Thursday, February 16, 2006

John Calvin - Regard for Romans


From John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion:
"With regard to the excellency of this Epistle, I know not whether it would be well for me to dwell long on the subject; for I fear, lest through my recommendations falling far short of what they ought to be, I should do nothing but obscure its merits: besides, the Epistle itself, at its very beginning, explains itself in a much better way than I can. I will therefore simply lay out the argument of this great letter. For it can never be sufficiently appreciated that when anyone gains a knowledge of this Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture. The whole Epistle is so methodical, that even its very beginning is framed according to the rules of art….For having begun with the proof of his Apostleship, he then comes to the Gospel with the view of recommending it; and as this necessarily draws with it the subject of faith, he glides into that, being led by the chain of words as by the hand: and thus he enters on the main subject of the whole Epistle—justification by faith; in treating which he is engaged to the end of the fifth chapter. The subject then of these chapters may be stated thus—that man’s only righteousness is through the mercy of God in Christ, which being offered by the Gospel is apprehended by faith. To begin, he must first convince men, asleep in their sins and the flattery of self-righteousness, of their guilt. Not only the pagans are arraigned, but they who boast in the law are brought to God’s tribunal, exposing the fictitious holiness of ‘saintlings.’ Having deprived all of any of their own righteousness before God, St. Paul then lays down his main subject—justification by faith."

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