John Calvin’s Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles

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In February, the Banner of Truth will be releasing an English translation of John Calvin’s Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles: Chapters 1-7 (688 pp., clothbound). Dr Rob Roy McGregor served as the translator. In the new Banner of Truth magazine, William Evans writes:

“The contributions of John Calvin as a Reformer, theologian, and student of Scripture are, of course, well known. His Institutes of the Christian Religion, first published in 1536 and achieving definitive form in the Latin edition of 1559, have influenced many generations of Presbyterian and Reformed readers. Likewise, the commentaries he wrote on most of the books of the Bible are rightly regarded as monuments of careful biblical scholarship which repay careful study even today. Less well known is Calvin’s preaching, despite the fact that he devoted a great deal of his time to pulpit ministry in Strasbourg and Geneva.

It is only during the twentieth century, and especially the post-World War II period, that Calvin’s sermons have begun to receive the scholarly attention they so richly deserve. Due to the work of scholars such as Émil Doumergue, Erwin Mülhaupt, T. H. L. Parker, Richard Stauffer, and Hughes Oliphant Old we now have a much greater knowledge of Calvin’s preaching activity, and ongoing efforts are underway to provide critical texts of all extant Calvin sermons in the series Supplementa Calviniana. This excellent English translation of Calvin’s sermons on The Acts of the Apostles represents the fruit of this careful labour in that it is translated from this more recent critical edition.”

I agree with Evans. The sermons of Calvin are valuable but often overlooked. Sadly, some readers will equate Calvin with their experiences of near-drowning in the Institutes or reading his sometimes-dry commentaries. The sermons of Calvin, however, read more easily than the Institutes and focus more on the robust, reformed experiential spirituality than his commentaries. To soak my own soul in biblical encouragement I often open a copy of Calvin’s sermons.

This newest volume of sermon on Acts follows my favorite Banner title from 2006, Calvin’s Sermons on the Beatitudes translated by Robert White (114 pp., clothbound). And in 2003 P&R’s published an English version of Calvin’s Sermons on the Book of Micah translated by Benjamin Wirt Farley (433 pp., paperback). Older sermon volumes carried by the Banner include Calvin’s sermons on Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Samuel, and Job.

Expositors will benefit from these volumes but anyone desirous of reading Calvin for themselves will be encouraged to start in his sermons.

4 thoughts on “John Calvin’s Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles

  1. The failure to translate the entire Calvin corpus, most notably his sermons, is one of the greatest black-marks on modern scholarship. This translation of his Acts sermons doesn’t erase that mark, but its a step in the right direction. Praise God for Banner of Truth, who, once again, refuse to forget the precious gems of the past.

  2. I’ve had a fond memory of a distant past reading of one of Calvin’s exhortations from Job for Calvin’s fellow ministers that when men go spiritually astray, it behooves the ministers that they would keep diligent to the Lord. This exhortation of Calvin charged me at that time, an ever prone to stray young Christian layman, that the Lord rules in His providence over the Christian’s perseverance, and the Christian’s wanderings. That exhortation stayed in the back of my mind ever since.

    I’ve also found recent comfort from Calvin’s letters, specifically a second volume of Calvin’s letters published by Kessinger. I found the letters at Amazon, and after an initial review, I’m leaning toward adding them to my bookshelves. Two things struck me from Calvin’s letters. One, Calvin loved to pursue poorness of spirit with the Lord, and Calvin found this pursuit with the Lord to be a radical counterculture to his own king and other European kings. Calvin mentioned in one letter that he already had the Swiss up in arms over him because his teaching got his own king mad at him. As Calvin learned to let go of earthly standards of value – material richness and poorness – with the Lord, Calvin would find deeper spiritual wealth and Heavenly standards of value with the Lord as a contrast to the kingdoms of Europe.

    And two, Calvin loved taking care of marginalized families with the Lord. Another letter mentions that there was a family very poor and sickly in his surroundings, and that this was an effective rebuke to one nobleman who lived very scrupulously and suspiciously about sharing his life with others. Calvin’s aspiration to poorness of spirit with the Lord would lead Calvin to extending spiritual mercy ministry with the Lord onto peers who were often downtrodden and marginalized by humanistic nobles in Europe.
    It seems that with Calvin’s sermons and letters, Calvin was concerned to use his study of Scripture and his pastoral work with the Lord to drive his development of theology with the Lord as a witness of the Gospel to Geneva and Europe.

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