His father had wanted him to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, so he diligently studied to be a priest. But now, suddenly, word came to Jean Chauvin that his father had changed his mind. “You must study law.” Besides, lawyers make more money. At least that was the concern of Jean’s father. So in 1528, the eighteen-year-old Chauvin prepared to leave Paris and go to the university in Orleans to study law.
Jean did not mind the change. He didn’t care about the money, but lawyers must be logical debaters, and he was good at that. In fact, his cousin Olivetanus was still arguing with him about Martin Luther’s ideas. Salvation was either by grace alone—or it was not by grace at all. “Now what does Scripture say?” Olivetanus had a point. Olivetanus was even translating the Bible into French. Yes, what does Scripture say?
Jean studied the Bible to find out. But he was still not convinced. As a very small boy he had kissed the bones of Saint Anne with his own dear mother! And was he not yet a chaplain in the Church of Rome? But his cousin, and some of his friends—and even some of his learned professors—they were embracing these new Reformation doctrines and teaching them, dangerous though it was. Many a martyr had already been burnt in Paris, even while Jean was there.
Jean sighed as he thought on these things and began his long walk to Orleans. He had plenty of time to think and many miles to go.
Once there, he began his studies in earnest. Each day he would commit his professors’ lectures to memory. Within one year he was capable of lecturing himself! Jean learned Greek in Orleans, too. His professor of Greek, named Wolmar, used the New Testament to teach this language. Wolmar came from Germany and took Lutheran ideas along with him. The Scriptures he used were not lost on his gifted pupil named Chauvin.
After one year at Orleans, Jean and a number of others heard about a famous professor newly arrived at Bourges, so they left to study law there. His Lutheran professor Wolmar moved there, too. It was safer for Protestants in Bourges.
Among his other duties, Wolmar tutored a young boy in his home at Bourges. The boy’s name was Theodore Beza. The twenty-year-old Chauvin became acquainted with the twelve-year-old Beza at Wolmar’s house. In the providence of God, their paths would one day, significantly, cross again.
But for now, Jean Chauvin studied law, and Scripture. He had many learned friends, and we can only imagine the discussions between such men, young and old, who lived in these times of persecution and upheaval in the church—men who sincerely and diligently sought to know the truth.