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Institutes of the Christian Religion - 1541 Edition (Calvin)

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The Institutes of the Christian Religion are Calvin’s single most important work, and one of the key texts to emerge from the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The book accompanied the Reformer throughout his life, growing in size from what was essentially an expanded catechism in 1536 to a full-scale work of biblical theology in 1559/1560.

Among the intermediate editions of the Institutes, none deserves to be better known than the first French edition of 1541. Avoiding the technical details and much of the polemics of the final work, the Institutes of 1541 offer a clear and comprehensive account of the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, revelation and redemption, in the life of the individual Christian and in the worship and witness of the church.

Not doctrine only but its practical use is Calvin’s abiding concern. The author of the Institutes invites us both to know and to live the truth, and thus allow God’s Spirit to transform us.

The present translation is newly made from the French of 1541. It has been designed and annotated with the needs of a wide readership in mind.


Table of Contents:

  1. The Knowledge of God
  2. The Knowledge of Man and Free Will
  3. The Law
  4. Faith, with an Explanation of the Apostles’ Creed
  5. Repentance
  6. Justification by Faith and the Merits of Works
  7. The Similarity and Difference between the Old and New Testaments
  8. The Predestination and Providence of God
  9. Prayer, with an Explanation of Our Lord’s Prayer
  10. The Sacraments
  11. Baptism
  12. The Lord’s Supper
  13. The Five Ceremonies Falsely Called Sacraments
  14. Christian Freedom
  15. The Power of the Church
  16. Civil Government
  17. The Christian Life



John Calvin (1509-1564) was a theological giant of the Protestant Reformation. A contemporary of Martin Luther, he had as much influence over this period of history as his German counterpart. In 1536 he published his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was a systematic presentation of the Protestant position. His writings are still cherished and relevant today.