My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
REVEALING THE DIVINE WISDOM OF GOD THROUGH THE HOLY SCRIPTURE (PART III)
OVERVIEW OF THE BOOKS OF THE HOLY BIBLE
The Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recall the events in the life of Jesus Christ , Son of God and Son of Man. The first three (3) are called Synoptic Gospels, in that they set forth a "common viewpoint" of the chronology of events and the message of Christ in His life and ministry. Saint Matthew addresses his gospel primarily to fellow Jews. Saint Mark is likely the first gospel to be written, and speaks of Christ as servant of all (St. Mark 10:45). Saint Luke, himself a physician, reveals the Incarnate Christ and His earthly ancestry. This Son of Man saves and heals the fallen race.
Saint John the last of the four gospels to be written, emphasizes the Divinity of Christ, the Eternal Son and Logos/Word of God, Who became Man. Saint John's gospel further reveals seven miracles of Christ, not all of them in chronological order.
The Books of Acts
Written by Saint Luke, these are the Acts (or accomplishments) of the Holy Apostles, but mainly of Saint Peter (chapters 1-12) and Saint Paul (chapters 13-28). Acts chronicles the earliest history of the Church from Pentecost through approximately AD 65.
The Letters (or Epistles) of Saint Paul
The first nine (9) of Saint Paul's letters are written to churches. Romans, which begins this section, was the only letter Saint Paul wrote to a community he had not previously visited. Thus, the implication is that much of what he wrote to the church of Rome he preached in other places.
Most prominent of the cities of first century Greece was Corinth, a center of commerce, immorality and false religion. Predictably, this fledgling church would have to deal with these same matters. First Corinthians is therefore a corrective epistle calling for unity, virtue, forbearance, Eucharistic order, and proper use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In contrast Second Corinthians recognizes the repentance within the church on the part of many, and Saint Paul defends his Apostolic Authority.
In Galatians, St. Paul addresses several churches in Asia Minor, defending his Apostleship and calling the faithful to live their lives in the strength of the Holy Spirit instead of in submission to the laws of the Old Covenant (Old Testament). Ephesians is a marvelous discourse on how the Church should conduct itself. This community is rich in dedication to Christ. Yet just a few decades later the Lord tells them, "You have left your first love" (Revelation 2:4).
Philippians is the epistle of joy. Saint Paul writes from a Roman prison, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Php. 4:4). Colossians presents Christ as "The Head of the Body, the Church..." (Col. 1:18), preeminent in all things.
First Thessalonians, the first letter Saint Paul penned, was written to the believers at Thessaloniki, a beautiful coastal city of Greece in about AD 51, shortly after Saint Paul planted that Church. This is a letter of encouragement.
Second Thessalonians acknowledges persecution and warns of lawlessness, urging the Christians to "stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught..." (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Next, Saint Paul addresses the following letters to individuals. In First Timothy, the aging Apostle speaks to his youthful understudy about effective oversight of the Church. In Second Timothy, the last letter Saint Paul wrote (see 2 Timothy 4:6-8), he encourages St. Timothy to "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). Saint Paul is already in prison in Rome (1:8) awaiting martyrdom.
Titus is sent by Saint Paul to Crete to set the Church "in order," and "appoint elders (presbyters) in every city" (Titus 1:5). If this sounds like the work of a bishop, it is (Titus 1:7, 8), and Saint Titus (Titos) is consistently named in early Church records as the first bishop of the island of Crete in Greece.
Philemon is a Christian slave-holder, and Saint Paul writes him to receive back Onesimus (Philemon 10-16), his runaway slave, who has become a Christian with Saint Paul in Rome.
Hebrews is the last of the epistles attributed to Saint Paul, but with little evidence it was actually written by Saint Paul. It is a general letter to Jewish believers in Christ to continue on in the Faith. It assures them that Christ, the Great High Priest in the heavens (Hebrews 8:1), is there once for all sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:10) and victory over death (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
The General Epistles (Letters)
James, the brother of the Lord and First Bishop of Jerusalem, writes to fellow Jews, "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (St. James 1:1). His message? "Faith without works is dead" (St. James 1:20). Christianity is a belief that behaves.
First Peter, written by the first among the holy Apostles, urges obedience to God and man, willingness to suffer for Christ's sake, and effective pastoring of the flock. In Second Peter, the holy Apostle discusses Divine power for the faithful (theosis or deification), Divine judgment for false teachers (heretics) and the Day of the Lord.
Next, Saint John the Theologian offers Three General (Katholikes Epistoles) Epistles (Letters). First John is a stirring personal testimonial to God's forgiveness, His love for His children and His gift of Eternal Life. In Second John, he addresses an "elect lady and her children" (v.1), urging them to obey the Lord's commands and beware of deceivers. Third John commends Gaius and Demetrius, and warns against Diotrephes.
Finally, Jude, the Lord's brother, writes a short letter exhorting the faithful to contend for the Truth and to beware of the devil's servants. He finishes with a stunning benediction.
Written by Saint John the Theologian, he entitles his book "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:1). What the book of Daniel is to the Old Testament, Apocalypse (Revelation) is to the New Testament. Another title is the Apocalypse, which is a transliteration of the Greek word for "revelation" or "unveiling." The book speaks prophetically both to current and future events, to judgment and salvation, and ends with the glorious New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven "as a bride adorned for her husband" (21:2). (Source: The Orthodox Study Bible)
MONDAY MORNING (THE HOLY FEAST OF THE KOIMISIS OF THE THEOTOKOS (DORMITION OF THE ALL-HOLY MOTHER OF GOD): Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m. and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. AT HOLY DORMITION CHAPEL.
SUNDAY AUGUST 21ST: ORTHROS AT 9:30 a.m. and Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Dormition Chapel.
FOLLOWING the divine service THE ANNUAL PARISH PICNIC.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God