At the age of 18, Meletius the Confessor, the leader of the Church of Antioch, also attracted by the outstanding intellectual and spiritual qualities of young St John Chrysostom, took him into his entourage. It was Meletius who baptized him, during which time he was studying theology under the Diodorus of Tarsus.
St John Chrysostom was born in Antioch, the year of his birth is not known with certainty, being placed between 344 and 354. His father, Secundus, who held a distinguished military position (magister militum Orientis), died shortly after the birth of the child and therefore the task of raising and educating him fell to his mother, Antica, who was widowed at the age of 20.
From his mother, John received the first elements of Christian teaching and, no doubt, love for the Church. He then studied philosophy under Andragatiu and rhetoric with Libaniu, a famous sophist.
Who is Saint John Chrysostom?
St. John was occupied with the Holy Scriptures and his whole mind was directed to this, to teach the people in the church and to bring sinners to repentance.
John Chrysostom or John Chrysostom the Golden Fleece, (344/354-407), Patriarch of Constantinople, was one of the four great Fathers of the Orthodox Church and the only one belonging to the School of Antioch.
St. John, having reached the age of eighteen, went to Athens and in a short time, he overcame with wisdom those older than himself and many philosophers who were there. For he, having received all the Hellenic teachings, made himself a chosen philosopher and orator of preaching. There in Athens, he had an opponent, a philosopher named Antimius, who was a very Zavistic, who, pitying his greatness, did not love him, but railed against him, speaking evil of him.
Biography of John Chrysostom
Full name: John Chrysostom
Date of birth: 0347 AD
Year of death: 0407 AD
The thread of life: 70 years old
Place of birth: Antioch, Syria
Death cause: Natural causes.
What is John Chrysostom known for?
St John Chrysostom does not attend the synod and consequently was deposed in 403. So the emperor ratifies the decision of the synod and sends John into exile in Bithynia. The exile did not last long, because, afraid of the movements of the population and the strong earthquake that took place at that time, he recalled to his seat. The population welcomes him triumphantly.
Saint John Chrysostom is known for his writings, but also for forbidding priests to use gifts for the poor for their benefit, and for forbidding nuns and deaconesses to live with clerics. Widows are required to behave irreproachably.
His criticism of corruption and depravity made him many enemies and was not without an echo in the Immaculate Court, where things were not so good. Therefore, his plan to reform life in the capital and the clergy made all the forces hostile to him unite against him.
Who initiated John Chrysostom into the Priesthood?
After the death of Patriarch Nectarios of Constantinople (+397), against his will, John was elected his successor. He was brought to the capital at the behest of Emperor Arcadius, and Theophilus of Antioch was obliged to ordain him bishop on 26 February 398.
After five years of Christian faith, he received the mystery of the priesthood from Bishop Flavian in 386, who appointed him a preacher of the great church built by Emperor Constantine. He fulfills his preaching duties with great zeal and conscientiousness. This period, 386-397, was particularly fruitful for him since his most famous homilies belong to this stage of his activity.
John immediately set out to reform both the city and the priesthood, which were in a great state of decay and corruption. He abolishes the luxuries of the bishop’s residence, introducing modest and austere monastic living, and uses the wealth here to help the poor and needy and for hospitals.
What did John Chrysostom believe?
Because of his outstanding personality and the prestige he enjoyed, it was natural that many works by unknown authors were attributed to St John Chrysostom. So researchers have discovered about 900 such works, of which 300 have been printed, the rest awaiting the light of print, among the unauthentic works, there are many forgeries attributed to St. John.
St John Chrysostom theological doctrine bears the imprint of his major concerns and beliefs, namely, biblical exegesis and pastoral work. St. John wrote no dogmatic treatise in the true sense of the word.
He dealt with dogmatic themes in the context of his exegetical works and his homilies and sayings, giving them a practical, exegetical dress, that belonged to the Antiochian exegetical school, which, unlike the Alexandrian school, which promoted allegorical interpretation, emphasized the grammatical and literal meaning.
Key Verse related to St John Chrysostom
“Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.”
How did Saint John Chrysostom live his life?
Before going into exile again, John wrote letters to Pope Innocent, Venerius of Milan, and Chromatius of Aquileia, asking for their support and to be tried again. John’s intervention can be found in Palmyra.
John Chrysostom lived his life in exile and it was not an easy one, despite the illness that plagued his body, St. John gave himself body and soul to pastoral activity. Also, his reputation attracted a growing number of believers. So as his popularity was growing and in the ruthless conditions of exile. His enemies intervened with the emperor, who sent him to a place. So, unfriendly to the already poor health of the great Hierarch, namely Pity. Therefore, a small town on the eastern shore of the Black Sea.
So he did not survive the journey and died at Comana in Pontus on 14 September 407. Also, his earthly remains were brought to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles in 438. The cortege was met by Emperor Theodosius II, who, “bowing his forehead and face on the rake, prayed for his parents, that they might be forgiven for what they had done wrong through ignorance”.
What did John write about the Old Testament?
There are 88 commentary homilies on the Gospel of John. They are shorter and are believed to have been written after 391. Conscious of the particular doctrinal load of this Gospel, St. John develops in the Johannine homilies a profound theology, rejecting the doctrines of the Arian heretics, especially the Anomologists.
Regarding the Old Testament, John wrote: two series of homilies in the Book of Acts. The first series of homilies, nine in number, delivered in Antioch during Lent in 386, refers to the first three chapters of the book of Acts, except for the ninth homily. The second series of homilies, numbering 67, is a complete commentary on the book of Acts.
The second Gospel commentary is dedicated to the Gospel of John. Although Suidas, the only one, claims that John wrote commentaries on all four Gospels, it seems, however, that he dealt only with these two Gospels, after Matthew and John.
What are John’s homilies?
The homilies and sermons to various Seraphic Sermons also occupy a rather important place. So in the context of the Chrysostomic work. Among the sermons of this kind. We mention: On the Birth of the Lord and the Baptism of the Lord. And On Epiphany. This confirms the practice of observing these feasts on 25 December and 6 January.
John’s moral homilies form a clear aspect of the Chrysostomic writings, although moral themes are present in almost all of his homilies because St. John never forgot that the main duty of the pastor of souls is to improve the life and moral conduct of his faithful.
It is about saints who belonged to the Old Testament. Such as Job, Eliazar, Maccabees with their mother, and of course, from the Christian period: Roman, Julian, Varlaam, Berenice, and martyrs in general.
How many letters does the correspondence of John Chrysostom contain?
St John Chrysostom was concerned with monastic life in a very special way. To this aspect of the Christian life, he dedicated a series of homilies.
St John’s correspondence is rich. It comprises some 236 letters that have been preserved, still concise, and dating from the time of the second exile. They are historical, pastoral, and familial in character.
Of interest are the 17 letters to the widow and deaconess Olympias, one of the most devoted of the faithful, who strove for the betterment of St. John. We also note the letters to Pope Innocent, in which we learn details about the situation of the Church in Constantinople, as well as about the author.
3 Teachings of John Chrysostom
The Chrysostom exegesis has never gone beyond the limits of moral education and exhortation to virtuous living. In his opinion, the faithful were not attracted to the Church for the depth of its dogmas, but for the moral teaching of the Gospel, for the ideal of Christian love, and the hope that God would save them from the troubles and injustices of life. He felt himself to be a pastor of souls and a social reformer rather than a dogmatic theologian.
1. Virgin Mary
As far as the teaching on the Virgin Mary is concerned, he does not use any of the established terms, but his doctrine is nevertheless explicit: “In many things, we are ignorant, as, how the Virgin Mary is in the womb, how the One who contains all things in Himself is borne as a woman, as an unborn child; how the Virgin gives birth and remains a Virgin”.
So the Sacraments are symbols or signs by which, in visible form. Also, the unseen grace of God is imparted to us, in the words of St. John, descending “the intelligible into the sensible”. So the true Saviour of the Sacraments is Christ. Also, the priest is only an instrument, the visible mediator.
So in the act of sanctification and salvation, divine grace plays an essential role, but not entirely. Since the work of salvation is also incumbent on man. Also, it is a matter of man’s collaboration with grace. God gives his grace to all, but he is a work only in those who want to receive it. Not in those who oppose it.
As regards the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, St. John is the one who fixes, in precise canons, the mystery beyond nature and understanding which is celebrated every time during the Holy Mass, when Christ is sacrificed. So, what is bread? The body of Christ”. “Think, man, what a faithful body you take in your hand! What a table you are approaching! Also, remember that you, though you are dust and ashes, receive the Blood and Body of Christ”.
- John Chrysostom is known as a bishop, theologian, and also preacher from the 4th-5th centuries in Syria and Constantinople.
- So the saint was celebrated for the eloquence of his public speeches and for denouncing abuses of authority in the Church and the Roman Empire at the time.
- Also, the treatise On Priesthood is one of the most widely circulated of the Chrysostomic works, being considered “the literary and theological masterpiece of St. John Chrysostom, the classic treatise on this mystery, as conceived and lived by patristic spirituality”.
St John Chrysostom was born in 347, in Antioch. He dedicated his entire life to building the Church of Christ, for which he spared nothing, not even himself. His words are of a height unparalleled even today, through them the saint aimed at building up the holy in the hearts of Christians and attacking abuses of every kind, political and authority in the Church and in the Roman Empire of that time. Saint John Chrysostom was born around 349 in Antioch (today Antalya in southern Turkey).
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Bible Trivia about John Chrysostom
- Allen, P., & Mayer, W. (2002). John Chrysostom. Routledge.
- Clark, E. A. (1977). John Chrysostom and the subintroductae. Church History, 46(2), 171-185.
- Leyerle, B. (1994). John Chrysostom on almsgiving and the use of money. Harvard Theological Review, 87(1), 29-47.
- Mayer, W. (2015). John Chrysostom. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics, 141.
- Wilken, R. L. (2004). John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and reality in the late 4th century. Wipf and Stock Publishers.