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Calvin as Gadfly: Before that, He was incomprehensible

28 April 2011 by Frank Turk

John tells us that Jesus is the Word is God, and He’s an eternal being, and then tells us that He’s a Divine being from a brief account of his works. And this is a very practical approach, very practical knowledge, which we should become very familiar with because simply telling us that the name of Christ is actually “God” doesn’t really affect us. Our faith needs to feel it – to feel that Christ is God – by experience. Referring to the Son of God, John makes a statement which strictly and very correctly applies to His person.

Sometimes Paul declares that “all thing are by God” (as in Rom 11:36), but when the Son is compared to the Father, he is distinguished by His place as creator. Therefore, the normal way of saying it is employed here by John, that the Father made all things by the Son, and that all things are created by God through the Son.

John’s intention here, as I have said elsewhere, is to show that as soon as the world is created, the Word of God came forward and was working in the world. Before that, He was incomprehensible in His essence, and then He became known to everything by the effect of His power. Even some philosophers make God to be the Master Builder of the cosmos, and therefore it calls out His intelligence in doing all this work. They are right as far as they go, because this much agrees with Scripture – but they immediately fly off into esoteric but useless speculation, and it leaves us with nothing to gain from listening to them. We ought to be satisfied with the inspired accounts of the matter, with a serious grasp of the fact that it tells us more than we can understand already.
-- John Calvin, Commentary on John Vol 1, 1.3