June 28 Epistle Reading

Romans 16:17-24

[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions
and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid
them.[18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus
Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive
the hearts of the simple.[19] For your obedience is come
abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would
have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.[20]
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.[21]
Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my
kinsmen, salute you.[22] I Tertius, who wrote this epistle,
salute you in the Lord.[23] Gaius mine host, and of the whole
church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you,
and Quartus a brother.[24] The grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ be with you all. Amen.

St.John Chrysostom in his Homily XVI. 17, 18 said:

"…'I beseech you brethren' (he says). Then he also puts them
on the defensive by showing the deceitfulness
of those who abused them. For as though they were not at once to be
discerned, he says, 'I beseech you to mark'
that is, to be exceedingly particular about, and to get acquainted with,
and to search out thoroughly— whom, pray? Why, 'those that cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned,' this is, if anything
the subversion of the Church, the being
in divisions. This is the devil's weapon,
this turns all things upside-down. For so long as the body is joined
into one, he has no power to get an entrance, but it is from division
that the offense comes. And whence is division? From opinions contrary
to the teaching of the Apostles. And whence come
opinions of this sort? From men's being slaves
to the belly, and the other passions. For 'such' he says, serve not the Lord, but their own
belly.'

And on v.20ff Chrysostom said:

"For since he had spoken of those who caused divisions and offenses
among them,
the God of peace
also, that they might feel hopeful about the riddance
of these evils.
For he that rejoices in this (i.e., peace) will put an end to that
which makes havoc of it. And he does not say, will
subject, but will bruise, (Gen 3:19)
which is a stronger expression. And not those people only, but also him
who was the general over them herein, Satan. And not will
bruise
merely, but under your feet, so
that they may obtain the victory themselves, and become noble by the
trophy. And the time again is made a ground of
comfort. For he adds, shortly. And this was prayer and prophecy as well
at once. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
he has mentioned

That greatest weapon; that impregnable wall; that tower unshaken! For
he reminds them of the grace, that he may
give them the more alacrity. Because if you have been freed from the
ills more grievous by far, and freed by grace only, much
more will you be freed from the lesser, now you have become friends too,
and contribute your own share likewise. You see how he neither puts prayer without
works, nor works without prayer. For after
giving them credit for their obedience, than he prays; to show
that we need both, our own part as well as God's
part, if we are to be duly saved. For it was not
before only, but now too, even though we be great and in high esteem, we need grace
from Him."

Clement of Rome wrote in "Two Epistles on Virginity"regarding the reference to those serving "their own belly" (v18)


That the harvest is great, but the workmen are few, this also is
well-known and manifest. Let us, therefore,
ask of the Lord
of the harvest
that He would send forth workmen
into the harvest; (Matt 9:37-38) such workmen as
shall skilfully dispense the word of truth;who shall not be ashamed; faithful
workmen; workmen who shall be
the light of the world; (Matt 5:14) workmen who work not for the food that perishes, but for that food
which abides unto life eternal;
John 6:27 workmen who shall be such as the apostles; workmen
who imitate the Father,
and the Son,
and the Holy Spirit;
who are concerned for the salvation of men;
not
hireling (John 10:12-13)workmen; not workmen to whom the fear of God and
righteousness appear to be gain; not workmen who
serve their belly;with fair speeches and pleasant words mislead the
hearts of the innocent;
(Romans 16:18) not workmen who imitate the children of light, while they are not light
but darkness—
men whose end is destruction; and wickedness (Phil 3:9) not workmen who practise iniquityand
fraud; not
crafty workmen; (II Cor 12:13)not workmen drunken and faithless;
not nor
workmen who traffic in Christ; misleaders; not
lovers of money; not malevolent.



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