Editor’s Letter – John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom is looked upon today as one of the fathers of the Christian church. However, when he was alive, he was expelled from his bishopric in Constantinople, suffered much misery and ignominy and died in banishment in A.D. 408. Why was he so unpopular during his lifetime?

Following are a few things that John Chrysostom taught:

1 He said that it was improper for Christians to wage war because Christ compels not, drives not away, oppresses not but gives to each His free will saying, “If any man will.”

2 From Matthew 13, he taught that the tares (heretics) are not to be rooted out and no violence is to be employed in heavenly things. He said that wicked teachings of heretics must be reprehended and anathematized, but the men we must spare.

3 He taught that we are not to confess our sins to anyone except to God alone.

4 From Matthew 23, he taught that with human doctrines we serve God in vain, and that there is no other testimony of the truth and no other certain test of heresy, than the Holy Scriptures, and no other way by which we may know which is the Christian church.

5 He taught that when the Roman Empire shall be put down, then shall antichrist come. The abomination of desolation in Matthew 24 was understood by him to refer to antichrist. He said that the antichrist would occupy the holy place of the church under the name of Christ. From II Thessalonians 2 he taught that when the Empire would be made waste and vacant, then antichrist shall occupy it, and endeavor to draw to him the kingdom of God and men.

6 Also from Matthew 24, he said that when antichrist does the works of Christ and, in the sight of Christians, performs all the offices of Christ, we should not be moved because Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. What wonder then, that his servants assume the garb of servants of righteousness, and a semblance of Christianity.

7 He said further concerning Matthew 24, that the Jewish abomination is to be understood as having reference not only to the Jewish war, but in a spiritual sense, also to antichrist, who, in the last time, shall sit in the holy place. Since the Lord knew what great destruction would come in the last days, He commanded that the Christians who are in Christendom, if they would always continue in the true faith, should resort only to the Holy Scriptures; for, if they would look to other things, they would be offended and corrupted, and not understand what the true church is, and in that way fall into this horrible abomination, which sits in the holy place of the church.

See Martyr’s Mirror, 166, 167.