Safeguarding Church Order (Tues, Dec. 8)

The word of the day is “charge.”  Today, we read 1 Timothy 5:11-21, and we find that St  Paul is still instructing 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. 7)

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…

Taking Advantage of the Time (Sun. Dec. 6)

The word of the day is “redeem.”  In our reading of Ephesians 5:9-19, St. Paul fixes his eyes on the horizon at the end of history, the coming of Christ in glory.  As we wait for Christ to establish the New Age of His Kingdom, St. Paul urges his flock to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil” (vs. 15-16). In our reading, Paul urges his flock in Ephesus to live in the light of Christ’s coming.  They are to be awake—watchful and alert and ready to greet the approaching advent of Christ.  In Paul’s view, the Lord’s return is close at hand. Therefore, he advises his flock to “walk circumspectly,” They…

Living by the Law or Living by Faith (Sat. Dec. 5)

The word of the day is “faith”  In our reading of Galatians 3:8-12, St. Paul maintains that those who God counts as righteous cannot live by doing works of the Mosaic Law.  But, the Apostle says, “The just will live by faith” (vs. 12). Paul’s argument that faith, not works, gives life is two-fold.  First, the Apostle notes that before  God gave the Law to Moses, the Almighty gave a universal promise to Abraham. The Almighty pledged that He would bless all the peoples of the world “in Abraham” (vs 8).   The Apostle taught that already before Moses, David, and the prophets, inspired scripture foresaw that the Gentiles would receive the fulfillment of this divine promise to Abraham.  God would…

Timothy’s Spiritual Workout (Fri. Dec. 4)

The word of the day is “training.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 4:4-8, 16, St. Paul motivates Timothy to train vigorously, in piety and holiness.  He states, “For bodily exercise profits a little but godliness is profitable for all things…” (vs. 8). In our reading, Paul recommends “exercise” to combat the spiritual depravity that his opponents are fostering through their “old wives tales” (vs. 7).  But he promotes spiritual over physical workouts. The word “exercise” refers to vigorous training for the Greek games (Strong’s #1128, 62).  As a professional athlete, he must dedicate himself in mind and spirit to developing his spiritual condition. Godliness: an Inner State of the Heart His training should be in “godliness.”  This term combines…

Putting the Church in Order: Leadership (Thurs. Dec. 3)

The word of the day is “rule”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 3:1-13, St. Paul continues his directive for good order in the church.  His topic in today’s passage is the qualifications and conduct of bishops (vs. 1-7) as well as deacons (vs. 8-10) and their wives (vs. 11). In 1 Timothy, Paul speaks about three categories of church leaders.  He outlines the qualities and duties of the bishop[i] (epískopos.) (3:1-7, the priest or elder (presbyter) (1 Timothy 5:17), the deacon (diakonos) and his wife  (vs. 8-13). When we review the qualifications for each of these leadership roles, we find one thing in common. They are to “rule” their households well (vs. 4, vs. 12, 4:17).  The Greek word…

Putting the Church in Order: Worship

The word of the day is “order.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2:8-15, St. Paul begins with the subject of public worship to speak about good order in Timothy’s congregation .  The Apostle writes that men should lift up holy hands without “wrath and doubting” (vs, 8).   And women should dress in a way that becomes “godliness and good works” (vs, 10). The selection of this reading gives the impression that its focus is on women’s behavior in worship. The topic of women in the church thus becomes the overriding concern of this passage and, perhaps, the entire letter. However, in this epistle, the Apostle speaks of kings and civil authorities, men, bishops, deacons, elders (presbyters), older men,…

The Law Cuts Two Ways (Tues. Dec.1)

The word of the day is “law.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:8-14, St. Paul corrects the false understanding of the Law of the false teachers in Timothy’s flock. The Apostle writes, “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (vs. 8). Paul warns about false teachers who do not know what they are talking about. To counteract the threat,  Paul clarifies his teaching of the Law.  Some might have gotten the impression that Paul is against the Law or it is no longer valid for believers in Christ. But here Paul says that the Law, that is, the Mosaic Law, is still beneficial.  The Orthodox Study Bible says that “the Law is good,…

Pure, Good, and Sincere (Mon. Nov. 30)

The word of the day is “purpose.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 1:1-7, St. Paul teaches the intent of his instruction about pastoral leadership in the Church.  He states, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith (vs. 5). We speak of “commandments” to refer to the Ten Commandments or the entire Law of Moses.  But in our reading, Paul speaks of “the commandment.” The word that Paul uses refers to the direction that a superior gives to his or her followers.  This term expresses the reason for Paul’s epistle to Timothy.  In tone and content, it instructs Timothy, the young Bishop of Ephesus, on the pastoral…

Keeping the Unity of the Spirit (Sun. Nov. 29)

The word of the Day is “unity.”  In our reading of Ephesians 4:1-6, St. Paul urges the congregation in Ephesus to live in a way that preserves the oneness of the Church.  The Apostle pleads with them to “walk worthy of [their] calling… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs. 3). Unity is a gift of Christ.  Paul states, “For He Himself [Christ] is our peace who has made both [Jew and Greek] one and has broken down the middle wall of separation. He, therefore, is the “one Lord” who reconciles us to God and one another. Unity Is “Of the Spirit” But unity is also “of the Spirit.”  The early community of…