Extended Writings


Fasting was a way to deal with sin in the church. When someone had caused an offence in the church that person was put on a fast between 2 to 7 weeks, depending on the offense. They understood that fasting afflicts the soul to refrain from sin. Fasting is one of the most effective ways to get rid of sin. When they completed their fast, they inspected them to see if the sin was dealt with, if they truly had repented, they were allowed back into the body.

When thou sees the offender, with severity command him to be cast out; and as he is going out, let the deacons also treat him with severity, and then let them go and seek for him, and detain him out of the Church; and when they come in, let them entreat thee for him. For our Savior Himself entreated His Father for those who had sinned, as it is written in the Gospel:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luk_23:34)

Then order the offender to come in; and if upon examination thou findest that he is penitent, and fit to be received at all into the Church when thou hast afflicted him his days of fasting, according to the degree of his offence — as two, three, five, or seven weeks — so set him at liberty, and speak such things to him as are fit to be said in way of reproof, instruction, and exhortation to a sinner for his reformation, that so he may continue privately in his humility, and pray to God to be merciful to him, saying:

“If Thou, O Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who should stand? For with Thee there is propitiation.” (Psa_130:3)

Of this sort of declaration is that which is said in the book of Genesis to Cain:

“Thou hast sinned; be quiet;” (Gen_4:7, LXX)

that is, do not go on in sin. For that a sinner ought to be ashamed for his own sin, that oracle of God delivered to Moses concerning Miriam is a sufficient proof, when he prayed that she might be forgiven. For says God to him:

“If her father had spit in her face, should she not be ashamed? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterwards let her come in again.” (Num_12:14. — R.)

We therefore ought to do so with offenders, when they profess their repentance, — namely, to separate them some determinate time, according to the proportion of their offence, and afterwards, like fathers to children, receive them again upon their repentance.

~Constitution of the Apostles- Book II Part 1 Vol. 7

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