John Calvin's commentary on John 20.8-9.

rich14285's picture

In the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 20, in verses 8-9,we may read (KJV):

8."Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
9."For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
Retrieved from: http://www.tniv.info/bible/passagesearch.php?passage_request=john+20&submit=Lookup&kjv=yes&display_option=columns

John Calvin's commentary on verses 8-9:8. And he saw and believed. It is a poor exposition which some give of these words, that John believed what he had heard Mary say, namely, that Christ’s body had been carried away; for there is no passage in which the word believe bears this meaning, especially when it is used simply and without any addition. Nor is this inconsistent with the fact, that Peter and John return home, while they are still in doubt and perplexity; for in some passages John had employed this phraseology, when lie intended to describe the increase of faith. Besides, Luke 24:12 relates that Peter wondered at seeing the sepulcher in such good order; meaning by this, that Peter thought of something greater and loftier than what Mary had told him.

9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. They had often heard from the mouth of Christ what they now saw with their eyes, but this flowed from their hearts. Being now warned by the sight of a strange spectacle, they begin to think of Christ as having something Divine, though they are still far from having a clear and accurate knowledge of him. John, therefore, accuses himself, when he acknowledges that the first time that he believed was, when he beheld the proofs of Christ’s resurrection.

Besides, he represents more strongly his own guilt and that of his brethren, by adding, that they not only had forgotten the words of Christ, but that they did not believe the Scriptures; for to this ignorance he ascribes the deficiency of their faith. Hence, too, we may draw a useful instruction, that we ought, to ascribe it to our carelessness, when we are ignorant of what we ought to know about Christ, because we have not profited as we ought to have done by the Scriptures, which clearly reveal the excellence of Christ.

Not to go farther for an instance of this, it may be thought that the resurrection of Christ is taught in them obscurely, and only under figures; but the attentive reader will find abundantly clear testimonies. Paul proves (Acts 13:34) that Christ must have risen from the dead, because God declares by the prophet Isaiah, (Isaiah 55:3) that, under his reign, the mercy promised to David would be sure. An unskilful person might imagine that what Paul quotes is not at all to the purpose; but they who believe the principles of fkith, and are well acquainted with the Scriptures, have no difficulty in perceiving the force of this argument; for, in order theft Christ may secure to us for ever the grace of God, Christ himself; must live for ever.

There are many passages of the same kind, which it is not, now necessary to collect. Let us therefore rest satisfied with the three following. It is written,

Thou wilt not permit thy Holy One to see corruption,
(Psalm 16:10.)

Peter and Paul explain this prediction as referring to Christ, (Acts 2:27, and Acts 13:35,) and justly; for there is not one of all the sons of Adam who is not of himself liable to corruption. Consequently, the immortality of Christ is there declared. It is likewise beyond all doubt that the following passage refers to Christ,

The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool, (Psalm 110:1.)

Now, death will not be destroyed till the last day. The kingdom is titan given to Christ till the end of the world, and this kingdom cannot exist without his life. But Isaiah speaks more clearly than all the rest when, after having foretold the death of Christ, he immediately adds, that it impossible to declare his age, (Isaiah 53:8.) In short we ought to believe that the doctrine of Scripture is so full and complete in every respect that whatever is defective in our faith ought justly to be attributed to ignorance of the Scriptures.
Retrieved from: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom35.x.i.html

And now turning to John Wesley's comment, we find:
8. He saw - That the body was not there, and believed - That they had taken it away as Mary said.

9. For as yet - They had no thought of his rising again.

10. They went home - Not seeing what they could do farther.

Retrieved from:http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.i.v.xxi.html

Its fascinating to find John Wesley, who was born several decades after John Calvin,(John Calvin: 1509-1564 and John Wesley: 1703-1791), writes precisely that comment which John Calvin indicates is a poor comment to make. Is it not rather curious ?

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