Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 21

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – May 2, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 8  Session 21 – Homily 20

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. Eating meat offered to idols is dangerous SJC For, on the one hand, those who still retained the fear of idols and knew not how to contemn them, took part in those meals, because they saw the more perfect sort doing this; and hence they got the greatest injury: since they did not touch what was set before them with the same mind as the others, but as things offered in sacrifice to idols; and the thing was becoming a way to idolatry. On the other hand, these very persons who pretended to be more perfect were injured in no common way, partaking in the tables of demons.
  2. Saint Paul brings us to humility by helping us see that knowledge is common to all – SJC For they who possess something great and excellent are more elated, when they alone have it; but if it be made out that they possess it in common with others, they no longer have so much of this feeling. 

Section [2]

  1. Knowledge without love is imperfect and dangerous – SJC In that he shows that not even this thing itself was in all points complete, but imperfect, and extremely so. And not only imperfect, but also injurious, unless there were another thing joined together with it. For having said that we have knowledge, he added, Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies: so that when it is without love, it lifts men up to absolute arrogance.
  2. The lack of love is the source of all sorts of evil – SJC Do you see how he already sounds the first note of his discourse concerning love? For since all these evils were springing from the following root, i.e., not from perfect knowledge, but from their not greatly loving nor sparing their neighbors; whence ensued both their variance and their self-satisfaction, and all the rest which he had charged them with; both before this and after he is continually providing for love; so correcting the fountain of all good things.

Section [3]

  1. All knowledge is imperfect – SJC But even though you have it by yourself alone, though you be modest, though you love your brother, even in this case you are imperfect in regard of knowledge. 
  2. Only after defeating their knowledge as common and imperfect does Saint Paul move on to doctrine – SJC Having then so much at large allayed their irritation, he begins to speak doctrinally, saying thus.

Section [4]

  1. Whether we are strong or weak, we should avoid meat offered to idols – SJC For indeed his mind is to prove both; that one ought to abstain from this kind of banquet, and that it has no power to hurt those who partake of it: things which were not greatly in agreement with each other. 

Section [5]

  1. Just because people call things gods, doesn’t mean they are gods – SJC Since he had said, that an idol is nothing and that there is no other God; and yet there were idols and there were those that were called gods; that he might not seem to be contradicting plain facts, he goes on to say, For though there be that are called gods, as indeed there are; not absolutely, there are; but, called, not in reality having this but in name: be it in heaven or on earth:— in heaven, meaning the sun and the moon and the remainder of the choir of stars; for these too the Greeks worshiped: but upon the earth demons, and all those who had been made gods of men: — yet to us there is One God, the Father. 

Section [6]

  1. DOCTRINE: The Father and the Son are both divine – SJC And as the Father is not thrust out from being the Lord, in the same sense as the Son is the Lord, because He, the Son, is spoken of as one Lord; so neither does it cast out the Son from being God, in the same sense as the Father is God, because the Father is styled One God.

Section [7]

  1. Just because we call them both Lord and God does not mean we believe in more than one God. Saint Paul is speaking to a particular audience. – SJC And this is why, having called the Father, God, he calls the Son, Lord. If now he ventured not to call the Father Lord together with the Son, lest they might suspect him to be speaking of two Lords; nor yet the Son, God, with the Father, lest he might be supposed to speak of two Gods: why marvel at his not having mentioned the Spirit? His contest was, so far, with the Gentiles: his point, to signify that with us there is no plurality of Gods. 
  2. The Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and Son – SJC For if He be rejected from the Father and Son, much more ought He not to be put in the same rank with them in the matter of Baptism; where most especially the dignity of the Godhead appears and gifts are bestowed which pertain to God alone to afford. 
  3. Saint Paul doesn’t say everything every time. He leaves some for later – SJC For there was no need of mentioning all he had to reprove, particularly as he intended to visit them again with more severity.

Section [8]

  1. If we believe evil can hurt us, then it can hurt us – SJC Just as if a man were to think that by touching a dead body he should pollute himself according to the Jewish custom, and then seeing others touching it with a clear conscience, but not with the same mind touching it himself, would be polluted. This was their state of feeling at that time. 

Section [9]

  1. It isn’t about meat – SJC For the former topic by itself is laboring in vain. Since he that hears of another being hurt while himself has the gain, is not very apt to abstain; but then rather he does so, when he finds out that he himself is no way advantaged by the thing. 

Section [10]

  1. It is worse to cause your brother to stumble than to eat meat – SJC After having said, Take heed lest this your liberty become a stumbling-block, he explains how and in what manner it becomes so: and he continually employs the term weakness, that the mischief may not be thought to arise from the nature of the thing, nor demons appear formidable. 
  2. Since Christ died for others, we should accommodate them – SJC For there are two things which deprive you of excuse in this mischief; one, that he is weak, the other, that he is your brother: rather, I should say, there is a third also, and one more terrible than all. What then is this? That whereas Christ refused not even to die for him, you can not bear even to accommodate yourself to him.

LIFE APPLICATION: Be Holy and Glorify God

Section [11]

  1. Christ died for our brothers – SJC For indeed it comes of folly in the extreme that what things are greatly cared for by Christ, and such as He should have even chosen to die for them, these we should esteem so entirely beneath our notice as not even to abstain from meats on their account.

Section [12]

  1. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ – SJC Think on these things, and esteem the pride of man to be nothing. But count the tent-maker as well as your brother, as him that is borne upon a chariot and has innumerable servants and struts in the market-place: nay, rather the former than the latter; since the term brother would more naturally be used where there is the greater resemblance. Which then resembles the fisherman? He who is supported by daily labor and has neither servant nor dwelling, but is quite beset with privations; or that other who is surrounded with such vast pomp, and who acts contrary to the laws of God? Despise not then him that is more of the two your brother, for he comes nearer to the Apostolic pattern.
  2. Everyone is worthy of honor – SJC Whenever then you see one driving nails, smiting with a hammer, covered with soot, do not therefore hold him cheap, but rather for that reason admire him. 
  3. Our good deeds should be for those who cannot pay them back – SJC Wherefore God bade us call to our suppers and our feasts the lame, and the maimed, and those who cannot repay us; for these are most of all properly called good deeds which are done for God’s sake. 

SEND OFF! Our Glory is Coming LaterThese let us also imitate. For so shall we be visited with a return of all our good deeds and that abundantly, because we do all with such a mind as this: so shall we obtain also the brighter crowns.