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John Chrysostom, Constantinople, early or midd...

John Chrysostom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here John the Golden Mouth preaches on 1 Timothy 1:16, “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.”

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. . . .

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. . . .

But how is it, that [Paul] here calls himself a sinner, nay, the chief of sinners, whereas he elsewhere asserts that he was “touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless”? (Phil 3:6.) Because with respect to the righteousness which God has wrought, the justification which is really sought, even those who are righteous in the law are sinners, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:20) Therefore he does not say righteousness simply, but “the righteousness which is in the law.” As a man that has acquired wealth, with respect to himself appears rich, but upon a comparison with the treasures of kings is very poor and the chief of the poor; so it is in this case. Compared with Angels, even righteous men are sinners; and if Paul, who wrought the righteousness that is in the law, was the chief of sinners, what other man can be called righteous? For he says not this to condemn his own life as impure, let not this be imagined; but comparing his own legal righteousness with the righteousness of God, he shows it to be nothing worth, and not only so, but he proves those who possess it to be sinners.

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