“Faith Is Never Without Fight” (1 Tim 5:12-14): A John Calvin Sermon -- By: Ray Van Neste

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 021:4 (Winter 2017)
Article: “Faith Is Never Without Fight” (1 Tim 5:12-14): A John Calvin Sermon
Author: Ray Van Neste

“Faith Is Never Without Fight” (1 Tim 5:12-14): A John Calvin Sermon

Ray Van Neste

Ray Van Neste is Professor of Biblical Studies and Director of the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University, Jackson, TN. He earned his PhD in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Most recently he is the co-editor of an updated English version of John Calvin’s sermons on 1 Timothy, co-editor of REF500: How the Greatest Revival Since Pentecost Continues to Shape the World Today, (B&H Academic, 2017), and author of “The Mangled Narrative of Evangelism and Missions in the Reformation,” Southeastern Theological Review 8:2 (Fall 2017): 3-27. He and his wife, Tammie, have six children and are members of FBC Jackson, TN.


Many people know John Calvin only as a systematic theologian and then sometimes only in a caricature. What is too often forgotten is that Calvin was first and foremost a pastor seeking to shepherd the church of God.1 This misunderstanding has been helped by the general neglect of his sermons in favor of his Institutes and his commentaries. Those works are of great value, but in his sermons you get to see the pastor in his day to day labors, pleading with his people, rebuking and consoling. Yet, the sermons have not been as widely available in accessible translations. This is changing with a number of fresh new translations coming particularly from Banner of Truth. I have spent the past couple of years reading Calvin’s sermons on 1 Timothy, deciphering the English translation of 1579 and updating the language to make these powerful sermons more accessible to readers today.2

The series of sermons on 1 Timothy was preached from September 1554 to April 1555, Sunday mornings and afternoons. This was a little more than a decade after Calvin’s return to Geneva after being run out of town. These sermons were preached during another difficult time. In the midst of this series Calvin told friends by letter than he anticipated being run out of town. He was engaged with challenges in Geneva and was travelling often on behalf of the city negotiating peace and arrangements with other cities. So, in these sermons we find a very busy pastor—no ivory-tower academician, but a shepherd knee deep in the messy work of caring for sheep.

The sermon below, an exposition of 1 Timothy 5:12-14 is a powerful call to endurance for the sake of and empowered by the gospel.3 It is an example of why T. ...

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