Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Remembrance Sunday - November 7, 2021

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.

Lamentations 3:17-26,31-33

This chapter is an acrostic in three parts with three verses to each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Within each stanza each verse begins with the same letter. [ NOAB]

The city confesses its sin and calls for renewal and retribution. [ CAB]

Verses 1-20: God’s punitive judgement has brought ruin to his people, so that all they “hoped for” (v. 18) is gone, and bitterness prevails. [ CAB]

Verses 1-2: The poet seems to be deliberately reversing Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me”; similarly, v. 6 with Psalm 23:6, v. 9 with 23:3, v. 15 with 23:5, and v. 17 with 23:6. [ NJBC]

Verses 1-18: See also Psalm 56. [ NOAB] The poet’s personal distress is described in terms echoing Job’s complaints against God: v. 1: Job 9:34, v. 2: Job 19:8, v. 3: Job 7:18, v. 4: Job 7:5; 30:30, v. 5: Job 19:6, 12, v. 6: Job 23:16-17, v. 7: Job 19:8, v. 8: Job 30:20, v. 9: Job 19:8, vv. 10-11: Job 16:9, vv. 12-13: Job 16:1,12-13, v. 14: Job 30:9, v. 15: Job 9:18, v. 16-18: Job 19:10; 30:19. [ NOAB]

Verses 4-9: The poet (“I”, v. 8) is beset, hemmed in, encircled, and abandoned. [ NJBC]

Verses 10-13: The enemy (“he”) is like a marauding “bear” or “lion”; he is like an archer shooting arrows into the victim’s body. Job expresses similar feelings in Job 16:12-13. [ NJBC]

Verses 15-19: The enemy is an ungracious host who torments his guest and feeds him “wormwood”. Only near the end of this section is the enemy named: it is Yahweh! [ NJBC]

Verses 19-51: A sage counsels submission and penitence in acknowledgement of God’s righteousness and mercy. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “wormwood and gall”: “Wormwood” is a shrub-like plant belonging to the aster family; its leaves have a bitter taste. “Gall” is a herb both bitter (see Matthew 27:34, Jesus is on the Cross) and poisonous (see Psalm 69:21). [ HBD]

Verses 21-39: God’s love endures and will prevail beyond the present time of punishment of the people for their disobedience. God sees and calls to account injustice, as well as sending both “good and bad” (v. 38) on the world. [ CAB]

Verses 22-26: There is a basis for hope, i.e. the memory of Yahweh’s ways and justice. His covenant fidelity (Hebrew: hesed) and mercy never cease: they are received daily. [ NJBC]

Verse 24: “‘The Lord is my portion’”: Yahweh’s eternal covenant applies to the poet personally. For similar expressions, see Psalm 16:5; 73:26; 142:5; Numbers 18:20. [ NJBC]

Verses 25-30: These verses reflect the wisdom tradition. See, for example, Proverbs 13:24; 23:13-14. [ NJBC]

Verses 25-26: Confident of God’s goodness, the sufferer can hope in silence for deliverance and bear up under the yoke, which can have educational value. [ NJBC]

Verses 25-27: Note that “good” occurs once in each verse; in Hebrew it is the first word of each verse. [ NJBC]

Verse 29: The poet begins to generalize. [ JBC]

Verse 29: “put one’s mouth to the dust”: i.e. in self-abasement. [ NOAB]

Verse 29: “there may yet be hope”: The crisis calls for careful confidence that avoids presumption, that recognizes God’s transcendence even in matters of grace. For cautious hope in awareness of God’s absolute sovereignty, see Amos 5:15 (“it may be that the Lord ...will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph”) and Joel 2:14 (“Who knows whether he [*Yahweh] will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?”).

Verses 31-33: The poet reflects, in a more theological way, on God’s justice. Punishment is transitory; what lasts is God’s fidelity (Hebrew: hesed) and mercy. [ NJBC]

Verse 33: “he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone”: Literally from the heart. [ NOAB]

Verses 34-36: Nothing happens without God’s knowledge. [ NJBC]

Verses 37-39: In words similar to Genesis 1, God is seen as creator of all, evil as well as good – as he is in Isaiah 45:7. [ NJBC]

Verse 39: Finally we learn the cause of the suffering: it is “sin”. As vv. 1-20 waited until nearly the last verse to name the enemy, vv. 21-39, wait until the last verse to name the cause. [ NJBC]

Verses 40-42: What is called for is repentance and confession on the part of the people. [ CAB]

Verse 40: Up to this point, the speaker has been I and God he ; in the rest of the poem, the speaker is we (Israel) and God you. God and humans are again covenant partners. [ NJBC]

Verse 48: See also 2:11 and Jeremiah 9:1. [ NOAB]

Psalm 116:1-9

Several Aramaic features in this psalm (vv. 7, 12, 16) suggest it was composed during the last several centuries before Christ. [ NJBC]

This psalm is divided into Psalms 114 (vv. 1-9) and 115 (vv. 10-19) in the Septuagint and Vulgate translations. [ NJBC]

Verses 1-2: Address to the congregation. [ NOAB]

Verses 3-11: The psalmist’s experience. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: “snares of death”: See also Psalm 18:4-5. Snares (cords) were used for snaring birds (see Amos 3:5). This is still done (for sport) in Saudi Arabia.

Verse 3: “Sheol”: In 88:3-6 a troubled psalmist asks God to hear his plea “For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I am like those who have no help, like those forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep”. In Genesis 37:35, when Jacob thinks he has lost his son Joseph, he says: “‘... I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning’”.

Verse 7: “Return, O my soul, to your rest”: When someone felt faint (from hunger or fright), it was thought that his spirit had departed from him. When the person revived, the soul was thought to have returned. See also Genesis 35:18 (Rachel’s death: “As her soul was departing ...”); 1 Samuel 30:12 (of an Egyptian near starvation: “When he had eaten, his spirit revived”); Psalm 23:3 ( Yahweh “restores my soul”); Daniel 10:17. [ NJBC]

Verses 8-9: Description of the psalmist’s recovery. [ NOAB]

Verses 12-19: The psalmist tells what he will do to recompense God for saving him from death.

Verses 13,17: “call on the name of the Lord”: While in v. 2 the psalmist has called on Yahweh’s name in fear, here he calls on it in praise in the Temple. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: Why the death of God’s “faithful ones” should be precious to him is not clear. [ NJBC]

1 Peter 1:3-9

Verse 3: “Blessed ...”: See also 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; Luke 1:68. For Jewish blessings, see Psalms 66:20; 68:19; 72:18; Genesis 9:26; 1 Kings 1:48; 2 Maccabees 15:34; 2 Chronicles 6:4. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “new birth”: See also 1:23; 2:2; John 3:3, 5; Romans 6:3-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 4:19; Titus 3:5; 1 John 3:9. [ CAB] As in Romans 6:3-11, baptism allows the Christian to share in the new life.

Verse 3: “living hope”: A dominant theme of 1 Peter, much more so than a word count suggests. See also 1:13, 21; 3:5, 15. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”: The resurrection is the foundation for Christian hope, for in him God has shown what he intends to do for the faithful. See also 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. [ NOAB] “New birth” also comes to us through the resurrection. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “inheritance”: The greater part of it is yet to come. See also Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:5; Philippians 3:20; Galatians 4:7; 4:26. For Israel’s inheritance being primarily Palestine, see Deuteronomy 15:4. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “faith”: In 1 Peter, faith has a wide range of meanings: see also vv. 7, 9, 21 and 2:6-7. Here it refers to trust in God which is essential for salvation. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “the last time”: 1QS (Rule of the Qumran Community) 4:16-17 says: “... For God has sorted them into equal parts until the last day ...”

Verse 6: “this”: i.e. the whole thought of vv. 3-5. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: “rejoice”: Religious and eschatological joy. See also 4:13; Matthew 5:12; Jude 24; Revelation 19:7. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: “trials”: Suffering tests the quality of faith, as Psalm 26:2 and James 1:2-3 say. [ NOAB] In 1 Peter, Christian experience of social dislocation in a pagan world is normally called suffering: see 1:11; 4:13; 5:9; 2:19-20; 3:14, 17; 4:1, 15, 19; 5:10. The suffering of Christians is linked with the suffering of Christ in 5:1; 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: “tested by fire”: See also Proverbs 17:3 (“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart”); 27:21; Psalm 66:10 (“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried”); Jeremiah 9:7; Malachi 3:3. [ CAB]

Verse 7: “when Jesus Christ is revealed”: The second coming of Christ, when he will be judge. The revelation of Christ is also mentioned in 1:13 and 5:1. [ CAB]

Verse 8: “Although you have not seen him”: In 1:1, Peter has seen him. See also John 20:29 (Jesus to Thomas: “‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”) and Acts 1:21-22 (selection of Matthias). [ NJBC]

Verse 9: “souls”: i.e. self, person. The Greek word also appears in 1:22; 2:11, 25; 3:20 (NRSV: “persons”). [ NJBC]

Verse 9: See also Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 10:39. [ JBC]

Verse 10: “prophets”: Not Christian ones but those of the Old Testament. See also Matthew 1:22-23; Romans 1:2; 4:23; Acts 3:18. [ NJBC]

Verse 11: “the Spirit of Christ”: Probably the Holy Spirit. See also 1:12; Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19; Acts 16:7. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: The prophets, and even “angels”, sought to understand what God was doing for the restoration of the faithful to him. [ NOAB]

Verse 12: “things into which angels long to look”: The image is of peering through a window, as in 1 Enoch 9:1. [ NJBC]

John 6:37-40

NJBC sees this passage (with v. 36) as an insertion, i.e. not connected to the immediately preceding verses. I see it as being related both to the preceding verses, 5:24-30 (Jesus as the source of life), and to the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

Verse 36: “seen me”: In spite of “me” being present in most manuscripts, BlkJn omits this word. Though the crowd have seen his signs (see v. 26), they “do not believe” him, and so cannot believe in him, and see him as the answer to their needs.

Verse 37: The Father gives to Jesus, and draws to him (v. 44) those who come to him.

Verse 37: “Everything”: The Greek, pan ho, being neuter, is ambiguous and could refer to everything or everyone. From the context, everyone would seem to fit better, A more fitting translation is all , as this captures the ambiguity of the Greek in English. In v. 39, “all” is again pan ho. [Alan T. Perry] I note that the NRSV refers to this all as it, a literal translation of the neuter in Greek. Note however v. 45: “everyone”. Here the Greek word is masculine, so is unambiguously all people.

Verse 38: “the will of him who sent me”: In 5:19, Jesus says: “‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise”.

Verse 39: “lose nothing”: In 17:12 and 18:9, at the end of his ministry, Jesus claims that this has been accomplished. [ BlkJn]

John 11:21-27

The raising of Lazarus is the crowning miracle or sign ( 12:17-18), revealing Jesus as the giver of life ( 5:25-29), and precipitating his death ( 11:53). [ NOAB] To BlkJn, this is the third (and last) of the second group of signs. As such, it corresponds to the healing of the man at the pool of Beth-zatha ( 5:2-8). To JBC it is the seventh sign.

Verse 17: “Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days”: People believed that the soul hovered around one’s soul for three days and then departed. In the conventional view, Lazarus cannot possibly be restored to life. Bodies were buried on the day of death, as in the story of Ananias and his wife in Acts 5:1-10.

Verse 19: Jewish mourning ceremonies were elaborate. They were attended by many and lasted about 30 days. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “Jews”: John writes from outside Israel.

Verse 20: As in Luke 10:38-42, Martha is active and an organizer, while Mary is quieter and more contemplative. [ NOAB]

Verse 20: Comments: perhaps to warn him of the rites: Jesus’ annoyance with mourners appears in Mark 5:38-39. [ NJBC]

Verse 22: “whatever you ask of him”: This anticipates what Jesus tells his disciples about prayer: in 15:16 “I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” and in 16:23 “Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you”. [ BlkJn]

Verse 24: Note that Martha speaks only of resurrection, and not of judging and judgement. Popular belief (especially among Pharisees) was that all Jews (and, for some, Gentiles as well) would be raised. [ JBC] Their fate would depend on their state of integrity from God’s viewpoint.

Verse 24: “on the last day”: This phrase occurs in the New Testament only in John: see also 6:39-40, 44, 54; 12:48 (where the “second death” is the ultimate extinction of all who persevere in disobedience). [ BlkJn]

Verse 25: Jesus modifies Pharisaic doctrine. His words are not only about resurrection but also about the fate of those faithful to him. Jesus is not only the agent of final resurrection but also gives life now: see also Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12; 3:1. Mere physical death can have no hold over the believer. [ NOAB]

Verse 26: The believer has passed from the death of sin into life: see also Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8. [ BlkJn]

Verse 27: “‘I believe’”: BlkJn translates this as I am convinced.

Verse 27: “‘the Messiah’”: An affirmation made by Andrew in 1:41. [ BlkJn]

Verse 27: “‘the Son of God’”: An affirmation made by Nathanael in 1:49. [ BlkJn]

Verse 27: “‘the one coming into the world’”: An affirmation made by those present at the Feeding of the Five Thousand in 6:14. [ BlkJn]

Verse 28: We aren’t told that Jesus has committed to raising Lazarus. In faith that he will, Martha simply goes to fetch Mary: as does Andrew, in fetching his brother to Jesus (see 1:42) and as does the Samaritan woman in fetching men from her city (see 4:28-30). Martha, the organizer, assumes that Jesus wishes Mary to be present.

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