Aphrahat the Persian: Let us honour the Spirit of Christ, that we may receive grace from Him. Tuesday, Jun 7 2016 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatExpedient is the word that I speak and worthy of acceptance:

Let us now awake from our sleep (Rom.13:11),

and lift up both our hearts and hands to God towards heaven;

lest suddenly the Lord of the house come, that when He comes He may find us in watchfulness (Luke 12:37).

Let us observe the appointed time of the glorious bridegroom (Matt. 25:4, 10), that we may enter with Him into His bride-chamber.

Let us prepare oil for our lamps that we may go forth to meet Him with joy.

Let us make ready provision for our abiding-place, for the way that is narrow and strait.

And let us put away and cast from us all uncleanness, and put on wedding garments.

Let us trade with the silver that we have received (Matt. 25:21), that we may be called diligent servants.

Let us be constant in prayer, that we may pass by the place where fear dwells.

Let us cleanse our heart from iniquity, that we may see the Lofty One in His honour.

Let us be merciful, as it is written, that God may have mercy upon us  (Matt. 5:7).

Let there be peace amongst us, that we may be called the brethren of Christ.

Let us hunger for righteousness, that we may be satisfied (Matt. 5:6) from the table of His Kingdom.

Let us be the salt of truth, that we may not become food for the serpent.

Let us purge our seed from thorns, that we may produce fruit a hundred-fold.

Let us found our building on the rock (Matt. 7:24), that it may not be shaken by the winds and waves.

Let us be vessels unto honour (2. Tim. 2:21), that we may be required by the Lord for His use.

Let us sell all our possessions, and buy for ourselves the pearl (Matt. 13:46), that we may be rich.

Let us lay up our treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20),. that when we come we may open them and have pleasure in them.

Let us visit our Lord in the persons of the sick (Matt. 25:33-35), that He may invite us to stand at His right hand.

Let us hate ourselves and love Christ, as He loved us and gave Himself up for our sakes (John 12:25; Eph. 5:2).

Let us honour the Spirit of Christ, that we may receive grace from Him.

Let us be strangers to the world (John 17:14), even as Christ was not of it.

Let us be humble and mild, that we may inherit the land of life.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 6 – On Monks. (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat.)

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Aphrahat the Persian: “I believe, Lord; help thou my feeble faith” Thursday, Jan 14 2016 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatOur Saviour used thus to say to ever one who drew near to Him to be healed:—According to thy faith be unto thee (Matt. 9:29).

And when the blind man approached Him, He said to him:—Dost thou believe that I am able to heal thee?  That blind man said to Him:—Yea, Lord, I believe (Matt. 9:28).  And his faith opened his eyes.

And to him whose son was sick, He said:—Believe and thy son shall live.  He said to Him:—I believe, Lord; help thou my feeble faith (Mark 9:22, 26).  And by his faith his son was healed.

And also when the nobleman came near to Him, by his faith was his boy healed, when he said to our Lord:—Speak the word and my servant will be cured (Matt. 8:8, 10).  And our Lord was astonished at his faith, and according to his faith it happened to him.

And also when the chief of the Synagogue requested Him concerning his daughter, He said thus to him:—Only firmly believe and thy daughter shall live (Mark 5:23-36).  So he believed and his daughter lived and arose.

And when Lazarus died, our Lord said to Martha:—If thou believest, thy brother shall rise.  Martha saith unto Him;—Yea, Lord, I believe  (John 11:23-27).  And He raised him after four days.

And also Simon who was called Cephas because of his faith was called the firm rock.

And again when our Lord gave the Sacrament of Baptism to His apostles, He said thus to them:—Whosoever believeth and is baptized shall live, and whosoever believeth not shall be condemned (Mark 16:16).    Again He said to his Apostles:—If ye believe and doubt not, there is nothing ye shall not be able to do  (Matt. 21:22).

For when our Lord walked on the billows of the sea, Simon also by his faith walked with Him; but when in respect of his faith he doubted, and began to sink, our Lord called him, thou of little faith (Matt. 14:31).

And when the Apostles asked of our Lord, they begged nothing at His hands but this, saying to Him:—Increase our faith.  He said to them:—If there were in you faith, even a mountain would remove from before you (Luke 17:5; Matt. 17:19; 21:21).

And He said to them:—Doubt ye not, lest ye sink down in the midst of the world, even as Simon when he doubted began to sink in the midst of the sea.

And again He said thus;—This shall be the sign for those that believe; they shall speak with new tongues and shall cast out demons, and they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall be made whole (Mark 16:17-18).

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 1 – On Faith (17). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat.)

Aphrahat the Persian: Whatsoever is written is written well, but I have not attained to the understanding of it Saturday, Jul 25 2015 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatEveryone who reads the sacred scriptures, both former and latter, in both covenants, and reads with persuasion, will learn and teach.

But if he strives about anything that he does not understand, his mind does not receive teaching.

But if he finds words that are too difficult for him, and he does not understand their force, let him say thus:

“Whatsoever is written is written well, but I have not attained to the understanding of it.”

And if he shall ask about the matters that are too hard for him of wise and discerning men who inquire into doctrine, then, when ten wise men shall speak to him in ten different ways about one matter, let him accept that which pleases him.

And if any please not him, let him not scorn the sages; for the word of God is like a pearl, that has a beautiful appearance on whatever side you turn it.

And remember, O disciple, what David said, From all my teachers have I learned (Psalm 118:99).

And the Apostle said: Thou readest every Scripture that is in the Spirit of God.  And prove everything; hold fast that which is good; and flee from every evil thing (1 Thess. 5:21-22; 2 Tim. 3:16).

For if the days of a man should be many as all the days of the world from Adam to the end of the ages, and he should sit and meditate upon the Holy Scriptures, he would not comprehend all the force of the depth of the words.

And man cannot rise up to the wisdom of God; as I have written in the tenth discourse.

But, however, the words of all speakers who do not take from the great treasure, are accursed and to be despised.  For the image of the king (on his coin) is received wherever it goes; but (the coin) in which there is base metal, is rejected and is not received.

[…] I also according to my insignificance have written these things, a man sprung from Adam, and fashioned by the hands of God, a disciple of the Holy Scriptures.

For our Lord said: Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and for him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matt. 7:8).

And the prophet said: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh in the last days, and they shall prophesy. (Joel 2:28).

Therefore whoever shall read anything that I have written above, let him read with persuasion, and pray for the author as a brother of the Body, that, through the petition of all the Church of God, his sins may be forgiven.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 22 – On Death and the Latter Times (26). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: “Thou, Lord, hast been our dwelling-place for generations” Saturday, Jun 6 2015 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatDavid says:—Thou, Lord, hast been our dwelling-place for generations, before the mountains were conceived and before the earth travailed, and before the world was framed.

And thou knowest, my beloved, that all created things that are above and that are beneath were created first, and after them all, man.

For when God determined to create the world with all its goodly things, first He conceived and fashioned man in His mind;

and after that Adam was conceived in His thought, then He conceived the created things; as he said:—Before the mountains were conceived and the earth travailed;

because man is older and more ancient in conception than the creatures, but in birth the creatures are older and more ancient than Adam.

Adam was conceived and dwelt in the thought of God; and while in conception he (man) was held in His (God’s) mind, He (God) by the word of His mouth created all the creatures.

And when He had finished and adorned the world, when nothing was lacking in it, then He brought forth Adam from His thoughts, and fashioned man by His hands; and Adam saw the world completed.

And He (God) gave him authority over all that He had made, just as a man who has a son and desires to make for him a marriage feast, betroths to him a wife and builds for him a house, and prepares and adorns all that is needed for his son; then he makes the marriage feast and gives his son authority over his house.

So after the conception of Adam, He brought him forth and gave him authority over all his creation.  Concerning this the Prophet said:—Thou, Lord, hast been our habitation for generations, before the mountains were conceived, and before the earth travailed and before the world was framed.  From age unto age Thou art the Lord.

That no one should suppose that there is another God, either before or afterwards, he said:—From age and unto age, just as Isaiah said:—I am the first and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12).

And after that God brought forth Adam from within His thought, He fashioned him, and breathed into him of His Spirit, and gave him the knowledge of discernment, that he might discern good from evil, and might know that God made him.

And inasmuch as man knew his Maker, God was formed and conceived within his thought, and he became a temple for God his Maker, as it is written, Ye are the temple of God.  And (so) He Himself said:—I will dwell in them and walk in them.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 17 – On Christ the Son of God (7). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: The Overflowing Love of Christ Saturday, Mar 29 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatBecause of His overflowing love…He opened the eyes of two blind men who had come to Him; and also He gave to the Twelve power and authority over all disease and infirmity, and also to us by their hands.

And He prohibited us from the way of the Gentiles and of the Samaritans. And He gave power to us by His mercy that we might not fear when they brought us before the rulers of the world.

And He set a division in the earth because of His great peace. And He forgave the many sins to the woman who was a sinner because of His mercies.

[…]  And He cast out from us unclean spirits, and He made us a lodging place of His divinity, and sowed in us a good seed which should give fruit a hundredfold, and sixtyfold and thirtyfold.

And He was placed in the midst of the world in the likeness of a treasure which is put in a field. And He manifested the power of His greatness when He was cast down from on high to the depth and was not harmed.

And He satisfied the hungry who had grown faint with five loaves and two fishes, five thousand men besides woman and children, and manifested the greatness of His glory.

And on account of His abundant love He heard the Canaanitish woman and raised up her daughter from her infirmity.

And by the power of Him who sent Him He loosed the tongue of the man who was dumb, and who was also deaf; and the blind saw His light, and by means of Him they glorified Him who had sent Him.

And when He went up into the mountain to pray the rays of the sun were overcome by His light. And He made His power known in the case of that boy upon whom a spirit had come, and at His word the demon went away.

And He gave us an example and a pattern that we should become as children and enter the kingdom of heaven.

[…] And again He showed His healing perfectly in the case of that man who was infirm thirty-eight years, and He magnified His mercy towards him and healed him.

[…] And He hired us as laborers that we should work in His vineyard, which is the vineyard of truth.

All these things our Saviour did unto us because of His great love. And we also, beloved, should be partakers of the love of Christ, while we love one another and fulfil these two commandments, on which hang all the law and the prophets.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (19; 20). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat). 

Aphrahat the Persian: Christ Perfected Love in Himself and by His Great Love He Saved Us Friday, Feb 28 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatContinued from here….

And it was thus that our Saviour taught us diligently to manifest love. For first He perfected it in Himself, and then He taught those who heard Him.

And He reconciled our enmity with His Father because He loved us, and He yielded up His innocence in the stead of the debtors, and the Good in place of the evil ones was put to shame.

And the Rich in our behalf was made poor, and the Living died in behalf of the dead, and by His death made alive our death.

And the Son of the Lord of all took for our sake the form of a servant, and He to whom all things were subject subjected Himself that He might release us from the subjection of sin.

And by His great love He gave a blessing to the poor in spirit, and He promised the peace makers they should be called His brothers and sons of God.

And He promised the humble that they should inherit the land of life; and He promised the mourners that by their supplications they would be comforted.

And He promised to the hungry fulness in His kingdom; and to those who weep that they should rejoice in His promise; and He promised to the merciful that they should be shown mercy.

And He promised to these who are pure in heart He said that they should see God; and again He promised to those who are persecuted on account of righteousness that they should go into the kingdom of heaven; and to those who are persecuted on account of His Name He promised a blessing and rest in His kingdom.

And He changed our nature of dust and made us the salt of truth, and He delivered us from being the prey of the serpent, and He called us the light of the world; and He delivered us from the power of death.

And He made us good instead of evil, and pleasing instead of hateful; and He appointed for us mercy instead of hatred; and He imparted to us the perfect man.

And He brought forth good things from His treasures, and delivered us from him who brought forth evil things from the superfluities of his heart.

And because of His overflowing love He healed the plagues of the sick; He healed also the son of the centurion because of his faith; and He silenced the waves of the sea by His power; and because of His favor He drove from us the evil spirits who were legion.

And by His mercy He restored to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue; and again He cleansed the woman from the pollution of blood.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (19; 20). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: Love and Forgiveness Wednesday, Feb 5 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatLove is more excellent than anything else, and by it the righteous ones of the old times were perfected.

Scripture shows concerning Moses that he gave himself in behalf of the sons of his people, and he wished that he might be blotted out of the book of life if only the people might not be blotted out.

And also when they rose up against him to stone him, he offered up prayer before God in their behalf that they might be saved.

And David also showed an example of love when he was persecuted by Saul, and a trap was continually set for his life so that they might kill him.

David by love was generously performing acts of mercies in behalf of Saul his enemy, who was seeking his life.

Saul was twice delivered into the hands of David, and he did not kill him and repaid good in place of evil. Because of this good did not depart from his house, and he who forsook him was forsaken.

And Saul who repaid evil in place of good, evil did not depart from his house, and He called to God and He did not answer him, and he fell by the sword of the Philistines, and David wept over him bitterly.

And David fulfilled beforehand the precept of our Saviour, who said: “Love your enemies,” and “forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you.” Thus David loved and was loved, and forgave and it was forgiven unto him.

And Elisha also showed love in respect to this, when his enemies came against him to take him so that they might do evil to him, and he, doing good to them, set forth bread and water before them and sent them away from him in peace.

Elisha fulfilled the word which is written: “If thine enemy is hungry feed him, and if he thirsts give him to drink.”

And also Jeremiah the prophet in behalf of those who made him a captive in a pit and were continually putting him to torture, but he also prayed ardently for them before God.

By this example of those who went before our Saviour taught us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who hate us.

And if He commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for those who hate us, what shall be our excuse to Him in the day of judgment, who have hated our brothers and our own members?

Because we are of the Body of Christ and members of His members. For he who hates one of the members of Christ will be separated from the whole body, and he who hates his brother will be separated from the sons of God.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (17; 18). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: When Our Life-Giver Came He Showed the Eagerness of Love Tuesday, Jan 21 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatSurely, beloved, all the law and the prophets depend upon the two commandments, as our Saviour said:

“The law and the prophets are too little to convince him who will not be persuaded.”

Therefore our Saviour said: “On these two commandments hang the law and the prophets,” that is:

“A man shall love the Lord His God with all his soul, and with all his might, and with all his substance”; and that a man also “shall love his neighbor as himself.”

[…] In what was said before in my earlier discourse concerning faith, I have shown that this covenant in which we are established is founded upon faith.

Now in this second discourse…I have reminded you that all the law and the prophets depend upon two commandments – those which our Saviour spoke – and in these two commandments are included all the law and the prophets.

And in the law faith is included, and by faith true love is established, which is from those two commandments, that after a man loves the Lord his God he shall cherish his neighbor as himself.

Now hear, beloved, concerning the love which is produced from those two commandments.

For when our Life-giver came He showed the eagerness of love, for He said to His disciples: “This is My commandment that ye love one another.”

And again He said to them: “A new commandment I give you, that ye love one another.”

And again, when making clear concerning love, thus He warned them: “Love your enemies, and bless him who curses you; pray for those who deal hardly with you and persecute you.”

And this again He said to them: “If ye love him who loves you what is your reward? For if thou lovest him who loves thee thus also do the Gentiles, who loves them they love him.”

Again our Life-giver said: “If ye do good to him who does good unto you what is your reward? thus also do the publicans and sinners. But ye, because ye are called sons of God who is in heaven, be ye like Him who showeth mercy also upon those who renounce goodness.”

Again our Saviour said: “Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you; loose, and ye shall loosed; give, and it shall be given you.”

Again He spoke and put fear in us: “Unless ye forgive men who sin against you their sins, neither will the Father forgive you.”

For thus He warned and said: “If thy brother shall sin against thee, forgive him; and even if he shall sin against thee seven times in one day, forgive him.”

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (1; 11; 12). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: Christ the Light of the World Monday, Nov 4 2013 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatWith reference to Christ was this (which follows) said.

For he said that He was given as a light to all the Gentiles as the Prophet Isaiah said:—I have given Thee as a light to all the Gentiles, that Thou shouldest be My redemption to the ends of the earth (Is. 49:6).

And furthermore David also said;—Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my paths (Ps. 118/119:105).

And also the word and discourse of the Lord is Christ, as is written in the beginning of the Gospel of our Saviour;—In the beginning was the Word John 1:1.

And with regard to the light there again he bore witness:—The light was shining in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5).

What then is this:—The light was shining in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not?  Clearly Christ,

His light shone in the midst of the people of the house of Israel, and the people of the house of Israel did not comprehend the light of Christ, in that they did not believe on Him, as it is written:—He came unto His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11).  

And also our Lord Jesus called them darkness, for He said to His disciples;—Whatsoever I say unto you in the darkness, that speak ye in the light (Matt. 10:27), namely, let your light shine among the Gentiles (cf. Matt. 5:16); because they received the light of Christ, Who is the Light of the Gentiles.

And He said again to His Apostles:—Ye are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).  And again He said unto them;—Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt. v. 16).

And again He showed with regard to Himself that He is the light, for He said to His disciples:—Walk while the light is with you, ere the darkness overtake you (John 12:35).  And again He said to them:—Believe on the light that ye may be children of light (John 12:36).

And again He said:—I am the light of the world (John 8:12). And again He said:—No man lighteth a lamp and putteth it under a bushel or under a bed, or putteth it in a hidden place, but putteth it upon the lamp-stand that every one may see the light of the lamp (Matt. 5:15; Mark i4:21; Luke 8:16).

And the shining lamp is Christ, as David said;—Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my paths (Ps. 118/119:105).

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 1 – On Faith (10). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Aphrahat the Persian: “Lo! On This Stone Will I Open Seven Eyes” Sunday, Sep 1 2013 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatDaniel also spoke concerning this stone which is Christ.  For he said:—The stone was cut out from the mountain, not by hands, and it smote the image, and the whole earth was filled with it (Dan. 2:34, 35).

This he showed beforehand with regard to Christ that the whole earth shall be filled with Him.

For lo! by the faith of Christ are all the ends of the earth filled, as David said:—The sound of the Gospel of Christ has gone forth into all the earth (Ps. 19:4).

And again when He sent forth His apostles He spake thus to them:—Go forth, make disciples of all nations and they will believe on Me (Matt. 28:19).

And again the Prophet Zechariah also prophesied about that stone which is Christ.  For he said:—I saw a chief stone of equality and of love (Zech. 4:2).

And why did he say “chief”?  Surely because from the beginning [the words for chief and for beginning are almost identical in the Syriac] He was with His Father.

And again that he spoke of love, it was because when He came into the world, He said thus to His disciples:—This is My commandment, that ye love one another (John 15:12).

And again He said:—I have called you My friends (lovers)  (John 15:15).  And the blessed Apostle said thus:—God loved us in the love of His Son (cf Eph. 2:4, 5). Of a truth Christ loved us and gave Himself for us (cf. Eph. 5:2).

And definitely did He show concerning this stone:—Lo! on this stone will I open seven eyes (Zech. 3:9).  And what then are the seven eyes that were opened on the stone?

Clearly the Spirit of God that abode on Christ with seven operations, as Isaiah the Prophet said:—The Spirit of God shall rest and dwell upon Him, (a spirit) of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and of courage, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Is. 11:1, 2).

These were the seven eyes that were opened upon the Stone, and these are the seven eyes of the Lord which look upon all the earth (Zech. 4:10).

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 1 – On Faith (8-9). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

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