Calvin on Natures Acting

The irony is that I am now reading Calvin more carefully (and sometimes more eagerly) than the days when I was a Calvinist.  The following is from his commentary on Matthew 24:36 (good luck finding it;  “Harmonies” of the Gospels are useless and make research and cross-referencing virtually impossible.  That said, if you have the 30 odd volume Commentary set published by Baker or Hendrickson, look for volume 17, page 154.

For we know that in Christ the two natures were united into one person in such a manner that each retained its own properties; and more especially  the Divine nature was in a state of repose, and did not at all exert itself, whenever it was necessary that the human nature should act separately, according to what was peculiar to itself, in discharging the office of Mediator.

We can note several things here:

  • The Person of Christ as subject (per Cyril) is pushed to the background and emphasis is on the Office of Mediator.
  • We see an explicit statement that natures, not Persons, act.   This is an open confusion of person and nature.  I suppose one could reply that Calvin really meant that the person acts, and the first sentence of the quote does suggest that Calvin thought he was being faithful to the Tradition.  That said, given the later Calvinian emphasis on the extra calvinisticum, Calvin’s words here are internally consistent (if wrong).

I will admit, though, I do not yet know what Calvin means by the divine nature is in a state of repose.

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One comment on “Calvin on Natures Acting

  1. […] friend Jacob came across this very notion when John Calvin writes in his commentaries on Mathew […]

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