LIVE Bible Study Guide – Session 51 – The Book of Acts

LIVE STREAM Bible Study Guide

The Book of Acts 23.31 – 24.21 – Homily 50

  • April 13, 2016

With Father Athanasios Haros

Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST

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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on April 13, 2016 – Session 51

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 – April 13, 2016, Acts 23.31 – 24.21 Homily 50

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 23 v. 31-35 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.

32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.

Lysias feared the Jews so much he sent a large entourage with Paul for protection.

Even though Lysias statement of innocence was given, the Jews were determined for Felix to hear them

Chapter 24 v. 1-9 Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul. And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, “we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. “Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us. “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. “He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law. “But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands, “commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.” And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

Jews offer a few brief accolades to butter Felix up, and then jump right to their accusations.

IF Paul had really been a divider of the Jews, the Romans would have seen him as their savior

Lies about Paul’s character include being a Nazarene which was known for being a mean place, always giving Jews ‘the slip’ even though he was only in Jerusalem a short while. SJC “See how they insult even the Law; it was so like the Law, forsooth, to beat, to kill, to lie in wait.”

The Jews admitted they shouldn’t have been there at all because this was an ‘internal’ matter proving their plot

Chapter 24 v. 10-21 Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, “because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. “Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, “in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult. “They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me. “Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council, “unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ “

Paul begins his defense in the same style as his accusers. These are not words of flattery because Paul KNEW Felix from before.

It isn’t possible that Paul created such a great tumult since he was only in Jerusalem a short while.

‘Αιρεσις = Sect/Heretic = A radical position within a group which causes divide.

Paul defends himself as a keeper of the Law.

Since his actions were in the presence of the Jews from Asia, THEY should have been his accusers, but they aren’t because he didn’t do it.

PATTERN – Paul always teaching the Resurrection! Since they believed in the Resurrection, this proves he is innocent of being a divider.

Teaching on “Live at Peace with others.” – (see Homily 50)

  1. Never attack your enemy

If he, with enemies, who went even to the length of murder and slaughter, said nothing offensive to them, what pardon shall we deserve, who in reviling and abuse become infuriated, calling our enemies villains, detestable wretches? What pardon shall we deserve, for having enemies at all? Hear you not, that to honor (another) is to honor one’s self? So it is: but we disgrace ourselves. You accuse (some one) that he has abused you: then why do you bring yourself under the same accusation? Why inflict a blow on yourself? Keep free from passion, keep unwounded: do not, by wishing to smite another, bring the hurt upon yourself.

  1. Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me…

Is a wound got from words; or do words inflict bruises on our bodies? Then where is the hurt to us? So that, if we will, we can bear it. Let us lay down for ourselves a law not to grieve, and we shall bear it: let us say to ourselves, It is not from enmity; it is from infirmity— for it is indeed owing to an infirmity, since, for proof that it comes not from enmity nor from malignity of disposition, but from infirmity, the other also would fain have restrained (his anger), although he had suffered numberless wrongs.

  1. Maintain the spark of anger for PROPER use

Let the spark of anger be within us, so as to be ready for lighting at the right moment, not against ourselves, nor so as to involve us in numberless evils. See ye not how the fire in houses is kept apart, and not thrown about at random everywhere, neither among straw, nor among the linen, nor just where it may chance, that so there may not be danger, if a wind blow on it, of its kindling a flame: but whether a maid-servant have a lamp, or the cook light a fire, there is many an injunction given, not to do this in the draught of the wind, nor near a wooden panel, nor in the night-time: but when the night has come on, we extinguish the fire, fearing lest perchance while we are asleep and there is none to help, it set fire, and burn us all. Let this also be done with regard to anger; let it not be scattered everywhere up and down in our thoughts, but let it be in some deep recess of the mind, that the wind arising from the words of him who is opposing us may not easily reach to it, but that it receive the wind (which is to rouse it) from ourselves, who know how to rouse it in due measure and with safety.

  1. IF you lose control be the first to reconcile

Have you committed great injuries, and yourself been the cause of the quarrel? Why, then, you would justly be the first to go and be reconciled, as having yourself furnished the cause. But he did the wrong, he is the cause of the enmity? Why then, for this reason also you must do it, that men may the more admire you, that in addition to the former, you may get the first prize in the latter also: as you were not the cause of the enmity, so neither of its being extended further.

  1. IF your enemy insists on keeping their anger, YOU are guiltless

For if, when you are doing him good, and honoring him, and offering to be reconciled, he persists in keeping up the enmity, it is he has kindled the fire for himself, he has set his own head on fire; you are guiltless. Do not want to be more merciful than God (b), or rather, if you wish it, you will not be able, not even in the least degree.

Life Application Challenge – (Homily 50) Seek love and partnership in marriage

God knows, whether you have this object in so speaking, and are not palming this talk upon us as a mere pretence and subterfuge. You have a care for your enemy, you fear lest he be punished, then would you not have extinguished your anger? For he that loves to that degree that he overlooks his own interest for the sake of the other’s advantage, that man has no enemy. (Then indeed) you might say this. How long shall we trifle in matters that are not to be trifled with, and that admit of no excuse? Wherefore I beseech you, let us cut off these pretexts; let us not despise God’s laws: that we may be enabled with well-pleasing to the Lord to pass this life present, and attain unto the good things promised.

 


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.

Click here to learn more about the LIVE Bible Study with Father Athanasios Haros, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST.

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