The Dutch Annotations on the Sincere Free Offer

Ordered by the Synod of Dort in 1618 and published in 1637

These Annotations were recommended in 1646 by 35 members of the Westminster Assembly, including: Twisse, Rutherford, Gillespie, Ballie, Henderson, Burgess, Goodwin, Byfield, Greenhill, etc.




The Dutch Annotations Upon the Whole Bible, English Translation by Theodore Haak (pub. 1657), republished by Gereformeerde Bijbelstichting, Leerdam, The Netherlands, 2002.  


Proverbs 1:24 – “Seeing I have called and ye have refused, I have stretched out mine hand”

To wit, to invite you to repentance.  See the like phrase, Isa. 65:2


Proverbs 9:3 – “She [Wisdom] hath sent forth her maidens”

Understand by these, the ministers of the Word of God, who by Christ are sent forth to call and invite men to the communion and fellowship of the Church, and of all spiritual good things, that are therein distributed, 2 Cor. 5:19-20.


Isaiah 55

Christ invites all wounded and dejected spirits to the enjoyment of his benefits and favors


Isaiah 55:1 – “come to the waters”

That is, unto Me, or to the heavenly goods which I offer unto you by the Gospels, namely forgiveness of sins and righteousness, which are given us of God in Christ for nought, and without any merits or deserts of our own…


Isaiah 55:6 – “Seek the Lord while He is to be found: call upon Him while He is near.”

That is, while He offers mercy unto poor sinners, calling and inviting them to repentance and conversion


Isaiah 65:2 – “I have spread out mine hand all the day to a rebellious people”

That is, I have caused the Jews to be continually called and instructed by the preaching of the prophets, and afterward by the Apostles, but they laid it not to heart.  When the Scripture says that men spread forth or stretch out their hands, it signifies praying, as Ex. 9:29 and 1 Kings 8:22.  See the Annotations there.  But when it is said that God spreads forth his hands, it signifies preaching, as here, and Prov. 1:24.  See the Annotations there.


The Argument of the New Testament

That God has appointed his son for a Mediator, and promises eternal life upon condition that we believe in Him; and is called the Covenant of Grace… These two covenants [the Old Covenant and New Covenant] are of one kind as concerning their substance, forasmuch as in both forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life are promised on condition of faith in the Mediator


Matt 23:37

“How often would I have gathered thy children together”

That is, your inhabitants

“like as the hen gathereth together her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”

That is, ye have always sought to hinder it, see verse 13, and yet Christ gathered all his out of, He nilling [their] willing. Isa. 1:8 and Rom. 9:29.


Luke 19:41-42

“saying, O if then [you] also knewest, even yet in this thy day,”

Namely, in which I now for the last time come unto you, and give you warning for your preservation and salvation: this is an abrupt speech, to be completed with, How happy then should you be? Or somewhat the like, “that which (serves) for thy peace, but now it is hid from thine eyes.”


Acts 3:26

“God having raised up his child Jesus”

or servant minister, see v. 13

“sent the same first unto you”

namely Jews and citizens of Jerusalem, Acts 13:4

“that He should bless you”

namely with grace in this life, and with glory in that to come

“in this, that He turn away every one (of you) from your wickedness.”

Or in this that every one of you turn away from his wickedness. But the first [that translation given in the text] agrees better with the word bless, as also with the like place, Acts 5:31.


Rom. 10:21

“But against Israel he saith, the whole day have I stretched forth mine hands”

namely, to call and invite them unto me and my righteousness. See the like phrase, Prov. 1:20, etc,

“unto a disobedient and gain-saying people.”

That is, rebellious, obstinate. See an example, Jer. 44:16; Eze. 3:7.


2 Cor. 6:1-2

“And we (as) laboring together”

or, working together. Namely, with God, as the ministers of the Word are also elsewhere called, as being instruments and Ambassadors of God, 1 Cor. 3:9,10


or exhort

“you also, that ye may not have received the grace of God”

namely, which was offered you by the Gospel and our ministry, and received by you

“in vain.”

That is, without bringing forth suitable fruits of thankfulness, and increasing in faith.

“For he saith in the acceptable time have I heard, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: behold now is the well-accepted time”

or, the time of good pleasure, as the Hebrew word in Isaiah properly sounds, namely, which God in his good pleasure had appointed to call men every where to repentance by Christ and his ministers, and by his Spirit powerfully to bring them thereunto, Acts 2:16,17 and 17:30,31, etc.,

“Behold now is it the day of salvation.”


1 Peter 3:19 –  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison”

The word ‘preach’ also has always in God’s Word respect to the invitation to faith and repentance, which was no more needful for the souls of the deceased believers of the Old Testament; as neither can it be applied to those souls, when it is said that Christ by his Spirit preached to the souls which were disobedient in the time of Noah. Therefore this interpretation is the fittest and the most certain, that by ‘spirits’ here are understood the souls of those persons, to whom the Spirit or Godhead of Christ formerly caused repentance to be preached by Noah, namely, while they were yet alive, which Noah therefore is also called a preacher of righteousness, 2 Pet. 2:5, which persons, notwithstanding this preaching of Noah and God’s long-suffering towards them, remained alike disobedient and ungodly, as is also testified, 2 Pet. 2:5.




See Also

The Canons of Dort on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel


Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel