Chrysostom Philippians 1400

Homily XIV. \IPhilippians 4,4-7.—“Rejoice in the Lord alway:

1400 again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts through Christ Jesus.” Ph 4,4-10

1401 “Blessed they that mourn,” and “woe unto them that laugh” (Mt 5,4 Lc 6,25), saith Christ. How then saith Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord alway”? “Woe to them that laugh,” said Christ, the laughter of this world which ariseth from the things which are present He blessed also those that mourn, not simply for the loss of relatives, but those who are pricked at heart, who mourn their own faults, and take count of their own sins, or even those of others. This joy is not contrary to that grief, but from that grief it too is born. For he who grieveth for his own faults, and confesseth them, rejoiceth. Moreover, it is possible to grieve for our own sins, and yet to rejoice in Christ. Since then they were afflicted by their sufferings, “for to you it is given not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Ph 1,29), therefore he saith, “Rejoice in the Lord.” For this can but mean, If you exhibit such a life that you may rejoice. Or when your communion with God is not hindered, rejoice. Or else the word “in” may stand for “with”: as if he had said, with the Lord. “Alway; again I will say, Rejoice.” These are the words of one who brings comfort; as, for example, he who is in God rejoiceth alway. Yea though he be afflicted, yea whatever he may suffer, such a man alway rejoiceth. Hear what Lc saith, that “they returned from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be scourged for His name.” (Ac 5,41). If scourging and bonds, which seem to be the most grievous of all things, bring forth joy, what else will be able to produce grief in us?

“Again I will say, Rejoice.” Well hath he repeated. For since the nature of the things brought forth grief, he shows by repeating, that they should by all means rejoice.

“Let your forbearance be known unto all men.” He said above, “Whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame,” and that they “mind earthly things.” (Ph 3,19). It was probable that they would be at enmity with the wicked; he therefore exhorted them to have nothing in common with them, but to use them with all forbearance, and that not only their brethren, but also their enemies and opposers. “The Lord is at hand, in nothing be anxious.” For why, tell me? do they ever rise in opposition? And if ye see them living in luxury, why are ye in affliction? Already the judgment is nigh; shortly will they give account of their actions. Are ye in affliction, and they in luxury? But these things shall shortly receive their end. Do they plot against you, and threaten you? “In nothing be anxious.” The judgment is already at hand, when these things shall be reversed. “In nothing be anxious.” If ye are kindly affected toward those who prepare evil against you, yet it shall not at last turn out to their profit. Already the recompense is at hand, if poverty, if death, if aught else that is terrible be upon you. “But in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” There is this for one consolation, “the Lord is at hand.” And again, “I will be with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Mt 28,20). Behold another consolation, a medicine which healeth grief, and distress, and all that is painful. And what is this? Prayer, thanksgiving in all things. And so He wills that our prayers should not simply be requests, but thanksgivings too for what we have. For how should he ask for future things, who is not thankful for the past? “But in everything by prayer and supplication.” Wherefore we ought to give thanks for all things, even for those which seem to be grievous, for this is the part of the truly thankful man. In the other case the nature of the things demands it; but this springs from a grateful soul, and one earnestly affected toward God. God acknowledgeth these prayers, but others He knoweth not. Offer up such prayers as may be acknowledged; for He disposeth all things for our profit, though we know it not. And this is a proof that it greatly profiteth, namely, that we know it not. “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” What meaneth this? “The peace of God” which He hath wrought toward men, surpasseth all understanding. For who could have expected, who could have hoped, that such good things would have come? They exceed all man’s understanding, not his speech alone. For His enemies, for those who hated Him, for those who determined to turn themselves away, for these, he refused not to deliver up His Only Begotten Son, that He might make peace with us. This peace then, i.e. the reconciliation, the love of God,

1402 shall guard your hearts and your thoughts.

For this is the part of a teacher, not only to exhort, but also to pray, and to assist by supplication, that they may neither be overwhelmed by temptations, nor carried about by deceit. As if he had said, May He who hath delivered you in such sort as mind cannot comprehend, may He Himself guard yon, and secure you, so that you suffer no ill. Either he means this, or that that peace of which Christ saith, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (
Jn 14,27): this shall guard you, for this peace exceedeth all man’s understanding. How? When he tells us to be at peace with our enemies, with those who treat us unjustly, with those who are at war and enmity toward us; is it not beyond man’s understanding? But rather let us look to the former. If the peace surpasseth all understanding, much more doth God Himself, who giveth peace, pass all understanding, not ours only, but also that of Angels, and the Powers above. What meaneth “in Christ Jesus”? Shall guard us in Him, so that ye may remain firm, and not fall from His faith.

Ph 4,8. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just.” What is “Finally ”? It stands for, “I have said all.” It is not the word of one that is in haste, and has everything to do with present things.“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Ph 4,9. “The things which ye both learned and received, and heard and saw in me.”

What meaneth, “whatsoever things are lovely ”? Lovely to the faithful, lovely to God. “Whatsoever things are true.” Virtue is really true, vice is falsehood. For the pleasure of it is a falsehood, and its glory is falsehood, and all things of the world are falsehood. “Whatsoever things are pure.” This is opposed to the words “who mind earthly things.” “Whatsoever things are honorable.” This is opposed to the words “whose god is their belly.” “Whatsoever things are just,” i.e. saith he, “whatsoever things are of good report.” “If there be any virtue, if there be any praise.” Here he willeth them to take thought of those things too which regard men. “Think on these things,” saith he. Seest thou, that he desires to banish every evil thought from our souls; for evil actions spring from thoughts. “The things which ye both learned and received.” This is teaching, in all his exhortations to propose himself for a model: as he saith in another place, “even as ye have us for an ensample.” (Ph 3,17). And again here, “What things ye learned and received,” i.e. have been taught by word of mouth, “and heard and saw in me”: both in respect of my words and actions and conduct. Seest thou, how about everything he lays these commands on us? For since it was not possible to make an accurate enumeration of all things, of our coming in, and going out, and speech, and carriage, and intercourse (for of all these things it is needful that a Christian should have thought), he said shortly, and as it were in a summary, “ye heard and saw in me.” I have led yon forward both by deeds and by words. “These things do,” not only in words, but do them also. “And the God of peace shall be with you,” i.e. ye shall be in a calm, in great safety, ye shall suffer nothing painful, nor contrary to your will. For when we are at peace with Him, and we are so through virtue, much more will He be at peace with us. For He who so loved us, as to show favor to us even against our will, will He not, if He sees us hastening toward Him, Himself yet much more exhibit His love toward us?

Nothing is such an enemy of our nature as vice. And from many things it is evident, how vice is at enmity with us, and virtue friendly toward us. What will ye? That I should speak of fornication? It makes men subject to reproach, poor, objects of ridicule, despicable to all, just as enemies treat them. Ofttimes it hath involved men in disease and danger; many men have perished or been wounded in behalf of their mistresses. And if fornication produces these things, much rather doth adultery. But doth almsgiving so? By no means. But as a loving mother setteth her son in great propriety, in good order, in good report, and gives him leisure to engage in necessary work, thus alms-giving doth not release us nor lead us away from our necessary work, but even renders the soul more wise. For nothing is more foolish than a mistress.

But what willest thou? To look upon covetousness? It too treats us like an enemy. And how? It makes us hated by all. It prepareth all men to vaunt themselves against us; both those who have been treated unjustly by us, and those who have not, who share the grief of the former, and are in fear for themselves. All men look upon us as their common foes, as wild beasts, as demons. Everywhere are there innumerable accusations, plots against us, envyings, all which are the acts of enemies. But justice, on the contrary, makes all men friends, all men sociable, all men well disposed towards us, by all men prayers are made in our behalf; our affairs are in perfect safety, there is no danger, there is no suspicion. But sleep also fearlessly comes over us with perfect safety, no care is there, no lamenting.

1403 How much better this sort of life is! And what? Is it best to envy, or to rejoice with one another? Let us search out all these things, and we shall find that virtue, like a truly kind mother, places us in safety, while vice is a treacherous thing, and full of danger. For hear the prophet, who saith, “The Lord is a stronghold of them that fear Him, and His covenant is to show them.” (Ps 25,14)), Sept). He feareth no one, who is not conscious to himself of any wickedness; on the contrary, he who liveth in crime is never confident, but trembles at his domestics, and looks at them with suspicion. Why say, his domestics? He cannot bear the tribunal of his own conscience. Not only those who are without, but his inward thoughts affect him likewise, and suffer him not to be in quiet. What then, saith Paul? Ought we to live dependent on praise? He said not, look to praise, but do praiseworthy actions, yet not for the sake of praise.

“Whatsoever things are true,” for the things we have been speaking of are false. “Whatsoever things are honorable.” That which is “honorable” belongs to external virtue, that which is “pure” to the soul. Give no cause of stumbling, saith he, nor handle of accusation. Because he had said, “Whatsoever things are of good report,” lest you should think that he means only those things which are so in the sight of men, he proceeds, “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”—do these things. He wills us ever to be in these things, to care for these things, to think on these things. For if we will be at peace with each other, God too will be with us, but if we raise up war, the God of peace will not be with us. For nothing is so hostile to the soul as vice. That is, peace and virtue place it in safety. Wherefore we must make a beginning on our part, and then we shall draw God toward us.

God is not a God of war and fighting. Make war and fighting to cease, both that which is against Him, and that which is against thy neighbor. Be at peace with all men, consider with what character God saveth thee. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt 5,9). Such always imitate the Son of God: do thou imitate Him too. Be at peace. The more thy brother warreth against thee, by so much the greater will be thy reward. For hear the prophet who saith, “With the haters of peace I was peaceful.” (Ps 120,7)), Sept). This is virtue, this is above man’s understanding, this maketh us near God; nothing so much delighteth God as to remember no evil. This sets thee free from thy sins, this looseth the charges against thee: but if we are fighting and buffeting, we become far off from God: for enmities are produced by conflict, and from enmity springs remembrance of evil.

Cut out the root, and there will be no fruit. Thus shall we learn to despise the things of this life, for there is no conflict, none, in spiritual things, but whatever thou seest, either conflicts or envy, or whatever a man can mention, all these spring from the things of this life. Every conflict hath its beginning either in covetousness, or envy, or vainglory. If therefore we are at peace, we shall learn to despise the things of the earth. Hath a man stolen our money? He hath not injured us, only let him not steal our treasure which is above. Hath he hindered thy glory? Yet not that which is from God, but that which is of no account. For this is no glory, but a mere name of glory, or rather a shame. Hath he stolen thy honor? Rather not thine but his own. For as he who committeth injustice doth not so much inflict as receive injustice, thus too he who plots against his neighbor, first destroyeth himself).

For “he who diggeth a pit for his neighbor, falleth into it.” (Pr 26,27). Let us then not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but we injure ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking Him against us. Let us not then harm ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbors, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves. If then thy enemy harm thee, he hath benefited thee if thou art wise, and so requite him not with the same things, but even do him good. But the blow, you say, remains severe. Consider then that thou dost not benefit, but punishest him, and benefitest thyself, and quickly you will come to do him good. What then? Shall we act from this motive? We ought not to act on this motive, but if thy heart will not hear other reason, induce it, saith he, even by this, and thou wilt quickly persuade it to dismiss its enmity, and wilt for the future do good to thine enemy as to a friend, and wilt obtain the good things which are to come, to which God grant that we may all attain in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Homily XV. Philippians 4,10-14.—“But I rejoice in the Lord greatly,

1500 that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abused, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. Howbeit, ye did well, that ye had fellowship with my affliction.” (Ph 4,10-23)

1501 I Have ofttimes said, that almsgiving hath been introduced not for the sake of the receivers, but of the givers, for the latter are they which make the greatest gain. And this Paul shows here also. In what way? The Philippians had sent him somewhat, after a long time, and had committed the same to Epaphroditus. See then, how when he is about to send Epaphroditus as the bearer of this Epistle, he praises them, and shows that this action was for the need, not of the receiver, but of the givers. This he doth, both that they who benefited him may not be lifted up with arrogance, and that they may become more zealous in well-doing, since they rather benefit themselves; and that they who receive may not fearlessly rush forward to receive, lest they meet with condemnation. For “it is more blessed,” He saith, “to give than to receive.” (Ac 20,35). Why then does he say, “I rejoice in the Lord greatly ”? Not with worldly rejoicing, saith he, nor with the joy of this life, but in the Lord. Not because I had refreshment, but because ye advanced; for this is my refreshment. Wherefore he also saith “greatly”; since this joy was not corporeal, nor on account of his own refreshment, but because of their advancement.

And see how, when he had gently rebuked them on account of the times that were passed, he quickly throweth a shadow over this, and teacheth them constantly and always to remain in well doing. “Because at length,” saith he. The words, “at length,” show long time to have elapsed. “Ye have revived,” as fruits which have shot forth, dried up, and afterwards shot forth. Here he showeth, that being at first blooming, then having faded, they again budded forth. So that the word “flourished again,” has both rebuke and praise. For it is no small thing, that he who hath withered should flourish again. He showeth also, that it was from indolence all this had happened to them. But here he signifies, that even in former time they were wont to be zealous in these things. Wherefore he addeth, “your thought for me, wherein ye did indeed take thought.” And lest you should think, that in other things too they had been more zealous, and had then withered, but in this thing alone, behold how he has added, “your thought for me.” I apply the words, “now at length,” only to this; for in other things it is not so.

Here some one may enquire, how when he had said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Ac 20,25 Ac 20,34); and, “These hands ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me”; and again when writing to the Corinthians, “For it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorying void” (1Co 9,15); he suffereth his glorying to be made void? And how? By receiving. For if his glorying was, that he received not, how doth he now endure so to do? What is it then? Probably, he then did not receive on account of the false Apostles, “that wherein they glory” (2Co 11,12), saith he, “they may be found even as we.” And he said not “are,” but “glory”; for they received but secretly. Wherefore he said, “wherein they glory.” Wherefore he also said, “No man shall stop me of this glorying.” (2Co 11,10). And he said not simply, shall not stop me, but what? “in the regions of Achaia.” And again, “I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you.” (2Co 11,8) Here he showed that he did receive. But Paul indeed received rightly, having so great a work; if in truth he did receive. But they who work not, how can they receive? “Yet I pray,” saith one. But there is no work. For this may be done together with work. “But I fast.” Neither is this work. For see this blessed one, preaching in many places, and working too. “But ye lacked opportunity.” What meaneth lacked opportunity? It came not; saith he, of indolence, but of necessity. Ye had it not in your hands, nor were in abundance. This is the meaning of, “Ye lacked opportunity.” Thus most men speak, when the things of this life do not flow in to them abundantly, and are in short supply.

“Not that I speak in respect of want.” said, saith he, “now at length,” and I rebuked you, not seeking mine own, nor censuring you on this account, as if I were in want: for I sought it not on this account. Whence is this, O Paul, that thou makest no vain boasting? To the Corinthians he saith, “For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or even acknowledge.” (2Co 1,13) And in this case he would not have spoken to them so as to be convicted, he would not, had he been making boasts, have spoken thus. He was speaking to those who knew the facts, with whom detection, would have been a greater disgrace. “For I have learnt,” saith he, “in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.” Wherefore, this is an object of discipline, and exercise, and care, for it is not easy of attainment, but very difficult, and a new thing. “In whatsoever state I am,” saith he, “therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things have I learned the secret.” That is, I know how to use little, to bear hunger and want. “Both to abound, and to suffer need.” “But, says one, there is no need of wisdom or of virtue in order to abound.” There is great need of virtue, not less than in the other case. For as want inclines us to do many evil things, so too doth plenty. For many ofttimes, coming into plenty, have become indolent, and have not known how to bear their good fortune. Many men have taken it as an occasion of no longer working. But Paul did not so, for what he received he consumed on others, and emptied himself for them. This is to know. He was in nowise relaxed, nor did he exult at his abundance; but was the same in want and in plenty, he was neither oppressed on the one hand, nor rendered a boaster on the other.

1502 “Both to be filled,” saith he “and to be hungry, both to abound, and to be in want.” Many know not how to be full, as for example, the Israelites, “ate, and kicked” (Dt 32,15), but I am equally well ordered in all. He showeth that he neither is now elated, nor was before grieved: or if he grieved, it was on their account, not on his own, for he himself was similarly affected.

“In everything,” saith he, “and in all things I have learned the secret,” i.e. I have had experience of all things in this long time, and these things have all succeeded with me. But since boasting might seem to have a place here, see how quickly he checks up, and says, “I can do all things in Christ that strengtheneth me.” The success is not mine own, but His who has given me strength. But since they who confer benefits, when they see the receiver not well affected toward them, but despising the gifts, are themselves rendered more remiss, (for they considered themselves as conferring a benefit and refreshment,) if therefore Paul despises the refreshment, they must necessarily become remiss, in order then that this may not happen, see how he healeth it again. By what he hath said above, he hath brought down their proud thoughts, by what followeth he maketh their readiness revive, by saying, “Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellowship with my affliction.” Seest thou, how he removed himself, and again united himself to them. This is the part of true and spiritual friendship. Think not, saith he, because I was not in want, that I had no need of this act of yours. I have need of it for your sake. How then, did they share his afflictions? By this means. As he said when in bonds, “Ye all are partakers with me of grace.” (Ph 1,7). For it is grace to suffer for Christ, as he himself saith in another place, “For to you it is given from God not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.” (Ph 1,29). For since those former words by themselves might have made them regardless, for this cause he consoleth them, and receiveth them, and praiseth them again. And this in measured words. For he said not, “gave,” but “had fellowship,” to show that they too were profiled by becoming partakers of his labors. He said not, ye did lighten, but ye did communicate with my affliction, which was something more elevated. Seest thou the humility of Paul? seest thou his noble nature? When he has shown that he had no need of their gifts on his own account, he afterward uses freely such lowly words as they do who make a request; “since thou art wont to give.” For he refuseth neither to do, nor say anything. That is, “Think not that my words show want of shame, wherein I accuse you, and say, ‘Now at length ye have revived,’ or are those of one in necessity; I speak not thus because I am in need, but why? From my exceeding confidence in you, and of this also ye yourselves are the authors.”

Seest thou how he sootheth them? How are ye the authors? In that ye hasted to the work before all the others; and have given me confidence to remind you of these things. And observe his elevation; he accuseth them not while they did not send, lest he should seem to regard his own benefit, but when they had sent, then he rebuked them for the time past, and they received it, for he could not seem after that to regard his own benefit.

Ph 4,15. “Ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church had communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”

Lo, how great is his commendation! For the Corinthians and Romans are stirred up by hearing these things from him, whilst the Philippians did it without any other Church having made a beginning. For “in the beginning of the Gospel,” saith he, they manifested such zeal towards the holy Apostle, as themselves first to begin, without having any example, to bear this fruit. And no one can say that they did these things because he abode with them, or for their own benefit; for he saith, “When I departed from Macedonia, no Church had fellowship with me, in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only.” What meaneth “receiving,” and what “had fellowship ”? Wherefore said he not, “no Church gave to me,” but “had fellowship with me, in the matter of giving and receiving”? Because it is a case of communication. He saith, “If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things.” (1Co 9,11) And again, “That your abundance may be a supply to their want.” (2Co 8,14) How did they communicate? In the matter of giving carnal things, and receiving spiritual. For as they who sell and buy communicate with each other, by mutually giving what they have, (and this is communication,) so too is it here. For there is not anything more profitable than this trade and traffic. It is performed on the earth, but is completed in heaven. They who buy are on the earth, but they buy and agree about heavenly things, whilst they lay down an earthly price.

1503 But despond not; heavenly things are not to be bought with money, riches cannot purchase these things, but the purpose of him who giveth the money, his true wisdom, his superiority to earthly things, his love toward man, his mercifulness. For if money could purchase it, she who threw in the two mites would have gained nothing great. But since it was not the money, but the purpose that availed, she received everything, who exhibited a full purpose of mind. Let us not then say, that the Kingdom can be bought with money; it is not by money, but by purpose of mind which is exhibited by the money. Therefore, will one answer, there is no need of money? There is no need of money, but of the disposition; if thou hast this, thou wilt be able even by two mites to purchase Heaven; where this is not, not even ten thousand talents of gold will be able to do that, which the two mites could. Wherefore? Because if thou who hast much throwest in but a small portion, thou gavest an alms indeed, but not so great as the widow did; for thou didst not throw it in with the same readiness as she. For she deprived herself of all she had, or rather she deprived not, but gave it all as a free gift to herself Not for a cup of cold water hath God promised the kingdom, but for readiness of heart; not for death, but for purpose of mind. For indeed it is no great thing. For what is it to give one life? that is giving one man; but one man is not of worth enough.

Ph 4,16. “For even in Thessalonica, ye sent once and again unto my need.”

Here again is great praise, that he, when dwelling in the metropolis, should be nourished by a little city. And lest, by always withdrawing himself from the supposition of want, he should, as I said at first, render them amiss, having previously shown by so many proofs that he is not in want, he here does it by one word only, by saying “needs.” And he said not “my,” but absolutely,—having a care of dignity. And not this only, but what followeth too, for since he was conscious that it was a very lowly thing, he again secures it, by adding as a correction,

Ph 4,17. “Not that I seek for the gift.”

As he said above, “Not that I speak in respect of want”; that is stronger than this. For it is one thing, that he who is in want, should not seek, and another that he who is in want should not even consider himself to be in want. “Not that I seek for the gift,” he says, “but I seek for the fruit, that increaseth to your account.” Not mine own. Seest thou, that the fruit is produced for them? This say I for your sake, says he, not for my own, for your salvation. For I gain nothing when I receive, but the grace belongeth to the givers, for the recompense is yonder in store for givers, but the gifts are here consumed by them who receive. Again even his desire is combined with praise and sympathy.

When he had said, I do not seek, lest he should again render them remiss, he adds,

Ph 4,18. “But I have all things and abound,” i.e. through this gift ye have filled up what was wanting, which would make them more eager. For benefactors, the wiser they are, the more do they seek gratitude from the benefited. That is, ye have not only filled up what was deficient in former time, but ye have gone beyond. For lest by these words he should seem to accuse them, see how he seals up all. After he had said, “Not that I seek for the gift,” and “Now at length”; and had shown that their deed was a debt, for this is meant by, “I have all,” then again he showeth, that they had acted above what was due, and saith, “I have all things and abound, I am filled.” I say not this at hazard, or only from the feeling of my mind, but why? “Having received of Epaphroditus the things that came from you, an odor of a sweet smell; a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” Lo, whither he hath raised their gift; not I, he saith, received, but God through me. Wherefore though I be not in need, regard it not, for God had no need, and He received at their hands in such sort, that the Holy Scriptures shrunk not from saying, “God smelled a sweet savor” (Gn 8,21), which denotes one who was pleased. For ye know, indeed ye know, how our soul is affected by sweet savors, how it is pleased, how it is delighted. The Scriptures therefore shrunk not from applying to God a word so human, and so lowly, that it might show to men that their gifts are become acceptable. For not the fat, not the smoke, made them acceptable, but the purpose of mind which offered them. Had it been otherwise, Cain’s offering too had been received. It saith then, that He is even pleased, and how He is pleased. For men could not without this have learned. He then, who hath no need, saith that He is thus pleased, that they may not become remiss by the absence of need. And afterward, when they had no care for other virtues, and trusted to their offerings alone, behold, how again he setteth them right by saying, “Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” (Ps 50,13). This Paul also saith. “Not that I seek,” saith he, “for the gift.”

Chrysostom Philippians 1400