John Chrysostom (The Early Church Fathers)

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Church Fathers - Wikipedia

Pages Home Welcome! Please Note Whenever you use the links on my blog's to make purchases, such as from Mystic Monk Coffee, CCleaner, and others, I earn a small commission. John's father died when he was young, and he was raised by a very pious mother. He studied under the pagan Libianus, most famous orator of his day. For two years he lived in a cave near Antioch, but his health being impaired by austerity, he returned to the city. He was a preacher and priest for a dozen years in Syria. While there he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life.

He had been ordained priest in , and in the twelve years that followed John was engaged chiefly in preaching and writing.

John Chrysostom – Confidence, not Fear

It was for his sermons that John earned the title "Chrysostom" golden mouthed. They were always to the point, explained the Scriptures with clarity, and sometimes went on for hours. In he was elevated to the See of Constantinople, a move that involved him in imperial politics and where he experienced popular resentment by his sweeping reforms.

As a result John was deposed and exiled in , by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria. In his exposition Chrysostom reflects his youthful Antiochene training in the interpretation of Holy Scripture through his emphasis upon the literal or historical meaning of the sacred text.


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The exposition focuses sharply on practical morality and thus often supplies telling information about fourth-century life and times. Judged by modern tastes the Discourses may seem lengthy, and Chrysostom himself admits that they taxed his energies when he complains of having become hoarse. In Antioch of the late fourth century two highly divisive forces contributed to deteriorating Judaeo-Christian relations: very successful Jewish proselytizing, and Christian Judaizing.

Both activities profoundly disturbed a vigilant leader and eloquent preacher such as Chrysostom was.

Saint John Chrysostom, One of the Great Fathers of the Church’s Social Doctrine

These Discourses , frequently interrupted by applause from the audience, present in their historical context one facet of the deteriorating relations. Antedating Chrysostom by some two centuries, emerging views that the Jews were a people cursed and dispersed in punishment for their unbelief and deicide were gaining credence; witness some statements by Irenaeus in Lyons and Tertullian in northern Africa. In the course of time certain passages of sacred Scripture began to be reinterpreted, when occasion presented itself, in such a way as to endow the polemics with divine authority.

A simplistic view of the complex problem of anti-Semitism raised the cry, almost a century ago, that the Church nurtures hatred against the Jews and at the same time protected them from the fury she had unleashed. Acta apostolicae sedis 58 — Therein the Council officially re-affirmed the common religious patrimony of Jews and Christians.

It clearly rejected any alleged collective guilt of the Jewish people for the death of Christ and their alleged rejection of God. John Chrysostom presented here were delivered at Antioch over a period of several years beginning in AD The final two homilies were delivered in after Chrysostom became patriarch of Constantinople. All but one of the homilies aim at refuting the Anomoeans, heretics who revived the most radical tenets of Arius and blatantly claimed that man knows God in the very same way that God knows himself.

He departed from this series of refutations only in the sixth homily, which he delivered on December 20, , again at Antioch. It consists of a panegyric of St. Philogonius, bishop of Antioch ca. AD —, who before his episcopal ordination had led a very exemplary life, practiced law and contracted a marriage that was blessed with a daughter.

In addition to their theological content, these homilies contain many other points of interest. On one occasion, people applauded the speaker and were very attentive to the homily but then left the church so that when Christ is about to appear in the holy mysteries the church becomes empty Hom III. Chrysostom also indicates that people kept talking to one another at the sacred moment when Christ becomes present Hom IV. He also mentions that chariot races often proved more enticing than going to church Hom VII. John was sent into exile by Empress Eudoxia and Emperor Arcadius.

John was transported across the plains of Asia Minor in the heat of summer, and almost immediately his health began to fail him. He was visited by loyal followers, and wrote letters of encouragement to others: "When you see the church scattered, suffering the most terrible trials, her most illustrious members persecuted and flogged, her leader carried away into exile, don't only consider these events, but also the things that have resulted: the rewards, the recompense, the awards for the athlete who wins in the games and the prizes won in the contest.

Early Church Fathers: St. John Chrysostom

On the eastern shore of the Black Sea, at the edges of the empire, his body gave out and he died. Thirty-four years later, after John's chief enemies had died, his relics were brought back in triumph to the capital. Emperor Theodosius II, son of Arcadius and Eudoxia, publicly asked forgiveness for the sins of his parents. He was later given the caption of "Doctor of the Church" because of the value of his writings sermons and letters survive.

Along with Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius, he is considered one of the greatest of the early Eastern church fathers.


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