Church Fathers on sola fide – Protestant Quotes vs Catholic Reality: St. John Chrysostom

Quotes that Protestants and Catholics agree with:

“Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. What, in fact, did the brigand say? What did he do? Did he fast? Did he weep? Did he tear his garments? Did he display repentance in good time? Not at all: on the cross itself after his utterance he won salvation. Note the rapidity: from cross to heaven, from condemnation to salvation. What were those wonderful words, then? What great power did they have that they brought him such marvelous good things? “Remember me in your kingdom.” What sort of word is that? He asked to receive good things, he showed no concern for them in action; but the one who knew his heart paid attention not to the words but to the attitude of mind.” —John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Sermon 7 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 123-24 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.

“They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily on Galatians 3)

“But he calls it their ‘own righteousness,’ either because the Law was no longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he calls God’s righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case, not by labors, but by the gift of God.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily 17 on Romans 10:3)

“Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD)

“For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD)(Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

“But what is the ‘law of faith?’ It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD)Homilies on Romans 3

“We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.”- Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD), Homilies on Galatians 4

“And he well said, “a righteousness of mine own,” not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD) Homily on Philippians 3

“God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.”- St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD)Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

Quotes Protestants do not agree with:

That you may not then, when you hear that He has chosen us, imagine that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and conduct. To this end, says he, has He chosen us, and on this condition, that we should be holy and without blemish

– Homily 1 on Ephesians

Since though he has said here, He that believes in the Son has eternal life, and in the same place something even stronger, (for he weaves his discourse not of blessings only, but of their contraries also, speaking thus: He that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him;) yet not even from this do we assert that faith alone is sufficient to salvation. And the directions for living given in many places of the Gospels show this. Therefore he did not say, This by itself is eternal life, nor, He that does but believe in the Son has eternal life, but by both expressions he declared this, that the thing does contain life, yet that if a right conversation follow not, there will follow a heavy punishment.

— Homily 31 on John

While commenting on the gospel of Matthew, he explains that Christ exhorts even believers that wicked actions will be judged precisely in order that they not put confidence in their faith alone.

“Then in order that not even these should put confidence in their faith alone, He discourses unto them also concerning the judgment to be passed upon wicked actions;  “– Homily 69 on Matthew.

There is safety for you too who are strong, and this consists in making your hopes of salvation depend, next to the grace of God, on avoiding every act unworthy of this gift, and of God who gave it. — on the priesthood 3.5

For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? — on the priesthood 4.1

Church Fathers on sola fide – Protestant Quotes vs Catholic Reality: Clement of Rome

Quotes that Protestants and Catholics agree with:

“Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen.”- St. Clement of Rome (? – ~101 AD) (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)”

Quotes Protestants do not agree with:

“Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.”

First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 30.

Sample Bible search on the words “saved”, “repent”, and “salvation”

Sample Bible search on the words “saved”, “repent”, and “salvation”:

Mt 3:2 (cf. Mt 4:17)—“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mt 5:3 (Sermon on the Mount; cf. Lk 6:20)—“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Mt 5:10—“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Mt 5:20—“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Mt 6:33—“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

Mt 7:21—“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Mt 10:22 (Mt 24:13; Mk 13:13)—“But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

Mk 1:15—“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Mk 2:5—“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’ ”

Mk 8:35 (Mt 16:25; Lk 9:24)—“[W]hoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mk 16:16—“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Lk 3:3—“And he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

Lk 7:50—“And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ ”

Lk 8:12—“[B]elieve and be saved.”

Lk 13:3 (Lk 13:5)—“I tell you, No; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Lk 15:7, 10—“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. . . . Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Lk 24:47—“and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem”.

Jn 5:24—“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life.”

Jn 6:29—“Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ ”

Jn 6:35—“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’ ”

Jn 6:40—“[E]very one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jn 6:47—“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”

Jn 8:24—“I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.”

Acts 2:21—“And it shall be that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Acts 2:38, 40—“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. . . . Save yourselves.”

Acts 3:19—“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.”

Acts 5:31—“God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 8:22—“Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Acts 15:11—“But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Acts 16:31—“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Rom 5:9—“Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Rom 10:9—“[I]f you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 Cor 1:18, 21—“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

1 Cor 3:15—“If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

1 Cor 5:5—“[Y]ou are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

1 Cor 7:16—“Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?”

1 Cor 15:2—“by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain”.

2 Cor 7:10—“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings regret, but worldly grief produces death.”

Rom 3:25-28—“whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteousness and that justifies him who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Gal 2:16—“yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no flesh be justified”.

Gal 3:11—“Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ ”

Eph 2:5—“even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”.

Eph 2:8-10—“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Phil 2:12—“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

2 Thess 2:10—“those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved”.

2 Thess 2:13—“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

1 Tim 2:15—“Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

1 Tim 4:7-10—“Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”

1 Tim 4:16—“Take heed of yourself and of your teaching; hold to that, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

2 Tim 1:9—“who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago”.

Titus 3:5—“[H]e saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

Heb 5:9—“[A]nd being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”

Heb 7:25—“Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Heb 9:28—“[S]o Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Jas 1:21—“Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

Jas 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24-26—“What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can that faith save him?. . . So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. . . But some one will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. . . . Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works. . . . You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Jas 5:15—“And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

1 Pet 2:2—“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation.”

1 Pet 3:21—“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

2 Pet 2:20—“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

1 Jn 3:23—“And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”

1 Jn 4:16—“So we know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 Jn 5:1—“Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the one begotten by him.”

1 Jn 5:5—“Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

1 Jn 5:13—“I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life”

Jude 5—“Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he who saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

Jude 23—“save some by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh”.

Rev 2:19—“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”

Rev 14:12—“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

Beaumont, Douglas (2016-02-11). Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths to Rome. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.


What right has the Catholic Church to arrogate to herself powers given by Christ, rather than any other body of believers?

None whatever. No body of believers has any right to arrogate to itself any powers at all in this matter, just as no ordinary citizen has the right to enter a court and declare himself to be judge. Yet a lawfully appointed judge has the right to act in virtue of his commission. The Catholic Church takes nothing upon herself, but she does endeavor to fulfill the commission given her by Christ. Historically she alone can possibly inherit the jurisdiction given by Christ to the Apostles, and handed down through the ages. All other churches exist because men arrogated to themselves the right to coin new doctrines and set up churches of their own. (Radio Replies – by Charles M. Carty, Leslie Rumble)

On reading the scriptures in the heart of the Church

The word of God is meant to be read in the heart of the Church.  The scriptures were written by the Church and for the Church.  One of the principal errors of our separated brothers and sisters in the Protestant communities is that they have ripped the bible from the Church and claimed it for themselves.  All the errors of Protestantism come from this single error.  God gave us Christ who gave us the Church.  Outside of this Church, this visible communion, the scriptures get corrupted as they are interpreted by men and women who are not accountable to anyone except for themselves and their own interpretation of scriptures.   With no one to guide them each person in a very un biblical individualistic way becomes their own Pope and their own Magisterium.  This un biblical view of the scriptures is not what Christ left us with.   Christ prayed for unity of faith among his flock.  Sola Scriptura’s biggest failure is to divide Christianity into small bodies with constant infighting and discord.

Below are two samples of what an authentic reading of scriptures should be and why.

First we have from Erasmo Leiva in the introduction of his Fire of Mercy series, which goes line by line through the gospel of Matthew.

Here we have, then, the crucial dramatic situation at the heart of the economy of redemption: God creates for himself a Church, a beloved companion to whom he gives himself in word and in deed; and we, the innumerable anonymous beggars of all ages, pleading for the bread of knowledge and of the light of God, can enter the Kingdom of the Son only through this magnificent Portal he has built for himself, and we can truly listen to and read his Word only in the heart of the nave, which is to say, through the ears and eyes of the Church: she is the only Bride, and only she knows the secrets of the Heart of her divine Bridegroom. This is why the unshakable pillars of an ecclesial reading of Scripture are the great dogmas that the Church herself believes and teaches us, most magnificently in our generally distraught age in that living treasure, the Catechism of the Catholic Church: the Trinity and unity of God, creator of all visible and invisible realities; the glorious humanity and divinity of the one Son, “one of the Trinity become man”; his sacrificial and abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist; the virginity and maternity of our Lady; the vital identity of the Church as Mystical Body of Christ and the necessary subsistence of this Body on earth as a recognizable institution requiring human coöperation with divine action; a firm faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred text in which, as St. Thomas holds, “all things come [simultaneously] from God and from man.” These dogmas are the liberating “limits” that anchor us in the reality and fullness of revelation, that insure that our Christian lives, thought, and prayer will be roots growing deep into fertile ground and not ephemeral weeds—“limits” that thus insure, as well, that our reading of the Gospel will be, not only passionate, but also true. (Erasmo Leiva)


holy-spirtAnd from the 2010 synod on the word of God, our dear Pope Benedict summarized it quite well:

The Church as the primary setting for biblical hermeneutics

29. Another major theme that emerged during the Synod, to which I would now like to draw attention, is the interpretation of sacred Scripture in the Church. The intrinsic link between the word and faith makes clear that authentic biblical hermeneutics can only be had within the faith of the Church, which has its paradigm in Mary’s fiat. Saint Bonaventure states that without faith there is no key to throw open the sacred text: “This is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, from whom, as from a fountain, flow forth the certainty and the understanding of all sacred Scripture. Therefore it is impossible for anyone to attain to knowledge of that truth unless he first have infused faith in Christ, which is the lamp, the gate and the foundation of all Scripture”.[84] And Saint Thomas Aquinas, citing Saint Augustine, insists that “the letter, even that of the Gospel, would kill, were there not the inward grace of healing faith”.[85]

Here we can point to a fundamental criterion of biblical hermeneutics: the primary setting for scriptural interpretation is the life of the Church. This is not to uphold the ecclesial context as an extrinsic rule to which exegetes must submit, but rather is something demanded by the very nature of the Scriptures and the way they gradually came into being. “Faith traditions formed the living context for the literary activity of the authors of sacred Scripture. Their insertion into this context also involved a sharing in both the liturgical and external life of the communities, in their intellectual world, in their culture and in the ups and downs of their shared history. In like manner, the interpretation of sacred Scripture requires full participation on the part of exegetes in the life and faith of the believing community of their own time”.[86] Consequently, “since sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written”,[87] exegetes, theologians and the whole people of God must approach it as what it really is, the word of God conveyed to us through human words (cf. 1 Th 2:13). This is a constant datum implicit in the Bible itself: “No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet 1:20-21). Moreover, it is the faith of the Church that recognizes in the Bible the word of God; as Saint Augustine memorably put it: “I would not believe the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church led me to do so”.[88] The Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church, enables us to interpret the Scriptures authoritatively. The Bible is the Church’s book, and its essential place in the Church’s life gives rise to its genuine interpretation.

30. Saint Jerome recalls that we can never read Scripture simply on our own. We come up against too many closed doors and we slip too easily into error. The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in this communion with the People of God can we truly enter as a “we” into the heart of the truth that God himself wishes to convey to us.[89] Jerome, for whom “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”,[90] states that the ecclesial dimension of biblical interpretation is not a requirement imposed from without: the Book is the very voice of the pilgrim People of God, and only within the faith of this People are we, so to speak, attuned to understand sacred Scripture. An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church. He thus wrote to a priest: “Remain firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that you have been taught, so that you may exhort according to sound doctrine and confound those who contradict it”.[91]

Approaches to the sacred text that prescind from faith might suggest interesting elements on the level of textual structure and form, but would inevitably prove merely preliminary and structurally incomplete efforts. As the Pontifical Biblical Commission, echoing an accepted principle of modern hermeneutics, has stated: “access to a proper understanding of biblical texts is only granted to the person who has an affinity with what the text is saying on the basis of life experience”.[92] All this brings out more clearly the relationship between the spiritual life and scriptural hermeneutics. “As the reader matures in the life of the Spirit, so there grows also his or her capacity to understand the realities of which the Bible speaks”.[93] The intensity of an authentic ecclesial experience can only lead to the growth of genuine understanding in faith where the Scriptures are concerned; conversely, reading the Scriptures in faith leads to growth in ecclesial life itself. Here we can see once again the truth of the celebrated dictum of Saint Gregory the Great: “The divine words grow together with the one who reads them”.[94] Listening to the word of God introduces and increases ecclesial communion with all those who walk by faith.

[84] Breviloquium, Prol.: Opera Omnia, V, Quaracchi 1891, pp. 201-202.

[85] Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae, q. 106, art. 2.

[86] Pontifical biblical commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), III, A, 3: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 3035.

[87] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.

[88] Contra epistulam Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti, V, 6: PL 42, 176.

[89] Cf. BenedictXVI, General Audience (14 November 2007): Insegnamenti III 2 (2007), 586-591.

[90] Commentariorum in Isaiam libri, Prol.: PL 24, 17.

[91] Epistula 52:7: CSEL 54, p. 426.

[92] Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993), II, A, 2: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 2988.

[93] Ibid., II, A, 2: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 2991.

[94] Homiliae in Ezechielem I, VII, 8: PL 76, 843D.