Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Third Sunday after Epiphany - January 26, 2020

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.

Isaiah 9:1-4

In the Hebrew (and in some modern translations) Chapter 9 begins at 8:23.

Verse 1: “the way of the sea”: One of the provinces set up by Assyria, around the sea-coast city of Dor, south of Mount Carmel. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: Comments: Megiddo: This was the Assyrian name for Galilee.

Verses 1-4: Zebulun, Naphtali and Issachar were annexed by Assyria in 733 BC. 2 Kings 15:29 says “In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured ... Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria.” [ NOAB] [ NJBC] CAB says that the annexation occurred in 738 BC.

Verse 4: “yoke ... bar ... rod”: These were symbols of Assyrian oppression. In 10:27 and 14:25, Isaiah describes the liberation of Israel from Assyrian oppression as breaking of the yoke and lifting of the burden. Enslavement was commonly pictured as being like a harnessed farm animal. A “bar” is still today placed across the shoulders of harnessed oxen. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “the day of Midian”: Meaning the day when victory comes to Yahweh. [ NOAB] Judges 7:15-25 tells of the defeat of the Midianites by Israelite forces under Gideon’s command. The troops were from northern tribes. Gideon first sent commandos to attack the Midianites at En-dor (in Isaachar). [ HBD]

Verse 6: On the day of a king’s enthronement, it was the custom to proclaim him an adopted son of God (“You are my son; today I have begotten you”, Psalm 2:7), the theological basis for which is found in the dynastic promise to David’s house (“I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”, 2 Samuel 7:14, God’s prophecy through Nathan). The titles are those given on the day of a king’s accession. [ JBC]

Verse 6: “authority”: a symbol of power, as in 22:21. [ NOAB]

Verse 6: “Wonderful Counsellor”: In 28:29, Yahweh is called this. The king represents the best qualities of Israel’s heroes. Ezekiel 37:25 prophesies that “my servant David shall be their prince forever”. [ NOAB]

Verse 7: “zeal”: Recall that God’s zeal also punishes! Deuteronomy 5:9 says “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me”. Idolatry is especially punished.

Verse 7: “hosts”: i.e. armies. [ CAB]

Some scholars suggest that this passage is a liturgical piece excerpted from the ceremony of a royal accession. When a Davidic king came to the throne and was hailed as an adopted son of God there was cause for rejoicing. So this oracle does not concern any historical king but an ideal king who would introduce the definitive era of peace and justice, i.e. the “Immanuel” of 7:14. [ JBC]

The tenses are perfects; indeed they are prophetic perfects, expressing the certainty of a future event. [ JBC]

No historical king of Judah adequately realized this hope attached to the ideal king.

Psalm 27:1,4-9

This psalm has similarities to Psalm 23. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “light ... life”: 13:3 implies that in answering our pleas, God brings “light”, i.e. enlightenment. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: 23:6 expresses the same desire: “Surely ... I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long”. [ JBC]

Verse 4: “live in the house of the Lord”: NOAB suggests that the author is a temple functionary, a Levite.

Verse 4: “to inquire in his temple”: The Hebrew is difficult, so the translation is uncertain. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “‘Come ...’”: 11:7 says “... the upright shall behold his face”. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “false witnesses”: Proverbs 14:5 says “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies”. [ NJBC]

Verse 13: “in the land of the living”: For this expression seeming to refer to the Temple, see 52:5; 116:9; Isaiah 38:11. The psalm ends as it began, the Temple also being a dominant motif in vv. 1-6. [ NJBC] However, JBC sees this as meaning in this present life, before reaching Sheol.

Verse 14c: “wait”: The REB translates this put your hope in.

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Verse 11: “Chloe’s people”: For other female leaders in the Church, see Philippians 4:2-3 (“Euodia” and “Syntyche”), Romans 16:1-2 (“Phoebe”), Acts 16:14 (“Lydia”) and Acts 18:2 (“Priscilla”), 18, 26. [ CAB]

Verse 12: “Apollos”: See also Acts 18:24-19:1. He was an Alexandrian Jew who became a follower of John the Baptist. He was instructed in the faith by Priscilla and Aquila, who are also mentioned in Romans 16:3. He preached in Paul’s absence (see 3:6) and was with Paul at Ephesus when this letter was written (see 16:12). [ NOAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “Cephas”: Cepha’ is a Palestinian Aramaic nickname meaning rock. The Greek rendering of Cepha’ is Cephas . The name Peter is the Greek word for rock, petra. For his nicknaming, see Matthew 16:18 and John 1:42. Paul usually calls him Cephas (see also 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Galatians 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) but he also uses the Greek form petros (see Galatians 2:7-8). [ CAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 13: “Christ”: See also 6:15 (Christians are “members of Christ”); 12:12; Galatians 3:16. [ CAB]

Verse 14: “Crispus”: A former official of the synagogue at Corinth: Acts 18:8 tells us that he “became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household”. [ CAB]

Verse 14: “Gaius”: Romans 16:23 speaks of a certain Gaius “who is host to me [Paul] and to the whole church”, indicating that he is a wealthy man whose house was large enough to contain a whole church, made up of a number of smaller house churches. Perhaps this is the same person. [ HBD] 1 Corinthians 16:19 tells us that “Aquila and Prisca” also hosted a “church in their house”. [ NJBC]

Verse 16: “the household of Stephanas”: Paul’s first converts in Achaia (in central Greece), as 16:15 tells us. [ NOAB]

Verse 17: “the cross of Christ”: See also 1:23 (“we proclaim Christ crucified”); 1:29-2:2. [ CAB]

Verse 18: “those who are perishing”: Perhaps Paul is thinking of Isaiah 29:14: “... The wisdom of their wise shall perish ...”. There is still time to turn to Christ: see 5:1-5 (“a man is living with his father's wife”) and 10:12 (“if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall”). [ CAB] [ NJBC]

Matthew 4:12-23

The parallels are:

Mark Luke John
4:12-17 1:14-15 4:14-15
4:18-22 1:16-20 5:1-11 1:35-42 [ NOAB]

Verse 12: “he withdrew to Galilee”: BlkMt says that Jesus was not, in fact, fleeing from danger. Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea had arrested John the Baptizer in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan. When Jesus moved to Galilee, he did so to challenge Herod: he took up in Herod’s territory the work which Herod had tried to stop by arresting John. The interpretation in Comments fits more easily with the text, and more obviously with Matthew.

Verse 13: “Zebulun and Naphtali”: Matthew uses the old names for the regions so he can defend the presence of the Messiah in Galilee rather than in the religious centre, Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that the first provinces to hear of God's salvation were those that were first to be annexed by Assyria (in Old Testament terms, to experience the destroying wrath of God.) [ JBC]

Verses 15-16: Based on the Masoretic Text of Isaiah 9:1-2 (8:23-9:1 in the Hebrew). [ NJBC] However, BlkMt notes that these verses are quoted in a form which reflects features of both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint translation.

Verse 15: “the road by the sea”: Probably, in the original context, the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean. It was probably the route of the Assyrian invasion: see 2 Kings 15:29. Capernaum was on the northwestern shore of the Lake of Galilee. Here in Matthew, the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean passes the Sea of Galilee. [ BlkMt]

Verse 15: “Galilee of the Gentiles”: By Matthew’s day, this region was at least half Gentile and bilingual (Greek and Aramaic). While Jesus ministers almost entirely to Jews, several such fleeting suggestions forecast that the good news will reach the Gentiles. [ BlkMt]

Verse 16: “shadow”: In Isaiah, the “shadow” is that of Assyrian invasion, but here it is of human sin. [ BlkMt]

Verse 17: “From that time”: This phrase is used only here and in 16:21 (Jesus’ turn towards Jerusalem). [ NOAB]

Verse 17: “kingdom of heaven”: This is Matthew’s usual way of speaking of the kingdom of God. He avoids Jewish sensibilities of using God’s name.

Verse 17: “the kingdom of heaven has come near”: This is derived from Daniel 7:13-14. It is the final salvation of all humanity socially, politically and spiritually, through the exercise of the sovereignty of God, establishing justice and peace on earth as well as in heaven: see 6:33 and Romans 14:17. For Christians, the Kingdom hope includes faith in Christ as end-time saviour. Jesus takes up the message of John (in 3:2). [ BlkMt]

Verses 18,21: “Peter ... Andrew his brother ... two other brothers”: The two pairs of brothers were the first and foremost of the Twelve; from their number was drawn the inner circle, Peter, James and John. See also Acts 3:1-11. James was the first of the Twelve to be martyred: see Acts 12:2. [ BlkMt]

Verse 18: “Simon, who is called Peter”: By Matthew’s time he was known as Peter, but early in Jesus’ public ministry he was not yet nicknamed.

Verse 18: “Andrew”: Originally a follower of John the Baptist: see John 1:35-41.

Verse 19: Jeremiah 16:16 says, in part, “I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them [the people of Israel]”. [ NJBC]

Verse 20: “left their nets”: They had been wading out from the shore, throwing a casting net, and encircling the fish. Now they leave their business and means of livelihood to follow Jesus wherever he takes them, to learn his message. and to help in any way they are able. [ BlkMt]

Verse 21: “James ... and ... John”: Both are prominent in lists of the Twelve: see Mark 3:16-18; Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13.

Verse 21: “mending their nets”: James and John had pulled their boat up on to the beach, and were mending their nets for the next fishing trip. [ BlkMt]

Verse 23: Comments: in both word and deed: Matthew depicts Jesus as the minister of the word in Chapters 5-7 and of the deed in Chapters 8-9. Healing is a foretaste of the Kingdom. [ NJBC]

Verse 23: “the good news of the kingdom”: This phrase is unique to Matthew. He also uses it in 9:35 and 24:14. [ NJBC]

Verse 25: “the Decapolis”: A federation of ten cities of Hellenistic culture, nine of them east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. They were Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadera, Hippos, Dion, Gerasa, and Canatha. [ HBD]

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