Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost - October 20, 2019

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 31:27-34

Verse 23: “restore their fortunes”: See also Ezekiel 36:8-11: “But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot out your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for they shall soon come home. See now, I am for you; I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown ...” [ NOAB]

Verse 23: “‘The Lord bless you, O abode of righteousness, O holy hill!’”: This is a liturgical blessing, as is Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace”. Psalm 128:5 says “The Lord bless you from Zion”. See also Psalm 134:3. [ NJBC]

Verse 23: “‘O holy hill’”: As in Isaiah 11:9, the whole of Judah is thus designated: “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. [ NJBC]

Verse 28: Jeremiah’s mission is in 1:10: “ See, today I [ Yahweh] appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant”. Now it is time for the final phase of his mission: the creation of a new people. [ NJBC]

Verses 29-30: This may reflect a contemporary problem: Deuteronomy 24:16 says that parents should not be put to death for their children’s sins, and vice versa. This issue is discussed at some length by Ezekiel in Chapter 18. [ NOAB] In Israel, collective responsibility previously prevailed in the realms of morals and justice: see Exodus 20:5 (one of the Ten Commandments); Deuteronomy 5:9; Numbers 14:18. [ NJBC]

Verse 31: “make”: The word in Hebrew can mean cut. It is the oldest expression for covenant making. [ NOAB] In the ancient Near East, a covenant included a self--maledictory oath (may ... be done to me if I fail to keep this pact). It was often symbolized by cutting an animal in half and walking between the two halves. See Genesis 15:10 (God’s covenant with Abraham).

Verse 31: “new covenant”: This is the only time this phrase is used in the Old Testament. It is, however, used in the Qumran literature, but there it means the Mosaic covenant, with strong legalistic tendencies. Of course, this phrase was re--interpreted in the New Testament: see Luke 22:20 (The Institution of the Lord’s Supper); 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 8:8-12 (a quotation of vv. 31-34). [ NJBC]

Verse 31: “house of Judah”: From the mention of only “the house of Israel” in v. 33, we know that “house of Judah” is a later editorial addition, made to make clear that the new covenant includes all the people. [ NJBC]

Verse 33: This verse is quoted in Hebrews 10:16-17. [ NOAB]

Verse 33: “after those days”: For other instances where Jeremiah uses this phrase in an eschatological sense, see 3:16; 5:18; 33:15-16, etc.

Verse 33: “write it on their hearts”: 17:1 says: “The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars”, and Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh”. The heart was seen as the seat of intellect and will. The old covenant was written on tablets of stone (see Exodus 31:18; 34:28ff; Deuteronomy 4:13; 5:22) or in a book (see Exodus 24:7 and 2 Kings 23:3). [ NJBC]

Verse 33: “I will be their God”: A widespread covenantal clause: see also 7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22; 31:1; 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20; 36:28, etc; Zechariah 8:8; Leviticus 26:12. [ NJBC]

Verse 34: “No longer shall they teach one another”: Instruction will not be needed. There will be no intermediaries (e.g. Moses, priests, prophets). Isaiah 54:13 says “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children”. [ NJBC]

Verse 34: “they shall all know me”: In Hosea 2:20, God says through the prophet: “I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord”. [ NOAB]

Humankind will be created with the ability to fulfill the plans God has for it.

Ezekiel and Deutero--Isaiah speak of this new covenant as the everlasting covenant , one that could not be broken: see Ezekiel 16:60; 37:26; Isaiah 55:3; 61:8. It is possible because a new heart is created in the people; a new spirit is given to them: see Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26; Isaiah 59:21.

Verses 38-40: The locations in Jerusalem that we know show that the city will be enlarged/rebuilt in all directions:

  • “The tower of Hananel” was northeast of the city: see Nehemiah 3:1; 12:39; Zechariah 14:10
  • “The Corner Gate” was northwest of it: see 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9; Zechariah 14:10
  • While “Gareb” is mentioned only here, the sweep of the narrative suggests a western location
  • Given the next known location, “Wadi Kidron”, “Goah” must be at the southwest corner
  • “Wadi Kidron”, the site of child sacrifice and the garbage/refuse dump, was to the south
  • “The Horse Gate” was on the eastern side, near the royal palace: see 2 Kings 11:16 and Nehemiah 3:28. [ NJBC]

At least part of the newness comes from the abolition of child sacrifice, referred to in 19:1-5. This description of Jerusalem is historical rather than apocalyptic; it corresponds to the actual size of the city destroyed by the Babylonians and rebuilt by Nehemiah. [ NJBC]

Psalm 119:97-104

no clippings

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

3:1: “the last days”: They have already begun: see v. 5. In Peter’s speech explaining the events of the Day of Pentecost, he quotes Joel as showing that final era has already begun: see Acts 2:16-17. [ NOAB]

3:1: “distressing times”: See also Matthew 24:4-5 (false messiahs); Mark 13:22 (false messiahs and false prophets); 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 18. [ NOAB] [ CAB]

3:2-5: The attention given to lists of vices in the Pastoral Letters indicates a special emphasis on morality; the lists are broadened beyond the lists Paul offers. See 1 Timothy 1:9-10; 6:4-5; Titus 3:3; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; Galatians 5:18-21; Romans 1:29-31. [ CAB] Assonance and alliteration (in the Greek) rather than logical or biblical order govern the sequence of this list of vices. They are mentioned in almost the same order in Romans 1:30-31. [ NJBC]

3:5: They will appear to be godly but will lack the vital “power”. For Paul on this subject, see 1 Corinthians 2:5; 4:19-20 (“... the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power”); 1 Thessalonians 1:5. [ NOAB] See also Colossians 2:23. [ CAB]

3:5: “holding to the outward form of godliness”: NJBC offers having the outward form of piety and says that Paul uses a similar phrase in Romans 2:20.

3:6-7: It appears that an approach of the false teachers has been to influence women in the community. [ CAB]

3:6: “into households”: The Greek word can also mean house or family. In 2:20, the word obviously means the household of believers or house--church . It may well have the same meaning here and in 1 Timothy 5:13. [ NJBC]

3:6: “silly women”: NJBC offers silly little women and says that the Greek is a contemptuous diminutive. In antiquity, the contention that false teaching appealed to women was common; however, 1 Timothy 5:13 suggests that some women helped to spread unorthodox Christian teaching, which the author opposed.

3:6: “all kinds of desires”: Titus 3:3 speaks of being “slaves to various passions and pleasures” as part of the pre--conversion state. [ NJBC]

3:8: “Jannes and Jambres”: The Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses are not named in Exodus 7:11; they were named later in Jewish tradition. See also Exodus 9:11. [ CAB] The names are found in CD (Damascus Document) 5:18-19. Just as these men (plus Korah and his allies) could not succeed for long against God’s true representative, so likewise the false teachers are doomed to failure: see v. 9. [ NJBC]

3:11: “my persecutions and suffering”: For Paul’s description of his sufferings, see 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. [ NOAB]

3:11: “Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra”: In Acts of Paul and Thecla, Paul’s work focuses on these three cities. [ NJBC] Timothy was from Lystra. For Paul in these cities, see Acts 13:14-52 (Persidian Antioch and Iconium); 14:1-20 (Iconium and Lystra); 16:1-5 (Lystra). [ CAB]

3:11: “the Lord rescued me ...”: Probably a reference to Psalm 34:19. This psalm insists on the vindication of the righteous individual. Like Moses (see 2:19 and v. 8), Paul was also vindicated by God. See also 4:18. [ NJBC]

3:12: In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells his disciples: “you will be hated by all because of my name”. See also John 15:19; Acts 14:22; Galatians 4:29; Philippians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4. [ CAB] [ JBC]

3:12: “to live a godly life”: See also Titus 1:1 (“the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness”) and Titus 2:12 (“to live lives that are ... godly”). [ JBC]

3:13: “impostors”: Like “Jannes and Jambres” (v. 8). The Greek word was also a stock epithet used of philosophical opponents. [ NJBC]

3:13: “deceiving others and being deceived”: See also vv. 5-9 (avoid those “holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power ...”) and 2:26. “Being deceived” can also be translated as led astray or wandering about, so false teachers are in the same state as are non--believers: Titus 3:3 says “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another” . [ NJBC]

3:14: 1:5 speaks of the contributions of Timothy’s mother and grandmother to his knowledge of the faith: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you”. [ NJBC]

3:15: “sacred writings”: The phrase hiera grammata was in current use among Greek--speaking Jews (e.g. Philo and Josephus) to designate biblical books. The Old Testament is only able to offer true instruction if read in the context of the faith of the Christian community. [ NJBC] The Church interpreted (and interprets) these books as pointing to Christ. [ NOAB]

3:16: “All scripture”: pasa graphe can mean the entirety of scripture or each passage in scripture. NOAB sees this as a reference to the Old Testament.

3:16: “inspired by God”: God is ultimately responsible for the existence of these books. [ JBC] CAB says that this phrase translates one Greek adjective which literally means produced by the power of God’s own breath.

3:17: The REB offers: so that the man of God may be capable and equipped for every good work. For man of God, see also 1 Timothy 6:11: “But as for you [Timothy], man of God ...”.

3:17: “equipped for every good work”: As against the false teachers who are “unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:16). NOAB says that the works include those mentioned in v. 16.

4:1: “his appearing”: See also Titus 2:11, 13. [ NJBC]

4:2: “whether the time is favourable or unfavourable”: This is unusual advice, for ancients commonly urged speech only when timely, but the times are in God’s hands (see Titus 1:3; 1 Timothy 2:6; 6:15) and the speaker can therefore leave the timeliness to God. [ NJBC]

4:3-4: In 1 Timothy 4:1-2, the author says “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.” [ CAB]

4:3: The author says in 3:1: “You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come”. [ NOAB]

4:3: “sound doctrine”: Or sound teaching. Titus 1:13 says “That testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply, so that they may become sound in the faith”. See also Titus 2:1. [ NJBC]

4:4: “myths”: In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, the author urges some people “not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith”. In 1 Timothy 4:7, he advises his readers “have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales”. [ NOAB]

4:5: “endure suffering”: In 2:8-9, the author, speaking as Paul, says “my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal”. In 1:8, Timothy is invited to “ join with ... [Paul] in suffering for the gospel”. [ NJBC]

4:5: “an evangelist”: A preacher of the gospel not restricted to a particular area. Acts 21:8 tells us of “Philip the evangelist”. He was one of the first seven deacons: see Acts 6:1-6. Ephesians 4:11 tells us that one of the gifts Christ gives us is to be an evangelist. [ NOAB] Here responsibility for the Christian message is being passed from Paul to the next generation of church leaders. [ NJBC]

4:5: “your ministry”: Previously it was Paul’s ministry: 1 Timothy 1:12 says “I [Paul] am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service”. [ NJBC]

4:6-8: Paul’s death is depicted as being soon, and so he hands on his legacy to Timothy and other future leaders. [ JBC]

4:6: “libation”: In Philippians 2:17, Paul speaks of “... being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith ...”. Numbers 28:7 commands “... in the sanctuary you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to the Lord”, so the author of 2 Timothy bases his words on an ancient idea. Psalm 16:4 also mentions “drink offerings” made to God. [ CAB]

4:7: The example of the athlete is also found in 2:5 and by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Philippians 3:12-14. A military image is also used in 2:4 and 1 Timothy 6:12. [ CAB]

4:8: “crown of righteousness”: 2:5 says “... in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules”. The winner of a foot--race received a victor’s crown at the finishing post. [ NOAB] [ CAB]

Luke 18:1-8

17:20-18:8: The theme of this section is fidelity while waiting for the coming of the Son of Man. [ NJBC]

17:20: “when the kingdom of God was coming”: 19:11 tells us that the crowd at Jericho “supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately”. In Acts 1:6, before his ascension, the disciples ask Jesus “... ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’”. See also 21:7. [ NOAB]

17:20: “with things that can be observed”: BlkLk offers with observation. He says that there is word--play between the two senses of the Greek word:

  • watch for, i.e. cry to catch, and
  • observe, i.e. keep, as regulations are kept.

In 11:53-54, the Pharisees watch in the first sense: “When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say”. In this sense, Jesus says that the Kingdom does not come through meticulous keeping of the tradition, not by hostile watching of Jesus. There is irony here: by watching him, Jesus would show the Pharisees the Kingdom if they had the right perspective, if they were able to discern the signs of the times. In 12:56, Jesus says to the crowds: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”.

17:21: “the kingdom of God is among you”: i.e. in the person of Christ. The reality of God’s “kingdom” is present and available. The Pharisees have in mind a kingdom bringing material benefits. [ NOAB] BlkLk says that is within your grasp or within your power is almost what the Greek means.

17:22-27: Matthew 24 contains similar teachings in a different order and setting. [ NOAB] Luke presents another eschatological discourse in 21:5-36 which emphasizes the events leading up to the coming of the Son of Man. [ NJBC]

17:22: In Matthew 9:15, Jesus foretells: “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast”. Mark 2:20 and Luke 5:35 are similar. [ NOAB]

17:22: “one of the days of the Son of Man”: BlkLk says that these are the days of the revealing of the glory of the Son of Man, beginning with the Transfiguration, and to be ended with the final consummation.

17:22: “Son of Man”: Jews expected a number of people to appear at the time of God’s definitive intervention in world affairs on behalf of Israel: messiahs, figures who would rescue/save the nation. These included Elijah, the prophet like Moses, and perhaps the Son of Man. But one messiah , the Messiah, was a precisely defined concept: the anointed king descended from David who would establish Yahweh’s earthly kingdom.

After the Exile, the expectation of the Messiah appears. The notion is found in some intertestamental literature, particularly in books which are not found in the Apocrypha. But in the first century AD many Jews had given up on the Davidic dynasty; after all, it was 500 years since a Davidic king had ruled. There was no expectation of a Messiah who would be Son of God; rather the Messiah, while having spiritual qualities, was expected to be a national hero, and probably super--human.

17:23-24: In Matthew 24:23-27, Jesus says: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is’ – do not believe it. ... So, if they say to you, 'Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man”. See also Mark 13:21 and Revelation 1:7. [ NOAB]

17:23: “Look there!”: i.e. Look, there is the Son of Man. [ NOAB]

17:24: The coming will be sudden and visible to all. [ NOAB] BlkLk says the comparison is with the brightness of the “lightning” rather than its suddenness. The Son of Man will shine with unmistakable brightness as at the Transfiguration.

17:25: In 9:22, Jesus says “‘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’”. [ NOAB] Jews did not expect the Messiah to suffer.

17:26-27: See also Matthew 24:37-39; Genesis 6:5-8 (the Nephilim); 7:6-24 (Noah). [ NOAB]

17:27: “marrying and being given in marriage”: Perhaps this reference is here because of Genesis 7:7: “And Noah with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood”. [ BlkLk]

17:28-30: See Genesis 18:16-19:28 for the stories. [ NOAB]

17:28: The catastrophe in Lot’s day was by fire. Luke may include Lot to follow the Hellenistic tradition of alternate catastrophes of flood and fire. [ BlkLk]

17:29: “fire and sulphur”: BlkLk offers fire and brimstone. The word translated “sulphur” appears to denote some combustible material, possibly oil. The sentence is composed of words occurring in the Septuagint translation of Genesis 19:24.

17:31: These ideas are also found in Matthew 24:17-18; Mark 13:15-16; Luke 21:21. [ NOAB]

17:31: “must not turn back”: These words may have suggested v. 32 to Luke. [ BlkLk]

17:32: Genesis 19:26 says “But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”. [ NOAB] This verse is not found in Matthew and Mark. [ BlkLk]

17:33: See also Matthew 10:38-39. [ NOAB] BlkLk offers a different translation: Whoever seeks to possess his life shall lose it, and whoever loses it will make it live. REB offers Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life will gain it. In Mark 8:35, Jesus says “‘For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it”. Based on his translation, noting that Luke uses the Marcan form of the saying, BlkLk notes that Luke has made some interesting changes: from save to possess, and from save it to make it live. Here, Jesus warns against making one’s life into a possession, i.e. something to be guarded. While apolesei is translated as “lose”, it actually has a double meaning: it also means destroy.

17:34-35: In Matthew 24:40, Jesus gives a similar example: two men in a field. [ NOAB]

17:35: Matthew 24:41 is identical. [ NOAB]

17:36: This verse is not found in most reliable manuscripts. [ NJBC]

17:37: Jesus’ words are also found in Matthew 24:28. Jesus’ answer is a significant appeal to faith. The questioners wish to know where the Messiah and his people will be located. Instead of answering them directly, Jesus warns: as surely as vultures find the carcass, so surely will divine judgement come; therefore, always be ready! [ NOAB]

17:37: “vultures”: CAB sees those who are struck down as being food for the vultures. NJBC and BlkLk offer eagles. NJBC interprets Jesus’ words as saying that the Son of Man’s coming is as certain as the presence of a corpse where birds of prey are gathered.

18:1-8: The insistent but effective appeals of the widow to the judge are compared with the readiness of God to heed the prayers of his people and set matters right, but the question remains whether there will be sufficient people of faith when the Son of Man returns. [ CAB]

These verses are tied to 17:20-37 by v. 8. For Luke’s first readers, probably persecuted, the lessons are:

  • God will not abandon them, the elect, and
  • they must remain faithful and therefore people of steadfast prayer until Jesus comes. [ NJBC]

18:1: “pray always”: A typical Pauline expression: see 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Romans 1:9; 12:12; Ephesians 6:18. [ JBC]

18:1: The point is carefully stated, perhaps because the details are incongruous (as they are in 16:1-9, the Parable of the Unjust Steward or Dishonest Manager). [ NOAB]

18:1: “not to lose heart”: Also a typical Pauline expression: see 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13. [ JBC]

18:3: “widow”: For a widow as an image of powerlessness, see also 7:11-17 and 20:45-21:4. [ NJBC]

18:7: See also Revelation 6:10 (the opening of the fifth seal); Matthew 24:22 (the events preceding the end of the era, on the Mount of Olives); Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:10. [ NOAB]

18:7: “Will he delay long in helping them?”: BlkLk sees the Greek here as a continuation of the description of the condition of “his chosen ones” and renders it as while he is slow to help them .

18:8: “faith”: Faith is a requisite for persistent prayer: see v. 1. [ NOAB] We should remember that the first Christians expected Jesus’ return imminently. Will his followers remain faithful to him over the long haul? [ NJBC] Blomberg notes that the Greek is literally the faith. He interprets it as the faith shown by the widow in vv. 2-5.

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