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Proper 10 | Ordinary Time 15 | Pentecost 8, Cycle C (2016)

God keeps us on the move. Sanctification is the primary emphasis, though this must be examined in relation to Justification by Grace and the Atoning Work of Christ.

Psalm 82
This is an Asaph Psalm liturgy of the Lord’s judgment on pagan gods. The reference to Asaph is to one of David’s chief musicians (2 Chronicles 6:39; 15:17). The psalm begins with God taking his place in the council of gods (a common Ancient Near East belief that the world was ruled by such a coalition) (v. 1). God challenges the other gods not to show partiality to the wicked, but to do justice [tsadaq, to declare right or just] to the weak and needy (vv. 2-4). We have previously noted that the Hebraic equivalent term for “righteousness” when applied to God does not just connote legal, judgmental actions, but concerns loyalty to his covenant in saving us, even at times as in this case God’s righteousness is declared or bestowed on the faithful (Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 373, 376ff). Likewise we remind ourselves that God’s judgment in the Hebraic sense is a word of comfort, in the sense that it can cause positive outcomes and provide comfort, knowing that God’s just acts have an end in sight (Ibid., pp. 343, 358-359). (A musical interlude designated by the term Selah follows v.2.)

The other gods whom Elohim challenges are said to be lacking in knowledge and understanding (v. 5). These gods are called “children of the most high God” which strips them of their divine privilege (vv. 6-7). The psalmist, perhaps reflecting the theology of the Pentateuch’s Priestly oral tradition, closes with a prayer that God might judge the earth since all the nations belong to him (v. 8). We have here a firm indication of the emerging strict monotheism of the Hebraic faith.

Application: The psalm puts preachers in dialogue with the false gods of our day, and how our God is judging those evils to our benefit (Providence and Sin). He declares us righteous, and so sermons on this theme might explore the Old Testament idea of righteousness as loyalty to the law, which entails that Christians share God’s faithfulness to God’s promises. That will keep Christians moving (Justification by Grace and Sanctification).


Psalm 25:1-10
This is a lament song attributed to David; it is really a prayer for deliverance from personal enemies. We remind ourselves that it is unlikely that David is the author of the psalms attributed to him (Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, p. 512). In fact some scholars conclude that references to David in the psalms may be a way of using him to represent the inner life of all his subjects, and so of all the faithful (Ibid., p. 521). In that sense this psalm is a reminder we all do well to pray for deliverance. The psalm is acrostic. Every successive verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew Bible.

The psalm starts off with praise of God as the one in whom the psalmist trusts [batach] (vv. 1-2), a plea not to be put to shame [bosh] (v. 3), and a prayer for direction (to walk in God’s truth [emeth, steadfastness]) (vv. 4-5a). Yahweh is said to be the God of salvation/safety [yesha] and to be of compassion (vv. 5b-6). The psalm continues with a confession of sin and prayer for forgiveness (vv. 6-7). The affirmation of Justification by Grace (that God would not remember [zakar] our sin) includes a concern with the practice of the religious life (Sanctification). It seems that the forgiven sinner (the humble one [anav]) is led by God. All the paths of the Lord are said to be steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep his covenant [berith] (vv. 5, 8-9).

Application: Sermons emerging from the psalm’s word will celebrate the “safety” Christ’s compassionate saving work affords, how he does not remember our Sin (Justification by Grace) and how as forgiven we are led by him and trust him, for he reigns in our lives (Sanctification).

Amos 7:7-17
This lesson is drawn from a collection of teaching and traditions concerning a prophet who may have written during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II in Israel (786-746 BC). From Judah, Amos did his prophesying in the Northern Kingdom, but then after the Babylonian Captivity may have returned to Judah to write a summary of his proclamation. Some scholars contend that his addresses were gathered and combined to form this book. The lesson is a portion of one of the five visions of God’s judgment and restoration given to Amos along with his confrontation with Amaziah, the official priest of the Northern Kingdom’s royal sanctuary in Bethel (v. 10).

First, Yahweh reveals a wall with a plumb line [anak] to symbolize that Israel is warped beyond correction and so must be destroyed. The destruction of its “high places” [bamah] seems to refer to the sanctuaries for its sacrifices (vv. 7-9). Amaziah in turn reports to King Jerobaom that Amos was conspiring against him (vv. 10-11). Amaziah admonishes Amos to flee to Judah and cease prophesying in Bethel (vv. 11-12). Amos responds that he is no prophet (not part of the prophetic order common in Israel and Judah), but a herdsman summoned by Yahweh to prophesy (vv. 14-15). He responds that Israel will be destroyed (vv. 16-17).

Application: Sermons on this text should proclaim Christian faith’s extremism with regard to the injustices and unfaith of the status quo (Sanctification and Social Ethics).


Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Like the first four books of the Bible, Deuteronomy is probably the product of four distinct oral traditions. It is primarily the work of a strand scholars have called D (the Deuteronomistic source). This strand was related to, if not rooted in, the sweeping religious reforms under Judah’s King Josiah in the late seventh century BC. This literary strand also influenced the histories of the books of Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 Samuel, as well as 1 and 2 Kings. The book’s theme is evidenced by the meaning of its title (“Second Law”). It is possible, though, that the book in its final form was edited after the Babylonian Captivity of the sixth century BC. Portrayed in the form of Moses’ Farewell Address, it is the reaffirmation of the covenant between God and Israel. The legal tradition of the book of Exodus is reinterpreted in contemporary terms of Josiah’s 621 BC religious reforms and the harsh realities of exile.

This lesson is drawn from Moses’ Third Address. It may presuppose that Israel has been in exile. It is promised that Yahweh Elohim will make the people abundantly prosperous in all undertakings, for he will take delight/rejoice [sus] in prospering them as he did their ancestors when we obey his commandments [mitsvah] and decrees/statutes [chuqqah] written in the Book of the Law for it shows the faithful turn to him with all their heart [iebab] and soul [nephesh] (vv. 9-10). This is not a hard commandment, not too far away. It is not inaccessible in heaven (vv. 11-12). The text seems to call for a quest for cosmic wisdom and posits a ready accessibility to God’s commandments that the law is always with us in the created order. Nor is it beyond the sea (v. 13). The word is very near, in our mouths and hearts (v. 14). Apparently such covenant demands were not regarded as burdensome, but have been graciously revealed. From a Christian point of view these viewpoints could be taken as a description of the Christian’s relation to God’s law in light of the Revelation in Christ, that the law’s demands are now internalized and so are really a description of who we are as Christians.

Application: This Complementary Version of the First Lesson provides excellent opportunities to teach the status of the law for Christians in light of the work of Christ (Sanctification and Justification by Grace).

Colossians 1:1-14
The lesson is drawn from a circular letter that was either written by Paul from prison (4:3, 10, 18) late in his career or by a follower of Paul who had a hand in assembling the collection of his Epistles. These conclusions follow from the fact that the letter includes vocabulary and stylistic characteristics different from the authentic Pauline corpus. The Epistle addresses Christians in a town in Asia Minor near Ephesus, which though not likely founded by Paul was basically in line with his teachings, save being threatened by ascetic teachings (2:21, 23), ritual practices rooted in the Jewish traditions (2:16), and philosophical speculation (2:8, 20), all of which were related to visionary insights and perhaps even to the heresy of Gnosticism. Christ’s cosmic lordship is a central theme. This lesson includes the Salutation of the Epistle, a thanksgiving for the Colossians, and an intercession.

First identifying himself as an apostle [apostolos], Paul greets the saints [hagios, those set apart] and faithful in Colossae (vv. 1-2). He follows with a thanksgiving for the Colossians. Paul then notes the faith and love for all the saints that the Colossians exhibit (v. 4). He refers to the hope [elpis] laid up for the faithful in heaven (v. 5). This hope, which was heard before the gospel [euaggelion], bears fruit (v. 6). Paul observes that it has been taught to the Colossians by Epaphrus who founded the church in the town and who now assists him. The apostle notes that through Epaphrus he has learned of the Colossians’ love in the Spirit [pneuma] (vv. 7-8). Paul next speaks of not ceasing to pray for the Colossians, asking that they be filled with knowledge [epignosis full knowledge] of God’s will and lead lives worthy of the Lord as they bear fruit in every good work and grow in God’s knowledge (vv. 9-10). He also prays that the Colossians would be made strong with all the strength from God’s glorious power, prepared to endure all with patience and joy, giving thanks to the Father who enables them to share in the inheritance of the saints (vv. 11-12). He refers to God rescuing/delivering [rhuomai] us from the power of darkness [skotos] through his beloved Son in whom we have redemption [apolutrosis, a losing away] and forgiveness [aphesis a sending away] of sins (vv. 13-14). The Greek word for darkness in this case refers not to blackness but gloom, and so redemption and forgiveness in this case sends the gloom away or loses the faithful from it.

Application: Sermons on this lesson can proclaim the difference Christ’s saving work makes in everyday life, leading to love (Atonement and Sanctification).

Luke 10:25-37
We note once more that this gospel is the first installment of a two-part history of the church traditionally attributed to Luke, a physician and Gentile associate of Paul (Colossians 4:14;

2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). Along with Acts, the author’s intention was to stress the universal mission of the Church (Acts 1:8). Addressed to Theophilus (1:1), it is not clear if this means that the work was written for a recent convert or for a Roman official from whom the Church sought tolerance. But since Theophilus means “lover of God” it is possible that the author addressed all the faithful.

This lesson is the famed parable of the good Samaritan, unique to Luke. The dialogue with Jesus from which the parable emerged is occasioned by a lawyer [nomikos] asking him what he must do to inherit eternal life [zoe aionios] (v. 25). Jesus responds by directing him to the law [nomos] (v. 26). The lawyer responds that we are to love God with all our hearts and souls and the neighbor [plesion] as oneself (v. 27; cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18). Jesus tells him that he has the right answer (v. 28). The lawyer seeks to justify himself by asking who is his neighbor (v. 29). Jesus responds with the parable: A man going from Jerusalem to Jericho was beaten by robbers (v. 30). A priest and a Levite (the designated lay associate of the priest) pass the man, no doubt concerned about the impurity that would result from contact with a half dead person (vv. 31-32; cf. Numbers 19:10b-13). A Samaritan moved with pity binds the man’s wounds, clothes him, seeks to medicate him with oil and wine, and brings him to an inn to care for him (vv. 33-34). (Samaritans would have regarded a Judean as a foreigner, not obligated to show sympathy to him.) At day’s end he pays the innkeeper to continue caring for the man with the promise to pay more (v. 35). Jesus asks the lawyer which of the three men had been the neighbor of the robbed man (v. 36). The lawyer responds, “The one who showed mercy” [eleos, kindness]. Jesus instructs the lawyer to do likewise (v. 37).

Application: This is a lesson for proclaiming that Good Works (Sanctification) will not happen if we are inspired by the status quo or social convention. They are miraculous and happen only by the grace of God (Justification by Grace).

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen