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Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost - November 17, 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.

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: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”. [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]

Isaiah 12

11:10-12:6: While most of Isaiah 1-40 was written in the 700s BC, these verses (and some others) were written centuries later. [NJBC]

11:11: “a second time”: It is possible that the first time was the Exodus, and the second time will be the return from Exile. The countries from which the people will come are Assyria, Egypt, Upper Egypt (“Pathros”), Ethiopia, Elam (north of the Persian Gulf), Babylonia (“Shinar”), “Hamath” (in Syria) and the Aegean seacoast and islands. This list includes most of the Fertile Crescent, plus Upper Egypt and Ethiopia.

12:1-6: NJBC considers that these verses were added to the book later.

12:1-3: A song of deliverance (see also Psalm 116) [NOAB]

12:1,4: “you will say in that day”: NOAB considers these to be liturgical rubrics.

12:1: The language and form reflect the psalms, especially psalms of thanksgiving, rather than prophecy. See Psalms 9:2; 111:1; 138:1. [NJBC]

12:2b: See Exodus 15:2 (Moses’ or Miram’s Song) and Psalm 118:14. [NOAB]

12:4-6: A song of thanksgiving. [NOAB]

12:4: While “you” in v. 1 is singular, “you” here is plural. This may indicate a different source. [NJBC]

12:6: “Shout aloud and sing for joy”: Zephaniah 3:14 begins “Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!” [NOAB]

12:6: “O royal Zion”: NJBC translates the Hebrew as dweller in Zion. He sees this as a reference to the redeemed community.

12:6: “Holy One”: 1:4 refers to Yahweh as “the Holy One of Israel”. [NOAB]

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

It is strange that there are two sets of closing exhortations, each with a closing prayer: vv. 1-5 and vv. 6-16. [NJBC]

Verse 1: “pray for us”: Paul frequently asks his readers to pray for him: see Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25. [CAB]

Verse 1: “that the word ... may spread rapidly”: Psalm 147:15 says “He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly”. [CAB]

Verse 1: “be glorified everywhere”: The reception of the gospel is its glorification.

Verse 2: Paul says in Romans 15:31: “that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea ...”. [NOAB] See also 2:7, 10-11. [JBC]

Verse 3: “the Lord is faithful”: In letters definitely written by Paul, “God is faithful”: see 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (with 1 Thessalonians 4:7) . [CAB]

Verse 3: “he will strengthen you”: The author (perhaps Paul) writes in 2:16-17: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself ... comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word”. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 3:13: “... may he [Christ] so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” . [CAB]

Verse 3: “the evil one”: See also Matthew 6:13 (the Lord’s Prayer). [NOAB] JBC names “the evil one” as Satan. The Hebrew word satan means adversary. In Job 1 and Zechariah 3 (both probably written after the Exile), this figure is simply the prosecuting attorney of humans in the heavenly court. In intertestamental literature he becomes the leader of the demonic forces of evil; it is in this sense that he appears in the New Testament. Jews also called him the devil, Belial, Beliar, and Beelzebub. The devil is the Greek translation of satan. [HBD]

Verse 5: This is a prayer for progress in spreading the good news. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “love of God”: NOAB suggests that the author means love for God.

Verse 6: The admonition in this verse is stronger than that in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 and 5:14: “... we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them”. [CAB]

Verse 6: “believers who are living in idleness”: These disorderly people may well be among those who created the religious confusion mentioned in 2:1-3a: “... that the day of the Lord is already here ...” [NJBC] These believers probably said: if the end of the era is so close, why should we work?

Verse 6: “according to the tradition”: Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:2: “I commend you because you ... maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you”. [CAB]

Verse 7: “imitate”: See also 1 Corinthians 11:1 (“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”); Galatians 4:12; Philippians 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:6. [CAB]

Verses 7-8: “we were not idle ...”: In 1 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul says “You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God”. Acts 18:3 tells us of Paul working with Aquila at tent-making in Corinth. [NOAB]

Verse 9: See also 1 Corinthians 9:4-5. There, Paul does not insist on imitating him in his right to be supported while at Corinth. [CAB] In Luke 10:7, Jesus tells the seventy he sends out to spread the good news that they should depend on their hosts for sustenance, “for the labourer deserves to be paid”. In Galatians 6:6, Paul says that students should share with their teacher materially. [NOAB]

Verse 10: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat”: In Genesis 3:19, after the first sin, God says to proto-human “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground ...” [CAB].

Verse 11: “busybodies”: In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Paul urges the Christians at Thessalonica “to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one”. [NOAB] See also 1 Peter 4:15.

Verse 13: In Galatians 6:9, Paul says: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right ...”. See also Ephesians 4:28. [CAB]

Verse 14: “have nothing to do with them”: In Romans 16:17, Paul says to his readers: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them”.

Verse 15: See also 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (quoted above). [CAB]

Verse 16: “the Lord of peace”: Letters definitely written by Paul speak of the “God of peace” (see Romans 15:33; 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23), as does Hebrews 13:20. [CAB]

Verse 16: “give you peace”: This is part of the blessing that God instructs Moses to have Aaron use with the Israelites: see Numbers 6:26. [NOAB]

Verse 17: “with my own hand”: 1 Corinthians 16:21 and Colossians 4:18 are identical. Galatians 6:11 and Philemon 19 are similar. [CAB] The rest of the letter was probably dictated to a scribe. [JBC]

Verse 17: “This is the mark in every letter of mine”: In fact, only 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Philemon are signed. The author stresses that this letter is from a true teacher and not a false one.

Verse 18: This verse is very similar to the final benediction in 1 Thessalonians 5:28. NJBC says that it is precisely patterned on the one in 1 Thessalonians.

Luke 21:5-19

The parallels to vv. 5-38 are Mark 13:1-37 and Matthew 24:1-36. [NOAB]

Some sayings of Jesus deny that there will be forewarnings: see Mark 8:12 (“no sign will be given to this generation”) and Luke 17:20-21 (“The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed”). That the Son of Man will come unexpectedly is mentioned in Matthew 24:43-44 and Luke 12:39-40; this notion is echoed in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (“like a thief in the night”); 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; 16:15.

The foretelling of the destruction of the Temple (God’s earthly dwelling place) seems to merge teachings about the imminent destruction of Jerusalem with details associated in the Old Testament with the end of human history. [NOAB]

Verse 5: While Mark indicates that this discourse occurs when Jesus and his inner circle of disciples are on the Mount of Olives, Luke places the scene in the Temple itself. [BlkLk]

Verse 5: “beautiful stones”: The second Temple was begun after the return from exile (c. 520 BC), and was modest. Herod the Great began construction of the third Temple in 20 BC; it was finished in 63 AD, and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD at the end of the Jewish revolt. It was still under construction in Jesus’ day. The destruction of the Temple had already been foretold in Micah 3:12 and Jeremiah 26:18. [NOAB] [CAB]

Verse 6: “not one stone will be left upon another”: Jesus has already predicted this, before he entered the Temple: see 19:43-44. [BlkLk] See also Mark 14:58; 15:29; John 2:19-21; Acts 6:14 (Stephen before the council). [NOAB]

Verse 7: See also 17:20, where the Pharisees ask this question. [NOAB]

Verse 7: “They”: BlkLk says that these are the “some” of v. 5. So here Jesus addresses the people.

Verse 7: “what will be the sign”: As Mark presents this discourse, it is not clear whether Jesus answers this question; however in Luke Jesus indicates that the Temple will be destroyed in v. 20, and gives other signs in vv. 25-27. [BlkLk]

Verse 8: In 17:23, Jesus says “‘They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit”. [NOAB]

Verse 8: “‘I am he!’”: In Isaiah 43:10, God says through the prophet: “You are my witnesses, says the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he” and in Isaiah 48:12: “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called: I am He; I am the first, and I am the last”. So “I am he!” is the divine name. In John 4:25-26, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, in response to her statement “‘I know that Messiah is coming’”, “I am he’”. So “I am he” as the divine name is carried forward into the New Testament. “‘I am he’” is also found in John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5. [BlkLk]

Verse 8: “The time”: BlkLk says that “the time” (or season), the eschatological period in God’s plan, is that of the desolation of Jerusalem (v. 20), being the inauguration of the times of other nations (v. 24), and that the next “time” is that of “redemption” (v. 28). These are times (events) of God’s intervention in human affairs.

Verse 9: “insurrections”: BlkLk offers revolutions. An example is the rebellion of the Jews against the Romans which led to the desolation of Jerusalem.

Verse 9: “the end will not follow immediately”: Not even the destruction of the Temple is the final event. In Mark 13:7, Jesus says “‘the end is still to come’”. These events lead towards the end, though the End will be sometime later. [BlkLk]

Verse 10: 2 Chronicles 15:6 says “They were broken in pieces, nation against nation and city against city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.”. This idea is also found in Isaiah 19:2. [NOAB]

Verse 11: For famine, pestilence and strife, see also 2 Samuel 24:13; Isaiah 8:21; Jeremiah 21:9; Ezekiel 5:12.

Verse 12: Mark does not mention these events. In Luke’s day, those who spread the good news were arrested, persecuted, and tried before religious and civil authorities. These too are events on the path to the End. See also Matthew 10:17-22; John 16:2; Acts 22:19; 25:24; 26:22; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:24. [NOAB] [BlkLk]

Verse 13: In Philippians 1:12-13, Paul says “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ”. [NOAB] See also Acts 4:5-22, 25-26 (Peter and John before the Sanhedrin). [BlkLk]

Verse 15: “I will give you words and a wisdom”: 12:11-12 ascribes this inspiration to the Holy Spirit; John 16:13-15 enlarges on the same thought. In Acts 4:8-13, when Peter and John appear before the Sanhedrin, Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, surprises the court with his eloquence. [BlkLk]

Verse 16: In 12:52-53, Jesus says: “From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law”. 2 Esdras 6:24 foretells: “At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow”. [NOAB]

Verse 17: Matthew 10:22 is identical. See also John 15:18-25. [NOAB]

Verse 18: Coming so soon after v. 16, this verse cannot mean that all those betrayed will escape death. It must be interpreted in the light of v. 19. [BlkLk] See also 12:7 (“... even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows”); Matthew 10:30; 1 Samuel 14:45 (applied to Jonathan). In Acts 27:34, Paul uses these words to tell the crew that all will survive the storm. [NOAB]

Verse 19: This is an echo of 8:25. The insistence on endurance/patience, steadfast endurance amid tribulation, resembles the Pauline epistles: see Romans 2:7 (“to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life”); 5:3; 8:25; 15:4ff.

Verse 19: “gain your souls”: See also Mark 13:13 (“... the one who endures to the end will be saved ...”); Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:7. [NOAB] BlkLk offers you will purchase your lives and says that the clue to Jesus’ meaning lies in 9:24 (“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it”) and 17:33 (which he translates as Whoever seeks to possess his life [make his life into a possession] shall lose/destroy it, and whoever loses/destroys it will make it live): the lives which may be purchased are those in the age to come.

Verses 20-22: 19:41-44 tells us: “As he came near and saw the city [Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, "If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God”. See also 23:28-31 and 17:31. [NOAB]

Verse 20: “desolation”: Isaiah 13:9 is quoted below (see on vv. 25-26); see also Isaiah 64:10. This idea occurs often in the Old Testament. “Desolation” occurs in Luke’s source, Mark 13:14 (“desolating sacrilege”). Luke reinterprets Mark. He does so pointing out to his first readers some foretold events that have already occurred; he warns of further events to come. [BlkLk]

Verse 22: “vengeance”: This is God’s vengeance. It is the same vengeance that produces the vindication of God’s faithfulness at the expense of an unfaithful people. It also produces the vindication of the people called in God’s name in the presence of the Gentiles. For an example of the theological pattern involved here, see Deuteronomy 32:20, 35-36, 39.

Verse 22: “a fulfilment of all that is written”: Luke tells us why he feels justified in reinterpreting Mark as he has (see Clipping on v. 20): Old Testament prophets foretold Jerusalem’s destruction (which, if Luke wrote after 70 AD) has now happened. Jesus, the last of the prophets to prophesy the city’s doom, sums up the cause of its fate. [BlkLk]

Verses 23-24: Hosea 13:16 foretells: “Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open”.

Verse 23: 2 Esdras 6:21 says “Children a year old shall speak with their voices, and pregnant women shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and leap about”. See also 2 Esdras 4:40; 6:21.

Verse 24: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles”: The word translated “Gentiles”, ethnoi, literally means nations, non-Jewish ones. This is a quotation from the Septuagint translation of Zechariah 12:3. This idea is repeated in Revelation 11:2. [BlkLk]

Verse 24: “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”: We can only guess at what is meant here. One possibility is: the spiritual opportunity that God had previously given to Jews is now extended to non-Jews. See 20:16 (The Parable of the Vineyard); Mark 13:10 (“... the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations”); Romans 11:25 (“a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”). See also Isaiah 63:18 and Daniel 8:13. [NOAB] BlkLk points out that each nation (ethnos) having its appointed time is found in various apocalyptic writings. For example, 1QS (Qumran Rule of the Community) 4:17-19 says “... God, in the mysteries of his knowledge and in the wisdom of his glory, has determined an end to the existence of deceit and on the occasion of his visitation he will obliterate it for ever. Meanwhile, truth shall rise up forever in the world ...” [Martinez]

Verses 25-26: “signs in the sun, ...”: Joel 2:10 says “The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining”. Isaiah 13:9-13 says “See, the day of the LORDcomes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation, and to destroy its sinners from it. ... the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity ...”. See also Revelation 6:12-13. Signs are predicted in Isaiah 34:4; Zephaniah 1:15; Jeremiah 4:23-26; Amos 8:9; Micah 1:3ff; 2 Esdras 7:39-43 (the first verses with these numbers). [NOAB] BlkLk notes that Luke omits Mark’s “the stars will be falling from heaven”. It seems that Luke’s motive is to emphasize the catastrophe of the fall of Jerusalem rather than that of the global end. Luke omits “Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:27). He puts a positive spin on the events: see v. 28.

Verse 25: “the roaring of the sea and the waves”: Psalm 65:7 says: “You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples”. [BlkLk]

Verse 26: “People will faint from fear”: 2 Baruch 62:2 says “Behold! the days come, and it shall be when the time of the age has ripened, and the harvest of its evil and good seeds has come, that the Mighty One will bring upon the earth and its inhabitants and upon its rulers perturbation of spirit and stupor of heart” [BlkLk]

Verse 26: “the powers of the heavens will be shaken”: Isaiah 13:10 says “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger”. See also Isaiah 34:4, which mentions “fruit withering on a fig tree”, thus leading in to vv. 29-30. [BlkLk]

Verse 27: Daniel 7:13-14 says: “As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven ...”. [NOAB] Per a footnote in the NRSV, Son of Man, rather than “a human being”, occurs in the Aramaic original.

Verse 27: “coming in a cloud”: Mark 13:26 has “coming in clouds”. In using the singular, Luke emphasizes the link between the Transfiguration and Christ’s second coming. (but not the final judgement). [BlkLk]

Verse 28: “your redemption is drawing near”: Not personal salvation only, but an event wrought by God in history. Ephesians 4:30 says “... the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption”. [BlkLk] See also 2:38 (“the redemption of Jerusalem”); 9:26; 12:9; Acts 7:56. [NOAB]

Verses 29-30: The fig tree looks very dead in winter, so when it sprouts leaves, the change is dramatic. It is a symbol of life out of death. To CAB, it is a symbol of the nearness of the Kingdom.

Verse 31: “the kingdom of God is near”: In Mark 13:27, there is an implication that not only the Son of Man but also the end of the era is to be expected after the signs described. But in Luke the coming of the Kingdom is just one step towards the final consummation. [BlkLk]

Verse 32: The delay of Christ’s second coming troubled early Christians, for:

  • Matthew 10:23 says that the Son of Man will come before the Twelve have finished their initial preaching.
  • From Mark 9:1 and 13:30, we gather that at least some of Jesus’ contemporaries should have lived to see Christ’s second coming.
  • John 21:20-23 (part of the appendix to the gospel) awkwardly tries to account for the fact that, contrary to expectation, the “beloved disciple” did die before Christ’s coming.

As time progressed, many Christians died and people doubted whether the resurrection of the dead would really happen: see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Paul explained that Christ was the “first fruits” of the resurrection and at his second coming the dead would be made alive: see 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

2 Peter proposes several reasons for the apparent delay (see 3:3-9), but insists that the Day of the Lord may still come at any time (see 3:10 and Ezekiel 12:21-28). The writer of Revelation likewise believed and promised that Jesus would come “soon”: see, for example, 1:1, 3; 22:6-7, 10, 20.

No New Testament passage refers to Jesus’ second coming as such. In John 14:3, Jesus says he will come again, and the writer of Hebrews (see 9:28) says that Christ will appear a second time. Usually, however, the reference is simply to the coming of the Son of Man or Christ as Lord which, like the coming of the Kingdom of God, the Day of Judgement, and the resurrection of the dead, was expected in the not too far distant future, at the end of the present era. [HBD]

BlkLk notes that Luke picks up Mark 13:30-31 almost word-for-word. In that Luke reinterprets, thus extending the end times, so “generation” cannot mean for him one generation of history, as it does for Mark. He has forced it to mean humankind.

Verse 32: “all things”: i.e. the whole process of salvation history, the whole of God’s plan, not just the events described here. [JBC]

Verse 33: See also 16:17. Jesus, about to meet a violent death in Jerusalem, utters words of eternal significance.

Verses 34-36: For parallels to these exhortations, see 8:11-15; 11:5-8; 12:22-31, 45; 18:1-8. The terminology is so akin to Paul’s that perhaps Luke is using a fragment from some lost epistle written by Paul or by one of his disciples: for v. 34, see 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; for v. 34a, see 1 Thessalonians 5:7; for v. 36, see 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10, 18. Even the rare Greek word agrypneo (“be on guard”, “keep awake”) appears here and in 1 Thessalonians. [JBC] I note that while Mark’s ending is different, he does use agrypneo in 13:33.

Verse 34: See also 12:27, 45; Mark 4:19. [NOAB]

Verse 36: See also Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 13:33; 2 Corinthians 5:10. [NOAB]

© 1996-2003 Chris Haslam



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