St. Irenaeus Ministries
Scripture Studies brought to you by the St. Irenaeus Center.
St. Irenaeus Ministries - a center of orthodox Catholic mission and renewal in Rochester, NY

The great theme of the second chapter of Paul's Letter to the Colossians is the sufficiency of Christ. Paul urges Christians to do more than accept the Gospel message on an intellectual level, but to also live it out. In doing so Christians will be filled with a joyful spirit of thanksgiving. Would that our parishes today be filled with such a spirit.

Paul also warns against deceptive philosophy and spiritual forces that run counter to the Gospel. This anticipates the early Church's battle with Gnosticism and other philosophies that opposed orthodox Christian belief. 

Direct download: Colossians_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44 PM

Toward the end of the first chapter of Paul's Letter to the Colossians, Paul spoke of the Colossians' "love in the spirit". This expression points to a supernatural love beyond mere human affection. He will go on to speak about how the Christian community is to be built up in such a love.

All is centered on Christ. This is a key theme of the letter. Paul praises Christ as the key to everything, the "first born" of Creation, above all other powers and authorities. Christians then, as now, need to open themselves to a greater experience of Grace.

In this section, Paul speaks of his trials and danger he has experienced at sea, on land, and at the hands of false bretheren. And yet his message is hopeful - drawing our attention to the redemptive power of suffering and our ability to cooperate in Christ's suffering.

Direct download: Colossians_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17 PM

"Who is this Christ?" is the fundamental question whose answer is cast in one of the great Christological hymns of the Bible. It is far more than great poetry. Paul expands the terms of the Old Testament to speak of Christ as the head of both creation and redemtpion, as well as a new order of creation on a different level of life. Christ is above all authorities, a truth which the Colossians had effectively forgotten.

This dense and theologically rich section of Paul's letter is often forgotten by Christians today. We would do well to read and reread these passages in order to be reminded of the uniqueness of Christ and to enter into both the understanding and living of this message. 

Direct download: Colossians_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:22 PM

The mystery of Christ, the key to the Christian life, is unpacked in four brief chapters in St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. There are many parallels between Ephesians and Colossians, which suggests they may have been written close to the same time. Paul was writing for a particular reason - he had received word that they were threatened by certain heretical ideas. Though he had no founded the church himself, he had close ties to Epaphras and was concerned with the wellbeing of the church there and its members.

We will be taking on the first 23 verses of the first chapter, and consider this section in five basic parts. The initial salutation, the thanksgiving section, an apostolic prayer, and a great poetic hymn about the person of Jesus Christ. Finally, Paul concludes with a statement on our peace and reconciliation with God through Christ.

Direct download: Colossians_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05 PM

In Isaiah we read of the Servant songs, a collection of poems or songs speaking of the servant of God. There are ancient Rabbinic sources that see Isaiah 53 as referring explicitly to a suffering Messiah. The Babylonian Talmud, the midrash on Ruth, the Aramaic Targum, the writings of Moses Maimonides, and the mystical texts of the Zohar all contain exegesis to this effect. 

We have two strains of thought in these servant songs - the suffering Messiah and the reigning Messiah. Christians have interpreted these texts as referring to the First and Second Comings of Christ. At the critical turning point of the Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples "Who do people say I am?" It is here that Peter gives his confession and Jesus the prediction of his crucifiction. He then goes on to talk about discipleship and his Second Coming. In Mathew 16:27 we read a prediction about the Son of Man at the End of Time. 

Christ came 2000 years ago to show us the way, but he showed more. He, of his own will, voluntarily died for our sins and was raised again triumphantly. This triumphance was not seen by everyone and he did not remain on Earth to reign. There is a great deal yet to be established. Our Earth is not yet the Messianic Kingdom; there is more yet to be accomplished in this great drama. A great drama that includes each of us.

Direct download: Advent_9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39 PM

The Second Coming of Christ is a key doctrine in our Creed. And yet, it often does not receive a great deal of attention. It necessarily completes and complements the First Coming. Without a lively anticipation of Our Lord's return, our faith is left a great deal diminished. 

The Psalms speak to the Messianic Hope and the glory of God in the First and Second Comings. In the beginning of Hebrews, the author quotes from Psalm 102 and produces one of the clearest attributions of divinity to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. 

We read about King Ahaz in 2 Kings, during a time when God was with the people of Israel though the king acted wickedly and not in accordance with God's commands. In contrast to the starkness of King Ahaz' reign, Isaiah speaks of a child being given, and of a peace which will have no end. 

In Isaiah's prophecies of Christ we see predictions of a final victory. There is nothing ambivalent in the predictions - the Messiah is to usher in a type of fabled age pictured as a time when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. This is a glorious picture, a child possessing not only heroic but divine qualities. One of his titles is listed as "Mighty God". 

Direct download: Advent_8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24 PM

Prophecy plays a key role in the Old Testament understanding of hope, particularly that great Messianic hope. Prophecy should be understood as speaking with Divine Authority to convey the message that God wills for a particular audience. We see from the Bible that becoming a prophet was nothing that anyone took upon themselves. It is all Grace, a gift given not for maturity's sake or for exceptional sanctity. The prophet's role is that of a speaker, a mouthpiece for God. We see this in Chapter 18 of Deuteronomy where God says "I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him" (Deuteronomy 18:18). 

It is also clear from the Old Testament texts that false prophecy is a grave matter, and some rules are given to the Jewish people to discern true and false prophets. In the Old Testament tradition, a true prophet cannot contradict the Torah, preach immorally, or make false predictions. 

Direct download: Advent_7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10 PM

The young David, a singer of God's praises, would come to set up temple worship as a mature man. He was a great sinner, and a great repenter. The Psalms give us a detailed account of his inner dispositions. All of David's great accomplishments look forward to an even greater reality, which is seen in God's promises regarding a "son of David". The Gospel of Mathew, chapter 22, explicity refers back to this promise. 

We see the depth of God's promises to David, through the prophet Nathan, in 2 Samuel 7. "Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth form your body, and I will establish his kingdom". 1 Chronicles 17 repeats the promises of 2 Samuel, emphasising the events that are yet to come.

In the promises to David, a Messianic hope arises. This occurs despite David's shortcomings and failures. His profound spiritual yearning and great repentance made him a man after God's own heart. As Christians, we too are sinners. Like David, we too can look forward to the promises that await and present blessings available to us.

Direct download: Advent_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22 PM

Biblical hope is not calculated, not contingent; it is absolute. We know that God always intends good for those who hope in Him. Biblical hope is more of an expectation, with an element of eagerness. As we read in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for".

The covenent between God and Abraham is an example of Biblical hope. Most important to us God gave a promise to Abraham of universal blessing for mankind (Genesis 12:3). In Genesis 22, we see God call Abraham to sacrfice to Isaac. We also see God confim this universal blessing. God's reason for this blessing is simple - "because you have obeyed my voice" (22:18).

All these promises are prophetic of things which were yet to come. They required a firm conviction of hope, which was often tested. We too must imitate the patriarch's steadfast hope, trusting in God's promises to us. 

Direct download: Advent_5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15 AM

The Biblical concept of hope appears in the stories of all the great patriarchs. With Jacob, great promises are given despite his imperfections and slow spiritual growth. His son Joseph is a savior-figure, a type, who we can see as looking forward to Jesus Christ. In Genesis 49:10, we read of the "sceptre of Judah". In this prophetic verse we hear of nations being obedient to a leader who is to rise from the tribe of Judah. 

This way of reading the texts of the Old Testament is fundamental to the Christian understanding of the Bible as a whole. As far back as Genesis we see the earliest glimmer of God's promises that find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. The Torah offers a way of life that leads to God - it has nothing to do with legalism but rather offers a moral roadmap to God. We ought to think of Torah as instruction; the way in which to go, containing the promises that reflect God's covenent with His chosen people. 

Direct download: Advent_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21 PM