Free Will in Saint John Chrysostom

“All these things did that fall effect, and whereas before that he attributes all to himself, saying, “Though all men shall be offended, yet will I not be offended;” and, “If I should die, I will not deny Thee” (when he should have said, If I receive the assistance from Thee);—yet after these things altogether the contrary, “Why do ye give heed to us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk?” (Acts 3:12) Hence we learn a great doctrine, that a man’s willingness is not sufficient, unless any one receive the succor from above; and that again we shall gain nothing by the succor from above, if there be not a willingness. And both these things do Judas and Peter show; for the one, though he had received much help, was profited nothing, because he was not willing, neither contributed his part; but this one, though he was ready in mind, because he received no assistance, fell. For indeed of these two things is virtue’s web woven. Wherefore I entreat you neither (when you have cast all upon God) to sleep yourselves, nor, when laboring earnestly, to think to accomplish all by your own toils. For neither is it God’s will that we should be supine ourselves, therefore He worketh it not all Himself; nor yet boasters, therefore He did not give all to us; but having removed what was hurtful in either way, left that which is useful for us. Therefore He suffered even the chief apostle to fall, both rendering him more humbled in mind, and training him thenceforth to greater love. “For to whom more is forgiven,” it is said, “he loveth more.” (Luke 7:47)

Homilies on Matthew 82.4

“Beloved, God being loving towards man and beneficent, does and contrives all things in order that we may shine in virtue, and as desiring that we be well approved by Him. And to this end He draws no one by force or compulsion: but by persuasion and benefits He draws all that will, and wins them to Himself. Wherefore when He came, some received Him, and others received Him not. For He will have no unwilling, no forced domestic, but all of their own will and choice, and grateful to Him for their service. Men, as needing the ministry of servants, keep many in that state even against their will, by the law of ownership; but God, being without wants, and not standing in need of anything of ours, but doing all only for our salvation makes us absolute [κυριος]in this matter, and therefore lays neither force nor compulsion on any of those who are unwilling. For He looks only to our advantage: and to be drawn unwilling to a service like this is the same as not serving at all.”

Homilies on John 10.1

2 Responses to Free Will in Saint John Chrysostom

  1. Perry,

    Do you think St John Chrysostom’s commentary on Romans Chapter 9:16-21 would also be helpful to add here? It seems to be a passage that is directly applicable in refuting of Calvin’s interpretation.

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