Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 7

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – February 23, 2021 – 1st Corinthians 2.1-5 Session 7 – Homily 6

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 is CONTINUALLY fighting pride SJC “For sufficient indeed is what had been said before to cast down the pride of the boasters about wisdom; nay, even a part of it had been enough.”
  2. The Gospel is simple as opposed to worldly logic – SJC “He destroyed the philosophy of the Gentiles; he had shown that the foolishness of God is wiser than men; he had shown that not only did He teach by untaught persons, but also chose untaught persons to learn of Him.”
  3. In a world filled with logic and philosophy, God’s message conquers – SJC “And to me it seems that he speaks to them in a lower tone even than to any others, in order to repress their pride. Thus, the expression, I determined to know nothing, was spoken in contradistinction to the wisdom which is without. For I came not weaving syllogisms nor sophisms, nor saying unto you anything else than Christ was crucified. They indeed have ten thousand things to say, and concerning ten thousand things they speak, winding out long courses of words, framing arguments and syllogisms, compounding sophisms without end. But I came unto you saying no other thing than Christ was crucified. and all of them I out-stripped: which is a sign such as no words can express of the power of Him whom I preach.”

Section [2]

  1. Suffering for the Gospel gives St Paul credibility and strength – SCJ “but together with these there were also other hindrances, the dangers, and the plots, and the daily fear, and the being hunted about. For the word weakness, with him in many places stands for the persecutions.”
  2. If St Paul had no fear, then he made no great effort – SJC “But this is no charge against Paul, but infirmity of human nature; and it is to the praise of his fixed purpose of mind that when he even dreaded death and stripes, he did nothing wrong because of this fear. So that they who assert that he feared not stripes, not only do not honor him, but rather abridge greatly his praises. For if he feared not, what endurance or what self-restraint was there in bearing the dangers?”

Section [3]

  1. If it wasn’t the Power of God, how did such a simple message defeat such powerful wisdom? – SJC “Now if the doctrine preached had nothing subtle, and they that were called were unlearned, and he that preached was of the same description, and thereto was added persecution, and trembling and fear; tell me, how did they overcome without Divine power?”
  2. Not all wonders are divine! – SJC “But seeing that there are also deceiving wonders, such as those of sorcerers, he removes this suspicion also. For he said not simply of power, but first, of the Spirit, and then, of power: signifying that the things done were spiritual.”
  3. If the Gospel depends upon human wisdom, then it is not divine – SJC “Wisdom would have persuaded many to suspect that the doctrine was of man: this clearly demonstrated it to be divine, and to have come down from heaven.”

Section [4]

  1. Wonders are useful to draw attention to the Gospel, but they do not replace the message – SCJ “I say then, If signs were not done at that time, how did they, chased, and persecuted, and trembling, and in chains, and having become the common enemies of the world, and exposed to all as a mark for ill usage, and with nothing of their own to allure, neither speech, nor show, nor wealth, nor city, nor nation, nor family, nor pursuit (ἐπιτήδευμα,) nor glory, nor any such like thing; but with all things contrary, ignorance, meanness, poverty, hatred, enmity, and setting themselves against whole commonwealths, and with such a message to declare; how, I say, did they work conviction?”

Section [5]

  1. The purpose of miracles is to confirm faith, not replace it – SJC “For who, at sight of the heavens opened and Him coming upon the clouds, and all the congregation of the powers above spread around Him, and rivers of fire coming on, and all standing by and trembling, will not fall down before Him, and believe Him God? Tell me, then; shall that adoration and knowledge be accounted unto the Greek for faith? No, on no account. And why not? Because this is not faith. For necessity has done this, and the evidence of the things seen, and it is not of choice, but by the vastness of the spectacle the powers of the mind are dragged along.”

Section [6]

  1. You can see signs if you look for them….IF you look for the Gospel’s unimaginable success – SJC “Besides if signs be what you seek after, even now you may see signs, although not of the same kind; the numberless predictions and on an endless variety of subject: the conversion of the world, the self-denying (φιλοσοφίαν) course of the Barbarians, the change from savage customs, the greater intenseness of piety.”

Section [7]

  1. The world-wide spread of the Gospel is a sign which should lead to belief – SJC “And besides, there is the whole world which with one consent has received the Gospel. Now there could not have been so great agreement from one end of the earth to the other, unless it had been the Grace of the Spirit; but the authors of the forgery would have been quickly found out.”

LIVING APPLICATION: Laziness in faith hundred the spread of the Gospel

Section [8]

  1. It is ultimately the mode of OUR life that brings credibility to the Gospel –  SJC “Why then do not all believe now? Because things have degenerated: and for this we are to blame. (For from hence the discourse is addressed unto us also.) For surely not even then did they trust to signs alone, but by the mode of life also many of the converts were attracted.”
  2. The First Christians were better at living the Gospel – SJC “They were all of one heart and one soul, neither said any man that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common; and distribution was made unto every man, according as he had need; Acts 4:32-35 and they lived an angelic life. And if the same were done now, we should convert the whole world, even without miracles.”
  3. A comfortable life brings weak faith – SJC “Hence it is that they also who are with us have become slothful. For suppose that one saw soldiers and generals struggling with hunger, and thirst, and death, and with all dreadful things, and bearing cold and dangers and all like lions, and so prospering; then afterwards, relaxing that strictness, and becoming enervated, and fond of wealth, and addicted to business and bargains, and then overcome by their enemies, it were extreme folly to seek for the cause of all this. Now let us reason thus in our own case and that of our ancestors; for we too have become weaker than all, and are nailed down unto this present life.”
  4. A pure life can defeat the devil – SJC “For so it is, that our upright living seems unto the many the more trustworthy argument of the two: miracles admitting of a bad construction on the part of obstinate bad men: whereas a pure life will have abundant power to stop the mouth of the devil himself.”

SEND OFF! May our outward life be worthy of confirming our faith in God

Section [9]

  1. These things I say, both to governors and governed; and, before all others, unto myself; to the end that the way of life shown forth in us may be truly admirable, that taking our appropriate stations, we may look down on all things present; may despise wealth, and not despise hell; overlook glory, and not overlook salvation; endure toil and labor here, lest we fall into punishment there. Thus let us wage war with the Greeks; thus let us take them captive with a captivity better than liberty. But while we say these things without intermission, over and over, they occur very seldom. Howbeit, be they done or not, it is right to remind you of them continually. For if some are engaged in deceiving by their fair speech, so much more is it the duty of those who allure back unto the truth, not to grow weary of speaking what is profitable. Again: if the deceivers make use of so many contrivances — spending as they do money, and applying arguments, and undergoing dangers, and making a parade of their patronage — much more should we, who are winning men from deceit, endure both dangers and deaths, and all things; that we may both gain ourselves and others, and become to our enemies irresistible, and so obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness, etc.