I am an Orthodox Christian priest. I have been Orthodox my entire life and a priest since July 2007. From my perspective, in America at least, we have lost the functional understanding of our Orthodox Christian Faith. We must take seriously that our Traditions have purpose and are not a just a litany of tasks and obligations we must perform. To "boil down" the Faith to that creates an environment I believe is what the Apostle Paul taught against. Glory to God.
LIVE STREAM Bible Study Guide
The Book of Acts 15.35-16.10 Homily 34
October 28, 2015
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: October 28, 2015 & Every Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EST
- What: A Bible Study on the Book of Acts
- Click on the Link Below to Download the Study Guide for October 28:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on October 28, 2015 – Session 35
THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES; A BIBLE STUDY ON THE BOOK OF ACTS
Based upon the Homilies of St John Chrysostom (SJC)
Study Guide – October 28, 2015, Acts 15.35-16.10 Homily 34
Prayer before reading of the Holy Scriptures: Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments so that, having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things which are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory, together with Your Father who is without beginning and Your all holy, good and life giving Spirit, always now and forever and to the ages of ages.
Chapter 15 v. 34-35 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
Such humility in Paul and Barnabas as they allowed others to also teach and preach. Teaching = those who were already believers / Preaching = evangelizing new believers
Chapter 15 v. 36-41 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Paul was more strict while Barnabas was more tender/kind. Each had different gift from God. The diversity was a diversity of gifts NOT theology. SJC “Now which of them advised best, it is not for us to pronounce: but thus far (we may affirm), that it was a great arrangement of Providence, if these were to be vouchsafed a second visitation, but those were not to be visited even once.”
God’s Providence is revealed since some needed strictness (Cyrprus), while others needed tenderness (Antioch) Division not out of anger, but for the good of the Church. They understood their different gifts which would serve different parts of the mission. Paul and Barnabas EACH had a mission to accomplish and were given different gifts by God. SJC “The contention availed so far as to part them. And Barnabas took Mark, etc. And with reason: for what each supposed to be profitable, he did not forego thereafter, because of the fellowship with the other. Nay, it seems to me that the parting took place advisedly (κατὰ σύνεσιν), and that they said one to another, As I wish not, and you wish, therefore that we may not fight, let us distribute the places. So that in fact they did this, altogether yielding each to the other: for Barnabas wished Paul’s plan to stand, therefore withdrew; on the other hand, Paul wished the other’s plan to stand, therefore he withdrew.”
The division was to benefit the preaching, not ego building. Even Mark benefited. SJC “Mark this contest was exceedingly beneficial. For the awe inspired by Paul converted him, while the kindness of Barnabas caused that he was not left behind.”
“Being commended to God…” prayer of the entire Church
Paul sailed when he was in a hurry, but walked when not. He didn’t visit ‘new’ cities until he had FIRST revisited other cities.
Chapter 16 v. 1-5 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.
Timothy (who was Jewish) was circumcised so the Jews would listen to the Gospel.
Paul succeeds in eliminating the debate with the Jews over circumcision. He circumcises Timothy AND teaches/delivers the edict of the Apostles.
Since Timothy had not been circumcised, the Law had already been broken, but Paul needed him to be respected. SJC “He was about to make him a bishop, and it was not meet that he should be uncircumcised.”
The decree was distributed to other cities, not just Antioch. Authority of the Apostles. Holy Tradition. Canons.
Chapter 16 v. 6-10 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Vision: The more difficult the conversion, the more ‘divine’ the vision. SJC “By a vision it is now shown to him: in more human sort, not now as before (i.e., v. 6, 7) in more divine manner. For where the compliance is more easy, it is done in more human sort; but where great force was needed, there in more divine.”
Paul obeys the Holy Spirit rather than questioning A historical narrative of Paul’s missionary journey.
Teaching on “Learn FROM the Scriptures, not just ABOUT the Scriptures” – (see Homily 34)
- It is a great evil when we abuse the ScripturesKnowing this, let us not merely pick out (ἐ κλέγωμεν) these things, but let us learn and be taught by them: for they were not written without a purpose. It is a great evil to be ignorant of the Scriptures: from the things we ought to get good from, we get evil. Thus also medicines of healing virtue, often, from the ignorance of those who use them, ruin and destroy: and arms which are meant to protect, are themselves the cause of death unless one know how to put them on.
- Do not ignore your soul in your learningAnd in the case of a house, we seek what is good for it, and we would not endure to see it decaying with age, or tottering, or hurt by storms: but for our soul we make no account: nay, even should we see its foundations rotting, or the fabric and the roof, we make no account of it. Again, if we possess brute creatures, we seek what is good for them: we call in both horse-feeders and horse-doctors, and all besides: we attend to their housing, and charge those who are entrusted with them, that they may not drive them at random or carelessly, nor take them out by night at unseasonable hours nor sell away their provender; and there are many laws laid down by us for the good of the brute creatures: but for that of our soul there is no account taken.
- Some people care more about their pets learning than their soul learningHow many are careful about their dogs, that they may not be filled with more than the proper food, that so they may be keen and fit for hunting, being set on by famine and hunger: but for themselves they have no care to avoid luxury: and the brute creatures indeed they teach to exercise philosophy, while they let themselves sink down into the savageness of the brutes.
- Even a wild animal can learn from his masterI do not mention a man even, but a brute creature; a creature too, that has not this habit by nature, lest you should say that it effected this by nature, and not (which is the fact) from choice: and what is wonderful, choice not self-acquired, but (the result of) your care…… but he indeed knows, that, if he tastes of that food at the wrong time and against his master’s will, he will both be deprived of that, and not get even that which was apportioned to him, but receive blows instead of food: whereas you cannot even perceive this, and that which he has learned by dint of custom, you do not succeed in acquiring even from reason.
- No excuses! Change is always possibleThere is no excuse for us, none. All who have succeeded (in mastering their passions) will accuse us, both believers and unbelievers: for even unbelievers have so succeeded; yea, and wild beasts, and dogs, not men only: and we shall accuse our own selves, since we succeed, when we will, but when we are slothful, we are dragged away. For indeed many even of those who live a very wicked life, have oftentimes changed themselves when they wished.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 34, p 218) Make your soul beautiful!
“None makes it his mark how his soul shall be beautiful; and yet, when that is beautiful, there is no need of any of those things: as, if that be not beautiful, there is no good of them. For like as in the case of a bride, though there be chambers hung with tapestry wrought with gold, though there be choirs of the fairest and most beautiful women, though there be roses and garlands, though there be a comely bridegroom, and the maidservants and female friends, and everybody about them be handsome, yet, if the bride herself be full of deformity, there is no good of all those; as on the other hand if she were beautiful, neither would there be any loss arising from (the want of) those, nay just the contrary; for in the case of an ugly bride, those would make her look all the uglier, while in the other case, the beautiful would look all the more beautiful: just so, the soul, when she is beautiful, not only needs none of those adjuncts, but they even cast a shade over her beauty. For we shall see the philosopher shine, not so much when in wealth, as in poverty. For in the former case many will impute it to his riches, that he is not superior to riches: but when he lives with poverty for his mate, and shines through all, and will not let himself be compelled to do anything base, then none claims shares with him in the crown of philosophy. Let us then make our soul beauteous, if at least we would fain be rich.”
About Father Athanasios C. Haros
Father Athanasios C Haros is the Pastor at the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina. His sermon series, known as “Be Transfigured” are found each week on the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find more information about his parish at www.GoFlorence.org, and www.LiveANewLifeInChrist.org.