Keeping the Unity of the Spirit (Sun. Nov. 29)

The word of the Day is “unity.”  In our reading of Ephesians 4:1-6, St. Paul urges the congregation in Ephesus to live in a way that preserves the oneness of the Church.  The Apostle pleads with them to “walk worthy of [their] calling… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs. 3). Unity is a gift of Christ.  Paul states, “For He Himself [Christ] is our peace who has made both [Jew and Greek] one and has broken down the middle wall of separation. He, therefore, is the “one Lord” who reconciles us to God and one another. Unity Is “Of the Spirit” But unity is also “of the Spirit.”  The early community of…

Christ Delivered Himself to Deliver Us (Sat. Nov. 28)

The word of the day is “deliver.”  In our reading of Galatians 1:3-10, St. Paul recounts the mercy of Jesus Christ who sacrificed Himself for our sins (vs. 4).  The Apostle writes about Christ, “…who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father” (vs. 4). The idea of deliverance governs this whole cryptic sentence.  Our English translations obscure the relationship between the two forms of deliverance that  Paul describes in this passage. Reduced to its basic structure, however, Paul teaches that Christ delivered Himself that we might be delivered. To Deliver as “To Hand On” The Orthodox Study Bible reads that Christ “gave Himself…

Idleness and Well-Doing (Nov. 27)

The word of the day is “well-doing.” In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18, St. Paul warns against idleness and encourages all members of the congregation in Thessalonica to work for their living.  The Apostle commands the loafers in the congregation to “work in quietness and eat their own bread” (vs. 12).  Conversely, he directs the workers in the church “not to grow weary in well-doing” (vs. 11). In this passage, Paul contrasts an undisciplined with a productive life. When he charges some church members with “walking in a disorderly manner,” “walking” is a metaphor for one’s conduct of life (Strong’s #4043, 199).  The “disorderly” way of life concerns Paul because in Greek, “disorderly” is a military term for being…

Chosen as God’s Own (Thurs. Nov. 26)

The word of the day is “chose.”  Yesterday’s reading ended with Paul’s warning that the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) who will appear at the end of time. But he should not deceive them (vs. 9).  However, now Paul reassures the believers in Thessalonica that they are not among those who will perish in delusion and unbelief.  The Apostle writes, “…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (13). The Greek term for “chose” is rooted in the thought of “taking something for oneself’”  (#138, 8). The emphasis is not on favoring one thing over the other.  The focus is on making something one’s own.  This thought appears first in…

The Love of the Truth (Wed. Nov. 25)

The word of the day is “truth.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, St. Paul cautions his congregation in Thessalonica about false prophecies of the Lord’s Second Coming.   The Apostle advises them not to be “soon shaken in mind or troubled” when they hear that the Second Coming of Christ has already happened (vs. 2). “The Man of Lawlessness” Paul reminds his congregation of his teaching of certain signs of the imminent return of Christ.  These signals of the end time will include a period of apostasy or faithlessness.  Then a mysterious character,  the “man of lawlessness,” will appear (vs. 3). The Greek word refers to one who sets himself against the law (Strong’s #458, 28).  He is the…

Glorified in the Saints and In Us (Tues. Nov. 24)

Once again, the word of the day is “glorified.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, St. Paul writes that he prays constantly for his congregation as they face certain trials that he does not name.  His  concern is not on what the Thessalonians should do to prevail in their troubles. His focus is on God’s work in them.  Thus, he prays “that the name of Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). Paul has just promised that when Christ returns in glory, he will be “glorified in his saints” (vs. 10).  But now he applies that thought to those all who believe…

God Glorified in His Saints (Mon. Nov. 23)

The word of the day is “glorified.” Today with 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10, we begin St. Paul’s second letter to his congregation in Thessalonica, the important crossroads of Macedonia.  The Apostle writes from Ephesus in about 51 AD within months of his first letter.  But now, he refers to the “persecutions and tribulations” that his congregation is undergoing (vs. 4).  He consoles them that their afflictions are evidence that they are worthy of the kingdom of God for which they now suffer (vs. 5). On the Day of Christ’s Coming St. Paul assures the flock that God will settle accounts with their persecutors and those who neither know Him nor obey the gospel.  God’s will carry out His justice when the…

The Church and the Temple: a Comparison (Sun. Nov. 22)

The word of the day is “temple .”  In our reading of Ephesians 2:14-22, St. Paul compares the Church to a holy temple that is built on a solid foundation. Further, he emphasizes that Christ is the Cornerstone who unites the Church’s members into a sacred dwelling place of God. In our reading, Paul draws the analogy between the building of the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem and the nature of the Church. There are three main comparisons:  the foundation, the Cornerstone, and the materials that “fitted together” make up the building as a dwelling place for God. First, let me explain that the Book of Hebrews speaks of the “tabernacle,” not the temple.   This “Tent of Meeting” was a…

Subtlety and Simplicity: a Study of Two Eves (Sat. Nov. 21)

The word for the day is “simplicity.”  In our reading of 2 Cor. 11:1-6, St. Paul expresses his concern about the false preacher in Corinth.  He worries that their subtle arguments will deceive his flock.  He writes, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (vs. 3). Today  we celebrate the “Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.” Our reading refers to Eve, the first “Mother of all the Living” (Genesis 3:20).  But the Virgin Mary, the focus of today’s feast, is the “New Eve” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3, 19, p. 130). The Opposites of Subtlety and Simplicity By her…

Appointed for Wrath or Salvation? (Fri, Nov. 20)

The word of the day is “appoint.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-13, 24-28, St. Paul assures the congregation at Thessalonica of God’s benevolent intentions for them.   The Apostle writes, “For God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 9). Paul has just warned his flock against the sleep of complacency and carelessness as they wait for the return of Christ.  But he quickly adds that God has no desire to catch them in the darkness of sin (vs. 9). Paul reassures the believers in this bustling city that they are not appointed to “wrath.” The Greek word for “wrath” refers to the strongest of passions, the burning anger of…