John Chrysostom on Paul’s Attitude toward the Galatians

Author John D. Barry

John Chrysostom (ca. AD 347–407) was the Bishop of Constantinople, a position which he took against his will. A very prolific theological writer, as well as an articulate speaker, he wrote homilies (sermons) on about half of the New Testament books.

John Chrysostom on Paul’s Attitude towards the Galatians

John Chrysostom

“Now that this Epistle [to the Galatians] breathes an indignant spirit, is obvious to everyone even on the first perusal; but I must explain the cause of his anger against the disciples. Slight and unimportant it could not be, or he would not have used such vehemence. . . . What then was the offence which roused him? It was grave and momentous, one which was estranging them all from Christ, as he himself says further on, ‘Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing’ [Gal 1:2]; and again, ‘Ye who would be justified by the Law, ye are fallen away from Grace’ [Gal 1:4]. What then is this? For it must be explained more clearly. Some of the Jews who believed, being held down by the prepossessions of Judaism, and at the same time intoxicated by vain-glory, and desirous of obtaining for themselves the dignity of teachers, came to the Galatians, and taught them that the observance of circumcision, Sabbaths, and new-moons, was necessary, and that [Paul’s abolishment of these things was to be ignored.] For, said they, Peter and James and John, the chiefs of the Apostles and the companions of Christ, forbade them not. Now in fact they did not forbid these things, but this was not by way of delivering positive doctrine, but in condescension to the weakness of the Jewish believers, which condescension Paul had no need of when preaching to the Gentiles; but when he was in Judea, he employed it himself also.”¹

1John Chrystotom, Homily on Galatians. Translated volume edited by Philip Schaff, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Vol. XIII.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Originally published in print, Vol. 1 No. 2.