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Imitation


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Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
—1 Corinthians 11:1

A cult leader says, “Follow me.” A faithful shepherd of Christ’s church says, “Learn from me how to follow Jesus.” This is Paul’s example.

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Imitators of me. From this it appears, how absurdly chapters are divided, inasmuch as this sentence is disjoined from what goes before, with which it ought to have been connected, and is joined to what follows, with which it has no connection. Let us view this, then, as the close of the preceding chapter. Paul had there brought forward his own example in confirmation of his doctrine. Now, in order that the Corinthians may understand that this would be becoming in them, he exhorts them to imitate what he had done, even as he had imitated Christ.

Here there are two things to be observed—first, that he prescribes nothing to others that he had not first practiced himself; and, secondly, that he directs himself and others to Christ as the only pattern of right acting. For while it is the part of a good teacher to enjoin nothing in words but what he is prepared to practice in action, he must not, at the same time, be so austere, as straightway to require from others everything that he does himself, as is the manner of the superstitious. For everything that they contract a liking for they impose also upon others, and would have their own example to be held absolutely as a rule. The world is also, of its own accord, inclined to a misdirected imitation, and, after the manner of apes, strive to copy whatever they see done by persons of great influence. We see, however how many evils have been introduced into the Church by this absurd desire of imitating all the actions of the saints, without exception. Let us, therefore, maintain so much the more carefully this doctrine of Paul—that we are to follow men, provided they take Christ as their grand model, that the examples of the saints may not tend to lead us away from Christ, but rather to direct us to him.

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:349–350.



Posted 2019·09·24 by David Kjos
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Posted in: 1 Corinthians · Calvin’s Commentaries: 1 Corinthians · John Calvin

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