from Calvin’s Sermon on 1 Timothy 3:16

When we hear this word, mystery, let us remember two things; first, that we learn to keep under our senses, and flatter not ourselves that we have sufficient knowledge and ability to comprehend so vast a matter. In the second place, let us learn to climb up beyond ourselves, and reverence that majesty which passeth our understanding. We must not be sluggish nor drowsy; but think upon this doctrine, and endeavor to become instruction therein. When we have acquired some little knowledge thereof, we should strive to profit thereby, all the days of our life.

When we become possessed of this knowledge, that the Son of God is joined to us, we should cast our eyes upon that which is so highly set forth in Him; that is, the virtue and power of the Holy Ghost. So then, Jesus Christ did not only appear as man, but showed indeed that He was Almighty God as all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him. If we once know this, we may well perceive that it is not without cause that St. Paul saith, all the treasures of wisdom are hidden in our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we have once laid hold on the promises of this Mediator, we shall know the height and depth, the length and breadth, yea, and whatsoever is necessary for our salvation: so that we may stay our faith upon Him, as upon the only true God; and likewise behold Him as our brother; who hath not only come near to us, but hath united and joined Himself to us in such a manner, that He hath become the same substance. If we have come to this, let us know that we have arrived to the perfection of wisdom, which is spoken of by St. Paul in another place; that we may fully rejoice in the goodness of God; for it bath pleased Him to lighten us with the brightness of His gospel, and to draw us into His heavenly kingdom.

This is from Calvin’s 27th sermon on 1 Timothy, probably preached the afternoon of December 16, 1554 in Geneva (according to T. H. L. Parker, Calvin’s Preaching, pp. 163-166) and may be found in the Banner of Truth fascimile of the 1579 edition of Calvin’s Sermons on Timothy and Titus (pp. 321-333). This sermon may be found online, from the Eerdman’s 1949 edition, here: The Mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) – John Calvin.


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in John Calvin, preaching, Reformation, sermon. Bookmark the permalink.

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