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Blog Group: General Articles (73 posts)


Luke J. Wilson | 08th March 2021 | General Articles
  For many people today, non-Christians and (low church) Christians alike, when they hear the word “Catholic”, certain images spring to mind: the Pope, the rosery, Catholic school, big old churches buildings, choirboys, maybe monks or statues of Mary even; and sadly more recently, sex abuse scandals. But, generally speaking, all of these are actually aspects of Roman Catholicism — a particular branch of Christianity, and not what the word “catholic” truly means as we’ll see when examining how the early church used the word and what the original Greek word means. καθολικός (katholikos) The Greek word where we get the English word “catholic” from is καθολικός (katholikos) meaning “universal”, which comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning “on the whole”, “according to the whole” or “in general” (catholicus in Latin). In non-ecclesiastical use, it still retained its root meaning in English in some literature from the 1800s, though that usage has fallen out of common use in modern times. The first Biblical[1] reference to the word is found in Acts 9:31 when speaking about “the church throughout [all] Judea, Galilee, and Samaria…”. The words “throughout” and “all” are καθ (κατά) and ὅλης (ὅλος) respectively in Greek, which together come to form the word καθολικός. The earliest historical use of the word, in the context of the Church, is found in one of the letters of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written around A.D. 107, where he writes: Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. From here on we begin to see that the word “catholic” was used in reference to mean “orthodoxy” (the word “orthodox” means “right belief”) as opposed to the non-orthodox heretics who were then by definition not catholic as they were not ‘accordin...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th May 2020 | General Articles
EXCITING UPDATES! Just a quick update for you about a couple of new and exciting things I am offering now! Firstly, I have now launched a new range of faith-inspired clothing, which you can see some examples of in the image banner above. If you want to proclaim Christ and your faith via what you wear (especially in these dark times where churches are closed), head on over to: https://thatancientfaith.teemill.com     The second thing to mention, as you may gather from the logo above, is that I now have a YouTube channel! I have begun it by doing a read through of my book, 40 Days with the Fathers, through Lent, so you can listen to the whole book for free. I also plan to create videos discussing the topics I write about where I can go into things in more detail or explain some of the thinking behind the various topics which I can't always fit into the blogs. So if you enjoy watching things on YouTube, come on over and subscribe to my channel.   That's right: I have a new book in the works! It draws on some of the series and articles I've written on this site to do with Old Testament prophecy and its links into the New Testament, the Incarnation (briefly) and the Second Coming and what we have to look forward to (or worry about). Stay tuned for updates, I'll post some more information soon when there's something more solid to show. If you want to get some insider previews or maybe some advanced reading or snippets etc. then come on over to my Patreon and sign up. Members will get advanced access to any news and updates before anyone else, plus other bonuses! That's all for now, leave a comment if you have any queries or thoughts! ...

Luke J. Wilson | 29th February 2020 | General Articles
The season of Lent is here once again which of course brings up the topic of fasting, since the tradition of Lent comes from following Jesus’ example of his time in the wilderness (Luke 4:1–2). I wasn’t planning on writing anything specific this year like I have previous in previous years, but I felt inspired today at church from one of Gospel readings: Matthew 9:14–15 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Often times when the topic of fasting, or Lent, comes up, people are quick to defend their inaction towards self-denial by claiming that, “Jesus didn’t command us to fast!”. Let’s take a look at that claim for a moment. There may be no chapter and verse you can point to where Jesus says, “Thou shalt fast” — but it was certainly implied in a couple of places when Jesus spoke on the topic, the verse from Matthew above being one of those times, when he finishes off by saying: “and then they will fast” after the “bridegroom” (ie. Jesus) is taken away (death and ascension into heaven). The other time Jesus talks about fasting is a little earlier on in Matthew’s Gospel, in chapter six: Matthew 6:16–18 And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Here we can see that Jesus clearly speaks with the expectation that his followers will fast and even gives instructions and guidance on how to do so...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th November 2019 | General Articles
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 ag...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th September 2019 | General Articles
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 ke...

Luke J. Wilson | 31st August 2019 | General Articles
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 cutt...

Luke J. Wilson | 17th June 2019 | General Articles
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...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd June 2019 | General Articles
The Nicene Creed — what is it and why is it called that? This creed gets its name from a time and place: the first ecumenical Church council held at Nicaea, which is now known as İznik in northwestern Turkey, in 325 AD. Now that may raise another question for you: what is an ecumenical council? Well, to explain more about the Nicene Creed, we are going to have to take a look at The First Council of Nicaea in order to better understand why this creed was written. First things first though; an “ecumenical council” is ideally a Church-wide meeting where all the Bishops from all across the Church come together to hold a very large and very important meeting to discuss topics and issues affecting the whole Body of Believers, with the results intended to be binding on all believers. Most often, these Councils were called to combat heresy and false teachers who had come about and gained enough popularity that it warranted an official response, with the creeds being the result after proper orthodoxy had been ratified. Seeking unity, the Council was convened by Constantine I in response to the Arian controversy which had gripped the Greek-speaking East. The teaching of Arius of Alexandria were considered heretical by most bishops of the time, fearing that it would cost people their salvation. 1800 bishops were invited by Constantine (that was every bishop across the Roman Empire), but only around 250-320 turned up from across the Empire, except Britain, according to the various surviving documents from different attendees. This Council was an extremely historic event as nothing quite like it had happened before since the Council of Jerusalem around 50 AD (Acts 15), which convened in a similar manner to counter controversial and false teaching which was upsetting the Church Body. As with that Council, the Nicene Council and its outcome was intended for the whole of the Church global. What actually happened at Nicaea I won’t go into too much detail about everyt...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th May 2019 | General Articles
40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts is now available to buy as Paperback or Kindle! I am happy to say that the new book is now available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon! Other eBook formats will be available soon as it rolls out. This book is the companion to my other book (40 Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan), and includes twenty-three Early Church texts in full—including all additional footnotes from the original editors and translators so that you can get as close as possible to reading these ancient texts without needing to know ancient Greek or Latin. It's structured in such a way to read a chapter a day over a 40 day period which will help digest these long texts, and also serve as an easy introduction to what is often the more scholarly/academic side of things. Order your copy today to get the Paperback at the special low price of £19.99 (RRP: £21.99)! In the UK? Go to Amazon.co.uk In America or worldwide? Go to Amazon.com Thank you for your interest and support of my work! Luke J. Wilson...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd March 2019 | General Articles
Available soon will be a companion book that will include all of the source texts in full, which I had hoped to get out in time for Lent, but it’s unlikely to be ready in time this year. So if you have my book and would like to read along each day with the Church Fathers as well, I’ve compiled a list of online sources where you can read the original texts. If you don’t have the book and would like it, you can order it now from Amazon and still get it in time for Lent by clicking the following link: Amazon.com; or if you would like to pledge some support towards my book writing in return for some nice perks, you can do so on my Patreon page: https://patreon.com/LukeJWilson. If you would like to be notified of the release of the new Companion Book, you can sign up to the mailing list at the top of the homepage at https://fortydays.co.uk.  Day One: The Didache http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm Day Two & Three: Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0101.htm Day Four: Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0136.htm Day Five: Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm Day Six: Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm Day Seven: Ignatius, Epistle to the Trallians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0106.htm Day Eight: Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0107.htm Day Nine: Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0108.htm Day Ten: Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnæans http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm Day Eleven: Epistle to Polycarp http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0110.htm Day Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen: Justin Martyr, First Apology http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm Day Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty: Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church http://www.newa...

Luke J. Wilson | 17th December 2018 | General Articles
It's that magical time of year when the lights go up, the trees get decorated and a familiar bearded man in a red suit pops up everywhere. He goes by a few names: Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nick. But who was the real Santa Claus? Well, to answer that, we need to go way back in history to the fourth century to a Bishop called Nicholas of Myra (present-day Demre, Turkey). Memes abound about St Nicholas and Arius Some early lists place him as one of the Bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and there are some questionable legends which states that he was temporarily defrocked (a removal from office) and imprisoned during the Council for apparently slapping the heretic Arius across the face! The following is an excerpt from a book called The Book of the Saints, which details some of the main aspects we know about St. Nicholas’ life and the miracles attributed to him: ST. NICHOLAS was born into a wealthy family at Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Diocletian, attended the Council of Nicaea, and died at Myra, where he was buried in the cathedral. Nicholas was chosen Bishop of Myra and devoted himself to helping the poor. Tradition says that Nicholas devoted himself to works of charity. Hearing that an impoverished father had to sell his three daughters into prostitution because he had no money for their marriage dowry, Nicholas threw a small bag of gold into the poor man's window on three different evenings, and his daughters were able to marry. Finally, he was discovered as the bearer of these gifts. At one time, he saved three innocent young men from execution by the powerful civil governor, Eustathius. At another time he came to the aid of seamen who called for his help during a storm at sea off the coast of Lycia. Suddenly appearing on their ship, he manned the ropes and sails beside the weary sailors and brought the vessel to port. Another tale relates that during a famine in hi...

Luke J. Wilson | 19th November 2018 | General Articles
Sin is like a mold on us, like a rotting, black skin disease. If only we could see it on us, we'd be disgusted and repulsed! Zombies are popular on TV etc. right now, think of the grossness of those images and realise that when we sin and keep sinning, that's what we end up looking like before God! We are living stones, together building up the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Cor 6:19). Think about that for a moment. Think of the splendor of Solomon's temple when it was built (re-read it again if you can’t remember: 1 Kings 6:14-36). We are that and SO much more! But now imagine it with mold and mildew and all that horrible black damp growing and spreading across the walls. Totally unbefitting of a holy temple for the Lord! You'd clean it up straight away if that happened in your home, but for some reason we just let it fester in the temple of God like it's no big deal. But what happens if it's left? It can destroy the wall with rot and become poisonous causing sickness. These days we can just buy some spray to squirt on the walls and wipe clean, but how did God command his people to deal with mold and mildew in the Old Testament? Leviticus 14:45He shall have the house torn down, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and taken outside the city to an unclean place. Pretty drastic, right? But it's a serious thing! And sin is an even more serious thing to God, much more than mold in a house, but if WE are that house and WE have that mold then how much more serious will God take that? How much more will God tear down our bodies in order to save us from the disease festering in our lives? Look at what Paul told the Corinthian church to do with a man living in sin: 1 Corinthians 5:5you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Did you catch that? They were to hand this person over to Satan! How? By putting them out of the church— excommunicat...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th November 2018 | General Articles
Free Early Church Resources I've created a few resources to aid with your studies or interest in the Early Church. The below maps are converted from the appendices in my book. I'll also soon add some hi-res versions as A3 poster size to purchase as well. Below the maps is an interactive chronological timeline of when the New Testament and Early Church texts were written. At the time of writing, I have covered most of the Ante-Nicene (pre-325 AD) period. Geographical Locations of Early Church Texts Approximate locations of where the NT and Ante-Nicene texts were written (or sent). Blue book icons represent the New Testament books, the red crosses are a selection of the Early Church Fathers texts. Zoom in and click on the icons for more details.   Journey of Ignatius to his Martyrdom The whole journey covers about 1524 miles (2454 km)! Blue pins are the known route that Ignatius took Green pins are where he stopped to write his epistles (zoom in and click the pins for info) Red pins are the conjectured route   Chronological Timeline of the New Testament and other Early Church Texts and Events A timeline of when the New Testament and other early Patristic works were written*, plus significant historical events which may have influenced certain writings. KEY:Orange = New TestamentDark Green = Apostolic Fathers (c.70 - c.150 AD)Light Green = Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre-325 AD)Light Orange = Post-Nicene FathersBlue = Significant Historical EventsBlack = Major Time PeriodsTeal = First Seven Ecumenical CouncilsRed = Widespread PersecutionsLight Red = Localised/Regional PersecutionsGrey = Disputed FactsYellow = Major Schisms * Much of the dating and research has been taken from the works of Schaff, Lightfoot, Harmer et al. Powered by Time.Graphics  ...

Luke J. Wilson | 02nd November 2018 | General Articles
Take a journey through the first 400 years of Church History in only 40 days! "40 Days with the Fathers" is a daily reading plan/devotional spread out over forty days; and over the course of this reading plan you will read extracts and commentary on 23 different early Church texts from a selection of some of the most influential Church Fathers, such as: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?” — well now you can read for yourself and see how God continued to grow His Church! Revised Edition includes: a chronological timeline of the Early Church texts, a map displaying where the New Testament and early texts were written and sent, plus a map of Ignatius’ journey to martyrdom in Rome. As a small added bonus, at the end of each chapter there is now a "Notes" section so you can jot down any thoughts you have whilst doing your daily reading. Available Now From: Download a free sample chapter! Preview Photos      ...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th October 2018 | General Articles
The Apostle's creed — what is it and why is it called that? Outside of the New Testament, this is one of the oldest creeds we have, dating back to the sixth – eighth century in its current form that is commonly known today, but having its origins much earlier — as far back as the second century in a shorter form known simply as the “Old Roman Creed”. The Apostles creed is also sometimes referred to as the “Rule of Faith” as it is a summary of the Gospel and is the basis for pretty much all modern theology. The points of the creed cover all the major pillars of the Christian faith which aims to safeguard what is true orthodoxy (right belief), which one must agree and adhere to in order to be counted amongst the Christians. Most often, the need for creeds arose in opposition to heresy so that the Church could point to what was historically taught by Christ and the Apostles to show what was ancient and true, as opposed to new and “novel” doctrines. The Old Roman Creed The text of the Old Roman Creed survives in a letter from a bishop Marcellus of Ancyra, which was sent to Julius, the bishop of Rome, dating back to around 340–360 AD where it was mainly used as a baptismal text in the Roman church. Roughly 50 years later, Tyrannius Rufinus (an Italian monk) wrote a commentary on this creed whilst translating it into Latin, where he made a note about the view and belief that this creed had been originally written or determined by the Apostles themselves shortly after Pentecost and before they left Jerusalem, hence the name this creed eventually came to be known as. I mentioned last week in my introductory post to this series, that there’s a handful of creedal statements within the New Testament, and one in particular in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is similar in structure to the Apostle’s Creed, though not necessarily in wording. Let's take a look at the Old Roman Creed and the Apostle’s Creed side by side to have a look at what developed and was ...

Luke J. Wilson | 29th September 2018 | General Articles
I’m starting a new four part series over the coming weeks which will be looking at the different historical creeds of the Church which have been recited, used and handed down for two millennia, beginning with the very first formal creed: the Apostles Creed. This series will be a mixture of historical background plus a commentary on the creed itself to see where each statement is based in Scripture, and why we can trust them to accurately portray the Faith. What are creeds and why should we accept them? The word “creed” comes from the Old English crēda, and from Latin crēdo meaning “I believe”. A creed is basically a set of beliefs which you profess; a statement of faith. Many non-creedal (or non-denominational) churches have a ‘statement of faith’ on their websites to highlight and specify where they stand on certain doctrines – which is essentially just stating their own type of creed instead of listing an ancient and historically accepted one. Even those who declare “no creed but Christ”, or “I just believe the Bible”, are ironically making a creed, albeit a short one with no solid definition. The Church has been declaring creeds for as long as it has existed, despite the sometimes common accusation that creeds are “unbiblical” or “non-biblical”; statements which couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in the Apostles time they were making statements of faith in short creedal formats, and a few of them are preserved in the New Testament, primarily in Paul's letters. One of the longer examples can be found in the first letter to the Corinthians, and has a similar form and wording to what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures,that He was buried,that He was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas,then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 5...

Luke J. Wilson | 01st April 2018 | General Articles
Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life! 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” "Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ. I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago. I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus! Happy Easter, everyone. ...

Luke J. Wilson | 25th March 2018 | General Articles
So often we hear this phrase said about Jesus, that he was “the lamb of God” and that he “takes away the sins of the world” — but what do those things mean and how did he take away sin? John 1:29The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (cf. Jn 1:36) The New Testament writers repeatedly refer to Jesus as a lamb; but not only that — as a ransom too. Jesus even introduces himself that way at one point: Mark 10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (cf. Matthew 20:28) To better understand the terminology and analogy we need to go back to the Torah, the Old Testament, and look at this from a Jewish perspective and what the sacrificial lamb initially meant. The main comparison that is drawn between Jesus and the old sacrifices, is that of the Passover lamb. The link between the two is really quite amazing and to be honest, I didn't realise just how much of this Jesus fulfilled in himself until I was writing this. First we need to go back to the very first Passover to see what it meant for Israel. The whole story can be found in Exodus 12, but the relevant parts to the lamb are about how it should look and be prepared, and the reason for the blood covering: Exodus 12:5-7, 13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. […] The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. The instructions about the Passover meal also go on to say that no bones of the lamb may be bro...

Luke J. Wilson | 18th March 2018 | General Articles
Sometimes the question, or accusation/criticism maybe, is posed by atheists and critics of Christianity that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice anything because he is God and also because he got his life back three days later. So where’s the sacrifice if you know that what you give up will be given back, and given back even better than you previously had it? It’s an interesting question, and one that should cause us to stop and think about what we, as Christians, say to non-believers in case the question is ever given to us. Most people will say Jesus  gave up his life for us – but is that such a big deal if he knew he’d have it back in three days; and then to be taken up to heaven and resume his Godly-divine status he had before the incarnation? Well, yes. Obviously all the pain and suffering that Jesus had to endure before his death was a big deal, and it showed, as we can see from the Gospels when Jesus says to his disciples that he is “deeply grieved, even to death” (Matt 26:38). Luke 22:42-44‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. We can see from the quote above that Jesus really wasn’t looking forward to this, despite knowing its purpose. He even needed an angel to come to physically come to him to give him the strength to go on with this plan! Suggesting that this was a walk in the park for Jesus and making light of what he was about to go through is just ignorance of the reality of the situation. There’s also a significant detail in the Luke passage above which gives us a medical insight into what Jesus was going through in these moments: the sweat of blood. This is actually a rare condition known as Hematidrosis, and in certain conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress and/or mental anxiety, t...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th March 2018 | General Articles
So now we are at the end of the temptations that Jesus endured in the desert, and I wanted to look at what happens at the end. So often I think this aspect is overlooked when we read of this time in Scripture. Let’s take a look at the text: Matthew 4:11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Luke 4:13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. The two Gospel accounts both give us a varying perspective with different details. Afterwards, the devil leaves and angels “suddenly” come. This is almost a temptation in itself; one to think we are all good and safe now we've won the battles. But look: the devil left him “until an opportune time”. We are never beyond being tempted, or far from that tempter who ‘prowls around like a roaring lion’ (1 Peter 5:8). Christ withstood his temptations, and as a model for us, so can we. But it's a constant battle. 1 Corinthians 10:12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. As Paul writes in the quote above, we must watch ourselves and not get too confident that we think we're strong enough not to get tripped up. Temptation can strike at any time, and if we're not prepared it could lead us into sin (James 1:14-15). James 1:12A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. This is why we mustn't get complacent in our situations just when it seems, or feels, like we have it all together. We must always “put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) and make as little “opportune” times as possible for the enemy to strike at us. Remember, Jesus lived as a human to know what it was like to be a human; he went through these temptations, and others no doubt, as he lived out his life. That is why the writer of Hebrews says that he is able to ...

Luke J. Wilson | 04th March 2018 | General Articles
Here we are at the final temptation that the devil directly attacks Jesus with (I say directly, because next week I’m going to look at the more subtle attacks and temptations we can face). Let’s begin with the text: Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (cf. Luke 4:9-12) There’s quite a few things wrapped up in these few short verses. For a start, the devil took Jesus to the “holy city” (ie. Jerusalem) – but whether this was in body or in spirit, we just don’t know and can’t say for certain; maybe it was in a similar way to how Philip was transported in Acts 8:39. Intrigued by this though, I decided to look up a few details to see just how far they travelled (however it happened). Jesus was baptised by John in the river Jordan, and according to Mark, the Spirit “immediately” drove Jesus into the wilderness from there (Mark 1:9, 12). According to Google maps (and more likely, Church tradition), the spot where he was baptised is close to Jericho. Directly next to this area is the Judaean Desert, which would be the wilderness where Jesus spent his time. On the other side of this desert is Jerusalem, which is about 27 miles away from the spot by the Jordan where the baptism took place. I’ve put together a quick map so you can get a better idea of locations: Approx. locations of events Anyway, I digress slightly. The point being, is that where Jesus was and where he was taken was not exactly just around the corner! Coupled with the fact that the devil took Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple, this was quite a journey. Now the other t...

Luke J. Wilson | 25th February 2018 | General Articles
Here we are on the second Sunday of Lent, and this week I am looking at the next temptation Jesus faced in the desert against the devil, the one of worship and glory. Let's take a look at the text: Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God,    and serve only him.’” (cf. Matthew 4:8-10) Last week we saw how Satan tempts Jesus through his hunger and used his physical weakness as a way in to try and trip him up. This week we are looking at misplaced worship and the temptation to look to things other than God. As we begin to look through these temptations of Jesus, we begin to see that they weren't entirely random but are in fact another way in which Jesus reverses the sin that first began in the Garden. It is yet another proof that Jesus is the second Adam who has overcome sin! Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden for a moment: Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Contrast that with what John writes in his first epistle: 1 John 2:15-16 The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of life (or in riches) comes not from the Father but from the world.   The sin that separated Adam and Eve from God in the beginning is the same in essence as what John says comes from the world and not the Father. These are the same areas of sin and temptation that the devil was using on Jesus in the desert t...

Luke J. Wilson | 18th February 2018 | General Articles
Welcome to the first part of a short series I'm writing during Lent. We’re on the first Sunday of Lent, and so I’m going to be looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he endured. A new post will be up every Sunday, and you can view the series overview here: Lent 2018. Mark 1:12-13And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. That’s all Mark has to say on that time Jesus spent there, and John doesn’t mention the forty days at all. That leaves only Luke and Matthew which mention the temptations or any details about what happened in the desert. So let's look at the first temptation that Satan tried on Jesus. Luke 4: 1-4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” (cf. Matt 4:1-4) The first thing that jumps out at me here, is that the devil didn’t come to tempt Jesus until after the forty days were up. He waited until Jesus was “famished” and then struck while he was weak. What can we learn from this? That the devil is tricksy and won’t hit you when you feel like you have it all together, but will rather wait until you are in a more susceptible and weakened state of mind. Like James (1:14-15) says, we get tempted by our “own desire, being lured and enticed by it” to try and get us to fall into sin by acting upon those desires. So we need to guard our minds and keep our focus on God in those times to try and ensure that we are aware of the escape that God has given us, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 C...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th February 2018 | General Articles
Lent is just around the corner, and so this year I've decided to write a short series over the next 40 days looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he faced. I'll post a new blog each Sunday of Lent looking at each temptation, and then finish the series just before Easter Sunday looking at “how was Jesus a sacrifice?”. Series outline: Temptation one: Pride (1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018) Temptation two: Worship and Glory (2nd Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018) Temptation three: Testing God (3rd Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018) Temptation four: Complacency (4th Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018) Topical: What did Jesus sacrifice? (5th Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018) Topical: How was Jesus a sacrifice? (6th Sunday of Lent, March 24th, 2018) Celebration: O Death, where is your sting? (Easter Sunday, 1st April 2018) Stay tuned for the first installment in a few days time, and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe so you will be notified by email when each new post goes out!...

Luke J. Wilson | 06th January 2018 | General Articles
The topic of human suffering is a subject many Christians struggle with, and is an issue many theologians have written about over the centuries — so it's definitely not something I can fully address in a single blog post! But there are some general principles we can find in Scripture that many Christians can/do accept, which should act as a starting point to addressing this subject, such as: We live in a fallen world due to sin (Gen 3), and so things aren’t perfect and neither are people, therefore suffering can happen from illness, nature, and human action (or inaction). Not all suffering is necessarily “bad”, from a Christian perspective. For example, if we are made to suffer due to our faith, we should rejoice to be counted as partakers in Christ’s suffering — 1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. And, Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Sometimes suffering can be used to test our faith to make us stronger, which we see an example of with Peter in the Gospels: Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, listen!...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th December 2017 | General Articles
Why read the Early Church Fathers? Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers? No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works. My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years. Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies). From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”. So Why Read What They Wrote? The Bible didn't just...

Luke J. Wilson | 09th August 2017 | General Articles
40 Days with the Fathers: Available to order now! 40 Days with the Father: a daily reading plan by Luke J. Wilson   The time has finally arrived: my new book is now available to order!I'm so excited to share this with you after many months of work, research and editing. I hope that you enjoy reading the book as much as I did writing it! Order your copy now from my new website: fortydays.co.uk to get it at a reduced rate. If you order today then it should arrive just in time for Christmas!If you do enjoy it, don't forget to leave a review on Good Reads or on Amazon.Keep in touch and receive updates about me or the book at my new Facebook page: Luke J. Wilson  Order Your Copy Today ↣       _________#outlook a { padding: 0; } body { width: 100% !important; min-width: 100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%; -ms-text-size-adjust: 100%; margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; box-sizing: border-box; } .ExternalClass { width: 100%; } .ExternalClass, .ExternalClass p, .ExternalClass span, .ExternalClass font, .ExternalClass td, .ExternalClass div { line-height: 100%; } #backgroundTable { margin: 0; Margin: 0; padding: 0; width: 100% !important; line-height: 100% !important; } img { outline: none; text-decoration: none; -ms-interpolation-mode: bicubic; width: auto; max-width: 100%; clear: both; display: block; } center { width: 100%; min-width: 580px; } a img { border: none; } p { margin: 0 0 0 10px; Margin: 0 0 0 10px; } table { border-spacing: 0; border-collapse: collapse; } td { word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-hyphens: auto; ...

Luke J. Wilson | 15th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Forty: St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Gospel, incarnation and resurrection of our Lord. Why: To encourage the Church in the power of the incarnation and the true faith and the nature of Christ and to give a new meaning to Passover in light of Jesus When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 195 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Here we are, at the final day of Lent. I hope you've found it an interesting journey through Church History, covering various authors and topics from the first four centuries of the Church. And what better way to end this series than with a sermon on the resurrection! “The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative”, Leo declares as the opening statement of this sermon. What is this Easter mystery? “The cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals” which is both a “mystery and an example” for us to follow. It's “a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect” and “an example whereby man's devotion is excited” to be “inseparably united to” Christ, who is “the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness (Jn 14:6). Christ took our nature upon Him for our salvation In the beginning, when the “whole body of mankind had fallen”, our merciful God had purposed in himself to make a way to reconcile “His creatures made after His image [...] through His only-begotten Jesus Christ”. Leo goes on to say that if we had not fallen from how God m...

Luke J. Wilson | 14th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-nine: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the season of Lent as the Easter festival approached. Why: To encourage the Church to fast during this season in order than they may put away temptations and overcome their vices, to be guided by God in all things. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 191 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Lenten sermon from Pope Leo I that he preached in the run up to the Easter festival, in which “the greatest and most binding of fasts is kept, and its observance is imposed on all the faithful without exception; because no one is so holy that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that he might not be devouter.” Lent is a time of self-reflection and discipline, a time where we look at the life of Jesus and mourn his death as the disciples did, before we realise the reality of the resurrection which comes in a few short days. “Who is there who would not wish for additions to his virtue, or removal of his vice?” Leo asks rhetorically, referring to the benefits of the Lenten fast and discipline. “Blessed, therefore, is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk”. Leo refers this back to what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 as a way of living in such a way that we don't get too caught up in this life and this world that we forget about the divine promise and the life we are called to live. Matthew 7:14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are f...

Luke J. Wilson | 13th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-eight: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XXI (On the Nativity Feast I) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Nativity at Christmas time, about the incarnation of the Word of God. Why: To explain the incarnation and preach the Good News of our Lord and Saviour becoming man for our sake so that we may be saved and born again. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 189 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Christmas sermon from Pope Leo I. This may seem totally out of place during Lent and you may be wondering why this was included, but there is some sense and logic going on here! This reading marks the beginning of the final three days of Lent, and the topics covered all work together in the build up to the glorious resurrection of Christ. This sermon reading deals with the first coming of our Lord as a baby, the mighty Word of God incarnated as a small and fragile child to save the world. Tomorrow’s sermon goes over aspects of Lent itself, in which we celebrate and remember the life and ministry of Jesus; and then finally, the last sermon is on the resurrection where we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death and sin which is what Easter is all about. So in short, these sermons cover the major points in the life of Jesus, which is quite fitting to close this series with. Celebrating Christmas is to celebrate “the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity”. "There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come...

Luke J. Wilson | 12th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-seven: St. Leo the Great: Letter XXVIII (called the "Tome") Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A defence of the twofold nativity and nature of Christ against the false teaching of a priest called Eutyches. It is a doctrinal letter sent by Pope Leo I in the year 449 to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, on the Church's teaching about the person of Christ. Why: An apologetic defending the faith to ensure sound teaching is passed on and understood by all to affirm that Christ has two natures, human and divine, united in the one divine Person of the Son of God. When 3 June, 449 AD You can find today’s reading on page 182 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a defence of the faith against certain things that a priest called Eutyches was teaching, written by Pope Leo I. Eutyches was speaking against the teaching of the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, who said that the human experiences of Christ were only part of the ‘the man’ which was distinct from the ‘God the Word’ part of Jesus. To combat this, Eutyches went too far in the other direction and declared that Christ was "a fusion of human and divine elements" which created a new, single nature in Jesus, rather than a twofold nature which the Creeds declare. This actually led to himself being declared a heretic also for this belief! Now Leo is writing against the teaching of Eutyches because it seems that he was unwilling to accept any correction to his doctrine. “But what more iniquitous”, Leo says,  “than to hold blasphemous opinions, and not to give way to those who are wiser and more learned than ourself?” Leo i...

Luke J. Wilson | 11th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-six: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 5-9 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 173 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Continuing on from yesterday, we'll jump straight into the second, and final part, of Ambrose's catechism on the mysteries. Continuing on the mystery of baptism, Ambrose explains that Christ is Himself present in Baptism, and because of that “we need not consider the person of His ministers”, since it is spiritually Christ baptising us. He then goes on to give a brief explanation of the confession of the Trinity, which is usually said by those being baptised, and how confessing belief in Father, Son and Spirit doesn't mean accepting one more than the other, but that they are all equal. But one thing of importance they must also confess is “the cross of the Lord Jesus alone”. Which I suppose means that they accept the Gospel and reject all other religions and beliefs that they may have. Fire from heaven Ambrose also makes a link between a couple of times in the Old Testament where a sacrifice was consumed with heavenly fire, and the baptism of fire we receive in the N...

Luke J. Wilson | 10th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-five: St. Ambrose of Milan: Concerning the Mysteries: 1-4 Who: Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church. What: The treatise was composed for use during the latter part of Lent, for the benefit of those about to be baptised, the rites and meaning of that Sacrament, as well as of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. For all these matters were treated with the greatest reserve in the Early Church, for fear of being misused by unbelievers. Why: Ambrose states that after the explanations he has already given of holy living (in previous texts not included here), he will now explain the Mysteries. Then after giving his reasons for not having done so before, he explains the mystery of the opening of the ears, and shows how this was of old done by Christ Himself. When: About 387 AD You can find today’s reading on page 167 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   This is another similar lecture to the catechisms we read over the last few days from Cyril of Jerusalem, except these are by the Bishop of Milan: Ambrose. Taught during this season of Lent, the latter part of the 40 days is when the mysteries were explained. It was only after baptism that it was considered the acceptable time to teach these things though, otherwise it was considered to have “betrayed than to have portrayed the Mysteries”. Open, then, your ears, inhale the good savour of eternal life which has been breathed upon you by the grace of the sacraments After the deacons have said the above, the following words were then declared over the catechumens: “Epphatha, which is, Be opened” (Mark 7:34). Similar to what Cyril taught, the new converts renounced the devil by facing West, and then turning East towards Christ, as though face to face, they declared their acceptance of Him. The bishop gives a message or blessing to the convert, who is instructed to acknow...

Luke J. Wilson | 08th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-four: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXIII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 162 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's final lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Sacred Liturgy and Communion and is an exposition based on 1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:1Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Any of my liturgical friends may enjoy this one today. Cyril gives us a breakdown of the liturgy spoken in the church service when they are about to receive communion. I couldn’t help but get a little excited when I read this lecture as it reminded me so much of my Anglican upbringing: the liturgy used in some parts, is word-for-word, which just goes to show how well preserved this has been down through the centuries. For example, in the Anglican order of service, the Liturgy of the Sacrament has these phrases: The Lord be with you and also with you Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give thanks and praise. Holy, holy, holy Lord… These are word-for-word what Cyril writes about when explaining the way in which a church servic...

Luke J. Wilson | 07th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-three: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXII Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 159 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on the Body and Blood of Christ and is an exposition based on 1 Cor 11:23-25 — For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” This whole lecture is about the Eucharist and it goes into some details about what happens spiritually during it, which will probably offend certain Protestant ears. Cyril explains how this bread and this wine are no longer merely just bread or wine any longer despite appearances. It seems as though some doubted this or perhaps were a little sceptical, because Cyril goes on to explain that since Jesus himself declared the bread to be his body, and the wine to be his blood, “who shall dare to do...

Luke J. Wilson | 06th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-two: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XXI Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 156 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on “chrism” and is an exposition based on 1 John 2:20-28 1 John 2:20,28But you have been anointed by the Holy One … that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. This was a new one to me today, I've never come across the word chrism before. From the passage of Scripture this lecture is based on, I guessed it was something to do with anointing and on looking it up I found that it's actually a type of oil used in baptism: “a mixture of oil of olives and balsam”. Roman Catholics still use it today too for anointing the sick and in baptism. What Cyril describes in this lecture is the practice of anointing the recently baptised with this special oil as a sign of the Holy Spirit's sealing upon them, since they have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27) and are adopted as sons (Eph 1:5) and are now partakers of Christ also (Heb 3:14). Because Jesus “was in reality crucified, and buried, and raised” and they, in baptism, also were partakers ...

Luke J. Wilson | 05th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty-one: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 153 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's lecture on the mysteries by Cyril, is on baptism and is an exposition based on Romans 6:3-14 Romans 6:3,14 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … since you are not under law but under grace. Now, these people that Cyril was teaching had already gone through the act of baptism, so now he was going over the symbolism and realities of what that meant to them personally. In describing the baptism rite to make one of his points, Cyril gives us a small insight into how the Church in the fourth century performed this, which I always find interesting to see how things have changed or stayed the same over the centuries. Before entering the waters, the one being baptised would strip of their tunic, symbolising “putting off the old man with his deeds” (Col 3:9) and would then be naked as Christ was naked on the cross. In doing this they may no longer pick up the old garment now, meaning to old self not the physical tunic, “which waxes corrupt in the lusts of deceit...

Luke J. Wilson | 04th April 2017 | General Articles
Day Thirty: St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Catechetical Lectures: Lecture XIX Who: Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. Little is known of his life, except from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. What: Each of the lectures deal with a different topic to teach converts the mysteries of the Church, particularly: rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Why: Cyril delivered to new converts five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church, after they had been baptised. When: Around 348-350 AD You can find today’s reading on page 150 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today we begin a new series of texts to read by Cyril of Jerusalem. He actually wrote lots of lectures to teach new converts, but we're only beginning with lecture nineteen where he begins to teach on certain “mysteries” of the Church – such as anointing with oil, the Eucharist and renouncing Satan etc. These lectures were given after people had been baptised into the faith and were undergoing what is called “catechism”, which basically means, a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for religious instruction. This lecture is on the renouncing of Satan and the turning from worldly things to be focused on Christ now, based on 1 Peter 5:8-14, specifically, verses 8 and 9: Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. Cyril recounts how that when they went into the...

Luke J. Wilson | 03rd April 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-nine: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 81-94 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 144 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Here we are at the end of the Life of Anthony in the final chapters of Athanasius’ biography, and the final chapters of Anthony’s life at the grand old age of 105! By this point in his life he had become widely renowned and respected far and wide, so much that judges and rulers would come and seek his advice on things, or sought out encouragement in their faith. Many looked up to Anthony as a father figure, even the emperor Constantine Augustus, and his sons Constantius and Constans the Augusti, who “wrote letters to him, as to a father, and begged an answer from him” since they themselves had come to the faith. Despite rulers and kings writing to him and seeking his advice, Anthony thought nothing of it and didn’t allow himself to become puffed up with pride over the status of men. After meeting and seeing the various people who would visit, Anthony would retreat to the “inner mountain” where he resided and spent much of his time in prayer. It was here that those who accompa...

Luke J. Wilson | 01st April 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-eight: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 71-80 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation. What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe. Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching. When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD You can find today’s reading on page 140 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf Well here we are at the penultimate reading before we read the end of this biography and move on from the Life of Anthony. Today we see the ways in which the Greek philosophers would come and listen to Anthony speak and how they would sometimes discuss things with him, or at other times would mock him and the message of the Cross. They came to mock Anthony because he had never “learned letters” and so was unable to read or write, so the Greeks thought he would be an unkempt and ignorant man, reared in the mountains and unable to reason properly. Anthony vs Greek Philosophers At one time during some event, Anthony noticed there were two Greek philosophers present (due to the way they were dressed), and so he approached them asking them why did they “come to a foolish man”, to which they said they didn’t think he was foolish, but “exceedingly prudent”. I’ll admit, I had to look up what prudent meant so I could understand what the Greeks were meaning. In this context it mea...

Luke J. Wilson | 31st March 2017 | General Articles
Day Twenty-seven: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 61-70 Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresy. Certain writers received the ti