All Scripture is Inspired by God

“Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD (Matt. 4:4, Deut. 8:3).”

Saint John of DamascusSt. John of Damascus:  “It is one and the same God Whom both the Old and the New Testament proclaim, Who is praised and glorified in the Trinity: ‘I am come,’ says the Lord, not to destroy the law but to fulfil it’ (Mat 5:17). For He Himself worked out our salvation for which all Scripture and all mystery exists. And again, ‘Search the Scriptures for they are they that testify of Me’ (John 5:39). And the Apostle says, God, Who at various times and in diverse manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Heb 1:1, 2). Through the Holy Spirit, therefore, both the law and the prophets, the evangelists and apostles and pastors and teachers, spoke.

All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable (2 Tim 3:16). Therefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of waters, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season (Ps 1:3), namely, orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation. For in these we find both exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every vice. If, therefore, we are lovers of learning, we shall also be learned in many things. For by care and toil and the grace of God the Giver, all things are accomplished. ‘For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened’ (Mat 7:8, Lk 11:10). Therefore let us knock at that very fair garden of the Scriptures, so fragrant and sweet and blooming, with its varied sounds of spiritual and divinely-inspired birds ringing all round our ears, laying hold of our hearts, comforting the mourner, pacifying the angry and filling him with joy everlasting: which sets our mind on the gold-gleaming, brilliant back of the divine dove [Holy Spirit], whose bright pinions (Ps 68:13, Lk 3:22) bear up to the only-begotten Son (Jn 15:26) and Heir of the Husbandman of that spiritual Vineyard (Matt 21:33-39) and bring us through Jesus to the Father of Lights (James 1:17). But let us not knock carelessly but rather zealously and constantly, lest knocking we grow weary. For thus it will be opened to us. If we read once or twice and do not understand what we read, let us not grow weary, but let us persist, let us talk much, let us inquire. For ask thy Father, he says, and He will show you: your elders and they will tell you (Deut. 32:7). For there is not in every man that knowledge (1 Cor 8:7). Let us draw of the fountain of the perennial garden and purest waters springing into life eternal (John 4:14). Here let us luxuriate, let us revel insatiate: for the Scriptures possess inexhaustible grace. But if we are able to pluck anything profitable from outside sources, there is nothing to forbid that. Let us become tried money-dealers, heaping up the true and pure gold and discarding the spurious (1 Thess. 5:21, 22). Let us keep the fairest sayings but let us throw to the dogs absurd gods and strange myths (1 Tim 1:3, 4)…. (St. John of Damascus (676-749 AD, Monk, Priest, Doctor of the Church) Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk 4, Ch 17)

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St. Cyprian on The Lord’s Prayer and Prayer of the Heart

Christ Pantocrator, Ruler of All

Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil (Matt. 6:9-13).

St. Cyprian: “… what can be a more spiritual prayer than that which was given to us by Christ, by whom also the Holy Spirit was given to us? What praying to the Father can be more truthful than that which was delivered to us by the Son who is the Truth, out of His own mouth?

“Therefore, beloved brethren, let us pray as God our Teacher has taught us. It is a loving and friendly prayer to beseech God with His own word, to come up to His ears in the prayer of Christ. Let the Father acknowledge the words of His Son when we make our prayer, and let Him also who dwells within our breast Himself dwell in our voice. And since we have Jesus as an Advocate with the Father for our sins, let us, when as sinners we petition on behalf of our sins, put forward the words of our Advocate. For since He says, that ‘whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us (Jn 15:16, 16:23),’ how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ’s name, if we ask for it in His own prayer.

“But when we pray, let our speech and petition be disciplined, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. …Moreover, in His teaching the Lord bids us to pray in secret — in hidden and remote places, in our very bedrooms (Matt. 6:6) — which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the abundance of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, ‘I am a God at hand, and not a God far off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth (Jer. 23:23, 24).’ And again: ‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good  (Prov. 15:3).’ And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline — not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart.

“Take as an example, Hannah (1 Sam 1:9-13)…she did not pray to God with a clamorous petition, but silently and modestly, within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer, but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice, but with her heart, because she knew that God hears; and she effectually obtained what she sought because she asked it with belief. Divine Scripture asserts this, when it says, ‘She spoke in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not heard (1 Sam 1:13);’ but God heard her. We read also in the Psalms, ‘Speak in your hearts, and in your bedsPs. 4:4).’ The Holy Spirit, moreover, suggests these same things by Jeremiah, and teaches, saying, ‘But in the heart ought God to be adored by thee (Baruch 6:6).'” (St. Cyprian (190-258 AD) Bishop of Carthage (248-258 AD) Excerpts from Treatise IV, On the Lord’s Prayer)

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Born Again in the Water of Baptism

Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5)“.

Saint Cyprian of CarthageCaecilius Cyprian to Donatus sends, greeting:  “While I was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, wavering here and there, tossed about on the foam of this boastful age, and uncertain of my wandering steps, knowing nothing of my real life, and remote from truth and light, I regarded it a difficult matter, especially difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again (Jn 3:3-8)a truth which the divine mercy had announced for my salvation. How is it that a man, quickened to a new life in the laver of saving water, should be able to put off what he had previously been and still retaining all his bodily structure, should himself be changed in heart and soul. How, said I, is such a conversion possible, that there should be a sudden and rapid divestment of all which, either innate in us has hardened in the corruption of our material nature, or acquired by us has become addictive by long accustomed use? These things have become deeply and radically engrained within us. For as I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe that I could be delivered, I despaired of better things. I was inclined to give in to my clinging vices and indulge my sins as if they were actually parts of me and indigenous to me. These were my frequent thoughts.

“But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years had been washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, had been infused into my reconciled heart. By the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things at once began to become sure to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened. What before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment; what had been thought impossible, to be capable of being achieved. I was enabled to acknowledge that what previously, being born of the flesh, had been living in the practice of sins, was of the earth and earthly, had now begun to be of God, and was animated by the Spirit of holiness…

“That we sinned before was the result of human error whereas now that we do not sin it is the beginning of the work of faith. All our power is of God; I say, of God. From Him we have life, from Him we have strength. By power derived and conceived from Him we do, while yet in this world, foreknow the indications of things to come. Only let fear be the keeper of innocence, that the Lord, Who of His mercy has flowed into our hearts…may be kept by righteous submissiveness in the frame of a grateful mind, that the assurance we have gained may not lead to carelessness, and so the old enemy creep upon us again.” (St. Cyprian of Carthage (190-258 AD). Excerpts from his 1st Epistle “To Donatus” shortly after his Baptism about 246 AD. Bishop of Carthage, AD 248 until his martyrdom in 258.)

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The Soul and Spirit of a Beautiful Woman

Mary Mother of God, MagnificatMary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior because He has regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from now on all generations shall call me blessed because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. His mercy is from generation unto generations, to those who fear Him. He has shown might in His arm; He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever (Luke 1:46-55).”

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Jesus is Publicly Revealed as the Beloved Son of God

“And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediatey from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him; and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:16, 17)“. Also, Mark 1:10, 11; Luke 3:21, 22.

Jesus Baptized, Baptism of Jesus
St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “Jesus sanctified Baptism by being Himself baptized. If the Son of God was baptized, what godly man would despise Baptism? But Jesus was baptized not that He might receive remission of sins, for He was sinless; but being sinless, He was baptized, that He might give to those who are baptized a divine and Saint Cyril of Jerusalemexcellent grace. For since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same (Heb 2:14), that having been made partakers of His presence in the flesh we might be made partakers also of His Divine grace: thus Jesus was baptized, so that we again by our participation might receive both salvation and honour. According to Job, there was in the waters the dragon that draws up Jordan into his mouth (Job 40:23). Since, therefore, it was necessary to break the heads of the dragon in pieces (Ps 74:14), Jesus went down and bound the strong one in the waters, that we might receive power to tread upon serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19). The beast was great and terrible. No fishing-vessel was able to carry one scale of his tail; destruction ran before him (Job 40:26, 41:13 LXX*), ravaging all that met him. The Life encountered him, that the mouth of Death might from then on be stopped, and all we who are saved might say, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory (1 Cor 15:55)? The sting of death is extracted by Baptism.

For you go down into the water bearing your sins, but the invocation of grace, having sealed your soul, will afterwards not allow you to be swallowed up by the terrible dragon. Having gone down dead in sins, you come up quickened in righteousness. For if you have been united with the likeness of the Saviour’s death (Rom 6:5), you shall also be deemed worthy of His Resurrection. For as Jesus took upon Him the sins of the world and died, that by putting sin to death He might rise again in righteousness; so you also, by going down into the water, and being in a manner buried in the waters… are raised again and walking in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).” (St. Cyril (315-386 AD) Bishop of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church. Part of his Catechesis during Lent in 347 AD when Cyril was still a Priest).”

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*LXX:. Job 40:26: And all the ships come together would not be able to bear the mere skin of his tail; neither shall they carry his head in fishing-vessels. 41:13: And power is lodged in his neck, before him destruction runs. (Septuagint [LXX] the Greek Translation of the Old Testament, the Early Church Scriptures)