In the year 402, Theophilus had been summoned by the emperor to Constantinople to apologize before a synod, over which Chrysostom would preside, on account of several charges which were brought against him by certain Egyptian monks, especially by the so-called four "Tall Brothers". Theophilus, their former friend, had suddenly turned against them, and had them persecuted as Origenists. Placing himself at the head of soldiers and armed servants Theophilus marched against the monks, burned their dwellings, and ill-treated those whom he captured.
When these monks fled to Constantinople to appeal to Patriarch John, Theophilus wrote to St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, requesting him to go to and prevail upon Chrysostom to condemn the Origenists. Epiphanius went, but when he realized that Theophilus was merely using him for his own purposes, he left the capital, dying on his return in 403. At this time Chrysostom delivered a sermon against the vain luxury of women. It was reported to the empress as though Chrysostom had been referring to her personally, which only embittered her more against the Patriarch.