jump to navigation

Wrestling with the Word, episode 73: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (May 16, 2010) May 10, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Seventh Sunday of Easter

In the musical Camelot, King Arthur tells Guinevere on the day of their meeting about his teacher Merlin. Arthur says, “He lives backwards… He can remember the future… He can tell you what is in it.” The Bible abounds in visions of the future. Those visions give us hope in difficult times. But they also give us direction in how we live our lives in the present. That guidance is not the result of magic but of revelation. Committing ourselves to follow the guidance begins and ends with confession and praise.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 73: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C.

————————————-

Psalm 97
This psalm extolling the glorious reign of God, like the similar Pss. 47, 93, 95, 96, 98, 99, bases the reign of God on the divine act of creation. Clearly, since God is the creator of the entire universe, God cannot be made like the idols of the peoples. Clear also is the promise of the Creator God to preserve the life of the saints and deliver them from the wicked. That posture of God is appropriate because God rules with “justice and righteousness (as) the foundation of his throne” (v. 2).

————————————-

Acts 16:16-34
Though the messengers of God are constantly opposed by religious, political, and financially-threatening forces, God manages to bring the risk of witnessing to fruition, with the result that others come to rejoice over their belief in God.

Context
The immediate context is the city of Philippi where the apostles are guests in the home of Lydia. The larger context of opposition and imprisonment continues the experience of Jesus, the other apostles, and certainly Stephen.  Paul and his group experienced such opposition in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9), in Beroea (17:10-14), in Corinth where he was imprisoned, and in Ephesus where he escaped the crowd’s wrath.

Key Words
V. 16.  pneuma pythōna = “a spirit, a divination”:  Young women with such gifts of divination were called pythōnes, literally pythons.  They were persons inspired by Apollo, the Pythian god who was symbolized by a snake (the Python) at Delphi.  Like the oracle at Delphi, such persons of divination brought visitors from far and wide, seeking to receive answers to their puzzling questions. Obviously, such oracle-giving could become a profitable business, as indeed it was for this woman’s owners. Interestingly, although Paul was annoyed by her constant presence, she spoke the truth.

V. 30.  kyrioi, ti me dei poiein hina sōthō = “Lords, what must I do to be saved?”:  Recall the question of the Jewish lawyer at Luke 10:25:  ti poiēsas zōēn aiōnion klēronomēsō = “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The response to the question after the resurrection is different from the one Jesus gives in Luke 10.

————————————-

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
To those suffering persecution for their faith, the Risen Christ promises to come soon with the gift of life in the New Day.

Context
In the final vision John the Seer saw a tree of life on each side of the river and a city with nothing accursed in it.  Now in the conclusion to the book, these themes occur in regard to the coming of Christ.

Key Words and OT Allusions
V. 12.  On the Lord coming with recompense see esp. Isa. 40:10; on repaying everyone according to deeds, see Ps. 28:4; Jer. 17:10.

V. 14.  On the righteous entering the city by the gates see Ps. 24:3-6; on the tree of life, see v. 2; Gen 2:9; 3:22, 24; and especially Ezek. 47:12.

V. 16.  On `riza as descendant of David see Isa. 11:10 (Rom. 15:12); Sir. 47:22 (Rev. 5:5); on the star as a royal Davidic image see Num. 24:17

V. 17.  hydōr zōēs dorean = “water of life as a gift”:  Recall Jesus’ words at John 4:14. In OT see Ezek. 47:1, 6b-12; Zech. 13:1; 14:8. On dorean = “as a gift,” “without price” see Isa. 55:1.

V. 20.  “I am coming soon”:  cf. Paul’s closing at 1 Cor. 16:22.

V. 21.  hē charis tou kyriou ‘Iēsou meta pantōn = “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all”:  some ancient manuscripts add hagiōn = “the saints.”  In any case, the concluding blessing is potent in its indication that even now, while the faithful wait the new day to come, the grace of the Lord Jesus is present even in the midst of their persecution (cf. 2 Thess. 3:18).

————————————-

John 17:20-26
Jesus prays that the love of God and of Jesus for the disciples and their love for one another become the means by which the world will believe that God sent Jesus into it.

Context
In his prayer to God on the night of his betrayal, Jesus had just prayed that God not take the disciples out of the world but to protect them from the evil one.  Indeed, Jesus indicated that he has sent them into the world, just as God sent him into the world.

Key Words
V. 21.  ho kosmos = “the world”:  occurs 57 times in John’s Gospel against 9 in Matt. and 3 in Mark and in Luke.  The lack of the world’s knowledge of God is attested at 1:9-10; God’s love for the world at 3:16-17; God’s desire to save the world at 1:29; 4:42, etc.

V. 23.  teteleiōmenoi eis hen = “they might be brought to completion as one” (passive):  The same verb (active) appears only for the completion of the work of Jesus at v. 4; 4:34; 5:36; 19:28.

V. 23.  hina ginōskē ho kosmos hoti = “in order that the world may know that”:  This theme is common in OT that by some miraculous deed others would know that Yahweh is God:  used of the Egyptians at the exodus event at Exod. 7:5; 10:2; 14:18.  The expression appears most frequently in Ezekiel both for Israel’s knowledge of God through judgment, e.g., 12:16, 20; 13:9, 14, 23, and for the nations’ knowledge of God through the salvation of Israel from exile (36:23; 37:28).

Wrestling with the Word, episode 71: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C (May 2, 2010) April 22, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Some people are big picture folks. Others focus on details. When we speak of God as a person (or three persons), how do we imagine God? Big picture? Details? The lessons for today enable us to see that God is both. God is so big that the whole universe owes its origin and its praise to God. God is so detailed that God wipes away tears from the cheeks of those who weep and mourn. Nothing demonstrates the universal and personal nature of God better than the love God gave in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 71: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C.

——————————————

Psalm 148
The psalm is a hymn of praise.  It calls for the whole creation to join in a hymn to glorify the name of God.  It begins with a call to the heavens (vv. 1-6), then moves to earth to summon natural phenomena and animals (vv. 7-10), addresses humanity from royalty to children (vv. 11-12), and focuses finally on the people of Israel for whom the Lord has given strength (a horn) and who “are close to him.”

——————————————

Acts 11:1-18
On the basis of the commission to baptize with the Holy Spirit and persuaded in a dream of the inclusive nature of that commission, Peter explained why he had brought Gentiles to faith by baptizing them.

Context
The pericope actually summarizes events of the previous chapter, culminating in the baptism of Cornelius and his family.  The sermon Peter preached on that occasion (10:34-43) about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ led to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles who heard the word.

——————————————

Revelation 21:1-6
Against the present reality of chaos, death, and mourning, God will make a new creation in which God’s presence with humanity will end all the horrors of the present.

Context
John the Seer had just reported the vision of the demise of Satan and of the judgment before the great white throne.  Now the Seer begins his report of the final vision.

Key Words
V. 1.  “a new heaven and a new earth”:  Note the similarity to the vision reported in Isa. 65:17-22, along with Genesis 1:1.  The new represents the opposite of what is experienced in the present universe.

V. 1.  hē thalassa = “the sea”:  The sea is an image of the chaotic force which is opposed to God’s Reign.  In OT often portrayed as a sea monster (sometimes called Leviathan or Rahab); see Job 9:8; Psalm 74:12-14; Isaiah 27:1; 50:2; 51:9-10; Nahum 1:4; and often.  In NT see Mark 4:35-41 and parallels; also Mark 6:45-52 and parallels.  (For a discussion of the theme throughout the Bible and in ancient Near Eastern stories, see my book Ancient Myths and Biblical Faith [Phila.:  Fortress, 1983] 11-71.)

V. 2.  “the holy city,… Jerusalem”:  An eschatological reference with the same words occurs at Isa. 52:1 where Zion is commanded to put on power and glory; the context there is the coming salvation of the exiles from Babylon.  See also Neh. 11:1, 18.

V. 2. katabainousan ek tou ouranou apo tou theou = “coming down out of heaven from God”: The expression seems to imply the collapse of the three-storeyed universe (recall 5:13; Phil. 2:11) in order to remove the barriers between God and people.

V. 2.  “a bride adorned for her husband”:  See 19:7.  Cf. Isa. 61:10 where an individual represents the community redeemed by the Lord and dressed for the occasion.  On the image of marriage between Yahweh and Israel, see Hos. 1:1-3; 2:15; 3:1ff.; also Ezek. 20; Isa. 54:5-8.  On marriage as an image for Christ and the church, see 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31-32, and here.

V. 3.  hē skēnē  tou theou … kai skēnōsei met’ autōn = “the dwelling/tent of God … and he will dwell with them”:  skēnē appears in the LXX for the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to build in order to be present with the people (Exod. 26–27); for similarity of this whole expression, see Exod. 29:45 (although a different verb used in LXX).  On God’s presence among the people, see also Lev. 26:11-12; Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 37:27.  On God’s dwelling place in heaven, see Deut. 26:15; 1 Kings 8:30, 39, 43, 49.

V. 4.  “wipe away every tear from their eyes”:  See Isa. 25:8, a vision of the Day of the Lord. The same sentence appeared at Revelation 7:17.

V. 4.  “mourning … crying … pain”:  See the prophecies about the eschaton at Isa. 35:10 = 51:11; esp. 65:17, 19 in the new creation.

Vv. 4-5.  “former things … things new”:  For the contrast elsewhere, see Isa. 43:18-19. In Second Isaiah, the “former things” are the acts of divine judgment that will disappear in order for the act of salvation to occur.

V. 6. egō  tō dipsōnti dōsō ek tēs pēgēs tou hydatos tēs zōēs dōrean = To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment”:  See the background in Isaiah 55:1-2 and Jeremiah 2:13. Then see the use  of the same imagery at John 4:13-14; 7:37-38; and then surprisingly 19:28.

——————————————

John 13:31-35
Even though Jesus Christ departed physically from the world, his presence continues through Christians loving one another.

Context
At supper Jesus spoke of a disciple who would betray him (v. 21).  When Satan entered Judas (v. 27), that disciple went out into the night (v. 30).

Key Words
Vv. 31-32.  edoxasthē = “glorified”:  While the word “glory” has many ramifications, it can be, as apparently here, a visible form of God’s power.  Cf. 7:39; 8:54; 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1, 4, 5, 10; 21:19. While the passage does not say directly, the context of Jesus’ teaching seems to focus the glory of God in Jesus’ imminent crucifixion.

V. 33.  eti mikron = “yet a little while”: For the same sense in John’s Gospel, namely, the limited time left for Jesus’ earthly life, see also 7:33; 12:35; 14:19.  In LXX the expression signifies that God’s wrath against Israel will come to an end (Isa. 10:25) and that God’s judgment against Babylon will occur (Jer. 51:33; LXX 28:33).

V. 34.  hina agapate allēlous, kathōs ēgapēsa hymas hina kai hymeis agapate allēlous =”so that you love one another; just as I have loved you so that you also love one another”:  The love of Christ appears in the aorist (ēgapēsa), thus the single act of passion and crucifixion, while the love for one another is the continuing present (cf. also 15:12). At 17:26, Jesus attributes his love for the disciples to be from God and prays that divine love may be in them.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 70: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C (April 25, 2010) April 16, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Fourth Sunday of Easter

We have finished the Lenten season four weeks ago. The suffering of Christ has ended, and since then we are still enjoying the celebration of his resurrection. But for us, suffering continues, as it did for the early disciples of Jesus. We still get ill and suffer accidents. We still know the pain of rejection by friends and family. We still get traumatized over what people do to one another—individually or collectively. We still die, and so do our loved ones. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us all hope even in our tough times. It announces victory over the death that would keep us from one another and from God. It promises a future with hope that contrasts sharply with what we see and experience everyday. The Resurrection faith points to a party—a big party open to many people of different nationalities and races and agendas. It seems that the only ticket necessary is what names we call Jesus.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 70: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C.

————————————

Psalm 23
This psalm of trust is based on the development of the image of YHWH as the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80; Ezekiel 34) to the intimate relationship of YHWH to the individual worshiper.  The imagery speaks of the Lord’s guidance, presence, and protection through the valley of darkness.  (The traditional translation “the valley of the shadow of death” was based on reading Hebrew tsalmût = “darkness” as tsalmāwet = “valley of death”; however, there are no compound nouns in biblical Hebrew.)  The scene switches in verses 5-6 to a festive meal in the temple where the worshiper exults in the ongoing joy at participating in this different kind of intimacy with the Lord.  The worshiper has confidence for the future because of the constancy of God’s care past and present.

————————————

Acts 9:36-43
Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus and endowed with the Holy Spirit, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and restored her to her community, an act that inspired others to the faith.

Context
After reporting the conversion of Saul on the Damascus road earlier in the chapter, the author of Luke-Acts brings that section to a conclusion by announcing that the church in Judea and Galilee and Samaria walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Although in our liturgical calendar, we still wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, this chapter in the Book of Acts occurs nine chapters after that event.  It is important to realize that the church and its apostles have already been endowed with the Spirit as they go about their ministry.

Key Words
V. 36.  Joppa:  Jaffa, the modern name, is a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, only a couple of miles from the modern-day city of Tel Aviv.  The city is known in the OT as the place where Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s command to preach to the city of Nineveh.

V. 38.  Lydda, also known as Lod, is located about 11 miles southeast of Joppa.  It plays an important role in the previous paragraph as the home of Aeneas, a man bedridden for 8 years, whom Peter healed.  The miracle brought many of the residents of Lydda and nearby Sharon to faith.

V. 40. Tabitha, anastēthi = “Tabitha, arise”: When Jesus performed a similar miracle for the daughter of Jairus, he said to the dead girl, “Talitha, cumi” (Aramaic) which means in Greek “Little girl, … arise” (Mark 5:41; however, the Greek word in Mark is egeire). The presentation of live Tabitha to others is similar to that of the little girl in Mark. The story recalls the miracles of the prophets Elijah (1 Kings 17) and Elisha (2 Kings 4).

————————————

Revelation 7:9-17
Gathered around the throne of God and comprised of people from every nation, the community of the faithful singing the “hymn of all creation” learn the blessings to come in the kingdom.

Context
The vision of John the Seer throughout the entire book is written to provide people with hope in the midst of the persecution under Emperor Domitian in the year A.D. 95.  This particular piece is part of the vision that resulted from the Lamb opening the sixth seal.

V. 9. kai enōpion tou arniou = and before the Lamb”: Using a different Greek word (amnos), other NT writers speak of Jesus “as a lamb” (Acts 8:32) or “like a lamb without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19), although the author of John’s Gospel puts the title into the mouth of John the Baptist: “Behold the lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).(This word amnos appears frequently in the LXX for the lamb in the sacrificial system.) As for the word arnios used here, John the Seer uses the word as a designation of Christ 28 times. Elsewhere in the NT, the word appears only of Jesus’ “flock” at John 21:15.

V. 14. en tō aimati tou arniou = “in the blood of the Lamb”: Clearly the sacrificial use of the lamb is clear here, especially as the title appears in v. 10 in regard to “salvation.”

V. 16. A quotation of Isaiah 49:10 where God’s word of salvation is addressed to the exiles in Babylon.

V. 17. hoti to arnion to ana meson tou thronou poimanei autous = “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd”: The change from “lamb” to “shepherd” of the flock is striking, but with the title “shepherd” comes a rich OT image of God and of the Messiah (see Psalm 23:1: Ezek. 34:15, 23; note God’s naming Cyrus, king of Persia, as “my shepherd” at Isa. 44:28). In the ancient world, the title “shepherd” was common for royalty, used by such leaders as Hammurabi, king of Babylon, and Sennacherib, king of Assyria.

V. 17. kai exaleipsei ho theos pan dakryon ek tōn ophthalmōn autōn = “and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”: The quotation of Isaiah 25:8 enhances the image of the eschatological blessings for those who in faith endure tribulations.

————————————

John 10:22-30
More powerful than all others, Jesus and the Father can assure the sheep of the flock that no one can snatch them away and deprive them of eternal life.

Context
Jesus had just finished the saying about himself as the Good Shepherd (see Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34; Psalm 80) and as one who had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again.  These words caused division among the Judeans in the temple, some saying he has a demon and others claiming that no one with a demon could have performed such miracles as healing the blind. The conclusion of the dissenters was: “Why listen to him?”

Key Words
V. 22.  “the feast of the Dedication“:  The feast is Chanukkah, the celebration of the purification of the temple (164 B.C.) after it had been desolated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167 B.C.).

V. 24.  heōs pote tēn psychēn hēmōn aireis = “How long will you take away our breath/life”:  In vv. 11, 15-18 Jesus speaks of giving his psychē for the sheep and having the power to give it and take it again.

V. 24.  “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”:  See the question of the Sanhedrin at Luke 22:67, as well as Jesus response there. Here the question comes from the Judeans who had gathered around him in the temple’s portico of Solomon.

V. 27-28. ta probata ta ema tēs phōnēs mou akouousin, kagō ginōskō auta kai akolouthousin moi, kagō didōmi autois zōēn aiōnion = “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life”: The connection among hearing, being known, following is essential for discipleship and for the reward of eternal life. Voice recognition becomes critical for distinguishing those who hear and those who do not. For the result of life, see John 3:15-16.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 69: Third Sunday of Easter, Year C (April 18, 2010) April 9, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Third Sunday of Easter

The proverbial “they” say that misery loves company. “They” also say that you cannot keep good news to yourself. The Bible is filled with the latter. The good news of what God has done and is doing for us cries out for sharing with others. Our lessons for today take that sharing a giant step further. They announce that the good news of God’s love is not simply yours or mine to communicate to others. The Resurrection faith calls us to witness that the miracle of hope and the promise of life belong to everyone.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 69: Third Sunday of Easter, Year C.

—————————————

Psalm 30
The psalm is one of praise and thanksgiving following a lament which is described in verses 8-10.  The witness to the Lord’s constant favor and joy following only brief periods of judgment and absence is stated simply and profoundly in v. 5. Above all, the psalmist calls on others to join in giving the Lord thanks and praise.

—————————————

Acts 9:1-6 [7-20]
God calls unlikely persons to reach out to the world with the name of Christ and to suffer for the sake of that Name.

Context
Saul had been introduced to the reader at the end of chapter 7, the story of the stoning of Stephen: “And Saul was consenting to his death.”  At 8:3 he is reported to have devastated the church and entered house after house, committing men and women to prison.  Such persecution caused the Christians in Jerusalem to be scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  This scattering paved the way for the preaching of Philip, first in Samaria, then on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza, and finally in Caesarea. That leads us to our story about the Lord’s call of the man named Saul. In the Book of Acts the same story will occur again at 22:4-16 and 26:9-18 where Paul himself tells the story in the first person. In briefer form, Paul will relate the outline of this call at Galatians 1:13016.

Key Words
V. 2.  tēs hodou = “the Way”:  The term defines the Christian movement also at 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22; cf. also 16:17; 18:25f. Jesus identified himself as “the Way” (also the Truth and the Life) at John 14:6.

V. 4.  “a light from heaven … and he heard a voice”:  The sequence is similar to Stephen’s description of Moses’ experience at 7:31.  See also the vision and speech that came to Peter at 10:13. The experience is like that of Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:22 and parallels) and of the disciples at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:35 and parallels). The audience present when the Greeks came to see Jesus also heard a voice from heaven at John 12:28.

VV. 11-12.  “praying … he has seen”:  For relationship of prayer and vision, see also Peter’s experience at 10:9f. and Paul’s at 22:17. In his Gospel, Luke also connects prayer and vision at Luke 1:10f. (Zechariah); 3:21 (Jesus); 9:28-29 (Jesus); 22:43 (Jesus in Gethsemane).

V. 15.  skeuos eklogēs = “instrument of choice”:  The Apostle Paul speaks of his own calling to the nations at Gal. 1:15f. and at Rom. 1:1f. His call is as shocking as God’s naming Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, to be “my servant” (Jer. 24:8) and Cyrus, king of Persia, to be “my shepherd” and “my anointed” (Isa. 44:28; 45:1).

V. 20.  ho huios tou theou = “the Son of God”:  The Sanhedrin’s trial of  Jesus included a question about his claim to be the Son of God (Luke 22:70). Luke dealt with the issue early, for the title was part of the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:35). The title appeared in the OT as a messianic designation (Ps. 2:7; 89:27; 2 Sam. 7:14). That it occurred on the lips of a Gentile at the foot of the cross supports Paul’s mission to the Gentiles (Mark 15:39; see the first lesson from Acts 9).

—————————————

Revelation 5:11-14
The vision of the throne of God, around which the hymn of all creatures is sung, gives people hope in time of suffering and calls people to join in the song of praise here and now.

Context
The visions of John the Seer occurred about A.D. 95 when Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor Domitian.  On the island of Patmos, John received the revelations which portrayed in apocalyptic style the fate of the wicked and the bliss of the righteous.  In some sense, the future side of apocalyptic is underplayed in the book, because the decisive eschatological events, the outpouring of the Lamb’s blood and his resurrection, have already occurred.

Key Words
V. 11. Kai eidon, kai ēkousa phōnēn = “And I looked and I heard a sound”: The connection of seeing and hearing continues the biblical theme discussed above (Acts 9:4).

V. 13.  en tō ouranō kai epi tēs gēs kai hupokatō  tēs gēs kai epi tēs thalassēs kai ta en autois panta = “in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all therein”:  The phrases describing the three-storeyed universe sound quite similar to the hymn quoted by Paul at Phil. 2:5-11, although here are added “and in the sea and all therein.” The point is to announce the universality, even the cosmic, scope of the praise to God. That universality even includes the “sea” and its monsters.

—————————————

John 21:1-19
The Resurrected Christ, present as the host for a meal and enabling the hitherto unsuccessful fishermen to catch a multitude of fish, commissions Peter to feed the flock, even though it will mean a death like his own.

Context
Chapter 20 ends with an apparent conclusion which states the purpose for which the gospel was written.  The pericope seems to form an epilogue which in many ways does not flow smoothly from the previous resurrection appearances reported in chapter 20.

——————

Parallel Story:  Luke 5:1-11

Key Words
V. 1.  ephanerōsen heauton = “he revealed himself”:  The expression “revealed” appears also in v. 14, but it is common in Johannine literature.  Elsewhere in the Gospel for the revealing of Jesus, consider the following:  1:31 (Jesus’ baptism by John was to reveal him to Israel); 2:11 (Jesus’ miracle at Cana revealed his glory).  Elsewhere in the Gospel, Jesus reveals God:   9:3 (the works of God are revealed in the healing of the blind man); 17:6 (Jesus revealed the name of God to the disciples).  In 1 John, “revealed” is the earthly life of Jesus (1:2; 3:5, 8), the Second Coming of Christ (2:28; 3:2), and the love of God in Jesus (4:9).

V. 6.  helkusai = “to haul”:  The word appears elsewhere in John for God’s drawing people to himself or to Jesus (John 6:44; 12:32; see Jer. 31:3 (LXX 38:3).

V. 11.  ouk eschisthē = “not torn”:  The expression adds one more element of the miraculous, even over Luke 5:6:  “the nets were breaking.”

For a comprehensive discussion of the passage, see Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY:  Doubleday, 1970), pp. 1067-1122.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 68: Second Sunday of Easter, Year C (April 11, 2010) April 1, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Second Sunday of Easter

Imagine how difficult it would be to go back in time—to Jesus’ time. On the one hand, such time travel would demand that we give up the internet and our MP3 players, to say nothing of our planes, trains, and automobiles. Then, of course, we would also surrender our comfortable beds, our heated homes, and our modern plumbing. On the other hand, going back to walk with Jesus through all the events since Christmas, as well as the events through Epiphany and Lent, would certainly take away any doubts about who Jesus really was. Such confidence would undoubtedly enable us to be brave about going off into the world as his messengers. Or would it? Did Jesus’ original disciples have any advantage over us simply because they could see him in action? Maybe they have joined us in our time, eliminating the need for us to meet them in theirs.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 68: Second Sunday of Easter, Year C.

————————————

Psalm 150
This psalm of praise brings the Psalter to a fitting conclusion, especially as it calls all living things to praise the Creator with instruments and dance.  While the joyful noise takes place in the temple, it is clear that the temple represents the firmament above which God dwells in splendor.

————————————

Acts 5:27-32
In the face of threatening opposition, God gives the Holy Spirit to enable Christians to proclaim the news about Jesus’ death and resurrection along with gifts of repentance and forgiveness.

Context
In the previous chapters, Peter and the other apostles had performed such signs as healing the lame man at the Beautiful Gate (chapter 3) and had been involved in such wonders as the sudden death of Mr. and Mrs. Ananias (5:1-11).  As a result, people brought the sick from Jerusalem and from towns around Jerusalem to be healed by the apostles.  This response led the high priest and the Sadducees to have them arrested, but thanks to an angel, the prison doors were opened and the apostles returned to the temple to teach.  They were apprehended once more.

Key Words
V. 30.  epi xulou = “on a tree”:  Basically xulon means “wood” or “a thing made from wood” including wooden stocks or a pole.  At Deut. 21:22-23 a person killed on a piece of wood is cursed.  See also Paul’s use of the Deut. passage at Gal. 3:13.

V. 30.  ēgeiren = “raised up”:  The obvious reference is to resurrection but perhaps it is also an allusion to God’s raising up the “judges” of ancient Israel to save the people (Judg. 2:16, 18; 3:9, 15); see note on v. 31.

V. 31.  archēgon kai sōtēra = “Leader and Savior”:  The word archēgos (also at Acts 3:15) can mean “leader, prince” or “originator, founder.”  It describes the judge Jephthah at Judg. 11:6, 11.  The title sōtēr describes God in LXX, but in the NT, Jesus Christ is “savior” at Luke 2:11; Acts 13:23; John 4:42; Phil. 3:20.

V. 32.  kai hēmeis esmen martyres … kai to pneuma to hagion = “we are witnesses … and so is the Holy Spirit”:  The role of the apostles is like that of the Holy Spirit, namely witnessing to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; see John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14.

————————————

Revelation 1:4-8
To those in tribulation God provides through John the Seer the vision of hope that Jesus who died to free us from our sins and make us priests to God is alive and will come again.

Context
The Book of Revelation was composed by John the Seer in the year A.D. 95 during his exile by Domitian to the island of Patmos.  The background for his exile was a part of a general persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor.  Whether this John is the same as the author of the Gospel and/or the author of the epistles is still debated. It must be admitted, however, that the Greek of this work does not compare to that of the other writings of John.  After a brief introduction (vv. 1-3) these verses make up first part of the salutation.

Old Testament Allusions
V. 4.  “who is and who was and who is to come”:  Exod. 3:14 (“I am who I am.”).

V. 4.  “seven spirits”:  Isaiah 11:2-3 (a messianic reference).

V. 5.  “first-born”:  Psalm 89:27 (a Davidic allusion).

V. 5.  “witness”:  Isaiah 55:4 (a Davidic allusion).

V. 6.  “kingdom, priests”:  Exod. 19:6 (cf. 1 Peter 2:9).

V. 7.  “coming with the clouds”:  Dan 7:13 (used of one like “a son of man).

V. 7.  “will see … pierced … wail”:  Zech 12:10-12 (used of Davidic family and the people of Jerusalem).

V. 7.  “all the tribes of the earth”:  Gen. 12:3 (the mission given to Abraham and Sarah).

V. 8.  “the Almighty”:  Amos 3:13 and often (used for Yahweh).

Key Words
V. 5. ho archōn tōn basileōn tēs gēs = “the ruler of the kings of the earth”: The combination of the words “witness” and “ruler/leader” occurs at Isa. 55:4 as a description of the Davidic king. In Isaiah (LXX) the word for “ruler” is archonta (cf. archēgos at Acts 5:31) and the kingdom consists of “the peoples” (that is, a universal rule, as here).

V. 6. kai epoiēsen hēmas basileian, hieris tō theō kai patri autou = “and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”: The words recall the words of 1 Peter 2:5, 9 which apply to the church the title and responsibility of Israel to be “a kingdom of priests” (Exod 19:6).

————————————

John 20:19-31
On the evening of Jesus’ resurrection, the Risen Christ appeared to the disciples, commissioning them and enabling them with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

OR

In the absence of signs Jesus performed during his ministry, God provides the message called the gospel in order to bring people to faith and thus to life.

Context
Mary Magdalene had reported to Simon, and to the disciple beloved of Jesus, that the stone had been taken away.  Upon the return of all three, the resurrected Jesus appeared to Mary alone, instructing her to report to the disciples that he was about to ascend to God.

Key Words
V. 21.  apestalken me … pempō hymas = “has sent … I send”:  The words are obviously reminiscent of Jesus’ prayer at 17:18 where the verbs are apesteilas … apesteila.

V. 22.  enephusēsen = “he breathed”:  The same verb and form appear at Gen. 2:7 for God breathing into Adam the breath of life. At Ezek. 37:9 the form emphusēson (imperative) describes the action of the four winds/spirits which bring the dry bones to life.

V. 23.  aphēte … apheōntai = “you forgive … they are forgiven”:  The use of aorist aphēte implies a specific act of forgiving, that is, letting go. The passive apheōntai is a theological passive, indicating that the subject of the act of forgiving is God.

V. 23.  kratēte kekratēntai = “you retain, they are retained”:  The use of kratēte (pres. subj.) implies the continuation of the retaining. Note again the passive voice As for the contrast between “let go/forgive” and “retain,” see Mark 7:8. Also compare the contrast of “bless” and “curse” in God’s call to Abraham at Gen. 12:3.

V. 29.  makarioi hoi mē idontes kai pisteusantes = “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed”:  For the contrast between “seeing” and “believing” see Hebrews 11:1.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 67: The Resurrection of Our Lord, Year C (April 4, 2010) March 25, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The Resurrection of Our Lord

How do we talk about the Easter story and all that it means in one sermon? The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the foundation on which Christianity stands or falls. In our second lesson,1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul sums up the meaning of the resurrection: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (v. 17).  The fact of the matter is that we in the church celebrate Easter not merely once each year but Sunday after Sunday. Every Sunday is Easter day, and each week we celebrate by probing the vast mysteries of the resurrection for our lives—now and forever. How odd and how human that on this celebration of the first Easter Sunday we read that the initial announcement about the empty tomb prompted disbelief, even among the disciples. On the other hand, how wondrous and divine that God would enable people, even the gentiles, to believe the news.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 67: The Resurrection of Our Lord, Year C.

————————————-

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Form: Individual Song of Thanksgiving
A psalm of praise to God after deliverance from a life-threatening situation.  Typical is a cry for help (see v. 5), a description of the distress (see vv. 10-13); most attention is given to the celebration following deliverance (vv. 14-29).

Use in Judaism
The last of six Hallel psalms (113-118) used as part of the liturgy for autumn feasts and Passover (see Mark 14:26).

Use in New Testament
V. 6.   Hebrews 13:6
V. 18.  2 Cor. 6:9.
VV. 22-23.  Matt. 21:42//Mark 12:and parallels; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Peter 2:7.
V. 24.  Rev 19:7
VV. 25-27.  Matt. 21:9//Mark 11:9-10//Luke 19:38//John 12:13; also Matt. 23:39//Luke 13:35.

Key Words
V. 14.  yešû`â = “salvation”:  The meaning of the root yš‘ is “wide, broad, spacious.”  The entire verse is identical to Exod. 15:2a.

V. 15-16.  yemîn YHWH = “the right hand of the Lord”:  As God’s instrument of deliverance, see Exod. 15:6, 12 (often in psalms).

V. 18.  yassōr yisserannî = “chastened me severely”:  The words describe the act of a parent to a child in Deut 8:5 and in Proverbs and the act of God to Israel or to an individual (Deut. 4:36; Isa. 28:26; Ps. 94:12).

V. 19.  ša‘arê-tsedeq = “gates of righteousness”:  These are the gates of the Jerusalem temple; cf. Ps. 100:4; Jer. 7:2 and often.

V. 23.  niphlā’t = “extraordinary”:  The word appears in the plural exclusively for God’s acts of judgment and salvation, even of the plagues and the exodus from Egypt (cf. Exod. 3:20; Josh. 6:13).

————————————-

Acts 10:34-43
Since God shows no partiality, God sent Peter, one of those who ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection, to announce to Gentiles that God’s acts in Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching, healing right up to his death and resurrection—result in forgiveness of sins for everyone who believes in him.

Context
God had brought together two quite different men for the purpose of spreading the good news about Jesus. Cornelius was a Centurion of the Italian Cohort. Peter was a Galilean fisherman who spent the previous years as a disciple and apostle of Jesus. God spoke to each of them in visions. In addressing Cornelius, the angel of God told the man about Peter who was staying in Jaffa. In a vision to Peter, God taught the apostle that the line between clean and unclean has been erased. That led to Peter’s trip to Caesarea where he preached the sermon to Cornelius and his household. Thus begins the witnessing to the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 10:1—28:28)

Key Words
V. 35 all’ en panti ethnei ho phoboumenos auton kai ergazomenos diaiosynēn dektos autō estin = “but in every nation anyone who fears him (God) and works righteousness is acceptable to him”: The universal nature of Peter’s sermon occurs also at v. 36 “Jesus Christ—he is the Lord of all”; v. 38 “healing all that were oppressed by the devil”; v. 39 “we are witnesses to all”; v. 42 “judge of the living and the dead”; v. 43 “everyone who believes in him.”

V. 38. hoti ho theos hēn met’ autou = “because God was with him”: At John 3:2 Nicodemus declared that Jesus could not perform the signs (at Cana and in the temple) unless “God is with him.” At John 8:29 Jesus himself that God “who sent me is with me.” The author of Luke-Acts uses the expression or something quite similarly of Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:28) and of John (1:66) and then of Joseph (Acts 7:9), of preachers from Cyprus and Cyrene to people in Antioch (Acts 11:21), and of Paul (by the Risen Lord at Acts 18:10).

V. 39. kai ‘ēmeis martyres = “and we are witnesses”: This first reference to witnessing points to verification of Jesus’ acts healing and teaching. Soon follows the report of the apostolic “witness” to the resurrection of Jesus (v. 41) and to God’s call to the apostles to “preach” and to “testify (i.e., witness) that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (v. 42). In a sense, this calling continues the way of God ever since OT times when “the prophets bore witness…” (v. 43).

V. 43. toutō pantes hoi prophētai martyrousin aphesin hamartiōn labein dia tou onomatos autou panta ton pisteuonta eis auton = “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives the forgiveness of sins through his name”: Peter demonstrates that God has been in the forgiveness business for the people of Israel through the preaching of the prophets. In actuality, “forgiveness” is relatively rare in prophetic preaching. Passages like Isa. 33:24; Jer. 31:34; 36:3; Amos 7:2 are powerful simply because they are not common. However, in the Mosaic law, a major part of the sacrificial system is designed for the forgiveness of sins, and in the psalms “forgiveness” appears frequently as a statement of what God has done or is petitioned to do. The major point in this verse, however, is that the forgiveness of God that had been given to the people of Israel now extends to “everyone who believes in him.”

————————————-

Isaiah 65:17-25
God promises a new creation that will change all things into their opposites and thus establish the original intentions of God for creation.

Context
Dating the passage or, for that matter, any of the material surrounding this pericope is difficult indeed.  What is clear is that the return from the exile in Babylon did not establish the Reign of God as Second Isaiah had prophesied, and so the vision for the Reign of God to come was still the major source of hope for the people of God.

Key Words
V. 17.  kî-hinnî bôrē’ šāmayim chadāšîm wā’ārets chadāšâ = “For lo, I am creating new heavens and a new earth”:  The terminology is the same as that of Genesis 1:1, except, of course, for the “new” and the verb tense.

V. 20.  kî hanna‘ar ben-mē‘â yāmût = “for a young lad shall die at the age of a hundred”:  While the message is good news compared to early deaths, this new creation does not promise eternal life nor does it even reach the limit announced by God at Genesis 6:3.

————————————-

1 Corinthians 15:19-28
Having been raised from the dead, Jesus Christ is the first to experience the resurrection promised to all.

Context
Paul had indicated at the beginning of this chapter that the gospel he had delivered to the Corinthians was not his own invention but one which had been given him (see also 11:23-26). That gospel consisted of the vicarious death of Christ, his burial, and his resurrection appearances to Peter first, then to the twelve, then to five hundred people, and finally to Paul himself (vv. 3-11). The witnesses attest to the resurrection, a testimony so strong that Paul cannot comprehend how some of the Corinthian Christians contend there is no resurrection (v. 12).  Paul sets the matter straight: If there is no resurrection, then faith is useless and forgiveness of sins has not been attained (vv. 13-18). Now he deals with the “fact” of Christ’s resurrection as the beginning of the eschatological hope for all who believe.

————————————-

Luke 24:1-12
God calls us to repeat from one to another the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as Jesus himself told of it prior to his death.

Context
Because of the beginning of Sabbath at sunset on Friday, the women could do no more than observe where his body was laid out in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. They prepared the spices and ointments for anointing, and then rested according to Sabbath requirements.

Key Words
V. 4.  astraptousē = “dazzling”:  The verb form of this word appears in the account of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29).  Note also the two men in white robes at the Ascension (Acts 1:10).

V. 7.  dei = “it is necessary”: The word of necessity is common in Luke:  2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 13:16, 33; 17:25; 19:5; 22:37; 24:7, 26, 44. All the passages tell of the necessity of fulfilling the mission of God.

V. 7. huios tou anthrōpou = “Son of Man”:  Elsewhere in Luke the title describes Jesus’ earthly ministry: 5:24; 6:5, 22; 7:34; 9:58; 11:30; 12:8, 10; 19:10; 22:48; suffering and death:  9:22, 44; 18:31; 22:22; the Parousia: 9:26; 12:40; 17:22, 24, 26, 30; 18:8; 21:27, 36; 22:69.

V. 11. kai ephanēsan enōpion autōn hōsei lēros ta hrēmata tauta, kai ēpistoun autais = “But these words appeared to them to be an idle tale, and they disbelieved them”: The word lēros appears only here in the Greek NT, but disbelief is another matter. Disbelief is also the response of Jacob when his sons returned from Egypt with their report that “Joseph is still alive” (Gen. 45:26). When the sons reported his words and showed him the wagons of gifts, then Jacob believed that “Joseph my son is still alive.” As for the disciples of Jesus, they also disbelieved when the Risen Christ appeared to them at 25:41, but there their response is attributed to joy.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 22: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B (May 24, 2009) May 13, 2009

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Seventh Sunday of Easter

The key words for this final Sunday of the Easter season are life, apostleship, and mission. The lessons describe God’s determination to spread the good news of eternal life that can be ours through Jesus’ resurrection. It was not enough to raise only Jesus from the dead. Neither was it sufficient that only Jesus’ immediate followers should follow him to his Father’s house where many rooms await (John 14:1-6). God’s invitation extended to the world, and so Jesus appointed and sent out apostles so that many others might hear God’s invitation. That sending is called mission—God’s mission to reach out to others with the promise of life.

Download or listen toWrestling with the Word, episode 22: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B.

——————————

Psalm 1
The first psalm in the Bible is a wisdom psalm, like 112, 119, 127, 128, and 133. Wisdom teaching, found also throughout the Book of Proverbs, teaches the simple doctrine that the good (the wise) are rewarded with health and wealth, but the wicked (the fools) are destined for destruction. Reactions to this doctrine appear in the Book of Job and in Ecclesiastes. In the Psalter, such reactions appear in Psalms 49 and 73. This psalm promises blessing for those who delight in the torah of the Lord and meditate on the torah day and night. Standing at as the lead psalm, it establishes the context of the entire Psalter as fidelity to the instruction of the Lord. The benefits of this “righteousness” are fruitful and continuing life (v. 3). The wicked will not be acquitted in the court of God’s law (v. 4) and will, therefore, “perish” (v. 6).

——————————

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Although a trusted disciple has betrayed the Lord, God wills that another replace him and that God’s mission continue through twelve apostles.

Context
The author of Luke-Acts has just reported the ascension of Jesus from the mount called Olivet into heaven (1:6-11). Then he tells of the return of the disciples into the city of Jerusalem which lay across the narrow Kidron Valley. In the city, the disciples returned to the upper room where they had previously shared the Last Supper with the Lord (vv. 12-13b). The list of 120 believers includes the remaining eleven apostles, along with “the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (vv. 13b-14).

Key Words
Vv. 16. “The scripture had to be fulfilled”:  Unfortunately, the omission of verses 18-20, eliminates the scriptures to which reference is here made. Both are contained in verse 20. “Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it” is a quotation of the LXX version of Psalm 69:25. Psalm 69 is a lament that provided some of the background for the narrative about the crucifixion of Jesus (“for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”); the psalmist laments the enemies who have put him in such turmoil, and the verse quoted (verse 25) is the curse uttered upon those enemies. Thus Peter cites the psalm to demonstrate that the events surrounding Judas’s death fulfill the Scripture. Likewise, the second quotation “His office let another take” derives from Psalm 109:8, a lament in which the sufferer wishes the worst on his enemy.

V. 22.  martyra tēs anastaseōs autou = “a witness of his resurrection”:  This criterion set forth by Luke would apply not only to the “Twelve minus One” but also to Cleopas and Anonymous (Luke 24:13-35) and, according to John 20:11-18, to Mary Magdalene. Eventually Paul would also qualify on the basis of the Lord’s appearance to him on the Damascus road (Acts 9; 1 Cor. 15::8-9), and indeed the author of Luke-Acts uses the word “apostle” of Paul (Acts 14:4, 14).

V. 25. labein ton topon tēs diakonias tautēs kai apostolēs = “to take the place in this ministry and apostleship”:  The author of Luke-Acts uses this word for “ministry” also at v. 17. At 6:4 the same word appears, along with prayer, as the responsibility of the twelve, of Barnabas and Saul at 12:25 and of Paul at 21:19. In a speech by Paul, the apostle uses the word of himself at 20:24 and often in his own writings (see Rom. 15:8; 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4, etc.). Apart from apostles, Paul calls “ministers” those with governmental authority (Rom. 13:5); he also uses the word for Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) where the word is translated “deaconess.”

V. 26.  kai edōkan klērous autois = “and they cast lots for them”:  The election is not the result of a crap game because the action is preceded by their prayer to the Lord Jesus. It was Jesus who chose the first twelve apostles out of a larger group of disciples (Luke 6:12-16), and so the Risen Jesus selects Matthias as successor to Judas. The insistence on keeping the number at 12 is reminiscent of the numbering of the tribes of Israel.

——————————

1 John 5:9-13
Having made credible the identity of the Son by bearing divine witness to him, God offers to all who believe in him the gift of eternal life.

Context
The verses bring the body of the letter close to an end, verse 13 actually introducing the conclusion and summary. That same verse actually identifies one of the reasons for writing the letter, and the reason here is almost identical to the purpose stated for the writing of the Gospel according to John (John 20:31).

Key Words
V. 10. ho mē pisteuōn tō theō pseustēn pepoiēken auton = “Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar”: Much earlier in the book, the author wrote that claiming we are without sin makes God a liar (1:10). The author uses the word differently in chapter 4. He uses the word “liar” for those who say they love God but hate their neighbor (4:20; see also 2:4).

V. 11. kai autē estin hē martyria = “And this is the testimony”: The testimony that God testified concerning his Son (v. 10) is that through his Son God gave us eternal life. The author wrote earlier that the apostolic testimony is that of eternal life with the Father now revealed to us (1:2) and that Jesus promised us eternal life (2:25). The concluding verse of our pericope announces that this gift of life is the reason the author has written the book. Other purposes of the author’s letter are the following: “that our joy may be complete” (1:4), “that you may not sin” (2:1), to give “an old commandment” (1:7), “because your sins are forgiven for his sake” (2:12), “about those who would deceive you” (2:26), “that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13).

——————————

John 17:6-19
Jesus prays for his disciples that though they do not belong to the world, he sends them into the world just as God sent him to fulfill God’s mission in the world.

Context
Continuing with his Last Discourse with his disciples that he began at 13:31 with the words “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified,” Jesus has explained in a variety of images his own relationship with the Father and the relationship of the disciples with himself. He had spoken to them of the ways he would be with them and of the role of the Counselor to come. At the end of chapter 16, the disciples confessed their belief that Jesus had come from God, but Jesus prophesies that their belief will turn to desertion and that he will be alone with the Father. Jesus concludes that portion of the discourse by announcing that “in the world you have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (16:33). Now in chapter 17 he began a prayer to which the disciples are allowed to listen, a privilege indeed because it is the intimate conversation between Father and Son. In the first five verses, Jesus has announced again that “the hour has come,” and that eternal life is a present reality for those who know God and himself.

Key Words
V. 9.  “I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.” The ambivalence in John’s Gospel about God’s relationship to the world is evident here:  contrast and compare, e.g., John 3:16 with 16:33 and here.

V. 14.  “not of the world”:  The expression is applied both to the disciples and to Jesus.  The identity of Christians and of Christ himself is not tied to the world that Christ has overcome, but to God. For such an alienation of Christians in the world, see also Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1, 17; 2:11.

V. 18.  “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent you into the world”:  The word “sent” reflects the word “mission” and continues that “sending/missioning” of God into the broken world which began with the call of Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3 and continued through Moses for the salvation of Israel (Exod. 3:10) and then through the prophets.

——————————

Looking Ahead
The lessons for next Sunday, the Day of Pentecost:
Psalm 104;24-34, 35b
Acts 2: 1-21 or Ezekiel 37:1-14
Romans 8:22-27 or Acts 2:1-21
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Wrestling with the Word, episode 21: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B (May 17, 2009) April 30, 2009

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Describing the relationship between God and the world in one sentence presents a significant challenge for Christians. On the one hand, God is the Creator of the world. On the other hand, the world does not acknowledge God to be the Creator. On the one hand, God made the world to be good and the people in it to care for one another and for the environment. On the other hand, the history of humanity and a walk in the park demonstrate that “the ground is cursed” (Gen. 3:17), along with the air and the water, because of humanity’s sinfulness. On the one hand, God loves the world. On the other hand, God is determined to “overcome the world.” Our lessons for this Sixth Sunday of Easter show us how God accomplishes that necessary victory.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 21: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B.

—————————————-

Psalm 98
The psalm summons worshipers to join the hymn of all creation because God has wondrous things on the world’s behalf. The motive for that universal event is God’s remembrance of “his steadfast love and faithfulness (chasdō we’emûnātō) to the house of Israel” (v. 3). Like 47, 93, 96-97, and 99, Psalm 98 acclaims the rule of YHWH on the basis of God’s victory (yešû’â in vss. 1, 2, 3) over the enemy. The victory of YHWH results in his reign in which “he will judge the world with righteousness (tsedeq), and the peoples with equity (mêšārîm).”

—————————————-

Acts 10:44-48
In the name of Jesus Christ, Peter ordered the baptizing of the Gentiles on whom the Holy Spirit fell though the preaching of the word — much to the surprise of the Jewish Christians present.

Context
Having described the visions to Cornelius in Caesarea and then to Peter in Joppa, the author brings the two together in Caesarea where each one shares his vision with the other. There follows Peter’s sermon about God’s refusal to show partiality, and so the gospel of Jesus Christ is shared with Jew and Gentile alike.

Key Words
V. 44. epepesen to pneuma to hagion epi pantas tous akouontas ton logon = “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word”: The preaching of the gospel, as Peter had just delivered it in the home of Cornelius, brings people to faith through the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul emphasized this critical role for preaching at Romans 10:13-17.

V. 46. ēkouon gar autōn lalountōn glōssais kai megalynontōn ton theon = “For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolled the Lord”: At Acts 19:17 the same word for “extol” describes the response of the people-both Jews and Greeks-at the miracle of Paul. At Psalm 69:30 the word appears in synonymous parallelism with “praise the name of God with a song” (see Psalm 98). With a human object, the author of Luke-Acts describes the “high honor” with which the people regarded the apostles (Acts 5:13). As for the “speaking in tongues,” the broken language that occurs out of religious ecstasy, Paul’s laying on of hands in Acts 19:6 endowed the people in Ephesus with the Holy Spirit and they “spoke with tongues and prophesied.” The practice apparently loomed large in Corinth, because Paul addressed the practice at length in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

—————————————-

1 John 5:1-6
God calls us to love him by loving one another, thus demonstrating the faith which overcomes the hostile ways of the world.

Context
The last verses of chapter 4 indicate the necessary relationship between loving God and loving one another in visible ways. Indeed, it is God’s command that we love one another if we are truly to love God (4:21).

Key Words
Vv. 1-2.  ho christos, ek tou theou gegennētai, kai pas ho agapōn ton gennēsanta agapa [kai] ton gegennēmenon ex autou … agapōmen ta tekna tou theou = “Christ who was born from God and all who love the bearer (parent) love also the one born from him (the child)  … we love the children of God”:  Note the different words applied to Christ (ek tou theou gegennētai … ton gegennēmenon ex autou) and to Christians (ta tekna tou theou).

V. 4-5.  hoti pan to gegennēmenon ek tou theounika ton kosmon … hē pistis hēmōn … ho pisteuōn hoti ‘Iēsous estin ho huios tou theou = “for whatever is born from God overcomes the world … our faith … the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”: The theme of victory Brings us back to Psalm 98, but the means of victory is no longer “the right hand and the holy arm of God” but faith that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus himself told his disciples, “I have overcome the world,” and so they might have peace even with the tribulation of the world (John 17:33).

V. 6. houtos estin ho elthōn di’ hydatos kai haimatos, ‘Iēsous Christos = “This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ”: The description of Jesus points to his own baptism (John 1:32-33) and to his sacrificial death (John 19:34). The one who was baptized with water is the same as the one who died on the cross.

—————————————-

John 15:9-17
Jesus calls his disciples to love one another as he has loved us by the sacrifice of himself on the cross.
OR
On the basis of his sharing with his disciples all that he heard from his Father, Jesus changes their identity from servants to friends.

Context
After Jesus shared with his disciples a meal prior to the feast of the Passover (13:1-2), he washed their feet as an example of how the disciples are to treat one another (13:5ff.). Having spoken of the coming betrayal (13:21ff.), he promised to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house and the coming of the Counselor (the Holy Spirit; 14:16, 25) in the meantime. Then he related to them the analogy of the Vine and the branches (15:1-8).

Key Words
Vv. 9, 10, 12, 13, 17.  agapaō = “love”:  When the author here speaks of God’s love for Jesus or for Jesus’ love for his disciples, the aorist tense is used:  a single act of love is nothing other than Christ’s death on the cross.  The same verb tense is used at 17:24, 26 (the so-called priestly prayer). The present tense of agapaō is used at John 3:35 and 10:17 to express the ongoing love of God for Jesus. When used of the disciples’ love for one another, the present tense appears as an indication of the continuing nature of the act.

V. 11. hina chara hē emē en hymin hē kai hē chara hymōn plērōthē = “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full”: The author already spoke of “joy” at 14:28 where he virtually defined Jesus’ joy as going to be with the Father. In 16:20-24, the author writes of the joy the disciples will experience when Jesus comes to them again after his resurrection (see 4:36). They did experience that promised joy according to 20:20.

V. 13.  tis tēn psychēn autou thē hyper tōn philōn autou = “someone lays down his life for the sake of his friends”:  Peter offers to lay down his life at 13:37; doing so is evidence that Jesus is the Good Shepherd at 10:11; and such an act is the means by which we know the love of God at 1 John 3:16.

V. 15.  ho doulos ouk oiden … egnōrisa hymin = “the servant/slave does not know … I have made known to you”:  the distinction drawn here between slaves and friends is that of those in the dark and those in the know. Friends (philoi) are those who have heard and heeded the word that Jesus received from the Father and taught to them.

V. 16.  ouck hymeis me exelexasthe all’ egō exelexamēn hymas kai ethēka hymas, hina hymeis hypagēte kai karpon pherēte …= “you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit …”:  Jesus himself is the “chosen one” at Matt. 12:18 (quoting Isa. 42:1); Luke 9:35; 23:35; 1 Peter 2:4, 6 (quoting Isa. 28:16). Jesus had earlier (John 6:70) talked of choosing “the twelve,” even though “one of you is a devil” (Judas). At John 13:18, Jesus uses the verb to speak of Judas and his role in betrayal. While the election of the twelve to be apostles occurs elsewhere (see Acts 1:2; 10:41), the “chosen” comes to include many more (see Rom. 16:18; 1 Cor. 1:26-28, etc.). Being Christ’s disciples is not a matter of our choice but of his choice. That election commissions us to “bear fruit” (see vss. 5, 8), that is, love one another.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 20: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B (May 10, 2009) April 20, 2009

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Fifth Sunday of Easter

People tend to regard their faith in God as a private matter. That spiritual privacy might be true in some religions. It is certainly not true in the spirituality of Christianity. The lessons for this Fifth Sunday of Easter all agree that the love of God propels, even compels, us into a worldwide community where our love for God and our love for one another is completely transparent. God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love of one another are matters for public consumption.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 20: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B.

——————————————–

Psalm 22: 24-30 (21b-31)
The psalm is a lament in which a person who is being persecuted complains of the silence of God in spite of constant cries for help (vss. 1-21a). Beginning with verse 22b, the psalm changes to a thanksgiving, because the one who was afflicted has now been heard by the Lord and delivered.

The thanksgiving includes the following: (1) the report of the Lord’s deliverance to friends, (2) the call to praise the Lord, (3) the fulfillment of vows in the worshipping community, (4) a meal with the community, and (5) the recognition that joining in the praise of the Lord will be all the people of the earth, including not only the present generation but those who have gone before and those yet to be born.

——————————————–

Acts 8:26-40
God brings people on the outside to faith through the mediation of those who already believe.

Context
Following the martyrdom of Stephen (7:54-60) and the great day of persecution against the church in Jerusalem (of which Saul was a chief instigator; see 8:1-3), Philip was among those who were scattered (8:4ff.). He went to a city of Samaria where he preached the gospel and people were baptized, including one named Simon, a magician (8:9-13). When the apostles in Jerusalem heard of the response in Samaria, Peter and John joined Philip, bringing by the laying on of hands the gift of the Holy Spirit (8:14-24). The three apostles then returned to Jerusalem.

Key Words
V. 26. aggelos de kuriou elalēsen pros Philippon= But an angel of the Lord said to Philip”: Note how the apostle is driven by an angel or more often by the Spirit (vv. 29, 39). The evangelizing is not something Philip does on his own.

V. 27. “an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians“: Candace is a title of Ethiopian queens or queen-mothers rather than the name of a particular queen. Her identity is not at all important to the message of this story. The message is that the gospel reaches out to a man that comes from a different country and belongs to a different race.The universality of the gospel’s outreach is emphasized here by the clear message that the man comes from a different country and belongs to a different race. In the Hebrew Bible an Ethiopian is called a Cushite, and so the stories regarding Cushites are to be considered as proclamations of such universality among the Jews; see especially Gen. 10:6-8; Num. 12:1. Note the role of Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian eunuch, at Jeremiah 38:7-13 in saving Jeremiah’s life.

Vss. 32-33. The passage from scripture was Isaiah 53:7-8, the fourth “servant song” in Second Isaiah. Quite naturally, this song of the “suffering servant” rang familiar tones in the ears of the early church. 1 Peter 2:22-25 cites Isa. 53:4, 5-6, 9, 12. According to Luke 22:37, Jesus refers to Isa. 53:12 but not in connection with vicarious suffering. Matthew 8:17 cites Isaiah 53:4 in regard to Jesus’ healing ministry rather than to explain his own suffering.

V. 35. euēggelisato autō ton ’Iēsoun= “he preached to him the good news (about) Jesus”: This 8th chapter asserts emphatically the primary role of the apostles as preaching the good news as the means by which people are brought to faith (see vss. 4, 12, 25, and 40). The content of the apostolic “good news” is both “the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” (See the summary of Paul’s ministry at Acts 28:31). The kingdom of God, of course, is the content of the good news Jesus himself preached (Mark 1:15//Matt. 4:17; Matt. 9:35), but Jesus himself connected the good news and himself (Mark 8:35). Here Philip focuses exclusively on Jesus as the content because of the question raised by the Ethiopian eunuch.

V. 39. pneuma kyriou hērpasen ton Philippon = “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away”: The verb appears at Wisdom of Solomon 4:11 for the righteous one who is snatched away (by God?) “lest evil change his understanding.” The Apostle Paul writes about the man he knows (!) who was “caught up into the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2). According to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the trumpet sounds at the last day, those who are still alive “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” The child of the mysterious woman in Revelation 12:1-6 “was caught up to God and to his throne” (v. 5). Here the Spirit dropped Philip in Azotus, known in the OT as Ashdod, about halfway between Gaza and Joppa.

——————————————–

1 John 4:7-21
Confessing that God sent Jesus Christ into the world and made him the atoning sacrifice for our sins leads us to such a response that we cannot love God without loving one another

Context
Beginning at 3:11, the author works on the necessity of loving one another as essential to Christian life. This love is not only by word but by deed (3:18), and it is fulfillment of the commandment of Christ (3:23). Such loving goes hand in hand with the abiding of the Lord in and among us (3:24).

The pericope does not follow a logical train of thought but rather jumps back and forth to thoughts and expressions used previously.

Key Words
V. 7. Agapētoi, agapōmen allēhous, hoti hē agapē ek tou theou estin= “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God”: The source of the love that the author calls for is not human nature but God who demonstrated that love in the sacrifice of his Son (vss. 10, 19).

V. 10. hilasmon peri tōn hamartiōn hēmōn = “the expiation for our sins”: The author uses the word “expiation” also at 2:2 in a universal sense. At Romans 3:25 Paul uses a different form of the word: hilastērion. The word appears at Lev. 16:13-15 for the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant where the spilled blood accomplishes atonement for the people’s sins.

V. 13. “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit”: Only through the gift of God’s Spirit do we and can we “know” that we live in God’s presence. In chapter 2, the author writes that to know God is to obey God’s commandment to love one another. Earlier in the chapter, the author had written that the Spirit that comes from God is the one results in confessing that Jesus Christ has come n the flesh (4:2).

V. 17. En toutō teteleiōtai hē agapē meth’ hēmōn = In this love is perfected/fulfilled among us”: The perfect/fulfilled love is defined here by its result: “confidence for the day of judgment.” At 2:3-11, perfected love is a matter of keeping God’s word to love one another. In Jesus’ prayer at John 17, he speaks of his “finishing (teleiōsas) the work that you gave me to do” (v. 4). Thus, “perfect” love is that which Jesus did and then passed it to us so that we might love one another as he loved God and us: perfect/fulfilling/finishing the work of God.

V. 21. hina ho agapōn ton theon apaga kai ton adelphon autou = “that whoever loves God loves their sisters and brothers also”: The commandment knits together the so-called Great Commandment and the second one like it (cf. Matt. 22:37-39//Mark 12:29-31//Luke 20:39-40).  What happened to the first commandment when Paul sums up the whole law in one commandment: “You shall love you neighbor as yourself”? (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14)

——————————————–

John 15:1-8
Jesus identifies himself as the true vine and calls his disciples to become fruitful branches in order to prove they belong to him.

Context
The discussion occurs within the context of the supper Jesus was having with his disciples prior to the Feast of the Passover (13:1ff.). Jesus spoke of his betrayal and Judas left the room (13:21-30), and Jesus gave the new commandment “that you love one another, even as I have loved you,…” (13:34) and told them this love will enable people to know whose disciples they are (13:35). Jesus then spoke of his departure and the Counselor (14:1-31).

Key Words
V. 1. egō eimi hē ampelos hē alēthinē= “I am the true vine”: In the OT Israel is called the vine or the vineyard on several occasions. In every case without exception, however, the vine/vineyard called Israel does not produce the desired fruit (Isa. 5:1-7; Ps. 80:8-13; Ezek. 19:10). By contrast, Jesus is the “true” vine and gathers around him a community that will bear fruit. “I AM” (egō eimi) in itself is a divine title in the LXX (Isa. 43:10, 25; 51:12; 52:6; cf. Exod. 3:14) and is used by Jesus in Mark 6:50; John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5-6.

V. 4. meinate en emoi, kagō en hymin = “Abide in me and I in you”: The theme of remaining in God/Jesus and God/Jesus in us occurs more times than there are verses in this pericope (see also the lesson from 1 John 4). In verses 7, when Jesus tells the disciples “my words abide in you,” he is not saying something different; Jesus’ himself is present in his word(s) (John 1:14).

V. 8. en toutō edoxasthē ho patēr mou, hina karpon polyn pherēte kai genēsthe emoi mathētai = “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples”: The fruit to be born is the love of Christ that God calls us to share with one another. At 13:31, Jesus announces after Judas’ departure, that “Now the Son of man is glorified and in him God is glorified.” At 17:4, Jesus prays to the Father, “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.” At Matthew 5:16, Jesus taught that the good works the disciples of Christ perform in public glorify God.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 19: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B (May 3, 2009) April 15, 2009

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Fourth Sunday of Easter

The image, indeed the title, of shepherd holds two of our passages together. Just as the people of Israel praised the Lord as their shepherd in the familiar Psalm 23, so Jesus claims the title for himself in John 10. Most of us have little or no experience of sheep and shepherding. The image might not speak very well to our technological age. We do not like to think of ourselves as sheep that are herded here and there. But in ancient times, the relationship between shepherd and sheep was a critical one, and it served in many ways to describe leadership and security. When people felt harassed and helpless, for example, they were “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36; Mark 6:34). Much larger than that, various nuances of the shepherding in the Bible range from intimacy to royalty.

Besides shepherding in our passages for the day is another motif. It is the name of God and of Jesus. What the name meant in ancient times might not seem any more relevant than the image of shepherd. But the divine name lies at the heart of biblical faith. Name and person are intimately tied together also. A person and his or her name are virtually one and the same. Calling God’s name honors God, recognizes God for whom God is, and the name we call God assures us of divine faithfulness.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 19: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B.

————————————

Psalm 23
This powerful psalm of trust looks to the Lord as shepherd to guide the individual worshiper and as king to protect and nourish him/her in the temple. The confession of the Lord as a shepherd is indeed a divine title at Ezek. 34:15 and a royal one at verse 23 (see also Mic. 5:5). This Shepherd King gets up close and personal. The Lord restores the petitioner’s spirit, leads, and guides the person in ways that reflect the saving action (righteousness) of God within the community. This guiding by the Lord is “for your name’s sake” (see Isa. 43:25; 48:9-11), that is, God’s name assures faithfulness to promises made, especially God’s presence to save the afflicted (Exod. 3:7-15; see also Ps. 25:11; 31:3; 106:8; 109:21; 148:5, 13). Even through the “valley of darkness,” the Lord will walk beside the psalmist, bringing comfort. This God has the reputation of protecting the poor from their foes (enemies, wicked, evildoers, godless, etc.), and this petitioner has experienced that protection personally. The mention of a meal might refer to the thanksgiving meal that follows God’s response to a lament in the face of such enemies (Ps. 22:26; 116:13, 17). Here the meal is even prepared and offered by the Lord in the temple as the enemies watch. God’s “goodness and mercy” (chesed) will not simply be available but indeed pursue the person for a lifetime. The psalmist’s expression of dwelling “in the house of the Lord forever” does not mean entering the priesthood but taking this powerful experience of God’s presence into daily life.

————————————

Acts 4:5-12
The healing in the name of Jesus of the man born lame gave opportunity for the apostles to announce that same name is the means by which all people might be saved.

Context
Following the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate, the captain of the temple, the priests, and the Sadducees arrested Peter and John for preaching resurrection in Jesus. By their testimony, about five thousand people came to believe.

Key Words
V. 6. “the rulers and elders and scribes … with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family”: The prestigious group made up the Sanhedrin, the seventy-one persons who served as the supreme court for the Jews. The head of this assembly was the high-priest, along with ex-high priests and members of the priestly family. Annas was appointed as high priest by Quirinius (see Luke 2:2; 3:2) in A.D. 6/7 but was deposed in A.D. 15. His son-in-law Caiaphas (Luke 3:2;  occupied the office from A.D. 18-36. The two played key roles in the trial of Jesus (Matt. 26:3-4, 57-68; John 18:12-28). Alexander and John are not known apart from their family membership.

V. 7. “By what power or by what name did you do this?”: The reference is to the healing of the man who had been lame from birth. Note the connection between power and name is the question.

V. 8. Tote Petros plētheis pneumatos hagiou = “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit”: in Luke-Acts, the Holy Spirit is a predominant theme, starting with the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35), inspiring others (Elizabeth at 1:41; Simeon at 2:25-27, etc.), descending on Jesus at his baptism (3:21), and eventually on the people gathered on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

V. 9-12. en tini houtos sesōtai … kai ouk estin en allō oudeni hē sōtēria, … en hō dei sōthēnai hēmas = “in what way this one was healed … and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heavens given by which we must be saved”:  The play on words between the healing of the man and the salvation of us all brings the two into one context:  the kingdom of God. Recall the summary of Jesus’ ministry at Matthew 4:23; 9:35. The combination of preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus Christ sums the preaching of Paul (Acts 28:31). The significant change from Jesus’ own ministry to that of the apostles here is that the “name” that heals/saves is Jesus (see Matt. 1:21). He is “ Savior” according to Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Phil. 3:20; 1 John 4:14, just as YHWH was Isaiah 43:3. Jesus’ name and his activity come together.

V. 11. “This is the stone that was rejected by you builders but that has become the head of the corner”: This quotation from Psalm 118:22 is quoted by Jesus at Matthew 21:42 (and parallels) where he promises that the kingdom will be taken away from the people of Israel and given to the nations because they reject him. In its original setting, this Hallel psalm uses these words to speak of the enemies, apparently ‘the nations,” from whom the Lord saved the petitioner. The words also appear at 1 Peter 2:7 to speak of Jesus the rejected one.

————————————

1 John 3:16-24
Because Jesus Christ demonstrated true love by laying down his life for us, God calls us to believe in Jesus’ name and love one another just as actively by helping those in need.

Context
At the beginning of the chapter the author called on his readers to be who they are, God’s children, and that definition distinguished them from the children of “the evil one.” Like Cain who hated his brother and killed him, so are all who hate brothers and sisters. They do not have eternal life abiding in them.

Key Words
V. 16. en toutō egnōskamen tēn agapēn, hoti ekeinos hyper hēmōn tēn psychēn autou ethēken … = “In this we know love, that he laid down his life for us,…”: The act of sacrifice for others demonstrates the truth of “no greater love” at John 15:13. The connection between God’s/Christ’s love and our love for one another is a key theme throughout the Bible (e.g., Exod. 20:1-17; Deut. 24:16-22). The two great commandments in the synoptics, the Lord’s Prayer, the gift of money (2 Cor. 9:13-15).

V. 17.  kai theōrē ton adelphon autou chreian echonta = “and sees his brother (or sister) having need”:  The same expression appears at Acts 2:45; 4:35 in terms of the early Christians sharing all their goods so that they might help “any that had need.” At Eph. 4:28 the expression appears as part of the instruction to a thief to earn a living so that he might give to any who have need.

V. 19.  hoti ek tēs alētheias esmen = “that we are from the truth”:  In v. 12 Cain is identified as “from the evil one,” and v. 10 indicates that all who do not do right are “not from God.” The “from” seems to indicate descendance, and so “from the truth” in our verse seems to indicate that our origin is in God. At John 14:6 Jesus asserts that he is “the truth.”

V. 23. “And this is his commandment”: The commandment is twofold: (1) “Believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ” and (2) “love one another, just as he commanded us.” This twofold command sounds like the great commandment and a second like it (Matt. 22:34-39; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28). In that combination also the love of God is so intimately tied to loving the neighbor that they can hardly be separated. The difference here is that believing in the name of Jesus leads to loving one another.

————————————

John 10:11-18
On the basis of his willingness to die for his flock and because of his intimate knowledge of his flock, Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd of his people.

Context
In the previous chapter, Jesus had an encounter with the Pharisees over several issues surrounding his healing of the man who had been blind since birth (9:1-34). When the Pharisees later heard Jesus telling the man about his coming into the world “that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind,” they asked him if they were blind. Jesus’ response, in effect, was affirmative. Jesus then turns to the image of shepherding, indicating in 10:7 that “I AM the door/gate of the sheep.”

Key Words
V. 11.  egō eimi ho poimēn ho kalos = “I am the good shepherd”: In the OT, YHWH is called Israel’s Shepherd at Gen. 49:24, and at Ezek. 34:15 the Lord announces “ I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.” At Psalm 23, the Lord is the individual petitioner’s Shepherd. At Ps. 78:52-53 YHWH functions as Shepherd while guiding the people of Israel through the wilderness. The “I am” in this context and in the other “I am” passages in the Gospel of John is sometimes compared to “I am” declaration of YHWH at Exod. 3:14 (see Isa. 43:10, 13, 25; 51:12; 52:6). The combination of “I am” with the image of “good shepherd” thus connects Jesus with the YHWH, the one he calls Father. God transfers to Jesus “the name” that God took in the OT.

V. 11.  tēn psychēn autou tithēsin = “lays down his life”:  Peter offers to do lay down his life for Jesus at 13:37; it’s the “greater love” at 15:13 and the means by which we know the love of God and Christ at 1 John 3:16.

V. 14.  ginōskō ta ema kai ginōskousi me ta ema = “I know my own and my own know me”:  This second proof that Jesus is the good shepherd picks up a theme begun at v. 3:  the shepherd calls the sheep by name, and the sheep know his voice. The relationship between Jesus and his flock is like that between YHWH and the people of Israel:  the Semitic understanding of “know” goes beyond intellectual awareness to involve intimacy (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Amos 3:2; Nah. 1:7). At John 18:37, Jesus says to Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

V. 16. kai alla probate exō ha ouk estin ek tēs aulēs tautēs = “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold”:  The author of this gospel makes abundantly clear that God’s love and the coming of Jesus are intended for the world and not simply to the people of Israel. Even Jesus’ announcement that his “hour has come” takes place when the Greeks arrive to see him (12:20-23).

V. 16.  eis poimēn = “one shepherd”:  the expression is used at Eccles. 12:11 as a description of God, but at Ezek. 34:23 and 37:24 it is a designation for the Davidic king. Now, however, the flock extends beyond the people of Israel.