Blog 70: 2.9.1 - 2.9.5

Paul Helm

Calvin now begins to emphasise what has become apparent in Chapter 8. There we saw that there is one law of God, as obligatory in the New Testament era as in the Mosaic era. So now he insists that there is one Gospel of God's grace, anticipated in the Old Testament, and clearly revealed in the New.  Calvin's language emphasises that the contrast is one of degree: in contrast to Moses, now the gospel is 'before our very eyes', and we can 'richly enjoy' it, the 'light of the knowledge of the glory of God' has been 'manifested' to us.

Yet even  for those with such privileges there is more to come. For it does not yet appear what they will be like. Even though the Messiah has now come, and the work of redemption has been finished, New Testament believers need to live by faith and not by sight every bit as much as did the patriarchs.

The contrast between the law and the gospel must be carefully treated, lest we assign the law exclusively to the Old Testament and the gospel to the New. There is but one way of salvation.

Between the law (here understood not as the Moral Law but as the preparatory, Mosaic regime) and the gospel (understood as the full manifestation of God's grace in Jesus Christ) stands John the Baptist, heralding the coming of the Messiah in language drawn from the Law.

These passages are an excellent example of Calvin's dialectical style, how he states and re-states theological themes, qualifying and refining them by masterly attention to the detail of Scripture.