“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…”
Order of Contents
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 – ‘Ch. 4, ‘The Matter of the Atonement’ †1687 29 pp. in On the Atonement, pp. 85-114
Berkhof, Louis – Christ’s Active & Passive Obedience (1950) 9 paragraphs from his Systematic Theology
Gootjes, Nicolaas – ‘Christ’s Obedience & Covenant Obedience’ (2002) 20 pp.
Gootjes is a professor in the Canadian Reformed Churches.
Table of Contents
Confessional Development of the Doctrine 4
Scriptural Basis 11
Active Obedience & our Obedience 19
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)
McCormick, Micah – The Active Obedience of Jesus Christ PhD diss. (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2010)
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.
Chapter 3 examines God’s original arrangement with Adam…. Chapter 4 examines human obedience after the Fall. Looking especially at the “do this and live” passages, this chapter argues that God requires perfect obedience from humans in order to gain eternal life. Chapter 5 traces the OT’s presentation of the need for a Messiah to come who would represent his people in perfect obedience…
Chapter 6… Beginning with the Gospels and moving on to the rest of the NT, this chapter shows that Christ represented his people in perfect obedience throughout the whole course of his earthly mediation. Chapter 7 first offers a systematic formulation of the doctrine. This chapter then answers some of the major objections put to the doctrine of Christ’s active obedience, examining the views of opponents both ancient and contemporary. Chapter 8 summarizes the work…”
Peter van Mastricht
Theoretical Practical Theology (RHB), vol. 3, Bk. 3, ch. 12, section 19, ‘The man who was to render perfect obedience to God was perfect in every way’
“God demanded this perfect obedience from a man that was perfect in every way, and equal to the stipulated duty, for indeed:
(1) through the image of God conferred upon Him, and in that image, original righteousness, He was blessed with spiritual wisdom…
(2) He was to that point without any vice or sin (as much original as actual), through which alone his whole posterity was incapable of rendering to God his due (Rom. 8:3). Thus:
(3) intrinsically, he was equipped with a perfect principle of obeying, namely, original righteousness; extrinsically, there was before him a perfect norm of obeying, nor did anything hinder that obedience.”
John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan
“The atonement… the whole of Christ’s obedience unto death.”
On the Post-Reformation
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.
de Campos, Jr., Heber Carlos – Johannes Piscator (1546-1625) & 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
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.
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.”