The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." 1 Timothy 1:15-16
The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. "This is a faithful saying," he says, "and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had misspent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, "It is a saying to be believed." But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now. "Let us then do evil, that good may come." This was the consequence they drew in derision of our faith, from his words, "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." (Rom. iii. 8, and v. 20.) So when we discourse to them of Hell they say, How can this be worthy of God? When man has found his servant offending, he forgives it, and thinks him worthy of pardon and does God punish eternally? And when we speak of the Laver, and of the remission of sins through it, this too they say is unworthy of God, that he who has committed offenses without number should have his sins remitted. What perverseness of mind is this, what a spirit of contention does it manifest! Surely if forgiveness is an evil, punishment is a good; but if punishment is an evil, remission of it is a good. I speak according to their notions, for according to ours, both are good. This I shall show at another time, for the present would not suffice for a matter so deep, and which requires to be elaborately argued. I must lay it before your Charity at a fitting season. At present let us proceed with our proposed subject. "This is a faithful saying," he says. But why is it to be believed?
This appears both from what precedes and from what follows. Observe how he prepares us for this assertion, and how he then dwells upon it. For he hath previously declared that He showed mercy to me "a blasphemer and a persecutor"; this was in the way of preparation. And not only did He show mercy, but "He accounted me faithful." So far should we be, he means, from disbelieving that He showed mercy. For no one, who should see a prisoner admitted into a palace, could doubt whether he obtained mercy. And this was visibly the situation of Paul, for he makes himself the example. Nor is he ashamed to call himself a sinner, but rather delights in it, as he thus can best demonstrate the miracle of God's regard for him, and that He had thought him worthy of such extraordinary kindness.
St. Anthony the Great - January 17
Thou didst follow the ways of zealous Elijah, and the straight path of the Baptist, O Father Anthony. Thou didst become a desert dweller and support the world by thy prayers. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion of St. Anthony, Tone 2
Thou didst abandon the world's tumult and live in silence, and emulate the Baptist, O Anthony. Wherefore we acclaim thee with him, thou summit of the Fathers.