Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) on the Law as the eternal will of God


“The Law is nothing else than the eternal will of God. For I shall say nothing here of civil laws or ceremonial laws, because they have to do with the outer man, and I am now talking of the inner man. Besides, these laws vary according to the exigencies of the times, as we often see in the case of civil laws; and ceremonial laws were abolished altogether by Christ, for they were made to be amended at some time, as was also done at the proper time, Heb. 9:10. But the divine laws, which have to do with the inner man, are eternal. The law will never be abrogated that you are to love your neighbour as yourself; and theft, false witness, murder, etc., will always be regarded as crimes. And that the Law is the eternal or permanent will of God is proved by what is written in Rom. 2:14 of those without the Law: namely, that they show the law has been published in their hearts, in that they do the things which the law commands, though the tablets of the law have not been set up before them. But none writes in the heart save God alone. Likewise, through the Law comes the knowledge of sin, Rom. 7:7, and, ‘where no law is, there is no transgression,’ Rom. 4:15. We are forced to admit, therefore, that the Law proceeded from God; for of ourselves we should not know what sin was unless God had manifested in His word what should be done and what not done. The Law, therefore, is nothing else than teachings as to the will of God, through which we understand what He wills, what He wills not, what He demands, what He forbids.”

– Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), Commentary on True and False Religion, Works, 3:137

Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531): To know man is as toilsome as to catch a cuttlefish


Just as God can be known only through his own revelation, so too humanity – the real truth about humanity – may be known only through the revelation of God. In this regard, the reader may be familiar with Calvin’s famous assertion:

“…it is evident that man can never attain to a true knowledge of self until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.”

– John Calvin (1509-1564), Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.i.2.

A few decades before Calvin’s final edition of the Institutes (1559), a Reformer in Zurich on the other side of Switzerland from Calvin’s Geneva, namely Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), wrote something similar:

“To know man is as toilsome as to catch a cuttlefish, for as the latter hides himself in his own blackness in order not to be caught, so does man, as soon as he sees one is after him, stir up such sudden and thick clouds of hypocrisy that no Lynceus, no Argus, can discover him. Not only that biting critic Momus complained of this, but the divine herald of the Gospel, Paul, understood it so well that in 1 Cor. 2:11 he speaks on this wise: ‘For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him?’ Though he says this only for the purpose of illustration, he really holds it as established that the human heart hides its purposes with such zeal and so many wiles that no one can have knowledge of them but itself; for unless this were his view, he could not logically draw the conclusion he is trying to prove in the passage. And Jeremiah says of this fleer from the light and this wiggler of ours, chap. 17:0, ‘The heart of man is wicked and unsearchable. Who can know it? I, the Lord, who search the heart and try the reins,’

From this testimony it becomes manifest that man cannot be known by man.”

 Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), Commentary on True and False Religion, Works 3:75-76

Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) on the New Covenant



“…the reason why he made the promise was none other than because of blessedness could not come to us, however much we toiled and sweated, while the fall of the first parent had not been atoned for. But when Christ, slain for us, appeased the divine justice and become the only approach to God, God entered into a new covenant with the human race, not new in the sense that he had only just discovered this remedy, but because he applied it at the right moment, having prepared it long before.”

– Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531), Exposition and Basis of the Conclusions or Articles Published by Huldrych Zwingli, 2:224.