Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 14

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – February 15, 2022 – 1st Corinthians 4.10-16  Session 14 – Homily 13

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. SJC backs up to regain the context SJC For it is necessary from this point to resume our discourse.
  2. We should seek not worldly glory, but the life of Apostles – SJC Now these things he said that he might hereby cause them also to consider, that they should zealously seek the condition of the Apostles; their dangers and their indignities, not their honors and glories. For these, not the other, are what the Gospel requires. 

Section [2]

  1. Our struggle is constant! – SJC Do you see that all the life of Christians must be such as this; and not merely a day or two? For though the wrestler who is victorious in a single contest only, be crowned, he is not crowned again if he suffer a fall.
  2. We are called to suffer without despondency ie: willingly – SJC this, I say, is the main point, not our suffering evil, for that is common to all, but our suffering without despondency or vexation. But we so far from desponding are full of exultation. And a sure proof of this is our requiting with the contrary those who do us wrong.
  3. St Paul expresses his deep love for the people when he shares how he suffers – SJC It is the expression of one seriously concerned; not in pain himself, but desiring to make them feel, (πλῆξαι) that he who has innumerable complaints to make should even salute them. And therefore did Christ command us to bear insults meekly that we might both exercise ourselves in a high strain of virtue, and put the other party to the more shame. For that effect one produces not so well by reproach as by silence.

Section [3]

  1. The Church loves us like a parent. Correction should be out of love, not force – SJC For not to speak was impossible, since they would have remained uncorrected: on the other hand, after he had spoken, to leave the wound untended, were hard. Wherefore along with his severity he apologizes: for this so far from destroying the effect of the knife, rather makes it sink deeper in, while it moderates the full pain of the wound. Since when a man is told that not in reproach but in love are these things said, he the more readily receives correction.

Section [4]

  1. St Paul teaches that we have been blessed by Christ, no one person – SJC He is not here setting forth his dignity, but the exceeding greatness of his love. Thus neither did he wound the other teachers: since he adds the clause, in Christ: but rather soothed them, designating not as parasites but as tutors those among them who were zealous and patient of labor: and also manifested his own anxious care of them. 
  2. St Paul expresses fatherly love to draw them (us) in – SJC For his one care at the moment was, to show forth the love which he had for them. For they indeed received you from me, and led you on; but that you are believers at all came to pass through me. Thus, because he had said, as children; lest you should suppose that the expression was flattery he produces also the matter of fact.

Section [5]

  1. St Paul Invites us to imitate him as he imitates ChristSJC Not that in self-exaltation he does so, but implying that virtue is an easy thing. As if he had said, Tell me not, ‘I am not able to imitate you. You are a Teacher, and a great one.’ For the difference between me and you is not so great as between Christ and me: and yet I have imitated Him.

LIFE APPLICATION: Imitating Saint Paul like Christ requires effort and commitment

Section [6]

  1. Get to know the whole life of St Paul and other Saints – SJC For having got the colors and learned what he was ignorant of, he waited no time, but immediately appeared a most excellent artist. And first he shows the head of the king, preaching Christ; then also the remainder of the body; the body of a perfect Christian life.
  2. Because of Christ, Saint Paul’s work is greater than the Mercy Seat of the Temple – SJC For this cause he was more awful than the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim. For no such voice went out from them as from hence; but from them it talked with men chiefly about things of sense, from the tongue of Paul on the other hand about the things above the heavens. Again, from the Mercy Seat it spoke oracles to the Jews alone; but from hence to the whole world: and there it was by things without life; but here by a soul instinct with virtue.
  3. St Paul never allowed his suffering to dampen his light – SJC Wherefore also he himself when bound with his chain kept exclaiming, 2 Timothy 2:9 The word of God is not bound. Thus continually by means of that tongue was It sending forth its rays. And no fear, no danger made that bosom gloomy.

Section [7]

  1. A holy life expels evilSJC And wheresoever Paul happened to show himself, they all retired and got out of the way, as if the champion of the whole world had appeared. And as they who have been often wounded in war, should they see but some part of the armor of him that wounded them feel a shuddering; much in the same way the devils also, at sight of handkerchiefs only were astonied.
  2. If we imitate St Paul’s lifestyle we too can defeat evil – SJC If therefore we also thus exercise ourselves, when we enter into the contest we shall be crowned: and though there be no persecution before us, we shall receive for these things many rewards. But if we pamper the body and live the life of a swine, even in peace we shall often sin and bear shame.Do you see not with whom we wrestle? With the incorporeal powers. How then, being ourselves flesh, are we to get the better of these? For if wrestling with men one have need to be temperate in diet, much more with evil spirits.

Section [8]

  1. Physical world is not evil, but how the physical world is used, that is evil – SJC For God made nothing evil but all things very good; so that riches too are good; i.e. if they do not master their owners; if the wants of our neighbors be done away by them. For neither is that light good which instead of dissipating darkness rather makes it intense: nor should I call that wealth, which instead of doing away poverty rather increases it.
  2. Charity must be done willingly in order to be a blessing – SJC Again tell me, which is the more dignified, to receive from those who are willing and are obliged to you, or when men are unwilling, to compel and tease them? Clearly not to trouble those who are unwilling. 

SEND OFF! Chase Heaven – Do Not Chase Earth!Wherefore I beseech you, all such wealth as this let us flee, disgraceful as it is and in deaths abundant; and let us obtain that which is spiritual, and let us seek after the treasures in the heavens. For whoever possess these, they are the rich, they are the wealthy, both here and there enjoying things; even all things. Since whoever will be poor, according to the word of God, has all men’s houses opened to him. For unto him that for God’s sake has ceased to possess anything, every one will contribute of his own. But whoever will hold a little with injustice, shuts the doors of all against him. To the end, then, that we may attain both to the good things here and to those which are there, let us choose the wealth which cannot be removed, that immortal abundance: which may God grant us all to obtain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.