Whatever Work You Do: Do it “as to” the Lord (Thurs. Oct. 21)

The word of the day is “slaves.”  From today’s reading of Ephesians 5:33-6:9, we learn that whatever work we do, we should do it  “as to the Lord.”  In this passage, St. Paul address “bondservants,” that is, slaves (vs. 5) as well as their masters (vs. 9). The Orthodox Study Bible comments, “As with marriage, Paul does not seek to alter the existing social structure…” (OSB fn. on vs. 6:9).  Thus, Paul’s letters presume slavery but does not approve of it.  That is also true of many of the parables in the Gospels where English versions translate the Greek word for slave (doulos) as “servant” (Strong’s #1401, 72). Despite taking slavery for granted, Paul favors the status of freedom.  He teaches that given the…

Marriage: A Focus on Harmony (Oct. 20)

The word of the day is “harmony.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 5:25-33, St. Paul discusses the duties of husband and wife in marriage.  As a camera focuses on one object to make the picture clear, so we will put the focal point on one thought to shed light on the whole passage. St. Paul suggests our focus when he gives the reason for the wife’s role in marriage.  He states, “And Paul would never without a reason and without an object have spent so much pains on this subject” (NfPf1:3, 143.  What is that purpose?  It is concord, the result of mutual harmony. If we look closely behind St. Paul’s list of duties, his promotion of harmony comes into…

Mutual Submission: The Way of Christ (Tues. Oct. 19)

The word of the day is “submit.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 5:20-26, St. Paul begins to outline the duties of family members in the “Household Codes.”  The Apostle writes, “… giving thanks always to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in fear of Christ” [1] (vs. 20 NAS). We should note that this verse is the transition to the “Table of Household Duties” section of Paul’s letter that follows.  But it is more than that.  It is the heading of the Code.  If so, then, whatever their separate duties may be, St. Paul teaches that all household members should serve one another “out of reverence for Christ” (NIV Ephesians 5:21. The term “reverence”…

Putting Off Vices and Putting on Virtues (Mon. Oct. 18)

The word of the day is “put.” Who would continue to wear old, dirty, and worn-out clothing when we have brand new clothes in our closet?  Yet unless we are intentional about our spiritual way of life, this is what we might do.   In our reading of Ephesians 4:25-32, Paul gives examples of how the faithful at Ephesus are to live and grow according to the calling of their baptism. The apostle continues to use the metaphor that is taken from the exchange of the old, soiled garments and the new robe of righteousness given in baptism.  The baptized puts off the one set of clothes and puts on the other. The Rhetorical Pattern of Putting Off and Putting On…

God’s Holiness and Our Holiness in His Likeness (Sun. Oct. 17)

The word of the day is “holy.”  What categories do we use to speak of God?  Life, love, goodness, and truth might come to mind.  Or we might think of righteousness, glory, or grace.  Then too, there are the terms omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.  All these are ways of thinking of God.  But in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1, Paul reminds us of the fundamental character of God when he advises his congregation in Corinth to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (vs. 7:1). God’s Holiness, His “Otherness” In 1 Peter, the apostle underscores Paul’s admonition when he writes, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 quoting Leviticus 11:44).  Note that our holiness, however, has its…

The Never-ending Process of Becoming Spiritually Mature (Sat. Oct. 16)

The word of the day is “mature.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 14:20-25, Paul gives instructions about the practice of speaking in tongues.  In the middle of this discussion, he lays out a principle for Christians to guide the manner of thinking of the faithful.  He writes: “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature” (vs. 20). Childish Behavior In effect, Paul says that the Corinthian’s behavior is childish.  Like children, they are boasting that they have the superior spiritual ability to speak in tongues.  In their pride in their spiritual talents, they are thinking like three-year-olds.  St. John Chrysostom says that children are awestruck with trifles but are not…

A Garment Meant to be Worn Everyday (Fri. Oct. 15)

The word of the day is “new.”  Is baptism just a ceremony, a way of welcoming newborns into the family?  We make it an empty ritual when we do not realize that it requires a change in the way we live.  In today’s reading of Ephesians 4:17-25, Paul warns the Ephesians about going back to their way of life before their baptism.  Using the metaphor of clothing, the Apostle urges them to put off the “old man” and put on the “new man.” This image combines three trains of thought. The first is that Christ became the “New Adam,” the Head of a new kind of humanity by His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:45; Romans 5:12-13).  The second is that the faithful…

On Living Effective Lives in Terms of the Kingdom (Thurs. Oct. 14)

The word of the day is “futility.”[1] Today’s business climate puts a premium on efficiency.  Management models focus on ways to save time and energy to increase profits.  However, efficiency does not equal effectiveness.  One can be most efficient, but our work may not be worthwhile.  Today in our reading of Ephesians 4:14-19, Paul warns his flock against living as other Gentiles do in the “futility of their mind” (vs. 17).  From the apostles’ spiritual point of view, the unbelieving citizens of the Roman empire are living unproductive and ineffective lives despite their efficiency.  Today we consider how we can avoid the entrapments of lifestyles that are empty of meaning or benefit to others.  We reflect on how we can…

A Majestic Prayer That We Can Make Our Own (Wed. Oct. 13)

The word of the day is “pray.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 3:8-21, Paul makes known his prayers for the churches of the region of Ephesus.  The apostle says that he wants to encourage the Ephesians despite his imprisonment.  Therefore, the apostle writes, “For this reason, I bow my knees to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 14 and 16.) The Majesty of Paul’s Prayer for the Church The prayer soars in majestic phrases. Paul asks for their “strength” “in the inner man” (vs. 16), the indwelling of “Christ in their hearts,” and their “foundation in love” (vs. 17).  The apostle goes on to pray that his flock might comprehend with the saints “width and length and…

Therefore, No Longer Strangers and Foreigners (Tues, Oct. 12)

The word of the day is “therefore.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 2:19-3:7, Paul writes that though they are gentiles, the Ephesians are “no longer strangers and foreigners.”  They are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (vs. 2:19).  That is, non-Jews are equal members of the church. And both Jews and Gentiles are being “built together” into a temple, a dwelling place of God. The Controversy is Over: Gentiles Are Fully Accepted Note the triumphant tone of this letter compared with Paul’s earlier letters.  Time has passed.  The controversy over the incorporation of the Gentiles into the church has been resolved.  The Holy Spirit has made known the “mystery” of God’s plan “to His…