Icon of St. John Chrysostom interpreting the Epistles of St. Paul

The Greek inscription in the icon reads: "The Holy John Chrysostom interpreting the epistles of the Apostle Paul." The verb in the Greek is which means either "translating" or "interpreting" and even "expound." Since St. John is writing in the same language as did St. Paul, the verb means 'interpret' and 'expound on' in this context.

The proximity of St. Paul to St. John could be interpreted in various ways but all interpretations must start from this premise: While the Apostles received their Gospel directly from God, everyone else receives the Gospel from the word of the Apostle, which is to say the Holy Scripture which records the Gospel that the Apostles received and preached. That's why the inscription reads that St. John is interpreting and expounding on St. Paul's epistles. Further, St. John's fidelity to St. Paul's apostolic word -- to St. Paul's gospel -- is revealed by the close proximity of St. Paul to St. John. This fidelity is also what makes St. John's words authoritative. In fact, St. John's writings can be understood to possess apostolic authority although that authority is always derivative, that is, dependent on the primary authority which is always apostolic and thus must always reference the Holy Scripture since the scripture is the repository of the apostolic word.

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