John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 5:25 - 5:25

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 5:25 - 5:25


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25.Verily, verily When the Evangelist represents the Son of God as swearing so frequently in reference to our salvation, hence we perceive, first, how eagerly he desires our welfare, and next, of how great importance it is that the faith of the Gospel should be deeply fixed and thoroughly confirmed. The statement has indeed some appearance of being incredible, when we are told that this is the effect of the faith of which Christ speaks; and therefore he confirms by an oath that the voice of his Gospel has such power of giving life that it is powerful to raise the dead It is generally agreed that he speaks of spiritual death; for those who refer it to Lazarus, (Joh_11:44,) and to the widow’ son at Nain, (Luk_7:15,) and similar instances, are refuted by what follows. First, Christ shows that we are all dead before he quickens us; and hence it is evident what the whole nature of man can accomplish towards procuring salvation.

When the Papists wish to set up their free-will, they compare it to the Samaritan whom the robbers had left half-dead on the road, (Luk_10:30;) as if by the smoke of an allegory they could darken a clear statement, by which Christ declares that we are fully condemned to death. And indeed as we have been, since the revolt of the first man, alienated from God through sin, all who do not acknowledge that they are overwhelmed with everlasting destruction do nothing else than deceive themselves by empty flatteries. I readily acknowledge that in the soul of man there remains some remnant of life; for understanding, and judgment, and will, and all our senses, are so many parts of life; but as there is no part which rises to the desire of the heavenly life, we need not wonder if the whole man, so far as relates to the kingdom of God, is accounted dead. And this death Paul explains more fully when he says, that we are alienated from the pure and sound reason of the understanding, that we are enemies to God, and opposed to his righteousness, in every affection of our heart; that we wander in darkness like blind persons, and are given up to wicked lusts, (Eph_2:1.) If a nature so corrupted has no power to desire righteousness, it follows that the life of God is extinguished in us.

Thus the grace of Christ is a true resurrection from the dead. Now this grace is conferred on us by the Gospel; not that so much energy is possessed by the external voice, which in many cases strikes the ears to no purpose, but because Christ speaks to our hearts within by his Spirit, that we may receive by faith the life which is offered to us. For he does not speak indiscriminately of all thedead, but means the elect only, whose ears God pierces and opens, that they may receive the voice of his Son, which restores them to life. This twofold grace, indeed, Christ expressly holds out to us by his words, when he says, The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who hear shall live; for it is not less contrary to nature that the dead should hear, than that they should be brought back to the life which they had lost; and therefore both proceed from the secret power of God.

The hour cometh, and now is. He thus speaks of it as a thing which had never before happened; and, indeed, the publication of the Gospel was a new and sudden resurrection of the world. But did not the word of God always give life to men? This question may be easily answered. The doctrine of the Law and the Prophets was addressed to the people of God, and consequently must have been rather intended to preserve in life those who were the children of God than to bring them back from death. But it was otherwise with the Gospel, by which nations formerly estranged from the kingdom of God, separated from God, and deprived of all hope of salvation, were invited to become partakers of life.