God Does Not Need Our Offerings: We Need to Give Them (Mon. Oct 26)

The word of the day is “gift.”  St. Paul closes our reading of the Philippians with our reading of Chapter 4:10-23.  This passage is a skillfully written thank you note for the generosity of Paul’s favorite congregation. To conclude his letter, Paul expresses his exuberant gratitude for the gift of monetary support that the Philippians have sent.  Somehow something must have held up that donation’s arrival.  But Paul graciously overlooks the delay.  The Philippians “lacked the opportunity,” he writes (vs. 10).  But now Paul is pleased that their concern for him has blossomed like the flowers of spring. Accomplishing Everything Through Christ Yet Paul wants his favorite congregation to know that the important thing is not his need.  He knows…

Abounding in the Grace of Giving (Oct. 24)

The word of the day is “abound.”  People give to those in need with various attitudes and for many reasons.  But we learn in today’s reading of 2 Cor. 9:6-11, that we should give aid generously and with singleness of purpose.  In this passage, St. Paul speaks about his collection for relief of the fellow Christians who are starving in Jerusalem. The Apostle compares giving to the needy to sowing see ds, and he says that the harvest depends on the sower’s liberality (vs. 6). One More Thing to Be Added Note that God provides the seeds in the first place (vs. 9). The Almighty, who is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4), has already made the faithful in Corinth rich…

The Glorious Resurrected Body and the Renewal of Creation (Sat. Oct. 23)

The word of the day is “incorruption.” In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 15:39-45, we turn our attention from material things of the present to the futures’ spiritual things. In this passage, St. Paul speaks of our bodies’ transformation when God raises them from the dead. He writes that in the resurrection, “the body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption” (vs. 42). The Glorious Resurrected Body The Apostle describes how glorious our recreated bodies will be (vs. 42-45).   Now they are subject to corruption; that is, they are infected with inevitable decay and destruction (Strong’s #5356 & 5351, 263).  They are dishonored; that is, they are debased with shame and indignity (Strong’s #819, 46). They are weak;…

On Guard Against Satan: Watchful Prayer (Fri. Oct. 22)

The word of the day is “watchful. ” St. Paul closes his letter to the Ephesians with insights on prayer in today’s reading of Ephesians 6:18-24.  Just before our reading, Paul described the weapons that believers should use against the forces of wickedness (vs. 12).  Then fully armed,  the believers must stand guard, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (OSB vs. 18).  They must be “watchful” as the Lord admonished Peter in the Garden on the night of His arrest (Matt. 26:41). The Greek word for “watchful” refers to being awake and alert, not merely to ward off sleep but to achieve a purpose (Strong’s #69, 4). Thus, we must stand in prayer like the guardians…

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…