Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;
A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – September 13, 2022 – 1st Corinthians 6.15-20 Session 19 – Homily 18
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.
- Fear isn’t enough to change hearts – SJC Now the fear of punishment indeed was enough to keep them in chastity. But seeing that he does not wish by fear alone to set these matters right, he uses both threatenings and reasons.
- Sometimes we need a ‘little shock factor’ – SJC And the same figure he often employs, not with the same aim, but at one time to show His love, and at another to increase their fear. But here he has employed it to startle and fill them with alarm.
- Sex unites two into one – SJC For the conjunction suffers the two no longer to be two, but makes them both one.
- Sexual sin polutes the entire body – SJC For it is as polluted as if it had fallen into a vessel of filth, and been immersed in defilement.
- All sin can send us ‘to hell’ – SJC Both however are bad, both covetousness and fornication; and both cast into hell. But as Paul does every thing with good management, so by whatever topics he had he magnified the sin of fornication.
- Since we do not own our body, we ought to be more careful – SJC What then is the meaning of, you are not your own? And what does he wish to prove thereby? To settle them in a state of security against sin, and against following the improper desires of the mind. For indeed we have many improper wishes: but we must repress them, for we can. And if we could not, exhortation would be in vain.
- It helps to remember that we were saved while we were still sinners – SJC For he reminds us of the greatness of the benefit and of the mode of our salvation, signifying that when we were alienated, we were bought: and not simply bought, but, with a price.
- We should flee – run away – from every evil thought – SJC Now these things he says, that we may not only flee fornication in the body, but also in the spirit of our mind abstain from every wicked thought, and from driving away grace.
- God created us and then bought us again – SJC But He has spoken of these things as God’s, not only because He brought them into being, but also because, when they were alienated, He won them again a second time, paying as the price, the blood of the Son.
- Even creation glorifies God – SJC So do the heavens also glorify Him, uttering no voice, but by the view of them attracting wonder and referring the glory unto the Great Artificer.
- A holy person is more glorious than all of creation – SJC For who shall help being astonished when one being a man, and partaking of our common nature, and living among other men, like adamant yields not at all to the swarm of passions? When being in the midst of fire and iron and wild beasts, he is even harder than adamant and vanquishes all for the Word of godliness’ sake? When he is injured, and blesses; when he is evil reported of, and praises; when he is despitefully used, and pray for those who injure him; when he is plotted against, and does good to those that fight with him and lay snares for him? For these things, and such as these, will glorify God far more than the heaven.
LIFE APPLICATION: Be Holy and Glorify God
- The Three Youths in the Furnace were more glorious than the miracle itself because they were willing to die – SJC So that not because of the miracle alone was glory given to God at that time, but also because of the purpose of those who have been thrown in. Now if any one would examine this point and the other, as they are in themselves, this will appear not less than that: for to persuade souls to brave a furnace is not less in respect of the wonder than to deliver from a furnace.
- Even now many ‘bow down’ to wealth but the furnace of poverty is glorified – SJC But as these things are, so also even now are there some who are emulous of these children: who say, your gods we serve not, and your images we worship not; but both the furnace of poverty we endure and all other distress, for the sake of God’s laws. And the wealthy for their part, even as those at that time, oftentimes, worship this image too and are burnt.
- The sins of the multitude can cause all to suffer – SJC Since if he had not the power to overcome these men in chains, and that when they were cast into a furnace, how could he have overcome the Jews in regular warfare, had they been all such as these? From which it is plain that the sins of the multitude betrayed the city.
- Humility glorifies God – SJC But mark also the children’s freedom from vain-glory. For they did not leap into the furnace, but they kept beforehand the commandment of Christ where he says, (Matthew 26:41) Pray that you enter not into temptation. Neither did they shrink when they were brought to it; but stood in the midst nobly, neither contending without a summons, nor yet when summoned playing the coward: but ready for everything, and noble, and full of all boldness of speech.
- The martyrs glorified God twice: first in their willingness to die, second in their miracle rescue – SJC For what marvel is it if when they had a guarantee for safety, they defied all terrors? Then God indeed would have been glorified in that He was able to deliver from the furnace: but they would not have been wondered at, inasmuch as they would not have cast themselves into any dangers. For this cause He suffered them to be ignorant of the future that He might glorify them the more. And as they cautioned (ἠσψαλίξοντο) the king that he was not to condemn God of weakness though they might be burnt, so God accomplished both purposes; the showing forth His own power and the causing the zeal of the children to appear more conspicuous.
SEND OFF! We Must Remain Pure!For with this most tremendous saying we must conclude our discourse, in order that having the fear of the threat in full efficacy, we may remain purer than gold, this fear helping to make us so. For so shall we be able, delivered from all fornication, to see Christ.