The Church and the Temple: a Comparison (Sun. Nov. 22)

The word of the day is “temple .”  In our reading of Ephesians 2:14-22, St. Paul compares the Church to a holy temple that is built on a solid foundation. Further, he emphasizes that Christ is the Cornerstone who unites the Church’s members into a sacred dwelling place of God. In our reading, Paul draws the analogy between the building of the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem and the nature of the Church. There are three main comparisons:  the foundation, the Cornerstone, and the materials that “fitted together” make up the building as a dwelling place for God. First, let me explain that the Book of Hebrews speaks of the “tabernacle,” not the temple.   This “Tent of Meeting” was a…

Subtlety and Simplicity: a Study of Two Eves (Sat. Nov. 21)

The word for the day is “simplicity.”  In our reading of 2 Cor. 11:1-6, St. Paul expresses his concern about the false preacher in Corinth.  He worries that their subtle arguments will deceive his flock.  He writes, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (vs. 3). Today  we celebrate the “Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.” Our reading refers to Eve, the first “Mother of all the Living” (Genesis 3:20).  But the Virgin Mary, the focus of today’s feast, is the “New Eve” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3, 19, p. 130). The Opposites of Subtlety and Simplicity By her…

Appointed for Wrath or Salvation? (Fri, Nov. 20)

The word of the day is “appoint.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-13, 24-28, St. Paul assures the congregation at Thessalonica of God’s benevolent intentions for them.   The Apostle writes, “For God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 9). Paul has just warned his flock against the sleep of complacency and carelessness as they wait for the return of Christ.  But he quickly adds that God has no desire to catch them in the darkness of sin (vs. 9). Paul reassures the believers in this bustling city that they are not appointed to “wrath.” The Greek word for “wrath” refers to the strongest of passions, the burning anger of…

Children of the Light and of the Day (Thurs. Nov. 19)

The word of the day is “light.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8, St. Paul writes that the day of the Lord’s return will surprise many who are heedless and unprepared.  But not his congregation.  They are “sons of light and sons of the day” (vs. 5:5). They live in the daytime of Christ’s light. Even so, Paul admonishes them to stay awake, sober, vigilant, and ready to greet the Lord when He comes as Lord and Judge of the world. Paul’s declaration that the faithful are children of the light arises naturally from the thought that the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” (vs. 2). The analogy of the burglar who breaks into a house…

A Quiet Life in a Noisy Society (Wed. Nov. 18)

The word of the day is “quiet.” In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, St. Paul gives some practical advice for living in a world of noisy frenzy such as ours.  The Apostle writes, “… that you aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you” (vs. 10). In Paul’s day, the city of Thessalonica was the hub of the government,  politics, commerce, military, and culture of Greece.  It was a multi-racial and cosmopolitan city at the crossroad of prosperous East-West and North-South trading routes. Moreover, it was a flourishing port city on the Aegean Sea. Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World Imagine how turbulent…

Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 17)

The word of the day is “blameless.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, St. Paul prays that God would enable his congregation at Thessalonica to grow in their love for one another.  He writes, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (vs. 12).  He adds the prayer that the result of this growth would be that God may “establish their hearts, blameless in holiness…” (vs. 13). To be found without fault before God is the goal that our reading suggests as we begin our Nativity Fast.  We are setting our sights on the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints”…

The Appearing of the Lord (Mon. Nov. 16)

The word of the day is “ coming”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8, St. Paul expresses his affection for his congregation at Thessalonica.  The Apostles writes, “For you are our glory and joy” (vs. 20). However, Paul is concluding the thought of the preceding sentence, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy” (vs. 19-20). The Royal Visit of a King Paul is thinking of the “coming” of the Lord Jesus Christ, using the Greek word “parousia.”  This technical term refers to the royal visit of a king.  It is derived from the thought of “being…

The Possibility of “Good Works” (Sun. Nov. 15)

the word of the day is “works.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 2:4-10, St. Paul proclaims the works of God’s grace on behalf of those whom He has chosen for salvation. The Apostle has already recounted the mighty works of God who raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand.  Paul has already revealed that the Almighty has put all things under the rule of Christ who now is Head of His Body, the Church (Eph. 1:19-23). The Mighty Works of God But now St. Paul rejoices in the works of God that apply to the members of the Body of Christ.  We note that he describes them in terms of contrasts:  dead…

Joy Overflowing in Generosity (Sat. Nov. 14)

The word of the day is “ joy.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, St. Paul holds up the Macedonians as examples of generous giving.  The Apostle boasts that despite their abject poverty, they begged Paul for the favor of receiving their gift for the poor in Jerusalem.  He states, “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (vs. 1-2). Single-minded in Sharing Thus, Paul intends to impress his readers with the “liberality” of the Macedonians.  The word is derived from the thought of singleness of purpose. …

The Master of Hindrances (Friday, November 13)

The word of the day is “hindered.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-19, St. Paul speaks of the hindrances that retrained Paul’s work among the Gentiles of this important port city.  Yet, despite these obstacles, Paul gives thanks to God for their enthusiastic reception of the Gospel.  And he assures them that they are with him in his heart and that he desires to see them face to face (vs. 17.) Hindered from Reaching the Gentiles In our reading, Paul speaks of the frustrating roadblocks to his plans, both human and supernatural. First, there was the opposition of the Judaizers who insisted on the circumcision of Gentile believers.  Paul writes that the Thessalonians had suffered persecution just as the…