Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Sixth Sunday of Easter - May 13, 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 10:44-48

Cornelius’ vision is in vv. 3-6; Peter’s is in vv. 10-16.

Verse 26: “I am only a mortal”: See also 14:15 (Paul and Barnabas at Lystra) and Revelation 19:10. [NOAB]

Verse 28: Peter now understands the meaning of the vision that had puzzled him earlier: see v. 17. [NOAB]

Verse 30: “at three o’clock”: The time of afternoon prayer. [NOAB]

Verses 34-43: In Hellenistic literature, it was a common practice to put speeches on the lips of principal figures, whether or not they actually gave them, and whether or not they were fully comprehensible to the audience. They were intended to inform the readers. So, says NJBC, Peter’s speech may well be Luke’s composition, although it is probably based on a story that had been handed down.

Verse 34: “no partiality”: Literally God accepts no one’s face. In Romans 2:11, Paul teaches that Jews have no special privilege. [NOAB]

Verses 36-43: For another summary of the good news, see 3:20-21. [NOAB]

Verse 36: “he is Lord of all”: Note Romans 10:12: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all ...”. It is the creed of Greek-speaking Christians. [NJBC]

Verse 36: “preaching peace”: The tradition of the eschatological prophecy based on Isaiah 52:7 and 61:1 was applied to Jesus’ ministry with redoubled emphasis in Luke’s gospel (see Luke 7:22; 4:17-20) and his commission of the disciples as harbingers of “peace” in the same tradition was prominent in his mission instruction (see Luke 10:5-6). [NJBC]

Verse 37: “beginning in Galilee”: With v. 39, this delineates the geographical limits of Jesus’ ministry as observed and accredited by apostolic witnesses. 13:31 speaks of “ those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem” who “are now his witnesses to the people”. 1:22 (the selection of Matthias) sets the chronological limits: “beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us”. [NJBC]

Verse 38: “God anointed Jesus ... with the Holy Spirit”: See Luke 3:22 (Jesus’ baptism); 4:14 (after Jesus’ testing in the wilderness). [NOAB]

Verse 39: “by hanging him on a tree”: Jesus’ crucifixion is also described in these terms in 5:30. [NJBC]

Verse 40: “allowed him to appear ...”: The focus is on the Father’s sovereign action. See Luke 24:15-51. [NJBC]

Verse 41: Jesus was only seen by those “chosen by God”: see also Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22. [NOAB]

Verse 42: “He commanded us to preach to the people”: The special responsibility of the twelve disciples to Israel is reaffirmed. See also 13:31. [NJBC]

Verse 42: “judge of the living and the dead”: See also 1 Peter 4:5 and 2 Timothy 4:1. [NOAB]

Verse 44: “fell upon”: The Greek verb emphasizes the Spirit’s unmediated action, thus it is a “gift” (v. 45), independent even of baptism. [NJBC]

Verse 45: “poured out”: The Greek verb explicitly echoes the prophecy in the Septuagint translation of Joel 3:1-3 applied to the Pentecost: see 2:17-18, 33. When Peter recounts this event to the Christian community in Jerusalem, he says “the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning” (11:15). [NJBC]

Verse 47: In Acts, believers usually receive the Holy Spirit at baptism (see 2:38; 19:5-6) or before being baptised (as here). In 8:14-17, the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit some time after being baptised. [NOAB] In 8:36, the Ethiopian eunuch asks: “What is to prevent me from being baptized?”. One of the normal benefits of baptism is the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Having made manifest that they have already received this benefit, these Gentiles can hardly be denied baptism. So Peter is essentially regularising their situation.

Psalm 98

The language of this psalm and of other kingship psalms is strikingly similar to that of many passages in Isaiah 40-55, e.g. 44:23; 52:10; 55:12. [NOAB]

Verse 1: “arm”: Isaiah 51:9 says “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! ...”

Verse 1: “victory”: NJBC translates the Hebrew word as salvation.

Verses 2-3: A call to God’s people to praise him for his saving deeds to Israel, for God’s triumph over all the powers that oppose him. The verbs are in the past tense, but the reference is to a future event. [NOAB]

Verse 3: “remembered ... house of Israel”: i.e. God’s covenant commitment. “Remembered”: as in Exodus 20:24: “in every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you”.

Verse 3: “have seen the victory”: God has acted (will act) to save Israel.

Verses 4-9: 96:7-13 also summons all nations and the physical universe to join in praising God. [NOAB]

Verses 4-5: All nations: come to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh! See also Isaiah 2:1-4. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “with the lyre and the sound of melody”: The inclusion of musical instruments shows that the setting of the psalm is the Temple. [NJBC]

Verse 6: “before”: i.e. in the presence of.

Verses 7-8: The alternation of watery and dry places emphasizes that all creation should join in the chorus of joy. [NJBC]

Verse 9: Israel’s missionary outlook, though never a major motif in the Old Testament, saw nations coming to Zion to worship God. Isaiah 2:1-4 says “... In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”. [NJBC]

Verse 9: “he is coming to judge the earth”: messianic.

1 John 5:1-6

Verse 1: “everyone who loves the parent loves the child”: A conventional maxim which repeats the association between love of God and love of fellow Christians from 4:20-21: “... The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also”. [NJBC] See also John 8:42. [NOAB]

Verse 3: In John 14:15, 21, after the Last Supper, Jesus says “‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments ... They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them’”.

Verse 3: “not burdensome”: In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’”. See also Philippians 4:13. [NOAB]

Verse 4: “conquers the world”: has conquered is also a possible translation. In John 16:33, after the Last Supper, Jesus tells his followers: “‘I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’”. [NOAB]

Verse 4: “the victory that conquers the world, our faith”: 2:13-14 says “... you have conquered the evil one ... the word of God abides in you ...”. The victory over the world was won when Christians were converted. The “word of God is the source of this victory, a share in the victory won by Jesus. 4:4 says: “... you are from God, and have conquered them [the evil forces in the world]; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” [NJBC]

Verses 6-12: The affirmation that belief is the source of eternal life is expanded in two directions:

  • belief must include his coming in water and blood;
  • belief in the Son is grounded in God’s own testimony. [NJBC]

Verses 6-8: “not with the water only but with the water and the blood”: In John 1:31-32, John the Baptist testifies that the revelation of Jesus as pre-existent Son is linked to the descent of the Holy Spirit and to baptism. In John 3:34 and 7:38-39, Jesus' sending is associated with the boundless gift of the Holy Spirit. The dissidents may have associated salvation and the coming of the Spirit with water (baptism) and not with blood (crucifixion). [NJBC] John 19:34 says “... one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” [NOAB] John 19:35 may have been added to emphasize that this conviction about the death of Jesus about the death of Jesus goes back to the beloved disciple: “(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)”. [NJBC]

Verse 9: “the testimony of God”: The claim that God is the real witness to Jesus derives from the controversies in the gospel of John. Those who reject Jesus’ testimony about his relationship to the Father are confronted with lists of witnesses: see John 5:31-40; 8:14-19, especially 5:32, 36; 8:18. [NJBC] [NOAB]

Verse 10: “have the testimony in their hearts”: Several passages in the gospel of John speak of the ways in which the believer could be said to “have testimony”. God is responsible for a person’s believing response to Jesus: see John 6:44 and 10:3-4. The Spirit/Paraclete dwelling within the community serves as witness (John 14:16) and also enables the community to witness to the world (John 15:26-27). [NJBC]

Verses 11-12: “eternal life” is “in” (living union with) Jesus, God’s “Son”, and nowhere else. John 1:4 says: “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people”. See also John 3:36; 5:24-26; 6:57; 20:31. [NOAB] The theme that the Son has been sent to give life to those who believe runs through the gospel of John. [NJBC]

John 15:9-17

Verse 1: “true”: BlkJn offers real as a translation.

Verse 9: The continuance of the disciples’ relationship with Jesus depends on them keeping the bond of mutual love unbroken. Love entails obedience. In 14:15, Jesus says: “‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments’”. 3:35 tells us: “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands” and 13:34 “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”. The past tense is used in the English translation but the aorist tense is found in the Greek original. The aorist here indicates what is timelessly true. [BlkJn]

Verse 10: Christian love has for its example Jesus the good shepherd (see 10:1-16). 1 John 3:16 says “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another”.

Verse 10: “ I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love”: For Jesus’ keeping of his Father’s commandments, see also 8:28-29. [BlkJn]

Verse 11: “my joy”: This verse makes the transition to Jesus’ death as the highest example of love by invoking the theme of “joy” from 14:28: “ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I”. [NJBC]

Verses 12-17: Fellowship with Jesus (vv. 14-15), fruit bearing, and prayer (v. 16) are all dependent on obeying his “commands” (v. 17) to “love”. [NOAB]

Verse 13: Believers are expected to aim for the measure of love Jesus showed in giving his life for the community.

Verses 12-17: The reader has already seen the love that Jesus has for his “friends” demonstrated in the story of the raising of Lazarus: see 11:3, 11, 36. [NJBC]

Verse 15: Philo, the almost contemporary Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, speaks of “the wise” who are “friends of God” and not “slaves”. Here the tradition of being “friends” is applied to all who believe. In 13:16, Jesus calls his disciples “servants” or slaves (Greek: doulos), and in 12:26 diakonos (translated “servant” in the NRSV.) [NJBC]

Verse 15: “I do not call you servants any longer, ... but I have called you friends”: Today, being a friend does not involve obedience but in the ancient world it could do. For example, in 1 Maccabees 2:18, the king’s officers are called “Friends of the king”. Some slaves obeyed out of fear; friends obey out of love. [BlkJn]

Verse 15: “I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father”: This statement appears to be in conflict with 16:12-14: “‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you’”, but:

  • The verbs can be taken as timeless aorists (see above), and
  • What the Holy Spirit tells us is to be understood, not as new revelation, but as new insight into revelations already given. [BlkJn]

Verse 16: “You did not choose me but I chose you”: A notion also found in 6:70 and 13:18. Earlier parts of the gospel link salvation and believing, but here the stress is on bearing fruit as the result of receiving the new status as “friend”. [NJBC]

Verse 17: “these commands”: “Command” in v. 12 is singular. Here Jesus is probably speaking of all that he has taught his disciples, all of which together will lead to mutual love. [BlkJn]

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