Calvin's verse usage in refutation of Servetus

Steven Avery

History of the Christian Church, Volume 7
by Philip Schaff

1 Defensio orthodoxs fidei de sacra Trinit ate, contra prodigiosos errores
Michaelis Serveti Hitpani: ubi ostenditur hareticos jure gladii coe'rcendos esse,
el nominatim de homine hoc. Utm impio juste et merito sumptum Geneva fuisse supplicium. Per Johannem Calvinum. Oliva Roberti Stephani (201 pages). It is also quoted under the sub-title: Fidelis Kxpositio errorum Mich. Serveti et brevis eorundem Refutation etc., or simply as Refutatio Errorum M. 8. The French version is entitled: Declaration pour maintenir la vraye foy que tiennent tout Chrtstiens de la Trinity des personnes en un seul Dieu. Par Jean Calvin. Contre les erreurs dtlestables de Michel Servet, Espaignol. Ou il est aussi monstrt, qu'il est licite de punir les heretiques; et qu'a bon droict ce meschant a esti execute par justice en la ville de Genive (360 pages). The work is accordingly cited under different titles — Defensio, Refutatio, Declaration. See the bibliographi cal notices in Calvin’s Opera, VIII. Proleg. xxix-xxxiii.

Refutatio Errorum

Contra Servetus.jpg

I ran into this when looking up Stancarus. Note how Bugenhagen is right in the mix.

Brevis Admonitio ad Fratres Polonos (1563)

other ref in p 590.jpg

Steven Avery

Calvin's English is nicely placed here

Commentaries on the catholic epistles, tr. and ed. by J. Owen
By Jean [comms. on the Bible] Calvin

7. There are three that hear record in heaven. The whole of this verse has been by some omitted. Jerome thinks that this has happened through design rather than through mistake, and that indeed only on the part of the Latins. But as even the Greek copies do not agree, I dare not assert any thing on the subject. Since, however, the passage flows better when this clause is added, and as I see that it is found in the best and most approved copies, I am inclined to receive it as the true reading.' And the meaning would be, that God, in order to confirm most abundantly our faith in Christ, testifies in three ways that we ought to acquiesce in him. For as our faith acknowledges three persons in the one divine essence, so it is called in so many ways to Christ that it may rest on him.

When he says, These three are one, he refers not to essence, but on the contrary to consent; as though he had said, that the Father and his eternal Word and Spirit harmoniously testify the same thing respecting Christ. Hence some copies have (Greek) "for one." But though you read (Greek) as in other copies, yet there is no doubt but that the Father, the Word and the Spirit are said to be one, in the same sense in which afterwards the blood and the water and the Spirit are said to agree in one.

But as the Spirit, who is one witness, is mentioned twice, it seems to he an unnecessary repetition. To this I reply, that since he testifies of Christ in various ways, a twofold testimony is fitly ascribed to him. For the Father, together with his eternal Wisdom and Spirit, declares Jesus to be the Christ as it were authoritatively, then, in this case, the solo majesty of the Deity is to be considered by us. But as the Spirit, dwelling in our hearts, is an earnest, a pledge, and a seal, to confirm that decree, so he thus again speaks on earth by his grace. But inasmuch as all do not receive this reading, I will therefore so expound what follows, as though the Apostle referred to the witnesses only on the earth.


Note that Calvin gets a bit confused on the two different "Spirits", thinking they are the same.

Also on Calvin, with English

John Calvin’s use of Erasmus (2017)
Max Engammere (b. 1963)
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Steven Avery

BCEME p. 351
Calvin, Jean, trans. Le Nouveau Testament. Geneva: Riveriz, 1551a.

Commentarii in Epistolas Canonicas, Vnam Petri. Vnam Ioannis. Vnam Iacobi.
Petri alteram. Iudae vnam. Geneva: Jean Crispin, 1551b.

Commentaries on the catholic epistles, tr. and ed. by J. Owen


Grantley has a sweet part of Calvin that I have not seen elsewhere, is it in the English translations?

Calvin thus concluded that the agreement spoken of refers to a unity of testimony, not one of essence,

“as if he were to say that the Father, his eternal Word [sermo] and the spirit equally approve of Christ,
like the notes of a chord [symphonia quædam]; and so several codices read ‘unto one’ [εἰς ἕν].”

31 Calvin 1551a, 905; cf. CR 85:616.
32 Calvin 1551b, 97–98.

Based on 1855 edition.
(actually sermonem, not sermon
- maybe quadam, not quaedam)
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