Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 16, 2021

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.

Acts 1:15-17,21-26

Verse 15: “Peter”: In Luke 22:32, Jesus has commanded him: “[I] ... have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”. Now, after Jesus’ ascension, Peter assumes leadership. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “Peter stood up”: This also marks the start of Peter’s sermons in 13:16 and 15:7. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “together”: The Greek is epi to touto, literally in the same place or in unity. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “one hundred and twenty”: A sanhedrin had a minimum of 12 officers, each representing ten members. See also Exodus 18:21 and 1 Maccabees 3:55 for “leaders of tens”. Luke must be demonstrating the continuation of the chosen twelve tribes, just as when Peter “standing with the eleven” ( 2:14) addresses “the entire house of Israel” ( 2:36). [ NJBC]

Verses 18-19: Acts and Matthew differ regarding how the Field got its name. Here the blood is Judas’ rather than Jesus’. JBC suggests that these verses may be an expansion of the fate of the wicked (see Wisdom of Solomon 4:19). BlkActs notes that Judas’ death is like that of Antiochus Epiphanes: see 2 Maccabees 9:7-12. Herod’s death (“eaten by worms”, 12:23) is described in similar terms. NJBC sees popular imagination about the endings for infamous lives at work. The ends of the arrogant and proud are described graphically in Sirach 10:9-18.

Verse 18: “falling headlong”: Literally flat or prone. Papias, as quoted by Apollinaris of Laodicea, tells of another tradition about the death of Judas; his version extravagantly develops the traitor’s condition at death. [ NJBC]

Verse 19: “their language”: i.e. Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “Blood”: Here the “blood” in question is that of the betrayer; in Matthew 27:4-5, it is that of the betrayed. [ NJBC]

Verse 20: Modern translations of Psalm 69:26 speaks of multiple enemies of the righteous, but the Septuagint translation has a single enemy. Acts refers to a “homestead” (probably quoting the Septuagint) while in the NRSV this psalm refers to “tents”. NJBC suggests that these changes occurred in oral transmission of the story – down to Luke.

Verses 21-22: Note that Paul does not meet the requirements for being an apostle (not being with Jesus throughout his earthly ministry), but see 1 Corinthians 15:8-9: the requirements were later broadened, but traceability to Jesus was still required. Note that Luke does not suppress Paul’s claim to be an apostle: in 14:4 Luke writes “When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it ...”. See also 14:4. [ NJBC]

Verse 22: The “baptism of John” marks the start of Jesus’ ministry: see Mark 1:1-4 and Acts 10:37 (Peter’s teaches at Cornelius’ house). [ NOAB] This verse is a summary of vv. 1-5. [ NJBC]

Verse 23: This verse sets us up to expect the election of Joseph; it is almost as though he was better known than Matthias. [ NJBC]

Verse 26: “they cast lots”: This is no casting of votes, for it is God who does the choosing (v. 24) via the incalculable lots. [ NJBC]

Psalm 1

This psalm looks almost like an expansion of Jeremiah 17:5-8: “... Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord . They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit”. [ NOAB]

A variant of Acts 13:33 calls Psalm 2 the first psalm; however, a scholar claims that Psalms 1 and 2 were originally one psalm.

Verse 1: “Happy”: Literally the happiness of. [ NOAB] This is typical of wisdom literature. Proverbs 3:13 says “Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding”. See also Proverbs 8:32-33; Psalms 32:1; 34:9. [ NJBC]

Verse 2: See also Psalm 119, a psalm about the benefits of keeping the Law. [ NOAB] The identification of wisdom with the Torah suggests that this psalm is late post-exilic. See also Sirach 24. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “yield their fruit”: See also Jeremiah 17:7-8 (quoted above) and Psalm 92:13-15. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “chaff that the wind drives away”: Zephaniah 2:1-2 advises: “Gather together, gather, O shameless nation, before you are driven away like the drifting chaff, before there comes upon you the fierce anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of the Lord's wrath”. See also Job 21:18 and Isaiah 17:13. [ NJBC]

Verse 6: “way of the righteous ... way of the wicked”: For the two ways, see also Deuteronomy 30:15-20. The “way of the wicked” forms an inclusio with the “path that sinners tread” in v. 1. [ NJBC] The Didache (mid second century AD, or later) and the Epistle of Barnabas (circa 130 AD) also speak of the “two ways”.

1 John 5:9-13

Verses 1-12: Victorious faith issuing in eternal life. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: In John 8:12 Jesus tells scribes and Pharisees: “‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’”. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “everyone who loves the parent loves the child”: A conventional maxim repeats the association between love of God and love of fellow Christians from 4:20-21. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “not burdensome”: In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says “‘my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’”. In Philippians 4:13, Paul writes: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “the victory that conquers the world, our faith”: The victory over the world was won when Christians were converted: 2:13-14 says “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one”. The word of God is the source of this victory (see 4:4), a share in the victory won by Jesus. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “that conquers”: That has conquered is also a possible translation. [ NOAB]

Verses 7-8: The King James Version and various Latin translations contain an expansion of (an insertion in) these verses known as the Johannine Comma . The earliest appearance of this expansion is in the fourth century. It and John 10:30 were used over the centuries to provide scriptural evidence for the doctrine of the equality and unity of personae (roles) in the Trinity; however the expansion is not found in any early Greek manuscripts so, valid as the doctrine is, it cannot be proved from these verses. [ NJBC]

Verses 6-12: The affirmation that belief is the source of eternal life is expanded in two directions:

  • belief must include his coming in water and blood
  • belief in the Son is grounded in God’s own testimony. [ NJBC]

Verses 6-8: See also John 19:34-35 tells us: “Instead [of breaking Jesus’ legs], one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)”. [ NOAB]

Verse 6: “not with the water only but with the water and the blood”: In John 1:31-32, John the Baptist testifies that revelation of Jesus as preexistent Son is linked to the descent of the Spirit and to baptism. (1 John 5:7 refers to the testimony given by the Spirit). Jesus' sending is associated with the boundless gift of the Spirit (see John 3:34; 7:38-39.). Dissidents might have associated salvation and the coming of the Spirit with “the water” (baptism) and not with “the blood” (crucifixion). John 19:35 (quoted above) may have been added to the Gospel to emphasize that this conviction about the death of Jesus goes back to the beloved disciple. [ NJBC]

Verse 9: “the testimony of God”: The testimony of the Father to the Son is often found in the Gospel according to John. In John 5:32, Jesus says “‘There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true’”. See also John 5:36; 8:18. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: “the testimony of God is greater”: The claim that God is the real witness to Jesus derives from the controversies in the Gospel according to John. Those who reject Jesus' testimony about his relationship to the Father are confronted with lists of witnesses: see John 5:31-40; 8:14-19. [ NJBC]

Verse 10: “have the testimony in their hearts”: Several passages in John speak of the ways in which the believer could be said to “have testimony”. God is responsible for a persons' believing response to Jesus (see John 6:44; 10:3-4). The Spirit/Paraclete/Advocate dwelling within the community serves as witness (see John 14:16) and also enables the community to witness to the world (see John 15:26-27). [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “Whoever has the Son has life”: That the Son has been sent to give life to those who believe is found throughout the Fourth Gospel (e.g. John 1:4; 3:36; 5:24, 26; 6:57; 20:31). [ NJBC] [ NOAB]

Verse 13: John was written for non-believers, that they may believe; 1 John is written for believers, that they may know that they have eternal life.

John 17:6-19

This prayer of Jesus for his followers and those who will believe in him through them is a fitting culmination to Jesus’ ministry, and leads on to the cross.

Verses 1-26: This is Jesus’ high priestly prayer. It falls naturally into three parts:

  • Vv. 1-5: Jesus’ prayer for himself
  • Vv. 6-19: His prayer for his disciples, left in the world after his ascension, and
  • Vv. 20-26: His prayer for the Church universal. [ NOAB]

There are parallels to the Lord's Prayer. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “looked up to heaven”: Presumably standing – the conventional Jewish attitude of prayer. See also 11:41; Luke 9:16; 18:13; Mark 6:41; 7:34; Matthew 14:19; 1 Enoch 13:5.

Verse 2: “you have given him authority”: To judge, lay down and take up his life. See also 5:27; 10:18; 19:10-11 (Jesus before Pilate); 3:27, 35.

Verse 4: “by finishing the work”: See also 4:34; 5:36; 19:28, 30.

Verse 4: “that you gave me to do”: See also 10:25.

Verse 5: “before the world existed”: See also 1:1ff; 8:58; 17:24.

Verse 6: “‘I have made your name known’”: The Greek verb ephanerosa is used of the manifestation of Jesus, or of his glory, or of God’s works, in 1:31; 2:11; 9:3; 21:1, 14. Here it is to those given to Jesus by the Father that Jesus, by his words and deeds, makes known God’s “name”, i.e. his character and person. [ BlkJn]

Verse 7: “‘everything you have given me’”: i.e. the entire ministry of Jesus with all that this involves. [ BlkJn]

Verse 8: “‘for the words ...’”: Jesus’ words are the Father’s words: 3:34 says “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure”. See also 7:16; 12:49-50; 14:10, 24. [ BlkJn]

Verse 8: “‘they ... know in truth that I came from you’”: See also 16:27. In context, Jesus does not merely mean that he is Messiah, far less that he is a superman, one of the divine heroes of the ancient world, but that his claims to pre-existence (see v. 5) are justified. [ BlkJn]

Verse 9: “‘I am not asking on behalf of the world but on behalf of those whom you gave me’”: Others are not capable, unless they come to faith in Jesus (see v. 20), of sharing in what the Father gives. [ BlkJn]

Verses 11-12: 13:1 tells us that Jesus’ departure is imminent: “Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father ...”. On the disciples being left exposed to the hostility of the world, in 15:18 Jesus says “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you”. See also 17:14 and 16:1-5a (for an alternative presentation of the ideas). [ BlkJn]

Verse 11: The unity of believers is modelled on the shared purpose and character of the Father and the Son, who are in complete unity. [ BlkJn]

Verse 12: “‘the scripture’”: That “scripture” is in the singular implies that John has a particular passage in mind. It may be Psalm 41:9 (“Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me”), which Jesus quotes in 13:18. [ BlkJn]

Verse 12: “‘the one destined to be lost’”: This phrase is also found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; there it refers to the Antichrist. [ BlkJn]

Verse 14: “‘word’”: See also 1:1-19: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...”.

Verse 17: “‘your word is truth’”: God’s “word” (Greek: logos) is the means of sanctification. The Father’s “word” is characterized as the revelation of ultimate reality. 1:14 says that the incarnate “Word”, Jesus, is “full of grace and truth”. The “truth” sets free those who persevere in Jesus’ word: see 8:31-36. [ BlkJn]

Verse 18: In 20:21, in his appearance to the disciples, Jesus tells them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. [ BlkJn]

Verse 19: “‘sanctify myself’”: In the Septuagint translation, the Greek verb agiadzo (“sanctify”) is used both for the setting apart for God (in Exodus 3:2 and Deuteronomy 15:19) and for the consecration of people to God’s service (in Jeremiah 1:5, of a prophet, and in Exodus 28:41, of priests). Christ’s perfect self-offering is the means by which the disciples whom he is sending into the world are dedicated in obedience to God. [ BlkJn]

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