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Augustine Marlorate on John 3:16-17

October 28, 2008

Marlorate:

16. For so GOD loued the worlde, that hee gaue his onelye begotten Sonne that all that beleeue in him shoulde not perish, but haue euerlastig life.

R. Our Savior Christ, goes on still in the former disputation, still more plainly opening and declaring, that righteousness comes not by the Law, that is to say, by faith in Christ: and therewithal shows the first cause and principal original of our salvation, and that because we should not be the least in doubt.

No peace
of Conscience without
God’s love.

For our minds have no peaceable rest or quietness in which they may stay themselves, until we come to the free love of God. Therefore as the whole substance of our salvation consists in no other than in Christ, so we must so whereby Christ is united unto us, & why he is offered to us to be our savior.

Love in
God and
faith in us brings
us life eternal.

Both these thing are bear distinctly put down unto us: the first is a lively faith in Christ: the second is the love of God, by which he so loved the world that he sent life to the same by his only Son to save mankind from destruction. And this order is diligently to be noted. For when the original of our salvation comes in question, by and by, according to our natural ambition, burst forth devilish imaginations of or own merit. We fain that God is therefore merciful, because he has respect to none but those whom he judges worthy.

Mercy of God
makes man’s
merits frustrate.

But the Scripture does everywhere extol his mere and simple mercy, which clean abolishes all merits. And this is the very meaning of our Savior in these words, when he appoints the cause in God’s mercy. M. Therefore the love of God with the which he has loved the world, has so determined, that the world should be saved by the sending of the Son. And our Savior does slightly pass over this love, but does diligently amplify and inculcate the same, when he makes mention of sending of the only begotten son of God: who was given unto us, as a most certain and undoubted pledge of his Fatherly love toward us. R. Whereof then comes salvation, whereof comes justification? Whereof comes the hope of eternal life? Come these from the worthiness or merits of men? God forbid: but they have their original of the love of God. For we had always abode, so much as we could, in our sins, in death, and in hell, except God of his entire love, with the which he loved us being as yet miserable sinners, had not given his only begotten Son for us. Hereupon the Apostle says: “In this is love, not that we first loved him” (for the flesh is utterly void of the knowledge of God) “but because he loved us first, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” [1. Joh. 4:10.] And the Apostle Paul says: “GOD commends or declares his love toward us, in that when as yet we were miserable sinners, Christ died for us,” [Rom. 5:8.] C. Without all doubt where sin reigns, we shall find nothing but the wrath of God, which brings with it death. Therefore it is only mercy which reconciles us unto God, that therewithal we might be restored unto life. If any man demand in whom this love is founded, the Apostle Paul answers: “That it is founded in the purpose of his will.” Notwithstanding this manner of speech seeing to be contrary to many testimonies of Scriptures, which place the first and principal foundation of God’s love towards us, in Christ, and do show that without him, we are displeasing and hateful unto GOD.

But we must remember that the bidden and secret love, with the which God has loved us, because it springs from his eternal purpose, is above all other causes: but that his grace, which he would have to be made manifest unto us, and by which we have assurance of salvation begins at the reconciliation made by Christ.

For seeing we must needs grant that he hates all sin and wickedness, how can we assure ourselves to be in his love and favor, until our sins are clean put away, for the which he is justly angry with us.

Thus the blood of Christ must be the mean to make God favorable unto us, before we can have any answer of feeling of his Fatherly love and clemency.

B. And Christ is called the only begotten Son of God, because he is the head of God’s children, and have received all the fullness of his grace, that we also might be the sons of GOD. Moreover, there was never any man before him, that was without sin [Heb. 7:16.] and which bare the full and perfect Image of God: for he only is innocent.

Christ by nature,
but we by
adoption are
the sons of God

And this name of the only begotten son, appertains to Christ by right, because by nature he is the only Son of God: But we, by adoption, being engrafted into his body. Therefore this name of (only begotten Son) is put down unto us, to express the vehemency of God’s love toward us. For, because men do not casually persuade themselves to be beloved of God, to take away all doubt from us, he expresses says, “That God has so greatly loved, that for our sakes he has not spared his only begotten son. Seeing then God has sufficiently declared unto us his love, his shall not be a little injurious to Christ, that not contented with this testimony shall doubt still, and make no more account of Christ, than make no more account of Christ, than if one of the common sort of men had been given to death. But we must rather way and consider, of our great price God esteemed his son, to whom our salvation was so precious, that he would redeem the same with the price of his only begotten son. Even so the Apostle sets this love of God toward us, before our eyes to be considered, saying: “which spared not his own son, but gave him for us all, how also with him, shall he not give us all things?” [Rom. 8:32.]

{That everye one which beleeueth in hym should not perish.}

A. Concerning these words read the fifteen verse going before

17. For God sent not his Sonne into the world, to condemn the worlde, but that the worlde might be saued through him.

M. These words appertains to the enlarging & setting forth of the love of God with the which he has so loved this world, that he has given us his only begotten Son to the same. He might by the sending of his Son utterly condemn and destroy the world, (for the world by his wickedness and impieties has deserved perpetual condemnation): but such is the love of GOD toward the same, that he had rather spare it, and by sending his son to be a Savior, sought rather to offer the cause of salvation, than of condemnation. Therefore this is here attributed to the love of God, because he would not take vengeance of the wickedness of the world, and because the same love was so great, that by the excellency thereof it has repressed the severity of the judgment, by which he might justly have condemned the world. R. The will therefore of the Father, is to save by the Son. But what for all this? Surely although our sins condemn us, yet the Father saves us by the Son: If we be afflicted by the cross, the Father saves us by the Son. If we be overwhelmed with death, yet the Father saves us by the Son. Therefore let us steadfastly believe and lean to this word, “God sent not his Sonne into the worlde to condempne the worlde, but that the world might be saued through him.”  For whereby thou ma receive great comfort and consolation in all thy afflictions.

Bv. For our Lord Jesus Christ shall come in the Clouds of Heaven, to judge both the quick and the dead, with great power and Majesty: but it will be in the end of the world first: Now he continues not as Judge, but as a most merciful Savior. Therefore although now thy great sins do accuse thee, and condemn thee, consider that this is the time of grace and mercy, and fear not but be of good courage: and so shalt though find favor: R. For thus says the Lord: “I live, which will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live,” [Ezek. 18: 23].

Bv. Therefore if thou be converted, and repose thy whole trust in the Son of GOD, who suffered for thee, that he might make satisfaction for thy sins, and reconcile thee unto God, thou shalt be safe. For Paul says: “If God be with us, who can be against us? [Rom. 8:31.]. And Saint John says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins: not only for our sins alone, but for the sins also of the whole world,” [1. John. 2:1] To this effect also appertains this Evangelical sentence: The Son of God comes to save that which was lost [Luke. 19:10.]: and divers other such like sentences. E. Moreover, that which is spoken in another place, is nothing contrary to these words of our Savior Christ, “I came to judgment into the world, that they which see not, might see, and they which see, might be made blind,” [John. 5:39.]: For in these words he declares what is coming shall be to many, but in this place, what specially it shall be to the whole world. So is that to be taken which he says in another place, “For I came not to judge the world,” [John. 12:47.] C. To judge here is taken for to condemn, as in many other places also. Therefore in that he denies that he came to condemn the world, he notes thereby, the proper end of his coming. For, how needless was it, that Christ should come to destroy us, which were to much already overwhelmed with destruction? Therefore in Christ we must consider nothing, but that God of his infinite mercy and goodness, sought to help us, and to deliver us from destruction [Rom. 8:33.]. B. And as he cannot sin to condemnation, which is born of God, the Lord at the length by the Holy Spirit, purging out all sin, and undoubtedly pardoning whatsoever is committed [Joh. 5:24.]: Even so, such a one cannot be judged, that is to say, condemned: For by Christ he has passed from death to life. And being assured of God’s love and favor in Christ, has already eternal life.

Wherefore, whatsoever belongs unto sin and death, must decrease and fade away. Othersome, which believe not in the name of the only begotten Son of God, have not, neither can have at any time, which may deliver them from their sins. Therefore miserably they perish in their sins. Whereupon, because it is not given to them to believe in Christ, they are already judged and condemned, no less than he which having received a deadly wound, and having no surgeon, is sure to die: or than he, which being adjudged to due has no redeemer. Even so, verily Christ redeemed not them eternally from everlasting death, to whom it is not given to believe in Christ. For he alone delivered from death, and that by faith only.

C. They therefore which reject that grace which is offered in him, are worthy to find him a Judge, and a severe punisher of such wicked, and foul contempt. Of the which we have a plain testimony in the Gospel. “For seeing it is the power of God to salvation, to all that beleeue the same,” [Rom. 1:16.] most wicked is their ingratitude, which make it a savor of death, unto death [2. Cor. 10:6.]. Both these did the Apostle Paul, very well express, when he said, that he had in a readiness the vengeance against all the adversaries of his Doctrine, when the obedience of the Godly is fulfilled.

For his words are as much in effect, as if he should have said, that the Gospel principally does belong to the Faithful, that it may be unto them Salvation: and then to the wicked that it may be unto them condemnation, because they contemning the grace of Christ, had rather have him the author of death, than of life. This world (world) is twice repeated, that no man might think himself excluded, if so he be he continues in faith. Augustine Marlorate, A Catholike and Ecclesiasticall exposition of the holy Gospel after S. Iohn, trans., Thomas Timme (Imprinted at London by Thomas Marshe, Anno Domini. 1575), 76-80. [Some spelling modernized.] [C.f. Calvin on John 3:16; and Musculus on the same.]

[Key: B=Bucer; C=Calvin; E=Erasmus; M=Musculus; P=Melanchthon; S=Sarcerius; R=Brentius; BV=Bullinger; Z=Zwingli; V=Theodorus; A=Marlorate.]

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