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Commentary On Romans by Jean Calvin

Romans 15:4-6

4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

4. Quaecunque enim ante scripta sunt, in nostram doctrinam sunt scripta, ut per patientain et consolationem Scripturarum spem habeamus.

5. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus:

5. Deus autem patientiae et consolationis det vobis idem mutuo cogitare secundum Christum Iesum;

6. That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. Ut uno animo, uno ore, glorificetis Deum et Patrem Domini nostri Iesu Christi.

4. For whatsoever things, etc. This is an application of the example, lest any one should think, that to exhort us to imitate Christ was foreign to his purpose; |Nay,| he says, |there is nothing in Scripture which is not useful for your instruction, and for the direction of your life.|

This is an interesting passage, by which we understand that there is nothing vain and unprofitable contained in the oracles of God; and we are at the same time taught that it is by the reading of the Scripture that we make progress in piety and holiness of life. Whatever then is delivered in Scripture we ought to strive to learn; for it were a reproach offered to the Holy Spirit to think, that he has taught anything which it does not concern us to know; let us also know, that whatever is taught us conduces to the advancement of religion. And though he speaks of the Old Testament, the same thing is also true of the writings of the Apostles; for since the Spirit of Christ is everywhere like itself, there is no doubt but that he has adapted his teaching by the Apostles, as formerly by the Prophets, to the edification of his people. Moreover, we find here a most striking condemnation of those fanatics who vaunt that the Old Testament is abolished, and that it belongs not in any degree to Christians; for with what front can they turn away Christians from those things which, as Paul testifies, have been appointed by God for their salvation?

But when he adds, that through the patience and the consolation of the Scriptures we might have hope, he does not include the whole of that benefit which is to be derived from God's word; but he briefly points out the main end; for the Scriptures are especially serviceable for this purpose -- to raise up those who are prepared by patience, and strengthened by consolations, to the hope of eternal life, and to keep them in the contemplation of it. The word consolation some render exhortation; and of this I do not disapprove, only that consolation is more suitable to patience, for this arises from it; because then only we are prepared to bear adversities with patience, when God blends them with consolation. The patience of the faithful is not indeed that hardihood which philosophers recommend, but that meekness, by which we willingly submit to God, while a taste of his goodness and paternal love renders all things sweet to us: this nourishes and sustains hope in us, so that it fails not.

5. And the God of patience, etc. God is so called from what he produces; the same thing has been before very fitly ascribed to the Scriptures, but in a different sense: God alone is doubtless the author of patience and of consolation; for he conveys both to our hearts by his Spirit: yet he employs his word as the instrument; for he first teaches us what is true consolation, and what is true patience; and then he instills and plants this doctrine in our hearts.

But after having admonished and exhorted the Romans as to what they were to do, he turns to pray for them: for he fully understood, that to speak of duty was to no purpose, except God inwardly effected by his Spirit what he spoke by the mouth of man. The sum of his prayer is, -- that he would bring their minds to real unanimity, and make them united among themselves: he also shows at the same time what is the bond of unity, for he wished them to agree together according to Christ Jesus Miserable indeed is the union which is unconnected with God, and that is unconnected with him, which alienates us from his truth.

And that he might recommend to us an agreement in Christ, he teaches us how necessary it is: for God is not truly glorified by us, unless the hearts of all agree in giving him praise, and their tongues also join in harmony. There is then no reason for any to boast that he will give glory to God after his own manner; for the unity of his servants is so much esteemed by God, that he will not have his glory sounded forth amidst discords and contentions. This one thought ought to be sufficient to check the wanton rage for contention and quarreling, which at this day too much possesses the minds of many.

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