BeLIEving the Lie 


The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

In the Old Testament, Satan is nothing like God’s equal and opposite (namely, evil), but rather is just one of God’s angelic creatures who has a specific role to play in the heavenly court of being the accuser of humanity. In these texts, Satan is not particularly evil but recognizes human frailty and sinfulness and has the desire to bring this information, and accusation, to God. Satan’s desire is that God will be true to His just nature, judging the humans for their failures. One only has to consider Satan in Job 1-2 to see Satan as the figure who is trying to disabuse God of His love for humanity as being misplaced because in Satan’s opinion humans are not trustworthy. Later tradition portrays Satan as being jealous of God’s love for humans and hopes to redirect God’s favor to himself by discrediting the humans.

As Peter Schafer has noted, Satan is not a figure of complete evil here. He represents the principle of justice and wants to make the claim that Israel does not deserve forgiveness.  (Gary Anderson, IN DOMINICO ELOQUIO – IN LORDLY ELOQUENCE, p 20)

11244902215_459a327fbd_wSatan’s rebellion against God is because Satan doesn’t want God to be merciful and forgiving, but rather he wants God to be completely just – demanding retribution and satisfaction against humanity for every sinful infraction of which humans are guilty.  We Christians should contemplate this: the one demanding God be absolutely just and thus condemning sinners is Satan!  God remains true to His nature as Love and is ever willing to forgive or work with His human creatures, and thus rejects Satan’s demand for absolute justice. Even the story of Adam and Eve’s Fall in Genesis 3 doesn’t happen purely by human design, for Satan is willing to trick and trap the humans into rebelling against God. And the humans comply, and complicity do Satan’s bidding. Several Church Fathers noted it is only Satan, not Adam and Eve, who is cursed by God for sinning. For example, St Irenaeus writes:

The whole curse, however, fell upon the serpent who seduced them: And God said to the serpent, [the Scripture] says, because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle and above all wild animals on the earth (Genesis 3:14). The same thing the Lord said in the Gospel to those who will be found on his left, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). thereby indicating that eternal fire was not prepared originally for humankind, but for him who seduced humankind and caused humans to sin; for him I say, who is the prince of the rebellion, and for the angels who together with him became rebels.  (AGAINST HERESIES Book 3, p 107)

38195829935_4831a43b3b_wEve and Adam are appropriately disciplined by God for their infraction, but they are not cursed. Rather they are put at enmity with Satan who is cursed by God.

It takes a long time for Satan as the purely Evil One to emerge in the Scriptures. Some scholars feel that Satan as the Evil One really emerges in Israel rather late in its history under Babylonian influence. The Jews in exile and captivity in Babylon are influenced by the more dualistic theological ideas they encounter among their conquerors, and Satan grows in evil and power. By the time of the New Testament, Satan is deemed the father of lies in the New Testament and a murderer (John 8:44). Satan seems to have much more control over the earth and its inhabitants. Christ however comes to expose Satan as truly powerless since all power comes from God. In the presence of Christ, the demons even have to ask His permission to depart – they have absolutely no power in God’s presence. I have made that point numerous times in these blogs as some Christians seem to treat Satan as God’s equal and opposite and act as if we do live in a dualistic world torn between good (God) and evil (Satan), but that isn’t the witness of the entirety of Scripture, but only those parts which absorbed the dualistic influence of the culture around God’s people. Partly this may have occurred because people wonder reasonably if God is all powerful, why is there so much evil present in the world and in humans who are created in God’s image and likeness? If God is all powerful, why do His people suffer oppression?


As St Irenaeus notes from Matthew’s Gospel, the hell fires were created for Satan and his demons, not for humans. Satan and all his doings are temporary, not eternal and they belong to the fallen world which will pass away (Revelation 20:13-14). As God’s people, we do not need to live in fear of Satan’s activities as Satan’s world is passing away. There may be one area where we Christians though do need to pay attention to Satan’s influence. Satan is the father of lies, and those who lie and spread lies or disinformation or conspiracy theories all allow themselves to be under Satan’s influence.  It is never acceptable for Christians to use lies to discredit political opponents or enemies because God never lies (Titus 1:2).  With the internet and social media, lies spread faster and more broadly than ever. We should never participate in them or spread them because in so doing we show a rejection of God and a desire to follow the father of lies. Think about St Paul’s words which are a warning against those who embrace lies or spread them because these lies agree with their own political interests. If we choose to spread lies, God will allow a “strong delusion” to overtake our minds pushing us further away from God the Truth:

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Christ Glorified in You and You in Him 


… that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:12)

St Paul speaks about our union with Christ in glowing terms: that Christ may be glorified in us and we in Him. When we are united with Christ, we share in the life of the Holy Trinity. We are in God and God is in us. Archimandrite Aimilianos rejoices in this, our salvation:

“And when I receive Christ, when I see Him, I feast my eyes on the living God and rejoice in Him. Even in my state of spiritual decay, even in my sin, in the abyss into which I’ve fallen, in the dark cloud that overshadows me, in my eternal midnight, I can still remember that the apostles have assured me that they saw the living Christ. Thus Christ lives, he who is my life lives, and, at any moment, with one ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,’ that life can become mine, and, dead as I was, I can be filled to bursting with life.”  (THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT, p 171)


God is actively seeking union with us and has prepared the way to make this salvation possible in Christ. That salvation can happen in an instant (as with the Wise Thief) or it may take a life time of seeking God as we fall away at moments and then seek to return to God in repentance. Whether immediate or long term, the end is the same: we abide with Christ in heaven and He abides in us. We receive the fullness of Christ – all that He is:

“… Jesus Christ is described in a plethora of images: the Prophet, the King, the Messiah, the High Priest, the Lamb and the Suffering Servant, to name a few. Each of these images, and the many others, contain a vital insight into the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is himself more than any one of these particular elements.”  (John Behr, THE WAY TO NICEA, p 74)


Christ does not withhold Himself from us.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

Striving to Live the Lord’s Way 


But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-16)

St Paul encourages us to not to keep company with those who claim to be Christian but then who don’t attempt to follow the teachings of the New Testament. However, he also admonishes us not to treat these straying Christians as enemies, but as brothers and sisters who have lost their way (Paul actually does this in his confrontation of Peter as he reports in his letter to the Galatians, 2:11-16). We are not to hate them, but to love them in order that we might obey Christ and be at peace with those around us.


Paul also encourages us not to lose heart and grow weary in well doing just because life is difficult. He wants us to strive to follow Christ in as many ways as we can – not just in prayer, but in practicing all the virtues as well. As we read from the 6th Century anonymous monk now called Pseudo-Macarius who inspires us to imitate Christ and to obey His gospel commandments:

If a person pushes himself to attain prayer alone, when he has none, in order to attain its grace, without striving earnestly for meekness and humility and charity and all the other commandments of the Lord, neither taking pains nor struggling and battling to succeed in these as far as his choice and free will go, he may at times be given a grace of prayer with some degree of repose and pleasure from the Spirit according as he asks. But he has the same traits he had before. He has no meekness, because he did not seek it with effort and he did not prepare himself beforehand to become meek. He has no humility, since he did not ask for it and did not push himself to have it. He has no charity toward all men, because he was not concerned with it and did not strive for it in his asking for the gift of prayer. And in doing his work, he has no faith or trust in God, since he did not know that he was without it. And he did not take the pains to seek from the Lord for himself to have a firm faith and an authentic trust.


For just as he forces himself to prayer, even when unwilling, so everyone must push himself likewise to trust, so also to humility, so to charity, so to meekness, sincerity, and simplicity, so ‘unto every patience and long-suffering with joy’ (Colossians 1:11), so also to regard himself as little and to consider himself as poor and the least of all. He strives not to speak without profit, but always to be concerned to speak the things of God with mouth and heart. He is attentive not to become angry and loud-mouthed according to the saying, ‘Let all bitterness and anger and clamoring be put away from you, with all malice’ (Ephesians 4: 31). He strives to live according to all the ways of the Lord, in the practice of virtue and good and noble conduct, to possess all manifestations of goodness, of humility, of meekness, never being proud and high-minded and puffed up and never to speak against any one.  (THE FIFTY SPIRITUAL HOMILIES, pp 147-148)

Christ Our Peace and Christian Unity 


For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-22)


St Paul describes Jesus Christ as “our peace” referring to Christ’s bringing an end to the division between Jews and Gentiles. In Christ, we have been created as a “new man” – a new humanity which is God’s faithful people now constituted by everyone in the human race who accepts God’s love and salvation. St Gregory of Nyssa comments:

Who, after all, is as peaceable as he who ‘brought the hostility to an end‘ (cf. Ephesians 2:16) and ‘nailed it to the cross‘ (cf. Colossians 2:14); he who reconciled to himself us, his enemies – or better, the whole cosmos – and ‘has broken down the dividing wall… in order that he might create in himself one new humanity, so making peace‘ (Ephesians 2:14-15); he who ‘preached peace,’ through those who brought the message of good things, to people who were ‘far off‘ and to people who were ‘near at hand‘ (Ephesians 2:17)?


And who is such a temple builder as the one who has set his ‘foundations … upon the holy mountains‘ (Psalm 86:1), that is, upon the prophets and the apostles, but laying, as the apostle says, ‘upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets‘ (Ephesians 2:20) stones that their living (cf. 1 Peter 2:5) and ensouled, which by their own agency are rolled up to contribute to the structure of the walls, as the prophet says, so that, being ‘joined together‘ in the unity of the faith and in the ‘bond of peace‘ (Ephesians 4: 3) they have of themselves so increased the holy temple that it has become ‘the dwelling place of God in the spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22)?  (HOMILIES ON THE SONG OF SONGS, p 215)


Christ has united all people into one human race, which is also a holy temple in whom God dwells. This one people is also the Body of Christ. All the divisions and inequalities which resulted from the Fall of Adam and Eve have been overcome in the unity which is Christ’s. Not only are we humans no longer separated from God because of the salvation in Christ, we are not separated from each other. We are to be a new humanity in Christ, united by love for one another. Anti-semitism, clericalism, misogyny, nationalism, political polarization, social class – all belong to the old fallen order and are not to be part of the Church.

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)


And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

The Righteous Gideon 

52470305086_995e17f10d_wToday the Church commemorates the Righteous Gideon, a righteous man of the Old Testament.  We first meet Gideon in the narrative of Judges 6 –

Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Pray, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Judges 6:11-13)

Gideon speaks what is on his heart and mind, even to an angel of the Lord (though at the beginning of the narrative Gideon has not yet recognized to whom he is speaking). The angel honors Gideon telling him that the Lord is with him.  But Gideon finds this puzzling, for he does not see the Lord being with his fellow Israelites as Israel is in a downtrodden position and the Lord’s saving acts for Israel are all ancient history.  To Gideon it appears that God has in fact abandoned His people for God has not recently done anything great for them.

Note also that while the angel tells Gideon that the Lord is with him, Gideon understands himself as part of Israel.  If God is not with all of Israel, then from Gideon’s viewpoint, God is not with him either. Gideon sees salvation as something that affects all of God’s people, not just an individual.


Gideon expresses a lament to the angel of the Lord about the current condition of God’s people.  It is wonderful in the distant past that God was with His people, but such ancient wonders do little, Gideon says, for the people in Gideon’s day. Eventually Gideon realizes the ‘man’ speaking with him is actually an angel of the Lord and he is pretty dismayed and terrified that he has been talking so openly and casually with God’s angel:

51724901269_b847b571da_wThen Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it, The LORD is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. (Judges 6:22-24) 

Gideon realizes something has been revealed to him that few others have experienced and he is literally scared to death. The angel assures Gideon that all will be fine by blessing him with peace. This so stuns Gideon that he builds an altar to honor the God of peace.

While many think of God as terrifying and threatening (Hebrews 10:31, 12:29), God also reveals Himself to us as Peace (for example, see: 1 Chronicles 23:25; Psalm 85:8; Isaiah 9:6; Romans 15:33, 16:20; Philippians 4:7) and we should call this to mind and worship our God of Peace. It is ok to offer lamentation to God for the way things are on earth, and even to question God as to “why?” It is within the spiritual tradition to be troubled about what God does or is doing or isn’t doing, but that also needs to be paired with trust and hope in the God of Peace – that God’s Wisdom does govern the universe.

The God of All 


For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. (Romans 10:12; emphases added)

When I was praying Psalm 145 recently, I was struck by how often the word “all” occurs in that one Psalm. The omniscient God is Pantokrator, Lord of all that exists.  The Creator is God not only of Jews, Christians, believers or saints, for God is Lord of all which includes sinners, unbelievers or atheists. This is the universalism of God.


The Lord is gracious and merciful, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are upon all His works. O Lord, let all Your works praise You and Your holy ones bless You. They shall tell of Your kingdom’s glory, and they shall speak of Your power, that all the sons of men may know Your power and the glory of Your kingdom’s magnificence.


Your kingdom is a kingdom of all the ages, and Your dominion is from generation to generation. The Lord is faithful in His words and holy in all His works. The Lord supports all who stumble and restores all who are broken down. All eyes hope in You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and fill every living thing with Your pleasure.


The Lord is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He shall do the will of those who fear Him, and He shall hear their supplications and save them.


The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the sinners He shall utterly destroy. My mouth shall speak the Lord’s praise, and let all flesh bless His holy name Forever and unto ages of ages.  (Psalm 145:8-21)


God gives many gifts to everyone, not just to believers or saints.

… be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

Thanksgiving (2022)


The mouth which is continuously giving thanks receives blessing from God. In the heart that always shows gratitude, grace abides.  (THE WISDOM OF ST ISAAC OF NINEVEH, p 14)


Wishing all of my American readers a blessed Thanksgiving Day.  And for all of my readers, thank you for reading my posts and for all of your encouraging words and prayers. Here is a hymn from The Akathist: Glory to God for All Things to help us all celebrate the day and to give thanks to our Creator:


What sort of praise can I give you? I have never heard the song of the cherubim, a joy reserved for the spirits above. But I know the praises that nature sings to you.


In winter, I have beheld how silently in the moonlight the whole earth offers you prayer, clad in its white mantle of snow, sparkling like diamonds.


I have seen how the rising sun rejoices in you, how the song of the birds is a chorus of praise to you.


I have heard the mysterious murmurings of the forests about you, and the winds singing your praise as they stir the waters.


I have understood how the choirs of stars proclaim your glory as they move forever in the depths of infinite space.


What is my poor worship? All nature obeys you, I do not.


Yet while I live, I see your love, I long to thank you, pray to you, and call upon your name…

36961810773_8226bb6db4_w(Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Kindle Location 2705-2711)


You can see all of my photos at Ted’s Flickr Page.

America the Beautiful 


O beautiful for spacious skies 


For amber waves of grain 


For purple mountain majesties


Above the fruited plain! 


America! America! 


God shed his grace on thee 


And crown thy good with brotherhood 


From sea to shining sea!


Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates

Wishing all those celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow a blessed day!  Let us work together to bring glory to God and to make America grateful again!

In Praise of Our Creator 


The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows the creation of His hands. 


Day to day utters speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 


There is no speech nor language where their voices are not heard. 


Their proclamation went forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.


In the sun He set His tabernacle; and it rejoices exceedingly like a bridegroom coming forth from his bridal chamber, like a strong man to run a race. 


Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit runs to the other end; And nothing shall be hidden from its heat.  (Psalm 19:2-7)


Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (2022) 


St Theodotus of Ancyra, writing in the 3rd Century, praised the Virgin Mary: 

The fruit of your womb is not autumnal; rather, it is a shoot of immortality.


It is not a harvest that came as a gift of nature but a flower sprung from divine seed. For you gave birth to the Beginning who has no beginning, a child who is before all ages, the Virgin’s Son, the Eternal who is nurtured in your womb,


to him who is older than his Mother yet is nursed by her, to him who nourishes all creatures and who clothes himself in human form, to the Splendor of God who presents himself as a pauper, to the King who will have no successor.


Therefore I salute you, O Virgin full of grace, Mother among virgins and Virgin among mothers, archetype of both mothers and virgins, but superior to both.  (MARY AND THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH, p 261)