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 20.17 – 20.31 – Homily 44
February 10, 2016
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: February 10, 2016 & 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 February 10:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on February 10, 2016 – Session 45
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 – February 10, 2016, Acts 20.17 – 20.31 Homily 44
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 20 v. 17-24 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, “serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Elders = Bishops/rulers of the Church. The term elders is not in reference to “the elderly” but the leaders of the Church.
Paul’s humility is again revealed as he refrains from only the most needed ‘self-talk’ to convince the crowd he is genuine. His humility is also revealed when he calls others to bear witness for themselves to what they have seen. SJC “Observe, what most becomes rulers: hating pride Exodus 18:21, Septuagint, says (Moses): which (qualification) is especially in point for rulers, because to them there is (almost) a necessity of becoming arrogant. This (humility) is the groundwork of all that is good, as in fact Christ says, Blessed are the poor in spirit…. For there are many kinds of humility, in word and in action, towards rulers, and toward the ruled. Will you that I mention to you some kinds of humility? There are some who are lowly towards those who are lowly, and high towards the high: this is not the character of humility.”
Pattern of Christ’s ministry – Christ condescends, makes His disciples fellow workers – Disciples condescend to make others fellows – Paul does the same.
Notice Paul’s teaching style – SJC “Mark, here, I pray you, a character of teaching: I kept back nothing, he says, ungrudging fullness, unshrinking promptness— of what was profitable unto you: because there were things which they did not need to learn.”
‘Testify’ – SJC “Testifying: here, the boldness of speech: and that, even though we do no good, yet we must speak: for this is the meaning of testifying, when we speak to those who do not pay attention: and so the word διαμαρτύρασθαι is for the most part used. I call heaven and earth to witness.”
Paul prepares the crowd to always be prepared for danger/suffering. Here ‘bound in the spirit’ does not mean chains but bound by conviction. Paul is making the most of his struggling.
Chapter 20 v. 25-31 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
Here “to testify” is used as an attention getter. Paul is about to say something terrifying and uncomfortable.
Paul comforts the crowd is two ways: 1)Even though Paul will be absent, his heart will still be with them. 2)They aren’t the only ones who will not see him. This is more preparation for his departure from the life of the Church. This is another “Christ-like pattern” just as Christ prepared His disciples for His departures.
Ordination is from God. Overseers = Bishops – SJC “See, it is from the Spirit you have your ordination. This is one constraint: then he says, To feed the Church of the Lord. Lo! Another obligation: the Church is the Lord’s. And a third: which He has purchased with His own blood. It shows how precious the concern is; that the peril is about no small matters, seeing that even His own blood He spared not.”
Tripple evil – 1)Paul will be gone, and 2)Others would attack the Church, and 3)AND the attack would be from inside the Church.
Empathy of Paul – Paul weeps because they weep. SJC “As, when the sick man sees his physician partaking of food, he also is incited to do the same: so likewise here, when he sees you weeping, he is softened: he will be a good and great man.”
Heresies ARE/WERE/and WILL BE
Teaching on “Spiritual Relationship of Clergy and Laity” – (see Homily 44)
- Clergy will never stop trying
Think not that these words are spoken to us only: for indeed this speech is addressed to you also, that you should attend to the things spoken, that you should not start away from the hearing. What can I do? Lo! each day I rend myself with crying out, Depart from the theatres: and many laugh at us: Desist from swearing, from covetousness: numberless are our exhortations, and there is none to hear us. But I do not discourse during night? Fain would I do this also in the night time, and at your tables, if it were possible that one could be divided into ten thousand pieces, so as to be present with you and discourse. But if once in the week we call to you, and you shrink back, and some of you do not even come here, and you that do come, depart having received no profit—what shall we do?
- Clergy weep when you don’t repent
Wherefore for him the ever vigilant, ever at hand, the man enduring all things for the sake of the salvation of his disciples, it was fit and proper to say this: but we must say that of Moses, The Lord was angry with me for your sakes Deuteronomy 3:26, because ye lead us also into many sins. For when we are dispirited at seeing you make no progress, is not the greater part of our strength struck down? For what, I ask you has been done? Lo! By the grace of God we also have now passed the space of three years, not indeed night and day exhorting you, but doing this, often every third day, or every seventh. What more has come of it? We accuse, we rebuke, we weep, we are in anguish, although not openly, yet in heart.
- A good teacher cares more for the student than for themselves
For what hope is there for the teacher, when his flock is destroyed? What kind of life, what kind of expectation is there for him? With what sort of confidence will he stand up before God? What will he say? For grant that he has nothing laid to his charge, has no punishment to suffer, but is pure from the blood of all men: yet even so will he suffer a grief incurable: since fathers also though they be not liable to be called to account for their children’s sins, nevertheless have grief and vexation.
- A good priest wants you to be saved
For my anxiety is not that you should be saved through me as the means, but only that you should be saved, no matter by what person as the instrument. You know not the pangs of spiritual childbirth, how overpowering they are; how he who is in travail with this birth, would rather be cut into ten thousand pieces, than see one of those to whom he has given birth perishing and undone.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 44) Love Christ!
We are loved and we love (you): but this is not the question. But let us love Christ, for the first commandment is, You shall love the Lord your God: and the second is like it, And your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39 We have the second, we need the first: need the first, exceedingly, both I and you. We have it, but not as we ought. Let us love Him: ye know how great a reward is laid up for them that love Christ: let us love Him with fervor of soul, that, enjoying his goodwill, we may escape the stormy waves of this present life, and be found worthy to obtain the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and mercy of His only-begotten Son, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen
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.