Application of That Glorious Name

From Commentary on 1 Corinthians (390)

God shall also confirm you to the end so that you may be unreprovable. Here Paul seems to court them, but the saying is free from all flattery, for Paul knows also how to press them home as when he says in 1 Cor. 4:18-21, “Some are puffed up as though I would not come to you. And again, What will you? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?”… But he is also covertly accusing them. For, to say, God shall confirm, and the word unreprovable marks them out as still wavering, and liable to reproof.

But consider how he always fastens them as with nails to the name of Christ. And not any man nor teacher, but continually the desired one himself is remembered by Paul, setting himself, as it were to arouse those who were heavy-headed after some debauch. For nowhere in any other epistle does the name of Christ occur so continually. But here it is, many times in a few verses; and by means of the name Paul weaves together, one may say, the whole of the epistle’s preface.  Look at it from the beginning. “Paul, called an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them who have been sanctified in Jesus Christ, who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God for the grace which has been given you by Jesus Christ, even as the testimony of Christ has been confirmed in you, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm you unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you have been called into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord. And I beseech you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you see the constant repetition of the name of Christ? It is plain even to the most unobservant that it is not by chance nor unwittingly that Paul does this. Rather, it is in order that by incessant application of that glorious name Paul may foment their inflammation and purge out the corruption of the disease.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son.” Wonderful! How great a thing says Paul here! How vast in the magnitude of the gift which he declares! Into the fellowship of the only-begotten have you been called, and do you addict yourselves to men? What can be worse than this wretchedness? And how have you been called? By the Father. For since “through him,” and “in him,” were phrases which Paul was constantly employing in regard of the Son, lest men might suppose that Paul so mentions him as being less, he ascribes the same to the Father. For not by this one and that one, Paul writes, but by the Father have you been called; by him also have you been enriched.

Again, “you have been called;” you did not approach yourselves. But what does “into the fellowship of his Son” mean? Hear Paul declaring this very thing more clearly elsewhere; 2 Tim. 2:12: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him; if we die with him, we shall also live with him. Then, because it was a great thing which he had said, he adds an argument fraught with unanswerable conviction, for, Paul writes, “God is faithful,” that is, true. Now if true, what things God has promised, God will also perform. And God has promised that he will make us partakers of his only-begotten Son, for to this end also did God call us…

These things, by a kind of divine art Paul inserts early, lest after the vehemence of the reproofs they might fall into despair. For assuredly God’s part will ensue, if we are not quite impatient of his rein.

St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople, and one of the greatest preachers of his era. He is traditionally counted among the Four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church. The Homilies on I Corinthians date from his ministry in his native Antioch, and were preached in the 380s and 390s. His feast day is September 13.

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