Commentaries on the Prophet Joel 
Chapter 1. 
Lecture Thirty-eighth. 
Joel 1:1-4 
1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. 
2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the 
land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your 
3 Tell ye your children of it, and [let] your children [tell] their 
children, and their children another generation. 
4  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and 
that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that 
which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten. 
    "The word of Jehovah which came to Joel, the son of Pethuel". 
He names here his father; it is hence probable that he was a man 
well known and of some celebrity. But who this Pethuel was, a11 now 
are ignorant. And what the Hebrews hold as a general rule, that a 
prophet is designated, whenever his father's name is added, appears 
to me frivolous; and we see how bold they are in devising such 
comments. When no reason for any thing appears to them, they invent 
some fable, and allege it as a divine truth. When, therefore, they 
are wont thus to trifle, I have no regard for what is held by them 
as a rule. But yet it is probable, that when the Prophets are 
mentioned as having sprung from this or that father, their fathers 
were men of some note. 
    Now what he declared by saying, that he delivered the word of 
the Lord, is worthy of being observed; for he shows that he claimed 
nothing for himself, as an individual, as though he wished to rule 
by his own judgment, and to subject others to his own fancies; but 
that he relates only what he had received from the Lord. And since 
the Prophets claimed no authority for themselves, except as far as 
they faithfully executed the office divinely committed to them, and 
delivered, as it were from hand to hand, what the Lord commanded, we 
may hence feel assured that no human doctrines ought to be admitted 
into the Church. Why? Because as much as men trust in themselves, so 
much they take away from the authority of God. This preface then 
ought to be noticed, which almost all the Prophets use, namely, that 
they brought nothing of their own or according to their own 
judgment, but that they were faithful dispensers of the truth 
intrusted to them by God. 
    And the word is said to have been to Joel; not that God 
intended that he alone should be his disciple, but because he 
deposited this treasure with him, that he might be his minister to 
the whole people. Paul also says the same thing, - that to the 
ministers of the Gospel was committed a message for Christ, or in 
Christ's name, to reconcile men to God, (2 Cor. 5: 20;) and in 
another place he says, 'He has deposited with us this treasure as in 
earthen vessels,' (2 Cor. 4: 7.) We now understand why Joel says, 
that the word of the Lord was delivered to him, it was not that he 
might be the only disciple; but as some teacher was necessary, Joel 
was chosen to whom the Lord committed this office. Then the word of 
God belongs indeed indiscriminately to all; and yet it is committed 
to Prophets and other teachers; for they are, so to speak, as it 
were trustees (depositarii - depositories.) 
    As to the verb "hayah", there is no need of philosophizing so 
acutely as Jerome does: "How was the word of the Lord made?" For he 
feared lest Christ should be said to be made, as he is the word of 
the Lord. These are trifles, the most puerile. He could not, 
however, in any other way get rid of the difficulty but by saying 
that the word is said to be made with respect to man whom God 
addresses, and not with respect to God himself. All this, as ye must 
see, is childish; for the Prophet says here only, that the word of 
the Lord was sent to him, that is, that the Lord employed him as his 
messenger to the whole people. But after having shown that he was a 
fit minister of God, being furnished with his word, he speaks 
authoritatively, for he represented the person of God. 
    We now see what is the lawful authority which ought to be in 
force in the Church, and which we ought to obey without dispute, and 
to which all ought to submit. It is then only that this authority 
exists, when God himself speaks by men, and the Holy Spirit employs 
them as his instruments. For the Prophet brings not forward any 
empty title; he does not say that he is a high priest of the tribe 
of Levi, or of the first order, or of the family of Aaron. He 
alleges no such thing, but says that the word of God was deposited 
with him. Whosoever then demands to be heard in the Church, must of 
necessity really prove that he is a preacher of God's word; and he 
must not bring his own devices, nor blend with the word any thing 
that proceeds from the judgment of his own flesh. 
    But first the Prophet reproves the Jews for being so stupid as 
not to consider that they were chastised by the hand of God, though 
this was quite evident. Hence they pervert, in my judgment, the 
meaning of the Prophet, who think that punishments are here 
denounced which were as yet suspended; for they transfer all these 
things to a future time. But I distinguish between this reproof and 
the denunciations which afterwards follow. Here then the Prophet 
reproaches the Jews, that having been so severely smitten, they did 
not gain wisdom; and yet even fools, when the rod is applied to 
their backs, know that they are punished. Since then the Jews were 
so stupid, that when even chastised they did not understand that 
they had to do with God, the Prophet justly reproves this madness. 
"Hear", he says, "ye old men; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the 
land, and declare this to your children". But the consideration of 
this passage I shall put off till tomorrow. 
Grant, Almighty God that as almost the whole world give such loose 
reins to their licentiousness, that they hesitate not either to 
despise or to regard as of no value thy sacred word - Grant, O Lord 
that we may always retain such reverence as is justly due to it and 
to thy holy oracles and be so moved whenever thou deignest to 
address us that being truly humbled, we may be raised up by faith to 
heaven, and by hope gradually attain that glory which is as yet hid 
from us. And may we at the same time so submissively restrain 
ourselves, as to make it our whole wisdom to obey thee and to do 
thee service, until thou gatherest us into thy kingdom, where we 
shall be partakers of thy glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Calvin, Commentary on Joel

(continued in part 2...)

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