Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Easter Day - March 31, 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 10:34-43

Verse 34: “God shows no partiality”: Literally: God is not one showing favours, an allusion to Deuteronomy 10:17, which denies that God favours particular persons or accepts bribes. [JBC] BlkActs says that the Greek word is found only in Christian writings but is coined from an expression in the Septuagint translation, which translates a Hebrew expression for lift up the face, i.e. favour. It denotes the gracious act of someone who lifts up a person’s face by showing him a favour (see Malachi 1:8). In Romans 2:11, Paul writes “God shows no partiality”. [JBC]

Verse 35: “does what is right”: Literally: practices righteousness. [JBC]

Verses 36-43: This sums up the gospel, beginning with the baptism of John and ending with the statement that Christ is judge: see 3:20-21 (Peter’s second sermon). [NOAB]

Verse 36: “preaching peace”: This traditional eschatological prophecy, based on Isaiah 52:7 and 61:1, was applied to Jesus’ ministry with redoubled emphasis in Luke’s gospel (7:22; 4:17-20) and Jesus’ commissioning of his disciples as “peace” harbingers was prominent in his mission instruction (Luke 10:5-6).

Verse 36: “he is Lord of all”: To be understood in the light of Romans 10:12: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”. [NJBC]

Verse 37: “the baptism that John announced”: See also 1:22 and Luke 3:2-3. [JBC]

Verse 38: “God anointed Jesus”: See also Luke 3:22 (Jesus’ baptism) and 4:14. [NOAB] An allusion to Isaiah 61:1. Jesus’ investiture with the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not say that Jesus became Messiah at his baptism. Acts 2:36 and 3:12-20 suggest an entirely different understanding of Jesus’ messiahship, as does the Infancy Narrative (see Luke 1:32-33). Jesus is the spirit-filled agent of God’s saving activity. [JBC]

Verse 39: “by hanging him on a tree”: A figurative expression for crucifixion, derived from Deuteronomy 21:23-24: “When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse ...”. See also 2:23; 5:30; Galatians 3:13. [JBC]

Verse 40: “on the third day”: See also 1 Corinthians 15:4 and Hosea 6:2 (“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him”). [JBC]

Verse 40: “allowed him to appear”: NJBC offers gave him to be manifested.

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

Verse 42: “commanded”: JBC offers commissioned.

Verse 42: “judge of the living and the dead”: 17:31 says that God “has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead”. See also 1 Peter 4:5 and 2 Timothy 4:1. [NOAB]

Verse 43: This verse is a complete reprise of Luke 24:44-48. [NJBC]

Verse 43: “All the prophets testify about him”: See Isaiah 2:2; 40:5; Joel 2:32; however, a scholar wonders to which prophets Peter is referring.

Verses 44-48: In Acts, believers usually receive the Holy Spirit at baptism (2:38; 19:5-6), or before baptism (as here), but in 8:15-16 they receive it after baptism, and only when the apostles visit.

Isaiah 65:17-25

Verse 1: “nation”: The Hebrew word, goy, is often used of the Israelite people: see also, for example, 1:4; 26:15; 58:2. [NJBC]

Verse 2: “I held out my hands”: A gesture of invitation. Paul quotes this verse in Romans 10:21. [NOAB]

Verse 3: “sacrificing in gardens”: An allusion to nature-cult practices. “Offering incense” was particularly associated with pagan worship, although incense was also offered in Israelite worship: see Jeremiah 1:16. [NOAB] For Canaanite nature cults contaminating pre-exilic Israel, see Amos 2:7-8 and Jeremiah 2:8-3:5. They were again attracting people: see also 57:1. [NJBC]

Verse 4: “sit inside tombs”: i.e. for divination, to consult the dead. [NOAB]

Verse 4: “spend the night in secret places”: i.e. in a shrine to receive visions. [NOAB]

Verse 4: “eat swine’s flesh”: A practice forbidden by Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “I am too holy for you”: Practitioners considered themselves sanctified by some idolatrous rite. [NOAB]

Verses 6-7: God has noted their faithlessness. [NOAB] They will be punished.

Verses 7-15: In a cluster of grapes there are some that are good for making wine. As those that are good are picked out before the rest of the cluster is thrown away, so God will choose some of his people to settle in the fertile “Sharon” plain and the “Valley of Achor” (which he will make fertile). But the rest of his people he will destroy. In Matthew 25:31-33, Jesus says that this selection will happen “When the Son of Man comes in his glory”. [NOAB]

Verse 9: “my chosen ... my servants”: This is a dominant theme in Deutero-Isaiah. See, for example, 44:1. For Israel inheriting the land, see also 57:13. [NOAB]

Verse 10: “Achor”: It was a desolate region between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in Joshua 7:20-24 as a place where Israel sinned (by using booty which was God’s) soon after entering the Promised Land. Hosea 2:15 tells us that God will make the valley “a door of hope” as part of his initiative to renew his covenant with her. [NOAB] NJBC differs as to where “Achor” was; he says that it was in the south-east corner of the Land. He limits “Sharon” to the area at the foot of Mount Carmel, quoting 35:2.

Verses 11-12: “Fortune ... Destiny”: In the Hebrew text, these are Gad, the Syrian god of fate, and Meni, an Egyptian goddess of Spring and fertility. [NOAB] [NJBC]

Verses 13-16: The Temple personnel experience a reversal of the blessings God promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. [NJBC]

Verses 17-19: Heaven and earth will be transformed: a complete transformation of the cosmos; God will rejoice in Jerusalem (see also 62:5); her mourning is over (see also 25:8). NJBC notes that the Hebrew text says that creation is happening now. [NJBC]

Verse 17: “new heavens and a new earth”: See also 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1-4. [NOAB] The ancients thought of multiple heavens, with God in the highest one.

Verse 17: “new heavens and a new earth”: A phrase taken up in apocalyptic literature, e.g. 2 Esdras 6:7-16. [NJBC].

Verse 22: “They shall not build and another inhabit ...”: They will no longer be conquered.

Verse 22: “like the days of a tree”: For Israel being like a tree, see also Jeremiah 17:8. [NOAB] The Septuagint translation has according to the days of the tree of life, seeing this as referring to Paradise (the Garden of Eden): see Genesis 2:9; Revelation 22:2, 14. [NJBC] Jeremiah 17:8 says: “They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Verse 23: “calamity”: i.e. sudden misfortune. In Jeremiah 15:8, Yahweh tells (through the prophet) of the fate of the wayward: “Their widows became more numerous than the sand of the seas; I have brought against the mothers of youths a destroyer at noonday; I have made anguish and terror fall upon her suddenly” . [NOAB]

Verses 24-25: In the new Jerusalem restored, all will be at peace: see also 11:6-9 (“the wolf shall live with the lamb ...”). [NOAB]

Verse 25: “my holy mountain”: This phrase also occurs in 27:13; 56:7; Joel 3:17; Ezekiel 20:40. [NOAB]

Psalm 118:1-2,14-24

In Jewish liturgical tradition, Psalms 113-18 constitute the Egyptian Hallel psalms, used in connection with the great festivals. At the Passover, Psalms 113-114 are sung before the meal and 115-118 after it. Matthew 26:30 tells us: “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. [NOAB]

Note that I and me are used in vv. 5-21, we and us in vv. 23-27, and I and my in v. 28. NJBC suggests that this psalm may have been an individual song originally and was later democratized. If the king is the speaker, it is easier to understand the vacillation between singular (the king) and plural (the people). I suggest that the plural may also be a royal we.

Verse 1: 106:1; 107:1; 136:1 are identical. This verse and v. 29 form an envelope round the psalm. [NJBC]

Verses 2-4: “Let Israel say ... Let the house of Aaron say ... Let those who fear the LORD say ...”: These are probably directions to various groups in the congregation. [NOAB] This sequence is also found in 115:9-11 and 135:19-20. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “house of Aaron”: i.e. the priests. [NOAB]

Verse 6: This verse is quoted in Hebrews 13:6. [NOAB]

Verses 11-14: NOAB says that it is difficult to be sure whether the language of these verses is literal or figurative. It is tenable that the speaker is a king who has come to the Temple to offer thanks for a victory (but other scholars disagree).

Verse 15: The other half of Exodus 15:2, part of Israel’s classic victory song, is paraphrased in v. 28. [NJBC]

Verse 19: Presumably the ceremony in the preceding verses took place outside the Temple. [NOAB]

Verse 19: “the gates of righteousness”: This may be the actual name of a Temple gate or it may be a figurative way of alluding to the qualifications required for entry: see the next verse. [NJBC]

Verse 20: As part of the ceremony, a voice replies to the king’s wish to be admitted that only the qualified may enter. See also 15 and 24:3-6. [NOAB]

Verses 21-22: The king answers that God has born witness to his character by delivering him (as in 18:20-24) when others had given him up. [NOAB]

Verses 22-23: These verses are frequently quoted in the New Testament, e.g. in Matthew 21:42 (the Parable of the Wicked Tenants); Acts 4:11 (Peter addresses the Council); 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7. [NOAB] [NJBC]

Verse 22: “The stone that the builders rejected ...”: This is probably an ancient proverb. In the present context, this verse may refer to the king’s rise to power or to his recent victory. This text was very important in the early Church’s attempt to understand the rejection and execution of Jesus by his people.

Verses 23-25: The choir joyfully acknowledges what God has done. [NOAB]

Verse 24: “This is the day that the LORD has made”: This is the traditional translation, but NJBC says that the reference is to some act by Yahweh to save his people or to punish the wicked. 119:126 says: “It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken”. The Hebrew word in these verses is the same.

Verses 25-29 These verses are alluded to in Matthew 21:9 and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke. [NOAB]

Verse 25: “Save us”: The Hebrew word is hoshianna, the source of the New Testament word hosanna. [NOAB]

Verse 26: This verse is applied to Jesus by the crowd in Mark 11:9, the entry into Jerusalem. [NJBC]

Verse 27: “The LORD is God, and he has given us light”: Another translation is possible: O LORD ... shed your light upon us!, an allusion to the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27: “... The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORDmake his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace”. [NJBC]

Verse 27: “Bind the festal procession with branches”: This brings to mind the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), in which olive branches were used. [NJBC]

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

The idea of bodily resurrection was denied by many in the wider Greco-Roman world, not only in Corinth.

Verses 21-23: Jesus is the prototype of the new creation as Adam was of the old: see also Romans 5:12-21. [JBC]

  Adam Christ
belonging to the world by nature by decision
causality/effect infected humans with sin and death gives life

Verse 23: “first fruits”: Elsewhere Paul carries the metaphor of first fruits further than he does here. The Old Testament origins are in: Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Numbers 18:16-18; Ezekiel 44:30. [CAB]

Verse 23: “at his coming”: At the glorious return of Christ (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 4:13-17), at the time of the general resurrection (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16). [NOAB]

Verse 24: “every ruler ...”: i.e. powers hostile to authentic humanity: see also Romans 8:38-39; Colossians 1:16; 2:10; Ephesians 1:21. [NJBC]

Verse 25: Paul quotes Psalm 110:1b (“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”) implicitly. [NJBC]

Verse 25: “his enemies”: i.e. demonic powers dominating the present age, one of which is death.

Verse 26: “death”: For the personification of death in the Old Testament, see Psalms 33:19; 49:14; Jeremiah 9:20-22; Habakkuk 2:5. [NOAB] [NJBC]

Verse 27: Psalm 8:6 is also associated with Psalm 110:1 in Ephesians 1:20-22. [NJBC]

John 20:1-18

Verse 1: “while it was still dark”: That the women visit the tomb at dawn is stated in the synoptic gospels. Perhaps the writer has added darkness to incorporate his scene into the light symbolism of the gospel. [NJBC]

Verse 1: Mary must have looked into the tomb to be able to tell “Peter and the other disciple” (v. 2) that the body of Jesus is missing. Only in v. 11 are we told that she “bent over to look in the tomb”. [NJBC]

Verse 2: “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved”: 21:20, 24 identify this disciple as the author of the gospel.

Verse 2: “we” is plural in the Greek, so it is likely that John worked from a source which included other women in these verses. (Mark includes other women.) [BlkJn] [NJBC]

Verse 4: “the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first”: In this gospel, Peter takes second place to “the other disciple”:

  • At the Last Supper, it is the beloved disciple who sits in the place of greater honour: see 13:23
  • Peter asks this disciple the identity of the traitor: see 13:24
  • Peter gains access to the high priest’s courtyard through the beloved disciple: see 18:15
  • The beloved disciple is entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother: see 19:26
  • When Jesus appears to the disciples in Galilee, it is the beloved disciple who identifies Jesus to Peter: see 21:7
  • After being commissioned, Peter is rebuffed for asking about the beloved disciple’s task: see 21:20-24. [BlkJn]
  • In v. 8, it is the beloved disciple that sees and believes, not Peter.

Verse 6: That Peter goes into the tomb while “the other disciple” stays outside is consistent with Peter’s temperament shown elsewhere in the gospels. See also 6:68 and 18:10. [BlkJn]

Verse 6: “He saw the linen wrappings lying there”: Note the difference from Lazarus: he needed unbinding (11:44); Jesus does not. In the synoptic gospels, the grave clothes are not mentioned, so presumably they were absent: see Mark 16:6; Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:3, 23. [BlkJn]

Verse 9: “the scripture”: There is no specific scriptural reference, so John is probably saying that Jesus’ fulfills salvation history. However, the term scripture may well include the apocrypha to the New Testament and pseudepigrapha. When John wrote, neither the Jewish canon of the Old Testament nor that of the New Testament existed. The Greek word refers to a writing, not necessarily Scripture as we understand it.

BlkJn points out that “scripture” is in the singular, so a specific text is intended. He suggests Psalm 16:10, “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit”.

Comments: they have not yet received the Holy Spirit: When do the disciples receive the Holy Spirit in John? In 14:16, Jesus says to the disciples: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever”. So, in a sense, the Spirit is active in Jesus during his earthly ministry. However, in 16:7 Jesus says: “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”. So the Holy Spirit is with the disciples during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and is more fully with them after his ascension. In 20:22, Jesus breathes on them and says “‘Receive the Holy Spiri’t”.

Verses 11-18: To BlkJn, this is a separate incident which is mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament only in the spurious longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), though there are superficial similarities to Matthew 28:8-10. Here Mary is calm when she discovers the angels while in the synoptic gospels, the women are afraid: see Mark 16:5-8; Luke 24:5 and Matthew 28:5, 8. Further, here the angels do not deliver a message while they do in the synoptic gospels. [BlkJn] To NJBC, the evangelist has reworked a traditional story in which the risen Christ appeared to either Mary Magdalene alone or in the company of other women near the tomb. He has recast the resurrection message so that it is clear that Jesus’ return is not to the disciples in the various appearance stories. His return is his exaltation to his place with the Father: see 14:18-19; 16:22; 3:13; 6:62. [NJBC]

Verse 12: Mary sees “two angels in white” but apparently Peter and the other disciple did not (see vv. 6-7).

Verse 14: “she did not know that it was Jesus”: Mary also fails to recognize Jesus in other resurrection stories: see 21:4, 7, 12; Luke 24:16ff; Matthew 28:17. See also Luke 24:37-41. [BlkJn]

Verse 15: “Sir”: The Greek word is kurios also translated as Lord with divine connotations. Kurios is also used in vv. 2, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 25. [BlkJn]

Verse 15: “gardener”: a Jewish cemetery was much like a garden. Mary would be physically unable to “take him away”: this is an expression of her love for Jesus.

Verse 16: “Rabbouni” is a variant form of Rabbi, meaning teacher. Mary wishes to resume the relationship she has previously enjoyed with Jesus. [BlkJn]

Verse 17: One should not think of Jesus’ resurrection as though he had returned to life and then later ascended into heaven. Rather, Jesus has passed into an entirely different reality. 14:22-23 answers the question of how Jesus will manifest himself to the disciples and not to the world – in terms of love and the indwelling presence of Father and Son with the disciples. [NJBC]

Verse 17: “Do not hold on to me ...”: In Matthew 28:9-10, the women grasp the risen Lord’s feet in a gesture of worship. [NJBC]

Verse 17: “my Father ... your God”: The Father truly is Jesus’ Father; Christians acquire their relationship to him through Christ. [JBC]

Verses 19-22: Jesus appears to his disciples. As a community, as the Church, they now receive the Holy Spirit.

Luke 24:1-12

The parallels are Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1, 11-18. [NOAB]

Verse 1: “at early dawn”: The powers of darkness (see 22:53) give way to the light of the dawn of Jesus’ victory over death, as Zechariah foretold in the Benedictus: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (see 1:78-79). [NJBC]

Verse 4: “two men in dazzling clothes”: In Acts 1:10 (the Ascension) and 10:30 (Cornelius), Luke calls angels men. There are also two at the Transfiguration (see 9:29-30). Lightning frequently expresses some kind of heavenly or unearthly visitation in Luke’s writings: see also 10:18; 11:36; 17:24; Acts 9:3; 22:6 (at Paul’s conversion). [JBC]

Verse 6: In 9:22, Jesus tells his disciples: “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” and in 13:32-33 he tells some Pharisees: “Go and tell that fox [Herod Antipas]for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem’”. [NOAB]

Verses 6,8: “Remember ... remembered”: The meaning of the Greek word, mimneskesthai, is more than mere recollection of the content of a previous conversation. Mimneskesthai is to bring to bear in the present, with power and new and deepened insight, the meaning of past actions and words in salvation history. This Greek word is also found in this sense in 1:54 (Mary, in the Magnificat), 72 (Zechariah, in the Benedictus); 23:42 (one of those crucified, to Jesus); Acts 10:31 (Peter, to Cornelius); 11:16 (Peter “remembered the word of the Lord ...”). Luke uses related words in 22:19 (the institution of the Eucharist); 22:61; Acts 17:32; 20:31, 35. [NJBC]

Verse 6: “you”: This suggests that Jesus’ disciples as a group often included others than those of the inner circle. [NOAB]

Verse 7: In 9:44, Jesus has prophesied: “‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands’”. [NJBC]

Verse 7: “Son of Man”: Jesus saw himself as the fulfilment of the Old Testament, especially the Son of Man and Servant Songs of Isaiah.

Verse 8: “remembered”: The revelation of Jesus’ vindication gives new meaning and power to the women’s recollection of Jesus’ words. [NJBC]

Verse 9: The sequence in Matthew 28:8 differs. The actual sequence cannot be worked out. Each account is a separate summary of early Christian testimony to the facts of Jesus’ resurrection. [NOAB]

Verse 9: “told”: NJBC says that the Greek word, anengeilan, means more than told. Proclaimed is a better translation. It is found frequently in the gospels and Acts. [NJBC]

Verse 10: “Mary Magdalene, Joanna ...”: For women who were followers of Jesus, see also Mark 16:1 (“Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome”); Luke 8:1-3 (“some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, ... and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward ... and Susanna, and many others”); John 19:26 (Jesus’ mother); 20:1. [NOAB]

Verse 10: “Joanna”: In Mark 16:1, it is Salome. A Joanna is mentioned in Luke 8:3. [JBC]

Verse 11: “an idle tale”: JBC translates the Greek as nonsense. [JBC]

Verse 11: “did not believe them”: See also Mark 16:10-11 (Mary Magdalene tells of seeing the resurrected Jesus), Mark 16:14; Matthew 28:10, 17 (of the eleven disciples “some doubted”); John 20:18, 24-25, 29 (Thomas). NJBC says that Luke uses the same verb here as he does in Acts (e.g. 28:34) to declare the negative response to the Christian proclamation.

Verse 12: This verse is in some early manuscripts but not in all (e.g. the Western Text). Some scholars consider that this verse is an addition based on John 20:3-10; others accept it as authentic, because:

  • v. 24 depends on it,
  • it is in the most reliable manuscripts, and
  • it is consonant with Lucan theology. [NOAB] [JBC]

Verse 12: “what had happened”: The Greek is a general phrase also found in 23:47 (“When the centurion saw what had taken place ...”), 23:48 (“... when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place ...”) and 24:18 (“‘... Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’”).

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