Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Third Sunday of Easter - April 22, 2012



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 3:12-19

Verse 11: “the portico called Solomon’s Portico”: Probably on the east side of the temple courtyard (towards the Kidron Valley.) [NOAB] It was actually built by Herod. [CAB]

Verses 12-26: This is Peter’s second sermon in Acts. The first, on the Day of Pentecost, is in 2:14-36. [NOAB]

Verse 12: “the people”: Peter does not distinguish between those who participated in Jesus’ execution and those who did not. [NJBC]

Verse 13: “servant” can also be translated “child”. The Greek word is also found in the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 52:13, where is predicted that God's servant will suffer and be rejected. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the fourth Servant Song. Acts 4:27, 30 also speak of Jesus as the Father’s “servant”. [NOAB]

Verse 13: “Pilate ... had decided to release him”: As recorded in the gospels in Luke 23:15, 20, 22; Mark 15:12, 14. In 4:27 (Peter’s defence before a sanhedrin), Pilate is included in those who “gathered together against” Jesus. [NJBC]

Verse 14: “the Holy ... One”: In Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34, a man possessed by evil recognizes Jesus as “the Holy One of God”. In John 6:69, Peter, on behalf of the other disciples, says “We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”. [NJBC]

Verse 14: “the ... Righteous One”: or just one. In 7:52, Stephen speaks of Jesus as “the Righteous One”. See also 1 Enoch 38:2; 53:6. [NJBC]

Verse 15: “the Author of life”: NJBC says that the genitive in the Greek is one of direction in view of 26:23 and the Moses typology in vv. 22-23. See also 7:35 and Hebrews 12:2. “Life”, as the goal to which Jesus opened the way for all (see also 4:2 and 17:31), contributes to the clashing terminology (vs. “killed” and “dead”) by which the accusation of the audience is orchestrated.

Verse 17: In spite of “acting in ignorance”, their guilt remains, especially since the scriptures revealing God’s plan were read to them every sabbath, as Paul says in his address to the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia: “Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him” (13:27).

Verse 17: “as did also your rulers”: NJBC translates this as as did your leaders. In the Passion narrative, Luke has emphasized the responsibility of the “chief priests” and the “leaders” of the Jewish people: see Luke 23:4-5, 13-23. See also Luke 23:25, 38.

Verses 19-21: Peter uses two arguments to implore the people to seek conversion:

  • In these verses, that they may be forgiven their sins, enjoy “times of refreshing” in Christ, and be ready for the Second Coming (“the time of universal restoration”), and
  • In vv. 22-26, on the scriptural grounds that to be good Jews they listen to the prophet like Moses, i.e. Christ. [NJBC]

Verse 20: “the Messiah appointed for you”: NJBC offers the Messiah foreordained for you. God chose Israel first. Note also “he sent him first to you” in v. 26.

Verse 21: “the time of universal restoration”: In 1:6, the apostles have asked the risen Jesus: “is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”. See also the Septuagint translation of Malachi 4:5-6 (Malachi 3:22-23 in the Hebrew and in some translations). These times (the Greek word is plural) can be equated with the “times of refreshment”.

Verse 22-23: The quotation is Deuteronomy 18:15 and part of Leviticus 23:29, spliced together with “and it shall be”. In that this verse of Deuteronomy is quoted twice in Acts in a word order diverging from the Septuagint translation, Peter’s argument may be borrowed from a Christian testimonia booklet. In the Qumran literature 4QTestim (Testimonia) 5-8 is very similar. Note the fate of those who do not listen to the good news. Stephen’s speech (see 7:37) confirms the importance of applying the prophet like Moses notion to Christ. Luke 7:16 and 24:19 prepare for it. The time of the apostolic preaching is interpreted eschatologically as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. In a post-resurrection appearance, in Luke 24:44-47, Jesus reminds the disciples that he fulfils the Old Testament. Paul emphasizes this point in his speech before Agrippa: “‘To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles’” (26:22-23). [NJBC]

Verse 25: The quotation differs from Genesis 22:18 in one way: Peter uses families while Genesis has nations. [NJBC]

Verse 26: The good news is first presented to the Jews; later (after the failure of the mission to Israel), it is presented to Gentiles. [CAB]

Psalm 4

Verses 4 and 8 show that this is an evening prayer. [JB]

Pk37 suggests that the psalmist is one high in office, perhaps the High Priest.

Verse 1: “God of my right”: NJBC offers my just God. He suggests that this may point to a legal setting. A righteous man was one whose cause was decided in his favour, so that he was clear of guilt in the judgment of the court. [Pk37]

Verse 1: “in distress”: i.e. in a tight spot. [NJBC]

Verses 2,4: “Selah”: This word is probably a liturgical direction, added to the original text of the psalm. It may mean lift up, either to indicate the lifting up of the voices of the singers in a doxology, or to call for lifted-up instrumental music in an interlude in the singing. [NOAB]

“Selah” is one of the greatest puzzles of the Old Testament. Its meaning seems to be connected with rising or lifting. But it is not clear whether the congregation rises or lifts up its hands, head, or eyes, or whether the music rises at the indicated points. The word probably indicates that the singing should stop to allow the congregation an interlude for presenting its homage to God by some gesture or act of worship. [ICCPs]

Verse 3: “faithful”: i.e. faithful one. The sense of this verse is: The LORD has chosen the one who is godly; [I am godly; therefore the Lord has chosen me; so] he listens when I call upon him. The word translated godly is hassid; it is a technical term. It was applied in Maccabean times to Jews who adhered to the Law in the face of opposition, and opposed the introduction of Hellenic culture by the Hellenic kings of Syria (see 1 Maccabees 7:13ff). It occurs only in Psalms, and chiefly in psalms which on other grounds are assigned to a late period. But the Hebrew in this verse is difficult, and is capable of an easy emendation to You have wondrous loving kindness for me. [Pk37]

Verse 4: If this psalm is from Maccabean times, there may be an implied syllogism here (with the missing terms in brackets) [But the LORD does not listen to you because you are not Hassidim.] You are a pack of liars, [so you should] remain in fear and trembling and stop your sinning; stay in your room and think about it, and be quiet. [Abbot Conway] Pk37 says that the meaning of this verse is very doubtful.

Verse 4: “be silent”: NJBC offers weep copiously as an alternative translation.

Verse 6: “Let the light of your face shine on us”: God’s face shining on his people is also found in Numbers 6:23-27 (the Priestly Benediction) and Psalm 67:1. The image suggests God’s smiling face bestowing favour. [NJBC]

Verses 7-8: See also Deuteronomy 33:28. [NJBC]

1 John 3:1-7

2:29-3:10: Differentiating God’s children from those of the devil: Jesus is the model of obedience, and God’s children follow his example. He was not understood by the “world” (3:1), and neither are they. Their future is to become like him, and to become pure as he is. [CAB]

3:1-10: NJBC splits these verses into two sections: We are God’s children now (vv. 1-3) and Those born of God do not sin (vv. 4-10).

3:1: “children”: John 1:12 says: “... to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God”. Through God’s “love”, we become progressively more to resemble him. [NOAB] We are God’s children now. This has three consequences:

  • Christians do not belong to the world, which has failed to receive Jesus. See also John 15:18-19; 17:14-16.
  • Christians will live lives of holiness like Christ. See also John 17:17-19.
  • Christians are confident of an even greater salvation in the future. See also John 17:24. [NJBC]

3:1-2: God’s love in making us “children” (see also John 1:12) progressively produces resemblance to God, here and hereafter. [NOAB]

3:2: “we will be like him, for we will see him as he is”: In Hellenistic religion, a common theme was that like would know like, so here the human being who knows God is made godly. For the Johannine tradition this occurs experientially through Jesus. Jesus possessed the divine name and equality with God (see John 17:11-12). He has shared this name with the disciples (see John 17:6, 26). They have shared Jesus' fate at the hands of the world (see John 15:21) and will witness his preexistent glory (see John 17:24). Paul expresses a similar idea: we have the expectation of a future vision of God or divine glory: in 1 Corinthians 13:12, he writes: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known”. See also 2 Corinthians 3:18. [NJBC]

3:3: Hope of complete moral likeness to Christ motivates purity of life: in Matthew 5:8, Jesus says “‘blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’”. [NOAB]

3:4: I have linked “lawlessness” to earlier in this book; however others point out that lawlessness and the devil are associated in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8.

NJBC says that the author appears to be referring to the “lawlessness” associated with Satan's rule at the end of the era. Sinning proves that one is really a child of Satan.

Alan Perry, my reviewer, has suggested another thought on “lawlessness”: it may refer to the antinomian strain of thought in early Christianity, i.e. the thinking process that led Paul to say “all things are permissible” – but not all things are beneficial. Some argued that Jesus has set us free from the law in its entirety – that how we live is of no concern – and even Paul does not appear to be totally clear on the issue, when he distinguishes between ritual and moral laws.

3:5: In John 1:29, we read: “The next day he [John the Baptizer] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”. [NOAB]

3:6: “no one who sins has either seen him or known him”: The author implies that the person who sins is not really a Christian. In 2:5, he has written: “whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him”. [NJBC]

3:6: “sins”: i.e. habitually and constantly. 3 John 11 warns: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God”. [NOAB]

There is a tension in the New Testament over whether it is possible for the saints to sin, which led to much questioning later on (in the second and third centuries) concerning the possibility and consequences of sin after baptism. This led to the practice of postponing baptism until quite late in life, even to one's deathbed, for fear of an inadvertent sin leading to loss of salvation. Ultimately, this sort of practice was done away with as the matter was settled through an understanding that post-baptismal sins can also be forgiven. [Alan T. Perry]

3:8: In John 8:44, Jesus says to some who are hostile to him and his message: “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. See also Acts 13:10 and Hebrews 2:14. [NOAB]

3:9: In 5:18, Jesus says: “‘We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them’”. [NOAB] The emphasis on the inherent sinlessness of the Christian appears to stand in sharp contrast to the earlier claim that one should not say, “we have no sin” (see 1:8 and 1:10). This section deals with the certainty of divine election and indwelling over against those who persist in doing evil. It presumes that the Christian is living in a way that coheres with being a child of God (“is righteous”, v. 7, and loves fellow Christians, v. 10). A similar distinction is found in John 8:39: between those who are hostile to Jesus (i.e. are children of Satan) and those who are real children of Abraham (i.e. rejoice in Jesus). [NJBC]

The assumption in this passage in 1 John is that Christians are living truly worthy lives: note “righteous” in v. 7 and love fellow Christians in v. 10. [NJBC]

Luke 24:36b-48

John 20:19-23 also tells of Jesus arriving and showing the marks of crucifixion to the disciples. There he gives them the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 15:5, Paul tells of Jesus’ appearance to “the twelve”. [NOAB]

The experience with Jesus, affirmed in v. 36, is tentatively interpreted in v. 37 as an encounter with the dead, but this explanation is rejected in v. 39. [NOAB]

It is possibly still Easter Day. V. 13 begins “On that same day ...”

Verse 36: “and said to them ...”: While omitted in some ancient manuscripts, this clause is supported by the majority. [NJBC]

Verse 38: “‘Why are you frightened ... ?’”: This story begins without reference to the preceding, in which those who walked with Jesus to Emmaus and ate with him returned to tell the eleven disciples and other followers about their experience. [NJBC]

Verse 39: “Touch me”: 1 John 1:1 says “We declare to you ... what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life”. [NOAB]

Verse 42: See Tobit 12:16-22 for a similar story, but with a different result.

Verse 43: “in their presence”: While the Greek means literally before them, NJBC says that the correct translation is at their table – based on usage in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, Luke’s usage (in 13:26 and Acts 27:35), and from Luke's account of the risen Lord's eating with his disciples (see Acts 1:4; 10:41). Thus, the main point of this verse is not insistence on the reality of Jesus' body, but rather Jesus' victory over death as symbolized by his renewal of table fellowship with his disciples.

Verse 44: Jesus has also interpreted the scriptures to Cleopas and the two other followers on the road to Emmaus: see vv. 26-27. In Acts 28:23, we read that Paul tried to convince the Jews of Rome “about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets” (but note that the psalms are not mentioned). [NOAB]

Verse 45: In v. 32, those who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus say to each other: “‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’”. [NOAB] Luke tells us what he means by understanding in two verses: “But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying” (Luke 9:45) and “But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said” (Luke 18:34).

Verse 46: “... rise from the dead on the third day”: Hosea 6:2 speaks of raising on the third day. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 speaks of Jesus dying, being buried, and being “raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures”. [NOAB]

Verse 47: In Acts 1:4-8, Jesus tells the eleven disciples that they will soon be his witnesses throughout the world, starting with Jerusalem. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commissions his disciples to seek the conversion of all peoples, and to baptise them. [NOAB] Jesus the Messiah preaches to “all nations” through Paul and the Church: see Acts 26:23. [NJBC]

Verse 48: In 1:2, Luke states that he writes based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. In Acts 1:8, speaking of the Day of Pentecost, Jesus says “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. [NOAB] “You” here in Luke is “the eleven and their companions” (v. 33) and, considering that we are reading Luke, includes women. [NJBC]

Verses 49-51: Jesus tells the disciples that he will “send upon you what my Father promised”, i.e. the Holy Spirit. After blessing them at Bethany (the village near Jerusalem from which he began his triumphal entry, see 19:28-38), he is “carried up into heaven” (v. 51).

Verse 49: “what my Father promised ... clothed with power from on high”. Acts 2:1-4 tell of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In John 14:26, Jesus promises that the Father will send the Holy Spirit. In John 20:21-23, Jesus sends out the disciples, confers the Holy Spirit on them, and gives them authority to forgive sins. The new age has begun but its power is not yet freely felt. Joel 2:28-32 foretells that God will “pour out my spirit” “on the day of the LORD”. [NOAB]

Verse 50: “led them out”: Luke plays on the exodus theme; he uses the Greek verb used in the Septuagint to describe God's leading the people from Egyptian slavery in the exodus. Jesus is about to complete his exodus to his Father. [NJBC]

Verses 52-53: Luke gives us more details in Acts 1:12-14: “Then [after Jesus’ ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers”. [NOAB]

Verse 52: “they worshipped him”: The christological high point of vv. 36-53, indeed of the entire Gospel, has been reached, for this is the first and only time that Luke says that the disciples worship Jesus. Luke's christology is close to that of John 20:28. [NJBC]

Verse 53: “in the temple”: The Gospel begins and ends in the Temple, which, for Luke, is the bond of continuity between old and new. The primitive community of Acts is found worshipping in the Temple: see Acts 2:46; 3. [NJBC]

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