Bible Study on 1st Corinthians Session 44

Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

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

Study Guide – June 11, 2024 – 1st Corinthians 16.1-9  Session 44 – Homily 43

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. Giving alms is the highest form of good SJC Having completed his discourse concerning doctrines, and being about to enter upon that which belongs rather to morals, he dismisses every thing else and proceeds to the chief of good things, discoursing about alms.
  2. Great good is the result of belief in the Resurrection – SJC And observe his consideration. When he had persuaded them concerning the resurrection, and made them more earnest, then and not till then he discusses this point also.
  3. We are urged to do good as part of the whole Church – SJC “As I gave order to the Churches of Galatia, he added this, kindling their emulation by the account of the well-doings of others, and putting it in the form of a narration. And this also he did when writing to the Romans; for to them also while appearing to narrate the reason why he was going away to Jerusalem, he introduces thereupon his discourse about alms.

Section [2]

  1. Sunday is the central day of our faith – SJC Mark how he exhorts them even from the time: for indeed the day was enough to lead them to almsgiving. Wherefore call to mind, says he, what ye attained to on this day: how all the unutterable blessings, and that which is the root and the beginning of our life took place on this day.
  2. Our house in extension of the Church for doing good – SJC He said not, Let him bring it the church, lest they might feel ashamed because of the smallness of the sum; but having by gradual additions swelled his contribution, let him then produce it, when I have come but for the present lay it up, says he, at home, and make your house a church; your little box a treasury. Become a guardian sacred wealth, a self-ordained steward of the poor.

Section [3]

  1. There is no shame in asking for alms for the poor – SJC If, on the contrary, by the grace of God, we are in nothing troublesome about ourselves, but have made the Gospel without charge to you; laboring indeed in no wise like Paul, but being contented with our own — with all boldness of speech I will say, Give unto the needy: yea, and I will not leave off saying it, and of those who give not I will be a severe accuser.

Section [4]

  1. Each of us is commanded to give according to our prosperity – SJC Now observe also how he avoids being burdensome. He said not, so much, or so much, but as he may prosper, whether much or little. Neither said he, what any one may have gained, but, as he may prosper: signifying that the supply is of God.
  2. Setting aside a little each Sunday makes a greater gift possible – SJC And not only so, but also by his not enjoining them to deposit all at once, he makes his counsel easy: since the gathering little by little hinders all perception of the burden and the cost.
  3. The Church elects leaders to be entrusted with our contributions – SJC Wherefore to them he leaves the right of voting in the choice of those who are to convey it. He is far enough from saying, The payment is yours, but the privilege of selecting those who are to carry it is not yours.”

Section [5]

  1. Saint Paul desires to spend time with them, not merely to pass through – SJC For I do not at all wish to take you merely in my way, but to continue among you and spend some time.
  2. The devil fights hardest when the Gospel is taking root – SJC And herewith also he cheered them up, namely, by saying, that henceforth the word works every where and springs up readily. And if there be many who plot against it, this also is a sign of the advance of the Gospel. For at no time does that evil demon wax fierce, except on seeing his goods made spoil of abundantly.

LIFE APPLICATION: Work Hard for Your Reward from God

Section [6]

  1. Every good result requires a struggle – SJC Let us then, when we desire to effect anything great and noble, not regard this, the greatness of the labor which it brings, but let us rather look to the gain.
  2. Falling to temptation is a natural result of fighting the devil – SJC Do thou, then, for your part, when you see any one doing alms and performing numberless other good works and so curtailing the power of the devil, and then falling into temptations and perils; be not troubled thereupon. This is the very reason why he fell into temptations, because he mightily smote the devil.
  3. We receive a greater reward from God when we do good in the face of struggle – SJC For it is a great thing, even when our affairs are flowing on prosperously, to show mercy and to adhere to virtue: but it is far greater in grievous calamity not to desist from this noble occupation; this is he who may be most truly said to do so for God’s sake. So then, though we be in peril, beloved, though we suffer ever so greatly, let us with the greater zeal apply ourselves to our labors for virtue’s sake.
  4. Don’t expect rewards here; expect them in Heaven – SJC Let us then not seek for our return here; let us not become poor and needy; since surely it is of extreme meanness, when heaven is proposed, and things which are above the heaven, to be looking round on the things which are here.

Section [7]

  1. Prayer is of no value if we ignore the poor – SJC And let us make a little chest for the poor at home; and near the place at which you stand praying, there let it be put: and as often as you enter in to pray, first deposit your alms, and then send up your prayer; and as you would not wish to pray with unwashed hands , so neither do so without alms: since not even the Gospel hanging by our bed is more important than that alms should be laid up for you; for if you hang up the Gospel and do nothing, it will do you no such great good.
  2. Give the first-fruits to God after you are paid – SJC Will you have mention also of the resources out of which you should make your deposits, so as in this respect also to make this kind of contribution easy? The handicraft man, for instance, the sandal-maker, or the leather-cutter, or the brass-founder, or any other artificer — when he sells any article of his trade, let him give the first-fruits of its price unto God: let him cast in a small portion here, and assign something to God out of his portion, though it be rather scanty.
  3. Give at least 10% to the Church for God’s work – SJC And this I say not as laying down a law, neither as forbidding more, but as recommending a deposit of not less than a tenth part. And this also do thou practice not in selling only, but also in buying and receiving a recompense. Let those also who possess land observe this law in regard to their rents: yea, let it be a law for all who gather their incomes in an honest way.

SEND OFF! Tithing leads us to despise wealth and obtain peace in Heaven

Yea, and if we establish ourselves in this kind of habit, we are ever after stung by our conscience if ever we omit this rule; and after a while we shall not even think it a hard thing; and by degrees we shall arrive at the greater things, and by practicing how to despise wealth, and by pulling up the root of evils, we shall both pass the present life in peace, and obtain the life to come.