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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 33: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

MATTHEW 22:41-46; MARK 12:35-37;
LUKE 20:41-44


Mark 12:35-37

Luke 20:41-44

41. And when the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them, 42. Saying, What think you of Christ? whose son is he? They say to him, David’s. 43. He saith to them, How then doth David by the Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44. The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I have made thy enemies thy footstool?  79 45. If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son? 46. And no man could make any reply to him;  80 nor did any man from that day venture to put any more questions to him.

35. And Jesus answering said, while he was teaching in the temple, How do the scribes say that Christ is the son of David? 36. For David himself by the Holy “Spirit said, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy footstool.  81 37. David himself therefore calleth him Lord; and whence is he his son? And a vast multitude heard him gladly.

41. And he said to them, How do they say that Christ is the son of David? 42. And David himself saith in the Book of Psalms, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 43. Till I make thy enemies thy footstool.  82 44. David therefore calleth him Lord; and how is he his son?


Matthew 22:42. What think you of Christ? Mark and Luke express more clearly the reason why Christ put this question. It was because there prevailed among the scribes an erroneous opinion, that the promised Redeemer would be one of David’s sons and successors, who would bring along with him nothing more elevated than human nature. For from the very commencement Satan endeavored, by all the arts which he could devise, to put forward some pretended Christ, who was not the true Mediator between God and men. God having so frequently promised that Christ would proceed from the seed, or from the loins of David, this conviction was so deeply rooted in their minds, that they could not endure to have him stripped of human nature. Satan therefore permitted Christ to be acknowledged as a true man and a son of David, for he would in vain have attempted to overturn this article of faith; but—what was worse—he stripped him of his Divinity, as if he had been only one of the ordinary descendants of Adam. But in this manner the hope of future and eternal life, as well as spiritual righteousness, was abolished. And ever since Christ was manifested to the world, heretics have attempted by various contrivances—and as it were under ground—to overturn sometimes his human, and sometimes his Divine nature, that either he might not have full power to save us, or we might not have ready access to him. Now as the hour of his death was already approaching, the Lord himself intended to attest his divinity, that all the godly might boldly rely on him; for if he had been only man, we would have had no right either to glory in him, or to expect salvation from him.

We now perceive his design, which was, to assert that he was the Son of God, not so much on his own account, as to make our faith rest on his heavenly power. For as the weakness of the flesh, by which he approached to us, gives us confidence, that we may not hesitate to draw near to him, so if that weakness alone were before our eyes, it would rather fill us with fear and despair than excite proper confidence. Yet it must be observed, that the scribes are not reproved for teaching that Christ would be the Son of David, but for imagining that he was a mere man, who would come from heaven, to assume the nature and person of a man. Nor does our Lord make a direct assertion about himself, but simply shows that the scribes hold a wicked error in expecting that the Redeemer will proceed only from the earth and from human lineage. But though this doctrine was well known to be held by them, we learn from Matthew, that he interrogated them in presence of the people what their sentiments were.

43. How then does David by the Spirit call him Lord. The assertion made by Christ, that David spoke by the Spirit, is emphatic; for he contrasts the prediction of a future event with the testimony of a present event. By this phrase he anticipates the sophistry by which the Jews of the present day attempt to escape. They allege that this prediction celebrates the reign of David, as if, representing God to be the Author of his reign, David would rise above the mad attempts of his enemies, and affirmed that they would gain nothing by opposing the will of God. That the scribes might not shelter themselves under such an objection, Christ began with stating that the psalm was not composed in reference to the person of David, but was dictated by the prophetic Spirit to describe the future reign of Christ; as it may easily be learned even from the passage itself, that what we read there does not apply either to David, or to any other earthly king; for there David introduces a king clothed with a new priesthood, by which the ancient shadows of the Law must be abolished, (Ps 110:4)

We must now see how he proves that Christ will hold a higher rank than to be merely descended from the seed of David. It is because David, who was king and head of the people, calls him Lord; from which it follows, that there is something in him greater than man. But the argument appears to be feeble and inconclusive; for it may be objected that, when David gave the psalm to the people to sing, without having any view to his own person, he assigned to Christ dominion over others. But to this I reply that, as he was one of the members of the Church, nothing would have been more improper than to shut himself out from the common doctrine. Here he enjoins all the children of God to boast, as with one voice, that they are safe through the protection of a heavenly and invincible King. If he be separated from the body of the Church, he will not partake of the salvation promised through Christ. If this were the voice of a few persons, the dominion of Christ would not extend even to David. But now neither he, nor any other person, can be excluded from subjection to him, without cutting himself off from the hope of eternal salvation. Since then there was nothing better for David than to be included in the Church, it was not less for himself than for the rest of the people that David composed this psalm. In short, by this title Christ is pronounced to be supreme and sole King, who holds the preeminence among all believers; and no exception ought to be allowed to ranking all in one class, when he is appointed to be the Redeemer of the Church. There can be no doubt, therefore, that David represents himself also as a subject of his government, so as to be reckoned one of the number of the people of God.

But now another question arises: Might not God have raised up one whom he appointed from among mankind to be a Redeemer, so as to be David’s Lord, though he was his son? For here it is not the essential name of God, but only Adonai  83 that is employed, and this term is frequently applied to men. I reply: Christ takes for granted that he who is taken out of the number of men, and raised to such a rank of honor, as to be the supreme Head of the whole Church, is not a mere man, but possesses also the majesty of God. For the eternal God, who by an oath makes this claim for himself, that

before him every knee shall bow, (Isa 45:23,)

at the same time swears that

he will not give his glory to another, (Isa 42:8.)

But, according to the testimony of Paul, when Christ was raised to kingly power,

there was given to him a name which is above every name, that before him every knee should bow, (Ro 14:11; Php 2:9.)

And though Paul had never said this, yet such is the fact, that Christ is above David and other holy kings, because he also ranks higher than angels; which would not apply to a created man, unless he were also

God manifested in the flesh, (1Ti 3:16.)

I do acknowledge that his divine essence is not expressed directly and in so many words; but it may easily be inferred that He is God, who is placed above all creatures.

44. The Lord said to my Lord. Here the Holy Spirit puts into the mouth of all the godly a song of triumph, that they may boldly defy Satan and all the ungodly, and mock at their rage, when they endeavor to drive Christ from his throne. That they may not hesitate or tremble, when they perceive great emotions produced in the earth, they are commanded to place the holy and inviolable decree of God in opposition to all the exertions of adversaries. The meaning therefore is: whatever may be the madness of men, all that they shall dare to contrive will be of no avail for destroying the kingdom of Christ, which has been set up, not by the will of men, but by the appointment of God, and therefore is supported by everlasting strength. Whenever this kingdom is violently attacked, let us call to remembrance this revelation from heaven; for undoubtedly this promise was put into the hand of Christ, that every believer may apply it to his own use. But God never changes or deceives, so as to retract what has once gone out of his mouth.

Sit at my right hand. This phrase is used metaphorically for the second or next rank, which is occupied by God’s deputy. And therefore it signifies, to hold the highest government and power in the name of God, as we know that God has committed his authority to his only-begotten Son, so as to govern his Church by his agency. This mode of expression, therefore, does not denote any particular place, but, on the contrary, embraces heaven and earth under the government of Christ. And God declares that Christ will sit till his enemies be subdued, in order to inform us that his kingdom will remain invincible against every attack; not that, when his enemies have been subdued, he will be deprived of the power which had been granted to him, but that, while the whole multitude of his enemies shall be laid low, his power will remain for ever unimpaired. In the meantime, it points out that condition of his kingdom which we perceive in the present day, that we may not be uneasy when we see it attacked on all sides.



Jusques a tant que je mettray tes ennemis pour le marchepied de tes pieds;” — “till I shall place thy enemies as the footstool for thy feet.”


Et nul ne luy pouvoit respondre une parolle;” — “and none could answer a word to him.”


Jusques a tant que je mettray tes ennemis pour le marchepied de tes pieds;” — “till I shall place thy enemies as the footstool for thy feet.”


Jusques a tant que je mettray tes ennemis pour le marchepied de tes pieds;” — “till I shall place thy enemies as the footstool for thy feet.”


Our authorized version of Ps 110:1 runs thus: The Lord said unto my Lord. While the word Lord occurs twice in this clause, the Translators have followed their ordinary method of printing the first in small capitals, to present it to the eye of the reader as standing for the Hebrew word יהוה, (Jehovah,) which our Author calls “the essential name of God,” while the second stands for (אדני), (Adonai,) my Lord, which, as he also mentions, “is frequently applied to men.” — Ed.

Next: Matthew 23:1-12; Mark 12:38-39; Luke 11:43, 45-46; 20:45-46