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Sermons on Genesis: Chapters 1-11 (Calvin)

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Preaching as Calvin undertook to do it extends far beyond the confines of a carefully written manuscript. It is not bound by the niceties of style, sentence structure, and the like. it is marked by an immeasurably greater degree of intensity, by an obvious determination to instruct and persuade, by an astounding capacity to confront hearers both with the truth of divine revelation and with the implications of that truth for faith and obedience. There are distinct advantages, therefore, in having before us these sermons on Genesis precisely as they were delivered. They let us see and hear a man aflame with love for the lord and his Word, a preacher who spent himself utterly in the work of summoning his people to repentance, faith and holiness.

The feature that has struck me most powerfully is the sermons’ immediacy. As I have read them, it has quite often seemed to me almost as though I were sitting with the congregation in Geneva and listening to Calvin himself as he opened up the passage, and then carefully, deliberately, and sometimes with painful specificity applied its teaching to those who heard him. In his masterful translation Dr. McGregor has quite wonderfully brought the preacher back to life and allowed us the privilege of being able, with a little imagination, to take our places in St. Peter’s Church on those cold autumn and winter days with the Reformer himself in the pulpit.


Table of Contents:

1 Creation: The Triune God at Work for the Praise of His Glory (Gen 1:1–2) 1
2 Creation: A Work in Progress, and Always Dependent on the Creator (Gen 1:3–5) 19
3 God Manages His Creation for the Benefit of Man and Animals (Gen 1:6–13) 37
4 Heaven and Earth Declare the Glory of God (Gen 1:14–19) 55
5 The Variety of Living Creatures and Their Skills Call for the Magnification of God’s Glory (Gen 1:20–25) 73
6 Man’s Purpose Is to Possess and Have Dominion over Creation (Gen 1:26–28) 89
7 The Effect of the Fall on Man and All Other Creatures (Gen 1:29–31) 107
8 The Day of Rest: The Shadow versus the Reality in Jesus Christ (Gen 2:1–6) 125
9 Man, Formed from the Earth, Was Designed to Cultivate and Keep the Garden (Gen 2:7–15) 143
10 Paradise Comes with a Caveat: The Meaning of the Two Trees (Gen 2:15–17) 161
11 Eve, Adam’s Companion in Marriage for Their Mutual Advantage (Gen 2:18–21) 179
12 The Inviolable Union of Adam and Eve, God’s Will for All Time (Gen 2:22–24) 197
13 The Destructive Power of Subtle Deception (Gen 3:1–3) 213
14 The Origin, Nature, and Consequences of Disobedience (Gen 3:4–6) 231
15 Sin, Shame, Fear, Repentance (Gen 3:7–10) 247
16 Sin, Self-Generated, Is Followed by Its Discovery and Futile Excuses (Gen 3:1–13) 265
17 Confronting the Physical Consequences of Sin (Gen 3:14–16) 281
18 The Natural and Material Consequences of Sin (Gen 3:17–18) 299
19 Sin’s Nature, Effects, Results, and Remedy (Gen 3:19–22a) 317
20 Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life: The True Use of the Sacraments (Gen 3:22–24) 335
21 The Worship of God Must Be in Spirit and in Truth (Gen 4:1–5a) 353
22 Unmerited Healing Follows Willing Self-Indictment (Gen 4:5b–7) 371
23 The Universal Judge Punishes the Wicked and Vindicates the Innocent: Excuses Do Not Count; Self-Judgment Does (Gen 4:8–10) 389
24 Shed Blood and Victimization Will Not Go Unavenged (Gen 4:10–12) 409
25 Rigorously Tested for Everlasting Safety in God’s Hands (Gen 4:12–14) 429
26 The Repentant and the Unrepentant, When Confronted with Judgment (Gen 4:15–18) 449
27 Note on Sermon 27 (Gen 4:19–22) 466
28 Reclaiming God’s Name through Worship According to His Word (Gen 4:23–26) 467
29 The Preservation of God’s Image, and Enoch as an Example of Walking with God (Gen 5:1–25) 485
30 Obedience unto the Preservation of Body and Soul (Enoch): Hope and Consolation for the Future (Noah) (Gen 5:21–32) 503
31 The Sons of God, the Daughters of Men, and the Church, with Remarks on Sensuality, Marriage, and Unequal Unions (Gen 6:1–3) 519
32 God Will Not Always Strive with Man (Gen 6:1–4) 537
33 The Life of the Flesh and Punishment versus God’s Goodness and Grace (Gen 6:5–8) 555
34 Noah, God’s Instrument for Electing and Preserving (Gen 6:9–13) 573
35 Fear, Promise, and Assurance in the Struggle to Obey God’s Commands with Perseverance (Gen 6:13–22) 591
36 Dying in Order to Live: Perseverance in Righteousness by Faith, God’s Gift (Gen 7:1–5) 607
37 Obedience to God: Faith Entails Submission (Gen 7:6–10) 625
38 The Flood¸ the Mark of the Gravity of Sin (Gen 7:11–24) 641
39 The Flood and the Ark: Symbols of God’s Absolute Control and Judgment and of Christian Baptism (Gen 8:1–4) 657
40 Noah: An Example of Patience and Obedience Inspired by Faith and Fear (Gen 8:6-19) 677
41 The Meaning of Noah’s Altar for the Sacraments, Judgment, and Deliverance (Gen 8:20–22) 693
42 Lessons from Noah about Gratitude, Freedom, Marriage, Eating, Drinking, and Self-Control (Gen 9:1–3) 711
43 Bloodshed and Violence to Neighbour Will Be Avenged Because Blood Is the Image of God (Gen 9:3–7) 729
44 Covenant, Works of the Law, and the Sacraments (Gen 9:8–17) 749
45 The Evil and Good Uses and Effects of Wine and the Value of Chastisement (Gen 9:18–21) 767
46 God Is Free to Reprobate and Elect, Punish and Withhold Punishment, According to His Good Pleasure and Counsel (Gen 9:22–29) 785
47 The Tents of Shem and the Church of Jesus Christ (Gen 9:24–29) 805
48 The Curse of Pride, Ambition, and Greed (Gen 10:1–32) 823
49 Ambition, Its Consequences and Cure (Gen 11:1–4) 841
  Index of Scripture References 859



John Calvin (1509-1564) was a theological giant of the Protestant Reformation. A contemporary of Martin Luther, he had as much influence over this period of history as his German counterpart. In 1536 he published his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was a systematic presentation of the Protestant position. His writings are still cherished and relevant today.



"In his masterful translation Dr. McGregor has quite wonderfully brought the preacher back to life and allowed us the privilege of being able, with a little imagination, to take our places in St. Peter’s Church on those cold autumn and winter days with the Reformer himself in the pulpit." — J.R. DE WITT