John Chrysostom or ‘golden-mouthed’ has been called “the greatest preacher in the early church”.
He was born in Syrian Antioch into a Christian family. His father Secundus, a civil servant, died when John was only a few years old. His widowed mother, Anthusa rejected any idea of a second marriage and devoted herself to raising her two children.John showed great promise and studied law under the renowned pagan rhetorician Libanius. According to the church historian Socrates, John became disillusioned with a career as a lawyer and decided to become a monk. He was talked out of that vocation by his mother and instead John enrolled in the Christian school of Diodore (d. c. 390), who later became bishop of Tarsus. In his biblical exposition Diodore placed an emphasis on the literal and historic sense of Scripture and opposed the use of allegory,which he used only when it appeared that it was the author’s intention. In his sermons and writings John Chrysostom followed the same Antiochene hermeneutic. The ascetic side of fourth century Christianity was very attractive to him and this, as we shall see, is also reflected in his writings on Genesis
John was ordained as a priest in Antioch, were he served for twelve years before being made archbishop of Constantinople.
God of truth and love,
who gave to your servant John Chrysostom
eloquence to declare your righteousness in the great congregation
and courage to bear reproach for the honour of your name:
mercifully grant to those who minister your word
such excellence in preaching,
that all people may share with them
in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.