Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Second Sunday of Easter - May 1, 2011



Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

Acts 2:14a,22-32

An outline of Peter’s sermon:

  • vv. 14-21: Introduction relating the sermon to the narrative framework
  • vv. 22-36: Jesus kerygma, framed as an accusation of the audience, replete with arguments from the Old Testament
  • vv. 38-39: Call for repentance and conversion based on the kerygma. [NJBC]

Verse 14: “‘all who live in Jerusalem’”: Luke (the author of Acts – see 1:1) also accuses the people of Jerusalem of murdering Jesus in v. 23 and 13:27-28, but these are the same people that left the crucifixion scene ready for repentance, as Luke 23:48 tells us (“beating their breasts”). [NJBC]

Verses 17-21: The quotation is the Septuagint translation of Joel 2:28-32, adjusted to fit Luke’s intentions. (Most scholars believe that Peter’s sermon has been placed on Peter’s lips, largely because the construction and grammar are more erudite than could be expected of a Galilean fisherman. This was a standard practice in ancient history writing. Not having access to the actual text – or even to the event – of a speech, the author would compose a speech for the speaker as a way of explaining the meaning of the narrative. Though we might consider such a practice fraudulent today, in ancient times it was considered just a tool for describing the truth in the historical narrative.) The gift of the Spirit to “all flesh” (all people) and not just to certain individuals, is a mark of the messianic age. Like Paul (in 1 Corinthians 12:13), Acts usually assumes that all Christians receive the Holy Spirit. See also 10:44-48 (Cornelius and his household).

Verse 24: “God raised him up”: The Greek word used here for raise up is anistani. The same Greek word is used in vv. 32, 13:33-34 and 17:31. The same word is used in the Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 18:15 (the promise to raise up a prophet like Moses) – which may be the verse Peter thinks of. [NJBC]

Verse 24: “having freed him from death”: Literally having loosed the pangs of death – as in the Septuagint translations of Psalms 18:5 and 116:3. The Greek phrase is derived from the Hebrew for cords of death. In contemporary Jewish usage, odines (pangs) had the connotation of messianic woes. See Mark 13:8 (the Little Apocalypse); Matthew 24:5-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:3. [NJBC]

Verses 25-28: The quotation is Psalm 16:8-11. In the Septuagint translation into Greek, these verses are translated freely from the Hebrew original, giving the worshipper the prospect of immortality. [JBC]

Verse 26: “my flesh”: Meaning, to the psalmist, all earthly human beings, but to the Septuagint translator, only the transitory part of humans. [NJBC]

Verse 27: “my soul”: In the Hebrew original, equivalent to the personal pronoun I; in the Septuagint, the component of a human destined for immortality.

Verse 27: “corruption”: The Hebrew word means pit. The translator into Greek used “corruption” to make the concept intelligible to his readers. [NJBC]

Verse 29: “his tomb”: The tombs of the House of David were a notable feature of interest in Jerusalem. For the grave of David, see 1 Kings 2:10, Josephus Antiquities 7.15.3 paragraphs 392-393 and Josephus Jewish Wars 1.2.5 paragraph 61. For David not being the reference point of his own messianic testimony, see also 2:34-35 and 13:35-37. [NJBC]

Verse 30: “prophet”: In the Old Testament, David is never called a prophet, but see 11QPsa (Psalter at Qumran, Copy 1) 27:11 and Josephus, Antiquities 6.8.2 para 166. As a prophet, David could perhaps speak for the Messiah, perhaps as a antitype of the latter. [NJBC]

Verse 30: “God had sworn with an oath to him ...”: Psalm 132:11 says: “The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: "One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne”. [NJBC]

Verse 33: “exalted”: i.e. bodily ascended. [NJBC]

Verse 34: It is helpful (although not in the text) to insert Further at the beginning of this verse.

Verses 34-36: Luke quotes Psalm 110:1. “David” was thought to be the author of all the psalms. The first verse of the psalm was interpreted thus: “The LORD [i.e. God] says to my Lord [i.e. David], 'Sit on my throne' [i.e. ascend the throne, govern on my behalf]”. More generally, the king was seen as governing for God. Early Christians saw Jesus (the heavenly “my Lord”) as replacing David and other Old Testament kings in this role; further, they saw him as the “Messiah”, the ideal king Jews expected to come in the future. [NOAB]

The following was clipped from the second paragraph of Comments, due to lack of space:

Already in the quotation from Joel, we have an indication of the magnitude of the mission (“all flesh”, v. 17, “everyone”, v. 21), and a foreshadowing of the inclusion of Gentiles in the church.

Psalm 16

The psalmist exemplifies faith in God’s power to save. It is a song of trust – a genre which probably developed as an expansion of the expression of trust that is a common feature of the laments.

Verse 1: “Protect me”: This points to vv. 7-11. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “refuge”: 61:4 also speaks of God as a “refuge”: “Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings ...”.

Verses 2-8: The psalmist makes an appeal to God based on his past devotion to God and to the community of the faithful. [NOAB]

Verse 2: “You are my Lord”: A summary of vv. 3-6. [NJBC]

Verse 4: “multiply their sorrows”: REB translates the Hebrew as find endless trouble.

Verses 5-6: For the division of the Promised Land among the tribes, see Joshua 14:1-4. For the Levites’ portion being God himself, see Numbers 18:20.

Verse 5: “my chosen portion”: The psalmist says in 142:5: “I cry to you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living’. [NJBC]

Verse 8: “be moved”: 15:2-5 says “Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, ... shall never be moved”. [NJBC]

Verses 9-11: The psalmist has complete confidence that God will not permit a devoted worshipper to perish. [NOAB]

Verse 10: “the Pit”: The Hebrew word, shachath, is often translated into Greek and English as Hades. In Greek mythology, Hades was god of the underworld and the abode of the dead.

Verse 11: For experiencing God’s presence in the Temple, see also 36:8 and 63:5-6. The psalmist will survive the ordeal and through God’s help enjoy life’s pleasures again. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “the path of life”: In Old Testament wisdom literature, this means the proper way of living (see Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:6; 6:22; 15:24) but here it may mean the fulness of life experienced in God’s presence, in the Temple. [NJBC]

1 Peter 1:3-9

See also 1 Corinthians 15:20-28: what God intends to do for the faithful. [NOAB]

Verse 3: “Blessed be ...”: This formula also appears in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; Luke 1:68 (the Benedictus). For Jewish blessings, see Psalms 66:20; 68:19; 72:18; Genesis 9:26 (Noah); 1 Kings 1:48 (David); 2 Maccabees 15:34; 2 Chronicles 6:4 (Solomon). [JBC] [NJBC]

Verse 3: “new birth”: See also v. 23; 2:2; John 3:3, 5; Romans 6:3-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 4:19; Titus 3:5; 1 John 3:9. As in Romans 6:3-11, baptism allows the Christian to share in the new life. [CAB]

Verse 3: “living hope”: A dominant theme of 1 Peter, much more so than a word count suggests. See also 1:13, 21; 3:5, 15. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”: The resurrection is the foundation for Christian hope, for in him God has shown what he intends to do for the faithful. See also 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. [NOAB] “New birth” also comes to us through the resurrection. [NJBC]

Verse 4: “kept in heaven for you”: The greater part of our inheritance is yet to come. See also Colossians 1:5 (“the hope laid up for you in heaven”) and Philippians 3:20. [NJBC]

Verse 4: “inheritance”: Paul tells us of the “inheritance” given to Christians in Romans 8:17 and Galatians 4:7. [CAB] The greater part of it is yet to come. See also Colossians 1:5; Philippians 3:20; Galatians 4:26. For Israel’s inheritance being primarily Palestine, see Deuteronomy 15:4. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “faith”: In 1 Peter, faith has a wide range of meanings: see also vv. 7, 9, 21 and 2:6-7. Here it refers to trust in God which is essential for salvation. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “the last time”: 1QS (Rule of the Qumran Community) 4:16-17 says: “... For God has sorted them into equal parts until the last day ...”

Verse 6: “rejoice”: Religious and eschatological joy. This notion is also found in 4:13; Matthew 5:12; Jude 24; Revelation 19:7. [NJBC]

Verse 6: “trials”: Suffering tests the quality of faith: see also Psalm 26:2. James 1:2-3 instructs us: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance”. [NOAB] In 1 Peter, Christian experience of social dislocation in a pagan world is normally called suffering: see 1:11; 4:13; 5:9; 2:19-20; 3:14, 17; 4:1, 15, 19; 5:10. The suffering of Christians is linked with the suffering of Christ in 5:1; 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1. [NJBC]

Verse 7: “tested by fire”: For this metaphor, see also Proverbs 17:3 (“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the LORD tests the heart”); 27:21; Psalm 66:10 (“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried”); Jeremiah 9:7; Malachi 3:3. [CAB]

Verse 7: “when Jesus Christ is revealed”: The second coming of Christ, when he will be judge. The revelation of Christ is also mentioned in 1:13 and 5:1. [CAB]

Verse 8: “Although you have not seen him”: In 1:1, Peter is presented as one of the original apostles; they saw (witnessed the earthly ministry of) Jesus. Acts 1:21-22 tells us that being a witness of Jesus’ life was a requirement for apostleship. In John 20:29, Jesus asks Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”. [NJBC]

Verse 9: “souls”: i.e. self, person. The Greek word also appears in 1:22; 2:11, 25; 3:20 (NRSV: “persons”). [NJBC]

Verse 9: See also Acts 16:31 (Paul and Silas to the jailer); Ephesians 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 10:39. [CAB]

Verse 10: “prophets”: Not Christian ones but those of the Old Testament. Matthew 1:22-23 tells us: “All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us’”. In Romans 1:2, Paul speaks of “the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures”. See also Romans 4:23 and Acts 3:18. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “the Spirit of Christ within them”: Probably the Holy Spirit. In 1:12, the author speaks of “the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”. In Romans 8:9, Paul mentions those who do not have “the Spirit of Christ”. See also Philippians 1:19 and Acts 16:7 (“the Spirit of Jesus”). [NJBC]

Verse 12: The prophets, and even “angels”, sought to understand what God was doing for the restoration of the faithful to him. [NOAB]

Verse 12: “things into which angels long to look”: The image is of peering through a window, as in 1 Enoch 9:1. [NJBC]

John 20:19-31

Verses 19-23: Apart from in the longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:14-18), which a number of important manuscripts lack, and the mention of an appearance “to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5), the only parallel to this story is Luke 24:36-51, where Jesus shows himself to “the eleven and their companions”. The following contacts with the Lucan story are noted:

John   Luke  
v. 19 “stood among them” 24:36 “stood among them”
v. 20 “then the disciples rejoiced” 24:41 “while in their joy they were disbelieving”
v. 20 “he showed them his hands and his side” 24:39 “Look at my hands and my feet” [BlkJn]

Verse 19: “evening”: In John’s time, Sunday was a normal day of work, so the community would meet for Eucharist during the evening. So this passage would have a special resonance for the worshipping community, as they met for their weekly commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection. When Paul visited Greece, Christians celebrated the Eucharist in the evening: see Acts 20:7ff. [BlkJn]

Verse 19: “the doors ... were locked”: For “fear of the Jews” see also 7:13; 19:38. It is not clear why at this time Jesus’ followers should fear them.

Verse 19: “Jesus came and stood among them”: For the spiritual qualities of Jesus’ resurrected body, see 1 Corinthians 15:35-56.

Verse 19: “Peace be with you”: Exchanging the peace was a usual Jewish greeting (see Judges 6:23; 19:20; Tobit 12:17) but the repetition of the words in vv. 21 and 26 suggests a reference back to 14:27 (“ ... my peace I give to you”) and 16:33 (“... in me you may have peace”). [BlkJn]

Verse 20: “hands ... side”: Identifying marks. See also Luke 24:25-26. [NOAB]

Verse 20: “rejoiced”: This fulfils the promises of renewed joy: see 14:19 and 16:16-24. [NJBC] This contrasts with Luke 24:37: there the stress is on terror and amazement. [JBC]

Verse 21: “Peace”: Also a promised gift: see 14:27. [NJBC]

Verse 21: “‘so I send you’”: See also 5:23; 13:20; 17:18. [NJBC]

Verse 22: The commissioning of the disciples also appears in other post-resurrection appearances: see Luke 24:47-48; Matthew 28:19-20a. Jesus confers on the disciples the mission of which he has spoken: see 17:18. See also 4:38; 13:16. [NJBC]

According to BlkJn, 7:39 says that the Holy Spirit would be received after Jesus’ glorification; 15:26 and 16:7 say that the Holy Spirit would be received after Jesus returned to the Father. The ascension has now happened.

Verse 22: “he breathed on them”: The same image is used to describe the communication of natural life in Genesis 2:7. Here it is used to express the communication of the new, spiritual, life of re-created humanity. [NOAB] In Greek, pneuma means both breath and spirit. In Genesis 2:7, God breathes into the nostrils of Adam, giving him earthly life; [JBC] the Septuagint translation uses pneuma here. See also Ezekiel 37:9 (the valley of dry bones) and Wisdom of Solomon 15:11.

Verse 22: “‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”: In 15:26 and 16:7, Jesus says that when he has returned to the Father, he will send the Holy Spirit. In v. 17 he has told Mary Magdalene that he has not yet ascended, so in that he now gives the disciples the Holy Spirit, the ascension has now happened. So in John, Jesus’ resurrection, his ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit all happen in the same day. But to John (and other New Testament authors) chronology is of secondary importance. In common with the authors of the synoptic gospels, John insists on the connection between the resurrection and the animation of the Church by the Holy Spirit. [JBC] Note the connection between the granting of authority and receipt of the Holy Spirit. See 16:7 for the continuation of Jesus’ ministry by the Holy Spirit.

While in 7:39, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will only be given after Jesus’ glorification and in 16:7 he says that he will send the Holy Spirit after he has returned to the Father, but here Jesus appears to grant the Holy Spirit before he has been exalted. Scholars have puzzled over this for centuries. The most likely explanation is that early Christians were less concerned with chronological sequence than we are – they saw Jesus’ resurrection, his appearances, his exaltation, and the gift of the Holy Spirit as one event. Only later did they begin to be described as separate events. As support for this apparent lack of chronological sense, note that while Luke describes the Ascension as occurring at Pentecost in Acts 1:3-10, he describes Jesus’ decisive parting from the world on Easter Day in Luke 24:51.

Verse 23: Through the Holy Spirit, the Church continues the judicial role of Christ (3:19; 5:27; 9:39) in the matter of sin (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; Luke 24:47). (In Matthew 16:19, “bind” and “loose” are technical rabbinic terms: “bind” means forbid; “loose” means permit.) [JBC]

Verse 23: “forgive ... retain”: BlkJn notes that these expressions are not used elsewhere in John and not at all in the Matthean parallels (Matthew 18:18; 16:19). He notes that Matthew 16:19 (“whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven ...”) recalls Isaiah 22:22, so he suggests that both this verse in John and the parallels in Matthew may be variants of a common original. This original, which might well have been in Aramaic, may have followed Isaiah in speaking of the conferral of authority as opening and shutting. In this case, John and Matthew provide different interpretations of what Jesus said, with the Johannine version arising out of the ambiguity in the Aramaic words, for there the word to shut also means to seize or to hold. Given hold for shut, loose (release, set free) for open follows naturally. In support of this hypothesis, BlkJn notes that the Greek verb translated retain is not used here in any of its normal senses, so it may be a Semitism.

Verse 24: In the synoptic gospels, incredulity is shared by the other disciples. [JBC]

Verse 25: This verse reminds us of 4:48: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” Criminals were usually tied to the cross, rather than being nailed through the palms of the hands.

Verse 25: “nails”: The usual custom was to tie the criminal to the cross, but Jesus was nailed to it.

Verse 27: Jesus’ invitation to Thomas contrasts with his prohibition to Mary Magdalene in v. 17. [JBC]

Verse 28: We are not told whether Thomas actually touched Jesus. Before Jesus’ ascension, he forbade Mary Magdalen to touch him. [JBC]

Verse 28: Thomas’ words became a common confession of faith in the early Church. [JBC]

Verse 28: “Lord and ... God”: In the Septuagint translation, theos kyrios translates the name of the God of Israel (Hebrew: Yahweh Elohim). Theos kyrios was also a name used as a designation of a god in the Hellenic world. It became a common Christian confession of faith. [JBC]

Verse 29: 1 Peter 1:8 says: “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy”. [CAB]

Verse 30: “signs”: John tells us of six signs in chapters 2-12. The seventh is Jesus’ resurrection. [NJBC]

© 1996-2003 Chris Haslam



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