Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 23

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;

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

Study Guide – May 16, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 9.13-23  Session 23 – Homily 22

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 teaches from the position of dignity making it easier to hear SJC But consider, I pray, in this also the wisdom of Paul, how he mentions the matter in a way to give it dignity.
  2. Once something is given to the Church we lose control – it isn’t ours any longer – SJC For the things offered now no longer belonged to those who offered them, but to the temple and the altar.
  3. We do not all have the same responsibilities in the Church – SJC Again, as he had spoken of the priests among the Jews, viz. both the Levites and the Chief Priests, so he has expressed each of the orders, both the inferior and the superior; the one by saying, they which minister about sacred things, and the other by saying, they which wait upon the altar. For not to all was one work commanded; but some were entrusted with the coarser, others with the more exalted offices.

Section [2]

  1. St Paul sets a lofty example for our humility – SJC That is to say, many things giving me license; the soldier, the husbandman, the shepherd, the Apostles, the law, the things done by us unto you, the things done by you unto the others, the priests, the ordinance of Christ; by none of these have I been induced to abolish my own law, and to receive.

Section [3]

  1. If all we do is what we ought to do, we deserve no glory – SJC For if I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!

Section [4]

  1. It is great to condescend to bring others up rather than to exult yourself – SJC Thus doing as he did all things of free choice and zeal and love to Christ, he had an insatiable desire for the salvation of mankind. Wherefore also he used to overpass by a very great deal the lines marked out, in every way springing higher than the very heaven.

Section [5]

  1. St Paul is willing to do whatever it takes to save even a few – SJC Do you see how far it is carried? I have become all things to all men, not expecting, however, to save all, but that I may save though it be but a few. And so great care and service have I undergone, as one naturally would who was about saving all, far however from hoping to gain all: which was truly magnanimous and a proof of burning zeal.
  2. St Paul even rejects the spiritual reward even though they are due, in order to show humility – SJC Do you see the excellency of his perfection? How he wrought beyond the things commanded, not receiving when it was lawful to receive. Do you see the exceeding greatness of his condescension? How he that was under law to Christ, and kept that highest law, to them that were without law, was as one without law, to the Jews, as a Jew, in either kind showing himself preeminent, and surpassing all.

LIFE APPLICATION: Love Christ above all else to save a few

Section [6]

  1. Loving Christ means condescension to save others – SJC For this is not to fall, but to descend. For he who falls, lies prostrate, hardly to be raised up again; but he who descends shall also rise again with much advantage. As also Paul descended indeed alone, but ascended with the whole world: not acting a part, for he would not have sought the gain of them that are saved had he been acting.
  2. History doesn’t matter. Free will is strong enough to be saved – SJC On this account, you see, his former life was recorded, so contrary to this, that we may learn that the work is one of choice, and that to the willing all things are easy. Let us not then despair, but even though thou be a reviler, or covetous, or whatsoever you are, consider that Paul was 1 Timothy 13-16 a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious, and the chief of sinners, and suddenly rose to the very summit of virtue, and his former life proved no hindrance to him.

Section [7]

  1. Free will is strong enough to repent – SJC For there is nothing to hinder him that wills to become good, even though before he should be one of the vilest. And in fact we are more aptly disposed that way, inasmuch as virtue is agreeable to our nature, and vice contrary to it, even as sickness and health. For God has given us eyes, not that we may look wantonly, but that, admiring his handi-work, we may worship the Creator.
  2. What works naturally also works spiritually – SJC And if we hear anything cruel or merciless, again our flesh creeps; but if anything decorous and kind, we even exult and rejoice. Again, if our mouth utter base words, it causes us to be ashamed and hide ourselves, but if grave words, it utters them with ease and all freedom. Now for those things which are according to nature no one would blush, but for those which are against nature.

Section [8]

  1. Covetousness is painful and unfulfilling – SJC For such is the way of the covetous; not that they may enjoy do they possess, but that they may not enjoy. But if this seem to you a riddle, hear next what is yet worse than this and more perplexing; that not in this way only are they deprived of the pleasure of their goods, by their not venturing to use them as they would, but also by their never being filled with them but living in a continual thirst: than which what can be more grievous?

SEND OFF! Pleasure is to be Truly Free

For what else is pleasure, but freedom from care and fear and despondency, and the not being under the power of any? And who is in pleasure, tell me, the man in frenzy and convulsion, who is goaded by various lusts, and is not even himself; or he who is freed from all these waves, and is settled in the love of wisdom, as it were in a harbor?