Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;
A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – September 5, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 10.13-24 Session 25 – Homily 24
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.
- Without God’s help we cannot bear any temptation – SJC There are therefore temptations which we are not able to bear. And what are these? All, so to speak. For the ability lies in God’s gracious influence; a power which we draw down by our own will. Wherefore that you may know and see that not only those which exceed our power, but not even these which are common to man is it possible without assistance from God easily to bear
- God gives us what we need to bear all temptation – SJC For He gives patience and brings on a speedy release; so that in this way also the temptation becomes bearable.
- We should run away from temptation – SJC For he did not say, simply, depart, but flee; and he calls the matter idolatry, and no longer bids them quit it merely on account of the injury to their neighbor, but signifies that the very thing of itself is sufficient to bring a great destruction.
- Freedom requires dialogue rather than force – SJC Thus also he more elevates the hearer, when he discourses not as commanding nor as laying down the law, but as advising with them and as actually pleading before them.
- Holy Communion is a blessing and thanksgiving because of the mercy of God to draw us to Himself – SJC For when I call it ‘blessing,’ I mean thanksgiving, and when I call it thanksgiving I unfold all the treasure of God’s goodness, and call to mind those mighty gifts. Since we too, recounting over the cup the unspeakable mercies of God and all that we have been made partakers of, so draw near to Him, and communicate; giving Him thanks that He has delivered from error the whole race of mankind.
- Holy Communion IS the Body and Blood of Christ – SJC The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the Blood of Christ? Very persuasively spoke he, and awfully. For what he says is this: This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake.
- God changed the blood sacrifice from the Old Testament imperfect to the New Testament perfect sacrifice. – SJC He transferred the service to that which is far more awful and glorious, changing the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures, commanding to offer up Himself.
- Through Holy Communion we are united to the Body of Christ – SJC Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to him by this bread.
- Through Holy Communion we are united to each other – SJC For what is the bread? The Body of Christ. And what do they become who partake of it? The Body of Christ: not many bodies, but one body. For as the bread consisting of many grains is made one, so that the grains no where appear; they exist indeed, but their difference is not seen by reason of their conjunction; so are we conjoined both with each other and with Christ: there not being one body for you, and another for your neighbor to be nourished by, but the very same for all.
- Our life should reflect our unity to each other – SJC Not so, however, now, but altogether the reverse. Many and various are the contests between all, and worse than wild beasts are we affected towards each other’s members. And Christ indeed made you so far remote, one with himself: but thou dost not deign to be united even to your brother with due exactness, but separatest yourself, having had the privilege of so great love and life from the Lord.
- Idols cannot hurt us but they are beneath us – SJC Do not then run to the contrary things. For neither if you were a king’s son, and having the privilege of your father’s table, should leave it and choose to partake of the table of the condemned and the prisoners in the dungeon, would your father permit it, but with great vehemence he would withdraw you; not as though the table could harm you, but because it disgraces your nobility and the royal table.
- Don’t tempt God by ‘getting in bed’ with the enemy – SJC Are we tempting Him, whether He is able to punish us, and irritating Him by going over to the adversaries and taking our stand with His enemies? And this he said, reminding them of an ancient history and of their fathers’ transgression.
- Just because we can doesn’t mean we should – SJC Do you see his exact wisdom? Because it was likely that they might say, I am perfect and master of myself, and it does me no harm to partake of what is set before me; Even so, says he, perfect you are and master of yourself; do not however look to this, but whether the result involve not injury, nay subversion.
LIFE APPLICATION: Holy Communion is Central
- Focus on the truth that Holy Communion leads to our unity – SJC These things therefore knowing, let us also, beloved, consult for the good of the brethren and preserve unity with them. For to this that fearful and tremendous sacrifice leads us, warning us above all things to approach it with one mind and fervent love, and thereby becoming eagles, so to mount up to the very heaven, nay, even beyond the heaven.
- We must approach Holy Communion with reverence and care because this IS the Body and Blood of Christ – SJC I say now, if even a man’s garment be what one would not venture inconsiderately to touch, what shall we say of the Body of Him Who is God over all, spotless, pure, associate with the Divine Nature, the Body whereby we are, and live; whereby the gates of hell were broken down and the sanctuaries of heaven opened? How shall we receive this with so great insolence? Let us not, I pray you, let us not slay ourselves by our irreverence, but with all awfulness and purity draw near to It.
- Holy Communion is the cause of pain and suffering for those who hate God – SJC And as they who take food which they are unable to retain, on account of that vomit up also what was before lodged in them; so also it happened unto death. That Body, which he could not digest, he received: and therefore had to cast forth that which he had within him. Yea, he travailed in pain, while he held Him, and was straitened until He vomited Him up. Wherefore says the Apostle, Having loosed the pains of death. Acts 11:24 For never woman labouring of child was so full of anguish as he was torn and racked in sunder, while he held the Body of the Lord.
- Avoiding Holy Communion is just as dangerous as approaching carelessly – SJC But these things I say, not to keep us from approaching, but to keep us from without consideration. For as the approaching at random is dangerous, so the not communicating in those mystical suppers is famine and death.
- When we see Christ in Holy Communion we see Him in Heaven – SJC And why speak I of the world to come? Since here this mystery makes earth become to you a heaven. Open only for once the gates of heaven and look in; nay, rather not of heaven, but of the heaven of heavens; and then you will behold what I have been speaking of.
- Cast off all that is unworthy of God – SJC Make your soul clean then, prepare your mind for the reception of these mysteries. For if you were entrusted to carry a king’s child with the robes, the purple, and the diadem, you would cast away all things which are upon the earth. But now that it is no child of man how royal soever, but the only-begotten Son of God Himself.
SEND OFF! Put on the glory of God, and put off the world
For if we be sober-minded, not even this whole world is worthy of us, much less porticoes and arcades. Wherefore, I beseech you, let us adorn our souls, let us fit up this house which we are also to have with us when we depart; that we may attain even to the eternal blessings,