Original Research

Calvin’s view on the book of the Acts of the Apostles

Herman H.(Erik) van Alten
Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship/Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap | Vol 79, No 4 | a2147 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koers.v79i4.2147 | © 2014 Herman H.(Erik) van Alten | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 September 2013 | Published: 03 September 2014

About the author(s)

Herman H.(Erik) van Alten, Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa, University of the Free State, South Africa, South Africa


How does John Calvin view the book of the Acts of the Apostles? What does he see as the benefit of this book for the church of his time? Is he, like so many today, of the opinion that the book of Acts is primarily about the work of the Holy Spirit? Calvin preached and commented on the book of Acts from 1549 to 1554. His commentary is preceded by an Argumentum as well as a number of dedicatory letters (accompanying the respective editions). In these introductory documents Calvin gives the reader insight into his view on the benefit and the theme of Acts. He describes the benefit of the book of Acts primarily from a Christological perspective: the book of Acts paints a picture of the effect that Christ’s death and resurrection had after he ascended into heaven. This benefit takes its most visible form in the theme of Acts, which Calvin subsequently identifies: the beginning of the church. The theme of the book of Acts is therefore defined from an ecclesiological perspective. This article demonstrates the value of studying not only Calvin’s commentaries themselves, but also the introductory documents that accompanied them. In this way, a clear picture of Calvin’s view on the book of Acts is painted.


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