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.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE PREACHNG OF THE APOSTLE (Party II)
by Saint Irenaios of Lyons
"As bishop of Lyons Saint Irenaios (177 A.D.) applied himself zealously to the conversion of the people in the surrounding districts. He appears, in fact, to have been Archbishop of all the churches in Gaul. From the tone of his writings, it is also clear that he was a concerned and devoted pastor of his people. To future generations, however, he was distinguished more for his battles with heretics and his vigorous efforts to promote the peace of the Church..."
This world is encompassed by seven heavens, in which dwell Powers and Angels and Archangels, all worshipping the Almighty God Who created all things--not that He needs anything, but so that they will not be idle and useless and fall into condemnation. Similarly, the Spirit of God is manifold in His indwelling, said by the Prophet Isaiah to rest upon the Son of god (that is, the Logos/Word), in His coming as man, in seven forms of spiritual service. For he writes, "The Spirit of God shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of knowledge and of godliness; the Spirit of the fear of God shall fill Him" (Isaiah 11:1f).
The first heaven, which encloses the rest, is that of wisdom; the second, of understanding; the third, of council; the fourth, of might; the fifth, of knowledge; the sixth, of godliness, and the seventh, this firmament of ours, is full of the fear of that Spirit Who gives light to the heavens (cf., Job 26:13). As a pattern of this Moses was given the seven-branched candlestick, to burn continually in the Holy Place. This we know, for it was a pattern of the heavens that he received the liturgy of the Tabernacle, as the Logos/Word spoke to Him: "You shall make it according to all the pattern of the things which you have seen on the mountain" (Exodus 25:40).
This God is glorified by His Logos/Word, Who is His Eternal Son, and by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Wisdom of the Father of all. He is also glorified by the unceasing voices of those Angelic forces of the Logos/Word and Wisdom, the Cherubim and the Seraphim. Indeed, the whole of the heavenly hosts offers glory to God, the Father of all. With, and by, the Logos/Word He has created the whole world, including the Angels, establishing laws, so that, every creature keeps within his proper bounds and does the work appointed for him by God.
Discussions from the Old Testament
Man and Eden: The Creation of Man
God formed man with His own hands. Taking the purest and finest ingredients from the earth, He mingled with it His own power (Genesis 2:7). Then He shaped man according to his own form, so that his outward appearance should be godlike, for man was formed and placed on the earth as an image of God. Then, to give him life, He breathed the breath of life into his face (Genesis 2:7), so that not only his form but his spirit be like God.
Moreover, man was free and self-controlled, for God had made him to rule over everything on earth. Thus, this whole world, created by God before He made man, was given to man to rule, along with everything in it (Genesis 1:28). God also placed in the world His chief administrator, the Archangel, and His servants, the Angels, each with their tasks to perform.
Man in the Garden
Having made man the lord of the earth and everything in it, God also secretly made him lord of those Angels who were in it. They already had their full maturity, but the man was, in effect, like a small child who had to grow to perfection. In order that he might be nourished and grow in a plentiful environment, God prepared for him a place which was much better than this world. That place is called Garden (Genesis 2:8), perfect climate, beauty, light, food, plants, fruit, water and all other necessities of life.
So fair and good was this Garden that the Logos/Word of God was constantly there, walking and talking with man. His presence there prefigured what was to happen in the future--namely, that He would dwell with men, talk with them, and teach them righteousness: nevertheless, the man was still like a child, undeveloped in his understanding, so that he was easily led astray by the deceiver (Satan).
The Role of Adam in the Creation of Eve
While the man was dwelling in Paradise, God brought all living things before him and had him give names to all of them. Whatever Adam called any living being, that was its name (Genesis 2:19).
God also planned to make a helper for the man, saying: "It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make a helper meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). Then, in order to accomplish another work from that one (for sleep had not yet occurred in the Garden), God, having put Adam to sleep by His will, "took one of Adam's ribs, and filled up the flesh in its place, and the rib which He took He built into a woman" (Genesis 2:23).
The Innocence of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve (for that is the woman's name) "were naked and not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). They had an innocent and childlike mind, unable to conceive or to imagine those things which are born in the soul through wickedness, shameful desires and lusts. They still had the integrity of their natural state. That which had been breathed into their bodies was the spirit of life, and so long as the spirit maintains its proper order and power, it can neither conceive nor imagine anything shameful. Thus, they were not ashamed, kissing and embracing each other like innocent children.
The Law Is Given
God did not want the man to begin thinking too highly of himself, as if he had no lord, because of the authority and freedom he had been given. Should he do so, he would fall into sin against God his Creator, overstep his bounds, and become self-conceited and arrogant against God. Therefore, God gave him a law, so that he could know that the Lord of all was his Lord.
That Law had certain conditions, establishing that, if the man kept God's Command, he would remain forever as he was; that is, be immortal. If he did not, he would become mortal and be dissolved back into earth, from which his body had been taken (cf., Genesis 2:7; 3:19). The Commandment was simply this: "Of every tree that is in the Garden thou shalt freely eat; but of that tree alone from which is the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat; for in the day thou eatest, thou shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16f).
The Persuasion of Satan
The man did not, however, keep this Commandment, but disobeyed God. He was misled by that angel, who, having become envious and jealous of the man because of the great gifts God had given him, both ruined himself and made the man sinful by persuading him to disobey the Commandment of God (cf., Genesis 3:1-6; Wisdom 2:24).
This angel, having become by his falsehood the author and originator of sin, was struck down for his offense against God and at the same time caused the man to be cast out of paradise (cf. St. John 8:44). Because, under the influence of his disposition, he rebelled and left God, he was called "Satan," meaning "apostate" in Hebrew. He is the same one who is called the "slanderer" or the devil.
God cursed the serpent which had born the devil, and that curse fell both upon the animal and upon the angel, Satan, who had concealed himself within it. He sent the man away from His presence, sending him to swell outside the Garden, for no sinner can live there.
Life Outside Eden
Torment and Sin
Expelled from the Garden, Adam and Eve began to experience great despondency and mental torment, going about this world with toil, sorrow and regret. They tilled the earth under the rays of our sun, and thorns and thistles, and the punishment of sin, sprang up (cf. Genesis 3:17-19).
Then came to pass that which the Scripture record: "Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and after him she bore Abel" (Genesis 4:1f). But the fallen angel who had led man into disobedience, making him a sinner and causing him to be expelled from the Garden, was not content with his first evil. Now he caused a second one to happen to the brothers. Filling Cain with his own spirit, he led him into killing his own brother (cf. Genesis 4:8; I John 3:12).
So Abel died, killed by his own brother, signifying that from now on some would be persecuted, oppressed, and killed--the unrighteous persecuting and killing the righteous. God was very angry with Cain for this and cursed him and it came to pass that his descendants in succeeding generations became like him. (cf. Genesis 4:17-24). Then God gave Adam another son to replace Abel, who had been murdered (cf. Genesis 4:25).
Wickedness Spreads Through Ungodly Marriages
Wickedness now spread far and wide and down through the years, infecting the whole of mankind, until only a very small seed of righteousness remained among them. Illicit unions also took place on earth, for fallen angels joined themselves to offspring of the daughters of men. These then bore them sons who were so very large that they were called giants (cf. Genesis 6:2-4; Baruch 3:26-28; Ecclesiasticus 16:8).
Further, these angels brought evil teaching to their wives as gifts, teaching them how to make magical use of roots and herbs and all about dyeing and cosmetics. They helped them discover certain rare materials and make love potions. From them their wives also learned hatreds, illicit loves, passions, the art of restraining love, spells of witchcraft, and all sorts of sorcery and idolatry which are hateful to God. The entry of these things into the world caused wickedness to grow to overflowing, while righteousness dwindled.
The Regeneration of the World
The Righteous Are Saved
Finally, in the tenth generation from Adam, God sent judgment into the world by means of a flood. One man, Noah, was found righteous. Because of that righteousness, he was saved, along with his wife and his three sons and their wives. They were shut up in the ark (cf. Genesis 6:18ff.), along with the animals God had ordered to be brought along. When destruction came upon everything on earth, both humans and animals, those who were in the ark were saved.
Noah's three sons were Shem, Ham and Japheth. These were the new beginning of mankind after the flood, and the race once again multiplied. (Source: The Preaching of the Apostles by the Very Rev. Fr. Jack N. Sparks)
(To be continued)
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