Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
35. This Moses, whom they had denied, saying, Who made thee a ruler and judge? him, I say, hath God sent to be a ruler and a redeemer, in the hand of the angel which appeared unto him in the bush. 36. He brought them out, having showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37. This is Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, The Lord your God shall raise up unto you a Prophet, out of the midst of your brethren, like unto me; hear him.
35. Stephen passeth over many things, because he maketh haste unto this stun, that the Jews may understand that the fathers were not delivered therefore, because they had deserved that with their godliness, but that this benefit was bestowed upon them, being altogether unworthy; and, secondly, that there is some more perfect thing to be hoped for of these beginnings. When Moses, being ordained of God to be their revenger and deliverer, was now in a readiness, they stopped the way before him; therefore God doth deliver them now, as it were against their will. That which is added touching miracles and wonders, serveth as well to the setting forth of the grace of God, as to make known the calling of Moses. It is surely a strange thing, that God doth vouchsafe to declare his power by divers wonders, for such an unthankful people’s sake. But in the mean season, he bringeth his servant in credit. Therefore, whereas the Jews set less by him afterward, whereas they essay sometimes to drive him away by railing, whereas they scold sometimes, sometimes murmur, sometimes set upon him outrageously, they bewray thereby both their wickedness, and also their contempt of the grace of God. Their unthankfulness and ungodliness was so increased always, that God must needs have striven with wonderful patience with such a froward and stubborn people.
A ruler and a deliverer. We must understand the contrarieties 437 which augment the fault. They would have obeyed Moses if a tyrant had appointed him to be a judge, but they contemn him proudly, and refuse him disdainfully, being appointed of God, and that to be a deliverer. Therefore, in despising him, they were wicked; and in rejecting grace, unthankful. And whereas Moses hath such an honorable title given him, God doth not so give and resign unto man that honor which is due to himself, that he loseth any whit of his authority thereby. For doubtless Moses was not called a redeemer or deliverer in any other respect save only because he was the minister of God. And by this means the glory of the whole work remaineth in the power of God wholly. Therefore let us learn that so often as men have the titles which belong to God given them, God himself is not despoiled of his honor; but because the work is done by their hands, they are by this means commended. To this end tendeth that which Stephen saith, that this charge was committed to Moses in the hand of the angel. For by this means Moses is made subject to Christ, that under his conduct and direction he may obey God. For hand is taken in this place not for ministry, but for principality. Wherefore, God did so use the service of Moses, that the power of Christ did surpass him, as he is even at this day the chief governor, in accomplishing the salvation of the Church; yea, he useth the ministry of men in that sort, that the force and effect dependeth upon him alone.
37. A Prophet shall God raise up. Stephen endeavoreth undoubtedly to prove by these words that Christ is the end of the law; although he doth not express the same in plain words. And assuredly, (as we have already said,) Luke reciteth not word for word all those things which Stephen uttered; but it is sufficient for him to note the principal points of matters. Furthermore, we have said before in the third chapter, that this testimony is so applied to Christ, that notwithstanding it agreeth to the other prophets also. For after that Moses had forbidden the people to be carried to and fro with the wicked superstitions of the Gentiles, he showeth what ought to follow. There is no cause (saith he) why thou shouldst desire magicians and enchanters; for God will never suffer thee to want prophets to teach thee faithfully. And now it is certain that the ministry of the prophets was temporal, as was also the ministry of the law; until Christ should bring the full perfection of wisdom into the world. Therefore Stephen’s speech tendeth to this end, that Moses doth not keep the people fast bound to himself alone when as he setteth before them and commendeth unto them another teacher. The prophets were indeed, interpreters of the law and all their doctrine was, as it were, an addition or appurtenance 438 of those things which were uttered by Moses; but forasmuch as this was also certain, that Christ should bring a more perfect kind of doctrine, because he should make an end of all the prophecies, it followeth, that he is made the chief; and that the principal mastership (that I may so call it) is his, lest the faith of the gospel should be doubtful. Now we know to what end Stephen intermingled Moses’ testimony, to wit, that he may prove that the Jews did no less contemn him, (of whom they made boast with open mouth to be their only teachers) even now when he is dead, than they did in times past, whilst he lived, wickedly and frowardly reject him. For whosoever believeth Moses, he will not refuse to be the disciple of Christ, whose messenger and crier he was, (Joh 5:46.) For the rest 439 out of the third chapter.
“Subaudiendae sunt antitheses,” we must supply the antitheses.
“Appendix,” an appendix.
“Reliqua pete,” for the rest see.