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Obedience

“The essence of obedience, according to Christ our God, is expressed by three concepts we encounter in today’s lesson: to relent, to believe, and to enter (Matthew 21:29, 32, 31). To obey means first and foremost that we repent – we change from the heart. Assent requires us to examine the direction of our life. Whom do we trust? What are we willing to do? The child of God listens with an open heart, reconsiders, changes his perceptions, and becomes convicted. Conviction, in turn, manifests itself in God-pleasing behavior. Obedience is a process of conversion.” (Dynamis 8/12/2020)

“God had set up a system of sacrifices to encourage the people to joyfully obey Him (see the book of Leviticus). He required the people to make these sacrifices, not because the sacrifices themselves pleased Him, but because they caused the people to recognize their sin and refocus on living for God. They faithfully made the sacrifices but forgot the reason they were offering them, and thus they disobeyed God. Jeremiah (7:21-23) reminded the people that acting out religious rituals was meaningless unless they were prepared to obey God in all areas of life.” (Life Application Study Bible, Jeremiah 7:21-23)


“Mary did not always understand. But one does not have to understand to be obedient. Instead of understanding—that intellectual understanding which we are so fond of—there is a feeling of rightness, of knowing, knowing things which we are not yet able to understand.” (Madeleine L'Engle)


“Fellow workers (Gr. synergoi) refers to the biblical concept of synergism, shown here [1 Cor 3:9] by the way the apostles work together with God in carrying out the ministry. So too, we as God's fellow workers cooperate with Him to do His will. By this cooperation or synergy with God, we do not mean a working together of equals, or a so-called fifty-fifty arrangement. Rather we mean that He is the Lord, and we His servants are called to participate obediently in His work.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 3:9)


“There is nothing wrong with thinking big and aspiring to do something important and lasting. But as Christians, we need to be mindful that all of our goals and plans must be laid at the altar of God, and all of our aspirations must be motivated by a desire to do the will of the Lord. In this offering of obedience, we must count it an equal honor to start at the bottom, with little things, if that is His plan for us. We must be mindful that in God’s service, promotions to greater usefulness are given to those who are faithful in little things, and are willing to start with “peanuts”. In the parable of the gold coins, the faithful servant is told by Jesus, “Since you were faithful in small matters, I will put you in charge of ten cities.” (Lk. 19:17). It is a big thing to do something small, if you take care to do it well, and consecrate it to God.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)


“God’s love is the basis of His desire for our obedience, and it is the reason He has revealed His will in His word. We prove our obedience to Christ by demonstrating love toward one another. Love is an unlimited resource readily available to us, and it is tremendously effective in furthering the work of Christ.” (Foundation Study Bible, 2 John 1:6)

“Reduce God’s revelation to law and we embrace rules and codes and narrowest of relationships with God, endless struggle with obedience. In a religion of pure obedience, God the Lord is defined as the Law-Giver Who must be obeyed on pain of death (Dt 28:15-68). While this is true of God, we are those sorely diminished. Saint Paul says, “God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross” (Gal 6:14). He does not boast in his law-abiding obedience, scrupulous as that may have been. He boasts in the One on the Cross, God in the flesh, the God-man embracing our most bitter enemy: death. The Law-Giving God is disclosed in indescribable humility, obediently dying - much as we do, although we are disobedient. Suddenly we move beyond God’s righteous and holy laws to His unrestrained love. The image of pure mercy calls to our hearts.” (Dynamis 9/9/2018)

“There is a difference between doing something because it is required and doing something because we want to. God is not interested in forced religious exercises and rule keeping. He wants our hearts and lives completely dedicated to him. If we love him, obedience will follow.” (Life Application Study Bible, Deuteronomy 5:29)

“Obedience, in its highest form, is an act of love, not dutiful obligation that we sometimes do begrudgingly…the [Holy] Fathers do not speak of obedience in terms of normative requirements. Obedience transcends mere submissiveness, with which it is commonly confused. The virtue of obedience occurs within the context of loving trust and personal relationship between two people in Christ, which in itself reveals the presence of Christ (cf. Mt. 18:20). Without this special relationship, one gains nothing from …obedience but guilt.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Rev. John Chryssavgis)

“…the Lord requires heart-centered and continuous inward awareness of His commandments, for if love for God is truly established within heart and soul, it surely will result in obedience to God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Dynamis 6/20/2013) “We are to be in obedience to Jesus Christ because of the obedience of Jesus Christ.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Peter 1:2)

"God is to be obeyed because of what He is in Himself. If you ask why we should obey God, in the last resort the answer is, “I am.” (C. S. Lewis)

“By the other virtues, we offer God what we possess; but by obedience, we offer ourselves to Him. They who obey are conquerors, because by submitting themselves to obedience they triumph over the angels, who fell through disobedience…obedience is the offering of one’s whole life to Christ—one’s very being, rather than the circumstances and possessions of one’s life.” (St. Gregory)

“True obedience is the full depth of a life offered to God. It is the willful offering, not simply of various aspects of our lives, our possessions, our thoughts to God, but the offering of our entire being, including our full heart and mind, to be wholly His and wholly defined by His creative energies….it is not the slavish abandonment of the person by becoming drone-like in mimicking another, but the discovery of one’s true created nature by entering into a living relationship—a relationship of love that draws the will out of its self-preoccupation, opening it up to communion in God’s will.” (Archimandrite Irenei)

“As difficult as obedience may be, the end result is always deeper joy and clearer sight.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“There is nothing more powerful than the Christian life lived out in obedience; there is nothing worse than a flat, self-righteous form of faith that parades around in Christian clothes.” (David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons)

“Obedience is not to carry out this or that order that you were given, while you object on the inside. Obedience is to subordinate your soul’s convictions so that you may be freed from your evil self. Obedience is to become a slave in order to become free. Purchase your freedom for a small price . . . And don’t listen to that thought of yours which advises you.” (Elder Joseph the Hesychast)

“Noah typifies obedience to God for all of us who desire to actualize the mystery of being “saved through water” (1 Pt 3:20). Christian obedience begins silently within the self whenever we choose to obey the Lord. The faithful respond without question, because we believe in Christ as God and King. The wordlessness of Noah’s behavior reveals that the habit of godly obedience begins in the silence of the soul… Free choice is the ground of our life in Christ. Obedience is to subordinate the soul to Christ…but this subordination is offered in full freedom, in the same liberty exhibited by Noah, for the choices remain ours.” (Dynamis 3/7/2018)

“Every act of obedience is an approach—an approach to Him who is not far off, though He seems so, but close behind the invisible screen of things which hides Him from us. … You have to seek His face; obedience is the only way of seeing Him.” (John Henry Newman)

“We are still His children, even when we disobey. We feel guilty and ashamed, and sometimes we simply want to hide. But God still loves us, and He wants to forgive us and welcome us back!” (Billy Graham)

“All too often authority is confused with power, meaning the ability to compel others to do something. What happened in the case of Adam and Eve, where the harmony of mutual relationship was destroyed, also extended to the people of Israel, where the harmony of a people uniquely guided by the will of God degenerated into disobedience and unfaithfulness. By analogy, what frequently occurs in male-female relations may further occur in the Church, where obedience is turned into subjection and domination. Yet to be obedient (Greek: yp-akouo) is not to be subjected to the will of another who is more powerful; it is to wait upon God, to listen (Greek: akouo) and to hear, to be all ears; ultimately to obey is to love.” (Rev. John Chryssavgis)

"It is important for me to understand the “obedience” to which I am called today, obedience to God’s will…It doesn’t mean switching off my will or my brain. It is rather an exercise of my will, of my willingness, and my creative energies, to embrace and follow His voice in all the situations I am met with today." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“When you obey God in order to earn God’s blessing and heaven, then you are, as it were, seeking to be your own savior." (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“In the beginning, God formed Adam, not as if He needed humanity, but so that He might have someone upon whom to confer His benefits…The service we render to God profits Him nothing, and God does not need our obedience…The reason God demands service from human beings is so that, since He is good and merciful, He may benefit those who continue in His service. While God needs nothing, humans need fellowship with God, and this is the glory of a human being, to continue and remain permanently in God’s service.” (St. Irenaeus)

“The essence of obedience consists in a union of wills.” (Tetullian)

"...and by “obedience” St. Paul does not mean a mindless following of instructions, no. The word “obedience” in English (from the Latin “ob,” in the direction of, and “audire,” listen) and in Greek (ὑπακούω, from “ὑπο,” under, and ἀκούω, listen) means not only to “listen in,” but to internalize deeply, comprehend, and, most importantly, to respond. This is a thoughtful and often painful process, as we see in Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane, as well as His excruciating “Why?” from the Cross (Mt 27: 46)." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“The word “obey,” which comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to hear,” implies an active response to the hearing of God’s word.” (Foundation Study Bible, Jeremiah 9:13)

"An obedient person considers nothing beneath him. Being the companion of humility, obedience is the imitation of Christ, who “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8), and who said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). To acquire obedience is to follow Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and to become the servant of all (John 13:1–17)." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“Hear Me and . . . attend [your] ear” (Jeremiah 7:23). God speaks here of the interaction between the mind, emotions, will, and heart. If we are to hear and obey God, all of these elements must work together. Hearing the Lord begins with the “ear” of the heart. The attentive heart will “call upon wisdom” (Prv 2:3) and “you will incline your heart to understanding” (vs. 2:2). Our thoughts and emotions fall into line behind what the God- instructed heart knows and obeys as truth.” (OCPM 10/8/2016)

“Spiritual obedience is necessary in daily life....In this way, little by little an atmosphere will be created within you and around you in which your heart will become very gentle, very sensitive to every inner movement, to every spiritual variation." (Elder Sophrony of Essex)

"...obedience is not passiveness, but humble action that emanates from calm of soul, peaceful silence, and inward stillness." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“Obedience to God begins with humility…From obedience comes humility. . . . And from humility comes discernment." (Life Application Study Bible, 2 Kings 5:9-15, St. John Climacus)

"...why is obedience a virtue? Many regard it as something for the weak, something that does not become a “real man"...But this is not the obedience of which we speak. The virtue of obedience is rooted not in fearful pragmatism, but in humility. True obedience, like true love, cannot be forced— it must be free. Obedience and humility go hand in hand. They feed and nourish one another. We cannot learn obedience without humility, and we cannot acquire humility without obedience. Together, these two virtues can take us to the very heights of spiritual perfection." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

"But to grow into a true “free lover” of God, who has the depth of joy unknown to the mercenary, conditional religious observer—we must ordinarily go through a stripping. We must feel that to obey God will bring us no benefits at all. It is at that point that seeking, praying to, and obeying God begin to change us.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

"Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him." (C. S. Lewis)

“Mary's faithful response is that of highest obedience to God. The Incarnation is not only the work of God, but it involves the free response of mankind in the person of Mary. Whereas Eve once disobeyed, Mary now obeys; whereas Eve closed herself to God, Mary opens to His will.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 1:38)

"An obedient person considers nothing beneath him. Being the companion of humility, obedience is the imitation of Christ, who “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8), and who said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). To acquire obedience is to follow Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and to become the servant of all (John 13:1–17)." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“The first step in obedience is repentance—turning away from the direction we are going in order to see God…God’s love is the basis of His desire for our obedience, and it is the reason He has revealed His will in His word. We prove our obedience to Christ by demonstrating love toward one another.” (Foundation Study Bible, Isaiah 1:18-20, 2 John 6:6)

“Obedience brings your life the greatest safety and security, and allows you to live constantly in God’s presence.” (Life Application Study Bible, Proverbs 13:6)

“When we think of the words ‘obey’ or ‘obedience’ we tend to think of dutiful or grudging obligation. Obedience to God is really more about a heartfelt desire to follow His ways out of love. In other words, true obedience doesn’t really feel obligatory. It simply feels natural and joyful. It is the result of a sincere daily prayerful and worshipful life.” (Sacramental Living Blog)

“The meaning of the Greek word for obey (hupakouo) begins with the idea of listening attentively…A mature follower of Jesus is always alert and obedient to God's call in every moment.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Ephesians 6:1-4, Rev. Christopher H. Martin)

"Faith and obedience are inseparable. Lack of one is lack of the other.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Hebrews 4:6)

"Faith is only slightly concerned with our mind and emotions. Mostly it is a matter of complying, even if we do not understand and entertain doubts....trusting and obeying God is the essence of faith." (Dynamis 1/2/2015)

"As our Lord Jesus teaches, obedience does not follow the aphorism which insists that"seeing is believing.” In fact, our Lord proposes the opposite: believing is seeing.” (Dynamis 8/13/2014)

"…self-denial” entails surrendering control of our entire inward and outward life to God… We understand that the Lord does not limit our surrender to the sphere of our religious activity, or to matters of personal taste and preference, or even to obedience to the basic commandments of God. His meaning is clear: if we truly desire to come after Jesus Christ (Mk 8:34), then we are to hand over control of our entire life – inward and outward, without qualification – to His guidance, come what may.” (Dynamis 9/21/2014)

“Another habit we must cultivate is obedience (Proverbs 4:3). Why go to a physician if we do not plan to take the medicine he prescribes and follow his directions?” (Dynamis 3/2/2015)

"Obedience is the right use of the will, according to God and human nature. But disobedience is a use of the will contrary to God and nature. For human nature is good in itself (Genesis 1:31), and obedience to God is in harmony with it.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 13:1)

"Every obedience that seems difficult becomes very easy when we fulfill it, because that is how obedience works." (St. Nectarius of Optina)

“The number one shortcoming of man at the close of the twentieth century (as it has been at the close of every century) is that we lead unexamined lives. Most men have not carefully chiseled their life view by a personal search for truth and obedience to God.”(Patrick Morley)

“Obedience, in its highest form, is an act of love, not dutiful obligation that we sometimes do begrudgingly…the [Holy] Fathers do not speak of obedience in terms of normative requirements. Obedience transcends mere submissiveness, with which it is commonly confused. The virtue of obedience occurs within the context of loving trust and personal relationship between two people in Christ, which in itself reveals the presence of Christ (cf. Mt. 18:20). Without this special relationship, one gains nothing from …obedience but guilt.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Rev. John Chryssavgis)


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