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 17.16 – 31 – Homily 38
December 9, 2015
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: December 9, 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 9:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on December 9, 2015 – Session 39
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 9, 2015, Acts 17.16-31 – Homily 38
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.
General Note: Paul had greater trials with Jews than with any group of Gentiles.
Chapter 17 v. 16-18 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
No other place had so many places of worship been seen
‘Gentile worshipers’ = Jewish Proselytes = Diaspora had allowed from Jewish religious thought to spread
Paul is mocked by the Philopsophers, but that is the extent of the trial. (see general note) Paul’s teachings were strange to their ears. Surprise they didn’t laugh him out of the city.
There was total confusion about Paul’s message. There is even some thought of modern scholars (SJC agrees) that the Athenians might have confused “The Resurrection” (η ανάστασις) to be a female goddess.
SJC “How came they to be willing to confer with him? (They did it) when they saw others reasoning, and the man having repute (in the encounter)”
Chapter 17 v. 19-21 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Paul is taken to the Aeropagus (Mars Hill) to awe him, since they wanted to learn from him.
Chapter 17 v. 22-31 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; “for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
There is a common belief that the Greek Philosophers and Hellenic World “prepared” the way for the Greeks to embrace Christ. Athenians were accustomed to receiving gods from other cultures.
Paul begins with praises
“THE UNKNOWN GOD” – According to Demetrios Constantelos, “In the fourth century, Plato (d. 347 BC) in his dialogue Kratylos has Ermogenes questioning Socrates whether it is logical to give names to the divinities, or divinity. The view that God has no name and that there is “an unknown” God gained ground to the extent that several Greek city-states had erected statues to the “unknown God.” The “unknown” God came to be perceived as absolute goodness and beauty, universal and common to all mankinds. The “unknown god” is the Being that brought everything into being, the Being in whom all human beings have their being.”
Paul changes the premise of the discussion. SJC “Observe how he shows that they had already received Him, and it is nothing strange, says he, nothing new that I introduce to you. All along, this was what they had been saying: What is this new doctrine spoken of by you?”
Paul uses Athenian philosophy to little by little reveal how Christ is ‘Who” they have been worshipping the entire time.
Poet Aratus – Paul uses familiar words but corrects the meaning. The poet said NOTHING like this truth.
“God who made…” SJC “He uttered one word, by which he has subverted all the (doctrines) of the philosophers. For the Epicureans affirm all to be fortuitously formed and (by concourse) of atoms, the Stoics held it to be body and fire (ἐ κπύρωσιν). The world and all that is therein. Do you mark the conciseness, and in conciseness, clearness? Mark what were the things that were strange to them: that God made the world! Things which now any of the most ordinary persons know, these the Athenians and the wise men of the Athenians knew not.”
Proofs of the Godhead – creation belongs to diety, needing nothing belongs to diety, supplies all things belongs to diety. SJC “He introduces much greater doctrines, though as yet he does not mention the great doctrines; but he discoursed to them as unto children. And these were much greater than those. Creation, Lordship, the having need of naught, authorship of all good— these he has declared.”
“Determined their preappointed times…” SJC “It means either this, that He did not compel them to go about and seek God, but according to the bounds of their habitation: (c) or this, that He determined their seeking God, yet not determined this (to be done) continually, but (determined) certain appointed times (when they should do so): showing now, that not having sought they had found: for since, having sought, they had not found, he shows that God was now as manifest as though He were in the midst of them palpably (ψηλαφώμενος). … He brought us to the knowledge of Himself, by giving us these things by which we are able to find and to apprehend Him.”
“In Him…” God is so close that He totally surrounds us, it is impossible to not recognize Him.
“God’s offspring” = God’s own. God is not like us, but we belong to Him.
SJC “What then? Are none of these men to be punished? None of them that are willing to repent. …, You were ignorant. Overlooked, i.e. does not demand punishment as of men that deserve punishment. You were ignorant. And he does not say, You wilfully did evil; but this he showed by what he said above. — All men everywhere to repent: again he hints at the whole world.
Teaching on “Always be Aware that You are In God” – (see Homily 38)
We should repent
Let us repent then: for we must assuredly be judged. If Christ rose not, we shall not be judged: but if he rose, we shall without doubt be judged.
We should becomes friends of God
Let us be made friends unto God. How long shall we be at enmity with Him? How long shall we entertain dislike towards Him? God forbid! you will say: Why do you say such things? I would wish not to say the things I say, if you did not do the things ye do: but as things are, what is the use now in keeping silence from words, when the plain evidence of deeds so cries aloud? How then, how shall we love Him? I have told you thousands of ways, thousands of times: but I will speak it also now. One way I seem to myself to have discovered, a very great and admirable way. Namely, after acknowledging to Him our general obligations— what none shall be able to express (I mean), what has been done for each of us in his own person, of these also let us bethink ourselves, because these are of great force: let each one of us reckon them up with himself, and make diligent search, and as it were in a book let him have the benefits of God written down.
We should remember how much God has done for us
This is also profitable to us in keeping us from despair. For when we see that he has often protected us, we shall not despair, nor suppose that we are cast off: but we shall take it as a strong pledge of His care for us, when we bethink us how, though we have sinned, we are not punished, but even enjoy protection from Him.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 38) Never Cease to Glorify God!
Then much more let us, bearing in mind the special mercies which have happened to us also, how often we have fallen into dangers and calamities, and unless God had held his hand over us, should long ago have perished: I say, let us all, considering these things and recounting them day by day, return our united thanks all of us to God, and never cease to glorify Him, that so we may receive a large recompense for our thankfulness of heart.
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.