St. John Chrysostom (AD 349-407) -Indictment to Protestant Teaching

Hosios_Loukas_(nave,_south_east_conch)_-_John_Chrysostom_-_detail
John Calvin wrote, “In this area [Biblical exegesis], no one of sound judgment would deny that our Chrysostom excels all the ancient writers currently extant. This is especially true when he deals with the New Testament” {1} and “The chief merit of our Chrysostom is this: he took great pains everywhere not to deviate in the slightest from the genuine plain meaning of Scripture and not to indulge in any licence of twisting the straight-forward sense  of the words. I am only saying what will be acknowledged by those who are both in a position to make a correct assessment and who will not hesitate to state the fact” {2}. Below are a list of citations from St. John Chrysostom wherein he exposits portions of the New Testament in a way that proves Calvin’s statements ironic.

Virginity Superior to Marriage 
“That Virginity is good I do agree. But that it is even better than marriage, this I do confess. And if you wish, I add that it is much better than marriage as heaven is better than earth, as much better as the angels are better than men. And if there were any other way in which I could say it even more emphatically, I would do so” (Treatise on Virginity, 10 – Patrologia Graeca 48.533)

Scripture & Tradition
“‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter’ (1 Thess 2:15). From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there was much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further.” (Homilies on the 2nd Epistle to the Thess)

Justification by Faith Working Through Love
“‘He that believes in the Son has everlasting life’…. ‘Is it enough, then, to believe in the Son?’ someone will say, ‘in order to have everlasting life?’. By no means! Listen to Christ declare this Himself when He says, ‘Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord! Lord!’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven’; and the blasphemy against the Spirit is alone sufficient to cast him into hell. But why should I speak of a part of our teaching? For if a man not only live rightly, his faith will avail him nothing toward salvation” (Homily on the Gospel of John, 31.1)

The Blood and Body of Jesus Christ sacrificed and partaken
“For when you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshipers empurpled with that precious blood, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway translated to Heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, do you not with disembodied spirit and pure reason contemplate the things which are in Heaven? Oh! What a marvel! What love of God to man! He who sits on high with the Father is at that hour held in the hands of all, and gives Himself to those who are willing to embrace and grasp Him” (On the Priesthood 3.4)

“Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasoning and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings.For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That has never failed, but this in most things goes wrong. Since then the word says, This is my body, let us both be persuaded and believe, and look at it with the eyes of the mind.For Christ has given nothing sensible, but though in things sensible yet all to be perceived by the mind. So also in baptism, the gift is bestowed by a sensible thing, that is, by water; but that which is done is perceived by the mind, the birth, I mean, and the renewal. For if you had been incorporeal, He would have delivered you the incorporeal gifts bare; but because the soul has been locked up in a body, He delivers you the things that the mind perceives, in things sensible. How many now say, I would wish to see His form, the mark, His clothes, His shoes. Lo! You see Him, Thou touchest Him, you eat Him” (Homily on the Gospel of Matthew 82.4)

“What then? Do not we offer every day? We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of His death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one, and not many? Inasmuch as that [Sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and this remembrance of that. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? But Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one Body.  As then while offered in many places, He is one body and not many bodies; so also [He is] one sacrifice. He is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted” (Homily on the Book of Hebrews, 17)

“How shall we receive this with so great insolence? Let us not, I pray you, let us not slay ourselves by our irreverence, but with all awfulness and purity draw near to It; and when you see It set before you, say thou to yourself, Because of this Body am I no longer earth and ashes, no longer a prisoner, but free: because of this I hope for heaven, and to receive the good things therein, immortal life, the portion of angels, converse with Christ; this Body, nailed and scourged, was more than death could stand against; this Body the very sun saw sacrificed, and turned aside his beams; for this both the veil was rent in that moment, and rocks were burst asunder, and all the earth was shaken. This is even that Body, the blood-stained, the pierced, and that out of which gushed the saving fountains, the one of blood, the other of water, for all the world….. This Body has He given to us both to hold and to eat; a thing appropriate to intense love. For those whom we kiss vehemently, we oft-times even bite with our teeth.” (Homily on 1 Corinthians, 24)

“For if any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw near to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests; since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and our salvation. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven’. They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, ‘Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained’? What authority could be greater than this? The Father has committed all judgment to the Son? But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son. For they have been conducted to this dignity as if they were already translated to Heaven, and had transcended human nature, and were released from the passions to which we are liable. Moreover, if a king should bestow this honor upon any of his subjects, authorizing him to cast into prison whom he pleased and to release them again, he becomes an object of envy and respect to all men; but he who has received from God an authority as much greater as heaven is more precious than earth, and souls more precious than bodies, seems to some to have received so small an honor that they are actually able to imagine that one of those who have been entrusted with these things will despise the gift. Away with such madness! For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious?” (On the Priesthood 3.5)

“The Jewish priests had authority to release the body from leprosy, or, rather, not to release it but only to examine those who were already released, and you know how much the office of priest was contended for at that time. But our priests have received authority to deal, not with bodily leprosy, but spiritual uncleanness— not to pronounce it removed after examination, but actually and absolutely to take it away. Wherefore they who despise these priests would be far more accursed than Dathan and his company, and deserve more severe punishment. For the latter, although they laid claim to the dignity which did not belong to them, nevertheless had an excellent opinion concerning it, and this they evinced by the great eagerness with which they pursued it; but these men, when the office has been better regulated, and has received so great a development, have displayed an audacity which exceeds that of the others, although manifested in a contrary way. For there is not an equal amount of contempt involved in aiming at an honor which does not pertain to one, and in despising such great advantages, but the latter exceeds the former as much as scorn differs from admiration. What soul then is so sordid as to despise such great advantages? None whatever, I should say, unless it were one subject to some demoniacal impulse. For I return once more to the point from which I started: not in the way of chastising only, but also in the way of benefiting, God has bestowed a power on priests greater than that of our natural parents. The two indeed differ as much as the present and the future life. For our natural parents generate us unto this life only, but the others unto that which is to come. And the former would not be able to avert death from their offspring, or to repel the assaults of disease; but these others have often saved a sick soul, or one which was on the point of perishing, procuring for some a milder chastisement, and preventing others from falling altogether, not only by instruction and admonition, but also by the assistance wrought through prayers. For not only at the time of regeneration, but afterwards also, they have authority to forgive sins” (On the Priesthood 3.6)

“Christ is present. The One who prepared that table [on Holy Thursday] is the very One who now prepared this table. For it is not a man who makes the sacrificial gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He that was crucified for us, Christ Himself. The priest stands there carrying out the action, but the power and the grace is of God. ‘This is My Body’, he says. This statement transforms the gifts” (Homilies on the Treacherous Judas 1.6)

“Great is the dignity of Priests. ‘Whose sins you forgive,’ He [Jesus] says, ‘they are forgiven them’, …. The things that are placed in the hands of the Priest, it belongs to God alone to give...Neither Angel or Archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God; rather, Father and Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the Priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand. Nor would it be just, if those who draw near in faith to the symbols of our salvation were to be harmed by the wickedness of another” (Homily on the Gospel of John 86.4)

{1} (Hazlett, ‘Calvins Latin Preface’, 144; Calvini, ‘Praefatio In Chrysostomi’, volume 9, column 834.)

{2} Hazlett, ‘Calvins Latin Preface’, 144; Calvini, ‘Praefatio In Chrysostomi’, volume 9, column 835

{3} Quotes from here

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