PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
HOMILIES ON FIRST AND SECOND CORINTHIANS
St. John Chrysostom
Homilies on First Corinthians
Homilies on Second Corinthians
The British edition of this translation has a preface in which is given a short “sketch” of Chrysostom’s history. As a fuller outline has been given in the course of the present reproduction of the homilies, it is considered advisable to omit this sketch here. (See Vol. ix. pp. 3–23.) the remainder of the English editor’s preface is as follows:
“The history and remains of St. Chrysostom are in one respect more interesting perhaps to the modern reader, than most of the monuments of those whoare technically called the Fahters. At the time when he was raised up, and in those parts of the Chrisitain world to which he was sent, the Patriarchates, namely, of Antioch and Constaninople, the Church was niehter agitated by persecution from without, nor by any particular doctrinal controversy within, sufficient to attract his main attention, and connect his name with its history, as the name of St. Athanaius, e.g., is connected with the Arian, or that of St. Augustine with the Pelagian, controversy. The labours of St. Athanasius and St. Basil, and their friends and disciples, had come to a happy issue at the second Oecumenical Council; the civil power favoured orthodox doctrine, and upheld Episcopal authority. The Church seemed for the time free to try the force of her morals and discipline against the ordinary vices and errors of all ages and all nations. This is one reason why the Homilies of St. Chrysostom have always been considered as eminently likely among the relics of Antiquity, to be useful as models fro preaching, and as containg hints for the application of Scripture to common life, and the consciences of persons around us.
Another reason undoubtedly is the remarkable energy and fruitfulness of the writer’s mind, that command of language and of topics, and above all, that depth of charitable and religious feeling, which enabled him, to a very remarkable extent, to carry his hearers along with him, even when the things he recommended were most distasteful to their natures and prejudices. It is obvious how much of the expression of this quality must vanish in translation: el elegance and fluency of his Greek style, the flow of his periods, the quickness and ingenuity of his turns, all the excellencies to which more especially his surname was owing, must in the nature of things be sacrificed, except in cass of very rare felicity, on passing into a modern language. His dramatic manner indeed, which was one of the great charms of his oratory among the Greeks, and his rapid and ingenious selection and variation of topics, these may in some measure be retained, and may serve to give even English readers some faing notion of the eloquence which produced so powerful effects on the susceptible people of the East.
“However, it is not of course as composition that we desire to call attention to these or any other of the remains of the Fahters. Nor would this topic have been so expressly adverted to, but for the two following reasons. First, it is in such particulars as these, that the parallel mainly subsists, which has more that once been observed, between St. Chrysostom and our own Bishop Taylor: and it is good for the Church in general, and encouraging for our own Church in particular, to notice such providential revivals of ancient graces in modern times.
“Again, this profustion of literary talent, and eloquency and vehemence and sskill in moral teaching, is of itself, as human nature now exists, a matter of much jealousy to considerate persons, found answerable to the profession implied in their works. and therefore it was desirable to dwell on it in this instance, for the purpose of pointing out afterwards how completely his life gave evidence that he meant and practices what he taught.
“The Homilies on the first Epistle to the Corinthians have ever been considered by learned and devout men as among the most perfect specimens of his mind and teaching. They are of that mixed form, between exposition and exhortation, which serves perhaps better than any other, first, to secure attention, and then to convey to an attentive hearer the full purport of the holy words as they stand in the Bible, and to communicate to him the very impression whcih the preacher himself had received from the text. Accordingly they come in not unfitly in this series, by way of specimen of the horaroy Sermons of the ancients, as St. Cyril’s, of their Catechetical Lectures, and St. Cyprians, the Pastoral Letters, which were circulated among them.
“The date of these Homilies is not exactly known: but it is certain that they were delivered at Antioch, were it only from Hom. xxi. 9. ad fin. Antioch was at that time, in a temporal sense, a flourishing Church, maintaining 3,000 widows and virgins , maimed persons, prisoners, and minsters of the altar; although, St. Chrysostom adds, its income was but that of one of the lowest class of wealthy individuals. It was indeed in a state of division, on account of the disputed succession in the Episcopate between the followers of Paulinus and Meletius since the year 362: but this spearation affected not immediately any point of doctrine; and was in a way to be gradually worn out, partly by the labors of St. Chrysostom himslef, whose discourse concerning the Anathema seems to have been occasioned by the too seer way in which the partisans on both sides allowed themselves to speak of each other. It may be that he had an eye to this schism in his way of handling those parts of the Epistles to the Corinthians, whcih so earnestly deprecate the spirit of schism and party, and the calling ourselves by human names.
“The Text which has been used in this translation is the Benedictine, corrected however in many places by that of Savile. The Benedictine Sections are marked in the margin thus, (2.) For the Tramslation, the Editors are indebted to the Reverend Hubert Kestell Corhish, M. A., late Fellow of Exeter College, and to the Reverend John Medley, M. A., of Wadham College, Vicar of St. Thomas, in the dity of Exeter.” J.K[eble].
The Homilies on the Second Epistle were issued four years later than those on the First, and were preceded by the following note:
“The present Volume completes the set of St. Chrysostom’s Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, with the exception of that to the Hebrews, the Translation of which is preparing for the press. The edition of the original by Mr. Field has afforded the advantage of an improved text, in fact of one as good as we can hope to see constructed from existing mss.;
“These Homilies were delivered at Antioch in the opinion of the Benedictine Editors, though Savile doubted it. The question depends on the interpretation of a passage near the end of Hom. xxvi., in shich St. Chrysostom speaks of Constantinople, and presently says ‘here.’ this, it has been rightly arued, he might say in the sense of “in the place I am speaking of.’ while he was not likely to say, ‘in Constantinople’ if he were speaking there.
“For the Translation the Editors are indbted to the Rev. J. Ashworth, M.A., of Brasenose College.”
S. Clement, 1848
C. M. M[Arriott.]
This volume of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, embraces both volumes of the original London issue, one of which appeared in 1844, the other in 1848. The author of the latter had, as appears from his statement above, the advantage of using the recension of the Greek text which was prepared by the late Frederick Field, M.A., LL.D., and eminent textual critic whose labors leave nothing to be desired so far as concerns the materials at his command. the translators of the First Epistle did not have this advantage. Hence the present editor has made a diligen comparison throughout their work with Dr. Fields’s text, and whenever it was necessary has silently conformed the rendering to that text, in a few instances omitting a note which made needless or inappropriate by the change. In bot Epistles he has occaisionally amended the translation to gains perspicuity and smoothnes. The work of the English authors has been performed with great care and fidelity, and its literal almost to a fault, it apparently being their endeavor to reproduce the form as well as the spirit of the original. This have given to ther pages a stiffness and constrant not altogether agreeable, yetit is a compensation to the reader to know that he as before him the precise thought of the great pulpit orator of the Greek Church. The American Editor’s notes have been enclosed in square brackets and marks with his initial.
The English text of the Epistles has been sedulously conformed to that of the Revised Edition of 1881, except in cases in which the Greek text used by Chrysostom varied from that adopted by recent Editors. All peculiarities of Chrysostom’s text have been faithfully preserved.
In these days when expository preaching is so loudly and generally demanded, it cannot but be of use to the rising ministry to see how this service was performed by the most eloquent and effective of the Fathers, John of the Golden-Mouth.
T. W. Chambers. New York, June, 1889.
St. John Chrysostom
Archbishop of Constantinople
Homilies on First Corinthians
[1.] As Corinth is now the first city of Greece, so of old it prided itself on many temporal advantages, and more than all the rest, on excess of wealth. And on this account one of the heathen writers entitled the place “the rich”. For it lies on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus, and had great facilities for traffic. The city was also full of numerous orators, and philosophers, and one I think, of the seven called wise men, was of this city. Now these things we have mentioned, not for ostentation’s sake, nor to make, a display of great learning: (for indeed what is there in knowing these things?) but they are of use to us in the argument of the Epistle.
Paul also himself suffered many things in this city; and Christ, too, in this city appears to him and says, (Acts chapter 18, verse 10), “Be not silent, but speak; for I have much people in this city:” and he remained there two years. In this city [Acts chapter 19, verse 16 Corinth put here, by lapse of memory, for Ephesus]. also the devil went out, whom the Jews endeavoring to exorcise, suffered so grievously. In this city did those of the magicians, who repented, collect together their books and burn them, and there appeared to be fifty thousand. (Acts chapter 19, verse 18 arguriou omitted.) In this city also, in the time of Gallio the Proconsul, Paul was beaten before the judgment seat.
[2.] The devil, therefore, seeing that a great and populous city had laid hold of the truth, a city admired for wealth and wisdom, and the head of Greece; (for Athens and Lacedaemon were then and since in a miserable state, the dominion having long ago fallen away from them;) and seeing that with great readiness they had received the word of God; what doth he? He divides the men. For he knew that even the strongest kingdom of all, divided against itself, shall not stand. He had a vantage ground too, for this device in the wealth, the wisdom of the inhabitants. Hence certain men, having made parties of their own, and having become self-elected made themselves leaders of the people, and some sided with these, and some with those; with one sort, as being rich; with another, as wise and able to teach something out of the common. Who on their part, receiving them, set themselves up forsooth to teach more than the Apostle did: at which he was hinting, when he said, “I was not able to speak unto you as unto spiritual” (ch. iii. 1.); evidently not his inability, but their infirmity, was the cause of their not having been abundantly instructed. And this, (ch. iv. 8.) “Ye are become rich without us,” is the remark of one pointing that way. And this was no small matter, but of all things most pernicious; that the Church should be torn asunder.
And another sin, too, besides these, was openly committed there: namely, a person who had had intercourse with his step-mother not only escaped rebuke, but was even a leader of the multitude, and gave occasion to his followers to be conceited. Wherefore he saith, (ch. 5. 2.) “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned.” And after this again, certain of those who as they pretended were of the more perfect sort, and who for gluttony’s sake used to eat of things offered unto idols, and sit at meat in the temples, Were bringing all to ruin. Others again, having contentions and strifes about money, committed unto the heathen courts (toi" exwqen sicadthrioi") all matters of that kind. Many persons also wearing long hair used to go about among them; whom he ordereth to be shorn. There was another fault besides, no trifling one; their eating in the churches apart by themselves, and giving no share to the needy.
And again, they were erring in another point, being puffed up with the gifts; and hence jealous of one another; which was also the chief cause of the distraction of the Church. The doctrine of the Resurrection, too, was lame (ekwleue) among them: for some of them had no strong belief that there is any resurrection of bodies, having still on them the disease of Grecian foolishness. For indeed all these things were the progeny of the madness which belongs to Heathen Philosophy, and she was the mother of all mischief. Hence, likewise, they had become divided; in this respect also having learned of the philosophers. For these latter were no less at mutual variance, always, through love of rule and vain glory contradicting one another’s opinions, and bent upon making some new discovery in addition to all that was before. And the cause of this was, their having begun to trust themselves to reasonings.
[3.] They had written accordingly to him by the hand of Fortunatus and Stephanas and Achaicus, by whom also he himself writes; and this he has indicated in the end of the Epistle: not however upon all these subjects, but about marriage and virginity; wherefore also he said, (ch. vii. 1.) “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote” &c. And he proceeds to give injunctions, both on the points about which they had written, and those about which they had not written; having learnt with accuracy all their failings. Timothy, too, he sends with the letters, knowing that letters indeed have great force, yet that not a little would be added to them by the presence of the disciple also.
Now whereas those who had divided the Church among themselves, from a feeling of shame lest they should seem to have done so for ambition’s sake, contrived cloaks for what had happened, their teaching (forsooth) more perfect doctrines, and being wiser than all others; Paul sets himself first against the disease itself, plucking up the root of the evils, and its offshoot, the spirit of separation. And he uses great boldness of speech: for these were his own disciples, more than all others. Wherefore he saith (ch. ix. 2.) “If to others I be not an Apostle, yet at least I am unto you; for the seal of my apostleship are ye.” Moreover they were in a weaker condition (to say the least of it) than the others. Wherefore he saith, (ch. iii. 1, 2. oude for oute). “For I have not spoken unto you as unto spiritual; for hitherto ye were not able, neither yet even now are ye able.” (This he saith, that they might not suppose that he speaks thus in regard of the time past alone.)
However, it was utterly improbable that all should have been corrupted; rather there were some among them who were very holy. And this he signified in the middle of the Epistle, where he says, (ch. iv. 3, 6.) “To me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you:” and adds, “these things I have in a figure transferred unto myself and Apollos.”
Since then from arrogance all these evils were springing, and from men’s thinking that they knew something out of the common, this he purgeth away first of all, and in beginning saith,
1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 1–3 Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
[1.] See how immediately, from the very beginning, he casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imagination, in that he speaks of himself as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I discovered not myself, nor acquired by my own wisdom, but while I was persecuting and laying waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that calleth is everything: of him that is called, nothing, (so to speak,) but only to obey.
“Of Jesus Christ.” Your teacher is Christ; and do you register the names of men, as patrons of your doctrine?
“Through the will of God.” For it was God who willed that you should be saved in this way. We ourselves have wrought no good thing, but by the will of God we have attained to this salvation; and because it seemed good to him, we were called, not because we were worthy.
“And Sosthenes our brother.” Another instance of his modesty; he puts in the same rank with himself one inferior to Apollos; for great was the interval between Paul and Sosthenes. Now if where the interval was so wide he stations with himself one far beneath him, what can they have to say who despise their equals?
“Unto the Church of God.” Not “of this or of that man,” but of God.
“Which is at Corinth.” Seest thou how at each word he puts down their swelling pride; training their thoughts in every way for heaven? He calls it, too, the Church “of God;” shewing that it ought to be united. For if it be “of God,” it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church’s name (ecclhsia: properly an assembly) is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.
“To the sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Again the name of Jesus; the names of men he findeth no place for. But what is Sanctification? The Laver, the Purification. For he reminds them of their own uncleanness, from which he had freed them; and so persuades them to lowliness of mind; for not by their own good deeds, but by the loving-kindness of God, had they been sanctified.
“Called to be Saints.” For even this, to be saved by faith, is not saith he, of yourselves; for ye did not first draw near, but were called; so that not even this small matter is yours altogether. However, though you had drawn near, accountable as you are for innumerable wickednesses, not even so would the grace be yours, but God’s. Hence also, writing to the Ephesians, he said, (Ephesians chapter 2, verse 8) “By grace have ye been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves;” not even the faith is yours altogether; for ye were not first with your belief, but obeyed a call.
“With all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not “of this or that man,” but “the Name of the Lord.”
[2.] “In every place, both theirs and ours.” For although the letter be written to the Corinthians only, yet he makes mention of all the faithful that are in all the earth; showing that the Church throughout the world must be one, however separate in divers places; and much more, that in Corinth. And though the place separate, the Lord binds them together, being common to all. Wherefore also uniting them he adds, “both theirs and ours.” And this is far more powerful [to unite], than the other [to separate]. For as men in one place, having many and contrary masters, become distracted, and their one place helps them not to be of one mind, their masters giving orders at variance with each other, and drawing each their own way, according to what Christ says, (St. Matthew chapter 6, verse 24) “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon;” so those in different places, if they have not different lords but one only, are not by the places injured in respect of unanimity, the One Lord binding them together. “I say not then, (so he speaks,) that with Corinthians only, you being Corinthians ought to be of one mind, but with all that are in the whole world, inasmuch as you have a common Master.” This is also why he hath a second time added “our;” for since he had said, “the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” lest he should appear to the inconsiderate to be making a distinction, he subjoins again, “both our Lord and theirs.”
[3.] That my meaning may be clearer, I will read it according to its sense thus: “Paul and Sosthenes to the Church of God which is in Corinth and to all who call upon the Name of Him who is both our Lord and theirs in every place, whether in Rome or wheresoever else they may be: grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Or again thus; which I also believe to be rather more correct: “Paul and Sosthenes to those that are at Corinth, who have been sancified, called to be Saints, together with all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ in place, both theirs and ours; “that is to say, “grace unto you, and peace unto you, who are at Corinth, who have been sanctified and called;” not to you alone, but “with all who in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs.”
Now if our peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art Thou so puffed up, being saved by grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others? since this is what separation comes to. For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him. For neither do they abide (menei, Savile in marg.) secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held as enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is there any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love. For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one; I say not only, no man, but not even the devil himself; but he that hath offended God suspects all men, though he seem to be in security. For human nature is unstable, and not friends only and brethren, but fathers also, before now, have been altogether changed and often for a little thing he whom they begat, the branch of their planting, hath been to them, more than all foes, an object of persecution. Children, too, have cast off their fathers. Thus, if ye will mark it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of each, and which of them gained most honor, ye know. Abraham was in favor with God, Pharaoh with men; for to gratify him they gave up the just man’s wife. (See St. Chrys. on Genesis chapter 12, verse 17) Which then of the two was the more illustrious, and the happy man? every one knows. And why speak I of righteous men; The Israelites were in favor with God, but they were bated by men, the Egyptians; but nevertheless they prevailed against their haters and vanquished them, with how great triumph, is well known to you all.