Chrysostom on 1Cor
A SELECT LIBRARY
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
[i]Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume XII, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc). 1997.
St. Jn Chrysostom
3 The British edition of this translation has a preface in which is given a short “sketch” of Chrysostom’s history. As a fuller outline has been given in the course of the present reproduction of the homilies, it is considered advisable to omit this sketch here. (See Vol. 9,pp. 3–23). the remainder of the English editor’s preface is as follows:
“The history and remains of St. Chrysostom are in one respect more interesting perhaps to the modern reader, than most of the monuments of those whoare technically called the Fahters. At the time when he was raised up, and in those parts of the Chrisitain world to which he was sent, the Patriarchates, namely, of Antioch and Constaninople, the Church was niehter agitated by persecution from without, nor by any particular doctrinal controversy within, sufficient to attract his main attention, and connect his name with its history, as the name of St. Athanaius, e.g., is connected with the Arian, or that of St. Augustine with the Pelagian, controversy. The labours of St. Athanasius and St. Basil, and their friends and disciples, had come to a happy issue at the second Oecumenical Council; the civil power favoured orthodox doctrine, and upheld Episcopal authority. The Church seemed for the time free to try the force of her morals and discipline against the ordinary vices and errors of all ages and all nations. This is one reason why the Homilies of St. Chrysostom have always been considered as eminently likely among the relics of Antiquity, to be useful as models fro preaching, and as containg hints for the application of Scripture to common life, and the consciences of persons around us.
Another reason undoubtedly is the remarkable energy and fruitfulness of the writer’s mind, that command of language and of topics, and above all, that depth of charitable and religious feeling, which enabled him, to a very remarkable extent, to carry his hearers along with him, even when the things he recommended were most distasteful to their natures and prejudices. It is obvious how much of the expression of this quality must vanish in translation: el elegance and fluency of his Greek style, the flow of his periods, the quickness and ingenuity of his turns, all the excellencies to which more especially his surname was owing, must in the nature of things be sacrificed, except in cass of very rare felicity, on passing into a modern language. His dramatic manner indeed, which was one of the great charms of his oratory among the Greeks, and his rapid and ingenious selection and variation of topics, these may in some measure be retained, and may serve to give even English readers some faing notion of the eloquence which produced so powerful effects on the susceptible people of the East.
“However, it is not of course as composition that we desire to call attention to these or any other of the remains of the Fahters. Nor would this topic have been so expressly adverted to, but for the two following reasons. First, it is in such particulars as these, that the parallel mainly subsists, which has more that once been observed, between St. Chrysostom and our own Bishop Taylor: and it is good for the Church in general, and encouraging for our own Church in particular, to notice such providential revivals of ancient graces in modern times.
“Again, this profustion of literary talent, and eloquency and vehemence and sskill in moral teaching, is of itself, as human nature now exists, a matter of much jealousy to considerate persons, found answerable to the profession implied in their works. and therefore it was desirable to dwell on it in this instance, for the purpose of pointing out afterwards how completely his life gave evidence that he meant and practices what he taught.
“The Homilies on the first Epistle to the Corinthians have ever been considered by learned and devout men as among the most perfect specimens of his mind and teaching. They are of that mixed form, between exposition and exhortation, which serves perhaps better than any other, first, to secure attention, and then to convey to an attentive hearer the full purport of the holy words as they stand in the Bible, and to communicate to him the very impression whcih the preacher himself had received from the text. Accordingly they come in not unfitly in this series, by way of specimen of the horaroy Sermons of the ancients, as St. Cyril’s, of their Catechetical Lectures, and St. Cyprians, the Pastoral Letters, which were circulated among them.
“The date of these Homilies is not exactly known: but it is certain that they were delivered at Antioch, were it only from Hom. 21,9. ad fin. Antioch was at that time, in a temporal sense, a flourishing Church, maintaining 3,000 widows and virgins , maimed persons, prisoners, and minsters of the altar; although, St. Chrysostom adds, its income was but that of one of the lowest class of wealthy individuals. It was indeed in a state of division, on account of the disputed succession in the Episcopate between the followers of Paulinus and Meletius since the year 362: but this spearation affected not immediately any point of doctrine; and was in a way to be gradually worn out, partly by the labors of St. Chrysostom himslef, whose discourse concerning the Anathema seems to have been occasioned by the too seer way in which the partisans on both sides allowed themselves to speak of each other. It may be that he had an eye to this schism in his way of handling those parts of the Epistles to the Corinthians, whcih so earnestly deprecate the spirit of schism and party, and the calling ourselves by human names.
“The Text which has been used in this translation is the Benedictine, corrected however in many places by that of Savile. The Benedictine Sections are marked in the margin thus, (2). For the Tramslation, the Editors are indebted to the Reverend Hubert Kestell Corhish, M. A., late Fellow of Exeter College, and to the Reverend Jn Medley, M. A., of Wadham College, Vicar of St. Thomas, in the dity of Exeter.” J.K[eble].
The Homilies on the Second Epistle were issued four years later than those on the First, and were preceded by the following note:
“The present Volume completes the set of St. Chrysostom’s Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, with the exception of that to the Hebrews, the Translation of which is preparing for the press. The edition of the original by Mr. Field has afforded the advantage of an improved text, in fact of one as good as we can hope to see constructed from existing mss.;
“These Homilies were delivered at Antioch in the opinion of the Benedictine Editors, though Savile doubted it. The question depends on the interpretation of a passage near the end of Hom. xxvi., in shich St. Chrysostom speaks of Constantinople, and presently says ‘here.’ this, it has been rightly arued, he might say in the sense of “in the place I am speaking of.’ while he was not likely to say, ‘in Constantinople’ if he were speaking there.
“For the Translation the Editors are indbted to the Ap J. Ashworth, M.A., of Brasenose College.”
S. Clement, 1848
C. M. M[Arriott.]
This volume of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, embraces both volumes of the original London issue, one of which appeared in 1844, the other in 1848. The author of the latter had, as appears from his statement above, the advantage of using the recension of the Greek text which was prepared by the late Frederick Field, M.A., LL.D., and eminent textual critic whose labors leave nothing to be desired so far as concerns the materials at his command. the translators of the First Epistle did not have this advantage. Hence the present editor has made a diligen comparison throughout their work with Dr. Fields’s text, and whenever it was necessary has silently conformed the rendering to that text, in a few instances omitting a note which made needless or inappropriate by the change. In bot Epistles he has occaisionally amended the translation to gains perspicuity and smoothnes. The work of the English authors has been performed with great care and fidelity, and its literal almost to a fault, it apparently being their endeavor to reproduce the form as well as the spirit of the original. This have given to ther pages a stiffness and constrant not altogether agreeable, yetit is a compensation to the reader to know that he as before him the precise thought of the great pulpit orator of the Greek Church. The American Editor’s notes have been enclosed in square brackets and marks with his initial.
The English text of the Epistles has been sedulously conformed to that of the Revised Edition of 1881, except in cases in which the Greek text used by Chrysostom varied from that adopted by recent Editors. All peculiarities of Chrysostom’s text have been faithfully preserved.
In these days when expository preaching is so loudly and generally demanded, it cannot but be of use to the rising ministry to see how this service was performed by the most eloquent and effective of the Fathers, John of the Golden-Mouth.
T. W. Chambers.
New York, June, 1889.
Archbishop of Constantinople
Homilies on First Corinthians
7 [1.] As Corinth is now the first city of Greece, so of old it prided itself on many temporal advantages, and more than all the rest, on excess of wealth. And on this account one of the heathen writers entitled the place “the rich”. For it lies on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus, and had great facilities for traffic. The city was also full of numerous orators, and philosophers, and one I think, of the seven called wise men, was of this city. Now these things we have mentioned, not for ostentation’s sake, nor to make, a display of great learning: (for indeed what is there in knowing these things?) but they are of use to us in the argument of the Epistle.
Paul also himself suffered many things in this city; and Christ, too, in this city appears to him and says, (Ac 18,10), “Be not silent, but speak; for I have much people in this city:” and he remained there two years. In this city [Ac 19,16 Corinth put here, by lapse of memory, for Ephesus]. also the devil went out, whom the Jews endeavoring to exorcise, suffered so grievously. In this city did those of the magicians, who repented, collect together their books and burn them, and there appeared to be fifty thousand. (Ac 19,18 arguriou omitted). In this city also, in the time of Gallio the Proconsul, Paul was beaten before the judgment seat.
[2.] The devil, therefore, seeing that a great and populous city had laid hold of the truth, a city admired for wealth and wisdom, and the head of Greece; (for Athens and Lacedaemon were then and since in a miserable state, the dominion having long ago fallen away from them;) and seeing that with great readiness they had received the word of God; what doth he? He divides the men. For he knew that even the strongest kingdom of all, divided against itself, shall not stand. He had a vantage ground too, for this device in the wealth, the wisdom of the inhabitants. Hence certain men, having made parties of their own, and having become self-elected made themselves leaders of the people, and some sided with these, and some with those; with one sort, as being rich; with another, as wise and able to teach something out of the common. Who on their part, receiving them, set themselves up forsooth to teach more than the Apostle did: at which he was hinting, when he said, “I was not able to speak unto you as unto spiritual” (ch. 3,1).; evidently not his inability, but their infirmity, was the cause of their not having been abundantly instructed. And this, (ch. 4,8). “Ye are become rich without us,” is the remark of one pointing that way. And this was no small matter, but of all things most pernicious; that the Church should be torn asunder).
And another sin, too, besides these, was openly committed there: namely, a person who had had intercourse with his step-mother not only escaped rebuke, but was even a leader of the multitude, and gave occasion to his followers to be conceited. Wherefore he saith, (ch. 5. 2). “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned.” And after this again, certain of those who as they pretended were of the more perfect sort, and who for gluttony’s sake used to eat of things offered unto idols, and sit at meat in the temples, Were bringing all to ruin. Others again, having contentions and strifes about money, committed unto the heathen courts (toi" exwqen sicadthrioi") all matters of that kind. Many persons also wearing long hair used to go about among them; whom he ordereth to be shorn. There was another fault besides, no trifling one; their eating in the churches apart by themselves, and giving no share to the needy.
And again, they were erring in another point, being puffed up with the gifts; and hence jealous of one another; which was also the chief cause of the distraction of the Church. The doctrine of the Resurrection, too, was lame (ekwleue) among them: for some of them had no strong belief that there is any resurrection of bodies, having still on them the disease of Grecian foolishness. For indeed all these things were the progeny of the madness which belongs to Heathen Philosophy, and she was the mother of all mischief. Hence, likewise, they had become divided; in this respect also having learned of the philosophers. For these latter were no less at mutual variance, always, through love of rule and vain glory contradicting one another’s opinions, and bent upon making some new discovery in addition to all that was before. And the cause of this was, their having begun to trust themselves to reasonings.
[3.] They had written accordingly to him by the hand of Fortunatus and Stephanas and Achaicus, by whom also he himself writes; and this he has indicated in the end of the Epistle: not however upon all these subjects, but about marriage and virginity; wherefore also he said, (ch. 7,1). “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote” &c. And he proceeds to give injunctions, both on the points about which they had written, and those about which they had not written; having learnt with accuracy all their failings. Timothy, too, he sends with the letters, knowing that letters indeed have great force, yet that not a little would be added to them by the presence of the disciple also.
8 Now whereas those who had divided the Church among themselves, from a feeling of shame lest they should seem to have done so for ambition’s sake, contrived cloaks for what had happened, their teaching (forsooth) more perfect doctrines, and being wiser than all others; Paul sets himself first against the disease itself, plucking up the root of the evils, and its offshoot, the spirit of separation. And he uses great boldness of speech: for these were his own disciples, more than all others. Wherefore he saith (ch. 9,2). “If to others I be not an Apostle, yet at least I am unto you; for the seal of my apostleship are ye.” Moreover they were in a weaker condition (to say the least of it) than the others. Wherefore he saith, (ch. 3,1, 2). oude for oute). “For I have not spoken unto you as unto spiritual; for hitherto ye were not able, neither yet even now are ye able.” (This he saith, that they might not suppose that he speaks thus in regard of the time past alone).
However, it was utterly improbable that all should have been corrupted; rather there were some among them who were very holy. And this he signified in the middle of the Epistle, where he says, (ch. 4,3, 6). “To me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you:” and adds, “these things I have in a figure transferred unto myself and Apollos.”
Since then from arrogance all these evils were springing, and from men’s thinking that they knew something out of the common, this he purgeth away first of all, and in beginning saith,
100 through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 1,1-3)
101 [1.] See how immediately, from the very beginning, he casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imagination, in that he speaks of himself as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I discovered not myself, nor acquired by my own wisdom, but while I was persecuting and laying waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that calleth is everything: of him that is called, nothing, (so to speak,) but only to obey.
“Of Jesus Christ.” Your teacher is Christ; and do you register the names of men, as patrons of your doctrine?
“Through the will of God.” For it was God who willed that you should be saved in this way. We ourselves have wrought no good thing, but by the will of God we have attained to this salvation; and because it seemed good to him, we were called, not because we were worthy.
“And Sosthenes our brother.” Another instance of his modesty; he puts in the same rank with himself one inferior to Apollos; for great was the interval between Paul and Sosthenes. Now if where the interval was so wide he stations with himself one far beneath him, what can they have to say who despise their equals?
“Unto the Church of God.” Not “of this or of that man,” but of God.
“Which is at Corinth.” Seest thou how at each word he puts down their swelling pride; training their thoughts in every way for heaven? He calls it, too, the Church “of God;” shewing that it ought to be united. For if it be “of God,” it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church’s name (ecclhsia: properly an assembly) is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.
“To the sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Again the name of Jesus; the names of men he findeth no place for. But what is Sanctification? The Laver, the Purification. For he reminds them of their own uncleanness, from which he had freed them; and so persuades them to lowliness of mind; for not by their own good deeds, but by the loving-kindness of God, had they been sanctified.
“Called to be Saints.” For even this, to be saved by faith, is not saith he, of yourselves; for ye did not first draw near, but were called; so that not even this small matter is yours altogether. However, though you had drawn near, accountable as you are for innumerable wickednesses, not even so would the grace be yours, but God’s. Hence also, writing to the Ephesians, he said, (Ep 2,8) “By grace have ye been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves;” not even the faith is yours altogether; for ye were not first with your belief, but obeyed a call.
“With all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not “of this or that man,” but “the Name of the Lord.”
[2.] “In every place, both theirs and ours.” For although the letter be written to the Corinthians only, yet he makes mention of all the faithful that are in all the earth; showing that the Church throughout the world must be one, however separate in divers places; and much more, that in Corinth. And though the place separate, the Lord binds them together, being common to all. Wherefore also uniting them he adds, “both theirs and ours.” And this is far more powerful [to unite], than the other [to separate]. For as men in one place, having many and contrary masters, become distracted, and their one place helps them not to be of one mind, their masters giving orders at variance with each other, and drawing each their own way, according to what Christ says, (St. Mt 6,24) “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon;” so those in different places, if they have not different lords but one only, are not by the places injured in respect of unanimity, the One Lord binding them together. “I say not then, (so he speaks,) that with Corinthians only, you being Corinthians ought to be of one mind, but with all that are in the whole world, inasmuch as you have a common Master.” This is also why he hath a second time added “our;” for since he had said, “the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” lest he should appear to the inconsiderate to be making a distinction, he subjoins again, “both our Lord and theirs.”
[3.] That my meaning may be clearer, I will read it according to its sense thus: “Paul and Sosthenes to the Church of God which is in Corinth and to all who call upon the Name of Him who is both our Lord and theirs in every place, whether in Rome or wheresoever else they may be: grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Or again thus; which I also believe to be rather more correct: “Paul and Sosthenes to those that are at Corinth, who have been sancified, called to be Saints, together with all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ in place, both theirs and ours; “that is to say, “grace unto you, and peace unto you, who are at Corinth, who have been sanctified and called;” not to you alone, but “with all who in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs.”
102 Now if our peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art Thou so puffed up, being saved by grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others? since this is what separation comes to. For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him. For neither do they abide (menei, Savile in marg). secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held as enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is there any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love. For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one; I say not only, no man, but not even the devil himself; but he that hath offended God suspects all men, though he seem to be in security. For human nature is unstable, and not friends only and brethren, but fathers also, before now, have been altogether changed and often for a little thing he whom they begat, the branch of their planting, hath been to them, more than all foes, an object of persecution. Children, too, have cast off their fathers. Thus, if ye will mark it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of each, and which of them gained most honor, ye know. Abraham was in favor with God, Pharaoh with men; for to gratify him they gave up the just man’s wife. (See St. Chrys. on Gn 12,17) Which then of the two was the more illustrious, and the happy man? every one knows. And why speak I of righteous men; The Israelites were in favor with God, but they were bated by men, the Egyptians; but nevertheless they prevailed against their haters and vanquished them, with how great triumph, is well known to you all.
For this, therefore, let all of us labor earnestly; whether one be a slave, let him pray for this, that he may find grace with God rather than with his master; or a wife, let her seek grace from God her Saviour rather than from her husband; or a soldier, in preference to his king and commander let him seek that favor which cometh from above. For thus among men also wilt thou be an object of love).
[4.] But how shall a man find grace with God? How else, except by lowliness of mind? “For God, “saith one, (St. Jc 4,6). “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble; and, (Ps 51,17). tetapeiinwmenhn). the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit, and a heart that is brought low God will not despise.” For if with men humility is so lovely, much more with God. Thus both they of the Gentiles found grace and the Jews no other way fell from grace; (Rm 10,13) “for they were not subject unto the righteousness of God.” The lowly man of whom I am speaking, is pleasing and delightful to all men, and dwells in continual peace, and hath in him no ground for contentions. For though you insult him, though you abuse him, whatsoever you say, he will be silent and will bear it meekly, and will have so great peace towards all men as one cannot even describe. Yea, and with God also. For the commandments of God are to be at peace with men: and thus our whole life is made prosperous, through peace one with another. For no man can injure God: His nature is imperishable, and above all suffering. Nothing makes the Christian so admirable as lowliness of mind. Hear; for instance, Abraham saying, (Gn 18,27). “But I am but dust and ashes;” and again, God [saying] of Moses, that (Nb 12,3) “he was the meekest of all men.” For nothing was ever more humble than he; who, being leader of so great a people, and having overwhelmed in the sea the king and the host of all the Egytians, as if they had been flies; and having wrought so many wonders both in Egypt and by the Red Sea and in the wilderness, and received such high testimony, yet felt exactly as if he had been an ordinary person, and as a son-in-law was humbler than his father-in-law, (Ex 18,24) and took advice from him, and was not indignant, nor did he say, “What is this? After such and so great achievements, art thou come to us with thy counsel?” This is what most people feel; though a man bring the best advice, despising it, because of the lowliness of the person. But not so did he: rather through lowliness of mind he wrought all things well. Hence also he despised the courts of kings, (He 11,24-26) since he was lowly indeed: for the sound mind and the high spirit are the fruit of humility. For of how great nobleness and magnanimity, thinkest thou, was it a token, to despise the kingly palace and table? since kings among the Egyptians are honored as gods, and enjoy wealth and treasures inexhaustible. But nevertheless, letting go all these and throwing away the very sceptres of Egypt, he hastened to join himself unto captives, and men worn down with toil, whose strength was spent in the clay and the making of bricks, men whom his own slaves abhorred, (for, saith he (ebdelussonto, Sept. Ex 1,2) “The Egyptians abhorred them;”) unto these he ran and preferred them before their masters. From whence it is plain, that whoso is lowly, the same is high and great of soul. For pride cometh from an ordinary mind and an ignoble spirit, but moderation, from greatness of mind and a lofty soul.
103 [5.] And if you please, let us try each by examples. For tell me, what was there ever more exalted than Abraham? And yet it was he that said, “I am but dust and ashes;” it was he who said, (Gn 13,8) “Let there be no strife between me and thee.” But this man, so humble, (Gn 14,21-24,) despised (“Persian,” i.e. perhaps, “of Elam.”) Persian spoils, and regarded not Barbaric trophies; and this he did of much highmindedness, and of a spirit nobly nurtured. For he is indeed exalted who is truly humble; (not the flatterer nor the dissembler;) for true greatness is one thing, and arrogance another. And this is plain from hence; if one man esteem clay to be clay, and despise it, and another admire the clay as gold, and account it a great thing; which, I ask, is the man of exalted mind? Is it not he who refuses to admire the clay? And which, abject and mean? Is it not he who admires it, and set much store by it? Just so do thou esteem of this case also; that he who calls himself but dust and ashes is exalted, although he say it out of humility; but that he who does not consider himself dust and ashes, but treats himself lovingly and has high thoughts, this man for his part must be counted mean, esteeming little things to be great. Whence it is clear that out of great loftiness of thought the patriarch spoke that saying, “I am but dust and ashes;” from loftiness of thought, not from arrogance.
For as in bodies it is one thing to be healthy and plump, (sfrigpnta, firm and elastic). and another thing to be swoln, although both indicate a full habit of flesh, (but in this case of unsound, in that of healthful flesh;) so also here: it is one thing to be arrogant, which is, as it were, to be swoln, and another thing to be high-souled, which is to be in a healthy state. And again, one man is tall from the stature of his person; another, being short, by adding buskins becomes taller; now tell me, which of the two should we call tall and large? Is it not quite plain, him whose height is from himself? For the other has it as something not his own; and stepping upon things low in themselves, turns out a tall person. Such is the case with many men who mount themselves up on wealth and glory; which is not exaltation, for he is exalted who wants none of these things, but despises them, and has his greatness from himself. Let us therefore become humble that we may become exalted; (St. Lc 14,11) “For he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Now the self-willed man is not such as this; rather he is of all characters the most ordinary. For the bubble, too, is inflated, but the inflation is not sound; wherefore we call these persons “puffed up.” Whereas the sober-minded man has no high thoughts, not even in high fortunes, knowing his own low estate; but the vulgar even in his trifling concerns indulges a proud fancy.
[6.] Let us then acquire that height which comes by humility. Let us look into the nature of human things, that we may kindle with the longing desire of the things to come; for in no other way is it possible to become humble, except by the love of what is divine and the contempt of what is present. For just as a man on the point of obtaining a kingdom, if instead of that purple robe one offer him some trivial compliment, will count it to be nothing; so shall we also laugh to scorn all things present, if we desire that other sort of honor. Do ye not see the children, when in their play they make a band of soldiers, and heralds precede them and lictors, and a boy marches in the midst in the general’s place, how childish it all is? Just such are all human affairs; yea and more worthless than these: to-day they are, and to-morrow they are not. Let us therefore be above these things; and let us not only not desire them, but even be ashamed if any one hold them forth to us. For thus, casting out the love of these things, we shall possess that other love which is divine, and shall enjoy immortal glory. Which may God grant us all to obtain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with whom be to the Father, together with the holy and good Spirit, the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
200 concerning you, for the Grace of God which was given you in Jesus Christ; that in every thing you were enriched in him. (1Co 1,4-9)
201 [1.] That which he exhorts others to do, saying, “(Phm 4,6) Let your requests with thanksgiving be made known unto God,” the same also he used to do himself: teaching us to begin always from these words, and before all things to give thanks unto God. For nothing is so acceptable to God as that men should be thankful, both for themselves and for others wherefore also he prefaces almost every Epistle with this. But the occasion for his doing so is even more urgent here than in the other Epistles. For he that gives thanks, does so, both as being well off, and as in acknowledgment of a favor: now a favor is not a debt nor a requital nor a payment: which indeed every where is important to be said, but much more in the case of the Corinthians who were gaping after the dividers of the Church.
[2.] “Unto my God.” Out of great affection he seizes on that which is common, and makes it his own; as the prophets also from time to time use to say, (Ps 43,4 and Ps 62,1) “O God, my God;” and by way of encouragement he incites them to use the same language also themselves. For such expressions belong to one who is retiring from all secular things, and moving towards Him whom he calls on with so much earnestness: since he alone can truly say this, who from things of this life is ever mounting upwards unto God, and always preferring Him to all, and giving thanks continually, not [only] for the grace already given, but whatever blessing hath been since at any time bestowed, for this also he offereth unto Him the same praise. Wherefore he saith not merely, “I give thanks,” but “at all times, concerning you;” instructing them to be thankful both always, and to no one else save God only.
[3.] “For the grace of God.” Seest thou how from every quarter he draws topics for correcting them? For where “grace” is, “works” are not i where “works,” it is no more “grace.” If therefore it be “grace,” why are ye high-minded? Whence is it that ye are puffed up?
“Which is given you.” And by whom was it given? By me, or by another Apostle? Not at all, but “by Jesus Christ.” For the expression, “In Jesus Christ,” signifies this. Observe how in divers places he uses the word en, “in,” instead of di ou, “through means of whom;” therefore its sense is no less.()
“That in every thing ye were enriched.” Again, by whom? By Him, is the reply. And not merely “ye were enriched, but “in every thing.” Since then it is first of all, “riches” then, “riches of God,” next, “in every thing,” and lastly, “through the Only-Begotten,” reflect on the ineffable treasure!
1Co 1,5. “In all utterance, and all knowledge.” “Word” [“or utterance,”] not such as the heathen, but that of God. For there is knowledge without “word,” and there is knowledge with “word.” For so there are many who possess knowledge, but have not the power of speech; as those who are uneducated and unable to exhibit clearly what they have in their mind. Ye, saith he, are not such as these, but competent both to understand and to speak.
1Co 1,6. “Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.” Under the color of praises and thanksgiving he touches them sharply. “For not by heathen philosophy,” saith he, “neither by heathen discipline, but “the grace of God,” and by the “riches,” by and the “knowledge,” and the “word” given by Him, were you enabled to learn the doctrines of the truth, and to be confirmed unto the testimony of the Lord; that is, unto the Gospel. For ye had the benefit of many signs, many wonders unspeakable grace, to make you receive the Gospel. If therefore ye were established by signs and grace, why do ye waver?” Now these are the words of one both reproving, and at the same time prepossessing them in his favor.
[4.] 1Co 1,7. “So that ye come behind in no gift.” A great question here arises. They who had been “enriched in all utterance,” so as in no respect to “come behind in any gift,” are they carnal? For if they were such at the beginning, much more now. How then does he call them “carnal?” For, saith he, (1Co 3,1) “I was not able to speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” What must we say then? That having in the beginning believed, and obtained all gifts, (for indeed they sought them earnestly,) they became remiss afterwards. Or, if not so, that not unto all are either these things said or those; but the one to such as were amenable to his censures, the other to such as were adorned with his praises. For as to the fact that they still had gifts; (1Co 14,26 and 1Co 14,29) “Each one,” saith he, “hath a psalm, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation; let all things be done unto edifying.” And, “Let the prophets speak two or three.” Or we may state it somewhat differently; that as it is usual with us to call the greater part the whole, so also he hath spoken in this place. Withal, I think he hints at his own proceedings; for he too had shewn forth signs; even as also he saith in the second Epistle to them, (2Co 12,12-13) “Truly the signs of an Apostle were wrought among you in all patience:” and again, “For what is there wherein you were inferior to other churches?”
Or, as I was saying, he both reminds them of his own miracles and speaks thus with an eye to those who were still approved. For many holy men were there who had “set themselves to minister unto the saints,” and had become “the first fruits of Achaia;” as he declareth (ch. 16,15). towards the end.
[5.] In any case, although the praises be not very close to the truth, still however they are inserted by way of precaution, (oiconomicp") preparing the way beforehand for his discourse. For whoever at the very outset speaks things unpleasant, excludes his words from a hearing among the weaker: since if the hearers be his equals in degree they feel angry; if vastly inferior they will be vexed. To avoid this, he begins with what seem to be praises. I say, seem; for not even did this praise belong to them, but to the grace of God. For that they had remission of sins, and were justified, this was of the Gift from above. Wherefore also he dwells upon these points, which shew the loving-kindness of God, in order that he may the more fully purge out their malady.
[6.] “Waiting for the revelation (apocalufin). of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Why make ye much ado,” saith he, “why are ye troubled that Christ is not come? Nay, he is come; and the Day. is henceforth at the doors.” And consider his wisdom; how withdrawing them from human considerations he terrifies them by mention of the fearful judgment-seat, and thus implying that not only the beginnings must be good, but the end also. For with all these gifts, and with all else that is good, we must be mindful of that Day: and there is need of many labors to be able to come unto the end. “Revelation” is his word; implying that although He be not seen, yet He is, and is present even now, and then shall appear. Therefore there is need of patience: for to this end did ye receive the wonders, that ye may remain firm.
202 [7.] 1Co 1,8. “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be unreprovable.” Here he seems to court them, but the saying is free from all flattery; for he knows also how to press them home; as when he saith, (1Co 4,18 and 1Co 4,21) “Now some are puffed up as though I would not come to you:” and again, “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” And, (2Co 13,3) “Since ye seek a proof I of Christ speaking in me.” But he is also covertly accusing them: for, to say, “He shall confirm,” and the word “unreprovable” marks them out as still wavering, and liable to reproof.
But do thou consider how he always fasteneth them as with nails to the Name of Christ. And not any man nor teacher, but continually the Desired One Himself is remembered by him: setting himself, as it were to arouse those who were heavy-headed after some debauch. For no where in any other Epistle doth the Name of Christ occur so continually. But here it is, many times in a few verses; and by means of it he weaves together, one may say, the whole of the proem. Look at it from the beginning. “Paul called [to be] an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have been sanctified in Jesus Christ, who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, grace [be] unto you and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God for the grace which hath been given you by Jesus Christ, even as the testimony of Christ hath been confirmed in you, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm you unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye have been called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. And I beseech you by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Seest thou the constant repetition of the Name of Christ? From whence it is plain even to the most unobservant, that not by chance nor unwittingly he doeth this, but in order that by incessant application of that glorious Name he may foment() their inflammation, and purge out the corruption of the disease).
[8.] 1Co 1,9. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son.” Wonderful! How great a thing saith he here! How vast in the magnitude of the gift which he declares! Into the fellowship of the Only-Begotten have ye been called, and do ye addict yourselves unto men? What can be worse than this wretchedness? And how have ye been called? By the Father. For since “through Him,” and “in Him,” were phrases which he was constantly employing in regard of the Son, lest men might suppose that he so mentioneth Him as being less, he ascribeth the same to the Father. For not by this one and that one, saith he, but “by the Father” have ye been called; by Him also have ye been “enriched.” Again, “ye have been called;” ye did not yourselves approach. But what means, “into the fellowship of His Son?” Hear him declaring this very thing more clearly elsewhere. (2Tm 2,12) If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. Then, because it was a great thing which He had said, he adds an argument fraught with unanswerable conviction; for, saith he, “God is faithful,” 1,e. “true.” Now if “true,” what things He hath promised He will also perform. And He hath promised that He will make us partakers of His only-begotten Son; for to this end also did He call us. For (Rm 11,29) “His gifts, and the calling of God,” are without repentance.
These things, by a kind of divine art he inserts thus early, lest after the vehemence of the reproofs they might fall into despair. For assuredly God’s part will ensue, if we be not quite impatient of His rein. (afhniaswmen) As the Jews, being called, would not receive the blessings; but this was no longer of Him that called, but of their lack of sense. For He indeed was willing to give, but they, by refusing to receive, cast themselves away. For, had He called to a painful and toilsome undertaking, not even in that case were they pardonable in making excuse; however, they would have been able to say that so it was: but if the call be unto cleansing, (Comp. 1,4–7). and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and grace, and a free gift, and the good things in store, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; and it be God that calls, and calls by Himself; what pardon can they deserve, who come not running to Him? Let no one therefore accuse God; for unbelief cometh not of Him that calleth, but of those who start away (apophdpnta") from Him.
[9.] But some man will say, “He ought to ring men in, even against their will.” Away with this. He doth not use violence, nor compel; for who that bids to honors, and crowns, and banquets, and festivals, drags people, unwilling and bound? No one. For this is the part of one inflicting an insult. Unto hell He sends men against their will, but unto the kingdom He calls willing minds. To the fire He brings men bound and bewailing themselves: to the endless state of blessings not so. Else it is a reproach to the very blessings themselves, if their nature be not such as that men should run to them of their own accord and with many thanks.
203 “Whence it is then,” say you, “that all men do not choose them?” From their own infirmity. “And wherefore doth He not cut off their infirmity?” And how tell me—in what way—ought He to cut it off? Hath He not made a world that teacheth His loving-kindness and His power? For (Ps 19,1) “the heavens,” saith one, “declare the glory of God.” Hath He not also sent prophets? Hath He not both called and honored us? Hath He not done wonders? Hath He not given a law both written and natural? Hath He not sent His Son? Hath he not commissioned Apostles? Hath He not wrought sins? Hath He not threatened hell? Hath He not promised the kingdom? Doth He not every day make His sun to rise? Are not the things which He hath enjoined so simple and easy, that many transcend His commandments in the greatness of their self-denial? “What was there to do unto the vineyard and I have not done it?” (Is 5,4)
[10.] “And why,” say you, “did He not make knowledge and virtue natural to us?” Who speaketh thus? The Greek or the Christian? Both of them, indeed, but not about the same things: for the one raises his objection with a view to knowledge, the other with a view to conduct. First, then, we will reply to him who is on our side; for I do not so much regard those without, as our own members.
What then saith the Christian? “It were meet to have implanted in us the knowledge itself of virtue.” He hath implanted it; for if he had not done so, whence should we have known what things are to be done, what left undone? Whence are the laws and the tribunals? But “God should have imparted not [merely] knowledge, but also the very doing of it [virtue]. For what then wouldest thou have to be rewarded, if the whole were of God? For tell me, doth God punish in the same manner thee and the Greek upon committing sin? Surely not. For up to a certain point thou hast confidence, viz. that which ariseth from the true knowledge. What then, if any one should now say that on the score of knowledge thou and the Greek will be accounted of like desert? Would it not disgust thee? I think so, indeed. For thou wouldest say that the Greek, having of his own wherewith to attain knowledge, was not willing. If then the latter also should say that God ought to have implanted knowledge in us naturally, wilt thou not laugh him to scorn, and say to him, “But why didst thou not seek for it? why wast thou not in earnest even as I?” And thou wilt stand firm with much confidence, and say that it was extreme folly to blame God for not implanting knowledge by nature. And this thou wilt say, because thou hast obtained what appertains to knowledge. So also hadst thou performed what appertains to practice, thou wouldest not have raised these questions: but thou art tired of virtuous practice, therefore thou shelterest thyself with these inconsiderate words. But how could it be at all right to cause that by necessity one should become good? Then shah we next have the brute beasts contending with us about virtue, seeing that some of them are more temperate than ourselves.
But thou sayest, “I had rather have been good by necessity, and so forfeited all rewards, than evil by deliberate choice, to be punished and suffer vengeance.” But it is impossible that one should ever be good by necessity. If therefore thou knowest not what ought to be done, shew it, and then we will tell you what is right to say. But if thou knowest that uncleanness is wicked, wherefore dost thou not fly from the evil thing?
“I cannot,” thou sayest. But others who have done greater things than this will plead against thee, and will more than prevail to stop thy mouth. For thou, perhaps, though living with a wife, an not chaste; but another even without a wife keeps his chastity inviolate. Now what excuse hast thou for not keeping the rule, while another even leaps beyond the lines that have been drawn to mark it?
But thou sayest “I am not of this sort in my bodily frame, or my turn of mind.” That is for want, not of power, but of will. For thus I prove that all have a certain aptness towards virtue: That which a man cannot do, neither will he be able to do though necessity be laid upon him; but, if, necessity being laid upon him, he is able, he that leaveth it undone, leaveth it undone out of choice. The kind of thing I mean is this: to fly up and be borne towards heaven, having a heavy body, is even simply impossible. What then, if a king should Command one to do this, and threaten death, saying,” Those men who do not fly, I decree that they lose their heads, or be burnt, or some other such punishment:” would any one obey him? Surely not. For nature is not capable of it. But if in the case of chastity this same thing were done, and he were to lay down laws that the unclean should be punished, be burnt, he scourged, should suffer the extremity of torture, would not many obey the law? “No” thou wilt say: “for there is appointed, even now, a law forbidding to commit adultery and all do not obey it.” Not because the fear looses its power, but because the greater part expect to be unobserved. So that if when they were on the point of committing an unclean action the legislator and the judge came before them, the fear would be strong enough to cast out the lust. Nay, were I to apply another kind of force inferior to this; were I to take the man and remove him from the beloved person, and shut him up close in chains, he will be able to bear it, without suffering any great harm. Let us not say then that such an one is by nature evil: for if a man were by nature good, he could never at any time become evil; and if he were by nature evil, he could never be good. But now we see that changes take place rapidly, and that men quickly shift from this side to the other, and from that fill back again into this. And these things we may see not in the Scriptures only, for instance, that publicans have become apostles; and disciples, traitors; and harlots, chaste; and robbers; men of good repute; and magicians have worshipped; and ungodly men passed over unto godliness, both in the New Testament and in the Old; but even every day a man may see many such things occurring. Now if things were natural, they could not change. For so we, being by nature susceptible, could never by any exertions become void state of corruption unto incorruption: no one from hunger to the perpetual absence of that sensation. Wherefore neither are these things matters of accusation, nor do we reproach ourselves for them; nor ever did any one, meaning to blame another, say to him,” O thou, corruptible and subject to passion: “but either adultery or fornication, or something of that kind, we always lay to the charge of those who are responsible; and we bring them before judges, who blame and punish, and in the contrary cases award honors.
[11.] Since then both from our conduct towards one another, and from others’ conduct to us when judged, and from the things about which we have written laws, and from the things wherein we condemn ourselves, though there be no one to accuse us; and from the instances of our becoming worse through indolence, and better through fear; and from the cases wherein we see others doing well and arriving at the height of self-command, (filosofia") it is quite clear that we also have it in our power to do well: eyes that fearful day, and to give heed to virtue; and after a little labor, obtain the incorruptible crowns? For these words will be no defence to us; rather our fellow-servants, and those who have practised the contrary virtues, will condemn all who continue in sin: the cruel man will be condemned by the merciful; the evil, by the good; the fierce, by the gentle; the grudging, by the courteous; the vain-glorious, by the self-denying; the indolent, by the serious; the intemperate, by the sober-minded. Thus will God pass judgment upon us, and will set in their place both companies; on one bestowing praise, on the other punishment. But God forbid that any of those present should be among the punished and dishonored, but rather among those who are crowned and the winners of the kingdom. Which may God grant us all to obtain through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom unto the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and unto everlasting ages. Amen.
Chrysostom on 1Cor