Blog 65: 2.8.25 - 2.8.32

Institutes 2.8.28-32
Calvin on the Sabbath. The "Continental view"!

"The purpose of this commandment is that, being dead to our own inclinations and works, we should meditate on the Kingdom of God . . .."
There are three conditions involved for Calvin in "the keeping of this commandment."

1. By spiritual rest.  Believers ought to lay aside all their own works in order to allow God to work in them.
2. As a stated day for worship and meditation.  It was given as a day for training in piety.
3. As a day to provide physical rest.

How, then, are we to receive this commandment in Jesus Christ?  

To begin with Christ fulfils the Sabbath.  What was foreshadowed in the Sabbath is now given in substance and reality to those who have come to him to find "rest" (Matt. 11:28-30).  "This is not confined within a single day, but extends throughout the whole course of our life..." (II. 8. 31).  Therefore, "Christians ought ... to shun completely the superstitious observance of days."

Yet, for Calvin, points 2 and 3 above remain.   A Genevan Sunday was, therefore, rather different from that of many contemporary congregations that lay claim to "the Continental view of the Sabbath."   In fact Calvin was accused of nourishing people in Judaism (II. 8. 33)!

For Calvin, there is no 24 hour time slot more inherently holy than any other; just as there is no place or space that is more inherently holy than another.  In that respect "holy space" and "holy time" are fulfilled in Christ.

But a day for worship and meditation has not been reduced to a morning. Nor has the commandment been rescinded that calls us to do everything within our powers to allow others to rest. So "why should we not obey the order laid upon us by God's will?" (II. 8. 32)