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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Was Jesus Ignorant of the Time of His Second Coming?



By John Sanidopoulos

Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36 seem to indicate that not only are all men and angels ignorant of the time of the Second Coming of Christ, but that Jesus also is ignorant of the time of His imminent return. In fact, Jesus says that only the Father knows the day and the hour of the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, was Jesus indeed ignorant of the day and hour of His Second Coming?

Two Church Fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom, specifically addressed this issue.

St. Basil's response can be read in a letter to St. Amphilochios of Iconium (Letter 236), where he adamantly states that Jesus was in fact not ignorant of His Second Coming. First, he states that the opinion that Jesus was ignorant of His Second Coming has its origins from the heretics, and that the tradition he received from his youth and by all Orthodox Christians is that Jesus was in fact not ignorant. Second, he shows how to properly interpret these passages of Scripture. He puts forward Mark 10:18 where Jesus says that "there is none good but one, that is, God." He explains that this does not exclude that Jesus is good, but rather indicates that God the Father is the first good. Also in Matthew 11:27, where Jesus says, "No one knows the Son but the Father", we are not to believe that the Holy Spirit is ignorant of the Son, but rather that to the Father naturally belongs the first knowledge. St. Basil also puts forward other passages of Scripture where Jesus talks about knowing when His Second Coming will be, such as Matthew 24:6. He further brings forward the fact that Jesus as man often spoke of Himself in human terms and weaknesses, but that as God He possessed the "wisdom and power of God" (1 Cor. 1:24).

It should also be pointed out that most Byzantine texts of the Gospels do not contain the words "nor the Son" in Matthew 24:36. It seems that this was added to the text of the Gospel of Matthew based on the text that does contain it, in Mark 13:32. This is a debatable issue why this is so, but St. Basil refers to this fact when he shows that though Mark does seem to indicate an ignorance of the Son, Matthew does not. St. John Chrysostom, in a rare exception, adds "nor the Son" in Matthew. For Basil, this indicates that the words "but My Father only" are offered in contradistinction to the angels and men, but not the Son. Rather, Matthew more clearly shows that the Father has first knowledge by nature, whereas the Son has knowledge through the Father. Otherwise there would be a contradiction here with John 16:15, where Jesus says: "“All things that the Father has are Mine." John 10:15 also states clearly: "As the Father knows Me even so know I the Father."

St. Basil clarifies Mark 13:32 when he says that it should be read in the following manner: "Of that day and of that hour no man knows, nor the angels of God; but even the Son would not have known if the Father had not known, for the knowledge naturally His was given by the Father." Keeping in mind that the knowledge and divinity of the Son comes from the Father, this passage is much more clearly understood.

According to St. John Chrysostom in his Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, the reason Jesus seems to indicate ignorance in this passage was so that the disciples may not even entertain the thought of inquiring into the matter. Though Jesus does know the time of His Second Coming, He is pointing out here a greater mystery, that the source of this knowledge comes from the Father and through the Father is given to the Son. But since the disciples do not yet understand this relationship between the Father and the Son, to them it is merely an indication to not further inquire into the matter. It appeared to them that the Son was ignorant so that they not feel scorned by Jesus or perplexed why they were not given knowledge He possessed. Thus, by Jesus saying "nor the Son", He was indicating to the disciples that He is indeed honoring them and has concealed nothing from them, but that knowledge of the Second Coming would be more harmful to them rather than beneficial. Meanwhile, St. John clearly indicates that the time of the Second Coming is perfectly known by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; for the Holy Trinity, Who created heaven and earth, created time as well. Mankind has no need to know neither the time of the judgment, nor how the Son will judge.

St. John Chrysostom puts the following words into the mouth of Jesus to explain this further: "For that indeed I am not ignorant of it [the Second Coming], I have shown by many things; having mentioned intervals, and all the things that are to occur, and how short from this present time until the day itself (for this did the parable of the fig tree indicate), and I lead you to the very vestibule; and if I do not open unto you the doors [of knowledge], this also I do for your good."

St. John even shows how Jesus speaks specifically of knowing the day and hour of His coming when He speaks of His coming suddenly and unexpectedly in the verses following Matthew 24:36.

We can thus conclude that according to the patristic tradition of the Church, Jesus is not nor ever was ignorant of the time of His Second Coming.


 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Time after Constantinople: Apocalyptic Expectations and the Fall of Constantinople (1453 A.D.)


Time after Constantinople:
Apocalyptic Expectations and the Fall of Constantinople (1453 A.D.)

Research Master Thesis

By Joost van den Oever

Radboud University Nijmegen

(August 2012)

PROLOGUE

History is full of moments of extreme emotions, either of fear or of hope, during which sudden disasters or outbreaks of war and famine have led to increased speculations about the end times. From Persian, Zoroastrian expectations of a final battle between the forces of good and evil, Ahoera Mazda and Ahriman, up to recent predictions of nuclear warfare, the millennium bug, global warming and Mayan calendar calculations, apocalypticism has never fully receded from the human mind. Especially in the United States, using modern media as a tool for disseminating their message, apocalyptic preachers such as Hall Lindsey have their audiences not merely among the uneducated, lower classes, but also among middle class professionals. Indeed, even though modern man usually disdains the phenomenon as an obsolete idea belonging to the primitive cultures and religions of our ancestors, it is hardly so that only medieval Christian people were affected by it. To be fair, many of the widely circulating stories of today about terrified Christians awaiting the end of times around the year 1000 A.D., are later inventions of Renaissance thinkers trying to portray the Middle Ages as a time of darkness and ignorance.

Monday, November 4, 2019

St. George Karslides and the Apocalyptic Visionary


By Monk Moses the Athonite

There was a village woman who believed that she could see the Panagia and Christ and crying she would speak about future disasters. They asked Elder George (+ 1959) to visit her. The Elder went to her house and convinced her to come to the church of the village.

There he did the Supplication Service to the Panagia. The villagers had become afraid and the small children were panic struck. Everyone prayed and did prostrations. The "prophecies" of this woman, concerning impending destruction, had shaken up the village. The Elder quietly and calmly prayed at the Holy Altar intensely and fervently.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Eschatological Cult of Climate Change Alarmism


“Sometimes the obsession for control of the climate got a bit out of hand, as in the Aztec state, where the local scientific/religious establishment of the year 1500 had long since announced that the debate was over and that at least 20,000 human sacrifices a year were needed to keep the sun moving, the rain falling, and to stop climate change." (William Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics Princeton University, Testimony to US Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, 2009)

"Global warming has become a religion." This is the opinion of Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever, Prof. Richard Lindzen, and many others. Climate change alarmism has a surprising number of attributes of a medieval or even ancient religion. Nevertheless, real religions have some pre-requisites, like a tradition spanning at least few generations. So the proper name for climate alarmism is a cult. And these are the telltale attributes:

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Are the Prophecies of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos Authentic? The True Story


By John Sanidopoulos

It was the winter of 1941. Greece was embroiled in a war with Italy. The Italian army had invaded Greece on 28 October 1940, before the Italian ultimatum had expired. The invasion was a disaster, the 140,000 troops of the Italian Army in Albania encountering an entrenched and determined enemy. The Italians had to contend with the mountainous terrain on the Albanian–Greek border and unexpectedly tenacious resistance by the Greek Army. By mid-November, the Greeks had stopped the Italian invasion just inside Greek territory. After completing their mobilization, the Greeks counter-attacked with the bulk of their army and pushed the Italians back into Albania – an advance which culminated in the Capture of Klisura Pass in January 1941, a few dozen kilometers inside the Albanian border. The defeat of the Italian invasion and the Greek counter-offensive of 1940 have been called the "first Axis setback of the entire war" by historian Mark Mazower, the Greeks "surprising everyone with the tenacity of their resistance."

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Vision of Sophiani Which Took Place in Constantinople in 1607


A Beneficial Narration Describing the Vision of Sophiani

(To be read on the 6th of August)

In an area near Constantinople, called Abydos, there lived an orthodox and pious Christian together with his virtuous and God-loving wife Sophiani in the year 1607.

One day Sophiani became ill and was bed-ridden for twenty days without being able to even lift her head. At dawn on the 3rd of August she lifted her hands to heaven and seemed to have expired. All her relatives prepared her for burial and were unable to be consoled by anyone. But they found that beneath her left breast she was still warm, so they stopped the preparations until she was completely dead.

Meanwhile, her sister according to the flesh came, named Anna, and in her pain and despair she took cold water and sprinkled it over Sophiani, which helped her to revive. Sophiani then said to her sister: "It would have been better if you had not come, my sister, because you have caused me more harm and death by coming back to this temporary life, for your voice lifted me out of that bright Paradise and the inexpressible glory of God that I enjoyed. When you saw me dead, O miserable one, you should have rejoiced more and thanked God, rather than seeing me now restored to life."

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Norms of Earthly Life in the Eschaton


By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Lord said of the future life that people there do not marry and are not given in marriage — that is, our everyday earthly relationships will have no place there. It would follow that none of the norms of earthly life will either. Neither science, nor art, nor governments, nor anything else will exist. What will there be? God will be all in all. And since God is spirit, He unites with the spirit and acts on what is spiritual. All life there will be a continuous flow of spiritual movements.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Righteous Shall Dwell in Eternal Fire


By John Sanidopoulos

In the Hebrew version* of the Book of Isaiah (33:14), the question is asked: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" In verses 15 and 16, we get the answer to this question: "Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil — they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress."

What does the Prophet Isaiah mean here by "consuming fire"? Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29 inform us that "our God is a consuming fire." Both Deuteronomy and Hebrews says this in the context of explaining that our God is a jealous God, who alone demands worship, and will not tolerate anyone who worships false gods. For those who give other gods worship instead of the true God, He will be a consuming fire. This consuming and eternal fire in the New Testament is called "Hell."

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Relationship Between the Ascension of Christ and His Second Coming


By Hedrik F. Stander

The New Testament links Christ's ascension with his second coming. We read in Acts 1:10-11 that, when Jesus ascended to heaven, two men dressed in white said to the disciples that "this same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." The ancient theologians often argued about the meaning of the words "in the same way." Ps.-Epiphanius suggests that it means that Christ will come "in bodily form." When he returns to the earth, he will also keep his side which was wounded by the soldier's spear to the front so the Jews could see whom they had pierced (c.f. Rev. 1:7). And Augustine believes that just as Christ ascended as both God and man, he will also come again as both God and man. Diadochus states that Christ will descend on a cloud since he ascended on a cloud.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Wildest Monsters of the Apocalypse


"Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators."

- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 2.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Will Constantinople Be the Capital of Greece in 2020?

An 1803 map from Cedid Atlas refers to Istanbul as Islambol 
(though the Bosphorus is called the Istanbul Strait on the map)

By John Sanidopoulos

Last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey made remarks and answered questions on current issues in a joint interview with Kanal 7, TVNET and Ülke TV in Istanbul. Among the things he commented on was the name of the city of Istanbul, and whether or not it would be called Constantinople again. He said: "Istanbul will never be Constantinople." He further said: "This is Islambol. We do not have any Constantinople on our minds or in our dreams. We will not allow something like this to happen."

Islambol is a Turkish folk-etymological adaptation of Istanbul created after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 to express the city's new role as the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. It is first attested shortly after the conquest, and its invention was ascribed by some contemporary writers to Sultan Mehmed II himself. Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, most notably Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time. Between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word "Islambol" on coinage took place in 1703 during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. The term Kostantiniyye (Costantinopolis) still appeared, however, into the 20th century.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Orthodox Iconography as an Eschatological Art


By Steven Bigham

For Christians, eschatological “time” and “space” are our time and our space transfigured by the glory of Christ. We use quotation marks to speak of time and space for the following reason: since our words describe the reality of our world, they lose some of the relevance when we try to talk about what goes beyond our experience of the world. This is why poetry, parables, and image language are better suited for talking about the end time than discursive, rational, scientific language. All the eschatological passages of the Bible, especially those of Daniel and Revelations, use verbal imagery that seems, to our far-too-earthly eyes, very close to pure fantasy.

We can easily see that every word that tries to express the reality of the Kingdom of God must necessarily be deformed and stretched toward imagery so as to perceive “through a mirror dimly” (1Cor.13:12) that which we only know by foretaste. The same conditions apply to the icon but are expressed in a different manner: the icon has the task of representing, making visible, people and events in the light of the Kingdom of God. Such persons lived, such events took place in history, our history, according to the conditions that govern our existence, but they allow us to glimpse a reality which is not ruled by those conditions. Iconography, therefore, must use material and techniques that belong to our world (colors, lines, brushes, little colored stones, etc.) to show forth the Kingdom of God. The icon’s relation with the word is once again brought out: What poetry and parables are to the ear, iconography is to the eye.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Eschatological Nature of Asceticism


The eschatological settings of the marriage feast parables in the New Testament encouraged the ascetic nature of Christianity. To engage in activities that furthered the existence of this earthly life only delayed the inevitable — and desired — arrival of the eschaton. Christ as Second Adam had opened the gates of Paradise anew for those who were saved and promised their return to that state of grace lived by the First Adam and Eve before the Fall. To hasten the fulfillment of this event, the believer lived in its expectation and sought in every way possible not to contribute to the continuing existence of this earthly realm, for example, by the procreation of children.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Concerning the Last Judgement (St. Ephraim the Syrian)


Concerning the Last Judgement

Letter Addressed to Publius

By St. Ephraim the Syrian

You would do well not to let fall from your hands the polished mirror of the holy Gospel of your Lord, which reproduces the image of everyone who gazes at it and the likeness of everyone who peers into it. While it keeps its own natural quality, undergoes no change, is devoid of any spots, and is free of any soiling, it changes its appearance before colors although it itself is not changed .

Before white things it becomes [white] like them.

Before black things, it becomes dark like them.

Before red things [it becomes] red like them.

Before beautiful things, it becomes beautiful like them and before ugly things, it becomes hideous like them.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Eight Quotes from the Fathers on the Mystery of the Eighth Day


Just as God rested on the seventh day (the seventh day is the end of creation and encompasses within itself the time coextensive with the creation of this world) after He had created the world, so the world, having completed its course, will rest in God on the eighth and final day, the ogdoad, the eternal day. Everyone who exercises diligence with regard to virtue has in mind the future life. Its beginning is called the "eighth," for it follows this perceptible time when the number seven is dissolved. By necessity, we as human beings must establish a foothold in time and prudently use it if we wish to meet the eighth day of eternity. Thus the week of seven days falls back on itself, thereby forming a circle. Such a measure of time's totality exists until things endowed with motion cease and are supplanted by the eighth day. Eschatologically, the Lord's Resurrection is also seen as the eighth day, for it will bring about our own resurrection on the eighth day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Russian Patriarch Warns Smartphone Users To Be Careful of the Antichrist


Smartphone Users Warned to be Careful of the Antichrist

People's dependence on smartphones and modern technology could bring about the coming of the Antichrist, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned.

By Anastasia Clark and Chris Bell
8 January 2019

Russian social media users largely responded with humour and scepticism, while some accused the Church of "serving the regime".

Speaking to Russian state TV, Patriarch Kirill said smartphone users should be careful when using the "worldwide web of gadgets" because it represented "an opportunity to gain global control over mankind".

"The Antichrist is the person who will be at the head of the worldwide web, controlling all of humankind," he said.