Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 9

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – March 30, 2021 – 1st Corinthians 3.1-11 Session 9 – Homily 8

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 speaks to us at our level SJC “For what you preach is not your own, nor such as yourselves have found from your own means. But now even these things you know not as you ought to know them, but you are learners, and the last of all.”
  2. We are expected to grow in faithSJC “For not through any inability on their part to receive high doctrines, does he say they received them not, but because they were carnal. However, in the beginning this was not so blame-worthy; but that after so long a time, they had not yet arrived at the more perfect knowledge, this was a symptom of most utter dulness.”

Section [2]

  1. Miracles are for the witnesses not for the “doer”SJC “So that it is possible even for one who wrought miracles to be carnal. For so God wrought by Balaam, and unto Pharaoh He revealed things to come, and unto Nebuchadnezzar; and Caiaphas prophesied, not knowing what he said; yea, and some others cast out devils in His name, though they were Luke 9:49 not with Him; since not for the doers’ sake are these things done, but for others’ sake.”
  2. The sinfulness of people doesn’t affect God’s grace – SJC “But as it is, God uses to work even by unworthy persons, and in no respect is the grace of baptism damaged by the conduct of the priest: else would the receiver suffer loss. Accordingly, though such things happen rarely, still, it must be owned, they do happen. Now these things I say, lest any one of the bystanders busying himself about the life of the priest, should be offended as concerning the things solemnized.”

Secion [3]

  1. Desire to live holy lives is the first step – SJC “For as to the want of ability, it arises from the want of will. Which to them indeed is a matter of accusation, but to their teacher, of excuse. For if they had been unable by nature, one might perhaps have been forgiven them; but since it was from choice, they were bereft of all excuse.”

Section [4]

  1. Belief and behavior are related – SJC “As then it is not in any case possible for a person in error, but living uprightly, to remain in error; so it is not easy for one brought up in iniquity, speedily to look up to the height of the doctrines delivered to us, but he must be clean from all the passions who is to hunt after the truth: for whoever is freed from these shall be freed also from his error and attain unto the truth.”
  2. All passions must be defeated – SJC “But if any one should say, How does such a one, a Greek, who is kind, and good, and humane, continue in error? this would be my answer: He has some other passion, vainglory, or indolence of mind, or want of carefulness about his own salvation, accounting that all things which concern him are drifted along loosely and at random.”

Section [5]

  1. Humility begins with the self. St Paul included himself when showing that we are all in need of humility – SCJ “Moreover, he employs his own name, doing away all harshness and not suffering them to be angry at what it is said. For if Paul is nothing and murmur not, much less ought they to think themselves ill used.”
  2. It is wrong to raise up others as the source when it is God that is the Source of all good – SJC “Now if they were ministering to another, how come they to seize the authority for themselves? But I would have you consider how in no wise he lays the blame on them as seizing it for themselves, but on those who endow them with it. For the ground-work of the error lay in the multitude; since, had the one fallen away, the other would have been broken up.”

Section [6]

  1. We are all in this together. We all have a role to play and nobody is more important than another – SCJ “For by means of this he establishes another point also, viz. that they should not be exalted one against another. His assertion, that they are one, refers to their inability to do anything without God that gives the increase. And thus saying, he permitted not either those who labored much to lift themselves up against those who had contributed less; nor these again to envy the former.”
  2. It is wisdom to have Christ as the foundation – SJC “In this place he calls himself wise, not exalting himself, but to give them an ensample, and to point out that this is a wise man’s part, to lay a foundation.”

Section [7]

  1. If we build on anything other than Christ we will collapse and perish – SJC “Upon this then let us build, and as a foundation let us cleave to it, as a branch to a vine; and let there be no interval between us and Christ. For if there be any interval, immediately we perish. For the branch by its adherence draws in the fatness, and the building stands because it is cemented together. Since, if it stand apart it perishes, having nothing whereon to support itself. Let us not then merely keep hold of Christ, but let us be cemented to Him, for if we stand apart, we perish.”
  1. We must be vigilant against even the smallest sins lest we drift further away – SJC “All these things indicate unity; and they allow no void interval, not even the smallest. For he that removes but to a little distance will go on till he has become very far distant. For so the body, receiving though it be but a small cut by a sword, perishes: and the building, though there be but a small chink, falls to decay: and the branch, though it be but a little while cut off from the root, becomes useless. So that this trifle is no trifle, but is even almost the whole. Whenever then we commit some little fault or even negligence, let us not overlook that little; since this, being disregarded, quickly becomes great.”

LIFE APPLICATION: Never Slight the Small Things

Section [8]

  1. Don’t grow despondent about sin – SJC But if so be that we have slighted them and have come into the abyss of evils, not even when we have come there let us despond, lest we fall into recklessness.”
  2. We need each other – SCJ “Nay rather, we need not others only, but ourselves also, that we for our part may fasten on ourselves and ascend, I say not so much as we have descended, but much further, if we be willing: for why? God also helps: for He wills not the death of a sinner so much as his conversion.”
  3. Not even trying is worse than falling to sin – SJC “Let us not therefore give up in despair; for to fall is not so grievous, as to lie where we have fallen; nor to be wounded so dreadful, as after wounds to refuse healing.”
  4. It is even worse to not acknowledge your sin – SJC “But we do not even this: wherefore we especially provoke God to wrath. (For he, who by little things even is made propitious, when He meets not with so much as these, is of course indignant and exacts of us the last penalty; for this comes of exceeding contempt.) Who is there, for instance, that has ever become melancholy for his sins? Who has bemoaned himself? Who has beaten his breast? Who has taken anxious thought? Not one, to my thinking. But days without number do men weep for dead servants; for the loss of money: while as to the soul which we are ruining day by day, we give it not a thought. How then will you be able to render God propitious, when you know not even that you have sinned?”
  5. Look around and notice the world is carnal – SJC “Just take your stand in the market place; question the comers and goers, and not one will you see hastening upon a spiritual errand, but all running after carnal things.”

SEND OFF! We must be willing to lose luxury in favor of heaven

Section [9]“What sort of life did they hope for that they forsook luxury, and gave themselves up unto severe discipline? Not any. But they had become aware of the very nature of things; and perceived that this of the two is more suitable, both for the strict training of the soul, and for the health of the body. These things then duly estimating, and revolving with ourselves continually the future blessings, let us withdraw from this present world that we may obtain that other which is to come.”