The Gospel Shared With Affection (Wed. Nov. 11)

The word of the day is “ lives.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, St. Paul discloses that he earnestly desired to give something more than the Gospel to the Thessalonians.  He writes, “So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (vs. 8). Motivations for Gospel Proclamation Paul refers to many motives for preaching the Gospel:  to please others (vs. 4); to satisfy covetousness, that is “greediness” (vs. 5);[1] and to earn glory, that is, good opinion, praise, and honor (vs. 6).[2] Indeed, Paul recognizes that some proclaim Christ because they are envious of the success…

Waiting with Eager Longing (Tues. Nov. 10)

The word of the day is “wait”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 1: 6-10, St. Paul recalls that the Thessalonians had received the Gospel with joy as well as trials.  The Apostle thanks God that the Thessalonians have turned from idolatry to the service of God.  And they have learned “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead…” (vs. 10). The virtue of waiting is a predominant theme in this Epistle.  Here at the beginning of his letter, the Apostle refers to the expectation of the return of Christ.  And at the end of the Epistle, St. Paul prays that “your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our…

Five Marks of Effective Preaching (Mon. Nov. 9)

The word of the day is “power.”  Today we read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.  This passage begins the first epistle of Paul that is included in the New Testament.  Paul established the congregation at the important seaport of Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  According to the Orthodox Study Bible, he wrote this letter from Corinth in 50 or 51 AD,  about six months after he had organized the church. Paul indicates that the work of building the church in Thessalonica had been exceptionally successful.  He writes, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among…

Nothing But a New Creation (Sun. Nov. 8)

The word of the day is “new.”  In our reading of Galatians 6:11-18, St. Paul dismisses both “circumcision” that would identify one as a Jew and “uncircumcision” that would identify one as a Gentile.  He writes, “ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (vs. 15). Various versions say that neither one of these marks of identity “avails for nothing” (NKJV), “means anything” (Berean Bible), “counts for anything” (NET Bible), “is of any importance” (Weymouth New Testament) or “matters” (Good News Translation). What Matters Yet the Greek term assigns even less significance to these outward signs. The original language says that neither “circumcision” nor “uncircumcision”  “is” anything (vs. 15). The only thing that…

From Tent to Temple: the Resurrection of the Body (Sat. Nov. 7)

The word of the day is “resurrection”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, St. Paul uses a metaphor to describe our hope of transformation from the corruptible physical body to the resurrection of the incorruptible body.  He states, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (vs. 1). Remember that in Plato’s Greek philosophy, the body is the “prison house of the soul.”  The body’s functions, such as five senses and the body’s sensations of pleasure and pain, are restraints to realizing the soul’s true nature.  Death is the release of the soul and its return to the…

Luke, the Beloved Physician and Paul’s Companion (Fri. Nov. 6)

The word of the day is “Luke.”  In our reading of Colossians 4:10-18, St. Paul ends his Epistle with greetings from his companions.   The Apostle mentions seven names, but the most important among them is Luke.  He writes, “Luke, the beloved physician… greets you” (vs. 14).  The Orthodox accepts church tradition that St. Paul is speaking of the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  Our reading confirms that this preeminent historian of the life of Jesus and the early church was with Paul in Rome.  We can imagine that he not only tended to Paul’s physical condition but also provided moral support to him in his imprisonment. And he was not only beloved but…

Vigorous Prayer (Thurs. Nov. 5)

The word of the day is “earnestly.”  In our reading of Colossians 4:2-9, St. Paul closes his letter with some parting counsel.  Before ending his Epistle with salutations, the Apostle writes, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (vs. 2). With these words, Paul urges the believers in Colossae to continue to pray. That should go without saying.  Prayer, after all, is the breath of the soul. The body cannot survive for more than a few minutes without breathing. Likewise, the neglect of prayer deadens the soul. Strong Prayers Paul not only urges us to pray, but he teaches us how we should do it.  He writes that we should offer our petitions and supplications to God…

Everything Done in the Name of the Lord (Wed. Nov.4)

The word of the day is “work.”  In our reading of Colossians 3:17-4, St. Paul echoes the Table of Household Duties that he already issued to the Ephesians (5:22-6:9).  It is a shorter list, that omits the comparison of the marriage of husband and wife to the relationship of Christ and His Church. It also excludes the duty of masters. Paul gives two instructions that all the faithful should follow whatever their station in life.  He begins his directives, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (vs. 17).  Then at the end of his guidelines, he says, “Whatever you do, do it heartily…

Religiosity and Christian Liberty (Tues, Nov. 3)

The Word of the Day  (Tuesday, November 3) The word of the day is “false.”  In our reading of Colossians 2:20-3:3, St. Paul continues to warn against the false religiosity of teachers who are leading the congregation at Colossae away from the freedom of the Gospel. In today’s passage, we read Paul’s warning against them:  “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourself to regulations…”? (vs. 20). In their ignorance of God, humans have devised all sorts of human-made religions.  In Athens, for example, the Apostle noted an amazing diversity of altars to the gods.  He commented that the Athenians seemed to be “very…

Freedom from Bondage to Cosmic Powers (Mon. Nov. 2)

The word of the day is “requirements.”  In our reading of Colossians 2:13-20, St. Paul confronts the new regulations and restrictions that his opponents would impose on the believers in Colossae.  The Apostle writes that Christ has “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us” (vs. 14). The “handwriting of requirements” here refers to the writing that established legal contracts (Strong’s #5499, 271). That image means that Christ has invalidated the obligations of Law of Moses. The Apostle teaches that these regulations were nailed to the cross with the Lord when He was crucified (vs. 14).  Thus, they were put to death with Him.  But Paul proclaims that just as Christ rose from…