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 16.25-40 – Homily 36
November 18, 2015
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: November 18, 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 November 18:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on November 18, 2015 – Session 37
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 – November 18, 2015, Acts 16.25-40 Homily 36
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 16 v. 11-15 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
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.”
SJC “Mark how Peter slept. (Acts 12:6) Both there, it was wisely ordered (that he should be asleep); for the Angel came to him, and it behooved that none should see what happened; and on the other hand it was well ordered here (that Paul should be awake), in order that the keeper of the prison might be prevented from killing himself.”
The miracle of the thunder, open gates, and loose chains COMBINED with Paul’s kindness was sufficient to convert the guard. SJC “And why did no other miracle take place? Because this was, of all others, the thing sufficient for his conversion, seeing he was personally in danger: for it is not so much miracles that overpower us, as the things which issue in our own deliverance.”
The guard was totally overcome by the miraculous power of God, but more amazed by Paul’s kindness. SJC “Do you mark what happened in the former case, and what here? There a girl was released from a spirit, and they cast them into prison, because they had liberated her from the spirit. Here, they did but show the doors standing open, and it opened the doors of his heart, it loosed two sorts of chains; that (prisoner) kindled the (true) light; for the light in his heart was shining.”
As an act of love and as a NEW believer, the guard washes their wounds and his entire household in baptized. The conversion was a life changing event.
Chapter 16 v. 35-40 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.” So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
Paul insists the magistrates release them personally to avoid accusation of any wrongful escape.
Their liberty must be seen NOT as having been condemned and now released, but as having been wrongfully accused in the first place. This way also the guard isn’t in trouble for releasing them.
The magistrates feared not because they had falsely accused them, but because they were Romans.
SJC “For in the absence of them that wrought it, the miracle appeared greater, itself crying out more loudly: the faith of the jailer was a voice in itself. What equal to this? He is put in bonds, and looses, being bound: looses a twofold bond: him that bound him, he looses by being bound. These are indeed works of (supernatural) grace.”
Teaching on “Conversion” – (see Homily 36)
- It is greater when a common person converts than when a noble and educated man convertsFor when there is no danger attending the things of which one persuades people, then (the objector) might with some plausibility allege want of sense on their part: but when (the preacher) says— to the slave, as you will have it— If you be persuaded by me, it is at your peril, you will have all men for your enemies, you must die, you must suffer evils without number, and yet for all this, convinces that man’s soul, there can be no more talk here of want of sense. Since, if indeed the doctrines contained what was pleasant, one might fairly enough say this: but if, what the philosophers would never have chosen to learn, this the slave does learn, then is the wonder greater.
- It is better to convert the heart rather than to offer reward of fameSo that the less understanding the person may have, if nevertheless he is persuaded to things, to which even philosophers were unable to persuade their fellow philosophers, the greater the wonder— when women and slaves are persuaded of these truths, and prove it by their actions, of which same truths the Platos and all the rest of them were never able to persuade any man. And why say I, any man? Say rather, not themselves even: on the contrary, that money is not to be despised, Plato persuaded (his disciples) by getting, as he did, such an abundance of property, and golden rings, and goblets; and that the honor to be had from the many is not to be despised, this Socrates himself shows, for all that he may philosophize without end on this point: for in everything he did, he had an eye to fame.
- Free yourself with PrayerBe not thou therefore shameless, but let us think over that night, the stocks, and the hymns of praise. This let us also do, and we shall open for ourselves— not a prison, but— heaven. If we pray, we shall be able even to open heaven.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 36) Rouse yourself and keep vigil and pray
Let us arouse ourselves during the night: though thou make not many prayers, make one with watchfulness, and it is enough, I ask no more: and if not at midnight, at any rate at the first dawn. Show that the night is not only for the body, but also for the soul: do not suffer it to pass idly, but make this return to your Master: nay rather (the benefit) itself returns to you…. Say only, I have offended: say it from your soul and with a sincere mind, and all things are remitted to you. Thou dost not so much desire your sins to be forgiven, as He desires to forgive you your sins. In proof that thou dost not so desire it, consider that you have no mind either to practice vigils, or to give your money freely: but He, that He might forgive our sins, spared not His Only-begotten and True Son, the partner of His throne. Do you see how He more desires to forgive you your sins (than thou to be forgiven)? Then let us not be slothful, nor put off this any longer. He is merciful and good: only let us give Him an opportunity…. He who truly calls on Him, he who truly prays to Him, continually attends to it, and desists not, until he obtain (his request): but he who does it in a merely formal manner (ἀ φοσιούμενος), and even this only by way of fulfilling a law, does not call in truth. Whosoever you are, say not only, I am a sinner, but be earnest also to rid yourself of this character; say not this only, but also grieve. If you grieve, you are in earnest: if you are not in earnest, you grieve not: if you grieve not, you trifle. What sort of man is he who shall say, I am sick, and not to do all to be freed from his sickness? A mighty weapon is Prayer…. Therefore let us purge our soul from all resentment. This is sufficient for us, in order that we may be heard; and let us pray with watching and much perseverance, that having enjoyed His bountiful mercy, we may be found worthy of the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, 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.