John Calvin on The Holy Spirit’s Sense of Humor

I will explain Calvin’s view on the Holy Spirit’s sense of humor, but first a few jokes:

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Annie. Annie who? Annie way you can Let me in now? (badum – chhh!)

When drilled for details, the Dentist replied that his favorite hymn was “Crown Him with Many Crowns” @Joshuaray

Puns and wordplay are often key ingredients in some really funny/witty jokes. Without wordplay life would be a lot less funnier. Apparently the John Calvin thinks that the Holy Spirit thinks so too. Check out what Calvin has to say about the Holy Spirit’s sense of humor in this commentary on the book of Philippians (referring to Philippians 3)

In the third term employed, there is an elegant play upon words. They boasted that they were the circumcision: he turns aside this boasting by calling them the concision, inasmuch as they tore asunder the unity of the Church. In this we have an instance tending to shew that the Holy Spirit in his organs has not in every case avoided wit and humor, yet so as at the same time to keep at a distance from such pleasantry as were unworthy of his majesty. There are innumerable examples in the Prophets, and especially in Isaiah, so that there is no profane author that abounds more in agreeable plays upon words, and figurative forms of expression.

So the Holy Spirit does have a sense of humor, and most of his jokes are of the wordplay variety. However, the Spirit always makes sure that there are no profane word plays, only pleasant ones that are worth of his majesty.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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