Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
A Bible Study Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – November 21, 2023 – 1st Corinthians 12.21-26 Session 32 – Homily 31
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 Corinthians 12.21
- Lacking even the ‘weakest link’ hurts the Church – SJC For though the gift be less, yet is it necessary: and as when the one is absent, many functions are impeded, so also without the other there is a maim in the fullness of the Church.
- It is not even an option to leave the ‘weakest link’ out – SJC So that even though it wish it, though it should actually say so, it is out of the question nor is the thing consistent with nature.
Section  1 Corinthians 12.22-23
- Nothing God creates is dishonorable – SJC For nothing in us is dishonorable, seeing it is God’s work.
- The things that ‘seem’ dishonorable are needed more – SJC Yea rather, were one to consider accurately, these parts in question are even by nature itself both honorable and necessary.
Section  1 Corinthians 12.24-25
- Unity is more important than individual strengths – SJC Do you see that the care of these latter is connected with making provision for those? For they have not their being so much in their own nature, as in their being one, by virtue of the body. Wherefore if the body perish, they profit nothing by such health as they have severally. But if the eye remain or the nose, preserving its proper function, yet when the bond of union is broken there will be no use for them ever after; whereas, suppose this remaining, and those injured, they both support themselves through it and speedily return to health.
- Hurting any part of the Church is hurting the entire Church – SJC Knowing these things therefore, you that are greater, trample not on the less, lest, instead of them, you injure yourselves. For when they are cut off, the whole body is destroyed. Since, what else is a body than the existence of many members?
- Each member of the Church should care for each other with equal care – SJC If now even the greater members will perish when the less are broken off, these ought to care in like manner for the less, and so as for themselves, inasmuch as in the safety of these the greater likewise remain.
Section  1 Corinthians 12.26
- Unity, mutual care, and common priorities is everything – SJC Three things therefore he here demands: the not being divided but united in perfection: the having like care for another: and the considering all that happens common.
- Co-suffering brings mutual care and honor – SJC For if it shared not in the suffering, it would not endure to partake of the care. Wherefore having said, that the members may have the same care one for another, he added, whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
LIFE APPLICATION: Treat the Church with love, honor and unity
- Care for other members of the Church as you care for the others members of your body – SJC Let us all then, considering these things, imitate the love of these members; let us not in any wise do the contrary, trampling on the miseries of our neighbor and envying his good things.
- When any member of the Church is honored the entire Church is honored – SJC So likewise it happens in the Church. I mean, if there be any celebrated persons, the community reaps the good report of it. For the enemies are not apt to divide the praises, but connect them together. And if any be brilliant in speech, they do not praise him alone but likewise the whole Church. For they do not say only, such a one is a wonderful man, but what? the Christians have a wonderful teacher: and so they make the possession common.
- Division is the result of envy and jealousy – SJC But nothing so divides and separates as envy and jealousy, that grievous disease, and exempt from all pardon, and in some respect worse than the root of all evils. 1 Timothy 6:12 For the covetous is then pleased when himself has received: but the envious is then pleased, when another has failed to receive, not when himself has received.
- Only demons are envious of people – SJC A demon is envious, but of men, not of any demon: but thou being a man enviest men, and withstandest what is of your own tribe and family, which not even a demon does.
- Good rivalry is imitation of good things – SJC This is wholesome rivalry, imitation without contention: not to grieve at the good things of others but to be vexed at our own evils: the contrary to which is the result of envy.
SEND OFF! Flee from envy and pray for those who envy
Let us flee it, then, beloved, and neither envy others, nor fail to pray for our enviers and do all we can to extinguish their passion: neither let us feel as the unthinking do who being minded to exact punishment of them, do all in their power to light up their flame. But let not us do so; rather let us weep for them and lament.