John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

27 (1 Corinthians 15:27)

Verse 27

27.He hath put all things under his feet Some think that this quotation is taken from Psalms 8:6 , and I have no objection to this, though there would be nothing out of place in reckoning this statement to be an inference that is drawn by Paul from the nature of Christ’s kingdom. Let us follow, however, the more generally received opinion. Paul shows from that Psalm, that God the Father has conferred upon Christ the power of all things, because it is said, Thou hast put all things under his feet The words are in themselves plain, were it not that there are two difficulties that present themselves first, that the Prophet speaks here not of Christ alone, but of the whole human race; and secondly, that by all things he means only those things that have to do with the convenience of the life of the body, as we find in Genesis 2:19. The solution of the former difficulty is easy; for as Christ is the first-born of every creature, (Colossians 1:15,) and the heir of all things, (Hebrews 1:2,) God, the Father, has not conferred upon the human race the use of all creatures in such a way as to hinder that in the mean time the chief power, and, so to speak, the rightful dominion, remain in Christ’s hands. Farther, we know, that Adam lost the right that had been conferred upon him, so that we can no longer call anything our own. For the earth was cursed, (Genesis 3:17,) and everything that it contains; and it is through Christ alone that we recover what has been taken from us. (57) It is with propriety, therefore, that this commendation belongs to Christ personally — that the Father has put all things under his feet, inasmuch as we rightfully possess nothing except in him. For how shall we become heirs of God, if we are not his sons, and by whom are we made his sons but by Christ.

The solution of the second difficulty is as follows — that the Prophet, it is true, especially mentions fowls of heaven, fishes of the sea, and beasts of the field, because this kind of dominion is visible, and is more apparent to the eye; but at the same time the general statement reaches much farther — to the heavens and the earth, and everything that they contain. Now the subjection must have a corrrespondence with the character of him who rules — that is, it has a suitableness to his condition, so as to correspond with it. Now Christ does not need animals for food, or other creatures for any necessity. He rules, therefore, that all things may be subservient to his glory, inasmuch as he adopts us as participants in his dominion. The fruit of this openly appears in visible creatures; but believers feel in their consciences an inward fruit, which, as I have said, extends farther.

All things put under him, except him who put all things under him. He insists upon two things — first, that all things must be brought under subjection to Christ before he restores to the Father the dominion of the world, and secondly, that the Father has given all things into the hands of his Son in such a way as to retain the principal right in his own hands. From the former of these it follows, that the hour of the last judgment is not yet come — from the second, that Christ is now the medium between us and the Father in such a way as to bring us at length to him. Hence he immediately infers as follows: After he shall have subjected all things to him, then shall the Son subject himself to the Father. “Let us wait patiently until Christ shall vanquish all his enemies, and shall bring us, along with himself, under the dominion of God, that the kingdom of God may in every respect be accomplished in us.

This statement, however, is at first view at variance with what we read in various passages of Scripture respecting the eternity of Christ’s kingdom. For how will these things correspond — Of his kingdom there will be no end, (Daniel 7:14; Luke 1:33; 2 Peter 1:11,) and He himself shall be subjected? The solution of this question will open up Paul’s meaning more clearly. In the first place, it must be observed, that all power was delivered over to Christ, inasmuch as he was manifested in the flesh. It is true that such distinguished majesty would not correspond with a mere man, but, notwithstanding, the Father has exalted him in the same nature in which he was abased, and has

given, him a name, before which every knee must bow, etc. (Philippians 2:9.)

Farther, it must be observed, that he has been appointed Lord and highest King, so as to be as it were the Father’s Vicegerent in the government of the world — not that he is employed and the Father unemployed (for how could that be, inasmuch as he is the wisdom and counsel of the Father, is of one essence with him, and is therefore himself God?) But the reason why the Scripture testifies, that Christ now holds dominion over the heaven and the earth in the room of the Father is — that we may not think that there is any other governor, lord, protector, or judge of the dead and living, but may fix our contemplation on him alone. (58) We acknowledge, it is true, God as the ruler, but it is in the face of the man Christ. But Christ will then restore the kingdom which he has received, that we may cleave wholly to God. (59) Nor will he in this way resign the kingdom, but will transfer it in a manner from his humanity to his glorious divinity, because a way of approach will then be opened up, from which our infirmity now keeps us back. Thus then Christ will be subjected to the Father, because the vail being then removed, we shall openly behold God reigning in his majesty, (60) and Christ’s humanity will then no longer be interposed to keep us back from a closer view of God. (61)

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible