Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 12

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – October 26, 2021 – 1st Corinthians 4.3-5  Session 12 – Homily 11

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. Human beings are preoccupied with being nosey SJC “Together with all other ills, I know not how, there has come upon man’s nature the disease of restless prying and of unseasonable curiosity.”
  2. Judging others brings condemnations – SJC “A kind of thing, which has no pleasure as all other sins have, but only punishment and vengeance. For though we are ourselves full of ten thousand evils, and bearing the beams in our own eyes, we become exact inquisitors of the offenses of our neighbor which are not at all bigger than motes.”

Section [2]

  1. By saying he is worthy of judgment from others, St Paul teaches that we should not judge others – SCJ “For first, he says these things not for his own sake, but wishing to rescue others from the odium which they had incurred from the Corinthians. And in the next place, he limits not the matter to the Corinthians merely, but himself also he deposes from this right of judging; saying, that to decree such things was a matter beyond his decision. At least he adds, I judge not my own self.”
  2. It is arrogant to believe we are better than anyone else – SJC “For this is arrogance, to think one’s self better than one’s fellow-servants: but to pass the true sentence on things comes not of boasting, but of strictness of life. On this account Paul also, not to exalt himself, but to humble others, and to keep down those who were rising up out of their places, and to persuade them to be modest, said, With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you or of man’s day.”

Section [3]

  1. If we judge others, we will be judged that much more – SJC “From this make your estimate how great shall be the strictness of the future judgment. It is not, you see, as considering himself unblameable that he says it is so unmeet for him to be judged by them, but to stop the mouths of those who were doing so unreasonably.”
  1. Even those who are sinless have no authority to judge – SJC “For (to proceed) he spoke these things, not to exhibit himself as faultless, but to show that even should there be among them some such person, free from transgression, not even he would be worthy to judge the lives of others: and that if he, though conscious to himself of nothing declare himself guilty, much more they who have ten thousand sins to be conscious of in themselves.”

Section [4]

  1. It is worse to remain in sin, than to fall to sin and repent – SJC “For he who after sinning has practised repentance, is a worthy object not of grief but of gratulations, having passed over into the choir of the righteous. For, Isaiah 43:26 declare thou your iniquities first, that you may be justified: but if after sinning one is void of shame, he is not so much to be pitied for falling as for lying where he is fallen. Now if it be a grievous fault not to repent after sins; to be puffed up because of sins, what sort of punishment does it deserve?”

Section [5]

  1. There are three reasons we should be judged – SJC “correct judgement belongs not to us. One, because, though we be conscious to ourselves of nothing, still we need one to reprove our sins with strictness. Another, because the most part of the things which are done escape us and are concealed. And for a third besides these, because many things which are done by others seem to us indeed fair, but they come not of a right mind.”
  2. It is possible to do good with bad intentions – SJC “Again, many things we do, good indeed, but not of a right mind. For so we commend many, not from a wish to render them conspicuous, but to wound others by means of them. And the thing done indeed is right for the well-doer is praised; but the intention is corrupt: for it is done of a satanical purpose. For this one has often done, not rejoicing with his brother, but desiring to wound the other party.”

Section [6]

  1. If both good and bad deeds cannot be trusted, nobody is worthy of judging – SJC “Seeing then that not even where we know nothing against ourselves, can we be clean from accusations, and where we do anything good, but do it not of a right mind, we are liable to punishment; consider how vastly men are deceived in their judgments.”
  2. Sin lives in darkness, either in secret or clouded reason – SJC “And yet he who is committing sin, well says, Darkness is around me and walls; for were there not a darkness in his mind he would not have cast out the fear of God and acted as he pleased. For unless the ruling principle be first darkened, the entrance of sin without fear is a thing impossible.”
  3. Unclean desire blinds us to danger – SJC “For when by unclean desire the soul is made captive, even as a cloud and mist the eyes of the body, so that desire intercepts the foresight of the mind, and suffers it to see nothing at any distance, either precipice, or hell, or fear; but thenceforth, having that deceit as a tyrant over him, he comes to be easily vanquished by sin; and there is raised up before his eyes as it were a wall without windows, which suffers not the ray of righteousness to shine in upon the mind, the absurd conceits of lust enclosing it as with a rampart on all sides.”

Section [7]

  1. Our passions consume our thoughts – SJC “And not only this sin has these effects, but every misplaced affection as well. For let us transfer, if you please, the argument from the unchaste woman unto money, and we shall see here also thick and unbroken darkness. For in the former case, inasmuch as the beloved object is one and shut up in one place, the feeling is not so violent; but in the case of money which shows itself every where, in silversmiths’ shops, in taverns, in foundries for gold, in the houses of the wealthy, the passion blows a vehement gale.”

Section [8]

  1. The Passions grow stronger with time unless they are defeated – SJC “Wherefore I exhort that you cut off the passion at its beginning: for just as a fever on its first attack, does not violently burn up the patients with thirst, but on its increase and the heightening of its fire causes from that time incurable thirst; and though one should let them fill themselves full of drink, it puts not out the furnace but makes it burn fiercer: so also it happens in regard to this passion; unless when it first invades our soul we stop it and shut the doors; having got in, from that time it makes the disease of those who have admitted it incurable. For so both good things and bad, the longer they abide in us, the more powerful they become.”

Section [9]

  1. Don’t lose hope. There are examples of those who defeated passions with God’s help – SJC “For if they will consider those who have suffered and fallen into that distemper and have recovered, they will have good hopes respecting the removal of the disease. Who then ever fell into this disease, and was easily rid of it? That well-known Zacchæus. For who could be more fond of money than a publican? But all at once he became a man of strict life, (Φιλόσοφος) and put out all that blaze. Matthew in like manner: for he too was a publican, living in continual rapine.”

LIFE APPLICATION: Learn to not desire the passions

Section [10]

  1. The way to defeat the passions is to know they are worthless – SJC “We must know how worthless the things in question are, and that wealth is a run-away slave, and heartless, and encompasses its possessors with ills innumerable. And such words, like charms, let us sound in their ears continually. And as physicians soothe their patients when they ask for cold water, by saying that they will give it, making excuses about the spring, and the vessel, and the fit time, and many more such, (for should they refuse at once, they make them wild with phrensy,) so let us also act towards the lovers of money.”
  2. Wealth is not sinful, but desiring wealth is sinful – SJC “And let us produce the lessons of true wisdom, and say, we forbid not riches, but ill-gotten riches. For it is lawful to be rich, but without covetousness, without rapine and violence, and an ill report from all men.”
  3. We gain more by helping others see the needs of others, rather than focusing on their sins – SJC “What wild beast would not be softened by these things? Who is there so savage and inhuman that these things should not make him mild?…And let us farther narrate to them the disasters of others; the untimely bereavements, the dwellers in prison, those who are torn to pieces before tribunals, those who are trembling for life; the unlooked for widowhood of women; the sudden reverse of the rich: and with this let us soften their minds. For by our narrations concerning others, we shall induce them by all means to fear these evils in their own case too.”

SEND OFF! Bring people away from hell by helping them see the foolishness of their desire

All these things let us speak as in pity for the deceased, and as depreciating things present; in order that by fear and by pity we may soften the cruel mind. And when we see men shrinking into themselves at these narrations, then and not till then let us introduce to their notice also the doctrine of hell, not as terrifying these, but in compassion for others.