On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Texts for Sunday May4th, 2015: The 5th Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 8:26–40

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.)  27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship  28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  29Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it."  30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"  31He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.  32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
"Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.
  33In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth."
  34The eunuch asked Philip, "About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?"  35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.  36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?"  38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.  39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.  40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Psalm 22

My praise is of him in the great assembly; 
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:  "May your heart live for ever!"

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to  the LORD, and all the families of the nations bow before him.

For kingship belongs to the LORD; he rules over the nations.

To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; all who go down to the dust fall before him.

My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him; they shall be known as the LORD'S for ever.

They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn  the saving deeds that he has done.

Second Reading: 1 John 4:7–21

7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.  9God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.  10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.  15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.  16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.  17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.  18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.  19We love because he first loved us.  20Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.  21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Gospel: John 15:1–8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.  2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.  3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

John 15:1-9 Greek Studies

Greek Study John 15:1-8

v1 εγω pro. "I [am]" - emphatic by use - the final "I am" saying in John's gospel.
η αληθινη adj. "the true" - genuine, "the real thing", the vine of God's planting now realized in Jesus, the true Israel. A polemic thrust is evident, given the claim of the religious authorities of their being the real deal- the genuine item bears fruit, fruit not evident in historic Israel, Jer.2:21.
η αμπελος (ος) "vine" - a symbol of Israel, Psalm 80:9-16, etc.
ο γεωργος (ος) "gardener" – lit. “the cultivator”. 
v2 αιρει (αιρω) pres. "he cuts off" – a Semitic use of the pronoun αυτο, "it". The verb may be translated "lifts up", rather than "removes", i.e. an image is of the branches being lifted up so they can reach the sun, but most accept "cut off." 
καθαιρει (καθαιρω) "he prunes" – lit. “cleanses”  "Prunes" carries the sense of chastisement, but the reference here is likely to be to the cleansing of the vine. In the Greek "cuts off" and "prunes" sound alike (a paronomasia) and may well have been chosen, not for their horticultural accuracy but on literary grounds. 
v3 υμεις pro. "you" – an emphatic.
εστε (ειμι) "are" - A possible improvement is made by translating as passive,; "you have already been cleansed…”
καθαροι adj. "clean" - interesting use of the same word as v2 meaning ritually clean or pure (see 13:10). Here the cleansing comes through 
τον λογον (ος) "the word" - possibly referring to Jesus' teachings in general but more likely the gospel.
λελαληκα (λαλεω) perf. "I have spoken" - may be meant to indicate that the word “remains with them”.

v4 μεινατε (μενω) aor. imp. "remain" - abide, - aorist may be ingressive, "start abiding ", or universal, for emphasis. It is used ten times in v4-10, possibly having a technical background related to association with the divine. Abiding is probably a descriptive for trusting Jesus.
φερειν (φερω) pres. inf. "[can] bear" - infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of ου δυναται, "not empowered" by the indwelling Spirit. Although "the fruit" is not spelled out, "love" is likely intended, v12-14. 

v5 ο μενων (μενω) pres. part. "if one remains [in me]" - participle serves as a substantive; expressed as a condition.
καγω "and I" – a conditional comparative, mutuality.
φερει (φερω) pres. "bears" – the present tense expresses continuous action, (future tense in English).
χωρις + gen. "apart from" - expressing separation and emphatic so; “There is nothing in this world that corresponds to the new life that he bestows and the new commandment that he gives. 
ου δυνασθε ποιειν ουδεν "you are unable to accomplish anything”. The double negative, ου ... ουδεν emphasizes the inability of bearing fruit without abiding.
v6 μενη (μενω) pres. subj. "remain [in me]" - Again the present tense is durative. 
ως "like" - The literal reading is "unless a person remains in me they are cast out...". Some translators, as NIV, shape the sentence to mean "thrown away" as part of the illustration rather than God's action toward those who do not abide. 
εβληθη (βαλλω) aor. pas. "is thrown [away]" - action is possibly repetitive, or futuristic, or immediate " but most likely emphasizing the certainty of the action without reference to its beginning or end. 
εξηρανθη (ξηραινω) aor. pas. "withers" - dries up, withers.
συναγουσιν (συναγω) pres. "are picked up" – a present tense expressing what people generally do, therefore not indicating any time differential between the aorist, "thrown away", and the present "gather up." 
το πυρ (πυρ ος) "the fire [and burned]" The presence of the definite article may indicate a particular fire (eg. fire of judgment) but most likely a parabolic style. The same construction is used with "branch", lit. "the branch." So the dead branches are burned because they are useless. 
v7 μεινητε (μενω) aor. 2nd pl. "you remain" – maybe beginning the explanation of the parable.
αιτησασθε (αιτεω) pres. imp. "ask" – a variant future "you will ask" is supported.
θελητε (θελω) pres. subj. "you wish" The seemingly general nature of the promise is controlled by the context. "My words" define the will of God so the prayer serves as a means of completing the Lord's will. 

v8 εδοξασθη (δοξαζω) aor. pas. "[my Father's] glory" – the Aorist indicating completed action. John has already told us that the Father is glorified in the obedience of the Son in his lifting up on the cross; here he is also glorified in the vine bearing fruit. 

γενησθε (γινομαι) aor. mid. subj. "showing yourselves to be [my disciples]" – a variant reading exists where the verb takes the future tense, γενησεσθε, "you will be my disciples." As the more difficult reading (the future tense rarely follows ινα) it could be original. This reading has prompted many translations, eg. "and so prove to be my disciples", RSV. None-the-less, best to go with the aorist subjunctive found in many contemporary texts (P66). The aorist subjunctive forms the clause "that you be my disciples", so "when you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored", CEV. 

Blended with Christ

It is not enough for God to be Man, to be struck  and slaughtered. He actually goes so far as to blend himself with us. Not by faith only, but also in actual deed, he makes us his body.
Consider what sort of honor you have received, what table you share. When the angels themselves behold this Sacrifice, they tremble; they dare not even look at it without awe on account of its brightness. Yet, with the same Sacrifice we are fed, with this we are blended, and we are made one bodying one flesh with Christ — St. Chrysostom

Pilate was writing home to the head office in Rome. It had been a difficult day with the crowds in Jerusalem at Passover as had been expected. But, something good had come from this year’s Passover riots anyhow. Yes, he had a man crucified for doing nothing other than making the rest of the Jewish rabble mad at himself but what is one more dead Jew. Before long, if things were not to improve, there would have to be thorough house cleaning anyway and he would probably gotten slaughtered then anyhow. I any case, “Today, great Cesar, I had all the troublesome priests and functionaries from that detestable Temple before me, the ones who have resisted Rome since our glorious conquest, and in front of me, all in one place together, with a large crowd at their back, they, with one voice proclaimed: “We have no king but Cesar!” (John 19:15) I am please to write your excellency that finally the might of Rome and the throne of you, my Cesar, is being respected in this barbarian land of stiff necked people.” The rest of the letter was about beans, bacon, and a transfer to Gaul. 
Yes, they had shouted that on the steps of the praetorium. They had used the old habits and conventions well. Pilate had refused to do their will and they had accused him of disloyalty to Rome for not crucifying Jesus for claiming to be a king. (19:12) Then they made a power play for it by claiming to be better brokers of Rome’s will by shouting that they had no king but Cesar — “so how about you, Pilate?” “Want us to riot for you not being, oh, what’s the word: Roman enough, for Cesar? Explain that to him, why don’t you.” 
He had had the last word though. Over Jesus’ head he hung the sign: “The King of the Jews.” What he had written he had written. It was they who had proclaimed him dead. They had no King but Cesar. It was their words. Cesar, the personification of “the World,” they claimed as their source of life and death and the God of Abraham was shoved aside and found unnecessary and therefore crucifiable. The representative of “the world” is satisfied today. Jerusalem is in allegiance and submission to him. All is at peace. Israel has become like one of the nations. Let us see if Cesar will come to save them. 
Allegiance is a complicated and dangerous thing. We develop a sense of it in Jr. High School. If you are my friend, goes the thinking, you will shun the people I don’t like. If don’t trash them like I, you are their friend and not mine. I don’t trust you unless I hear you diss them, preferably to their faces. We carry a version, though a complicated one, into adulthood I suppose. Maybe the main difference is that we pick our battles much differently and that we pick fewer battles to start with. At least that sounds good though reality probably includes many battles we carry out behind the scenes. Was it not Luther who posed that not being of aid to the neighbor was in some way the same as theft and murder?
The great vine and branches speech that Jesus gives in John 15 is a discourse on allegiance. It is not simply a: “Where do I get my strength from,” transaction. The branch can only be in allegiance to one vine. In the case of the Christian branches, it would seem obvious that the original branches declared allegiance to another and have left, witness their cry before Pilate. The church has become the ingrafted branches. Will they be trimmed off like Israel? Jesus says that the Father is the vinedresser. What is not productive will be removed. (15:2) 
Further, the vine does only produce fruit non directly. The fruit grows on branches, not on the vine. Branches can and are grafted in if needed. When the system works, vine gives sap and the branch blossoms and produces fruit. The vine receives its “glory” through the work of the branches. In John the Father is glorified by the work of the Son. The Son has promised that his own will do greater works than he and that as he is glorified, the Father will be as well. 

Allegiance is a two way street. Christ has blended his precious blood with you. That is his allegiance to you. It is an allegiance not of slave and master but of friends, as next weeks reading from John 15 will say. In a two way street one might ask what Jesus will get out of his patronage of you. Well? Well . . .
I know what you are thinking, good Lutheran, I am forgiven and after that, I am always in danger of doing things that I hope to merit salvation. Well, you can’t! You can’t do or build what has already been done and completed. You can be destructive of what has been built and wrought. You are using the sap of the vine in one way or another. What is your way? 
St. Ignatius invites his readers to examen themselves daily. 1. Know that you are under God’s Care and providence. 2. Ask God to recollect the day to you: When were you on the side of life? Give thanks for those times. 3. Ask God to recollect the day to you again: When were you on the side of death. Ask pardon. 4. Take up one feature of the day that stands out and ask God to reveal its meaning to you. What will it mean for your tomorrow and what will be the help you need, the grace from God, the sap from the vine, for you to meet tomorrow on the side of life? 5. Ask God for that grace. 

Jesus gave glory to the Father and the Father glorified Jesus. Will we bring shame?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Texts for Sunday, April 26th, 2015: The 4th Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 4:5–12

5The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem,  6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.  7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?"  8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders,  9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed,  10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.  11This Jesus is
'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.'
  12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

Second Reading: 1 John 3:16–24

16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.  17How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.  19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him  20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.  21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God;  22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.  24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Gospel: John 10:11–18

11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.  14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."

A shepherd without sheep is a smelly vagrant

By this all shall know that you are my disciples: That you type “Amen” under religious FaceBook updates. — #thingsJesusneversaid. 

On the pulpit of my congregation sits a large bible that is always comfortably opened to somewhere in the middle so notes do not slip off. At least that is what it seems like. In reality, I have it open to a particular chapter: Jeremiah 23.

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

Since I am a pastor, which is a Latin version of shepherd, the reasons might just be obvious. Those who would be shepherds — ordained or by default like parents — of faith in others ought to probably read Jeremiah a few times a year along with John chapters 9 and 10. For those interested, chapter 10 also explains why Jesus is nowhere close to Bethany when Lazarus dies and why Thomas believes their return to Bethany will spell their death. 
The great and beloved Good Shepherd passage from John 10 is commentary on what happens in chapter 9 and Jesus’ words eventually cause the opposition to pick up rocks to stone him. The chapter is not about shepherds. Deep breath . . I know . . hard to stomach. Yes, having a local HHHH kid bring in their fair animal is as much an act of missing the point of the chapter as it is bad for the carpet. So does talking about the vocational history of 1st century agricultural laborers and stained glass pictures of Jesus holding a lamb just barely pass but on the basis of Luke 15. 
The shepherds in question are really leaders of the people. Jeremiah 23 makes this clear as does Ezekiel 34. The rulers, kings and priest and religious experts, are loosely referred to as shepherds in the Old Testament. That tradition might go back to David who is the shepherd turned king. Visions of the messiah include David at least in heritage. Messiah is to be a king like David — only better as in, without the Bathsheba episode — and a priest. It is no surprise then that the first question asked of Jesus after the Good Shepherd speech is: Are you the Messiah? (10:24) 
Jesus’ answer to that question really is: You could know that answer yourself if you where one of mine and if you just can’t make it out then at least consider the evidence of the work I do and ask yourself if mine are not the works of the God of Israel. That answer is not well received.
The “mine” are those who, with Thomas and the man born blind, fall at his feet and say: “My Lord and my God,” in one way or another. The others are “blind,” (9:39) even though some claim to “see,” and by that claim, they are guilty. Woe to those shepherds who have scattered the flock and who have put out of the flock the blind man for the offense of having been healed. 
Woe. What a great word. What are we to gather from this text? Not all of us are pastors or spiritual directors. Yet, many of us are parents and elders in the faith in some form. We are, however, not Jesus. We must let him be the Shepherd, the king and hoped for Messiah.
These things are written that you may believe, writes John in chapter 20. Beyond that, think about what Jesus has commanded you according to John? His commandment is that we love one another. As the epistle of John says: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God,” and again: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 
The problem in the fact finding mission of the Pharisees of chapter 9 is that it did not show even a shred of love. They scatter the flock because they do not love the flock. They do not rejoice with a blind man regaining his sight. They do not celebrate that one has been restored to full life. It matters not if the blindness had been a lie. He is not blind or no longer blind. One way or another, a change for the better, a restoration of life has taken place. A lost one has been brought back to life. Love celebrates. 
What then is the opposite that permits the Pharisees to run breathlessly hither and yon at the news that the man can see? Leviticus 19 already commands that one love neighbor as oneself. Surely they knew this. 1 John would say that perfect Love casts out fear. Not any fear though. No, the fear that is spoken of is fear of judgement. For some reason, the healing of the blind man has stirred that fear. Did he sin or his parents? “Neither,” said Jesus. Maybe there is the problem. It is so much easier to think that there sits the sinner and I am not him. There but for the good favor of God sit I. But will you love him? Will you love Thomas who tells you that you are lying about the resurrection? (20:25)

We are all the Lord’s sheep. Will  we love one another as the flock that he tends? For the sake of the Lord who loves his sheep? Even the blind ones? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Text for April 19th, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, 2015

First Reading: Acts 3:12–19

12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?  13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.  14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you,  15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.  16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
17And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.  18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.  19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.

Psalm 4

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1–7

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  2Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  5You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  6No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.  7Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

Gospel: Luke 24:36b–48

36b"Peace be with you."  37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  38He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."  40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  43and he took it and ate in their presence.

44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."  45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,  46and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,  47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  48You are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24 i Greek

Greek Study Luke 24:36-53

v36 λαλουντων (λαλεω) pres. part. "while [they] were still talking" – a genitive absolute participle, best treated here as a temporal clause, as NIV.
αυτων gen. pro. "them" - of them. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.
αυτοις dat. pro. "[said] to them" - Dative of indirect object.
υμιν dat. pro. "[peace be] to you" - Dative of interest, advantage.

v37 πτοηθεντες (πτοεω) aor. pas. part. "startled" - This substantive participle and the adjective εμφοβοι, "afraid", joined by και, "and", have a similar meaning and are placed together for emphasis, so serving as a compound predicate for the participle γενομενοι, "having become"; i.e. "they shrank back in terror".
θεωρειν (θεωρεω) pres. inf. "[thinking] they saw" - infinitive introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what they were thinking.
πνευμα (α ατος) "a spirit” in the sense of a disembodied person, i.e. a ghost.

v38 τεταραγμενοι εστε "troubled" - The participle with the present tense of the verb to-be forms a periphrastic perfect, emphasizing durative aspect; "[why] have you been troubled?”
διαλογισμοι αναβαινουσιν εν τη καρδια "why do doubts arise in your minds?" – a Semitism as reasoning for a Jew took place in the heart.

v39 ιδετε (ειδον) aor. imp. "look" – maybe examine my hands and feet.
ψηλαφησατε (ψηλαφαω) aor. imp. "touch" – a rare word in the NT. 
πνευμα (α ατος) "a ghost" - in the sense of an independent expression of a person after death. By saying he is not a spirit, Jesus is not implying that ghosts do not exist.

v40 ειπων (ειπον) aor. part. "when he had said" - participle is adverbial, probably temporal.
αυτοις dat. pro. "[he showed] them" – Dative, an indirect object.

v41 απιστουντων (απιστεω) pres. part. gen. "while [they still] did not believe" - a genitive absolute, is usually treated as temporal, - not mean faithless or skeptical but "dumbfounded", I lean toward "incredulous - too good to be true".
θαυμαζοντων (θουμαζω) pres. part. gen. "amazement" - stands with απιστουντων, "disbelieving" So “the disciples were "dumbfounded", overwhelmed in amazement by the presence of a spiritual manifestation of Jesus.” It is probably for this reason that Jesus asks for some food. As to the deception of asking for food when he didn't actually need any, "is there any deceit in taking food, which one does not want, in order to put others, who are needing it, at their ease?" Note, some manuscripts add "and of a honeycomb", but this is possibly a later addition, given that honey was used in the early church in the liturgy of the sacraments. Of course, just because Jesus doesn't need to eat doesn't mean he can't enjoy a meal.

v42 οπτου gen. adj. "[a piece of] broiled [fish]" – the genitive serves as a partitive. (this verse was probably added.)
v43 ενωπιον + gen. "in their presence" - Jesus may have had a meal with the disciples, but this is not the point Luke is making. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, ate in their presence, before their very eyes. He "ate it as they watched".

v44 Ειπεν δε προς ουτους "He said to them" - Some suggest this phrase introduces a new incident, possibly Jesus' farewell words to his disciples before the ascension. The argument can be sustained, but probably the words introduce an immediate sequel.
πληρωθηναι (πληροω) aor. pas. inf. "be fulfilled" infinitive forms a noun clause, subject of the verb "is necessary." The gospel begins with the statement, "the time is fulfilled", that is, the promises in scripture concerning the coming messiah and his kingdom are now being realized in the person of Jesus, and therefore, "the kingdom of God is at hand." 
τα γεγραμμενα (γραφω) - perf. pas. part. "that is written" - the participle is adjectival, limiting "everything must be fulfilled". Often used in the perfect of binding legal documents, the authority of which cannot be questioned. 
ψαλμοις (ος) "the Psalms" - psalms. Given that Jesus mentions "the Law of Moses" and "the Prophets" it is quite possible that the third section of scripture, namely "the Writings", which includes the Psalms, is intended.

v45 διηνοιξεν (διανοιγω) aor. "he opened" - revealed. sometimes argued as the giving of the Spirit in line with the giving of the Spirit in John's gospel, Pentecost being the empowering of the Spirit. This is unlikely. Either a spiritual gift of understanding, or a simple explanation of how the scriptures are fulfilled in him; "he explained everything to them…
του συνιεναι (συνιημι) pres. inf. "so they could understand".

v46 ουτως adv. "this is what [is written]" - referring to the content of the scriptural teaching concerning Christ, or causal, "because the scripture must be fulfilled".
παθειν (πασχω) aor. inf. "will suffer" - as with "rise" and "will be preached", the infinitive forms a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what has been written, namely "that the messiah will suffer ....." The accusative ton criston, serves as the subject of the infinitive.
αναστηναι (ανιστημι) aor. inf. "rise". The resurrection is always difficult to source in scripture. Acts refers to Ps.16:10 and 110.1. Biblical theology is the key to sourcing the scriptural support for the resurrection of the messiah. The messiah is representative Israel and his resurrection constitutes the reconstitution of faithful Israel as promised in scripture. Christ, as the remnant is subjected to the bondage of death (Egypt) and now through the cross (Exodus) gains eternal glory (the Promised Land).
τη τριτη ημερα dat. "on the third day" - adverbial, of time.

v47 μετανοιαν (α) "repentance" - Biblical repentance is not so much a feeling sorry, or even a new-year's resolution to behave properly, but is a change of will or direction, a turning from self to Christ.
αμαρτιων (α) gen. "of sins" - genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, but it can also be viewed as adjectival, limiting "forgiveness" by making it more specific.
κηρυχθηναι (κηρυσσω) aor. inf. "will be preached" - infinitive as with παθειν, "to suffer", cf. v46. The proclamation of God's mercy to the nations fulfills the third element of the promised blessings to Abraham. "And repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed to all people of every nation."
αρξαμενοι (αρξω) aor. part. "beginning [at Jerusalem]" - adverbial, best understood as "the mission will start in Jerusalem."

v48 υμεις "you" - emphatic.

τουτων gen. pro. "of these things" - genitive is probably adverbial, expressing respect; "you are witnesses with respect to these things"; of Jesus' passion, resurrection, teachings and work.


The Easter season in the year of Mark is entirely “Mark-free” it would seem. We read from John and we read this week’s pericope from Luke. The story recalled here tells the events that happen in the upper room after the disciples that had met the Lord on the road to Emmaus have returned and made their report. As they do so, we learn that the Lord has already appeared to Simon. The same Simon Peter had been to the tomb early the previous day — days end at sunset — and has seen it empty. 
On the road to Emmaus we found out that Jesus can and does pull alongside those who ponder his life and death. The disciples were speaking of the things that had happened in Jerusalem in Holy Week. But in drawing alongside he is not recognized. The wording suggests that the disciples’ eyes were held captive from recognizing him. Yet, they perceive that something is happening as Jesus lays out the scriptures to them that clarify what has happened on Good Friday. They are mesmerized by the way the “stranger” is talking and cause him to stay with them at evening and as a result, at table in the actions of the Eucharist, they meet him by the simple moment that their eyes were opened. He is present. He is unseen. His movement toward them is not movement at all. When he comes he is experienced as already being present but now revealed suddenly by opening of hearts and minds and eyes. 
As the disciples report their experiences and speak of the awe of the realization that Jesus is alive, this revelation happens again: He stands among them and brings his peace upon them. He teaches and opened minds. He speaks of the forgiveness of sin that they are to preach just as he does in John 21.
He eats in their presence. Perhaps a nod in the direction that resurrected life in physical. The same goes with his assurances that he is real. The old life has left its memories on the new life but that new life has transformed those memories. Wounds inflicted in hate, anger, neglect, betrayal, and denial have left a mark but now seem to be symbols of familiarity and pardon. At the same time, the new life, the resurrected life, is somehow also transcendent. He can be present but absent at the same time and vise versa. 
One might not want to dwell too long on the instruction not to leave town but to wait. Too many Christians are “waiting” for the moment or their own sense of knowing and feeling seem right before they act. In the case of the disciples they already “know.” He has opened their minds and as Peter’s Pentecost sermon shows they have learned. This is done. The power of the Spirit is now being awaited. 

After this, the presence is no longer evident. That is to say, he ascends and they saw him no more. They do not need to it would seem. The Spirit gets to drive the car for the rest of the trip all the way until today. Yes, the latter half of the pericope is the Ascension text. For now, there seems to be a common theme though that perhaps the Spirit will continue: Where Christ’s people meet, there he is as well. Once he was so in the resurrected body. Now it is in the Spirit, but where he is spoken of, where his story is pondered, where bread is broken in his name, there he stands among them. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Texts for Sunday April 11, 2015, the Second Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 4:32–35

32Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.  33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.  34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.  35They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Second Reading: 1 John 1:1—2:2

Chapter 1

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life —  2this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us —  3we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  4We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  6If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;  7but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  9If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Chapter 2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;  2and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Gospel: John 20:19–31

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."  20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."  27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe."  28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"  29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:19-31 Greek Studies

Greek Study John 20:19-31

v19 ουσης (ειμι when it was evening 
τη μια σαββατων "on the first day [of the week]
κεκλεισμενων (κλαιω) gen. perf. pas. part. having been shut the perfect tense emphasizes the locking, now complete. 
εστη εις το μεσον stood in the midst carries here both a sense of motion toward and at rest in.
υμιν dat. pro."[peace be] with you" - dative of interest; an idiom meaning "I pray that all may be well for with you".
v20 ειπων (λεγω) aor. part. "after he said [this]
εχαρησαν (χαιρω) aor. pas. "were overjoyed" - thrilled.
ιδοντες (ειδον) aor. part. "having seen”.
v21 παλιν adv. again καθως "so as" – a comparative.
αποσταλκεν (αποστελλω) perf. "has sent" - perfect tense indicating the action is completed with ongoing ramifications.
καγω and so I adjunctive. πεμπω pres. "I am sending" – an emphatic present tense indicating ongoing action.
v22 ειπων (λεγω) aor. part. "[and] saying that" - participle is adverbial, temporal; "and when he had said this".
ενεφυσησεν (εμφυσαω) aor. "he breathed" – a hapax legomenon, possibly reflecting the divine breath in creation – a clash with Luke's account of Pentecost - one would expect that this is the appropriate moment for the empowering of the disciples for their ministry, but its clash with Luke's Pentecost account is not easy to explain. Pentecost is the moment we witness the outpouring of divine power so maybe John's account is inward?
λαβετε (λαμβανω) aor. imp. "receive" - translation "receive" is ingrained, but possibly "accept", even "welcome" makes more sense.
v23 αν + subj. "if" - a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition stated in the "if" clause (protasis) has the probability of coming true; "if, as may be the case, ...... then ....." In English the use of "if" conveys doubt, in the Greek, certainty.
αφητε (αφιημι) aor. subj. "you forgive" - the word order makes "forgive" emphatic. To release a person of the consequence of their sins. This authority is given to the apostles and it is reasonable to argue that it extends to all believers. 
τινων gen. pro. "anyone's [sins]" - genitive is possessive.
αφεωνται (αφιημι) perf. pas. "they are forgiven" - a proleptic perfect tense.
κρατητε (κρατεω) pres. subj. "do not forgive"  

v24 ο λεγομενος (λεγω) pres. pas. part. "the one called Didymus"  the participle serves as a substantive, standing in apposition to "Thomas". As a nickname, "Twin", seems a bit far fetched.

v25 ελεγον (λεγω) imperf. "[the other disciples]said. imperfect may express ongoing action, "they kept saying to him".
εωρακαμεν (οραω) perf. "we have seen" - as with Mary in v18, but these are men so the witnessing holds greater impact.
των ηλων (ος) gen. "[the] nail [marks]" – literally the nail scars.
βαλω (βαλλω) aor. subj. "put [my hand]" – a strong word, so "thrust my hand into his side."

v26 μεθ ημερας "a week later" - after eight days counting the following Sunday.
κεκλεισμενων (λκειω) gen. perf. part. "though [the doors] were locked" - The participle is adverbial, but given that the participle is part of a genitive absolute construction, temporal is more likely; "When the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them”.

v27 τω Θωμα (α ας) "to Thomas" - Dative of indirect object.
μη γινου απιστος "stop doubting" - do not generate unbelief; the command takes the present imperative, here the cessation of action, so "stop doubting".
αλλαÄ"but [believe]" – a strong adversative.
v28 ο κυριος (ος) "My Lord" - usually taken as a vocative; "you are the one who rules over me.
v29 μακαριοι adj. "blessed" -  a state of joy in response to benefiting from God's favor.
οι μη ιδοντες (ειδον) aor. part. "are those who have not seen" - participle serves as a substantive, the aorist is gnomic, expressing a universal truth.
v30 σημεια (ον) "miraculous signs"- the original ending of John, or at least that secgiton often referred to as the “Book of Signs”..
ενωπιον + gen. "in the presence of [his disciples]" - possibly temporal; "while he was with his disciples."

v31 γεγραπται (γραφω) perf. pas. "written" – the perfect indicating completion of the writing. What is written is written. A very important statement in that it declares John's purpose for writing the book, a purpose which is clearly evangelistic.
ινα + subj. "that [by believing you may have life]" - a purpose clause, but also a consecutive clause expressing result; "and so (as a consequence) gain life by 
πιστευοντες (πιστευω) pres. part. " believing" - the participle is modal, expressing manner, so "through this faith".

εν τω ονοματι αυτου "in his name" – the  preposition εν may be expressing the sense of corporate union, that is God's gift of eternal life is found in union with his Son - "name" = person; so "in union with the person of Christ". "The name" can also carry the sense " authority of", such that εν would then take an instrumental sense, "by, through, or with = under his authority."