Chrysostom Philippians


Volume XIII


St. Chrysostom as a Homilist.

By the American Editor of the Homilies on Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians


These Homilies are often less complete in exposition than those on earlier books of the New Testament, and in literary excellence will not compare with the Homilies on the Statues, and many other discourses given at Antioch. But to the student of preaching, they are quite as instructive, if not really more so. Here at Constantinople the great preacher was burdened with administrative details, and harassed by Court intrigues, so that his sermons were often given with far less than his earlier careful preparation, and seem to have been generally left afterwards to the mercy of shorthand reporters, and of editors who sent them forth when he was in banishment or in the grave. Any minister who has winced to see an unwritten sermon or other address of his own in the morning paper, with the accumulated and interlaced mistakes of reporter, compositor, and proof-corrector, can sympathize with the situation. But in fact the preacher thus appears in undress, and his methods may be in some respects the subject of a more profitable inspection. You see the sermon in about as imperfect, and sometimes distorted, a condition as it is seen in the actual delivery by many of the congregation. You see the frequent questions, the abrupt turns of phrase, the multiplied repetitions, by which a skilled and sympathetic preacher, keenly watching his audience, strives to retain attention and to insure a more general comprehension. You are drawn near to him, and almost stand by his side.

(John of the Golden Mouth is, upon the whole, our very best example,—most richly instructive and fruitfully inspiring,—in respect of expository preaching, which is of late beginning to be more highly valued and more frequently attempted in our country than ever before. We have many good models in Scotland, some in England, and a few at home. Nor should the student ever forget Luther, or fail to profit by the peculiar methods of some recent Germans; but one who is reasonably endowed with historical sympathy can learn most from Chrysostom. The study of an ancient preacher is in this respect like the study of the Greek and Latin classics, that it demands sympathy with ideas and persons far away from ourselves, thus broadening the intellect, invigorating the imagination, and deepening in us a true feeling for all that is human. One who is at first without interest in Chrysostom, perhaps even repelled by the extravagant expressions, the heaped-up imagery, the frequent bad taste (at least, according to our standards), of this eminently representative Asiatic Greek, is precisely the man that ought to read Chrysostom, if he wishes to educate himself in the broadest and highest sense. Study the great preacher till you can thoroughly appreciate and heartily enjoy him. This will be much aided, of course, by reading a biography, as that by Stephens, or the long article in Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Biography, or the introductory biographical sketch in the ninth volume of this series. You very soon find that he is profoundly in earnest, and all alive. Christianity is with him a living reality. He dwells always in its presence and companionship. We may discern what seem to us grave errors of doctrinal opinion, but we feel the quickening pulses of genuine Christian love and zeal. And how fully he sympathizes with his hearers! He thoroughly knows them, ardently loves them, has a like temperament, shares not a little in the faults of his age and his race, as must always be the case with a truly inspiring orator or poet. Even when severely rebuking, when blazing with indignation, he never seems alien, never stands aloof, but throws himself among them, in a very transport of desire to check, and rescue, and save. Is there, indeed, any preacher, ancient or modern, who in these respects equals Jn Chrysostom?

His homilies are not directly a model for us, as regards the construction of discourse. The early Christians disliked to hear, or make, a smoothly symmetrical and elegantly finished oration like those of the secular orators. They wished for familiar and free addresses, such as we call a prayer-meeting talk; and this was precisely the meaning of their words “homily” and “sermon.” The preacher took up his passage of Scripture—usually somewhat extended—in a familiar way, sentence by sentence, with explanations and remarks, as he saw occasion; sometimes we find Chrysostom actually returning to go over the passage again, that it may suggest further remarks. At length, he would be apt to seize upon some topic of doctrine or practice which the text had directly or remotely suggested, and discuss that by way of conclusion, not infrequently wandering far off into the thoughts which one after another occurred. Now, modern taste requires much more system and symmetry in building a discourse. The Schoolmen taught their pupils to analyze and arrange,1 and modern preaching has taken the corresponding form, for good and for ill. An expository sermon of to-day must be much more systematic in its explanations, and much more regular in its entire construction, than those of the ancient preachers. Admirable models in this direction are furnished in Scotland. But while conforming to modern taste as to structure, one may learn much, very much, from the preachers of the early centuries, especially from Chrysostom, in respect of freedom, versatility, and skill in practical application. The modern careful preparation and orderly arrangement, combined (mutatis mutandis) with the ancient freedom and directness, and reduced to harmony and vital symmetry by zealous practice, might constitute the best type of expository preaching.

And it may be repeated that Chrysostom is not least helpful in these expository talks on the shorter epistles of Paul. Though often appearing fragmentary, they lay bare his habitual processes and reveal his most vigorous powers, and are not wanting in passages that burst into passion or shine in splendor.

Their value is increased rather than lessened for thoughtful readers by the restoration of the true text. The Oxford translation of the Homilies on these Epistles was published (1843) before the appearance of the corresponding volume of Field’s critical edition of the Greek text (1855). The translation was based, for Philippians, on the edition of Chrysostom’s Works by the English scholar Savile (1612), with some comparison of the Benedictine edition by Montfaucon (1718), and the Paris or Second Benedictine edition (1834-1839); and for Colossians and Thessalonians, on the Paris edition, with comparison of Savile. There was also occasional use of some collations from one ms. for Philippians, and one or two more for Thessalonians. Field has pointed out that the Benedictine and the Paris, and other editions, including that of Migne (1863), really followed, with slight alteration, the text of Savile. But the earliest edition of Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Epistles of Paul, published at Verona in 1529, presents a very different text; and Field’s careful study of collations from four mss. for Philippians, six for Colossians, and five for Thessalonians, together with the Catena, satisfied him that the Verona edition had in general given the true text, and he has reproduced it, with such alterations as the mss. generally agreeing with it appeared, in his judgment, to require. The American editor was at first inclined to think that Field had been unduly influenced by the Catena, which would naturally abridge its extracts, particularly in drawing from an author so efflorescent and repetitious as Chrysostom, and which had often appeared to do so when he was studying it throughout the Gospel of Matthew. But after going through Philippians with the construction of a composite text, which was felt to be inconsistent and unsatisfactory, like that of the Oxford translator and that of Migne, the editor was not far advanced in Colossians before he saw clearly that the Verona text as rewrought by Field was, beyond question, generally correct and greatly to be preferred. Accordingly the whole of this portion, Philippians as well as the rest, has been conformed to Field’s text, except in occasional passages, where Field’s own mss. were thought to indicate otherwise, and these have been pointed out in the foot-notes if they possessed the least importance. The foot-notes also present some few specimens of the numerous enlargements and explanatory changes or transitional additions by which the altered text printed by Savile and his followers sought to piece out and smooth into literary propriety the rough, fragmentary, and sometimes obscure expressions of the true text.2 It was only when nearly all this work had been done that the editor observed that some other portions of the Oxford translation were originally based on Field’s text, which for those portions had appeared in time for the purpose. Thus his part of the work has in fact become assimilated to the American edition for Matthew, and for Ac and Romans.

The translation of the Oxford edition shows general excellence, and frequent felicity of English expression. Besides the numerous cases of differences in text, the translation has been altered where the syntax seemed to be misunderstood, where the passion for variety of rendering (as often in the common or authorized English version of the Bible) had obscured the verbal connection of passages, &c. It is possible that the American editor, in his love for Chrysostom’s freedom and downrightness, has sometimes gone to the opposite extreme from that of the translators in England, and become too baldly literal.

The foot-notes in square brackets are from the editor. The others are from the Oxford translators, being retained except where they were superseded by the change of text or of translation, or for some other reason appeared to be no longer useful. Their references to other volumes of the Oxford edition have been conformed in the paging to the American edition for Matthew, Acts, and Romans, and the Statues; elsewhere the pages were simply omitted.—J. A. B.

1 How this came about, the editor has sought to explain in his “Lectures on the History of Preaching” (New York, Armstrong), p. 103 f).
2 Persons interested in text-criticism may care to know that Field’s volume for the Homilies on these Epistles, with a digest of various readings, would strikingly illustrate for them, in different material, the scientific principles and methods of Westcott and Hort. In the Homilies on Colossians they will find (out of six mss. collated for Field, viz., A b.c. D E H), a well-marked and singularly uniform group of three, viz., b.c. H, presenting the peculiarities of the altered text, adopted in many passages by Savile and followers, but in many others not adopted. The “internal evidence of groups,” as described by Westcott and Hort in vol. ii., Schaff’s Companion to the Bible, or Warfield’s Textual Criticism, may be here applied with great ease and assured results. In Thessalonians (out of five mss., b.c. I K L) B and C are the same documents as before, but C here presents marked differences of text. B K, with or without one or two other mss., will be found very generally wrong, with the peculiarities of the altered text. C sometimes joins them, but oftener stands aloof, frequently uniting with I or L in giving the true text, and sometimes standing alone for the right. In Philippians (out of four mss., C E F G) C G will quite frequently give the altered text, but there is not such uniformity as in the Homilies on the other Epistles. It may be added that (as Field also remarks) the alterations throughout the Homilies on these Epistles show a marked family likeness, and doubtless came from the same early critical editor, who, however, altered much more freely in some Homilies (as on Philippians) than in others (as on 2 Thess).. The altered text sometimes places Chrysostom among the supporters of a “Syrian” reading of the New Testament, where his real text is not so, but the instances observed in these Homilies are not so numerous as to affect his general position. It is to be hoped that other mss. of Chrysostom will be collated, and more complete materials be at hand for future critics to settle details now remaining uncertain, and perhaps to throw light on the origin of the altered or Savilian text; but the superiority of the Verona type, as given by Field, is not at all likely to be ever again otherwise than clear and assured.


Preface £[to the Oxford Ed.]

8 The present Volume completes the commentaries of St. Chrysostom on the shorter Epistles of St. Paul. It consists entirely of Homilies delivered at Constantinople, and one may perhaps remark some indications of a more matured and severe character than in earlier works. He refers several times to his responsibility as presiding in the Church, and sometimes threatens discipline as in that capacity, and from this it is that the date of the Homilies is chiefly to be gathered. The end of Hom. 9,on the Philippians, is sufficient for those Homilies. The close of Hom. 3,on Colossians, is still more express for them. Hom. 8,on 1 Thessalonians, and Hom. 4,on 2 Thessalonians, are to the like purpose.

Hom. 8,on 1 Thessalonians, seems also to be that which is referred to in Hom. 3,on Ep. to Philemon, as it contains a promise to discuss at some future time the subject there taken up.

Ph 2,6 Col 1,15), &c. give rise to doctrinal discussions. The readiness in argument, which they suppose in hearers, is greater than one would expect. Hom. 5,on Colossians goes farther into the system of typical interpretation than is usual with St. Chrysostom; though the system is in fact acknowledged by him frequently, as in the passage on marriage, which closes the Homilies on the Colossians, and which, though scarcely admissible in modern taste, is one of great value, and of a saintly purity. The close of Hom. 4,on Colossians is most instructive with regard to the use of the Historical Books of the Old Testament, and Hom. 9,points out one great use of the Psalms, for moral impression, and at the same time draws the necessary distinction between that and the higher aim of Hymns. In these Homilies he is particularly severe on luxury and display, by his attacks on which he is known to have incurred the displeasure of the Empress Eudoxia, and much persecution from her.

A passage on the Holy Sacraments at the end of Hom. 6,on Colossians, one on Prayers for the departed in Hom. 3,on Philippians, and one in which he urges persons at enmity to immediate reconciliation, Hom. vi. on 1 Thessalonians, as well as that in Hom. 3,in Colossians, on unworthiness of Ministers, and several hints that occur about the order of Divine service, are well worthy of remark.

Savile’s text, with some comparison of others, was used for the Homilies on the Philippians, and that of the new Paris Edition, with Savile always at hand, for the rest. Collations of one ms. in British Museum (Burney 48 here marked B [called C by Field]) were also in hand, but those of mss. at Venice and Florence came too late for part of the work. The want of them is not however very material. The Bodleian ms. referred to, as well as the Catena published by Dr. Cramer, contain only extracts. It is hoped that the Homilies on 2Co will have the benefit of a well-adjusted text before the Translation is published, as they are preparing for publication by Mr. Field, whom the Editor has to thank for information on some particulars, as well as for the benefit of having his accurate edition of the Homilies on St. Matthew to refer to.

For the Translation of the Homilies on the Philippians, the Editors are indebted to the Ap W. C). Cotton, M.A. of Ch. Ch. Chaplain to the Bishop of New Zealand; for that of the Homilies on the Colossians, to the Ap J). Ashworth, M.A. Fellow of Brasenose College; and for the rest of the volume, to the Ap James Tweed, M.A. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the Translator of the Homilies on the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul. The Index to the two former is by the Rev. F). Bowles, M.A. of Exeter College, and to the latter by the Editor, which is noticed in order that the reader may find the less difficulty from any difference in the heads under which similar matter may be placed, as the two were made simultaneously to save time.

A few points on which the Editor was not informed until the sheets were printed are noticed in the Addenda and Corrigenda. [In the Amer. ed. these are inserted in their proper places. For the text followed in Amer. ed., see Preface at the beginning of the volume.]

C. M.

Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians

The Oxford Translation Revised, with Additional Notes, By

(Ap Jn a. Broadus, D.D.

President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

Introductory Discourse.

100 The Philippians are of a city in Macedonia, a city that is a colony, as Lc saith. Here that seller of purple was converted, a woman of uncommon piety and heedfulness. Here the ruler of the synagogue1 believed. Here was Paul scourged with Silas. Here the magistrates requested them to depart, and were afraid of them, and the preaching had an illustrious commencement. And he bears them many and high testimonies himself, calling them his own crown, and saying they had suffered much. For, “To you,” he saith, “it hath been granted of God,2 not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf.” (Ph 1,29). But when he wrote to them, it happened that he was in bonds. Therefore he says, “So that my bonds became manifest in Christ in the whole praetorium,” calling the palace of Nero the praetorium.3 But he was bound and let go again,4 and this he showed to Timothy by saying, “At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.” (2Tm 4,16). He speaks of the bonds then in which he was before that defence. For that Timothy was not present then, is evident: for, “At my first defence,” he says, “no man took my part”; and this, by writing, he was making known to him. He would not then, had he already known it, have written thus to him. But when he wrote this epistle, Timothy was with him. And he shows it by what he says: “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you.” (Ph 2,19). And again, “Him I hope to send forthwith so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.” For he was loosed from his bonds and again bound after he had been to them. But if he saith, “Yea, and I am5 offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,” it is not as though this were now come to pass, but as much as to say, “and whenever this takes place I am glad,” raising them from their dejection at his bonds. For that he was not about to die at that time is plain from what he saith: “But I hope6 in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly unto you.” (Ph 2,24). And again, “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all.”

2. But the Philippians had sent to him Epaphroditus, to carry him money, and to know the things concerning him, for they were most lovingly disposed toward him. For that they sent, hear himself, saying, “I have all things, and abound; I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you.” At the same time they sent to know this. For that they sent also to know this he shows at once in the beginning of the epistle, writing of his own matters, and saying, “But I would have you know that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Gospel.” (Ph 1,12). And again, “I hope to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort when I know your state.” This, “that I also,” is as if he meant “as you for full assurance sent to know the things concerning me, so ‘I also,’ that I may be of good comfort when I know the things concerning you.” Since then they had also been a long time without sending7 (for this he proves by saying, “Now at length you have revived your thought for me”) (Ph 4,10), and then they heard that he was in bonds (Ph 2,26); for if they heard about Epaphroditus, that he was sick, he being no such very remarkable person as Paul was, much more did they hear about Paul, and it was reasonable that they should be disturbed; therefore, in the opening of the epistle he offers them much consolation about his bonds, showing that they should not merely not be disturbed, but even rejoice. Then he gives them counsel about unanimity and humility, teaching them that this was their greatest safety, and that so they could easily overcome their enemies. For it is not being in bonds that is painful to your teachers, but their disciples not being of one mind. For the former brings even furtherance to the Gospel, but the latter distracts.

2 3. So then after admonishing them to be of one mind, and showing that unanimity comes of humility, and then aiming a shaft at those Jews who were everywhere corrupting the doctrine under a show of Christianity, and calling them “dogs” and “evil workers” (Ph 3,2)., and giving admonition to keep away from them, and teaching to whom it is right to attend, and discoursing at length on moral points, and bringing them to order, and recalling them to themselves,by saying, “The Lord is at hand” (Ph 4,5), he makes mention also, with his usual wisdom, of what had been sent, and then offers them abundant consolation. But he appears in writing to be doing them special honor, and never in any place writes any thing of reproof, which is a proof of their virtue, in that they gave no occasion to their teacher, and that he has written to them not in the way of rebuke, but throughout in the way of encouragement. And as I said also at first, this city showed great readiness for the faith; inasmuch as the very jailor, (and you know it is a business full of all wickedness,) at once, upon one miracle, both ran to them, and was baptized with all his house. For the miracle that took place he saw alone, but the gain he reaped not alone, but jointly with his wife and all his house. Nay, even the magistrates who scourged him seem to have done this I rather of sudden impulse than out of wickedness, both from their sending at once to let him go, and from their being afterwards afraid. And he bears testimony to them not only in faith, or in perils, but also in well-doing, where he says, “That even in the beginning of the Gospel, ye sent once and again unto my need” (Ph 4,15-16), when no one else did so; for he says, “no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving”; and that their intermission had been rather from lack of opportunity than from choice, saying, “Not that ye took no thought for me, but ye lacked opportunity.” (Ph 4,10). Let us also, knowing these things, and having so many patterns, and the love that he bore them—for that he loved them greatly appears in his saving, “For I have no man like minded, who will care truly for your state” (Ph 2,20).; and again, “Because I have you in my heart, and in my bonds,”—

3 4. let us also, knowing these things, show ourselves worthy of such examples, by being ready to suffer for Christ.8 But now the persecution is no more. So then, if there is nothing else, let us imitate their earnestness in well doing, and not think, if we have given once or twice, that we have fulfilled all. For we must do this through our whole life. For it is not once that we have to please God, but constantly. The racer, if, after running even ten heats, he leave the remaining one undone, has lost all; and we, if we begin with good works, and afterward faint, have lost all, have spoiled all. Listen to that profitable admonition that saith, “Let not mercy9 and truth forsake thee.” (Pr 3,3). He saith not do so once, nor the second time, nor the third, nor the tenth, nor the hundredth, but continually: “let them not forsake thee.” And he did not say, Do not forsake them, but, “Let them not forsake thee,” showing that we are in need of them, and not they of us; and teaching us that we ought to make every effort to keep them with us. And “bind them,” saith he, “about thy neck.” For as the children of the wealthy have an ornament of gold about their neck, and never put it off, because it exhibits a token of their high birth, so should we too wear mercy ever about us, showing that we are children of the compassionate one, “who makes the sun to rise upon the evil and the good” (Mt 5,45). “But the unbelievers,” you say, “do not believe it.” I say then, hereby shall they believe, if we do these works. If they see that we take pity on all, and are enrolled under Him for our Teacher, they will know that it is in imitation of Him that we so act. For “mercy,” it says, “and true faith.” 10 He well said “true.” For He willeth it not to be of rapine or fraud. For this were not “faith”; this were not “truth.” For he that plundereth must lie and forswear himself. So do not thou, saith he, but have faith with thy mercy.

Let us put on this ornament. Let us make a golden chain for our soul, of mercy I mean, while we are here. For if this age 11 pass, we can use it no longer. And why? There there are no poor, There there are no riches, no more want There. While we are children, let us not rob ourselves of this ornament. For as with children, if they become men, these are taken away, and they are advanced to other adornment; so too is it with us. There will be no more alms by money, but other and far nobler. 12 Let us not then deprive ourselves of this! Let us make our soul appear beautiful! Great is alms, beautiful, and honorable, great is that gift, but greater is goodness. If we learn to despise riches, we shall learn other things besides. For behold how many good things spring from hence! He that giveth alms, as he ought to give, learns to despise wealth. He that has learned to despise wealth has cut up the root of evils. So that he does not do a greater good than he receives, not merely in that there is a due recompense and a requital for alms, but also in that his soul becomes philosophic, and elevated, and rich. He that gives alms is instructed not to admire riches or gold. And this lesson once fixed in his mind, he has gotten a great step toward mounting to Heaven, and has cut away ten thousand occasions of strife, and contention, and envy, and dejection. For ye know, ye too know, that all things are done for riches, and unnumbered wars are made for riches. But he that has learned to despise them, has placed himself in a quiet harbor, he no longer fears damage. For this hath alms taught him. He no longer desires what is his neighbor’s; for how should he, that parts with his own, and gives? He no longer envies the rich man; for how should he, that is willing to become poor? He clears the eye of his soul. And these are but here. But hereafter it is not to be told what blessings he shall win. He shall not abide without with the foolish virgins, but shall enter in with those that were wise, together with the Bridegroom, having his lamps bright. And though they have endured hardship in virginity, he that hath not so much as tasted these hardships shall be better than they. Such is the power of Mercy. 13 She brings in her nurslings with much boldness. For she is known to the porters in Heaven, that keep the gates of the Bride-Chamber, and not known only, but reverenced; and those whom she knows to have honored her, she will bring in with much boldness, anti none will gainsay, but all make room. For if she brought God down to earth, and persuaded him to become man, much more shall she be able to raise a man to Heaven; for great is her might. If then 14 from mercy and loving-kindness God became man, and He persuaded Himself to become a servant, much rather will He bring His servants into His own house. Her let us love, on her let us set our affection, not one day, nor two, but all our life long, that she may acknowledge us. If she acknowledge us, the Lord will acknowledge us too. If she disown us, the Lord too will disown us, and will say, “I know you not.” But may it not be ours to hear this voice, but that happy one instead, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mt 25,34). Which may we all obtain, by His grace and lovingkindness, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen).

1 [This reading contains an obvious error, and would be readily altered by students or copyists; and one manuscript gives “keeper of the prison.” Chrysostom not unfrequently makes slips in quoting from memory, as do most preachers. He is here doubtless thinking of Crispus. (Ac 18,8). Below, in paragraph 3, he has it right.—J. A. B.]
2 [All documents for New Testament give “in behalf of Christ.” Chrysostom was quoting from memory.—J. A. B.]
3 [Scholars now generally understand the praetorian camp or the praetorian guard. See Lightfoot here.—J. A. B.]
4 His statement amounts to this, that the present epistle was written in St. Paul’s first imprisonment, when Timothy was with him, for that the second to Timothy was written in a second imprisonment, from which he was only released by martyrdom. The “first defence” belongs to the second imprisonment. Between the two, it is probable that he visited the Philippians, according to his intention.
5 The if is omitted, perhaps in order to put the objection in a strong light.
6 [Correct New Testament text, “trust.”—J. A. B.]
7 [The altered text and most editions add “but had then done it,” through misunderstanding of the rather obscure connection.—J.A.B.]
8 [Such a digressive and awkward sentence is of course smoothed out in the altered text, but is perfectly natural in a freely spoken discourse.—J. A. B.]
9 The same word is here used for “mercy” and “alms.” [And it is quoted from the Sept. in the plural, “mercies,” or “almsgivings.”—J. A. B.]
10 The LXX. have “faith,” probably in the sense of “truth,” which Aquila has, and the Hebrew requires; “true” is added by St. Chrys. to mark this.
11 hJlikiva, which carries on the simile. [He means the age of childhood, when ornaments are a pleasure.—J. A. B.]
12 (He probably refers to the benefits conferred by the Saints on those on earth.
13 [The same Greek word that above is translated “alms.”—J. A. B.]
14 Such a repetition is common with Chrysostom, sometimes perhaps from his own excitement. Here it seems rather meant to temper the warmth of his eloquence, and fix a sober thought).

Homily I. \IPhilippians 1,1, 2.—“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, fellow-Bishops and Deacons: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ph 1,1-7

101 Here, as writing to those of equal honor, he does not set down his rank of Teacher, but another, and that a great one. And what is that? He calls himself a “servant,” and not an Apostle. For great truly is this rank too, and the sum of all good things, to be a servant of Christ, and not merely to be called so. “The servant of Christ,” this is truly a free man in respect to sin, and being a genuine servant, he is not a servant to any other, since he would not be Christ’s servant, but by halves. And in again writing to the Romans also, he says, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” (Rm 1,1). But writing to the Corinthians and to Timothy he calls himself an “Apostle.” On what account then is this? Not because they were superior to Timothy. Far from it. But rather he honors them, and shows them attention, beyond all others to whom he wrote. For he also bears witness to great virtue in them, For besides, there indeed he was about to order many things, and therefore assumed his rank as an Apostle. But here he gives them no injunctions but such as they could perceive of themselves.

“To the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.” Since it was likely that the Jews too would call themselves “saints” from the first oracle, when they were called a “holy people, a people for God’s own possession” (Ex 19,6 Dt 7,6), etc).; for this reason he added, “to the saints in Christ Jesus.” For these alone are holy, and those hence-forward profane. “To the fellow-Bishops and Deacons.” What is this? were there several Bishops of one city? Certainly not; but he called the Presbyters so. For then they still interchanged the titles, and the Bishop was called a Deacon. For this cause in writing to Timothy, he said, “Fulfil thy ministry,” when he was a Bishop. For that he was a Bishop appears by his saying to him, “Lay hands hastily on no man.” (1Tm 5,22). And again, “Which was given thee with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.” (1Tm 4,14). Yet Presbyters would not have laid hands on a Bishop. And again, in writing to Titus, he says, “For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge. If any man is blameless, the husband of one wife” (Tt 1,5-6); which he says of the Bishop. And after saying this, he adds immediately, “For the Bishop must be blameless, as God’s steward, not self willed:” (Tt 1,7). So then, as I said, both the Presbyters were of old called Bishops and Deacons of Christ, and the Bishops Presbyters; and hence even now many Bishops write, “To my fellow-Presbyter,” and, “To my fellow-Deacon.” But otherwise the specific name is distinctly appropriated to each, the Bishop and the Presbyter. “To the fellow-Bishops,” he says, "and Deacons,

Ph 1,2. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How is it that though he nowhere else writes to the Clergy, not in Rome, nor in Corinth, nor in Ephesus, nor anywhere, but in general, to “all the saints, the believers, the beloved,” yet here he writes to the Clergy? Because it was they that sent, and bare fruit, and it was they that dispatched Epaphroditus to him.

Ph 1,3. “I thank my God,” he says, “upon all my remembrance of you.”

(He said in another of his writings, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief.” (He 13,17). If then the “grief” be due to the wickedness of the disciples, the doing it “with joy” would be due to their advancement. As often as I remember you, I glorify God. But this he does from his being conscious of many good things in them. I both glorify, he says, and pray. I do not, because ye have advanced unto virtue, cease praying for you. But “I thank my God,” he says, “upon all my remembrance of you,”

Ph 1,4. “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request also with joy.”

“Always,” not only while I am praying. “With joy.” For it is possible to do this with grief too, as when he says elsewhere, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.” (2Co 2,4).

Ph 1,5. “For your fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel from the first day even until now.”

102 Great is that he here witnesseth of them, and very great, and what one might have witnessed of Apostles and Evangelists. Ye did not, because ye were entrusted with one city, he saith, care for that only, but ye leave nothing undone to be sharers of my labors, being everywhere at hand and working with me, and taking part in my preaching. It is not once, or the second, or third time, but always, from the time ye believed until now, ye have assumed the readiness of Apostles. Behold how those indeed that were in Rome turned away from him; for hear him saying, “This thou knowest, that all that are in Asia turned away from me.” (2Tm 1,15). And again, “Demas forsook me”: and “at my first defence no one took my part.” (2Tm 4,10 4,16). But these, although absent, shared in his tribulations, both sending men to him, and ministering to him according to their ability, and leaving out nothing at all. And this ye do not now only, saith he, but always, in every, way assisting me. So then it is a “fellowship in furtherance of the Gospel.” For when one preacheth, and thou waitest on the preacher, thou sharest his crowns. Since even in the contests that are without, the crown is not only for him that striveth, but for the trainer, and the attendant, and all that help to prepare the athlete. For they that strengthen him, and recover him, may fairly participate in his victory. And in wars too, not only he that wins the prize of valor, but all they too that attend him, may fairly claim a share in the trophies, and partake of the glory, as having shared in his conflict by their attendance on him. For it availeth not a little to wait on saints, but very much. For it makes us sharers in the rewards that are laid up for them. Thus; suppose some one hath given up great possessions for God, continually devotes himself to God, practices great virtue, and even to words, and even to thoughts, and even in everything observes extreme strictness. It is open to thee too, even without showing such strictness, to have a share in the rewards that are laid up for him for these things. How? If thou aid him both in word and deed. If thou encourage him both by supplying his needs, and by doing him every possible service. For then the smoother of that rugged path will be thyself. So then if ye admire those in the deserts that have adopted the angelic life, those in the churches that practice the same virtues with them; if ye admire, and are grieved that ye are far behind them; ye may, in another way, share with them, by waiting on them, and aiding them. For indeed this too is of God’s lovingkindness, to bring those that are less zealous, and are not able to undertake the hard and rugged and strict life, to bring, I say, even those, by another way, into the same rank with the others. And this Paul means by “fellowship.” They give a share to us, he means, in carnal things, and we give a share to them in spiritual things. For if God for little and worthless things granteth the kingdom, His servants too, for little and material things, give a share in spiritual things: or rather it is He that giveth both the one and the other by means of them. Thou canst not fast, nor be alone, nor lie on the ground, nor watch all night? Yet mayest thou gain the reward of all these things, if thou go about the matter another way, by attending on him that laboreth in them, and refreshing and anointing him constantly, and lightening the pains of these works. He, for his part, stands fighting and taking blows. Do thou wait on him when he returns from the combat, receive him in thy arms, wipe off the sweat, and refresh him; comfort, soothe, restore his wearied soul. If we will but minister to the saints with such readiness, we shall be partakers of their rewards. This Christ also tells us. “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that they may receive you into their eternal tabernacles.” (Lc 16,9). Seest thou that they are become sharers? “From the first day,” he says, “even until now.” And “I rejoice” not only for what is past, but also for the future; for from the past I guess that too.

Ph 1,6. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

103 See how he also teaches them to be unassuming. For since he had witnessed a great thing of them, that they may not feel as men are apt to do, he presently teaches them to refer both the past and the future to Christ. How? By saying, not, “Being confident that as ye began ye will also finish,” but what? “He which began a good work in you will perfect it.” He did not rob them of the achievement, (for he said, “I rejoice for your fellowship,” clearly as if making it their act,) nor did he call their good deeds solely their own, but primarily of God. “For I am confident,” saith he, “that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is, God will. And it is not about yourselves, he implies, but about those descending from you that I feel thus. And indeed it is no small praise, that God should work in one. For if He is “no respecter of persons,” as indeed He is none, but is looking to our purpose when He aids us in good deeds, it is evident that we are agents in drawing Him to us; so that even in this view he did not rob them of their praise. Since if His in working were indiscriminate, there would have been nothing to hinder but that even Heathens and all men might have Him working in them, that is, if He moved us like logs and stones, and required not our part. So that in saying “God will perfect it,” this also again is made their praise, who have drawn to them the grace of God, so that He aids them in going beyond human nature. And in another way also a praise, as that “such are your good deeds that they cannot be of man, but require the divine impulse.” But if God will perfect, then neither shall there be much labor, but it is right to be of good courage, for that they shall easily accomplish all, as being assisted by Him.

Ph 1,7. “Even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.”

Greatly still does he show here his longing desire, in that he had them in his heart; and in the very prison, and though bound, he remembered the Philippians. And it is not a little to the praise of these men, since it is not of prejudice that this Saint conceived his love, but of judgment, and right reasons. So that to be loved of Paul so earnestly is a proof of one’s being something great and admirable. “And in the defense,” he says, “and confirmation of the Gospel.” And what wonder if he had them when in prison, since not even at the moment of going before the tribunal to make my defense, he says, did ye slip from my memory. For so imperial a thing is spiritual love, that it gives way to no season, but ever keeps hold of the soul of him who loves, and allows no trouble or pain to overcome that soul. For as in the case of the Babylonian furnace, when so vast a flame was raised, it was a dew to those blessed Children. So too does friendship occupying the soul of one who loves, and who pleases God, shake off every flame, and produce a marvelous dew.

“And in the confirmation of the Gospel,” he says. So then his bonds were a confirmation of the Gospel, and a defense. And most truly so. How? For if he had shunned bonds, he might have been thought a deceiver; but he that endures every thing, both bonds and affliction, shows that he suffers this for no human reason, but for God, who rewards. For no one would have been willing to die, or to incur such great risks, no one would have chosen to come into collision with such a king, I mean Nero, unless he looked to another far greater King. Truly a “confirmation of the Gospel” were his bonds. See how he more than succeeded in turning all things to their opposite. For what they supposed to be a weakness and a detraction, that he calls a confirmation; and had this not taken place, there had been a weakness. Then he shows that his love was not of prejudice, but of judgment. Why? I have you (in my heart), he says, in my bonds, and in my defense, because of your being “partakers of my grace.” What is this? Was this the “grace” of the Apostle, to be bound, to be driven about, to suffer ten thousand evils? Yes. For He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Co 12,9). “Wherefore,” saith he, “I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries.” Since then I see you in your actions giving proof of your virtue, and being partakers of this grace, and that with readiness, I reasonably suppose thus much. For I that have had trial of you, and more than any have known you, and your good deeds; how that even when so distant from us, ye strive not to be wanting to as in our troubles, but to partake in our trials for the Gospel’s sake, and to take no less share than myself, who am engaged in the combat, far off as ye are; am doing but justice in witnessing to these things.

And why did he not say “partakers,” but “partakers with me” ? I myself too, he means, share with another, that I may be a partaker of the Gospel; that is, that I may share in the good things laid up for the Gospel. And the wonder indeed is. that they were all so minded; for he says that “ye all are fellow-partakers of grace.” From these beginnings, then, I am confident that such ye will be even to the end. For it cannot be that so bright a commencement should be quenched, and fail, but it points to great results).

104 Since then it is possible also in other ways to partake of grace, and of trials, and of tribulations, let us also, I beseech you, be partakers. How many of those who stand here, yea, rather all, would fain share with Paul in the good things to come! It is in your power if ye are willing, on behalf of those who have succeeded to his ministry, when they suffer any hardship for Christ’s sake, to take their part and succor them. Hast thou seen thy brother in trial? Hold out a hand! Hast thou seen thy teacher in conflict? Stand by him! But, says one, there is no one like Paul! now for disdain! now for criticism! So there is no one like Paul? Well, I grant it. But, “He that receiveth,” saith He, “a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (Mt 10,41). For was it for this that these were honored, that they coöperated with Paul? Not for this, but because they coöperated with one who had undertaken the preaching. Paul was honorable for this, that he suffered these things for Christ’s sake.

There is indeed no one like Paul. No. not even but a little approaching to that blessed one. But the preaching is the same as it was then.

And not only in his bonds did they have fellowship with him, but also from the beginning. For hear him saying, “And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the Gospel, no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only.” (Ph 4,15). And even apart from trials, the teacher has much labor, watching, toiling in the word, teaching, complaints, accusations, imputations, envyings. Is this a little matter, to bear ten thousand tongues, when one might have but one’s own anxieties? Alas! what shall I do? for I am in a strait between two things. I long to urge you on and encourage you to the alliance and succor of the saints of God; but I fear lest some one should suspect another thing, that I say this not for your sakes, but for theirs. But know that it is not for their sakes I say these things, but for your own. And if ye are willing to attend, I convince you by my very words; the gain is not equal to you and to them. For ye, if ye give, will give those things from which, willing or unwilling, ye must soon after part, and give place to others; but what thou receivest is great and far more abundant. Or, are ye not so disposed, that in giving ye will receive? For if ye are not so disposed, I do not even wish you to give. So far am I from making a speech for them! Except one have first I so disposed himself, as receiving rather than giving, as gaining ten thousand fold, as benefited rather than a benefactor, let him not give. If as one granting a favor to the receiver, let him not give. For this is not so much my care, that the saints may be supported. For even if thou give not, another will give. So that what I want is this, that you may have a relief from your own sins. But he that gives not so will have no relief. For it is not giving that is doing alms, but the doing it with readiness; the rejoicing, the feeling grateful to him that receives. For, “not grudgingly,” saith he, “or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2Co 9,7). Except then one so give, let him not give: for that is loss, not alms. If then ye know that ye will gain, not they, know that your gain becomes greater. For as for them the body is fed, but your soul is approved; for them, not one of their sins is forgiven when they receive, but for you, the more part of your offenses is removed. Let us then share with them in their great prizes. When men adopt kings they do not think they give more than they receive. Adopt thou Christ, and thou shalt have great security. Wilt thou also share with Paul? Why do I say Paul when it is Christ that receiveth?

105 But that ye may know that all is for your sakes that I say and do, and not of care for the comfort of others, if there is any of the rulers of the church that lives in abundance and wants nothing, though he be a saint, give not, but prefer to him one that is in want, though he be not so admirable. And wherefore? Because Christ too so willeth, as when He saith, “If thou make a supper or a dinner, call not thy friends, neither thy kinsmen, but the maimed, the lame, the blind, that cannot recompense thee.” (Lc 14,12). For it is not indiscriminately that one should pay such attentions, but to the hungry, but to the thirsty, but to those who need clothing, but to strangers, but to those who from riches have been reduced to poverty. For He said not simply, “I was fed,” but ’I was an hungered," for, “Ye saw me an hungered,” He says, “and fed me.” (Mt 25,35). Twofold is the claim, both that he is a saint and that he is hungry. For if he that is simply hungry ought to be fed, much more when he is a saint too that is hungry. If then he is a saint, but not in need, give not; for this were no gain. For neither did Christ enjoin it; or rather, neither is he a saint that is in abundance and receiveth. Seest thou that it is not for filthy lucre that these things have been said to you, but for your profit? Feed the hungry, that thou mayest not feed the fire of hell. He, eating of what is thine, sanctifies also what remains. (Lc 11,41). Think how the widow maintained Elias; and she did not more feed than she was fed: she did not more give than receive. This now also takes place in a much greater thing. For it is not a “barrel of meal,” nor “a cruse of oil” (1R 17,14), but what? “An hundred fold, and eternal life” (Mt 19,21 19,29), is the recompense for such—the mercy of God thou becomest; the spiritual food; a pure leaven. She was a widow, famine was pressing, and none of these things hindered her. Children too she had, and not even so was she withheld. (1R 17,12). This woman is become equal to her that cast in the two mites. She said not to herself, “What shall I receive from this man? He stands in need of me. If he had any power he had not hungered, he had broken the drought, he had not been subject to like sufferings. Perchance he too offends God.” None of these things did she think of. Seest thou how great a good it is to do well with simplicity, and not to be over curious about the person benefited? If she had chosen to be curious she would have doubted; she would not have believed. So, too, Abraham, if he had chosen to be curious, would not have received angels. For it cannot, indeed it cannot be, that one who is exceeding nice in these matters, should ever meet with them. No, such an one usually lights on impostors; and how that is, I will tell you. The pious man is not desirous to appear pious, and does not clothe himself in show, and is likely to be rejected. But the impostor, as he makes a business of it, puts on a deal of piety that is hard to see through. So that while he who does good, even to those who seem not pious, will fall in with those who are so, he who seeks out those who are thought to be pious, will often fall in with those who are not so. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all things in simplicity. For let us even suppose that he is an impostor that comes; you are not bidden to be curious about this. For, “Give,” saith he, “to every one that asketh thee” (Lc 6,30); and, “Forbear not to redeem him that is to be slain.” (Pr 24,11). Yet most of those that are slain suffer this for some evil they are convicted of; still he saith, “Forbear not.” For in this shall we be like God, thus shall we be admired, and shall obtain those immortal blessings, which may we all be thought worthy of, through the grace and lovingkindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.

Homily II. Philippians 1,8-11.—“For God is my witness, how I long after you all

Chrysostom Philippians