Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 43: Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
IT may be natural to inquire why the Epistles to Timothy and Titus have been less copiously illustrated by popular Commentaries than the other writings of the Apostle Paul. The reason probably is, that they are addressed chiefly to office-bearers, and not to private members of the Church; though they abound largely in those doctrinal statements and practical instructions which every Christian ought carefully to study.
While fewer expositors than might have been desired have devoted their labors to this portion of the word of God, the leading subject of it has been ably handled in a different form. Not to mention the early Fathers, it is sufficient to name “The Pastoral Care,” “The Reformed Pastor,” and other kindred works, which have taken their rank among the standard volumes of Christian Theology. Besides elaborate treatises, extending over the whole field of ministerial labor, detached parts of it have been sometimes selected for separate illustration. Of every collection of books fitted to make
“the man of God perfect, thoroughly prepared
for every good work,” (2Ti 3:17)
a goodly portion relates to the duties of the pastorate. It has been of unspeakable importance to the interests of religion, and ought to be recorded to the praise of divine grace, that the valuable instructions on this subject to which readers have access derive additional weight from the holy lives and devoted zeal of their authors, who have only inculcated on others what they had faithfully practiced. To all whose views are directed to the sacred office, or who have already been invested with it, the perusal of such books must be exceedingly advantageous.
Yet here, as in everything else, let us appeal
“to the law and to the testimony.”( Isa 8:20.)
The foundation of every code of rules for guiding the ministers of Christ must be sought, not in the judgments of uninspired men, however able and judicious, but in the Holy Scriptures, and chiefly in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, the accurate interpretation of which is therefore unspeakably valuable. Calvin has examined them with his usual skill, and will be heard with profound attention. His candor appears to more than ordinary advantage. Never does he press the words of the Holy Spirit beyond what appears to him to be their natural meaning, or depart from the rigid discharge of his task as an expositor for the sake of giving undue prominence to his peculiar views. On this point it may be sufficient to refer to his remarks on the authority which some ministers of the gospel appear to have exercised over others, as a specimen of his unshaken determination to adhere to the sacred records, and of his utter indifference to any use that might be made of such statements by those whose views of church-government differed from his own. Nowhere is his sterling honesty more conspicuous.
The notes to the present volume are enriched by numerous extracts from a rare work — the Author’s Sermons on the two Epistles to Timothy. But for the strong and general desire that posterity should listen to this great preacher, those Sermons would never have seen the light. They were written down, as they flowed from his lips, in the same manner as the extemporaneous Latin expositions of which some account has been given elsewhere. While they are Expository Discourses, leaving no part of the two Epistles unexplored, they are addressed to the great body of the Christian people, and are distinguished by those homely and striking appeals, and that marvelous felicity of language, which even his biographer Audin reluctantly ascribes to him.