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Saint John Chrysostom – Church Fathers

Saint John Chrysostom – Church Fathers


Early Life and Education

Saint John Chrysostom, born in Antioch around 349 AD, was raised in a wealthy Christian family. After receiving a classical Greek education, he initially studied law under Libanius, a famous orator of the time. However, Chrysostom soon turned towards a religious life, drawn by his deep Christian faith.

His early monastic life, marked by extreme asceticism, greatly influenced his theological and spiritual perspectives. Chrysostom’s return to Antioch led to his ordination as a deacon and later as a priest, where he began his renowned ministry as a preacher.


Preaching and Teaching

Chrysostom’s preaching, characterized by its eloquence, clarity, and practical application, addressed a wide range of topics from scriptural interpretation to social and moral issues. His homilies and sermons, many of which have been preserved, reflect a deep commitment to the Scriptures and a passion for communicating the Christian faith in a manner that was both accessible and transformative.

His expository preaching style made the Scriptures understandable and relevant, helping to educate the laity and clergy alike in Christian doctrine and life.

Archbishop of Constantinople

In 397 AD, Chrysostom was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the most influential positions in the early Church. His tenure was marked by vigorous reform efforts, particularly in addressing the excesses and moral laxity within the clergy and the Church.

He implemented changes in church practices, emphasizing pastoral care, and community service, and was known for his outspokenness against abuses of authority, both within the Church and the imperial government.

Writings and Theological Contributions

Chrysostom’s theological contributions are primarily found in his sermons and homilies. His commentaries on various books of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, are notable for their depth and insight. He approached the Scriptures with a Christocentric focus, emphasizing the transformative power of living according to Christ’s teachings.

His writings also include treatises on the priesthood, Christian living, and the sacraments, reflecting a holistic understanding of Christian theology and practice.

Advocacy for Social Justice

Chrysostom is particularly remembered for his strong advocacy for social justice and his criticism of wealth and material excess. He frequently spoke out against the misuse of wealth and urged Christians to share their resources with the poor and needy. His teachings in this area reflect a profound understanding of the Gospel’s social implications and the ethical demands of the Christian life.

Exile and Death

Chrysostom’s outspokenness and reforms eventually led to conflicts with both ecclesiastical and imperial authorities. This opposition culminated in his deposition and exile, first to Armenia and later to Pityus on the Black Sea. Despite the hardships of exile, Chrysostom continued to write and correspond with his followers until his death in 407 AD.

His final years were marked by illness and harsh treatment, yet he remained steadfast in his faith and commitment to the Church.

Influence on Liturgy

Chrysostom’s impact extended to the liturgical practices of the Church. The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, which he either composed or significantly revised, is one of the most widely used liturgical texts in the Eastern Orthodox Church. This liturgy is celebrated for its theological depth and its balance of solemnity and accessibility.

Legacy and Canonization

Saint John Chrysostom’s legacy is vast, influencing not only the Eastern Orthodox Church but also Western Christianity. He is revered as a saint in the Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican traditions, and his teachings continue to be a source of spiritual nourishment and theological reflection.

His dedication to preaching, pastoral care, and social justice, alongside his enduring contributions to Christian liturgy and theology, mark him as one of the most influential figures in the history of the Church.


Saint John Chrysostom remains a towering figure in Christian history, celebrated for his eloquent preaching, theological depth, and reformative efforts. His commitment to the Gospel’s ethical teachings, his pastoral sensitivity, and his enduring influence on Christian worship and doctrine cement his status as a pivotal Church Father and a guiding light in the Christian tradition.

Read More

  1. “John Chrysostom” by Robert Carter
  2. “On Wealth and Poverty” by Saint John Chrysostom, translated by Catharine P. Roth (Translator)

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