Calvin on 1 Peter 1:25 and the Theocentricity of Scripture

But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you, 1 Peter 1:25.

“The prophet teaches us, not what the Word of God is in itself, but how we are to think of it. Since man has emptied himself of life, he must look for it outside himself. And Peter tells us on the authority of the prophet, that God’s Word alone possesses the energy and efficacy to bestow upon us whatever is solid and eternal. For the prophet knew that our lives have no stability except in God, and except as he communicates it to us by his Word. Since man’s nature is in itself perishing, the Word himself invests it with eternal life, and restores it by new creation.

And this is the word declared unto you. Peter first warns us that when the Word of God is mentioned, we do wrong to imagine something far away, up in the air or in heaven beyond; for the Lord gives us life; what but the law, the prophets, and the gospel? Anyone who wanders away from the revelation will find, instead of God’s Word, nothing but Satan’s impostures, and madness. Therefore, we must keep carefully in mind that godless and devilish men have a crafty way of pretending to honor God’s Word, when they turn us away from the Scriptures; like that dirty dog Agrippa, who praised the eternity of God’s Word to high heaven, and at the same time heaped mockery on the prophets and apostles; in his deceitful way, he covered the Word of God with derision.

In short, as I have already told you, nothing is said here of a Word shut up in God’s bosom. We have to do with God’s Word which came forth from God’s mouth and was given to us. So once again, we are to acknowledge that God’s will is to speak to us by the mouths of the apostles and prophets, and that their mouths are to us as the mouth of the only true God.

Therefore, when Peter says, the word which has been declared to you, he means not to look for the Word of God anywhere except in the preaching of the gospel; and that we cannot know the power of its eternity except by faith. But we do not believe unless we know that the Word was destined for us.”

John Calvin, “Calvin: Commentaries” in the The Library of Christian Classics: Ichthus Edition, edited by Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 82-83.

It is interesting to note that Calvin speaks of the Word of God in proximity to God. What is solid and eternal is in God communicated by his Word. The Lord gives us life through the Word – the law, the prophets, and the gospel. That God’s mouth, through the mouths of apostles speaks to us as the mouth of God. Theocentricity is the unmistakable focus of this passage on God’s Word. As you read the posts at StandardSacredText.com you will notice the conspicuous distinction between ourselves and other positions. God as both the Author and Subject, to investigate Scripture or formulate theological or philosophical systems that are not Theocentric is to confound and corrupt the entire investigative enterprise. We believe it is impossible to discuss the Word of God freed from the Author of that Word as if the Scriptures were a separate, isolated locus of investigation. What makes the study of Scripture different from all others is that God as its Author tells us about Himself within its pages. Scripture is God’s special self-revelation of Himself.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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