Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 12, 2013



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 16:16-34

Verse 16: “spirit of divination”: The word in the Greek is python. This word originally was the name of the serpent guardian of the Delphic oracle slain by Apollo. Later it came to signify the power of sooth-saying sometimes associated with ventriloquism. The present story distances the charismatic Christian mission from the arts of divination (see also 13:6-11) and from monetary ambitions (8:18-20 (Simon); 19:23-27 (the silversmiths in Ephesus); 24:25-27 (Paul before Felix)). [NJBC]

Verse 17: “way of salvation”: Salvation, as deliverance from the powers governing the fate of humans or the material world, was common ground in the cults of the time. Luke is purposely using language that a pagan would understand but which would mean more to a Christian. [BlkActs] In 4:12, Peter says: “‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’”

Verse 17: This verse marks the end of the first “we ...” narrative. BlkActs wonders whether Luke was left behind at Philippi to organize the church there. If so, he rejoins Paul at Troas: see 20:5.

Verse 18: Jesus exorcised evil spirits from the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:28) and from the man in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:33-34). Both stories appear to be borrowed from Mark. Just as there, the doomed spirit utters the truth of salvation to show its defeat. [NJBC]

Verse 18: “in the name of Jesus”: As in 3:6, 16 and 4:10, 30, the risen Christ is the one who does the saving deed.

Verses 19, 29: Note that Timothy is not mentioned.

Verse 19a: Later too, in Ephesus, those whose income is affected by Paul’s ministry are hostile to him: see 19:23-27. There it is silversmiths. [BlkActs]

Verse 21: The foreign cult is probably Judaism: note “Most High God” (v. 17); however, pagans at times called the highest god of their pantheon this. Roman contempt for Jewish customs is noted by the historian Tacitus in Annals 5.5. For “Most High God” in the Old Testament, see, for example, Numbers 24:16; Isaiah 14:14; Daniel 3:26 (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego); Genesis 14:19 (Melchizedek); Psalm 46:4. [NOAB]

Verse 22: “beaten with rods”: See also 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (Paul at Philippi); 2 Corinthians 11:25; Philippians 1:30. [NJBC] [JBC]

Verses 23-24: For other imprisonments, see 5:17ff (the apostles) and 12:7-11 (Peter). [BlkActs]

Verses 25-34: While NJBC sees the release from jail as miraculous, he considers the real miracle here is the conversion of the jailer and his family (vv. 33-34).

Verse 27: “the jailer ... was about to kill himself”: In 12:9, 19, after Peter’s God-assisted escape from prison, Herod Agrippa I orders the jailers put to death. [BlkActs]

Verses 30-33: For the question-and-answer framework as a preparation for baptism, see also the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (8:34-38). See also 2:37-41 (after Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost) and 10:33-48 (Cornelius). [NJBC]

Verse 31: See also 2:21; 11:14 (Peter’s report of the baptism of Cornelius and his family); Romans 10:9-13. [JBC]

Verse 33: “he and his entire family were baptized without delay”: The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized immediately, but there too there was prior instruction: 8:36-38 tells us: “As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him”. [BlkActs]

Verses 34-39: Paul complains that he (“we”) has not been treated as “Roman citizens” (v. 37). The law, i.e. Lex Porcia de provatione, protected Roman citizens from flogging and entitled them to appeal charges made against them. In v. 38-39, he shows that his preaching in no way undermines the Roman state. [NJBC]

Verse 34: “set food before them ...”: As did the very early Church: “they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts”. [NJBC]

Verse 37: Paul complains that he and Silas have not been treated as “Roman citizens”. By law, Roman citizens were exempt from beating, but crying out that one was a Roman citizen might well go unheeded during a riot. In 22:22-30, threatened with a far more terrible scourge, Paul claims exemption as a Roman citizen – with success. [BlkActs]

Psalm 97

For the awe-full omnipotence of God, see also Psalm 96. [CAB]

Verses 2-5: See also 18:7-15; 50:1-3. For theophanies, see Judges 5:4ff; Deuteronomy 33:2ff; Isaiah 30:27ff; Habakkuk 3:4ff. [NOAB]

Verse 9: “most high”: The Hebrew word is elyon, and here refers to Yahweh. In Canaanite polytheism, Elyon was the overlord of both the divine and human worlds. [NJBC]

Revelation 22:12-14,16-17,20-21

Verse 6: “he”: i.e. Jesus, who is “coming soon” (v. 7). [NJBC]

Verse 7: “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book”: This parallels 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of prophecy ...”. (For many centuries, one read aloud, or at least with one’s lips moving, not silently as we do today.)

Verse 7: “I am coming soon!”: In 2:16, John, addressing Christians at Pergamum who have adopted the teachings of an errant group, writes: “Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth”, and in 3:11 “I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown”. See also vv. 12, 20. [JBC]

Verse 10: “Do not seal up”: This is the opposite of Daniel 8:26: “... keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end”. In Daniel, there was no expectation that times would end soon. See also Daniel 12:4, 9. [NJBC] Various pseudepigraphical books also advise keeping them sealed until the end of time. See 1:3, quoted above. See also vv. 16, 18.

Verse 11: John has little hope for the repentance of the ungodly in the short time remaining before Christ comes again. He says in 9:20-21: “The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk ...”. See also 16:2-9 (“... ‘"Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God’” ...) and 1 Enoch 81:7-8. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “Let the evildoer still do evil”: Daniel 12:10 says: “Many shall be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked shall continue to act wickedly ...”. See also Ezekiel 3:27. [JBC]

Verse 11: “the filthy”: Immoral pagans, unconcerned with purity and modesty: James 1:21 advises: “... rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls”. [JBC]

Verse 12: 11:18 says “... the time ... for rewarding your servants ... [has come]”. Isaiah 40:10 says “See, the Lord GODcomes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him”. See also Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 2:6 (“For he will repay according to each one's deeds”). [JBC]

Verse 13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega”: Christ applies the titles to himself, identifying the risen Christ with God. See also 1:8, 17; 21:6. [NJBC] Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega the last. From A to Z, God is sovereign over all events of human history.

Verse 14: “Blessed ...”: This is the last of the seven beatitudes in Revelation. For the others, see 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7. [CAB]

Verse 14: “those who wash their robes ...”: This verse particularly applies to those who have died for the faith: 12:11 says: “they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death”. [JBC] 7:14 says: “Then he [one of the elders] said to me [John], ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’”.

Verse 14: “... tree of life ... city ...”: In 21:1-2, John tells us: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”.

Verse 15: “the dogs”: Impure, lascivious people. Paul uses the term in Philippians 3:2: “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!”. [NOAB] Dogs was a epithet used by Jews to refer to outsiders. See also Deuteronomy 23:19; Matthew 7:6; 15:26 (Jesus to the Canaanite woman); 2 Peter 2:22. [JBC]

Verse 15: “sorcerers”: Literally poisoners: those dealing in love potions and poisons. In 21:8, God tells John: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death”. [NOAB]

Verse 16: “you”: NJBC notes that the Greek word is plural.

Verse 16: “this testimony for the churches”: Chapters 2 and 3 provide advice to the seven churches.

Verse 16: “the root and the descendant of David”: See also 3:7 (“... These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David ...”); 5:5 (“... See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered ...”); Isaiah 11:1, 10; Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. [NJBC] [JBC]

Verse 16: “the bright morning star”: Christ is also called this in 2:28, the final words to the church at Thyatira. Contemporary Judaism saw Numbers 24:17-19 (“... a star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab ...”) as a messianic prophecy. [JBC]

Verse 17: “bride”: See Clipping on v. 14. In 21:9, a angel says to John: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb”. [CAB]

Verse 17: “let everyone who is thirsty come”: In John 7:37-38, Jesus says “"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink”. See also John 6:35. [JBC]

Verses 18-19: For similar warnings, see Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32. See also 1 Enoch 104:9-13. 1:1 tells us that the revelation is God-given: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John”. [NJBC]

Verse 20: “Come, Lord Jesus!”: The Greek form of an early Christian prayer is preserved in transliterated Aramaic as maranatha in the Greek of 1 Corinthians 16:22b. Perhaps this was used in liturgy. John emphasizes the imminence of Jesus’ return by placing this verse so close to the end of the book. See also vv. 7, 12. [NJBC]

Verse 21: This is the normal closing benediction for New Testament letters (but unusual for an apocalyptic composition). Variations of it are found in 1 Corinthians 16:23; Ephesians 6:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Philemon 25. [NJBC] [JBC]

Verse 21: “Amen”: This closing word echoes 3:14, part of John’s words to the church at Laodicea. [JBC]

Revelation began as a letter to the churches, to be read in churches; it concludes with a blessing on all who hear what has been read.

John 17:20-26

The passage that follows describes Jesus’ arrest and trial but v. 11 implies that he has already left the world, i.e. ascended. Theology, not chronology, is John’s emphasis.

Verses 1-26: Jesus’ high priestly prayer falls naturally into three parts:

  • Vv. 1-5: Jesus’ prayer for himself
  • Vv. 6-19: His prayer for his disciples, left in the world after his ascension, and
  • Vv. 20-26: His prayer for the Church universal. [NOAB]

There are parallels to the Lord's Prayer. [NJBC]

Verse 6: “I have made your name known”: The Greek verb ephanerosa is used of the manifestation of Jesus, or his glory, or God’s works, in 1:31 (“revealed”); 2:11 (wedding at Cana); 9:3; 21:1 (“showed”), 21:14. Here it is to those given to Jesus by the Father that Jesus, by his words and deeds, makes known God’s “name”, i.e. his character and person. [BlkJn]

Verse 7: “everything you have given me”: i.e. the entire ministry of Jesus with all that this involves. [BlkJn]

Verse 8: “for the words ...”: Jesus’ words are the Father’s words: 3:34 says: “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure”. See also 7:16; 12:49-50; 14:10, 24. [BlkJn]

Verse 8: “they ... know in truth that I came from you”: In 16:27, Jesus tells the disciples: “On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God”. In context, Jesus does not merely mean that he is Messiah, far less that he is a superman, one of the divine heroes of the ancient world, but that his claims to pre-existence (see v. 5) are justified. [BlkJn]

Verse 9: “I am not asking on behalf of the world”: Who are not capable, unless they come to faith in Jesus (see v. 20), of sharing in what the Father gives. [BlkJn]

Verses 11-12: On Jesus’ imminent departure, 13:1 tells us “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father”. For the disciples being left exposed to the hostility of the world, see also 15:18-21; 17:14; 16:1-5a (for an alternative presentation of the ideas). [BlkJn]

Verse 11: The unity of believers is modelled on the shared purpose and character of the Father and the Son, who are in complete unity. [BlkJn]

Verse 12: “the scripture”: That “scripture” is in the singular implies that John has a particular passage in mind. It may be Psalm 41:9: “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.”, a verse quoted in 13:18. [BlkJn]

Verse 12: “the one destined to be lost”: This phrase is also found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction”. There it refers to the Antichrist. [BlkJn]

Verse 14: “word”: See also 1:1-19, the Prologue, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ...”.

Verse 17: “your word is truth”: God’s “word” (Greek: logos) is the means of sanctification. The Father’s “word” is characterized as the revelation of ultimate reality. 1:14 says that the incarnate “Word”, Jesus, is “full of grace and truth”. The “truth” sets free those who persevere in Jesus’ word: see 8:31-36. [BlkJn]

Verse 18: 20:21 says: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you’”. [BlkJn]

Verse 19: “sanctify myself”: In 10:11, Jesus says: “‘"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’”. See also 10:15 and 15:13. In the Septuagint translation, the Greek verb agiadzo (“sanctify”) is used both for the setting apart for God (in Exodus 3:2 and Deuteronomy 15:19) and for the consecration of people to God’s service (in Jeremiah 1:5, of a prophet, and in Exodus 28:41, of priests). Christ’s perfect self-offering is the means by which the disciples whom he is sending into the world are dedicated in obedience to God. [BlkJn]

Verses 24-26: Jesus is the one who brings his followers into community with God. In 10:38, Jesus tells some Jews: “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”. See also 14:10-11, 23; 15:4-5. [NJBC]

Verse 24: “may be with me where I am”: In 13:36, Jesus tells Peter: “... ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward’”. This verse implies that until Christians have come to be with God as Jesus is they have not fully experienced the reality of Jesus’ relationship with the Father.

Verse 25: “Righteous Father”: God alone is perfectly just: 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. [JBC] BlkJn notes that the adjective “righteous” is applied elsewhere in John only to judgements (see 5:30 and 7:24), so it may be used here to characterize the Father as the just judge in the situation where “the world” fails to recognize either the Father or the Son who has come to reveal him (see 1:10 and 16:3), though the disciples have come to know that the Father sent Jesus.

Verse 26: “I in them”: Jesus speaks not only of love but also of presence.

The vertical relationship of mutual love is the example for the horizontal relationship of love between and among members of the Christian community, and for their relationship with God, Father and Son.

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