Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews

Calvin, John.  Hebrews and I and II Peter. trans. W. B. Johnston, ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963.

In one sense this commentary gives you everything you expect from Calvin (and for the YRR types, there is very little on predestination).  It is wise, judicious, and balanced.  In terms of authorship, Calvin does not hold to Pauline authorship (Calvin 1).

Christs’s Anointing

“He was anointed for our sakes, that we might all draw from his fulness. He himself is Christ, we are Christians depending on Him as streams from a fountain” (Comm.1:9).

2:9: “Taste death for everyone.” He did not taste death as an example for us, but “He means that Christ died for us, because He took on Himself our lot and redeemed us from the curse of death.”  Calvin leaves open the question of the extent of the atonement.

2:17: “Therefore the apostle teaches that He put on not only human flesh itself, but also all the affections which belong to men.”  This needs to be glossed more, but it is highly suggestive for debates about Christ’s human nature.

Relation Between Word and Faith

4:2: “It is such that Faith cannot be separated from the Word. On the one hand the Word separated from faith is ineffectual.”  

Apostasy

6:4: “There is a twofold fall: one is particular, the other is general.” The apostle is not talking about particular sins, but a complete falling away from the gospel.

The Old Covenant

8:8-9: The Old Covenant is the Mosaic covenant

Worship

9:14: “The beginning of true worship is reconciliation.”  Calvin does not really develop it, but this is in line with Christ as the new Liturgical minister.

Hebrews 11

11:7: “Faith comes from the promises.  “It is founded on them and rests on them.” Soon after, Calvin attacks the Roman notion of implicit faith. “There is no faith without the Word of God.” If faith is tied in some sense (to be glossed another time) with belief, then it is hard to see how implicit faith is possible.  Faith has an object.

Conclusion

This is an excellent introduction to Calvin’s commentaries on the New Testament.  He gives sufficient attention to the text but never wearies the reader with tedious remarks.

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