Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 34

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

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

Study Guide – March 12, 2024 – 1st Corinthians 13.4-8  Session 34 – Homily 33

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. Love does not require hard work to fulfill SJC Thus he said not, She envies, indeed, but overcomes envy; nor, is arrogant, but chastises that passion; but, envies not, vaunts not itself, is not puffed up; which truly is most to be admired, that even without toil she accomplishes her good things, and without war and battle-array her trophy is set up: she not permitting him that possesses her to toil and so to attain the crown, but without labor conveying to him her prize. For where there is not passion to contend against sober reason, what labor can there be?

Section [2]

  1. Love does not feel shame. This is different from not allowing shame to get under our skin – SJC Again, he did not say, she suffers unseemliness but bears the shame nobly, but, she does not even entertain any sense at all of the shame. For if the lovers of money endure all manner of reproaches for the sake of that sordid traffic of theirs, and far from hiding their faces, do even exult in it: much more he that has this praiseworthy love will refuse nothing whatsoever for the safety’s sake of those whom he loves: nay, nor will anything that he can suffer shame him.
  2. Love does not encourage bad behavior, only accepts the pain of it – SJC But when I say, all, do not suppose I mean things injurious also; for example, assisting a youth in a love affair, or whatsoever hurtful thing any one may beseech another to do for him.

Section [3]

  1. Love between two creates a priority for the other over the self – SJC That she seeks not her own. For the beloved she esteems to be all, and then only behaves herself unseemly, when she cannot free him from such unseemliness; so that if it be possible by her own unseemliness to benefit her beloved, she does not so much as count the thing unseemliness; for the other party thereafter is yourself, when you love.
  2. The Clergy and Laity of the Church benefit each other rather than themselves – SJC And if you will, see this also in our case who address you. For my profit depends on you, and your advantage on me.

Section [4]

  1. Love refuses to even think evil thoughts, let alone accept evil – SJC so far from contriving any evil, she does not even suspect it of the beloved. How then could she work any, or how be provoked? Who does not even endure to admit an evil surmise.
  2. Love changes our essence into holiness – SJC Do you see how by degrees love makes her nursling an angel? For when he is void of anger, and pure from envy, and free from every tyrannical passion, consider that even from the nature of man he is delivered from henceforth, and has arrived at the very serenity of angels.
  3. Love endorse everything even when it doesn’t go ‘our way’ – SJC And even if these good things should not turn out according to its hope, but the other person should prove yet more intolerable, it bears even these.

LIFE APPLICATION: The Power of Love is Greater than All

Section [5]

  1. Love puts up with everything no matter what – SJC For it puts up with everything: since happen what will, he that loves never can hate. This then is the greatest of its excellencies.
  2. Love all people but hate all evil actions – SJC One must hate, not them but their doctrine: not the man, but the wicked conduct, the corrupt mind. For the man is God’s work, but the deceit is the devil’s work. Do thou not therefore confound the things of God and the things of the devil.
  3. Hate gets in the way of prayer and conversion – SJC For we get no harm from them, but they get good by us. What then does he say? We must not hate, but pity. Since if you shall hate, how will you easily convert him that is in error? How will you pray for the unbeliever? … Further, mentioning also the reason for the prayer, he adds, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who wills that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.

Section [6]

  1. Rather than cutting sinner off, attend to them to hopefully heal them – SJC But wherefore, tell me, do you at all turn away from him and avoid him? Because he is ungodly? Truly for this cause ought thou to welcome and attend him, that you may raise him up in his sickness. But if he be incurably sick, still you have been bidden to do your part.
  2. Gentleness draws people into the Church more than miracles – SJC For though you should work wonders, and raise the dead, and whatsoever work you do, the Heathen will never wonder at you so much, as when they see you displaying a meek, gentle, mild disposition.

Section [7]

  1. Gentleness leads people to repentance – SJC So then let us also deal with the heathen sort: with condescension, with love. For love is a great teacher, and able both to withdraw men from error, and to reform the character, and to lead them by the hand unto self-denial, and out of stones to make men.

Section [8]

  1. Love softens hardness and converts the heart – SJC And if you would learn her power, bring me a man timid and fearful of every sound, and trembling at shadows; or passionate, and harsh, and a wild beast rather than a man; or wanton and licentious; or wholly given to wickedness; and deliver him into the hands of love, and introduce him into this school; and you will speedily see that cowardly and timid creature made brave and magnanimous, and venturing upon all things cheerfully.

SEND OFF! All Evil is Overcome by Love

Section [9] Moreover, that love makes also the fierce moderate, and the wanton chaste, we have no longer need of any examples: this being evident to all men. Though a man be more savage than any wild beast, no sheep so gentle as he is rendered by love.