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…

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,…