Calvin’s Interpretation of "Thy Kingdom Come"


  • John H. Mazaheri


John Calvin, Lord's Prayer


In this article I compare Calvin’s exegesis of the Second Petition of The Lord's Prayer in the 1541-57 editions of the Institutes with the one he offers in the last edition of his work (1560). My close reading is based on the French editions only with a rhetorical approach. First, it is interesting to note that for the last edition Calvin rewrote his paragraph on the Second Petition entirely, which he had also done with the First Petition. Second, the formal structures as well as the content are somewhat different. In the 1541-57 editions, the paragraph is divided into two parts: (1) He explains the reason why we pray that God be considered our only king – implicitly no other (earthly) ruler should be accepted. (2) He explains why right here on Earth already we are punished, if we do not accept this principle and follow another ruler. Therefore, "Thy Kingdom come" is not only about the future, but also about now. It is an existential issue. In the 1560 edition, Calvin divides his paragraph into three parts: (1) He claims that the First and the Second Petitions say basically the same thing. So the reason for the repetition is just because we are too slow to understand God. Besides, if we believe in Him, we have to deny ourselves and despise our earthly life, and consider the Lord our only ruler and king, right here and now. (2) We pray that God destroy the Evil that is in everyone. (3) We pray that we live according to God’s rule alone. To conclude, two important differences are stressed: (1) In the last edition, Calvin puts more emphasis on the evil spirit in humans. (2) Although in all the editions of the Institutes the crucial role of the Holy Spirit is mentioned, it is only in the last edition that the name of Christ appears, the Son without whom we cannot live in God’s Kingdom.


John H. Mazaheri

PhD, Professor of French, Auburn University (Auburn, AL, USA)



Mazaheri, J. H. (2013). Calvin’s Interpretation of "Thy Kingdom Come". Zwingliana, 40, 101–111. Abgerufen von