Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 3

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

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

Study Guide – October 13, 2020 – 1st Corinthians 1.4-9 Session 3 – Homily 2

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 “Let your requests with thanksgiving be made known unto God, the same also he used to do himself: teaching us to begin always from these words, and before all things to give thanks unto God. For nothing is so acceptable to God as that men should be thankful, both for themselves and for others.”
  2. The Corinthians (and we) need to be reminded that grace is a GIFT from God. –  SJC “For he that gives thanks, does so, both as being well off, and as in acknowledgment of a favor: now a favor is not a debt nor a requital nor a payment: which indeed every where is important to be said, but much more in the case of the Corinthians who were gaping after the dividers of the Church.”

Section [2]

  1. We must make God personal – SJC “Out of great affection he seizes on that which is common, and makes it his own; as the prophets also from time to time use to say, Psalm 43:4; 62:1 ‘O God, my God; and by way of encouragement he incites them to use the same language also themselves.”
  2. We should be in a state of CONSTANT thanks to God – SJC “Wherefore he says not merely, I give thanks, but at all times, concerning you; instructing them to be thankful both always, and to no one else save God only.”

Section [3]

  1. We should not be puffed up that God has given us grace – SJC “For where grace is, works are not; where works, it is no more grace. If therefore it be grace, why are you high-minded? Whence is it that you are puffed up?”
  2. The grace is given to us by Christ – SJC “Which is given you. And by whom was it given? By me, or by another Apostle? Not at all, but by Jesus Christ.
  3. The Corinthians had both knowledge and the ability to teach, but not all is the same – SJC “For so there are many who possess knowledge, but have not the power of speech; as those who are uneducated and unable to exhibit clearly what they have in their mind. You, says he, are not such as these, but competent both to understand and to speak.”
  4. St Paul corrects and praises at the same time – SJC “For you had the benefit of many signs, many wonders, unspeakable grace, to make you receive the Gospel. If therefore you were established by signs and grace, why do you waver? Now these are the words of one both reproving, and at the same time prepossessing them in his favor.”

Section [4]

  1. St Paul speaks in general terms and praises those who maintained the gift while graciously including those who lost it. – SJCThat having in the beginning believed, and obtained all gifts, (for indeed they sought them earnestly,) they became remiss afterwards. Or, if not so, that not unto all are either these things said or those; but the one to such as were amenable to his censures, the other to such as were adorned with his praises…Or we may state it somewhat differently; that as it is usual with us to call the greater part the whole, so also he has spoken in this place.”

Section [5]

  1. St Paul sweetens the ears of his listeners (and our ears) to increase the chance of paying attention – SJC For whoever at the very outset speaks things unpleasant, excludes his words from a hearing among the weaker: since if the hearers be his equals in degree they feel angry; if vastly inferior they will be vexed. To avoid this, he begins with what seem to be praises.”

Section [6]

  1. Christ WILL return. We must wait patiently AND prepared!  SJC And consider his wisdom; how withdrawing them from human considerations he terrifies them by mention of the fearful judgment-seat, and thus implying that not only the beginnings must be good, but the end also. For with all these gifts, and with all else that is good, we must be mindful of that Day.”

Section [7]

  1. The Corinthians (and we) still waiver. St Paul sternly reminds us that we will be judged – SJCHere he seems to court them, but the saying is free from all flattery; for he knows also how to press them home…But he is also covertly accusing them: for, to say, He shall confirm,and the word unreprovable marks them out as still wavering, and liable to reproof.”
  2. St Paul is continually invoking the Name of Christ to cure us – SJC “Do you see the constant repetition of the Name of Christ? From whence it is plain even to the most unobservant, that not by chance nor unwittingly he does this, but in order that by incessant application of that glorious Name he may foment their inflammation, and purge out the corruption of the disease.”

Section [8]

  1. God has called us into Communion NO MATTER WHAT – SJC “God is faithful, i.e. true. Now if true, what things He has promised He will also perform. And He has promised that He will make us partakers of His only-begotten Son; for to this end also did He call us. For Romans 11:29 His gifts, and the calling of God, are without repentance.”
  2. We are condemned by rejecting the calling of God – SJC As the Jews, being called, would not receive the blessings; but this was no longer of Him that called, but of their lack of sense. For He indeed was willing to give, but they, by refusing to receive, cast themselves away…Let no one therefore accuse God; for unbelief comes not of Him that calls, but of those who start away (ἀποπηδῶντας) from Him.”


Section [9-10]

  1. God condemns by force but bless by free will –  SJC He does not use violence, nor compel; for who that bids to honors, and crowns, and banquets, and festivals, drags people, unwilling and bound? No one. For this is the part of one inflicting an insult. Unto hell He sends men against their will, but unto the kingdom He calls willing minds.”
  2. God sent many invitations to humanity – SJC “Hath He not made a world that teaches His loving-kindness and His power? For Psalm 19:1 the heavens, says one, declare the glory of God. Hath He not also sent prophets? Hath He not both called and honored us? Hath He not done wonders? Hath He not given a law both written and natural? Hath He not sent His Son? Hath he not commissioned Apostles? Hath He not wrought sins? Hath He not threatened hell? Hath He not promised the kingdom? Does He not every day make His sun to rise?”
  3. Humans are not naturally evil nor good – SJC “But it is impossible that one should ever be good by necessity. If therefore you know not what ought to be done, show it, and then we will tell you what is right to say. But if you know that uncleanness is wicked, wherefore do you not fly from the evil thing?”
  4. God created us with the potential for good – SJC “But you say, I am not of this sort in my bodily frame, or my turn of mind. That is for want, not of power, but of will. For thus I prove that all have a certain aptness towards virtue: That which a man cannot do, neither will he be able to do though necessity be laid upon him; but, if, necessity being laid upon him, he is able, he that leaves it undone, leaves it undone out of choice.” 
  5. We cannot undo what is natural – SJC “Now if things were natural, they could not change. For so we, being by nature susceptible, could never by any exertions become void of feeling. For that which is whatever it is by nature, can never fall away from such its natural condition.”

SEND OFF – If we have the power to do good, why don’t we?

Section [11]SJC Since then both from our conduct towards one another, and from others’ conduct to us when judged, and from the things about which we have written laws, and from the things wherein we condemn ourselves, though there be no one to accuse us; and from the instances of our becoming worse through indolence, and better through fear; and from the cases wherein we see others doing well and arriving at the height of self-command, (φιλοσοφίας) it is quite clear that we also have it in our power to do well: why do we, the most part, deceive ourselves in vain with heartless pretexts and excuses, bringing not only no pardon, but even punishment intolerable?”