Dry Wells or Flowing Fountains? (Tues., Feb. 23)

The word of the day is “wells.  Wells are meant to provide water.  But if a well becomes dry, it is a useless hole in the ground.   In our reading of 2 Peter 2:9-22, the apostle compares false teachers to dried up wells (vs. 17)  that are a  great disappointment to a thirsty traveler.  In today’s study, we will contrast these empty pits with the flowing fountains of living water that the Lord gives who come to Him to drink (John 4:13-14).

Appealing to the Passions of Covetousness and Lewdness

The apostle’s emphasis is on deceivers who exploit and allure the faithful.  The term “exploit” is derived from the idea of business or trade.  In this case, the trade is meant to take advantage of the weakness of the believers (Strong’s #1710, 87).  The term “allure” is derived from the idea of trapping by using bait (Strong’s #1185, 63).  The false preachers use the passion of covetousness to manipulate believers  (vs. 3).  They try to train our souls in the mixture of greed and envy that results in irresistible desire.  And they use fancy words to infect us with this overwhelming craving.

Moreover, they lay the traps of “lust of the flesh” and “lewdness” to snare the unsuspecting.  The word “lust” comes from the idea of a longing or eager desire (Strong’s #1939, 97).  When joined to the term “flesh,” that is, the body, it refers to the uncontained cravings of sexual desire.  The word “lewdness” has to do with unrestrained, filthy wantonness (Strong’s #766, 44).  With empty but high-sounding words, the deceived seek to spread the pollution that festers in their hearts.

Fountains Springing Up to Eternal Life

This passage contains many other shocking indictments of the false prophets that threaten the faith and purity of Peter’s readers.  To return to the beginning metaphor, it is as if the false teachers not only were dry wells, but they had thrown every kind of garbage into them so that the unsuspecting who would come to draw water would dredge up all sorts of filth.  In contrast to these dry wells, the Lord promises that those who drink of His “living water” will find that it will become in them a “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).  The word for “fountain” can refer to the source of any living (that is, flowing) water including a fountain, a spring, or a well that is fed by a spring (Strong’s  #4077, 201).

Come to Me and Drink

The Lord returns to this image during the Feast of Tabernacles.  During this Feast, water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam, mixed with wine, and poured on the base of the altar in the Temple.  This ritual commemorated the event in the wilderness when Moses drew water from a rock (The  Orthodox Study Bible fn. on 7:2 “The Feast of Tabernacles, 1437).  This event foreshadowed the revelation that Christ is the Rock who gives living water to the faithful.  Accordingly, the Lord cried,  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).

Then the Lord proclaimed, He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).  John clarified that Jesus was speaking about the Spirit.  He would descend on the Church when Jesus was glorified, that is, at Pentecost (vs. 35).

We who put our faith in Christ, therefore, become overflowing wells of the Spirit.  The water of Life that streams from our hearts is not like a pool of water that has its own existence.  Rather the Lord is the continuous source of that supply.  In the believer’s Life, there is a continuous cycle of our thirst for the water of Life and our coming to the Lord to drink of it.  Furthermore, the Spirit who animates and enlivens us makes that water flow out into our lives.  Consequently, it satisfies our spiritual thirst and nurtures our growth in faith and Life.  Yet it also pours forth in our witness to Christ and our good works of love for our neighbor.

For Reflection

So which would you rather be:  a dry well or a flowing fountain?  Our reading demonstrates the filthiness and ugliness of those who try to lead the faithful astray by appealing to the passions.  In contrast, we have also suggested that in Christ and through the Spirit, we can become foundations of faith and goodness.

We find even more reason for our struggle with the passions.  Our study presents the choice of either being controlled by the passions or being led in the liberty of the Spirit.  So as we prepare to hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son, let us learn from today’s reading and detest the filth of the pigsty.  Then carrying with us the water of the Life of Christ through the Spirit, we will be ready to make the journey to our gracious Heavenly Father.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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