The Benefits and Importance of Scripture Reading (Quotes from St. John Chrysostom)

Select Quotes From St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

St John Chrysostom

“Let them hear, as many of us as neglect the reading of the Scriptures, to what harm we are subjecting ourselves, to what poverty.” (Hom. XLVII On Matthew)

The Bible helps us to obtain our salvation. “Now if we are willing to examine the Scriptures in this way, carefully and systematically, we shall be able to obtain our salvation. If we unceasingly are preoccupied with them, we shall learn both correctness of doctrine and an upright way of life.” (Hom 53 On John)

Scripture reading sanctifies us. “The Devil will never seize upon the soul which contains such thoughts as these, and no evil spirit will approach it, nor will the nature of sin come near. Well, then, sanctify your soul, sanctify your body by having these thoughts always in your heart and on your tongue. For if foul language is defiling and evokes evil spirits, it is evident that spiritual reading sanctifies the reader and attracts the grace of the Spirit.” (Hom. 32 On John)

The Scriptures are a treasure and neglect of it causes harm. “It is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom.” (Hom. XIX On Acts)

Knowledge of the Bible protects us and ignorance of it results in a multitude of evils. “This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how are we to come off safe?” (Hom. IX On Colossians)

The Bible is a medicine chest with remedies for grief and all troubles. “Listen, I entreat you, all that are careful for this life, and procure books that will be medicines for the soul¼get at least the New Testament, the Apostolic Epistles, the Acts, the Gospels, for your constant teachers. If grief befalls you, dive into them as into a chest of medicines; take from there comfort for your trouble, be it loss, or death, or bereavement of relations; or rather do not merely dive into them but take them wholly to yourself, keeping them in your mind.” (Hom. IX On Colossians)

The Bible is a treasury with remedies for every ailment. “Great is the profit to be derived from the sacred Scriptures and their assistance is sufficient for every need. Paul was pointing this out when he said, ‘Whatever things have been written have been written for our instruction, upon whom the final age of the world has come, that through the patience and the consolation afforded by the Scriptures we may have hope.’ (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) The divine words, indeed, are a treasury containing every sort of remedy, so that, whether one needs to put down senseless pride, or to quench the fire of concupiscence or to trample on the love of riches, or to despise pain, or to cultivate cheerfulness and acquire patience – in them one may find in abundance the means to do so.” (Hom. 37 On John.)

Knowledge of the Scriptures allows us to bear difficulties. “For as the rich in money can bear fines and damages, so he that is rich in the doctrines of Christianity will bear not poverty only, but all calamities also easily, more easily than that rich one.” (Hom. IX On Colossians.)

Ignorance of the Scriptures by Christians is a disgrace. “Is it not strange that those who sit in the marketplace tell the names, and races, and cities and talents of charioteers and dancers, even accurately state the good and bad qualities of horses, while those who assemble in this place [the church] understand nothing of what is taking place here and even are ignorant of the number of the [sacred] Books?” (Hom. 32 On John)

Children must be instructed in the Scriptures, beginning with the learning of psalms and hymns. “But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; no one knows any psalm but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, a mockery and a joke. There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain. Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom. When in these you have led him on from childhood, by little and little you will lead him forward even to the higher things” (Hom. IX On Colossians)

On the lack of attention paid when listening to the reading of Scriptures in church, when in fact it is not the clergy but God who addresses them. “They think that when they enter in the church, that they enter into the presence of the clergy, they think that they hear from us. They do not lay to heart, they do not consider that they are entering the presence of God, that it is He who addresses them. For when the Reader standing up says “Thus says the Lord”, and the Deacon stands and imposes silence on all, he does not say this as doing honor to the Reader but to honor Him who speaks to all through him [the Reader]. If they knew that it was God who through His prophet speaks these things, they would cast away all their pride. For if rulers are addressing them, they do not allow their minds to wander, much else would they when God is speaking. We are ministers, beloved. We speak not our own things, but the things of God. Letters coming from heaven are read every day.¼ These letters are sent from God; therefore let us enter with becoming reverence into the churches and let us hearken with fear to the things here said.” (Hom. IX On Thessalonians.)

The Scriptures were written for a purpose and it is a great evil to be ignorant of them. “From this it is that countless evils have arisen – from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out; from this it is that there are negligent lives; from this there are labors without advantage. For as men deprived of this daylight would not walk aright, so they that look not to the gleaming of the Holy Scriptures must be frequently and constantly sinning, in that they are walking in the worst darkness.” (Intro. Hom. On Romans)

 

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