Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Third Sunday after Pentecost - June 21, 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.

Genesis 21:8-21

These verses are from the Elohist (E) tradition. For a parallel account of Ishmael’s and Hagar’s expulsion, from the Priestly (P) or Yahwist (J) tradition, see 16:1-14. [ NJBC]

16:1-6: That a wife who has failed to bear children should invite her husband to have one by a concubine is known in Hurrian legal custom. [ NJBC] Isaac’s conception is mentioned in 17:15-22 and 18:1-5. In antiquity, both barrenness and fertility were traced to God: see 20:17-18 (Abimelech); 30:2-3 (Rachel); 33:5 (Esau); 1 Samuel 1:6 (Hannah). According to ancient custom, a wife could give her maid to her husband and claim the child as her own: see 30:3, 9. [ NOAB]

21:8: Children were weaned when they were three years old. In an age of high infant mortality, that Isaac has lived this long is a sign that he will survive to adulthood. It is therefore a turning point. [ NJBC]

Comments: Now aged three, Isaac is weaned: an occasion for a religious feast: Samuel's weaning ceremony is described in 1 Samuel 1:21-28.

21:9-11: Sarah's ruthless strategy should not be judged by modern standards; she wants Isaac alone to be heir of the grand promises to Abraham. Her own future is tied up with her son's; she is fighting for her life. [ NJBC]

21:9: “playing with her son Isaac”: Rabbinic tradition interpreted this in an evil sense. Based on this tradition, Paul writes of Ishmael persecuting Isaac in Galatians 4:29: “But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also”.

21:9: “with her son Isaac”: These words are not in the Masoretic Text. They are found in the Septuagint and Vulgate translations. [ NJBC]

21:10: 16:4 says that Sarah “looked with contempt” on Hagar. Note that Sarah, in her anger, does not even deign to use the names of Hagar and Ishmael. [ NJBC]

21:13: “make a nation of him”: 25:12-18 names twelve princes who were Ishmael’s children.

21:14-21: This story presupposes that Ishmael is of an age to be carried by Hagar. However, 16:16 says that “Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael”, and 21:5 says that “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.”, and Isaac has just been weaned (at age 3), so Ishmael is about 17 years old. We should be aware that vv. 8-21 are from the Elohist (E) tradition while 16:16 and 16:16 and v. 5 are from the Priestly (P) tradition, so such a calculation may not be warranted. [ NJBC]

21:14: “Beer-sheba”: In the northern Negev desert. [ OBA]

21:16: “she lifted up her voice and wept”: Some translations (including the Septuagint) correct the Masoretic Text, saying that it is Ishmael who weeps rather than Hagar on the basis of the angel’s response to Ishmael in v. 17. Perhaps v. 17 is saying that God is hearing Ishmael’s silent prayer. [ NJBC]

21:17: “God heard”: The Hebrew echoes the name Ishmael. [ NJBC]

21:17: “What troubles you Hagar? Do not be afraid ...”: In 1 Samuel 1:17, Eli says to Hannah, distressed at being childless, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him”. See also Psalm 12:5. [ NJBC]

Psalm 86:1-10,16-17

Verse 5: “forgiving”: The Hebrew adjective occurs only here in the Old Testament. The related verb (always with God as the subject) occurs in 25:11, 103:3 and 130:4. [ NJBC]

Verses 12-13: Thanksgiving, spoken in confident anticipation of deliverance. [ NOAB]

Verse 15: God speaks these words in Exodus 34:6. See also 103:8; 111:4; 145:8. These words are alluded to in 77:9-10. [ NJBC]

Romans 6:1b-11

5:19: “one man’s disobedience ... one man’s obedience”: i.e. Adam’s disobedience and Jesus’ obedience. [ NOAB]

5:20: This is explained in 7:7-13. With the giving of the Law, there were then specific rules which could be broken – and broken they were. Waywardness existed before the Law was given, and it then increased. [ NOAB]

5:21: “dominion”: Paul writes in v. 14: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”. [ CAB]

6:1: As in 3:1-20, Paul anticipates questions which might come from his readers. and then proceeds to answer them. This form of rhetoric, developed in Greek philosophical debate, was called diatribe. See also 3:5; 4:1; 7:7; 9:14, 30. [ CAB]

6:1: That the question is raised repeatedly (see also 3:8 and 6:15) shows that people did not understand Paul's theology. Another way of putting the question is: if God brings about salvation of humans through Christ, as a sheer gift, why try to live an upright life? In 3:8, the question is phrased as: “And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), ‘Let us do evil so that good may come’?” and in 6:15: “Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?”. [ CAB]

6:2: “who died to sin”: See also 5:12-21. [ NJBC]

6:3: “Do you not know”: A frequent phrase in Paul’s writings, usually indicating something his readers already know well. It is also found in 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:2; 9:24. [ CAB]

6:3: “baptised into Christ Jesus”: It is possible that this reflects the imagery of baptism by immersion, but it certainly speaks of a movement of incorporation by which one is born to life in Christ.

6:3: “baptised into his death”: In Galatians 2:20, Paul writes: “... it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”, and in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed ... always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies”. [ CAB]

6:4: A basic Christian confession of faith from the earliest traditions of the Church. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 expresses the same ideas: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures ...”, as does Colossians 2:12: “when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead”. [ CAB]

6:4: “buried”: The Greek word is synthapein, literally meaning co-buried. [ NJBC]

6:4: “glory of the Father”: In the Old Testament (see Exodus 16:7, 10), exodus miracles are ascribed to Yahweh’s kabod (glory); so too here is the rising of Christ. [ NJBC]

6:4: “walk”: A favourite Pauline expression borrowed from the Old Testament (see 2 Kings 20:3, Hezekiah prays to Yahweh, and Proverbs 8:20) to designate the conscious ethical conduct of the Christian. [ NJBC]

6:4: “newness of life”: See also Galatians 2:20. Through baptism, we are identified with the glorified Christ, enabling us to live actually with the life of Christ. [ NJBC] [ CAB]

6:4: “we too might walk in newness of life”: Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7: “ we walk by faith, not by sight” and in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”. [ CAB]

6:5-8: Paul says of the baptised Christian what he says of Christ himself in vv. 9-10. [ NJBC]

6:5: “been united with him”: Another syn word in Greek: synphytoi, literally grown together, as when a young branch is grafted onto a tree, it grows together with the tree and is nourished by it. [ NJBC]

6:5: “we will certainly ...”: For Paul, the resurrection of Christians is a future event, an eschatological one, but the renewal of Christian life is a present reality. [ NJBC]

6:6: “our old self”: NJBC offers the self we once were.

6:6: “was crucified with him”: See also Galatians 2:20. In Galatians 5:24, Paul writes: “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”, and in Galatians 6:14: “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”. [ NJBC]

6:6: “the body of sin might be destroyed”: NJBC offers to do away with our sinful self. Probably the whole human is intended, both the former orientation of one’s very being and physical tendency to sin.

6:6: “no longer be enslaved to sin”: See also Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, quoted above. We have a new orientation. [ CAB]

6:7: There are two possible meanings:

  • The Jewish notion that death of a guilty person ends all litigation, or
  • One who has died has lost the very means of sinning. [ NJBC]

Both infer that a person’s status has changed.

6:8: “we have died with Christ”: i.e. through baptism. [ NJBC]

6:8: “we believe”: New life is not something seen in the normal sense, but with the eyes of faith; however, as v. 4 suggests, we already enjoy a share in this life. In 2 Corinthians 4:11-12, Paul writes: “For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you”. [ NJBC]

6:9: “Christ ... will never die again”: The parallel for the Christian is that he/she is freed from the finality of death. [ NJBC]

6:10: “he died to sin”: In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul puts the point a little differently: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. [ NJBC]

6:10: “he lives to God”: Since his resurrection, Christ enjoys a new relationship with the Father, into which he also introduces all who are baptised. In Galatians 2:19, Paul says: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ”. [ NJBC]

6:11: “consider yourselves”: NJBC offers think of yourselves. He goes on to interpret the verse as saying: deepen your faith continually to become psychologically aware of your union with God.

6:11: “in Christ Jesus”: As in 2 Corinthians 5:17, life in Christ is the new sphere of existence, a totally transformed way of looking at life and the world. [ CAB]

Matthew 10:24-39

Verses 24-25: The background of these verses is the Jewish scholastic system of the time. When a student had learnt all he could from a teacher, he either studied under another teacher or set himself up as a teacher himself – with a distinctive philosophy/theology or school of thinking.

Verse 24: “above”: BlkMt offers superior.

Verse 25: The subordinate (“disciple” or “slave”) cannot expect better treatment than his superior receives. Jesus the teacher and master has been ridiculed and opposed; the Cross lies ahead. The apostles can expect similar treatment, and must be ready to suffer what he suffers. [ BlkMt]

Verse 25: “the master of the house”: Jesus is the master of the household of those committed to the Kingdom. [ BlkMt]

Verse 25: “Beelzebul”: He is obviously related to “Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron”, to whom Ahaziah sends messengers to seek a cure after he falls and is injured (see 2 Kings 1:2) and whom Elijah repudiates (see 2 Kings 1:6). [ BlkMt] In 12:24, Jesus is accused of working with the prince of demons (Satan).

Verses 26-33: See also Luke 12:2-9.

Verse 26: Unlike the Essenes [probably meaning the Qumran community] (and later the Gnostics), Jesus was opposed to secret doctrines known only to initiates.

Verse 26: On Judgement Day, all that is “secret” now (e.g. the wickedness of opponents, the loyalty or cowardice of disciples) will “become known”. [ BlkMt]

Verse 28: Hebrews 10:29-31 speaks of the “punishment ... deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God ...” and then states: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. This verse seems to presuppose the Hellenistic idea of the immortality of the soul. 1 Timothy 6:16 says: “It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion”.

Verse 28: The disciples must not fear hostile people and so become silent or distort their witness. [ BlkMt]

Verse 28: “the soul”: i.e. one’s true self. [ BlkMt]

Verse 28: “destroy”: It is possible that the Greek means torment rather than annihilate.

Verse 28: “hell”: The Greek word is Gehenna. This was the valley of Hinnon (ge’Hinnon) outside Jerusalem where garbage (rubbish) was gathered and burned. Per 2 Kings 23:10, Hinnon had been the site of child sacrifice: see also Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5-6. It provided a physical reminder of the place of eternal punishment. See 1 Enoch 27:2; 90:24-26; 2 Esdras 7:36. [ JBC]

Verses 29-33: See also 6:26-33.

Verse 29: “sparrows”: Sparrows were the cheapest form of life.

Verse 29: “apart from your Father”: BlkMt offers without your Father’s knowledge.

Verses 32-33: See also vv. 40-42, Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26.

Verse 32: “acknowledges ... acknowledge”: BlkMt offers confesses ... confess.

Verse 33: Here the Father is the judge at the end of time.

Comments : Jesus gives a new interpretation to Micah 7:6: Micah 7:5-6 says: “Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me”.

Verses 34-38: While to Jesus the family has a basic role in society, a family is what God means it to be only if and when it is loyal to God. In 12:46-50, Jesus is told that his mother and brothers wish to see him. “Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’”. The stronger tie is to his mission. [ BlkMt]

Verses 37-39: See also 16:24-25; 19:29; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:24-25; 14:27; 17:33; John 12:25.

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