproachable conduct, 

254 ; his unreserved devotedness, 

255 ; made regard for himself a 
secondary consideration, 268 ; his 
assiduity in prayer, 269 ; his ex- 
emplary humanity and modesty, 
273 ; his prediction as to the rise 
of Antichrist, 328 ; eagerly desires 
the prayers of believers, 347 ; la- 
boured among the Thessalonians 
gratuitously, 354. 

Peace of God, its transcendent value, 
120; God is the Author of, 122; of 
God restrains carnal aflfections, 215. 

Pierce quoted, 87, «. 1 ; 95, n. 1; 121, 
n. 2. 

Pelagians, their extravagant estimate 
of man's excellence, 69 ; conceived 
of a sinless perfection attainable in 
this life, 100. 

Penn, Granville, quoted, 105, w. 2 ; 
193, n. 3. 

Perfection, the absurd pretensions of 
the monks to, 104; the Pelagians 
conceived it to be attainable in this 
life, 160; is to be found in Christ 
alone, 182. 

Persecutions, are in a manner seals of 
adoption to the children of God, 48; 
Paul's fortitude amidst, 248, 249 ; 
were endured to a large extent by 
the early Christians from the Jews, 
259, 260. 

Perseverance, is a rare virtue, 25; 
Christians have an assured hope of 
final, 44 ; the necessity of it, 160; 
is the gift of God, 346. 

Persians, The, the monarchy of Babylon 
was overthrown by, 832 ; were con- 
quered by the Macedonians, 332. 

Peter, there is no evidence of his hav- 
ing been Bishop of Rome, 78; nor 
is there evidence that he ever was 
at Rome, 229. 

Pharisees, etymology of the term, 91. 

Philippi, was the first place in Europe 
in which the gospel was preached, 
vii, ix; was so named from Philip, 
king of Macedon, viii, ix; noted fur 
a signal victoi-y, ix, 20, n. 1. 

Philippian Christians, their zeal in 
supporting the cause of the gospel, 
28; their nourishing condition, 123; 
their liberality in contributing to 
Paul's support, 126, 127. 

Philosophy, in what sense the term is 
employed by Paiil, 133, 180. 

Piety, faith and love are the sum of 
true, 268. 

Plato quoted, 176, n. 3; 195 ; the wor- 
ship of angels traced to his writ- 
ings, 195. 

Plautus quoted, 95, n. 1; 355. 

Pliny quoted, 20, v. 2. 

Plutarch quoted. 200. 

Poole's Annotations quoted, xii. 

Poor, The, the duty of contributing to 
their relief, 358; are not nnfi'e- 
quently ungrateful for the bounty 
conferred upon them, 359. 

Pope, The, is not the head of the 
Church, 152, 153; his kingdom is a 
confused mass, 199; his tyrannical 
enactments, 200 ; his arrogant pre- 
tensions, 329; claims to be the vicar 
of Christ, 330; in what sense he sits 
in the Icwj^le of God, 330, 331. 

Popery is frequently animadverted : 
upon in Calvin's Commentaries, 
xvii ; is a grievous corruption of J 
Christianity, 92; is utterly unscrip- 
tural, 104 ; the kind of theology of 
wliieh it consists, 14 V, is founded 
on ignorance of Christ, 146, 177| 
the tyranny of its enactments, 200| 
its holiness consists in trifling ob| 



servances, 201 ; its principal holi- 
ness consists in uionkliood, 203; its 
delusions, 339, 340. 

Praetorium, import of the term, 35, 86. 

Prayer, a powerful antidote to anxiety, 
119 ; must be accompanied with 
thanksgiving, 119, 120; should be 
engaged in with assiduity and alac- 
rity, 222 ; mutual, the duty and 
advantage of, 223; not to beoiFered 
for the dead, 223 ; there must be 
perseverance in it, 224;; Paul's as- 
siduity in, 269. 

Pride, its extensive prevalence, 53 ; the 
source from which it springs, 65 ; 
the doctrine of grace tends to bring 
it down, 65; arises from ignorance 
of Christ, 93. 

Prophesyiugs, Paul's use of the term, 
299; danger of despising, 299, 300. 

Prosperity, is often an occasion of em- 
boldening the wicked in sin, 313. 

Providence, ignorance of, leads to im- 
patience, 118; duty of reposing in 
it with confidence, 296. 

Psalm, import of the term, 21 7. 

Purgatory, the doctrine of, altogether 
groundless, 03. 

Quietness, Paul's use of the term 

357, 358. 
Quinctilian quoted, 35, n. 4; 38, n. 4. 


Eace, the Christian life compared to a, 

Redemption, two things in which it 
mainly consists, 159. 

Resurrection of Christ, the power of, 
98 ; the hope of our resurrection is 
founded on it, 247 ; secures for his 
people a blessed resuxrection, 280 ; 

Resurrection, the doctrine of it is op- 
posed to carnal perception. 111 ; 
the final, the hope of it inspires 
patience, 280 ; the certainty of it, 
280 ; made known in the discourses 
of Christ himself, 282; some of 
the Thessalonians had but obscure 
views of it, 282 ; the prospect of it 
is consolatory to Christians, 284 ; 
some of the Thessalonians imagined 
that the time of it was near at 
hand, 323, 324. 

Revenge, a spirit of, strictly prohibited, 
295 ; patience an antidote to, 296. 

Rewards, the doctrine of the schoolmen 
respecting, 49, 67. 

Rheims' version of the Scriptures 
quoted, 105, n. 1 ; 147, n. 1. 

Riches, worldly. Christians must be 
prepared to part with, for Christ, 
95 ; the term employed to set forth 
the glory of the gospel, 170 ; of the 
assurance ofujuierslaudiug — import 
of the expression, 174. 

Righteousness, the fruits of, 33 ; of the 
law, a twofold, 92 ; of faith, the 
nature of, 97 ; of Christ, is received 
by faith, 98. 


Sacraments, the, are signs and tokens 
of Christ's presence, 193 ; the Pope 
alters them, or sets them aside, at 
his pleasure, 330. 

Sacrifice, the nature of an evangelical, 
74 ; that of the Mass, is utter sacri- 
lege, 75 ; the exercise of beneficence 
is a, 128. 

Sacrilege, the Popish sacrifice of the 
Mass is, 75. 

Saints, the, their salvation will not be 
fully completed imtil the resurrec- 
tion, 27 ; their afflictions are not 
the cause of their salvation, 48; 
the designation an honourable one, 
137; are not redeemers, 166; the 
pretext of Papists for the worship 
of, 194; departed, no warrant to 
pray to, 223. 

Salvation, is wholly of grace, 69 ; the 
hope of it is represented by the So- 
phists as depending on works, 139 ; 
surpasses the comprehension of our 
understanding, 139 ; all parts of it 
are contained in Christ, 148 ; its 
commencement and completion are 
from God, 242 ; God wills our, 289 ; 
ill all its parts is the fruit of tlie 
pure grace of God, 320 ; mankind 
are pi'one to forgetfulness in mat- 
ters affecting their, 332. 

Sanctification, we are called by God 
with a view to it, 273; the large 
import of the term, 273 ; includes 
the renovation of the whole man, 
303 ; God is the sole Author of it, 

Satan, puts many stumblingblocks in 
our way, 32 ; his subtle artifices, 
34 ; is the enemy of all Christians, 
80 ; is most desirous to undermine 



tlie authority of ministers of tlic 
gospel, 84 ; does liis utmost to ob- 
scure Christ, 145 ; unbelievers are 
held captive by him, 147 ; labours 
to bring the truth of the gospel 
into doubt, IGl ; endeavours to 
bring the sei-vauts of God into 
contempt, 1(33 ; successful resist- 
ance of his temptations is a test of 
faith, 258; is constantly endea- 
vouring to hinder the edification of 
the Church, 263 ; the wicked fight 
under his banner, 263; it is his pro- 
per ofhce to tempt, 266 ; is always 
on the alert against us, 289; endea- 
vours to stir up quan'els between 
pastors and people, 293 ; his as- 
saults are severe, 321 ; his subtlety, 
323 ; all his machinations will be 
overthrown by means of the truth, 
335 ; Antichrist derives all his in- 
fluence from his impostures, 336; 
the deceptions practised by him, 
S37 ; his power is bridled, 338 ; 
cannot prevent the salvation of 
God's chosen people, 342. 

Satisfactions, Popish, involve blas- 
phemy, 149 ; ascribe mei'it to the 
blood of the martyrs, 165. 

Scaliger, Joseph, quoted, v. 

Schoolmen, the, their doctrine of hu- 
man merit, 49 ; their system of 
free-will cannot be reconciled with 
the doctrine of grace, 65 ; moral 
conjecture a contrivance of, 1 74. 

Scott, Rev. Thomas, qvxoted, xi. 

Scriptures, the Holy, it is cruel to in- 
terdict the reading of them, 216 ; 
they are more refractory than 
devils themselves who interdict the 
reading of them, 306. 

Seneca, supposed by some to have been 
among the saijjts of Cesar's house- 
hold, 129 ; there is no evidence of 
his having been a convert to Chris- 
tianity, 130; was the preceptor of 
Nero, 130, n.1. ^ 

Servants, their duties enjoined, 220; 
special consolation for, 221. 

Sleep, the death of believers is often 
compared to, 280. 

Smith, Dr Pye, quoted, vi. 

Smith's Dictionary of Greek Biography 
quoted, 132, 7i. 1. 

Sobriety, spiritual, the nature of, 288. 

Socrates (Tripartite History) quoted, 

Songs, spiritual, import of the expres- 
sion, 217,218. 

Sorbonne, the sophists of the, their 
theology unprofitable and profi^ne, 
32 ; their contrivance as to Christ's 
merit, 59, 60 ; maintained that men 
are justified by works, 95 ; made the 
hope of salvation depend on works, 
139; their detestable profanity, 
167 ; their doctrine as to the inter- 
cession of saints and angels, 196; 
their doctrine as to subsequent 
merit, 320. 

Soul, the, does not become unconscious 
at death, 44, 280 ; has two princi- 
pal faculties, 304. 

Spirit, the term employed to denote 
reason, 304 ; the term applied to 
prophesyiugs, 324 ; Holy, see Holy 

Steadfiistness, the Colossian Christians 
commended for their, 177; of faith, 
represented under three metaphors, 
178; Paul's .admirable, 249. 

Stoics, Christian patience diflfers widely 
from their apathy, 82; Christian 
resignation under bereavements 
differs greatly from their destitu- 
tion of feeling, 280. 

Storr quoted, 52, n. 2- 121, n. 1; 122, 
n. 1. 

Suetonius quoted, 20, }i. 2. 

Suidas quoted, 96, n. 1. 


Talkativeness censured, 226. 

Teissier, his abridgment of M. de 
Thou's histoi'j', quoted, v. 

Temple of God, in what sense Anti- 
christ reigns in the, 330, 331. 

Temptation, successful resistance of, a 
test of faith, 258; we must always 
be on our guard against, 266. 

Tertullian quoted, 30. 

Textor, Benedict, Calvin dedicated to 
him his Commentary on 2 Tliessa- 
lonians, xvi; Calvin's dedicatory 
epistle to, 308. 

Textoi*, John, his " epistles," xvi. 

Thanksgiving, should accompany pray- 
er, 119; the happy effect arising 
from a spirit of, 120; the want of 
such a spirit exposes to serious loss, 
179; should be offered xip through 
Christ, 218; a twofold, is necessary, 
223 ; should always be mingled 
with oui' desires, 297; should be 
rendered by us for the favours be- 
stowed upon our brethren, 311. 

Thessalonian Christians, Paul's Jirst 


Epistle to them appears to have 
been the earliest of his epistles, xii ; 
his secund Epistle to them predicts 
the rise of Antichrist, xiv, xv; were 
most exemplary in their deport- 
ment, 239; Paul laboured among 
them free of charge, 253; Paul's 
ardent affection for them, 252, 262, 
2G7; the doctrine of the resurrec- 
tion seems to have been imperfectly 
understood by some of them, 282 ; 
Paul's second Epistle to them is 
supposed to have been written from 
Athens, 309; some of them imagined 
that the second coming of Christ 
was near at hand, ^22. 

Thessalonica, origin of the name, xii ; 
was noted for idolati'y, prior to the 
introduction of the gospel into it, 

Thcurgians, the, pretended to have re- 
ceived their doctrines through the 
ministry of angels, 194 ; were the 
followers of Ammonius Saccas, 194, 
V. 2. 

Tholuck quoted, v, vi. 

Thrones, the term employed to denote 
the heavenly palace of God's ma- 
jesty, 150. 

Time, the duty of redeeming, 225. 

Timothy, Paul's high commendation of 
him, 76 ; his fidelity and modesty, 
79 ; his extraordinary devotedness, 

Traditions, human, corrupt the simpli- 
city of the gospel, 181 ; are a laby- 
rinth, in which consciences are en- 
tangled, 200 ; are agreeable to cor- 
rupt nature, 202 ; three pretexts 
under which they allure, 202 ; of 
Papists, are utterly destitute of 
authority, 345. 

Truth, the gospel is undoubted, 141 ; 
of God, is the bond of holy unity, 
173 ; will overthrow all the machi- 
nations of Satan, 335. 

Tychicus, highly commended by Paul, 
226, 227. 

Tyranny, the enactments of Popery 
involve, 200 ; the interdicting of 
the Scriptures is the exercise of a 
cruel, 216, 306 ; that of Antichrist 
is exercised upon souls, 328. 


Unbelief, is the occasion of resistance 
to the gospel, 317; is always blind, 

Unbelievers, are in this life inter- 

mingled with believers, 70, 109; 
are .held captive by Satan, 147 ; 
three reasons why Christians should 
have regard to them, 225 ; two 
marks by which they are dis- 
tinguished, 317 ; the punishment 
that awaits them, in the event of 
impenitence, 340. 
Unity, Paul exhorts to a twofold, 46 ; 
the desirableness of it in the Church, 
51 ; a most intimate, subsif^ts be- 
tween Christ and his members, 
164 ; the truth of God is the bond 
of a holy, 173. 

Vaugiian, Robert, translated Calvin's 
Commentary on the Colossians, 
xvi ; was the author of various 
works, xvi ; his Dedicatory Epistle, 

Virgil quoted, 20, w. 1 ; 27, n. 1 ; 60. 

Vulgate, the, quoted, 105, w. 1; 121, n. 
2; 147, n. 1; 238, n. 3; 329, n. 1; 
342, 347. 


Wahl's Key to the New Testament 
quoted, 114, n. 2. 

Watchfulness, behevers have need of 
constant, 2G6 ; two reasons why 
Christians should exercise unre- 
mitting, 288, 289. 

Wetstein quoted, 121, n. 1. 

Wicked, the, are sometimes undesign- 
edly the means of promoting the 
gospel, 39 ; their agreement is 
accursed, 47 ; Christians are in 
this life intermingled with them, 
70, 109 ; the difference between 
their situation and that of devils, 
157 ; are spiritually dead, 187 ; 
why their punishment is often de- 
layed, 200 ; fight under Satan's 
banner, 263 ; their presumptuous 
confidence, 287 ; become insolent 
in prosperity, 313; Christians have 
no reason to envy their temporary 
prosperity, 315 ; the appalling 
doom awaiting them, in the event 
of impenitence, 318. 

Wiclif's version of the Scriptures 
quoted, 46, n. 1 ; 147, n. 1 ; 238, 
«. 3 ; 329, n. 1 ; 342, n. 1 ; 347, 
n. 2. 

Will, a right inclination of it is from 
God, 65, 66 ; of God, is to be sought 
nowhere else than in his word, 142; 

38 4 


of God, is the only rule of right 
knowledge, 143. 

Wives, their duties enjoined, 219. 

Wisdom, Christian, in what it consists, 
32; the revealed will of God is the 
only true, 143 ; a definition of true, 

AVord of God, The, the will of God is 
to be sought nowhere else than in, 
142; Christians should endeavour 
to acquire an intimate acqiiaint- 
ance with it, 216 ; some fanatics in 
the times of Calvin rejected the 

outward ministry of it, 299 ; it is 
worse than diabolical to interdict 
the reading of it, 306. 

World, the, was created by Christ, 
111 ; is in a state of moral dark- 
ness, 147, 148 ; Christians should 
live above it, 205. 

Wrath, the term employed to denote 
the judgment of God 261, 2G0. 

Xenophon quoted, 200, n. 



29, line 18 from top, for there read this. 

51, „ 13 „ „ for say read see. 

56, „ 2 from foot,/bv Ifj-cpaTiKOTi^oj; read ifi(parix,u'ripa;. 

71, „ 4 „ „ for unbelievers read believers. 

86, „ 3 from top, for we read to. 
103, «. 1, . . . for iTiKTiivo/Att/os read t'nxTiivof/.ivas. 
119, line 12 „ „ for 23 read 22. 
138, „ 7 „ „ for us read you. 
278, ,, 3 „ „ for Colatis quietem read Maintain peace. 























The following Homilies or Sermons furnisli valuable and 
authentic specimens of Calvin's pulpit ministrations. They 
cannot indeed be considered as exact transcripts of what he 
actually delivered, for it was not his practice to write in pre- 
paring for the pulpit ; but the substance having been taken 
down by one or more of the hearers, he himself revised and 
re-arranged the whole previous to publication. We are thus 
assured that the Sermons, in their present form, contain 
either what he said, or what he would have wished to say, 
on the subjects of which they treat. 

The language is simple and unadorned, almost to rude- 
ness, and illustrations of a very graphic but homely descrij)- 
tion are frequently introduced. No trains of reasoning occur, 
but each subject is plainly yet thoroughly discussed in the 
manner which seems best calculated to leave a permanent im- 
pression on a general and not very refined audience. Those 
who read the Sermons expecting to find in them specimens 
of Calvin's commanding intellect, will be disappointed ; but 
those who would like to see how, when the occasion required 
it, he could completely forget himself, throw aside all his 
metaphysics, adapt himself to the humblest capacities, and 
" become all things to all men so that he might win some," 
will be amply gratified. 

The Sermons having been spoken in French, have been 
translated from that language, as the original ; but the Latin 
copy contained in the edition of Calvin's collated Works, 
printed at Amsterdam in 1667, in nine volumes folio, has 
also been consulted. The Latin translator, however, has 

S88 translator's preface. 

not executed his task very happily. Contrary to the usual 
rule, he has managed to make it occupy a much larger space 
in Latin than it does in French ; not by giving any addi- 
tional matter, hut by indulging in a kind of rhetorical 
amplification. In this Avay the characteristic features of the 
Sermons have been effaced, and their spirit completely lost. 
It may be interesting to the reader to be informed that 
there were two separate translations of these Sermons into 
English in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The first of these 
was published, in 16mo, from the Latin version, the quaint 
title-page being as follows: — " Fovre Godlye Sermons 
agaynst the j)ollvtion of Idolatries ; comforting men in per- 
secutions, and teaching them what commodities thei shal 
find in Christes Church : Which were preached in French 
by the most famous clarke Jhone Caluyne, and translated, 
fyrst into Latin and afterward into English, by diners godly 
learned men. Psal. 16. I wyl not take tlie names of the 
Idols in my mouth. Printed at London by Houland Hall, 
dAvelling in Golding lane at the sygne of the thre arrowes. 
1561." It has an Epistle of R Hall's to the Reader. The 
Editor has not discovered who these " diners godly learned 
men" were. The second English translation was made by 
John Field from the French version ; who in his Epistle 
states, that until he " had almost finished them," he was 
not aware of the publication of the previous performance. 
An exact facsimile of the title-page and " Epistle Dedi- 
catorie" of the latter version has been made, M-hich imme- 
diately follows this brief Preface. The colophon of Field's 
translation is as follows: — " Imprinted at London, at the 
three Cranes, in the Vinctree, by Thomas Dawson, for 
Thomas Man. 1579." 

H. B. 

June 1851. 


Maister lolin Caliiin^ 

Entreating of matters very 

profitable for our time, as may 

bcc stcnc l)g tf)e ^vc= 

face : 

With a briefe exposition of the 
L XXX VI I. Psahm. 

Translated out of the Frcnchc into 
Englishe by lohii Fickle. 


c Imprinted at JLondon 

for Thomas Man, dweUing 

in Pater Noster Eotve, at the 
Signe of the Talbot. 


To the right Hono- 

rahle and my verie good Lorde^ Henry 
Earle of Huntington, Lord Hastings, 

Hungerford, Botreaux, Mullens and Mojdes, of 
the most Honorable order of the Garter Knight, and Lords 
President of the Queenes Maiesties Councell establi- 
shed in the North partes, lohn Fielde wisheth en- 
crease of true faith and continuance in the zealc of his 
blessed religion for etier Amen. 

It may bee (right honourable & my very good Lord) that men will 
maruaylc, whye I shoulde publishe these foure excellente Sermons 
of Maister lohn Caluines, the Arguraentes whereof bee not so fitte 
and agreeable (as they thinke) to these times: seeing GOD in 
mercy hath geuen vs peace, and set vs at libertie from that Romish 
yoke, suffering the beames of his glorious Gospel to spread far and 
wide, to the great comfort of many, and his owne euerlasting glory. 
These benefits, as they are acknowledged by me : so I beseech God 
to make vs all more thankfull then we haue beene, that the litle 
fruite they haue brought foorth amongest vs, the common ignorance 
that is yet vpon the face of the whole lande, the small preparation 
to the crosse and bending our backs too beare it with lesus Christe 
our head, doe not prouoke him too gene vs ouer too followe our 
owne wayes, to haue no conscience nor care of any religion : as I 
fcare me the worlde is too to ful of such, the more is the pitie. For 
who seeth not, that the common sort are so far from being in- 
structed, hauing plaide the Truantes in Gods Schole these twenty 
and odde yeeres, that they haue not yet taken out this one lesson, 
to bee of minde when God shall trie them, too separate them selues 
from the cursed fellowship of Antichriste. For they haue not yet 
learned too make any difference of religion, but bende them selues 
too scrue all times : come there falshood or trueth, light or dark- 
nesse, religion or superstition, the Gospell or the Masse, Turcisme 
or Christianisme, al is one too them, so that they may Hue at case 



they are at a point : no Scripture so strong, or testimonie so euident, 

that can conuince them, too make them stand fast too Gods euer- 

lasting trueth, the scale of their adoption. Though Christe haue 

pronounced that whosoeuer denye him before men, hee wyll denie Matt. 10. 

him before his father which is in heauen : though he say playnely ^^- ^'^• 

that hee that will followe him must take vp his crosse and foUowe 

him, and that he that is ashamed too confesse him before men, he Aj^oc. 18. 4. 

wil deny him before his heauenly father : yea although we bee Apoc. 13. 3. 

commaunded too come out of Babylon, and it be plainely saide that 

the red Dragon will powre out his waters as a riuer to ouertake the 

woman with childe, and that the victorie of the lambe muste be by 

his own blood, & by the word of their testimonie, who loue not their 

liues vntoo the death : yet can not all this mooue them to seeke too 

be grounded and prepared, calling vpon God that they may stand 

resolute through his grace, to beai'e testimonie to his glorious name, 

who hath bestowed so many blessings vpon them. If they may 

haue Christe with ease, wealth, honour, with the peace of the 

worlde and fauour of men, if they may inioy him with their pleasures 

and proceeding on in sinne, they wil be content with Pharisees a 

litle to entertaine him, that they make a mock of him. But if in 

the entertaining of him, he shal neuer so litle touch their botch 

and pinch theyr pleasure : if hee shall come neare their purse and 

endanger theyr least commoditie, if he shal require mortification 

with obedience & sanctification, then either they wil come by night 

like Nicodemus, or else they wil pray him to be packing with the 

Gergesites, or too conclude they wil lay violent hands vpon him, lohn. 3. 2. 

and naile him faste to the crosse with the proude Scribes and •^^"*- ^- ^'^• 

Pharisees. As for the common sort they that yesterday receiued _ , ' ,," ," 

. Ivhu. 11. 47. 

him as a king, with osianna in excelsis, they wil to morow cry out j]j(ij-k n. 10 

Crucijige, with the high Priests, that they may liue in securitie. Mark. 14. 64. 

These sermons therefore as for their worthinesse they haue been I'"'- 12. 

translated long agoe into other tongues, and (as I vnderstoode, 

when 1 had almost finished them) out of the Latine into ours also : 

so my labour being past, they being also by authoritie allowed : 

and I especially following maister Caluines owne french copie, 

somwhat differing from the other : I thought they coulde n«t but 

be very profitable, at the leaste too prepare vs against the time to 

come. For God hath geuen vs long peace, and our rest hauing 

bred rust, growen vp euen to the height of the contempt of his 

gi-aces, must needes prouoke him to punish the wicked with wonted 

plagues & to correct vs with the fire of aduersitie, that we may be 


purged from our foulc corruption. Our cold starued Papi.ste.s, I 
cannot tel what warraeth bath drawen them out of their holes, but 
now they begin a litle to shew themselves, they loke big, & their 
hanging looks shew what malice lurketh in their cankred harts ; 
But our God liueth and therefore wee will not feare ; w^e know that 
all powers both in heauen and in earth are subject to him : and 
we nothing doubt though our sinnes haue strengthened the handes 
of his aduersaries, that they should be heauy vpon vs, yet our God 
will in our punishmentes geue them an euerlasting ouerthrow and 
an vnrecouerable confusion. Though there be many Newters 
which haue made a couenant with their owne heartes rather to be 
of all religions, and to seme al times, then to endure the least 
danger, yet there are an infinite number of true Christians, that 
by his grace to die for it, will neuer bow the Knee too Baall, will 

1 A'iwy.y. 19. neuer pertake with the table of God and the table of deuilles, will 
neuer draw in that vnequall yoke togeather with such Infidelles. 
These shal neither the swoordes of Hazael, nor of lehu, or of Elisha 
once touch, for they are marked of the Lorde. And if the woorde 
of God be sure as him selfe, and hee haue ioyned himselfe as head 
too vs his members, why shoulde we feare? If our head liue we 
shall liue, if he be ascended, we his members shalbe drawen vp 
vnto him. Our blood shalbe of strength too breake all their cheines. 
The shame, slaunder and reproche that they lay vpon vs, shalbe 
our greatest glory, and our innocency laide to theyr crueltie, shalbe 
slrong enough to set the seale of true happinesse vpon vs for suffer- 
ing for righteousnesse sake, and of wretched confusion vpon them, 

JUait. i. 10. that so rage against such as haue done them no harme, and whom 
they ought too haue most esteemed of, as for whose sakes they haue 
& possesse al those temporall blessings that god in his mercy hath 
geuen them. We wil therefore in the name of our God, like wise 
Marriners, in this calme time prouide against stormes and tempests. 
We are not ignorant what the order of nature setteth before vs : 
there is ho soramer but bringeth a Winter, no day but hath a 
ni'dit : nor any professed trueth that bringeth not a tryall. Health 
is alwayes ioyned with sicknesse, and the bodily life is subiect to 
death ; so the peace of the Church is seldome without aduersitie : 
& GOD forbid that we shoulde not prepare, euen to the powring 
foorth of our blood, to striue for the trueth of our God, yea too 
death it selfe, if God so appointe. If they be (as Chrysostom saith) 
not onely betraiers of the trueth that speake lyes in steede of the 
tiueth, but also that doo not freely vtter the trueth : God forbid 


tlint wee slioukle not be ready in time and place when he willeth, 
both to vttei' it freely, and to stande too it valiauntly and constantly 
for the glory of his name. And one thing I doe assnrc the Pa pistes 
of and all of Caynes progenie, that the more they kil and persecute 
the children of God, the more wil Christ & his Gospell floorish. 
Our blood willbe a fructifiyng & niultipliyng seede, they haue scene 
it and knowen it true by long experience, & herein they be but 
the instruments of hastening vs too our happinesse. Not when 
they will, for we are not subiect vnto them. The Deuil him selfe 
their Father and all hellishe furyes are subiect too our God, and 
cannot touch one heare of our heades, tyll he haue geuen them 
leaue and that for our good and tryall. Let the sonnes therefore 
of seruitude in the pride of bondage ieare neuer so muche against 
the sonnes of libertie, yet a day shall come when their righteous- Gal. 4. 
nesse shall breake foorth and appeare more glorious then the Sunne 
and all the Starres : when as too them (what pleasures soeuer they 
shall vsurpe in this world) shall belong nothing but perpetuall 
shame, ioyned with an euill name too all posterities, and an euer- 
lasting death in the ende worlde without ende. Wherefore (good 
my Lorde) I am bolde too oflPer vp these sermons vnto your honour, 
rudely translated by me, beseeching your honour in the behalfe of 
God's Church to accept of them. I will say nothing in tlieir com- 
mendation, they are able and of sufficient age to speake for them- 
selues. Onely I thought good to shew this humble duetie towards 
you, by this publique testimonie. And I beseech God the father 
of all mercies to strengthen you in that happy course of the Gospel, 
wherinto of his singuler goodnesse hee hath drawen you : that you 
may be as a bright starre in his Churche comfortably shining forth 
in constancie and maintenance of the same trueth, too the stirring 
vp of many : that not onely it may be geuen you (as the Apostle 
saieth) to beleeue in him, but also too suffer for him. For this is 
true honour too suffer for righteousnesse : The cause is it that must 
comfort all that are afflicted, and herein we haue wonderfully to 
reioyce, when it is for his name sake, herevnto also, wee must (as 
I haue said) prepare our selues. For it is impossible that Christe 
and his Crosse shoulde bee sundred. The worlde muste loue her 
owne, and in the worlde wee shalbe troubled. Christ in his 
members must be crucified til he come againe in his second & 
glorious coming to subdue all his enimies. The remainder of his 
afflictions must bee borne in our bodies, not because hee hath not 
suffered fully, but because wee muste bee made conformable vnto 


him, till wee bee fined from the drosse that is in vs, too detest it 
and wholly too loue his righteousnesse. Wherfore we muste detest 
all those Libei'tines, who count themselues the Familie of Loue, 
and the Atheistes of the worlde, who ouerthrowe all confession 
and profession of the Faith of Christe, beeing indifferent for all 
religions : that tread vnder their feete the blood of all Martyrs, 
and account them but for fooles. Nowe the God of 
all patience and comfort, blesse your ho- 
nor togeather with my good Lady, 
that you may feele and possesse 
that comfort that none can 
take from you, A- 

Your Ho7iours most hounderi 

and Faythfull euer to commaunde, 




"When you hear why and for what end I have been desirous to 
publish these Sekmons, and when you are made acquainted with 
the argument wliich they contain, you will know better how to 
profit by them and apply them to the use which I intended. 

Although I have already written two Tracts of considerable 
length to demonstrate that it is not lawful for a Christian acquainted 
with the pure doctrine of the gospel, to make a show in any way 
whatever while he lives under the Papacy, of consenting and ad- 
hering to the Abuses, Superstitions, and Idolatries which there 
prevail, I am every day applied to by persons who ask my advice 
anew, as if I had never spoken on the subject. I understand, more- 
over, tliat there are others who cease not to urge their replies and 
subterfuges in opposition to what I have written. Hence, in order to 
cut short both those who continue inquiring about what ought to 
be sufficiently known and notorious to them, and those who think 
they can hide themselves as in a mantle from the judgment of God, 
I have deemed it expedient to revise and ai-range a Sermon which 
I had preached on this subject, and of which the substance had 
been taken down. This first Sermon contains a Remonstrance, 
pointing out how cowardly it is for those to whom God has given 
a knowledge of his true gospel, to pollute themselves with the abo- 
minations of the Papists, which are quite contrary to the Christian 
Peligion, seeing that in so doing they, as much as in them lies, 
deny the Lord that bought them. 

But as it is impossible for a Christian man living under the 
tyranny of Antichi'ist to make a direct and pure confession of his 
Faith, without immediately incurring the danger of Persecution, 
I have added a Second Sermon, to exhort all believers to prize 
the honour and service of God more than their own life, and to 
strengthen them against all temptations. And, in fact, when many 
count it strange that they are not permitted to disguise themselves 
and play the counterfeit, it is not because they are not convinced 
that the duty of Christians is to worship Him alone in integrity 
and simplicity, withdrawing themselves from all poUutioriS and 
idolatries, but it is because they see that they cannot act the part 
of Christians without inliaming the rage of the malignant. Now 

^96 THE author's epistle, 

they would flee the cross as much as they can. But I, seeing that 
the doctrine of worshipping God purely would be unavailing, if 
xfrnn were not disposed to despise this frail and fading life, in order 
to seek the kingdom of God, and to follow Jesus Christ to the 
cross, in order to attain to the glory of his resurrection, have added 
the second Sermon, urging those who in the present day are far too 
feeble in the exercise of courage and constancy. 

The object of the Third Sermon is to show how valuable a pri- 
vilege it is, not only to be permitted to serve God Purely, and 
make Public Profession of His Faith, but also to belong to a regu- 
lar and well-managed Church, where the Word of God is Preached 
and the Sacraments are duly administered ; seeing that these are 
the means by which the children of God may be confirmed in the 
faith, and are incited to live and die in the obedience of His law. 
It seemed to me that the discussion of this subject was very neces- 
sai-y at present, because there are many imaginary Christians 
who make a mock of those who take the trouble of coming into 
a strange and distant land, in order to enjoy this privilege. 

But as several persons are kept back and hindered from pur- 
suing this good, which God estimates so highly, from the too great 
regard they have to their ease and convenience, or rather from the 
fear and doubt they have that they may be thrown destitute ; while 
other persons are so delicate, that if everything does not turn out 
to a wish they complain or murmur, or even give themselves up 
to licentiousness, I have added a Fourth Sermon, to remind 
Christians that they ought to be fortified against all offences, and 
patiently to bear all the troubles which may befall them, consider- 
ing that God is so gracious as to entertain them in his house. 
Hence, the sum of the Fourth Sermon is, that when we have 
the privilege of Hearing the AVord of God purely Preached, of 
calling upon His Name, and using the Sacraments, we have therein 
a sufficient compensation for all the cares, troubles, and annoy- 
ances which Satan may be able to stir up against us. 

I have added a Brief Exposition op the Eighty-Seventh 
Psalm, which seems to me appropriate, inasmuch as it treats of 
The Restoration of the Church. In the present day many give 
way to despondency on beholding her desolate, as if she were soon 
to perish altogether. Such persons, and believers in general, will 
here find ground of consolation in the hope which God gives that 
He will again build up His Church after she has been afl3icted for 
a season, and make her prosperous and flourishing after she has 
appeared to the world to be veiy miserable. 

I pray our gracious Lord that my labour may not be in vain, 
but that you may be edilied by it according to my earnest desire. 

GhNEVA, 20!h Sci'tciiiber 1552. 



jftrst f^omtlj or ^ermon> 

'^^n toj^icj) all GD|)ristians mt tx\)(ix\tti to flee External 

" I will not communicate in their sacrifices of blood, neither will their 
name pass my lips." — Psalm xvi. 3. 

The doctrine which we have here to discuss is very clear 
and easy, provided the greater part of those who call them- 
selves believers do not search about for subtleties to conceal 
their error. The subject, summarily, is, that after having 
known the living God as our Father, and Jesus Christ as our 
Redeemer, we ouglit to dedicate body and soul to him, who, 
of his infinite goodness, has adopted us for his children, and 
be determined to do homage to the good Saviour for that 
which cost him so dear: Our duty therefore is, not only to 
renounce all Infidelity, but also to keep aloof from all super- 
stitions, which are opposed as well to the service of God as 
to the honour of his Son, and which cannot accord with 
the pure doctrine of the Gospel and the pure Confession of 

I have said that this doctrine is in itself very easy, and 
nothing would remain but to carry it fully into practice, 
were it not that many persons have recourse to a set of 
petty evasions, in order not to be found guilty in doing that 
which the mouth of God so often and so strongly condemns. 
This circumstance compels us to dwell on the point at 
greater length, in order that each may know what his duty 
is, and no one deceive liimself by thinking he can escape by 


merely shutting his eyes. But as some think the discussion 
superfluous as regards ourselves, seeing that by the grace of 
God we have our Churches purged from the corruptions and 
Idolatries of the Papacy, it is proper, before proceeding 
farther, to shew that those who so think are very much 

For, in the first place, when we are shewn how offensive 
it must be to pollute ourselves with Idolaters, by making a 
show of consenting or adhering to their impieties, we are 
admonished to lament over our past faults, and ask pardon 
of God with all humility ; thereupon recognising the ines- 
timable blessing which he has bestowed upon us in lifting 
us out of the mire into which we had fallen. For we can- 
not too highly extol such a mercy. And as we know not 
what may happen to us, nor for what it is that God may 
reserve us, it is good to be forearmed, so that at whatever 
place we come, or by whatever temptations we may be as- 
sailed, we may not decline from the pure Word of God, 
There may be several now present who have to travel into 
Popish countries ; these, being actually on the field of com- 
bat, behove to be armed. 

Again, if God at present gives us the privilege of serving 
him purely, we know not for how long a time it is. Let us 
then regard the time in which we are at rest, not as if it 
were to last always, but as a truce, during which God gives 
us leisure to fortify ourselves, in order that when called to 
make a Confession of our Faith, we may not prove mere 
novices from not having prepared ourselves in due time. 
Moreover, we have also to thinlc of our poor brethren who 
are under the tyranny of Antichrist, in order to feel pity for 
them, and pray God to furnish them with the constancy 
which he requires in his Word. Then, too, we have to urge 
them not to slumber nor flatter themselves, but rather, as 
they have learned their duty, to strive to glorify God. When 
we are instructed, it is not for ourselves only, but in order 
that each may, according to the measure of his faith, impart 
to his neighbours whatever he has learned in the school of 

We see, then, that it is useful, not to say necessary, as 


well for ourselves as for our brethren, that our memory be 
often refreshed with this doctrine, and especially when the 
text which we have to expound suggests it. 

In the present passage, David makes a great protestation, 
and, as it were, a solemn vow, never to participate in the 
sacrifices of Idolaters, nay, to have idols in such hatred and 
detestation that he will abstain from naming them, as if ho 
could not name them without polluting his lips. This is 
not the particular act of an individual, but the example of 
David is a general rule for all the children of God. That 
we may perceive this more clearly, and also be more im- 
pressed by it, let us attend to the reason which he adds, and 
which is as it were the foundation of the aversion which he 
feels to mingle among idolaters. " The Lord," he says, " is 
my inheritance." Is not this common to all believers ? at 
least there are none who do not glory in it. And, in fact, it 
is very certain that God having once given himself to us in 
the person of his Son, daily invites us to possess him, though 
few persons feel in this respect as they ought. For it is im- 
possible for us to possess God on any other condition than 
that of being wholly his. With good cause then does David 
reason thus: Since God is my inheritance, I will abstain 
from all pollutions of Idols which would turn me aside and 
estrange me from him. This, too, is the reason why Isaiah, 
(Isaiah Ivii. 9,) after reproaching the Jews with abandoning 
themselves to false gods of their own device, adds, " Let 
them, let them, I say, be thy portion," intimating by these 
words that God gives up all alliance with Idolaters, and de- 
prives and disinherits them of the inestimable blessing which 
he liad bestowed in giving himself to them. 

Some one will reply, that Isaiah is there speaking of those 
who trust in Idols, and deceive themselves by unbelief This 
I admit ; but, on the other hand, I answer, that if those wlio 
at all ascribe the honour of God to Idols, are completely cut 
off from him, those also go astray, at least in part, who from 
fear and weakness give a feigned consent to Superstition. 
For we cannot in any way whatever, in heart or conduct, 
willingly or seemingly, approach Idols without departing 
equally far from God. Wherefore let us hold it as a fixed 


point, that those wlio truly and in sincerity of heart seek to 
jjossess God for their inheritance, will have no fellowship 
with Idols, since between him and them there is such a re- 
pugnance, that he will have all his people to wage mortal 
war against them. And David specially intimates in this 
passage that he will not partake of their offerings, nor allow 
their names to pass his lips. He might have said, I will not 
defile myself with the foolish devotions of the heathen, I will 
not put my confidence in such delusions, I will not quit the 
truth of God to follow such lies. He does not speak thus, 
but says that he will not mix himself up with their cere- 
monies. His declaration therefore is, that in regard to the 
service of God, he will keep himself pure in body as in soul. 

In the first place, then, we are here taught that it is Ido- 
latry to shew by outward signs that we agree with the 
Superstitions by which the service of God is corrupted and 
perverted. Those who halt between two opinions allege, that 
since God wills to be worshipped in spirit, no worship is given 
to idols where no trust is put in them. The answer is easy. 
Though God wills to be worshipped in spirit, he by no means 
gives up all other kind of homage as if it did not belong 
to him. For he speaks in many other passages of bending the 
knees before him, and lifting the hands to heaven. (Psalm 
xxii. 30 ; Isaiah xlv. 23 ; Rom. xiv. 11 ; Phil ii. 10 ; Psalm 
cxliii. 6 ; 1 Tim. ii. 8.) What then ? the principal service 
which he demands is indeed spiritual, but a declaration in 
which believers profess that it is him alone they serve and 
honour is subjoined, and must always be taken in connection. 

In regard to the expression on which they insist, a single 
passage will refute them. It is written in the second chapter 
of Daniel, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in re- 
fusing to make a show of consenting to the Superstition 
which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, declare that they will 
not worship his gods. Had our good SojDhists been there, 
they would have ridiculed the silliness of these three ser- 
vants of God : for they would have said, Good folks, you do 
not Avorship when you do not give faith ; there is no Idolatry 
when there is no devotion. But those holy persons followed 
better counsel. And, in fact, the answer they made was not 


from their own brain. It was the Holy Spirit that moved 
their tongues. And if we would not resist him, we must 
take from these words a rule and definition, holding it to be 
a real species of Idolatry to do any external act repugnant 
to the service of God, though it be only in pretence. It is 
in vain for these hypocrites to quibble and say, There is no 
Idolatry, for we have no trust. They stand condemned by 
the sentence which in the above passage the Great Judge 

But these people sometimes take lower ground, and merely 
try to palliate the fault which they cannot wholly excuse. 
They will indeed confess that the thing is wrong, but they 
would have it to be regarded as " a venial sin."" 

Were we to grant them the name for which they plead, 
they v.'ould gain little by it. Grant that such feigned wor- 
ship of Idols is not to be called Idolatry, it will not cease to 
be disloyalty towards God — an act repugnant to the Con- 
fession of Faith, a pollution, and a sacrilege ! Tell me, 
when the honour of God is violated — when we break the 
promise which we gave him — when we are so cowardly as 
indirectly to renounce our Christianity — when we act a 
double part, and pollute ourselves with the things which God 
has cursed — are we then to wipe,our mouths and say we have 
committed a small fault ? Away with such subterfuges ! 
seeing they only serve to embolden us in wickedness with- 
out lessening our guilt. 

There are other persons who put on a bolder front. For 
not only do they endeavour, by disguising the Word, to 
make it be believed that there is nothing so very great and 
enormous in the sin, but they maintain quite broadly that 
it is no sin at all. It is enough, they say, that God be 
served with the heart. All very true — provided the heart 
is not double. When there is real integrity the body will 
not belie it. What is it, I ask, that carries their feet to the 
church when they go to hear Mass ? The limbs will never 
move of their own accord ! They stand convicted, then, of 
some kind of affection for the service of Idols, inasmuch as 
they desire to please the enemies of the truth, and value 
their life more than the honour of God. But they carry 

2 c 


their effrontery much too far — so far indeed that I anj 
ahiiost ashamed to argue with them, as if they had any 
plausibility on their side. I must do it, however, seeing 
they shew so much self-complacency, and are as if they were 

They think it enough, it seems, if God be worshipped in 
spirit ! To whom, then, will the body belong ? St. Paul 
exhorts us, (1 Cor. vi. 20,) to bear the Lord about in both, 
because both are his. God created the body, and will it be 
lawful to do homage with it to the Devil ? It would be 
better to declare themselves out-and-out Manicheans, and 
deny that God is the Creator of the whole man. Had they 
tlie least relish for the gospel they would never run out into 
such extravagance ; for they shew that they know not what 
it is to have been redeemed by the blood of the Son of God. 
On what ground do we hope for the resurrection of the body, 
but just because Christ has paid the ransom both of body 
and soul ? St. Paul reminds us (1 Cor. vii. 23) that we ought 
not to be the slaves of man, since we have been purchased 
so dearly. Does not he, then, who addicts himself to the 
service of Idols, trami:)le under foot the blood of Jesus Christ, 
the price of that immortal glory which we expect in our 
bodies ? Is it reasonable that our bodies be defiled and pro- 
faned before Idols while a crown of life is promised them in 
heaven ? Do we take the way of entering the heavenly 
kingdom of God when we roll ourselves in the mire of Satan ? 

Moreover, it has not been said without cause that our 
bodies are " temples of the Holy Spirit." Those, then, who 
know not that they ought to preserve them in all purity, 
plainly shew that they have no understanding of the gospel 
— shew also that they know nothing of Jesus Christ and of 
his grace. For when it is said, (Eph. v. 30,) that " Ave are 
boue of his bone and flesh of his flesh," it is to shew that we 
are joined to him body and soul. Hence it follows, that we 
cannot pollute our bodies by any kind of Superstition with- 
out excluding ourselves from that sacred union by which we 
are made members of the Son of God. 

Let those subtle Doctors tell me if they received Baptism 
only in their souls ? Did not God order that this symbol 


should be engraven in our flesh ? Is the body on which the 
mark of Jesus Christ has been impressed to be polluted with 
contrary abominations ? Is the Supper received only by the 
soul and not also by the hands and the mouth ? Does God 
place the insignia of his Son in our bodies, and shall we de- 
tile it with vile impurities ? It is not lawful to stamp two 
coins on one piece of gold, nor to attach two contrary seals 
to one public document, and shall man presume to falsify 
the Baptism and Holy Supper of Jesus Christ, and say there 
is no harm in it ? Such persons would only have their 
desert were their servants to make them believe that tliey 
have their interest at heart while sleeping or gadding about, 
and not putting a finger to any kind of labour. If they allege 
that the cases are not the same, inasmuch as we cannot dis- 
pense with the services of those who are under us, I answer, 
that since God, without standing in need of our services, is 
pleased to employ us to his honour, it is a great shame that 
we should think ourselves quit in regard to him while doing 
the reverse ; and a still greater shame that a mere worm of 
the earth should wish to take precedence of his Creator ! 
But we must speak in still plainer terms. 

They say that it is lawful for them to counterfeit among 
Papists. Who, then, is it that gives them the bread which 
they eat there ? And who is it that causes the earth to 
bring forth fruit ? If they cannot deny that God nourishes 
them there as elsewhere, why will they do homage to the 
Devil with their bodies ? If they were Christians I would 
use higher reasons, and ask. Why it is we live here be- 
low ? But the pity is that those who thus quibblingly sport 
with God so brutify themselves, that they require to be 
treated as if they were not in their sound minds. 

It seems to them enough simply to allege that, in this 
matter, they act entirely from fear. But if this pretext 
avails them, then Joseph would have been guilty of no sin 
in yielding to his mistress, since it would not have been to 
gratify himself, but only to yield to the urgency by which 
she in a manner forced him. It must have been foolish in 
him to suffer so much, and expose himself to infamy, seeing 
he l|ad the means of avoiding it ! But we must rather abide 


by the testimony of tlie Holy Spirit, who praises his con- 
stancy. If we do no liarm in idolatrizing to avoid the rage 
of the Papists, then he who becomes the mere tool of his 
master for any infamous purpose confimits no offence. A 
man will be excusable in poisoning- his neighbour, or com- 
mittino- anv act of treachcrv, in order not to offend him to 
whom he is subject ! I have insisted too long on a point as 
to which, as I have said, there is no difficulty or doubt ; but 
it is good to see the confusion into which those fall who en- 
deavour by finesse to escape the judgment of God. 

There are some in the present day who have recourse to 
another mode of evasion. While confessing that it is a de- 
testable thing to take part in the Idolatries of the heathen, 
they will not allow this to extend to the Superstitions of the 
Papacy! as if all the impieties of the heathen had been 
anything else than corruptions of the true service of God. 
Whence, I ask, did the heathen derive all their ceremonies, 
but just from the holy Patriarchs ? The evil consisted in 
their adulterating that which had been well instituted by 
God. So much is this the case, that all the abominations 
which have ever existed in the world have covered them- 
selves under the name of God and of Religion, but that has 
neither sufficed to justify them, nor made it lawful for be- 
lievers to participate in them. But to proceed — 

Though I should grant them that there is a difference 
between the Idolatries of the Papists and those of the 
heathen in bygone times, they cannot deny that God as 
strictly interdicted his people from the Idolatry of Bethel 
as from that of foreign countries. When the calves were set 
up in Dan and Bethel, (1 Kings xii. 28,) it was under colour 
of the name of God — the God who had brought his people 
out of Egypt. But because the worship there established 
was repugnant to the doctrine of the law, God condemned 
all those who should go and defile themselves with it. The 
Supper of Jesus Christ and the Mass are things every whit 
as incompatible as the sacrifices of Moses and of Jeroboam. 
Whence, then, is the dispensation which permits men to go 
to Mass under the pretext that it is the Supper of Jesus 
Christ in disguise ? On the contrary, I hold that those who 


truly fear God sliould have it in double detestation, since it 
profanes the holy ordinance of the Son of Grod more openly 
than if it were not made so exactly its counterpart. 

Let us then lay it down as a general rule, that all human 
inventions which are set up to corrupt the simple purity of 
the word of Grod, and overturn the service which he demands 
and approves, are real acts of sacrilege, in which Christians 
cannot take part without blaspheming God ; in other words, 
without trampling his honour under their feet. I know how 
harsh and insupportable this strictness appears to those who 
would like to be handled according to their appetite. But 
what would they have me to do ? Knowing them to be so 
delicate, I would willingly spare them, if it were possible for 
me to do so. But both they and I must condemn when God 
has pronounced sentence. They find no man, they say, more 
severe than I. Now I wish to shew them that hitherto I 
have only treated them too gently. 

Be this as it may, they cannot exempt themselves from 
what the proj^het Jeremiah requires of the Jews who were 
captive in Babylon. Not only does he prohibit them from 
going to the abominations of the Chaldeans, or making a 
show of consenting to them, but he lays them under an ex- 
press obligation to shew their detestation. His injunction 
is, (Jer. X. 11,) " You will say to them. The gods which have 
not made heaven and earth will perish from the earth and 
from beneath the heavens." It is a circumstance well de- 
serving of notice, that the Prophet, who had written his 
book in Hebrew, couches this sentence in the coarse patois 
of the children ofChaldea, as if he were compelling the Jews 
to change their language, the more clearly to shew the wide 
difference between them and idolaters. 

Let our soft-hearted folks now go and complain of me as 
too rigid. Whether I speak out or hold my tongue, we all 
continue bound by this law which God lays upon us. And 
in fact it is not without cause that God, in speaking to his 
believing people, says to them, (Isaiah xliv. 2,) " You are 
my witnesses and my servants whom I have chosen." Who- 
soever would approve himself a member of Jesus Christ 
must shew that the title belongs to him in such a way that 


those vvho, by their false seeming and hypocrisy, bury the 
testimony to the truth, may have no excuse. Wliat, then, 
I pray you, is the case of those who, all their lifelong, over- 
throw this testimony, as do those who not only hide their 
Christianity, in order to give no sign of it before men, but 
perform acts altogether contrary to it ? All, then, that re- 
mains to the children of God who are in the midst of such 
pollution, is to afflict their souls after the example of right- 
eous Lot, (2 Peter ii. 8 ;) in other words, to testify against 
evil according as God may give them means and oppor- 

Let us now proceed to specify tlie Idolatries which are in 
vogue, I have already touched a little on the Ma'ss. Now, 
although there is blasphemy in it so gross and enormous 
that more cannot be, still advocates of a bad cause are found 
to quibble in regard to it. Still, whether they will or not, 
they are constrained to confess the truth of what I say, 
namely, that the Mass is in itself a renunciation of the death 
of Jesus Chi'ist, and a sacrilege forged by Satan to annihilate 
the Sacrament of the Supper. In like manner, they cannot 
deny that the Prayers which are offered to Saints, and the 
Intercessions which are made for tlie Dead, are so many 
abuses by which the invocation of the name of God, wliich 
is sacred above all things, is profaned. And yet, while they 
mingle in such pollutions among the Papists, they think 
they incur no blame ! 

Their language is. What should we do ? It is not permitted 
us to reform the things which we know to be bad, for we 
are private persons, and those who have public autliority 
maintain them ; therefore we must pass them by. I admit 
all they say, but it is nothing to the purpose. It is not for 
them to reform the common condition of the people, and 
this no one requires of them ; but they are admonished to 
reform themselves individually, and this is an office which 
properly belongs to them. They are not told to purge the 
temples and the streets, but each is enjoined to keep his 
body and his soul in purity, and to take heed that God be 
lionoured in his house. There is a wide diiference between 
the two tilings — between abolishino- the Mass in a couutrv. 


and not being- present at it, where tlie use of it cannot be 

They still return to their old song, and allege that they do 
not renounce the death and passion of Jesus Christ, because 
they have no such intention^ But I ask them, What is it 
that a Christian confesses, if it be not what he believes in 
his heart ? That the act wliicli they perform is altogether 
contrary to the Christian confessit)n, is perfectly notorious : 
lience, as much as in them lies they renounce and abjure the 
pure faith. I will speak still more home. The Mass is a 
sacrifice in which the Papists wish to offer Jesus Christ for the 
purpose of reconciling themselves tO God. Were tliat true, 
Jesus Christ could not by his death and passion have acquired 
for us righteousness and eternal salvation. Let them wind 
about as they may, they must still come to the point. All 
who go to the Mass, under colour of devotion, make a public 
profession of consenting to it. Thus, as much as in them 
lies, they shew that they do not hold their redemption to 
have been perfected by the death of Jesus Christ. 

There are some who use rather more restraint. They 
receive only the Parochial Mass, in which they think there 
is more conformity with the Supper of Jesus Christ. And, 
in fact, it might be alleged that the Masses, which are said 
as well by hedge-priests as by canons and chaplains, and all 
those which are founded for the worship of an individual, or 
which are daily purchased, are like common prostitutes. 
The Parochial Mass is an adulteress who clothes herself with 
the name of a husband, to keep up the reputation of a re- 
spectable woman. This comparison, however, is not at all 
correct. A married adulteress will have some regard to de- 
cency, and not give a general welcome to all comers, whereas 
the Parochial Mass is the most common idolatry of all. So 
little ground is there to gloss it over as still retaining some 
trace of the Supper of Jesus Christ, that it is just as if a 
robber were less a robber when dressed up in the spoils of 
his victim, and mounted upon his horse. 

We long, they say, for the Supper of Jesus Christ ! Since 
we cannot have it pure, from the tyranny under which we 
live, we must be contented witii a remnant, and wait till 


God put fortli his hand. A fine excuse ! Inasmuch as they 
have not the right and entire use of the Supper, they 
by way of supplying the want, protest that tliey do not 
hold Jesus Christ as the eternal and only Priest, and they 
every week search for a new sacrifice to wipe away their 
sins : for all this is in the Parochial Mass as in a Mass of 
Saint Nicholas, or a Mass for the Dead. They make a show 
of worshipping an Idol, and plume themselves as thereby 
seeking Jesus Christ. And in order that they may not fight 
against God without sword or buckler, they put forward the 
authority of this person and that person ; as if the absolu- 
tion of a man could save them from the condemnation of 

I omit to say that they do not speak trul}^ when they 
bring forward certain individuals as advocating their cause. 
Even were it so that a distinguished Saint at one time 
thought that there was no great evil in going to the Paro- 
chial Mass, since he has learned the true state of the case, 
so much the more weight ought they to give to his subse- 
quent condemnation, seeing the agency of God has con- 
strained him to it, and made him abandon the opinion 
which he previously entertained. But of what use is it to 
mince the matter ? Can they foreclose God by the opinion 
or saying of a mortal man ? We know that in his judgment 
truth alone reigns without respect of persons. Now, the 
fact is, that the Parochial Mass is instituted to sacrifice 
Jesus Christ, and compound with God as well for the living 
as for tlie dead ; and that a morsel of bread is there wor- 
shipped as if it were the Son of God. I do not go over the 
things in detail ; there are a thousand other pollutions : I 
mention only the grossest of them. Let those who make a 
show of consenting to them wash their hands as they may, 
they Avill not in tlie end make themselves a whit cleaner 
than Pilate was. 

But it is strange how these good parishioners, when Easter 
comes round, go and seek a chapel apart where some semi- 
Christian Monk may prepare for them a bastard Supper. 
If the Parochial Mass, as they say, comes near to the Sup- 
per of Jesus Clirist, why do they not keep to it ? But after 


they have been there all the Sundays in the 3'ear, in order 
to take part in the sacrament of the Supper, they renounce 
it. And yet it is unnecessary too strongly to expose such 
inconstancy ; for it is the true wages given to all those who 
are not founded in the truth of God, who punishes them by 
keeping them constantly on the move, and making them 
contradict themselves in what they do. In regard to such 
an adulterated Supper, I know well that they fancy great 
v/rong is done them when they are reproved for using it. 
But what can we do, since it accords not with the rule of 
the Master ? 

I condemn it not because it is done i» secret : for I know 
tliat never has the Supper been better dispensed, or more 
rightly received, then when tiie disciples have retired to eat 
it in secret, because of the tyranny of the enemy. But there 
are here two intolerable vices — the one, that those wlio thus 
ape the Supper, make a show of having their Mass in it, 
and wish it to be so thought; and the other is, that the good 
" Father" from wliom thc^M^eceive it, gives it to them not as 
a Christian Pastor, but in the character of a Papal Priest. 
They think it a good excuse to say that their Mass chanter 
has no intention to make them worship eitlier the bread or 
tlie wine; that he leaves out the canon wherein tlie greatest 
impieties are contained, and gives the sacrament to all the 
company in both kinds. But when this proceeding will 
come before the Great Judge, they shall feel what they have 
gained by all their disguises; they must even feel it already. 
Here I i-efer to the stings and prickings which they must 
feel in their own consciences. 

And it is here that tlie character of the whole joroceeding 
must be determined: for, without going into a longer inves- 
tigation, they know what they pretend to exhibit as well to 
the enemies of God as to all the common people. God nmst 
deny himself before he could approve of such an act of pro- 
fession. Though all men in the world should have com- 
bined together to justify them, the ablest among them never 
can free himself from the charge of " halting between two 
opinions." God has declared by his Prophet, (1 Kings xviii. 
21,) that he never can be induced to approve of such halting. 


As to the iiulividuul whom they employ as the Minister of 
their Supper, it is mere mockery to represent him as capable 
of such an office. True : but then the virtue of the Sacra- 
ments, they say, depends not on the worthiness of those who 
administer it. This I admit : nay, I go farther, and hold 
that were a devil to administer the Supper it would be 
none the worse ; and, on the contrary, that were an angel 
to chant the Mass, it would be none the better. But we 
are now upon a different question, namely, whetlier the 
Orders of tlie Pope conferred upon a Monk, render him fit 
to do the office of a Pastor ? If they reply that they do not 
consider that of any consequence, and they do not choose 
him in such a capacity, their conduct shews the contrary. 

Even taking it for granted that they, in so far as they are 
personally concerned, attach no importance to the kind of 
individual employed, I must always insist on the nature of 
the outward profession which they make. Now it is plain 
that they cover themselves with the mask of a Priest. To 
celebrate the Supper of the Lord duly, it behoved them to 
separate themselves from the ranks of the idolaters, so as 
therein to have nothing in common with them. Instead of 
doing so they go as it were to matriculate themselves, and 
make a show of being members of the body, and yet they 
will have it that we in condemning them resemble the 
ancient heretics who condemned the use of the Sacraments 
because of the vices of men ; as if we were looking to indi- 
vidual vices and not to the whole state of the case. I pass 
this briefly : but the little I say upon it is only too much to 
convict them of shameless effrontery. Still, if they are so 
dull as not to feel anything, the Word of God must suffice 
us ; as when the Lord says by Jeremiah, (Jer. iv. 1,) " Israel, 
if thou art turned, turn unto me I" These words point out 
the candour and simplicity which ought to mark all our 
dealings with God. And hence St. Paul declares, (Acts xiv. 
L5,) that he was sent to turn the heathen from their vani- 
ties to the living God ; as if he had said, that nothing was 
done by merely abandoning an accustomed evil, and supply- 
ing its place by other fictions, but that superstition must l)e 
abolished out and out, in order that the true religion mav 


Le established, since without tliat men do not come direct 
to God, but waver and change about, not knowing to what 
side they ought to turn. 

There is anotlier class of persons who go the whohj length 
of quitting the Mass, but would fain retain some other frag- 
ments of what they call " the service of God," in order, as 
they say, not to be thought altogetlier profane ! And it is 
possible that some do this with a proper feeling, at least I am 
willing to believe they do ; but still, whatever their desire 
may be, it does not follow that they either adopt the right 
rule, or use the proper measure. Some will say. We may 
well enougli go to baptisms, for in them there is no manifest 
idolatry. As if that Sacrament were not so deformed and 
degraded in all sorts of ways as to make it seem as if Christ 
were still in the house of Pilate, to be scourged and subjected 
to every species of insult ! When they say that their object 
is to shew that they are not people destitute of religion, let 
them consult their conscience, and it will answer, that their 
object is to content the Papists, and act a part which will 
enable them to avoid persecution. 

Some persons watch the time so as not to be present when 
Mass is celebrated, and yet go to church to make it be 
thought that they were then actually present ; others n;- 
serve merely Vespers for their share. But I should like to 
know fi-om them, wliether tliey count it nothing that incense 
is given to Idols — that solemn Prayer is founded on the 
intercession or merit of some Saint — that the Salve Rejina, 
stuflfed as it is with execrable and diabolical blasphemies, is 
sung? I omit to add, that the chanting, such as it is, being 
in an unknown tongue, is a manifest profanation of Sacred 
Scripture and of the praises of God, as St. Paul shews at 
length in the fourteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the 

But say we forgive them this last fault. If they go to 
Vespers, in order to give some proof of tlieir Christianity, 
it must be especially at High Festivals. There, then, solemn 
incense will be given to the principal Idols. This, as Scrip- 
ture shews, is a species of Sacrifice, and was the common 
method which heathen persecutors employed to make the 


weak renounce their God. And the greater part of the 
martyrs suffered death for tliis very cause — because they 
would not bring- perfumes and offer incense to Idols ! Those 
then who go to regale themselves with the odour of such 
incense infect themselves with the pollutions there practised. 
This, however, they tliink that we ought to overlook. But 
I pray them, in God's name, to attend well to what is said 
in the text, viz., that idols ought to be held in such detesta- 
tion by the believer, that the very mention of these must 
not pass his lips for fear of pollution. The expression cer- 
tainly makes it incumbent on us to keep far aloof from cA'ery- 
thing that would entangle us in the pollutions of idolaters. 

Now, to speak frankly of all those who, by wishing to 
divide between God and the devil, belong to the class of 
double-minded, I cannot find an analogous case more proper 
to paint them to the life than that of Esau. When he sees 
that his fcither Isaac sends Jacob into Mesopotamia to take 
a wife, because the women of the land of Canaan displeased 
him, and Rebecca his mother, who felt exceedingly annoyed 
on the subject, he indeed so far to satisfy his parents takes 
a new wife, but still he does not part with the one he 
already had. He thus retains the evil of which Isaac com- 
plained, but to modify it in some sort of way he forms this 
new marriage. In the same way those who are so wedded 
to the world that they cannot follow what God commands, 
will adopt many disguises, and cook up -many mixtures, to 
shew some kind of conformity to the will of God ; but still 
they cease not always to retain sonie corruption, so that 
nothing which they do is pure and straight. 

I know well that there are many poor souls in perplexity 
who, without hypocrisy, desire to walk in the right path, 
and yet cannot disencumber themselves of many scruples. 
I am not astonished at this, considering the horrible con- 
fusion which reigns in the Papacy. Nay, I feel pity for 
those who seek the means of being able to serve God and 
maintaining themselves, if that were possible, among the 
enemies of the faith. But what more can I with one and 
all than simply shew them wherein they fail, in oi-der that 
they may remedy what is wrong. If they come and question 


me in detail, first on this point and then on that, I will 
refer all such questions to the general rule which I liold from 
God. This I say, because some persons are so importunate 
that it would be impossible ever to have done with them if 
all their difiiculties were to be answered. Such persons 
might justly be compared to those who, after hearing a 
sermon exhorting them to dress themselves modestly with- 
out superfluity or j)omp, would have the preacher to shape 
out their gowns and sew their shoes. 

What then is to be done ? "We have in all this a certain 
end at which we must aim. Zeal for the house of God must 
fill our heart, and we must submit to the insults which we 
receive in his name. When such a zeal shall have been 
kindled in our hearts, not to be like a smothered fire but to 
burn incessantly, so far from permitting us to make a show 
of approving abominations by which God is dishonoured, it 
will make it impossible for us to be silent and to dissemble 
on seeing them. Observe that the thing spoken of is " Zeal 
for the house of the Loixl," to let us know that reference is 
made to the external order which is in the Church, as a 
means of exercising us in the Confession of our Faith. 

I care not a rush for the mockers, who say that it is well 
for us thus to talk at our ease ! It is not with me they 
have to do, for it is obvious I have introduced nothing of 
my own. As much do I say of all tliose philosophers who 
pronounce their decisions on the matter without knowing 
how. Since they will not listen to God, who speaks to them 
and would teach them, I remit them to his judgment-seat, 
where they shall hear his sentence, from which there will be 
no appeal. Since they deign not now to give heed to him as 
Master, they shall then, however reluctant they may be, ex- 
perience him as Judge ! The ablest and most crafty shall 
there find that they have miscalculated. However deter- 
mined they may be to overthrow or obscure what is right, 
the fur caps which they put on, and in which admiring 
themselves, they grow blind, will not enable them to gain 
their cause. 

I speak thus because Counsellors, Judges, and Advocates 
not only undertake to plead against God from having a pi-i- 


vilege to mock at liim, but rejecting all the Holy Scriptures, 
belch forth their blasphemies like sovereign decrees ! And 
SO arrogant are these puny creatures, that after they have 
sj^oken the word they will not suffer either reason or truth 
to interfere. Though it be only in passing, I tell them it 
would be far better to reflect on the fearful vengeance pre- 
pared for all those who turn the truth into a lie. Let cham- 
ber and table Doctors not here assume an air which is too 
lofty for them, and chatter against the heavenly Master to 
whom it behoves all to give audience. Splendid titles will 
not here give any exemption — if there be any difference, it 
will only be that Abbots, Priors, Deans, and Archdeacons, 
will take the lead in going with the others into condemna- 
tion. Though courtiers are accustomed to satisfy men with 
their fair speeches, let them not attempt to do the same 
with God. Let all jesters and talking wits have done with 
their gibes and sneers, if they would not feel the strong 
hand of him whose word may well make them tremble. The 
deception is far too gross when they would make it be be- 
lieved that by bringing me forward as a party, they will no 
longer have God for their judge ! Let them erase my name 
from their papers in this cause, inasmuch as all I insist 
upon is that God be listened to and obeyed, while I make 
no claim to the government of their consciences, nor attcmjjt 
in any way to subject them to my laws. 

As to the others, who do not thus arrogantly reject the 
Word of God, and yet are so weak and cowardly that one 
cannot get them to move a single step, I exhort them to 
think a little better for themselves, and no longer indulge in 
self-flattery. Let them awake and open their eyes to see the 
full extent of the evil of their state. I know the difficulties 
by which they are beset, and I do not speak to them of 
serving God purely among idolaters, as if it were an easy 
matter. But if their conscience fails, let them have recourse" 
to God, in order that he may strengthen them, and they 
may learn to prefer his glory to all other things besides. 

I wish that all poor believers under the Papacy could hear 
what I say, just as the prophet Jeremiah, when in Jerusalem, 
sent a similar message to the people who were held captive 


in Babylon. If the tyranny of the Pope and his partizans 
is hard and cruel, the Jews of that time had also their full 
share of suffering, and yet they are commanded to spurn 
the Idolatry of Clialdea in the very heart of the country ; 
for there is no reason why the tyranny of men should inter- 
rupt or lessen the right which God has to be honoured by 
us. Here there is no exemption or privilege for great or 
small, rich or poor. Lot all, then, bend the neck in submis- 
sion. Let the poor man be afraid that if he sliould say, " I 
know not what to do," God may answer, " Neitlier do I 
know wliat to do with thee." Let not the rich take their 
ease as if they were reposing on their bed ; rather let them 
learn, after the examj^le of St. Paul, to count all things as 
loss that would retard or turn them aside from their Chris- 
tian course. 

Meanwhile let us, too, on our side, not forget what I ad- 
verted to at the outset. Let us apply the subject for our 
own instruction, so as to be always ready in any quarter to 
which we may be removed, or under any circumstances which 
may befall us, to remain steadfast in the pure Confession of 
our Faith, detesting all Superstitions, Idolatries, and Abuses 
which contradict the truth of God, obscure his honour, and 
overturn liis service. 

orontainfng an (!Bx]&ortatton to suffer persecution in 
foUotoing ^Jesus OD^rist anti f)is (gospel. 

'■ Let us go forth out of the tents after Christ, bearing his reproach."— 
Heb. xiii. 13. 

All the exliovtations wliicli can Le given us to suffer 
patiently for the name of Jesus Christ, and in defence of the 
gospel, will have no effect, if we do not feel assured of the 
cause for which we fight. For when we are called to part 
with life, it is absolutely necessary to know on what grounds. 
The firmness necessary we cannot possess, unless it be 
founded on certainty of faith. 

It is true that persons may be found who will foolishly 
expose themselves to death in maintaining some absurd 
opinions and reveries conceived by their own brain, but such 
impetuosity is more to be regarded as frenzy than as Chris- 
tian zeal ; and, in fact, there is neither firmness nor sound 
sense in those who thus, at a kind of hap-hazard, cast them- 
selves away. But however this may be, it is in a good cause 
only that God can acknowledge us as his martyrs. Death 
is common to all, and the children of God are condemned to-- ': 
ignominy and tortures just as criminals are ; but God makes 
the distinction between them, inasmuch as he cannot deny 
his truth. On our part, then, it is requisite that we have 
sure and infallible evidence of the doctrine Avhicli we main- 
tain ; and hence, as I have said, we cannot be rationally 
impressed by any exhortations which we receive to suffer 
persecution for the gospel, if no true certainty of faith has 
been imprinted in our hearts. For to hazard our life upon 
a peradventure is not natural, and though we were to do it, 


it would only be rashness, not Christian courage. In a 
word, nothing that we do will be approved of God if we are 
not thoroughly persuaded that it is for him and his cause we 
suifer persecution, and the world is our enemy. 

Now, when I speak of such persuasion, I mean not merely 
that we must know how to distinguish between true reli- 
gion and the abuses or follies of men, but also that we must 
be thoroughly persuaded of the heavenly life, and the crown 
which is promised us above, after we shall have fought here 
below. Let us understand, then, that botli of these requi- 
sites are necessary, and cannot be separated from eacli other. 

The points, accordingly, with which we must commence, 
are these : — We must know well wliat our Christianity is^ 
what the faith which we have to hold and follow — what the 
rule which God has given us ; and we must be so well fur- 
nished with such instruction as to be able boldly to condemn 
all the falsehoods, errors, and superstitions, which Satan has 
introduced to corrupt the pure simplicity of the doctrine of 
God. Hence, we ought not to be surprised that, in the 
present day, we see so few persons disposed to suffer for the 
Gospel, and that the greater part of those who call them- 
selves Christians know not what it is. For all are as it were 
lukewarm ; and instead of making it their business to hear 
or read, count it enough to have had some slight taste of 
Christian faith. This is the reason why there is so little 
decision, and why those who are assailed immediately fall 
away. This fact should stimulate us to inquire more dili- 
gently into divine truth, in order to be well assured with 
regard to it. 

Still, however, to be well informed and grounded is not the 
whole that is necessary. For we see some who seem to be 
thoroughly imbued with sound doctrine, and who, notwith- 
standing, have no more zeal or affection than if they had 
never known any more of God than some fleeting fancy. 
Why is this ? Just because they have never comprehended 
the majesty of the Holy Scriptures. And, in fact, did we, 
such as we are, consider well that it is God who speaks to 
us, it is certain that we would listen more attentively, and 
with greater reverence. If we would think that in reading 

2 D 


Scripture we are in the school of angels, we would be far 
more careful and desirous to profit by the doctrine which is 
propounded to us. 

We now see The True Method gi" preparing to suffer 
FOR THE Gospel. First, We must have profited so far in the 
school of God as to be decided in regard to true religion 
and the doctrine which we are to hold ; and we must despise 
all the wiles and impostures of Satan, and all human inven- 
tions, as things not only frivolous but also carnal, inasmuch 
as they corrupt Christian purity; therein diifering, like true 
martyrs of Christ, from the fantastic i)ersons who suffer for 
mere absurdities. Second, Feeling assured of the good cause, 
wo must be inflamed, accordingly, to follow God whither- 
soever he may call us: his word must have such authority 
with us as it deserves, and, having v/ithdrawn from this 
world, we must feel as it were enraptured in seeking tlie 
heavenly life. 

But it is more than strange, that though the light of God 
is shining more brightly than it ever did before, there is a 
lamentable want of zeal ! If the thought does not fill us with 
shame, so much the worse. For we must shortly come be- 
fore the great Judge, where the iniquity which we endeavour 
to hide will be brought forward with such upbraidings, that 
we shall be utterly confounded. For, if we are obliged to 
bear testimony to God, according to the measure of the 
knowledge which he has given us, to what is it owing, I 
would ask, that we are so cold and timorous in entering into 
battle, seeing that God has so fully manifested himself at 
this time, that he may be said to have opened to us and 
displa^^ed before us the great treasures of his secrets ? May 
it not be said that we do not think we have to do with God ? 
For had we any regard to his majesty we would not dare to 
turn the doctrine which proceeds from his mouth into some 
kind of philosophic speculation. In short, it is impossible 
to deny that it is to our great shame, not to say fearful con- 
demnation, that we have so well known the truth of God, 
and have so little courage to maintain it .' 

Above all, when we look to the Martyrs of past times, 
well may we detest our own cowardice ! The greater part of 


those were not persons much versed in Holy Scripture, so as 
to be able to dispute on all subjects. They knew that there 
was one God, whom they behoved to worship and serve — 
that they had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, 
in order that they might place their confidence of salvation 
in him and in his grace— and that all the inventions of men, 
being mere dross and rubbishy they ought to condemn all 
idolatries and superetitions. In one word, their theology 
was in substance this, — There is one God who created all 
the world, and declared his will to us by Moses and the 
Prophets, and finally by Jesus Christ and his Apostles; and 
we have one sole Redeemer, who purchased us by his blood, 
and by whose grace we hope to be saved : All the idols of 
the world are cursed, and deserve execration. 

With a system embracing no other points than these, they 
went boldly to the flames, or to any other kind of death. 
They did not go in twos or threes, but in such bands, that 
the number of those who fell by the hands of tjn-ants is 
almost infinite ! We, on our part, are such learned clerks, 
that none can be more so, (so at least we think,) and, in fact, 
so far as regards the knowledge of Scripture, God has so 
spread it out before us, that no former age was ever so highly 
favoured. Still, after all, there is scarcely a particle of zeal. 
When men manifest such indifference, it looks as if they 
were bent on provoking the vengeance of God. 

What then should be done in order to inspire our breasts 
with true courage ? We have, in the first place, to consider 
how precious the Confession of our Faith is in the sight of 
God. We little know how much God prizes it, if our life, 
which is nothing, is valued by us more highly. When it is 
so, we manifest a marvellous degree of stupidity. We can- 
not save our life at the expense of our confession, without 
acknowledging that we hold it in higher estimation than the 
honour of God and the salvation of our souls. 

A heathen could say, that " It was a miserable thing to 
save life by giving up the only things which made life de- 
sirable !" And yet he and others like him never knew for 
what end men are placed in the world, and why they live in 
it. It is true they knew enough to say that men ought to 


follow virtue, to conduct themselves honestly and without 
reproach ; but all their virtues were mere paint and smoke. 
We know far better what the chief aim of life should be, 
namely, to glorify God, in order that he may be our glory. 
When this is not done, wo to us ! And we cannot continue 
to live for a single moment upon the earth without heaping 
additional curses on our heads. Still we are not ashamed 
to purchase some few days to languish here below, renoun- 
cing the eternal kingdom by separating ourselves from him 
by Avhose energy we are sustained in life. 

Were we to ask the most ignorant, not to say the most 
brutish persons in the world, Why they live ? they would not 
venture to answer simply, that it is to eat, and drink, and 
sleep ; for all know that they have been created for a higher 
and holier end. And what end can we find if it be not to 
honour God, and allow ourselves to be governed by him, like 
children by a good parent ; so that after we have finished 
the journey of this corruptible life, we may be received 
into his eternal inheritance ? Such is the principal, indeed 
the sole end. When we do not take it into account, and are 
intent on a brutish life, which is worse than a thousand 
deaths, what can we allege for our excuse ? To live and not 
know why, is unnatural. To reject the causes for which we 
live, under the influence of a foolish longing for a respite of 
some few days, during which we are to live in the world, 
while separated from God — I know not how to name such 
infatuation and madness ! 

But as Persecution is always harsh and bitter, let us con- 

we have read out, when it is properly understood, is suffi- 
cient to induce us to do so. The Apostle says, " Let us go 
forth from the city after the Lord Jesus, bearing his re- 
proach." In the first place, he reminds us, although the 
swords should not be drawn over us nor the fires kindled to 
burn us, that we cannot be truly united to the Son of God 
while we are rooted in this world. Wherefore, a Christian, 
even in repose, must always have one foot lifted to march to 



battle, and not only so, but he must have his affections with- 
drawn from the world, although his body is dwelling in it. 
Grant that this at first sight seems to us hard, still we must 
be satisfied with the words of St. Paul, (1 Thess. iii. 3,) 
" We are called and appointed to suffer." As if he had said, 
Such is our condition as Christians ; this is the road by which 
we must go, if we would follow Christ. 

Meanwhile, to solace our infirmity and mitigate the vex- 
ation and sorrow which persecution might cause us, a good 
reward is held forth : In suffering for the cause of God, we 
are walking step by step after the Son of God, and have him 
for our guide. "Were it simply said, that to be Christians 
we must pass through all the insults of the world boldly, to 
meet death at all times and in whatever way God may be 
pleased to appoint, we might apparently have some pretext 
for replying, It is a strange road to go at a peradventure. 
But when we are commanded to follow the Lord Jesus, his 
guidance is too good and honourable to be refused. Now, 
in order that we may be more deeply moved, not only is it 
said that Jesus Christ walks before us as our Captain, but 
that we are made conformable to his image ; as St. Paul 
speaks in the eighth chapter to the Romans, (Rom. viii. 29,) 
" God hath ordained all those whom he hath adopted for 
his children, to be made conformable to him who is the pat- 
tern and head of all." 

Are we so delicate as to be. unwilling to endure anything ? 
Then we must renounce the grace of God by which he has 
called us to the hope of salvation. For there are two things 
which cannot be separated — to be members of Christ, and 
to be tried by many afflictions. We certainly ought to prize 
such a conformity to the Son of God much more than we do. 
It is true, that in the world's judgment there is disgrace in 
suffering for the gospel. But since we know that unbe- 
lievers are blind, ought we not to have better eyes than 
they ? It is ignominy to suffer from those who occupy the 
seat of justice, but St. Paul shews us by his example that 
we have to glory in scourgings for Jesus Christ, as marks 
by which God recognises us and avows us for his own. And 
we know what St. Luke narrates of Peter and John, (Acts 


V. 41,) namely, that tliey rejoiced to have been " counted 
worthy to suffer infamy and reproach for the name of the 
Lord Jesus/' 

Ignominy and dignity are two opposites : so says the 
world wliich, being infatuated, judges against all reason, and 
in this way converts the glory of God into dishonour. But, 
on our part, let us not refuse to be vilified as concerns the 
world, in order to be honoured before God and his angels. 
We see what pains the ambitious take to receive the com- 
mands of a king, and what a boast they make of it. The 
Son of God presents his commands to us, and every one 
stands back ! Tell me, pray, whether in so doing are we 
worthy of having anything in common with him ? There is 
nothing here to attract our sensual nature, but such not- 
withstanding are the true escutcheons of nobility in the 
heavens. Imprisonment, exile, evil report, imply in men's 
imagination whatever is to be vituperated; but what hinders 
us from viewing things as God judges and declares them, 
save our unbelief? Wherefore, let the Name of the Son of 
God have all the weight with us which it deserves, that we 
may learn to count it honour when he stamps his marks upon 
us : If we act otherwise our ingratitude is insupportable ! 

Were God to deal with us according to our deserts, would 
he not have just cause to chastise us daily in a thousand 
ways ? Nay more, a hundred thousand deaths would not 
suffice for a small portion of our misdeeds ! Now, if in his 
infinite goodness he puts all our faults under his foot and 
abolishes them, and instead of pimisliing us according to 
our demerit, devises an admirable means to convert our 
afflictions into honour and a special privilege, inasmuch as 
through them we are taken into partnership with his Son, 
must it not be said, when we disdain such a happy state, 
that we have indeed made little progress in Ciu'istiaii 
doctrine ? 

Accordingly St. Peter, after exhorting us (1 Peter iv. 15) 
to walk so purely in the fear of God, as " not to suifer as 
thieves, adulterers, and murderers,'' immediately adds, " If 
we must suffer as Christians, let us glorify God for the bless- 
ing which he thus bestows upon us." It is not without 


cause he speaks thus. For who are we, I pray, to be wit- 
nesses of the truth of God, and advocates to maintain his 
cause ? Here we are poor worms of the earth, creatures full 
of vanity, full of lies, and yet God employs us to defend his 
truth — an honour which pertains not even to the angels of 
heaven ! May not this consideration alone well inflame us 
to offer ourselves to God to be employed in any w^ay in such 
honourable service ? 

Many persons, however, cannot refrain from pleading 
against God, or, at least, from complaining against him for 
not better supporting their weakness. It is marvellously 
strange, they say, how God, after having chosen us for his 
children, allows us to be so trampled upon and tormented 
by the ungodly. I answer : Even were it not apparent why 
he does so, he might well exercise this authority over us, 
and fix our lot at his pleasure But when we see that Jesus 
Christ is our pattern, ought we not, without inquiring far- 
ther, to esteem it great happiness that we are made like to 
him ? God, however, makes it very apparent what the rea- 
sons are for which he is pleased that we should be perse- 
cuted. Had we nothing more than the consideration sug- 
gested by St. Peter, (1 Peter i, 7,) we were disdainful indeed 
not to acquiesce in it. He says, " Since gold and silver, 
which are only corruptible metals, are purified and tested 
by fire, it is but reasonable that our faith, which surpasses 
all the riches of the world, should be tried." 

It were easy indeed for God to crown us at once without 
requiring us to sustain any combats ; but as it is his plea- 
sure that until the end of the world Christ shall reign in the 
midst of his enemies, (Psalm ex.,) so it is also his pleasure 
that we, being placed in the midst of them, shall suffer their 
oppression and violence till he deliver us. I know, indeed, 
that the flesh kicks when it is to be brought to this point, 
but still the will of God must have the mastery. If we feel 
some repugnance in ourselves, it need not surprise us ; for 
it is only too natural for us to shun the cross. Still let us 
not fail to surmount it, knowing that God accepts our obe- 
dience, provided we bring all our feelings and wishes into 
captivity, and make them subject to him. 


When tlie Prophets and Apostles went to death, it was 
not without feeling within some inclination to recoil. "They 
will lead thee whither thou wouldst not," said our Lord 
Jesus Christ to Peter. (John xxi. 18.) When such fears of 
death arise within us, let us gain the mastery over them, or 
rather let God gain it ; and meanwhile, let us feel assured 
that we oifer him a pleasing sacrifice when we resist and do 
violence to our inclinations for the purpose of placing our- 
selves entirely under his command : This is the principal 
war in which Grod would have his people to be engaged. 
He would have them strive to suppress every rebellious 
thought and feeling which would turn them aside from the 
path to which he points. And the consolations are so ample, 
that it may well be said, we are more than cowards if we 
give way ! 

In ancient times vast numbers of people, to obtain a sim- 
ple crown of leaves, refused no toil, no pain, no trouble ; 
nay, it even cost them nothing to die, and yet every one of 
them fought for a peradventure, not knowing whether he 
was to gain or lose the prize. God holds forth to us the 
immortal crown by which we may become partakers of his 
glory.: He does not mean us to fight at haj^-hazard, but all 
of us have a promise of the prize for which we strive. Have 
we any cause then to decline the struggle ? Do w^e think 
it has been said in vain, " If we die with Jesus Christ 
we shall also live with him ?" (2 Tim. ii. 11.) Our triumph 
is prepared, and yet we do all we can to shun the combat. 

But it is said that all we teach on this subject is repug- 
nant to human judgment. I confess it. And hence when 
our Saviour declares, " Blessed are they who are persecuted 
for righteousness' sake," (Matt. v. 10,) he gives utterance 
to a sentiment which is not easily received in the world. 
On the contrary, he wishes to account that as happiness 
which in the judgment of sense is misery. We seem to 
ourselves miserable when God leaves us to be trampled upon 
by the tyranny and cruelty of our enemies ; but the error is 
that we look not to the promises of God, which assure us 
that all will turn to our good. We are cast down when we 
see the wicked stronger than we, and planting their foot on 


our throat ; but such confusion should rather, as St, Paul 
says, cause us to lift up our heads. Seeing we are too much 
disposed to amuse ourselves with present objects, God, in 
permitting the good to be maltreated and the wicked to 
have sway, shews by evident tokens that a day is coming on 
which all that is now in confusion will be reduced to order. 
If the period seems distant, let us run to the remedy, and 
not flatter ourselves in our sin ; for it is certain that we have 
no faith if we cannot carry our views forward to the coming 
of Jesus Christ. 

To leave no means which may be fitted to stimulate us 
unemployed, God sets before us promises on the one hand, 
and THREATENiNGS ou the other. Do we feel that the pro- 
mises have not sufficient influence, let us strengthen them 
by adding the threatenings. It is true we must be perverse 
in the extreme not to put more faith in the promises of God, 
when the Lord Jesus says that he will own us as his before 
his Father, provided we confess him before men, (Matt. x. 
82 ; Luke xii. 8.) What shovdd prevent us from making the 
confession which he requires ? Let men do their utmost, 
they cannot do worse than murder us ! and will not the 
heavenly life compensate for this ? I do not here collect all 
the passages in Scripture which bear on this subject : they 
are so often reiterated that we ought to be thoroughly satis- 
fied with them. When the struggle comes, if three or four 
passages do not suflSce, a hundred surely ought to make us 
proof against all contrary temptations ! 

But if God cannot win us to himself by gentle means, 
must we not be mere blocks if his threatenings also fail ? 
Jesus Christ summons all those who from fear of temporal 
death shall have denied the truth, to appear at the bar of 
God his Father, and says, that then both body and soul 
will be consigned to perdition. (Matt. x. 28 ; Luke xii. 5.) 
And in another passage he says that he will disclaim all 
those who shall have denied him before men. (Matt. x. 83 ; 
Luke xii. 10.) These words, if we are not altogether im- 
pervious to feeling, might well make our hair stand on end ! 
Be this as it may, this much is certain ; if these things do 
not move us as they ought, nothing remains for us but a 


fearful judgment. (Heb. x. 27.) All the words of Christ 
having proved unavailing, we stand convicted of gross in- 

It is in vain for us to allege that pity should be shewn 
us, inasmuch as our nature is so frail ; for it is said, on the 
contrary, that Moses having looked to God by faith was 
fortified so as not to yield under any temptation. Where- 
fore, when we are thus soft and easy to bend, it is a mani- 
fest sign, I do not say that we have no zeal, no firmness, but 
that we know notliing either of God or his kingdom. When 
we are reminded that we ought to be united to our Head, it 
seems to us a fine pretext for exemption to say, that we are 
men ! But what were those who have trodden the path 
before us ? Indeed, had we nothing more than pure doctrine, 
all the excuses we could make would be frivolous ; but hav- 
ing so many examples which ought to supply us with the 
strongest proof, the more deserving are we of condemnation. 

There are two points to be considered. The first is, that 
the whole body of the Cliurch in general has always been, 
and to the end will be, liable to be afllicted by the wicked, 
as is said in the Psalms, (Psalm cxxix. I,) "From my youth 
up they have tormented me, and dragged the plough over 
me from one end to the other." The Holy Spirit there 
brings in the ancient Church, in order that we, after being 
much acquainted with her afilictions, may not regard it as 
either new or vexatious, when the like is done to ourselves 
in the present day. St. Paul, also, in quoting from another 
Psalm, (Rom. viii. 36 ; Psalm xliv. 23,) a passage in which 
it is said, " We have been like sheep to the slaughter ;" 
shews that that has not been for one age only, but is the 
ordinary condition of the Church, and shall be. 

Therefore, on seeing how the Church of God is trampled 
upon in the present day by proud worldlings, how one barks 
and another bites, how they torture, how they plot against 
her, how she is assailed incessantly by mad dogs and savage 
beasts, let it remind us that the same thing was done in all 
the olden time. It is true God sometimes gives her a truce 
and time of refreshment, and hence in the Psalm above 
quoted, it is said, " He cutteth the cords of the wicked ; and 


in another passage, (Psalm cxxv. 3,) " He breaks their staff, 
lest the good should fall away, by being too hardly pressed/' 
But still it has pleased him that his Church should always 
have to battle so long as she is in this world, her repose 
being treasured up on high in the heavens. (Heb. iii. 9.) 

Meanwhile, the issue of her afflictions has always been 
fortunate. At all events, God has caused that though she 
has been pressed by many calamities, she has never been 
completely crushed ; as it is said, (Psalm vii. 15,) " The 
wicked with all their efforts have not succeeded in that at 
which they aimed." St. Paul glories in the fact, and shews 
that this is the course which God in mercy always takes. 
He says, (1 Cor. iv. 12,) "We endure tribulations, but we 
are not in agony ; we are impoverished, but not left desti- 
tute ; we are persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but 
we perish not ; bearing everywhere in our body the morti- 
hcalion of the Lord Jesus, in order that his life may be 
manifested in our mortal bodies." Such being, as we see, 
the issue which God has at all times given to the persecu- 
tions of his Church, we ouglit to take courage, knowing 
that our forefathers, who were frail men like ourselves, 
always had the victory over their enemies, by remaining 
firm in endurance. 

I only touch on this article briefly to come to the second, 
which is more to our purpose, viz., that we ought to take 


HAVE GONE BEFORE US. These are not confined to two or three, 
but are, as the Apostle says, (Heb. xii. 1,) "a great and 
dense cloud," By this expression he intimates that the 
number is so great that it ought as it were completely to 
engross our sight. Not to be tedious, I will only mention 
the Jews, who were persecuted for the true Religion, as well 
under the tyranny of King Antiochus as a little after his 
death. We cannot allege that the number of sufferers was 
small, for it formed as it were a large army of martyrs. We 
cannot say that it consisted of Prophets whom God had set 
apart from common people ; for women and young children 
formed part of the band. We cannot say that they got off 
at a cheap rate, for they were tortured as cruelly as it was 


possible to be. Accordingly, we hear what the Apostle says, 
(Heb. xi. 35,) "Some were stretched out like drums, not 
caring to be delivered, that they might obtain a better re- 
surrection ; others were proved by mockery and blows, or 
bonds and prisons ; others were stoned or sawn asunder ; 
others travelled up and down, wandering among mountains 
and caves." 

Let us now compare their case with ours. If the