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Family Resemblances

May 28, 2008

Families look alike, but so too can theologies or theological expressions.


Also they declare by the way, whom he has redeemed: that is to wit, men of all tribes, &c. In which rehearsal he does imitate Daniel in the 7. chapt. and signifies an universality, for the Lord has died for all: but that all are not made partakers of this redemption, it is through their own fault. For the Lord excludes no man, but him only which through his own unbelief, and misbelief excludes himself. &c. Heinrich Bullinger, A Hundred Sermons Upon the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ. (London: Printed by John Daye, Dwellign over Aldersgate, 1573), 79-80.

And now Calvin:

“To bear,” or, “take away sins”, is to free from guilt by his satisfaction those who have sinned. He says the sins of many, that is, of all, as in Romans 5:15. It is yet certain that not all receive benefit from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief prevents them. At the same time this question is not to be discussed here, for the Apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died for others and not for himself; and therefore he opposes many to one. John Calvin, Hebrews 9:28.

He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him. John Calvin. Romans 5:18.

The structure and juxtapositioning here is interesting.  I cant take seriously the claims that seek to subvert the force of Calvin’s language.

Whats really cool is that we can look at it from another angle.

That first was Bullinger on Rev 5:9-10.

Now here is David Paraus on the same verse range:

The same benefit of redemption the Elders celebrate, Chap.5:9. “Thou has redeemed us to our God by thy blood.” And indeed this benefit we enjoy in this life: for now, as many as through faith, are “sealed” in the blood of the lamb, are redeemed; howbeit the fulness of our redemption is reserved to the life to come. But are not all redeemed by Christ, died he not for all? Says not the Apostle Peter that he bought these “false prophets,” by whom he is denied? To this Augustine well answers, that all are said to be redeemed, according to the dignity of the price: which would suffice for the redemption of all men, if all by faith did receive the benefit offered. But as many as pass the time of their being in this life in infidelity, they remain unredeemed through their own fault. The sealed therefore are only redeemed, because they alone by faith receive the grace of redemption, through the grace of election, which God vouchsafed them (not to the others) from all eternity. David Pareus, A Commentary Upon the Divine Revelation of the Apostle and Evangelist, John (Amsterdam: Printed by C.P. Anno, 1644), 333-334.

But this resemblance is also cool again, because Paraeus cites Aquinas from his commentary on Revelation and from the same verse range:

Thomas on the 5. Of the Apoc. writes on this manner.

Of the redemption purchased by the passion of Christ we may speak in a double sense & signification, either respecting the sufficiency thereof; & so his passion redeemed all because as concerning himself he delivered all. For his passion is sufficient to serve & redeem all, yea if there were a thousand worlds as says Anselm in his 2. book [?] 14. Chapter Cur Deus Homo &c: or else we speak thereof respecting the efficacy, & in this sense he redeemed not all by his passion, because all cleave not fast unto the Redeemer, and therefore feel not nor perceive the virtue of redemption.

Lets go back to Calvin and Bullinger but another comment.


And he who outwardly receives the sacrament by true faith, not only receives the sign, but also, as we said, enjoys the thing itself. Moreover, he obeys the Lord’s institution and commandment, and with a joyful mind gives thanks for his redemption and that of all mankind, and makes a faithful memorial to the Lord’s death, and gives a witness before the Church, of whose body he is a member. Assurance is also given to those who receive the sacrament that the body of the Lord was given and his blood shed, not only for men in general, but particularly for every faithful communicant, to whom it is food and drink unto eternal life. The Second Helvetic Confession – Chapter XXI “Of the Holy Supper of the Lord.”


“Which is shed for many.” By the word “many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke–Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated. John Calvin, Mark 14:24.

Later I will type out Gualther’s comments on Acts 20:28 with Calvin’s comments on the same, showing how they are nearly identical.

The cumulative evidence that there was a common family theology is building up quite solidly.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2008 10:47 am

    I’m glad that Bullinger quote turned up in his Sermons Upon the Apocalypse. It’s a very good find.

  2. Flynn permalink
    May 29, 2008 11:29 am

    Hey Tony,

    Yes whats really good about that comment from Bullinger is his use of the phrase “died for all” as it is rarely used by the early Reformers. The more common expression was “suffered for all.”


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