Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

Support via Patreon | Subscribe

Day Twenty-five: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50

Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresyCertain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation.

What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe.

Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching.

Advertisement

When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD

You can find today’s reading on page 126 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf

Today we continue with a little more teaching and experience from Anthony on demons and the spiritual battle we are all in as believers.

This chapter opens with a strange anecdote from the time that Anthony was still living in his “cell” (the secluded room on the edge of the Nile, not a prison!).

Advertisement

“Once someone knocked at the door of my cell”, he says, and getting up to answer the door, he sees “one who seemed of great size and tall” standing there. Enquiring who this person was, he answered, “I am Satan”. Unphased by this, Anthony just asks him what he is doing there at his door! Satan then just bemoans that all of the “monks and all other Christians” just blame him “undeservedly” and curse him “hourly”, to which Anthony simply asks him, 'then why do you bother them in the first place if you don't want to be blamed for it?'. 

Maybe this is what inspired the Rolling Stones song title Sympathy for the Devil (sorry, couldn't help myself!).

Satan then goes on to say that there's no point in cursing him so much since he doesn't have as much power as people think, and then goes on to quote Psalm 9 saying, “I have become weak. Have they not read” the Scriptures?

Psalms 9:6
The swords of the enemy have come to an end, and you have destroyed the cities?

Advertisement

“I have no longer a place, a weapon, a city. The Christians are spread everywhere”, Satan goes on to explain. Anthony agrees with him, rejoicing that, “the coming of Christ has made you weak, and He has cast you down and stripped you”! But on mentioning the Lord's name, Satan vanished as he could not bear to be in the presence of even the name of Jesus.

So now, if even the devil himself confesses that he is weak and defeated, then we should no longer despair at the demons for we know their weakness now, and can now despise them.

Let us consider in our soul that the Lord is with us, who put the evil spirits to flight and broke their power. Let us consider and lay to heart that while the Lord is with us, our foes can do us no hurt.

Coming to a close on his teaching about evil spirits, Anthony gives us the simplest way in which we can test the spirits:

Advertisement

If a vision or apparition appears before you, don't lie down in fear, all you need do is ask, “who are you and from where do you come?”. If the vision is a holy one, then like we see in the Scriptures, the angels will assure you and turn fear into joy. But if it is of evil origins, the fear remains and spirit may fumble with clever words of deception and trickery to hide it's purpose. Remain steadfast in your faith and purpose of mind with Christ and tell that demon to flee in the name of Jesus, and he will!

The growth of the monastic life at this time (about 305 AD)

As Anthony taught on these things, the people rejoiced and came to despise the evil one even more and became strengthened in their faith.

So their cells were in the mountains, filled with holy bands of men who sang psalms, loved reading, fasted, prayed, rejoiced in the hope of things to come, laboured in almsgiving, and preserved love and harmony one with another.

More and more people came to saving faith and began living the ascetic lifestyle, to the point that there was hardly any wrongdoing committed in their area.

Advertisement

During this time, it seems as though Anthony became a little strange. With his focus so much on heaven and on the thought of eventually going to be fully spiritual with no need to support the body through food and drink, he withdrew from the other monks to be in solitude again, feeling shame for eating in front of them and trying to be sure not to give into the pleasures of the body.

Desire for martyrdom at Alexandria during the Persecution (311 AD)

The Church came under persecution from Maximinus II, who took many Christians away to Alexandria to be martyred. Anthony, having not been caught, followed anyway hoping to either be a witness or to at least minister to those who had been taken, and ended up going to those in the mines and the prisons.

The judge who was overseeing the martyrs, saw this fearless zeal from Anthony and his companions, and “commanded that no monk should appear in the judgment hall, nor remain at all in the city” which led to many Christians going into hiding at that time.

Life after the persecutions

After the persecutions ended, Anthony retreated back to his cell where he became a little depressed by the sounds of things and made his discipline more harsh on himself. After a while someone came to his door seeking his help through prayer for their daughter who had a demon.

Advertisement

But Anthony, not wanting to become puffed up, simply said that he is only a man like the visitor, and can do no more than he, but if he goes in faith in Christ, then he shall receive what he asks, quoting Luke 11:9. The daughter was freed from the evil spirit, and so more people came to sit at Anthony's door seeking help to be healed, though he wouldn't open the door to them. But through their sincere prayers and faith, they were healed, and “many other things also through Antony the Lord did”.

Anthony seeks another place

Since so many people were gathered around Anthony's cell seeking for his help and prayers, and because he didn't want to get prideful due to the signs that the Lord was doing through him, he decided to find a new place to dwell.

Anthony set off to find a new secluded place and, by a heavenly voice, was pointed towards a group of Saracens who were heading deeper into the desert; so Anthony travelled with them for three days and three nights until he came to a new mountain with a clear, fresh stream and a plain with some palm trees. Here he decided to settle down to stay.

Tomorrow we will see how Anthony gets on at his new home and what the Lord does with him there! I hope you're finding the life of Anthony as interesting as I am and look forward to what comes next.

Advertisement

 

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 296 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 126 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Is The Rapture Biblical?

| 21st September 2020 | Eschatology

Is The Rapture Biblical?

Most people have some idea about what the rapture is – or do they? Generally there is an idea or concept of a form of escapism from the world when Jesus returns, which happens pre, mid or post tribulation and in some connection to the millenium. Now, if you understood any of those terms, you are most likely on, or aware of, the Dispensationalism side of things. There’s a lot of doctrine all bundled together in “end times” beliefs, and a fair bit of speculation around “the rapture” with its timing and logistics etc. which makes the whole thing a but murky, but nonetheless, it’s pretty much taken for granted as a staple belief within the Evangelical world. But has this always been so, and does it have any biblical basis? In short: sort of. What is The Rapture? This is the primary verse where the doctrine finds its footing: …then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17 On the face of it, that is a pretty obscure (and short) text, yet so much has been written on and speculated about around this event.  I’m not going to cover every aspect of rapture doctrine here, but rather want to just highlight the context of this verse and its parallels in Paul’s other letters, as this seems to get lost under centuries of doctrinal baggage, which, incidentally, also the leads to the next point to look at: is the rapture biblical? The origin of The Rapture The word “rapture” itself comes from the Latin word rapere, which means: “to seize” or “to abduct”. It is a translation from the Greek word that is rendered as “caught up” (ἁρπάζω / harpázō) in our English Bibles today. For many, asking if this belief is biblical is a non-starter because it is assumed so based on 1 Thess. 4 so obviously it is. But this is a presupposition, reading the modern ideas of what “the rapture” means into the text. The modern idea being that Jesus comes back briefly (and maybe secretly), whooses all the Christians into the sky and takes them to heaven, away from all the troubles on the earth, before coming back later to do a proper “second coming”. John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century theologian, is often credited with creating this premillennial rapture doctrine, followed closely by C.I. Scofield who wrote a best-selling annotated Bible which promoted Darby’s rapture views in its footnote commentary. This particular Bible became wildly popular across America in the early 1900s and ended up solidifying the futurist dispensational viewpoint for generations to come within Evangelicalism. Despite the popularity of Scofield’s Bible, what it (and Darby) taught was a novel idea which had not been seen nor heard of before in the previous 1800 years of Church History, yet many Christians accepted it without hesitation, likely due to it being part of the exposition alongside the Scripture they were reading, and therefore a seeming authority. I realise there is somewhat of an irony here in that I’m acting similarly like an authority telling you that this belief is wrong whereas Scofield was writing as though it were accurate, but in an even more ironic twist, just a handful of verses later, the same letter to the Thessalonians says to “test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). This is what I would invite you to do: don’t just take my word for it, test everything and see if what I say is accurate. The context of The Rapture So what is the context of these verses, if not about being whisked away into the sky with Jesus? A couple of things, but one slightly more obvious than the other, though still overlooked by people, I’ve noticed; the other requires knowing some more about the ancient Greco-Roman culture of the time. Firstly, we only need go back a few verses to see what Paul is writing about here: he begins the passage in verse 13 by say...

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

| 15th September 2020 | Slavery

Slavery in the Bible – Does God Condone Slavery?

This is a guest post by Joshua Spaulding from eternalanswers.org. The views are that of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of That Ancient Faith. As you read through the Scriptures, you will come across some passages that seem to suggest that slavery is not condemned by God. Some who think this to be the case are sincerely seeking truth, while others are only looking for reasons to discount the Bible. Some of the passages in question are Exodus 21:2-6, Deuteronomy 15:12-15, Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 4:1 which provide instruction on the treatment of slaves. In light of these Scriptures, does God condone slavery? Before diving too deep into the topic, there is one very important thing we must understand before we can rightly interpret these Scriptures, and others. Forced slavery, like that which was ended in the U.S. in modern-day history, is not always the same as the slavery mentioned in the Bible. This is significant! (Just a side note: there are still to this day an estimated 21-36 million people¹ in slavery across the world.) Additionally, seeing something such as forced slavery in the Bible does not necessarily mean God approves of it. The Bible consists of legal, historical, poetic, and prophetic books. The historical books are historical accounts of times past and sinful things are not excluded. God knows the heart of man. The laws He gave in regards to slavery were given as grace for those in slavery.We see at least two forms of slavery in the Bible and God gives guidelines, seemingly approving of one of those forms of slavery. We see the type of forced slavery that the Jews, God’s own people, were forced into (Exodus 1:13-14). The Lord delivered Israel from that slavery. So we know that this type of slavery certainly does not have God’s approval (Exodus 6:6). God would not need to “deliver” a people from something that is not sinful and wrong. So God gives guidelines on one from of slavery, seemingly approving of it to a certain extent, while condemning another form of slavery and delivering His people from it. Herein lies the seed of the confusion. Some innocently read the Bible and don’t realize this, but most who bring this topic up are skeptics just looking for a reason to discredit the Bible. They do not realize, or willingly suppress the fact, that the type of slavery that God gives guidelines for, and seemingly approves of to a certain extent, is not the same type of slavery that God clearly condemns. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and God’s Word does not contradict God’s Word. In Bible times (1st century Greco-Roman times and prior) slavery was not exclusive to any one particular race or language, nor were slaves segregated². They were just like everyone else. These slaves were willing bond-servants. They were often times very well educated contributors to society. Their servitude was rarely for life, but sometimes they willingly agreed to it out of love for their master. These servants were not kidnapped and forced into slavery, which God condemns (Deuteronomy 24:7, 1 Timothy 1:9-1:11). These servants were willing bond-slaves. There is even a book (actually a letter) in the Bible (Philemon) that was written by the Apostle Paul to Philemon (a slave master) emphasizing the fact that all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sin should be treated in the same way … with the same love and respect. What about Leviticus 25:44-46? It is true that God specifically made room for forced slavery, as seen in Lev. 25:44-46. However, this passage should not be seen in the same context as other passages we have considered when dealing with the moral implications of slavery. The reason being that this slavery was a form of judgement by Holy God on a paganistic, rebellious people. It was actually mercy that the Lord allowed them to live in slavery, rather than to be destroyed for their extreme rebellion against God in embr...

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

| 25th May 2020 | Hell

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part 1)

I know this is quite a divisive topic, and one you may have come across before (sometimes referred to as “Annihilationism”); and have been told outright that it’s “heresy” or false, or that it’s an emotional argument people want to believe because it ‘sounds nicer’ than the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT). Or maybe you’ve never even heard of this before and you didn’t realise there were alternative interpretations and views on hell. Any discussion on “hell” is going to cover a lot of ground, and refer to many, many places throughout Scripture; so with that said, this will be a long one, so get comfy! I will do this in two parts as it will become too lengthy for one blog post. This article will just focus on the Scriptural basis for the position of Annihilationism, as opposed to ECT, but to begin with I’ll define some terms as words like “hell” have become quite loaded with extra and unbiblical meaning over the centuries. What is hell, anyway? If you read through the Old and New Testament in older translations like the KJV, you’ll see the word “hell” a lot more often than in more recent Bible translations, which will most likely transliterate the Greek words instead. Not all the words get this treatment, and some still get presented as the word hell in English, for example, the NIV and NRSV will convert the word Gehenna into “hell”, but keep the Greek word Hades as-is (see: Matt. 5:22; 11:23). The etymology of “hell” and its origins and how it became the word we know today in English, would take more time than I have space for here, but in short, there are three main Greek words which often get translated as the word “hell”, even though they are each different words with different underlying meanings: GehennaLiterally means “valley of Hinnom”, which is a place near Jerusalem where children were once sacrificed to Baal (see Jer. 19:5–6). Due to its history, it took on a more eschatological/spiritual meaning as a place of judgement and destruction. Hades (Sheol)This is the Greek form of the Hebrew Sheol found in the Old Testament, usually (and properly) translated as “grave”, or meaning the general place of the dead (similar to the place of the same name in Greek mythology). TartarusThis only appears once in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4 and is used in relation to the angels who sinned and were put in chains. Interestingly, it’s another word borrowed from Greek mythology, for the prison where the Titans were sent as punishment. If you are interested in how we got the word “hell” in our English language, and more importantly, into our Bibles, I highly recommend that you read this study: The Real Hell. A Case for Conditional Immortality (aka Annihilationism) We are often taught that our souls, human souls, are inherently immortal. But where does this idea come from, because it’s never actually stated in Scripture that this is so. This is an Hellenistic philosophical assumption brought into the text (mainly from Plato’s influence) which can taint our interpretations. If we look at 1 Timothy 6:16 we can see that it is God alone who is immortal: It is he [God] alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. Any other mention of immortality or eternal life is only ever spoken of as a gift given to us by Jesus, and is often contrasted with the alternative: death, perishing and/or destruction. Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:10…but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. John 10:28; 17:2I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. […] since you have given him authority over all people, ...

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

| 11th May 2020 | General Interest

That Ancient Faith is Expanding!

EXCITING UPDATES! Just a quick update for you about a couple of new and exciting things I am offering now! Firstly, I have now launched a new range of faith-inspired clothing, which you can see some examples of in the image banner above. If you want to proclaim Christ and your faith via what you wear (especially in these dark times where churches are closed), head on over to: https://thatancientfaith.teemill.com     The second thing to mention, as you may gather from the logo above, is that I now have a YouTube channel! I have begun it by doing a read through of my book, 40 Days with the Fathers, through Lent, so you can listen to the whole book for free. I also plan to create videos discussing the topics I write about where I can go into things in more detail or explain some of the thinking behind the various topics which I can't always fit into the blogs. So if you enjoy watching things on YouTube, come on over and subscribe to my channel.   That's right: I have a new book in the works! It draws on some of the series and articles I've written on this site to do with Old Testament prophecy and its links into the New Testament, the Incarnation (briefly) and the Second Coming and what we have to look forward to (or worry about). Stay tuned for updates, I'll post some more information soon when there's something more solid to show. If you want to get some insider previews or maybe some advanced reading or snippets etc. then come on over to my Patreon and sign up. Members will get advanced access to any news and updates before anyone else, plus other bonuses! That's all for now, leave a comment if you have any queries or thoughts! ...