Chrysostom on 1Cor 300
300 through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak of the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1Co 1,10-17)
301 What I have continually been saying, that we must frame our rebukes gently and gradually, this Paul doth here also; in that, being about to enter upon a subject full of many dangers and enough to tear up the Church from her foundations he uses very mild language. His word is that he “beseeches” them, and beseeches them “through Christ;” as though not even he were sufficient alone to make this supplication, and to prevail.
But what is this, “I beseech you through this man restless. Wherefore if at once (an men euqew" epiplhxh" Savil). an mh Ben). you sharply rebuke you make a man fierce and impudent: but if you put him to shame, you bow down his neck, you check his confidence, you make him hang down his head. Which object being Paul’s also, he is content for a while to beseech them through the Name of Christ. And what, of all things, is the object of his request?
“That ye may all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions [schisms] among you.” The emphatic force of the word “schism,” I mean the name itself, was a sufficient accusation. For it was not that they had become many parts, each entire within itself, but rather the One [Body which originally existed] had perished. For had they been entire Churches, there might be many of them; but if they were divisions,
[2.] In the next place, because be had sharply dealt with them by using the word “schism,” he again softens and soothes them, saying, “That ye may be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” That is; since he had said, “That ye may all speak the same thing; “do not suppose,” he adds, “that I mid concord should be only in words; I seek for that harmony which is of the mind.” But since there is such a thing as agreement in words, and that hearty, not consents, is no longer “perfected,” nor fitted in to complete accordance. There is also such a thing as harmony of opinions, where there is not yet harmony of sentiment; for instance, when having the same faith we are not joined together in love: for thus, in opinions we are one, (for we think the same things,) but in sentiment not so. And such was the case at that time; this person choosing one [leader], and that, another. For this reason he saith it is necessary to agree both in “mind” and in “judgment.” For it was not from any difference in faith that the schisms arose, but from the division of their judgment through human contentiousness.
[3.] But seeing that whoso is blamed is unabashed so long as he hath no witnesses, observe how, not permitting them to deny the fact, he adduces some to bear witness.
1Co 1,11. “For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them which are of the household of Chloe.” Neither did he say this at the very beginning, but first he brought forward his charge; as one who put confidence in his informants. Because, had it not been so, he would not have found fault: for Paul was not a person to believe lightly. Neither then did he immediately say, “it hath still. Consider also his prudence in not speaking of any distinct person, but of the entire family; so as not to make them hostile towards the informer: for in this way he both protects him, and fearlessly opens the accusation. For he had an eye to the benefit not of the one side only, but of the other also. Wherefore he saith not, “It hath been declared to me by certain,” but he indicates also the household, test they might suppose that he was inventing.
[4.] What was “declared? “That there are contentions among you.” Thus, when he upon the informants.
Next he declares also the kind of contention.
1Co 1,12. “That each one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas.” “I say, contentions,” saith he, “I mean, not about private matters, but of the more grievous of the Church. And yet they were not speaking about himself, nor about Peter, nor about Apollos; but he signifies that if these were not to be leaned on, much less others. For that they had not spoken about them, he saith further on: “And these things I have transferred in a figure unto myself and Apollos, that ye may learn in us net to go beyond the things which are written.” For if it were not right for them to call themselves by the name of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas, much less of any others. If under the Teacher and the first of the Apostles, and one that had instructed so much people, it were not right to enroll themselves, much less under those who were nothing. By way of hyperbole then, seeking to withdraw them from their disease, he sets down these names. Besides, he makes his argument less severe, not mentioning by name the rude dividers of the Church, but concealing them, as behind a sort of masks, with the names of the Apostles.
302 “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas. Not esteeming himself before Peter hath he set his name last, but preferring Peter to himself, and that greatly. He arranged his statement in the way of climax, (cata auxhsin) that he might not be supposed to do this for attack, and then mentions Apollos, and then Cephas. Not therefore to magnify himself did he do this, but in speaking of wrong things he administers the requisite correction in his own person first.
[5.] But that those who addicted themselves to this or that man were in error, is evident. And rightly he rebukes them, saying, “Ye do not well in that ye say, ‘I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas.’“But why did he add, “And I of Christ?” For although these who addicted themselves to men were in error, not surely (oude pou Bened). ou dhpou Savil). those who dedicated themselves unto Christ. But this was not his charge, that they called themselves by the Name of Christ, but that they did not all call themselves by that Name alone. And I think that he added this of himself, wishing to make the accusation more grievous, and to point out that by this rule Christ must be considered as belonging to one party only: although they were not so using the Name themselves. For that this was what he hinted at he declared in the sequel, saying,
1Co 1,13. “Is Christ divided” What he saith comes to this: “Ye have cut in pieces Christ, and distributed His body.” Here is anger! here is chiding! here are words full of indignation! For whenever instead of arguing he interrogates only, his doing so implies a confessed absurdity.
But some say that he glanced at something else, in saying, “Christ is divided:” as if he had said, “He hath distributed to men and parted the Church, and taken one share Himself, giving them the other.” Then in what follows, he labors to overthrow this absurdity, saying, “Was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?” Observe his Christ-loving mind; how thenceforth he brings the whole matter to a point in his own name, shewing, and more than shewing, that this honor belongs to no one. And that no one might think it was envy which moved him to say these things, therefore he is constantly putting himself forward. Observe, too, his considerate way, in that he saith not, “Did Paul make the world? did Paul from nothing produce you into being?” But only those things which belonged as choice treasures to the faithful, and were regarded with great solicitude—those he specifies, the Cross, and Baptism, and the blessings following on these. For the loving-kindness of God towards men is shewn by the creation of the world also: in nothing, however, so much as by the (th" sugcatabasew") condescension through the Cross. And he said not, “did Paul die for you?” but, “was Paul crucified?” setting down also the kind of death.
“Or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?” Again, he saith not, “did Paul baptize you?” For he did baptize many: but this was not the question, by whom they had been baptized, but, into whose name they had been baptized! For since this also was a cause of schisms, their bring called after the name of those who baptized them, he corrects this error likewise saying, “Were ye baptized into the name of Paul?” “Tell me not,” saith he, “who baptized, but into whose name. For not he that baptizeth, but he who is invoked in the Baptism, is the subject of enquiry. For this is He who forgives our sins“
And at this point he stays the discourse, and does not pursue the subject any further. For he saith not, “Did Paul declare to you the good things to come? Did Paul promise you the kingdom of heaven?” Why, then, I ask, doth he not add these questions also? Because it h not alI as one, to promise a kingdom and to be crucified. For the former neither had danger nor brought shame; but the latter, all these. Moreover, he proves the former from the latter: for having said, (Rm 8,32) “He that spared not His own Son,” he adds, “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? And again, (Rm 5,10) “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled unto God by the death of His Son, much more bring reconciled, we shall be saved.” This was one reason for his not adding what I made trial. The one were in promise l the other had already come to pass.
[6.] 1Co 1,14. “I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius.” “Why are you elate at having baptized, when I for my part even give thanks that I have not done so!” Thus saying, by a kind of divine art (oiconomicp") he does away with their swelling pride upon this point; not with the efficacy of the baptism, (God forbid,) but with the folly of those who were puffed up at having been baptizers: first, by showing that the Gift is not theirs; and, secondly, by thanking God therefore. For Baptism truly is a great thing: but its greatness is not the work of the person baptizing, but of Him who is invoked in the Baptism: since to baptize is nothing as regards man’s labor, but is much less than preaching the Gospel. Yea, again I say, great indeed is Baptism, and without baptism it is impossible to obtain the kingdom. Still a man of no singular excellence is able to baptize, but to preach the Gospel there is need of great labor.
1Co 1,15. He states also the reason, why he giveth thanks that he had baptized no one. What then is this reason? “Lest anyone should say that ye were baptized into my own name” Why, did he mean that they said this in those other cases? Not at all; but, “I fear,” saith he, “lest the disease should proceed even to that. For if, when insignificant persons and of little worth baptize, a heresy ariseth, had I, the first announcer of Baptism, baptized many, it was likely that they forming a party, would not only call themselves by my name, but also ascribe the Baptism to me.” For if from the inferiors so great an evil arose, from those of higher order it would perhaps have gone on to something far more grievous.
1Co 1,16. Then, having abashed those who were unsound in this respect and subjoining, “I baptized also the house of Stephanas,” he again drags down their pride, saying besides, “I know not whether I baptized any other.” For by this he signifies that neither did he seek much to enjoy the honor accruing hereby from the multitude, nor did he set about this work for glory’s sake.
1Co 1,17. And not by these only, but also by the next words, he greatly represses their pride, And therefore it was that Paul had it put into his hand.
303 And why, not being sent to baptize, did he baptize? Not in contention with Him that sent him, but in this instance laboring beyond his task. For he saith not, “I was forbidden” but, “I was not sent for this, but for that which was of the greatest necessity.” For preaching the Gospel is a work perhaps for one or two; but baptizing, for everyone endowed with the priesthood. For a man being instructed and convinced, to take and baptize him is what any one whatever might do: for the rest, it is all effected by the will of the person drawing near, and the grace of God. But when unbelievers are to be instructed, there must be great labor, great wisdom. And at that time there was danger also annexed. In the former case the whole thing is done, and he is convinced, who is on the point of initiation: and it is no great thing when a man is convinced, to baptize him. But in the later case the labor is great, to change the deliberate will, to alter the turn of mind, and to tear up error by the roots, and to plant the truth in its place.
Not that he speaks out all this, neither doth he argue in so many words that Baptism has no labor, but that preaching has. For he knows how always to subdue his tone, whereas in the comparison with heathen wisdom he is very earnest, the subject enabling him to use more vehemency of language.
Not therefore in opposition to Him that sent him did he baptize; but, as in the case of the widows, though the apostles had said, (Ac 6,2) “it is not fit that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables,” he discharged the office (Ac 12,25[thn dsaconian) of a deacon, “Let the Elders who rule wall be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and in teaching.” For as to teach the wrestlers in the games is the part of a spirited and skilful trainer, but to place the crown on the conquerors head may be that of one who cannot even wrestle, (although it be the crown which adds splendor to the conqueror,) so also in Baptism. It is impossible to be saved without it, yet it is no great thing which the baptizer doth, finding the will ready prepared.
[7.] “Not in wisdom of words, lest the Cress of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Having brought down the swelling pride of those who were arrogant because of their baptizing, he changes his ground afterwards to meet those who boasted about heathen wisdom, and against them he puts on his armor with more vehemency. For to those who were puffed up with baptizing he said, “I give thanks that I baptized no one;” and, “for Christ sent me not to baptize.” He speaks neither vehemently nor argumentatively, but, having just hinted his meaning in a few words, passeth on quickly. But here at the very outset he gives a severe blow, saying, “Lest the Cross of Christ be made void.” Why then pride thyself on a thing which ought to make thee hide thy face? Since, if this wisdom is at war with the Cross and fights with the Gospel, it is not meet to boast about it, but to retire with shame. For this was the cause why the Apostles were not wise; not through any weakness of the Gift, but lest the Gospel preached suffer harm. The sort of people therefore above mentioned were not those employed in advocating the Word: rather they were among its defamers. The unlearned men were the establishers of it. This was able to check vain glory, this to repress arrogance, this to enforce moderation.
“But if it was ‘not by wisdom of speech,’ why did they send Apollos who was eloquent?” It was not, he replies, through confidence in his power of speech, but because he was (Ac 18,24 and Ac 18,29) “mighty in the Scriptures,” and “confuted the Jews.” And besides the point in question was that the leaders and first disseminators of the word were not eloquent; since these were the very persons to require some great power, for the expulsion of error in the first instance; and then, namely at the very outset, was the abundant strength needed. Now He who could do without educated persons at first, if afterwards some being eloquent were admitted by Him, He did so not because He wanted them, but because He would make no distinctions. For as he needed not wise men to effect whatever He would, so neither, if any were afterwards found such, did He reject them on that account.
[8.] But prove to me that Peter and Paul were eloquent. Thou canst not: for they were “unlearned and ignorant men!” As therefore Christ, when He was sending out His disciples into the world, having shewn unto them His power in Palestine first, and said, (St. Lc 22,35(upodhmato", rec. text upodhmatwn). “When I sent you forth without purse and wallet and shoe, lacked ye any thing?” permitted them from that time forward to possess both a wallet and a purse; so also He hath done here: for the point was the manifestation of Christ’s power, not the rejection of persons from the Faith on account of their Gentile wisdom, if they were drawing nigh. When the Greeks then charge the disciples with being uneducated, let us be even more forward in the charge than they. Nor let anyone say, “Paul was wise;” but while we exalt those among them who were great in wisdom and admired for their excellency of speech, let us allow that all on our side were uneducated; for it will be no slight overthrow which they will sustain from us in that respect also: and so the victory will be brilliant indeed.
I have said these things, because I once heard a Christian disputing in a ridiculous manner with a Greek, and both parties in their mutual fray ruining themselves. For what things the Christian ought to have said, these the Greek asserted; and what things it was natural to expect the Greek would say, these the Christian pleaded for himself. As thus: the dispute bring about Paul and Plato, the Greek endeavord to show that Paul was unlearned and ignorant; but the Christian, from simplicity, was anxious to prove that Paul was more eloquent than Plato. And so the victory was on the side of the Greek, this argument being allowed to prevail. For if Paul was a more considerable person than Plato, many probably would object that it was not by grace, but by excellency of speech that he prevailed; so that the Christian’s assertion made for the Greek. And what the Greek said made wisdom, but of the grace of God.
Wherefore, lest we fall into the same error, and be laughed to scorn, arguing thus with Greeks whenever we have a controversy with them; let us charge the Apostles with want of learning; for this same charge is praise. And when they say that the Apostles were rude, let us follow up the remark and say that they were also untaught, and unlettered, and poor, and vile, and stupid, and obscure. It is not a slander on the Apostles to say so, but it is even a glory that, being such, they should have outshone the whole world. For these untrained, and rude, and illiterate men, as completely vanquished the wise, and powerful, and the tyrants, and those who flourished in wealth and glory and all outward good things, as though they had not been men at all: from whence it manifest that great is the power of the Cross; and that these things were done by no human strength. For the results do not keep the course of nature, rather what was done was above all nature. Now when any thing takes place above nature, and exceedingly above it, on the side of rectitude and utility; it is quite plain that these things are done by some Divine power and cooperation. And observe; the fisherman, the tentmaker, the publican, the ignorant, the unlettered, coming from the far distant country of Palestine, and having beaten off their own ground the philosophers, the masters of oratory, the skillful debaters alone prevailed against them in a short space of time; in the midst of many perils; the opposition of peoples and kings, the striving of nature herself, length of time, the vehement resistance of inveterate custom, demons in arms, the devil in battle array and stirring up all, kings, rulers, peoples, nations, cities, barbarians, Greeks, philosophers, orators, sophists, historians, laws, tribunals, divers kinds of punishments, deaths innumerable and of all sorts. But nevertheless all these were confuted and gave way when the fisherman spake; just like the light dust which cannot bear the rush of violent winds. Now what I say is, let us learn thus to dispute with the Greeks; that we be not like beasts and cattle, but prepared concerning “the hope which is in us.” (St. 1P 3,15) And let us pause for a while to work out this topic, no unimportant bare naked body they overthrew all their foes using no weapons but striking with the hand, and in conclusion killed some, and others took captive and led away, themselves receiving not so much as a wound; would anyone have ever said that the thing was of man? And yet the trophy of the Apostles is much more wonderful than that. For a naked man’s escaping a wound is not so wonderful by far as that the ordinary and unlettered person—that a fisherman-should overcome such a degree of talent: (deinothto") and neither for fewness, nor for poverty, nor for dangers, nor for prepossession of habit, nor for so great austerity of the precepts enjoined, nor for the daily deaths, nor for the multitude of those who were deceived nor for the great reputation of the deceivers be turned from his purpose.
[9.] Let this, I say, be our way of overpower way of life rather than by words. For this is the main battle, this is the unanswerable arguments the argument from conduct. For though we give ten thousand precepts of philosophy in words, if we do not exhibit a life better than theirs, the gain is nothing. For it is not what is said that draws their attention, but their enquiry is, what we do; and they say, “Do thou first obey thine own words, and then admonish others. But if while thou sayest, infinite are the blessings in the world to come, thou seem thyself nailed down to this world, just as if no such things existed, thy works to weeping immoderately over the departed, doing turn it often in their minds. And this is what stays the unbelievers from becoming Christians.
Let us win them therefore by our life. Many, even among the untaught, have in that way astounded the minds of philosophers, as having exhibited in themselves also that philosophy which lies in deeds, and uttered a voice clearer than a trumpet by their mode of life and self-denial. For this is stronger than the tongue. But when I say, “one ought not to bear malice,” and then do all manner of evils to the Greek, how shall I be able by words to win him, while by my deeds I am frightening him away? Let us catch them then by our mode of life; and by these souls let us build up the Church, and of these let us amass our wealth. There is nothing to weigh against a soul, not even the whole world. So that although thou give countless treasure unto the poor, thou wilt do no such work as he who converteth one soul (Jr 15,19) “For he that taketh forth the precious from the vile shall be as my mouth:” so He speaks. A great good it is, I grant, to have pity on the poor; but it is nothing equal to the withdrawing them from error. For he that doth this resembles Paul and Peter: we being permitted to take up their Gospel, not with perils such as theirs;—with endurance of famines and pestilences, and all other evils, (for the present is a season of peace;)—but so as to display that diligence which cometh of zeal. For even while we sit at home we may practice this kind of fishery. Who hath a friend or relation or inmate of his house, these things let him say, these do; and he shall be like Peter and Paul. And why do I say Peter and Paul? He shall be the mouth of Christ. For He saith, “He that taketh forth the precious from the vile shall be as My mouth.” And though thou persuade not to-day, to-morrow thou shalt persuade. And though thou never persuade, thou shalt have thine own reward in full. And though thou persuade not all, a few out of many persuade all men; but still they discoursed with all, and for all they have their reward. For not according to the result of the things that are well done, but according to the intention of the doers, is God wont to assign the crowns; though thou pay down but two farthings, He receiveth them; and what He did in the case of the widow, the same will He do also in the case of those who teach. Do not thou then, because thou canst not save the world, despise the few; nor through longing after great things, withdraw thyself from the lesser. If thou canst not an hundred, take thou charge of ten; if thou canst not ten, despise not even five; if thou canst not five, do not overlook one; and if thou canst not one, neither so despair, nor keep back what may be done by thee. Seest thou not how, in matters of trade, they who are so employed make their profit not only of gold but of silver also? For if we do not flight the little things, we shall keep hold also of the great. But if we despise the small, neither shall we easily lay hand upon the other. Thus individuals become rich, gathering both small things and great. And so let us act; that in all things enriched, we may obtain the kingdom of heaven; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom and with Whom unto the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, power, honor, now and henceforth and for evermore. Amen).
400 is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is de power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and be prudence of de prudent will I reject. Where is the Wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the Disputer of the World? (1Co 1,18-25)
401 To the sick and gasping even wholesome meats are unpleasant, friends and relations burdensome; who are often times not even recognized, but are rather accounted intruders. Much like this often is the case of those who are perishing in their souls. For the things which tend to salvation they know not; and those who are careful about them they consider to be troublesome. Now this ensues not from the nature of the thing, but from thor disease. And just what the insane do, hating those who take care of them, and besides reviling them, the same is the case with unbelievers also. But as in the case of the former, they who are insulted then more than ever compassionate them, and weep, taking this as the worst symptom of the disease in its intense form, when they know not their best friends; so also in the case of the Gentiles let us act; yea more than for our wives let us wail over them, because they know not the common salvation. For not so dearly ought a man to love his wife as we should love all men, and draw them over unto salvation; be a man a Gentile, or be he what he may. For these then let us weep; for “the word of the Cross is to them foolishness,” being itself Wisdom and Power. For, saith he, “the word of the Cross to them that perish is foolishness.”
For since it was likely that they, the Cross being derided by the Greeks, would resist and contend by aid of that wisdom, which came (forsooth) of themselves, as being disturbed by the expression of the Greeks; Paul comforting them saith, think it not strange and unaccountable, which is taking place. This is the nature of the thing, that its power is not recognized by them that perish. For they are beside themselves, and behave as madmen; and so they rail and are disgusted at the medicines which bring health.
[2.] But what sayest thou, O man? Christ became a slave for thee. “having taken the form of a slave,” (Ph 2,7) and was crucified, and rose again. And when thou oughtest for this reason to adore Him risen and admire His loving kindness; because what neither father, nor friend, nor son, did for thee, all this the Lord wrought for thee, the enemy and offender—when, I say, thou oughtest to admire Him for these things, callest thou that foolishness, which is full of so great wisdom? Well, it is nothing wonderful; for it is a mark of them that perish not to recognize the things which lead to salvation. Be not troubled, therefore, for it is no strange nor unaccountable event, that things truly great are mocked at by those who are beside themselves. Now such as are in this mind you cannot convince by human wisdom. Nay, if you want so to convince them, you do but the contrary. Fox the things which transcend reasoning require faith alone. Thus, should we set about convincing men by reasonings, how God became man, and entered into the Virgin’s womb, and not commit the matter unto faith, they will but deride the more. Therefore they who inquire by reasonings, it is they who perish.
And why speak I of God? for in regard of created things, should we do this, great decision will ensue. For suppose a man, wishing to make out all things by reasoning; and let him try by thy discourse to convince himself how we see the light; and do thou try to convince him by reasoning, Nay, thou canst not: for if thou sayest that it suffices to see by opening the eyes, thou hast not expressed the manner, but the fact. For “why see we not,” one will say, “by our hearing, and with our eyes hear? And why hear we not with the nostril, and with the hearing smell?” If then, he being in doubt about these things, and we unable to give the explanation of them, he is to begin laughing, shall not we rather laugh him to scorn? “For since both have their origin from one brain, since the two members are near neighbors to each other, why can they not do the same work?” Now we shall not be able to state the cause nor the method of the unspeakable and curious operation; and should we make the attempt, we should be laughed to scorn. Wherefore, leaving this unto God’s power and boundless wisdom, let us be silent).
Just so with regard to the things of God; should we desire to explain them by the wisdom which is from without, great derision will ensue, not from their infirmity, but from the folly of men. For the great things of all no language can explain.
[3.] Now observe: when I say, “He was crucified;” the Greek saith, “And how can this be reasonable? Himself He helped not when undergoing crucifixion and sore trial at the moment of the Cross: how then after these things did He rise again and help others? For if He had been able, before death was the actually in the midst of horrors He should have shewn Himself above all horrors; and being in the enemy’s hold should have overcome; this cometh of Infinite Power. For as in the case the fish, to suffer no harm from the monster, than if he had not been swallowed at all;—so also in regard of Christ; His not dying would not have been so inconceivable, as that having died He should loose the bands of death. Say not then, “why did He not help Himself on the Cross?” for he was hastening on to close conflict with death himself. (See Hooker, E. P. 5,48. 9). He descended not from the Cross, not because He could not, but because He would not. For Him Whom the tyranny of death restrained not, how could the nails of the Cress restrain?
402 [4.] But these things, though known to us, are not so as yet to the unbelievers. Wherefore he said that “the word of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent will I reject.” Nothing from himself which might give offence, does he advance up to this point; but first he comes to the testimony of the Scripture, and then furnished with boldness from thence, adopts more vehement words, and saith,
1Co 1,20-21. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? Where is the wise? Where the Scribe? Where the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.” Having said, “It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,” He subjoins demonstration from facts, saying, “Where is the wise? where the Scribe?” at the same time glancing at both Gentiles and Jews. For what sort of philosopher, which among those who have studied logic, which of those knowing in Jewish matters, hath saved us and made known the truth? Not one. It was the fisherman’s work, the whole of it.
Having then drawn the conclusion which he had in view, and brought down their pride, and of God?” The wisdom apparent in those works whereby it was His will to make Himself known. For to this end did he frame them, and frame them such as they are, that by a sort of proportion, (analogw") from the things which are seen heaven great as it is, not only was made by Him, but made with ease; and that boundless earth, too, was brought into being even as if it had been nothing. Wherefore of the former He saith, (Ps 102,25twn keirwn). “The works of Thy fingers are the heavens,” and concerning the earth, (Is 40,23) “Who hath made the earth as it were nothing.” Since then by this wisdom the world was unwilling to discover God, He employed what seemed to be foolishness, i.e. the Gospel, to persuade men; not by reasoning, but by faith. It remains that where God’s wisdom is, there is no longer need of man’s. For before, to infer that He who made the world such and so great, must in all reason be a God possessed of a certain uncontrollable, unspeakable power; and by these means to apprehend Him;—this was the part of human wisdom. But now we need no more reasonings, but faith alone. For to believe on Him that was crucified and buried, and to be fully persuaded that this Person Himself both rose again and sat down on high; this needeth not wisdom, nor reasonings, but faith. For the Apostles themselves came in not by wisdom, but by faith, and surpassed the heathen wise men in wisdom and loftiness, and that so much the more, as to raise disputings is less than to receive by faith the things of God. For this transcends all human understanding.
But how did He” destroy wisdom?” Being made known to us by Paul and others like him, He shewed it to be unprofitable. For towards receiving the evangelical proclamation, neither is the wise profited at all by wisdom, nor the unlearned injured at all by ignorance. But if for that impression, and more easily dealt with. For the shepherd and the rustic will more quickly receive this, once for all both repressing all doubting thoughts and delivering himself to is ever after useful for nothing. Thus when she ought to have displayed her proper powers, and by the works to have seen the Lord, she would not. Wherefore though she were now willing to introduce herself, she is not able. For the matter is not of that kind; this way of knowing God being far greater than the other. You see then, faith and simplicity are needed, and this we should seek every where, and prefer it before the wisdom which is from without. For “God,” saith he, “hath made wisdom foolish.”
But what is, “He hath made foolish?” He hath shewn it foolish in regard of receiving the faith. For since they prided themselves on it, He lost no time in exposing it. For what sort of wisdom is it, when it cannot discover the chief of things that are good? He caused her therefore to appear foolish, after she had first convicted herself. For if when discoveries might have been made by reasoning, she proved nothing, now when things proceed on a larger scale, how will she be able to accomplish aught? now when there is need of faith alone, and not of acuteness? You see then, God hath shewn her to be foolish.
403 It was His good pleasure, too, by the foolishness of the Gospel to save; foolishness, I say, not real, but appearing to be such. For that which is more wonderful yet is His having prevailed by bringing in, not another such wisdom more excellent than the first, but what seemed to be foolishness. He cast out Plato for example, not by means of another philosopher of more skill, but by an unlearned fisherman. For thus the defeat became greater, and the victory more splendid.
[5.] . Next, to shew the power of the Cross, he saith, “For Jews ask for signs and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God.”
Vast is the import of the things here spoken! For he means to say how by contraries God hath overcome, and how the Gospel is not of man. What he saith is something of this sort. When, saith he, we say unto the Jews, Believe; they answer, Raise the dead, Heal the demoniacs, Shew unto us signs. But instead thereof what say we? That He was crucified, and died, who is preached. And this is enough, not only to fail in drawing over the unwilling, but even to drive away those even who are willing. Nevertheless, it drives not away, but attracts and holds fast and overcomes.Again; the Greeks demand of us a rhetorical style, and the acuteness of sophistry. But weakness, this in the case of the Greeks is foolishness. Wherefore, when we not only fail in producing what they demand, but also produce the very opposites of their demand; (for the Cross has not merry no appearance of being a sign sought out by reasoning, but even the very annihilation of a sign;—is not merely deemed no proof of power, but a conviction of weakness;—not merry no display of wisdom, but a suggestion of foolishness;)—when therefore they who seek for signs and wisdom not only receive not the things which they ask, but even hear the contrary to what they desire, and then by means of contraries are persuaded;—how is not the power of Him that is preached unspeakable? As if to some one tempest-tost and longing for a haven, you were to shew not a haven but another wilder portion of the sea, and so could make him follow with thankfulness? Or as if a physician could attract to himself the man that was wounded and in need of remedies, by promising to cure him not with drugs, but with burning of him again! For this is a result of great power indeed. So also the Apostles prevailed, not simply without a sign, but even by a thing which seemed contrary to all the known signs. Which thing also Christ did in the case of the blind man. For when He would heal him, He took away the blindness by a thing that increased it: 1,e. He put on clay. (St. Jn 9,6) As then by means of clay He healed the blind man, so also by means of the Cross He brought the world to Himself. That certainly was adding an offence, not taking an offence away. So did He also in creation, working out things by their contraries. With sand, for instance, He walled in the sea, having made the weak a bridle to the strong. He placed the earth upon water, having taken order that the heavy and the dense should be borne on the soft and fluid. By means of the prophets again with a small piece of wood He raised up iron from the bottom. (2R 6,5-7) In like manner also with the Cross He hath drawn the world to Himself. For as the water heareth up the earth, so also the Cross beareth up the world. You see now, it is proof of great power and wisdom, to convince by means of the things which tell directly against us. Thus the Cross seems to be matter of offence; and yet far from offending, it even attracts.
[6.] 1Co 1,25. All these things, therefore, Paul bearing in mind, and being struck with astonishment, said that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men;” in relation to the Cross, speaking of a folly and weakness, not real but apparent. For he is answering with respect unto the other party’s opinion. For that which philosophers were not able by means of reasoning to accomplish, this, what seemed to be foolishness did excellently well. Which then is the wiser, he that persuadeth the many, or he that persuadeth few, or rather no one? He who persuadeth concerning the greatest points, or about matters which are nothing? (mhden ontwn Reg). ms. mh deontwn Bened). What great labors did Plato endure, and his followers, discoursing to us about a line, and an angle, and a point, and about numbers even and odd, and equal unto one another and unequal, and such-like spiderwebs; (for indeed those webs are not more useless to man’s life than were these subjects;) and without doing good to any one great or small by their means, so he made an end of his life. How greatly did he labor, endeavoring to show that the soul was immortal! and even as he came he went away, having spoken nothing with certainty, nor persuaded any hearer. But the Cross wrought persuasion by means of unlearned men; yea it persuaded even the whole world: and not about common things, but in discourse of God, and the godliness which is according to truth, and the evangelical way of life, and the judgment of the things to come. And of all men it made philosophers: the very rustics, the utterly unlearned. Behold how “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” and “the weakness stronger?” How “stronger?” Because it overran the whole world, and took all by main force, and while men were endeavoring by ten thousands to extinguish the name of the Crucified, the contrary came to pass: that flourished and increased more and more, but they perished and wasted away; and the living at war with the dead, had no power. So that when the Greek calls me foolish, he shows himself above measure foolish: since I who am esteemed by him a fool, evidently appear wiser than the wise. When he calls me weak, then he shows himself to be weaken For the noble things which publicans and fishermen were able to effect by the grace of God, these, philosophers, and rhetoricians, and tyrants, and in short the whole world, running ten thousand ways here and there, could not even form a notion of. For what did not the Cross introduce? The doctrine concerning the Immortality of the Soul; that concerning the Resurrection of the Body; that concerning the contempt of things present; that concerning the desire of things future. Yea, angels it hath made of men, and all, every where, practice self-denial, (filosofousi) and show forth all kinds of fortitude.
404 [7.] But among them also, it will be said, many have been found contemners of death. Tell me who? was it he who drank the hemlock? But if thou wilt, I can bring forward ten thousand such from within the Church. For had it been lawful when prosecution bell them to drink hemlock and depart, all had become more famous than he. And besides, he drank when he was not at liberty to drink or not to drink; but willing or against his will he must robbers and man-slayers, having fallen under the condemnation of their judges, have suffered things more grievous. But with us it is all quite the contrary. For not against their will did the martyrs endure, but of their will, and being at liberty not to suffer; shewing forth fortitude harder than all adamant. This then you see is no great wonder, that he whom I was mentioning drank hemlock;it being no longer in his power not to drink, and also when he had arrived at a very great age. For when he despised life he stated himself to be seventy years old; if this can be called despising. For I for my part could not affirm it: nor, what is more, can anyone else. But show me some one enduring firm in torments for godliness’ sake, as I shew thee ten thousand every where in the world. Who, while his nails were tearing out, nobly endured? Who, while his body joints were wrenching (anascaptomenwn) asunder? Who, while his body was cut in pieces, (tow swmato" cata mero" porqoumenou; th" cefalh";) member by member? or his head? Who, while his bones were forced out by levers? (anamokleuomenwn) Who, while placed without intermission upon frying-pans? Who, when thrown into a caldron? Show me these instances. For to die by hemlock is all as one with a man’s continuing in a state of sleep. Nay even sweeter than sleep is this sort of death, if report say true. But if certain [of them] did endure torments, yet of these, too, the praise is gone to nothing. For on some disgraceful occasion they perished; some for revealing mysteries; some for aspiring to dominion; others detected in the foulest crimes; others again rashly, and fruitlessly, and foolishly, there bring no reason for it, made away with themselves. But not so with us. Wherefore of the deeds of those nothing is said; but these flourish and daily increase. Which Paul having in mind said, “The weakness of God is stronger than all men.”
[8.] For that the Gospel is divine, even from hence is evident; namely, whence could it have occurred to twelve ignorant men to attempt such great things? who sojourned in marshes, in rivers, in deserts; who never at any time perhaps had entered into a city nor into a forum;—whence did it occur, to set themselves in array against the whole world? For that they were timid and unmanly, he shews who wrote of them, not apologizing, nor enduring to throw their failings into the shade: which indeed of itself is a very great token of the truth. What then doth he say about them? That when Christ was apprehended, after ten thousand wonders, they fled; and he who remained, being the leader of the rest, denied. Whence was it then that they who when Christ was alive endured not the attack of the jews; now that He was dead and buried, and as ye say, had not risen again, nor had any talk with them, nor infused courage into them—whence did they set themselves in array against so great a world? Would they not have said among themselves, “what meaneth this? Himself He was not able to save, and will He protect us? Himself He defended not when alive, and will He stretch out the hand unto us now that he is dead? Himself, when alive, subdued not even one nation; and are we to convince the whole world by uttering His Name?” How, I ask, could all this be reason-abe, I will not say, as something to be done, but even as something to be imagined? From whence it is plain that had they not seen Him after He was risen, and received most ample proof of his power, they would not have ventured so great a cast.
[9.] For suppose they had possessed friends innumerable;would they not presently have made them all enemies, disturbing ancient customs, and removing their father’s landmarks? (dria Ms. Reg). eqh Ben). But as it was, they had them for enemies, all, both their own countrymen and foreigners. For although they had been recommended to veneration by everything external, would not all men have abhorred them, introducing a new polity? But now they were even destitute of everything; and it was likely that even on that account all would hate and scorn them at once. For whom will you name? The Jews? Nay, they had against them an inexpressible hatred on account of the things which had been done unto the Master. Not by changing the customs relating to the gods, but merely by substituting one line of conduct for another; was cast out of Sicily, and went near to lose his life. This however did not ensue: so that he lost his liberty alone. And had not a certain Barbarian been more gentle than the tyrant of Sicily, nothing could have rescued the philosopher from slavery throughout life in a foreign land. And yet it is not all one to innovate in affairs of the kingdom, and in matters of religious worship. For the latter more than any thing else causes disturbance and troubles men. For to say, “let such and such an one marry such a woman, and let the guardians [of the commonwealth] exercise their guardianship so and so,” is not enough to cause any great disturbance: and especially when all this is lodged in a book, and no great anxiety on the part of the legislator to carry the proposals into practice. On the other hand, to say, “they be no gods which men worship, but demons; He who was crucified is God;” ye well know how great wrath it kindled, how severely men must have paid for it, what a flame of war it fanned.
405 For Protagoras, who was one of them, having dared to say, “I know of no gods,” not going round the world and proclaiming it, but in a single city, was in the most imminent peril of his life. And Diagoras the Milesian, and Theodorus, who was called Atheist, although they had friends, and that influence which comes from eloquence, and were held in admiration because of their philosophy; yet nevertheless none of these profited them. And the great Socrates, too, he who surpassed in philosophy all among them, for this reason drank hemlock, because in his discourses of innovation brought so great danger on philosophers and wise men, and on those who had attained boundless popularity; and if they were not only unable to do what they wished, but were themselves also driven from life and county; how canst thou choose but be in admiration and astonishment, when thou seest that the fisherman hath produced such an effect upon the world, and accomplished his purposes; hath overcome all both Barbarians and Greeks
[10.] But they did not, you will say, introduce strange gods as the others did. Well, and in that you are naming the very point most to be wondered at; that the innovation is twofold, both to pull down those which are, and to announce the Crucified. For from whence came it into their minds to proclaim such things? whence, to be confident about their event? Whom of those before them could they perceive to have prospered in any such attempt? Were not all men worshipping demons? Were not all used to make gods of the elements? Was not the difference [but] in the mode of impiety? But nevertheless they attacked all, and overthrew all, and overran in a short time the wholeworld, like a sort of winged beings; making no account of dangers, of deaths, of the difficulty of the thing, of their own fewness, of the multitude of the opponents, of the authority, the power, the wisdom of those at war with them. For they had an ally greater than all these, the power of Him that had been crucified and was risen again. It would not have been so wondrous, had they chosen to wage war with the world in the literal sense,(polemon aisqhton) as this which in fact has taken place. For according to the law of battle they might have stood over against the enemies, and occupying some adverse ground, have arrayed themselves accordingly to meet their foes, and have taken their time for attack and dose conflict. But in this case it is not so. For they had no camp of their own, but were mingled with their enemies, and thus overcame them. Even in the midst of their enemies as they went about, they eluded their grasp, (laba" Reg). blaba" Bened). and became superior, and achieved a splendid victory; a victory which fulfils the prophecy that saith, “Even in the midst of thine enemies thou shalt have dominion.” (Ps 110,2) For this it was, which was full of all astonishment, that their enemies having them in their power, and casting them into prison and chains not only did not vanquish them, but themselves also eventually had to bow down to them: the scourgers to the scourged, the binders in chains to those who were bound, the persecutors to the fugitives. All these things then we could say unto the Greeks, yea much more than these; for the truth has enough and greatly to spare. (pollh th" alhqeia" h periousia). And if ye will follow the argument, we will teach you the whole method of fighting against them. In the meanwhile let us here hold fast two heads; How did the weak overcome the strong? and, From whence came it into their thoughts, being such as they were, to form such plans, unless they enjoyed Divine aid?
[11.] So far then as to what we have to say. But let us shew forth by our actions all excellencies of conduct, and kindle abuntantly the fire of virtue. For “ye are lights,” saith admitted a greater function than He hath to the sun: greater than heaven, and earth, and sea; and by so much greater, as spiritual things be more excellent than things sensible. When then we look unto the solar orb, and admire the beauty, and the body and the brightness of the luminary, let us consider again that greater and better is the light which is in us, as indeed the darkness also is more dreadful unless we take heed. And in fact a deep night oppresses the whole world. This is what we have to dispel and dissolve. It is night not among heretics and among Greeks only, but also in the multitude on our side, in respect of doctrines and of life. For many entirely disbelieve the resurrection; many fortify themselves with their horoscope; (genesin xautoi" epiteikizousi) many adhere to superstitious observances, and to omens, and auguries, and presages. And some likewise employ amulets and charms. But to these also we will speak afterwards, when we have finished what we have to say to the Greeks.
In the meanwhile hold fast the things which have been said, and be ye fellow-helpers with me in the battle; by your way of life attracting them to us and changing them. For, as I am always saying, He that teaches high morality (peri filosofia") ought first to teach it in his own person, and be such as his hearers cannot do without. Let us therefore become such, and make the Greeks feel kindly towards us. And this will come to pass if we make up our minds not only not to do ill, but also to suffer ill. Do we not see when little children being borne in their father’s arms give him that carries them blows on the cheek, how sweetly the father lets the boy have his fill of wrath, and when he sees that he has spent his passion, how his countenance brightens up? In like manner let us also act; and as fathers with children, so let us discourse with the Greeks. For all the Greeks are children. And this, some of their own writers have said, that “that people are children always, and no Greek is an old man.” Now children cannot bear to take thought for any thing useful; so also the Greeks would be for ever at play; and they lie on the ground, grovelling in posture and in affections. Moreover, children oftentimes, when we are discoursing about important things, give no heed to anything that is said, but will even be laughing all the time: such also are the Greeks. When we discourse of the Kingdom, they laugh. And as spittle dropping in abundance from an infant’s mouth, which oftentimes spoils its meat and drink, such also are the words flowing from the mouth of the Greeks, vain and unclean. Even if thou art giving children their necessary food, they keep on vexing those who furnish it with evil speech, and we must bear themselves, and stamp on the floor; just so do the Greeks also: when they behold the devil pilfering all their patrimony, and even the things which support their life, they laugh, and run to him as to a friend: but should any one take away any possession, be it wealth or any childish thing whosoever of that kind, they cry, they tear themselves. And as children expose their limbs unconsciously and blush not for shame; so the Greeks, wallowing in whoredoms and adulteries, and bring bare the laws of nature, and introducing unlawful intercourses, are not abashed.
Ye have given me vehement applause and acclamation, but with all your applause have a care lest you be among those of whom these things are said. Wherefore I beseech you all to become men: since, so long as we are children, how shall we teach them manliness? How shall we restrain them from childish folly? Let us, therefore become men; that we may arrive at the measure of the stature which hath been marked out for us by Christ, and may obtain the good things to come: through the grace and loving-kindness, etc. etc.
Chrysostom on 1Cor 300