Commentary on Acts - Volume 2 - Enhanced Version (Calvins Commentaries Book 37)

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Calvin, who reluctantly agreed to remain, later recounted:. Then Farel, who was working with incredible zeal to promote the gospel, bent all his efforts to keep me in the city. And when he realized that I was determined to study in privacy in some obscure place, and saw that he gained nothing by entreaty, he descended to cursing, and said that God would surely curse my peace if I held back from giving help at a time of such great need. Calvin accepted his new role without any preconditions on his tasks or duties.

He was eventually given the title of "reader", which most likely meant that he could give expository lectures on the Bible.

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Sometime in he was selected to be a "pastor" although he never received any pastoral consecration. During late , Farel drafted a confession of faith , and Calvin wrote separate articles on reorganizing the church in Geneva. The council accepted the document on the same day. As the year progressed, Calvin and Farel's reputation with the council began to suffer. The council was reluctant to enforce the subscription requirement, as only a few citizens had subscribed to their confession of faith.

On 26 November, the two ministers hotly debated the council over the issue. Furthermore, France was taking an interest in forming an alliance with Geneva and as the two ministers were Frenchmen, councillors had begun to question their loyalty. Finally, a major ecclesiastical-political quarrel developed when the city of Bern , Geneva's ally in the reformation of the Swiss churches, proposed to introduce uniformity in the church ceremonies.

One proposal required the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist. The two ministers were unwilling to follow Bern's lead and delayed the use of such bread until a synod in Zurich could be convened to make the final decision. The council ordered Calvin and Farel to use unleavened bread for the Easter Eucharist. In protest, they refused to administer communion during the Easter service.

This caused a riot during the service and the next day, the council told Farel and Calvin to leave Geneva. Farel and Calvin then went to Bern and Zurich to plead their case. The resulting synod in Zurich placed most of the blame on Calvin for not being sympathetic enough toward the people of Geneva.

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It asked Bern to mediate with the aim of restoring the two ministers. The Geneva council refused to readmit the two men, who then took refuge in Basel. Calvin was invited to lead a church of French refugees in Strasbourg by that city's leading reformers, Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito. Initially, Calvin refused because Farel was not included in the invitation, but relented when Bucer appealed to him. By September Calvin had taken up his new position in Strasbourg , fully expecting that this time it would be permanent; a few months later, he applied for and was granted citizenship of the city.

During his time in Strasbourg, Calvin was not attached to one particular church, but held his office successively in the Saint-Nicolas Church, the Sainte-Madeleine Church and the former Dominican Church, renamed the Temple Neuf. Calvin ministered to — members in his church.

He preached or lectured every day, with two sermons on Sunday. Communion was celebrated monthly and congregational singing of the psalms was encouraged.

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Calvin was dissatisfied with its original structure as a catechism, a primer for young Christians. For the second edition, published in , Calvin dropped this format in favour of systematically presenting the main doctrines from the Bible. In the process, the book was enlarged from six chapters to seventeen. The book was a model for his later commentaries: it included his own Latin translation from the Greek rather than the Latin Vulgate , an exegesis , and an exposition.

I, who have the air of being so hostile to celibacy, I am still not married and do not know whether I will ever be. If I take a wife it will be because, being better freed from numerous worries, I can devote myself to the Lord. Several candidates were presented to him including one young woman from a noble family. Reluctantly, Calvin agreed to the marriage, on the condition that she would learn French.

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Although a wedding date was planned for March , he remained reluctant and the wedding never took place. He later wrote that he would never think of marrying her, "unless the Lord had entirely bereft me of my wits". Geneva reconsidered its expulsion of Calvin. Church attendance had dwindled and the political climate had changed; as Bern and Geneva quarrelled over land, their alliance frayed.

When Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto wrote a letter to the city council inviting Geneva to return to the Catholic faith, the council searched for an ecclesiastical authority to respond to him. At first Pierre Viret was consulted, but when he refused, the council asked Calvin. He agreed and his Responsio ad Sadoletum Letter to Sadoleto strongly defended Geneva's position concerning reforms in the church.

An embassy reached Calvin while he was at a colloquy , a conference to settle religious disputes, in Worms. His reaction to the suggestion was one of horror in which he wrote, "Rather would I submit to death a hundred times than to that cross on which I had to perish daily a thousand times over. Calvin also wrote that he was prepared to follow the Lord's calling. A plan was drawn up in which Viret would be appointed to take temporary charge in Geneva for six months while Bucer and Calvin would visit the city to determine the next steps.

The city council pressed for the immediate appointment of Calvin in Geneva. By mid, Strasbourg decided to lend Calvin to Geneva for six months. Calvin returned on 13 September with an official escort and a wagon for his family. The ordinances defined four orders of ministerial function: pastors to preach and to administer the sacraments ; doctors to instruct believers in the faith; elders to provide discipline; and deacons to care for the poor and needy.

The city government retained the power to summon persons before the court, and the Consistory could judge only ecclesiastical matters having no civil jurisdiction. Originally, the court had the power to mete out sentences, with excommunication as its most severe penalty. The government contested this power and on 19 March the council decided that all sentencing would be carried out by the government.

Calvin recognised the power of music and he intended that it be used to support scripture readings. At the end of , Marot became a refugee in Geneva and contributed nineteen more psalms. Louis Bourgeois , also a refugee, lived and taught music in Geneva for sixteen years and Calvin took the opportunity to add his hymns, the most famous being the Old Hundredth.

Calvin had written an earlier catechism during his first stay in Geneva which was largely based on Martin Luther 's Large Catechism. The first version was arranged pedagogically, describing Law, Faith, and Prayer.

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The version was rearranged for theological reasons, covering Faith first, then Law and Prayer. Historians debate the extent to which Geneva was a theocracy. On the one hand, Calvin's theology clearly called for separation between church and state. Other historians have stressed the enormous political power wielded on a daily basis by the clerics.

During his ministry in Geneva, Calvin preached over two thousand sermons. Initially he preached twice on Sunday and three times during the week. This proved to be too heavy a burden and late in the council allowed him to preach only once on Sunday.

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In October , he was again required to preach twice on Sundays and, in addition, every weekday of alternate weeks. His sermons lasted more than an hour and he did not use notes. An occasional secretary tried to record his sermons, but very little of his preaching was preserved before In that year, professional scribe Denis Raguenier, who had learned or developed a system of shorthand, was assigned to record all of Calvin's sermons.

An analysis of his sermons by T. Parker suggests that Calvin was a consistent preacher and his style changed very little over the years. From March to July , Calvin delivered two hundred sermons on Deuteronomy.


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Voltaire wrote about Calvin, Luther and Zwingli , "If they condemned celibacy in the priests, and opened the gates of the convents, it was only to turn all society into a convent. Shows and entertainments were expressly forbidden by their religion; and for more than two hundred years there was not a single musical instrument allowed in the city of Geneva. They condemned auricular confession, but they enjoined a public one; and in Switzerland, Scotland, and Geneva it was performed the same as penance.

Very little is known about Calvin's personal life in Geneva. His house and furniture were owned by the council. The house was big enough to accommodate his family as well as Antoine's family and some servants. On 28 July , Idelette gave birth to a son, Jacques, but he was born prematurely and survived only briefly. Idelette fell ill in and died on 29 March Calvin never married again.

He expressed his sorrow in a letter to Viret:. I have been bereaved of the best friend of my life, of one who, if it has been so ordained, would willingly have shared not only my poverty but also my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance. Throughout the rest of his life in Geneva, he maintained several friendships from his early years including Montmor, Cordier, Cop, Farel, Melanchthon and Bullinger.

Calvin encountered bitter opposition to his work in Geneva. Around , the uncoordinated forces coalesced into an identifiable group whom he referred to as the libertines , but who preferred to be called either Spirituels or Patriots. The group consisted of wealthy, politically powerful, and interrelated families of Geneva. Ameaux was punished by the council and forced to make expiation by parading through the city and begging God for forgiveness. Both Perrin's wife and father-in-law had previous conflicts with the Consistory. The court noted that many of Geneva's notables, including Perrin, had breached a law against dancing.

Initially, Perrin ignored the court when he was summoned, but after receiving a letter from Calvin, he appeared before the Consistory. By , opposition to Calvin and other French refugee ministers had grown to constitute the majority of the syndics , the civil magistrates of Geneva. On 27 June an unsigned threatening letter in Genevan dialect was found at the pulpit of St.

Pierre Cathedral where Calvin preached.

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