Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Tenth Sunday after Pentecost - August 5, 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.

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a

11:27: “David had done ...”: CAB seems to suggest that this is the author’s moral condemnation of David, in the name of God.

12:1-4: It is possible that in surrounding kingdoms a king was above the law, but the king of Israel is not above it – and there are serious consequences for his breaking it. Later, Nathan becomes an active supporter of Bathsheba (see 1 Kings 1:5-14). [NOAB]

12:8: “your master’s wives”: This is the only hint in the Old Testament that David took over the wives of Saul (the previous king) as was the custom. In 1 Kings 2:17-25, after David’s death, Solomon takes over David’s harem. [NOAB]

12:10: “the sword ...”: A prophecy of the activities of both Absalom and Amnon. [NOAB]

12:11: “raise up trouble ...”: David’s sons do similar things – in Chapters 13 and 15.

12:11: The “neighbour” is presumably Absalom: see 16:21-22 (where “Ahithophel” was one of David’s advisors. After Absalom’s revolt, he became Absalom’s chief advisor). [NOAB] [HBD]

Comments: a son will take some of his wives: See 16:21-22. [NOAB]

12:14: Per the law of exact retaliation, David should have died; however, God shows special favour to him by judging the child rather than him. His sin is “against the LORD”: God sets moral standards, not human beings, even if they are kings. For this law, see Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-21; Deuteronomy 19:21. [NOAB]

12:25: “Jedidiah”: Meaning, per the NRSV footnote, Beloved of the Lord.

Psalm 51:1-12

Superscription: “A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba”: While the psalm itself nowhere refers to the story of David and Bathsheba, [CAB] it fits the mood that David might well have been in, having been caught red-handed.

Although v. 8 makes it clear that the psalmist’s problem is one of illness, the main emphasis is upon restoration to moral, rather than merely physical, health. [NOAB]

Verse 1: “Have mercy on me”: Psalms 56 and 57 also begin with these words. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “steadfast love ... abundant mercy”: See also 69:13, 16; Isaiah 63:7; Lamentations 3:32, Nehemiah 13:22.

Verse 1: “blot out ...”: This recurs in v. 9

Verse 5: “born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me”: See also Psalm 58:3 and Isaiah 48:8. The psalmist confesses to having had a sinful nature even from the moment of conception. This idea is also found in Psalm 58:3 (“The wicked go astray from the womb; they err from their birth, speaking lies”) and Isaiah 48:8. [NOAB]

Verses 6-12: Renewed prayer for deliverance. [NOAB]

Verse 7: “Purge me with hyssop” : This may refer to some ceremony of sprinkling of blood or water, using branches or a bush or the reference may be metaphorical. See Exodus 12:22, Leviticus 14:51. NOAB sees it as definitely metaphorical.

Verse 10: “Create”: In Hebrew, bara, the same word used in Genesis 1:1. Creating is an action proper to God; only he can do the purification. [JBC]

Verse 10: “clean heart”: Literally fidelity in that which is secret, i.e. the depths of his being.

Verse 10: “right spirit”: God’s action in humans which saves them and keeps them faithful. Ezekiel speaks of God giving them “one heart” and “a new spirit” (see Ezekiel 11:19; 36:27). Jeremiah also speaks of a new spirit (and a new covenant) in Jeremiah 24:7; 31:33: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts”.

Verses 13-17: The psalmist says: when you give me your joy, I will instruct (proclaim my experience publicly and this lead sinners back to God) and praise God – rather than offer sacrifice in thanksgiving. [NOAB]

Verses 18-19: NOAB believes that this psalm may date from David’s time, and that these verses were added later to modify the anti-sacrificial spirit of vv. 13-17 and to adapt the psalm to liturgical use.

Ephesians 4:1-16

NJBC considers that the inspiration for this passage is Colossians 3:12-15.

Verse 2: “humility”: This virtue is not found in Greek lists of virtues; Christ raised humility to a virtue by his example.

Verse 2: Colossians 3:12-13: “As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”. [NOAB]

Verse 2: “patience”: Towards others – by being slow to retaliate. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant” and in Galatians 5:22: “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.

Verse 3: The source of unity is the Holy Spirit.

Verse 3: “bond of peace”: In Colossians 3:14, unity is bound together by love. [CAB]

Verse 4: “one body”: i.e. one externally visible community. [JBC]

Verse 4: “one Spirit”: i.e. one inner source. [JBC]

Verse 4: “one hope”: The Holy Spirit is the pledge of the unified community at the end of time. [JBC] 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit “is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people”. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “one Lord”: This is especially important because of the Gentile background of the readers, and the author’s stress on the subjugation of all powers, both good and evil, to Christ (see 1:20-22). [NJBC] Paul says that Christians pledge obedience to one master in our baptismal confession of faith. [JBC]

Verse 5: “one faith”: Teachings to which all members subscribe; the acceptance of authentic apostolic traditions (“you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone”, 2:20), which can be distinguished from false doctrines (v. 14).

Verse 5: “one baptism”: The common initiation of members. See also Colossians 2:9-12: “... In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision ...”.

Verse 6: The author uses the word “all” four times for emphasis.

Verse 6: “one God”: See also Romans 3:30 (there is one God for Gentiles as well as for Jews), 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19. [CAB] The emphasis on monotheism is also found in Deuteronomy 6:4: Jews prayed twice each day: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord ...” They believed that the eschatological era would bring a great revelation of God’s oneness to the world. Zechariah 14:9, in the Septuagint translation, says: “On that day there shall be one Lord, and his name shall be one.” [JBC]

Verses 7-16: Christian unity amid diversity of spiritual gifts. [NOAB]

Verse 8: The verse quoted here may have originally referred to God’s victorious ascent of Mount Zion, followed by a procession of defeated enemies, from where he was to receive tribute; but through its liturgical use at Pentecost, particularly in conjunction with the reading from Exodus 19, it came to be interpreted as a reference to Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai. While in the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text the ascending victor was to receive gifts from people, in Ephesians and in the Aramaic paraphrase of the Targum he gives gifts to people. (It is Moses who gives the Law to the people of Israel.) The author of Ephesians therefore adapts a rabbinic midrash to Christ. [JBC]

Verse 9: “lower parts”: Some scholars think that this is a reference to Hades, the abode of the dead. In defence of this being a reference to the Incarnation, in 1:20-22, 3:9-10 and 6:10-20 all beings that are not human are seen as being above. The “lower parts” are contrasted with the place(s) “on high” (v. 8). [NJBC]

Verse 10: “heavens”: The concentric hemispheres ancients thought were over the flat earth. Christ is exalted above all of them. Being thus exalted, he was able to “fill all things” with himself.

Verse 11: “gifts”: In 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul says: “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues”. Those who have certain gifts are recognized by fellow Christians. In Ephesians, Christ is the dispenser of gifts but in Corinthians, it is the Holy Spirit. In Pauline theology, the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit are closely related in their actions. [JBC]

Verse 11: Apostles and prophets are mentioned in 2:20 as foundations of the church, and as recipients of the revelation of Christ in 3:5. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “evangelists”: They include Philip the deacon (see Acts 21:8) and Timothy (see 2 Timothy 4:5). Evangelists are preachers of the gospel. [JBC]

Verse 11: “pastors”: The word in Greek is literally shepherds. Only Jesus called himself a shepherd in the New Testament; he passed on pastoral tasks to others. See 1 Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20; John 10:2; Mark 6:34; 14:27; Matthew 25:32; John 21:15-17. Teachers are mentioned as a group in 1 Corinthians 12:28; Acts 13:1 and James 3:1. [CAB]

Verse 14: “no longer be children”: In 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul tells his first readers: “... brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”. See also 1 Corinthians 14:20. [JBC]

Verse 14: “tossed to and fro”: At the time this was written, false bodies of doctrine posed a threat to the unity of the Church. [NJBC]

Verse 15: “speaking”: The verb in Greek means both speaking and doing. [NOAB]

The following verses are an appeal to renounce pagan ways, and an exhortation to ethical conduct. Learning about Christ has implications for daily living.

John 6:24-35

Verses 22-24: BlkJn notes that these verses are logistically confused, possibly because of what John found in his source not being well aligned with his purposes. John has introduced an explanation of how the crowd reached Capernaum, but his explanation is not very likely, for a whole fleet of boats would be needed.

Verse 26: The crowd’s eagerness for free food resembles the Samaritan woman’s eagerness for water. She asks, in part, “give me this water, so that I may [not] ... have to keep coming here to draw water” (4:15). [BlkJn]

Verse 27: BlkJn points out that Jesus does not deny the importance of working to put bread on the table: that “... not ... but” is a Hebraism. Another example: Hosea 6:6: when God says, through the prophet, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” he is not denying the value of sacrifice.

Verse 27: “food”: The Torah was familiarly known as bread. In 4:34, Jesus tells his disciples: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work”. [BlkJn]

Verse 27: “endures for eternal life”: BlkJn offers lasts until eternal life. The preposition is eis; its literal meaning is into. “Endures” translates menei, which literally means remains. Note other occurrences of menei: 8:35 (“the son has a place there forever”); 12:34 (“the Messiah remains forever”), and (particularly helpful): 1 John 2:17 (“the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever”).

Verse 27: “eternal life”: In 4:13-14, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well: “‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’”. See also Isaiah 55:2. [NJBC]

Verse 27: “Son of Man”: Elsewhere in John, “Son of Man” means a messenger from heaven to make God known (see 3:13) and the judge at the end of time (see 5:27). Here Jesus is speaking in Jewish terms: a son of man, whose coming was prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14 (“one like a son of man”, *Septuagint translation). People saw this figure as the coming Messiah: when he comes, he will glorify the people of Israel by transforming them into the everlasting kingdom of God. To us (as to John), Jesus is the embodiment of salvation, the mediator where heaven and earth meet.

Verse 27: “seal”: The Father has shown Jesus’ authenticity at his baptism. See also 3:17-21; 3:33; 5:19. [NJBC]

Verse 28: “works”: The Greek word is the same as is translated “work” in v. 27, but the sense is slightly different: here do, there work for. [BlkJn] Jesus speaks of himself as doing the “works” of the one who sent him in 9:4. See also 3:21; Revelation 2:26; CD (Damascus Document) 2:14-15. [NOAB] CD 2:14-15 says: “And now, my sons, listen to me and I shall open your eyes so that you can see and understand the deeds of God, so that you can choose what he is pleased with and repudiate what he hates ...”

Verse 29: “believe in him ...”: You are to have obedient trust in the one God “has sent”. [NOAB]

Verse 30: Faith cannot be proved! Recall 1 Corinthians 1:22: “Jews demand signs”. [BlkJn]

Verse 30: “are you performing”: This verb has a future sense. [BlkJn]

Verse 31: The quotation is a conflation of Exodus 16:4-5 and Psalm 78:24. For the gift of manna in the desert, see also Exodus 16:14,15; Numbers 11:7-9; Psalm 105:40. [NOAB] That manna would be given again is predicted in a number of places, of which one is 2 Baruch 29:8: “The treasury of manna shall again descend from on high and they will eat it in those years.” A second gift of manna is also mentioned in Midrash Rabba Ecclesiastes 1:9. [NJBC]

Verse 32: BlkJn says that Jesus’ saying is very compressed, almost to obscurity. Jesus implies that manna was not really “bread from heaven” and adds that there is a real bread from heaven (of which manna was the type).

Verse 33: The genders in the Greek are such that “that which” can be equally translated as he who. The ambiguity may be intended. There is a three-fold contrast:

  • manna fed, for a time, only the Israelites – and they later died (see 4:49)
  • the real bread feeds, for ever, all peoples – and gives them eternal life (see 4:27)

Jesus both came down from heaven (see 3:13) and is the means whereby the world attains to life (see 3:16). Vv. 35 and 51 explain how this is done. [BlkJn]

Verse 34: “give us this bread”: Like the Samaritan woman, who asks, “... give me this water, so I may never be thirsty ...”. There is a touch of irony in this request; the Jews do not really believe, and yet unconsciously they echo not only the Samaritan woman’s words at the well but also the Lord’s Prayer. [BlkJn]

Verse 35: The Eucharist is not yet clearly in view; the thought here is rather of the moment of conversion than of the continuing life nourished by the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. [BlkJn]

Note the progression from “bread from heaven” (v. 31) to “bread of God” (v. 33), to “bread of life” (v. 35). “Bread of life” is mentioned in one contemporary work, Joseph and Aseneth: an angelic being gives a heavenly substance to the pious on earth. In 16:8-9 of that book, it is likened to manna in the desert. See also Sibylline Oracles 3:746. [NJBC]

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