Was John Chrysostom Catholic?

Hey folks,

I’ve been reading through the homilies on Romans in John Chrysostom, and I cannot help but notice the protestant interpretations that come line after line after line.

My first question, if someone had to prove that John Chrysosotom was Catholic, how would you go about it ? I am not aware if there is a book about this. And I am not speaking of the Eucharist. But more particularly, do we have evidence that he believed some of the other doctrines that evangelicals highly question such as infant baptism, the process of justification, the priesthood, etc,etc

He’s a saint and a doctor of the Church. That’s good enough for me.

Where do you find Protestant ideas in Chrysostom on any of these points? I know that he himself was not baptized as an infant, but I’ve never seen a passage where he criticizes infant baptism. And his theology of justification/free will/works frankly embarrassed Calvin, who was otherwise one of his biggest fans! He also said a lot about the sacred nature of the priesthood.

The question is wrongly posed. Obviously he was Catholic–he was Patriarch of Constantinople in full communion with Rome (in fact I believe Rome defended him when he was deposed). The question would be, “did fourth-century Catholics like Chrysostom hold the same beliefs as modern Christians in communion with Rome?”

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Well Im highlighting a few concerns that I have on things he writes. But I will show those later.

The fact that he wrote about the priesthood is telling for me.

Besides the priesthood, I don’t know many Protestants who wouldn’t be appalled by:What then?** Do not we offer every day?** We offer indeed, but making a remembrance of His death, and this [remembrance] is one and not many. How is it one, and not many? Inasmuch as that [Sacrifice] was once for all offered, [and] carried into the Holy of Holies. This is a figure of that [sacrifice] and this remembrance of that. For we always offer the same, not one sheep now and tomorrow another, but always the same thing: so that the sacrifice is one. And yet by this reasoning, since the offering is made in many places, are there many Christs? But Christ is one everywhere, being complete here and complete there also, one Body. As then while offered in many places, He is one body and not many bodies; so also [He is] one sacrifice. He is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted. This is done in remembrance of what was then done. For (says He) do this in remembrance of Me. Luke 22:19 It is not another sacrifice, as the High Priest, but we offer always the same, or rather we perform a remembrance of a Sacrifice. (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews 17.6)
orIf the remembrance only of a just man had so great power when deeds are done for one, how great power will it not have? Not in vain did the Apostles order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the dreadful Mysteries. They know that great gain results to them, great benefit; for when the whole people stands with uplifted hands, a priestly assembly, and that awful Sacrifice lies displayed, how shall we not prevail with God by our entreaties for them? And this we do for those who have departed in faith… (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Philippians)

Just going through romans, it is very clear that he believes that “justification” is by faith alone; unless I am somehow mistaken.

He says that by only believing are we made righteous (Rom 1:16-17)


He was Catholic, in communion with the bishop of Rome, and is a Church Father and a Doctor of the Church. I’m guessing the “Protestant” elements of his teaching are likely mostly Catholic teachings which some Protestants do not realize they inherited from the Catholic Church.

Of course, it’s also possible even for Fathers and Doctors to make individual mistakes, though their writings will undoubtedly be orthodox on the whole.


Well… #1, please quit inserting “alone” in there where it doesn’t exist. Luther did this, and Luther was not Catholic, but a heretic only masquerading as a Catholic. Luther actually wanted to trash the Epistle of James, amongst others, due to this challenge to his philosophy.

These prove that faith without good works, and especially charity for God and our neighbour, cannot avail to eternal life; faith and charity are both essentially necessary. Hence St. Augustine declares, that where there is not true faith, there cannot be justice; because the just man liveth by faith: and where charity is not, there can be no justice, which if they had, they would never tear in pieces the body of Christ, which is the Church.

(De fid. ad Pet. chap. xxxix.)
(Source: haydock1859.tripod.com/id174.html)

Just going through romans, it is very clear that he believes that “justification” is by faith alone; unless I am somehow mistaken.

He says that by only believing are we made righteous (Rom 1:16-17)


It would be good if you could quote where you believe St John Chrysostom interperets Roman 1:16-17 as “justification” by faith alone. Yes it true that we as Christians are saved by faith in Jesus Christ however sola fide is not mentioned in Romans 1:16-17 nor is it justified itself through the words of St James unless one denies him or his work:

“Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?” (James 2:24)

Simply read his homily on the gospel of John chapter 6. There is no doubt he is catholic.


Those men then at that time reaped no fruit from what was said, but we have enjoyed the benefit in the very realities. Wherefore it is necessary to understand the marvel of the Mysteries, what it is, why it was given, and what is the profit of the action. We become one Body, and members of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:30 Let the initiated follow what I say. In order then that we may become this not by love only,*** but in very deed,*** let us be blended into that flesh. This is effected by the food which He has freely given us, desiring to show the love which He has for us. On this account He has mixed up Himself with us; He has kneaded up His body with ours, that we might be a certain One Thing, like a body joined to a head. For this belongs to them who love strongly; this, for instance, Job implied, speaking of his servants, by whom he was beloved so exceedingly, that they desired to cleave unto his flesh. For they said, to show the strong love which they felt, Who would give us to be satisfied with his flesh? Job 31:31** Wherefore this also Christ has done, to lead us to a closer friendship, and to show His love for us; He has given to those who desire Him not only to see Him, but even to touch, and eat Him, and fix their teeth in His flesh, and to embrace Him, and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil; thinking on our Head, and on the love which He has shown for us. Parents often entrust their offspring to others to feed; but I, says He, do not so, I feed you with My own flesh, desiring that you all be nobly born, and holding forth to you good hopes for the future. For He who gives out Himself to you here, much more will do so hereafter. I have willed to become your Brother, for your sake I shared in flesh and blood, and in turn I give out to you the flesh and the blood by which I became your kinsman. This blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us, produces beauty unspeakable, permits not the nobleness of our souls to waste away, watering it continually, and nourishing it. The blood derived from our food becomes not at once blood, but something else; while this does not so, but straightway waters our souls, and works in them some mighty power. This blood,* if rightly taken*, drives away devils, and keeps them afar off from us, while it calls to us Angels and the Lord of Angels.** For wherever they see the Lord’s blood, devils flee, and Angels run together. This blood poured forth washed clean all the world; many wise sayings did the blessed Paul utter concerning it in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This blood cleansed the secret place, and the Holy of Holies. And if the type of it had such great power in the temple of the Hebrews, and in the midst of Egypt, when smeared on the door-posts, much more the reality. This blood sanctified the golden altar; without it the high priest dared not enter into the secret place.** This blood consecrated priests, this in* types cleansed sins. But if it had such power in the types*, if death so shuddered at the shadow, tell me how would it not have dreaded THE VERY REALITY?** This blood is the salvation of our souls, by this the soul is washed, by this is beautiful, by this is inflamed, this causes our understanding to be more bright than fire, and our soul more beaming than gold; this blood was poured forth, and made heaven accessible.


  1. Awful in truth are the Mysteries of the Church, awful in truth is the Altar. A fountain went up out of Paradise sending forth material rivers, from this table springs up a fountain which sends forth rivers spiritual. By the side of this fountain are planted not fruitless willows, but trees reaching even to heaven, bearing fruit ever timely and undecaying. If any be scorched with heat, let him come to the side of this fountain and cool his burning. For it quenches drought, and comforts all things that are burnt up, not by the sun, but by the fiery darts. For it has its beginning from above, and its source is there, whence also its water flows. Many are the streams of that fountain which the Comforter sends forth, and the Son is the Mediator, not holding mattock to clear the way, but opening our minds. This fountain is a fountain of light, spouting forth rays of truth. By it stand the Powers on high looking upon the beauty of its streams, because they more clearly perceive the power of the Things set forth, and the flashings unapproachable. For as when gold is being molten if one should (were it possible) dip in it his hand or his tongue, he would immediately render them golden; thus, but in much greater degree, does what here is set forth work upon the soul. Fiercer than fire the river boils up, yet burns not, but only baptizes that on which it lays hold. This blood was ever typified of old in the altars and sacrifices of righteous men, This is the price of the world, by This Christ purchased to Himself the Church, by This He has adorned Her all. For as a man buying servants gives gold for them, and again when he desires to deck them out does this also with gold; so Christ has purchased us with His blood, and adorned us with His blood. They who share this blood stand with Angels and Archangels and the Powers that are above, clothed in Christ’s own kingly robe, and having the armor of the Spirit. Nay, I have not as yet said any great thing: they are clothed with the King Himself.

Now as this is a great and wonderful thing, so if you approach it with pureness, you approach for salvation; but if with an evil conscience, for punishment and vengeance. For, It says, he that eats and drinks unworthily of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment to himself 1 Corinthians 11:29; since if they who defile the kingly purple are punished equally with those who rend it, it is not unreasonable that they who receive the Body with unclean thoughts should suffer the same punishment as those who rent it with the nails. Observe at least how fearful a punishment Paul declares, when he says, He that despised Moses’ law dies without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing? Hebrews 1:28 Take we then heed to ourselves, beloved, we who enjoy such blessings; and if we desire to utter any shameful word, or perceive ourselves hurried away by wrath or any like passion, let us consider of what things we have been deemed worthy, of how great a Spirit we have partaken, and this consideration shall be a sobering of our unreasonable passions. For how long shall we be nailed to present things? How long shall it be before we rouse ourselves? How long shall we neglect our own salvation? **Let us bear in mind of what things Christ has deemed us worthy, let us give thanks, let us glorify Him, not by our faith alone, but also by our very works, that we may obtain the good things that are to come, **through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.


"It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing.
His meaning is, You must hear spiritually what relates to Me, for he who hears carnally is not profited, nor gathers any advantage. It was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, How can he give us His flesh to eat? All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense. But, says some one, how could they understand what the ‘eating flesh’ might mean? Then it was their duty to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.

The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.

That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity, are even set above the laws appointed for this world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as in this passage He said spirit, instead of spiritual, so when He speaks of flesh, He meant not carnal things, but carnally hearing, and alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired carnal things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives them carnally, he profits nothing. What then, is not His flesh, flesh? Most certainly. ***How then says He, that the flesh profits nothing? He speaks not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received His words in a carnal manner. But what is understanding carnally? It is looking merely to what is before our eyes, without imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within. This is seeing spiritually. He that eats not His flesh, and drinks not His blood, has no life in him. How then does the flesh profit nothing, if without it we cannot live? Do you see that the words, the flesh profits nothing, are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing? ***

Yes he does say that and that makes him 100% Catholic. You seem to not understand what the Catholic Church teaches on Faith…Grace…Human action (intellect and will and charity).

In other words, you seem to buy the Protestant idea that the Church is wrong…but if you look closely…The Church has the fullness in teaching about this beautiful gift of faith. Protestants, in nearly all cases, have a very vertically truncated view of Paul’s teaching in Romans about faith and justification…which is a misunderstanding…at best and heretical at worst. God’s initial grace…His presenting us with the gift of faith and our human response through the power of the Holy Spirit is one seamless horizontal action. Remember…

1847 "God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us."116 To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."117

116 St. Augustine, Sermo 169,11,13:PL 38,923

Lastly, you would make a great poker player…you hold your cards close to your chest.

Pax Christi

Faith is a grace

153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.** "Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth**.’"25

Faith is a human act

154 Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions, or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another.** If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to “yield by faith the full submission of. . . intellect and will to God who reveals”,26 and to share in an interior communion with him.**

155** In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace:** "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace."27

He’s Orthodox. He wrote the Liturgy the Orthodox use and he’s vested as an Orthodox bishop. :wink:

The Orthodox concept of justification is different from the Protestant concept. Understand that St. John Chrysostom is an Eastern Christian, his way of thinking is different from Western Christians which include Roman Catholics and Protestants. Also, after the Reformation, many Protestants have sought Orthodox theology mostly hoping to use it as polemics with Catholics. Unfortunately for them they did not translate Orthodox teaching faithfully which resulted in faulty theology.

He was definately Catholic and a wise and inspirational man. I attended a seminar on him recently where we went through his wise words on poverty and the church. If only more would take heed of these words rather than thinking that only giving to the church fulfils their obligations to the poor:

Do not adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother

Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour
him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold
and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.

What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments, what we do outside requires great dedication. Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honour Christ as he desires. Give him the honour prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

In saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts am only demanding that
along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits, in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness.

No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who
neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inestnguishable fire and torment in the
company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted
brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.

Can you cite us examples of the above, rather broad-brushed claim please?

The Orthodox didn’t exist outside the Church before their schism. They were just Catholic-- inside the Church. St. John Chrysostom died 600 years before the Orthodox broke from the Catholic Church.

I will give the citations later for I am at work. But if you’d his homily on Romans 1,3,4,5,10 you will see he believed that Paul taught we are justified by faith with no works contributing. Now whether this is referring to initial or just the permanent state of justification I still have not determined, but the later is more corroborative.

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