Archive for May, 2020

John Calvin on The knowledge of God and of revelation part 1

May 31, 2020

Summa Theologica

John Calvin

John Calvin is considered and rightly so, A theologian that spoke beyond his century.  As far as the Bible is concerned, he is considered as the first of the modern commentators for his exegesis trying to get to the real text.  Any theologian worth his salt should at least have read his Institute of the Christian Religion. So, I think it is proper and right to start of with his first book. 

His Institutes starts with asking the question of the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves.

1. Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom,

consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of

ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy

to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in

the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his

thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is

perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot

possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than

subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which

unceasingly distill to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the

fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes

more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into

which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our

eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence

ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as

there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we

were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense

series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the

consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at

least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want,

weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, (see Calvin on

John 4:10,) that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of

wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our

own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot

aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with

ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact,

does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as

he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful

of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of

himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to

find him.

Thomas Aquinas: Whether by grace a higher knowledge of God can be obtained than by natural reason?

May 31, 2020

Whether by grace a higher knowledge of God
can be obtained than by natural reason?
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(1) — It seems that by grace a higher knowledge of
God is not obtained than by natural reason. For Dionysius says (De
Mystica Theol. i) that whoever is the more united to God in this life, is
united to Him as to one entirely unknown. He says the same of Moses,
who nevertheless obtained a certain excellence by the knowledge conferred
by grace. But to be united to God while ignoring of Him “what He is,”
comes about also by natural reason. Therefore God is not more known to
us by grace than by natural reason.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(2) — Further, we can acquire the knowledge of
divine things by natural reason only through the imagination; and the same
applies to the knowledge given by grace. For Dionysius says (Coel. Hier.
i) that “it is impossible for the divine ray to shine upon us except as
screened round about by the many colored sacred veils.” Therefore we
cannot know God more fully by grace than by natural reason.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –O(3) — Further, our intellect adheres to God by grace
of faith. But faith does not seem to be knowledge; for Gregory says (Hom.
xxvi in Ev.) that “things not seen are the objects of faith, and not of
knowledge.” Therefore there is not given to us a more excellent knowledge
of God by grace.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) — On the contrary, The Apostle says that “God hath
revealed to us His spirit,” what “none of the princes of this world knew”
(1 Corinthians 2:10), namely, the philosophers, as the gloss expounds.
I answer that, We have a more perfect knowledge of God by grace than by
natural reason. Which is proved thus. The knowledge which we have by
natural reason contains two things: images derived from the sensible
objects; and the natural intelligible light, enabling us to abstract from them
intelligible conceptions.
Now in both of these, human knowledge is assisted by the revelation of
grace. For the intellect’s natural light is strengthened by the infusion of
gratuitous light; and sometimes also the images in the human imagination
are divinely formed, so as to express divine things better than those do
which we receive from sensible objects, as appears in prophetic visions;
while sometimes sensible things, or even voices, are divinely formed to
express some divine meaning; as in the Baptism, the Holy Ghost was seen
in the shape of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard, “This is My
beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(1) — Although by the revelation of grace in this
life we cannot know of God “what He is,” and thus are united to Him as to
one unknown; still we know Him more fully according as many and more
excellent of His effects are demonstrated to us, and according as we
attribute to Him some things known by divine revelation, to which natural
reason cannot reach, as, for instance, that God is Three and One.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(2) — From the images either received from sense
in the natural order, or divinely formed in the imagination, we have so
much the more excellent intellectual knowledge, the stronger the intelligible
light is in man; and thus through the revelation given by the images a fuller
knowledge is received by the infusion of the divine light.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(13) –RO(3) — Faith is a kind of knowledge, inasmuch as
the intellect is determined by faith to some knowable object. But this
determination to one object does not proceed from the vision of the
believer, but from the vision of Him who is believed. Thus as far as faith
falls short of vision, it falls short of the knowledge which belongs to
science, for science determines the intellect to one object by the vision and
understanding of first principles.
Summa Theologica

1 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 3 to 4

May 31, 2020

Verses 3 to 5.

The woman involved isn’t mentioned… Perhaps she was not a member the church.  The man however was a member of the church and Paul says some serious things about him.

Paul says, ‘I have already judged him’

Then he says

I have decided,

 ‘5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:5’

Paul really loves this man’s soul and he wants him to be saved.  Even if it means his body being destroyed…

Paul is an apostle. What would happen if this man was truly sorry for his sins?

That he turns his back on the sin… Would he be truly forgiven? Can he be forgiven?  Does the work of Christ have compassion for this man’s soul?

I think it does… If you have time have a read of 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11.  He didn’t get excommunicated, rather, possibly after 6 months, he was forgiven and reinstated…

Thomas Aquinas: Whether God can be known in this life by natural reason?

May 30, 2020

by natural reason?

P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –O(1) — It seems that by natural reason we cannot
know God in this life. For Boethius says (De Consol. v) that “reason does
not grasp simple form.” But God is a supremely simple form, as was
shown above (Q(3), A(7)). Therefore natural reason cannot attain to know
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –O(2) — Further, the soul understands nothing by
natural reason without the use of the imagination. But we cannot have an
imagination of God, Who is incorporeal. Therefore we cannot know God
by natural knowledge.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –O(3) — Further, the knowledge of natural reason
belongs to both good and evil, inasmuch as they have a common nature.
But the knowledge of God belongs only to the good; for Augustine says
(De Trin. i): “The weak eye of the human mind is not fixed on that
excellent light unless purified by the justice of faith.” Therefore God
cannot be known by natural reason.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) — On the contrary, It is written (Romans 1:19),
“That which is known of God,” namely, what can be known of God by
natural reason, “is manifest in them.”
I answer that, Our natural knowledge begins from sense. Hence our natural
knowledge can go as far as it can be led by sensible things. But our mind
cannot be led by sense so far as to see the essence of God; because the
sensible effects of God do not equal the power of God as their cause.
Hence from the knowledge of sensible things the whole power of God
cannot be known; nor therefore can His essence be seen. But because they
are His effects and depend on their cause, we can be led from them so far
as to know of God “whether He exists,” and to know of Him what must
necessarily belong to Him, as the first cause of all things, exceeding all
things caused by Him.
Hence we know that His relationship with creatures so far as to be the
cause of them all; also that creatures differ from Him, inasmuch as He is
not in any way part of what is caused by Him; and that creatures are not
removed from Him by reason of any defect on His part, but because He
superexceeds them all.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –RO(1) — Reason cannot reach up to simple form, so
as to know “what it is”; but it can know “whether it is.”
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –RO(2) — God is known by natural knowledge through
the images of His effects.
P(1)-Q(12)-A(12) –RO(3) — As the knowledge of God’s essence is by
grace, it belongs only to the good; but the knowledge of Him by natural
reason can belong to both good and bad; and hence Augustine says
(Retract. i), retracting what he had said before: “I do not approve what I
said in prayer, ‘God who willest that only the pure should know truth.’
For it can be answered that many who are not pure can know many
truths,” i.e. by natural reason.

1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 2

May 30, 2020

Verse 2

Paul was seriously concerned with their attitude to this…  According to Paul they should have been in prayer asking God to help them to deal with this situation… It shouldn’t really surprise us though because the Corinthians were well known in their time for having their flings. 

Yet they should have known better! That was their old life.  In Christ their new life ought to be Christ centred and to be by faith on the narrow road.

Hmm interesting… As I said earlier sin is always at the door knocking, compelling us to go in the opposite direction.    Yet Paul puts it on thick… This sort of thing isn’t even found ‘amongst the Gentiles’.    Imagine you are a Christian Corinthian young man and you here this ‘not even found amongst the gentiles’

Thomas Aquinas and questions about revelation

May 29, 2020

Thomas Aquinas
Now let us look at Thomas Aquinas who is still the main theologian for Roman Catholic Theology.  Concerning Nature and whether or not God can be known, Aquinas gives a whole list of questions; Obviously anyone interested in God and revelation should at least read what he has to say.  I’m not saying that you will agree but he should be read.  Aquinas raises questions that every theologian should know about.   In the section “Whether God can be known in this life
by natural reason?” You will see he quotes from Romans 1 19. 
These quotations below are taken from the Ages Christian library cd  version 6 pdf.
Question 12
Questions in this section are
As hitherto we have considered God as He is in Himself, we now go on to
consider in what manner He is in the knowledge of creatures; concerning
which there are thirteen points of inquiry:
(1) Whether any created intellect can see the essence of God?
(2) Whether the essence of God is seen by the intellect through any
created image?
(3) Whether the essence of God can be seen by the corporeal eye?
(4) Whether any created intellectual substance is sufficient by its own
natural powers to see the essence of God?
(5) Whether the created intellect needs any created light in order to see
the essence of God?
(6) Whether of those who see God, one sees Him more perfectly than
(7) Whether any created intellect can comprehend the essence of God?
(8) Whether the created intellect seeing the essence of God, knows all
things in it?
(9) Whether what is there known is known by any similitudes?
(10) Whether the created intellect knows at once what it sees in God?
(11) Whether in the state of this life any man can see the essence of
(12) Whether by natural reason we can know God in this life?
(13) Whether there is in this life any knowledge of God through grace
above the knowledge of natural reason?

1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 1

May 29, 2020

Verse 1

Now Paul moves onto his next moral issue in the Corinthian Church, That of fornication (πορνεία).  One of the members was in a relationship with his stepmother. The offence is not called adultery but fornication.  It is likely that the father had possibly died. This is forbidden under Jewish law 

Leviticus 18: 8 NASB

You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.

This is what happened. 

Terullian on disclosure from Romans 1

May 28, 2020

Tertullian the North African of Berber origin continued on with the tradition. In fact, he taught Cyprian who then gave rise to the great St Augustine another North African theologian.
Taken from;
“Tertullian (/tərˈtʌliən/; Latin: Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; c. 155 – c. 240? AD)[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.[2] Of Berber origin,[3][4][5][6][7] he was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He was an early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism.[8] Tertullian has been called “the father of Latin Christianity”[9][10] and “the founder of Western theology.”[11]
Though conservative in his worldview, Tertullian originated new theological concepts and advanced the development of early Church doctrine. He is perhaps most famous for being the first writer in Latin known to use the term trinity (Latin: trinitas).
Unlike many Church fathers, Tertullian was never recognized as a saint by the Eastern or Western catholic tradition churches. Several of his teachings on issues such as the clear subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father,[12][13] as well as his condemnation of remarriage for widows and of fleeing from persecution, contradicted the doctrines of these traditions.”
For how can the intellect be superior to the senses, when it is these which educate it for the discovery of various truths? It is a fact, that these truths are learned by means of palpable forms; in other words, invisible things are discovered by the help of visible ones, even as the apostle tells us in his epistle: “For the invisible things of Him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made; “[144]
is guilty both of impudence and malignity: of impudence, in aspiring after a belief which is not due to him, and for which he has provided no foundation;[152]
); and He had offenders in those wise and prudent ones who would not seek after God, although He was to be discovered in His so many and mighty works,[993]
and indications (of His divinity),[752]
Rom. 1:20 – NIV, NAB – in Tertullian Against Hermogenes
They are, however, His “invisible things,” which, according to the apostle, “are from the creation of the world clearly seen by the things that are made;[476]
As can be seen Tertullian wrote a lot in context of fighting heresies.  A lot of these verses main function was to show that the heretics turned their backs on the knowledge of God and in this context the vestiges of God’s knowledge in creation.  This is where I think Karl Barth was wrong but then again then needed to be in theology a balancing act from this liberal theology from below that went too low dislodging God from his primary place as God.

1 Corinthians chapter 4 questions

May 28, 2020


1 Corinthians chapter 4 questions

  1. How should the leaders of the church be viewed? (kings or servants explain)
  2. Why did Paul use some legal background words (verses 3-4)?
  3. Why should be slow to judge? (verse 5)
  4. Why did Paul use himself and Apollos as examples (verses 6-7)?
  5. Explain why Paul used irony and sarcasm in verses 8 to 13.
  6. Read the sections Barclay wrote on two Greek words and explain if these words make the hyperbolic language stand out even more.
  7. How does verse 11 to 13 show how much Paul really cares for the Corinthians.
  8. How is Paul a good example for living the Christian life…?

When answering this question, you are free to look at Paul’s other writings in the Bible.


hyperbolic language = exaggeration to make a point

Irenaeus' Opinions on revelation base on Romans 1

May 27, 2020

I also found these quotations from Irenaeus point of view based on what we were looking at.
You can also look at these verses I found in;
without the law, has the righteousness of God been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; for the just shall live by faith.”[547]
And as the wrath of God did then descend upon the unrighteous, here also does the apostle likewise say: “For the wrath of God shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those men who hold back the truth in unrighteousness.”[398]
For he judges the Gentiles, “who serve the creature more than the Creator,”[457]
Romans 1:21 (AH; 4.33.1);
I’m not so sure about this reference.
Romans 1:25 (AH; 2.9.2);
Romans 1:28 (AH; 4.29.1);