Augustin Marlorat (1506-1562) on John 8:11, “Go, and sin no more”

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When the scribes and Pharisees had brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, he said to them in John 8:7,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

I am sure you have seen people use these words of Christ, ripped out of their context, as an escape from reproof and accountability.  Of course, Christ was not speaking here against all forms of reproof and punishment, but rather was exposing the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. As the Huguenot Augustin Marlorat (1506-1562) says on this text in his A Catholic and Ecclesiastical Exposition of the Gospel of John:

“This is not a precise and simple interdict and prohibition by which Christ forbiddeth sinners to do their office in correcting and punishing other mens offences, but he only reprehendeth hypocrites, who being too severe and cruel Judges of other men, do quietly passover their own sins. No mans sins therefore shall be a lette unto them, but that he may correct other mens faltes, and punish them also so often as nede shall require, so that he hateth as well in him self as in another, that thing which is to be condemned. Yea every man ought to beginne here, and to aske his conscience, and to be a witness and Judge against him self, before he come to other men.

And so it shall come to pass that we shall warre against sins withoute hatred against any man. In these words therefore due correction and the autority of the sword against offenders is not taken away; only the mallice of the Pharisees and Elders, is reproved, and restrained.”

Grace and forgiveness is not a license to continue in sin. After Christ had rebuked the scribes and Pharisees and they had left, he turned to the woman caught in adultery and said (John 8:10-11):

“Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” [emphasis added]

Marlorat comments:

“Notwithstanding least any man should think that the same free remission of sins, was a giving of liberty to sin, he [Christ] by and by addeth a restraint from sin. Hereby we gather what is the end of the grace of Christ: namely, that the sinner, being reconsiled to God, may worshippe and serve the aucthour of his salvation in innocensy and holiness of life.

For the Gospel remitteth sins, not because it is lawful to sin, but to the end we might repent and walke in neweness of life. For by the same word of GOD, when pardon is offered unto us, we are called to repentance.

They therefore which are receyved into the grace and favour of GOD, and whose sins are forgiven them must take heede that they take not unto them selves liberty: and being taken out of the handes of their enemies, let them see that they serve GOD their deliverer, in holiness and righteousness before him all the dayes of their life.

And in that, that Christ sayeth not, Gooe thy way, and committe no more Adultery, but, Go thy way and sin no more, we are taught how necessary, Innocency, Righteousness, and holiness, is to those that repent: in so muche that we should not only abstaine from sins, but also from all show of evel.”

In short, justification is to be followed by sanctification. The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 32 summarizes this well:

Question 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery, merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

Answer: Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit, after his own image; that so we may testify, by the whole of our conduct, our gratitude to God for his blessings, and that he may be praised by us; also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that, by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.

Question 87. Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing in their wicked and ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?

Answer: By no means; for the holy scripture declares that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) on Ephesians 1:4-6

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Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) was a Swiss-Italian Reformed theologian and the first person to translate the Bible into Italian from the Hebrew and Greek. He is also known for his commentary on the Bible, translated into English under the title Pious and Learned Annotations upon the Holy Bible. Below is his commentary on Ephesians 1:4-6. I have slightly modified the structure for greater clarity:

Ephesians 1:4-6. 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Verse. 4.

According as] viz. According as God by his election from everlasting framed a new body of human race (opposite to the first whereof Adam was head, in whom all men have sinned and are dead) and appointed Christ to be its head, that in him it might be all gathered together, and by him made partaker of his grace, life, and glory: so he bringeth this his decree to pass in his appointed time; bestowing all his favours upon his Church by Christ in this sacred communion: see Ephes. 3. 11. 2 Tim. 1. 9.

In him] he showeth hereby, that this election is free, and undeserved, and not in regard of any good foreseen in us.

That we should] viz. that in the kingdom of heaven, after our sanctification hath been brought to perfection, we may enjoy the sight of his face, and steadfast conjunction with him in perfect charity: see Ephes. 5. 27. Col. 1. 22. Or that we should be holy] he doth not say, because we were holy, or that he did foresee we would be so; for our holiness is so far from being the cause of our election, that rather it is an effect of it, because God hath called them whom before he had elected, and afterwards justified, &c. Rom. 8. 30.

Verse. 5.

Adoption of children] viz. To become his children. In this verse two causes, why we are elected or predestinated to salvation; the first is Gods good pleasure, as the efficient cause; the other is Jesus Christ, as the material cause; and in the verse following, he shows the final cause; namely, the honour and glory of God.

To himself] Fr. For himself; viz. to make us his, and eternally unite us to himself; Or, for his glories end: as Rom. 11. 36.

Verse. 6.

Of the Glory] Namely, of his glorious and admirable favour, by which he hath powerfully brought to an end the work of mans salvation: see Rom. 9. 23. 2 Cor. 4. 4.

In the beloved] namely, for the love, and in regard of Christ only who hath all the Fathers love, not only as he is everlasting Son, but also as he is perfectly obedient, and just in his human nature, and quality of Mediator, Mat. 3. 17. John 1. 16. & 3. 35. & 10. 7. Rom. 15. 15.

Matthew Henry (1662–1714) on Isaac’s question in Genesis 22:7 – “Where is the lamb?”

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7. Without any ruffle or disorder, he talks it over with Isaac, as if it had been but a common sacrifice that he was going to offer, v. 7, 8.

(1.) It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: My father, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, would strike deeper into the breast of Abraham than his knife could into the breast of Isaac. He might have said, or thought, at least, “Call me not thy father who am now to be thy murderer; can a father be so barbarous, so perfectly lost to all the tenderness of a father?” Yet he keeps his temper, and keeps his countenance, to admiration; he calmly waits for his son’s question, and this is it: Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? See how expert Isaac was in the law and custom of sacrifices. This it is to be well-catechised: this is, [1.] A trying question to Abraham. How could he endure to think that Isaac was himself the lamb? So it is, but Abraham, as yet, dares not tell him so. Where God knows the faith to be armour of proof, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent, Job ix. 23. [2.] It is a teaching question to us all, that, when we are going to worship God, we should seriously consider whether we have every thing ready, especially the lamb for a burnt-offering. Behold, the fire is ready, the Spirit’s assistance and God’s acceptance; the wood is ready, the instituted ordinances designed to kindle our affections (which indeed, without the Spirit, are but like wood without fire, but the Spirit works by them); all things are now ready, but where is the lamb? Where is the heart? Is that ready to be offered up to God, to ascend to him as a burnt-offering?

(2.) It was a very prudent answer which Abraham gave him: My son, God will provide himself a lamb. This was the language, either, [1.] Of his obedience. “We must offer the lamb which God has appointed now to be offered;” thus giving him this general rule of submission to the divine will, to prepare him for the application of it to himself very quickly. Or, [2.] Of his faith. Whether he meant it so or not, this proved to be the meaning of it; a sacrifice was provided instead of Isaac. Thus, First, Christ, the great sacrifice of atonement, was of God’s providing; when none in heaven or earth could have found a lamb for that burnt-offering, God himself found the ransom, Ps. lxxxix. 20. Secondly, All our sacrifices of acknowledgment are of God’s providing too. It is he that prepares the heart, Ps. x. 17. The broken and contrite spirit is a sacrifice of God (Ps. li. 17), of his providing.

– Matthew Henry (1662–1714), Commentary on Genesis 22:7

Gerald Bray on biblical genealogies

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The genealogies of the Bible may be found in such books as Genesis, Numbers, Ruth, 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the two Gospels of Matthew and Luke. If we would be honest, many of us often find these passages of Scripture rather boring or unprofitable, and often only glance over them in our reading. The only two significant things many of us usually associate with biblical genealogies are the verification of Jesus as a descendant of David and stemming from the tribe of Judah (as prophesied in the Old Testament), as well as Ruth, a Moabite woman, forming part of Jesus’ bloodline, foreshadowing the inclusion of the Gentiles under the covenant of grace. Gerald Bray briefly offers some insights into biblical genealogies in his book God Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology, p. 59:

“What do the genealogies reveal about God? They tell us that He is a faithful Lord, who keeps His covenant from one generation to another. Whoever we are and however far we may have descended from the source of our human life in Adam, we are still part of God’s plan. Over the centuries we have developed differently, we have lost contact with one another, and we have even turned on each other in hostility, but in spite of all that, we are still related and interconnected in ways that go beyond our immediate understanding or experience. 

Secondly, what do the genealogies say about us? They say that from the world’s point of view, most of us are nobodies. We live and die in a long chain of humanity, but there is not much that anyone will remember about us as individuals. Yet without us, future generations will not be born and the legacy of the past will not be preserved. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses, a long chain of faithful people who have lived for God in the place where he put them. Even if we know little about our ancestors, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for their loyalty and perseverance, when they had little or nothing to gain from it or to show for it.

Finally, what do the genealogies say about God’s dealings with us? They tell us that we are called to be obedient and to keep the faith we have inherited, passing it on undiminished to the next generation. They remind us that there is a purpose in our calling that goes beyond ourselves. Even if we are not celebrated by future generations and leave little for posterity to remember us by, we shall nevertheless have made an indispensable contribution to the purpose of God in history. So the genealogies bring us a message from God, even if they appear on the surface to be barren and unprofitable. All we have to do is ask the right questions, and their meaning will be quickly opened to us.”

Gordon D. Fee on true exegesis

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Earlier this year, in preparation for my class sermon on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (Paul on the Lord’s Supper) before my classmates and professors, one of the commentaries I used was Gordon D. Fee‘s The First Epistle to the Corinthians of the New International Commentary on the New Testament series, which I found extremely helpful. Along the way I came across a great quote on exegesis from Fee in another source, which I believe must always be kept in mind when doing exegesis and sermon preparation:

“We bring our exegesis to fruition when we ourselves sit with unspeakable wonder in the presence of God, contemplate His riches, pray that they might be poured out on our own friends and family; and stay there in contemplation long enough that our only response is doxology: ‘to our God and Father be glory for ever and ever, Amen.’ Until we have done this, I would venture, we have done our exegesis only tentatively. We have been mere historians.

To be true exegetes we must hear the words with our hearts, we must bask in God’s own glory, we must be moved to a sense of overwhelming awe at God’s riches in glory, we must think again on the incredible wonder that these riches are ours in Christ Jesus, and we must then worship the living God by singing praises to His glory.”

– Gordon D. Fee, “To What End Exegesis? Reflections on Exegesis and Spirituality in Philippians 4:10-20,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 8 (1998), 88

Jerome (c. 347-420), Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 465-533), Theodoret (c. 393–457), John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Marius Victorinus (4th century) and Ambrosiaster (c. 366-384) on Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

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“Paul says this in case the secret thought should steal upon us that ‘if we are not saved by our own works, at least we are saved by our own faith, and so in another way our salvation is of ourselves.’ Thus he added the statement that faith too is not in our own will but in God’s gift. Not that he means to take away free choice from humanity… but that even this very freedom of choice has God as its author, and all things are to be referred to his generosity, in that he has even allowed us to will the good.”

– Jerome (c. 347-420), Epistle to the Ephesians, 1.2.8-9

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“The blessed Paul argues that we are saved by faith, which he declares to be not from us but a gift from God. Thus there cannot possibly be true salvation where there is no true faith, and, since this faith is divinely enabled, it is without doubt bestowed by his free generosity. Where there is true belief through true faith, true salvation certainly accompanies it. Anyone who departs from true faith will not possess the grace of true salvation.”

– Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 465-533), On the Incarnation, 1.

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“’You are saved by grace’. For it is not because of the excellence of our lives that we have been called but because of the love of our Saviour.”

– Theodoret (c. 393–457), Epistle to the Ephesians, 2.4.5.

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“So that you may not be elated by the magnitude of these benefits, see how Paul puts you in your place. For ‘by grace are you saved’, he says, ‘through faith.’ Then, so as to do no injury to free will, he allots a role to us, then takes it away again, saying ‘and this is not of ourselves.’ Even faith, he says, is not from us. For if the Lord had not come, if he had not called us, how should we have been able to believe? ‘For how’, he says, ‘shall they believe if they have not heard?’ So even the act of faith is not self-initiated. It is, he says, ‘the gift of God’.”

“God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent!”

– John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Homily on Ephesians, 4.2.8, 9

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“The fact that you Ephesians are saved is not something that comes from yourselves. It is the gift of God. It is not from your works, but it is God’s grace as God’s gift, not from anything you have deserved. Our works are one thing, what we deserve another.”

– Marius Victorinus (4th century), Epistle to the Ephesians, I.2.9

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“All thanksgiving for our salvation is to be given only to God. He extends his mercy to us as to recall us to life precisely while we are straying, without looking for the right road. And thus we are not to glory in ourselves but in God, who has regenerated us by a heavenly birth through faith in Christ.”

– Ambrosiaster (c. 366-384), Epistle to the Ephesians, 2.10

John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Jerome (c. 347-420), Marius Victorinus (4th century) and Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 465-533) on Ephesians 1:4-6

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” – Ephesians 1:4-6

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“What he means [with ‘he hath chosen us in him’] is this: The one through whom he has blessed us is the one through whom he has elected us… Christ chose us to have faith in him before we came into being, indeed even before the world was founded. The word ‘foundation’ was well chosen, to indicate that it was laid down from some great height. For great and ineffable is the height of God, not in a particular place but rather in his remoteness [i.e. transcendence] from nature. So great is the distance between creature and Creator.”

“’You have been elected’, he says, ‘in order to be holy and unblemished before his face’… He himself has made us saints, but we are called to remain saints. A saint is one who lives in faith, is unblemished and leads a blameless life.”

“…to become virtuous and to believe and to advance, this too was the work of the One who called us…”

“So that our love for him may become more fervent, he desires nothing from us except our salvation. He does not need our service or anything else but does everything for this end. One who openly expresses praise and wonder at God’s grace will be more eager and zealous.”

– John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), Homily on Ephesians, 1.1.4, 5, 6.

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“It is asked how anyone can be saintly and unblemished in God’s sight… We must reply [that] Paul does not say he chose us before the foundation of the world on account of our being saintly and unblemished. He chose us that we might become saintly and unblemished, that is, that we who were not formerly saintly and unblemished should subsequently be so… So understood it provides a counter-argument to one who says that souls were elected before the world came to be because of their sanctity and freedom from any sinful vice.”

– Jerome (c. 347-420), Epistle to the Ephesians, 1.1.4.

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“God in his love has predestined us to adoption through Christ. How could God possibly have Christ for his Son by adoption?… We speak of ourselves as heirs of God the Father and heirs through Christ, being sons through adoption. Christ is his Son, through whom it is brought about that we become sons and fellow heirs in Christ.”

– Marius Victorinus (4th century), Against the Arians, I.2.

“We, being such as we are, are surrounded and held fast by vice and libidinous sin. When we are set free by him, acquitted of sin and pardoned for our sins, we are also adopted as his sons. All this is therefore to the praise of his glory and grace – his glory because he can do so much, and his grace because he offers this to us freely.”

– Marius Victorinus (4th century), Epistle to the Ephesians, I.I. (4) 5-6.

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“The eternal firmness and firm eternity of God’s predestinating will consist not only in the ordaining of works. God also knows in advance the number of the elect. No one of that number may lose his eternal grace, nor may any outside that total attain the gift of eternal salvation. For God, who knows all things before they come to pass, is not confused about the number of the predestined, any more than he doubts the effectiveness of the works he has ordained.”

– Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 465-533), On the Truth of Predestination, 3.6.