jump to navigation

Wrestling with the Word, episode 75: Holy Trinity, Year C (May 30, 2010) May 19, 2010

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

Holy Trinity

The church’s doctrine of the Holy Trinity is an intellectual puzzle. At the same time, it integrates for us the witnesses of God throughout the Scriptures. While any particular passage that we study, even the ones for today, might in themselves be puzzling, the whole testimony to God from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 is even more of a mystery. Only God can enable us to believe that it all fits together, that God acts as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And even though we do not comprehend things completely, God gives us enough to live by now and promises the rest for our living eternally. The significance of wrestling with the mystery is this: that whatever we say about the three persons of God, we are confessing what God has come to mean to us. There is no talk about God—and there never has been–apart from God’s role in our lives and in the life of the world. Let us listen to some of that talk from our lessons for the day.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 75: Holy Trinity, Year C.


Psalm 8
This hymn glorifying God the Creator exults in the wonder of what it means to be human. Though small and seemingly insignificant, the worshipper casts in poetic form what Genesis 1 sets forth in prose, namely the awesome “royal” dignity and identity given to humanity be God. Perhaps because of the expression “son of man” (NRSV: “mortals”) in verse 4, the early church interpreted the psalm as a prophecy about Jesus Christ. In its own context, however, “son of man” is simply parallel to “humanity” (’ādām). The power of the poem lies in its amazement at the majesty of the Creator God on the one hand, and the status and responsibility God has given to human beings on the other hand.


Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Before anything else was made, the Lord created wisdom, who, like a child, delighted in observing God’s structuring of the world and in understanding how it all belongs together.

Part of the tenth and final discourse developed in Proverbs 1–9, wisdom now takes on personalized forms, first that of a person who speaks, then that of a little child, and in chapter 9 of a virtuous woman who invites the simple to walk in her way.

Key Words
V. 22. YHWH qānānî = “created me”:  For qānā as ancient term for “create”; see Gen. 14:19 of El Elyon. Some scholars prefer to understand the word as referring to birth, that is, begetting.

V. 22.  darkô = “his dominion”:  The word derek usually means “way,” but for the use of drk(t) with the meaning “dominion,”see also Job 26:14; 40:19; Ps. 18:31 (substitute for RSV’s “ways”).

V. 23.  nissaktî = “I was set up/installed”; See only other use of verb at Ps. 2:6 (Heb. 7) where it refers to the installation of the Davidic king on Mount Zion.

V. 24.  tehōmōt = “deeps”: To capture the imagery the word conveyed, read as the Babylonian Ti’amat, the chaos monster vanquished by Marduk who then used her body to create the firmament and the earth (Enuma Elish IV).

V. 24.  nikbaddê-mayim:  Read nibkê-yam = “springs of Yamm,” the Canaanite sea monster subdued by Baal, the god of fertility.  For parallelism of tehom(t) and yam, see Job 38:16.

VV. 24-25.  chōlāltî = “I was delivered (at birth)”:  For a similar use of chûl, see Deut. 32:18; Job 39:1; Ps. 29:9; Isa. 51:2.

V. 30.  ’āmôn = “little child”:  The translation seems better than “master workman” although certainty is impossible because the word appears only here in Hebrew Bible. The functions of delight and rejoicing seem more appropriate for the child image than for that of an architect.

V. 31.  betēbēl ’artsô = “in the world of his earth”:  The expression is due to poetic redundancy, like Job 37:12; usually the words stand in parallelism.

V. 31. weša‘ašû‘ay ’et-benê-’ādām = “my delights (are) with humans (lit., “sons of man”): While Wisdom delights in people on the earth, elsewhere God delights in the having planted the vineyard called Israel (Isa. 5:7). In the Wisdom Psalm 119, the psalmist delights in the law/laws of God (vss. 24, 77, 92, 143, 174).


Romans 5:1-5
By justifying us through faith in Christ Jesus, God gives us that peace which enables us to give honor to God through the tribulations of life here and now.

In 4:1-8 Paul had explained that Abraham was justified by faith, and in 4:13-25 he writes that as with Abraham, the promise of God is only to faith.  Now he begins a section which runs through 8:39 about the reality of the righteousness of faith as Christian freedom.

Key Words
V. 1.  oun = “therefore”:  At the end of chap.4, Paul spoke of God’s giving to us righteousness on the basis of faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

V. 1.  eirēnēn … pros ton theon = “peace with God”:  The announcement of peace with God occurs in Romans prior to this verse:  1:7 (“peace from God” as a Christian greeting); 2:10 (along with glory and honor is given to those who do good); 3:17 (in OT quote). Following  this verse, God’s peace appears at  8:6 (along with life it is the result of setting one’s mind on the Spirit); 14:17 (along with righteousness and joy it constitutes the reign of God); 14:19 (along with mutual upbuilding it is the goal of the Christian community); 15:13 (along with joy it is the gift of God which enables the Christian to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit); 15:33 and 16:20 (a characteristic which defines God: “the God of peace”).

Vv. 2-3.  kauchōmetha = “we boast”:  Paul uses the word negatively in Romans at 2:17, 23; 3:27 (noun); positively here and v. 11; 15:17 (noun). The positive use by a Christian indicates a confession in which the believer acknowledges belonging to Christ. The negative use indicates that a person belongs to himself/herself.

V. 3.  thlipsis = “affliction”:  The word describes evildoers at 2:9; that which has no power to separate us from the love of God at 8:35; here and at 12:12, the New Time suffering of the followers of Christ.

V. 5.  ou kataischynei = “not put to shame” (RSV, NRSV: “disappoint”):  The expression originates in Ps. 22:6 (Eng. v. 5) and 25:20 where the loyalty and love of God protect the believer from hostile forces.  Used in Romans also at 9:33 and 10:11 in quote of Isa. 28:16 where it promises the same protection for anyone who believes in the Lord.

V. 5. hoti hē agapē tou theou … dia pneumatos hagiou tou dothentos hēmin = “because God’s love … through the Holy Spirit given to us”: The gift of God’s love can be believed and appropriated by us only because of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.


John 16:12-15
Preparing the disciples for his own departure, Jesus promises the Spirit who will guide them in truth, declare the things to come, and glorify Jesus.

Still addressing the disciples after supper the night before the Passover, Jesus had promised following his departure the gift of the Counselor (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).

Key Words
V. 12. all’ ou dynasthe bastazein arti = “but you cannot bear them now”: As elsewhere in John’s Gospel, the expression probably refers to the deeper understanding of Jesus’ words the disciples will have following the resurrection and gift of the Spirit. Recall the author’s words at 2:22 concerning raising the temple in three days. Note also the author’s comment about the disciples remembering Jesus’ words regarding the king’s entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey (12:6). The, there is Jesus’ remark to them that “afterward” they will understand his words and acts regarding foot washing (13:7).

V. 13. … to pneumas tēs alētheias … hodēgēsei hymas en tē alētheia pasē = “the Spirit of truth … will guide you in all truth”: The function of the Spirit as the “guide” or “teacher” of truth sounds much like the role of Wisdom in the OT, particularly the Wisdom woman who invites students to “walk in the way of insight” (Prov. 9:6) and promises that “whoever finds me finds life” (Prov. 8:35).