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 24.22 – 25.22 – Homily 51
April 20, 2016
With Father Athanasios Haros
Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST
- When: April 20, 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 April 20:
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Study Guide to Prepare for LIVE Bible Study on April 20, 2016 – Session 52
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 20, 2016, Acts 24.22 – 25.22 Homily 51
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 24 v. 22-27 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him. And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound..
Trial wasn’t hurried. Paul was actually acquitted but to please the Jews, Felix delays. Paul couldn’t actually be punished, so he was just kept in jail with privileges.
IF Paul had done such bad things, Felix would not have brought his wife to see him. SJC “This seems to me to show great honor. For he would not have brought his wife to be present with him at the hearing, but that he thought great things about him”
Chapter 25 v. 1-12 Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem — while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.” And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.” But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?” So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”
Even after two years the Jews take up against Paul to Festus.
God’s providence that Paul is not harmed
The Jews invoke Caesar against Paul just like they did against Christ. SJC “But after they came down, they immediately made their accusations shamelessly and with more vehemence: and not having been able to convict him on grounds relating to the Law, they again according to their custom stirred the question about Cæsar, being just what they did in Christ’s case. For that they had recourse to this is manifest by the fact, that Paul defends himself on the score of offenses against Cæsar…. Some one might say, How is it, that having been told, You must also bear witness of Me in Rome, he, as if unbelieving, did this? God forbid: nay, he did it, because he so strongly believed”
By appealing to Caesar the trial is extended and Paul is allowed to “preach” by way of defense more. SJC “See how his trial is again lengthened out, and how the plot against him becomes an occasion for the preaching: so that with ease and in safe custody he should be taken away to Rome.”
Festus really had no intension of releasing Paul. In Jerusalem he would have given him to the Jews.
Chapter 25 v. 13-22 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, “about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. “To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ “Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. “When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, “but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. “And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. “But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
Paul brought to Agrippa to broaden his audience of the Gospel
Festus actually condemns the Jews rather than Paul. SJC “Observe a crimination of the Jews, not from Paul, but also from the governor. ‘Desiring’ he says, ‘to have judgment against him.’ To whom I said, to their shame, that ‘it is not the manner of Romans,’ before giving an opportunity to speak for himself,’ to sacrifice a man.”
Different Agrippa than during James’ time. This is the fourth Herod.
General Comment: Notice how everyone is trying to hand over blame and responsibility. Lysias to Felix, Felix leaves Paul for Festus, Festus to Agrippa, and Agrippa send Paul to Caesar. Such is the human ego.
Teaching on “Endure suffering, but never cause it.” – (see Homily 51)
- We are never hurt by evils against us
Then let us not think that ill designs against us are a grievous thing. So long as we do not make ill designs against ourselves, no one will be able to have ill designs against us: or rather, people may do this, but they do us no hurt; nay, even benefit us in the highest degree: for it rests with ourselves, whether we shall suffer evil, or not suffer evil.
- Even the devil cannot hurt us unless we allow him
Not even the Evil Spirit himself, the tyrant, the Devil, can do this, unless the man injure himself; be what it may that any one works, in vain he works it. For even as no human being could hurt an angel, if he were on earth, so neither can one human being hurt another human being.
- Hurting another hurts ourselves
For in no other way do we hurt ourselves, than by hurting another, and our greatest sins become such from our doing injury to ourselves… Let a man wrong another, insult, overreach; whom then has he hurt? Is it not himself first? This is plain to every one..
- To suffer an ill nobly is a great gain
Because to suffer ill and bear it nobly, is great gain: for it is a doing away of sins, this suffering of ill, it is a training to philosophy, it is a discipline of virtue. Let us see which of the two is in evil case, this man or that. For the one, if he be a man of well-ordered mind, will bear it nobly: the other will be every day in a constant tremor and misgiving: which then is hurt, this man or that?
Life Application Challenge – (Homily 51) Abstain from the lust of all things
For this is πλεονεξία, the wanting to have more than what is marked off and allotted. So too in respect of money; when we will needs put upon (us) more burdens (than is meet), although we do not perceive it, to our sore hurt we are nourishing within ourselves a wild beast; much having, yet much wanting, numberless the cares we entangle ourselves withal, many the handles we furnish the devil against ourselves. In the case of the rich, however, the devil has not even need of labor, so surely do their very concerns of business of themselves ruin them. Wherefore I beseech you to abstain from the lust of these things, that we may be enabled to escape the snares of the evil one, and having taken hold of virtue, to attain unto the good things eternal, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory forever. 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.