Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Easter Day - April 4, 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 10:34-43

Verse 34: “God shows no partiality”: Literally: God is not one showing favours, an allusion to Deuteronomy 10:17, which denies that God favours particular persons or accepts bribes. [ JBC] BlkActs says that the Greek word is found only in Christian writings but is coined from an expression in the Septuagint translation, which translates a Hebrew expression for lift up the face, i.e. favour. It denotes the gracious act of someone who lifts up a person’s face by showing him a favour (see Malachi 1:8). In Romans 2:11, Paul writes “God shows no partiality”. [ JBC]

Verse 35: “does what is right”: Literally: practices righteousness . [ JBC]

Verses 36-43: This sums up the gospel, beginning with the baptism of John and ending with the statement that Christ is judge: see 3:20-21 (Peter’s second sermon). [ NOAB]

Verse 36: “preaching peace”: This traditional eschatological prophecy, based on Isaiah 52:7 and 61:1, was applied to Jesus’ ministry with redoubled emphasis in Luke’s gospel ( 7:22; 4:17-20) and Jesus’ commissioning of his disciples as “peace” harbingers was prominent in his mission instruction (Luke 10:5-6).

Verse 36: “he is Lord of all”: To be understood in the light of Romans 10:12: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”. [ NJBC]

Verse 37: “the baptism that John announced”: See also 1:22; Luke 3:2-3. [ JBC]

Verse 38: “God anointed Jesus”: See also Luke 3:22 (Jesus’ baptism) and 4:14. [ NOAB] An allusion to Isaiah 61:1. Jesus’ investiture with the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not say that Jesus became Messiah at his baptism. Acts 2:36 and 3:12-20 suggest an entirely different understanding of Jesus’ messiahship, as does the Infancy Narrative (see Luke 1:32-33). Jesus is the spirit-filled agent of God’s saving activity. [ JBC]

Verse 39: “by hanging him on a tree”: A figurative expression for crucifixion, derived from Deuteronomy 21:23-24: “When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse ...”. See also 2:23; 5:30; Galatians 3:13. [ JBC]

Verse 40: “on the third day”: See also 1 Corinthians 15:4 and Hosea 6:2 (“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him”). [ JBC]

Verse 40: “allowed him to appear”: NJBC offers gave him to be manifested.

Verse 41: “chosen”: Jesus was seen only by those chosen: see Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, 22. [ NOAB]

Verse 42: “commanded”: JBC offers commissioned.

Verse 42: “judge of the living and the dead”: See also 17:31; 1 Peter 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:1. [ NOAB]

Verse 43: This verse is a complete reprise of Luke 24:44-48. [ NJBC]

Verse 43: “All the prophets testify about him”: See Isaiah 2:2; 40:5; Joel 2:32; however, one scholar wonders to which prophets Peter is referring.

Verses 44-48: In Acts, believers usually receive the Holy Spirit at baptism ( 2:38; 19:5-6), or before baptism (as here), but in 8:15-16 they receive it after baptism, and only when the apostles visit.

Isaiah 25:6-9

Here is a long Comment on this reading:

In accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus says that he will not drink wine again “until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (see Mark 14:25). Earthly language is inadequate for expressing heavenly notions. Chapters 24 to 27 of Isaiah are a prophecy about the end-times; our reading is a description of the celestial banquet to which Jesus refers. (Other ancient Near East cultures also use a banquet as a description of the final happiness of the godly.)

Chapter 24 begins with the announcement of the destruction of the earth. There will be total upheaval of the social order ( 24:2). God will then destroy the earth. Most people will have broken the covenant with him, so he will cause them to “suffer for their guilt” ( 24:6) and die. Only a godly remnant will remain. The earth will be a gloomy place ( 24:7-13) but then the survivors will praise God’s name ( 24:14-16a). “On that day” ( 24:21) God will imprison rebellious angels and the kings of the earth for a long time and then punish them ( 24:22). “... the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem ...” ( 24:23). As the seventy elders beheld God’s glory at Sinai, so Israel’s elders will again see him enthroned in his majesty.

Then “on this mountain” (v. 6), at Jerusalem, God will provide a banquet “for all peoples”, for the godly of all nations, with food and the wine of which Jesus speaks. The dead are pictured as being covered with a “shroud” (v. 7) or “sheet”; this will be removed when God swallows up, does away with, “death forever”. God’s kingdom will be established. In eternal life, he will “wipe away” (v. 8) one of the roots of all misery, our mortality, and he will remove the collective shame of breaking the covenant. The remnant, the godly, will acknowledge “our God” (v. 9), for whom we have waited and who has saved us; let us “rejoice in his salvation”.

The punishment of cosmic powers, the end of death, and the resurrection of the dead show a late date for Chapters 24-27 and link them with apocalyptic writings. [ NJBC]

24:21: “the host of heaven”: i.e. the sun, the moon and the stars [ NJBC] or rebellious astral deities (Zephaniah 1:5 and Jeremiah 19:13) imprisoned in the “pit” (see v. 22, Isaiah 14:15 and Revelation 20:1-3). [ NOAB]

24:23: “the moon abashed, and the sun ashamed”: i.e. after losing their divine status [ NOAB] or by the glory of the divine king. Creation is rolled back: after the earth disappears beneath the waters, the heavenly host is imprisoned and the brilliance of sun and moon dimmed. Only the light from the divine king shines, as at the first moment of creation. [ NJBC] See also Jeremiah 8:2 and Deuteronomy 17:3.

24:23: “on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem”: The image of Yahweh’s mountain, succeeding that of the waters into which the earth has sunk, recalls the old tradition, perhaps going back to pre-Israelite Jerusalem, that Zion’s God repels the raging waters which assault the city: see 17:12-14. In the Flood, the waters covered the highest mountains (see Genesis 7:19-20), and, according to 30:25, the waters will again “on a day of the great slaughter”. But Zion withstands the flood-waters (see 28:16). It will be higher than any other mountain in the future (see 2:2) and will be surrounded by water to protect it (see 33:21).

24:23: “before the elders he will manifest his glory”: As did “Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel” on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 24:9). [ NOAB] The banquet in 25:6-8 is a anti-type of the liturgical banquet in Exodus 24:9-16. [ NJBC] See also Revelation 4:4, 10-11.

25:1-5: A hymn to Yahweh, the safe refuge. [ NJBC]

25:6: See also Revelation 7:17; 21:4. Jesus’ words at the Last Supper referring to the Messianic Banquet (see Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) look forward to the definitive triumph of Christ’s kingdom. (The quotation in Comments is from Mark.)

25:7: “the shroud”: Possibly the surface of the earth covering the dead. See 26:21: “ ... the earth will no longer cover its slain” [ NJBC]

25:9-10a: A short hymn to Yahweh’s power. [ NJBC]

Psalm 118:1-2,14-24

In Jewish liturgical tradition, Psalms 113-18 constitute the Egyptian Hallel psalms, used in connection with the great festivals. At the Passover, Psalms 113-114 are sung before the meal and 115-118 after it. Matthew 26:30 tells us: “When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”. [ NOAB]

Note that I and me are used in vv. 5-21, we and us in vv. 23-27, and I and my in v. 28. NJBC suggests that this psalm may have been an individual song originally and was later democratized. If the king is the speaker, it is easier to understand the vacillation between singular (the king) and plural (the people). I suggest that the plural may also be a royal we.

Verse 1: 106:1; 107:1; 136:1 are identical. This verse and v. 29 form an envelope round the psalm. [ NJBC]

Verses 2-4: “Let Israel say ... Let the house of Aaron say ... Let those who fear the Lord say ...”: These are probably directions to various groups in the congregation. [ NOAB] This sequence is also found in 115:9-11 and 135:19-20. [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “House of Aaron”: i.e. the priests. [ NOAB]

Verse 6: This verse is quoted in Hebrews 13:6. [ NOAB]

Verses 11-14: NOAB says that it is difficult to be sure whether the language of these verses is literal or figurative. It is tenable that the speaker is a king who has come to the Temple to offer thanks for a victory (but other scholars disagree).

Verse 15: The other half of Exodus 15:2, part of Israel’s classic victory song, is paraphrased in v. 28. [ NJBC]

Verse 19: Presumably the ceremony in the preceding verses took place outside the Temple. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “the gates of righteousness”: This may be the actual name of a Temple gate or it may be a figurative way of alluding to the qualifications required for entry: see the next verse. [ NJBC]

Verse 20: As part of the ceremony, a voice replies to the king’s wish to be admitted that only the qualified may enter. See also 15 and 24:3-6. [ NOAB]

Verses 21-22: The king answers that God has born witness to his character by delivering him (as in 18:20-24) when others had given him up. [ NOAB]

Verses 22-23: These verses are frequently quoted in the New Testament, e.g. in Matthew 21:42 (the Parable of the Wicked Tenants); Acts 4:11 (Peter addresses the Council); 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7. [ NOAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 22: “The stone that the builders rejected ...”: This is probably an ancient proverb. In the present context, this verse may refer to the king’s rise to power or to his recent victory. This text was very important in the early Church’s attempt to understand the rejection and execution of Jesus by his people.

Verses 23-25: The choir joyfully acknowledges what God has done. [ NOAB]

Verse 24: “This is the day that the Lord has made”: This is the traditional translation, but NJBC says that the reference is to some act by Yahweh to save his people or to punish the wicked. 119:126 says: “It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken”. The Hebrew word in these verses is the same.

Verses 25-29 These verses are alluded to in Matthew 21:9 and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke. [ NOAB]

Verse 25: “Save us”: The Hebrew word is hoshianna, the source of the New Testament word hosanna. [ NOAB]

Verse 26: This verse is applied to Jesus by the crowd in Mark 11:9, the entry into Jerusalem. [ NJBC]

Verse 27: “The Lord is God, and he has given us light”: Another translation is possible: O Lord ... shed your light upon us! , an allusion to the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27: “... The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace”. [ NJBC]

Verse 27: “Bind the festal procession with branches”: This brings to mind the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), in which olive branches were used. [ NJBC]

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Comments: “Paul has heard ...: Some at Corinth denied the resurrection of the body either on the grounds of Greek (Platonic) philosophy (that only the immortal soul survives death, that all that matters is the spirit, and that the body hinders the soul’s activity) or that Christians are already raised. See also 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:17b-18. The basis for our resurrection, Paul says, is Christ’s example: he physically rose from death. [ NOAB] There is no room for speculation, because we have Christ as a concrete example.

Verse 1: “I would remind you”: Elsewhere in this letter, Paul answers questions put to him by Corinthian Christians, but probably not here. [ NOAB]

Verses 3-9: These appear to be a very early statement of faith or creed. Scholars say that Paul added v. 6b: “though some have died”. “In accordance with the scriptures” may mean that Paul is saying that Christ fulfills, completes, salvation history, already partially presented in the Old Testament, or he may be thinking of particular passages. Some of these passages are presented below.

Verse 3: “handed on ... received”: Paul uses the same expression when he talks about the Lord’s Supper in 11:23. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: “Christ died for our sins”: This may refer to Isaiah 53:5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” [ NOAB]

Verse 4: “scriptures”: This is a reference to Hosea 6:2 (“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him”) – and perhaps to Psalm 16:8-11, including “My body rests also secure, for you do not give me up to Sheol”. Later Jewish tradition, to be found in Midrash Genesis Rabba on Genesis 22:4-5, said that “the third day” is the day of salvation. [ NOAB] [ NJBC]

Verses 5-7: Those whom Paul mentions as appearing would be legally acceptable witnesses in a Jewish court. (He does not mention female witnesses.) So it may be that those who denied physical resurrection were Jewish; they may have been influenced by Philo.

Verse 5: “Cephas”: Mark 16:7 foretells an appearance to Peter, and Luke 24:34 suggests that Jesus did appear to him, but does not clearly state it. See also Luke 22:31-32 and 1 Peter 2:25. [ CAB]

Verse 5: “the twelve”: Jesus appeared to the “twelve” less Judas Iscariot: see Matthew 28:16-20. They are called “apostles” in the gospels: see Mark 3:16-19 and Luke 6:14-16 for lists of the disciples. [ CAB]

Verse 6: No appearance to “five hundred” is to be found in canonical and non-canonical writings.

Verse 6: “most of whom are still alive”: So eyewitnesses are available for questioning. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: “James”: An appearance to James, the Lord’s brother, is mentioned in the non-canonical Gospel of the Hebrews. The James to whom Paul refers is probably the Lord’s brother because he visited him on a visit to Jerusalem: see Galatians 1:19. If so, Paul progresses from appearances to the disciples of Jesus, to James (never a disciple of Jesus, but his brother), to himself (who never met Jesus.) Jesus’ brother James is clearly mentioned in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55; a “James” is mentioned in Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18. [ CAB] [ NJBC]

We do not know who “all the apostles” are. Paul has already mentioned “the twelve”, and he is unlikely to have repeated himself.

Verse 8: “one untimely born”: The meaning is obscure. Perhaps Paul is referring to the separation in time between his own experience and those of the other apostles. For other accounts of Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ, see 9:1; Galatians 1:16 and Acts 9:3-6 (his conversion). [ NOAB] NJBC offers as if to an abortion. This may be a term of abuse used by Paul’s opponents, who mocked his physical appearance (see 2 Corinthians 10:10) and denied his apostleship (see 1 Corinthians 9:1-18). [ NJBC]

Verses 9-10: The existence of the Corinthian church is proof of Paul’s apostleship. See also 9:1-18: “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? ...”. [ NJBC]

John 20:1-18

Verse 1: “On the first day of the week”: Mary Magdalene had to wait until the Sabbath was over. [ JANT]

Verse 1: “while it was still dark”: That the women visit the tomb at dawn is stated in the synoptic gospels. Perhaps the writer has added darkness to incorporate his scene into the light symbolism of the gospel. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: Mary must have looked into the tomb to be able to tell “Peter and the other disciple” (v. 2) that the body of Jesus is missing. Only in v. 11 are we told that she “bent over to look in the tomb”. [ NJBC]

Verse 2: “We” is plural in the Greek, so it is likely that John worked from a source which included other women in these verses. (Mark includes other women.) [ BlkJn] [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first”: In this gospel, Peter takes second place to “the other disciple”:

  • At the Last Supper, it is the beloved disciple who sits in the place of greater honour: see 13:23
  • Peter asks this disciple the identity of the traitor: see 13:24
  • Peter gains access to the high priest’s courtyard through the beloved disciple: see 18:15
  • The beloved disciple is entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother: see 19:26
  • When Jesus appears to the disciples in Galilee, it is the beloved disciple who identifies Jesus to Peter: see 21:7
  • After being commissioned, Peter is rebuffed for asking about the beloved disciple’s task: see 21:20-24. [ BlkJn]
  • In v. 8, it is the beloved disciple that sees and believes, not Peter.

Verse 6: That Peter goes into the tomb while “the other disciple” stays outside is consistent with Peter’s temperament shown elsewhere in the gospels. See also 6:68 and 18:10. [ BlkJn]

Verse 6: “He saw the linen wrappings lying there”: Note the difference from Lazarus: he needed unbinding ( 11:44); Jesus does not. In the synoptic gospels, the grave clothes are not mentioned, so presumably they were absent: see Mark 16:6; Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:3, 23. [ BlkJn]

Verse 9: “the scripture”: There is no specific scriptural reference, so John is probably saying that Jesus’ fulfills salvation history. However, the term scripture may well include the apocrypha to the New Testament and pseudepigrapha. When John wrote, neither the Jewish canon of the Old Testament nor that of the New Testament existed. The Greek word refers to a writing, not necessarily Scripture as we understand it.

BlkJn points out that “scripture” is in the singular, so a specific text is intended. He suggests Psalm 16:10, “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit”.

Comments: they have not yet received the Holy Spirit: When do the disciples receive the Holy Spirit in John? In 14:16, Jesus says to the disciples: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever”. So, in a sense, the Spirit is active in Jesus during his earthly ministry. However, in 16:7 Jesus says: “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”. So the Holy Spirit is with the disciples during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and is more fully with them after his ascension.

Verses 11-18: To BlkJn, this is a separate incident which is mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament only in the spurious longer ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), though there are superficial similarities to Matthew 28:8-10. Here Mary is calm when she discovers the angels while in the synoptic gospels, the women are afraid: see Mark 16:5-8; Luke 24:5 and Matthew 28:5, 8. Further, here the angels do not deliver a message while they do in the synoptic gospels. [ BlkJn] To NJBC, the evangelist has reworked a traditional story in which the risen Christ appeared to either Mary Magdalene alone or in the company of other women near the tomb. He has recast the resurrection message so that it is clear that Jesus’ return is not to the disciples in the various appearance stories. His return is his exaltation to his place with the Father: see 14:18-19; 16:22; 3:13; 6:62. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: Mary sees “two angels in white” but apparently Peter and the other disciple did not (at vv. 6-7).

Verse 14: “she did not know that it was Jesus”: Mary also fails to recognize Jesus in other resurrection stories: see 21:4, 7, 12; Luke 24:16ff; Matthew 28:17. See also Luke 24:37-41. [ BlkJn]

Verse 15: “Sir”: The Greek word is kurios also translated as Lord with divine connotations. Kurios is also used in vv. 2, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 25. [ BlkJn]

Verse 15: “gardener”: a Jewish cemetery was much like a garden. Mary would be physically unable to “take him away”: this is an expression of her love for Jesus.

Verse 16: “Rabbouni” is a variant form of Rabbi, meaning teacher. Mary wishes to resume the relationship she has previously enjoyed with Jesus. [ BlkJn]

Verse 17: One should not think of Jesus’ resurrection as though he had returned to life and then later ascended into heaven. Rather, Jesus has passed into an entirely different reality. 14:22-23 answers the question of how Jesus will manifest himself to the disciples and not to the world in terms of love and the indwelling presence of Father and Son with the disciples. [ NJBC]

Verse 17: “Do not hold on to me ...”: In Matthew 28:9-10, the women grasp the risen Lord’s feet in a gesture of worship. [ NJBC] It is not clear whether Jesus is asking Mary to let go of him or warning her not to touch him. [ JANT]

Verse 17: "ascending": See also 14:3 and 16:10. Jesus leaves both to return to the Father and to prepare to receive his followers. [ JANT]

Verse 17: “my Father ... your God”: The Father truly is Jesus’ Father; Christians acquire their relationship to him through Christ.

Verses 19-22: Jesus appears to his disciples. As a community, as the Church, they now receive the Holy Spirit.

Mark 16:1-8

The parallels are Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:1-11 and John 20:1-10. [ NOAB]

Jesus has been anointed at the house of Simon the leper in Bethany. This serves as his preparation for burial.

The emptiness of the tomb was not a proof of Jesus’ resurrection, but it was a necessary condition for the disciples to proclaim that Jesus had risen. ( Matthew 28:11-15 tells us of a Jewish claim that the disciples had stolen the body.) [ NJBC]

Verse 1: Luke 23:56 tells us “It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment” and John 19:39-40 says “Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews”. [ NOAB] Thus John 19:40 says that Jesus’ corpse had already been prepared for burial, but Mark 14:8 and this verse assume that the preparations had not been completed. Matthew 28:1 tells us that the women went simply to see the tomb. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “Mary Magdalene”: She has seen Jesus die ( 15:40) and knew where he was buried ( 15:47). She now goes to the tomb on Easter Day. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “Salome”: She is also mentioned in 15:40, as a witness to Jesus’ death. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “spices”: Incense, of which spices were an ingredient, were also used to prepare the tent of meeting for worship: see Exodus 30:34-36. [ CAB]

Verse 2: “the first day of the week”: i.e. Nissan 17. [ NJBC]

Verse 2: The “tomb” is that provided by Joseph of Arimathea. He intended it for his own body. Bodies remained in a tomb for about a year; then the bones were moved to an ossuary.

Verse 3: “stone”: The track in which it travelled ran downhill to the entrance to the tomb, making it even harder to move.

Verse 5: “a young man”: (Greek: neaniskos). Only Mark tells us about him. Mark has told us of a neaniskos who fled when Jesus was arrested: see 14:51-52. Matthew 28:5 says that the herald was an angel. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: “he is going ahead of you to Galilee”: In Matthew 28:7, it is an angel that tells the disciples this news, which, in Mark, Jesus has told the disciples as they walk to the Mount of Olives: see 14:28. For post-resurrection appearances in Galilee, see John 21:1-23. [ NOAB] Before appearing in Galilee, Jesus appears in Jerusalem: see Matthew 28:9-10; Luke 24:13-19 and John 20. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “For they were afraid”: The Greek expression is unusual in style and abrupt in effect, especially if, as is possible, it originally ended the Gospel. Fear here (probably overwhelming awe) is the pervasive consequence of “alarm” (v. 5) and of “terror and amazement” (v. 8) that resulted in fright and silence (v. 8). In contrast, in Matthew 28:8-10 fear is part of an emotional state that includes joy (v. 8) and is controlled by worship (v. 9) and acceptance of mission (v. 10). Though silent here, in Matthew 28:8 the women run to tell the disciples. as they do in Luke 24:9-11, 22-24. In the longer ending of Mark (vv. 9-20), at v. 9-10, Mary Magdalene goes out “and tells those who had been with him”. [ NOAB]

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