This is a sort of ‘addendum’ to the Revelation Fulfilled? article 

 

Yes you read the title correct: WHO (not what) is the New Jerusalem?

Advertisement

 

To answer this, you must ask yourself: who is the Bride of Christ?

 

If you answered “the Church” (as in, the body of believers, not buildings) then you’d be correct as they are both one and the same!

Advertisement

 

new_jerusalem_map_earth
Roughly 1500 miles square.

 

Maybe you’ve always wondered why the Church is called the “bride”? Well, let’s examine some Scriptures and see!

2 Corinthians 11:2
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Advertisement

 

Here is Paul pleading with the Corinthian church to stay pure and true to the Gospel message they received, like a virgin on her wedding day; and also true to Jesus, as he is the husband of the believers.

Again, we see Paul use this imagery of marriage in terms of Christ and his Church in the letter to the Ephesians. Paul is teaching them (and us) on how to conduct ourselves within the bonds of marriage with the instruction for husbands and wives to lay down their lives for one another in love; this is also the analogy of how Jesus relates to his Church:

Ephesians 5:24-25, 32
Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.

What has this got to do with the New Jerusalem?

Advertisement

Now when it comes to verses on the New Jerusalem, most people read the first two verses of Rev 21 and stop there, assuming that because it is called “the new Jerusalem” and “the holy city” that it must be an actual, brick-and-mortar city.

 

But the description doesn’t stop there.

 

Advertisement

Keep reading past Rev 21:1 and see how the Bride is described:

Revelation 21:1-2
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 21:9-10
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.

 

Advertisement

Here we see the new heaven and earth, with the “holy city” – the new Jerusalem – coming down out of heaven.

 

Next we see that the new Jerusalem IS the bride of Christ.

 

Advertisement

So, if the Church/body of believers is the bride, and the new Jerusalem is also the bride – then they must be one and the same, and therefore symbolic of the physical reality of what the Church is! Unless of course you believe Jesus will be getting married to a literal city...

 

This vision of the new Heaven and Earth isn’t talking about a doing away with the current, physical realm, no; it’s a beautiful, poetic image of the marriage between God and his people – of the new way of the world now that Christ has accomplished his goal: defeating death and ushering in the New Covenant!

 

Advertisement

This is God showing that things work differently now. No longer is he only found in a temple, or a specific holy place (a lá John 4:21) – now he lives with us and in us!

 

This is why everything is new! Heaven will never be the same again, and neither will the Earth! God has set up a new temple where he dwells permanently now: in us, the Church!

 

Everything is New!

Advertisement

If we go back to Paul’s letters for a moment and read 2 Corinthians, we can see that this is what Paul was getting at too. He had grasped this and was desperately trying to get it across to the Corinthian church. Oh, how slow are we on the uptake too?

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

 

Advertisement

If we are “in Christ” then WE are that new creation! Hence why, in the preceding verse, Paul writes that we should “regard no one from a human point of view” if they are believers.

 

Through Christ, God was reconciling the world back to himself. Paul again picks up on this theme in Colossian 1:19-20, where he says that “God was pleased” to reconcile all things to himself, whether “on Earth or in Heaven” – in other words, all of Creation.

 

Advertisement

Going back to Rev 21 in verse five, this theme continues where “the one on the throne” declares: “See, I am making all things new.”

 

But what does “reconcile” really mean? The dictionary definition would be “the restoration of friendly relations”.

 

Advertisement

If God was now on friendly terms with “all things” in heaven or Earth, and has given us the “ministry of reconciliation” as “co-workers with Christ” (1 Cor 3:9), then why would God just destroy it all in fire and start afresh? Seems to counteract those “friendly relations” doesn’t it?

 

As we can see from the following quote, this view isn’t new and was around in the second century as something which was taught by one of the more prominent early Christian theologians:

"For if the heavens are to be changed, assuredly that which is changed does not perish, and if the fashion of the world passes away, it is by no means an annihilation or destruction of their material substance that is shown to take place, but a kind of change of quality and transformation of appearance. Isaiah also, in declaring prophetically that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, undoubtedly suggests a similar view."

– Origen (2nd Century), Principles, 2:6:4

 

The Holy City

With that in mind, let’s examine the rest of the description of the New Jerusalem. Verse three continues to build on the conjoining of the Heaven and Earth imagery:

Rev 21:3

See, the home of God is among mortals, He will dwell with them;

they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them

 

God coming down to live in and with his people isn’t some new concept just found in Revelation either; we see this mentioned quite frequently in the New Testament:

John 14:23
Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

 

Ephesians 2:22
You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

 

2 Timothy 1:14
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.

 

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household. And we are that household if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.

 

1 Corinthians 3:16
Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

 

All of these verses about those in Christ being the dwelling places or the temple of God is reason why there is no need for a sanctuary in the New Jerusalem – because God now dwells within us! We are the temple!

Revelation 21:22
I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary.

Advertisement

 

The whole city is now a sanctuary unto the Lord, his glory fills it up. We can even see this prophesied way, way back in the Old Testament as far as Leviticus and Ezekiel:

Leviticus 26:11
I will place My residence among you, and I will not reject you.

 

Ezekiel 37:27

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people.

 

But both of these verses come with similar stipulations to what Jesus said about he and the Father making their home in those who believe in Jn 14:21 – if God’s commandments are kept, then he will come and dwell in and with us, if not, he won’t.

Advertisement

 

I’ve quoted this before in one of my previous articles on the Olivet Discourse, but I’ll show it again as the letter of Barnabas is one of the earliest texts we have outside of the New Testament, and so reflects a very early view from the Early Church period and the theology surrounding a new temple.

Barnabas 16:5-6

"Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be betrayed … For it is written, ‘And it shall come to pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built...in the name of the Lord.’ I find...that a temple does exist. Having received the forgiveness of sins…in our habitation God dwells in us….This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord.

Advertisement

 

Examining the rest of the description of the New Jerusalem, the link between the symbolism of the body of believers as a temple and holy structure from the Epistles becomes clearer, as we can see from Ephesians.

Eph 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

 

Advertisement

Contrast this with Rev 21 again:

Revelation 21:14
And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

 

And again, just before this verse, the description of the surrounding walls are named after the tribes of Israel:

Revelation 21:12
It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites

 

Could these walls represent the righteous Israelites who came before? Those in whom God found favour, or those who kept his commandments and upheld the Law now uphold and guard this “city”?

Those faithful of old who the writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12, calls a “great a cloud of witnesses” which surround us – much like these walls surround the holy city.

Advertisement

 

What type of Kingdom?

Many people today believe and expect Jesus to physically come back to Earth and set up a kingdom and throne in the actual city of Jerusalem, and reign from there for exactly 1000 years.

 

That is despite his kingdom having “no end”, as the angel Gabriel said to Mary in Luke 1:33 (cf. Dan 7:27). Why reign physically and temporarily, if only to end it and carry on reigning spiritually in heaven?

Advertisement

 

But if the Kingdom is within us (Lk 17:20-21) and has come upon us by the power of the Gospel (Lk 11:20), and if the body of believers are the New Jerusalem and also reign with Christ (2 Tim 2:12; Eph 2:6), does that leave room for any of this being a literal new planet Earth, or a literal and gigantic city floating out of the sky?

 

We can also see from records about Domitian's persecution (~96 AD) that he feared the coming kingdom like Herod did. But when quizzed, the Christians said it was not an earthly one they were waiting for, but a heavenly one (though admittedly, they were still waiting for it to come at the end of time itself).

And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.

– Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, ch. 20.6

 

This seems to be in keeping with what Paul wrote, when he said “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" in 1 Cor 15:50.

Advertisement

 

John 18:36 - My Kingdom is not of this world
The words of Jesus worth bearing in mind.

 

The similarities between the epistles, when they write about the Kingdom, and the New Jerusalem continue even when speaking of those who won’t enter it! The continuity across the Scriptures is a testimony unto itself at times, it really is quite amazing if one takes the time to look.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Revelation 21:7-8
Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

 

Gal 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Revelation 21:27
But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

Ephesians 5:5
Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

 

Revelation 22:14-15
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

 

It’s worth pointing out here that if the New Jerusalem really is a literal city on a brand new planet Earth, after the judgement etc. – then who are the people outside of it?

 

Advertisement

There is one passage in Revelation which talks about reigning on Earth, though. But it isn’t Jesus doing it, not physically at least.

Revelation 5:10

You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

 

Advertisement

Who are the “they” mentioned in this verse? All those who were “redeemed for God by [Jesus’] blood” (Rev 5:9, cf. Rev 1:6)! This is also a fulfillment of what Daniel foresaw in his visions:

Daniel 7:18

But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever.

 

Advertisement

But it doesn’t stop there: again in Rev 22 when the holy city is being described in some more detail, John writes that there is a river of “living water” flowing from the throne of God, lined with the Tree of Life on either side, where God’s people “will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:5). These references to being a “kingdom” and “priests” harkens back to what Peter also wrote about in 1 Peter 2:9.

 

Leaves for Healing

There’s an important “clue” here about the nature of this city in the way the Tree of Life is described and its purpose – similar to what I pointed out a few paragraphs ago:

Revelation 22:2-3

The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse.

 

Firstly, if this New Jerusalem appearing as a literal city is the culmination of world history after the judgement, second death, sheep and goats etc (in other words – there’s no one left except for God’s own people), why then do the nations still need healing?

 

Advertisement

Secondly, and maybe the most striking detail, is the mention that there will no longer be any curse. All throughout Scripture, there is one main thing which is always referred to as a “curse” – death (sometimes also synonymous with sin). And that is precisely what Jesus liberated us from by his own death on a cross!

Galatians 3:13

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us

 

Advertisement

While I recognise that the general (and possibly majority) view in the early church was of a literal, earthly millennial reign (at least until the fourth century when it began to be condemned and viewed metaphorically), I can't help but see the imagery of the New Jerusalem as a spiritual and figurative description of our present, physical reality as a body of believers in Christ.

 

But maybe it is both. Spiritually true now of the Church, and a more complete and realised state in the future? Or maybe the later Christians were right and the strictly literal interpretation was just spread by uninformed people which took hold in the teachings of the church (as some of the later writers assert).

 

Advertisement

I'm not exactly sure where I stand on the millennial reign, but I've done my best to present a thorough study of the New Jerusalem which falls under that general area of theology.

 

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.




Advertisement

 

Further Reading:

 

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 748 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 102 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Power Cuts and the Fear of God

| 7 days ago | Devotional

The other week we had a series of power cuts in our town. It doesn’t happen very often here where I am, but there was particularly bad weather recently which damaged some cables; but sitting in the dark winter evening, my phone low on battery power, it made me realise just how much we rely on electricity for nearly everything these days. We don’t even have a gas supply so we were completely cut off from doing anything! Now it might sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget how dependent we are on modern conveniences until it’s suddenly taken away and you’re sat in the cold surrounded by tiny little tea-light candles. The following Sunday, the sermon at church touched on the fear of God, which got me thinking about how that concept is still kind of strange to me—God is love, He’s our Father, we’re His children… but then we are to also fear Him?  What does this have to do with electricity and power cuts, I hear you say—I’ll come to that in a moment. I’ve often been taught that the word “fear” used in this context actually means “respect”, so I decided to look up the Greek and Hebrew words that are used when we see the words “fear God” in the Bible. It wasn’t exactly what I expected to find. 2 Corinthians 5:11 is where I began, as that was the verse quoted in the sermon. Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are revealed to God, and I hope that we are revealed also in your consciences. I thought I may see a Greek word with a semantic range which includes “respect” or “honour” maybe, but what I found was the word φόβος (phobos) which literally means “alarm or fright; be afraid, fear, terror”. It’s also where we get our English word “phobia” from! So I went forward a couple of chapters to this verse: 2 Corinthians 7:1Having therefore these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. But again, the word “phobos” was used, so now I decided to search across the New Testament for this phrase, and the next passage that came up was in Romans. Romans 3:18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This is part of a larger passage which ends on this verse about the fear of God (still using the same Greek word), where I saw a footnote to say it had been a quote from Psalm 36:1. Ah, I thought, maybe the Hebrew word used for “fear” will show something different! I thought wrong. This particular verse in Psalm 36 used the word פַּחַד (p̱aḥaḏ), which has a wide meaning such as: a (sudden) alarm (properly, the object feared, by implication, the feeling): — dread(-ful), fear, (thing) great (fear, greatly feared), terror. So again, the type of fear is an actual fear!  A little searching through the Old Testament revealed that the word “fear” has a couple of other Hebrew words which lie underneath the English translations, one of which does also mean “reverence” as well (יָרֵא [yârê], found in Gen 22:12 and 1 Sam 12:14). So maybe there is an element of that understanding in the Greek by the time the New Testament writers came along who meant that ‘fear’ as awe and reverence as well. So this all leads me back to where I was a week or so ago, sat in church listening to a sermon, wondering when my power would be back on. As I thought about all of this, the combination of electricity and the fear of God combined into something that helped me put some perspective on it: the fear of God is like a live, sparking electric cable.  I’ll clarify my thinking—if we saw an electric cable on the ground, flailing around and sparking  everywhere, we should be fearful of that because touching it could kill us! But when electricity is used right, it is good for and to us; it provides power and comfort etc. Without it we lose access to pretty much everything these days and go into darkness—Much like if we lose sight of,...

Patristics.info has launched!

| 13th September 2019 | Early Church

Hey everyone, so I’ve launched a new website called Patristics.info to be a new resource for all things early church related. I’ve added a few texts which I already had formatted from my book manuscript, plus other resources like timelines, maps, recommended books etc. I’ll be adding more soon in the coming days. I’ve also created a “topical index” page too which is auto-generated from the tags on the pages to aid with searching, plus I created a word highlighter on each page so you can search keywords in a text and have them highlighted if you’re looking for particular things. If anyone would like to be involved to contribute resources or blogs, or have any book you’ve written which you’d like linked/advertised on the site then just get in touch! I want this to be as useful a tool for people who are interested in this area as much as for people who are new to Patristics (the early church fathers). Features and functionality Much of the site is ready to go in terms of functionality and resources etc for the time being. I’m still working on adding more Early Church texts to the site, but this takes a lot of time as I need to transcribe them from unformatted text into a nicer format for reading, plus inserting all of the footnotes as well (I’m currently half way through 1 Clement now). While I mention the footnotes, I’ve created a feature similar to Wikipedia where if you hover on a footnote number, it will display a popup with the footnote text in it hopefully making it simpler to read the Patristic text and quickly see any additional information from the original translators as you go. This should also work well on mobiles too. Inline footnote hover popups Another new feature I’ve created is the Quote Search page: https://patristics.info/quote-search.html This is an experimental tool at the moment while I still perfect it, but please give it a go and submit any feedback if you can. The page will allow you to search a keyword and bring up a list of contextual quotes from within the Church Father texts where that word is mentioned. As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing else like this available online in this format so I hope it will prove useful for study! Example quote search for the word “baptism” I hope that you enjoy the site and find it a useful tool. Please share it online etc. and if you want to get involved with creating blogs or resources just get in touch, or if you feel so inclined, you can support this project financially via Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/LukeJWilson Go and explore the site today: Patristics.info !...

Should Christians get tattoos, and is it Biblical?

| 31st August 2019 | Tattoos

I was in a discussion not so long ago about tattoos, and I was asked about the historical view on this practice. It wasn’t something I had looked into before from a Church Fathers point of view, so it was an interesting topic of study. In my searching, I found this article from a Catholic site which seems to give a pretty interesting overview of some of the views about tattoos in the earlier centuries. The following is a quote about a Church Council in the context of native Britons, who still practiced tattooing at that time for pagan ritual, something which Tertullian also gives a fleeting reference to around 213 AD in his On the Veiling of Virgins, ch. 10. In the 787 Council of Northumberland — a meeting of lay and ecclesial leaders and citizens in England — Christian commentators distinguished between religious and profane tattoos. In the council documents, they wrote:“When an individual undergoes the ordeal of tattooing for the sake of God, he is greatly praised. But one who submits himself to be tattooed for superstitious reasons in the manner of the heathens will derive no benefit there from.” But, contrasted with Basil the Great of the fourth century, who supposedly (I say “supposedly” because I can’t find an original source for this quote, nor the quote above, though many other books and websites cite both; see end note) said: “No man shall let his hair grow long or tattoo himself as do the heathen” — it highlights that the views of this practice have been wide and varied over the centuries; as over in Egypt, the Coptic Church has been marking themselves with tattoos since the sixth or seventh century, even up to present times. All of this debate stems from one seemingly clear verse in Leviticus: Leviticus 19:28 (WEB)You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you. I am Yahweh. In the manner of how Hebrew works, the clause “for the dead” is applying to both phrases. The cuttings and the marks are not to be “for the dead”. Those Hebrew phrases which seem to repeat a similar thought are generally connected and are saying the same thing in two different ways to emphasise the point (just look at the Psalms for many examples of this). Not to mention that the word “tattoo” didn’t exist until the 17th century, prior to that it was translated as “marks on the skin” or something similar, which has much different connotations than the word “tattoo” has in our contemporary society. An ancient, obscure word is translated as “tattoo” in one place, and we impose our modern thinking of what that word implies onto Scripture making it anything but clear and moving us a little farther away from the original intent. This verse is more than likely admonishing against copying the surrounding pagan practices of the time than being a blanket rule against any form of “tattoo”. Arguably there are passages that say that Jesus’ body was “marked” in some way, as in the book of Revelation which some see as a reference to a tattoo of sorts: Revelation 19:16 (WEB)He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Or in the Old Testament, Isaiah speaks of God in a similar manner as having “engraved” the names of his people on the palm of his hand — a word with a much stronger and more violent visual than simply tattooing ink into the skin. Possibly even a nod towards what Jesus would eventually do for us when he would literally have his hands “engraved” (or “hacked” as this root word can also mean) for us on the cross! Isaiah 49:16a (WEB)Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Similarly, a couple of chapters previously to this one in Isa. 44:5, it speaks of the people writing the name of the LORD of their hands in celebration, and a similar, but less violent, word for “engraving” is used here too. Going back to the passage in Leviticus, the word ...

Spiritual Disciplines of the Early Church: Ancient Practices for the 21st Century

| 17th June 2019 | Early Church

I was asked not so long ago what kinds of things Christians did in the Early Church (first to fourth century) as a form of spiritual discipline, on a personal level as well as a corporate one. Though the concept of an individual “personal spiritual life” would have been quite foreign to first century believers as faith and Church was very much a corporate venture that had personal implications, rather than the other way around as it can often appear to be thought of today. Much of what made Christianity structured, disciplined and set apart from society, has largely been lost in practice, or forgotten and relegated to the annals of history by many practicing Christians today. With that said, let’s take a look at what the most common practices were of the ancient Church.   Reading/Memorising Scripture Memorising Scripture – specifically the Psalms and Gospels Singing/praying the Psalms as worship to God Both of these principles are based on Psalm 1:1–3 and Colossians 3:16. “Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.” Commentary on Psalm 1, Basil the Great (4th century)   Prayer and Fasting Another common practice that was expected of believers was regular fasting, since Jesus had said “when you fast”, not “if”. Typically, fasting was done every week on Wednesday and Friday, based on Matthew 6:16–18, and also to honour the days of the Passion and crucifixion in later tradition. “But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; … but fast on the fourth day (Wednesday) and the Preparation (Friday). … [But pray] as the Lord commanded in His Gospel (the Lord’s Prayer) … Thrice in the day thus pray.” Didache (c. 50 – 70) Alongside fasting, praying the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon, evening) was a common discipline. From around the third century, liturgy and prayers in a church service would start to face East as that was seen where God’s glory arose, and in baptism ritual turning East was a sign of turning away from the devil towards Christ (Jews similarly prayed facing Jerusalem). This is also why many old church buildings are cross-shaped and have the alter end pointing Eastward. For it is required that you pray toward the east, as knowing that which is written: ‘Give ye glory to God, who rideth upon the heaven of heavens toward the east’ (Ps 67.34 LXX [Ps. 68:33 – 34]). Didascalia, Ch. XII (c.250) The various spiritual benefits to fasting are marked throughout the Church Fathers' works on the subject, but I find this quote from Augustine sums it up succinctly: “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” Augustine; Sermon, On Prayer and Fasting, LXXII (c. 393–430) Fasting was also not just total denial of food all day, but often only until sundown (or evening meal), and would comprise of bread and water with some oils to dip the bread in. Some may be more like a vegetarian diet, but with no oil, fish or alcohol either. Meal times should be replaced with prayer, and in all times during the fast (as well as generally also), to bear in mind the true fast that is pleasing to the Lord as seen in Isaiah 58:6–9. “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6 – 7 (WEB)   Signing the Cross Another ancient custom is making the sign of the cross over yours...