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

Celebratory meals of fellowship are done with others and with God, foreshadowing the Eucharistic sacrifice. However, they require one to be ritually clean and unstained by sin, similar to how the Eucharist requires us to be in a state of grace. Yet God is eager for us to seek that forgiveness.

Direct download: LeviticusLecture7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43pm EST

Ezekiel prophecies against the "Shepherds:" politicians, religious leaders, and teachers who do not care for their flock spiritually or physically and instead only enjoy the privileges of leadership. Christianity has many modern examples among the clergy today.

Direct download: EzekielLecture24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Deuteronomy is the roadmap through with the Hebrews were called to live their life.  It is useful for "teaching, reproof, and correction," and preparation "for every good work," but is not a tool to justify themselves before God.  The law, defined in the Old Testament, is not obsoleted in the New Testament but instead fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

Direct download: DeuteronomyPodcastEpisode4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

In chapter 3 Paul tells Christian what they are to put off. "Members of the Earth" refers to all of our worldly passions and appetites, in particular sexual sin, idolatry, greed and malice. Paul tells us to decisively put to death what is Earthbound in us.

The practical exhortations of this chapter of Paul's letter contains many guidelines for the Christian life. We are enjoined to live in peace with one another, approaching our interactions with fellow Christians with a sense of empathy and kindness. 


Direct download: Colossians_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05pm EST

The third chapter of Colossians invites us to consider the practical applications of Paul's spiritual message. Paul pulls things together, the various elements of this letter, in the third chapter. There is a certain logic to Paul's Letter to the Colossians, wherein each chapter builds on the previous chapter and drawing on several key themes. The first of these is reorienting ourselves to our true life in Christ. 

Following this section are two parallel sections. The first has to do with putting off the old man, putting off the old nature and all that inhibits us from growing closer to God. This is where many Christians falter today.

The next section deals with what we are to put on. We are to put on our life together, our common life with other Christians. We are not meant to merely associate with one another or sit next to each other in the pews. Paul speaks to our corporate Christian life which contains a light that is to be manifest to the world. 

Finally, Paul tells of the mundane, everyday tasks that involve us living out our life in Christ.

Direct download: Colossians_5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:02pm EST

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: 12:44pm EST

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: 12:17pm EST

"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: 2:22pm EST

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: 9:05am EST

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: 3:39pm EST

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: 2:24pm EST

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: 5:10pm EST

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: 4:22pm EST

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: 8:15pm EST

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: 4:21pm EST

The full Biblical concept of hope is a central theme that runs throughout the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. We must first know the Scriptures to have a true sense of lively Christian hope. This is a life-giving hope that all Christians must make their own.

Trust and hope come together in the figure of Abraham; In Genesis, God gave promises to Abraham regarding his posterity that would not go fulfilled for many years. How are we to understand his faith? In Hebrews 11, faith is defined in terms of hope. There is an absolute confidence attached to faith - a confidence in something that we have not yet seen. This is the key to understanding the entire drama of the Old Testament - faith and hope are tied together. 

Direct download: Advent_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56pm EST

Sonship, obedience, and relationship are three vital themes that permeate the Scriptures. When we contrast Genesis with the Gospels, we see the striking parallels between the disobedience of Adam and the obedience of Christ. Adam was called a son of God, who by his inordinate disobedience brought sin to the human race. Christ's sonship is, in a sense, a very different type of sonship.

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). In Philippians we read "Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men". In this way, we see how Jesus lived a life opposite that of Adam. As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ in His obedience no matter the cost.

Direct download: Advent_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:42pm EST

The season of Advent is one of preparation; preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus who reconciled humanity with God. The whole of the Bible from Genesis to the Gospels outlines this preparation. The present series takes a cursory look at salvation history, allowing us to enter into the hope that God's people felt throughout the Scriptures. The Biblical concept of hope is more than a mere wish - it expresses an expectation based on promises given by God. We see the first of these promises in Genesis, the story of creation and God's first covenent with His people.

 

Modern Christian readers are advised to treat Genesis as Jesus, St. Paul, and the early Church Fathers did; as more than a cobbled-together collection of myths. While Genesis is not a scientific text of astronomy or geology, it is a vitally important and fundamentally true account of God's action, the fall of humanity, and the subsequent hope that finds its ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.

Direct download: Advent_of_Hope_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm EST

What was New Testamant Christianity really like? We must look to the Acts of the Apostles, as well as the records of the early Apostolic Fathers. Theirs is a critically important witness to the actual Apostolic Deposit. The foundations of the Apostolic Age were mission and community. The role of the Holy Spirit was evident, as many were drawn to the Church in spite of persecution and no material gain. These believers were literally "incorporated into Christ", to use their own language. Though the faith of the early believers was intensely personal, it was not individualistic. 

The central thrust of the Church was not to gather a few people together and meet privately. It was to go out. For this reason, Christianity was a threat to the structure and balance of the worldly powers in the first centuries AD. 

Heresy and disunity were the greatest internal threats to the Early Church. Wholeness was very much connected with holiness. The early apologists saw the Church's unity as a reflection of God's own wholeness. Corresponding to the universal call to holiness was the importance of catholicity - universality and unity. 

Direct download: Early_Church_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19pm EST

Luke's Acts of the Apostles is an account of some of the pivotal moments in the Church's earliest history. Historical records give us good reason to believe all of the early apostles, with the exception of John, died a violent martyr's death. They kept the faith unaltered, despite being widely scattered and seperated for years. The churches they founded continued in the Faith, and in some cases continue to this day. This is the amazing testament of the first century of Christianity. These early churches were not wholly independent congregations. The historical record shows that the early Church was indeed a catholic (universal) Church held by moral authority and a desire for unity.

Jerusalem and Rome appear as the two central cities for the early Church. Great trials and tribulations faced Christians in both cities including Nero's attempt to blame the great fire of Rome on the Christians. In spite of the difficulties, Christianity continued to spread. Early pastoral letters of Ignatius and Polycarp provide additional extra-Biblical evidence for the early Church's unity and fidelity. 

Direct download: Early_Church_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EST

This series provides a survey of early Church history beginning with the Acts of the Apostles and ending around the year 600 with the rise of Islam. The early, undivided Church was a remarkable period in Church history full of lessons for Christians today. We see in this period an organic development of doctrine and practice. The Church withstood both internal and external pressures, and provided a great witness to the pagan world.


Acts of the Apostles is an account of the earliest chapter in the history of the Church, though it is much more than a mere history book. Luke's account contains applications for all people, in all cultures, and in all ages. At the center of everything is the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church on Her mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Direct download: Early_Church_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:53pm EST

The Mission of the Church - The Joy of the Gospel/Conclusion

Francis congratulates those already working for the good of the Church, while warning about the specific temptations that face those within the institutional church. An inordinate emphasis on the individual has been a detriment to the mission of the Church, leading to inflated egos and "spiritual worldliness". Francis' exhortation gives Christians a wake-up call to take part in the Church's mission. This call to mission was the fundamental focus of Vatican II. It is as timely today as ever. 

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28pm EST

The Mission of the Church - Continuing the Council's Exhortation

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium makes alive and practical the lessons of the Second Vatican Council. "With Christ, joy is constantly born anew". The Mission of the Church depends on believing Christians living out the joy of the Gospel in a real and tangible way. This joy is not merely "giddiness"; but rather an enduring certainty that we are infinitely loved. Christians are called each day to renew their encounter with Christ, so that our lives and the lives of others may be changed by God. The problems of our affluent world afford us many excuses to suppress this joy. 

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:34pm EST

The Mission of the Church - Impediments to Mission

Mission is vital to the gospel. Each of the gospels ends with a directive to a mandate to mission. The mission is not based on our abilities but rather on the power of the Holy Spirit that we shine forth. We must respect other religions in that we must respect man in his search for answers and the Holy Spirit who is driving that man. Fatigue, factionalism, de-Christianization, and indifference all make mission more difficult. To combat this, we must be focused on practical witness. We must not, however, ignore real problems in the Church while giving witness.

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EST

Vatican II directed the Church outward, through Ad Gentes and echoed 25 years later in the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, which describes an intentional trajectory of where the Church believes that Christ wants us to go in mission. Evangelization is the duty of all Christians, and it brings us closer to Christ. There has been, however, a decline in missionary activity in the church.

This mission comes directly from the Trinity, so it is imperative that all Christians share this love, as the love of God is what gives man his dignity. We must allow others to see how our lives have a vertical interaction with the things that are above, not just horizontally with that which is around us, and permit others the free choice that this knowledge allows.

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:40pm EST

The encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi instructs us that the teaching of the Church is unchanged and irreplaceable. The task of evangelizing all people is the essential mission of the Church, but the Church has a need to be evangelized herself. This is the spiritual liberation, not a human liberation, as secular humanists and modern atheists might advocate.

The techniques of evangelization must be relevant to the modern world, and centered in witness, but they cannot be updated in such a way that perverts their ultimate aim or ignores the fact that this gift comes from the Holy Spirit.

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:06pm EST

The Second Vatican Council was the largest council of the Church, beginning under John XXIII in October 1962 and running for four sessions until 1965, ending on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception under Paul VI. It reaffirmed and proclaimed the timeless teaching of the Church, though it did not define much new doctrine, the pastoral thrust was very important. We must follow the instruction of all ecumenical councils, even a council that does not define doctrine. The interpretation of this council can be seen through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has many references to council documents.

Two foreign words dominated the council, Aggiornamento ("bringing up to date") and Ressourcement ("going back to the sources").  Both complement each other, as without returning to the sources, we cannot be sure what we are bringing up to date, and without bringing the teaching on those sources up to date, we may be stuck in a 16th-century mindset.  Various factions vied for more and less of each at the council, but the reforming element prevailed.

Some of the major theologians who influenced the council were Karl Rahner, Yves Congar, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng as well as Karol Wojtyła (later John Paul II). Many of these major reformers formed the board of the journal Concilium, but in 1974, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Joseph Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI), concerned by some of Concilium's editors' desire for more reforms after Vatican II and not through the Church, formed a rival journal, Communio.

This conflict between those who wanted more reform outside the Church
and those who wanted to come to consensus on the council first would
continue for many years.

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11pm EST

This is an exciting time to be Catholic." This episode picks up the rousing theme where the last left it off. Vatican II stressed the Church's need to engage with the modern world. The popes that followed have, with unrelenting urgency, urged every Christian to take up the task of mission. This episode sounds the call anew – in the words of Pope St. John Paul II: "the moment has come to commit all the Church's energies to a new evangelization."

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm EST

The goal of this series is to equip Catholics to live out the mission of the Church, which is to proclaim Christ to the whole world. We will explore what this means for the faithful laity using the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The documents of the Second Vatican Council will be examined through the hermeneutic of continuity, which was championed by Pope Benedict XVI among others. This council has continued what the Church has always said, but stated with a new vigor and a focus on reaching out to the modern world. Vatican II was a council of reform, not a radical break with the past. The next six sessions will explore several important Papal Encyclicals and other Church documents from Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Francis. These documents will help us grow in faith and learn to share our faith with others. 

Direct download: Mission_of_the_Church_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14pm EST

The Hebrews consecrate the Tabernacle and all of the preparations are completed one year later, even washing the hands and feet of the priests in the middle of a desert. God has created a people fit for God, and we must strive not to fall back into slavery to sin because of it.

Direct download: Exodus16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:23pm EST

Exodus repeats much of the information regarding the tabernacle in the final chapters, signaling the restoration of Israel to God's favor.  The Hebrews finish the tabernacle according to God's design.

Direct download: Exodus15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EST

After the great sin of the golden calf, Moses asks God to see His glory to know His ways. God shows Moses His reflected glory, but shields him from His face. God writes the tablets again, with no changes, to present to the people as a covenant. God instructs the Hebrews to worship Him alone, for He is a jealous god. This jealousy is a desire for an exclusive relationship, as we can see in James 4:5 and 2 Cor 11:2. God also commands that the Hebrews observe the Sabbath and the harvest feasts.

Moses comes back to the people, but shields his face with a veil to prevent the people from seeing God's glory fade. This veil separates the people from God, but Jesus removes that veil, as Jeremiah 31:31ff prophesies.

Direct download: Exodus14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04am EST

When Moses delays in coming down from Mt. Sinai, the people demand an idol of gods to go before them. Aaron makes a bull out of the people's gold, in the form of some of the Canaanite gods, and declares it to be the god that brought the Hebrews out of Egypt. God proposes to kill the Hebrews and make a great nation out of Moses, but Moses intercedes for the people. God, through Moses, directs the tribe of Levi to slay those notorious in the production of the golden calf, and for that, the tribe of Levi is ordained for service to the Lord. God tells the people that He will not be among them, for they are a stiff-necked people and He would consume them. He orders the people to take off their ornaments and mourn, and God resides in the tent of meeting outside of the camp.

Direct download: Exodus13_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04am EST

The law defines the high priest's garments, which includes the twelve tribes of Israel for a remembrance to God. The ordination of priests also includes an ablution which relates to baptism, which can be seen also in Heb 6:1f. God also identifies things that are holy and not for outsiders in the ordination process. There is also a description of the incense altar in the tabernacle.

The people would be taxed for the upkeep of the temple, and this was a way to show the participation of the people in atonement for their sins.

Before the close of the revelation at Sinai, God reiterates the importance of keeping the Sabbath.  The tablets are then completed and given to Moses.

Direct download: Exodus13.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30pm EST

The book of Exodus dedicates significant space to the description of the tabernacle of the Lord. This may be difficult to read through, but it is important to the understanding of the worship of God. The Ark of the Covenant points to Mary (as we can see in Luke 1:35 and in the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, similar to 2 Samuel 6, and Revelation 12), and the holy place of the tabernacle and the holy of holies are but a shadow, or type, of what exists in Heaven. This description is seen as well in the book of Revelation.

The Ark of the Covenant is overlaid in gold and a cover called the Mercy Seat, where God is enthroned, is over it, with two cherubim, angels with wings and human faces. Inside were the tablets of the ten commandments, Aaron's staff, and a jar of mana. These things reflect the Word of God, the priesthood, and the bread that came down from Heaven, respectively.

The table of the bread of the presence is also described, which is a table that contains 12 loaves of bread, offered to God but also shared by men and a symbol of God's covenant with man. Also in the holy place is a lampstand, which has a figure of budding almonds, a sign of life which may also be reflected in Num 17:8, where budding almonds also show favor from God.

The tabernacle was a tent that was constructed to be erected whenever they were in a place and was designed to be movable. The tabernacle tent is a box decorated by rich curtains, divided into a large holy place separated by a veil from a much smaller cube of the holy of holies.

God wishes to dwell with His people, to sanctify the space where His holy place is, God asks us to give freely to worship Him in the way that He commands us, and that this sacrifice should be a worship of some value. This reverence and value increases as the holy things get closer to the Ark of the Covenant. Unholy worship can be punished, as were Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.

Direct download: Exodus11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:24pm EST

The laws of God are in many cases very practical and based on the environment that we are in. Strangers should be cared for and not abused by being thrown into the cold without a cloak or placed into debt. The escaped beasts of burden of a stranger should be returned to a stranger's owner as well as it would be for your own. The Hebrews were strangers in Egypt, and they should remember that when dealing with strangers.

Moses returns to the people and recites the law and then writes it down. The ratification of the law is done through blood, as noted by Hebrews 9:18. The people say that they will obey the law and the people feast as part if the ratification.

Direct download: Exodus10.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04pm EST

Exodus 21-23 forms what is known as the Book of the Covenant. This continues after the Ten Commandments with a discussion of the laws regarding slavery, as the Hebrews were just recently delivered from slavery. Slavery here should not be confused with the racial slavery that was common in Europe later. The laws on slavery describe the practice of this institution as well as the ways in which a slave may be freed.

Those who have committed violent acts may flee to a sanctuary city, but if the act is premeditated, the person will be put to death, even if that person clings to the altar of God.

The law delivered at Sinai also limits the amount of punishment to the extent of the injury, "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth," known as the lex talionis.

Direct download: Exodus9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:40am EST

Moses' father-in-law Jethro hears that he has led the Israelites to freedom and seeks him out. Moses and Aaron eat a sacrificial meal with Jethro, a Midianite who offers sacrifice. This was before the Law was given. Jethro tells Moses to intercede for the people, to bring their cases to God, and to bring the law to them. Jethro tells Moses to appoint people to oversee the people and to delegate administration to them.

Moses then visits Sinai and receives the law from God. Moses forbids the people from approaching the mountain while he is receiving the law. The Ten Commandments have various divisions in different traditions, though these are not necessarily all commands, as some, such as, ``I am the Lord your God.''

Direct download: Exodus8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EST

* Taking a short break from the regular Exodus series, this week's podcast is a recent talk on the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit Talk

The Holy Spirit is not a force of God, He is God Himself, and one ofthe three persons of God. The Holy Spirit is referred to as early as Gen 1:2, but is not clearly revealed until Jesus' ministry. It is the Holy Spirit who prompts us to holiness and floods our hearts with love (Rom 5:5) and thus we should cooperate with the Holy Spirit, listen to His promptings, and cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit given in Galatians 5. We may cultivate our relationship with Him through prayer and through prayerful study of the scriptures. 

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The Hebrews have passed the Red Sea but they need water. When they happen upon a watering place, the water is bitter, and the people murmur. God shows Moses a tree, much as God shows the people the law, and the water becomes sweet. God uses this to test the people to see if they will now walk in His ways.

Later, the people are hungry and murmur again. This time God provides them with mana and quail, but instructs the people to take only what they need for that day because God will provide. Those who stored up more than they needed for that day found that their food spoiled. Paul comments on this in 2 Corinthians 8:14.

The people murmured again desiring water, and Moses, fearing for his life, sought out the Lord, who told Moses to strike a rock with his rod in the presence of the elders, to bring forth water.

The Hebrews encounter the Amalekites, and fight them. Moses raises his hands in persistent prayer and the people help him to hold his hands up. Because of this, the Hebrews win in battle. God promises to blot out the Amalekites, and the people are called to remember this in Deuteronomy 25:17-19. This is further recalled in 1 Sam 15, and in Esther, Haman, the descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites plots against the Jews.

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The Hebrews leave Egypt and the Lord is with them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. After the Hebrews leave Egypt, the Egyptians reflect on the fact that they have lost millions of people from the land, and pursue the Hebrews. They reach a sea, which is translated as the Red Sea in Greek but may have originally been the sea of reeds in Hebrew, and possibly connected to a phrase meaning the sea at the end.

God parts the sea for the Hebrews to show His power, but closes the waters and drowns the Egyptians to save His people.

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God tells Moses that He will bring one final plague. All the firstborn of the land will die. There is no more discussion about Pharaoh letting the Hebrews go. The time for negotiation is over, and now God will let both the Hebrews and the Egyptians recognize that He is God.

The Hebrews will be saved from this plague by taking a lamb, bonding with it for five days, and then sacrificing the lamb as a substitute sacrifice from their firstborn. This is then instituted as an eternal remembrance in the month of Aviv (later known as Nisan). Leavening agents are to be purged at this time, and the idea of leavening as corruption is a common metaphor, which can be seen in 1 Cor 5:6-8.

Those who wish to partake of the Passover tradition are to be circumcised before they can add join in the tradition. This parallels baptism. The firstborn are to be redeemed, and this tradition is cited in Luke 2:23 when Jesus is taken to the temple.

The firstborn of the Egyptians die and the Hebrews are not only allowed to go, but are driven out.

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God continues to send plagues on the Egyptians, sending the plague of pestilence on the livestock, and then boils and hail, warning Pharaoh publicly with the plague of hail to shelter the livestock, but those who did not fear God did not shelter them. After that Moses warns of a plague of locusts which devastate the land, and Pharaoh's advisors tell him to give in, because of all the damage that has been done. Pharaoh offers Moses a compromise but will not let the women or children go. The plague of locusts comes, and after that the plague of darkness.

Through all of this, God is making the Hebrews, who were enslaved, into a mighty nation.

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Moses asks Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go to sacrifice to God, but Pharaoh instead makes their work harder, as slaves are not to petition Pharaoh. The overseers see that the workload is too much but Pharaoh calls the workers idle, as they are asking for time to spend worshipping God.

When Pharaoh refuses, God hardens Pharaoh's heart initially to show His great power, but soon Pharaoh hardens his own heart. God provides the sign of a rod that turns into a snake, similar to a trick that the Egyptian magicians would do, but God's miracle proves that it is no trick. When Pharaoh is not moved, God turns the river red, and then sends a plague of frogs and then gnats. Even the magicians are convinced that this is not a trick at this point, but Pharaoh is unmoved. After a plague of flies, Pharaoh offers to allow the Hebrews to worship in Egypt, but Moses knows that this will merely anger the Egyptians. Pharaoh then allows Moses to sacrifice outside of Egypt, but would not let the Hebrews go.

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Moses sees a bush that is burning but not consumed. He hears a voice telling him to take off his shoes because it is a holy place. This is not because it is inherently holy, but because God is in this place. God tells Moses that He has seen His people's suffering and that He will uses Moses to deliver them from Egypt.

Moses protests, asking why God has chosen him. God explains that He will give Moses the words to say. God also gives Moses the name YHWH, meaning "I am who I am," to give to the Hebrews as the name of the God of their ancestors.  This name was already given in Genesis, but it may have fallen into disuse while in Egypt. This name tells us something about who God is. He is eternal, is self-existent, and the source and sustainer of all that exists.

God turns Moses' rod into a snake and back into a rod, and shows him other signs that show that He is the Lord of over life and death, and over sickness and healing. He is the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which indicates that He continues to be their god, implying that there is life after death.

Moses protests that he is not eloquent, but God will use Aaron to speak for Moses. God will harden Pharaoh's heart, though there are many times when Pharaoh will harden his own heart, and Moses tells Pharaoh that if he does not let the Hebrews go, He will take Pharaoh's firstborn.

Upon returning, God tries to kill Moses for not circumcising his sons, but Moses' wife Zipporah circumcises their children and saves his life.

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Exodus is named after the Greek phrase for the road out, which is an appropriate term for the events of the book. Ex 12:40 states that the time in Egypt was 430 years, but the precise dating of the events lends to two possibilities. The events can be dated in 1 Kings 6:1 to 480 years before the fourth year of the reign of Solomon, which suggests the 15th century BC. Ex 1:11 suggests that the Exodus occurred during the reign of Rameses II in the 13th century.

In Gen 17:7-8, God makes a covenant to be Abraham's god, and it is through Moses in Exodus that there is a mediator to this old covenant. Ex 19:6 describes the people of God to be a kingdom of priests and to mediate God's grace to the world, a fact that 1 Peter reminds us of.

The family of Jacob remained in Egypt, but a new regime comes to power and agitates against the Hebrews, saying that there are too many of them. The Hebrews were put to hard labor, and midwives were told to kill the male children, but the midwives feared God and did not kill them. Pharaoh demanded that the boys be cast in the Nile. Possibly for this reason, pharaoh's name is not mentioned in Exodus but the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are.

Moses is born to a Hebrew woman, who hides him and places him in a basket in the reeds beside the river. Pharaoh's daughter draws Moses out and names him for the word for drawing out, a Hebrew word, but one that sounds like an Egyptian name.

When Moses sees an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian, but this is discovered, and Moses flees, and helps a Midianite family. For this kindness, the father gives Moses his daughter Zipporah.

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Pope Benedict, in The Door of Faith, gives several practical methods for growing in faith, which can be summarized by cultivating, professing, intensifying celebration of, living, and rediscovering the faith. Benedict asks us to profess our faith publicly during the year of faith.

The year of faith also provides an opportunity for love, as faith requires charity.

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Porta Fidei - Introduction

The study of the Bible is part of the faith that we are asked to cultivate in the year of faith that the Pope has asked us to celebrate
in the letter titled The Door of Faith. It is through this faith that we are brought into life, and through the proclamation of the word of God that we discover this faith. This must be faith in the God of Love, as Galatians 5:6 describes Faith working through Love.

Paul VI also published a letter, The Credo of the People of God, that complements the letter The Door of Faith.

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Jacob dies and Joseph embalms him and buries him in Caanan. Joseph's brothers beg him to forgive them, stating that they are the servants of God, and Joseph forgives them. Joseph dies and is embalmed and buried in Egypt. During the Exodus, his body will be returned to the land of Israel.

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Jacob, nearing his death, begins to bless his sons. Jacob claims Joseph's Egyptian-born sons as his own, incorporating them into his heritage. This doubles Joseph's tribal allotment. Jacob also blesses Ephraim, the secondborn, more than Manasseh, the firstborn. Jacob also gives Joseph a mountain slope, and all the blessings on Joseph's children will be remembered in Heb 11:21.

Jacob remembers Reuben as powerful and unruly, and because he took up with Bilhah, he is no longer given preeminence. Simeon and Levi are divided, and their tribes will be scattered, because they are weapons of violence. Levi is not given a region in the tribal allotment, and Simeon is given a region entirely surrounded by Judah.

Judah will be praised, and rulers will come from him, and we look to the eventual coming of Christ through this. Zebulun is given the crossroads from the trade coming over the sea. Issachar is also given an area of trade, but will have to labor for it. Dan is given his portion, but will eventually be dispossessed from it. Joseph is given many blessings.

After all of this, Jacob dies.

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Israel goes to Egypt and sees Joseph, his son once again. When he meets with phararoh, Israel identifies himself as a shepherd, which means that the Egyptians will set them apart in the land. Joseph buys all the land in Egypt for pharaoh in exchange for feeding the people, and the people are grateful.

Israel begins to prepare for his death and makes Joseph promise to bury him outside of Egypt and in the land of his forefathers.

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Jacob sends his sons (except Benjamin) to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. Joseph is shocked to see his brothers and accuses them of being spies as part of a plan to test them. Joseph consents to give his brothers grain, but keeps Simeon to ensure that they prove that they are not spies.  Joseph gives them their grain but secrets the money that they paid into the sacks of grain.


When they return to Jacob, they discover the money and fear the retribution of Joseph for the appearance of theft. Reuben rashly promises to return Simeon over the lives of his own sons, but Judah takes the lead and convinces them to return together, with Benjamin.

Joseph contrives to implicate Benjamin in a theft, this time of his silver cup. When he threatens to carry Benjamin off to slavery, Judah and his brothers do not abandon Benjamin, as they did with Joseph. When Joseph sees this, he reveals himself and together the brothers make plans for the family's future.

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Joseph was purchased by Potipher, but God was with Joseph. Joseph was entrusted with the matters of Potipher's house, and Potipher's wife attempts to seduce Joseph, but he refuses because it is wicked. When he refuses, she falsely accuses him and Potipher throws him into prison.

When he is in prison, Pharaoh's butler comes to Joseph and asks him to interpret a dream. Joseph tells the butler that interpretation of dreams come from God, and gives him a very positive interpretation, asking the butler to remember him when he comes into power. When the baker hears this, the baker asks him to interpret a dream, but this is a dream that foretells that baker's death.

These things come to pass, but the baker does not remember Joseph to Pharaoh until Pharaoh has a dream, and then Joseph tells Pharaoh that his dream indicates years of prosperity followed by years of famine and that they should take from their prosperity to prepare for the years of famine.

For this, Pharaoh sets Joseph over his house and all of Egypt. Joseph assimilates into the culture, takes a wife, Asenath, and has the children Manasseh, for forgetting his hardships in his father's house, and Ephraim, for the fruitfulness that God has given Joseph.


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Joseph's brothers did not take kindly to him, but even more so after he has a dream in which they bow down to him. The brothers conspire againt Joseph, but Reuben convinces them not to kill Joseph, but rather to trap Joseph in a well, and sell him to Ishmaelites, who sell Joseph to Potipher, a functionary of the pharaoh. The brothers convince Jacob that Joseph had been killed by an animal.

Judah marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons. The first, Er, marries Tamar, but the Lord puts him to death because he is wicked. Judah instructs his next son, Onan, to take Tamar as his wife, but he refuses to consummate the marriage, and leaves Tamar in a precarious state in relation to the family as a childless daughter-in-law. God also kills Onan for this act. Judah promises Tamar Shelah when he grows up, but when this does not happen, she pretends to be a prostitute and conceives twins by Shelah. Tamar will be one of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ.

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Dinah is raped by Shechem, who seeks to make her his wife. When his father, Hamor, pleads on his behalf, the sons of Jacob convinced Shechem's family to be circumcised so that they could slay all of them while they were laid up after the surgery. When Jacob discovers this, he rebukes them but says nothing more until he is on his deathbed. Similarly, when Reuben takes up with Bilhah, his father's concubine, Jacob says nothing at the time.

God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and make an altar there, and so he tells his family to put away their idols, purify themselves and change their clothes (similar to Ex 19:10-11). After this, God tells Jacob that his name is now Israel and promises him the land.

Rachel has her second son, whom she names Ben-oni, which could mean the son of her sorrow or the son of her strength, but Jacob calls him Benjamin, son of my right hand. Rachel dies, with her eyes toward Bethlehem. Jer 31:15 refers to this in a prophecy that would be fulfilled with the slaughter of the innocents.

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Jacob returns home, knowing that this means that he will need to confront Esau. On the way, he is met by angels of the Lord, who are described the same way as the angels at Bethel. In the end, Jacob sends a series of gifts in an effort to appease Esau.

Jacob wrestles with a man, begging for a blessing, but discovers that this is actually an angel. The angel blesses him and changes Jacob's name to Israel for one who wrestles with God.

When Jacob meets with Esau, Esau embraces him.

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After Jacob has Joseph, he prepares to leave Laban. He offers to take as his wages all speckled and spotted lambs. Laban sent all speckled and spotted lambs away so that they could not breed, but Jacob places spotted rods in front of the lambs, and they all produce speckled and spotted offspring.

When Jacob leaves Laban, Rachel steals Laban's household gods, and when confronted, places them under a saddle claiming that she was having her period and avoids being searched. Jacob agrees not to mistreat Laban's daughters and they both agree not to return to the other's territory.

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As Isaac nears death, he prepares to give Esau a blessing, but Rebekah conspires with Jacob to take this blessing by dressing him in Esau's clothes. Jacob gives Isaac food and wine, and Isaac blesses him. When he learns of the deception, he will not take back his blessing, as it has already been spoken, and he tells Esau that he will serve his brother, but that eventually he will break free.

Jacob flees from Esau up to Haran and Esau takes Mahalath, Ishmael's daughter, as a wife. While Jacob is traveling, he has a vision of angels going up and down a ladder from Heaven to earth. In this place, Jacob promises to give God a tenth of everything if God will watch over him.

Jacob travels to Laban, and serves him, and when Laban offers him payment, he asks for Laban's daughter, Rachel in marriage, but Laban gives him his other daughter, Leah, and Jacob is convinced to work longer for Laban for Rachel. Seeing that Jacob preferred Rachel, God opened Leah's womb and she gave Jacob many children, but Jacob still preferred Rachel, and both wives try to give Jacob more children.

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Isaac prayed that his wife Rebekah have a child, and she had twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob was born grasping Esau's heel, which is prophetic given how he would later contend with God, and references to this can be seen in Hosea 12 and Micah 1. Jacob convinces Esau to give away his birthright in a moment of hunger.

When a famine fell upon the land, Jacob went to Gerar, and Abimelech, the king. God told Isaac not to journey to Egypt, so he remained in Gerar. Isaac became rich, and Abimelech sent him away.

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Sarah dies and Abraham makes a contract with the Hittites to purchase a plot of land to bury Sarah. Nearing the end of his life, Abraham instructs his servant that Isaac must not take a Canaanite wife, but rather a wife from Abraham's country. When he has done this, Isaac must settle in the land of Canaan, which God has promised for him.

The servant prays that God might give a sign identifying the woman to choose for Isaac's wife, that she might offer water to both him and his camels. This woman is Rebekah, and she hastens to Isaac in the Canaan land, and they are married.

Abraham marries Keturah after Sarah's death, and has more children, but his heir remains Isaac.

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Lot leaves Zoar, and his daughters wanted to have children, so they got Lot drunk so that they might get pregnant by him, and through Lot they bear Moab and Ben-ammi, the origin of the Moabites and Ammonites.

Abraham goes to Gerar, where he encounters Abimelech. Abimelech, not knowing that Sarah is married, wants to add her to his harem, but God, wishing to preserve the lineage of Isaac, tells Abimelech in a dream that she is married and he confronts Abraham and Sarah and sends them away with gifts. Abimelech later comes to Abraham and asks that Abraham might remember his kindness with his descendants when Abraham comes into power.

Sarah names her son Isaac, for laughter, and when she sees Isaac with Ishmael, his older half-brother, she sends Ishmael and Hagar away, but an angel of the lord tells Hagar that Ishmael will also be a great nation.

God tests Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his son, but before he can do it, an angel stops Abraham, and God blesses him for not holding anything back. Gal 3:15ff points out that the promises to Abraham were made to him and his offspring, singular, meaning Christ. The sacrifice of Isaac also is a precursor of the willing sacrifice of Christ, and of the resurrection (for if Isaac had died, God would have to have raised him to fulfill his promises).

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God promises Abram that he will be the father of a multitude of nations, and thus names him Abraham, which is a name that bears similarity to other words that mean father of a multitude. The covenant comes with a command to be circumcised. God promises that Abraham will have a child from Sarah, who laughs when she hears it, because she had been infertile and now she was much older.

Abraham shows the Lord tremendous hospitality, and God tells him that He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleads with God to spare the righteous, knowing that Lot and his family are there. God declares that He will not destroy the city if even 10 righteous people are there.

Angels of God come to Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot invites them to come to his home to keep them from the people of the city, as the people there were notorious for their wicked treatment of men, a sentiment that you can also find in verses Isaiah 1:10ff, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:49-50, and Jude 1:6-7.

The people in the town threaten to rape the angels of God. Lot, in desperation, offers the men his daughters to protect the angels, but the angels protect Lot. In the morning, the angels tell Lot to take his family and leave the city so that they may destroy it, and Lot begs that he be allowed to settle in a nearby city, which he is allowed to do. Lot is pressed to leave but his wife looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt.

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After rescuing Lot, a priest named Melchizedek blesses Abram with a sacrifice of bread and wine, and Abram gives him a tenth of everything. Heb 7:9ff says that Levi, who receives tithes, tithes through Abraham, and that if Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (as Ps 110 says), He would have to have an indestructible life.

Abram knows that his descendents will be numerous, but he does not know that they will be his children, but God makes a covenant that Abram's children will have the land, with Abram, in the middle of animals cut into portions, essentially declaring that if the covenant be broken, the same death will fall upon the person who breaks the covenant.

After this, Sarai, who was barren, suggests that Abram should try to have a child with her maid, Hagar. Sarai than demands that Abram choose between her and Hagar, and Abram tells Sarai that she may do with her maid as she chooses. Sarai deals harshly with Hagar, and Hagar flees, but an angel convinces Hagar to come back and submit, telling her that God will multiply her children as well.

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Abram's family comes from Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram's father, Terah, meant to move to Canaan, but only came as far as Haran. God calls Abram to Canaan. There is some confusion over some of the dating in the text, but we know that from Acts 7, Abram did not move until after his father died. God promises the land to Abram's children, and Abram builds an altar there. This is the first of several times that Abram is described as building altars.

When a famine came into the land, he left to Egypt with his wife, Sarai, Lot, and his people, but when asked who Sarai is, Abram responds that she was his sister (in reality, his half-sister). This causes a dispute with the pharaoh, who attempts to take Sarai as his wife.

When they return to Canaan, Abram lets Lot his portion, and Lot chooses the more prosperous land of Sodom and Gomorrah. When Lot is captured during a rebellion in the land, Abram seeks him out and routs the army.

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After the flood, God gives Noah and his family the land to populate, but instructs them that they are not to eat animals with their blood, as life is in the blood. This is one of the laws that the Council of Jerusalem stated apply to Gentiles.

Noah grows a vineyard, and becomes drunk and naked. His son Ham sees him in his vulnerable state and does nothing to help, though his brothers clothe Noah. Noah curses Ham's son, Canaan, which has prophetic importance as the civilizations of the Semites and the Canaanites would later be in conflict.

Men then turned to build a great city, known as Babel, with a tower in the heavens, but this sort of prideful overreach is punished by God by destroying the tower, scattering the people, and confusing their language.

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Though there are poetic elements of the creation account in Genesis, there are important things that are related in Genesis. There was a first man and first woman, and they fell from grace due to man's sin, and though they have an adversary in Satan, God does not abandon them, even though the effects of sin are immediately visible in Cain.

Genesis states that the sons of God had children with the daughters of men, and there are multiple interpretations as to what this may mean. Some say that the sons of God are men of the Sethite line and the daughters of men are women of the Cainite line. Another interpretation, supported by Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:17, is that the sons of God were fallen angels. This interpretation may explain why the lifespans before the flood are recorded as so long. A newer interpretation is that the sons of God may be ancient rulers who claimed to rule by divine right, but may have been demonically possessed.

God gives man ample warning through Noah that He is going to send a flood. The account in Genesis bears some similarity to other flood accounts in the region, but in other accounts, there are significant differences as to the reasons for the flood and the results of the flood. The flood mirrors in some aspects the account of creation, though the 40 days and nights of rain, the 150 days of flooding, and the time spent testing to see if the land was clear were much longer than the time described in creation.

God declares that He will not again curse the ground, though He knows that the human heart is inclined toward evil from youth.

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Genesis 2 gives us another perspective on creation with an emphasis on man. Man is given the land to cultivate, and Adam is given Eve to help him. God instructs Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but he eats deliberately, knowing that this is a sin, and that it is grave matter. This meets the criteria of mortal sin. We can see the effects of Adam's sin immediately after, when Cain slays Abel.

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The first twelve chapters of Genesis concern the origin of Man. The creation is structured into seven days, but appears to be a thematic categorization of creation into ages, as the word for day is used shortly thereafter to also mean an era. The universe was created by God, who existed before everything else and created it out of nothing.

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Much of the scholarship of the book of Genesis from the 18th century to the early 20th century was based on Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis that the Torah was collated from multiple sources based on various factions. The evidence for this comes from the type of content in portions of the Torah, and in particular the words used for the name of God.

The theory proposes that there were four authors of all of Torah, the Jahwist author, whose writings are theorized to be very personal, at around the time of Solomon in 950 BC, the Elohist author, who was supposed to be much more philosophical and less personal, writing about 100 years later, the Deuteronomist author writing at the time of Josiah's reforms in 600 BC to support the reforms, and the Priestly author, who is supposed to be concerned with laws and rituals, writing after the end of the Babylonian Exile in 500 BC, and all of these various sources were later reconciled by an editor or editors. Please note that this is all conjecture and not endorsed by the Catholic Church.

No hard evidence for such documents exists, and similar differences exist in the writings of other ancient Semitic cultures. In practice, this theory tends to prevent a deeper faith.

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Genesis is a book of origins, as the name suggests, but it is in many ways more addressed in the New Testament than the Old Testament. Genesis, along with the next four books of the Bible, was substantially written by Moses, though some portions, such as the death of Moses in Deuteronomy, may have been written or edited by others.

Genesis' origin differs profoundly from the Semitic origin stories of other cultures, which serves to highlight how different our faith is from that of other religions. Notably, the origin stories explain the gods emerge from the chaos. Genesis is suitable for instruction in the faith and not be dismissed.

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You may have noticed the six-week hiatus in the podcast between Thessalonians and Genesis. This space was once occupied by several lessons from an old study on Ephesians. On account of poor sound quality and missing episodes, the editors thought it better to take them off the air.

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In strong terms, Paul commands the people not to associate with those who live in idleness. This is not simply lending a helping hand to those who are down on their luck, but to those who refuse to work and simply live on others and gossip. Paul commands such people to attend to their work quietly.

In contrast, 1 Cor 5:9ff describes a situation where those who are wicked must be driven out, but this is not that situation. Such people are not enemies, so we are to help them by warning them.

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The second coming will be a terrible day for some, but it will be the end of the journey for the faithful. Paul prays that the word of the Lord speed on as the Thessalonians have been doing and are continuing to do. Paul prays that God directs His people to Himself.

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The book of Daniel predicts that a desolating sacrilege will appear in the temple. People had thought that the desecration of the temple in the time of the Maccabees was this, but Jesus says that this is yet to come. This is an antichrist who will cause sacrifice to cease. There will be a tribulation and while some will make it to the day of the Lord, some who remain faithful will die before getting there.

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Paul addresses the likely reason for this second letter, a misapprehension of the second coming. Some had been caught up in the belief that the second coming had happened or was about to happen soon. This idea may have come from a false letter of Paul.

The end times will be accompanied by a man who is against God's law but who exalts himself over God, and this was something that the people would have understood. Most men, including Christians will fall away but those who endure to the end will be saved.

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When the Lord is revealed on the last day, He will be revealed from Heaven, in power, and in the fire of justice, which may or may not also be a literal fire. God will punish those who do not know God and refuse to obey Him. Yet it is by God's grace that we may know Him.

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Thessalonica is growing in faith. Paul's catechesis is an exercise in growing in holiness. The Thessalonians were eager to hear the good news and were preparing for the second coming. Paul sees that they have already grown in love, and Christians must have love to care for their fellow Christians.

On the last day, those who persecuted Christians will be judged as well as those who were persecuted, who are being made worthy of the kingdom of God.

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Paul instructs Christians to encourage those in our communities who may be struggling in faith, calling on similar statements in Colossians 3 and Romans 12.

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Paul tells is that we must be prepared for the end times, and not be in the dark like the rest of mankind. Isaiah 59 may have been in Paul's mind when he wrote this section. Paul uses a metaphor of armor here that is similar to the one in Ephesians but with different metaphors.

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Paul instructs Christians not to shun manual labor but to engage others in their lives in Christian love so that we are command the respect of others. We must be blameless and holy on the last day, since it will be on that state that we will be judged. There will not be a period in which some are left behind or a Rapture, and we must celebrate the death of any righteous man as he returns to God.

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Paul calls Christians to catechize and root the new disciples in faith and in practice, but he focuses on three issues in chapter 4 under the subject of holiness: sexual issues, love of the brotherhood, and those Christians who have died. For Christians, it is vitally important that they do not give those who would oppose them an excuse that a sexual scandal might afford, and Paul uses language to describe this that may be shocking to modern readers.

God wishes us to become sanctified, which is a process that continues through our lives. Heb 12:14 commands us to be holy, else we will not see God. Sexuality is a mutual gift for giving and receiving by married couples, and this necessarily means that Christians cannot be unchaste, and so Paul calls Christians to control themselves sexually, and God will avenge the wrongs that have been done against others sexually.

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Paul is driven to Athens and preaches there, but is not able to return to Thessalonica to continue preaching there, and sends a letter back to them explaining his great desire to return there with Timothy. Paul also says that we must be vigorous in our faith, even to the point of suffering.

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Paul did not preach for prestige or glory, unlike other false teachers. He has worked intensely and personally with the people to make people's lives worthy of God. In Philippians 1:6 and Philippians 2:13, Paul speaks of how God works through us to bring His work to completion. Paul is deeply grieved by his inability to get back to Thessalonica.

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When Saul first encountered the Christian faith, he would have been offended that a man who claimed to be the Messiah was hung on a tree, and such men are described as being cursed.

Paul visits Cyprus as part of his first missionary journey, and they have a disagreement as to whether the Gentile converts must become Jews first by circumcision, which Paul is opposed to. Paul returns to Antioch, and his second missionary journey follows, which will take him to Thessalonica. Paul will be visiting the temple there, and so not to cause any unnecessary confrontation, he makes sure that his traveling companion is circumcised.

Paul exorcises a demon from a slave girl in Philippi who is following them. This causes an uproar from the men who are making money from this slave girl's visions. Due to mistreatment, Paul is let go to leave and he continues on to Thessalonica, a trading hub. Paul makes converts there but he is again chased out of town. Paul continues to Berea and Athens, pushed far by the Holy Spirit.

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On Paul's journey, he is imprisoned, but through an earthquake, he persuades the jailer to convert to Christianity. Paul is released and goes to Thessalonica, where he preaches on the subject of the messiah for three weeks. The Jewish establishment sent troublemakers to cause a riot, and Paul is forced out of the city. The Jews in Beroea receive him well.

A large number of the converts coming into the church are Gentiles and Paul praises them for turning from from idols and to God.

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Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians show a vivid snapshot of the church in mission. Paul was sent from the church in Antioch as a mission to the Gentiles to Cyprus.

The Antiochan church was being torn apart by the question of whether Gentiles must be circumcised. The Council of Jerusalem would decide that Gentiles must abstain from idolatry, abstain from sexual immorality and abstain from meat with blood. Paul returns from Jerusalem with this information to Antioch. There he splits with Barnabus and continues his missionary journeys returning to Greece and Crete.

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Paul tells Philemon that he could be bold enough to command him to do what is required, he chooses to appeal out of love. Paul appeals to Philemon to take Onesimus back as he is useful to Philemon and to Paul, with whom he has formed a special bond.

Paul also says that he will be arriving to visit Philemon shortly. His unstated intention in doing this may be to pressure Philemon to do what he is calling him to do before his visit.

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The Epistle to Philemon is not strictly speaking a pastoral epistle, as it does not concern the pastoral care of a church. It is, however, a very personal letter written to Philemon, who was a leader in Colossae of some means and influence. Philemon had a slave by the name of Onesimus, who ran away to a major city, most likely Ephesus, where he became a Christian and met Paul.

Paul knows that Onesimus must return to Philemon, and so writes a letter to Philemon in order to plead for Onesimus' favorable return. We know that a later bishop in the area was named Onesimus, so Paul's letter appears to have been successful, and perhaps Onesimus included this letter in the canon of scripture to show a more personal aspect of Paul. Paul appeals to Philemon by reminding him of his reputation for love, and thus sets the stage for his plea to Philemon.

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Those who would pastor must remind the faithful to obey legitimate authority and engage in God's work. Pastors must also not engage in controversies. A pastor must not drive those who hold erroneous beliefs from the faith, but must encourage all to come to the true faith from wherever they are.

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All Apostolic Ministry is supposed to spark the faith, inform the faith with a knowledge of the truth and encourage godly living. Paul has no difficulty with encouraging godly living in this letter, and Paul encourages Titus and all of us to do this. We must make a break with the worldly things and live soberly.

Paul also makes one of the strongest statements that Jesus is God in Titus 2:13.

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Priests must be able to see and identify heresy, root it but yet not draw attention to it, so as to enable heresy. These priests must be dedicated to their work. Likewise, mothers must be serious about the faith and teach it to their children so that they do not fall into the trap of this sort of heresy.

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Titus was close to Paul, chosen as an example of how faithful Gentiles could be to Christ. Paul begins the epistle to Titus by proclaiming himself to be a slave to Christ, showing radical devotion to Christ. Paul knows that as a pastor, he must spark a faith response to God. The Church must impart knowledge of the Truth and the sure hope that those who respond will attain eternal life.

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Paul closes the letter with personal notes about many of his fellow Christians, like Timothy and Mark, whom Paul requests visit him, Demas, who is in love with the present world, many missionaries who are going off to carry on the message of Christ, as well as Claudia, one of the women involved in the early Church and Linus, who is probably the same Linus who will one day succeed Peter as Pope.

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Christ is returning to judge the living and the dead, and Paul orders Timothy to educate Christians in the faith, but this is not an obligation of Timothy alone. We must all take on the task of holding the people to the faith rather than the other paths of erroneous beliefs.

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Some Christians may be easily misled into error, but we must be prepared to defend the faith and avoid being drawn into the sin of others who will proclaim these. Paul notes that the Bible is useful for correction, just as tradition is. We must seek not signs or prophecies but rather the true faith; and we have seen this lust for signs exploited as far back as Pharaoh's priests.

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Paul tells us a few characteristics of the last days. While the early Church was expecting an immediate coming of the last days, the prophecy in Daniel leaves the exact time indeterminate. Antichrists will rise to mislead people but for mercy, the time of the final judgment is being delayed.

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When we become Christians, we are incorporated into Christ. Some teachers preach a perverted Christianity which is not a part of life in Christ, and we are told to avoid such things and those who traffic in them. These errors may be allowed to persist so that we may be challenged to hold to God's will in purity. We must also correct these people in gentleness and not in anger.

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Paul tells us to be strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, but to expect to suffer as Christians. Paul also instructs Timothy to pass on the message that he has taught to trustworthy men. Paul uses several analogies for the Christian life, the farmer who must work hard, the soldier who must detach himself from civilian life, and the athlete who must obey certain rules and discipline.

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Paul is in prison and has been abandoned by some of his prior compatriots. We must never be ashamed to testify to our faith in God. This testimony comes from the Holy Spirit, but we must act on this spirit. We do have the ability to reject God's will, but if we choose to testify to the Lord, His truth will come through us.

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Paul's Second Letter to Timothy comes later in his life, as he is nearing his death. The content is markedly different, though the language suggests it may have been written by the same scribe.

Paul connects the Christian's life to that of God. We are to not be timid but to be prepared to act on our Christian duties, even if we should need to rekindle our faith from time to time.

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