use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

consectration of a church – the inside view

Another youtube find for those who don’t get to see the “behind the scenes”. Rarely do many people get to see a consecration of a church. For information read through the following english version of the consecration service.

From the eadiocese website:

Published on Jul 25, 2013

Великое освящение Ольгинского храма – Джексон, шт. Нью-Джерси США

In 2013, the Eastern American Diocese commemorates the 75th anniversary of the founding of St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ. The church was founded in 1938, with the laying of the cornerstone taking place in 1940. Throughout the long years, during which the majestic Memorial Church was being built, the divine serves were held in the relatively humble lower church named in honor of the Holy Equal-of-the-Apostles Grand Princess Olga — foremother of the Russian princes and the first among them to accept Orthodoxy. This year, in honor of the Memorial Church’s jubilee, as well as the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, gave his blessing to perform the Great Consecration of the lower church.

On Tuesday the 23rd and Wednesday the 24th of July, on the very feast day of St. Olga, Metropolitan Hilarion visited Jackson and led the divine services (Metropolitan Hilarion is also the rector of the Memorial Church.) On Wednesday morning, after the greeting of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God — Protectress of the Russian Diaspora — the rite of the Great Consecration was performed, followed by the Divine Liturgy.

Pakistan Mission – Summer Youth Camp

The following report is from Father Anthony Shamoon, a Priest of the St Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission in Pakistan describing a summer youth camp put on by the mission. I have had the pleasure of becoming aquainted with Father Anthony over the past months, communicating with him via the internet and feel intensively the love and passion to serve Christ in him and his Matushka, Maria. They are based in Hyderabad and alternatively serve two communities alternative weeks in opposite directions from where they live.

The mission in Pakistan is very practicle and focusing in on serving the needs of the poor and needy in the areas as we are called by Christ to do “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt 25:35,36 KJV)

The very thought of trying to live a Christian witness in such a hostile country fills me with fear in the relative safety of my comfortable life in Australia. Please read this report on some of the latest activities of the mission and have a look at their website for more information and instructions on how you can donate to this cause.

St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission Pakistan’s partners with asister organization “Humanitarian, Educational, Anti-Violence & Environmental Nurturing” (HEAVEN). http://www.heavensworks.org is a nonprofit, non religious, non political and non government social development organization to support marginalized, poor and needy communities without any discrimination based on sex, gender, religious or ethnic background.

IMG_7989

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HEAVEN aims to endorse culture of peace in communities and strives to see co-existence of people of different religious backgrounds and ethnicity, with special concentration to youth through anti-violence education and activities.

HEAVEN has organized a two months Christian Youth Summer Camp for St. Anthony Orthodox Parish young boys and girls. The opening ceremony was held on the 9th July Tuesday, 65 participants including Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant youth members are participating in this camp.

IMG_7942

IMG_20130719_121531

Main Objectives of Youth Summer Camp:

  • To provide understanding of English Language (reading, writing, listening and speaking) skill to 65 students from St. Anthony parish Hyderabad.
  • To preach Orthodox Christian faith to non Orthodox and make our presence meaningful in the Christian community in the parish.
  • To provide learning atmosphere to students and make them able to use their summer holidays effectively.
  • To provide opportunity to Christian students to be ready to face challenges in Pakistani society and be useful members of their family and society.
  • To provide awareness sessions on global warming, personality development, career guidance, comics and other disciplines of life.
  • To create environment friendly and effective learning atmosphere among youth.
  • To help youth to be self reliant, self sufficient and prosperous in practical life.

Course Component:

  • English Language Course, Learning four skills (Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening)
  • Behavior change and Attitude Development
  • Preaching Orthodox faith
  • Personality Development
  • Weekly awareness seminars on current issues, such as global warming and environmental awareness.
  • COMICS training

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Outcomes:

  • 65 young Christian boys and girls will be able to communicate in better English and they will develop their English language skills in speaking, reading, writing and listening.
  • Non Orthodox youth will learn about Orthodoxy and will become our amassidors to preach orthodoxy to their parents and family members and this how we can be able to enter to the homes of youth.
  • They will learn behavioral change techniques.
  • Behavior and attitude will have been changed at the completion of youth summer camp
  • They will be in a better position to get job in any reputed institution at the end of the camp.
  • Christian youth will be ready to face challenges in any circumstance.
  • They will become useful members of Pakistani Society and witness Jesus Christ.
  • Parents will feel proud on the development of their offspring.
  • 65 Young Christian boys and girls will be ready to guide other youth in Issa Nagri and Christian population in Hyderabad district.

A “comic” is a series of pictures used to tell a story. Sometimes, they may be paired with words, to create dialog or explain something.

IMG_20130719_120104

IMG_20130719_113725

Support the Great Commission – in Pakistan (more)

The mission in Pakistan is growing and with growth comes the need for more resources. I have spoken to Fr Adrian and Fr Anthony in relation to the mission and God has given us glorious fields ripe for the harvest. The team is focusing on mission by showing the love of Christ to all, through serving the poor, feeding the hungry and giving vital skills to those who have little. Please following the link below and donate what you can to this vital work – Dcn Andrew

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain awhere Jesus had bappointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some ddoubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them hin the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, iI am with you alway, even unto kthe end of the world. Amen.

(Matthew 28:16–20 KJV)

St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission Breaks Ground for a St. Sergius Orthodox Church Sargodha, Pakistan Fr. Adrian Parish priest of Sydney Australia and Orthodox Mission Director of Pakistan blessed a land in Sargodha. Mission have plans to build its first physical church on the land. God willing construction of the church will begin when we have funds we request to all of you for your generous support and prayers.

You can donate to the mission via the information on their website

breakingground.

Support the Great Commission – in Pakistan

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain awhere Jesus had bappointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some ddoubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them hin the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, iI am with you alway, even unto kthe end of the world. Amen.

(Matthew 28:16–20 KJV)

St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission Breaks Ground for a St. Sergius Orthodox Church Sargodha, Pakistan Fr. Adrian Parish priest of Sydney Australia and Orthodox Mission Director of Pakistan blessed a land in Sargodha. Mission have plans to build its first physical church on the land. God willing construction of the church will begin when we have funds we request to all of you for your generous support and prayers.

You can donate to the mission via the information on their website

breakingground.

have you been saved? (sidebar)

Looking back at my previous recollection on this topic in light of a comparative theology essay I am working on, I tripped over the reverse almost of what I am to write about. The document titled “Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background” was produced way back in 2001 as a manual for Baptist Missionaries who came into contact with people of Orthodox Faith. I will leave it to this paragraph from the preface to explain it’s purpose:

“Rarely in the history of missions has such a large area opened to the gospel as did Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Although clearly God was at work behind the “wall” prior to the fall, once the wall fell, there was an unparalleled openness and freedom for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Thousands came from the West to participate in evangelizing people who for so many years had been told by Communist governments that there was no God. Many who came were surprised to find that despite the years of Communism, many people in Eastern Europe claim to have a Christian heritage via the Eastern Orthodox Church. What are the beliefs of the Orthodox Church and how should these beliefs affect our attempts to witness? The manual I have written is an attempt to address this question.”

There are more than a handful of items in the above that have me grumbling under my breath, but the now Patriarch Kyrill in 1995 publicly raised his concern (as a Metropolitan) that after surviving a godless atheist regime Russia was now being bombarded by sects and branches of protestantism engaged in proselytism. But I digress . . .

After discussing where many of these Orthodox folk hide out in the world, the paper moves on to discuss the spiritual condition of the Orthodox people which is what I will focus on with some reference to other items in document. While I will not go through a full discourse on the entire item, it would behove many Orthodox Christians to read this item in light of their faith and understand the misconceptions that are out there.

It is stated that “the spiritual condition of peoples in so-called Orthodox countries is in actuality quite poor” referring to a study published in 1995. Considering communism only “fell” in 1991 and the propagation of years of forced atheism on the people of Eastern Europe I find it not unusual for this to be the outcome of a study. It is this spiritual state and later comments on levels of personal faith in Christ that I feel are most relevant to us Orthodox in the Diaspora.

While I have no empirical evidence my experience, over the past 10 or so years, points to more of what I will term “nominal Christians” attending more often in the Orthodox Church, than my experience in many protestant denominations. Even if one just takes a subjective visual attendance at Easter and Christmas between the two in my experience – the multiplication factor of those coming to the Orthodox Church is far greater. One of my first lightbulb moments was the emphasis put on Easter (Pascha) compared to my protestant experiences which were limited to a couple of extra services and a little more targeted teaching about the time of year.

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not laying the foundation for a heretical theology where coming to Church for Easter and Christmas gets you a ticket through the so-called “pearly gates”, rather that due to many factors cultural or otherwise I have experienced more attendance by irregular church-goers in the Orthodox Church than in my protestant lifetime. There are often many obstacles for the “cradle” Orthodox to overcome; from services in another language to poorly catechised relatives not able to put into words the context behind the Orthodox life. This provides the challenge of how to “re-catcechise” it’s faithful and teach the true faith rather than abandon the Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints.

Fortunately in our diocese there is slowly more and more happening in this regard. We now have yearly conferences for various levels of youth to teach and answer there questions. We have a handful of parishes that are completely in English including the Holy Annunciation Parish in Brisbane that is heavily focused on teaching the Faith to all who wish to “Come and see”. I still believe we have a long way to go and that our most critical challenge for missions lie within our walls; converting those occasional attendees to Christians on the narrow path to Salvation.

The text also points out the difference between Holy Tradition and scripture, but taking the expected Sola Scriptura stance. Many more eloquent than I have written well on this, but suffice to say that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ didn’t write a book, He founded a Church, and that Church through it’s Holy Tradition and conciliar approach decided what was to be Scripture over hundreds of years of consideration.

One of my other old favourites came up also, the “Corporate vs Private” prayer and the thinking that “the church building is the only place God’s Spirit works”.

“There is the potential barrier posed by the Orthodox concept of the Holy Spirit, which taken to an extreme seems to limit the Spirit to working only in the corporate context of the church. The idea of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the individuals who comprise the church, a concept so important among evangelicals, is foreign to the Orthodox mind.”

Human beings can say some special things even in the light of obvious exception but I have never heard this extreme ideal before. The Church has always been defined as the gathering of the faithful, the buildings supporting this gathering and the services and sacraments that make up their worship. Early in my journey I came home meeting with friends after a vigil service and was questioned by them in depth about what I had experienced. Apart from not understanding why I would spend two and a half hours at church on a Saturday night, the focus was then moved on to why there was no sermon at a church service. Out of those two and a half hours almost one and a half was pure scripture (psalms chanted, old testament readings and a Gospel) with most of the rest being hymns or prayers founded in Scripture.

Those denying the personal aspect of Orthodox faith have no doubt never seen the prayer rule requested of the faithful to direct their hearts to worship and humility rather than, as Father Thomas Hopko puts it on occasion, “We stop explaining to God what he already knows and telling him what he ought to do about it, which is what lots of people’s prayer, too many people’s prayer is”.

Now time to step off the soapbox for a bit I am very glad to have come across this paper. A critique of ones beliefs from time to time is helpful to nudge you into clarifying your understanding, not that the current secular materialistic society doesn’t smack us around enough every day. While some of the information suffers I think in the translation and other information is, well, wrong, I think it good to have Protestants looking at church history which is outlined in the start of the document. If they look back far enough they will find the Orthodox Church.

Again, we must all focus on our continual conversion. Everyday we need to recommit ourselves to Christ, immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, give ourselves to Christ in our services, and participate in the holy mysteries of the church given to us by our Saviour for our salvation.