Blog 27: 1.14.1 - 1.14.5

Justin Taylor

We now move into chapter 14, on creation of the world and man (sections 1-2), the role of angels (sections 3-12) and demons (sections 13-19), and the lessons we should learn (sections 20-22).

Today we look at the first five sections. In the first and fourth especially, Calvin continues to hammer home his case against speculation, which he labels unhelpful, unfruitful, unprofitable, wicked, hurtful, empty, and foolish. Instead we must stick with the simplicity of Scripture and "willingly remain enclosed within these bounds to which God has willed to confine us."

In the third section Calvin offers two reasons we should study angels: (1) "If we desire to recognize God from his works, we ought by no means to overlook such an illustrious and noble example." (2) "This part of doctrine is very necessary to refute many errors." (He cites Mani's Gnostic interpretations as an example.)

In the fifth section Calvin begins to look more closely at the Scriptural witness regarding angles, defining them as "celestial spirits whose ministry and service God uses to carry out all things he has decreed." They adorn God's majesty and manifest his will to men. As Calvin looks at the various designations of angels in Scripture--hosts, principalities, thrones, etc.--he touches upon one label that can be confusing both theologically and apologetically: "gods" (e.g., Ps. 138:1). Calvin explains that "in their ministry as in a mirror they in some respect exhibit his divinity to us." Hence these created beings can be called "gods" in whom the one true God shines for the brightness of his glory.