On the Plague

By St. Cyprian of Carthage

The Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that afflicted the Roman Empire from about AD 249 to 262. The plague is thought to have caused widespread manpower shortages for food production and the Roman army, severely weakening the empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. Its modern name commemorates St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, an early Christian writer who witnessed and described the plague. The agent of the plague is highly speculative due to sparse sourcing, but suspects include smallpox, pandemic influenza and viral hemorrhagic fever (filoviruses) like the Ebola virus.  In 250 to 262, at the height of the outbreak, 5,000 people a day were said to be dying in Rome. Cyprian’s biographer, Pontius of Carthage, wrote of the plague at Carthage:

Afterwards there broke out a dreadful plague, and excessive destruction of a hateful disease invaded every house in succession of the trembling populace, carrying off day by day with abrupt attack numberless people, every one from his own house. All were shuddering, fleeing, shunning the contagion, impiously exposing their own friends, as if with the exclusion of the person who was sure to die of the plague, one could exclude death itself also. There lay about the meanwhile, over the whole city, no longer bodies, but the carcasses of many, and, by the contemplation of a lot which in their turn would be theirs, demanded the pity of the passers-by for themselves. No one regarded anything besides his cruel gains. No one trembled at the remembrance of a similar event. No one did to another what he himself wished to experience.

In Carthage the “Decian persecution”, unleashed at the onset of the plague, perhaps inadvertently led to the criminalization of Christian oath refusal. Fifty years later, North African convert to Christianity Arnobius defended his new religion from pagan allegations that a plague was brought upon the earth after the Christian religion came into the world, and after it revealed the mysteries of hidden truth? But pestilences, say my opponents, and droughts, wars, famines, locusts, mice, and hailstones, and other hurtful things, by which the property of men is assailed, the gods bring upon us, incensed as they are by your wrong-doings and by your transgressions. The threat of imminent death from the plague and the unwavering conviction among many of the Christian clergy in the face of it won more converts to the faith.

On the Plague

1. Although in very many of you, dearly beloved brethren, there is a steadfast mind and a firm faith, and a devoted spirit that is not disturbed at the frequency of this present mortality, but, like a strong and stable rock, rather shatters the turbulent onsets of the world and the raging waves of time, while it is not itself shattered, and is not overcome but tried by these temptations; yet because I observe that among the people some, either through weakness of mind, or through decay of faith, or through the sweetness of this worldly life, or through the softness of their sex, or what is of still greater account, through error from the truth, are standing less steadily, and are not exerting the divine and unvanquished vigour of their heart, the matter may not be disguised nor kept in silence, but as far as my feeble powers suffice with my full strength, and with a discourse gathered from the Lord’s lessons, the slothfulness of a luxurious disposition must be restrained, and he who has begun to be already a man of God and of Christ, must be found worthy of God and of Christ.

2. For he who wars for God, dearest brethren, ought to acknowledge himself as one who, placed in the heavenly camp, already hopes for divine things, so that we may have no trembling at the storms and whirlwinds of the world, and no disturbance, since the Lord had foretold that these would come. With the exhortation of His fore-seeing word, instructing, and teaching, and preparing, and strengthening the people of His Church for all endurance of things to come, He predicted and said that wars, and famines, and earthquakes, and pestilences would arise in each place; and lest an unexpected and new dread of mischiefs should shake us, He previously warned us that adversity would increase more and more in the last times. Behold, the very things occur which were spoken; and since those occur which were foretold before, whatever things were promised will also follow; as the Lord Himself promises, saying, “But when you see all these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand.” Luke 21:31 The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, is beginning to be at hand; the reward of life, and the rejoicing of eternal salvation, and the perpetual gladness and possession lately lost of paradise, are now coming, with the passing away of the world; already heavenly things are taking the place of earthly, and great things of small, and eternal things of things that fade away. What room is there here for anxiety and solicitude? Who, in the midst of these things, is trembling and sad, except he who is without hope and faith? For it is for him to fear death who is not willing to go to Christ. It is for him to be unwilling to go to Christ who does not believe that he is about to reign with Christ.

3. For it is written that the just lives by faith. If you are just, and live by faith, if you truly believe in Christ, why, since you are about to be with Christ, and are secure of the Lord’s promise, do you not embrace the assurance that you are called to Christ, and rejoice that you are freed from the devil? Certainly Simeon, that just man, who was truly just, who kept God’s commands with a full faith, when it had been pledged him from heaven that he should not die before he had seen the Christ, and Christ had come an infant into the temple with His mother, acknowledged in spirit that Christ was now born, concerning whom it had before been foretold to him; and when he had seen Him, he knew that he should soon die. Therefore, rejoicing concerning his now approaching death, and secure of his immediate summons, he received the child into his arms, and blessing the Lord, he exclaimed, and said, “Now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation; ” Luke 2:29 assuredly proving and bearing witness that the servants of God then had peace, then free, then tranquil repose, when, withdrawn from these whirlwinds of the world, we attain the harbour of our home and eternal security, when having accomplished this death we come to immortality. For that is our peace, that our faithful tranquillity, that our steadfast, and abiding, and perpetual security.

4. But for the rest, what else in the world than a battle against the devil is daily carried on, than a struggle against his darts and weapons in constant conflicts? Our warfare is with avarice, with immodesty, with anger, with ambition; our diligent and toilsome wrestle with carnal vices, with enticements of the world. The mind of man besieged, and in every quarter invested with the onsets of the devil, scarcely in each point meets the attack, scarcely resists it. If avarice is prostrated, lust springs up. If lust is overcome, ambition takes its place. If ambition is despised, anger exasperates, pride puffs up, wine-bibbing entices, envy breaks concord, jealousy cuts friendship; you are constrained to curse, which the divine law forbids; you are compelled to swear, which is not lawful.

5. So many persecutions the soul suffers daily, with so many risks is the heart wearied, and yet it delights to abide here long among the devil’s weapons, although it should rather be our craving and wish to hasten to Christ by the aid of a quicker death; as He Himself instructs us, and says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20 Who would not desire to be without sadness? Who would not hasten to attain to joy? But when our sadness shall be turned into joy, the Lord Himself again declares, when He says, “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.” John 16:22 Since, therefore, to see Christ is to rejoice, and we cannot have joy unless when we shall see Christ, what blindness of mind or what folly is it to love the world’s afflictions, and punishments, and tears, and not rather to hasten to the joy which can never be taken away!

6. But, beloved brethren, this is so, because faith is lacking, because no one believes that the things which God promises are true, although He is true, whose word to believers is eternal and unchangeable. If a grave and praiseworthy man should promise you anything, you would assuredly have faith in the promiser, and would not think that you should be cheated and deceived by him whom you knew to be steadfast in his words and his deeds. Now God is speaking with you; and do you faithlessly waver in your unbelieving mind? God promises to you, on your departure from this world, immortality and eternity; and do you doubt? This is not to know God at all; this is to offend Christ, the Teacher of believers, with the sin of incredulity; this is for one established in the Church not to have faith in the house of faith.

7. How great is the advantage of going out of the world, Christ Himself, the Teacher of our salvation and of our good works, shows to us, who, when His disciples were saddened that He said that He was soon to depart, spoke to them, and said, “If you loved me, you would surely rejoice because I go to the Father; ” John 16:28 teaching thereby, and manifesting that when the dear ones whom we love depart from the world, we should rather rejoice than grieve. Remembering which truth, the blessed Apostle Paul in his epistle lays it down, saying, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; ” Philippians 1:21 counting it the greatest gain no longer to be held by the snares of this world, no longer to be liable to the sins and vices of the flesh, but taken away from smarting troubles, and freed from the envenomed fangs of the devil, to go at the call of Christ to the joy of eternal salvation.

8. But nevertheless it disturbs some that the power of this Disease attacks our people equally with the heathens, as if the Christian believed for this purpose, that he might have the enjoyment of the world and this life free from the contact of ills; and not as one who undergoes all adverse things here and is reserved for future joy. It disturbs some that this mortality is common to us with others; and yet what is there in this world which is not common to us with others, so long as this flesh of ours still remains, according to the law of our first birth, common to us with them? So long as we are here in the world, we are associated with the human race in fleshly equality, but are separated in spirit. Therefore until this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal receive immortality, and the Spirit lead us to God the Father, whatsoever are the disadvantages of the flesh are common to us with the human race. Thus, when the earth is barren with an unproductive harvest, famine makes no distinction; thus, when with the invasion of an enemy any city is taken, captivity at once desolates all; and when the serene clouds withhold the rain, the drought is alike to all; and when the jagged rocks rend the ship, the shipwreck is common without exception to all that sail in her; and the disease of the eyes, and the attack of fevers, and the feebleness of all the limbs is common to us with others, so long as this common flesh of ours is borne by us in the world.

9. Moreover, if the Christian know and keep fast under what condition and what law he has believed, he will be aware that he must suffer more than others in the world, since he must struggle more with the attacks of the devil. Holy Scripture teaches and forewarns, saying, “My son, when you come to the service of God, stand in righteousness and fear, and prepare your soul for temptation.” And again: “In pain endure, and in your humility have patience; for gold and silver is tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.” Sirach 2:5

10. Thus Job, after the loss of his wealth, after the death of his children, grievously afflicted, moreover, with sores and worms, was not overcome, but proved; since in his very struggles and anguish, showing forth the patience of a religious mind, he says, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, naked also I shall go under the earth: the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; as it seemed fit to the Lord, so it has been done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And when his wife also urged him, in his impatience at the acuteness of his pain, to speak something against God with a complaining and envious voice, he answered and said, ” You speak as one of the foolish women. If we have received good from the hand of the Lord, why shall we not suffer evil? In all these things which befell him, Job sinned not with his lips in the sight of the Lord.” Job 1:8 Therefore the Lord God gives him a testimony, saying, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in all the earth, a man without complaint, a true worshipper of God.” Job 2:10 And Tobias, after his excellent works, after the many and glorious illustrations of his merciful spirit, having suffered the loss of his sight, fearing and blessing God in his adversity, by his very bodily affliction increased in praise; and even him also his wife tried to pervert, saying, “Where are your righteousnesses? Behold what you suffer.” Tobit 2:14 But he, steadfast and firm in respect of the fear of God, and armed by the faith of his religion to all endurance of suffering, yielded not to the temptation of his weak wife in his trouble, but rather deserved better from God by his greater patience; and afterwards Raphael the angel praises him, saying, “It is honourable to show forth and to confess the works of God. For when you prayed, and Sara your daughter-in-law, I did offer the remembrance of your prayer in the presence of the glory of God. And when you buried the dead in singleness of heart, and because you did not delay to rise up and leave your dinner, and went and buried the dead, I was sent to make proof of you. And God again has sent me to heal you and Sara your daughter-in-law. For I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, who are present, and go in and out before the glory of God.” Tobit 12:11-15

11. Righteous men have ever possessed this endurance. The apostles maintained this discipline from the law of the Lord, not to murmur in adversity, but to accept bravely and patiently whatever things happen in the world; since the people of the Jews in this matter always offended, that they constantly murmured against God, as the Lord God bears witness in the book of Numbers, saying, “Let their murmuring cease from me, and they shall not die.” Numbers 17:10 We must not murmur in adversity, beloved brethren, but we must bear with patience and courage whatever happens, since it is written, “The sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; a contrite and humbled heart God does not despise; ” since also in Deuteronomy the Holy Spirit warns by Moses. and says, “The Lord your God will vex you, and will bring hunger upon you; and it shall be known in your heart if you have well kept His commandments or no.” Deuteronomy 8:2 And again: “The Lord your God proves you, that He may know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:3

12. Thus Abraham pleased God, who, that he might please God, did not shrink even from losing his son, or from doing an act of parricide. You, who cannot endure to lose your son by the law and lot of mortality, what would you do if you were bidden to slay your son? The fear and faith of God ought to make you prepared for everything, although it should be the loss of private estate, although the constant and cruel harassment of your limbs by agonizing disorders, although the deadly and mournful wrench from wife, from children, from departing dear ones; Let not these things be offenses to you, but battles: nor let them weaken nor break the Christian’s faith, but rather show forth his strength in the struggle, since all the injury inflicted by present troubles is to be despised in the assurance of future blessings. Unless the battle has preceded, there cannot be a victory: when there shall have been, in the onset of battle, the victory, then also the crown is given to the victors. For the helmsman is recognised in the tempest; in the warfare the soldier is proved. It is a wanton display when there is no danger. Struggle in adversity is the trial of the truth. The tree which is deeply founded in its root is not moved by the onset of winds, and the ship which is compacted of solid timbers is beaten by the waves and is not shattered; and when the threshing-floor brings out the grain, the strong and robust grains despise the winds, while the empty chaff is carried away by the blast that falls upon it.

13. Thus, moreover, the Apostle Paul, after shipwrecks, after scourgings, after many and grievous tortures of the flesh and body, says that he is not grieved, but benefited by his adversity, in order that while he is sorely afflicted he might more truly be proved. “There was given to me,” he says, “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be lifted up: for which thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me; and He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 When, therefore, weakness and inefficiency and any destruction seize us, then our strength is made perfect; then our faith, if when tried it shall stand fast, is crowned; as it is written, “The furnace tries the vessels of the potter, and the trial of tribulation just men.” Sirach 27:5 This, in short, is the difference between us and others who know not God, that in misfortune they complain and murmur, while adversity does not call us away from the truth of virtue and faith, but strengthens us by its suffering.

14. This trial, that now the bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength; that a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces; that the intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting; that the eyes are on fire with the injected blood; that in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction; that from the weakness arising by the maiming and loss of the body, either the gait is enfeebled, or the hearing is obstructed, or the sight darkened — is profitable as a proof of faith. What a grandeur of spirit it is to struggle with all the powers of an unshaken mind against so many onsets of devastation and death! What sublimity, to stand erect amid the desolation of the human race, and not to lie prostrate with those who have no hope in God; but rather to rejoice, and to embrace the benefit of the occasion; that in thus bravely showing forth our faith, and by suffering endured, going forward to Christ by the narrow way that Christ trod, we may receive the reward of His life and faith according to His own judgment! Assuredly he may fear to die, who, not being regenerated of water and the Spirit, is delivered over to the fires of Gehenna; he may fear to die who is not enrolled in the cross and passion of Christ; he may fear to die, who from this death shall pass over to a second death; he may fear to die, whom on his departure from this world eternal flame shall torment with never-ending punishments; he may fear to die who has this advantage in a lengthened delay, that in the meanwhile his groanings and his anguish are being postponed.

15. Many of our people die in this mortality, that is, many of our people are liberated from this world. This mortality, as it is a plague to Jews and Gentiles, and enemies of Christ, so it is a departure to salvation to God’s servants. The fact that, without any difference made between one ant another, the righteous die as well as the unrighteous, is no reason for you to suppose that it is a common death for the good and evil alike. The righteous are called to their place of refreshing, the unrighteous are snatched away to punishment; safety is the more speedily given to the faithful, penalty to the unbelieving. We are thoughtless and ungrateful, beloved brethren, for the divine benefits, and do not acknowledge what is conferred upon us. Lo, virgins depart in peace, safe with their glory, not fearing the threats of the coming Antichrist, and his corruptions and his brothels. Boys escape the peril of their unstable age, and in happiness attain the reward of continence and innocence. Now the delicate matron does not fear the tortures; for she has escaped by a rapid death the fear of persecution, and the hands and the torments of the executioner. By the dread of the mortality and of the time the lukewarm are inflamed, the slack are nerved up, the slothful are stimulated, the deserters are compelled to return, the heathens are constrained to believe, the ancient congregation of the faithful is called to rest, the new and abundant army is gathered to the battle with a braver vigour, to fight without fear of death when the battle shall come, because it comes to the warfare in the time of the mortality.

16. And further, beloved brethren, what is it, what a great thing is it, how pertinent, how necessary, that pestilence and plague which seems horrible and deadly, searches out the righteousness of each one, and examines the minds of the human race, to see whether they who are in health tend the sick; whether relations affectionately love their kindred; whether masters pity their languishing servants; whether physicians do not forsake the beseeching patients; whether the fierce suppress their violence; whether the rapacious can quench the ever insatiable ardour of their raging avarice even by the fear of death; whether the haughty bend their neck; whether the wicked soften their boldness; whether, when their dear ones perish, the rich, even then bestow anything, and give, when they are to die without heirs. Even although this mortality conferred nothing else, it has done this benefit to Christians and to God’s servants that we begin gladly to desire martyrdom as we learn not to fear death. These are trainings for us, not deaths: they give the mind the glory of fortitude; by contempt of death they prepare for the crown.

17. But perchance some one may object, and say, “It is this, then, that saddens me in the present mortality, that I, who had been prepared for confession, and had devoted myself to the endurance of suffering with my whole heart and with abundant courage, am deprived of martyrdom, in that I am anticipated by death.” In the first place, martyrdom is not in your power, but in the condescension of God; neither can you say that you have lost what you do not know whether you would deserve to receive. Then, besides, God the searcher of the reins and heart, and the investigator and knower of secret things, sees you, and praises and approves you; and He who sees that your virtue was ready in you, will give you a reward for your virtue. Had Cain, when he offered his gift to God, already slain his brother? And yet God, foreseeing the fratricide conceived in his mind, anticipated its condemnation. As in that case the evil thought and mischievous intention were foreseen by a foreseeing God, so also in God’s servants, among whom confession is purposed and martyrdom conceived in the mind, the intention dedicated to good is crowned by God the judge. It is one thing for the spirit to be wanting for martyrdom, and another for martyrdom to have been wanting for the spirit. Such as the Lord finds you when He calls you, such also He judges you; since He Himself bears witness, and says, “And all the churches shall know that I am the searcher of the reins and heart.” Revelation 2:23 For God does not ask for our blood, but for our faith. For neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob were slain; and yet, being honoured by the deserts of faith and righteousness, they deserved to be first among the patriarchs, to whose feast is collected every one that is found faithful, and righteous, and praiseworthy.

18. We ought to remember that we should do not our own will, but God’s, in accordance with what our Lord has bidden us daily to pray. How preposterous and absurd it is, that while we ask that the will of God should be done, yet when God calls and summons us from this world, we should not at once obey the command of His will! We struggle and resist, and after the manner of froward servants we are dragged to the presence of the Lord with sadness and grief, departing hence under the bondage of necessity, not with the obedience of free will; and we wish to be honoured with heavenly rewards by Him to whom we come unwillingly. Why, then, do we pray and ask that the kingdom of heaven may come, if the captivity of earth delights us? Why with frequently repeated prayers do we entreat and beg that the day of His kingdom may hasten, if our greater desires and stronger wishes are to obey the devil here, rather than to reign with Christ?

19. Besides, that the indications of the divine providence may be more evidently manifest, proving that the Lord, prescient of the future, takes counsel for the true salvation of His people, when one of our colleagues and fellow priests, wearied out with infirmity, and anxious about the present approach of death, prayed for a respite to himself; there stood by him as he prayed, and when he was now at the point of death, a youth, venerable in honour and majesty, lofty in stature and shining in aspect, and on whom, as he stood by him, the human glance could scarcely look with fleshly eyes, except that he who was about to depart from the world could already behold such a one. And he, not without a certain indignation of mind and voice, rebuked him, and said, You fear to suffer, you do not wish to depart; what shall I do to you? It was the word of one rebuking and warning, one who, when men are anxious about persecution, and indifferent concerning their summons, consents not to their present desire, but consults for the future. Our dying brother and colleague heard what he was to say to others. For he who heard when he was dying, heard for the very purpose that he might tell it; he heard not for himself, but for us. For what could he, who was already on the eve of departure, learn for himself? Yea, doubtless, he learned it for us who remain, in order that, when we find the priest who sought for delay rebuked, we might acknowledge what is beneficial for all.

20. To myself also, the very least and last, how often has it been revealed, how frequently and manifestly has it been commanded by the condescension of God, that I should diligently bear witness and publicly declare that our brethren who are freed from this world by the Lord’s summons are not to be lamented, since we know that they are not lost, but sent before; that, departing from us, they precede us as travellers, as navigators are accustomed to do; that they should be desired, but not bewailed; that the black garments should not be taken upon us here, when they have already taken upon them white raiment there; that occasion should not be given to the Gentiles for them deservedly and rightly to reprehend us, that we mourn for those, who, we say, are alive with God, as if they were extinct and lost; and that we do not approve wills the testimony of the heart and breast the faith which we express with speech and word. We are prevaricators of our hope and faith: what we say appears to be simulated, feigned, counterfeit. There is no advantage in setting forth virtue by our words, and destroying the truth by our deeds.

21. Finally, the Apostle Paul reproaches, and rebukes, and blames any who are in sorrow at the departure of their friends. “I would not,” says he, have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which are asleep in Jesus Will God bring with Him. He says that those have sorrow in the departure of their friends who have no hope. But we who live in hope, and believe in God, and trust that Christ suffered for us and rose again, abiding in Christ, and through Him and in Him rising again, why either are we ourselves unwilling to depart hence from this life, or do we bewail and grieve for our friends when they depart as if they were lost, when Christ Himself, our Lord and God, encourages us and says, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall live; and whosoever lives and believes in me shall not die eternally? ” John 11:25 If we believe in Christ, let us have faith in His words and promises; and since we shall not die eternally, let us come with a glad security unto Christ, with whom we are both to conquer and to reign forever.

22. That in the meantime we die, we are passing over to immortality by death; nor can eternal life follow, unless it should befall us to depart from this life. That is not an ending, but a transit, and, this journey of time being traversed, a passage to eternity. Who would not hasten to better things? Who would not crave to be changed and renewed into the likeness of Christ, and to arrive more quickly to the dignity of heavenly glory, since Paul the apostle announces and says, “For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change the body of our humiliation, and conform it to the body of His glory? ” Philippians 3:21 Christ the Lord also promises that we shall be such, when, that we may be with Him, and that we may live with Him in eternal mansions, and may rejoice in heavenly kingdoms, He prays the Father for us, saying, “Father, I will that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am, and may see the glory which You have given me before the world was made.” John 17:24 He who is to attain to the throne of Christ, to the glory of the heavenly kingdoms, ought not to mourn nor lament, but rather, in accordance with the Lord’s promise, in accordance with his faith in the truth, to rejoice in this his departure and translation.

23. Thus, moreover, we find that Enoch also was translated, who pleased God, as in Genesis the Holy Scripture bears witness, and says, “And Enoch pleased God; and afterwards he was not found, because God translated him.” Genesis 5:24 To have been pleasing in the sight of God was thus to have merited to be translated from this contagion of the world. And moreover, also, the Holy Spirit teaches by Solomon, that they who please God are more early taken hence, and are more quickly set free, lest while they are delaying longer in this world they should be polluted with the contagions of the world. “He was taken away,” says he, “lest wickedness should change his understanding. For his soul was pleasing to God; wherefore hasted He to take him away from the midst of wickedness.” Wisdom 4:11 So also in the Psalms, the soul that is devoted to its God in spiritual faith hastens to the Lord, saying, “How amiable are your dwellings, O God of hosts! My soul longs, and hastes unto the courts of God.”

24. It is for him to wish to remain long in the world whom the world delights, whom this life, flattering and deceiving, invites by the enticements of earthly pleasure. Again, since the world hates the Christian, why do you love that which hates you? And why do you not rather follow Christ, who both redeemed you and loves you? John in his epistle cries and says, exhorting that we should not follow carnal desires and love the world. “Love not the world,” says he, “neither the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but of the lust of the world. And the world shall pass away, and the lust thereof; but he who does the will of God abides for ever, even as God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15 Rather, beloved brethren, with a sound mind, with a firm faith, with a robust virtue, let us be prepared for the whole will of God: laying aside the fear of death, let us think on the immortality which follows. By this let us show ourselves to be what we believe, that we do not grieve over the departure of those dear to us, and that when the day of our summons shall arrive, we come without delay and without resistance to the Lord when He Himself calls us.

25. And this, as it ought always to be done by God’s servants, much more ought to be done now — now that the world is collapsing and is oppressed with the tempests of mischievous ills; in order that we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible. If in your dwelling the walls were shaking with age, the roofs above you were trembling, and the house, now worn out and wearied, were threatening an immediate destruction to its structure crumbling with age, would you not with all speed depart? If, when you were on a voyage, an angry and raging tempest, by the waves violently aroused, foretold the coming shipwreck, would you not quickly seek the harbour? Lo, the world is changing and passing away, and witnesses to its ruin not now by its age, but by the end of things. And do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an earlier departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?

26. We should consider, dearly beloved brethren — we should now and always reflect that we have renounced the world, and are in the meantime living here as guests and strangers. Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. Who that has been placed in foreign lands would not hasten to return to his own country? Who that is hastening to return to his friends would not eagerly desire a prosperous gale, that he might the sooner embrace those dear to him? We regard paradise as our country — we already begin to consider the patriarchs as our parents: why do we not hasten and run, that we may behold our country, that we may greet our parents? There a great number of our dear ones is awaiting us, and a dense crowd of parents, brothers, children, is longing for us, already assured of their own safety, and still solicitous for our salvation. To attain to their presence and their embrace, what a gladness both for them and for us in common! What a pleasure is there in the heavenly kingdom, without fear of death; and how lofty and perpetual a happiness with eternity of living! There the glorious company of the apostles — there the host of the rejoicing prophets— there the innumerable multitude of martyrs, crowned for the victory of their struggle and passion — there the triumphant virgins, who subdued the lust of the flesh and of the body by the strength of their continency — there are merciful men rewarded, who by feeding and helping the poor have done the works of righteousness — who, keeping the Lord’s precepts, have transferred their earthly patrimonies to the heavenly treasuries. To these, beloved brethren, let us hasten with an eager desire; let us crave quickly to be with them, and quickly to come to Christ. May God behold this our eager desire; may the Lord Christ look upon this purpose of our mind and faith, He who will give the larger rewards of His glory to those whose desires in respect of Himself were greater!

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Marriage Perfection to Rival the Holiest of Monks

by St. John Chrysostom

Say to her [your wife],

‘Our time here is brief and fleeting, but if we are pleasing to God, we can exchange this life for the Kingdom to come. Then we will be perfectly one both with Christ and with each other, and our pleasure will know no bounds. I value your love above all things, and nothing would be so bitter or painful to me as our being at odds with each other. Even if I lose everything, any affliction is tolerable if you will be true to me.’

Show her that you value her company, and prefer being at home to being out at the marketplace. Esteem her in the presence of your friends and children. Praise and show admiration for her good acts; and if she ever does anything foolish, advise her patiently. Pray together at home and go to Church; when you come back home, let each ask the other the meaning of the readings and the prayers. If your marriage is like this, your perfection will rival the holiest of monks.

 

The Compilers of the Philokalia Answer the Opponents of Frequent Communion

There was a certain crisis of the Eucharistic life in the Russian Orthodox Church during the Synodal era. People received communion only sporadically, on the day of their birthday and once in the Lent, and it was considered quite godly. The communion on every great Church feast and in the major fasts was thought to be ultimate godliness and piety. However, the rules of the Church and countless Holy Fathers have always called for a full-fledged, regular, and frequent communion of the Holy Eucharist. Here are some examples of the patristic arguments of the authors of the Philokalia against infrequent communion.

Some Claim That Frequent Communion Is the Privilege of Priests

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite and St. Macarius of Corinth, the compilers of the Philokalia, respond that the work of priests is the offering of the Holy Gifts, so that sanctification could take place through them, as through some organs of the Holy Spirit. They must also perform other priestly duties and pray for the people of God. When the moment of the communion of the Holy Mysteries comes, priests are no different from the faithful, except that they dispense the Mysteries, and the lay people accept them. Clerics also partake of the Sacrament in the sanctuary and directly, while laypersons do it in the nave and with the Holy Spoon. The fact that there is no difference between clergy and lay people when it comes to communion is also stated by St. John Chrysostom:

“One Father gave birth to us. We all had the same birth (of the Holy Font)”

“…In some things the priest is no different from a layman… We all enjoy the same things, unlike in the Old Testament: the priest ate one thing and the uninitiated ate another thing. The Law did not allow the people to eat that which the priest ate. This is not the case today, but one Body is offered to all, and the Chalice is also the same.” (Commentary on Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Homily 18).

Some Argue That Infrequent Communion Is a Sign of Reverence for the Sacrament

Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite responds to this by saying that such fear is not from God, as the Psalmist says: “There were they in great fear, where no fear was” (Psalm 53:5). Fear can be a matter of wrongdoing rather than obedience. St. Cyril of Alexandria points out that under the guise of “exaggerated reverence” the devil himself casts his nets, so that the faithful would not communicate with Christ for a long time.

“If you are always afraid of your smallest sins, then you should know that as a human being, you will never stop doing them – Who can understand his errors? (Psalm 19:12), – and so you will remain completely untouched by the saving Sacrament” (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book 3, Chapter 6).

The Communion purifies us of our smallest transgressions and brings life to the one who constantly engages in it.

Also, Rule 2 of the Council of Antioch penalizes those who “turn away” from the Communion with excommunication. Zonaras explains that the turning away should not be understood as outright defiance of the Sacrament, which leads to a full banishment and anathema, but rather reluctance to take part in the Eucharist due to false humility.

St. Mary of Egypt and Other Ascetics Received Holy Communion Once or Twice in Their Lifetimes and Were Saved Anyway

“It is not the hermits who run the Church, and the Church did not tailor Her rules to hermits,” St. Nicodemus says.

Without being physically present at the Liturgy, only the souls of the dead are sanctified, as well as all those who roam deserts and mountains, caves and valleys of the earth (See Hebrews 11:38). Nevertheless, the Hagiorite adds, if hermits had the opportunity to attend the Liturgy and to take communion but they didn’t, they should also be condemned as contemptuous of the Divine Mysteries and as violators of the sacred rules.

Can Laypersons Be Blessed by Attending the Liturgy but Not Receiving Communion?

This seems likely because they are in the Church, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies the whole assembly. Yet, to what extent do they unite with Christ? Clearly not as much as they are when they partake of His Body and Blood. Saint Nicholas Kabasilas was convinced that those who were present at the Eucharist and could partake of it, but did not do so, never received sanctification.

Every Christian should ask themselves one question: do you want to be with Christ or not? If you would like Jesus to dwell in your heart and mind, to sanctify and heal you from every sinful affliction, you should remember the Lord’s words, Take, eat; this is my body… Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament. These words apply to each of us, and the only right thing for us to do is to obey the voice of the Good Shepherd if we want to be His faithful disciples.

 

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The “Smoking Gun” of Non-Chalcedonian Christianity

by Fr. Alexander Webster

The “smoking gun” regarding the non-Chalcedonians is their adamant refusal TODAY to accept the rejection of the “monothelete” heresy by the Sixth Ecumenical Council in AD 681. To his dying day, Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church and other hierarchs and theologians among the non-Chalcedonians still alive insist that the Incarnate Son of God possessed only a divine will (“monotheletism” from the Greek words for “one” and “will”) instead of a divine will and human will in accordance with His divine and human natures. The doctrinal deviancy and spiritual danger of monotheletism is to reduce the humanity of Jesus Christ to a partial nature with no human will as an energetic manifestation of that nature.

From a more practical perspective, monotheletism empties the Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of any significance in the economy of salvation–as if the Lord were merely going through the motions or play-acting.

Holy Orthodoxy embraces fully the teachings of all Seven Ecumenical Councils. An ecclesial entity cannot affirm only five or even six of the seven without embracing heresy and departing from the Church.

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Salvation of Christians Outside the Orthodox Church

by Fr. Seraphim Rose

Orthodoxy is the Church founded by Christ for the salvation of mankind, and therefore we should guard with our life the purity of its teaching and our own faithfulness to it. In the Orthodox Church alone is grace given through the sacraments (most other churches don’t even claim to have sacraments in any serious sense). The Orthodox Church alone is the Body of Christ, and if salvation is difficult enough within the Orthodox Church, how much more difficult must it be outside the Church!

However, it is not for us to define the state of those who are outside the Orthodox Church. If God wishes to grant salvation to some who are Christians in the best way they know, but without ever knowing the Orthodox Church—that is up to Him, not us. But when He does this, it is outside the normal way that He established for salvation—which is in the Church, as a part of the Body of Christ. I myself can accept the experience of Protestants being ‘born again’ in Christ; I have met people who have changed their lives entirely through meeting Christ, and I cannot deny their experience just because they are not Orthodox. I call these people “subjective” or “beginning” Christians. But until they are united to the Orthodox Church they cannot have the fullness of Christianity, they cannot be objectively Christian as belonging to the Body of Christ and receiving the grace of the sacraments.

I think this is why there are so many sects among them—they begin the Christian life with a genuine conversion to Christ, but they cannot continue the Christian life in the right way until they are united to the Orthodox Church, and they therefore substitute their own opinions and subjective experiences for the Church’s teaching and sacraments.

About those Christians who are outside the Orthodox Church, therefore, I would say: they do not yet have the full truth—perhaps it just hasn’t been revealed to them yet, or perhaps it is our fault for not living and teaching the Orthodox Faith in a way they can understand. With such people we cannot be one in the Faith, but there is no reason why we should regard them as totally estranged or as equal to pagans (although we should not be hostile to pagans either—they also haven’t yet seen the truth!). It is true that many of the non-Orthodox hymns contain a teaching or at least an emphasis that is wrong—especially the idea that when one is “saved” he does not need to do anything more because Christ has done it all. This idea prevents people from seeing the truth of Orthodoxy which emphasizes the idea of struggling for one’s salvation even after Christ has given it to us, as St. Paul says:

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” [Phil. 2:12].

But almost all of the religious Christmas carols are all right, and they are sung by Orthodox Christians in America (some of them in even the strictest monasteries!).

The word “heretic” is indeed used too frequently nowadays. It has a definite meaning and function, to distinguish new teachings from the Orthodox teaching; but few of the non-Orthodox Christians today are consciously “heretics,” and it really does no good to call them that.

In the end, I think, Fr. Dimitry Dudko’s attitude is the correct one: We should view the non-Orthodox as people to whom Orthodoxy has not yet been revealed, as people who are potentially Orthodox (if only we ourselves would give them a better example!). There is no reason why we cannot call them Christians and be on good terms with them, recognize that we have at least our faith in Christ in common, and live in peace especially with our own families. St. Innocent’s attitude to the Roman Catholics in California is a good example for us. A harsh, polemical attitude is called for only when the non-Orthodox are trying to take away our flocks or change our teaching.

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On Moral Heresy

This deserves a wide readership –  please share liberally on social media and email.

by Fr. John Whiteford

We have previously discussed Aristotle Papanikolaou’s strange notion that, unlike the dogmas of the Church, Orthodox Christian morality is open to dispute and change (see The Living Church 2.0). In the wake of a recent conference in Oxford of Orthodox “scholars, pastors, clinicians, and other experts” who gathered to “dialogue” about LGBTQP+ issues, Papanikolaou has asserted that never in the history of the Church has the term “heresy” been used to describe a false teaching on a moral issue.

In the course of a Twitter exchange about the problems with this conference, I commented:

“It’s the idea that holding the position that homosexual sex is not inherently sinful is within the bounds of acceptable opinion in the church that is the problem. That’s not acceptable. That’s heretical. St. Paul says it is contrary to sound doctrine.”

Papanikolaou made two similar comments:

“Never in the history of the Church has ‘heresy’ been used in relation to morality.  That’s how much you know as you pontificate (irony) on who’s a heretic and who is not.  Say what you will about us, but at least we don’t throw that word around.”

“The more you talk the more it’s clear you don’t know what you are talking about and borrowing western categories.  Heresy was never, ever applied to morality, esp. not by St Paul and Jesus.  What surprises me is smart people who like your tweets.”

 

So let’s consider the facts here:

1. St. Paul and Moral Dogmas:

Does St. Paul teach that moral teachings of the Church are dogmas and doctrines? He most certainly does.

To understand St. Paul’s teachings, we need to go back to the very first Council of the Church, the Council of the Apostles in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. The question in dispute was to what extent ought gentiles be held to obey the Mosaic Law. On one side, there were those who argued that gentiles had to become Jews, and live according to all of the ceremonial and moral laws of Moses. However, the Apostles said that gentiles were to be held instead to the basic laws God gave to Noah for all of mankind (see Genesis 9:1-17), and to the Moral Law of God, particularly with regard to sexual morality. They wrote to the gentile converts:

“…it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well” (Acts 15:28-29).

Some will object that Christians do not observe what the Apostles wrote with regard to eating the blood of animals, but while this is generally true of the heterodox, it is not true of the Orthodox (See Stump the Priest: The Council of Jerusalem on the Blood of Animals).

And when the text speaks of “fornication,” the word is porneia (????????), which refers to any sex which is unlawful, and in the Jewish and Christian context, this means any sexual relations forbidden by the moral law of God, as expressed in the Scriptures, including homosexual sex (see The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 6, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1964-1976), p. 587-595) .

So is this decree of the Apostles, that all Christians must refrain from sexual immorality, dogma? Well the Scriptures say that this is exactly what it is. The Apostles obviously did not post their epistle to their website. The way this epistle was disseminated to gentile converts was by people like St. Paul himself. We are told in the chapter immediately following the record of the Council of Jerusalem that St. Paul and his companions delivered this epistle as they went on their next missionary journey:

“And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decrees, that were ordained by the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4).

And what is the Greek text for “the decrees”?  “?? ???????” ta dogmata (i.e. the dogmas).

St. Paul also does in fact number sexual immorality (fornication) in general, and homosexual sex in particular, among a number of things that are contrary to “sound doctrine”:

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites [?????????????], for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

If a sin is contrary to sound doctrine, then teaching that this sin was not actually a sin would obviously be heretical. Falling into a sin is sinful, but not heretical. However, teaching that a sin is not really a sin is both sinful and heretical. It is in fact a very serious heresy, because people cannot repent of a sin that they do not believe to be a sin, and this effectively shuts the doors of repentance in the face of sinners who are misled by this error.
 
2. A Moral Heresy Condemned By Christ Himself
 
One of the very earliest heresies in the first century Church was the heresy of the Nicolaitans. In the second chapter of Revelation, in Christ’s epistles to the seven Churches of Asia, after warning the Ephesians about their having lost their first love, he praised them on one count: 

“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Revelation 2:6).

Then, in His letter to the Church at Pergamos, he writes:

“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:14-15).

So, the first question is did the Fathers of the Church understand Christ to be speaking of a heresy, and was that heresy with regard to their teachings on morality?

St. Andrew of Caesarea (563–637), wrote what is indisputably the most authoritative commentary on the book of Revelation, commenting on Revelation 2:6, he says:

“Anyone who comes upon the works of the Nicolaitans, which are hated by God, will know their detested heresy” (Andrew of Caesarea, trans. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on the Apocalypse, (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2011), p. p. 64, emphasis added).

Reading just the text of Revelation 2:14-15, you might think that here Christ is speaking of two different, though perhaps related, heresies, but in fact, “the doctrine of Balaam” is referenced directly with regard to the Nicolaitans:

“So it seems this city [Pergamos] had possessed two difficulties: First, the majority was Greek [i.e. Pagan], and second, among those who were called believers, the shameful Nicolaitans had sown evil “tares among the wheat” [Matthew 13:24-30]. For this reason he recalled Balaam, saying who in Balaam taught Balak, through these words signifying that the Balaam of the mind, the devil, by means of the perceptible Balak, taught the stumbling block to the Israelites, fornication and idolatry. For by means of that pleasure they were thrown down into performing thisto Beel-phegor” [Baal of Peor, Numbers 25] (St. Andrew of Caesarea, Ibid., p.68).

Oecumenius (who wrote around late 6th or early 7th century) likewise sees the reference to Balaam as applying to the Nicolaitans, rather than to some other group in Pergamos (Oecumenius, Ancient Christians Texts: Greek Commentaries on Revelation: Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea, trans. William C Weinrich, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervasity Press, 2011) p. 13).

What else about the Nicolaitans can we find in the writings of the Fathers?

St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170–235) wrote that this heresy originated with the deacon Nicolaus that we read about in Acts 6:5:

“But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols” (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 7:24).

St. Irenaeus (c.130–c.202) writes along the same lines:

“The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, [when they are represented] as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practise adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Wherefore the Word has also spoken of them thus: “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. (Irenaeus. Against Heresies, 1:26:3)

Clement of Alexandria (150–215), on the other hand, excused Nicolaus himself, and wrote that the heresy originated from a misunderstanding of the things Nicolaus taught:

“Such also are those (who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert, “that the flesh must be abused.” But the worthy man showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buried in the mire of vice; following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man” (The Miscellianes 2:20).

And Eusebius ( c. 260– c. 340), agreed with Clements on the origins of this heresy:

“At this time the so-called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted for a very short time. Mention is made of it in the Apocalypse of John. They boasted that the author of their sect was Nicolaus, one of the deacons who, with Stephen, were appointed by the apostles for the purpose of ministering to the poor. Clement of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following things concerning him. “They say that he had a beautiful wife, and after the ascension of the Saviour, being accused by the apostles of jealousy, he led her into their midst and gave permission to any one that wished to marry her. For they say that this was in accord with that saying of his, that one ought to abuse the flesh. And those that have followed his heresy, imitating blindly and foolishly that which was done and said, commit fornication without shame. But I understand that Nicolaus had to do with no other woman than her to whom he was married, and that, so far as his children are concerned, his daughters continued in a state of virginity until old age, and his son remained uncorrupt. If this is so, when he brought his wife, whom he jealously loved, into the midst of the apostles, he was evidently renouncing his passion; and when he used the expression, ‘to abuse the flesh,’ he was inculcating self-control in the face of those pleasures that are eagerly pursued. For I suppose that, in accordance with the command of the Saviour, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and the Lord” (Eusebius, Church History 3:29:1-3).

There is no doubt that the Nicolaitans were considered heretics, and that their heresy consisted in teaching that it was acceptable for Christians to engage in sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols… both things being specifically contrary to the dogmas of the Council of Jerusalem.

So yes, there have been moral heresies in the history of the Church. There haven’t been many moral heresies, because even heretics have generally not dared challenge Christian morality, because it is so clearly taught in Scripture. But the folks at “Public Orthodoxy,” and those cheering them on, are pushing a type of heresy that even most heretics would not have stooped to.

For more information, see:

The Living Church 2.0

Sermon “To the Church of Pergamos” (Revelation 2:18-29)

 

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Septuagint Quotes in the New Testament

Yes, the proper understanding of Scripture is a game changer (as it should be). 

Of the multitude of Old Testament quotes in the New Testament, most of them came from the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX – the Greek translation of the Old Testament). This translation of the Old Testament is the oldest in existence, was widely used by the Apostles and all Jews at the time of Christ, and included the so-called “apocryphal” or “deuterocanonical” books that Protestants later removed.

Arranged as following: NT verse/LXX verse quoted – with the Hebrew for comparison

Here are some examples:

Matt. 1:23 / Isaiah 7:14 – behold, a “virgin” shall conceive. Hebrew – behold, a “young woman” shall conceive.

Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; John 1:23 / Isaiah 40:3 – make “His paths straight.” Hebrew – make “level in the desert a highway.”

Matt. 6:7/Sirach 7:14 – About prattling on in the assembly like the Gentiles do. 

Matt. 9:13; 12:7 / Hosea 6:6 – I desire “mercy” and not sacrifice. Hebrew – I desire “goodness” and not sacrifice.

Matt. 12:21 / Isaiah 42:4 – in His name will the Gentiles hope (or trust). Hebrew – the isles shall wait for his law.

Matt. 13:15 / Isaiah 6:10 – heart grown dull; eyes have closed; to heal. Hebrew – heart is fat; ears are heavy; eyes are shut; be healed.

Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7 / Isaiah 29:13 – teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Hebrew – a commandment of men (not doctrines).

Matt. 21:16 / Psalm 8:2 – out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has “perfect praise.” Hebrew – thou has “established strength.”

Matt. 23:37 / 2 Esdras 1:30 – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing!” compare LXX “I gathered you together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.” Absent from the Hebrew texts entirely.

Matt. 27:43 / Wisdom 2:16 – “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” compare LXX “We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father...

Mark 7:6-8 – Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 from the Septuagint (LXX) – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”

Luke 3:5-6 / Isaiah 40:4-5 – crooked be made straight, rough ways smooth, shall see salvation. Hebrew – omits these phrases.

Luke 4:18 / Isaiah 61:1 – and recovering of sight to the blind. Hebrew – the opening of prison to them that are bound.

Luke 4:18 / Isaiah 58:6 – to set at liberty those that are oppressed (or bruised). Hebrew – to let the oppressed go free.

Luke 6:31 / Tobit 4:15 – The Golden Rule, absent from the Hebrew texts!

Luke 14:13 / Tobit 4:7 – “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” compare LXX “Give alms from your possessions to all who live uprightly, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, and the face of God will not be turned away from you.”

John 6:31 / Psalm 78:24 – He gave them “bread” out of heaven to eat. Hebrew – gave them “food” or “grain” from heaven.

John 10:22 / 1 Macc. 4:59 – A reference to the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), established in 1 Macc. 4:59, and which is absent from the Hebrew text.

John 12:38 / Isaiah 53:1 – who has believed our “report?” Hebrew – who has believed our “message?”

John 12:40 / Isaiah 6:10 – lest they should see with eyes…turn for me to heal them. Hebrew – shut their eyes…and be healed.

Acts 2:19 / Joel 2:30 – blood and fire and “vapor” of smoke. Hebrew – blood and fire and “pillars” or “columns” of smoke.

Acts 2:25-26 / Psalm 16:8 – I saw…tongue rejoiced…dwell in hope.. Hebrew – I have set…glory rejoiced…dwell in safety.

Acts 4:26 / Psalm 2:1 – the rulers “were gathered together.” Hebrew – rulers “take counsel together.”

Acts 7:14 / Gen. 46:27; Deut. 10:22 – Stephen says “seventy-five” souls went down to Egypt. Hebrew – “seventy” people went.

Acts 7:27-28 / Exodus 2:14 – uses “ruler” and judge; killed the Egyptian “yesterday.” Hebrew – uses “prince” and there is no reference to “yesterday.”

Acts 7:43 / Amos 5:26-27 – the tent of “Moloch” and star of god of Rephan. Hebrew – “your king,” shrine, and star of your god.

Acts 8:33 / Isaiah 53:7-8 – in his humiliation justice was denied him. Hebrew – by oppression…he was taken away.

Acts 13:41 / Habakkuk 1:5 – you “scoffers” and wonder and “perish.” Hebrew – you “among the nations,” and “be astounded.”

Acts 15:17 / Amos 9:12 – the rest (or remnant) of “men.” Hebrew – the remnant of “Edom.”

Rom. 2:24 / Isaiah 52:5 – the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles. Hebrew – blasphemed (there is no mention of the Gentiles).

Rom. 3:4 / Psalm 51:4 – thou mayest “prevail” (or overcome) when thou art judged. Hebrew – thou might “be clear” when thou judges.

Rom. 3:12 / Psalm 14:1,3 – they “have gone wrong.” Hebrew – they are “corrupt” or “filthy.”

Rom. 3:13 / Psalm 5:9 – they use their tongues to deceive. Hebrew – they flatter with their tongues. There is no “deceit” language.

Rom. 3:13 / Psalm 140:3 – the venom of “asps” is under their lips. Hebrew – “Adder’s” poison is under their lips.

Rom. 3:14 / Psalm 10:7 – whose mouth is full of curses and “bitterness.” Hebrew – cursing and “deceit and oppression.”

Rom. 9:17 / Exodus 9:16 – my power “in you”; my name may be “proclaimed.” Hebrew – show “thee”; may name might be “declared.”

Rom. 9:21 / Wisdom 15:7 – a reference to the potter having the right to choose what he makes out of the clay. No Hebrew reference.

Rom. 9:25 / Hosea 2:23 – I will call my people; I will call my beloved. Hebrew – I will have mercy (love versus mercy).

Rom. 9:27 / Isaiah 10:22 – only a remnant of them “will be saved.” Hebrew – only a remnant of them “will return.”

Rom. 9:29 / Isaiah 1:9 – had not left us “children.” Hebrew – Jehovah had left us a “very small remnant.”

Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6 / Isaiah 28:16 – he who believes will not be “put to shame.” Hebrew – shall not be “in haste.”

Rom. 10:18 / Psalm 19:4 – their “voice” has gone out. Hebrew – their “line” is gone out.

Rom. 10:20 / Isaiah 65:1 – I have “shown myself” to those who did not ask for me. Hebrew – I am “inquired of” by them.

Rom. 10:21 / Isaiah 65:2 – a “disobedient and contrary” people. Hebrew – a “rebellious” people.

Rom. 11:9-10 / Psalm 69:22-23 – “pitfall” and “retribution” and “bend their backs.” Hebrew – “trap” and “make their loins shake.”

Rom. 11:26 / Isaiah 59:20 – will banish “ungodliness.” Hebrew – turn from “transgression.”

Rom. 11:27 / Isaiah 27:9 – when I take away their sins. Hebrew – this is all the fruit of taking away his sin.

Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16 / Isaiah 40:13 (also Wisdom 9:13) -the “mind” of the Lord; His “counselor.” Hebrew – “spirit” of the Lord; “taught” Him. 

Rom. 12:20 / Prov. 25:21 – feed him and give him to drink. Hebrew – give him “bread” to eat and “water” to drink.

Rom. 15:12 / Isaiah 11:10 – the root of Jesse…”to rule the Gentiles.” Hebrew – stands for an ensign. There is nothing about the Gentiles.

Rom. 15:21 / Isaiah 52:15 – been told “of him”; heard “of him.” Hebrew – does not mention “him” (the object of the prophecy).

1 Cor. 1:19 / Isaiah 29:14 – “I will destroy” the wisdom of the wise. Hebrew – wisdom of their wise men “shall perish.”

1 Cor. 5:13 / Deut. 17:7 – remove the “wicked person.” Hebrew – purge the “evil.” This is more generic evil in the MT.

1 Cor. 15:55 / Hosea 13:14 – O death, where is thy “sting?” Hebrew – O death, where are your “plagues?”

2 Cor. 4:13 / Psalm 116:10 – I believed and so I spoke (past tense). Hebrew – I believe, for I will speak (future tense).

2 Cor. 6:2 / Isaiah 49:8 – I have “listened” to you. Hebrew – I have “answered” you.

2 Cor. 9:7 / Sirach 35:9  – “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” compare LXX “With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness.”

Gal. 3:10 / Deut. 27:26 – cursed be every one who does not “abide” by all things. Hebrew – does not “confirm” the words.

Gal. 3:13 / Deut. 21:23 – cursed is everyone who hangs on a “tree.” Hebrew – a hanged man is accursed. The word “tree” does not follow.

Gal. 4:27 / Isaiah 54:1 – “rejoice” and “break forth and shout.” Hebrew – “sing” and “break forth into singing.”

2 Tim. 2:19 / Num. 16:5 – The Lord “knows” those who are His. Hebrew – God will “show” who are His.

Heb. 1:3 / Wisdom 7:26 – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact representation of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” compare LXX “[the Wisdom of God] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.”

Heb. 1:6 / Deut. 32:43 – let all the angels of God worship Him. Hebrew – the Masoretic text omits this phrase from Deut. 32:43.

Heb. 1:12 / Psalm 102:25 – like a “mantle” … “roll them”… “will be changed.” Hebrew – “raiment”… “change”…”pass away.”

Heb. 2:7 / Psalm 8:5 – thou has made Him a little “lower than angels.” Hebrew – made Him but a little “lower than God.”

Heb. 2:12 / Psalm 22:22 – I will ” sing” thy praise. Hebrew – I will praise thee. The LXX and most NTs (but not the RSV) have “sing.”

Heb. 2:13 / Isaiah 8:17 – I will “put my trust in Him.” Hebrew – I will “look for Him.”

Heb. 3:15 / Psalm 95:8 – do not harden your hearts as “in the rebellion.” Hebrew – harden not your hearts “as at Meribah.”

Heb. 3:15; 4:7 / Psalm 95:7 – when you hear His voice do not harden not your hearts. Hebrew – oh that you would hear His voice!

Heb. 8:9-10 / Jer. 31:32-33 – (nothing about husband); laws into their mind. Hebrew – I was a husband; law in their inward parts.

Heb. 9:28 / Isaiah 10:22 – “to save those” who are eagerly awaiting for Him. Hebrew – a remnant of them “shall return.”

Heb. 10:5 / Psalm 40:6 – “but a body hast thou prepared for me.” Hebrew – “mine ears hast thou opened.”

Heb. 10:38 / Hab. 2:3-4 – if he shrinks (or draws) back, my soul shall have no pleasure. Hebrew – his soul is puffed up, not upright.

Heb. 11:5 / Gen. 5:24 – Enoch was not “found.” Hebrew – Enoch was “not.”

Heb. 11:21 / Gen. 47:31 – Israel, bowing “over the head of his staff.” Hebrew – there is nothing about bowing over the head of his staff.

Heb. 11:35 / 2 Macc 7 – A direct reference to 2 Macc. 7 – the martyrdom of the 7 Brothers, which does not exist in the Hebrew text.

Heb. 12:6 / Prov. 3:12 – He chastises every son whom He receives. Hebrew – even as a father the son in whom he delights.

Heb. 13:6 / Psalm 118:6 – the Lord “is my helper.” Hebrew – Jehovah “is on my side.” The LXX and the NT are identical.

James 4:6 / Prov. 3:34 – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Hebrew – He scoffs at scoffers and gives grace to the lowly.

1 Peter 1:24 / Isaiah 40:6 – all its “glory” like the flower. Hebrew – all the “goodliness” as the flower.

1 Pet. 2:9 / Exodus 19:6 – you are a “royal priesthood.” Hebrew – you shall be to me a “kingdom of priests.”

1 Pet. 2:9 / Isaiah 43:21 – God’s own people…who called you out of darkness. Heb. – which I formed myself. These are different actions.

1 Pet. 2:22 / Isaiah 53:9 – he “committed no sin.” Hebrew – he “had done no violence.”

1 Pet. 4:18 / Prov. 11:31 – if a righteous man “is scarcely saved.” Hebrew – if the righteous “is recompensed.”

1 Pet. 5:5 / Prov. 3:34 – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Hebrew – He scoffs at scoffers and gives grace to lowly.

Isaiah 11:2 – this verse describes the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the seventh gift, “piety,” is only found in the Septuagint.

 

 

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GM Euphemia Academy Fall Semester

Enrollment for Fall Semester 2019 is opening on Wednesday. Now is the time to register for Fall 2019 classes!

You have your choices of our new Fall Semester 2019 courses:

  • Dogmatic Theology  (What the Church teaches, and why)
  • Comparative Theology  (Orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and all that jazz!)
  • Moral Theology & Bioethics  (How we determine good from evil)

Or any of the previously offered classes from last year:

  • Old Testament (intro to Scripture study and interpretation)
  • New Testament 1 (The Gospels, Acts, and Revelation)
  • New Testament 2 (The Apostolic Epistles)
  • Patristics (study of the early Church Fathers – fantastic for apologetics!)
  • Canon Law (an overview of how the Church actually governs itself)
  • Church History (the real story of the spread of Christianity in society)

Remember, classes start on Friday, September 13th. If you haven’t submitted an application, or your application is incomplete – now is your chance. 

It’s going to be an exciting year at the GME Academy. You won’t want to miss it. 

This year, we’ve had many requests to Audit classes, so we are now including an option to audit as part of your enrollment. 

And frankly, why let another year go by without advancing your spiritual knowledge? 

Preaching requires study, and a broad knowledge of the necessary topics to drive important teachings home with spirit and conviction.

Don’t wait. Apply now!