John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 2:6 - 2:6

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 2:6 - 2:6


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6Who gave himself a ransom for all (34) The mention of redemption in this passage is not superfluous; for there is a necessary connection between the two things, the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and his continual intercession. (Rom_8:34.) These are the two parts of his priesthood; for, when Christ is called our priest, it is in this sense, that he once made atonement for our sins by his death, that he might reconcile us to God; and now having entered into the sanctuary of heaven, he appears in presence of the Father, in order to obtain grace for us, that we may be heard in his name. (Psa_110:4; Heb_7:17.) So much the more does he expose the wicked sacrilege of the Papists, who, by making dead saints to be companions of Christ in this affair, transfer to them likewise the glory of the priesthood. Read the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, towards the conclusion, and the beginning of the fifth chapter, [Heb_4:14,] and you will find what I maintain, that the intercession by which God is reconciled to us is founded on the sacrifice; which, indeed, is demonstrated by the whole system of the ancient priesthood. It follows, therefore, that it is impossible to take from Christ any part of the office of intercession, and bestow it on others, without stripping him of the title of priesthood.

Besides, when the Apostle calls him ἀντίλυτρον a ransom,” (35) he overthrows all other satisfactions. Yet I am not ignorant of the injurious devices of the Papists, who pretend that the price of redemption, which Christ paid by his death, is applied to us in baptism, so that original sin is effaced, and that afterwards we are reconciled to God by satisfactions. In this way they limit to a small period of time, and to a single class, that benefit which was universal and perpetual. But a full illustration of this subject will be found in the Institutes.

That there might be a testimony in due time; that is, in order that this grace might be revealed at the appointed time. The phrase, for all, which the Apostle had used, might have given rise to the question, “ then had God chosen a peculiar people, if he revealed himself as a reconciled Father to all without distinction, and if the one redemption through Christ was common to all?” He cuts off all ground for that question, by referring to the purpose of God the season (36) for revealing his grace. For if we are not astonished that in winter, the trees are stripped of their foliage, the fields are covered with snow, and the meadows are stiff with frost, and that, by the genial warmth of spring, what appeared for a time to be dead, begins to revive, because God appointed the seasons to follow in succession; why should we not allow the same authority to his providence in other matters? Shall we accuse God of instability, because he brings forward, at the proper time, what he had always determined, and settled in his own mind?

Accordingly, although it came upon the world suddenly and was altogether unexpected, that Christ was revealed as a Redeemer to Jews and Gentiles, without distinction; let us not think that it was sudden with respect to God but, on the contrary, let us learn to subject all our sense to his wonderful providence. The consequence will be, that there will be nothing that comes from him which shall not appear to us to be highly seasonable. On that account this admonition frequently occurs in the writings of Paul and especially when he treats of the calling of the Gentiles, by which, at that time, on account of its novelty, many persons were startled and almost confounded. They who are not satisfied with this solution, that God, by his hidden wisdom, arranged the succession of the seasons, will one day feel, that, at the time when they think that he was idle, he was framing a hell for inquisitive persons.



(34) “ gave himself ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ, ‘ ransom for’ all. If this does not imply the notion of Vicarious, I very much question whether language can express it. Λύτρον is a Ransom; which conveys a vicarious sense, in its most common and authorized acceptation. Ἁντὶ, which is equivalent to Instead, still more fully ascertains and strengthens the idea. ( Ἁντὶ, Mat_2:22.) By this word the LXX. translated the word תהת, (tabhdth.) And that תהת denotes the substitution of one instead of another, no student of the sacred language will venture to deny. (See Gen_22:13; 2Sa_18:33; 2Kg_10:24.) ὑπὲρ, which is translated For, and denotes a substitution of one in the place of another; this, added to all, renders the expression as determinate and emphatical for the purpose as words can possibly be. Thus writes Clemens Romanus, Τὸ αἷυα αὐτοῦ ἔδωχεν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν χαὶ τὴν σάρχα ὑπερ τὢς εάρχος ἡμῶν χαὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν. “ Christ our Lord gave his blood for us, and his flesh for our flesh, and his soul for our souls.” (Eph_1:0 ad Corinth.) Exactly to the same purpose Justin the Martyr expresses himself: ‘ gave his own Son a ransom ( ὑπὲρ) for us, the holy for transgressors, the sinless for the sinful, the righteous for the unrighteous, the immortal for the mortal.’ (Eph_1:0 ad Diogn.)” — Hervey’ Theron and Aspasqo

(35) “Quand il l’ Rancon, ou, Pris de redemption.” — “ he calls him the Ransom or Price of our redemption.” — “ came to give up his life as a λύτρον. Now λύτρον properly denotes the ransom paid, in order to deliver any one from death, or its equivalent, captivity, or from punishment in general. It has been satisfactorily proved that, among both the Jews and the Gentiles, peculiar victims were accepted as a ransom for the life of an offender, and to atone for his offense. — The ἀντίλυτρον of this passage is a stronger term than the λύτρον of Mat_20:28, and is well explained by Hesych., ἀντίδοτον, implying the substitution, in suffering punishment, of one person for another. See 1Co_15:3; 2Co_5:21; Tit_2:14; 1Pe_1:18.” — Bloomfield.

(36) “Le temps propre et la droite saison.” — “ fit time and proper season.”