John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 4:10 - 4:10

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 4:10 - 4:10


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10For in this we both labor and suffer reproaches This is an anticipation by which he solves that question, “ not believers the most miserable of all men, because they are oppressed by tribulations of every kind?” In order to show, therefore, that their condition must not be judged from outward appearance, he distinguishes them from others, first in the cause, and next in the result. Hence it follows, that they lose nothing of the promises which he has mentioned, when they are tried by adversity. The sum is, that believers are not miserable in afflictions, because a good conscience supports them, and a blessed and joyful end awaits them.

Now, since the happiness of the present life consists chiefly of two parts, honor and conveniences, he contrasts them within two evils, toils and reproach, meaning by the former words, inconveniences and annoyances of every kind, such as poverty, cold, nakedness, hunger, banishments, spoliations, imprisonments, scourgings, and other persecutions.

We have hope fixed on the living God This consolation refers to the cause; for so far are we from being miserable, when we suffer on account of righteousness, that it is rather a just ground of thanksgiving. Besides, our afflictions are accompanied by hope in the living God, and, what is more, hope may be regarded as the foundation; but it never maketh ashamed, (Rom_5:5,) and therefore everything that happens to the godly ought to be reckoned a gain.

Who is the Savior (76) This is the second consolation, though it depends on the former; for the deliverance of which he speaks may be viewed as the fruit of hope. To make this more clear, it ought to be understood that this is an argument drawn from the less to the greater; for the word σωτὴρ (77) is here a general term, and denotes one who defends and preserves. He means that the kindness of God extends to all men. And if there is no man who does not feel the goodness of God towards him, and who is not a partaker of it, how much more shall it be experienced by the godly, who hope in him? Will he not take peculiar care in them? Will he not more freely pour out his bounty on them? In a word, will he not, in every respect, keep them safe to the end?

(76) “ word Savior is not here taken in what we call its proper and strict meaning, in regard to the eternal salvation which God promises to his elect, but it is taken for one who delivers and protects. Thus we see that even unbelievers are protected by God, as it is said (Mat_5:46) that “ maketh his sun to shine on the good and the bad;” and we see that all are fed by his goodness, that all are delivered from many dangers. In this sense he is called “ Savior of all men,” not in regard to the spiritual salvation of their souls, but because he supports all his creatures. In this way, therefore, our Lord is the Savior of all men, that is, his goodness extends to the most wicked, who are estranged from him, and who do not deserve to have any intercourse with him, who ought to have been struck off from the number of the creatures of God and destroyed; and yet we see how God hitherto extends his grace to them; for the life which he gives to them is a testimony of his goodness. Since, therefore God shows such favor towards those who are strangers to him, how shall it be with us who are members of his household? Not that we are better or more excellent than those whom we see to be cast off by him, but the whole proceeds from his mercy and free grace, that he is reconciled to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, since he hath called us to the knowledge of the gospel, and then confirms us, and seals his bounty toward us, so that we ought to be convinced that he reckons us to be his children. Since, therefore, we see that he nourishes those who are estranged from him, let us go and hide ourselves under his wings; for, having taken us under his protection, he has declared that he will show himself to be a Father toward us.” — Fr. Ser.

(77) “Le mot Grec que nous traduisons Sauveur ” — The Greek word which we translate Savior.”