Paul’s Boldness as Inspiration and Example (Wed. Dec. 29)

The word of the day is “stood.”  St. Paul closes his second letter to Timothy in our reading of 2 Timothy 4:9-22.  The passage is a collection of requests and reports of what has happened to Paul and his companions.  There seems to be no clear order to these topics.  Paul brings them up as he thinks of them.  However, the most dramatic of Paul’s news is his account of his first trial before the emperor. The apostle writes, “At my first defense no one stood with me.  But the Lord stood with and strengthened me” (vs. 17).  This short comment is the only account in the scriptures of what occurred when Paul was put on trial in Rome.  Paul states that he stood in court…

The Benefits of Scripture (Tues. Dec. 28)

The word of the day is “Scripture.”  In our reading of 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4, St. Paul declares that the Scriptures are effective for instructing the faithful.  He states, “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (vs. 16). Paul’s execution is in sight.  He says, “The time for my departure is at hand” (vs. 4:6).  Knowing this, in 2 Timothy, Paul passes on the mantle of his authority to the young Bishop Timothy.  As he transfers his apostolic ministry to Timothy, Paul foresees the primary challenge that the young preacher and pastor will face.  He says, “the time will come when many will have “itching ears.” (vs. 4:3).  They…

The Service to Christ That Is Useful to Him (Mon. Dec. 27)

The word of the day is “honorable.”  In today’s reading of 2 Timothy, 2:20-26, St. Paul teaches the way to become a more useful servant of the Kingdom.  The Apostle contrasts church members who are effective as “vessels of honor” and those who are “instruments of dishonor” (vs. 20), that is, “for common use” (NIV 2 Timothy 2:20). The term household “vessels” that Paul refers to are all sorts of utensils, not necessarily containers (Strong’s #4632, 232).  Therefore, the comparison is not of the contents that the container holds.  The contrast is of the composition of the implements.  What they are made of determines what they are used for.  One does not use a silver punch bowl as a washbasin, nor…

The Gospel is Not of Human Origin (Sun. Dec. 26)

The word of the day is “revelation.”  In our reading of Galatians 1:11-19, Paul insists that the Gospel that he preaches did not come from any human source.  He writes, “I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). Paul declares that “His” Gospel was not “according to man” (vs. 11 OSB).  The Greek term for “according” means “to come down in place or time” (Strong’s #2596, 128).  Thus, the Gospel did not come from any human being, nor was he taught it.  Accordingly, The Oxford Annotated Bible translates that “it is not of human origin” (vs. 11 OAB). Revealed in the Damascus Experience Paul goes to great lengths to say the…

God Sent Forth His Son (Sat. Dec. 25)

The word of the day is “sent.”  On this glorious day, we hear Paul’s concise summary of the gospel in our reading of Galatians 4:4-7.  He writes, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons” (vs. 4-5). How long did it take for the time to be filled up with hours, days, years, and decades (Strong’s #4136, 204)?  How much suffering did the Chosen People endure as the centuries heaped up one on top of the others?  How much perseverance did it take for God’s People to maintain their hope in…

Life and Immortality Have Come to Light (Fri. Dec. 24)

The word of the day is “immortality.”  In today’s reading, we hear Paul proclaim the Gospel that Christ has “brought life and immortality” to light.  Our reading of 2 Timothy 1:1-2, 8-18 is a glorious beginning of Paul’s second letter to the young Bishop Timothy of Ephesus.  The Orthodox Study Bible notes that according to tradition, this was probably Paul’s last letter before His martyrdom in Rome about 67 AD.  Paul himself says that his “departure” from this world is “at hand” (vs. 4:6). Paul begins his letter by recalling that God has both saved us and given us a holy calling (vs. 9).  Once again, he sounds his constant theme that salvation has come to the faithful by the “purpose and grace” of God…

Two Kinds of Riches (Thurs, Dec. 23)

The word of the day is “rich.”  If you are rich, “be rich in good works” (vs. 18). That is Paul’s instruction in today’s reading from 1 Timothy 6:17-21.  In this passage, St. Paul closes his epistle with directives for the God-pleasing use of wealth.  He says, “Let them [the rich] do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (vs. 18). Two Kinds of Riches There are all sorts of riches.  There are riches in this present age (vs. 17).  These are the riches that many desire (vs. 9), the riches of money (vs. 10), the riches of the haughty (vs. 17), and the riches that many store up for themselves on earth (Luke 12:21). In contrast, there are riches of the age to come (vs. 19).  These are the riches of…

Contentment: a Form of Faith (Wed. Dec. 22)

The word of the day is “contentment.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 5:22-6:11, St. Paul continues to instruct the young Bishop Timothy on establishing order in his congregation.  Paul especially denounces the troublemakers who think they can earn material benefit from their godliness.  Paul says that indeed, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (vs. 6:5).  But it is not the profit that the agitators in Ephesus think it is. The word “gain” in the original Greek comes from the thought of providing for oneself (Strong’s #4200).  Thus, it refers to acquiring or gaining possession of something, such as money.  Paul notes that the congregation’s troublemakers believe that they can profit materially from their supposed godliness, piety, and devotion (Strong…

Safeguarding Church Order (Tues. Dec. 21)

The word of the day is “charge.”  Today, we read 1 Timothy 5:11-21, and we find that Paul is continuing to instruct the young Bishop Timothy on establishing order and harmony in his congregation.  In this passage, Paul continues to recommend policies on sensitive matters that might disrupt the congregation’s life.  Among these volatile topics are the treatment of young widows (vs. 11-15), the wages of the elders (presbyters) (vs. 17-18), accusations against elders (vs. 19), and the judgment against elders convicted of open sin (vs. 20). Today, we learn that the apostle’s instructions are not merely recommendations that can be “bent” to the leader’s own interests and purposes.  They are unbending commands for the good order of the church.…

A Measure of Piety: The Care of Widows (Mon. Dec. 20)

The word for the day is “widow.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 5:1-10, St. Paul gives practical instructions for caring for the widows in Timothy’s congregation who are especially vulnerable.  Paul directs that the church should support widows who do not have a family to support them (vs. 3).  But the Apostle teaches that “If any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents…” (vs. 3). Both the Old and New Testaments pay special attention to the plight of widows.  In ancient society, most often, women had no means of support besides their husbands.  The word “widow” in Greek refers to those women who have suffered loss, are…