This is one of the most quoted passages of Jesus talking about prayer and he highlights the difference between praying in public for the praise of others and praying individually in a close relationship with God.
The Greek Interlinear offers up an interesting translation of part of this passage.
Rather than ‘go into your room’ it reads, eiselthe eis to tameion sou – enter into the room of you.
Tamieon – the word here used for room – has only two occurrences in the N.T. – here and Luke 12:24. In the latter it is translated as ‘storeroom’.
Strong’s informs us that tampon generally refers to the ground floor or an interior room or chamber of an eastern house.
But the final part of the phrase is the room (tamieon) of you (sou) – not ‘your’ indicating is a space of yours.
The inner room of you.
Sou occurs 478 times in the N.T. and is predominantly translated as ‘of you’ and lesser just ‘you’.
My mastery of N.T. Greek is at best simple, and the next part of the verse has the word ‘door’ – thura – used 14 times as door, but it can be in a literal or figurative state.
Whether you physically shut yourself in a room or pray from the inner you, Jesus assures us that God listens.
Making the word order a little easier to follow in the Greek Interlinear, this verse reads, ‘Esteem it all joy, my brothers, when you might fall into various trials’.
This verse may well be the equivalent of that common saying, laugh in the face of danger.
Neither are reckless or uncaring of what happens next – danger or trials.
But both offer a logic which is counterintuitive.
Mindset is a buzz-word everywhere in recent times, but all the way back in the 1st Century, Jesus’ brother is onto it.
The word James uses for trials is peirasmos, which means ‘temptation’.
It is the experience of temptation rather than an abstract notion.
It is only used three times in the N.T. Once by Jesus, here in James, and once by Peter. It is differently translated as trials or temptations.
When these temptations happen we are to esteem – hégeomai/think or judge (the only occurrence in the N.T.) – it chara/joy or delight.
We should all be aware that life is not without its difficulties.
James exhorts us to have a different mindset at such times. We are to see these kinks in the road, or low points in our self-belief, as opportunities to face up to these temptations in faith and trust in God.
The word which jumps out in this verse, when you read the Greek Interlinear version, is that ‘answer’ is written as ‘defence’.
We are to always be ready to give a defence of the hope we have in Christ.
The word for ‘defence’ in Greek is apologian and only occurs in the New Testament 3 times: 2 Corinthians 7:11, Philippians 1:16, and here in 1 Peter 3:15.
According to Strong’s definition, the word means to give an answer for oneself, to be a clearing of self, or a defense.
The religious hierarchy was very anti the 1st Century Church – remember its actions had led to the leader of The Way – Jesus – being crucified. Saul of Tarsus had led the Judaic witch-hunt of the post-Resurrection followers.
As the Word of God spread out into the Gentile communities there were many other debates and challenges to this new faith. The Book of Acts provides sufficient examples of Paul having to defend his faith.
We are still being challenged to ‘defend’ our faith.
Sometimes this is in the face of violence and persecution, but for most of us it is in the form of the unbelief of those around us and a society which is increasingly humanistic in tone.
Peter challenges us to have our ‘defence’ for our faith in the hope of Christ.
What is your apologian?
What is it in your life, day in and day out, which convinces you to be a follower of The Way of our Lord Jesus Christ?
In this verse the Apostle Paul uses the Greek work katakrima for the word condemnation.
He tells us there is no condemnation – no penalty, no punishment or penal servitude following from a condemning.
There are only two other usages of katakrima besides this one in the New Testament and both occur in Romans 5:16 and 5:18. Both refer to the penalty of Adam’s sin and how, through Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid for good.
In some ways this is an easy concept to understand but much more difficult to take on board.
It is as if a stranger had just walked up to you and offered you a £1,000,000. You would be looking around to try and work out what was going on. Really? The money must be fake. There must be a catch.
Paul reassures us, there is no ‘penalty’ for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Those who are part of the body of Christ. Those of us who find out belief and peace in God through His son.
I love the way The Message Version puts this part of the verse:
‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. ‘
It has been more than a year since I entered a physical church building.
No one could have imagined the events of the last year which has contributed to me making that statement.
I have always believed that the church of God is the people and not the stone and glass, but it did strike me sitting in the pew of St. Oswald’s at 6:30am that I really was just one of many believers who have sat in Easter Day services since it was dedicated in April 1241.
People have found many different ways to connect to what is important to them over the last year.
So it has been with faith.
That we strive for connection with God is the important part.
Whether it is in a church building or online, with others or alone, out in the countryside or on city streets as we walk, God waits for us to start the conversation.
In Sando’s copy of ‘John Brierley – A Pilgrim’s Gude to the Camino de Santiago’ there is a quick 5-point reference page.
It lists the following points: Travel – a quick guide; Preparation – Outer; Language; Pilgrim Passport, Protocol & Prayer; Preparation – Inner.
Under travel it refers to when and how long. Life questions in themselves.
Both Sando and I grew up in the Cold War, and much has changed in the world within the scope of our lives. We would often joke about when ‘we were lads . . . ‘ knowing full well that when we did so those around us had only a vague notion of what we were referring to. Life moves on quickly.
I used to wonder in amazement, when I was a young boy, at my Great-Grandmother who had been born in 1901. Her life had begun when only birds could fly and encompassed men travelling to the moon.
Sando and I had grown up under the shadow of nuclear weapons and MAD (mutually assured destruction) and was now overshadowed by a virus pandemic. We definitely hadn’t considered that after he first collapsed.
The Camino journey is normally estimated at 33 days of walking and a couple extra added in for rest days when needed.
Sando had the blessing of six years extra than cautioned once he was diagnosed.
In sport and many outdoor adventures we were both mindful of the necessity of preparing well. Despite the advice to travel as light as possible, we both would carry ‘extra’ to help out others.
Travelling light is a concept underpinning many business and personal life coaching.
Jesus was probably the first recorded teacher sharing this message as the disciples were sent out into the surrounding countryside, being told to take nothing but their cloaks and sandals.
Medieval pilgrims were exhorted similarly, teaching them to seek nothing but dependence upon God.
Memories weigh nothing – expect perhaps the emotions they conjure up – so carry as many of those with you as you can.
Plenty of other things can be left behind, or dispensed with when you realise on the Way that they are unnecessary.
Friends often help you out spotting these things ahead of you doing so. Listen to them.
Language. Sando was well accomplished in this department and his mastery of Spanish a definite advantage in the Basque north of Spain.
Learn other languages and try and find ways to practice them.
The more people and cultures you come into contact with will broaden your horizons dramatically.
I am good at reading and listening but my speaking of other languages wouldn’t even get me onto the bottom of the grade chart.
If you are the same – get yourself a Sando!
Pilgrim Passport, Protocol and Prayer.
The credencial is a document which you carry with you and show at the various albergues along the Way. In return you will receive a stamp which is conformation in Santiago de Compestella that you have indeed walked el Camino.
Be grateful to your hosts and respect your fellow peregrinos. They will not always look or sound like you.
Maybe we should be given a credencial at birth and collect stamps as we go through our years? It might alter our sense of accomplishment and remind us of events easily forgotten.
Pray always. We always need to be reminded of this.
Preparation. Once you reach Santiago you show your credencial and receive your compostella – your certificate for completing the Way of St. James.
If you state your reason for walking as religious, you will receive a certificate written in Latin. If you state your reason for walking as personal, you receive a certificate in Spanish.
Note how you declare this at the end and not the beginning?
Your answer may have changed in the course of El Camino.
Remember everyone of us is on the ‘Way’ and the ‘Way’ changes us.
Despite our best efforts to ‘carry on’ as we always did, Sando and I both knew things had and would change.
We made adjustments without mentioning them.
I can’t say with any certainty, however, that I was prepared for the end as it came.
Do you remember the last time you talked until late into the night?
The Apostle Paul was travelling from Philippi, in Greece, back towards Jerusalem.
His journey takes him through Toras, which is in modern Turkey.
Paul stays there with believers for seven days and there is clearly much he wants to say to them.
If we look at the Apostle’s letters to the churches in the New Testament we can gain an idea of many of the things he might have discussed with them.
We are told about a specific day, however. The first day of the week.
Remember this would be a Sunday, as the Jewish Sabbath was counted from Friday evening to Saturday evening.
It is thought that early Christians would still worship in the Synagogues but then meet the following day to break bread and share their faith in Jesus.
Clearly the act of breaking bread was taken from the Last Supper, but when it is frequently mentioned there is generally no reference to the wine.
The believers come together in the remembrance of Jesus and share food and speak of their lives in faith.
Paul has much to tell them and talks with them until midnight.
Again, referring to his letters, it is easy to surmise that Paul could talk until midnight just by himself, but it is far more likely that he was also being asked questions, perhaps asked for his judgement in matters, encouraged to share more stories of other believers and the works of God.
Think about today or, if it is still early, yesterday.
How many people did you talk to? Was it face to face, or via digital technology of some variety?
What did you talk about?
Were any of your conversations with other believers? How much of your conversations were focused on God?
I am sure that the Apostle Paul did talk about other things than the Faith in Christ, but I bet it wasn’t very long before he brought the conversation back around to God.
Paul tells us in a couple of places in Acts that he was zealous for the Law. The Jewish Torah and the Laws were given by God to the people to remind them of how to stay faithful to God.
Paul is no less zealous for the Faith in Jesus after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
The Apostle knows that God and God’s Word should be at the centre of everything you think and say and do. Jesus was the perfect example of this and Paul is trying to imitate him.
Also remember that the Gospels were beginning to be written around this time (Matthew and Mark in the 50’s AD and Luke more likely the 60’s AD) and it is unlikely that places such as Troas had received a full story of Jesus’ life yet without it being given verbally.
Your conversations with fellow Christians are likely to be more engrained in the Faith, and conversations with other people more societally based.
Paul talked with strangers and told them about Jesus. When he met the faithful, he still talked about Jesus.
It may not always be appropriate to tell people about Jesus, but it is appropriate for us to reference our lives by him. We see this most obviously with sports people who make the sign of the cross or point heavenward when something positive happens.
Consider your conversations and where Jesus and God fits into them.
Talk more with believers, even late into the night as Paul did, about Jesus and faith and living your life in both.