Orthodox Daily Devotional for January 21-27
1 Timothy 4:19 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.10For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.11These things command and teach.12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.13Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.14Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership .15Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
Orthodox Study Bible:
Give attention to reading, whether personal reading or the public reading of Scripture during worship, is tied with exhortation (preaching) and doctrine (teaching). The early Christians had a liturgical worship structure— including the reading of Scripture and the homily— the roots of which were in the synagogue. 4: 14 This refers to Timothy’s ordination as presbyter (priest), which was conferred by the apostles, as it is by the bishop today (2Ti 1: 6; see Acts 6: 6). In 5: 22 Paul gives Timothy instructions for ordination. In continuity with the NT, Orthodox ordination to the diaconate and priesthood comes through the laying on of hands by the bishop.
Why was the word of Christ unable to prevail among the Jewish elders? Because, they were so filled with malice that there was no room in them for the divine seed, for the divine good news. All that grew in their souls was the sowing of Satan, the Antichrist. That is why they sought to kill Christ. Through the blessed Psalmist, the Lord speaks: Empty yourselves, and know that I am God (Psalm 46: 10). Therefore, it is necessary to empty oneself of everything that is opposed to God, i.e., of everything in us that hinders the light of the knowledge of God from dwelling in us. When man empties himself of that, then and only then can he understand that God is God. As long as the soul of a man is filled with ungodly thoughts, ungodly feelings and ungodly desires, man is totally unable to listen to or receive the word of God. When people do not have God within themselves, they act by some infernal impulse to uproot God from the soul of him who possesses Him. Ye seek to kill Me. Why? Because not one divine word of Christ was able to find shelter or acceptance in their godless hearts. Having nothing in common with Christ the Lord, the Jewish elders, from the beginning, were unable to have any kind of friendly relations with Him. O Lord Jesus, our Blessed Savior.
St. Peter Damascene writes thus about the general and particular gifts of God: “The general gifts consist of the four elements and all that results from them, all the wonderful and awesome works of God outlined in Holy Scripture. The particular gifts are those gifts which God bestows upon every man individually, whether it be riches for the sake of charity, or poverty for the sake of patience with humility; whether it be authority for the sake of justice and the strengthening of virtues, or subjugation and slavery for the sake of the expeditious salvation of the soul; be it health for the sake of helping the infirm, or illness for the sake of the wreath of patience; be it understanding and skill in gaining wealth for the sake of virtue, or weakness and lack of skill for the sake of submissive humility. Even though they appear contrary to one another, all these are very good according to their purpose.” In conclusion, St. Peter Damascene says that we are obligated to give thanks to God for all gifts, and that with patience and hope we are to endure all tribulations and evil circumstances. For all that God gives us, or permits to befall us, benefits our salvation.
Whoever keeps the word of Christ in himself, the word of Christ sustains him from within and feeds, enlightens and enlivens him. Whether he is in the body or outside the body, he feels equally alive by means of the word of Christ. Death can separate his soul from his body, but not from Christ, i.e., from immortal and eternal life. The death of his body will only give his life-bearing soul a freer flight in embracing the beloved Christ the Life-giver. But what does it mean, brethren, to keep the word of Christ within ourselves? It means, first, to keep the word of Christ in our minds, thinking about it; second, to keep the word of Christ in our hearts, loving it; third, to keep the word of Christ in our wills, fulfilling it in deeds; and fourth, to keep the word of Christ on our tongues, openly confessing it when necessary. Thus, to keep the word of Christ means to fill ourselves with it and to fulfill it. Whoever keeps the word of Christ in this manner, truly, will never taste of death.
Thus spoke the Omniscient Lord to the wicked Jews: Ye judge after the flesh. They had caught a woman in adultery and wanted to stone her because of her fleshly sin. But the Lord, perceiving the soul of the woman and seeing that she could still be saved and changed, brought her to repentance and released her. For even though she had committed the act of adultery, her soul was not totally adulterous. The Pharisees, on the other hand, constantly bore the sin of adultery in their hearts, but they skillfully concealed that sin. They did not condemn adultery in the heart, but only the act of fleshly adultery of those whom they caught doing this. Spiritual men judge by the spirit and physical men judge by the flesh. Even today, the Jews, punished and dispersed throughout the whole world, are unable to think spiritually and judge spiritually. They still think and judge only by the flesh and only externally, according to the ordinances of the law written on paper or in nature, but still never according to the spirit. For if they had learned to judge men and deeds according to the spirit, they would have immediately recognized the Lord Jesus as the Messiah and Savior. Let us be on guard, O Christians, that we judge not only according to the flesh. Let us be on guard that we be not too quick to judge him who, because of his ineptness, slips into misdeeds; nor to praise him who behaves skillfully and does not slip before men, but who with his heart is already completely in the abyss of sin. Let us be on guard from error, that we not judge men and nature according to sensual impressions but strive to judge everything spiritually, that is, by the spirit. Behold, we are the children of the spirit and light, for we are baptized.
The entire Gospel teaches that we should leave the lesser for the sake of the greater, the transient for the enduring, the worst for the best, the less valuable for the more valuable. If the Good News did not promise greater worth, who would leave the lesser? If the Gospel did not reveal the splendor of precious goods, who would leave the cheaper goods? Who would leave milk and honey if he did not find something sweeter? Who would leave father and mother if he did not find someone closer in kinship? Who would leave children and friends if he did not recognize someone more dear? Who would willingly give his life over to suffering and death if he did not perceive immortal life? The Lord Christ is sweeter than milk and honey; He is a closer kinsman to us than our father and mother; more dear to us than our own children and friends; more precious than all visible treasures; more costly than this life, for He gives life eternal. Compared to Him, everything in the world is inferior, trivial, bitter, weak, cheap and transitory. To whoever receives Him, it is easy to leave everything, because he has received the best and Him Who is the very best.
The Lord appeared to them in the mountain to signify, that His Body which at His Birth He had taken of the common dust of the human race, He had by His Resurrection exalted above all earthly things; and to teach the faithful that if they desire there to see the height of His Resurrection, they must endeavour here to pass from low pleasures to high desires. And He goes before His disciples into Galilee, because Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept. (1 Cor. 15:20.) And they that are Christ’s follow Him, and pass in their order from death to life, contemplating Him as He appears with His proper Divinity. And it agrees with this that Galilee is interpreted ‘revelation.’
ST BEDE: It is made a question how He says here, I am with you, John 16:5. when we read elsewhere that He said, I go unto him that sent me. What is said of His human nature is distinct from what is said of His divine nature. He is going to His Father in His human nature, He abides with His disciples in that form in which He is equal with the Father. When He says, to the end of the world, He expresses the infinite by the finite; for He who remains in this present world with His elect, protecting them, the same will continue with them after the end, rewarding them.