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 17.1 – 15 – Homily 37
December 2, 2015
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: December 2, 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 December 2:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on December 2, 2015 – Session 38
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 – December 2, 2015, Acts 17.1-15 Homily 37
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 17 v. 1-4 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
Paul and Silas were keeping vigil rather than sleeping. SJC “Do you mark what a blessing tribulation is? But we in our soft beds, with none to be afraid of, pass the whole night in sleep.”
The mission is focused on the cities first. The Gospel will “flow as from a fountain into the neighboring cities.”
Paul still tries to convince the Jews. SJC “But how comes it that he said, That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision (Galatians 2:9), and yet discoursed to the Jews? He did this as a thing over and above. For he did other things also more than he was obliged.”
Just as Peter still goes to the Gentiles even though he is sent to the Jews, Paul still goes to the Jews even though he is sent to the Gentiles. This is to keep the unity at all costs.
SJC “He persuaded the Gentiles through the Jews, and from the things which he discoursed of the Jews.” Even now many will embrace Orthodoxy by witnessing us teach to the Orthodox. (JUST LIKE OUR STUDY)
Paul doesn’t always use miracles. He takes the time to interact with people so they can believe in their heart through their own effort. The Sabbath allows them to be free from the distractions of work.
Conversion shouldn’t be sudden but careful. SJC “He that persuades men by reasons from the Scriptures is not liable to this imputation.”
Chapter 17 v. 5-9 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. “Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king — Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
Some texts eliminate “who were not persuaded” and others eliminate “becoming envious” but the Church maintains both. It explains why the Jews stirred up the others against the Apostles
The unbelieving Jews were outnumbered and needed to build up support from others
Paul and Silas were NOT doing ANYTHING against the Law.
“Security” is a legal term which represents an arrangement, usually money, offered as a security to keep the peace. Chrysostom consider the security to be Jason himself (not likely), but either accomplishes the same result….the peace was kept.
Chapter 17 v. 10-15 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Paul and Silas departure is providential. The Gospel is preached AND the peace is kept.
Large cities have greater temptation and greater sins. SJC “But it is no wonder in the greater city the people were worse: nay, of course to the greater city there go the worse men, where the occasions of disturbances are many. And as in the body, where the disease is more violent for having more matter and fuel, just so is it here.”
Paul is rushed away by sea. (Remember Session 35 – October 28, 2015) SJC “The Lord did not wish them to be always doing signs; for this is itself a sign.” The believers themselves serve as a sign. The Gospel message is Christ crucified, not miracles.
Paul was brought to Athens to keep him safe because the Church still needed him. The Church was not ready to grow without him. God’s timing!
Teaching on “Unity in Person and Faith” – (see Homily 37)
- Harmony is possible because we need each other – The reason why there is harmony in the body, is because there is no puffing up: and there is no puffing up, because the members are of necessity made to stand in need of each other, and the head has need of the feet. And God has made this to be the case with us, and, for all that, we will not endure it: although even without this, there ought to be love among us.
- Clergy are not clergy without laity…and vice versa – The laity have need of us; and we again exist for them. Since teacher or ruler would not exist, if there were not persons to be taught, nor would he perform his part, for it would not be possible. As the land has need of the husbandman, and the husbandman of the land, so is it here. What reward is there for the teacher to receive, when he has none to produce that he has taught? And what for the taught, who have not had the benefit of the best teaching?
- A united Church accomplishes greater things – On this account the assembly of the whole Church has more power: and what each cannot do by himself singly, he is able to do when joined with the rest. Therefore most necessary are the prayers offered up, here, for the world, for the Church, from the one end of the earth to the other, for peace, for those who are in adversities.
- The Church must grow – And yet you may prevail, though thou be but one; yet not equally so. For why are you but one? Why do you not make many? Why do you not become the maker of love? Why do you not create (κατασκευάζεις) friendship? Thou lackest the chief excellence of virtue. For as men’s being bad by agreement together more provokes God; so for men to be good by unanimity delights Him more.
- The Church should focus on reconciliation – If he who reconciles only is called a son of God, of what shall not he be worthy, who makes friends of those who are reconciled? Let us engage ourselves in this trade, let us make those who are enemies to each other friends, and those who are not indeed enemies, but are not friends, them let us bring together, and before all, our own selves.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 37) Fight for the unity of doctrine!
The enemy puts the soul against the body
What then is the enmity that is in us? That of the soul against the body, that of vice against virtue. This enmity let us put an end to, this war let us take away, and then being in peace we shall also address others with much boldness of speech, our conscience not accusing us. Anger fights against gentleness, love of money against contempt of it, envy against goodness of heart. Let us make an end of this war, let us overthrow these enemies, let us set up these trophies, let us establish peace in our own city.
Forbid foreign doctrines to enter your the Church (or your heart)
Let no foreign nor spurious doctrine enter in, no carnal desire.
Force out existing foreign doctrines
If we see one, let us deliver up to the ruler, (that is), to conscience (τᾥ νᾥ), that imagination which is indeed an alien, a barbarian, albeit tricked out with the garb of a citizen. For there are within us many imaginations of this kind, which are by nature indeed enemies, but are clad in sheep’s skins.
Test all teachings against the Apostles
And now again in our own times, in the case of the heretics, he wished to bring us down to the creature. See then how he dressed up his deceit. …. But let us lay bare for the decision of the judges the meaning of the Apostolic writings: there let us bring him: themselves will acknowledge both the preaching and the language.
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.