Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: First Sunday of Advent - December 1, 2019

Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

Isaiah 2:1-5

Comments: it appears that this and the next few chapters originally formed a separate document: The collection, which extends to 5:30, probably included 9:7-11:9. At some point the Memoirs of Isaiah were inserted. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “The word”: i.e. message, insight (into God’s purpose for his people). Jeremiah 7:1 and 11:1 both say “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:”. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “Isaiah son of Amoz”: Isaiah is mentioned as “son of Amoz” several times in Chapters 1-39 (but never thereafter), and in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. “Amoz” is short for Amaziah. It is not the same as Amos. [ HBD]

Verses 2-4: We cannot tell whether these verses or Micah 4:1-3 are the original, whether the two passages came from a common source. [ NOAB]

Verse 2: “the mountain of the Lord’s house”: The idea may be from an old Jebusite Jerusalem cult. The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem before the Israelites arrived. [ JBC]

Verse 2: “the Lord’s house”: The theme of Zion as God’s abode which he specially protects is also found in the Zion psalms, i.e. Psalms 46; 48; 76; 87; 122. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “instruction”: Torah is translated teaching in 1:10. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “they shall beat ...”: Isaiah’s love for peace is also found in his descriptions of the ideal king of the future: see 9:5-6 (“... For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”) and 11:6-9 (“The wolf shall live with the lamb ... the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord ...”). [ NJBC]

Verse 4: The idea also includes acceptance of God’s norms and his specific judgements. See also 5:25 and 30:27-28. [ NOAB]

Verse 5: NJBC says that this verse is an exhortation added by a later editor. While vv. 2-4 are very similar to Micah 4:2-4, Micah 4:4 is quite different: “but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken”.

Psalm 122

This psalm has the characteristics of a Zion hymn: pilgrimage to Zion (see 48:12-14), Zion’s impregnability (see 46:5-7 and 48:3) and the sort of imperatives found in vv. 6-7 (see 46:8, 10; 48:12-13; 76:11). [ NJBC]

Romans 13:11-14

Verses 1-7: In the previous chapter, Paul has said that Christians have no right to punish; here he says that the state does, and all people must respect this right. He holds that the Roman state (even under Nero!) is, on the whole, just and beneficent. His view reflects Jewish teaching (see Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-3) and is also found in 1 Peter 2:13-17; 3:13. He has insisted that salvation is entirely a loving and undeserved gift from God, so some may have claimed that he was encouraging unethical conduct. In 6:1-14, he vigorously rejects this view. [ NOAB]

Up to the time when Paul wrote Romans, there had been no official persecution of Christians living in Rome, but internal strife in the Jewish community (which included Christians), probably between Christians and non-Christians, was settled by the emperor Claudius’ expulsion of Jews from Rome. Paul probably knew of this, but he still insists on the general principles Christians must have towards civil authorities, especially when these authorities are pagans. His basis for resolving the issue is the principle enunciated in Proverbs 8:15 (“By me [God] kings reign, and rulers decree what is just”) and Matthew 22:16-21 (“... ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God’s’”). [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “authorities”: This may include not only the state itself, but also the angelic authorities standing behind the state. The same Greek word is found in Colossians 1:16; there it clearly means angelic authorities; however Luke 12:11 uses it of civil authorities. [ BlkRom]

Verse 1: “instituted by God”: As part of God’s bringing order to the world.

Verse 2: “appointed”: Another translation is ordained .

Verse 3: “rulers”: This may be a reference to an order of angels. [ BlkRom]

Verse 3: “its”: i.e. the authority’s [ BlkRom]

Verse 4: “God’s servant”: i.e. the state, as one who does Christ’s mission. [ BlkRom]

Verse 4: “it”: i.e. authority, civil power. 1 Peter 2:13-14 says “For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right”. [ CAB]

Verse 4: “sword”: A symbol of authority to punish.

Verse 5: “conscience”: One has a moral obligation to observe civil laws. Paul writes in 2:15: “They [Gentiles] show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness ...”. [ CAB] The state, as servant of God, must in conscience be respected by Christians, servants of God. [ BlkRom]

Verse 6: “authorities”: i.e. civil servants [ BlkRom]

Verse 7: “revenue”: i.e. indirect taxation, e.g. customs duties [ BlkRom]

Verse 7: In Mark 12:17, Jesus says “‘"Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God’s’”. See also Luke 20:25; Matthew 22:21; 1 Peter 2:17. [ CAB]

Verses 8-10: These verses expand on 12:9-13. [ CAB]

Verse 8: “law”: i.e. Mosaic law.

Verse 8: “for the one who loves another ...”: In Mark 12:31, Jesus says “‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’”. James 2:8 quotes Jesus. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: “‘You shall not ...’”: Paul quotes from the Ten Commandments, i.e. Exodus 20:13-15, 17; Deuteronomy 5:17-19 – in the Septuagint translation. The order is different in the Masoretic Text (which the NRSV follows). Jesus quotes these commandments, and others, in Matthew 19:18-19. [ CAB]

Verse 9: “‘Love your neighbour as yourself”: Paul quotes from the Law: Leviticus 19:18 says “ shall love your neighbour as yourself ...”. There “neighbour” means fellow Israelite; here Paul broadens the meaning. Jesus quotes this law in Matthew 5:43; 19:19; Mark 12:31; Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27; It is also quoted in Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8. [ CAB]

Verses 11-14: In 1 Corinthians 10:11-12, Paul writes: “These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall”.

Verse 11: Eschatology and morality are often connected: see also Philippians 4:4-7 (“... Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near ...”); 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 23; Hebrews 10:24-25 (“... let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, ... all the more as you see the Day approaching”); James 5:7-11; 1 Peter 4:7-11; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 13:33-37. [ CAB]

Verse 11: “time”: The Greek word kairos might be translated (in business English) as window of opportunity. Kronos is time as on a clock or in a calendar; kairos is God’s time.

Verse 11: “wake from sleep”: See also 1 Corinthians 15:34 (“Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more ...”); 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; Ephesians 5:14. [ CAB]

Verse 12: “lay aside ...”: See also Ephesians 4:22-25 (“... put away your former way of life ... be renewed in the spirit of your minds ...”); Colossians 3:8-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:1; James 1:21. [CAB]

Verse 12: “darkness ... light”: Light and darkness are terms used in the Qumran literature for good and evil: see 1QS (Rule of the Community) 2:7; 3:20-4:1; 1QM (War Scroll) 15:9 (“For they are a wicked congregation and all their deeds are in darkness”). [ NJBC]

Verse 14: “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”: See also 6:1-14 and Galatians 3:27. Galatians 3:27 says that through baptism, the Christian has already put on Christ. [ NJBC]

That the state was God’s servant was endorsed by many Jews and by the early Church. [ BlkRom]

Matthew 24:36-44

Verses 1-36: See also the Comments and Clippings for Luke 21:5-19, prepared for the penultimate Sunday in Year C.

Verses 36-44: The parallels are Mark 13:32-37 and Luke 17:26-30, 34-36. [ NJBC]

Verses 37-39: See also Genesis 6:5-8; 7:6-24 and Luke 17:26-27. In both Genesis and Luke, the Flood and the “coming of the Son of Man”, the process is selection of the good/godly. [ CAB]

Verses 40-41: The verbs are in the present tense; thus they express vividly the separation certain to occur in the near future. [ BlkMt] In Luke 17:34-35, Jesus says: “‘I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.”’.

Verse 42: “Keep awake”: BlkMt offers Watch, meaning be continuously on the watch, spiritually and in your lives. See also Mark 13:35; Luke 12:40; 21:34-36; Matthew 25:13. [ CAB]

Verses 43-51: Luke 12:39-46 is very similar. [ CAB]

Verse 43: The metaphor of the coming of a thief is also found in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Revelation 3:3; 16:15. [ BlkMt]

Verses 45-51: The parable of Faithful and Unfaithful Servants also emphasizes that Christ will return suddenly. [ BlkMt]

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