st john chrysostom


September 3, 2014 + The Tilling First Given by God to Adam

by St. John Chrysostom

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and to keep it (Gen. 2:15).

'To till.' What was lacking in Paradise? And even if a tiller was needed, where was the plow? Where were the other implements of agriculture? The "tilling" [or "working"] of God consisted in tilling and keeping the commandment of God, remaining faithful to the commandment... Just as to believe in Christ is the work of God (John 6:29), so also it was a work to believe the commandment that if he touched (the forbidden tree) he would die, and if he did not touch it, he would live. The work was the keeping of the spiritual words ... "To till and to keep it," it is said. To keep it from whom? There were no thieves, no passersby, no one of evil intent. To keep from whom? To keep it for oneself; not to lose it by transgressing the commandment; to keep Paradise for oneself, observing the commandment.

July 23, 2014 + If You Desire to Become Equal to the Apostles, There is Nothing to Hinder You

by St. John Chrysostom

Wherefore, if you desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder you. For to have arrived at this virtue only suffices for your not at all falling short of them. Let no one therefore wait for miracles. For though the evil spirit is grieved, when he is driven out of a body, yet much more so, when he sees a soul delivered from sin. For indeed this is his great power [cf. Acts 8:10]. This power caused Christ to die, that He might put an end to it. Yea, for this brought in death; by reason of this all things have been turned upside down. If then thou remove this, you have cut out the nerves of the devil, you have bruised his head, you have put an end to all his might, you have scattered his host, you have exhibited a sign greater than all signs.

June 25, 2014 + How Monastics are to Aide the Church's Leaders

As deacon, priest and bishop he [St. John Chysostom] not only remained a monk at heart (what, after all, was a monk but a Christian striving to live out the gospel to the full?), but continued as far as his new situation permitted, to practice his routine of monstic austerities - for example living alone as much as possible. Consistently with this, he never hesitated as bishop, when the needs of the church seemed to warrant it, to call monks from their seclusion and either ordain them and associate them with his ministry or employ them as missionaries. However romantically he could idealise monks in their secluded retreats, he could never, with his wider understanding of the monastic voation, envisage them as standing apart from the church and its prediciments.

June 11, 2014 + On the Importance of Bringing Your Children to Church and Teaching Them the Gospel

by St. John Chrysostom

"For let no one tell me that our children ought not to be occupied with these things; they ought not only to be occupied with them, but to be zealous about them only. And although on account of your infirmity I do not assert this, nor take them away from their worldly learning, just as I do not draw you either from your civil business; yet of these seven days I claim that you dedicate one to the common Lord of us all... And yet when you take your children into the theaters, you allege neither their mathematical lessons, nor anything of the kind; but if it be required to gain or collect anything spiritual, you call the matter a waste of time. And how shall you not anger God, if you find leisure and assign a season for everything else, and yet think it a troublesome and unseasonable thing for your children to take in hand what relates to Him?

May 28, 2014 + No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Harm Himself

by St. John Chrysostom

... And, tell me, what was the case of the blessed Paul? For there is nothing to prevent my making mention of him again. Did he not experience innumerable storms of trial? And in what respect was he injured by them? Was he not crowned with victory all the more in consequence—because he suffered hunger, because he was consumed with cold and nakedness, because he was often tortured with the scourge, because he was stoned, because he was cast into the sea? But then some one says he was Paul, and called by Christ. Yet Judas also was one of the twelve, and he too was called of Christ; but neither his being of the twelve nor his call profited him, because he had not a mind disposed to virtue. But Paul although struggling with hunger, and at a loss to procure necessary food, and daily undergoing such great sufferings, pursued with great zeal the road which leads to heaven: whereas Judas although he had been called before him, and enjoyed the same advantages as he did, and was initiated in the highest form of Christian life, and partook of the holy table and that most awful of sacred feasts, and received such grace as to be able to raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils, and often heard discourses concerning poverty, and spent so long a time in the company of Christ Himself, and was entrusted with the money of the poor, so that his passion might be soothed thereby (for he was a thief) even then did not become any better, although he had been favoured with such great condescension.

May 14, 2014 + On the Delayed Coming of the Holy Spirit

by St. John Chrysostom

But why did the Holy Ghost come to them, not while Christ was present, nor even immediately after his departure, but, whereas Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit descended "when the day of Pentecost," that is, the fiftieth, "was fully come?" (Acts ii. 1.) And how was it, if the Spirit had not yet come, that He said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost?" (John xx. 22.) In order to render them capable and meet for the reception of Him. For if Daniel fainted at the sight of an Angel (Dan. viii. 17), much more would these when about to receive so great a grace. Either this then is to be said, or else that Christ spoke of what was to come, as if come already; as when He said, "Tread ye upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the devil." (Luke x. 19.) But why had the Holy Ghost not yet come? It was fit that they should first be brought to have a longing desire for that event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ Himself departed, and then the Spirit descended. For had He Himself been there, they would not have expected the Spirit so earnestly as they did. On this account neither did He come immediately after Christ's Ascension, but after eight or nine days. It is the same with us also; for our desires towards God are then most raised, when we stand in need.

January 22, 2014 + The Force of Repentance Transcends Generations

by St. John Chrysostom, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, vol. 5, Letter to the Fallen Theodore, 1.14

For the blessed David also had a fall like that which has now happened to you; and not this only but another also that followed it. I mean that of murder. What then? Did he remain prostrate? Did he not immediately rise up again with energy and place himself in position to fight the enemy? In fact, he wrestled with him so bravely that even after his death he was the protector of his offspring. For when Solomon had perpetrated great iniquity and had deserved countless deaths, God said that he would leave him the kingdom intact, thus speaking: "I will surely rend the kingdom out of your hand and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless, I will not do this in your days." Wherefore? "For David your father's sake, I will take it out of the hand of your son" [I Kings 11:11]. And again when Hezekiah was about to run the greatest possible risk, although he was a righteous man, God said that he would aid him for the sake of this saint, "For I will cast my shield," he says, "over this city to save it for my own sake and for my servant David's sake" [II Kings 19].

November 20, 2013 + Fasting that Brings Forth Fruit

by St. John Chrysostom

Do not say to me, I fasted for so many days. I did not eat this or I did not eat that. I did not drink wine, that I endured want. Instead, show me if thou, from an angry man, has become instead gentle. If from a cruel man, thou hast become benevolent. If thou art filled with anger, why oppress thy flesh? If hatred and avarice are within thee, of what benefit is it that thou drinkest water instead of wine? Do not show forth a useless fast, for fasting alone does not ascend to heaven.

August 28, 2013 + “If one provide not for one's own”

St. John Chrysostom, The Orthodox New Testament: Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, Vol. 2, Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:8, p. 360.

1 Timothy 5:8: "But if one provide not for one's own, and most of all for those of one's own house, such a one hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

The provision of which the blessed Paul speaks is universal and relates to the soul as well as the body, since both are to be provided for ... Isaiah says, 'Thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed' [Is. 58:7]. If a man deserts those who are united by ties of kindred and affinity, how shall he be affectionate towards others? Will it not have the appearance of vainglory, when benefiting others he slights his own relations, and does not provide for them? ... What is meant is that the law of God and of nature is violated by him who provides not for his own family. But how has such a one denied the faith? Even as it is said, 'They confess to know God, but in works deny Him' [cf. Tit. 1:16] ...

August 29, 2012 + Committing to Remain Near the Path

by St. John Chrysostom
From On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom, #64, compiled by Robert Van de Weyer

Human beings are not consistent in the choices they make. One moment a person may choose to act in a most generous and self-sacrificing way; then a moment later the same person may at with greed and selfishness. Since God has given us freedom of will, e does nothing to prevent this inconstancy. Does this mean that human begins are actually incapable of following Christ? Will they constantly stray from the path of love that he reveals? The answer is both no and yes. We who regard ourselves as disciples of Christ are sadly away of our own sinful tendencies. Indeed it is precisely because we know Christ, and can see his perfection, that we are so conscious of our imperfections; the comparison between ourselves and Christ is painful to behold. This we will always be inclined to stray from the path of love; day by day we will make wrong choices. Yet even to speak about “straying from the path” is to show that we can see the path and can discern the direction it leads. To be a disciple of Christ is not a guarantee of always remaining on the path; rather it is a commitment – a promise – to stay as near to the path as the will allows, and to struggle back onto the path after straying. This is as much as we can undertake in our own strength; through the grace of God we hope that over the years our journey will become straighter.

May 2, 2012 + from Homily XXI

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles

"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that be would not delay to come to them." (Acts 9:36-38)

Why did they wait till she was dead? Why was not Peter solicited before this? So right-minded were they, they did not think it proper to trouble the Disciples about such matters, and to take them away from the preaching: as indeed this is why it mentions that the place was near, seeing they asked this as a thing beside his mark, and not now in the regular course. "Not to delay to come unto them:" for she was a disciple. And Peter arose, and went with them.

And when he was come, they led him into the upper chamber." (v. 39.) They do not beseech, but leave it to him to give her life.  See what a cheering inducement to alms is here! "And all the widows," it says, "stood round him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them."

February 29, 2012 + Homily on the Paralytic Let Down through the Roof

by St. John Chrysostom

There are indeed some who say that this man was healed merely because they who brought him believed; but this is not the fact. For "when He saw their faith" refers not merely to those who brought the man but also to the man who was brought. Why so? "Is not one man healed," you say, "because another has believed?" For my part I do not think so unless owing to immaturity of age or excessive infirmity he is in some way incapable of believing. How then was it you say that in the case of the woman of Canaan the mother believed but the daughter was cured? And how was it that the servant of the centurion who believed rose from the bed of sickness and was preserved? Because the sick persons themselves were not able to believe.

Hear then what the woman of Canaan says: "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil and sometimes she falleth into the water and sometimes into the fire:" now how could she believe whose mind was darkened and possessed by a devil, and was never able to control herself, not in her sound senses? As then in the case of the woman of Canaan so also in the case of the centurion; his servant lay ill in the house, not knowing Christ, himself, nor who He was. How then was he to believe in one who was unknown to him, and of whom he had never yet obtained any experience?

February 8, 2012 + from St. John Chrysostom’s Exhortation to Theodore after His Fall: Letter 1

. . . For as the best physicians bring back those who are far gone in sickness with careful treatment to a state of health, not only treating them according to the laws of the medical art, but sometimes also giving them gratification: even so God conducts to virtue those who are much depraved, not with great severity, but gently and gradually, and supporting them on every side, so that the separation may not become greater, nor the error more prolonged.

And the same truth is implied in the parable of the prodigal son as well as in this.  For he also was no stranger, but a son, and a brother of the child who had been well pleasing to the father, and he plunged into no ordinary vice, but went to the very extremity, so to say, of evil, he the rich and free and well-bred son being reduced to a more miserable condition than that of household slaves, strangers, and hirelings.  Nevertheless he returned again to his original condition, and had his former honour restored to him.

January 11, 2012 + from Homily IV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."  1 Timothy 1:15-16

The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. "This is a faithful saying," he says, "and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

November 30, 2011 + from Homily VIII

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)

It is the virtue of teachers to aim not at praise, nor at esteem from those under their authority, but at their salvation, and to do every thing with this object; since the man who should make the other end his aim, would not be a teacher but a tyrant. Surely it is not for this that God set thee over them, that thou shouldest enjoy greater court and service, but that thine own interests should be disregarded, and every one of theirs built up. This is a teacher's duty: such a one was the blessed Paul, a man who was free from all manner of vanity, and was contented to be one of the many, nay more, to be the very least even of them. Hence he even calls himself their servant, and so generally speaks in a tone of supplication. Observe him then even now writing nothing dictatorial, nothing imperious, but all chastened and subdued.

"I therefore," saith he, "the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." What is it, tell me, thou art beseeching? Is it that thou mayest gain any end for thyself? No, saith he, in no wise; it is that I may save others. And yet surely they who beseech, do so for things which are of importance to themselves. True; and this, saith he, is of importance to myself, according to what he says also elsewhere in his writings, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii: 8.) for he ever earnestly desired the salvation of those whom he was instructing.

October 12, 2011 + from Homily XIX

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the 2nd Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians

"Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart."  (2 Corinthians 9:7) 

For a man when left to himself, does a thing more readily than when compelled. Wherefore also he dwells upon this:  for having said, "according as he is disposed," he added, "Not grudgingly, nor of necessity." And neither was he content with this, but he adds a testimony from Scripture also, saying,

"For God loveth a cheerful giver."

Seest thou how frequently he lays this down? "I speak not by commandment:" and, "Herein I give my advice:" and, "as a matter of bounty, and not as of extortion," and again, "not grudgingly, nor of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver."  In this passage I am of opinion that a large [giver] is intended; the Apostle however has taken it as giving with readiness.  For because the example of the Macedonians and all those other things were enough to produce sumptuousness, he does not say many things on that head, but upon giving without reluctance. For if it is a work of virtue, and yet all that is done of necessity is shorn of its reward, with reason also he labors at this point. And he does not advise merely, but also adds a prayer, as his wont is to do, saying, 

(Verse 8) "And may God, that is able, fulfill all grace towards you."

August 31, 2011 + from Homily LXIII

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. Matthew

". . . But when the young man heard it, he went away sorrowful" (Matthew 19:22)

After this the evangelist, as it were to show that he hath not felt anything it was unlikely he should feel, saith, "For he had great possessions." For they that have little are not equally held in subjection, as they that are overflowed with great affluence, for then the love of it becomes more tyrannical. Which thing I cease not always saying, that the increase of acquisitions kindles the flame more, and renders the getters poorer, inasmuch as it puts them in greater desire, and makes them have more feeling of their want.

See, for example, even here what strength did this passion exhibit. Him that had come to Him with joy and forwardness, when Christ commanded him to cast away his riches, it so overwhelmed and weighed down, as not to suffer him so much as to answer touching these things, but silenced and become dejected and sullen to go away.

What then saith Christ? "How hardly shall the rich enter into the kingdom of Heaven!" blaming not riches but them that are held in subjection by them. But if the rich man "hardly," much more the covetous man. For if not to give one's own be an hindrance to entering the kingdom, even to take of other men's goods, think how much fire it heapeth up.

Why can it have been, however, that He said to His disciples, that "hardly shall a rich man enter in," they being poor men, and having no possessions? Instructing them not to be ashamed of their poverty, and, as it were, excusing Himself to them for suffering them to have nothing.

June 8, 2011 + from Homily IV

Commentary of St. John Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven."   (Acts 2:1-2)

DOST thou perceive the type? What is this Pentecost? The time when the sickle was to be put to the harvest, and the ingathering was made. See now the reality, when the time was come to put in the sickle of the word: for here, as the sickle, keen-edged, came the Spirit down. For hear the words of Christ: "Lift up your eyes," He said, "and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." (John iv. 35.) And again, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few." (Matt. ix. 38.) But as the first-fruits of this harvest, He himself took [our nature], and bore it up on high. Himself first put in the sickle. Therefore also He calls the Word the Seed. "When," it says, "the day of Pentecost was fully come" (Luke viii. 5, 11): that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these.

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven." (v. 2.) Why did this not come to pass without sensible tokens? For this reason. If even when the fact was such, men said, "They are full of new wine," what would they not have said, had it been otherwise? And it is not merely, "there came a sound," but, "from heaven." And the suddenness also startled them, and brought all together to the spot. "As of a rushing mighty wind:" this betokens the exceeding vehemence of the Spirit. "And it filled all the house:" insomuch that those present both believed, and in this manner were shown to be worthy.

May 25, 2011 + from Homily LVI

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. John

And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:1-3)

Lo, here again is another difficulty, if without this man's punishment, it was not possible that the glory of God should be shown. Certainly it is not said that it was impossible, for it was possible, but, "that it might be manifested even in this man." "What," saith some one, "did he suffer wrong for the glory of God?" What wrong, tell me? For what if God had never willed to produce him at all? But I assert that he even received benefit from his blindness: since he recovered the sight of the eyes within. What were the Jews profited by their eyes? They incurred the heavier punishment, being blinded even while they saw. And what injury had this man by his blindness? For by means of it he recovered sight. As then the evils of the present life are not evils, so neither are the good things good; sin alone is an evil, but blindness is not an evil. And He who had brought this man from not being into being, had also power to leave him as he was.

May 18, 2011 + from Homily XXXIV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. John

The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?" (John 4: 28-29)

We require much fervor and uproused zeal, for without these it is impossible to obtain the blessings promised to us. And to show this, Christ at one time saith, "Except a man take up his cross and follow Me, he is not worthy of Me" (Matt. x. 38); at another, "I am come to send fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?" (Luke xii. 49); by both these desiring to represent to us a disciple full of heat and fire, and prepared for every danger. Such an one was this woman. For so kindled was she by His words, that she left her water pot and the purpose for which she came, ran into the city, and drew all the people to Jesus. "Come," she saith, "see a Man which told me all things that ever I did."

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, she after that despised the material one; teaching us even by this trifling instance when we are listening to spiritual matters to overlook the things of this life, and make no account of them. For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.

May 11, 2011 + from Homily XXXVI

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. John

"Now there is at Jerusalem a sheep pool, called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of halt, blind, withered, waiting for the moving of the water."  (John 5:2-3)

What manner of cure is this? What mystery doth it signify to us? For these things are not written carelessly, or without a purpose, but as by a figure and type they show in outline things to come, in order that what was exceedingly strange might not by coming unexpectedly harm among the many the power of faith. What then is it that they show in outline? A Baptism was about to be given, possessing much power, and the greatest of gifts, a Baptism purging all sins, and making men alive instead of dead. These things then are foreshown as in a picture by the pool, and by many other circumstances. And first is given a water which purges the stains of our bodies, and those defilements which are not, but seem to be, as those from touching the dead, those from leprosy, and other similar causes; under the old covenant one may see many things done by water on this account. However let us now proceed to the matter in hand.

April 13, 2011 + from Homily LXVI

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel According to St. Matthew

And when He drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go into the village over against you, and ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say aught unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he sendeth them. And this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Zechariah the prophet, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (Matthew 21:1-5)

And yet He had often entered Jerusalem before, but never with so much circumstance. What then is the cause? It was the beginning then of the dispensation; and neither was He very well known, nor the time of His passion near; wherefore He mixed with them with less distinction, and more disguising Himself. For He would not have been held in admiration, had He so appeared, and He would have excited them to greater anger. But when He had both given them sufficient proof of His power, and the cross was at the doors, He makes Himself then more conspicuous, and doeth with greater circumstance all the things that were likely to inflame them. For it was indeed possible for this to have been done at the beginning also; but it was not profitable nor expedient it should be so.

But do thou observe, I pray thee, how many miracles are done, and how many prophecies are fulfilled. He said, "Ye shall find an ass;" He foretold that no man should hinder them, but that all, when they heard, should hold their peace.

January 26, 2011 + Three Guiding Lights of True Faith

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers
from The Word, January 2001

As the month of January draws to a close, the Church calls us on the 30th to celebrate the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.

In celebrating these three great teachers of the Church, the Church in its hymnody refers to them as “harps of the Spirit,” “rays of light,” “scented flowers of Paradise,” “instruments of grace.” The Gospel read at Divine Liturgy is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10:9-16). This gospel, always appointed to be read on feast days of canonized bishops, speaks to us of the God-given role of the episcopacy to watch over our souls.

In these three great shepherds of the Church, we see both a commonality and differences that can enlighten us in how we lead our lives as Christians. Honored as supreme representatives of both the Church’s doctrinal and pastoral ministries, these men give us true examples of what it means to be Orthodox.

St. Basil the Great (330-379), though known throughout Orthodoxy because of the Divine Liturgy that bears his name, was perhaps first and foremost a man of charity and compassion. Known as a protector of the weak and defender of the poor, St. Basil built hospitals, organized charities, cared for orphans and widows and emphasized acts of mercy on the part of all Christians.

A great defender of the faith in powerful writings and homilies, and known as an organizer and reformer of monasteries, St. Basil more than anything else burned with a heart of compassion, living out the words of Christ, “Inasmuch as you do it unto one of these little ones, you do it unto me.”

January 19, 2011 + from Homily VIII

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians

"And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:14)

Dost thou see that he saith this? For since it is possible for one who forgives, not to love; yea, he saith, thou must love him too, and he points out a way whereby it becomes possible to forgive. For it is possible for one to be kind, and meek, and humble-minded, and longsuffering, and yet not affectionate. And therefore, he said at the first, "A heart of compassion," both love and pity. "And above all these things, love, which is the bond of perfectness."

Now what he wishes to say is this; that there is no profit in those things, for all those things fall asunder, except they be done with love; this it is which clenches them all together; whatsoever good thing it be thou mentionest, if love be away, it is nothing, it melts away. And it is as in a ship, even though her rigging be large, yet if there be no girding ropes, it is of no service; and in a house, if there be no tie beams, it is the same; and in a body, though the bones be large, if there be no ligaments, they are of no service.

For whatsoever good deeds any may have, all do vanish away, if love be not there. He said not that it is the summit, but what is greater, "the bond"; this is more necessary than the other. For "summit" indeed is an intensity of perfectness, but "bond" is the holding fast together of those things which produce the perfectness; it is, as it were, the root.

October 6, 2010 + Commentary on Galatians

from The Commentary of St. John Chrysostom on The Epistle of St. Paul to The Galatians

"For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was preached by me that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ."  (Galatians 1:11-12)

You observe how sedulously he affirms that he was taught of Christ, who Himself, without human intervention, condescended to reveal to him all knowledge. And if he were asked for his proof that God Himself thus immediately revealed to him these ineffable mysteries, he would instance his former manner of life, arguing that his conversion would not have been so sudden, had it not been by Divine revelation. For when men have been vehement and eager on the contrary side, their conviction, if it is effected by human means, requires much time and ingenuity. It is clear therefore that he, whose conversion is sudden, and who has been sobered in the very height of his madness, must have been vouchsafed a Divine revelation and teaching, and so have at once arrived at complete sanity. On this account he is obliged to relate his former life, and to call the Galatians as witnesses of past events. That the Only-Begotten Son of God had Himself from heaven vouchsafed to call me, says he, you who were not present, could not know, but that I was a persecutor you do know. For my violence even reached your ears, and the distance between Palestine and Galatia is so great, that the report would not have extended thither, had not my acts exceeded all bounds and endurance. Wherefore he says,