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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Acts 5:40-42

40. And they obeyed him. And when they had called the apostles, having beaten them, they commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus; and they let them go. 41. Therefore they went rejoicing from the face of the council, because they were counted worthy to suffer reproach for his name. 42. And they did not cease daily in the temple, and in every house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus.


40. Having beaten them, they commanded. He saith that Gamaliel’s counsel was allowed; yet the apostles are beaten, and forbidden to preach.  293 Hereby we gather how great the rage of the enemies was, who being now pacified, or at least mitigated, do yet, notwithstanding, rage immoderately.  294 And it appeareth also what evil success those doubtful counsels have, wherein men alone are respected, and the truth of God set aside. Gamaliel obtaineth thus much, that the lives of the apostles may be saved;  295 but, in the mean season, the Son of God is blasphemed and slandered in their person; the truth of the gospel is buried in eternal silence, so much as in the enemies lieth, God surely doth by this means wonderfully spread abroad his word; yet that counsel ceaseth not to be evil. Which we must note for this cause, because most men at this day do think, that they do not a little obey God, if they save the lives of those men which come in hazard for the doctrine of the gospel, or somewhat appease  296 the enemies who are otherwise bloody. In the mean season, they are not afraid to drive them unto the wicked denial of Christ, the confessing of whom is far more precious in the sight of God than the life of all men. But what could they do who, casting away all care of godliness, go about to redeem God’s favor with the duty of courtesy?  297

41. Then they went rejoicing. We must not think that the apostles were so senseless but that they felt some shame and did also lament, when they felt the punishment; for they had not quite put off nature;  298 but when they considered the cause, then joy got the upperhand. So the faithful must be two manner of ways affectioned so often as they suffer persecution for the gospel; they must be touched with the bitterness of punishments,  299 yet so that they overcome this sorrow with spiritual joy. For they should have (changed their mind, and) stricken sail by and by, unless they had been strengthened and encouraged by that joy.  300 And it is not to be doubted, but that even death was sweet, and pleasant to Peter on this fashion, which, notwithstanding the Lord doth testify shall be bitter unto him. Let us, therefore, learn that we must wrestle with sorrow and care,  301 that we hold on courageously to suffer the cross, and that we bear the same when it is laid upon us.

That they were counted worthy. This might seem at the first blush absurd, in that Luke placeth honor in reproach;  302 but the disagreement which is between God and the world causeth this, that that which is counted amongst men most reproachful, excelleth in dignity and glory in the sight of God and his angels. We know that the kind of death which Christ suffered was of all other most shameful, and yet did he triumph most nobly upon the cross; so, when we are made like unto him, we may worthily boast that it is a point of singular excellency, that we suffer rebuke in the sight of the world. Thus doth Paul boast of the marks of Christ, (Ga 6:17.) For we must here respect the cause which doth associate us unto Christ,  303 who doth not only swallow up the shame of the world with his glory, but doth also turn reproaches, slanders, and mocks of the world, into great honor. Wherefore, it is no marvel that there be so few found which are strong and stout to bear the cross, because we are almost all drowned and overwhelmed with the sense of the flesh; and there is scarce one amongst an hundred which considereth that the reproach of Christ doth far excel all the triumphs of the world, which is the only matter of comfort. Wherefore, we must use the greater diligence in thinking upon this sentence; that we are at this day made partakers  304 of the sufferings of Christ, that we may be partakers of his glory.

42. They ceased not. Constancy did also accompany their Joy. For how is it that we are discouraged with persecution, save only because none lifteth up himself unto Christ, that he may in mind lay hold upon the fruit of victory, and so be pricked forward unto patience? But that man which thinketh with himself that he is happy when he suffereth for Christ’s sake, shall never faint, though he must suffer hard conflicts. Therefore the apostles are, after a sort, armed with stripes, so that they valiantly make haste unto death. Therefore, woe be to our daintiness, who, having suffered a little persecution, do by and by resign up the light  305 to another, as if we were now old worn soldiers.



Docere,” to teach.


Adeo tamen intemperanter se gerunt,” yet conduct themselves to intemperately.


Parcatur,” may be spared.


Flectant ad lenitatem.” incline to lenity.


Humanitatis officio se qpud Deum redimere volunt,” would purchase the favor of God to themselves by an act of humanity.


Ac dolerent etiam mali sui sensu; neque enim naturam prorsus exuerent,” and were not insensible to their suffering; for they did not altogether divest themselves of their natural feelings.


Malorum,” sufferings.


Nam mox retro vela flexissent, nisi novum vigorem dedisset ex gaudio nata alacritas,” for they would immediately have altered their sails, (changed their course,) had not the alacrity produced by joy given them new vigor.


Anxietate,” anxiety.


Dedecore,” disgrace.


Filio Dei,” the Son of God.


Socii et consortes,” companions and sharers.


Facem resignamus,” resign the torch.

Next: Chapter 6