Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)

Study Guide – September 29, 2020 – 1st Corinthians 1.1-3 Session 2 - Homily 1

Prayer before reading of the Holy Scriptures: Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments so that, having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things which are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory, together with Your Father who is without beginning and Your all holy, good and life giving Spirit, always now and forever and to the ages of ages.


Section [1]

  1. St Paul defeats pride while exalting humility - SJC “For what I have learned, says he, I discovered not myself, nor acquired by my own wisdom, but while I was persecuting and laying waste the Church I was called.”
  2. The Church belongs to God - SJCWe ourselves have wrought no good thing, but by the will of God we have attained to this salvation; and because it seemed good to him, we were called, not because we were worthy.”
  3. The Church should be united rather than divided - SJC “For if it be of God, it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church's name (ἐκκλησία: properly an assembly) is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.
  4. The Church (that includes us) has been purified by God - SJC “But what is Sanctification? The Laver, the Purification. For he reminds them of their own uncleanness, from which he had freed them; and so persuades them to lowliness of mind; for not by their own good deeds, but by the loving-kindness of God, had they been sanctified.
  5. It is God that calls us to be Saints - SJC “However, though you had drawn near, accountable as you are for innumerable wickednesses, not even so would the grace be yours, but God's.” 

Section [2]

  1. The global Church is united in Christ - SJC And though the place separate, the Lord binds them together, being common to all.”
  2. We must work to have true unity in mission - SJC “For as men in one place, having many and contrary masters, become distracted, and their one place helps them not to be of one mind, their masters giving orders at variance with each other, and drawing each their own way, according to what Christ says, Matthew 6:24 You cannot serve God and Mammon; so those in different places, if they have not different lords but one only, are not by the places injured in respect of unanimity, the One Lord binding them together.”

Section [3]

  1. Our peace AND grace should be from God, otherwise our peace will conflict with God’s grace - SJC For what if you be at peace with this man, and with the other even find grace? My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him...for it profits us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held as enemies, if with God we are at peace.”
  2. Achieving peace AND grace from God requires labor - SJC “For this, therefore, let all of us labor earnestly; whether one be a slave, let him pray for this, that he may find grace with God rather than with his master; or a wife, let her seek grace from God her Saviour rather than from her husband; or a soldier, in preference to his king and commander let him seek that favor which comes from above.”


Section [4]

  1. If men honor humility, God honors it much more - SJC For if with men humility is so lovely, much more with God. Thus both they of the Gentiles found grace and the Jews no other way fell from grace; Romans 10:13 for they were not subject unto the righteousness of God. The lowly man of whom I am speaking, is pleasing and delightful to all men, and dwells in continual peace, and has in him no ground for contentions.”
  2. We are called to live at peace with everyone - SJC For the commandments of God are to be at peace with men: and thus our whole life is made prosperous, through peace one with another. For no man can injure God: His nature is imperishable, and above all suffering. Nothing makes the Christian so admirable as lowliness of mind.”
  3. Fight against worldly greatness - SJC This is what most people feel; though a man bring the best advice, despising it, because of the lowliness of the person. But not so did he: rather through lowliness of mind he wrought all things well. Hence also he despised the courts of kings, Hebrews 11:24-26 since he was lowly indeed: for the sound mind and the high spirit are the fruit of humility.”
  4. Humility comes from a lofty soul - SJCFor pride comes from an ordinary mind and an ignoble spirit, but moderation, from greatness of mind and a lofty soul.”

Section [5]

  1. Emulate truly humble souls - SJC For he is indeed exalted who is truly humble; (not the flatterer nor the dissembler;) for true greatness is one thing, and arrogance another. And this is plain from hence; if one man esteem clay to be clay, and despise it, and another admire the clay as gold, and account it a great thing; which, I ask, is the man of exalted mind? Is it not he who refuses to admire the clay?”
  2. True greatness is to be humble - SJC Such is the case with many men who mount themselves up on wealth and glory; which is not exaltation, for he is exalted who wants none of these things, but despises them, and has his greatness from himself. Let us therefore become humble that we may become exalted.”

SEND OFF - Strive for the Height of Humility

Section [6]St Paul defeats pride while exalting humility. SJC Let us then acquire that height which comes by humility. Let us look into the nature of human things, that we may kindle with the longing desire of the things to come; for in no other way is it possible to become humble, except by the love of what is divine and the contempt of what is present. For just as a man on the point of obtaining a kingdom, if instead of that purple robe one offer him some trivial compliment, will count it to be nothing; so shall we also laugh to scorn all things present, if we desire that other sort of honor. Do you not see the children, when in their play they make a band of soldiers, and heralds precede them and lictors, and a boy marches in the midst in the general's place, how childish it all is? Just such are all human affairs; yea and more worthless than these: today they are, and tomorrow they are not. Let us therefore be above these things; and let us not only not desire them, but even be ashamed if any one hold them forth to us. For thus, casting out the love of these things, we shall possess that other love which is divine, and shall enjoy immortal glory.”