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Harmonious in Faith and Affection


From 1 Corinthians 1:10, Calvin describes the unity that God desires among his people.

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That ye all speak the same thing. In exhorting them to harmony, he employs three different forms of expression: for, in the first place, he requires such agreement among them that all shall have one voice; secondly, he takes away the evil by which unity is broken and torn asunder; and, thirdly, he unfolds the nature of true harmony, which is, that they be agreed among themselves in mind and will. What he has placed second is first in order,—that we beware of strifes. For from this a second thing will naturally follow,—that we be in harmony; and then at length a third thing will follow, which is here mentioned first,—that we all speak, as it were, with one mouth; a thing exceedingly desirable as a fruit of Christian harmony. Let us then observe, that nothing is more inconsistent on the part of Christians than to be at variance among themselves, for it is the main article of our religion that we be in harmony among ourselves; and farther, on such agreement the safety of the Church rests and is dependent.

But let us see what he requires as to Christian unity. If any one is desirous of nice distinctions—he would have them first of all joined together in one mind; secondly, in one judgment; and, thirdly, he would have them declare in words that agreement. As, however, my rendering differs somewhat from that of Erasmus, I would, in passing, call my readers to observe, that Paul here makes use of a participle, which denotes things that are fitly and suitably joined together. For the verb καταρτιζεσθαι* itself (from which the participle καταρτισμένος comes) properly signifies, to be fitted and adjusted, just as the members of the human body are connected together by a most admirable symmetry.

For sentential (judgment) Paul has γνώμην: but I understand it here as denoting the will, so that there is a complete division of the soul, and the first clause refers to faith, the second to love. Then only will there be Christian unity among us, when there is not merely a good agreement as to doctrine, but we are also in harmony in our affections and dispositions, and are thus in all respects of one mind. Thus Luke bears witness to believers in the primitive Church, (Acts ii. 46,) that they had “one heart and one soul.” And without doubt this will be found wherever the Spirit of Christ reigns. When, however, he exhorts them to speak the same thing, he intimates still more fully from the effect, how complete the agreement ought to be—so that no diversity may appear even in words. It is difficult, indeed, of attainment, but still it is necessary among Christians, from whom there is required not merely one faith, but also one confession.

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:62–63.

* As usual, I include the Greek here only for the benefit of the few, knowing it has no value to most readers (it’s all Greek to me, too).



Posted 2019·06·20 by David Kjos
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Posted in: 1 Corinthians · Calvin’s Commentaries: 1 Corinthians · John Calvin · Unity of Believers

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