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John Calvin's Commentary: John 1:6

Categories Theology

6. There was a man sent by God, whose name was John. 7. He came for a testimony, that he might testify of the light; that by him all might believe. John 1:6-7

6. There was a man. The Evangelist now begins to discourse about the manner in which the Son of God was manifested in flesh; and that none may doubt that Christ is the eternal Son of God, he relates that Christ was announced by John the Baptist, as his herald. For not only did Christ exhibit himself to be seen by men, but he chose also to be made known by the testimony and doctrine of John; or rather, God the Father sent this witness before his Christ, that they might more willingly receive the salvation offered by him.

But it might at first sight appear ridiculous that Christ should receive testimony from another, as if he needed it, while, on the contrary, he declares that he does not seek testimony from man, (John v. 34.) The answer is easy and obvious, that this witness was appointed, not for the sake of Christ, but for our sake. If it be objected that the testimony of man is too weak to prove that Christ is the Son of God, it is likewise easy to reply, that the Baptist is not adduced as private witness, but as one who, having received authority from God, sustained the character rather of an angel than of a man. Accordingly, he receives commendation not for his own virtues, but for this single circumstance, that he was the ambassador of God. Nor is this at variance with the fact, that the preaching of the gospel was committed to Christ, that he might be a witness to himself; for the design contemplated by the preaching of John was, that men might attend to the doctrine and miracles of Christ.

Excerpt from Calvin's Commentaries Volume XVII: Harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John 1-11, Baker Books, 2009, p.35

July 2009 is John Calvin Month on Koinonia in celebration of John Calvin's 500th birthday! As part of the celebration we'll be posting short excerpts of his writing along with posts from Zondervan Academic authors.

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