Chosen as God’s Own (Thurs. Dec. 9)

The word of the day is “chose.”  Yesterday’s reading ended with Paul’s warning that they should not be deceived by the “man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) who will appear at the end of time (vs. 9). However, now in 2 Thessalonians 2.13-3.5, Paul reassures the believers in Thessalonica that they will not perish in delusion and unbelief.  The apostle writes, “…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (vs. 13). The Greek term for “chose” is rooted in the thought of “taking something for oneself’” (Strong’s #138, 8).  The emphasis is not on favoring one thing over the other.  But the focus is on making something one’s own.  This thought…

The Love of Truth (Wed. Dec. 8)

The word of the day is “truth.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, St. Paul cautions his congregation in Thessalonica about false prophecies of the Lord’s Second Coming.  The Apostle advises them not to be “soon shaken in mind or troubled” when they hear that the Second Coming of Christ has already happened (vs. 2). “The Man of Lawlessness” Paul reminds his congregation of his teaching of certain signs of the imminent return of Christ.       These signals of the end time will include a time of apostasy, that is, faithlessness.  Then a mysterious character, the “man of lawlessness,” will appear (vs. 3).  The Greek word refers to one who sets himself against the law (Strong’s #458, 28).  He is…

Glorified in the Saints and In Us (Tues. Dec. 7)

Once again, the word of the day is “glorified.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, St. Paul writes that he prays constantly for his congregation as they face nameless trials.  His  concern is not on what the Thessalonians should do to prevail in their troubles.  His focus is on God’s work in the faithful.  Thus, he prays “that the name of Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). Note that in yesterday’s reading Paul has just promised that when Christ returns in glory, he will be “glorified in his saints” (vs. 10).  But now the apostle applies that thought to those all…

God Is Glorified in His Saints (Mon. Dec. 6)

The word of the day is “glorified .”  Today with 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10, we begin to read St. Paul’s second letter to his congregation in Thessalonica, the important crossroads of Macedonia.  The apostle writes from Ephesus in about 51 AD within months of his first letter.  But now, he refers to the “persecutions and tribulations” that his congregation is undergoing (vs. 4).  He consoles his flock in this port city that their afflictions are evidence that they are worthy of the kingdom of God, the reign of God for which they now suffer (vs. 5). St. Paul assures the faithful that God will settle accounts with their persecutors and with those who neither know Him nor obey the gospel.  God…

The Church Compared to the Temple (Sun. Dec. 5)

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.  Three main comparisons:  the foundation, the cornerstone, and the materials that “fitted together” make up the building as a dwelling place for God. Note that the writer to the Hebrews speaks of both the “tabernacle” and the temple in single thought.  Likewise, the Book of Revelation combines these…

Subtlety and Simplicity: a Study of Two Eves (Sat. Dec. 4)

The word for the day is “simplicity.”  In our reading of 2 Cor. 11:1-6, St. Paul expresses his concern about the false preachers 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). Paul here is contrasting two states of mind, the condition of being deceived versus the state of simplicity.  He refers to Eve who is the prime example of one the devil deceives by trickery.  But as Orthodox, we recall a counterexample in the Virgin Mary.  The book of Genesis says that Adam named his wife,…

Are We Appointed for Wrath or Salvation? (Fri. Dec. 3)

The world 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. Dec. 2)

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. Dec. 1)

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 Amid the Frenzy Imagine how turbulent life…

Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 30)

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” …