15 John Calvin Quotes on Truth, Faith, Salvation, and More

Seeing that God invites all indiscriminately by outward preaching, the only thing that distinguishes his elect from the reprobate is that, allowing the latter to be blind in the light, he presents the former with new eyes, by which they see, and inclines their hearts to obey his word.1

— From Tracts Relating to the Reformation

On faith

The principal hinge on which faith turns is this, that we must not consider the promises of mercy, which the Lord offers, as true only to others and not to ourselves; but rather make them our own, by embracing them in our hearts.2

— From Institutes of the Christian Religion

Then only . . . does Scripture suffice to give a saving knowledge of God when its certainty is founded on the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Still the human testimonies which go to confirm it will not be without effect, if they are used in subordination to that chief and highest proof, as secondary helps to our weakness. But it is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith.3

— From Institutes of the Christian Religion

On prayer

We must . . . beware of imitating the practice that commenced some centuries ago, of imagining that churches are the proper dwellings of God, where he is more ready to listen to us, or of attaching to them some kind of secret sanctity that makes prayer there more holy. For seeing we are the true temples of God, we must pray in ourselves if we would invoke God in his holy temple.4

— From Institutes of the Christian Religion

On the pastor’s work

The pastor ought to have two voices: one for gathering the sheep, and another for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both; for he who is deeply skilled in it will be able both to govern those who are teachable, and to refute the enemies of the truth.5

— From Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

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For more quotes from John Calvin and the Reformers, pick up 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation, Pastorum Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

Delve into John Calvin’s most influential works with the Calvin 500 Collection (108 vols.). The collection contains three English translations of the Institutes, the complete set of Calvin’s Commentaries, and several biographies.

  1. Adapted from John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1851), 253.
  2. John Calvin and John Allen, Vol. 2, Institutes of the Christian Religion (New-Haven; Philadelphia: Hezekiah Howe; Philip H. Nicklin, 1816), 30.
  3. Adapted from John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Vol. 1, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 109.
  4. Adapted from John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Vol. 2, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 498.
  5. John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 296.
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Written by Faithlife Staff