Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 8

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – March 23, 2021 – 1st Corinthians 2.6-16 Session 8 – Homily 7

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. We are always more comfortable in our own logic SJC “Darkness seems to be more suitable than light to those that are diseased in their eyesight: wherefore they betake themselves by preference to some room that is thoroughly shaded over.”
  2. Destination matters when it comes to wisdom – SJC “For where is the use of the wisdom which is without, terminating here and proceeding no further, and not even here able to profit its possessors?”
  3. If the end result is empty, then the wisdom is empty – SJC “For having shown that it is false, that it is foolish, that it can discover nothing, that it is weak, he shows moreover that it is but of short duration.”

Section [2]

  1. Even the angels didn’t know what Christ was going to do until He did it – SJC “How then does he call it a mystery? Because that neither angel nor archangel, nor any other created power knew of it before it actually took place.”
  2. God’s work remains a mystery to those who do not believe – SJC “And in another sense, too, a mystery is so called; because we do not behold the things which we see, but some things we see and others we believe. For such is the nature of our Mysteries. I, for instance, feel differently upon these subjects from an unbeliever.”
  3. God’s work remains a mystery to those who do not learn – SJC “And just as children, looking on their books, know not the meaning of the letters, neither know what they see; yea more, if even a grown man be unskilful in letters, the same thing will befall him; but the skilful will find much meaning stored up in the letters, even complete lives and histories: and an epistle in the hands of one that is unskilful will be accounted but paper and ink.”

Section [3]

  1. Only the Holy Spirit can open our hearts to the mystery of God – SJC “And is revealed not by wisdom but by the Holy Ghost, so far as is possible for us to receive it. And for this cause a man would not err, who in this respect also should entitle it a mystery.”

Section [4]

  1. God considers our salvation His own glory – SJC “He considers our salvation to be His own glory.”
  2. God loved us from the very beginning – SJC “And this is what Paul is earnest to point out now; that God always loved us even from the beginning and when as yet we were not. For unless He had loved us, He would not have fore-ordained our riches. Consider not then the enmity which has come between; for more ancient than that was the friendship.”

Section [5]

  1. Forgiveness needs repentance even after ignorance – SJC “If they repented, it was forgiven. For even he who set countless assailants on Stephen and persecuted the Church, even Paul, became the champion of the Church. Just so then, those others also who chose to repent, had forgiveness.”

Section [6]

  1. Not everything that was written has survived, even in the Church – SJC “probably it was actually written in some books, and the copies have perished. For indeed many books were destroyed, and few were preserved entire even in the first captivity.”

Section [7a]

  1. Hearing without the Holy Spirit or faith is empty – SJC “It did not enter; for not of himself alone is he speaking, but of the whole human race. What then? The Prophets, did not they hear? Yes, they heard; but the prophetic ear was not the ear of man: for not as men heard they, but as Prophets. Wherefore he said, (Isaiah 50:4. Septuagint) He has added unto me an ear to hear, meaning by addition that which was from the Spirit.”

Section [7b]

  1. The Holy Spirit is equal to God – SJC “Then having spoken with exactness concerning the knowledge of the Spirit, and having pointed out that it is as fully equal to God’s knowledge, as the knowledge of a man itself to itself; and also, that we have learned all things from it and necessarily from it.”
  2. We have been honored because the Holy Spirit chose to teach us – SJC “Do you see to what point he exalted us because of the Teacher’s dignity? For so much are we wiser than they as there is difference between Plato and the Holy Spirit; they having for masters the heathen rhetoricians but we, the Holy Spirit.”

Section [8]

  1. Spiritual wisdom is sufficient to earthly wisdom – SJC “Again we show, how of the earth was man, and how of man alone the woman; and this without any intercourse whatever; how the earth itself of nothing, the power of the Great Artificer being everywhere sufficient for all things. Thus with spiritual things do I compare spiritual, and in no instance have I need of the Wisdom which is without — neither its reasonings nor its embellishments.”

Section [9]

  1. When we abuse God’s gift it is removed – SJC “And since thou also hast abused wisdom unto the rejecting of God, and hast demanded of it more than it can do of its own strength; in order to withdraw you from human hope, he has showed you its weakness.”
  2. When we depart from God’s wisdom everything collapses – SJC “But when men having left off to walk in the way which God commanded them, and by the beauty of visible objects to know the Great Artificer, had entrusted to disputations the leading-staff of knowledge; they became weak and sank in a sea of ungodliness; for they presently brought in that which was the abyss of all evil, asserting that nothing was produced from things which were not, but from uncreated matter; and from this source they became the parents of ten thousand heresies.”
  3. Since it was arrogance that caused the Fall, only humility can bring us up – SJC “On this account, as it seems to me, God made virtue laborious, with a view to bow down the soul and to bring it to moderation.”

Section [10]

  1. Our limited perspective deceives our view of heaven – SJC “For not only will he not see them such as indeed they are, but will even account them the contraries of what they are. Wherefore he added, for they are foolishness unto him. But this comes not of the nature of the things, but of his infirmity, unable as he is to attain to their greatness through the eyes of his soul.”

Section [11]

  1. We can see because we have faith – SJC “For he that has sight, beholds himself all things that appertain to the man that has no sight; but no sightless person discerns what the other is about. So also in the case before us, our own matters and those of unbelievers, all of them we for our part know; but ours, they know not henceforth any more.”

Section [12]

  1. Our knowledge of the spiritual is from Christ – SJC “Not meaning this, that all the things which He knows, we know; but that all the things which we know are not human so as to be open to suspicion, but of His mind and spiritual.”

LIFE APPLICATION: There is no good reason to believe

  1. Let us love being considered children of God and leave the world behind – SJC “This, if nothing else, let us revere; even though we will not make any such great account of hell, yet let it be more fearful than hell to be thankless and ungrateful to such a friend and benefactor. And not as hired servants, but as sons and freemen, let us do all things for the love of our Father; and let us at last cease from adhering to the world that we may put the Greeks also to shame.”

Section [14]

  1. It is very difficult to overturn customs – SJC “For you know that nothing is so strong with men as the tyranny of ancient custom. So that although they had not been twelve only, and not so contemptible, and such as they really were, but another world as large as this, and with an equivalent number arrayed on their side, or even much greater; even in this case the result would have been hard to achieve. For the other party had custom on their side, but to these their novelty was an obstacle.”

Section [16]

  1. Conversion is fearful – SJC “For they were not simply drawing men from one custom to another, but from a custom, wherein was no fear to an undertaking which held out threats of danger. For the believer must immediately incur confiscation, persecution, exile from his country; must suffer the worst ills, be hated of all men, be a common enemy both to his own people and to strangers.”
  2. Conversion is for the strong – SJC “Which of the men of that day would not these things have frightened off? And yet all came running in, and many even leaped over the boundaries of the course. What then was their attraction? Was it not, plainly, the power of Him who was preached?”

Section [17]

  1. Only deceivers promise comfort on earth – SJC “Now if they had been deceivers they would have done the contrary: their good things they would have promised as of this world ἐντεῦθεν, so (John 18:36); the fearful things they would not have mentioned, whether they related to the present life or the future. For so deceivers and flatterers act.”

Section [18]

  1. Even those who had lived hard lives accepted even harsher lives – SJC “For if they had persuaded wise men only, the result would not have been so wonderful; but in advancing slaves, and nurses, and eunuchs unto such great severity of life as to make them rivals to angels, they offered the greatest proof of their divine inspiration.”

Section [19]

  1. Fulfilled prophecies prove the future promise – SJC “For the word spoken so many years before, came to pass then, and received accomplishment: for the gates of Hades prevailed not against the Church. You see that He who spoke truth in the prophecy, it is clear that he also wrought the miracle: and He who both wrought the miracle and brings to accomplishment the words which He spoke, it is clear that He speaks the truth also in the predictions of things yet to come.”

SEND OFF! Live by example

Section [20]

  1. For in all these things, and in whatever is more than these, the fishermen, initiating by Baptism various races of Barbarians, persuaded them (φιλοσοφεῖν) to live on high principles. Of all these things then, having observed them accurately, let us speak unto the Gentiles, and again, let us show them the evidence of our lives: that by both means we ourselves may be saved and they drawn over by our means unto the glory of God. For unto Him be the glory forever. Amen.”