By Dale A. Meyer Straightforward and familiar, this easy text isn’t easy. John the Baptist, “brood of vipers,” “wrath to come,” “bear fruits . . . and do not say to yourselves,” and the like are a routine Advent reading and its theme of repentance is what we do Sunday after Sunday, but familiarity with ..
By Jeff Thormodson The seven verses just preceding our text describe a cultural milieu that seriously doubts the existence of God or a literal judgment day. This first century attitude fits the current context where “[many] see no tangible evidence of the Lord’s second coming and thus doubt its reality. As a result, they see no need for ..
By Francis C. Rossow The tree metaphor with which the text begins is a continuation of the same metaphor introduced at the end of the preceding chapter (Is 10:33–34). There the metaphor is used for law purposes. “The Lord Almighty will lop off the boughs … the lofty trees will be felled” (NIV), and “Lebanon with its majestic ..
By Bruce Schuchard Paul faces the first stage of his trial in Rome before the emperor. Whether or not he will be found innocent and released, or whether he will be “poured out like a drink offering” (2:17) and die at the emperor’s whim, he does not know. Not only does he not know, he ..
by David Wollenburg The Old Testament lesson for today does more than simply serve as the first lesson for this day; it summarizes the theme of Advent 2. Indeed, it summarizes the message of this entire season of the church year, and then it moves us to respond. It can be said that this remarkable passage ..
by Jeffrey A. Gibbs Historically Specific Theology Matthew begins by writing, “and in those days.” Recalling that chapter divisions are later additions and (sometimes) unhelpful, I would encourage the following understanding: there is no “break” between chapters 2 and 3. Even though we know that there is a gap of several decades, Matthew’s narrative flows ..
By Wallace Becker This is the Old Testament reading for Advent 2. “He comes.” Prepare for his coming. The reading from Malachi says that God will send his messenger to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. The Gospel reading from Luke 3:1-20 describes the work of John the Baptist as the fulfillment of this prophecy. ..
By Jeffrey A. Oschwald Advent 2 presents us with the New Testament doorkeeper par excellence: John. This should make it very easy for the preacher to connect this week’s message with the previous week’s and so build on the theme. Instead of using the same format for these “Helps,” however, I would like to focus ..