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Ye Are Washed, Ye Are Sanctified, Ye Are Justified

John Calvin on 1 Corinthians 6:11 and the threefold passive that separates the heirs of the Kingdom from those who will not inherit it:

But ye are washed He makes use of three terms to express one and the same thing, that he may the more effectually deter them from rolling back into the condition from which they had escaped. Hence, though these three terms have the same general meaning, there is, nevertheless, great force in their very variety. For there is an implied contrast between washing and defilement — sanctification and pollution — justification and guilt. His meaning is, that having been once justified, they must not draw down upon themselves a new condemnation — that, having been sanctified, they must not pollute themselves anew — that, having been washed, they must not disgrace themselves with new defilements, but, on the contrary, aim at purity, persevere in true holiness, and abominate their former pollutions. And hence we infer what is the purpose for which God reconciles us to himself by the free pardon of our sins. While I have said that one thing is expressed by three terms, I do not mean that there is no difference whatever in their import, for, properly speaking, God justifies us when he frees us from condemnation, by not imputing to us our sins; he cleanses us, when he blots out the remembrance of our sins. Thus these two terms differ only in this respect, that the one is simple, while the other is figurative; for the term washing is metaphorical, Christ’s blood being likened to water. On the other hand, he sanctifies by renewing our depraved nature by his Spirit. Thus sanctification is connected with regeneration. In this passage, however, the Apostle had simply in view to extol, with many commendations, the grace of God, which has delivered us from the bondage of sin, that we may learn from this how much it becomes us to hold in abhorrence everything that stirs up against us God’s anger and vengeance.

 

 

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.