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Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - February 3, 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.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Verse 1: “words”: The Hebrew plural dibre also means actions or events, so history is a good translation. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “Jeremiah”: The name may mean The Lord exalts or Yahweh has established – depending on which Hebrew verb is part of the name. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “Hilkiah”: 2 Kings 22 tells of one Hilkiah, a high priest, who “found the book of the law” in the Temple in 622 or 621 BC, during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC). This led to religious reform. But NJBC says that this is not the Hilkiah identified in this verse. Even so, Jeremiah’s mission continued through the reform of Josiah.

Verse 1: “priests ... in Anathoth”: Jeremiah may have been a descendant of the priest Abiathar, who was banished by Solomon to Anathoth (see 1 Kings 2:26-27). [NOAB] Anathoth is the present village of Anata, some 5 km northeast of Jerusalem. (Anata is the plural form of the name of the Canaanite goddess Anat; she was Baal’s sister.)

Verses 2-3: The “thirteenth year of his [Josiah’s] reign” would be 627 BC. [NOAB] The text seems to indicate that his ministry started in this year; however, because no oracles can be dated to Josiah’s reign, some scholars say that 627 was the year of Jeremiah’s birth.

Verse 3: “Zedekiah”: He reigned from 597 to 586 BC. The eleventh year of his reign was 586 BC. [NOAB] Chapters 40-44 describe Jeremiah’s activities after the ruin of Jerusalem in 587 BC.

Verse 5: “formed”: For yashar, see also Amos 4:13 (“the mountains”); Jeremiah 51:19 (“all things”); Isaiah 45:18 (“the earth”); 49:5 (“me in the womb”); Psalm 95:5 (“the dry land”). [JBC]

Verse 5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”: This notion is also found in Job 10:8-12; Psalms 22:10-11; 71:6; 139:13-16. [JBC]

Verse 5: “consecrated”: NJBC offers dedicated.

Verse 6: “I am only a boy”: See also Isaiah 3:4 (“I will make boys their princes, and babes shall rule over them”) and 1 Kings 3:7 (Solomon). Moses had a similar reaction when Yahweh sent him as a messenger (see Exodus 4:10-15) but for a different reason: he had a speech defect. [JBC]

Verses 7-8: See also Ezekiel 2:6-7 (“... You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear ...”) and Deuteronomy 18:18 (“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people ...”). [JBC]

Verse 9: See also Matthew 10:19-20 (“... it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you”). [NOAB]

Verse 9: “touched my mouth”: See also the prophetic calls of: Isaiah (Isaiah 6:7), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3), and Daniel (Daniel 10:16) for similar action on their mouths. [JBC]

Verse 10: God’s word is a dynamic and vital force, not a static and symbolic figure: see Isaiah 55:10-11. [NOAB]

Verse 10: The assemblage of verbs is characteristic of the book: see also 18:7-10; 24:6; 31:27-28; 42:9-10; 45:4-5. NJBC suggests that Jeremiah is charged with restructuring the nations.

Verses 11-16: These verses were inserted by an editor. [NJBC]

Verses 11-12: “almond tree ... watching”: In Hebrew, there is a play on words: “almond tree” is shaqed and “watching” is shoqed. [NOAB] This is a vision which probably occurred early in Jeremiah’s life. [NJBC]

Verses 13-14: This is another vision. [NJBC]

Verses 17-19: These verses are an expansion of vv. 4-8. [NOAB]

Verse 17: “gird up your loins”: i.e. gather your long garment into your belt. [JBC] Respond promptly to the order (e.g. Elijah in 1 Kings 18:46) and prepare immediately for combat (e.g. Yahweh calls Job to legal combat in Job 38:3; 40:7).

Verse 18: “fortified city”: In Ezekiel’s call (Ezekiel 3:8-9), the same steadfast strength is expressed in similar imagery. [JBC]

The predestination of Jeremiah to his office began from the start of his existence (see also Judges 13:5, Samson; Isaiah 49:1-2, the Servant; Luke 1:15, John the Baptizer; Galatians 1:15-16, Paul), and shows an intimate relationship between Yahweh and Jeremiah. The intimacy never ceases to grow, as can be seen throughout the book.

Psalm 71:1-6

JBC suggests that the psalmist was ill as well as persecuted.

Verses 2-3: 31:2-4 is similar. [JBC]

Verses 5-6: The same idea is found in 22:10-11. [JBC]

Verses 12-13: See also 70:2-3. [NJBC]

Verses 14-24: NOAB sees the psalmist as making a vow: if his prayer is answered, he will use his talent for music (v. 22), to celebrate God’s saving acts, so that future generations will know them.

Verse 18: “to all the generations”: The Hebrew is difficult. Another possible translation is in the Temple, in which case “reach the high heavens” (v. 19) is rendered in your holy place. [JBC]

Verse 20: “from the depths of the earth”: i.e. from Sheol (after he dies). The same idea is expressed in 9:13 and 30:3.

Verse 24: “have been”: Another possible translation is would be. [NJBC]

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts begins in 12:1-11. NJBC considers 13:1-13 to be a text Paul composed for another occasion and inserted here, based on the quality of the writing and the use of the Hellenistic literary form of praise of the greatest virtue.

Only by loving does the Christian exist authentically: see 1:30. “Love” here is agape. It is love for others, love that “builds up” (8:1). It is love in the community, inspired by the love of God in Christ for us, through the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5). [NOAB]

Verses 1-3: Note the progression from the lowest gift (“tongues”, v. 1, see also 14:6-12), via intellectual gifts and miracle-working faith (“remove mountains”, v. 2), to acts of supreme devotion benefiting others. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “tongues”: In 12:28, Paul writes: “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”.

Verse 1: “noisy ... cymbal”: In 12:2, in introducing the subject of “spiritual gifts”, Paul says: “You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak”. [NOAB]

Verse 2: “prophetic powers ... faith”: In 12:8-9, Paul says: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit ...”. [NOAB] “Faith” here is great faith, i.e. faith that God can work miracles. [NJBC]

Verse 3a: See 12:28 (quoted above).

Verse 3: “boast”: To Paul, boasting is acceptable if one is sufficiently godly and blameless. See 9:15 (“no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting!”) and 2 Corinthians 1:14 (“we are your boast even as you are our boast”). The phrase in this verse can also be translated to be burned: burning was the most horrible of deaths.

Verses 4-7: Love is evident in actions rather than merely in feelings. Fifteen verbs in these verses show what love accomplishes for the upbuilding of the community.

Verse 4: The strong at Corinth are neither “patient” nor “kind”: see 8:1-13: “Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up ...”. [NJBC]

Verse 6: “rejoice in wrongdoing”: As the Corinthian community did: see 5:1-8: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife ...”. [NJBC]

Verse 8: Prophecies, tongues and knowledge (in the Greek sense, i.e. unapplied) are time-limited, but love is forever.

Verse 11: In 3:1, Paul speaks to the Christians at Corinth “ as infants in Christ”. In 14:20, Paul writes “Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults”. [NJBC]

Verse 12: “see face to face”: An expression used in the Old Testament to express the quality of Moses’ knowledge of God (see Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 34:10) in this present life.

Verse 12: “as I have been fully known”: i.e. by God, in making Paul an apostle. In 8:3, Paul says: “anyone who loves God is known by him”. See also Galatians 4:9 and Romans 8:29.

Verse 13: 1 John 4:8-10 says: “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

Verse 13: “faith, hope, and love”: This triad is also in Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 5:5-6; Colossians 1:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 5:8. [NJBC]

Luke 4:21-30

The parallels are Matthew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6.

Verse 21: “Today”: Luke uses this word to introduce important themes elsewhere too: see 2:11 (“to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord”); 22:61; 23:43. It should not be taken as a reference to the historical then of Jesus’ time, but to the now, the time of fulfilment. [NJBC]

Verse 22: “gracious words”: Words of salvation/grace is suggested by Acts 14:3; 20:24, 32 – where the same Greek phrase also occurs. [NJBC]

Verse 22: “came from his mouth”: Deuteronomy 8:3 says “... one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD”. [NJBC]

Verse 22: “‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’”: The local people are surprised that a person they have known since he was a child is the messenger of such news. This question would sound ironic to the first readers who had read 1:32 (“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David”), 1:35 (“The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’”); 3:21-22; 4:1-13.

Verses 24-27: See 1 Kings 17:1, 8-16; 18:1 (the widow of Zarephath); 2 Kings 5:1-14 (the healing of Naaman). Luke universalizes Isaiah 61:1-2 (part of Jesus’ reading in vv. 18-19). For the rejected prophet, see also 6:22-23; 11:49-51; 13:34-35; Acts 7:35, 51-52. The pattern of the rejected prophet theme is found in Nehemiah 9:26-31. The stages are:

  • The people rebel, and kill a prophet
  • God punishes the perpetrators
  • God shows mercy through sending a new prophet
  • The people sin and reject the prophet. [NJBC]

One might note that, unlike Jesus, Elijah and Elisha were not rejected by the Israelites.

Verse 25: “three years and six months”: 1 Kings 18:1 says that the famine lasted three years. Luke (and James 5:17) extend this to three and a half years, giving it eschatological significance. [JBC] For the duration of the eschatological struggle, see Daniel 7:25 (“ a time, two times, and half a time”); 12:7; Revelation 11:2 (“forty-two months”); 12:6 (“one thousand two hundred sixty days”, i.e. 3 years), 14 (“a time, and times, and half a time”).

Verse 30: This is not necessarily a miracle.

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