"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Monday, March 09, 2009

Calvin on Romans 2:13

I think theology used to be more fun. Reading John Calvin, as well as Luther and their Catholic counterparts, theological writers had more fun putting down other positions. One such passage from Calvin on Romans 2:13. There guys actually had fun writing about theology:

TEXT: Rom 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

CALVIN: For the hearers of the law, etc. This anticipates an objection which the Jews might have adduced. As they had heard that the law was the rule of righteousness, they gloried in the mere knowledge of it: to obviate this mistake, he declares that the hearing of the law or any knowledge of it is of no such consequence, that any one should on that account lay claim to righteousness, but that works must be produced, according to this saying, “He who will do these shall live in them.” The import then of this verse is the following, — “That if righteousness be sought from the law, the law must be fulfilled; for the righteousness of the law consists in the perfection of works.” They who pervert this passage for the purpose of building up justification by works, deserve most fully to be laughed at even by children. It is therefore improper and beyond what is needful, to introduce here a long discussion on the subject, with the view of exposing so futile a sophistry: for the Apostle only urges here on the Jews what he had mentioned, the decision of the law, — That by the law they could not be justified, except they fulfilled the law, that if they transgressed it, a curse was instantly pronounced on them. Now we do not deny but that perfect righteousness is prescribed in the law: but as all are convicted of transgression, we say that another righteousness must be sought. Still more, we can prove from this passage that no one is justified by works; for if they alone are justified by the law who fulfill the law, it follows that no one is justified; for no one can be found who can boast of having fulfilled the law.


Andrew said...

I still enjoy reading Calvin because of his rhetorical skills. I also remember vainly trying to argue that this verse supported justification by faith and works lol Calvin is clearly right, St. Paul's purpose is to show that no one can fulfill the law without the Holy Spirit and violating one part of it, means violating the whole.

Hopefully theology will one day once again be more fun.

Aaron said...

Yeah that is awesome. Calvin gets you like that often! He has a different sense of humor than Luther. He is far less self deprecating and passive aggressive than poor old Luther from the back woods (as he might call himself).