Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – October 3, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 11.28-34 Session 29 – Homily 28
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.
- How we approach to receive Holy Communion is very serious – SJC in that having once found occasion to remind them of the Mysteries, he judged it necessary to proceed with that subject. For indeed it was no ordinary one. Wherefore also he discoursed very awfully concerning it, providing for that which is the sum of all good things, viz. their approaching those Mysteries with a pure conscience.
- The Antiochians had fallen away from frequent Holy Communion – SJC For we do not consider how we may approach prepared, with the ills that were within us purged out, and full of compunction, but how we may come at festivals and whenever all do so.
- Proper preparation for Holy Communion should include eliminating profane lusts – SJC Now when I say profane lusts, I mean both those of the body, and of money, and of anger, and of malice, and, in a word, all that are profane. And it becomes him that approaches, first to empty himself of all these things and so to touch that pure sacrifice.
- Approaching Holy Communion unworthily can cause harm – SJC Is this Table which is the cause of so many blessings and teeming with life, become judgment? Not from its own nature, says he, but from the will of him that approaches. For as His presence, which conveyed to us those great and unutterable blessings, condemned the more them that received it not: so also the Mysteries become provisions of greater punishment to such as partake unworthily.
- Unexpected illness and death are the result of sin – SJC I mean, since many question one with another, whence arise the untimely deaths, whence the long diseases of men; he tells them that these unexpected events are many of them conditional upon certain sins.
- Judge your sins to get rid of punishment – SJC And he said not, if we punished ourselves, if we were revenged on ourselves, but if we were only willing to acknowledge our offense, to pass sentence on ourselves, to condemn the things done amiss, we should be rid of the punishment both in this world and the next. For he that condemns himself propitiates God in two ways, both by acknowledging his sins, and by being more on his guard for the future.
- Our Suffering is for Our Correction – SJC He said not, we are punished, he said not, we have vengeance taken on us, but, we are chastened. For what is done belongs rather to admonition than condemnation, to healing than vengeance, to correction than punishment.
- There is no place for selfishness in the Divine Liturgy – SJC For he brings him out of the church and sends him to his house, hereby severely reprimanding and ridiculing them, as slaves to the belly and unable to contain themselves.
- Saint Paul didn’t write everything down. Some things he left for ‘in person’ teaching – SJC Then also he alarms them again in another way, saying, and the rest will I set in order whenever I come: with reference either to some other things, or to this very matter. For since it was likely that they would yet have some reasons to allege, and it was not possible to set all to rights by letter, the things which I have charged you, let them be observed for the present, says he; but if you have anything else to mention, let it be kept for my coming; speaking either of this matter, as I said, or of some other things not very urgent.
LIFE APPLICATION: Accept Suffering as Correction as did Job
- All Suffering is for Admonition – SJC Hearing therefore all these things, let us both take great care of the poor, and restrain our appetite, and rid ourselves of drunkenness, and be careful worthily to partake of the Mysteries; and whatsoever we suffer, let us not take it bitterly, neither for ourselves nor for others; as when untimely death happen or long diseases. For this is deliverance from punishment, this is correction, this is most excellent admonition.
- Learn from the Story of Job. Don’t be the Cause of Sin – SJC Does not Job come into your mind, O woman? Rememberest thou not his words at the misfortune of his children, which adorned that holy head more than ten thousand crowns, and made proclamation louder than many trumpets? Do you make no account of the greatness of his misfortunes, of that unprecedented shipwreck, and that strange and portentous tragedy?
- Honor God whether you are blessed or cursed “May it Be Blessed” – SJC And what in particular is greater and worse than his bereavement, he did not even know wherefore all these things happened. On this account then, having no cause to assign for the misfortune, he ascends to the good pleasure of God, and says, The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away: as it pleased the Lord, even so it happened; blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
- The Devil uses us against each other – SJC For in fact his wife was by this time the only one left, all his having been clean destroyed, both his children and his possessions and his very body, and she reserved to tempt and to ensnare him. And this indeed was the reason why the devil did not destroy her with the children, nor asked her death, because he expected that she would contribute much towards the ensnaring of that holy man.
- The Devil is crafty They don’t call him ‘the conniving one’ for nothing – SJC And mark from this also the malice of the devil: that because he knew the longing of Job towards God, he suffers not his wife to accuse God, lest he should at once turn away from her as an enemy. For this cause she no where mentions Him, but the actual calamities she is continually harping on.
SEND OFF! Endure all things nobly and thankfully
This discourse let us, both men and women, have recorded, and let us engrave the words in our minds, both these and those before them: and by sketching upon our minds as in picture the history of their sufferings, I mean the loss of wealth, the bereavement of children, the disease of body, the reproaches, the mockings, the devices of his wife, the snare of the devil, in a word, all the calamities of that righteous man, and that with exactness, let us provide ourselves with a most ample port of refuge: that, enduring all things nobly and thankfully, we may both in the present life cast off all despondency, and receive the rewards that belong to this good way of taking things; by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and forever, world without end.