Many in France were suffering severely for their newly found reformed faith. Calvin felt that he had to write to the king of France in defense of the victims, presenting him with a brief summary of the true Christian faith. The first edition came out in 1536 – The Institutes was a small volume of 6 chapters and 520 pages. One edition followed the next, each bigger than the last, until it reached 80 chapters and half a million words. What has begun as a Gospel tract ended as a manual of foundational theology, a shortened version of which is presented in this book.