Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 40

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

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

Study Guide – May 14, 2024 – 1st Corinthians 15.11-28  Session 40 – Homily 39

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. St Paul and the ‘other’ Apostles are united in what they preach and teach SJC Having exalted the Apostles and abased himself, then again having exalted himself above them that he might make out an equality: (for he did effect an equality, when he showed that he had advantages over them as well as they over him,) and having thereby proved himself worthy of credit; neither so does he dismiss them, but again ranks himself with them, pointing out their concord in Christ.
  2. It doesn’t matter who teaches as long as the teaching is the same – SJC For the difference of persons took no effect, their authority being equal.

Section [2]

  1. The resurrection of the dead will take place – SJC Do you see how excellently he reasons, and proves the resurrection from the fact of Christ’s being raised, having first established the former in many ways? For both the prophets spoke of it, says he, and the Lord Himself showed it by His appearing, and we preach, and you believed; weaving thus his fourfold testimony; the witness of the prophets, the witness of the issue of events, the witness of the apostles, the witness of the disciples; or rather a fivefold.
  2. Not everyone doubted but some needed correcting – SJC And neither does he bring a charge against all nor declare openly the very persons whom he accuses, in order not to make them more reckless: neither on the other hand does he conceal it wholly, that he may correct them.

Section [3]

  1. Christ’s resurrection was for us, not for Himself – SJC Again, if they be not raised, wherefore was Christ raised? Wherefore came He? Wherefore did He take upon Him flesh, if he were not about to raise flesh again? For He stood not in need of it Himself but for our sakes.
  2. Without resurrection there is no hope and all is lost – SJC For he wishes to shake thoroughly their mind: we have lost all, says he, all is over, if He be not risen. Do you see how great is the mystery of the œconomy? As thus: if after death He could not rise again, neither is sin loosed nor death taken away nor the curse removed. Yea, and not only have we preached in vain, but you also have believed in vain.

Section [4]

  1. The bodily resurrection is what defeats sin and death – SJC Where are those foul-mouthed Manichees who say that by the resurrection here means the liberation from sin ? For these compact and continuous syllogisms, holding as they do also conversely, indicate nothing of what they say, but what we affirm. It is true, rising again is spoken of one who has fallen: and this is why he keeps on explaining, and says not only that He was raised, but adds this also, from the dead. And the Corinthians too doubted not of the forgiveness of sins, but of the resurrection of bodies.
  2. Without the bodily resurrection the soul receives no crown – SJC For if the body rise not again, the soul abides uncrowned without that blessedness which is in heaven. And if this be so, we shall enjoy nothing then at all: and if nothing then, in the present life is our recompense.

Section [5]

  1. Everyone will be resurrected but not everyone will enjoy it – SJC For do not, because you hear of a resurrection, imagine that all enjoy the same benefits. Since if in the punishment all will not suffer alike but the difference is great; much more where there are sinners and righteous men shall the separation be yet wider.

Section [6]

  1. Interpreting the Holy Scriptures according to men leads to absurdities – SJC Do you see how many absurdities are produced, and repugnant to the Scriptures, when one takes the thing spoken after the manner of men?
  2. After all evil things are destroyed then death will be destroyed – SJC How the last? After all, after the devil, after all the other things. For so in the beginning also death came in last; the counsel of the devil having come first, and our disobedience, and then death. Virtually then indeed it is even now abolished: but actually, at that time.

Section [7]

  1. St Paul is not afraid to use different expressions when discussing the Father VS the Son – SJC What then is Paul’s mind, and what is his custom? He speaks in one way when he discourses of the Godhead alone, and in another when he falls into the argument of the economy. Thus having once taken hold of our Lord’s Flesh, he freely thereafter uses all the sayings that humiliate Him; without fear as though that were able to bear all such expressions.

Section [8]

  1. Many ‘co-called’ educated philosophers argued against the resurrection – SJC But at present it is necessary to mention this: first, that Paul’s discourse was of the resurrection, a thing counted to be impossible and greatly disbelieved: next, he was writing to Corinthians among whom there were many philosophers who mocked at such things always. For although in other things wrangling one with another, in this they all, as with one mouth, conspired, dogmatically declaring that there is no resurrection.
  2. ‘Until’ doesn’t imply ‘end’SJC For until He shall have done all these things, He must reign; not saying this, that after He has brought it to pass He does not reign; but establishing this other, that even if it be not now, undoubtedly it will be. For His kingdom is not cut off.

Section [9]

  1. The Son is in total harmony with the Father – SJC showing His great concord with the Father, and that He is the principle of all other good things and the first Cause, who has begotten One so great in power and in achievements.

Section [10]

  1. St Paul again uses condescending language to help us understand the relationship between the Father and the Son, just as Christ used condescending language – SJC For in imitation of his Master he does this: since He too purposing to show His concord with Him that begot Him, and that He has not come without His mind, descends so far, I say not, as the proof of concord demanded, but as the weakness of the persons present required. For He prays to His Father for no other cause but this; and stating the reason He says, that they may believe that You have sent Me. John 11:42 In imitation therefore of Him, Paul here in his manner of speech goes beyond what was required; not that you might have any suspicion of a forced servitude, far from it; but that he might the more entirely cast out those impious doctrines.

Section [11]

  1. Nothing exists outside of God – SJC But what is, that God may be all in all? That all things may be dependent upon Him, that none may suppose two authorities without a beginning, nor another kingdom separated off; that nothing may exist independent of him.

Section [12]

  1. Victory over death requires the end of death – SJC Since an enemy too is then vanquished, when a man takes the spoils, not when he suffers them to remain in the other’s possession: but unless one venture to take what is his, how can we say that he is vanquished? After this manner of victory does Christ Himself say in the Gospels that He has been victorious, thus speaking, When he shall bind the strong man, then shall he also spoil his goods. Matthew 12:29 Since if this were not so, it would not be at all a manifest victory.

LIFE APPLICATION: Wealth is not what it appears to be

Section [13]

  1. Do not lament when you do not have what others have. They are not happy. Instead pray for them – SJC When you see any enemy of God wealthy, with armed attendants and many flatterers, be not cast down, but lament, weep, call upon God, that He may enrol him among His friends: and the more he prospers being God’s enemy, so much the more do thou mourn for him. For sinners we ought always to bewail, but especially when they enjoy wealth and abundance of good days; even as one should the sick, when they eat and drink to excess.
  2. Wealth leads many to wild passions rather than peace of God – SJC Do you see how gold does not suffer men to be men, but wild beasts and fiends? For what can be more pitiful than this rich man, whose daily prayer is that there may be famine, in order that he may have a little gold? Yea, and his passion by this time has come round to the contrary of itself: he not even rejoicing in his abundant store of the fruits of the earth, but on this very account grieving the rather, (to such a pass is he come,) that his possessions are infinite. Although one who has much ought to be joyful: but this man on that very account is dejected.
  3. Greater wealth creates greater desire for more wealth – SJC Since drunkards also are not at first inflamed, but when they have loaded themselves with much wine, then they kindle the flame into greater fierceness: so these men, by how much more they have grasped, in so much the greater poverty do they find themselves, and they who gain more than others, are the very persons to be the most in want.
  4. Focusing only on the present leads to total destruction – SJC And such is the course of their affairs here; but the hereafter, what words shall set before us? For as these men in this world cast their moth-eaten grain, become useless, into rivers; even so the doers of such things, on this very account become useless, God casts into the river of fire. Because as the grain by the moth and worm, so are their souls devoured by cruelty and inhumanity.
  5. Luxury leads the soul to blindness and eventual death – SJC It is not the body which blinds the soul; far from it, O man; but the luxury. But whence do we desire the luxury? Not from our having a body, by no means; but from an evil choice. For the body requires feeding, not high feeding , the body needs nourishing, not breaking up and falling apart. You see that not to the soul only, but to the very body also which receives the nourishment, the luxury is hostile. For it becomes weaker instead of strong, and softer instead of firm, and sickly instead of healthful, and heavier instead of light, and slighter instead of compact, and ill-favored instead of handsome, and unsavory instead of fragrant, and impure instead of clean, and full of pain instead of being at ease, and useless instead of useful, and old instead of young, and decaying instead of strong, and slow and dull instead of quick, and maimed instead of whole.

SEND OFF! Flee from luxury to find peace of soulBut not so he that keeps from luxury: rather he sits in harbor, beholding other men’s shipwrecks, and enjoys a pleasure pure and lasting, following after that life which becomes him that is free. Knowing therefore these things, let us flee from the evil banquets of luxury and cleave to a spare table; that being of a good habit both of soul and body, we may both practice all virtue, and attain the good things to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.