The Cultivation of Virtue (Fri. Dec. 18)

The word of the day is “virtue.”  In today’s reading of Titus 1:15-2:10, St. Paul gives instructions about the virtues that Timothy should teach his flock. Paul gives special counsel for different groups in the congregation: older men and older women, younger women and younger men,  and bondservants. A Pattern of Good Works But the young Bishop himself should be “a pattern of good works in doctrine, showing integrity, reverence and incorruptibility” (vs. 2: 7) (Strong’s 5179, 254). The Greek word that The Orthodox Study Bible translates as “pattern” comes from the term “stamp with a blow.”  What is struck by the die is a copy of the original (Strong’s #5179, 254).  As such a stamp, Timothy should “show himself”…

To the Pure, All Things Are Pure (Thurs. Dec. 17)

The word of the day is “pure.” Today with the reading of Titus 1:5-2:1, we begin the reading of Paul’s letter to one of his most trusted co-workers, Titus.  In about 63 AD, Paul had appointed this Gentle Christian to oversee the mission in Crete.  It was a challenging ministry because the church was young and susceptible to smooth talkers who were deceiving whole households of church members (vs. 11). In our reading, Paul instructs Titus to censure these false teachers because they are “abominable,” that is, “detestable” (Strong’s 947),  “disobedient,” and  “unqualified for every good work” (Strong’s 96) (Titus 1:16).  Moreover, their motives are “dishonest,” that is “shameful” (Strong’s #150 ) (Titus 1:11). The Commandments of Men What are…

Paul’s Boldness as Inspiration and Example (Wed. Dec. 16)

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…

The Profitable Benefits of Scripture (Tues. Dec. 15)

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…

Honorable and Dishonorable Service to the Lord (Mon, Dec. 14)

The word of the day is “honorable.” In today’s reading of 2 Timothy, 2:20-27, 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). The term household “vessels” that Paul refers to all sorts of utensils, not necessarily containers (Strong’s #4632, 232).  Therefore, the comparison is not to the contents of what is contained.  The contrast is to the composition of the implements.  What they are made of determines the nature of their use.  One does not use a silver punch bowl as a washbasin, nor a wooden spoon to serve as a serving ladle.…

Hidden and Revealed (Sun. Dec. 13)

The word of the day is “appear.”  In today’s reading of Colossians 3:4-11, St. Paul promises that when Christ returns, He will bring the faithful with Him to share His glory.  The Apostle proclaims, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”  (vs. 4). The root of the Greek original text is “to make apparent.” Therefore, Christ’s appearance means more than that He “shows up.”  Rather, the term refers to the revelation of what is hidden.  More than that, it is the manifestation of the fundamental character of what is now unseen (Strong’s #5319, 1-20). Our Hidden Life At present, the wickedness of this present age conceals the true nature of Christ. …

Living in the Spirit, Walking in the Spirit (Sat. Dec.12)

The word of the day is “walk.”  Today St. Paul teaches that there is a difference between having life in the Spirit and living in the Spirit. Thus, in our reading of Galatians 5:22-6:22, St. Paul writes, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (vs. 25). The Holy Mystery of Baptism grants the baptized the “seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” and  confers the power, illumination, and inspiration of the Spirit (Orthodox Church in America, “Baptism Service,” 2012). From then on, those who are washed and renewed in the baptismal font, indeed, “live in the Spirit” (vs. 25).  Having died to the “old life” of sin and death, they now wear the…

How Light and Immortality Came to Light (Fri. Dec.11)

The word of the day is “immortality.”  In today’s reading, we hear St. 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…

Two Kinds of Riches and What to Do With Them (Thurs. Nov. 10)

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  (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…

Contentment: a Form of Faith (Wed. Dec. 9)

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 the means of acquiring or gaining possession of something, such as money.  Paul charges that the congregation’s troublemakers believe that they can profit from their godliness, supposed piety, and…