Studied law at many renowned French institutions of higher learning
When his father suddenly died in 1531, he felt free from the burden of studying law and immediately began to study Greek & Hebrew at the College de France in Paris.
Around 1533, was converted from Catholicism to true saving faith
In 1535, he produced the first edition of the Institutes in Basel, Switzerland
Joined the reform movement in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1536.
Kicked out of Geneva in 1538 and labored in Strasbourg, Germany
In 1541, invited back to Geneva where he spent the rest of his life pastoring, expanding the Institutes, writing pamphlets/treatises on various doctrinal topics, and writing commentaries on much of the Old Testament and almost the entirety of the New Testament (2 & 3 John, Revelation).
The last major edition of the Institutes and what we have today came in 1559.
Title: Institutions of the Christian Religion Prefatory Address TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, Francis, King of the French, HIS SOVEREIGN; JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST.
Purpose of the Book: “…to transmit certain rudiments by which those who are touched with any zeal for religion might be shaped to true godliness. And I undertook this labor especially for our French countrymen, very many of whom I knew to be hungering and thirsting for Christ; but I saw very few who had been duly imbued with even a slight knowledge of him.”
Secondarypurpose: To vindicate the Protestant faith as true religion and not heresy
“Let it not be imagined that I am here framing my own private defense, with the view of obtaining a safe return to my native land. Though I cherish towards it the feelings which become me as a man, still, as matters now are, I can be absent from it without regret. The cause which I plead is the common cause of all the godly, and therefore the very cause of Christ—a cause which, throughout your realm, now lies, as it were, in despair, torn and trampled upon in all kinds of ways, and that more through the tyranny of certain Pharisees than any sanction from yourself.”
Appeal to a sovereign’s purpose: “The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts the part not of a king, but a robber. He, moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom which is not ruled by the sceptre of God, that is, by his divine word.”
A plea for the persecuted Christians
The charges of the Romanists against Evangelicals
“Uncertain doctrine” (assurance)
Lacks supporting miracles
Must either be schismatic or have to believe Church has been “dead” for a long period of time
It’s known by the quality of its fruits -- sects, licentiousness, debates
Let the king beware of acting on false charges. The innocent await divine vindication.
The Ending: “Most illustrious King, may the Lord, the King of kings, establish your throne in righteousness, and your sceptre in equity. Basle, 23rd August 1535.”