Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48–88 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 41)

Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48–88 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 41)

Copyright Date: 1959
Pages: 507
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    Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 48–88 (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 41)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1141-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)

    The eighty-eight homilies comprising the Commentary on the Gospel of St. John were preached by St. John Chrysostom at Antioch in about 390. Homilies 48-88, which form the contents of this volume, continue the exegesis of St. John’s Gospel from Chapter 7 to the end, with the exception of the episode of the adulteress (8.1-11). Since this is the only omission, it would appear that St. John Chrysostom was using one of the many Greek manuscripts of the New Testament which omit this section.

    In the homilies of the present volume the commentary grows noticeably less detailed as the series...

  4. Homily

    • Homily 48 (John 7.1-8)
      (pp. 3-12)

      ‘Now after these things Jesus went about in Galilee, for the did not wish to go about Judea because the Jews were seeking to put him to death. Now the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was at hand.’¹

      Nothing is worse than jealousy and envy; by them death came into the world. When the Devil saw man being held in honor, since he could not endure the sight of his well-being, he did everything to cause him to lose it.² And in every instance one may see this same fruit developing from this root.

      It was thus that Abel was slain,³...

    • Homily 49 (John 7.9-24)
      (pp. 12-23)

      ‘When he had said these things to them he stayed on in Galilee. But as soon as his brethren had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but as it were privately.’¹

      The actions performed by Christ in a human way were so performed not merely for the purpose of confirming the Incarnation, but also that He might instruct us to virtuous living. For, if He did everything as God, whence would we be able to learn what we ought to do when faced with trials outside the realm of our experience?

      I mean, for...

    • Homily 50 (John 7.25-36)
      (pp. 23-33)

      ‘Many therefore of the people of Jerusalem were saying: “Is not this the man they seek to kill? And behold, he speaks openly and they say nothing to him. Can it be that the rulers have really come to know that this is really the Christ? Yet we know where this man is from.” ’¹

      In the divine Scriptures there is not a word which has no purpose, for they have been completely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us examine every word with care. I say this, for it is sometimes possible to discover the entire meaning of...

    • Homily 51 (John 7.37-44)
      (pp. 33-43)

      ‘Now on the last, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying: “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, ‘From within him there shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” ’¹

      Those who come to the divine preaching and pay attention to it with faith must show the desire of the thirsty for it and stir up a similar longing in themselves. In this way, to be sure, they will be able very carefully to preserve what is said. And this is so for,...

    • Homily 52 (John 7.45-8.19)
      (pp. 43-54)

      ‘The attendants therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees; and these said to them, “Why have you not brought him?” The attendants answered, “Never has man spoken as this man.” ’¹

      Nothing is clearer than truth, nothing more simple to grasp, if we ourselves do not act perversely. Similarly, therefore, there is nothing that causes us more trouble than when we act perversely. For, see, the Pharisees and the Scribes who seemed, in truth, to be more learned, who were continually in Christ’s company for the sake of plotting against Him, who even witnessed miracles and read Scripture, derived...

    • Homily 53 (John 8.20-30)
      (pp. 55-64)

      ‘Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, while teaching in the temple. And no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.’¹

      Oh, the insanity of the Jews! Before the Pasch they were seeking Him; then they found Him in their midst and repeatedly tried to arrest Him, both by their own efforts and through those of others, and were unable to do so. Yet they were not dumbfounded at His power, but persisted in their evil designs and did not cease from them.

      Now, to indicate that they kept trying unceasingly, the Evangelist said: ‘He spoke these...

    • Homily 54 (John 8.31-47)
      (pp. 64-76)

      ‘Jesus therefore said to the Jews who had come to believe in him, “If you abide in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” ’¹

      In our affairs, beloved, we have great need of perseverance. And perseverance is the fruit, when [Christ’s] teachings become deeply rooted in us. No assault of the wind will be strong enough to uproot the oak which has sent its roots deep down into the depths of the earth and has become firmly encompassed by them. Similarly, no one will be...

    • Homily 55 (John 8.48-59)
      (pp. 76-85)

      ‘The Jews therefore in answer said to him, “Are we not right in saying that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” Jesus answered, “I have not a devil, but I honor my Father.” ’¹

      Envy is a base passion and a bold one as well, and, just when it ought to remain hidden, that is the time when it flares up fiercely instead. Thus it was in the case of the Jews. Though they ought to have been moved to compunction by Christ’s words, out of admiration for the frankness and the logic of what He said, on...

    • Homily 56 (John 9.1-5)
      (pp. 85-96)

      ‘And as he was passing by, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” ’¹

      ‘And as he was passing by, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.’ Because He was exceedingly kind and concerned about our salvation, and desired to silence the tongues of the impious, He left nothing that He could do undone, even if there was no one who heeded. Indeed, the Prophet, on seeing this, said: ‘That you may be justified in your sentence, vindicated when you...

    • Homily 57 (John 9.6-16)
      (pp. 96-105)

      ‘When Jesus had said these things, he spat on the ground and made clay with the spittle, and spread the clay over the eyes of the blind man and said, “Go, wash in the pool of Silae.” ’¹

      Those who are to gain any profit from what they read must not skim over even the smallest part of the words. Indeed, it is for this reason that we have been bidden to ‘search the Scriptures,’² because it seems that many texts, though their literal meaning is easy to comprehend, actually have a great deal of meaning concealed in their depths....

    • Homily 58 (John 9.17-35)
      (pp. 106-120)

      ‘Again they said to the blind man, “What dost thou say of him who opened thy eyes?” But he said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews therefore did not believe.’¹

      The Scriptures must be read, not merely casually or superficially, but with all care, so that one may not be confused. And I say this for even now one might with reason be perplexed at this text as to how it was that, though they had said: ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath,’ they then said to the man: ‘What dost thou say...

    • Homily 59 (John 9.35-10.13)
      (pp. 120-133)

      ‘And they turned him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and when he had found him, said to him, “Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” ’¹

      Those who endure some terrible suffering and are insulted for the sake of truth and the confession of Christ are the ones particularly held in honor by Him. For, just as the man who loses his wealth for His sake is the one who finds it before all others, and the man who hates his...

    • Homily 60 (John 10.14-21)
      (pp. 133-151)

      ‘I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.’¹

      A great thing, beloved, a great thing is the role of leader in the Church. It is one that requires much wisdom, and as great courage as Christ’s words indicate: namely, sufficient to lay down one’s life for the sheep; sufficient never to leave them unprotected and exposed to danger; and sufficient to stand firm against the attack of the wolf.

      In this respect, indeed, the shepherd...

    • Homily 61 (John 10.22-42)
      (pp. 151-164)

      ‘Now there took place at Jerusalem the feast of the Dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s porch. The Jews therefore gathered round him, and said to him, “How long dost thou keep us in suspense?” ’¹

      All virtue is good, but especially that of meekness or gentleness. It proves that we are men; it distinguishes us from wild beasts; it makes us fit to dwell in the company of the angels. That is why Christ repeatedly spoke at some length about this virtue and bade us to be meek and gentle.²


    • Homily 62 (John 11.1-29)
      (pp. 165-179)

      ‘Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Now it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment.’¹

      Many men are scandalized when they see those who are pleasing to God enduring some terrible suffering, for example, falling into sickness or poverty or some such thing. They do not know that to have these sufferings is the privilege of those especially dear to God. For Lazarus was one of Christ’s friends, and he was sick. Indeed, the messengers sent to Him stated this when they said: ‘Behold, he whom thou lovest...

    • Homily 63 (John 11.30-41)
      (pp. 179-190)

      ‘Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her,’ etc.¹

      Philosophy is a very good thing—I mean, of course our philosophy. Pagan philosophy, to be sure, is merely talk and fables, and not even the fables themselves possess any trace of true wisdom. In fact, all their teachings are uttered with a view to worldly repute.

      Our philosophy, I repeat, is a very good thing and so is profitable to us even in this life. The man who despises wealth derives benefit...

    • Homily 64 (John 11.41-48)
      (pp. 190-205)

      ‘Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. Yet I knew that thou always hearest me. But because of the people who stand round, I spoke,” ’ etc.¹

      I have often said—and I now repeat—that Christ did not have His own dignity in view as much as our salvation, nor was He thinking of how He might say something great, but how He could attract us. Therefore, sublime and great utterances from His lips are few, and these, obscure; while humble and ordinary ones are many, and are interspersed in...

    • Homily 65 (John 11.49-12.8)
      (pp. 205-215)

      ‘But one of them, Caiphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; nor do you reflect that it is expedient for us that one man die for the people,” ’ etc.¹

      ‘The nations are sunk in the pit they have made; in the snare they set, their foot is caught.’² This happened in the case of the Jews, for they were saying that Jesus ought to be slain, that the Romans might not come and take away both their nation and their city. But, when they did slay Him, then they suffered this very...

    • Homily 66 (John 12.9-24)
      (pp. 215-226)

      ‘Now the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there; and they came, not only because of Jesus, but that they might see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead.’¹

      Just as wealth is apt to cause the downfall of those who are not on their guard, so it is also with political power; for the former leads to covetousness, the latter to pride. Notice, for instance, that the ordinary people among the Jews, who were subject to authority, were possessed of sound health spiritually, while their rulers were corrupt.

      Indeed, in testimony that the multitude believed...

    • Homily 67 (John 12.25-33)
      (pp. 226-234)

      ‘He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world keeps it unto life everlasting. If anyone serve me, let him follow me.’¹

      Sweet is the present life and full of great pleasure—not for all, however, but only for those who feel an attachment for it. If a man has his eyes fixed on heaven and keeps looking at the beauties to be discovered there, he will quickly come to despise this life and will consider it of no account.

      Bodily beauty does indeed inspire admiration, as long as none more fair puts...

    • Homily 68 (John 12.34-41)
      (pp. 234-242)

      ‘The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ abides forever. And how canst thou say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” ’¹

      Deceit is a thing that is readily detected and easily caught, even if it is camouflaged exteriorly by colors without number. And just as those who are repairing cracks in walls cannot make them sound by smearing on paint, so, too, liars are easily found out.

      Accordingly, the Jews had this experience here. For, when Christ had said to them: ‘If I be lifted up...

    • Homily 69 (John 12.42-50)
      (pp. 242-250)

      ‘And yet, even among the rulers many believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.’¹

      We must flee from all the passions that corrupt the soul—all of them without exception—but much more from those that of their nature give rise to many sins: I mean, for example, avarice. This is in itself a fearful malady, but it becomes much more serious in that it is the root and mother of all...

    • Homily 70 (John 13.1-12)
      (pp. 250-259)

      ‘Before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come, to pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end.’¹

      ‘Be imitators of me,’ said Paul, ‘as I am of Christ.’ That is why He took flesh from our clay, in order that by this means He might teach us virtue. Indeed: ‘In the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin-offering, he has condemned sin in the flesh,’ Paul declared. Moreover, Christ Himself said: ‘Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of...

    • Homily 71 (John 13.12-19)
      (pp. 259-268)

      ‘And after he had put on his garments, and when he had reclined again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?” ’etc.¹

      It is a dangerous thing, beloved, a dangerous thing, to plumb the depths of evil. For the soul at length becomes incorrigible. Therefore we ought to make every effort not to be caught in its toils at the start. It is certainly easier not to become entangled at all than to retrieve oneself after having become entangled.

      Indeed, see how much help Judas enjoyed when he began to be involved, yet even...

    • Homily 72 (John 13.20-35)
      (pp. 268-281)

      ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, he who receives anyone I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.’¹

      Great is the reward for services dispensed to the servants of God and the fruits of this redound to us. For ‘He who receives you receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me, ‘He declared. And what benefit could be equal to that of receiving Christ and His Father?

      Yet, what logical sequence is there between this statement and the words that precede it? What connection has it with the first assertion:...

    • Homily 73 (John 13.36-14.7)
      (pp. 281-291)

      ‘Simon Peter said, “Lord, where art thou going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow later.” ’¹

      A great love is a noble thing; it is more consuming than fire and ascends to the very heavens. Moreover, there is no barrier strong enough to check its impetuous course.

      For instance, when Peter, who was aflame with love, heard ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ what did he say? ‘Lord, where art thou going?’ And he said this, not so much because he wanted to get the information as because he greatly...

    • Homily 74 (John 14.8-15)
      (pp. 291-299)

      ‘Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known me, Philip? He who sees me sees also the Father.” ’¹

      The Prophet said to the Jews: ‘Thou hadst a harlot’s forehead, thou who hast been utterly shameless towards all men.’² In all likelihood he could with justice address these words, not merely to that city,³ but also to all those who brazenly look truth in the face without recognition. For, when Philip said to Christ: ‘Show...

    • Homily 75 (John 14.15-30)
      (pp. 300-315)

      ‘If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.’¹

      At all times it is works and deeds we need, not vain display in word. For, it is easy for a person to make promises, but not as easy to carry them out. Why, indeed, do I say this? Because there are many at present who say that they fear and love God, while they give example of...

    • Homily 76 (John 14.31-15.10)
      (pp. 315-324)

      ‘Arise, let us go from here. I am the true vine, you are the branches, and my Father is the vine-dresser.’¹

      A lack of spiritual understanding makes the soul weak and ignoble, just as being well instructed in heavenly doctrine makes it great and noble, for, if it does not benefit by the instruction given it, it is weak, not by nature, but by choice. In fact, when I see man, at one time bold, becoming craven at another, I maintain that this behavior is not a defect inherent in his nature, for the qualities inherent in his nature are...

    • Homily 77 (John 15.11-16.4)
      (pp. 324-337)

      ‘These things I have spoken to you that my joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’¹

      All good things receive their reward when they come to the proper end, but, if they are cut short prematurely, shipwreck is the result. Now, the ship laden with incalculable cargo does not profit from a long voyage if it does not succeed in arriving at the harbor, but is sunk in the middle of the sea. On the contrary, the more numerous the...

    • Homily 78 (John 16.5-15)
      (pp. 338-351)

      ‘These things, however, I did not tell you from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I am going to him who sent me, and no one of you asks me, “Where art thou going?” But because I have spoken to you these things, sadness has filled your heart.’¹

      The tyranny exercised over us by despondency is a strong one. We need great courage if we are to persevere in resisting this emotion, and if, after deriving from it what profit we can, we are to refrain from indulging in it to excess—for, actually, it does have...

    • Homily 79 (John 16.16-33)
      (pp. 352-366)

      ‘ “A little while and you shall see me no longer; and again a little while and you shall see me, because I go to the Father.” Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this he says, ‘A little while’?” ’ etc.¹

      When a soul is in sorrow and overwhelmed by sadness, nothing is more likely to depress it still further than continually hearing gloomy words. Why in the world, then, after Christ had said: ‘I am going away and ‘I will no longer speak with you,’ why did He keep returning to the same subject...

    • Homily 80 (John 17.1-5)
      (pp. 366-376)

      ‘These things Jesus spoke; and raising his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father, the hour has come! Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee.” ’¹

      ‘Whoever carries out the commandments and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven,’² Scripture says, and very rightly so. For it is easy to teach true wisdom in word, but to exemplify the words by one’s deeds is the part of a great and noble soul. Therefore, in speaking of forbearance, Christ put His words into practice before them, and told them to follow that example.

      That is...

    • Homily 81 (John 17.6-13)
      (pp. 377-386)

      ‘I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world. They were thine, and thou hast given them to me, and they have kept thy word.’¹

      The Son of God is said to be the Angel of Great Counsel² because of His many other teachings, but especially because He revealed His Father to mankind. That is why He now said this: ‘I have manifested thy name to the men.’ For, after saying: ‘I have accomplished thy work,’ He then went on to explain this statement by telling what sort of work it was....

    • Homily 82 (John 17.14-26)
      (pp. 386-398)

      ‘I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.’¹

      When we are persecuted by the wicked, though we are virtuous, and are treated scornfully by them because of our pursuit of virtue, let us not be troubled or find it hard to bear. For virtue is so constituted of its very nature that it generally evokes hatred on the part of the wicked. Indeed, since they are envious of those who strive to live uprightly, and because they think they are providing...

    • Homily 83 (John 18.1-36)
      (pp. 399-416)

      ‘After saying these things, Jesus went forth with his disciples beyond the torrent of Cedron, where there was a garden into which he and his disciples entered.’¹

      Death is an awesome thing, and one that inspires great fear—not, however, to those who have knowledge of the true wisdom from above. The man who has no clear understanding of the life to come, but considers death as a kind of annihilation and end of life, with good reason shudders and is afraid, under the illusion that it means passing on to a state of non-existence. We, on the contrary, who...

    • Homily 84 (John 18.37-19.15)
      (pp. 417-427)

      ‘This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’¹

      Patience is a wonderful virtue. It places the soul in a calm harbor, as it were, sheltering it from the billows and winds of evil. Christ has taught us this virtue at all times, but especially now when He is being subjected to trial and forcibly driven from one place to another. I say this for, when brought before Annas, He replied with great gentleness, and everything He said in answer...

    • Homily 85 (John 19.16-20.9)
      (pp. 427-445)

      ‘Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. And so they took Jesus and led him away. And bearing the cross for himself, he went forth to the place called the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him.’¹

      Prosperity has a way of bringing about the downfall and complete dissolution of the unwary. Thus, the Jews, who from the beginning enjoyed the favor of God, repeatedly turned to the law of the kingdom of the Gentiles and when they were in the desert, after receiving manna, they kept recalling onions!² In the same way, in this instance,...

    • Homily 86 (John 20.10-23)
      (pp. 446-457)

      ‘The disciples therefore went away again to their home. But Mary was standing outside weeping at the tomb.’¹

      How tender-hearted and inclined to sympathy is womankind! I am mentioning this that you may not wonder why in the world it was that, while Mary was weeping bitterly at the tomb, Peter displayed no such emotion. ‘The disciples,’ the Evangelist stated, ‘went away to their home, while she remained standing there weeping.’

      She did this because she was by nature very easily discouraged, and she did not yet understand clearly the doctrine of the Resurrection as the others did. On seeing...

    • Homily 87 (John 20.24-21.14)
      (pp. 458-469)

      ‘Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said, “Unless I see, I will not believe,” ’ etc.¹

      Just as it is an indication of gullibility to believe easily and carelessly, so to scrutinize and examine immoderately before believing is the mark of an obstinate will. That is why Thomas is blameworthy. For he refused to believe the Apostles when they said: ‘We have seen the Lord,’ not so much because he did not trust them, as because...

    • Homily 88 (John 21.15-25)
      (pp. 470-478)

      ‘When, therefore, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” ’¹

      There are many virtues which can make us pleasing to God and cause us to appear illustrious and worthy of esteem, but the one that more especially wins favor from on high is loving concern for the welfare of our neighbor, an office which Christ now asked of Peter.

      When they had finished eating, ‘Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, dost thou...

  5. INDEX
    (pp. 479-495)