THE HOLY BIBLE
Blessed is He, the Lord God, who humbled Himself to talk to us who are but dust and ashes. And blessed is He for ordering His holy prophets, to record His words for us, so all was kept for us in the Holy Bible, a benefit for our souls and light for our path.
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The Holy Bible is the book of books or it is ‘The Book’.
we say ‘The Book’ only, we mean the Bible of God, His words by
which He talks to us. It was inspired and told by the Holy Spirit through
the words of His holy prophets. “For prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet 1:21).
Therefore, in the Apostles’ Creed, we say about the Holy Spirit, “who spoke in the prophets.” And as the Apostle says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim 3:16).
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The Holy Bible is a message presented to you, and who does not rejoice with a message from God?!
St Anthony the Great
received once a message from the Emperor
Constantine. His disciples greatly rejoiced but the saint put the message
aside. His disciples were astonished and became enthusiastic to read the
message. So St Anthony said to them, “My children, why do you rejoice so
much for a message received from a man? Here God has sent us many mes-
sages in the Holy Bible and why don’t we receive them with the same joy
and enthusiasm?!” After that, he read the Emperor’s letter and replied in
order to bless him.
And you, if you receive a letter from a person who is dear to you, don’t you rejoice and read it time after time...? Isn’t it appropriate for you to do the same with a message that you receive from God...?
God’s message that is sent to you, uttered by the Spirit and spoken by the prophets who were led by the Spirit, is a word full of the Spirit. We understand it through the Spirit and live it. It is, as the Lord said:
“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63).
It is food for our spirit. We are nourished by it and have life...
And as the Lord said in Deuteronomy (8:3), and was again repeated by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Bread is food for the body and man is not just a body but he has a spirit, and the spirit is nourished by God’s words which are found in His Holy Bible.
In the Holy Bible, we have our daily bread because we live “.. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” It is the bread of life and the nourishment of the spirit.
It is probably part of what is meant by the phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The man of God rejoices in the Bible: “... But his delight is in the law of the Lord,” (Ps 1:2) and he meditates on it day and night. The word “delight” indicates that God’s commandments are not a burden and not an obligation, but are the cause of one’s delight...
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His relationship with the Bible is permanent and continuous. He meditates on it day and night.
Do not take it as if it was said to the monks only, but to all. The Lord said it to the leader of an army who was burdened by responsibilities, leading hundreds of thousands of people... In the Lord’s commandment to Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ successor, God said to him:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh 1:8). Imagine a very busy leader like Joshua, with all his great responsibilities, and still God says to him, “ This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth” ! ...
words are not directed to Joshua only but to each one of us. There-
fore, the First Psalm says about the righteous man that ... “his delight is in
the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:2).
David the Prophet was a
king, a leader and the father of a big family,
with great responsibilities. And in spite of all this he says, “Your testimonies
are my meditation”, and, “Your law is my meditation.” And he talks about his
relationship with God’s commandment and law by saying: “Your word is a
lamp to my feet and a light to my path”, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds
great treasure”, and, “Your words are sweeter than honey in my mouth.”
How did David find the time to meditate on God’s words day and night and the words of the Lord became his lesson and his meditation?!
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Our fathers the saints, used to learn by heart many books from the Bible, and so the Bible was revealed in their lives. Would that we organize more competitions on learning verses from the Holy Bible. I remember once that I said to the people:
“Learn the Gospel and the Gospel will protect you. Learn the Psalms and the Psalms will protect you.”
By learning verses, you will be able to repeat them within yourself, meditate on their meaning and their depth in any place: at home, at work, on the road, amongst people ... and so we befriend the Bible and its words and it becomes our best companion ...
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To learn verses, repeat them, and meditate on them, is a virtue and to act according to them is a greater virtue.
Therefore the Lord Jesus
Christ said: “...Whoever hears these sayings of
Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the
rock” (Mt 7:24). And the priest, in the Litany of the Gospel says, “Grant that
we become worthy to hear and perform according to Your Holy Gospels”...
word “worthy” has a deep meaning because truly, who are we to be
worthy of hearing God’s words and to be trusted over His Commandments?!
I would like to see your personal Bibles showing signs of being in use.
To show that it is getting old with underlined parts reflecting your readings and use of them ... They are all memories and contemplations that entered the mind and the heart and became part of life.
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Read and contemplate. Mingle the reading of the Bible with your soul and enter to its depth.
Do not be satisfied just
with the literary meaning ... Through contem-
plation, you will find that one verse is like a wide sea that has no limits. As
“I have seen the consummation of all perfection. But your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps 119:96).
said this at a time when all he had was about nine biblical books,
while we have the whole Bible including the New Testament and all the books
of the Prophets. Each word is full of depth and a treasure for contempla-
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The Holy Bible is not only a source of contemplation but also a source of consolation.
In each case of one’s psychological state, there is a verse in the Bible that comforts his heart and satisfies him.
In his grief, he finds a word of solace and in his joy, he finds his delight in it. In his affliction, he finds a solution and in his difficulty he finds peace. In his despair, he finds verses about hope ...
words of the Holy Bible are effective. You might read some of them
and say to God, “Lord, there is no doubt that You said these words for my
Therefore, take God’s word as if it is a personal message directed personally to you.
Specifically to you , and “He
who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
says to the churches.” The Spirit spoke through the prophets for your sake,
It is an epistle that He
sent to you and not to the Romans or the
Corinthians. When the Emperor Constantine sent a message to St. Anthony,
his children were happy. So he said to them, “God, the King of Kings, sent
us many messages. How come you did not rejoice in them in the same way?”
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The Holy Bible is not just a message of consolation but also a weapon:
For each sin there is a commandment that you can place before it . You will find that the sin becomes weak while you gain strength from the commandment ... How strong is the word of God, even when brief.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12).
Satan, in the temptation on the mountain, could not stand the words of God and could not respond to any of it ...
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The word of God will be a witness against us on the last day, if we do not carry it out.
we did not know, we would have an excuse. But what is our excuse
now having God’s words explaining everything to us?! God’s words were
never just for knowledge but for life ... Therefore let us act according to His
word will follow us in every place we go, echoing in our ears and
troubling our conscience if we don’t act according to it. All the excuses given
by the mind, which is controlled by the desires of the soul, will never be of
benefit for us :
At the same time, God’s word in our mouth is an evidence of our spirituality and our religious faith.
are people who, when they speak, their talk is full of the world’s
words. And there is the one who, when he talks, the language of the Bible
shows. Due to him repeating phrases from the Bible, his expression becomes
used to it and it affects his style of speech, therefore: “The book of the law does
not depart from his mouth.” And whoever hears him says: “Your speech betrays
you” (Mt 26:73).
Let us encourage our children to be accustomed to using and reciting verses from the Bible by saying a verse for everything they see, whether it be a book, a tree, a pen, the land, the door, the table ... whatever...
The child who is used to this adopts the language of the Bible in his conversation and his life. Therefore he does not know the language of sinners, the language of the world, and so he would not sin...
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David said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11).
words should be put in the heart, the centre of emotions, love and
feelings and not only in the mouth or in the mind, the centre of knowledge.
When God’s words are in the heart, one would not sin because the command-
ment of God has been mixed with our feelings. How beautiful is the Bible
saying about the Virgin Mary that: “She kept all these things and pondered them
in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
Our mother Eve is one of
those who sinned because they hid God’s
words in their minds and not in their hearts. Our mother Eve was asked
by the serpent about God’s commandment. Her answer was accurate and
very precise but at the same time, she broke the commandment and sinned.
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Read the Holy Bible and be sure that every time you read it, you will find something new, because God’s words are rich and full of goodness. They are an everlasting source of contemplation, therefore we find that David, who experienced this fact, says:
“I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps 119:96).
It means that there is a
limit for each perfection, but as for God’s com-
mandment, there is no such limit due to its depth. As God has no limits, so
is the depth of His word. No matter how much you contemplate on it, you
find that these contemplations open before you unlimited spheres ... It is
continuously new; new in your mind and for your understanding. There-
fore, Jeremiah the Prophet said: “Your words were found, and I ate them” (Jer
David the Prophet says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; ... The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey comb” (Ps 19:7,8 and 10).
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certain that every word you read from the Bible will have its effect
on you with its strength and influence, even without explanation or preach-
It is enough for God’s word to be mentioned to convince any person without argument or much effort. It is enough to mention God’s word to make one feel that God is present in the middle and to feel a special grace. This word gives light to his path.
Holy Spirit that inspired the word gives strength for the word to be
carried out. We remember that when the multitude heard the word on the
day of Pentecost, it was said about them that ... “They were cut to the heart”
St Paul also said to his
disciple Timothy: “...and that from childhood you
have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation...”
(2Tim 3:15). One finds in it the divine guidance, as David the Prophet said:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). He even
said more than that:
“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (Ps 119:92).
Therefore we notice that our Coptic Church has given great attention to the Holy Bible.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOLY BIBLE IN THE CHURCH
holy Church gives great attention to the Holy Bible. In each Mass,
we read a chapter from the Holy Bible during the raising of incense at Ves-
pers, another chapter during Matins and a third chapter, which is the Gos-
pel of the Mass.
Apart from the gospels, readings are also read from the Pauline Epistle, the Catholic Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, with extracts from the Psalms before the Gospel reading.
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When the Gospel is being read
at church during the Divine Liturgy,
two deacons stand holding candles, as a symbol that the Gospel is a lamp to
our feet and a light to our path and that the word of God shines, giving light
to the eyes.
Before reading the Gospel,
the Church prays the Litany of the Gospel
where the priest says to the Lord: “Grant that we become worthy to hear
and perform according to Your Holy Gospels, through the petitions of Your
saints.” It means that for just hearing the Gospel we need to be worthy and
we need the petitions of the saints. The whole congregation stands up while
the deacon calls out: “Stand up in the fear of God and listen to the Holy Gos-
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the congregation stands up in reverence and if a Bishop or the Patri-
arch is present, he takes off his crown as a sign of respect for the word of
The priest holds the Bible
to his head as he proceeds around the Altar;
this act symbolizes the spreading of the Good News around the world...
The Church sermons are all based on verses from the Holy Bible and so are the programs of the spiritual teaching.
With the Church’s concern about tradition, we find nothing that contradicts the Bible but everything is supported by verses from the Holy Bible. Even the mere belief in tradition and the Apostolic teachings is a matter also confirmed in the Bible.
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We see the Gospel constantly in our daily prayers.
The seven prayers of the
Agpia, which the faithful pray everyday, are
also prayed by the church during the Holy Mass and in meetings. These
prayers include many Psalms together with a chapter from the Gospel in
each hour, and in the Morning Prayer there is an introduction from the Epistle
of St Paul to the Ephesians. And so, whoever regularly prays from the Ag-
pia, will definitely learn by heart several chapters from the Holy Gospel as
well as many Psalms.
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There are also biblical readings when performing the rituals of each of the seven Sacraments of the Church.
For example, in the
Unction of the Sick, seven chapters from the Bible
are read during seven prayers. And in the “Blessing of the Water” for Bap-
tism, many chapters of the Gospel are read. Even the prayers of the Holy
Liturgy are all derived mostly from the Gospel of St John (20:22,23).
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The same applies to the ritual prayers.
Various chapters from both the New and the Old Testaments are read during the ‘Laqqan’ (which is the ritual of the washing of feet performed on the eve of the Epiphany, on the day of Holy Thursday, and on the day of Pentecost). Readings are also said when consecrating churches, blessing new homes or in the consecration of monks and nuns.
the vigil of the ‘Saturday of Light’, which is called “Apocalapsis”,
the whole of the Book of Revelation is read, together with many hymns, es-
pecially from the Old Testament. During the Passion week, many chapters
are read from both the Old and the New Testaments. Many chapters are
also read from the Old Testament during the Holy Lent, Jonah’s Fasting and
the Pascha prayers. The Bible is also the basis for many parts of the Psal-
Could there be more care given to the Holy Bible than that?!
During the consecration of the Patriarch or Bishops, the Holy Bible is placed on their head, so that they may be bound to its teachings.
Next, I would like to talk to you about the benefits of reading the Holy Bible in your life, how to read it and your relationship with it.
I would also like to give you some exercises to make your relationship deeper with the Bible.
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HOLY BIBLE
Your relationship with the Holy Bible concentrates on certain main points. The most important point is: possessing the Bible, keeping it in your company, reading it, understanding it, contemplating on it, studying it, learning it. And above all is acting according to it, practising its commandments and turning them into life.
1- POSSESSING THE BIBLE
must possess the Holy Bible, either a big edition on his desk
for reading and studying or a small edition that is kept in a pocket or a hand-
bag so that it is always with him. It accompanies him on all his journeys,
during working hours, at time of rest or while sitting with people.
Bible becomes a friend and a companion in his coming in and go-
ing out, in his moving and his travelling. He feels that he can’t do without it
ever. If he forgets to take it with him, he feels that he has lost something
I fear that the Holy Bible is a stranger in our homes or in our life, “... with nowhere to lay His head” (Lk 9:58), or He lays His head in your library or on your desk but not in your mind or heart! Yes, I don’t mean by possessing the Bible to be a rarity in your house or a charm in your pocket. It must be for your continuous use. You will never achieve this friendship with the Bible except if you have love for it ...
2- LOVE FOR THE HOLY BIBLE
You love the Bible because it is God’s message to you. You receive it with love ...
is exactly like one receiving a letter from somebody he loves. He reads
it and rereads it because it contains words dear to him ... As David the
Prophet said about God’s words, “More to be desired are they than gold... sweeter
also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps 19:10). And in the long Psalm:
“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps 119:103).
also says: “... I love Your Commandments more than gold,
yes, than fine
gold!” (Ps 119:127), “Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it” (Ps
119:140), “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (Ps 119:162),
“Behold, I long for Your precepts” (Ps 119:40), “I will delight myself in Your Com-
mandments” (Ps 119:47), “I love Your testimonies” (Ps 119:119), “I have seen the
consummation of all perfection, but Your Commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps
119:96). He also says:
“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (Ps 119:92).
And so, if you love the Holy Bible, you will find enjoyment and pleasure in reading it.
pleasure makes you continue reading it steadfastly and meditat-
ing on it.
3- PERSEVERANCE IN READING THE HOLY BIBLE
The first Psalm says about the righteous man who is blessed that:
“... His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:2).
This is the commandment that the Lord gave to Joshua, the son of Nun:
book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on
it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it”
Reading the Bible will be of more profit if it is done on a regular and continuous basis, every day...
That is in order to absorb
the spirit of the Bible and its effect becomes
firm in you. Then reading it becomes a habit. You may specify certain ex-
tracts from the Bible to be read every morning before leaving home so that
they become a source of contemplation during the day. It fills your mind
during your walking, your coming in or your going out. You may also read
another chapter before going to bed so you can think about these verses be-
fore going to sleep and they will accompany you even in your dreams...
Perseverance in reading the Bible helps one to enjoy it and become attached to it and it becomes continually in one’s thoughts ...
And so you will be able to “meditate in the law of the Lord day and night” according to the Commandment. If this meditation was possible for a great king like David the Prophet, or for a great leader like Joshua, in spite of their many responsibilities, how appropriate for us who, no doubt, have much less responsibilities ...?!
There are important factors to help you benefit from reading the Bible. One of them is:
4- READING IN REVERENCE
And as much as you have reverence in reading, so would be the effect of God’s words on you.
Because your heart at that time will be ready, aware of being in the presence of God ... Therefore when the Church reads to us from the Holy Bible, the deacon calls out saying: “Stand up in the fear of God and listen to the Holy Gospel” ... And before the Bible reading, the priest raises incense and prays a litany where he says:
“May we be worthy of hearing and performing according to Your Holy Gospels...”
For just hearing the Gospel, one needs to be worthy and to be prepared. We remember how the Prophet Moses called the people, before hearing the Ten Commandments, to sanctify themselves and be ready for three days in order to be worthy of hearing God’s word to them (Ex 19:10-15).
The one who reads the word of God with carelessness and negligence would not be affected by it or benefit from it.
must learn then to read the Holy Bible with reverence and respect ...
Remember that at church, you stand up and the Bishop or Patriarch present
takes off his crown during the Gospel reading, showing respect to the word
of God. So do not be with one spirit at church then with another spirit at
home ... And what else is important when reading the Holy Bible?
5- READING WITH UNDERSTANDING
Enter into the depth of the Divine words and understand what is meant by them ...
Read with contemplation and depth. “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament” (Dan 12:3).
The scribes and Pharisees
were amongst the scholars of the Jews. But
in spite of that, they couldn’t understand the word of God or know God’s
intentions ...! For example, they never understood the Commandment of
keeping the Sabbath holy. They also never understood the meaning of the
word “neighbour” till the Lord explained the parable of the good Samari-
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The element of understanding is very essential so that the Lord says:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6).
Among the requirements of knowledge is not to depend on one verse. The Bible is not one verse but a Book. And a mere verse does not give a complete meaning of God’s aim and commandment ... Therefore:
Collect the verses that relate to one topic and receive a complete meaning.
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Among the conditions that help you to understand God’s word:
To read with spirit and in depth ...
It is not important how much you read without understanding and without contemplation!! But your benefit lies in the depth with which you read, where the word of God enters into the innermost of your thoughts and your heart, making it touch your feelings ...
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Therefore, consider the spirit of the commandment seriously, and not only the literal meaning.
As the Lord says that God’s words are “spirit and life” (Jn 6:63).
So the importance lies in understanding the spiritual meaning of the commandments and not just merely its literal interpretation, as the scribes and Pharisees did. St Paul the Apostle says about that:
“... not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2Cor 3:6).
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Understanding the Bible is very essential, whether it concerns spiritualities or dogma and faith.
Many used to read the Bible but they went astray because they did not comprehend its meaning and relevance. They did not perceive “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:6). And so says the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory: “You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures” (Mt 22:29). Therefore try to understand the significance of everything you read. And if you fail to understand, consult and ask ...
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Many heretics used to read the Bible. They were even considered by some as scholars, but they strayed from the right path because of lack of understanding.
maybe, sometimes, they would select one verse from the Bible and
ignore the rest of the verses so that their understanding was not complete.
Take, for example, the Lord’s saying: “... My Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28).
They consider this verse without considering: “I and My Father are one” (Jn
Or some of them would say: The Apostle said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31), and they do not mention with it the Lord’s saying: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16).
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Therefore if anyone says to you: ‘So and so is written’, reply, ‘And the Lord said “Again it is written...”’ (Mt 4:7).
If a bitter person says to
you: ‘It is written ... “By a sad countenance the
heart is made better”’ (Eccles 7:3), reply: ‘It is also written ... “Rejoice in the
Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). And it is also written: “To
everything there is a season, ... A time to weep, and a time to laugh”’ (Eccles 3:1,4). And so this way you become wise in understanding what you read ...
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the Adventists debate you on keeping the Sabbath saying: ‘It is writ-
ten, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy”’ (Ex 20:8), say to them: ‘It is
also written, “Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a
festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come”’ (Col
The verses of the Bible - if collected together - will form integration, consistency and depth of understanding.
And what else about your relationship with the Bible? There is another important point, which is:
6- MEMORIZING VERSES FROM THE BIBLE
Try to memorize verses from the Bible that represent specific spiritual principles or bases of the dogma and faith, or promises from God that would encourage and comfort you, or ones that contain answers to matters that involve you. Repeat these verses many times in your mind and in your heart, in a reflective way so that they will penetrate into your soul and your subconscious, having thus been engraved in your memory, and becoming a source of comfort and support whenever needed...
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There are many examples of verses to memorize from the Bible:
memorize the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:7), or the characteris-
tics of love (1Cor 13), or many spiritual recommendations found in Romans
12 and in 1 Thessalonians 5, or parts of the Book of Proverbs and the Book of
Ecclesiastic, or the Ten Commandments as in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy
5, or memorizing a good number of the Psalms and prayers of the prophets
in the Holy Bible, or various verses that touch your heart when you read
them. Or verses that concern certain virtues, or concern dogmas of the faith
or present answers to spiritual warfares ... There are so many examples ...
If the spiritual person memorized one verse a day, how many would he memorize in a whole year? ...
how much more would he memorize in a number of years?! Even
if he memorized one verse every week, there is no doubt he will have 52
verses memorized by the end of the year, or 520 verses in 10 years, and this,
having been done, would be considered very little and would bother his con-
What is left now is putting these memorized verses into action ... I used to repeatedly say to my spiritual children concerning this matter:
Learn the Gospel and the Gospel will
protect you ...
Learn the Psalms and the Psalms will protect you ...
But how do they protect you? David the Prophet has many contemplations on this matter.
Now I move to another point, which is:
7- CONTEMPLATING ON THE BIBLE
you read from the Bible and whatever you memorize from its
verses could become a source of your contemplations. You mingle it with
your soul and thoughts and you will find the result in what will be inspira-
tion for you. You will see that each word has meanings and significance
that will be renewed and increased in your heart and make you enter into a
advice to you then is not only to read, but enter into its depth through
contemplation; I have written an article on contemplation that you can read.
Another advice concerning reading the Bible is:
8- READ WITH THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER
Start reading by praying,
asking God to give you understanding and
reveal to you His will. Say to Him what David the Prophet said in his long
my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law”
reading by a prayer, asking the Lord to give you strength for
application. And as He gave you understanding, to give you desire and will.
Let your reading be also accompanied by prayer, as the Bible says: “And lean not on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5). Try to receive God’s message to you through prayer.
Some put in their mind a
specific idea that they have already decided
on, then read to search for a verse to confirm what they have made up their mind about. Or they try to subjugate what is written in the Bible to their
own thoughts. As for you, do not be like that, but read to learn and to know.
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What you need to apply this is the spirit of humility in your prayer ...
through which you submit to the teaching of the Bible, through
which you change and correct your thoughts ... Humility through which
you ask for knowledge, saying with David the Prophet: “Show me Your ways,
O Lord; Teach me Your paths” (Ps 25:4). While you are reading say to Him:
“Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
As for what to do, that is what I want to talk to you about later on.
THE EFFECT OF THE HOLY BIBLE
ITS POSITION IN YOUR HOME AND EXERCISES CONCERNING IT
One of the very clear verses about the effect of God’s word is His saying, blessed be His name: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is 55:11).
Yes, the word of God shall not return empty.
It has its power and its effect. Those who experienced the power of God’s word in their life are able to pass this power to others also ... St Paul the Apostle, when explaining the power of the word and its effect, said: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
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Maybe one would say: Why then do I read without being affected?!
Surely the fault is in you
yourself and not in the word. The word of
God is like a two edged sword. It cuts meat but would not cut stone. There-
fore the Lord said in the Book of Ezekiel the Prophet: “I will take the heart of
stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26). What kind then
is your heart which receives the word of God. Is it a heart of stone or a heart
of rock? The Shulamite in the Song of Solomon heard the voice of the Lord
calling her saying: “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one;
for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night” (Song 5:2).
Yet in spite of that she did not open and made excuses ...!
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The word of God is alive and effective. But it works more in those who open their hearts to it and want the word to work in them.
If the word of God does not work in you today, it might work after a while ... but it shall not return empty.
It will remain firm in your subconscious and at a certain time, when your heart becomes prepared for it, and when the circumstances are suitable, you will find that the word of God will penetrate into your memory and your heart and be effective in your life.
will be as if your lack of response at the beginning was a momentary
action, a short while of lukewarmness after which you wake up to yourself.
It is like the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon who at first was neglectful in
not opening the door of her heart, but then turned saying: “My beloved put
his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him ... I opened for my
beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone” (Song 5:4,6).
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Not each seed that is cast to the earth gives fruit instantly. It could take days or months ...
Therefore, store God’s words in your heart and in your thoughts. They will give fruit in due time, especially when given good care and perseverance day and night, protecting them from obstacles that would stop their work, whether interior or exterior ... It is like a seed in soil that has not been watered. So it remains as it is with life concealed in it. But after days when the water reaches it, this life will become active and be revealed. How beautiful, therefore, is the saying of the Bible: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Eccles 11:1).
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So do not despair in the service when you do not see instant fruits...
patient and wait for the Lord and do not become weary. Not all souls
are of one kind. And not all of them are quick to respond. Not all the out-
side circumstances are suitable ... There is the one who would hear the word
and is quickly affected and another who would need explanation and con-
vincing, following up and solving of the problems that face him in carrying
out the word ...
And there is the one who takes the word for knowledge and not for
receives it by his mind and not his soul in order for him to widen his
understanding but not to purify his heart ... and that is the difference be-
tween the scientist and the ascetic. The scientist reads the book, studying,
explaining and interpreting it, as the scribes and Pharisees used to do (Mt
23:2); they taught but did not act accordingly. As for the ascetic, he is like
David the Prophet who said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might
not sin against You” (Ps 119:11). And this was his intention from God’s
ITS WORK IN YOU
If you responded to God’s word and let it work in you, what work do you think the Divine word is going to do in you? There is no doubt that the outcomes are many. Let us consider them ...
1- It gathers the scattered mind and occupies it with the divine.
your thoughts are scattered, you will never know in what areas they
may stray. But reading, generally, collects the mind from straying and makes
it concentrate on the topic being read. As for specifically reading the Bible,
it guides the thoughts to a safe harbour. Reverence in reading gives more
concentration due to your respect to God’s word. This concentration will
have its spiritual effect.
2- Reading the Bible grants you understanding, enlightenment and knowledge...
the Psalmist says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light
my path” (Ps 119:105). He also says: “The commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19:8). This is why we light a candle during the
Gospel reading, remembering this
enlightenment. As for understanding, the
Psalmist says: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple”
He also says: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your
testimonies are my meditation” (Ps 119:99). With this understanding one learns
the way of the Lord and knows how to act and acquire the gift of discern-
ment and wisdom. Especially if one showed interest in how the righteous
people of the Bible used to act and how they used to deal with God and
with people, “Considering the outcome of their conduct” (Heb 13:7).
3- Reading the Bible even guides you to the right faith.
That is if the reading is done with understanding, discernment and with guidance. And for each belief, memorize one verse or more. Each verse in the Bible becomes a protection against heresies and wrong teaching. That is what the great fathers of the Church, the heroes of faith, used to do. They used to resist the heresies through their understanding of the Bible and the amazing amount of verses memorized in their minds.
4- The Bible also guides the reader to a life of repentance and spiritual growth.
the light of its commandments, one could reach giving account of one-
self in a correct way and uncover his weaknesses and sins. He would also
know that what is required from him is not only repentance from sin, but at
most, a life of holiness and perfection according to the Apostle’s saying: “But
as He who called you is Holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is
written, “Be holy, for I am Holy” (1Pet 1:15-16), and (Lev 11:44). Also the Lord
says: “Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt
The Bible explains the details of the life of repentance, holiness and perfection, presenting examples. And in contrast, He says: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures” (Mt 22:29).
5- Reading the Bible also gives the mind and the will a kind of modesty if one faced the temptation of sin.
Because how could his thought that has been sanctified by God’s words and by the spiritual atmosphere during his reading, become defiled by the thought of sin!!
6- In diabolic warfares, one
could answer the sin with a command-
is according to what Mar Ogris explained in his book about warfares
of the thoughts: ‘If your time is wasted in chatter and much talk, remember
the Bible’s saying: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking” (Prov 10:19),
and also the saying of the Psalmist: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips”’ (Ps 141:3).
the devil fights you with anger, remember the Apostle James’ saying:
“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man
does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:19-20). And also the saying of
the Bible: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not
go” (Prov 22:24).
if the devil fights you with lustful thoughts, remember the Lord’s
saying: “... whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adul-
tery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28). And remember also the saying of the
righteous Job: “I have made a covenant with
my eyes; why then should I look
upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1).
And so having the verses of the Bible firm in your mind and in your heart, you are able to recall them and use them to answer any spiritual warfare that the enemy wages against you ... The mere recalling of the commandment will embarrass you and keep your heart from committing the sin. The one who sins is most probably in a state of forgetfulness of God’s commandments. The love of sin has stupefied him ...
7- The words of the Bible also give you comfort in time of distress and strength whenever you are weak.
a time it was said by David the Prophet in his Psalms to the Lord:
“... I hope in Your word” (Ps 119:81). He also says: “Remember the word to
Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my
comfort in my
affliction” (Ps 119:49,50). ... And whenever he experienced satanic wars he
would say: “If it had not been the Lord who was on
our side, when man rose up
against us, then they would have swallowed us alive ... Our soul has escaped as a
bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken and we have escaped. Our
help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 124:2,3-7,8).
How many are the words of the Bible about hope ...!
the one who reads and memorizes them, his heart will be comforted
and will find peace, even as the Apostle says: “ ... Rejoicing in hope” (Rom
12:12). ... God’s promises in His Holy Bible give the soul an
quillity, as in His saying: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt
28:20), and His saying: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do
not fear therefore ...” (Mt 10:30,31), and His saying: “I am with you, and no one
will attack you to hurt you” (Acts 18:10) ... Many are such verses ... Would
that you collect them and memorize them ...
And to talk about all this, time and space would fail me.
8- The Bible has everything, for everyone and for every situation.
No matter what your circumstances are, what psychological state you are in, you will find in the Bible a message that gives you comfort. You will find in it all that you need and what suits you. It is sufficient, for example, to take the Book of Psalms that expresses all types of feelings and prayers. The Book of Proverbs has all kinds of advices. Each book contains a specific message for you, if you choose it well and understand it ...
YOUR USE OF THE BIBLE
1- You can use it first of all as material for prayer.
In addition to your prayer
before and after reading, reading the Bible
kindles in you specific feelings that you will find yourself in need to trans-
form them into prayer. And so, reading the Book of Psalms for example
teaches you how to pray and in what manner you should talk to God. It is
the same when you read the prayers of God’s men in the Bible, such as the
prayer of Daniel the Prophet (Dan 9), and the prayer of Ezra (Ez 9), and also
the prayer of Nahum (Nah 1), and the prayer of Solomon (1Kings 8), and the
prayer of Jonah while in the belly of the fish (Jonah 2), and the song of Mary
(Lk 1), and the rest of songs and prayers that are in the Bible.
2- The Bible could be a material for contemplation:
selecting a specific event from the historic books and contemplating
on it or on one of the miracles or a verse, with your heart and thoughts.
3- Make the commandments of the Bible a field for spiritual exercises.
Choose what suits your spiritual level and need, in order to grow in the life of virtue. You will find a detailed explanation of this in our article on spiritual exercises.
4- Or make the reading of the Bible an opportunity for repentance.
If you read, for example,
the Lord’s saying: “Therefore if you bring your
gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your
brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23,24), you will find inside
you a strong urge to go and reconcile with whoever you have offended. And if you read verses about vows (Eccles 5:4,5), you will find yourself obliged to pay to the Lord your vows which you may have delayed.
5- Memorizing many of the verses.
EXERCISES TO MEMORIZE THE BIBLE
1- Memorize some of the important main chapters of the Bible:
For example, the Sermon on the Mount, the constitution of Christianity (Mt 5:3-10), the chapter on love (1Cor 13), the beautiful commandments (Rom 12), Christ’s long prayer before going to Gethsemane (Jn 17) and some of the Lord’s words to His Disciples (Jn 14-17).
2- Train yourselves and your children to memorize alphabetical verses.
Verses that start with
letters of your names, names of saints, virtuous
characteristics or verses of a suitable word such as church, education, clergy...
3- Memorize verses that include specific words:
You may say to a child: recite verses that relate to the room (chair, bed, floor, lamp, door, light) or verses about the members of the body (face, eye, lips, leg, hand ...)
4- You may also memorize objective verses:
about joy, comfort, gentleness ... verses to fight certain thoughts.
Verses to encourage those in despair, verses to advise the sinner or to give
5- You may practise the use of memorized verses while conversing with people.
Let the language of the Bible be ready in your mouth to be used in your speech, your talk and your stories. By doing this you will reduce the chance of sinning and so you shall be a true Christian role model. In every situation, try to remember a verse ...
6- You may also write down in
a note book your favourite verses -
Write the verses that touch you and are significant for you, then memo-
I would like to work on
arranging a competition in memorizing or
publishing booklets to help in memorizing verses on various topics...
THE BIBLE IN YOUR HOUSE
Here, I place before you the Lord’s saying in the Book of Deuteronomy:
and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you
shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in
your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up ...
You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates”
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To what extent do you carry out these commandments?
A - Are there framed verses that hang on the walls of your house so you, your wife and your children can memorize them.?
Do you teach your children what is written in the Bible, according
to His saying: “Teach them diligently to your children,” or you depend on Sun-
day School and release yourself from the responsibility?! The children will
then realize that their parents never talk to them about the word of God!!
C - Do you use the language of the Bible in your house according to the commandment: “Talk of them when you sit in your house”?
D - Do you read the Bible daily with the members of your family? Do you have a family gathering around the Bible?
E - Do you organize competitions for your children to
and train them in that? ... I am asking you before God asks you about that.
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