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Another Popular Heresy: Premillenialism

March 30, 2018 Leave a comment

There is another heresy which I wish to write about now and that is the heresy of premillenialism. This is one of the heresies rejected by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Church in 381 A.D.

It is the heresy that teaches that Jesus’ Second Coming will precede 1000 years of peace during which He will reign. At His Second Coming, the righteous will be resurrected. The immortal righteous will reign with Christ over the mortals for a thousand years. At the end of this 1000 year reign of Christ, Satan will be released and deceive the nations. Christ will then defeat Satan and there will be a second resurrection of the dead. After the second resurrection there will be the Last Judgment.

There are  many different versions of this heresy. There is pre-tribulation premilleniallism, mid-tribulation premillenialism, and post-tribulation premillenialism. There is also covenant premillenialism.

Some of the early Church Fathers were premillenialists. Examples of such are St. Justin the Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, and St. Hippolytus of Rome. None of them held beliefs that many Protestant premillenialists hold today.

There were others among the early Church Fathers who were not premillienialists. St. Dionysius of Alexandria is one such example. St. Justin the Martyr even acknowledged that during his day (the second century) there were many who did hold to the premillenial theory regarding Christ’s Second Coming.

For those who are not premillenialists, there are two other options held out: amillenialism and postmillenialism. Amillenialists say there is no millenium. They say that the souls of the righteous dead reign with Christ now in heaven. The postmillenialists say that the righteous reign with Christ now and that we are already in the millenium.

Both amillenialists and postmillenialists believe that there will be a general resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous at Christ’s Second Coming. There will not, according to them, be two separate resurrections separated from each other by 1000 years.

Augustinian postmillenialism is the view of the Orthodox Church. I asked a priest about the Church’s views on eschatology. He told me it is Blessed Augustine’s view without the predestination.

The premillenial heresy finds its support from this passage in the Book of Revelation.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:1-10, NKJV)

Now, I will demonstrate from the Bible the correct understanding of this text.

It says that an angel bound Satan for a thousand years. This binding of Satan refers to restriction of his power. He can not prevent Christ from plundering his kingdom.

In the Gospels, we read about Christ casting out demons and some Jews accusing Him of casting out devils by Beelzebub. Jesus asked them if Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? He also pointed out that one must first bind a strong man before one can plunder his house.

Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. (Matthew 12:29, NKJV)

In some sense, Satan was bound while Christ was casting out demons. Now, he is bound in some sense, too. He can not prevent people from coming to Christ.

In Colossians it says:

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (Colossians 1:13, NKJV)

Satan is bound in the sense that he can not prevent God from delivering people from the power of darkness.

The number 1000 is a symbolic number. It represents an indefinite period of time in this passage from Revelation 20. The Book of Revelation is full of symbolism and apocalyptic imagery. The number 1000 should not be interpreted literally in this passage.

The thousand years is the period of time between the resurrection of Christ (the first resurrection) and the Unleashing of Satan three and a half years before Christ’s Second Coming. Three and a half years before the Second Coming, Satan will deceive the nations. It will be much more difficult during this time for someone who is not a Christian to become a Christian because the deception will be so strong.

We take part in the first resurrection when we are baptized. St. Paul said in Romans:

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:3-6, NKJV)

When we are baptized, we are buried with Christ into His death.

In Colossians, it says:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, NKJV)

The Colossian Christians were “raised with Christ.” This is what Blessed Augustine calls the spiritual resurrection.

In Ephesians, it says:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7, NKJV)

St. Paul says that God has “made us alive together with Christ.” This is another reference to the spiritual resurrection. The spiritual resurrection is regeneration.

I can demonstrate from the writings of ancient Christian writers and Church Fathers that the doctrine that has always been taught since antiquity is that regeneration occurs in baptism, but I do not want to address that subject in detail here. I will say this much, though. Regeneration is not conversion. People often confuse the two terms. After someone has been converted one will say that he got “born again.” No, that person was converted. He becomes born again when he is baptized.

The first resurrection is the resurrection of Christ. Jesus is “the firstborn from the dead.”

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18, NKJV)

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:5a, NKJV)

We take part in the resurrection of Christ when we are baptized.

It says in the passage from Revelation 20 that “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

These words do not refer to some future age. They refer to the present one. In Romans it says:

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17, NKJV)

Christians are “reigning in life” now. Of course, they encounter problems, but still in some sense they reign with Christ. Further evidence, that Christians are “priests and kings” to God can be found in the Book of Revelation itself.

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5b,6, NKJV)

In St. Peter’s first Catholic Epistle it says:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9, NKJV)

St. Peter calls Christians “a royal priesthood.” Royalty signifies the kingship of believers. Priesthood signifies that believes are priests to God.

Old Testament believers were “a kingdom of priests.”

And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6, NKJV)

There was a priesthood within the priesthood. The Levitical priesthood was that priesthood within the priesthood of believers. Now, the Melchizedek priesthood has replaced the Levitical priesthood. (Read Hebrews 7-10.) As priests, every Christian offers up spiritual sacrifices to God.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV)

Only that priesthood within the priesthood of believers can legitimately handle the Holy Mysteries (the Sacraments). (I Corinthians 4:1)

In this passage from Revelation 20, it says that the souls of those who were martyred reign with Christ a thousand years. Christians continue to reign with Christ in heaven after they die.

Several places exist in the Bible indicating that the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous will occur simultaneously at Christ’s Second Coming. In Daniel, it says:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, NKJV)

Notice that there is no mention of a thousand year gap between the two resurrections in this verse. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus said:

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28,29, NKJV)

There is no thousand year gap in this passage from St. John’s Gospel. The resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the unrighteous occur at the same time.

In St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said:

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:11,12, NKJV)

The sons of the kingdom in this passage are the first century Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah. After the general resurrection of the dead, the unrighteous will be cast out “into outer darkness.” The righteous will inherit the earth. (Psalm 36:29, LXX; Psalm 37:29, Hebrew; Matthew 5:5)

Then, there is the Parable of the Tares and the Wheat.

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” …He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43, NKJV)

Jesus is the one who sows the good seed in this parable. The field is the world or the universe. (The Greek word, kosmos, can mean universe.) The harvest of the wheat is the end of this age. The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom — that is, those who practice righteousness. The tares are the sons of the devil. The reapers are the angels. At the end of this age the angels will gather the righteous together so that they can inherit the kingdom of God. They will gather the unrighteous together and cast them into the furnace of fire, that is, Gehenna. There is no thousand year gap between these two events.

The same lesson is taught in the Parable of the Dragnet.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50, NKJV)

At the end of the age there will be the Last Judgment. The angels will separate the wicked from the just. They will cast the wicked into Gehenna, the furnace of fire. No thousand year gap exists between these two events.

To sum up, premillenialism is a popular heresy. The Second Ecumenical Council of the Church rejected this heresy in 381 A.D. Satan is now bound in the sense that he can not prevent his kingdom from being plundered. (See Matthew 12:29.) The first resurrection is the resurrection of Christ. We partake of the first resurrection when we are baptized. The thousand year period mentioned in Revelation 20 is this present age. It is not a literal 1000 years. It is an indefinite period of time. At the end of this period of time, Satan’s power will no longer be restricted. He will deceive the nations with a great deception for three and a half years. Then, Christ will return and defeat Satan definitively. There will be a general resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous at the Second Coming of Christ. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell therein forever. (Psalm 36:29, LXX; Psalm 37:29, Hebrew) The angels will cast the unrighteous into Gehenna, the furnace of fire. “I believe in one God the Father Almighty… and in one Lord Jesus Christ… whose kingdom shall have no end.” (Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed)

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A Popular Heresy

March 11, 2018 Leave a comment

There is a popular heresy. We can see it in the media and on the internet. It is the heresy that the heretic Marcion of Pontus used to teach in the second century. He did not believe that people will ever experience a bodily resurrection from the dead after death. Many people including Christian pastors believe and teach this heresy today.

Have you ever noticed how people often depict deceased loved ones as angels in sites built to commemorate them? Even in the movies, and I am here thinking of a particular one, Almost an Angel, the deceased are portrayed to have become angels.

Many who believe this heresy cite verses like these from the Bible in support of this notion.

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:30, NKJV)

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:44, NKJV)

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (I Corinthians 15:50, NKJV)

Ancient heretics used to quote these same verses in support of this heresy. The heresy is not new. It just has new people teaching it.

Today is the third Sunday of Lent — the Sunday of the Holy Cross. On this day we Orthodox commemorate the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ died. One thing that is integral to the theology of the Orthodox faith is the resurrection of Christ. Whenever we think of the Cross, we also think of His resurrection from the dead. The purpose of the Cross was to effect the resurrection, not only for Him but also for everyone else who follows Him.  The resurrection of the dead and the hope of one day being immortal is what Easter is all about.

The soul is already immortal. Our bodies are mortal. To be truly immortal is to have not only an immortal soul, but also an immortal body.

I am going to use some other passages in the Bible to illustrate how stupid this heresy actually is. In the Gospels, we can read about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you. (Matthew 28:7, NKJV)

In the Book of Revelation, it says:

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. (Revelation 11:3-12, NKJV)

The two witnesses in this passage have been interpreted by many as being Elijah and another prophet. The other prophet is possibly Enoch, since he was translated, that is, he never died, but ascended bodily into Heaven.

So, then, if there is no resurrection of the dead on the Last Day, we have a bunch of bodiless spirits and three resurrected men who have immortal bodies. Of course, there is Lazarus also. His sister, Martha, said to Jesus:

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24, NKJV)

Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus, but he eventually died again. The belief that Martha had was that her brother would be resurrected on the last day of this present age. Jesus did not “correct” her and say, “You are mistaken. Your brother is destined to be an angel forever and will not always have a body.”

So, anyway,  in order to continue to show the absurdity of this heresy. We will say the Lazarus along with the two prophets will have immortal bodies while everyone else will be bodiless spirits. We have four immortal men with bodies now.

There is another verse we need to look at that will increase the number of immortals with bodies even more. It is the same chapter of I Corinthians that the heretics have found verses in support of this heresy.

Some people will be alive when Jesus returns. What will happen to believers who are alive?

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (I Corinthians 15:51,52, NKJV)

So, then, everyone who is alive and is a believer at Christ’s Second Coming will have immortal bodies. Then, there will be many with immortal bodies and not just the four men mentioned earlier in this blog post. Everyone else who has died will, according to the heretics, be angels. This sounds like such a strange and odd belief to me.

Now,  let us look at more of this passage.

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:52-54,NKJV)

It says that the dead will be raised incorruptible. If the souls of the righteous are in heaven now, then what part of them will be raised? Their bodies. The Orthodox Christian doctrine is that the dead bodies of the righteous will be resurrected and changed into incorruptible ones. Jesus said:

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28,29, NKJV)

He also said:

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54, NKJV)

Jesus will call all of the dead out of the graves on the last day.

In the Book of Daniel, it says:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, NKJV)

The resurrection of the body is one of the most basic Christian doctrines. So, many professing Christians are ignorant of some these fundamental teachings and have ignorantly adopted an ancient heresy.

Jesus had flesh and bones on the day of His resurrection.

Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. (Luke 24:39, NKJV)

He also had blood coursing through His veins on the day of His resurrection.

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Peter 1:18,19, NKJV)

His blood is incorruptible. It is not corruptible like silver and gold.

Corruptible flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. It must be changed into incorruptible flesh and blood. Resurrected and changed. That is the correct doctrine.

The hope of all Christians is to one day be immortal in body as well as in soul. The heretics are teaching a false gospel and proclaiming a false hope. Let us look forward to the eternal day when death will be no more — only immortality and eternal joy.

Have You Been Deceived?

February 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Our society tends to promote some things that are spiritually harmful and result in our society becoming more decadent. One of the things that is promoted in TV shows and movies is sexual immorality. Fornication is portrayed as something normal and acceptable. People become brainwashed by the media and the messages generated through TV shows and the media into accepting something that is spiritually detrimental — sexual immorality.

I watch some shows on Netflix and see this subtle promotion of sexual immorality. I like to watch the shows to see how the protagonists win in the end, but I do not like the promotion of sin.

Superheroes, like Supergirl, the Flash, and Arrow, fornicate with unmarried partners. They are heroes. If heroes can fornicate, then it is OK for anyone else who is not married to fornicate, too. That is the subtle message being transmitted. Children watch such shows and end up believing the lie which is being communicated through the show’s plot.

In Orthodox Christian theology, sin is viewed as a subtraction from one’s humanity and not an addition to it. Therefore, the superheroes who fornicate are less human. The Flash is less of a man when he fornicates with a woman police detective. Arrow is less than a man when he fornicates with Shadow, Sarah, Laurel, and the Huntress. Supergirl is not from this world, but the moral standard still applies and even she loses some of her supergirlness when she fornicates with Mon-El.

St. Paul wrote two letters to the Christians in Corinth in the first century. He told the Corinthian Christians in his First Epistle:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10, NKJV)

Notice that fornicators and adulterers are among those whom he mentions as not inheriting the kingdom of God. These are people who have sex with someone who is not their spouse. In other words, they have sex out of wedlock.

The Koran, likewise, teaches that people who practice sexual immorality will go to Hell and not Paradise. In Surah 17, it says:

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Koran 17:32, Sahih International)

Satan enjoins sexual immorality. Those who practice sexual immorality are following the footsteps of the devil.

O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan — indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing. (Koran 24:21, Sahih International)

Satan summons people to Hell.

Lo! the devil is an enemy for you, so treat him as an enemy. He only summoneth his faction to be owners of the flaming Fire. (Koran 35:6, Pickthall)

Satan deceives them.

Satan promiseth them only to deceive. (Koran 17:64, Pickthall)

Therefore, those who practice fornication and adultery are  deceived. Once again the Koran confirms the teachings of the Bible. (Koran 5:48)

So, just because the media and the movie-makers say in subtle ways that fornication and adultery are OK, does not mean that sexual immorality is OK. Do not be deceived.

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil. (Exodus 23:2, KJV)

Just because everyone else is practicing sexual immorality, does not mean that you should do it, too. Most people in the world are going to Hell.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13,14, NKJV)

If most of the people in the world are following Satan into Hell, that does not mean that you should do the same? If you are practicing sexual immorality, ask yourself, “Have I been deceived?”

 

Two Eternal Sacraments

February 11, 2018 Leave a comment

The older one gets, the more one begins to think about what happens next, that is, after death. I think about the afterlife from time to time. One of the things that has occurred to me after reading and reflecting on the Bible is that there are two Sacraments in the Church which will continue on into the next life. They are the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

It is clear to us Orthodox that we will continue to celebrate the Eucharist in the afterlife. In Paschal Matins, we sing:

O Christ, Thou great and most sacred Pascha!
O Wisdom, Word and power of God!
Grant us to partake of Thee more fully
in the unwaning day
of Thy kingdom.
(Fifth Troparion of the Ninth Ode of Paschal Matins)

We understand that the Resurrected Jesus Christ is present both mystically and really in  the Eucharist. So, whenever we partake of the Eucharist we partake of Christ. He is ever eaten and never consumed. He does not cease to exist after we partake of Him. This is a mystery. We call the Sacraments the Holy Mysteries.

The Bible teaches that there will be a Eucharist in the kingdom of God after the resurrection of the dead. In Genesis, we read about Melchizedec, King of Salem and Priest to the Most High God.

And Melchisedec king of Salem brought forth loaves and wine, and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed Abram, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, who made heaven and earth, and blessed be the most high God who delivered thine enemies into thy power. And Abram gave him the tithe of all. (Genesis 14:18-20, LXX)

Melchisedec used bread and wine in his priestly office. Jesus likewise used bread and wine.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28, NKJV)

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (I Corinthians 11:23-25, NKJV)

St. Paul points out that one of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus in the Psalms says that He will be a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.

And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’”). (Hebrews 7:20,21, NKJV)

So, if the priesthood according to the order of Melchisec continues forever. That which is offered by this priesthood will continue forever, too. The Bread and the Wine of the Eucharist will continue to be offered in the afterlife on into eternity for all perpetuity.

The Melchisedec priesthood consists of not only Jesus and King Melchisedec of Salem, but also His apostles and the successors of the apostles and those given authority by the successors of the apostles to handle the Holy Mysteries, that is, the priests.

Not everyone may handle the Holy Mysteries. St. Paul wrote:

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (I Corinthians 4:1, NKJV)

The apostles were stewards of the Mysteries of God. They were responsible for safeguarding their administration to the faithful. Those who were ordained bishops by the apostles received this stewardship at their ordination. The presbyters, or priests, were given authority by the bishops to administer the Sacraments to the faithful within their local congregations.

Further evidence of the existence of this stewardship among the apostles can be seen in the Book of Acts. The St. Philip the Deacon baptized men and women in Samaria, but he never laid on hands on them so that they could become sealed with the Holy Spirit.

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12, NKJV)

Two of the apostles, Sts. Peter and John, laid hands on the baptized Samaritans.

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17, NKJV)

One must be one of the Twelve Apostles or a successor of the apostles, that is, a bishop, in order to have the authority to do this. St. Philip the Deacon did not have the authority to do this. Therefore, Sts. Peter and John laid hands on them so that the Samaritans would be sealed with the Holy Spirit.

If there is a Eucharist in the afterlife, there will also be Holy Orders. Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, and Readers will be there, too. Two Sacraments which will continue on after the general resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment are Holy Orders and the Eucharist.

 

The Language of Prayer

December 26, 2017 Leave a comment

I have discovered through my web browsing sessions on the internet that Muslims pray in Arabic and many non-Arab Muslims do not even know what they are praying. This seems very similar to what has been going on with Roman Catholics in the past. They go to a Latin Mass and unless they have studied and learned to understand Latin, they really do not know what is being said during the service. (A lot of Masses nowadays are in the language spoken by the people and not Latin.) I have attended Divine Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox church before and heard half of the Liturgy in Greek and the rest in English. There needs to be some common sense here. I will talk about that now.

In the Koran, it says:

O men, you are the ones that have need of God; He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 35:15, Arberry)

God is All-sufficient. He does not need us. He does not need our prayers. God already knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus said:

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, NKJV)

Prayer is really for our own spiritual benefit, not for God.

St. Paul said:

So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air… For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. (I Corinthians 14:9,14,15, NKJV)

If the religious leaders who are responsible for shepherding me require me to pray in a language that I do not understand, they are having me do something that is not spiritually beneficial to me. If I pray in Latin and do not understand Latin, I am uttering words into the air and “my understanding is unfruitful.” Whenever one prays liturgically, one must unite his heart to his mouth. This is a spiritual discipline. I cannot do that if I pray in a language that I do not understand. Therefore, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.”

King David prayed in Hebrew. Jesus and His disciples prayed in Aramaic. First century Christians converted from among the Gentiles prayed in Greek and Latin. Muhammad prayed in Arabic and not Greek because he understood Arabic. He accepted the teachings from the New Testament that I have just cited. (Koran 29:46) To my Muslim readers I say, if you believe that it is all right to pray without understanding what you have prayed, then you are disobeying the Koran. (Koran 4:136,137)

So, pray in a language that you understand. That is better for you.

God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you. (Koran 2:185, Arberry)

Why Pray?

December 24, 2017 Leave a comment

God does not need us, but we need Him. God created us to be loved by Him. He created us for Himself. He created us to glorify Him. Prayer is one of the activities that we need to engage in. Prayer, however, is for our own spiritual benefit and not for God who needs nothing at all from us. I am going to discourse on the reasons and purposes for prayer in this blog post.

In the Psalms, it says:

I will take no bullocks out of thine house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. For all the wild beasts of the thicket are Mine, the cattle on the mountains, and oxen. I know all the birds of the sky; and the beauty of the field is Mine. If I should be hungry, I will not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? (Psalm 49:9-13; Psalm 50:9-13, Hebrew)

Animal sacrifices were part of ancient Jewish worship. This passage from the Psalms in effect says that God does not need those sacrifices. God does not need worship from anyone. The Koran, in several places, says that God is All-Sufficient.

As for the unbeliever, God is All-sufficient nor needs any being. (Koran 3:97, Arberry)

Whosoever struggles, struggles only to his own gain; surely God is All-sufficient nor needs any being. (Koran 29:6, Arberry)

Indeed, We gave Lokman wisdom: ‘Give thanks to God. Whosoever gives thanks gives thanks only for his own soul’s good, and whosoever is ungrateful — surely God is All-sufficient, All-laudable.’ (Koran 31:12, Arberry)

To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth; surely God — He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 31:26, Arberry)

O men, you are the ones that have need of God; He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 35:15, Arberry)

God is the All-sufficient; you are the needy ones. (Koran 47:38, Arberry)

Although God does not need us, He still loves us. He created us to be loved by Him. He never created anything to be hated.

For Thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which Thou hast made: for never wouldest Thou have made any thing, if Thou hadst hated it. (Wisdom 11:24, KJV)

God created everything for Himself. (Colossians 1:16) God established everything for His glory. He created us to glorify Him.

The Lord hath not given power to the saints to declare all His marvellous works, which the Almighty Lord firmly settled, that whatsoever is might be established for His glory. (Sirach 42:17, KJV)

Even all who are called by My name: for I have prepared him for My glory, and I have formed him, and have made him. (Isaiah 43:7, LXX)

The chief goal for which we should strive in all of our actions is to glorify God.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31, NKJV)

One of the purposes for prayer, therefore, is to glorify God.

In the 49th Psalm, it says:

The sacrifice of praise will glorify Me: and that is the way wherein I will shew to him the salvation of God. (Psalm 49:23, LXX; Psalm 50:23, Hebrew)

Sincere worship glorifies God. Jesus said:

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8, NKJV. See also Philippians 1:11.)

Fruit, in the Bible, is offspring (Psalm 126:3, LXX; Psalm 127:3, Hebrew) and new converts (John 4:34-38).  Fruit is also the qualities that God produces in us as we continue to cooperate with Him in our salvation.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23, NKJV)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14, NKJV)

Fruit is good works. (II Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 1:10) So, one of the purposes of prayer is to become people who glorify God by manifesting in our lives those qualities enumerated in Galatians 5:22,23. Another purpose of prayer is to obtain from God mercy to help those who do not know God or who go through life ignoring Him to come to Him in repentance. Of course, one should pray for one’s children to inherit the Kingdom of God on the Day of Judgment, that is, obtain a home in Jannah. Another reason to pray is to obtain assistance from God in doing good works.

New converts, godly children, and good works glorify God. So, does worship. In the Bible, worship is called fruit, too.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV)

As we go through life we are often tempted to do and say things that we should not do or say. One of the goals to be achieved in prayer is to obtain victory over temptation.

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Recite that which hath been inspired in thee of the Scripture, and establish worship. Lo! worship preserveth from lewdness and iniquity, but verily remembrance of Allah is more important. And Allah knoweth what ye do. (Koran 29:45, Pickthall)

The Koran says the same thing that Jesus said but in different words.

St. Paul gives us another purpose for prayer in his First Epistle to Timothy.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (I Timothy 2:1,2, NKJV)

The lack of peace in a region of the world might caused by a lack of prayer by its inhabitants. The Koran says:

God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Koran 13:11)

So, in order to obtain peace, we should pray for everyone. That is what St. Paul was saying.

Another reason to pray is to obtain mercy from God and help in time of need.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV)

St. James, Jesus’ stepbrother, said:

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2, NKJV)

People do not have what they need because they never ask God. God already knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus said:

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, NKJV)

So, although God already knows what we need, He still requires us to ask Him to meet our needs. Prayer is really for our own spiritual benefit.

The Koran says:

So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and during periods of the night [exalt Him] and at the ends of the day, that you may be satisfied. (Koran 20:130, Sahih International)

We all have spiritual needs. Prayer is a means of meeting those spiritual needs. Jesus said:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6, NKJV)

If you want to achieve a high level of sanctity, pray for righteousness. Pray that God will continually change you into that kind of person that He wants you to become. Finally, another reason for prayer is to remember God. King David said:

I remembered Thy name, O Lord, in the night, and kept Thy law. (Psalm 118:55, LXX; Psalm 119:55, Hebrew)

The Koran says:

Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance. (Koran 20:14, Shakir)

Whenever we go through life ignoring our omnipresent Creator, that is not good. Praying at regular intervals helps us to remember God — the One for whom we were created.

To summarize, we were created for God to glorify Him and to be loved by Him. God does not need our prayers. He is All-Sufficient. He already knows what we need before we ask. If we do not have what we need, it is because we have not asked Him for it. He still requires us to ask. We need to pray so that we become the kind of people God wants us to be and manifest in our lives those qualities listed by St. Paul in Galatians 5:22,23. We need to pray for the conversion of those who do not walk with God in their daily lives. We need to pray so that we will live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. We need to pray for the salvation of our children, relatives, and friends. We need to pray in order to obtain victory over temptations. We need to pray so that we remember God. We need to pray because the sacrifice of praise glorifies God. That is why we are here — to glorify Him.

 

Times for Prayer

December 17, 2017 Leave a comment

There exists some differences of opinion among those who have read and studied the Koran concerning set times for prayer. Some say that the Koran does not prescribe any set times for prayer at all. Others, like the Sunnis for instance, say the number of set times for prayer in the Koran are five. Others say that there are only three times appointed for prayer in the Islamic holy book. Some Koranists hold to that view. I think that the number of times appointed for prayer during a day are eight. I have an Orthodox Christian bias toward that number because that is the number of the offices for prayer in our Church. Actually, if one were to count one’s personal prayers along with those offices of prayers, the number would be eleven. I am going to present my view based on my understanding of the Koran and the Bible.

According to Orthodox Church tradition, the liturgical day begins at sunset and goes to the next sunset. The basis for initiating the liturgical day at sunset is found in the Bible in the Book of Genesis.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night, and there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:5, LXX)

The evening is mentioned first and the morning is mentioned next indicating that the day begins at sunset and not at sunrise. The Koran, which of course confirms the Bible, teaches the same thing. In Surah 25, it says:

And He it is Who hath appointed night and day in succession, for him who desireth to remember, or desireth thankfulness. (Koran 25:62, Pickthall)

The night precedes the day. Sunset to sunset is the daily cycle, not sunrise to sunrise. In the 17th Surah, it says:

Perform the prayer at the sinking of the sun to the darkening of the night and the recital of dawn; surely the recital of dawn is witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Arberry)

I am aware that some interpret this verse to mean from the decline of the sun from its meridian, that is, from noon, to the darkening of the night and the recitation of the Koran at dawn. That is how the translators of the Sahih International version interpreted it.

Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Sahih International)

The 17th Surah and the 25th Surah are Meccan surahs. The 25th Surah chronologically preceded the 17th Surah. If Koran 17:78 were abrogating Koran 25:62 and teaching that the liturgical day begins at noon, it would not be similar to Koran 25:62 which teaches that the day goes from night to night, or rather from sunset to sunset. Abrogations are either better than or similar to the abrogated verses. (Koran 2:106) Also, if Koran 17:78 were teaching that the liturgical day begins at noon, then the Koran would no longer be confirming the Bible. (Koran 5:48) So, I disagree with Sahih International’s interpretation.

Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) He told His followers to believe them. (Koran 4:136) The Psalms are part of those Scriptures that Jews and Christians have accepted as divinely inspired revelations from God. In the 118th Psalm in the Septuagint (Psalm 119 in the Hebrew), it says:

Seven times in a day have I praised Thee because of the judgments of Thy righteousness. (Psalm 118:164, LXX; Psalm 119:164, Hebrew)

From this verse, the Orthodox Church has established the existence of seven of the eight canonical hours of the Church. According to tradition, an eighth hour was established during the times of the apostles. It was based on Christ’s commandment to watch and pray at night. (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 13:32-42; Luke 22:39-46) Christ prayed His high priestly prayer at this time. (John 17) This additional canonical hour is called the Midnight Office or Nocturnes.

The practice of having eight appointed times for prayer is supported by these verses in the Koran.

Allah desires to explain to you, and to guide you into the ways of those before you, and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Shakir)

And verily We have sent down for you revelations that make plain, and the example of those who passed away before you. An admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 24:34, Pickthall)

The Koran does not teach that three of these offices of prayer have been discarded. It teaches just the opposite. By affirming the importance of believing in and accepting the Bible (Koran 4:136,137; 150-152; 29:46), it states by implication that there are eight offices of prayer and not merely three or five. The Jews had seven (Psalm 118:164, LXX) and the Christians had eight. God guided the first generation followers of Muhammad “into the ways of those before” them. (Koran 4:26)

The first hour of prayer is at sunset. It is called Vespers by Christians and Maghrib by the Muslims. The evening prayer is mentioned in the Psalms and in the Koran.

Evening, and morning, and at noon I will declare and make known my wants: and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; Psalm 55:17, Hebrew)

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. (Psalm 140:2, LXX; Psalm 141:2, Hebrew)

And perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and nigh of the night; surely the good deeds will drive away the evil deeds. That is a remembrance unto the mindful. (Koran 11:114, Arberry)

Perform the prayer at the sinking of the sun to the darkening of the night and the recital of dawn; surely the recital of dawn is witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Arberry)

The two ends of the day  in Koran 11:114 are dusk and dawn. “Nigh of the night” refers to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

The next appointed time of prayer is at bedtime. Support for the existence of this office of prayer is found in the Psalms and in the Koran.

Be ye angry, and sin not; feel compunction upon your beds for what ye say in your hearts. Pause. (Psalm 4:4, LXX)

The saints shall rejoice in glory; and shall exult on their beds. The high praises of God shall be in their throat, and two-edged swords in their hands. (Psalm 149:5,6, LXX)

So be thou patient under what they say, and proclaim thy Lord’s praise before the rising of the sun, and before its setting, and proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day; haply thou wilt be well-pleasing. (Koran 20:130, Arberry)

O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence): Before the prayer of dawn, and when ye lay aside your raiment for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. Three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for them or for you at other times, when some of you go round attendant upon others (if they come into your presence without leave). Thus Allah maketh clear the revelations for you. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 24:58, Pickthall)

Koran 20:130 says to “proclaim” our Lord’s “praise in the watches of the night.” Since Compline is the bedtime prayer in the Psalms (Psalm 4:4; 149:5,6), one of the prayers prayed in the watches of the night is Compline. It is called Isha by the Muslims. “The prayer of the night” in Koran 24:58 is probably a reference to Compline or Isha.

In the 39th Surah, it says:

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (Koran 39:9, Sahih International)

Here, we see that the devoutly obedient pray during periods of the night. There are at least three periods since the word is plural and not dual in the Arabic. Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud) are the three periods of prayer in this verse. There is no fourth period of prayer because Muhammad received no new revelations and was not an innovator among the messengers. (Koran 41:43; 46:9)

In the 50th Surah, it says:

Therefor (O Muhammad) bear with what they say, and hymn the praise of thy Lord before the rising and before the setting of the sun. And in the night-time hymn His praise, and after the (prescribed) prostrations. (Koran 50:39,40, Pickthall)

“In the night-time hymn His praise,” says this verse. So, there is prayer at night-time — Isha or Compline. The words, “after the (prescribed) prostrations,” is a mistranslation. Literally, it says, “after the prostration.” The word translated “prostrations” in this verse is singular in the Arabic. Since Muhammad is a good example (Koran 33:21), glorifying God at night is something we should do, too. The commandment given to Muhammad also applies to those who seek to follow his example.

In the 76th Surah, it says:

And remember the Name of thy Lord at dawn and in the evening and part of the night; bow down before Him and magnify Him through the long night. (Koran 76:25,26, Arberry)

Remembering God “part of the night” is referring to Compline (Isha).

The Midnight Office, also called Nocturnes, is derived from Christ’s commandment to His disciples to watch and pray. (See Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40.) This time of prayer is kept in remembrance of Christ who prayed in the middle of the night before being captured by the Jews. In the Koran, it says:

The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn. (Koran 3:17, Sahih International)

This verse is describing some of the characteristics of someone who will inhabit Paradise in the afterlife. (See Koran 3:15,16.) Since the first generation Muslims obeyed the messengers of God and Jesus is one of the messengers, they most likely prayed the “Our Father” during their prayers. (See Matthew 6:9-13; Koran 2:285; 4:171.)

Praying before dawn is one of the characteristics of someone who will inhabit Paradise. Nocturnes or Tahajjud occurs before dawn.

In the 17th Surah, it says:

And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate. (Koran 17:79, Pickthall)

Praying in the middle of the night after “awaking for it” is another reference to Nocturnes or Tahajjud.

In Koran 20:130, it says to “proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night.” The word translated “watches” in this verse is plural and not dual in the Arabic. Therefore, at least three watches are indicated here: Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud). Muhammad received no new revelations and was not an innovator among God’s messengers. (Koran 41:43; 46:9) Therefore, only three times of prayer are indicated here.

In the 25th Surah, the servants of God are described as those “who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Koran 25:63,64)

In the 50th Surah, it says:

Therefor (O Muhammad) bear with what they say, and hymn the praise of thy Lord before the rising and before the setting of the sun. And in the night-time hymn His praise, and after the (prescribed) prostrations. (Koran 50:39,40, Pickthall)

Hymning the praise of God “before the rising of the sun” is a reference to Nocturnes (Tahajjud).

I have already mentioned Koran 39:9 as indicating the existence of three times of prayer at night: Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud). Further evidence for the existence of the Midnight Office in the Koran can be found in the 51st Surah.

And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness. (Koran 51:18, Sahih International)

Also in the 52nd Surah, there is evidence for this practice.

And proclaim the praise of thy Lord in the night, and at the declining of the stars. (Koran 52:49, Arberry)

In the 73rd Surah, it says:

Lo! thy Lord knoweth how thou keepest vigil sometimes nearly two-thirds of the night, or (sometimes) half or a third thereof, as do a party of those with thee.

Later, in this same verse, it says:

And seek forgiveness of Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 73:20, Pickthall)

The “Our Father” was most likely prayed in obedience to Jesus’ commandment in the Gospels. This was one of the prayers prayed during the Midnight Office (Tahajjud) by the first generation followers of Muhammad. Vigils are a practice of Orthodox Christians, too. Nocturnes and Matins are prayed together before the Divine Liturgy at Pascha.

In Koran 76:26 it says, “Bow down before Him and magnify Him through the long night.” (Arberry)

In the 118th Psalm of the Septuagint, it says:

At midnight I arose, to give thanks to Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness. (Psalm 118:62, LXX; Psalm 119:62, Hebrew)

So then, one of the Old Testament Messengers of God, King David, prayed at midnight, too.

The practice of praying Matins (Fajr) is found in the Psalms. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; Psalm 55:17, Hebrew; Psalm 62:1, LXX; Psalm 63:1, Hebrew; Psalm 87:13, LXX; Psalm 88:13, Hebrew)

Evening, and morning, and at noon I will declare and make known my wants: and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; Psalm 55:17, Hebrew)

O God, my God, I cry to Thee early; my soul has thirsted for Thee: how often has my flesh longed after Thee, in a barren and trackless and dry land! (Psalm 62:1, LXX; Psalm 63:1, Hebrew)

But I cried to Thee, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent Thee. (Psalm 87:13, LXX; Psalm 88:13, Hebrew)

Psalms 62 and 87 of the Septuagint are two of the Psalms prayed during Matins by Orthodox Christians.

King David, who was one of God’s messengers, prayed in the morning. The Koran says that God guided the followers of Muhammad into the ways of those before them. (Koran 4:26) Therefore, first generation Muslims prayed the prayers of Matins (Fajr).

In Koran 11:114, it says “perform the prayer at the two ends of the day.” The two ends of the day are dusk and dawn. Matins is prayed at dawn. In Koran 20:130, it says to “proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day.” The word, translated “ends” is plural and not dual in number. Therefore, three ends or more are implied. The three ends are dawn, noon, and dusk. Notice the night prayers are mentioned before the day prayers. The liturgical day according to the Koran begins at sunset, not at dawn. In Koran 24:58, the prayer of dawn is mentioned — another reference to Fajr or Matins. In Koran 30, it says:

So glory be to Allah when ye enter the night and when ye enter the morning. (Koran 30:17, Pickthall)

Entering the night is referring to Vespers (Maghrib). Entering the morning is referring to Matins (Fajr).

In Koran 48, it says:

That ye (mankind) may believe in Allah and His messenger, and may honour Him, and may revere Him, and may glorify Him at early dawn and at the close of day. (Koran 48:9, Pickthall)

Glorifying God at early dawn is the office of Matins (Fajr). Glorifying Him at the close of the day is Vespers (Maghrib).

In the 52nd Surah, it says:

And proclaim the praise of thy Lord in the night, and at the declining of the stars. (Koran 52:49, Arberry)

Proclaiming God’s praise “at the declining of the stars” is a reference to Matins (Fajr).

In the 76th Surah, it says:

And remember the Name of thy Lord at dawn and in the evening. (Koran 76:25, Arberry)

Remembering the Name of God at dawn refers to praying Matins (Fajr). Remembering the Name of God in the evening refers to Vespers (Maghrib).

The First Hour of Prayer is in the Psalms.

In the morning Thou shalt hear my voice: in the morning will I wait upon Thee, and will look up. (Psalm 5:3, LXX)

This is a very short series of prayers which come immediately after Matins. Psalm 5 is one of the three Psalms prayed during the First Hour in the Orthodox Church. The other two are Psalms 89 and 100 of the Septuagint. (Psalms 90 and 101 in the Hebrew)

One of the seven appointed times of prayer kept by the Jews and also by Christians is the Third Hour. In the Book of Acts, one can see that Jesus’ apostles and disciples kept this time of prayer.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers… When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place… For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. (Acts 1:12-14; 2:1,15, NKJV)

The first generation followers of Muhammad most probably kept this time of prayer, too. (Koran 4:26; 24:34)

The Sixth Hour (Dhuhr) is mentioned in Psalm 54:17 in the Septuagint. (Psalm 55:17, Hebrew) King David prayed at this time.

It was the practice of St. Peter to pray at this time, too.

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. (Acts 10:9, NKJV)

In the Koran, it says:

Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah. (Koran 2:238, Pickthall)

The “midmost prayer” is probably a reference to the Sixth Hour (Dhuhr). However, many Islamic scholars think that this is a reference to the Ninth Hour (Asr).

I have already mentioned Koran 20:130 as teaching to pray at Matins, the Sixth Hour, and Vespers. It says:

Proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day. (Koran 20:130, Arberry)

The “ends of the day” is plural, not dual in the Arabic. The three ends of the day are dawn, noon, and dusk. King David prayed at those three ends of the day. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; 55:17, Hebrew)

The apostles and the Jews kept the Ninth Hour of prayer. The Muslims call it Asr.

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. (Acts 3:1, NKJV)

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”… So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. (Acts 10:1-3,30, NKJV)

The Koran says that we should follow the example of Jesus’ apostles. (Koran 4:26; 24:34)

In Koran 11:114, it says to “perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and nigh of the night.” “Nigh of the night” is referring to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

In Koran 20:130, we are commanded to proclaim God’s praise before the setting of the sun. This is a reference to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

In the 30th Surah, it says:

Unto Him be praise in the heavens and the earth! — and at the sun’s decline and in the noonday. (Koran 30:18, Pickthall)

Praising God at the sun’s decline is a reference to the Ninth Hour (Asr). Praising God in the noonday is, of course, the Sixth Hour (Dhuhr).

So, this is my view on the subject of the times for prayer in the Koran. I believe that the Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.

And that We have revealed to thee of the Book is the truth, confirming what is before it; God is aware of and sees His servants. (Koran 35:31, Arberry)

It, therefore, teaches us to observe the eight canonical hours of prayer. Doing this can be difficult for most people. Among us Orthodox, monks are usually the only ones who do all the prayers. We should not lose heart and fall into despair if we are unable to pray eight times a day. Jesus said:

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32, NKJV)

Despite all of our efforts to do well and try to obey God, we must always remember that we will never be good enough.

If Allah were to take mankind to task for their wrong-doing, he would not leave hereon a living creature, but He reprieveth them to an appointed term, and when their term cometh they cannot put (it) off an hour nor (yet) advance (it). (Koran 16:61, Pickthall)

It is in the end only by God’s mercy that we will ever obtain Paradise (Jannah). God is the most merciful of those who show mercy.

He said: Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 12:92, Pickthall)

So, we should do our best and hope for God’s mercy. Anyone who gets to Paradise is there, not because he earned his way there. He is there because of God’s mercy. Salvation is a paradox. We cannot earn it, but we must still work for it!