THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, Vol. II (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries), translated, by John W. Fraser; Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; 329 pp., $6.00.
Calvin’s Commentaries actually need no introduction among us, nor a recommendation. The reissuance of these commentaries, and that too, in a new translation, is a worthwhile project of the Eerdmans Company. This is the kind of literature that must be kept on the market and that must continue to be used by our people. And these are commentaries that should be found in the library of any serious student of Scripture.
This does not mean that we worship John Calvin: in that sense we are no Calvinists. Nor does it mean that we slavishly accept Calvin’s explanation of a text of Scripture: Calvin’s explanations are not always the correct ones. Besides, it is even true that Calvin’s various commentaries are not all of consistent quality: some are less thorough and give evidence of less study than others.
But Calvin is Reformed, and he always gives evidence of desiring the truth of the Word of God, even when that truth is severe. He is not one who obviously attempts to squirm away from the evident meaning of the text. And this is always refreshing in his commentaries. Thus, for example, when he comes to a passage which plainly teaches God’s sovereignty in the matter of salvation, both as far as elect and reprobate are concerned, he is ready to accept what the text teaches. An example of this is found in this particular commentary in his explanation of Acts 28:25, ff., where the passage from Isaiah 6 which is quoted six times in the New Testament is applied by Paul to the unbelieving Jews to whom he had expounded the Scriptures while he was a prisoner in Rome. A sample of Calvin’s comments on verse 27 will illustrate my point: “We gather from this that the Word of God is not declared to all so that they may return to soundness of mind, but the spoken words ring in the ears of many without the effective power of the Spirit, only so that they may be rendered inexcusable. But here the pride of the flesh rashly cries out against God; just as we see many protesting that it is in vain, yes even absurd, for men to be called, unless they possess the ability to obey. For even if the reason why God appears to the blind, and speaks to the deaf, is hidden from us, yet His will alone, which is the rule of all justice, ought to be like a thousand reasons to us.” Once again, therefore, I recommend Calvin’s Commentaries, and this new edition of the Commentary on Acts in particular.