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…

Faith, a Relationship and a State of Being (Sun. Nov. 1)

The word of the day is “faith.” Today in our reading of Galatians 2:16-20, St. Paul charges that some believers in Galatia are abandoning their faith in Christ.  These turncoats have fallen under the spell of “Judaizers” from Jerusalem who teach that being Christian means doing all the works of the Mosaic Law. Paul thought that the leaders in Jerusalem had agreed that faith was sufficient for membership in the Church.  But now even Peter had refused to associate with Gentiles who “did not live as Jews” (vs. 14). Paul reacted vehemently.  The Gospel was at stake.  The Apostle’s message was that the works of the Mosaic Law did not and could not justify sinners in God’s sight. God’s approval…

The Veil Removed: The Glory Revealed (Sat. Oct. 31)

The word of the day is “veil.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians. 3:12-18,  St. Paul contrasts the clarity of our vision of Christ with the reading of the Law of Moses.  The Apostle writes, “But even to this day, when Moses is read a veil lies on their hearts.  Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (vs. 13-14). The key to the passage is its controlling metaphor, the image of the veil.  Paul refers to when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Tables of the Law (Exodus 34:29-35).  When he spoke to the Israelites, his face shown with the Glory of God.  But the people were afraid to approach him  (vs. 30).…

The Mystery of “Christ in Us” (Thurs. Oct. 29)

The word of the day is “mystery.”  In our reading of Colossians 1:24-29, St. Paul speaks about the desire to know the secrets of the universe. The Orthodox Study Bible notes that the Colossian heretics wanted to know such hidden knowledge (OSB fn. on 2:3).  But Paul answers this desire by pointing to the “mystery hidden from the ages, now revealed”  (vs. 25). Paul’s remarks suggest that the heresy that threatened to mislead the congregation at Colossae has some characteristics of “mystery cults” along with features of Gnosticism (See Tuesday, October 27). At the time in the Roman Empire, various secret societies taught obscure myths of the cosmic cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Clandestine rituals initiated converts into…