Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost - October 18, 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.

Exodus 33:12-23

NJBC says that these verses are from the Yahwist (J) tradition.

Verse 12: “Bring up this people”: V. 1 says “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it’’”.

Comments: In another translation: The translation is FoxMoses.

Verse 14: “He”: i.e. God

Verse 14: “My presence will go with you”: The Hebrew word translated “presence” can also mean face. While vv. 2-3 tell us that God will not go with them because “I would consume you” and that he will therefore “send an angel”, here Yahweh himself will go with the Israelites on their journey. So these verses seem to be from various traditions. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “he”: i.e. Moses.

Verses 17-23: The sign of reconciliation between God and the Israelites is through Moses. [ NJBC]

Verses 18-23: Moses earlier sought to know God’s name: see 3:13-15; now he seeks to see God’s face as Jacob has done at Peniel/Jabbok: see Genesis 32:30. For other traditions about seeing God, see vv. 7-11 and 34:27-35. [ CAB]

Verse 20: “he”: i.e. God.

Psalm 99

Psalms 96-99 are enthronement hymns. Psalm 95 may also be one. [ NJBC]

Although all “peoples” are enjoined to worship him, it is among his special people Israel and through his special agents (“Moses”, v. 6, “Aaron” and “Samuel”) that his Law is conveyed and that Israel obtains forgiveness. [ CAB]

Verses 1-3: Yahweh is ruler over the whole earth. [ NOAB]

Verse 2: “The Lord is great in Zion”: Literally Yahweh-in-Zion, a common type of ancient Near East divine epithet. See also 65:1; Acts 19:28, 34. [ NJBC]

Verses 3,5: “Holy is he!”: See also 22:3 (“you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”); Isaiah 6:3 (“And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’”, Isaiah’s commissioning); Revelation 4:8 (“... the four living creatures ... sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come’”). [ NJBC]

Verses 4-5: God’s concern for justice. [ NOAB]

Verses 6-9: God’s fidelity to his people. [ NOAB] These verses expand on v. 4c: “you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob”. Yahweh shows these qualities by answering his people in need (vv. 6, 8), giving them just laws (v. 7), and forgiving them or punishing them when necessary (v. 8). [ NJBC]

Verse 6: Moses and Aaron ... Samuel”: Mentioned here as great intercessors with God. Jeremiah 15:1 records: “Then the Lord said to me: Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people”. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “a forgiving God”: The Hebrew translated as “God” is El, the name of the supreme Canaanite god. Here he is identified with Yahweh in Israel. He was pictured as a kindly, fatherly god. See also Exodus 34:6-7. [ NJBC]

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Verses 1-7: Ancient Greek letters customarily began with the names of the sender and of the recipient and a short greeting. See also Acts 23:26 (a tribune’s letter to Felix). Paul expands this form to express his Christian faith as well. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “Silvanus”: See Silas in Acts 15:22, 40; 16:19-25; 17:4; 18:5 and “Silvanus” in 2 Corinthians 1:19. It is not clear whether he is the “Silvanus” mentioned in 1 Peter 5:12. [ CAB]NJBC says the “Silas” mentioned in Acts 17:4 as being one of the leading members of the Church at Jerusalem is “Silvanus”. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “Timothy”: He was from Lystra in Asia Minor, the son of a Greek father and of a Jewish mother who became a Christian: see Acts 16:1. See also 3:2; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; Philippians 2:19-22. [ NOAB] [ CAB]

Verse 1: “Lord”: The title of Israel’s covenant God is applied by Christians to the risen and glorified Jesus, as it is in Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “Grace ... and peace”: Paul combines the Greek and Hebrew salutations, including in his greeting the grace and peace given in Christ. [ NOAB] This initial greeting is also found in 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3. See also 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 3; Jude 2; Revelation 1:4. [ CAB]

Verses 2-10: In ancient Greek letters, a short prayer of thanksgiving or of petition usually followed the salutation. Paul expands this in a Christian way. While he is grateful with what the Thessalonian Christians have achieved, there is still much to be done. [ NOAB]

Verses 2-5: In the Greek original, these verses form a single sentence! [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “faith ... love ... hope”: A triad also found in 5:8; Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 5:5-6; Colossians 1:4-5; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:21-22.

Verse 3: “steadfastness of hope”: In Romans 5:5, Paul says “... hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”.

Verse 4: “we know”: Paul has received news about the church at Thessalonica from Timothy, who has just returned to Paul from Thessalonica: in 3:6, Paul writes: “Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us – just as we long to see you”. [ CAB]

Verse 4: “brothers and sisters”: The Greek word, adelphos (brothers) is used 19 times in this book. Such is Paul’s affection for the Church at Thessalonica (although fellow members of any religion considered themselves brothers). [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “he has chosen you”: Either Israel’s privileges as God’s chosen people are transferred to the Church [ NOAB] or Christians are also “chosen”. That they have received the gospel in word and action proves God’s choosing of the Thessalonian Christians. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: Paul writes similarly in 1 Corinthians 2:4: “My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God”. See also 2 Corinthians 12:12.

Verse 5: “power ... Holy Spirit ... full conviction”: Three virtually synonymous expressions. For Paul, the proclamation of the gospel is as much an expression of God’s power as is the working of miracles. [ NJBC]

Verses 6-8: These verses form one sentence in the Greek original. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: “in spite of persecution”: The first converts of Paul and Silas in Thessalonica were subjected to much “persecution” by a mob: see Acts 17:5-9. [ NOAB] The Greek word, thlipsis, is almost a technical term for eschatological distress, sometimes described elsewhere as the onslaught of both physical and moral evil, or messianic woes. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: “joy”: This is an eschatological reality, the gift of the Spirit. Paul writes in Galatians 5:22: “... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: “Macedonia”: Thessalonica was the capital of a district of this province. While the initial response to Paul’s evangelisation in the city was positive, he later met hostilities there. “Macedonia” is also mentioned in see Acts 27:2; Philippians 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:10.

Verse 8: “Achaia”: i.e. The southern half of the Greek peninsula. Corinth was its capital. [ CAB]

Verse 9: The spread of the gospel is part of the gospel message. [ NJBC]

Verse 9: “from idols”: For Paul, worshipping “idols” is worshipping no gods at all: he writes in 1 Corinthians 8:4-5: ... “as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists,’ and that ‘there is no God but one’. Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods ...”. [ NJBC]

Verse 9: “you turned to God from idols”: Those in mind are Gentiles.

Verse 10: See also 2:1; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11; Romans 2:5, 16; 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; Galatians 5:5.

Verse 10: “whom he raised from the dead”: The resurrection identifies Jesus as the one by whom God will affect salvation. [ NJBC]

Verse 10: “who rescues us”: Note the present tense: rescue (deliverance) has already begun! [ NJBC]

Matthew 22:15-22

The parallels are Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:20-26. [ NOAB]

This is the first of four units containing controversies with various kinds of Jewish leaders: Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees.

Verse 15: See also Mark 3:6 (the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians) and 8:15 (Jesus warns his disciples about these two groups). [ NOAB]

Verse 15: “entrap”: Then and now entrapment is a legal offense.

Verse 16: “you do not regard people with partiality”: Biblical justice expects impartiality: no bribes, and tilting of the scales of justice towards the poorer litigant. [ NJBC]

Verse 17: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor ... ?”: A question of conscience for the Pharisees, but an artifice for the Herodians.

Verse 18: “hypocrites”: Originally the Greek word, hypokrites , was a theatrical term meaning actor. [ NJBC]

Verse 21: “Give ... to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s”: Jesus accepts the status quo as the lesser of two evils, the other being anarchy. He does not accept the state’s claim to be divine. God’s domain is greater than the emperor’s. [ NJBC] See also 17:24-27, Romans 13:7 (part of a passage in which Paul says that administrators are sanctioned by God) and 1 Peter 2:17.

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