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“John Chrysostom - Homilies on St Matthew - Homily IX ”

On Matthew chapter 2, an extract from the homily about the folly of thinking too highly of lineage and wealth.

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Click here to read at in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below (the beginning of the homily) is by the Early Church Texts webmaster, the Revd Andrew Maguire. On the subscription version of the website there is the full Greek text of the homily and a full translation by Andrew Maguire alongside.

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Relevant books
available at Amazon

Many Chrysostom translations
and studies
with links to Amazon

See also below


J.N.D. Kelly

The Story of John Chrysostom


Hagit Amirav

Rhetoric and Tradition: John Chrysostom on Noah and the Flood (Traditio Exegetica Graeca, 12)


Chrysostomus Baur

John Chrysostom and His Time: Volume 1: Antioch


Chrysostomus Baur

John Chrysostom and His Time, Vol. 2: Constantinople


Duane A. Garrett

An Analysis of the Hermeneutics of John Chrysostom's Commentary on Isaiah 1-8 With an English Translation (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity)


Blake Goodall

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Letters of St.Paul to Titus and Philemon (University of California publications : Classical studies ; v. 20)


Peter Gorday

Principles of Patristic Exegesis: Romans 9-11 in Origen, John Chrysostom, and Augustine (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity)


Aideen M. Hartney

John Chrysostom and the Transformation of the City


Robert Allen Krupp

Shepherding the Flock of God: The Pastoral Theology of John Chrysostom (American University Studies. Series VII. Theology and Religion)


Mel Lawrenz

The Christology of John Chrysostom


Blake Leyerle

Theatrical Shows and Ascetic Lives: John Chrysostom's Attack on Spiritual Marriage


Jaclyn LaRae Maxwell

Christianization and Communication in Late Antiquity: John Chrysostom and his Congregation in Antioch


Margaret Mary Mitchell

Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation


Robert Louis Wilken

John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century



Gus George Christo

On Repentance and Almsgiving (The Fathers of the Church)


Thomas Aquinas Goggin

Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist: Homilies 48-88 (The Fathers of the Church, 41)


Robert C. Hill

Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis


David G. Hunter

A Comparison Between a King and a Monk/Against the Opponents of the Monastic Life (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol 13)


M.C.W. Laistner

Christianity and pagan culture in the later Roman Empire: Together with an English translation of Johan Chrysostom's Address on vainglory and the right ... bring up their children (Cornell paperbacks)


Wendy Mayer

John Chrysostom (The Early Church Fathers)


Mayer and Bronwen

The Cult of the Saints (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press Popular Patristics)


Graham Neville

Six Books on the Priesthood (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press Popular Patristics Series)


? Catherine P. Roth

On Wealth and Poverty


? David Anderson

On Marriage and Family Life


Margaret A Schatkin

John Chrysostom as apologist: With special reference to De incomprehensibili, Quod nemo laeditur, Ad eos qui scandalizati sunt, and Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae (Analecta VlatadoÌ?n)


Sally Shore

On Virginity Against Remarriage (Studies in Women and Religion, V. 9)



So let us not think highly of a fine line of descent or of wealth, but let us treat with contempt those who set great store by such things. Nor let us be downcast in the face of poverty – but let us aim for that wealth which is found in good works. Let us flee the kind of poverty which turns us towards evil and through which even a wealthy person can become poor. This kind of poverty leaves a person unable to secure even a drop of water in spite of much begging. Who among us could be reduced to such poverty [that they were without even water to quench their thirst]? There is nobody. Even those afflicted with extreme hunger can find a little water to quench their thirst – and not just water but much greater refreshment. This was not so with the rich man in Luke’s gospel: his condition was as extreme as I have just described. What was even more unbearable was that he was unable to find any relief anywhere from his poverty. So why have we become so greedily open mouthed over riches when they will never lead us to heaven?

Tell me – if an earthly King said that it was impossible for a rich man to be distinguished in affairs of court or to enjoy any honor would you not all come to despise wealth and discard it? So, if wealth were to deprive us of honor in earthly courts it would be treated with contempt. The King of heaven says, indeed cries out, every day that it is difficult, with earthly wealth, to come into those sacred forecourts. Shall we not then let go of everything else and separate ourselves from our possessions so that we may boldly enter the kingdom of heaven? What mercy shall we deserve if we so very carefully surround ourselves with things that block the way there – hiding them not just in chests but in the earth – when actually it is possible to entrust them to heavenly care?

This is exactly the kind of thing you do now if you act like the farmer who takes grain that should be sown in fertile land, but then turns his back on the fertile land and buries it in a pit so that he enjoys no benefit from it himself and the grain is ruined and lost.

What do people always say when we make this accusation against them? They say that it is of considerable comfort to know that everything is safely stored inside. In fact it should be more of a comfort ‘not to know’ that it is safely stored. Even if you don’t fear famine there are still other yet more grievous things that you should fear through storing everything up like this: deaths, wars, plots. If famine were ever to strike then people, forced by hunger, would take up arms against your household. All the more then, when you behave in this way, you bring famine on cities and store up for your own household a ruin even greater than famine would bring. I do not know of anybody who has died swiftly when a place is in the grip of famine. For the relief of this evil there are many things that can be planned in many different ways: but I can show that many have met their end because of money, riches and the like – some without anybody being aware, but others quite publicly. Our roads, our law courts and our market places are full of many such examples. And why should I talk just of roads, law courts and market places? You will see even the sea filled with people’s blood. For the grip of this tyranny has taken hold not just of the land but can even be witnessed on the seas where it is as if there has been an invasion of intoxicated revelers. One person sails the seas in pursuit of gold while another is murdered for the very same thing. The grip of this tyranny makes one person a merchant and another a murderer.

What, then, could be less trustworthy than wealth when, to seek it, people travel far from home, expose themselves to danger and are slaughtered?







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Homilies on Matthew
Sermons on St Matthew
The emptiness of wealth
John Chrysostom in Greek with English Translation
Migne Greek Text
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Graeca
Frederick Field Greek text of Matthew Homilies


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