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The Witness of the Apostles to the Divinity of Christ

Some ammunition for your next conversation with Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses:


First of all, a point worth especial attention is the apostles’ teaching that what had been foretold concerning the eternal God had already been revealed in Christ or was someday to be manifested in him. For when Isaiah prophesies that the Lord of Hosts is to be “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense for the Judeans and Israelites” [Isa. 8:14 p.], Paul declares this prophecy fulfilled in Christ [Rom. 9:32–33]. Therefore he proclaims Christ to be Lord of Hosts. Similarly, elsewhere he says, “We must all stand once before the judgment seat of Christ” [Rom. 14:10 p.]. “For it is written, . . . To me every knee shall bow [Rom. 14:11, Vg.], to Me . . . every tongue shall swear” [Isa. 45:23, order changed]. Since in Isaiah, God foretells this concerning himself, and Christ, indeed, shows it forth in himself, it follows that he is that very God whose glory cannot be transferred to another. It is evident that what Paul cites to the Ephesians from The Psalms applies to God alone: “Ascending on high, he led the captivity” [Eph. 4:8; Ps. 68:18; 67:19, Vg.]. Understanding that an ascension of this sort had been prefigured when in a notable victory God put forth his power against the foreign nations, Paul indicates that it was manifested more fully in Christ. Thus John testifies that it was the glory of the Son which had been revealed through Isaiah’s vision [John 12:41; Isa. 6:1], even though the prophet himself writes that he saw the majesty of God. Obviously the titles of God that the apostle in The Letter to the Hebrews confers upon the Son are the most glorious of all: “In the beginning, thou, O Lord, didst found heaven and earth” [Heb. 1:10 p.; Ps. 101:26 p., Vg.; 102:25, EV], etc. Likewise, “Adore him, all ye his angels” [Ps. 96:7, Vg.; 97:7, EV; cf.Heb. 1:6]. And still he does not misuse them when he applies them to Christ. Indeed, whatever they sing in The Psalms, He alone fulfills. For he it was who, rising up, was merciful to Zion [Ps. 101:14, Vg.; 102:13, EV]; he who asserted for himself the rule over all nations and islands [Ps. 96:1, Vg.; 97:1, EV]. And why should John have hesitated to refer the majesty of God to Christ, when he had declared that the Word was ever God [John 1:1, 14]? Why should Paul have feared to place Christ on God’s judgment seat [2 Cor. 5:10], when he had previously proclaimed his divinity so openly, saying that he was “God . . . blessed forever” [Rom. 9:5]? And to make clear how consistent lie is in this respect, in another passage he writes that “God has been manifested in the flesh” [I Tim. 3:16 p.]. If God is to be praised forever, he, then, it is to whom alone all glory and honor are due, as Paul affirms in another place [I Tim. 1:17]. And he does not conceal this, but openly proclaims: “Though he was in the form of God, he would not have counted it robbery if he had shown himself equal with God, yet he voluntarily emptied himself” [Phil. 2:6–7 p.]. And lest the impious carp about some feigned god, John went farther, saying: “He is the true God, and eternal life” [I John 5:20 p.]. However, it ought to be more than enough for us that he is called God, especially by that witness who aptly declares to us that there are not many gods, but one [Deut. 6:4]. Moreover, it is that Paul who said, “Though many are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, . . . yet for us there is one God, from whom are all things.” [I Cor. 8:5–6 p.] When we hear from the same mouth that “God was manifested in the flesh” [I Tim. 3:16 p.], that “God has purchased the church by his blood” [Acts 20:28 p.], why do we imagine a second god, whom Paul acknowledges not at all? And no doubt the same was the opinion of all godly men. In like manner Thomas openly proclaims him his Lord and God [John 20:28], and thus professes him to be that sole God whom he had always worshiped.

—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.13.11.

Posted 2018·02·09 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christology · Institutes of the Christian Religion · John Calvin · The Trinity

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