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Wrestling with the Word, episode 97: Reformation Sunday, Year C (October 31, 2010) October 27, 2010

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Reformation Sunday

We celebrate the day because on this date, the Eve of All Saint’s Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. But what stands out for us, and what makes this day worth celebrating, is not the hammer and the nail in Luther’s hands that day, but his rediscovery of the meaning of the nails that pinned Jesus to the cross somewhere about A.D. 30.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 97: Reformation Sunday, Year C.

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Psalm 46
The hymn about God’s defense of Jerusalem in the midst of chaos calls for a confident faith in the Lord. As Psalm 91 (last week) was a powerful expression of trust from an individual, this psalm demonstrates the same within the community. The imagery of a river in Jerusalem is quite unreal (like the sea battle in Psalm 48), but the divine protection of Jerusalem from attack assures the people and magnifies the Lord’s glory.

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Jeremiah 31:31-34
In spite of all appearances to the contrary, God promises that in the New Day to come, God will reconcile the people to himself, even giving them new hearts so that they will not again rebel.

Context
The prophet Jeremiah was called to “pluck up and break down” but also to “build and to plant” (1:10). While much of the prophecies speak of God’s judgment, there are many from the same prophet which promise God’s restoration and forgiveness. Jer. 30:1–31:22 contain poems about the restoration to come, while 31:23 through chap 33 deal with the same theme in prose.

Key Words
V. 31.  hinnē yāmîm bā’îm = “behold, (the) days are coming”:  One of the characteristic expressions to introduce a prophecy about the coming Day of the lord when the Reign of God would be established over all.

V. 31.  wekārattî … berît chadāšâ = “and I will cut … a new covenant”:  The former covenant was the one made by God through Moses at Mount Sinai.  Interestingly, the “cutting of the covenant” actually occurred with the slaughtering of an animal, the sprinkling of blood on an altar and on the people, as the people themselves committed themselves to do what the Lord had spoken (Exod. 24:3-8). That commitment was not long lasting.

V. 32.  hēpērû ’et-berîtî = “they broke my covenant”:  See most directly 11:10; 33:20; cf. also 14:21. We can understand the power and passion of the words from the perspective that the covenant was a marriage and a parent-child relationship, spelled out most clearly by Jeremiah and Hosea.

V. 32.  we’ānōkî bā‘altî bām = “and I was husband/owner/ba`al over them”:  The word ba`al can carry all the above meanings, presumably on the basis that ba`al was the one who fertilizes (the land, thus its owner; a wife, thus her husband). The same words appear at 3:14 (translated “master”) because of the reference to Israel as “children”). YHWH is portrayed in Jer. as husband on other occasions; cf. 2:2; 3:20.

V. 33.  nātattî ’et-tôrātî beqirbām we‘al-libbām ’ektabennâ = “I will put my instruction/law within them, and upon their heart I will write it”:  See. 32:38-41 where the human heart is also God’s tablet and an “everlasting covenant” is mentioned, that is, one which cannot be broken. There also appears the promise of God “with all my heart and soul.” Ezekiel also uses the theme of a new heart so that God’s commandments might be kept (see Ezek. 36:26-27). That same prophet also writes of God’s promise of an “everlasting covenant” which will be “a covenant of peace” (Ezek. 37:26).

V. 34.  kî-kûllām yēde‘û ’ôtî = “for all of them shall know me”:  The Hebrew for “know” here is not intellectual but relational, as at Gen. 4:1; 19:8; Amos 3:2. “Knowledge of God” and “steadfast love” are God’s desires (Hos. 6:6).

V. 34.  ’eslach la‘avônām = “I will forgive their iniquity”:  Forgiveness is a common theme in Jeremiah; see 5:1, 7; 33:8; 36:3; 50:20. Recall also Isa. 53:11.

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Romans 3:19-28
In the new time begun with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God freely declares and makes us and all people innocent and free through faith.

Context
Beginning at 1:18 Paul set forth the sinfulness of humanity, both Gentiles who live apart from the law and Jews who have the law. All are included because “God shows no partiality” (2:11). Based on the universal experience, it would appear that humankind is in a hopeless state, especially based on 2:5-6.

Key Words
V. 21.  nuni de = “but now”:  the word “now” occurs in an eschatological sense throughout this epistle:  5:9, 10, 11; 6:19, 21, 22; 7:6; 8:1, 22; 11:30, 31; 13:11; 16:26.  Paul’s understanding of time is divided into two periods: the time before Christ came, and the time since Christ.  See also 2 Cor. 5:16–6:2; Gal. 3:23-26.

Vv. 21, 22.  dikaiosynē  theou = “the righteousness of God”:  Also see 25b.  At 1:17 “the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith” in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  “God’s word of righteousness” is what brings the world from chaos to order (Isa. 45:18-19), responds to cries for help under injustice (Psalm 7:17), saves the exiles from their bondage (Isa. 46:13), and much more. In the OT “righteousness” (tsedeq or tsedāqâ) is the activity that fulfills the obligations of a relationship, and so the Hebrew tsedāqâ is sometimes translated “saving acts” (1 Sam. 12:7) or “victory.”

V. 23.  pantes gar hēmarton kai hysterountai tēs doxēs tou theou = “all have sinned and keep falling short (pres. ptc.) of the glory of God”:  The expression “glory of God” appears also at 5:2 and 15:17; humanity, all of it, has from the very beginning failed to attain the glory of God (see 11:32). The consequences for the “day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5-6) are obvious (see Psalm 62:12).

V. 24.  dikaioumenoi dōrean tē autou chariti = “they are justified/made righteous as a gift by his grace”:  That “justified” is a key to the Epistle to the Romans see its use also at 2:13; 3:4, 20; 4:2; 5:1, 9; 8:30; 10:4, 10. As a law court term it means to be declared innocent and thus made innocent and free, and in the OT the suffering of the Servant of the Lord “makes many to be righteous” (Isa. 53:11). The God of justice who declares the righteous innocent and the wicked guilty (1 Kings 8:32; Exod 23:7; Psalm 82:3; Isa. 5:23; cf. Prov. 17:15) “now” acts out of character.

V. 24. dia tēs apolytrōseōs en Christō ‘Iēsou = “through the redemption in Christ Jesus”: The term appears in documents concerning the release of slaves to belong to another (even to a god). In the NT the term appears frequently: as Jesus’ promise for his return (Luke 21:28; for the coming “glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18-23); as the content of the “new covenant” begun with the death of Jesus (Heb. 9:15); as a parallel expression for “the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:7; also Col. 1:14); as the promised gift through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

V. 25. hilasterion = “expiation” (RSV) or “a sacrifice of atonement”: The term derives from Lev. 16:2, 13-15 where it is used for the “mercy seat” on the ark of the covenant on which sacrificial blood was spilled for making atonement for the holy place.

V. 27.  pou oun hē kauchēsis = “Where then is boasting?”:  For proper and improper boasting see the references at 2:17, 23; 4:2; 11:18. Faith is the opposite of faith that accepts God’s unconditional and unmerited grace. Recall Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

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John 8:31-36
Against all the forces of sin and evil that would constrain us, Jesus Christ, the Truth, came to set us free.

Context
According to 7:2 Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. There he was challenged by some and lauded by others. Some believed, while others, especially the chief priests and the Pharisees, tried to arrest him. In chapter 8 Jesus speaks of himself as “the light of the world” (8:12) and as the “I AM” (8:24).

Key Words
V. 31. elegen oun ho ’Iēsous pros tous pepisteukotas autō ‘Ioudaious = “Then Jesus said to those who had come to believe in him”:  The perfect tense of pisteuō appears here as it does elsewhere in John’s Gospel at 3:18; 6:69; 11:27; and 16:27. Only in this verse is the Greek verb translated “had believed,” giving the impression they once did believe but believe no longer. At 3:18 the verb is “have (not) believed.” At 6:69; 11:27; and 16:27 the word indicates present faith and is translated not with “had” believed but with “believe” or “have believed.” Therefore, Peter said to Jesus, “we have believed and have come to know … (6:69). Martha said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,…” (11:27). Jesus said to the disciples, “because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father … (16:27). In all those passages, the verb is in the perfect tense.

The verb tense at 8:31, therefore, does not imply that the listeners once did believe but believe no longer or that they once believed but now doubt their belief. The real problem lies not in the tense of the verb but in the context. The statement about “the Jews who believed in him” is a logical follow up to verse 30: “As he spoke thus, many believed (aorist) in him.” The problem is that immediately following verses 31-32, the responders seem to be not those who have come to believe in him but those who did not come to believe in the first place and in fact who were prepared to kill him. It is that group’s reaction and action that culminates in their attempt to stone him in verse 59.

V. 32.  kai gnōsesthe tēn alētheian kai hē alētheia eleutherōsei hymas = “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”:  One must allow the possibility that “knowing” here has the same intimate sense as in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Further, in John’s Gospel “the truth” and Jesus seem to be identified as one and the same (1:14; 14:6; 18:37-38; cf. v. 36.

V. 36.  ean oun ho huios eleutherōsē, ontōs eleutheroi esesthe = “if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed”:  When one considers Galatians 5:1, one wonders whether Paul might not have had an effect on the author of this Gospel, since “freedom” is not a major theme in the synoptics.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 44: Reformation Sunday, Year B (October 25, 2009) October 11, 2009

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Reformation Sunday

Boasting is not included in the list of appropriate behaviors, especially in church. In fact, all the lessons assigned for Reformation Sunday eliminate “boasting” from the Christian vocabulary, simply because God is accomplishing all the work. The biblical passages that make that point are innumerable, but the readings for today deliver a particularly powerful punch. The gospel of Jesus Christ is free! It sets us free! We are free to boast only about God!

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 44: Reformation Sunday, Year B.

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Psalm 46
The hymn about God’s defense of Jerusalem in the midst of chaos calls for a confident faith in the Lord. As Psalm 91 (last week) was a powerful expression of trust from an individual, this psalm demonstrates the same within the community. The imagery of a river in Jerusalem is quite unreal (like the sea battle in Psalm 48), but the divine protection of Jerusalem from attack assures the people and magnifies the Lord’s glory.

————————————–

Jeremiah 31:31-34
In spite of all appearances to the contrary, God promises that in the New Day to come, God will reconcile the people to himself, even giving them new hearts so that they will not again rebel.

Context
The prophet Jeremiah was called to “pluck up and break down” but also to “build and to plant” (1:10). While much of the prophecies speak of God’s judgment, there are many from the same prophet which promise God’s restoration and forgiveness. Jer. 30:1–31:22 contain poems about the restoration to come, while 31:23 through chap 33 deal with the same theme in prose.

Key Words
V. 31.  hinnē yāmîm bā’îm = “behold, (the) days are coming”:  One of the characteristic expressions to introduce a prophecy about the coming Day of the lord when the Reign of God would be established over all.

V. 31.  wekārattî … berît chadāšâ = “and I will cut … a new covenant”:  The former covenant was the one made by God through Moses at Mount Sinai.  Interestingly, the “cutting of the covenant” actually occurred with the slaughtering of an animal, the sprinkling of blood on an altar and on the people, as the people themselves committed themselves to do what the Lord had spoken (Exod. 24:3-8). That commitment was not long lasting.

V. 32.  hēpērû ’et-berîtî = “they broke my covenant”:  See most directly 11:10; 33:20; cf. also 14:21. We can understand the power and passion of the words from the perspective that the covenant was a marriage and a parent-child relationship, spelled out most clearly by Jeremiah and Hosea.

V. 32.  we’ānōkî bā‘altî bām = “and I was husband/owner/ba`al over them”:  The word ba`al can carry all the above meanings, presumably on the basis that ba`al was the one who fertilizes (the land, thus its owner; a wife, thus her husband). The same words appear at 3:14 (translated “master”) because of the reference to Israel as “children”). YHWH is portrayed in Jer. as husband on other occasions; cf. 2:2; 3:20.

V. 33.  nātattî ’et-tôrātî beqirbām we‘al-libbām ’ektabennâ = “I will put my instruction/law within them, and upon their heart I will write it”:  See. 32:38-41 where the human heart is also God’s tablet and an “everlasting covenant” is mentioned, that is, one which cannot be broken. There also appears the promise of God “with all my heart and soul.” Ezekiel also uses the theme of a new heart so that God’s commandments might be kept (see Ezek. 36:26-27). That same prophet also writes of God’s promise of an “everlasting covenant” which will be “a covenant of peace” (Ezek. 37:26).

V. 34.  kî-kûllām yēde‘û ’ôtî = “for all of them shall know me”:  The Hebrew for “know” here is not intellectual but relational, as at Gen. 4:1; 19:8; Amos 3:2. “Knowledge of God” and “steadfast love” are God’s desires (Hos. 6:6).

V. 34.  ’eslach la‘avônām = “I will forgive their iniquity”:  Forgiveness is a common theme in Jeremiah; see 5:1, 7; 33:8; 36:3; 50:20. Recall also Isa. 53:11.

————————————–

Romans 3:19-28
In the new time begun with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God freely declares and makes us and all people innocent and free through faith.

Context
Beginning at 1:18 Paul set forth the sinfulness of humanity, both Gentiles who live apart from the law and Jews who have the law. All are included because “God shows no partiality” (2:11). Based on the universal experience, it would appear that humankind is in a hopeless state, especially based on 2:5-6.

Key Words
V. 21.  nuni de = “but now”:  the word “now” occurs in an eschatological sense throughout this epistle:  5:9, 10, 11; 6:19, 21, 22; 7:6; 8:1, 22; 11:30, 31; 13:11; 16:26.  Paul’s understanding of time is divided into two periods: the time before Christ came, and the time since Christ.  See also 2 Cor. 5:16–6:2; Gal. 3:23-26.

Vv. 21, 22.  dikaiosynē  theou = “the righteousness of God”:  Also see 25b.  At 1:17 “the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith” in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  “God’s word of righteousness” is what brings the world from chaos to order (Isa. 45:18-19), responds to cries for help under injustice (Psalm 7:17), saves the exiles from their bondage (Isa. 46:13), and much more. In the OT “righteousness” (tsedeq or tsedāqâ) is the activity that fulfills the obligations of a relationship, and so the Hebrew tsedāqâ is sometimes translated “saving acts” (1 Sam. 12:7) or “victory.”

V. 23.  pantes gar hēmarton kai hysterountai tēs doxēs tou theou = “all have sinned and keep falling short (pres. ptc.) of the glory of God”:  The expression “glory of God” appears also at 5:2 and 15:17; humanity, all of it, has from the very beginning failed to attain the glory of God (see 11:32). The consequences for the “day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5-6) are obvious (see Psalm 62:12).

V. 24.  dikaioumenoi dōrean tē autou chariti = “they are justified/made righteous as a gift by his grace”:  That “justified” is a key to the Epistle to the Romans see its use also at 2:13; 3:4, 20; 4:2; 5:1, 9; 8:30; 10:4, 10. As a law court term it means to be declared innocent and thus made innocent and free, and in the OT the suffering of the Servant of the Lord “makes many to be righteous” (Isa. 53:11). The God of justice who declares the righteous innocent and the wicked guilty (1 Kings 8:32; Exod 23:7; Psalm 82:3; Isa. 5:23; cf. Prov. 17:15) “now” acts out of character.

V. 24. dia tēs apolytrōseōs en Christō ‘Iēsou = “through the redemption in Christ Jesus”: The term appears in documents concerning the release of slaves to belong to another (even to a god). In the NT the term appears frequently: as Jesus’ promise for his return (Luke 21:28; for the coming “glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18-23); as the content of the “new covenant” begun with the death of Jesus (Heb. 9:15); as a parallel expression for “the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph. 1:7; also Col. 1:14); as the promised gift through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

V. 25. hilasterion = “expiation” (RSV) or “a sacrifice of atonement”: The term derives from Lev. 16:2, 13-15 where it is used for the “mercy seat” on the ark of the covenant on which sacrificial blood was spilled for making atonement for the holy place.

V. 27.  pou oun hē kauchēsis = “Where then is boasting?”:  For proper and improper boasting see the references at 2:17, 23; 4:2; 11:18. Faith is the opposite of faith that accepts God’s unconditional and unmerited grace. Recall Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

————————————–

John 8:31-36
Against all the forces of sin and evil that would constrain us, Jesus Christ, the Truth, came to set us free.

Context
According to 7:2 Jesus had gone up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. There he was challenged by some and lauded by others. Some believed, while others, especially the chief priests and the Pharisees, tried to arrest him. In chapter 8 Jesus speaks of himself as “the light of the world” (8:12) and as the “I AM” (8:24).

Key Words
V. 31. elegen oun ho ’Iēsous pros tous pepisteukotas autō ‘Ioudaious = “Then Jesus said to those who had come to believe in him”:  The perfect tense of pisteuō appears here as it does elsewhere in John’s Gospel at 3:18; 6:69; 11:27; and 16:27. Only in this verse is the Greek verb translated “had believed,” giving the impression they once did believe but believe no longer. At 3:18 the verb is “have (not) believed.” At 6:69; 11:27; and 16:27 the word indicates present faith and is translated not with “had” believed but with “believe” or “have believed.” Therefore, Peter said to Jesus, “we have believed and have come to know … (6:69). Martha said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,…” (11:27). Jesus said to the disciples, “because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father … (16:27). In all those passages, the verb is in the perfect tense.

The verb tense at 8:31, therefore, does not imply that the listeners once did believe but believe no longer or that they once believed but now doubt their belief. The real problem lies not in the tense of the verb but in the context. The statement about “the Jews who believed in him” is a logical follow up to verse 30: “As he spoke thus, many believed (aorist) in him.” The problem is that immediately following verses 31-32, the responders seem to be not those who have come to believe in him but those who did not come to believe in the first place and in fact who were prepared to kill him. It is that group’s reaction and action that culminates in their attempt to stone him in verse 59.

V. 32.  kai gnōsesthe tēn alētheian kai hē alētheia eleutherōsei hymas = “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”:  One must allow the possibility that “knowing” here has the same intimate sense as in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Further, in John’s Gospel “the truth” and Jesus seem to be identified as one and the same (1:14; 14:6; 18:37-38; cf. v. 36.

V. 36.  ean oun ho huios eleutherōsē, ontōs eleutheroi esesthe = “if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed”:  When one considers Galatians 5:1, one wonders whether Paul might not have had an effect on the author of this Gospel, since “freedom” is not a major theme in the synoptics.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 14: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B (March 29, 2009) March 10, 2009

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

The lessons for this day leave no ambiguity about the depth of human sinfulness and the extent to which God goes to make us new. Rather than separating us into groups of good or evil, or bad and not-quite-that-bad, the Bible forces us to deal with our complicity in the rebellion of all humanity against God. Likewise, the forgiveness of God extends not simply to certain people but to all people so that all our lives and our life together might honor and glorify God.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 14: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B.

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Psalm 51:1-12
This penitential psalm is striking because it focuses not on material sufferings but on spiritual ones. The plea for forgiveness in verses 1-2 sets the tone for the entire psalm and is offered only because of trust in God’s “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy.” The acknowledgement of guilt and confession in verses 3-6 moves beyond the understanding of sin as an ethical code. The depth of sin is nothing less than the dishonoring of God by all of humankind (see Isa. 6:5; Rom. 1—2; 11:32). The petition for forgiveness comes to focus in verses 7-12. Such forgiveness results in the newness of life that can come only from God (see Jer. 31:31-34).

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Jeremiah 31:31-34
In contrast with the past and present brokenness between God and the people, God promises in the expected “Day of the Lord” a new covenant that will bring all the people into an intimate relationship with God.

Context
The call of Jeremiah at 1:4-10 indicates that the young man is given that word of God that “plucks up and breaks down,” but also that “builds and plants.” Much of the first part of the book contains sermons that  indeed “pluck up and break down.” The judgment came in 597 BCE when the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar plundered the temple treasures and took as captives many of the leading citizens of Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s preaching continued back home for those who were left behind, and to the exiles he sent a letter, encouraging the exiles to make Babylon their home until a distant date when God would bring them back (29:4-28). Beginning at chapter 30 the prophet begins his “building and planting,” for the word of God is bringing comfort to the afflicted (see 31:28).

Key Words
V. 31. hinnê yāmîm bā’îm = “Lo (the) days are coming”: Used as an equivalent to “the Day of the Lord” or “on that day,” “in those days,” “in the latter days.” This expression is particularly common in Jeremiah, sometimes as the time of judgment (7:32; 9:25; 48:12; 51:47, 52) but most often for the salvation of Israel and Judah (16:14; 23:5; 31:27; 31:31, 38; 33:14). The phrase is used also in Amos as a time of judgment (4:2; 8:11) and of peace (9:13). See also Luke 17:22; 23:29.

V. 31. berît chadāšâ = “a new covenant”: Only here in OT but used at 2 Cor. 3:6 and Hebrews 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24.

V. 32. weānōkî bā‘altî = “and I was their husband”: For the relationship of YHWH to Israel as a husband, see also Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:20; Hos. 2:16.

V. 33. wehāyîtî lāhem lēlôhîm wehēmmâ yihyû-lî le‘ām = and I will be God for them, and they shall be to me a people”: The same expression appears at 24:7; Ezek. 11:20; 37:23, 27; Zech. 8:8. The first part of the expression “I will be God for them” appears also at Gen. 17:8.  The term appears, therefore, to be a priestly formula, for all the authors of the passages cited were trained to be priests.

V. 34. de‘û ‘et-YHWH = “know the Lord”: the expression seems to have something to do with receiving the word of the Lord at 1 Sam. 3:7, with worship by the Egyptians at Isa. 19:21, with a marital bond at Hos. 2:20. The Hebrew word “to know” appears often to denote an intimate relationship rather than mere awareness.

V. 34. kî ’eslach la‘avōnām ûlechattā’ām lō’ ’ezkor-‘ôd = “for I will forgive their sin and their iniquity I will no longer remember”: The Hebrew word “remember” means not simply the act of recalling but even of bringing into existence. Therefore, “not remember” actually indicates elimination. God’s threat to not remember Israel (Jer. 11:19; Ps. 83:5) or the Ammonites (Ezek. 21:32; 25:10) would make them extinct.

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Hebrews 5:5-10
God appointed Jesus Christ, perfected by his suffering and faithful in obedience, as high priest so that he might serve as the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

Context
The authorship of this epistle is impossible to determine, except for the fact that the author excelled in Greek, was quite proficient in the LXX, and had a sound knowledge of Greek philosophy. The work seems to be more an essay than a letter, and so the intended audience is also a mystery. Many scholars consider his purpose to rejuvenate Christians who were becoming too complacent. To make his point in the book, the author has written of the identity of Jesus (1:1—3:6a), asserting his superiority over the angels and over Moses, and has begun to admonish them to endure (3:6b—4:13). From 4:14—10:18, the author teaches what Jesus has accomplished. The end of the book returns to admonishments.

V. 5. Outōs kai ho Christos ouch heauton edoxasen genēthēnai archiera = “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest”: In the previous verses the author wrote that God chooses people to be high priests and that their function is to act on behalf of people and himself by offering sacrifices for sins. See Zechariah 3:1ff where God nominates Joshua ben Jozadak to be high priest; in the LXX his name is “Jesus.”

Vss. 5-6. The two quotes from the OT come from coronation psalms for Davidic kings in Jerusalem.  Psalm 110:4 speaks of Melchizedek as a priest. The author had previously quoted Psalm 2:7 at 1:15 as the first of several OT passages that demonstrate the superiority of Christ over the angels. The author will also Psalm 110:4 at 7:21. He devotes much of chapter 7 to a discussion of the priestly order of Melchizedek. In Genesis 14:17-24, Melchizedek is King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the god El Elyon (God Most High).

V. 7. meta kraugēs ischyras kai dakryōn = “with loud cries and tears”: The agony of Jesus demonstrates he was human and not a spirit. Elsewhere Jesus expresses the emotions of anger (Mark 3:5; John 2:16-17), grief (Luke 19:41; John 11:33-36), and agony (Mark 14:33). The author here explains that God heard these cries because of Jesus’ eulabias = “reverent emotion” (NRSV) or “godly fear” (RSV). In the LXX God hears the kraugēs = “cries for help” of the Hebrews in bondage and promises to save them through Moses (Exod. 3:7).

Vss. 8-9. “he learned obedience through what he suffered … he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”: The first part is reminiscent of Psalm 51, while the concluding words sound like those of the hymn Paul cites at Phil. 2:8.

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John 12:20-33
On the basis of the visit by the Greeks, Jesus announces finally that the hour has come for him to be lifted up so that he might draw all people to himself.

Context
This passage brings to a conclusion the so-called Book of Signs (chapters 1-12), and the words of Jesus here are his final public address in John’s Gospel. The pericope also draws to a conclusion a number of issues raised in chapters 11 and 12: the death of Lazarus “so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it” (11:4), death and resurrection (11:25-26), the gathering of the children of God beyond Israel into one (11:52), the fear of the Pharisees that “the world has gone after him” (12:19).

Parallels with the Synoptics
Vv. 25-26: losing and saving one’s life (Mark 8:34-36)
Vv. 27-28: the Gethsemane agony (Mark 14:34-36)
V. 28: hallowing God’s name by placing oneself at God’s will (Matt. 6:9-10)
V. 28: a voice from heaven (Mark 1:11; 9:7)

Key Words
V. 23. elēlythen hē hōra hina doxasthē ho huios tou anthrōpou = “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”: Previously, Jesus had said the hour has not yet come (2:4) or promised that it is coming (4:21; 5: 28). At 4:23 and 5:25, Jesus says, “the hour is coming, and now is.” The evangelist also wrote that Jesus’ hour had not yet come (7:30; 8:20). Now that the hour has come, at 13:1 the evangelist connects “his hour” to Jesus’ departure from the world.

V. 27. nun hē psychē mou tetaraktai … sōsan me = “now my soul is troubled … save me”: the words are taken from Ps. 6:3-4, a psalm of lament. While Jesus utters the first part about the trouble, he rejects the psalm’s cry for help, since Jesus believes this suffering is his mission to fulfill for the glory of God. In Hebrews 5:7, our lesson for today, the author indicates that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death.” The tone of Psalm 51 resounds here. While Jesus utters the words common to laments, he rejects the psalm’s cry for help, since Jesus believes this suffering is his mission to fulfill for the glory of God.

V. 28. pater, doxasan sou to onoma = “Father, glorify your name”: In the OT, God often seeks glory, especially as a result of saving the people from their distress. Second Isaiah uses this “glory” motive quite often in connection with the deliverance from exile in Babylon: Isa. 40:5; 42:8;, 12; 43:7; 48:11. The Apostle Paul quotes a hymn that concludes with the goal of the humiliation-exaltation of Christ to be universe’s acknowledgement of God’s glory (Phil. 2:5-11).

V. 31. nun ho archōn tou kosmou toutou ekblēthēsetai exō= “now the prince of this world is cast out”: John uses this expression to refer to Satan (cf. 14:30; 16:11), but Paul comes close to this expression at 1 Cor. 2:6-8; 2 Cor. 4:4; see also Eph. 2:2; 6:12.

V. 32. kagō ean hypsōthō ek tēs gēs pantas elkysō pros emauton = “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself”: The reference to “lifted up” referred to the crucifixion at 3:14. Here, in spite of the evangelist’s reference to the manner of his “death” in v. 33, the verb seems to point as well to Jesus’ resurrection/ascension, that is, “from the earth.” The reference to “all” appears quite intentional in light of the appearance of the Greeks, that is, the representatives of the Gentile world, that is, the rest of humanity.