Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 39

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

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

Study Guide – April 23, 2024 – 1st Corinthians 15.1-10  Session 39 – Homily 38

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. The Doctrine of the Resurrection is the single most important thing but many had strayed away from this Doctrine SJC For in this too they were greatly unsound. And as in men’s bodies, when the fever lays actual hold of their solid parts, I mean the nerves and the veins and the primary elements, the mischief becomes incurable unless it receive much attention; just so at that time also it was like to happen. Since to the very elements of godliness the mischief was proceeding. Wherefore also Paul uses great earnestness. For not of morals was his discourse henceforth nor about one man’s being a fornicator, another covetous, and another having his head covered; but about the very sum of all good things. For touching the resurrection itself they were at variance.
  2. To deny our bodily resurrection is to deny the resurrection of Christ – SJC For if they were persuaded that there is no resurrection of bodies, he would have gradually persuaded them that neither was Christ raised.

Section [2]

  1. The truth of the Gospel has never changed – SJC For the sum of the gospels has its original hence, from God having become man and having been crucified and having risen again. This gospel also Gabriel preached to the Virgin, this also the prophets to the world, this also the apostles all of them.
  2. Saint Paul calls on the witnesses in Corinth to affirm the Doctrine of the Resurrection – SJC Do you see how he calls themselves to be witnesses of the things spoken? And he says not, which you heard, but, which you received, demanding it of them as a kind of deposit, and showing that not in word only, but also by deeds and signs and wonders they received it, and that they should hold it safe.
  3. The Corinthians had already heard of the resurrection – SJC For the doctrine itself ye need not, says he, to learn, but to be reminded of it and corrected. 
  4. It is a disgrace to change doctrines – SJC And thus saying he brings the time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this only, but also that the doctrine is necessary.

Section [3]

  1. External religions can and have influenced heresies- SJC But first it is worth while to hear what those who are infected with the Manichæan doctrines say here, who are both enemies to the truth and war against their own salvation.
  2. The bodily death of Christ is taught in the Old Testament and the New Testament – SJC Neither was he content with this, but added, according to the Scriptures: hereby both again making his argument credible, and intimating what kind of death he was speaking of: since it is the death of the body which the Scriptures everywhere proclaim.

Section [4]

  1. Everyone knew about the crucifixion but not everyone knew it was for our sins – SJC Because in that case too, although the cross was evident unto all and in the sight of all He was stretched upon it; yet the cause was no longer equally so. The fact indeed of his death all knew, but that He suffered this for the sins of the world was no longer equally known to the multitude.
  2. The Old Testament and New Testament bear witness that the death of Christ was not random – SJC Therefore Paul also sends you on to the Scriptures, that you may learn that not without cause nor at random were these things done. For how could they, when so many prophets are describing and proclaiming them beforehand?

Section [5]

  1. The many witnesses of the bodily resurrection proves it was real – SJC Whereas if he meant that other resurrection, the deliverance from sin, it were idle for him to say, He appeared to such and such an one; for this is the argument of one who is establishing the resurrection of the body, not of one obscurely teaching deliverance from sins.
  2. Beware of ‘proof texting’… “above 500” means more than 500 – SJC Then He appeared to above five hundred brethren. Some say that above , is above from heaven; that is, not walking upon earth, but above and overhead He appeared to them: adding, that it was Paul’s purpose to confirm, not the resurrection only, but also the ascension. Others say that the expression, above five hundred, means, more than five hundred.
  3. The multiple appearances of Christ after the resurrection has a multiplying effect on the faith in the Church – SJC Why did He not appear to all at the same time? That He might first sow the seeds of faith. For he that saw Him first and was exactly and fully assured, told it unto the residue: then their report coming first placed the hearer in expectation of this great wonder, and made way before for the faith of sight.
  4. God honored women with the first sighting after the resurrection because they were already ‘2nd class’ citizens – SJC Therefore also He appeared to the women first. Because this sex was made inferior, therefore both in His birth and in His resurrection this first tastes of His grace.

Section [6]

  1. Saint Paul’s humility is a sign of God’s condescension. God revealed Himself to the ‘lowly’ Saul who then became the great Paul. Condescension is for lifting up. – SJC Not straightway, however, but with his own peculiar good sense: in that having first spoken modestly and heaped up against himself many charges, he then magnifies the things concerning himself. What may the reason be? That, when he comes to utter that great and lofty expression concerning himself, I labored more abundantly than all, his discourse may be rendered more acceptable, both hereby, and by its being spoken as a consequence of what went before and not as a leading topic.
  1. Being honest about our failings brings credibility to our words – SJC For he that truly states what things are discreditable to him and conceals none of them, such as that he persecuted the Church, that he laid waste the faith, does hereby cause the things that are honorable to him also to be above suspicion.

Section [7]

  1. The harder your work on your salvation, the more grace you will experience from God – SJC But some cite his being sent to the Gentiles and his overrunning the larger part of the world. Whence it is evident that he enjoyed more grace. For if he labored more, the grace was also more: but he enjoyed more grace, because he displayed also more diligence.

LIFE APPLICATION: Focus on your own defects, not your praise

Section [8]

  1. Always highlight how God was graceful in your defects – SJC And these things when we hear, let us also make open show of our defects, but of our excellencies let us say nothing. Or if the opportunity force it upon us, let us speak of them with reserve and impute the whole to God’s grace: which accordingly the Apostle also does, ever and anon putting a bad mark upon his former life, but his after-state imputing to grace, that he might signify the mercy of God from every circumstance. 
  2. Acknowledge your faults but don’t dwell on them – SJC Since in fact both are alike evils, both despair and slothfulness; the one quickly casting a man down from the very arch of the heavens; the other not suffering the fallen to rise again.
  3. Things could always be worse – SJC And in each of the things that are grievous to you mourn not the things that have happened, but for the disasters that have not happened give thanks. Had you money and did you lose it? Weep not for the loss, but give thanks for the time when you enjoyed it. Say like Job, Have we received good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil? Job 2:10 And together with that use this argument also; that even if you lost your money, yet your body you have still sound and hast not with your poverty to grieve that it also is maimed. But has your body too endured some outrage? Yet is not this the bottom of human calamities, but in the middle of the cask you are as yet carried along. For many along with poverty and maiming, both wrestle with a demon and wander in deserts: others again endure other things more grievous than these. For may it never be our lot to suffer all that it is possible for one to bear.
  4. Don’t focus on others because they suffer too – SJC Should you unfold each man’s conscience, in the soul of the poor you will see great security and freedom: but in that of the rich, confusions, disorders, tempests. And if you grieve, seeing him rich, he too is vexed much more than thou when he beholds one richer than himself. And as you fear him, even so does he another, and he has no advantage over you in this.
  5. There will always be someone better off and worse off than you – SJC When therefore you see one that is rich, think of him that is richer than he, and you will see him in the same condition with yourself. And after him look also on him that is poorer than yourself, consider how many have gone to bed hungry, and have lost their patrimony, and live in a dungeon, and pray for death every day. For neither does poverty breed sadness, nor wealth pleasure, but both the one and the other our own thoughts are wont to produce in us.
  6. Mean spirited people are never happy – SJC The mean spirited, not even in a diadem and unspeakable honors can be happy: but the denying, even in bonds and fetters and poverty, will enjoy a pure pleasure.

SEND OFF! The only thing that really matters is eternal life

That wealth is naught, poverty is naught, disgrace is naught, honor is naught, but for a brief time and only in words do they differ from each other. And along with this there is another soothing topic also, greater than it; the consideration of the things to come, both evil and good, the things which are really evil and really good, and the being comforted by them.