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 20.32 – 21.17 – Homily 45
February 17, 2016
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: February 17, 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 17:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on February 17, 2016 – Session 46
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 17, 2016, Acts 20.32 – 21.17 Homily 45
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 includes prayer in everything he ‘says’ either letter or preaching
Chapter 20 v. 32-38 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. “Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Paul constantly their minds at ease – another Christ-patter (see John 17)
Paul removes all the love of money. SJC “He says not, I have not taken, but not even ‘coveted.’”
Paul toiled, not merely worked.
We should help indiscriminately but help the weak! Paul does not say that receiving is bad, but that giving is better. SJC “It is one degree to fling away one’s possessions; a second, to be sufficient for the supply of one’s own necessities: a third, to provide for others also; a fourth, for one (to do all this) who preaches and has a right to receive. So that here is a man far better than those who merely forego possessions.”
Greatest grief is because they would no longer see him.
Historical note: Not everything is mentioned in the Scriptures. Here Paul makes mention of riches, and also when he speaks to the Corinthians, but not when he speaks to the Ephesians. It was not because he didn’t think it was true, but because the need did not arise for him to address it.
Chapter 21 v. 1-7 Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo. And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem. When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed. When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home. And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.
Others prophesied Paul’s arrest. SJC “That none might imagine that Paul said those things without cause.”
Chapter 21 v. 8-17 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
Philip is one of the original seven deacons
Agabus prophesied instead of the virgin daughter. This is the same Agabus we found in Acts 11.28.
Prophecy in the tradition of the Prophets of the Old Testament – SJC “The same that the Prophets used to do, representing events to the sight, when they spoke about the captivity – as did Ezekiel – the same did this Agabus.”
The disciples try to stop Paul from entering, but since the Holy Spirit is not stopping him, he continues. As we would say today, “May it be blessed by God.” SJC “The Lord, say they, Himself will do that which is pleasing in His sight. For they perceived that it was the will of God.”
Paul is not forced to go. SJC “Nothing could be more affectionate: because he saw them weeping, he grieved, hhe that felt no pain at his own trials.”
Teaching on “Hospitality” – (see Homily 45)
- Christ comes to us through strangers
By how much the brother may be least, so much the more does Christ come to you through him. For he that receives the great, often does it from vainglory also; but he that receives the small, does it purely for Christ’s sake. It is in your power to entertain even the Father of Christ as your guest, and thou will not.
- When you host Christ you receive Christ’s reward
Open your house, take Him in. He that receives a prophet, He says, shall receive a prophet’s reward. Matthew 10:41 Therefore too he that receives Christ, shall receive the reward of him who has Christ for his guest. Do not thou disbelieve His words, but be believing. Himself has said, Through them I come to you: and that you may not disbelieve, He lays down both punishments for those who do not receive, and honors for those who do receive; since He would not have done this, unless both the person honored and the person insulted were Himself.
- As we serve others, we will receive comfort
Thou saw Me bound, you shall not behold the fire of hell; you saw Me sick, you shall not behold the torments nor the punishments. O hands, truly blessed, which minister in such services as these, which are accounted worthy to serve Christ! Feet which go into prisons for Christ’s sake, with ease defy the fire: no trial of bonds have they, (the hands) which saw Him bound! You clothed Him with a garment, and you put on a garment of salvation: you were in prison with Him, and with Him you find yourself in the Kingdom, not ashamed, knowing that you visited Him. The Patriarch knew not that he was entertaining Angels, and he did entertain them. Genesis 18:3 Let us take shame to ourselves, I beseech you: he was sitting in mid-day, being in a foreign land, where he had none inheritance, not so much as to set his foot on.
- There is a proper way to show hospitality
For all these qualities ought to be in that man who entertains strangers— readiness, cheerfulness, liberality… How many of the brethren are strangers? There is a common apartment, the Church, which we call the Xenon… That they should be fed from the common funds of the Church, can that benefit you?… Give, though it be to that one: for what we are anxious for is this, that you should give at any rate…. for at this rate you will do nothing, leaving all to the Church. This is why there is a common room set apart by the Church, that you may not say these things.
- Set aside and dedicate space for hospitality
Make for yourself a guest-chamber in your own house: set up a bed there, set up a table there and a candlestick. cf. 2 Kings 4:10 For is it not absurd, that whereas, if soldiers should come, you have rooms set apart for them, and show much care for them, and furnish them with everything, because they keep off from you the visible war of this world, yet strangers have no place where they might abide? Gain a victory over the Church. Would you put us to shame? This do: surpass us in liberality.
- Receive strangers as if they are Christ
Abraham received the strangers in the place where he abode himself; his wife stood in the place of a servant, the guests in the place of masters. He knew not that he was receiving Christ; knew not that he was receiving Angels; so that had he known it, he would have lavished his whole substance. But we, who know that we receive Christ, show not even so much zeal as he did who thought that he was receiving men.
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 45) Care for the salvation of others!
Therefore let us also take thought for their salvation, and let us make it our duty to care for our servants, that they may be good; and let our servants also be instructed in the things pertaining to God. Then will virtue not be difficult to us, if we train them orderly.
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.