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The Westminster Annotations on the Bible: John 3:16 and Electing and Non-electing Love

November 12, 2008

The Annotations:

First edition:
V. 16. For God so loved the world] 1 Joh. 4.9. Mankind.

Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament Wherein the Text is Explained, Doubts Resolved, Scriptures Paralleled, and Various Readings Observed. By the Joynt-Labour of cerrtain Learned Divines, thereunto appointed, and therein employed, (London: Printed by John Legatt and John Raworth, 1645). [No pagination.]

Second edition:

v.16. For God so loved, &c.] In this verse Christ shows these four concurrent causes of our redemption and salvation. 1. The principal first impulsive; the love of God, which can have no cause but itself. 2. The material, or price of our redemption, his only begotten Son. 3. The instrumental; faith in Christ: that whosoever believes in him. 4. the final, eternal life.

the world] That is, mankind, for Christ speaks not here of the common love of God where he wills the good of conservation to the creature; so he loved all creatures, but of his special love, where he wills man should be saved by Christ, and he is truly to love the world, because they whom he loves to eternal life, are in the world, a part of the world, and gathered by his word and Spirit into the body of the Church, out of all ages and parts of the world, God loved all that he had made: he loves not sin which is neither in him nor of him, he loved a sinning world (for when we were enemies, he reconciled us. Rom. 5.10) but not the sins of the world: if we speak of the of God’s peculiar love which is to eternal life; we must understand the elect only, opposed to that part thereof, concerning which it is said; the whole world lies in wickedness. 1 Joh. 5.19. and, I pray not for the world-c. 17.9. Christ prayed for those whom he loved to salvation; that is, for the elect only I pray for them I pray not for the world, the elect are in the world, not of the world (c. 17.16) that is, of that party which lies in sin and unbelief; so two sorts of men are intimated, sub uno mundi nomine; under this one name, world (says Prosper) sicut enim dicitur mundus in impriis, ita dicitur mundus in sanctis—the wicked are called the world, and here the saints are called the world which God loves, God loves us such as we shall be by his gift, non quales sumus nostro merito. Augustin. de C.D. l.17. c.4. not such as we are by our desert, he loved, quod fecerat &c elegerat in filio, faith the same tr. 110. in Joh. 17. that which he had made, and chosen in his Son; out of whom he loves no man to eternal life: A Prince may be truly said, to love his Subjects specially then, when he punishes the perverse, rebellious, and seditious among them; and a Physician his patient, specially when humors which disaffect him: so neither can it prejudicate the love of God that he cuts off and condemns reprobates, or when with severe corrections, he fetches in, amends, and saves those whom he loved and elect from eternity, thus then the creator, and Lord of lords, loved the world; that is wretched mankind dispersed, upon the face of the the earth, without difference of nation, dignity, sex, or age: all the world with his common love, (of which all have some taste) of the elect only, according to the effect thereof, his purpose of saving them in Christ.   Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New Testament: This Second Edition so enlarged, As they make an entire Commentary on the Sacred Scripture: The like never before published in English. Wherein The Text is Explained, Doubts Resolved, Scriptures Paralleled (London: Printed by John Legat, 1651). [No pagination.]

[Notes: 1) As with the New Testament Henry and Poole commentaries, these Annotations were compiled by various authors and so can display a variety of theological and interpretative traditions at various points;  2) having read the enlarged comment, the one thing we can be sure about is that this annotator did believe in a general non-electing love and thought this to be an authentic expression of Westminsterian doctrine; and 3) credit to Donald MacLean of the James Durham Thesis for making me aware of this second edition.]

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