John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:29 - 6:29

Online Resource Library

Return to PrayerRequest.com | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

John Calvin Complete Commentary - John 6:29 - 6:29


(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

29.The work of God is this. They had spoken of works Christ reminds them of one work, that is, faith; by which he means that all that men undertake withoutfaith is vain and useless, but thatfaith alone is sufficient, because this alone does God require from us, that we believe For there is here an implied contrast between faith and the works and efforts of men; as if he had said, Men toil to no purpose, when they endeavor to please God without faith, because, by running, as it were, out of the course, they do not advance towards the goal. This is a remarkable passage, showing that, though men torment themselves wretchedly throughout their whole life, still they lose their pains, if they have notfaith in Christ as the rule of their life. Those who infer from this passage that faith is the gift of God are mistaken; for Christ does not now show what God produces in us, but what he wishes and requires from us.

But we may think it strange that God approves of nothing but faith alone; for the love of our neighbor ought not to be despised, and the other exercises of religion do not lose their place and honor. So then, though faith may hold the highest rank, still other works are not superfluous. The reply is easy; for faith does not exclude either the love of our neighbor or any other good work, because it contains them all within itself. Faith is called the only work of God, because by means of it we possess Christ, and thus become the sons of God, so that he governs us by his Spirit. So then, because Christ does not separate faith from its fruits, we need not wonder if he make it to be the first and the last. (140)

That you believe in him whom he hath sent. What is the import of the word believe, we have explained under the Third Chapter. It ought always to be remembered that, in order to have a full perception of the power of faith, we must understand what Christ is, in whom we believe, and why he was given to us by the Father. It is idle sophistry, under the pretext of this passage, to maintain that we are justified by works, if faith justifies, because it is likewise called a work First, it is plain enough that Christ does not speak with strict accuracy, when he calls faith a work, just as Paul makes a comparison between the law of faith and the law of works, (Rom_3:27.) Secondly, when we affirm that men are not justified by works, we mean works by the merit of which men may obtain favor with God. Now faith brings nothing to God, but, on the contrary, places man before God as empty and poor, that he may be filled with Christ and with his grace. It is, therefore, if we may be allowed the expression, a passive work, to which no reward can be paid, and it bestows on man no other righteousness than that which he receives from Christ.

(140) “Proram et puppim,” literally, “ and stern,” a Latin idiom for the whole. The Author’ French version (ed. 1558) renders the clause, “il ne se faut point esbahir s’ constitue en elle la fin et le commencement;” — “ must not be astonished if he makes it to be the end and the beginning;” and in ed. 1564, it runs thus, “ce n’ pas merveille que la foy est tout ce que Dieu requiert;” — “ is not wonderful that faith is all that God requires.”