Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 6

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – February 9, 2021 – 1st Corinthians 1.26-31 Session 6 – Homily 5

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. In all manner, God shows the human way is lacking SJC he has showed that human wisdom is cast out, both by the testimony of the Scriptures and by the issue of events; by the testimony, where he says, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; by the event, putting his argument in the form of a question, and saying, Where is the wise? Where the Scribe?”
  2. This teaching is not new but ancient (SJC repeats vs. 19) – SJC “he proved at the same time that the thing is not new, but ancient, as it was presignified and foretold from the beginning. For, It is written, says he, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.
  3. St Paul is calling Corinthians (and us) as witnesses – SJC “And of this he calls the Corinthians themselves as witnesses. For, behold your calling, brethren, says he: consider; examine: for that doctrines so wise, yea, wiser than all, should be received by ordinary men, testifies the greatest wisdom in the teacher.”

Section [2]

  1. Not all wise are left out, but many more ignorant accepted the Gospel – SJC “he said not, No wise man, but, Not many wise men. For he did not designedly (ἀποκεκληρωμένως) call the ignorant and pass by the wise, but these also he received, yet the others in much larger number. And why? Because the wise man according to the flesh is full of extreme folly”
  2. It is easier to accept faith when we don’t hold on to reason – SJC “The unlearned were more open to conviction, for they were free from the extreme madness of accounting themselves wise. For indeed the excess of folly is in these more than any, these, I say, who commit unto reasoning things which cannot be ascertained except by faith.”
  3. Arrogance interferes in knowing God – SJC “nothing is so useless towards an accurate knowledge of God as arrogance, and being nailed down (προσηλῶσθαι) to wealth: for these dispose a man to admire things present, and make no account of the future; and they stop up the ears through the multitude of cares.”

Section [3]

  1. Humanity NEEDS help to be saved. We are not capable of saving ourselves – SJC “For God Himself has shown that it is not possible we should be saved only by ourselves: and this He did from the beginning. For neither then could men be saved by themselves; but it required their compassing the beauty of the heaven, and the extent of the earth, and the mass of creation besides; if so they might be led by the hand to the great artificer of all the works.”
  2. We must reject human reason to be saved – SJC “unless a man become a fool, that is, unless he dismiss all reasoning and all wisdom, and deliver up himself unto the faith, it is impossible to be saved.”
  3. Humanity fails when we depend upon our own reasoning – SJC “for hence came the sin, that men insisted on being wiser than the laws of God; not willing so to obtain knowledge as He had enacted: and therefore they did not obtain it at all. So also was it from the beginning. He said to Adam, Do such a thing, and such another you must not do. He, as thinking to find out something more, disobeyed; and even what he had, he lost.”

Section [4]

  1. ALL our value has come to us from God – SJC “And of this nobility of ours, not this person or that, but Christ is the cause, having made us wise, and righteous, and holy. For so mean the words, He was made unto us wisdom….Say not therefore that anything is from yourself, but in all things glory in God. Impute unto no man anything at any time.”

LIVING APPLICATION: The Success of the unlearned fishermen IS proof enough of God

Section [5]

  1. The Apostles MUST HAVE seen the Risen Lord to even consider doing what they did – SJC “From whence did it enter their thoughts to expect to overcome the world, unless they had seen Christ after He was risen? What? Were they beside themselves, to reckon upon any such thing inconsiderately and at random? For it goes even beyond all madness, to look, without Divine grace, for success in so great an undertaking.”
  2. No other uprising ever succeeded. It MUST have been divine grace – SJC “For many for attempting innovations had been utterly extinguished, I say not among the Greeks, for all that was nothing, but among the Jews themselves at that very time; who not with twelve men, but with great numbers had applied themselves to the work. Thus both Theudas and Judas, having great bodies of men, perished together with their disciples. And the fear arising from their examples was enough to control these, had they not been strongly persuaded that victory without divine power was out of the question.”

Section [6]

  1. If Christ did not rise, they would have thought He was a deceiver – SJC “For He would have seemed to them, had He not risen, as a sort of deceiver and pretender. Do you not know that armies while the general and king is alive, even though they be weak, keep together; but when those in such office have departed, however strong they may be, they are broken up?…So that if none of these things had come to pass, although they believed in Him while alive, after His death they would not have believed in Him, unless they had seen Him after He was risen.”
  1. The Apostles could have avoided all suffering if they had admitted that Christ did not rise from the dead – SJC “Moreover, seeing that the Jews gave money unto the soldiers to say that they stole the body, if the disciples had come forward and said, We stole Him, He is not risen again, what honor would they not have enjoyed? Thus it was in their power to be honored, nay, crowned. Why then did they for insults and dangers barter away these things, if it was not some Divine power which influenced them, and proved mightier than all these?”
  2. The Apostles would have been mad to proceed if Christ was not risen – SJC “If they had been mad, (for I will not cease repeating it,) they could not have succeeded at all; for no one follows the advice of madmen.”

Section [7]

  1. The power of witnessing the Risen Lord was enough to transform the Apostles – SJC “And one of the disciples was not even willing to depart with Him into Judea, when he heard of dangers, but said, Let us also go that we may die with Him, John 11:16 taking it hardly because he expected that he should die. Now if that disciple, while he was with Him, expected to die and shrunk back on that account, what must he not have expected afterwards, when parted from Him and the other disciples, and when the exposure of their shameless conduct was so complete?”

Section [8-10]

  1. EVERYTHING was working against the Apostles – SJC “What in the world then set them upon rushing into such great dangers? And by what statements about Him would they be likely to gain credit? That He was crucified? That He was born of a poor Jewish woman who had been betrothed to a Jewish carpenter? That He was of a nation hated by the world? Nay, all these things were enough not only to fail of persuading and attracting the hearers, but also to disgust every one; and especially when affirmed by the tent-maker and the fisherman. Would not the disciples then bear all these things in mind?”


Section [11]

  1. And do not, because you are an artisan, suppose that this sort of exercise is out of your province; for even Paul was a tent-maker….Let no one, therefore, of those who have trades be ashamed; but those, who are brought up to nothing and are idle, who employ many attendants, and are served by an immense retinue. For to be supported by continual hard work is a sort of asceticism….For tell me, what thanks are due unto you, when after having received your portion from your father, you go on not in any calling, but lavishing away the whole of it at random? Do you not know that we shall not all have to render the same account, but those who have enjoyed greater licence here a more exact one; those who were afflicted with labor, or poverty, or anything else of this kind, one not so severe?”