Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 5

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – November 17, 2020 – 1st Corinthians 1.18-25 Session 5 – Homily 4

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. Our symptom of our spiritual illness is the confusion over the Gospel SJC For the things which tend to salvation they know not; and those who are careful about them they consider to be troublesome. Now this ensues not from the nature of the thing, but from their disease.” 
  2. We must be completely devoted to the salvation of others – SJC For not so dearly ought a man to love his wife as we should love all men, and draw them over unto salvation; be a man a Gentile, or be he what he may.”

Section [2]

  1. If we are blind to salvation, we are dyingSJC “For it is a mark of them that perish not to recognize the things which lead to salvation.”
  2. Salvation requires faith over logic – SJC “For the things which transcend reasoning require faith alone. Thus, should we set about convincing men by reasonings, how God became man, and entered into the Virgin’s womb, and not commit the matter unto faith, they will but deride the more. Therefore they who inquire by reasonings, it is they who perish.”

Section [3]

  1. Faith brings power BEYOND logic – SJC “this comes of Infinite Power. For as in the case of the Three Children, their not entering the furnace would not have been so astonishing, as that having entered in they trampled upon the fire — and in the case of Jonah, it was a greater thing by far, after he had been swallowed by the fish, to suffer no harm from the monster, than if he had not been swallowed at all — so also in regard of Christ; His not dying would not have been so inconceivable, as that having died He should loose the bands of death.”

Section [4]

  1. Human logic has not produced truth – SJC “He subjoins demonstration from facts, saying, Where is the wise? Where the Scribe? at the same time glancing at both Gentiles and Jews. For what sort of philosopher, which among those who have studied logic, which of those knowing in Jewish matters, has saved us and made known the truth? Not one.” 
  2. Wisdom that does  not lead to God is useless – SJC “For what sort of wisdom is it, when it cannot discover the chief of things that are good? He caused her therefore to appear foolish, after she had first convicted herself.”
  3. The Gospel only SEEMS foolish – SJC “It was His good pleasure, too, by the foolishness of the Gospel to save; foolishness, I say, not real, but appearing to be such. For that which is more wonderful yet is His having prevailed by bringing in, not another such wisdom more excellent than the first, but what seemed to be foolishness. He cast out Plato for example, not by means of another philosopher of more skill, but by an unlearned fisherman.”

Section [5]

  1. Sometimes God gives to us the opposite of what we demand to convince us of His power – SJC “when therefore they who seek for signs and wisdom not only receive not the things which they ask, but even hear the contrary to what they desire, and then by means of contraries are persuaded — how is not the power of Him that is preached unspeakable?”
  2. The Apostles were successful neither with signs nor logic – SJC “So also the Apostles prevailed, not simply without a sign, but even by a thing which seemed contrary to all the known signs.”

Section [6]

  1. Even what is foolish for God is greater than all logic – SJC “What great labors did Plato endure, and his followers, discoursing to us about a line, and an angle, and a point, and about numbers even and odd, and equal unto one another and unequal, and such-like spiderwebs; (for indeed those webs are not more useless to man’s life than were these subjects;) and without doing good to any one great or small by their means, so he made an end of his life. How greatly did he labor, endeavoring to show that the soul was immortal! And even as he came he went away, having spoken nothing with certainty, nor persuaded any hearer. But the Cross wrought persuasion by means of unlearned men; yea it persuaded even the whole world: and not about common things, but in discourse of God, and the godliness which is according to truth, and the evangelical way of life, and the judgment of the things to come.”

Section [7]

  1. Faith produces great power through free will martyrdom – SJC “But with us it is all quite the contrary. For not against their will did the martyrs endure, but of their will, and being at liberty not to suffer; showing forth fortitude harder than all adamant.”

Section [8]

  1. The greatness of God was revealed in the success of mere fishermen instead of powerful politicians – SJC “For that the Gospel is divine, even from hence is evident; namely, whence could it have occurred to twelve ignorant men to attempt such great things? Who sojourned in marshes, in rivers, in deserts; who never at any time perhaps had entered into a city nor into a forum;— whence did it occur, to set themselves in array against the whole world?”

Section [9]

  1. The success of the fishermen against so many ods is worthy of admiration – SJC “Now if the suspicion alone of innovation brought so great danger on philosophers and wise men, and on those who had attained boundless popularity; and if they were not only unable to do what they wished, but were themselves also driven from life and county; how can you choose but be in admiration and astonishment, when you see that the fisherman has produced such an effect upon the world, and accomplished his purposes; has overcome all both Barbarians and Greeks.”

Section [10]

  1. The Risen Lord is on our side – SJC “For they had an ally greater than all these, the power of Him that had been crucified and was risen again. It would not have been so wondrous, had they chosen to wage war with the world in the literal sense, (πόλεμον αἰσθητόν) as this which in fact has taken place.”


Section [11]

  1. The Light of God within us is greater than the sun – SJC “When then we look unto the solar orb, and admire the beauty, and the body and the brightness of the luminary, let us consider again that greater and better is the light which is in us, as indeed the darkness also is more dreadful unless we take heed.”
  2. The dark forces are at work even among believers – SJC “It is night not among heretics and among Greeks only, but also in the multitude on our side, in respect of doctrines and of life. For many entirely disbelieve the resurrection; many fortify themselves with their horoscope; (γὲνεσιν ἑαυτοῖς ἐπιτειχίζουσι) many adhere to superstitious observances, and to omens, and auguries, and presages. And some likewise employ amulets and charms.”
  3. Draw others to the Church by your way of life – SJC “Be ye fellow-helpers with me in the battle; by your way of life attracting them to us and changing them. For, as I am always saying, He that teaches high morality (περὶ φιλοσοφίας) ought first to teach it in his own person, and be such as his hearers cannot do without.”
  4. Only children laugh at serious matters – SJC “Now children cannot bear to take thought for anything useful; so also the Greeks would be for ever at play; and they lie on the ground, grovelling in posture and in affections. Moreover, children oftentimes, when we are discoursing about important things, give no heed to anything that is said, but will even be laughing all the time: such also are the Greeks. When we discourse of the Kingdom, they laugh.”

SEND OFF – It is time to grow up! SJC “Let us, therefore, become men; that we may arrive at the measure of the stature which has been marked out for us by Christ, and may obtain the good things to come”