John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 1:12 - 1:12

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 1:12 - 1:12


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12I give thanks Great is the dignity — of the apostleship, which Paul has claimed for himself; and he could not, looking at his former life, be accounted at all worthy of so high an honor. Accordingly, that he may not be accused of presumption, he comes unavoidably to make mention of his own person, and at once frankly acknowledges his own unworthiness, but nevertheless affirms that he is an Apostle by the grace of God. But he goes further, and turns to his own advantage what appeared to lessen his authority, declaring that the grace of God shines in him so much the more brightly.

To our Lord Jesus Christ When he gives thanks to Christ, he removes that dislike towards him which might have been entertained, and cuts off all ground for putting this question, “ he deserve, or does he not deserve, so honorable an office?” for, although in himself he has no excellence, yet it is enough that he was chosen by Christ. There are, indeed, many who, under the same form of words, make a show of humility, but are widely different from the uprightness of Paul, whose intention was, not only to boast courageously in the Lord, but to give up all the glory that was his own. (17)

By putting me into the ministry. Why does he give thanks? Because he has been placed in the ministry; for thence he concludes that he hath been, accounted faithful Christ does not receive any in the manner that is done by ambitious (18) people, but selects those only who are well qualified; and therefore all on whom he bestows honor are acknowledged by us to be worthy. For is it inconsistent with this, that Judas, according to the prediction, (Psa_109:8) was elevated for a short time, that he might quickly fall. It was otherwise with Paul, who obtained the honor for a different purpose, and on a different condition, when Christ declared that he should be

“ chosen vessel to him.” (Act_9:15.)

But in this manner Paul seems to say that faithfulness, by which he had been previously distinguished, was the cause of his calling. If it were so, the thanksgiving would be hypocritical and contradictory; for he would owe his apostleship not only to God, but to his own merit. I deny, therefore, that the meaning is, that he was admitted to the rank of an apostle, because God had foreseen his faith; for Christ could not foresee in him anything good but what the Father had bestowed on him. Still, therefore, it continues to be true,

“ have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

(Joh_15:16.)

On the contrary, he draws from it a proof of his fidelity, that Christ had made him an Apostle; for he declares that they whom Christ makes Apostles must be held to be pronounced faithful by his decrees.

In a word, this judicial act is not traced by him to foreknowledge, but rather denotes the testimony which is given to men; as if he had said, “ give thanks to Christ, who, by calling me into the ministry, has openly declared that he approves of my faithfulness.” (19)

Who hath made me powerful He now introduces the mention of another act of the kindness of Christ, that he strengthened him, or “ him powerful.” By this expression he does not only mean that he was at first formed by the hand of God, so as to be well qualified for his office, but he likewise includes the continued bestowal of grace. For it would not have been enough that he was once declared to be faithful, if Christ had not strengthened him by the uninterrupted communication of aid. He acknowledges, therefore, that he is indebted to the grace of Christ on two accounts, because he was once elevated, and because he continues in his office.



(17) “Mais de se demettre de toute gloire, et recognoistre a bon eseient son iudignite;” — “ to part with all glory, and to acknowledge sincerely his own unworthiness.”

(18) “Christ ne fait pas comme les hommes, lesquels par ambition mettent des yens en un estat, sans regarder quay et commet;” — “ does not act like men, who, through ambition, put persons into an office, without considering what or how.”

(19) “ is Paul, who was slandered by many people, as we see that there are always dogs that bark against God’ servants, aiming at nothing but to bring them into contempt, or rather to make their doctrine be despised and abhorred. Wishing to shut the mouths of such people, Paul says that he is satisfied with having the authority and warrant of Christ. As if he had said, ‘ may reject me, but it is enough that I am declared to be faithful by him who has all authority in himself, and who, being the heavenly Judge, hath pronounced it. When he put me into that office, he declared that he reckoned me to be his servant, and that he intended to employ me in preaching his gospel. That is enough for me. Let men contrive and calumniate as much as they may, provided that I have Christ on my side, let men jeer at me, it will be of no avail; For the decision pronounced by the Lord Jesus Christ can never be recalled.’ Thus we see what was Paul’ intention, namely, that he does not here mean that Christ foresaw in him anything as the reason why he called him to so honorable an office, but only that, by putting him into it, he declared and made it evident to men, that he intended to make use of him.” — Fr. Ser.