Within this chapter, John Calvin gives many well formed proofs of the Holy Scriptures in four principal parts. He gives general proofs from the Old and New Testaments, special proofs from the writings of Moses and the writing of the prophets, proofs from the New Testament, and then proofs of Scripture from church history; all these can only be believed by those whose hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit.
Calvin’s first argument in defence of the Scriptures are by saying that it is vanity to defend the Scripture apart from assurances that are higher than human or the Church’s reason. This is very important to understand since men like Martin Luther and John Calvin stood to show the people how vain and futile the reasoning and tradition of the Roman Church was. Those who would refute the Scriptures might do so if it were written in a more eloquent style, however since it is more simple than that, yet still unfathomable, they cannot sufficiently refute it. Such proof for these words are found Scripture itself; Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:5 that the faith of the Corinthians was not built on “the wisdom of men” but rather on “the power of God”. And Paul’s preaching was not “with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demostration of the Spirit and of power.” Calvin also gives a practical example of this. If someone in his day should read Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, or Demosthenes (or in our day J.K. Rowling or William Shakespeare) that would feel pleased and enchanted by it; however, when one reads sacred Scripture, your heart is pierced by it in a way that Aristotle or J.K. Rowling or Shakespeare could not.
Even in the more rude of books, Isaiah or Jeremiah, whose style is often surpassed in beauty by those like Shakespeare or Aristotle, are made more magnificent by the Spirit. Calvin’s next point in defense of Scripture is the fact that it is so old; it goes back to a time before the Epic of Gilgamesh, a pagan epic poem written about 2000 B.C. . The Greeks were investigators and inventors of religion but Moses did not invent any religion; he merely writes down what the Israelites had held to be true for centuries. Calvin also says that Moses’ style of writing was not biased thus making it some humanly divined project; it was inspired by God. He also uses an example of when Moses goes up to Mt. Sinai and his face is transformed; all these events we read in Exodus and they were published publicly, if they were not true, the eyewitnesses would have condemened his writings. Not all the things Moses did were exaclty liked by the Israelites giving them more justification to destroy the book of Exodus if it weren’t truth. Calvin has us examine the prophecy of Moses that kings will arise out of the line of Judah; four hundred years pass and finally David becomes king after one who was not from the loins of Judah, surely this would make Moses’ words true. Calvin also uses the gospels the prove the authenticiy of Scripture. He say that they expound the truths very simply, similar to the fashion of the prophets, but yet their words burn into the very heart of its reader to quicken him out of sloth. In addition to the powerful words of the apostles, the Church has approved it for many centuries and has subjected its leadership to the guidance and suthority of the Scriptures. Throughout history, wicked men have arisen to stamp out the Word of God but to no avail. Let us be reminded of the verse that says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Calvin ends this chapter with the example of the martyrs of the faith who have laid their lives down for the Word of God, surely their sacrifice is an example that the Word of the Lord is more than words on a page; it is something to be cherished and followed. Calvin warns his readers not to try to prove the authority or sanctitity of the Scriptures for only faith can make these truths dear to one. They can only be known to be the Word of God by faith and that is a gift of God. “Not as a result of works so that no man may boast” (Ephesians 2:9).