Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost - September 18, 2022

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 8:18-9:1

8:19: “my poor people”: Jeremiah also uses this phrase in vv. 21, 22 and 4:11; 6:26; 8:19, 21; 9:1. [ NOAB]

8:20: Chapter 14 mentions suffering from drought. [ NOAB]

8:22: “balm”: The tree is the styrax. 46:11 suggests that “balm” was a medicine. Genesis 37:25 tells us that one of the commodities being transported by the Ishmaelites to whom Joseph was sold was balm from Gilead. [ NOAB]

9:2-9: The complete corruption of the people is the basis for this accusation. Here, instead of sympathy, God has nothing but contempt for the lying, deceiving, untrustworthy nation: see also 11:19-23; 12:6; 20:10. A remote stopping place in the desert would be preferable. In 1 Kings 19:3-4, Elijah flees to the southernmost town in the land when Jezebel issues a death-threat against him. [ NOAB] NJBC sees Jeremiah as rejected by his fellow countrymen and family in 11:19-23 and 12:6, and by his friends in 20:10. Jeremiah’s motive for fleeing is different from Elijah’s: Jeremiah flees because of the treachery of his people.

9:9: 5:9 is identical. [ NOAB]

Psalm 79:1-9

The occasion is probably the same for Psalm 74, but is it? 74:9 says “there is no longer any prophet”, but in 587 BC the prophetic movement was at its height, as is shown by the activities of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. So for Psalm 74 the situation must be some otherwise unknown event of the post-exilic period. Isaiah 64:11 says that the Temple “has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins”. Perhaps that psalm is connected with the Maccabean period, a time when there were no prophets: 1 Maccabees 4:46 tells of storing the stones of the sanctuary “until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. Perhaps Psalm 79 is also from this period. [ NOAB] NJBC favours the Babylonians as the conquerors.

Verses 2-3: These verses are quoted in 1 Maccabees 7:17. [ JBC]

Verse 3: Leviticus 4:7 commands regarding the pouring of the blood of a sacrificial victim at the base of the altar: “The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is in the tent of meeting before the Lord; and the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting”. See also Leviticus 4:30. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “there was no one to bury them”: See also Deuteronomy 28:26 foretells, as, a consequence of disobedience to God: “Your corpses shall be food for every bird of the air and animal of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away”. [ JBC]

Verse 4: “a taunt to our neighbours”: 44:14 says: “You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples”. [ NJBC]

Verses 5-12: A prayer for deliverance and vengeance. [ NOAB]

Verse 11: Requests for God to hear pleas are also found in 88:2; 102:2; 119:170. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “bosom of our neighbours”: The ample folds of the outer garment were seen as serving as a receptacle for good and for evil: in Luke 6:38 Jesus says “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap”. [ JBC]

Verse 13: The vow, confident that God will act. The psalmist, on behalf of the people, promises to give formal thanks to God, probably by offering a thanksgiving sacrifice, as described in 66:13-15: “I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows, those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats ...”. See also 23; 95:7; 100:3. [ NOAB]

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Verses 1-15: The community’s conduct at worship. [ NJBC]

Verses 1-7: Prayer intentions. The stress on God’s desire to save every human being is also found in 1 Timothy 4:10: “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe”. See also Titus 2:11; 3:2, 8. [ NJBC]

Verses 1-2: The Christian prays even for bad rulers. CAB says that praying for secular authorities will result in respect for Christianity among those outside the faith, and will lessen the risk of persecution. In Romans 13:1, Paul says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God”. [ NOAB] Such prayer is not out of patriotism; there is a hope (possibly implied) that these rulers/authorities might “come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 4). [ NJBC]

Verse 4: This is one of the strongest affirmations of the universality of God’s grace. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “to come to the knowledge of the truth”: The same phraseology is found in 2 Timothy 2:25; 3:7. The notion that knowledge of Christian truth is a fundamental requirement for salvation is also found in Colossians 1:5; 2:2, 7; Ephesians 1:9; 4:13 – but Christian conduct and good works are also necessary. [ JBC]

Verses 5-6: This is very like a hymn or confession spoken in a worship setting. See also Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 1:15-2:3; 4:5-6. [ CAB] It at least seems to be a traditional formula. The logical argument is: if God is one, he must be concerned with all peoples, not just with a particular group or nation. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human”: NJBC offers one intermediary between God and humanity, the human being Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:19-20, Paul calls Moses a “mediator”, as does the Jewish philosopher Philo. Hebrews also speaks of Christ as “mediator”: see Hebrews 9:15; 12:24. [ NOAB]

Verse 5: “himself human”: For the humanity of Christ, see also Hebrews 2:14 and Galatians 3:19-20. [ JBC]

Verse 6: “this was attested at the right time”: NJBC offers the testimony at the proper times. Given this translation, proper times probably refers not only to Christ’s death but to the whole of his activity. What Christ did witnesses to the fulfilment of God’s promise: see also Titus 1:2-3 (“God ... revealed his word”) and 2 Timothy 1:1.

Verse 6: “ransom”: i.e. the price paid for someone’s freedom. In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus tells his disciples: “It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”. Mark 10:43-45 is similar. [ NOAB]

Verse 7: References to Paul’s past are more frequent in post-Pauline letters: see also Colossians 1:23-29; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:3; 4:11, 15-18. For the story of Paul’s conversion, see Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-16; 26:9-18. [ CAB]

Verse 7: “(I am telling the truth, I am not lying)”: The author draws from Paul’s words in Romans 9:1: “I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit”. [ NJBC]

Verses 8-15: The author says how men (v. 8), and then women (v. 15) should behave in the worshipping assembly. [ NJBC] These verses should be understood in the context of Greco-Roman society, and perhaps in the context of a particular Christian community.

Verses 8-10: It seems that men were given to “anger” and “argument” and women to ostentation. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 and 2 Timothy 2:14, 23 say that false teachers promote debates and arguments.

Verse 8: “in every place”: i.e. in the liturgy. A formula used in worship legislation, drawn from Malachi 1:11: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts”. It is also found in Didache 14:3. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “lifting up holy hands”: A common posture for prayer in the early Church: standing, with hands outstretched, also mentioned in Psalms 141:2; 143:6. The palms were turned upward towards heaven to indicate receptivity of God’s gifts. Liturgically this is referred to as the orans position, and is today normally adopted by the presider (celebrant) at the Eucharist during the prayer of consecration (eucharistic prayer). In the early Church, all worshippers would adopt this posture. [ NOAB] [ CAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “without anger or argument”: i.e. at peace with one’s neighbour. In Philippians 2:14, Paul urges “Do all things without murmuring and arguing”. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says that one should be reconciled with one’s “brother or sister” before worshipping, and in Mark 11:25 “‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses’”. See also Matthew 6:14 (the Lord’s Prayer). [ NJBC]

Verses 9-15: See also 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. [ CAB]

Verse 9: “suitable clothing”: In 1 Peter 3:3-6, “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight”. Concern for attire was common in Greco-Roman philosophy. It is likely that men were also expected to wear suitable clothing. [ NOAB]

Verse 10: “good works”: 5:10 advises: “she [a widow] must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown”. See also 5:25; 6:18; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14; Ephesians 2:10. [ CAB]

Verses 11-15: The thought structure and wording are like 1 Corinthians 14:33-36, a passage that some scholars think was not part of the original letter. It may have been added later by those who shared the viewpoint of the author of these verses in 1 Timothy. Paul honours the place of women in Philippians 4:2-3 (“Euodia and ... Syntyche”) and Romans 16:1-2 (“Phoebe, a deacon”). [ CAB]

Verse 11: “in silence”: In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul writes: “women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says”. [ NOAB]

Verses 12-14: NJBC says that these verses present a scriptural argument drawn from , and using the language of, the Septuagint translation of Genesis 2-3. They make two points:

  • The male has priority over the female because he was created first, and
  • As in Genesis 3:13, where deception is predicated of the female but not of the male, women are more likely to be led astray and so should not be teachers. (Paul himself assigns the blame to Adam, as the counterpart of Christ: see Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

Verse 12: In the author’s view, for a woman to have authority over a man would violate Genesis 3:16; however, in Pauline churches women held responsible positions, and as in 1 Corinthians 11:5, they are assumed to have the right to pray aloud in Christian worship. Here the author is specifically concerned about women exercising teaching and preaching roles. In 5:13, the author says that young widows “learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say”. See also Ephesians 5:22-23. [ NJBC]

Women who held responsible positions in the Pauline churches include Phoebe, a deacon, in Romans 16:1-2; Prisca, who hosted a church in her house, in Romans 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 16:19; perhaps Junia in Romans 16:7. Women are also depicted as preaching (in 1 Corinthians 11:5) and as teaching (in Acts 18:26). See also Acts of Paul and Thecla. [ NJBC]

Verse 13: Genesis 2:7 says “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” and Genesis 2:21-22 “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” . [ NOAB] The notion of the primary role of the male in God’s creation is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:7-12. [ CAB]

Verse 14: For the story of the deception of Eve by the serpent, see Genesis 3:1-6. [ NOAB] The interpretation of Genesis 3:1-21 as identifying woman as the cause of humankind’s fall into sinfulness can be seen in Sirach 25:24: “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die” . This contrasts with Paul’s treatment of the Fall in Romans 5:12-21: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned”. In Romans 7:7-25, Paul argues that humans only came to know they had sinned once the Law had been given at Sinai. [ CAB]

Verse 15: This verse can also been translated as:

  • She will be saved through the birth of the Child (i.e. Christ), and
  • She will be brought safely through childbirth. [ NOAB]

Genesis 3:16 presents pain in childbirth as a punishment, but here it is a means of salvation! The author probably had in mind the false teachers ( 4:3-5) who forbade marriage. True faith insists on the goodness of human sexuality, as something created by God. Women are to be saved by the very thing that the false teachers reject! [ NJBC]

Luke 16:1-13

The unifying theme of this apparently disunified chapter is that of using possessions to benefit others, especially the needy. [ NJBC]

This is the Parable of the Dishonest Manager [ NOAB] or of the Unjust Steward [ Blomberg].

Usually in a parable one can recognize good and evil characters, but here both the master and the manager are at least suspected of being evil, at least to an extent. Perhaps Jesus is saying: one can learn even from the dishonest. [ CAB]

Luke offers various example stories instead of parables, to arrest his readers’ attention and to drive home a lesson. To some scholars, this is such a story. But others take it as a parable. [ NJBC]

As an example story, it is interpreted in two ways:

  • A popular version: Jesus is teaching that his disciples should imitate the actions of the dishonest manager. (This is morally repugnant.)
  • A scholarly version: What is to be imitated is the steward’s shrewdness in the use of possessions (even though the possessions are not his own). [ NJBC]

As a parable about the kingdom of God, it is interpreted in two ways:

  • That there is a point of contact between the actions in the parable and the actions in Jesus’ audiences as he travels to Jerusalem: as the manager was decisive when faced with a crisis, so too should Jesus’ listeners be; they are wavering in their decision to follow him and his kingdom message.
  • That the point of contact is one of dissimilarity: the sense of justice normally implied in Kingdom does not accord with the behaviour of the master in v. 8a: how can the master praise such unjust conduct perpetrated on him and not have the rascal punished? Are normal standards of justice being denied in the Kingdom Jesus preaches? Yes, in Jesus’ kingdom of justice and power, masters do not get even. Recall Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies and his teaching about non-retaliation and love of enemies: see 9:51-55 (Samaritans “did not receive him”); 10:29-37 (the Good Samaritan, and bad robbers, priest and Levite); 17:11-19 (the nine lepers); 22:47-55 (Judas Iscariot); 23:34 (on the Cross). [ NJBC]

Blomberg says that the context is instruction for disciples, not controversy with opponents; it is about good stewardship, and is directed towards those who are already Christians (see v. 9). Followers must demonstrate actions befitting repentance even (or perhaps especially) in the area of worldly wealth.

Verse 1: “rich man”: See also the story of the rich man and Lazarus in 16:19-31.

Verse 1: Strangely, the text does not say that the master brought the charges against the manager.

Verse 4: “I have decided what to do”: The manager acts decisively; he neither pities himself not wavers. [ NJBC] The verb in Greek is in the aorist tense so I have known all along what I would do in a case like this is what he says. He has planned ahead.

Verse 5: There is no evidence that the manager foregoes his commission. The manger is going to get even with his master at his master’s expense. He cancels the usurious profit of his master. Surely, the debtors will reciprocate such largess: “people may welcome me into their homes” (v. 4). [ NJBC]

Verses 8-9: Blomberg sees three lessons in these verses that correspond to the three episodes and three main characters of the story:

  • v. 8a: the praise of the master: all of God’s people will be called to give a reckoning of the nature of their services to him
  • v. 8b: the shrewdness of the servant: preparation for that reckoning should involve a prudent use of all our resources, especially in the area of finances.
  • v. 9: the grace of the debtors: such prudence, demonstrating a life of true discipleship, will be rewarded with eternal life and joy.

Verse 8a: “dishonest manager”: This is a reference to his actions in vv. 5-7, not a repetition of what is implied in vv. 1-2. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “commended”: or praised. The master neither beats nor otherwise punishes the manager, as the master does to the slave in 12:46. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “the children of light”: This phrase is also found in John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5. In the Qumran literature, the children of light are contrasted with the children of darkness: see CD (Damascus Document) 20:34; 1QS (Rule of the Community) 1:9; 2:16; 3:13, 24; 1QM (War Scroll) 1:1, 3, 9. [ NJBC] [ NOAB] [ CAB] [ JBC]

Verse 9: “dishonest wealth”: The King James Version uses the Greek word mammon. This word is close to the Aramaic and Hebrew. It probably means that in which one puts one’s trust. Sirach 31:8 says “Blessed is the rich person who is found blameless, and who does not go after gold”. See also 1QS (*Qumran Rule of the Community) 6:2; CD (Damascus Document) 14:20. [ JBC] Blomberg points out that, from clarifications from discoveries at Qumran, “dishonest wealth” was simply a stock idiom for all money, much as one today might say filthy lucre; it is not a command to use ill-gotten gain for one’s own interest.

Verse 9: Other interpretations are:

  • Use the wealth you have prudently, to ensure your status in the final era. Remember that wealth tends to lead men to dishonesty. When earthly goods fail, you will be welcomed into the kingdom of God. Blomberg sees wealth as including everything God has given you. [ JBC]
  • The dishonest manager was prudent in using the things of this life to ensure the future; believers should do the same. [ NOAB]

Verse 10: Matthew 25:21 and Luke 19:17 are similar. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: This notion is also found in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth”. [ NOAB]

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