Chrysostom on 1Cor 3700
3700 in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. (1Co 14,34)
3701 Having abated the disturbance both from the tongues and from the prophesyings; and havingmade a law to prevent confusion, that they who speak with tongues should do this in turn, and that they who prophesy should be silent when another begins; he next in course proceeds to the disorder which arose from the women, cutting off their unseasonable boldness of speech: and that very opportunely. For if to them that have the gifts it is not permitted to speak inconsiderately, nor when they will, and this, though they be moved by the Spirit; much less to those women who prate idly and to no purpose. Therefore he represses their babbling with much authority, and taking the law along with him, thus he sews up their mouths; not simply exhorting here or giving counsel, but even laying his commands on them vehemently, by the recitation of an ancient law on that subject. For having said, “Let your women keep silence in the churches;” and “it is not permitted unto them to speak, but let them be in subjection;” he added, “as also saith the law.” And where doth the law say this? “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Gn 3,16) Seest thou the wisdom of Paul, what kind of testimony he adduced, one that not only enjoins on them silence, but silence too with fear; and with as great fear as that wherewith a maid servant ought to keep herself quiet. Wherefore also having himself said, “it is not permitted unto them to speak,” he added not, “but to be silent,” but instead of “to be silent,” he set down what is more, to wit, “the being in subjection.” And if this be so in respect of husbands, much more in respect of teachers, and fathers, and the general assembly of the Church. “But if they are not even to speak,” saith one, “nor ask a question, to what end are they to be present?” That they may hear what they ought; but the points which are questioned let them learn at home from their husbands. Wherefore also he added,
1Co 14,35. “And if they would learn any thing, let them ask their own husbands at home.”
Thus, “not only, as it seems, are they not allowed to speak,” saith he, “at random, but not even to ask any question in the church.” Now if they ought not to ask questions, much more is their speaking at pleasure contrary to law. And what may be the cause of his setting them under so great subjection? Because the woman is in some sort a weaker being and easily carried away and light minded. Here you see why he set over them their husbands as teachers, for the benefit of both. For so he both rendered the women orderly, and the husbands he made anxious, as having to deliver to their wives very exactly what they heard.
Further, because they supposed this to be an ornament to them, I mean their speaking in public; again he brings round the discourse to the opposite point, saying, “For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” That is, first he made this out from the law of God, then from common reason and our received custom; even when he was discoursing with the women about long hair, he said, “Doth not even nature herself teach you?” (c. xi. 14). And everywhere thou mayest find this to be his manner, not only from the divine Scriptures, but also from the common custom, to put them to shame.
[2.] But besides these things, he also shames them by consideration of what all agreed on, and what was every where prescribed; which topic also here he hath set down, saying,
1Co 14,36. “What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?”
Thus he brings in the other Churches also as holding this law, both abating the disturbance by consideration of the novelty of the thing, and by the general voice making his saying acceptable. Wherefore also elsewhere he said, “Who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in all the Churches.” (1Co 4,17) And again, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches of the saints.’ (c. 14,33). And here, “What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?” i.e., “neither first, nor alone are ye believers, but the whole world.” Whichalso writing to the Colossians he said, “even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all the world,” (Col 1,6) speaking of the Gospel.
But he turns it also at another time to the encouragement of his hearers; as when hesaith that theirs were the first fruits, and were manifest unto all. Thus, writing to the Thessalonians he said, “For from you hath sounded forth the word of God,” and, “in every placeyour faith to God-ward is gone forth.” (1Th 1,8) And again to the Romans, “Your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.”For both are apt to shame and stir up, as well the being commended of others, as that they have others partakers in their judgment. Wherefore also here he saith; “What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you only?” “For neither can ye say this,” saith he; “we were made teachers to the rest, and it cannot be right for us to learn of others;” nor, “the faith remained in this place only, and no precedents from other quarters ought to be received.” Seest thou by how many arguments he put them to shame? He introduced the law, he signified the shamefulness of the thing, he brought forward the other Churches.
3702 [3.] Next, what is strongest of all he puts last, saying, “God ordains these things even at this time by me.”
1Co 14,37. Thus: “if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you that they are the commandments of the Lord.’
1Co 14,38. “But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant.”
And wherefore did he add this? Intimating that he is not using violence nor contention, which is a sign of them who wish not to set up their own things, but aim at what is profitable to others. Wherefore also in another place he saith, “But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom.” (1Co 11,16) But he doth not this everywhere, but only where the offences are not very great, and then rather as putting them to shame. Since when he discourses of other sins, he speaks not thus. But how? “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor effeminate, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Co 6,9-10) And again, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing.” (Ga 5,2). But here, since his discourse was of silence, he doth not very keenly inveigh against them, by this very thing attracting them the more. Then, as he is ever wont to do, unto the former subject whence he digressed to say these things, he brings back his discourse as follows:
1Co 14,39. “Wherefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”
For this too is his wont, not only to work out what is before him, but also starting from that to set right whatever seems to him in any way akin to it, and again to return to the former, so as not to appear to wander from the subject. For so when he was discoursing of their concord in their banquets, he digressed to their Communion in the Mysteries, and having thence put them to shame, he returns again to the former, saying, “Wherefore, when ye come together to eat, wait one for another.” (1Co 11,33)
And here, accordingly, having discoursed of good order in their gifts, and of its being a duty neither to faint in the lesser, nor to be puffed up on account of the greater; then having made an excursion from thence to the sobriety becoming women and having established it, he returns again to his subject, saying, “Wherefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.” Seest thou how to the end he preserved the difference of these? And how he signifies that the one is very necessary, the other not so? Wherefore of the one he saith, “desire earnestly,” but of the other, “forbid not.”
[4.] Then, as in brief summary, setting all things right, he adds the words,
1Co 14,40. “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
Again giving a blow to them who chose to behave themselves unseemly without cause, and to incur the imputation of madness; and who keep not their proper rank. For nothing doth so build up as good order, as peace, as love; even as their contraries tend to pull down. And not only in things spiritual, but also in all others one may observe this. Thus whether it be in a dance, or a ship, or in a chariot, or a camp, if thou shouldest confound the order, and casting the greater out of their proper place, shouldest bring in the lesser into their rank, thou destroyest all, and thus things are turned upside down. Neither let us then destroy our order, nor place the head below and the feet above: now this is done when we cast down right reason, and set our lusts, passions, and pleasure, over the rational part: whence violent are the billows, and great the confusion, and intolerable the tempest, all things being wrapt in darkness.
3703 And, if thou wilt, let us first examine the unseemliness which arises herefrom, and then the loss. How then may this be clear to us, and thoroughly known? Let us bring forward a man in that frame of mind; enamoured of a harlot and overcome by a dishonorable passion; and then we shall see the mockery which this comes to. For what can be baser than a man watching the doors before the harlots’ chambers, and beaten by a whorish woman, and weeping, and lamenting, and turning his glory into shame? And if thou wilt also see the loss, call to mind, I pray, the expenditure of money, the extreme risks, the contests with rival lovers, the wounds, the stripes received in such affrays.
Such also are they who are holden by the lust of wealth; or rather they behave themselves more unseemly. For whereas these are wholly occupied about one person; the covetous busy themselves about all men’s substance alike, both poor and rich, and long for things that are not; a thing which above all denotes the wildness of their passion. For they say not, “I would fain have the substance of such a person or of such another,” only, but they want the very mountains to be gold, and the houses and all that they see; and they go forth into another world, and this passion they feel to a boundless degree, and at no point cease from their lusting. What discourse can set before us the tempest of those thoughts, the waves, the darkness? And where the waves and tempest are so great, what pleasure can there be? There is not any; but tumult, and anguish, and black clouds which instead of rain bring great sorrow of heart: the kind of thing which is wont to happen in the case of those who are enamoured of beauty not their own. Wherefore they who have no passionate love at all are in more pleasure than any lovers.
[5.] This however no man would gainsay. But to me even he who loves, but restrains his passion, seems to live more pleasurably than he who continually enjoys his mistress. For though the proof be rather difficult, nevertheless even at that disadvantage the argument must be ventured on: the cause of the increased difficulty not being the nature of the thing, but because of the want of meet hearers for this high morality. Thus: whether is it pleasanter, tell me, to the lover, to be despised by his beloved, or to be honored, and to look down upon her? Evidently the latter. Whom then, tell me, will the harlot value more? Him that is a slave to her and is already led captive at her will, or him that is above her nets and soareth higher than her arrows? Every one must see, the latter. And about whom will she take more thought, the fallen, or him that is not yet so? Him that is not yet so, of course. And which will be more an object of desire, he who is subdued, or he who is not yet taken? He who up to this time is not yet taken. And if ye disbelieve it, I will produce my proof from what takes place within yourselves. As thus: of which woman would a man be more enamored; one that easily submits and gives herself up to him, or one that denies, and gives him trouble? Evidently of this last; since hereby the longing is more vehemently kindled. Of course then in the woman’s case also exactly the same thing will happen. And him will they honor and admire more who looks down upon them. But if this be true, so likewise is the other, that he enjoys greater pleasure who is more honored and beloved. Since the general too lets alone the city that hath been once taken, but that which stands out and maintains the struggle he besets with all diligence: and the hunter, when the animal is caught, keeps it shut up in darkness as the harlot doth her lover, but pursues that which flies from him.
But I shall be told, “the one enjoys his desire, the other not so.” But freedomfrom disgrace, and from being a slave under her tyrannical commands, the not being led and dragged about by her as a drudge, beaten, spit upon, pitched head foremost; dost thou consider this to be a small pleasure, tell me? Nay, if one would accurately examine these things, and were able to gather into one their insults, complaints, everlasting quarrels, some arising from their tempers, others from their wantonness, their enmities, and all the rest, such as they only that feel them know;—he will find that there is no war but hath more truces than this wretched life of theirs. What pleasure then meanest thou, tell me? The temporary and brief enjoyment of intercourse? But this speedily doth strife overtake, and storms, and rage,and the same madness again).
3704 [6.] And these things have been said by us, as one would speak discoursing with licentious youths, who do not very patiently submit to hear our discourses of the kingdom and of hell.
And now that we are bringing forward these topics also, it is not even possible to say how great is the pleasure of the continent; if one frame in one’s own mind his crowns, his rewards, his converse with the angels, the proclaiming of him before the world, his boldness, those blessed and immortal hopes of his.
“But intercourse hath a certain pleasure:” for this they are continually repeating: “while the continent continually suffers pain contending with the tyranny of nature.” Nay, but one shall find just the contrary result. For this violence and tumult is present with the unchaste rather: there being in his body a violent tempest, and no sea in a storm so grievously vexed as he; never withstanding his passion, but ever receiving blows from it; as the possessed and they that are continually rent in the midst by evil spirits. Whereas the temperate like a noble champion continually giving blows to it, reaps the best of pleasures, and sweeter than ten thousand of that kind; and this victory and his good conscience, and those illustrous trophies, are ornaments for him continually to deck himself withal.
As to the other, if after his intercourse he hath a little respite, it must be counted nothing. For again the storm comes on, and again there are waves. But he that commands himself doth not suffer this tumult to lay hold of him at all, nor the sea to arise, nor the wild beast to roar. And even if he endure some violence in restraining such an impulse, yet so cloth the other also, continually receiving blows and stabs, and unable to endure the sting: and it is like as if there were a wild horse furious and struggling, and one should check with the bridle, and hold him in with all skill: while another giving him the rein to escape the trouble, were dragged along by him and carried hither and thither.
If I have spoken these things more plainly than is becoming, let no man blame me. For I desire not to make a brave show by a gravity of words, but to make my hearers grave.
Therefore also the prophets spare no such words, wishing to extirpate the licentiousness of the Jews, but do even more nakedly inveigh against them than we do now in the things we have spoken. For so a physician wishing to remove an ulcer doth not consider how he may keep his hands clean, but how he may rid the patient of the ulcer; and he who would raise on high the lowly, first makes himself lowly; and he who seeks to slay the conspirator stains himself with blood as well as the other, and this makes him the more brilliant. Since if one were to see a soldier returning from the war, stained with gore and blood and brains, he will not loathe him nor turn from him on this account, but will even admire him the more. So then let us do, when we see any one returning, covered with blood after the slaughter of his evil desire, let us the more admire him and become partakers of his battle and victory, and say to those who indulge this wild love, “show us the pleasure you derive from lust; for the continent hath that which comes of his victory, but thou none from any quarter. But if ye should mention that which is connected with the criminal act, yet the other is more manifest and satisfactory. For thou hast from the enjoyment something brief and hardly apparent; but he from his conscience, hath both a greater and an enduring and a sweeter joy. The company of a woman hath surely no such power as self-command, to preserve the soul undisturbed and give it wings.”
Well then: the continent man, as I said, thus evidently makes his pleasure out to us: but in thy case I see the dejection arising from defeat, but the pleasure, desiring to see, I find not. For what dost thou consider the moment of pleasure? That before the criminal action? Nay, it is not so, for it is a time of madness and delirium and frenzy: to grind the teeth and be beside one’s self is not any pleasure: and if it were pleasure, it would not produce the same effects on you which they who are in pain endure. For they who strike with their fists and are stricken grind their teeth, and women in travail distracted with pains do the same. So that this is no pleasure, but frenzy rather, and confusion, and tumult. Shall we say then, the time after the action? Nay, neither is this. For neither could we say that a woman just delivered is in pleasure, but in release from certain pains. But this is by no means pleasure, but weakness rather and falling away: and there is a great difference between these two. What then is the time of pleasure, tell me? There is none. But if there be any, it is so brief as not even to be apparent. At least, having zealously sought in a great many ways to detect and apprehend it, we have not been able. But the time of the chaste man’s pleasure is not such, rather it is wider and evident to all. Or rather, all his life is in pleasure, his conscience crowned, the waves laid, no disturbance from any quarter arising within him.
Since then this man’s life is more in pleasure, while the life spent in love of pleasure is in dejection and disquiets; let us flee from licentiousness, let us keep hold on continence, that we may also obtain the good things to come, through the grace and mercy, &c., &c).
3800 brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand; by which also ye are saved: in what words I preached it unto you. (1Co 15,1)
3801 Having finished the discourse of spiritual gifts, he passes to that which is of all most necessary, the subject of the resurrection. For in this too they were greatly unsound. And as in men’s bodies, when the fever lays actual hold of their solid parts, I mean the nerves and the veins and the primary elements, the mischief becomes incurable unless it receive much attention; just so at that time also it was like to happen. Since to the very elements of godliness the mischief was proceeding. Wherefore also Paul uses great earnestness. For not of morals was his discourse henceforth nor about one man’s being a fornicator, another covetous, and another having his head covered; but about the very sum of all good things. For touching the resurrection itself they were at variance. Because this being all our hope, against this point did the devil make a vehement stand, and at one time he was wholly subverting it, at another his word was that it was “past already;” which also Paul writing to Timothy called a gangrene, I mean, this wicked doctrine, and those that brought it in he branded, saying, “Of whom is Hymenoeus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.” (2Tm 2,17-18) At one time then they said thus, but at another that the body rises not again but the purification of the soul is the resurrection.
But these things that wicked demon persuaded them to say, not wishing to overturn the resurrection only, but also to show that all the things done for our sakes are a fable. For if they were persuaded that there is no resurrection of bodies, he would have gradually persuaded them that neither was Christ raised. And thereupon he would introduce also this in due course, that He had not come nor had done what He did. For such is the craft of the devil. Wherefore also Paul calls it “cunning craftiness,” because he doth not straightway signify what he intends to effect, for fear of being detected, but dressing himself up in a mask of one kind, he fabricates arts of another kind: and like a crafty enemy attacking a city with walls, he secretly undermines it from below: so as thereby to be hardly guarded against and to succeed in his endeavors. Therefore such snares on his part being continually detected, and these his crafty ambushes hunted out by this admirable and mighty man, he said, “For we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Co 2,11) So also here he unfolds his whole guile and points out all his stratagems, and whatsoever he would fain effect, Paul puts before us, with much exactness going over all. Yea, and therefore he put this head after the rest, both because it was extremely necessary and because it involves the whole of our condition.
And observe his consideration: how first having secured his own, he then proceeds even beyond in his discourse, and them that are without he doth abundantly reduce to silence. Now he secures his own, not by reasonings, but by things which had already happened and which themselves had received and believed to have taken place: a thing which was most of all apt to shame them, and capable of laying hold on them. Since if they were unwilling to believe after this, it was no longer Paul but themselves they would disbelieve: which thing was a censure on those who had once for all received it and changed their minds. For this cause then he begins also from hence, implying that he needs no other witnesses to prove his speaking truth, but those very persons who were deceived.
[2.] But that what I say may become clearer, we must needs in what follows attend to the very words. What then are these? “I make known unto you, brethren,” saith he, “thegospel which I preached unto you.” Seest thou with what modesty he commences? Seest thou how from the beginning he points out that he is bringing in no new nor strange thing? For he who “maketh known” that which was alreadyknown but afterwards had fallen into oblivion, “maketh known” by recalling it into memory).
And when he called them “brethren,” even from hence he laid the foundation of no mean part of the proof of his assertions. For by no other cause became we “brethren,” but by the dispensation of Christ according to the flesh. And this is just the reason why he thus called them, at the same time soothing and courting them, and likewise reminding them of their innumerable blessings.
And what comes next again is demonstrative of the same. What then is this? “The gospel.” For the sum of the gospels hath its original hence, from God having become man and having been crucified and having risen again. This gospel also Gabriel preached to the Virgin, this also the prophets to the world, this also the apostles all of them.
“Which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand. By which also ye are saved, in what word I preached unto you; if ye hold it fast, except ye believed in vain.”
Seest thou how he calls themselves to be witnesses of the things spoken? And he saith not, “which ye heard,” but, “which ye received,” demanding it of them as a kind of deposit, and showing that not in word only, but also by deeds and signs and wonders they received it, and that they should hold it safe.
3802 Next, because he was speaking of the things long past, he referred also to the present time, saying, “wherein also ye stand,” taking the vantage ground of them that disavowal might be out of their power, though they wished it never so much. And this is why at the beginning he said not, “I teach you,” but, ’I make known unto you’ what hath already been made manifest.”
And how saith he that they who were so tossed with waves “stand?” He feigns ignorance to profit them; which also he doth in the case of the Galatians, but not in like manner. For inasmuch as he could not in that case affect ignorance, he frames his address in another way, saying, “I have confidence toward yon in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded.” (Ga 5,10) He said not, “that ye were none otherwise minded,” because their fault was acknowledged and evident, but he answers for the future; and yet this too was uncertain; but it was to draw them to him more effectually. Here however he doth feign ignorance, saying, “wherein also ye stand.”
Then comes the advantage; “by which also ye are saved, in what words I preached it unto you.” “So then, this present exposition is for doctrine clearness and interpretation.For the doctrine itself ye need not,” saith he, “to learn, but to be reminded of it and corrected.” And these things he saith, leaving them no room to plunge into recklessness once for all.
But what is, “in what word I preached it unto you?”After what manner did I say,” saith he, “that the resurrection takes place? For that there is a resurrection I would not say that ye doubt: but ye seek perhaps to obtain a clearer knowledge of that saying. This then will I provide for you: for indeed I am well assured that ye hold the doctrine.” Next, because he was directly affirming, “wherein also ye stand;” that he might not thereby make them more remiss, he alarms them again, saying, “If ye hold it fast, except ye believed in vain;” intimating that the stroke is on the chief head, and the contest for no common things but in behalf of the whole of the faith. And for the present he saith it with reserve, but as he goes on and waxes warm, he throws off the veil and proceeds to cry out and say, “But if Christ hath not been raised then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain: ye are yet in your sins:” but in the beginning not so: for thus it was expedient to proceed, gently and by degrees.
1Co 15,3. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.”
Neither here doth he say, “I said unto you,” nor, “I taught you,” but uses the same expression gain, saying, “I delivered unto you that which also I received:” nor again here doth he say, “I was taught,” but, “I received:” establishing these two things; first, that one ought to introduce nothing from one’s self; next, that by demonstration from his deeds they were fully persuaded, not by bare words: and by degrees while he is rendering his argument credible, he refers the whole to Christ, and signifies that nothing was of man in these doctrines.
But what is this, “For I delivered unto you first of all?” for that is his word. “In the beginning, not now.” And thus saying he brings the time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this only, but also that the doctrine is necessary. Wherefore also it was “delivered” among “the first,” and from the beginning straightway. And what didst thou so deliver? tell me. But this he doth not say straightway, but first, “I received.” And what didst thou receive? “That Christ died for our sins.” He said not immediately that there is a resurrection of our bodies, yet this very thing in truth he doth establish, but afar off and by other topics saying that “Christ died,” and laying before a kind of strong base and irrefragable foundation of the doctrine concerning the resurrection. For neither did he simply say that “Christ died;” although even this were sufficient to declare the resurrection, but with an addition, “Christ died for our sins.”
[3.] But first it is worth while to hear what those who are infected with the Manichaean doctrines say here, who are both enemies to the truth and war against their own salvation. What then do these allege? By death here, they say, Paul means nothing else than our being in sin; and by resurrection, our being delivered from our sins. Seest thou how nothing is weaker than error? And how it is taken by its own wings, and needs not the warfare from without, but by itself it is pierced through? Consider, for instance, these men, how they too have pierced themselves through by their own statements. Since if this be death, and Christ did not take a body, as ye suppose, and yet died, He was in sin according to you. For I indeed say that He took unto Himself a body and His death, I say, was that of the flesh; but thou denying this, wilt be compelled to affirm the other. But if He was in sin, how saith He, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” and “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me?” (Jn 8,46; Jn 14,30) and again, “Thus it becometh Us to fulfill all righteousness?” (Mt 3,15) Nay, how did He at all die for sinners, if Himself were in sin? For he who dies for sinners ought himself to be without sin. Since if he himself also sin, how shall he die for other sinners? But if for others’ sins He died, He died being without sin: and if being without sin He died, He died—not the death of sin; for how could He being without sin?—but the death of the body. Wherefore also Paul did not simply say, “He died,” but added, “for our sins:” both forcing these heretics against their will to the confession of His bodily death, and signifying also by this that before death He was without sin: for he that dies for others’ sins, it followeth must himself be without sin.
Neither was he content with this, but added, “according to the Scriptures:” hereby both again making his argument credible, and inti-mating what kind of death he was speaking of: since it is the death of the body which the Scriptures everywhere proclaim. For, “they pierced My hands and My feet,” (Ps 21,18) saith He, and, “they shall look on Him Whom they pierced.” (Jn 19,37. Za 12,10)
3803 And many other instances, too not to name all one by one, partly in words and partly in types, one may see in them stored up, setting forth His slaughter in the flesh and that He was slain for our sins. For, “for the sins of my people,” saith one, “is He come to death: “and, the Lord delivered Him up for our sins: “and, “He was wounded for our transgressions.” (Is 53). But if thou dost not endure the Old Testament, hear Jn crying out and declaring both, as well His slaughter in the body as the cause of it: thus, “Behold,” saith he, “the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sin of the world:” (Jn 1,29) and Paul saying, “For Him Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him:” (2Co 5,21) and again, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us:” (Ga 3,13) and again, “having put off from himself principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them;” (Col 2,15) and ten thousand other sayings to show what happened at His death in the body, and because of our sins. Yea, and Christ Himself saith, “for your sakes I sanctify Myself“and, “now the prince of this world hath been condemned;” showing that having no sin he was slain.
[4.] 1Co 15,4. “And that he was buried.”
And this also confirms the former topics, for that which is buried is doubtless a body. And here he no longer adds, “according to the Scriptures.” He had wherewithal, nevertheless he adds it not. For what cause? Either because the burial was evident unto all, both then and now, or because the expression, “according to the Scriptures,” is set down of both in common. Wherefore then doth he add, “according to the Scriptures,” in this place, “and that He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures,” and is not content with the former clause, so spoken in common? Because this also was to most men obscure: wherefore here again he brings in “the Scriptures” by inspiration, having so conceived this thought so wise and divine.
How is it then that he doth the same in regard of His death? Because in that case too, although the cross was evident unto all and in the sight of all He was stretched upon it; yet the cause was no longer equally so. The fact indeed of his death all knew, but that He suffered this for the sins of the world was no longer equally known to the multitude. Wherefore he brings in the testimony from the Scriptures.
This however hath been sufficiently proved by what we have said. But where have the Scriptures said that He was buried, and on the third day shall rise again? By the type of Jonah which also Himself alleges, saying, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall also the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mt 12,40) By the bush in the desert. For oven as that burned, yet was not consumed, (Ex 3,2) so also that body died indeed, but was not holden of death continually. And the dragon also in Daniel shadows out this. For as the dragon having taken the food which the prophet gave, burst asunder in the midst; even so Hades having swallowed down that Body, was rent asunder, the Body of itself cutting asunder its womb and rising again.
Now if thou desirest to hear also in words those things which thou hast seen in types, listen to Isaiah, saying, “His life is taken from the earth,” (Is 53,8, Is 53,10-11) and,” it pleaseth the Lord to cleanse Him from His wound...to show unto Him light:” and David before him, “Thou wilt not leave My soul to Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps 16,10)
Therefore Paul also sends thee on to the Scriptures, that thou mayest learn that not without cause nor at random were these things done. For how could they, when so many prophets are describing and proclaiming them beforehand? And no where doth the Scripture mean the death of sin, when it makes mention of our Lord’s death, but that of the body, and a burial and resurrection of the same kind.
[5.] 1Co 15,5. “And that He appeared to Cephas:” he names immediately the most credible of all. “Then to the twelve.”
1Co 15,6. “Then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep.”
1Co 15,7. “Then he appeared to James; then to all the Apostles.”
1Co 15,8. “And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared to me also.”
3804 Thus, since he had mentioned the proof from the Scriptures, he adds also that by the events, producing as witnesses of the resurrection, after the prophets, the apostles and other faithful men. Whereas if he meant that other resurrection, the deliverance from sin, it were idle for him to say, He appeared to such and such an one; for this is the argument of one who is establishing the resurrection of the body, not of one obscurely teaching deliverance from sins. Wherefore neither said he once for all, “He appeared,” although it were sufficient for him to do so, setting down the expression in common: but now both twice and thrice, and almost in each several case of them that had seen Him he employs it. For “He appeared,” saith he, “to Cephas, He appeared to above five hundred brethren, He appeared to me also.” Yet surely the Gospel saith the contrary, that He was seen of Mary first. (Mc 16,9) But among men He was seen of him first who did most of all long to see Him.
But of what twelve apostles doth he here speak? For after He was received up, Matthias was taken into the number, not after the resurrection immediately. But it is likely that He appeared even after He was received up. At any rate, this our apostle himself after His ascension was both called, and saw Him. Therefore neither doth he set down the time, but simply and without defining recounts the appearance. For indeed it is probable that many took place; wherefore also Jn said, “This third time He was manifested.” (Jn 21,14)
“Then He appeared to above five hundred brethren.” Some say that “above,” is above from heaven; that is, “not walking upon earth, but above and overhead He appeared to them:” adding, that it was Paul’s purpose to confirm, not the resurrection only, but also the ascension. Others say that the expression, “above five hundred,” means, “more than five hundred.”
“Of whom the greater part remain until now.” Thus, “though I relate events of old,” saith he, “yet have I living witnesses.” “But some are fallen asleep.” He said not, “are dead,” but, “are fallen asleep,” by this expression also again confirming the resurrection. “After that, He was seen of James.” I suppose, His brother. For the Lord is said to have Himself ordained him and made him Bishop in Jerusalem first. “Then to all the apostles.” For there were also other apostles, as the seventy.
“And last of all he appeared unto me also, as unto one born out of due time.” This is rather an expression of modesty than any thing else. For not because he was the least, therefore did he appear to him after the rest. Since even if He did call him last, yet he appeared more illustrious than many which were before him, yea rather than all. And the five hundred brethren too were not surely better than James, because He appeared to them before him.
Why did He not appear to all at the same time? That He might first sow the seeds of faith. For he that saw Him first and was exactly and fully assured, told it unto the residue: then their report coming first placed the hearer in expectation of this great wonder, and made way before for the faith of sight. Therefore neither did He appear to all together, nor in the beginning to many, but to one alone first, and him the leader of the whole company and the most faithful: since indeed there was great need of a most faithful soul to be first to receive this sight. For those who saw him after others had seen him, and heard it from them, had in their testimony what contributed in no small degree to their own faith and tended to prepare their mind beforehand; but he who was first counted worthy to see Him, had need, as I have said, of great faith, not to be confounded by a sight so contrary to expectation. Therefore he appears to Peter first. For he that first confessed Him to be Christ was justly also counted worthy first to behold His resurrection. And not on this account alone doth He appear to him first, but also because he had denied Him, more abundantly to comfort him and to signify that he is not despaired of, before the rest He vouchsafed him even this sight and to him first entrusted His sheep. Therefore also He appeared to the women first. Because this sex was made inferior, therefore both in His birth and in His resurrection this first tastes of His grace.
But after Peter, He appears also to each at intervals, and at one time to fewer, at another to more, hereby making them witnesses and teachers of each other, and rendering His apostles trustworthy in all that they said.
[6.] “And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared to me also.” What mean here his expressions of humility, or wherein are they seasonable? For if he wishes to show himself worthy of credit and to enrol himself among the witnesses of the resurrection, he is doing the contrary of what he wishes: since it were meet that he exalt himself and show that he was great, which in many places he doth, the occasion calling for it. Well, the very reason why he here also speaks modestly is his being about to do this. Not straightway, however, but with his own peculiar good sense: in that having first spoken modestly and heaped up against himself many charges, he then magnifies the things concerning himself. What may the reason be? That, when he comes to utter that great and lofty expression concerning himself, “I labored more abundantly than all,” his discourse may be rendered more acceptable, both hereby, and by its being spoken as a consequence of what went before and not as a leading topic. Therefore also writing to Timothy, and intending to say great things concerning himself, he first sets down his charges against himself. For so all persons, when speaking in high terms of others, speak out freely and with boldness: but he that is compelled to praise himself, and especially when he also calls himself to witness, is disconcerted and blushes. Therefore also this blessed man first declares his own misery, and then utters that lofty expression. This then he doth, partly to abate the offensiveness of speaking about himself, and partly that he might hereby recommend to their belief what he had to say afterwards. For he that truly states what things are discreditable to him and conceals none of them, such as that he persecuted the Church, that he laid waste the faith, doth hereby cause the things that are honorable to him also to be above suspicion.
3805 And consider the exceeding greatness of his humility. For having said, “and last of all He appeared to me also,” he was not content with this: “For many that are last shall be first,” saith He, “and the first last.” (Mt 20,16) Therefore he added, “as unto one born out of due time.” Neither did he stop here, but adds also his own judgment and with a reason, saying,
1Co 15,9. “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.”
And he said not, of the twelve alone, but also of all the other apostles. And all these things he spake, both as one speaking modestly and because he was really so disposed as I said, making arrangements also beforehand for what was intended to be spoken and rendering it more acceptable. For had he come forward and said, “Ye ought to believe me that Christ rose from the dead; for I saw Him and of all I am the most worthy of credit, inasmuch as I have labored more,” the expression might have offended the hearers: but now by first dwelling on the humiliating topics and those which involve accusation, he both took off what might be grating in such a narrative, and prepared the way for their belief in his testimony.
On this account therefore neither doth he simply, as I said, declare himself to be the last and unworthy of the appellation of an apostle, but also states the reason, saying, “because I persecuted the Church.” And yet all those things were forgiven, but nevertheless he himself never for got them, desiring to signify the greatness of God’s favor: wherefore also he goes on to say,
[7.] 1Co 15,10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Seest thou again another excess of humility? in that the defects he imputes to himself, but of the good deeds nothing; rather he refers all to God. Next, lest he might hereby render his hearer supine, he saith, “And His grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain.” And this again with reserve: in that he said! not, “I have displayed a diligence worthy of His grace,” but, “it was not found vain.”
“But I labored more abundantly than they all.” He said not, “I was honored,” but, “I labored;” and when he had perils and deaths to speak of, by the name of labor he again abates his expression.
Then again practicing his wonted humility, this also he speedily passes by and refers the whole to God, saying, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” What can be more admirable than such a soul? who having in so many ways depressed himself and uttered but one lofty word, not even this doth he call his own; on every side finding ways, both from the former things and from them that follow after, to contract this lofty expression, and that because it was of necessity that he came to it.
But consider how he abounds in the expressions of humility. For so, “to me last of all He appeared,” saith he. Wherefore neither doth he with himself mention any other, and saith, “as of one born out of due time,” and that himself is “the least of the apostles,” and not even worthy of this appellation. And he was not content even with these, but that he might not seem in mere words to be humble-minded, he states both reasons and proofs: of his being “one born out of due time,” his seeing Jesus last; and of his being unworthy even of the name of an apostle, “his persecuting the Church.” For he that is simply humble-minded doeth not this: but he that also sets down the reasons utters all from a contrite mind. Wherefore also he elsewhere makes mention of these same things, saying, “And I thank him that enabled me; even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that He counted me faithful, appointing the to his service, though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.” (1Tm 1,12-13)
But wherefore did he utter at all that same lofty expression, “I labored more abundantly than they?” He saw that the occasion compelled him. For had he not said this, had he only depreciated himself, how could he with boldness call himself to witness, and number himself with the rest, and say,
1Co 15,11. “Whether then it be I or they, so we preach.”
For the witness ought to be trustworthy, and a great man. But how he “labored more abundantly than they,” he indicated above, saying, “Have we no right to eat and to drink, as also the other Apostles?” And again, “to them that are without law as without law.” Thus, both where exactness was to be displayed, he overshot all: and where there was need to condescend, he displayed again the same great superiority.
But some cite his being sent to the Gentiles and his overrunning the larger part of the world. Whence it is evident that he enjoyed moregrace. For if he labored more, the grace was also more: but he enjoyed more grace, because he displayed also more diligence. Seest thou how by those particulars whereby he contends and strives to throw into shade the things concerning himself, he is shown to be first of all?
3806 [8.] And these things when we hear, let us also make open show of our defects, but of our excellencies let us say nothing. Or if the opportunity force it upon us, let us speak of them with reserve and impute the whole to God’s grace: which accordingly the Apostle also doth, ever and anon putting a bad mark upon his former life, but his after-state imputing to grace, that he might signify the mercy of God from every circumstance: from His having saved him such as he was and when saved making him again such as he is. Let none accordingly of those who are in sin despair, let none of those in virtue be confident, but let the one be exceeding fearful and the other forward. For neither shall any slothful man be able to abide in virtue, nor one that is diligent be weak to escape from evil. And of both these the blessed David is an example, who after he slumbered a little, had a great downfall: and when he was pricked in his heart, again hastened up to his former height. Since in fact both are alike evils, both despair and slothfulness; the one quickly casting a man down from the very arch of the heavens; the other not suffering the fallen to rise again. Wherefore with respect to the one, Paul said, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall:” (1Co 10,12) but unto the other, “To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts: (He 4,7) and again, “Lift up the hands that hang down and the palsied knees.” (He 12,12) And him too that had committed fornication but repented, he therefore quickly refreshes, “that such an one might not be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow?” (2Co 2,7)
Why then in regard of other griefs art thou cast down, O man? Since if for sins, where only grief is beneficial, excess works much mischief, much more for all other things. For wherefore grievest thou? That thou hast lost money? Nay, think of those that are not even filled with bread, and thou shalt very speedily obtain consolation. And in each of the things that are grievous to thee mourn not the things that have happened, but for the disasters that have not happened give thanks. Hadst thou money and didst: thou lose it? Weep not for the loss, but give thanks for the time when thou didst enjoy it. Say like Job, “Have we received good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” (Jb 2,10) And together with that use this argument also; that even if thou didst lose thy money, yet thy body thou hast still sound and hast not with thy poverty to grieve that it also is maimed. But hath thy body too endured some outrage? Yet is not this the bottom of human calamities, but in the middle of the cask thou art as yet carried along. For many along with poverty and maiming, both wrestle with a demon and wander in deserts: others again endure other things more grievous than these. For may it never be our lot to suffer all that it is possible for one to bear.
These things then ever considering, bear in mind them that suffer worse, and be vexed at none of those things: but when thou sinnest, only then sigh, then weep; I forbid thee not, nay I enjoin thee rather; though even then with moderation, remembering that there is returning, there is reconciliation. But seest thou others in luxury and thyself in poverty: and another in goodly robes, and in preeminence? Look not however on these things alone, but also on the miseries that arise out of these. And in thy poverty too, consider not the beggary alone, but the pleasure also thence arising do thou take into account. For wealth hath indeed a cheerful mask, but its inward parts are full of gloom; and poverty the reverse. And shouldest thou unfold each man’s conscience, in the soul of the poor thou wilt see great security and freedom: but in that of the rich, confusions, disorders, tempests. And if thou grievest, seeing him rich, he too is vexed much more than thou when he beholds one richer than himself. And as thou fearest him, even so doth he another, and he hath no advantage over thee in this. But thou art vexed to see him in office, because thou art in a private station and one of the governed. Recollect however the day of his ceasing to hold office. And even before that day the tumults, the perils, the fatigues, the flatteries, the sleepless nights, and all the miseries.
3807 [9.] And these things we say to those who have no mind for high morality: since if thou knowest this, there are other and greater things whereby we may comfort thee: but for the present we must use the coarser topics to argue with thee. When therefore thou seest one that is rich, think of him that is richer than he, and thou wilt see him in the same condition with thyself. And after him look also on him that is poorer than thyself, consider how many have gone to bed hungry, and have lost their patrimony, and live in a dungeon, and pray for death every day. For neither doth poverty breed sadness, nor wealth pleasure, but both the one and the other our own thoughts are wont to produce in us. And consider, beginning from beneath: the scavenger grieves and is vexed that he cannot be rid of this his business so wretched and esteemed so disgraceful: but if thou rid him of this, and cause him, with security, to have plenty of the necessaries of life, he will grieve again that he hath not more than he wants: and if thou grant him more, he will wish to trouble them again, and will therefore vex himself no less than before: and if thou grant him twofold or threefold, he will be out of heart again because he hath no part in the state: and if you provide him with this also, he will count himself wretched because he is not one of the highest officers of state. And when he hath obtained this honor, he will mourn that he is not a ruler; and when he shall be ruler, that it is not of a whole nation; and when of a whole nation, that it is not of many nations; and when of many nations, that it is not of all. When he becomes a deputy, he will vex himself again that he is not a king; and if a king, that he is not so alone; and if alone, that he is not also of barbarous nations; and if of barbarous nations, that he is not of the whole world even: and if of the whole world, why not likewise of another world? And so his course of thought going on without end does not suffer him ever to be pleased. Seest thou, how even if from being mean and poor thou shouldest make a man a king, thou dost not remove his dejection, without first correcting his turn of thought, enamored as it is of having more?
Come, let me show thee the contrary too, that even if from a higher station thou shouldest bring down to a lower one him that hath consideration, thou wilt not cast him into dejection and grief. And if thou wilt, let us descend the same ladder, and do thou bring down the satrap from his throne and in supposition deprive him of that dignity. I say that he will not on this account vex himself, if he choose to bear in mind the things of which I have spoken. For he will not reckon up the things of which he hath been deprived, but what he hath still, the glory arising from his office. But if thou take away this also, he will reckon up them who are in private stations and have never ascended to such sway, and for consolation his riches will suffice him. And if thou also cast him out again from this, he will look to them that have a moderate estate. And if thou shouldest take away even moderate wealth, and shouldest allow him to partake only of necessary food, he may think upon them that have not even this, but wrestle with incessant hunger and live in prison. And even if thou shouldest bring him into that prison-house, when he reflects on them that lie under incurable diseases and irremediable pains, he will see himself to be in much better circumstances. And as the scavenger before mentioned not even on being made a king will reap any cheerfulness, so neither will this man ever vex himself if he become a prisoner. It is not then wealth that is the foundation of pleasure, nor poverty of sadness, but our own judgment, and the fact, that the eyes of our mind are not pure, nor are fixed anywhere and abide, but without limit flutter abroad. And as healthy bodies, if they be nourished with bread alone, are in good and vigorous condition: but those that are sickly, even if they enjoy a plentiful and varied diet, become so much the weaker; so also it is wont to happen in regard of the soul. The mean spirited, not even in a diadem and unspeakable honors can be happy: but the denying, even in bonds and fetters and poverty, will enjoy a pure pleasure.
[10.] These things then bearing in mind, let us ever look to them that are beneath us. There is indeed, I grant, another consolation, but of a high strain in morality, and mounting above the grossness of the multitude. What is this? That wealth is naught, poverty is naught, disgrace is naught, honor is naught, but for a brief time and only in words do they differ from each other. And along with this there is another soothing topic also, greater than it; the consideration of the things to come, both evil and good, the things which are really evil and really good, and the being comforted by them. But since many, as I said, stand aloof from these doctrines, therefore were we compelled to dwell on other topics, that in course we might lead on to them the receivers of what had been said before.
Chrysostom on 1Cor 3700