Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians;
A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – September 12, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 10.25-11.1 Session 26 – Homily 25
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.
- We should not act by fear and panic – SJC That he might not by this fear drive again to another extreme, and they be forced, exercising a greater scrupulosity than was necessary, to feel alarm, lest possibly even without their knowledge there might come in some such thing either from the market or from some other quarter; to release them from this strait, he says, Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question.
- Intent makes something evil – SJC For such is the nature of those things which are not in their essence evil, but through the man’s intention make him unclean.
- Nothing is inherently evil or unclean – SJC Now if the earth and the fruits and the beasts be all His, nothing is unclean: but it becomes unclean otherwise, from our intention and our disobedience.
- Hypocrisy brings judgment on the person and the Church – SJC but the Gentile knows not how to judge of my rule of life, nor to see into the liberality of my Master, but will condemn and say to himself, ‘Christianity is a fable; they abstain from the idols, they shun demons, and yet cleave to the things offered to them: great is their gluttony.
- Avoid knowingly associating with demons – SJC Why then abstain? say you. Not as though I should become unclean, far from it; but for my brother’s sake, and that I may not become a partaker with devils, and that I may not be judged by the unbeliever. For in this case it is no longer now the nature of the thing, but the disobedience and the friendship with devils which makes me unclean, and the purpose of heart works the pollution.
- Do not use your freedom to cause others to blaspheme – SJC For Christ gave you grace and set you on high and above all injury from that quarter, not that you might be evil spoken of, nor that the circumstance which has been such a gain to you as to be matter of special thanksgiving, should so injure others as to make them even blaspheme.
- Do not try to persuade non-believers – SJC Because you can not persuade him, even though you should say it ten thousand times: weak as he is and hostile. For if your brother has not yet been persuaded by you, much less the enemy and the Gentile.
- Do not give anyone cause to be offended – SJC give no handle to anyone: since in the case supposed, both your brother is offended, and the Jew will the more hate and condemn you, and the Gentile in like manner deride you even as a gluttonous man and a hypocrite.
- All good works are useless if they are self serving – SJC For nothing can so make a man an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors. Nay, though you should fast, though you should lie upon the ground, and even strangle yourself, but take no thought for your neighbor; you have wrought nothing great, but still standest far from this Image, while so doing.
LIFE APPLICATION: Seek the Benefit of others before yourself
- Nothing good comes unless others are benefited – SJC For no virtuous action can be very exalted, when it does not distribute its benefit to others also: as is shown by him who brought the one talent safe, and was cut in sunder because he had not made more of it.
- The saints shine because they love others like Christ loves others – SJC For so also those great and noble persons who were in the beginning made this their chiefest care: examine accurately their life, and you will see clearly that none of them ever looked to his own things, but each one to the things of his neighbor, whence also they shone the brighter.
- Those that seek their own interests suffer – SJC But as for those who sought their own, consider what harm too they received. The nephew, for instance, of the last mentioned, because he listened to the saying, If you will go to the right, I will go to the left; Genesis 13:9 and accepting the choice, sought his own profit, did not even find his own: but this region was burned up, while that remained untouched. Jonah again, not seeking the profit of many, but his own, was in danger even of perishing: and while the city stood fast, he himself was tossed about and overwhelmed in the sea.
- It is a greater blessing to suffer instead of others – SJC For in the former case, though it be a great thing to exchange prosperity for affliction for your neighbor’s sake, nevertheless it brings some consolation to have partakers in the misfortune. But consenting to be himself alone in the distress that others may enjoy their good things — this belongs to a much more energetic soul, and to Paul’s own spirit.
- The greatest blessing is when we suffer for others – SJC I may mention also a third point of superiority. And what is this? That some of those, though they interceded for the persons who conspired against them, nevertheless it was for those with whose guidance they had been entrusted: and the same thing happened as if one should stand up for a wild and lawless son, but still a son: whereas Paul wished to be accursed in the stead of those with whose guardianship he was not entrusted.
- Our salvation is tied to the needs of others – SJC For since men would no otherwise make up their mind to seek the things of their neighbor, except they were reduced to this necessity; therefore God has thus joined things together, and suffers them not to arrive at their own profit except they first travel through the profit of others.
- Our serving others must be an act of love to save us – SJC One ought to be persuaded not from this reason, but from what pleases God. For it is not possible to be saved, wanting this; but though you should exercise the highest perfection of the work and neglect others who are perishing, you will gain no confidence towards God.
SEND OFF! Do All Things in Love
And let no man seek his own that he may find his own; and bearing in mind that neither voluntary poverty nor martyrdom, nor any other thing, can testify in our favor, unless we have the crowning virtue of love