The confidence that is from God… p2

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In the previous posting on this subject, we quickly discussed confidence as seen in the prayer before the “Our Father”.  We now make a small detour to explain the concept of boldness in speech.

The term “parrhesia” during the time of the Greek philosophers referred to a confidence that implied 1) there was a truth or subject matter that needed to be authenticated, and 2) an subordinate/lesser relationship of the parrhesiastes {those who spoke with parrhesia} to the person(S) being addressed, implying a potential risk to the parrhesiastes for speaking boldly. It was an addressed that needed to be made in an effort to affect the listener and change their hearts/beliefs. It was often direct, tactless, and deemed necessary.

This is the boldness that the apostles prayed for after Peter and John were brought before the council:

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:29-31

Acts 4:29 μετὰ παρρησίας πάσης – with all boldness

Acts 4:31 μετὰ παρρησίας – With boldness

Once again, the Peshitta does not transliterate the word but uses states:
ܘܡܡܠܠܝܢ ܗ̱ܘܘ ܥܝܢ ܒܿܓܼܠܐ
Which is to say “they talked with eyes in the open”.

So we see in Acts an example of boldness in the face of authorities, at the risk of persecution. In fact, Peter and John, who had just avoided punishment, would soon be taken before the council again and flogged. And the stoning of St. Stephen and the persecution that followed was still to come as well.

But this is not the parrhesia that the fathers talked about with God. With the church and the fathers, the mode of parrhesia had gone from a political/philosophical emphasis to another form when facing God. It had transcended from daring to stand before an authority and proclaim the Truth, Jesus Christ, that is God, to daring to stand before the ultimate authority and Truth, who is God Himself, and unabashedly supplicating and glorifying Him. More specifically, it involved standing before God the Father as sons, something empowered by Christ through the Holy Spirit.

It is this same mode that the Apostles talk about as well. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, links the two modes together in the function of the Church. After speaking of the grace of God that allows him to spread the good news to the Gentiles and “make everyone see” the plan of God, he writes:

So that through the church, the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. — Ephesians 3:11-12

Again, St. John, counsels us, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming” {1 John 2:28}. The Greek uses σχῶμεν παρρησίαν – have confidence. The Syriac interestingly says:
ܐܠܐ ܬܿܗܘܐ ܠܢ ܓܿܠܝܘܼܬܼ ܐܦܿܐ̈ ܒܿܡܐܬܼܝܬܼܗ

It literally means “but we will have open faces in his coming”. The phrase “open faces” is the same phrase translated as “unveiled faces” in the Mass:
ܒܐܦܿܐ̈ ܓܠܝ̈ܬܐ

So now we have a direct relationship of this parrhesia with “open/unveiled eyes/faces”.

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4 Responses to “The confidence that is from God… p2”

  1. antgaria Says:

    Sorry that I did not put too much directly from our Fathers… but the next post in this series will have this great {I think so at least} quote from one of our mystic monks, Abdisho Hazzaya.

    Also, I’m definitely not a philosopher, and definitely don’t know enough about the history of philosophy, so if anyone can clarify or add anything to what has been said… that would be awesome. 🙂

    Now time for bed… it’s like almost 3 am and I have to wake soon… eeeek.

  2. antgaria Says:

    I wanted to give a little background as to this series. About the year 2008, when we started implementing the reformed Chaldean liturgy, H.E. Mar Sarhad Y. Jammo, our bishop was holding a series of practices for our parish. Something he said struck me and I started doing a lot of reading.

    Someone had suggested, in the translation of the prayer into modern Aramaic, using a word which suggested the faces being “blessed, joyous, happy”. Mar Sarhad replied authoritatively that that would be a grave mistake in that the word had a specific theological purpose and we needed to be careful to accurately translate it.

    That conversation has stayed with me fresh in my mind to this day.

  3. antgaria Says:

    I love my bishop. 🙂

  4. Ian Climacus Says:

    What a wonderful thing to say about one’s Bishop.

    Thank you for the background and detailed information on the word “παρρησίας”; very interesting. I look forward to more thoughts, and the quote from the mystic monk Abdisho Hazzaya.

    And I hope you got some sleep! 😀

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