By David Peter Contextual Considerations This text begins a series of lectio continua from 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 which extends through the season of Epiphany. The first verse of the text begins with these words: “Now concerning spiritual gifts.” This formula indicates that Paul is responding to a question which the Corinthian Christians have ..
By Henry Rowold There are fewer occasions more pleasant for the family of God than baptism. For an adult, it marks a capstone of growth in faith and identity. For an infant, it marks, in the presence of family, initial steps of faith and growth as a Christian child of God. For both, baptism brings ..
By Francis C. Rossow Comments on the Text Lulled either by the familiarity of our text or by its complex sentence structure, we may not at first be aware of the surprise—even the shock—it contains. Verse 6 drops a bomb: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members ..
By David L. Adams Introduction In this brief section the Apostle Paul gives Christians guidance for understanding how the life of Jesus, received in baptism, manifests itself in the communal life of love, in worship centered in the word of God, and in a heart at peace that receives all things from God in a ..
By William Wrede Rapid fire, these days come together: Advent 4, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Three days standing in a row, perfectly aligned, can be more than a little intimidating. How can one prepare so much, remember so much, and do so much to honor and celebrate these days? The preacher preparing for each ..
By William Utech “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Most days I have a pretty hard time with that one. I don’t think I’m alone… I have a friend in the ministry who, for the past half-dozen years or so, has been battling cancer. On more than a few occasions, ..
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 Michael Redeker ‘Tis the season when Christians make preparations to celebrate the birth of the Christ child, and there are only a few weeks remaining to do so! This Sunday also marks the beginning of a new church year. As the church celebrates and remembers Christ’s First Advent, Christians also wait in hope for ..
by Jeffrey A. Kloha Textual Notes Two phrases are problematic in this text. First, Jesus seems to diminish John in verse 11. So who is the “greatest?” Greatness in the kingdom is the opposite of what is considered greatness outside of it. The greatest are those who serve (Mt 20:26; 23:11) but above all—directly answering ..
by Michael J. Redeker There is famine, poverty, oppression, and unfaithfulness. People live their lives contrary to God’s Word, and he doesn’t even seem to care. Does it really pay to follow God? This is the state of the world today. But this was also the context of Malachi’s ministry. The people were waiting for ..
by Joel D. Biermann Thoughts from the Text The end is in sight. Another year is drawing to a close—the church year anticipating the calendar year by a good month. Fittingly, the last words of the Old Testament point to the last “great and terrible day of the Lord” that marks the end of time ..
by Kent Burreson Getting to Know the White-Clad Relatives The central question of chapter 7 in John’s vision, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” reminds me of the family gatherings of my youth. Even with the name Burreson—a small Norwegian clan, few in number—at the bi-annual reunion in ..
by Gerhard Bode The pericope is commonly appointed for the festival of the Reformation. The assignment has less to do with the fact that Martin Luther was regarded by some of his contemporaries as the first (or even third) angel of the apocalypse and more to do with the Reformation’s emphasis on the good news ..
by Henry Rowold Razing Cain and Raising Cains Chapter 4 of Genesis is best seen as a continuation, an extension (and polyphonic echo) of the dynamic unleashed in chapter 3. Not only was child bearing painful, but so was child rearing—for those first children “gotten … with the help of the Lord.” Tragically, that first ..
by David Schmitt Textual Study The lectionary unfortunately isolates this text from its literary context and there- by masks its climactic nature. As the climax of Jacob’s larger story, this text contains surprising reversals: Jacob, who has demonstrated his strength by deception, is now wounded in a deceptive struggle (the one who, at first, appears ..
by William W. Schumacher Perhaps the first, obvious thing to say about this text from Ruth is that if we read it in its context it is not exactly a wedding text. The best known part of this peri- cope is, no doubt, the climax of the story in the beautiful words of verse 16: ..