The Active Obedience of Christ

“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Micah 6:8

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…”

Rom. 3:22

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Order of Contents

Articles  8
Books  4
Quote  1
A Lutheran

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Articles

1600’s

Burgess, Anthony – Section 5, Sermons 29-45  of Part 2 of The True Doctrine of Justification in 2 Parts  (London, 1651), pp. 284-456

Rutherford, Samuel – ‘Of Christ’s Active & Passive Obedience, how they Concur as One Satisfaction’  being pp. 229-230 of The Covenant of Life Opened  1655

Brown of Wamphray, John – ‘Imputation of Both Christ’s Active and Passive Obedience Necessary’  †1679  being the Appendix to The Life of Justification Opened

Brown was an exiled Scottish covenanter writing from the Netherlands.

Turretin, Francis –   ‘Chapter 4 – The Matter of the Atonement’  †1687  29 pp.  in On the Atonement, pp. 85-114

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1900’s

Berkhof, Louis – Christ’s Active & Passive Obedience  1950  9 paragraphs  from his Systematic Theology

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2000’s

Gootjes, Nicolaas – ‘Christ’s Obedience and Covenant Obedience’  2002  20 pp.

Gootjes is a professor in the Canadian Reformed Churches.

Berends, Bill – ‘Christ’s Active Obedience in Federal Theology’  Vox Reformata (2004), 20 pp.

“My preliminary conclusions…  is that the doctrine of the active obedience of Christ may first have been discussed under the rubric of a prelapsarian covenant by Theodore Beza.” – p. 27

Berends’ main thesis about Beza is in general accordance with the findings of Campos’s later, more thorough dissertation below.

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Books

1600’s

Norton, John – A Discussion of that Great Point in Divinity, the Sufferings of Christ, & the Question about his Righteousness-Active, Passive: & the Imputation Thereof.  Being an Answer to a Dialogue Entitled, The Meritorious Price of Redemption, Justification, etc., by John Norton, Teacher of the Church at Ipswich in New-England, who was Appointed to Draw up this Answer by the General Court  (London, 1653)

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2000’s

de Campos, Junior, Heber Carlos – Johannes Piscator (1546-1625) and the Consequent Development of the Doctrine of the Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience  PhD diss. Calvin Theological Seminary, 2009  370 pp.

“…this dissertation does point to Beza as…  possibly even the first systematizer of the doctrine under study, since he demonstrates his threefold righteousness imputed as early as his first edition of the Annotationes Maiores (1556) and a detailed discussion of the topic soon appears in his Confession (1559). ” – p. 286

“…the assignment of precise labels (favorable to the doctrine/against the doctrine) in the history of the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience becomes possible only after Piscator raised his voice against Beza.  In short, there was no early consensus against which Piscator argued.  Doctrinal consensus, limited as it was, arose only after the debates of the early seventeenth century.” – p. 287

“…the beginnings of doctrinal formulation of the issue occurred in the 1550s and 1560s, and that significant debate over the doctrine became common only in the 1580s and 1590s…” – p. 292

McCormick, Micah – The Active Obedience of Jesus Christ  2010  PhD diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Abstract:  “Chapter 1 defines the doctrine, surveys previous literature, offers warrant for the work, and previews the argument of the work.  In short, the thesis of this work is that the active obedience of Christ is a biblical doctrine.  Chapter 2 presents a historical survey, tracing theologians from the early church up to the present time to see the development of the doctrine. Special attention is given to the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras, during which the doctrine received its primary development…”

Strange, Alan – The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards  Buy  in Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology  (RHB, 2019)  179 pp.

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Quote

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

“The atonement…  the whole of Christ’s obedience unto death.”

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A Lutheran

Georg Major  1502-74

Commentarius in Divi Pauli Epistolam ad Ephesios  (Wittenberg, 1552), as quoted in Gerald L. Bray, Timothy F. George, Scott M. Manetsch (eds), Reformation Commentary on Scripture X: Galatians, Ephesians (IVP Academic, 2011), p. 135  HT: Daniel Ritchie

“Christ was subject to the law in two different senses. The first was the active sense, in that he perfectly fulfilled everything that was prescribed in the ceremonial or moral law. He was circumcised on the eighth day according to the law, being presented in the temple in order to fulfill the law of purification, to which, however, he was not himself subject. Likewise, he kept the feasts and rituals commanded in the law and fulfilled the moral law to such a degree that … he did not commit any sin, nor was any falsehood found in his mouth.

He performed this perfect obedience to the law so that he could pass it on to us. The result is that his fulfilling of the law is imputed to us, who have not kept it perfectly, as if we had done so. He was also subject to the law in a passive sense, when he took on himself the punishment and offence of the law in order to deflect the wrath of the eternal Father from us.”

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Related Pages

The Atonement