Living by the Law or Living by Faith (Sat. Dec. 5)

The word of the day is “faith”  In our reading of Galatians 3:8-12, St. Paul maintains that those who God counts as righteous cannot live by doing works of the Mosaic Law.  But, the Apostle says, “The just will live by faith” (vs. 12). Paul’s argument that faith, not works, gives life is two-fold.  First, the Apostle notes that before  God gave the Law to Moses, the Almighty gave a universal promise to Abraham. The Almighty pledged that He would bless all the peoples of the world “in Abraham” (vs 8).   The Apostle taught that already before Moses, David, and the prophets, inspired scripture foresaw that the Gentiles would receive the fulfillment of this divine promise to Abraham.  God would…

Timothy’s Spiritual Workout (Fri. Dec. 4)

The word of the day is “training.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 4:4-8, 16, St. Paul motivates Timothy to train vigorously, in piety and holiness.  He states, “For bodily exercise profits a little but godliness is profitable for all things…” (vs. 8). In our reading, Paul recommends “exercise” to combat the spiritual depravity that his opponents are fostering through their “old wives tales” (vs. 7).  But he promotes spiritual over physical workouts. The word “exercise” refers to vigorous training for the Greek games (Strong’s #1128, 62).  As a professional athlete, he must dedicate himself in mind and spirit to developing his spiritual condition. Godliness: an Inner State of the Heart His training should be in “godliness.”  This term combines…

Putting the Church in Order: Leadership (Thurs. Dec. 3)

The word of the day is “rule”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 3:1-13, St. Paul continues his directive for good order in the church.  His topic in today’s passage is the qualifications and conduct of bishops (vs. 1-7) as well as deacons (vs. 8-10) and their wives (vs. 11). In 1 Timothy, Paul speaks about three categories of church leaders.  He outlines the qualities and duties of the bishop[i] (epískopos.) (3:1-7, the priest or elder (presbyter) (1 Timothy 5:17), the deacon (diakonos) and his wife  (vs. 8-13). When we review the qualifications for each of these leadership roles, we find one thing in common. They are to “rule” their households well (vs. 4, vs. 12, 4:17).  The Greek word…

Putting the Church in Order: Worship

The word of the day is “order.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2:8-15, St. Paul begins with the subject of public worship to speak about good order in Timothy’s congregation .  The Apostle writes that men should lift up holy hands without “wrath and doubting” (vs, 8).   And women should dress in a way that becomes “godliness and good works” (vs, 10). The selection of this reading gives the impression that its focus is on women’s behavior in worship. The topic of women in the church thus becomes the overriding concern of this passage and, perhaps, the entire letter. However, in this epistle, the Apostle speaks of kings and civil authorities, men, bishops, deacons, elders (presbyters), older men,…

The Law Cuts Two Ways (Tues. Dec.1)

The word of the day is “law.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:8-14, St. Paul corrects the false understanding of the Law of the false teachers in Timothy’s flock. The Apostle writes, “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (vs. 8). Paul warns about false teachers who do not know what they are talking about. To counteract the threat,  Paul clarifies his teaching of the Law.  Some might have gotten the impression that Paul is against the Law or it is no longer valid for believers in Christ. But here Paul says that the Law, that is, the Mosaic Law, is still beneficial.  The Orthodox Study Bible says that “the Law is good,…

Pure, Good, and Sincere (Mon. Nov. 30)

The word of the day is “purpose.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:1-7, St. Paul teaches the intent of his instruction about pastoral leadership in the Church.  He states, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (vs. 5). We speak of “commandments” to refer to the Ten Commandments or the entire Law of Moses.  But in our reading, Paul speaks of “the commandment.” The word that Paul uses refers to the direction that a superior gives to his or her followers.  This term expresses the reason for Paul’s epistle to Timothy.  In tone and content, it instructs Timothy, the young Bishop of Ephesus, on the pastoral…

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…