Saturday, 11 April 2015

Demetrios Bathrellos: Sola gratia? Sola fides? Law, grace, faith, and works in John Chrysostom’s commentary on Romans

Although Chrystostom’s commentary on Romans is arguably his best biblical commentary, very little attention has been so far paid to it. In analyzing Paul’s teaching, Chrysostom argues that although the Old Testament law is good, it is not salvific. Justification comes by grace, not by keeping the law. But although Chrysostom emphasizes the role of grace, he also highlights man’s contribution to his own salvation. Man contributes his faith – which is superior to works. But after he has been justified by grace, man has to respond to divine grace also by works. Without works of love man will not enjoy salvation. Chrysostom’s interpretation provides safeguards against what Bonhoeffer has called Lutheranism’s ‘cheap grace’ by emphasizing the need to respond to grace by works. Moreover, it has similarities with the so-called New Perspective in pointing out that whereas justification comes initially by grace, works have to follow as a prerequisite for salvation.

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