Posted 21 March 2014 - 09:57 PM
I am not an expert at interpreting the texts, infact I tend to rely on listening to sermons and reading the fathers to understand the texts of the gospels. What I will say is that we do not tend to interpret individual verces but rather in the context of the passage within the narrative of the Gospel (in this case) or the book the passage is found in.
this verse comes in a time when Jesus is talking about John the Baptist just after the baptist's decibles had come to ask him is he was the Meshiah. Here Jesus is talking about the Baptist as Elijah and the change in era this brings about. It can also bee seen to allude to the coming violence of John's martyrdom and the Crusifiction.
I will leave a full interpretation to those who have the skill to do this. Though in my personal opinion it would be good for you to desscuss it with your Presbyter.
Posted 21 March 2014 - 11:57 PM
I am not looking for an out of context interpretation of the verse. I wish to understand it in context, but I don't understand it. That one particular sentence is mysterious to me.
I'd love more than anything to speak with my presbyter about it, but I am away from home until May, and I'm not going to call him about this.
If anyone has any insight into the meaning of this particular sentence, and a moment to spare, please help me understand.
Posted 22 March 2014 - 03:08 PM
ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is taken by force and the violent seize it.
The Holy Fathers tell us that Christ being greater than John, many are now acquiring the kingdom of heaven by force, going in through the narrow gate. It takes force and violence to enter the kingdom because we have to fight against our passions and indolence and against the enemy: ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ (Eph 6:12).
No one strolls into the kingdom of heaven.
Posted 23 March 2014 - 12:16 AM
I think Andreas is on point here and reminds me of the verse from
1 Cor 9:27
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Traditionally, when I have read the verse in the OP I have thought how these following quotes of Christ may relate:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
It seems to me that Christ is saying that with the call for repentance started by St. John the Forerunner until now, our flesh relations and attachments must be severed, whether to our own passions or even to our own family, if they stand between us and God.
Another quote which pops up when I read the OP verse is
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Becauseyou say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Repentance is not passive. Repentance requires strength and violence against our will as well as our passions. Those who truly repent do violence upon their will and upon their passions. I think this may be part of what Christ is referring to in the OP verse.
Edited by Antonios, 23 March 2014 - 12:18 AM.
Posted 23 March 2014 - 01:09 AM
The idea that we are to carry our cross, crucify our wills for love of God and love of our neighbors, and live selfless lives in self-denial, giving even our very lives for our brothers. These are some of the violence I think of when I hear the the verse of the OP.
Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:05 AM
We are given our life to serve us in our salvation: in our weakness, we instead serve our life. But we are all different and have varying capacities. As one Optina elder said, we cannot expect a fly to work like a bee. So, the measure of the 'violence' we must apply is not the same for all; therefore, we must know ourselves so that we apply the measure of 'violence' appropriate to us.
Posted 23 March 2014 - 09:33 AM
My spiritual father died four years ago but he taught me the importance of developing a well-formed conscience. As Elder Sophrony once said, we should not 'spy on ourselves' nor think in terms of 'progress', but my spiritual father explained how our soul can become like a refined sounding board for judging ourselves.
Posted 23 March 2014 - 04:40 PM
Where is the arena of the violence that we must do, where the battlefield of the war we wage? According to the Holy Fathers, it is the heart. As St Macarius the Great says:
‘Within the heart is an unfathomable depth. There are reception rooms and bedchambers in it, doors and porches, and many offices and passages. In it is the workshop of righteousness and of wickedness. In it is death, in it is life.... The heart is Christ's palace...There Christ the King comes to take His rest, with the angels and the spirits of the saints, and He dwells there, walking within it and placing His kingdom there.’ (Homilies 15:32-33)
‘The heart is but a small vessel; and yet dragons and lions are there, and there likewise are poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There also is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, there light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there.’ (Homilies 43:7)
Praying is therefore not the mere saying of prayers, it is to go there, to the heart, to battle the dragons and lions and poisonous creatures in the name of Christ.
St Macarius of Optina says:
'The Kingdom of God is within you', the Lord said to us (Luke 17:21), i.e., in the heart, so it is necessary to seek it in the heart, cleansing it of the passions and provocations of the enemy, not judging or reproaching anyone.
We must purify the heart which is done by obeying the Lord’s commandments. The passions prevent us from purifying the heart which is why we must battle against them. Only then may we see God in our heart: ‘blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’
Edited by Andreas Moran, 23 March 2014 - 04:41 PM.
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