John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 3:34 - 3:34

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 3:34 - 3:34

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34.For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. He confirms the preceding statement, for he shows that we have actually to do with God, when we receive the doctrine of Christ; because Christ proceeded from none else than from the Heavenly Father. It is, therefore, God alone who speaks to us by him; and, indeed, we do not assign to the doctrine of Christ all that it deserves, unless we acknowledge it to be divine.

For God giveth not the Spirit by measure. This passage is explained in two ways. Some extend it to the ordinary dispensation in this manner: that God, who is the inexhaustible fountain of all benefits, does not in the least degree diminish his resources, when he largely and plentifully bestows his gifts on men. They who draw from any vessel what they give to others come at last to the bottom; but there is no danger that any thing of this sort can happen with God, nor will the abundance of his gifts ever be so large that he cannot go beyond it, whenever he shall be pleased to make a new exercise of liberality. This exposition appears to have some plausibility, for the sentence is indefinite; that is, it does not expressly point out any person. (70)

But I am more disposed to follow Augustine, who explains that it was said concerning Christ. Nor is there any force in the objection, that no express mention is made of Christ in this clause, since all ambiguity is removed by the next clause, in which that which might seem to have been said indiscriminately about many is limited to Christ. For these words were unquestionably added for the sake of explanation, that the Father hath given all things into the hand of his Son, because he loveth him, and ought therefore to be read as placed in immediate connection. The verb in the present tense — giveth — denotes, as it were, a continued act; for though Christ was all at once endued with the Spirit in the highest perfection, yet, as he continually flows, as it were, from a source, and is widely diffused, there is no impropriety in saying that Christ now receives him from the Father. But if any one choose to interpret it more simply, it is no unusual thing that there should be a change of tenses in such verbs, and that giveth should be put for hath given (71)

The meaning is now plain, that the Spirit was not given to Christ by measure, as if the power of grace which he possesses were in any way limited; as Paul teaches that

to every one is given according to the measure of the gift,


so that there is no one who alone has full abundance. For while this is the mutual bond of brotherly intercourse between us, that no man separately considered has every thing that he needs, but all require the aid of each other, Christ differs from us in this respect, that the Father has poured out upon him an unlimited abundance of his Spirit. And, certainly, it is proper that the Spirit should dwell without measure in him, that we may all draw out of his fullness, as we have seen in the first chapter. And to this relates what immediately follows, that the Father hath given all things into his hand; for by these words John the Baptist not only declares the excellence of Christ, but, at the same time, points out the end and use of the riches with which he is endued; namely, that Christ, having been appointed by the Father to be the administrator, he distributes to every one as he chooses, and as he finds to be necessary; as Paul explains more fully in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which I lately quoted. Although God enriches his own people in a variety of ways, this is peculiar to Christ alone, that he has all things in his hand

(70) “C’ a dire, ne determine point certaine personne.”

(71) “Et que Donne soit mis pour et donne .”