Blog 22: 1.13.8 - 1.13.12

Rick Phillips

In these sections, Calvin proves the deity of Christ over against those who would deny it.  The argument here provides a good instance of Calvin's proof-texting.  We generally hear of proof-texts only in negative terms today.  But Calvin's approach reminds us that where verses from Scripture can be brought forth that truly do demand the doctrine at hand, then this kind of proof-texting is not only wholesome but also necessary.  It is with proof-texts that Calvin would answer heretics like Servetus (mentioned here in the Institutes for the first time). 

Calvin's argument for Christ's deity is both robust and edifying.  He first argues the eternity of Christ as He is named the Word who was with God in the beginning.  This is followed by a section on texts from the Old Testament and then by a section on texts from the New Testament.  In treating the Old Testament, Calvin focuses on how Christ is both named with divine titles and also how Christ fulfills prophecies that were made with respect to God.  It would be good if we all knew these verses so as to demonstrate from the Old Testament the deity of Jesus.  In the New Testament, Calvin shows how the apostles cite Christ as fulfilling prophecies pertaining directly to God and also how Jesus is specifically identified as God.  Moreover, Jesus' works are specifically cited as being the works of God, especially as Christ forgives sins, which even the Pharisees agree can only be done by God.

I particularly enjoyed Calvin's argument from the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament (1.13.10).  Most scholars today speak in only tentative terms in identifying the angel of the Lord as the Second Person of the Trinity.  Calvin has no such reservations at all and persuasively argues this point, which I have been persuaded of for a long time.