April 30, 2007

2 Ti 3-4

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

(Today instead of a new psalm remember to reread the seasonal canticle for April, Isaiah 25:1-9; relevant discussion and links are here.)

A photo by Nick Lassa of the 1500m race at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, GreeceDo you run at all? When I was in elementary and high school I really did not like running, but I grew to love running and ran quite regularly for years until my legs stopped letting me run. (I was some 50 pounds lighter when I was running regularly.) There’s a scientifically-demonstrated natural “high” runners get while they are running that lingers for a time afterwards; there’s nothing quite like it. Today in 2 Timothy 3-4 St. Paul like an Olympic athlete describes having run the race. He had a different kind of “high”, I suppose we could say, one that may not be scientifically-demonstratable but is nevertheless true. His “high” is that which comes from confident faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, life, and eternal salvation. (The image with this post is Nick Lassa’s intentionally blurry photo of the 1500m race at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) My previous post on these chapters is here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Timothy 4:5-15 for the Epistle reading on the day of St. Luke the Evangelist, and hymn #599 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Timothy 4:7 (you'll have to see your hymnal for that one).

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 29, 2007

Ps 120 / 2 Ti 1-2 / Folo / 1 Timothy wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Even when we feel that the Lord does not hear our prayers, we can say boldly with the psalmist today in Psalm 120, “I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.” Deep down we must admit from our past experience that the Lord does hear and answer our prayers, even if we don’t always like the answer or when it comes. The Lord knows what is best for us and faithfully gives it to us. Especially when it comes to our distress of sin and death, He gives us forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. (My introduction to the “songs of ascents” and brief previous comments on Psalm 120 are here.)

Psalm 120 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent) and the Second Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 120.)

An image of a stained glass window of Timothy, said to be from a Saint Charles Borromeo Church, the location of which was not givenGospel ministry is never really about either the person delivering the message or the person to whom the message is being delivered, but Gospel ministry is always about the content of the Gospel—the person of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. As we read 2 Timothy 1-2 we pick up more details about St. Paul and Timothy, but I think we can also see how the real focus of even St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy has to do with the Gospel ministry and its center Jesus Christ. Faithful pastors, like Paul and Timothy, point not to themselves but to Christ, Who alone can rescue us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. The image with this post is of a stained glass window depicting Timothy (it is said to be from a Saint Charles Borromeo Church, but which church by that name is not said; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). My previous post introducing the letter and commenting on its first two chapters is here, and you can read a brief comment about similar thoughts between 2 Timothy 2:11-13 and Psalm 9:10 here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1 year lectionary does not appoint any Epistle reading from 2 Timothy 1-2, but two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 2 Timothy 1-2.

The Biblog folo today comes in response to yesterday’s post and its discussion of the last section of Psalm 119 as variously translated by different Bible versions and commentators. One reader emailed to report finding the discussion interesting and having put several different Bible versions side by side to compare as I had done. The reader also reported that the CEV (Contemporary English Version) overall has a more demanding tone. I’ve let go of my frustration with it from yesterday and moved on, but I agree that to a great extent the puzzle of the different translations coming from the same Hebrew verb conjugation remains.

Today I have a 1 Timothy wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired 1 Timothy, like so many others, through the Apostle Paul.
What is the book? The book is the first of two apostolic epistles, or letters, to the “young” “pastor” Timothy and the congregation(s) in Ephesus for which he was serving as an apostolic representative.
Where was it written? From what we can tell, Paul probably wrote 1 Timothy from Philippi.
When was it written? A usual reconstruction of the events puts the writing of 1 Timothy near the end of the so-called fourth missionary journey, which is dated between A.D. 62-63.
Why? Paul likely had just left Timothy in Ephesus as Paul traveled on to Philippi, and he knew the situation in Ephesus, with the church plagued by at least three false teachings, so he writes to encourage Timothy to refute that false teaching, also knowing how Timothy was both uniquely suited and uniquely challenged to deal with it.
How? In an extremely-caring and down-to-earth way, Paul gives some straightforward advice to Timothy and reinforces key aspects of Christian doctrine that are under attack by the heresy in Ephesus and need his defense. Pastors and people today can find much of value in this letter even nearly two millennia later.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Timothy, you may make use of the following:
  • Knight, George W., III. The Pastoral Epistles, The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996. (I own a copy of this relatively-recent commentary, with its 222 pages specifically on 1 Timothy, that you are welcome to borrow. I have found it quite helpful, but it definitely is a more-scholarly type commentary and one that also needs to be read with a little more discretion regarding what is valuable and what isn’t.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon. Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946. (The scholarship is dated, but the comments are by and large still helpful, and you can find this volume, with its 166 pages on 1 Timothy, in our Grace library.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you today receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 28, 2007

Ps 119:169-176 / 1 Ti 4-6

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

At times like these I wish I had done my Ph.D. in Hebrew linguistics! (Okay, not really, because Hebrew is probably the least favorite of all the languages I’m supposed to know.) I’ll tell you why I wish I knew more Hebrew. I started out reading Psalm 119:169-176 in the NIV today and noticed right away how all but two of the verses started out with “May” sort of statements, what is sometimes called an “optative” mood expressing a wish or, more likely in this case, a prayer. The second halves of those verses then either contain a “command” (we’d probably say a more-firm request, vv.169, 170), a declarative statement that either forms the basis for the prayer (rationale, vv.171, 172, 173) or expresses the desired result (benefit), or another wishful petition (v.175). The two verses that don’t start with the “May” sort of wish (vv.174, 176) make declarative statements about the psalmist having longed for God’s salvation and having gone astray like a lost sheep (saint and sinner?). (Those two have different second halves that also raise some questions, but we’ll leave those other questions aside.) The problem comes in that, apart from how the beginning of those two past-tense declarative verses are translated, translations differ on whether or not all the others are “optative”. The KJV, ESV, and one commentary I checked translate the beginning of verses 171 and 172 as future declarative statements, while the ASV, NASB, and another commentary join the NIV in making them optative, albeit using the word “let” instead of “may”. In looking at the Hebrew of these verses, I cannot see any basis for the different translation, although the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, does give a translation similar to the KJV, ESV, and that one translation. In the context of the psalm section, verses 171 and 172 are things more or less in the psalmist’s control and the others express his desire for something in God’s control. I could theologically make sense out of either translation, though, for even those things that we might say are in the psalmist’s control are only somewhat within his control after the Holy Spirit has gone to work on him. Sorry if my frustration only made you frustrated! My much less-linguistic previous post is here.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 119:169-176 among those appointed for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity. The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from the final section of Psalm 119 that we read today.

A picture by an unidentified photographer of the ordination of Michael Tindall taking place at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Rochester, Minnesota, apparently in August of 2005There’s little surprise, I suppose, in that a letter written to a young pastor from what today would probably be called his “ecclesiastical supervisor” should focus so much on the duties of the pastoral office and relate so much to how the young pastor was placed into it. Today in 1 Timothy 4-6 we see exactly those two features of this “pastoral” letter from Paul to Timothy and the congregations over which he was placed. My previous post overviews today’s chapters, and you can read a Biblog follow-up about 4:12 and clergy being examples here and one that mentions 6:10 and the love of money being the root of all evil here. The picture with this post by an unidentified photographer is of Michael Tindall’s ordination at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Rochester, Minnesota (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I like the picture because it so beautifully visually relates Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross to the ordination. Without pastors there would be no distributing the forgiveness of sins Christ won for us there, but without Christ there is nothing for pastors to offer. (There’s more about what 1 and 2 Timothy say about ordination linked below.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 1 Timothy 6:6-19 as the Epistle reading for the First Sunday after Trinity, and hymns #447 and #452 in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to 1 Timothy 6:12.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you tomorrow receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 27, 2007

Ps 119:161-168 / 1 Ti 1-3 / 2 Thessalonians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What really makes you happy? How do you show your joy or excitement? Do we ever get so used to something that at one time made us rejoice that we now treat it like its humdrum? As I read Psalm 119:161-168 today I reflected on verse 162: “I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil” (NIV; instead of “promise”, the KJV, ASV, and NASB all translate the Hebrew ’imrah as “word”). I’m sure most of us have seen video clips of those people who find out they’ve won the Publishers’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes or a big lottery jackpot. I’d say that’s probably our modern-day equivalent of “great spoil”. Do we rejoice that much in God’s Word of promise? Now, I’m not saying we should jump up and down and scream in the Divine Service, of course, but are we genuinely joyful? Do we let the peace and comfort of the Gospel promises have that effect in us? If not, why not? Is it because we don’t truly realize the depth of our sin and depravity and so don’t truly realize how much God has done for us in Christ Jesus our Savior? Is that maybe also why we get so hung up on relatively “little” things that trouble us from day to day? Salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus is an eternal “spoil” that the Holy Spirit has led us to “find” and gives us the greatest reason to rejoice now and always! (You can read my original post on this psalm section here.)

Today’s twenty-first section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, the day of St. James the Elder, and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm Psalm 119:161-168.)

An image of a picture by an unidentified photographer of hands open to receive blessings through prayerWe’ve no doubt seen strangers on sidewalks and streets holding out their hands asking for money. No matter how we respond to them, probably too often we think to ourselves that we are glad we are not like them. But is that true? Dr. Martin Luther reportedly said, “We are beggars—that is true!” When it comes to our position in relationship to God, we are exactly like those people on the street holding out their hands asking for something. Today in 1 Timothy 1-3 we hear Paul direct the young pastor and his congregation to lift up their hands in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8). Paul says requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving are to be made for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In my previous post on these chapters, along with introductory comments on the pastoral letters and this book and with other comments on these chapters, I point out how some identify these four “types” of prayer with four major prayers of the Divine Service—namely, the Litany/Kyrie, Collect, Prayers of the Church, and the Eucharist (Service of Holy Communion). When I am officiating and praying on behalf of the congregation I like to use the ancient practice of holding up my hands with palms open to receive the blessings God sends down. (The image with this post by an unidentified photographer is of hands somewhat similarly help open in prayer; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) No matter what we are praying for—whether for our sins to be forgiven or for some other blessing—there’s nothing about us intrinsically that makes God answer our prayer. Thanks be to God that He in His love and mercy responds better to our petitions in prayer than many do to those on the sidewalks and streets (and that He does so presumably without the self-righteous thoughts).

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

1 Timothy 2:1-8 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for A Day of General or Special Thanksgiving. Three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Timothy 1-3.

Today I have a 2 Thessalonians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Like 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians was written by the Divinely-inspired apostle Paul.
What is the book? Second Thessalonians is essentially a follow-up letter to the believers in Thessalonica, the capital city of the Roman province of Macedonia.
Where was it written? The letter was written by Paul while he stayed in Corinth, his major stop after leaving Thessalonica.
When was it written? Paul probably wrote the letter not long after 1 Thessalonians, maybe one to six months, putting the date of the second letter around summertime of A.D. 50.
Why? Either a letter or verbal report from Thessalonica after the delivery of the first letter seems to have prompted Paul to write again perhaps to clarify some of content of the first letter, seemingly to address a forged letter that had circulated, and to otherwise admonish and exhort the believers there on matters related to the Lord’s return.
How? With remarkable Spirit-given tact, 2 Thessalonians tries to suppress at least a little the hysterical excitement of the people without completely extinguishing the hope that should in fact change how Christians live. Paul understood how fear and faith are needed as we live in this in-between time waiting and watching for the Lord’s return.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Thessalonians, you may make use of the following (both of which are available in our library at Grace):
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (This volume has 10 pages on 2 Thessalonians.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon. Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946. (Originally published in 1937, the scholarship is dated, but the comments are by and large still helpful. The volume has 100 pages on 2 Thessalonians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 26, 2007

Ps 119:153-160 / 2 Th 1-3 / 1 Thessalonians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Just when we think that things are going so badly in our lives is exactly when we need to pray and confess a verse like “Your compassion is great, O Lord”, which we read today in Psalm 119:153-160 (the first part of v.156 in the NIV; “tender-mercies” in the KJV and ASV, “mercies” in the NASB). If God’s mercy was not so great we would have been utterly destroyed a long time ago. God not only mercifully forgives us our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but He also give us the strength we need to live through the trials He in His mercy permits us to face each and every day. What a loving God Who cared enough to send the very best and still works to refine our faith. We may not appreciate the refining at the time or see how things are going to work out, but the day will come when we can say with all the benefits of the big picture, “Your compassion is great, O Lord!” (My original post on today’s psalm section is here.)

Today’s twentieth section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:153-160.)

An image of a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) depicting the pope as the AntichristThe current Roman Catholic pope, Pope Benedict, at times says and does things that conservative Lutherans can agree with and support, but we do not want to forget that he holds the office that we identify as the greatest historical manifestation to date of the office of the Antichrist. The image with this post is of a reformation-era woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) and depicts the pope as the Antichrist (you can read more about it here, and to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it, and if you hover on it you can make it even bigger). Even the recent doing away with the limbo of the infants might be seen as a good thing, but I fear that there’s more to that move than first meets the eye. (I’ve ordered the full document issued the end of last week and am looking forward to reading it after May 4th.) Despite what we read today in 2 Thessalonians 1-3, we don’t know an awful lot about the Antichrist or the antichrists, presumably including the so-called “man of lawlessness”, but we need not fear any of them, for in Christ we are even now victorious over them. One little word can fell them (2 Thessalonians 2:8?)! (My previous post introducing this book and making a few other comments is here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Thessalonians 2:6 and the “man of lawlessness”. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 as one of the options for the Epistle reading on the Twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity (what would be the second to the last Sunday of the Church Year), and hymn #494 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Thessalonians 3:1.

Today I have a 1 Thessalonians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? St. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write 1 Thessalonians.
What is the book? The book is the apostle’s letter to the believers in Thessalonica, the important capital city of the Roman province of Macedonia, what today would be identified with part of Greece.
Where was it written? Paul wrote the letter from Corinth, to which he had moved on to as he continued his so-called second missionary journey and where he stayed for some 18 months.
When was it written? Usual dates for the second missionary journey are A.D. 49-51, and 1 Thessalonians is thought to have been written in the earlier part of 50.
Why? Paul had left the city somewhat abruptly and, in order to see how they were doing, probably sent back to them Timothy, who returned to Paul with a generally good report but also some concerns about false teaching and staying faithful through persecution—all of which apparently prompted the letter.
How? Spirit-given wisdom and a caring pastoral heart are evident in the letter as teaching about the last things (what is called “eschatology”) permeates its thanksgiving, exhortations, and conclusion. Hardly any other letter offers more nourishment for the sure and certain hope we have as Christians.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Thessalonians, you may make use of the following:
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (This volume has 17 pages on 1 Thessalonians.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon. Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946. (With its original publication in 1937, the scholarship is dated, although his comments are by and large still helpful. The volume has 161 pages on 1 Thessalonians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 25, 2007

Ps 119:145-152 / 1 Th 4-5

“New and improved!” So marketers tell us as they try to convince us to buy their product. New, of course, is not always really improved. Just ask the people who did not like “New Coke” or the company that now seems to have completely removed the product from the market. Generally new is also not really improved when it comes to religious matters, either. (An obvious exception is the “new” covenant, of course.) Today in our reading of Psalm 119:145-152 we hear how the psalmist appreciates having known for a long time that the Lord’s testimonies are unchanging (v.152). God doesn’t change His expectations of us, or the way He operates, from one moment or millennium to the next, and that unchanging nature of God comforts the psalmist and makes him value God’s testimonies, as that unchanging nature of God should comfort us and make us value God’s testimonies, too. Yes, we will always in this life fail to meet fully God’s expectations, but, yes, God will always offer us the free forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. What could be better than that? (My original post on today’s section of Psalm 119 is here, and this post deals with out of date language in the KJV of verses 147-148.)

Psalm 119:145-152, its nineteenth section or the section known as “Qoph”, is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity and for Matins on the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:145-152.)

John von Nus’s photo of what is said to be General Patton’s hand-made coffin“We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep,” we hear St. Paul say in our reading today of 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (specifically in 4:13 NIV). There’s a lot of good stuff in the two chapters (you can find my original post on them here and discussion of a tangential connection to St. Patrick here), but today I reflected on the irony of a sorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. The Thessalonians were apparently concerned that if they were still alive on earth at the time of the Lord’s return they would get to heaven before those who were dead (at least from a human perspective). Now, St. Paul doesn’t say it this way, but, since the souls of those who were “dead” were already with the Lord, they had in fact gotten to heaven before those who were still alive on earth. To the extent St. Paul describes everyone getting there at the same time, he is clearly talking about the resurrected and glorified bodies after they are reunited with the souls (the souls, after all, aren’t “asleep”). Elsewhere St. Paul describes all of this end of the world stuff as a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51), but that seems to be more in the sense of something previously unknown and now revealed. We certainly know all that we need to know in order to comfort ourselves that there is a lot more to (eternal!) life than meets the eye unaided by the Holy Spirit. (The image with this post is said to be of General Patton’s hand-made coffin, but something more than the grave marker doesn’t seem quite right if that’s General George S. Patton, who died in 1945 and was originally buried in Luxembourg, unless the photo is of his later re-interment (either way, to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image--and perhaps at the risk of spam or a computer virus, according to one reader's protection system--see from where we got it).

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for Reminiscere (the Second Sunday in Lent), 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 for the Twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity (the Last Sunday of the Church Year). Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Thessalonians 4-5.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 24, 2007

Ps 119:137-144 / 1 Th 1-3 / Colossians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Is faith a matter of the head or the heart? Ok, that is a trick question, for faith is a matter both of the head knowing about Jesus and of the heart trusting in Him for the forgiveness of one’s sins. I raised the question because of our reading today of Psalm 119:137-144, especially of verse 144, which I identified in my previous post as the psalm section’s only petition. The kind of understanding for which the psalmist is praying (ironically?) may be the ability to distinguish between good and evil. Understanding is more than collecting data, seeing or hearing things; understanding is knowing how to interpret that which is seen and heard and then making use of that interpretation in living one’s life. That the psalmist prays for it indicates we do not live by our own understanding but need for it to come from God. (However, that the psalmist prays for it does not mean that Divine understanding comes as a result of our prayer; it remains a gift of God, given, like other things, even without our individual prayers.) In my dissertation work I was somewhat struck to find that the Lutheran writers expect us, once we are justified, to be able to reason inductively and deductively in order to apply God’s Word to our lives, to do such things as comfort our troubled consciences. (You don’t necessarily have to know what inductive and deductive reason is in order to do them.) Indeed, then, give us understanding that we may live!

Today’s eighteenth section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity. Hymn #5 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 119:140.

An unidentified photographer’s picture of the ruins of the market in ThessalonicaToday’s reading of 1 Thessalonians 1-3 brings us to a new book of the Bible, and you can find my previous post introducing the book and giving a few details on today’s reading here. The image with this post is that of an unidentified photographer’s picture of the ruins of the ancient marketplace in Thessalonica, and you can even see a little of the modern city in the background (to see a slightly larger version of the image click it, and for the higher quality larger image see from where we got it). I know the two towns in British Columbia where I served as pastor before moving to Texas have changed a lot since I left more than six years ago, but I don’t think the contrast is quite so stark as that between modern and ancient Thessalonica. As I read 1 Thessalonians 1-3 today, however, I nevertheless reflected on how faithful apostles and pastors cannot leave a place they have served without continuing to care deeply for the people there. I think separated apostles and separated pastors have the same prayers for the people as those we read today, essentially that people live together in the forgiveness of sins so freely given by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Epistle readings from 1 Thessalonians 1-3, and neither are there any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that are said to refer to verses from 1 Thessalonians 1-3.

Today I have a Colossians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Colossians by the apostle Paul.
What is the book? The book is an apostolic letter written to the churches of Colossae, a Roman city in Asia Minor some 125 miles east of Ephesus.
Where was it written? Colossians is another one of the so-called “captivity letters” of Paul, thought to have been written while he was under at least house arrest in Rome.
When was it written? Dates for Paul’s first Roman imprisonment during which Colossians was likely written are A.D. 59-61.
Why? A convert of St. Paul’s from Ephesus named Epaphras, who likely helped found the church in Colossae at least with Paul’s approval, apparently visited Paul in Rome and brought word of false teaching that was troubling the church in Colossae. The letter seems to be written primarily to address that false teaching, although it certainly accomplishes other purposes, too.
How? Paul exalts Christ and emphasizes Christ’s complete adequacy in contrast to the inadequacy of the false teaching plaguing Colossae.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Colossians, you may make use of the following:
  • Deterding, Paul E. Colossians, Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture, eds. Dean O. Wenthe et. al. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003. (A recent and scholarly, though accessible, commentary.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon. Columbus, Ohio: The Wartburg Press, 1946. (Although my copy was printed in 1960, this commentary was originally published in 1937 and is thus, from a scholarly perspective, somewhat out of date, although his comments are still usually on the mark. The volume has 207 pages on Colossians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 23, 2007

Ps 119:129-136 / Col 3-4

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What, if any, “iniquities” or “sins” “have dominion” or “rule over” you and me? After reading Psalm 119:129-136 today I pondered that question for a little while. My previous post was inclined to take the second part of verse 133 as an acknowledgment of sin, which it may have been on the part of the psalmist, but, of course, isn’t on the part of Jesus, to Whom we often ascribe the words of the Psalms (although I suppose as He carries your sin and mine we could make those words an acknowledgement of sin). Certainly the verse prays that no sin would ever rule over us, but I reflected on what pet sins I harbor and all too easily keep falling back into. Sometimes I am sure my struggle with such sins is not even up to the kind of warfare St. Paul describes in Romans 7:7-25, but, in the end, no matter how feebly we struggle against our own sin, I know that by grace you and I can say with St. Paul, “Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25 but as expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:57).

Today’s seventeenth section of Psalm 119, known as “Pe” (pronounced like “pay”) is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity and for Matins on the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. Two hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:133: #320 and #416 (coincidentally, one for each half of the verse we considered above).

From Henry Davenport Northrop’s “Treasures of the Bible” (1894), a depiction of St. Paul’s letter being read to the Colossians“After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” So St. Paul tells the Colossians as we hear today with our reading of Colossians 3-4, which finishes the book. The image with this post is from Henry Davenport Northrop’s 1894 book Treasures of the Bible, published by the International Publishing Company, and depicts St. Paul’s letter being read to the Colossians (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). My previous post on today’s chapters is here, but today I encourage you to think with me a little more about the statement of St. Paul’s with which I began this paragraph.
(You may be wondering about the letter from the Laodiceans—some Bible scholars think it was the letter we know as Ephesians.) That St. Paul wants his letters read in the churches is striking in that the practice gives them the same authority as the other things being read in the churches, namely the Old Testament writings and the Gospel accounts. You will note that the church, including our congregation today, follows his direction regarding such reading. And, of course, we who are following the Daily Lectionary are really following his direction, especially right now, as we read one letter after the next. What a blessing as God the Holy Spirit works through the Word to direct our lives and comfort us with the forgiveness of sins we receive by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Colossians 4:14 and one of the unique things about the Gospel account of the “beloved physician”. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Colossians 3:12-17 for the Epistle reading on the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (another of those Sundays that doesn’t occur every church year), and hymn #540 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Colossians 3:17 (you'll have to check your hymnal for it).

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 22, 2007

Ps 119:121-128 / Col 1-2 / Philippians wrap-up / Folo

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

I finally saw my eye doctor last month for the first time in nearly two years, but that wasn’t as bad as a friend of mine who went closer to three years between visits. I was afraid my doctor was going to tell me I needed bifocals to address presbyopia, the roots of which word literally mean “old-eyes” and refers to the decline in vision that comes with age. Today in Psalm 119:121-128 the psalmist refers to his eyes failing “looking for” (NIV) or “with longing for” (NASB) the Lord’s salvation and the fulfillment of His righteous promise. (The ESV interestingly just says the eyes “long for” the salvation and removes any reference to the eyes failing.) Psalm 6:7 also refers to the wasting away of the eyes, and there my study Bible explains how the Old Testament attributes the dimming of the eyes to failing strength, grief (often connected with suffering—think about how crying or something that causes our eyes to water can blur our vision), and by unsatisfied longings or the deferred fulfillment of one’s hope. I think we would say the last reason is the one that most likely corresponds to Psalm 119:123. Now, we don’t think that the eyes were literally failing the psalmist from extended waiting for the Lord’s salvation, but we remember that the eyes can be a figure of speech for spiritual faculties, and so we recognize the psalmist may be saying his faith is starting to fail him or be used up the longer he waits. We all likely can relate to that experience, and, like the psalmist, we all should learn that the best response is to turn to the Lord in prayer, asking for Him lovingly to deal with us, to teach us and give us understanding, and to bring to fulfillment all that He has promised us, chiefly the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can read my brief previous post on this psalm section here, and I’ll add the final note that probably more than coincidentally, the Hebrew letter that begins the lines of today’s section of Psalm 119 is the letter known as ayin, which also happens to be the word for “eye” or “sight”.)

Today’s sixteenth section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Good Friday, the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity. Hymn #284 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 119:127.

An image reportedly of an unidentified medieval scroll’s depiction of Christ’s descent into hellThere is a lot of Christian art, like the image with this post today, that supports the false notion that there was, as a sort of outer-room to hell, a place of limbo where all the Old Testament believers were held until Christ died on the cross and descended to hell in victory to free them. (To see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) We reject the false teaching of all the outer-rooms to hell (the limbo of the Old Testament believers or fathers, the limbo of the infants, and purgatory, but we correctly teach, on the basis of such sections of scripture as today’s reading of Colossians 1-2 (especially 2:15), that Christ did descend to hell in victory like a Roman general and in effect paraded his enemies through the streets for all the citizens to see His complete victory. The victorious manner of Christ’s descent into hell matters to us, as St. Paul makes clear, for Holy Baptism connects us to Christ’s death and resurrection. Dr. Martin Luther, in his so-called Torgau sermon that is given a quasi-confessional status by The Book of Concord, also makes clear the importance of Holy Baptism in connection to Christ’s death, descent, and resurrection, even as Dr. Luther attempts to deal with the things about Christ’s descent that we do not understand now in this world. Be sure to see the Gerhardt hymn that refers to Colossians 2:15 that is linked below. (My previous post on Colossians 1-2, with introductory comments to the book as a whole, is here, and you can also read how Colossians 1:23 relates to the false teaching of limbo here [coincidentally, after I wrote this post the Roman Catholic church yesterday did away with limbo] and what Colossians 2:9 means in connection to the death of God here [be sure to also see 1:19 and its context].)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Colossians 1:9-14 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity. (Note, however, that that Sunday, like some others, does not occur in every church year.) Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Colossians 1-2.
  • 2:10 -- #477
  • 2:15 -- #192 (a wonderful Paul Gerhardt Easter hymn)

Today I have a Philippians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Paul is the Divinely-inspired author of Philippians.
What is the book? Philippians is a letter to the church in the Roman-colonized city of Philippi in the Roman province of Macedonia, much of which is modern-day Greece.
Where was it written? Paul most likely wrote the letter from prison in Rome.
When was it written? The letter was most likely written near the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment that probably is dated between A.D. 59 and A.D. 61.
Why? Paul apparently wrote the letter primarily to thank the Philippians for the gift they sent to him by way of Epaphroditus, but other reasons for the letter are also given: reporting Paul’s circumstances, encouraging the Philippians to stand firm and to rejoice in the face of persecution, exhorting them to humility and unity, commending Timothy and Epaphroditus to them, and warning the Philippians against both those who would place too much emphasis on the law and those who would place too little emphasis on the law.
How? The Holy Spirit worked through Paul to drive home the theme of joy and rejoicing. The letter is also notably for its uncharacteristic lack of Old Testament quotations and for its profound teaching about Christ that in the apparent context of the letter is only an illustration of a point Paul is making. Nevertheless, Paul in the letter describes how followers of this Christ live: humble, moving towards their goal, free from anxiety, and able to do all things.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Philippians, you may make use of the following:
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (This volume has 22 pages on Philippians.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (The volume has 212 pages on Philippians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

Finally today is a Biblog folo stemming from the picture with yesterday's post. A reader made the comment below.

The picture was interesting, full screen, where you could see more of the details. I read some of the analysis. I wanted to know why the figure under the flowers (center back) looked like his head hadn't "jelled" yet and if that was intentional. I didn't find out. Generally, I wonder if I'm not learning more about the writer than about the artist when I read such things!

I can't shed more light on the un-jelled head, but I am inclined to agree that the analysis linked in the post probably said more about the analyzer than the artist. Even at my superficial level of art appreciation I thought the painting was worthwhile for imagining what the resurrection of the dead might be like.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you today receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 21, 2007

Ps 119:113-120 / Php 3-4

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Do you ever waver between two opinions? Perhaps you have said or heard someone else say, “I am of a mixed mind about that.” Maybe it is the former debater in me, but I can usually argue either side of an issue, and sometimes I even argue both sides! That may be why the opening verse of Psalm 119:113-120 today gave me reason for pause. (My brief previous post on the “whole” section is here.) What is it to be “double minded” (ASV, NIV, NASB, ESV; to have “vain thoughts” KJV)? James 1:8 says such a person is “unstable” in all their ways, and the Greek word used for “double-minded” there sheds some light on the Hebrew word used only in Psalm 119:113. The Greek word can mean “wavering”, “uncertain”, or “doubting”, but it can also mean “divided in interest”, and that seems to be the sense intended in the Psalm verse. Elijah uses a related word in 1 Kings 18:21, where he rebukes the people for “halting” between following the Lord and following the false god Baal. Being able to see both sides of an issue is not necessarily indecision, and we can be of a mixed mind or divided on some worldly matters. But, when it comes to spiritual things, there should be no wavering; we should be certain and not doubt. Moreover, we cannot compromise the true faith with honor given to false gods, no matter by what name those false gods go. For such double-mindedness we sinners repent (James 4:8). We put our trust in God’s Word, Who freely forgives our sins and promises us eternal life with Him.

Samekh, today’s fifteenth section of Psalm 119, is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity and, by another schedule, for Matins on the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:113-120.)

An image of Stanley Spencer’s 1924-1926 oil on canvas titled “The Resurrection”Media vita in morte sumus, that is, “In the midst of life we are in death”, the medieval antiphon goes, or, as Martin Luther put it, Mitten wir im Leben sind / Mit dem Tod umfangen, that is, “In the midst of earthly life / Snares of death surround us” (The Lutheran Hymnal #590). I was reminded yesterday in several ways that we never know when our end will come, and there is nothing we can do about its coming or its marginalization of all that we think we have done or accomplished in this life. (I tried to convince a neighbor of those realities last night when he said he had the rest of his life to think about whether or not he would believe.) As we read in Philippians 3-4, St. Paul has the right perspective on the things that might otherwise give us confidence—they are regarded as a loss compared to knowing Jesus Christ and thereby sharing in His suffering, death, and transforming resurrection from the dead. The image with this post is of a painting titled “The Resurrection” by English artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it and make that image bigger). You may or may not want to read this analysis of the painting, but I hope you will read this other post on today’s chapters from Philippians.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Philippians 3:17-21 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity and Philippians 4:4-7 for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Philippians 3-4.

Be sure to see the new Q&A posted on Philippians 1:1. May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you tomorrow receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 20, 2007

Ps 119:105-112 / Php 1-2 / Ephesians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

When we sin and repent, do you and I really want to do better? Think about it for a minute! Do we earnestly think about not committing that sin in the future, or do we just think, “Oh well, if I commit it again I will be forgiven again”? The Lutheran Reformers apparently considered making fruits of repentance (things such as fixing a neighbor’s window after an errant baseball goes through it) a third part of repentance, in addition to contrition (that is, sorrow over sin) and faith, but they did not formally define repentance that way, understanding that we are still sinful and do not always produce the fruits even though we genuinely repent. But, the spirit should at least be willing! If the repentance is genuine there should be a desire to do better and arguably a firm commitment to do better (see the form of confession in The Order of the Confessional Service in The Lutheran Hymnal on the bottom of page 48, which we used on Maundy Thursday). The last verse of today’s reading of Psalm 119:105-112 got me thinking about all of this. And, there you might notice that the NIV renders the verse a little more passively, “My heart is inclined” as opposed to the others I checked that were more active, along the lines of “I incline my heart” (KJV, ASV, NASB, ESV). Although the active rendering may more accurately reflect the Hebrew, to the extent we incline our heart at all, we do it with the significant help of the Holy Spirit, and that only after the Spirit has without our help brought us to believe in Jesus Christ for the free forgiveness of our sins. (You may also want to read my first post on this psalm section, my second post (which focuses more on verse 109), and the folo on that discussion.)

Psalm 119:105-112, the fourteenth section of this psalm, which is known as Nun (pronounced like “noon”), is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity and the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity. Nun is also appointed for Matins on the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. Three hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:105: #285, #291, #294

An unidentified photographer’s picture of the ruins of a sixth century basilica in the ancient city of PhilippiRuins and other evidence certainly suggest that a thriving Christian community grew up in Philippi as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work through the Apostle Paul. (The photo with this post is an unidentified photographer’s picture of Philippi’s sixth-century basilica’s ruins; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) We can see why Philippians 1-2, the first chapters of his letter to the believers and leaders there, are filled with so much rejoicing! Glorious buildings can certainly coincide with true faith and practice, but one has to look only to the Vatican to see that glorious buildings can also coincide with corrupt faith and practice. Invasions, plague, and an earthquake ultimately brought an end to the community of Philippi in the seventh century, but the true Church of Jesus Christ is more than buildings or people in any one place or at any one time. Even as the ruins and their reputation live on, so do the believers and their leaders live with the Lord, and we continue to benefit from St. Paul’s Divinely-inspired encouraging words to them, especially as they pertain to rejoicing in the midst of suffering. For more on today’s reading itself, see my first post on the chapters, and there is some discussion of 1:23-24 and being better off dead here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Philippians 1:3-11 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity and Philippians 2:5-11 for Palmarum (or Palm Sunday, the Sixth Sunday in Lent). Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Philippian 1-2.

Today I have an Ephesians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Ephesians is another book of the Bible the Holy Spirit inspired to be written through the Apostle Paul.
What is the book? Regarded as one of the four so-called “captivity letters” and as addressed to the church at Ephesus, the book we know as Ephesians may have been more of a general letter with individual copies addressed and delivered to various congregations in the area.
Where was it written? The letter was most likely written from prison in Rome.
When was it written? Usual dates for Paul’s first Roman imprisonment are A.D. 59-61, and the letter may have come somewhere near the middle of that time, so about A.D. 60.
Why? If indeed a general letter to congregations in the area of Ephesus that were founded under Paul’s supervision but never visited by him, then the letter is seeking contact with those newly-founded congregations in order to express and maintain unity and peace. And, he wants to take their attention off his imprisonment and direct it to God’s strength working through him.
How? Paul emphasizes what the Church is (chapters 1-3) to satisfy the first reason for writing, and, to satisfy the second, he emphasizes what membership in the Church entails (chapters 4-6).

I’ve got a two volume non-Lutheran commentary on Ephesians that sometimes has some helpful content, but generally I should say that if you are interested in further reading on the book of Ephesians, you may want to make use of the following (both of which are in our Grace library):
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (This often helpful volume with its comments mixed into the text of the Epistle has 33 pages on Ephesians.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (First published in 1937, this commentary is out of date as far as scholarship goes, but you likely will still find his interpretations to be reliable and accessible. The volume has some 363 pages on Ephesians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 19, 2007

Ps 119:97-104 / Ep 4-6

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Do you and I ever feel guilty about our “lack” of devotion to God’s Word? There may well be times that we should feel guilty about our neglect of reading and prayer, but there are undoubtedly other times that we do feel guilty and should not. The opening verse of today’s section of Psalm 119, Psalm 119:97-104, may produce one of those times when we feel guilty and should not. If we truly meditated on God’s teaching all day, to the exclusion of anything else, we probably would not be able to support ourselves, much less our families, and, if we did the meditation in seclusion, we would never come into contact with anyone else and not be able to share with them God’s love based on His teaching. The verse reminds me of the Lutheran Reformers’ objections to monasticism and its cloistered way of life. The Reformers pointed to an early church father’s example of a shoemaker who did his devotion in the morning and went about his business the rest of the day. Sure, we might reflect on what we read and pray at various times throughout the day, but if we are reading and praying, we should hardly feel guilty for “failing” to meditate on God’s teaching all day long. Also, don’t forget that when we truly do fail to meditate on God’s teaching (or fail in any other way), then we can be comforted by the forgiveness of sins Jesus won for us with His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. (My initial post on this psalm section is here, and a previously posted Q&A about the psalmist’s “confidence” is here.)

Mem, the thirteenth section of Psalm 119, is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the day of St. James the Elder. The psalm section is also appointed for Matins on the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:97-104.)

A U.S. Navy picture by Photographer’s Mate Airman Janice Kreischer of Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Steve Hatchett, of Haltom City, Texas, measuring wind speed and direction on the signal bridge of the USS George Washington, April 16, 2004As you can see in the picture with this post, we’ve come a long way from wetting our fingers with our mouths and sticking them up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing (for details on the photo hover your cursor over it; (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Sadly, politicians and leaders these days also are often more concerned about finding out which way the figurative wind is blowing before making a decision. Today in the opening verses of Ephesians 4-6 St. Paul describes how God wants to work through pastors to build up the body of Christ so that it is not tossed to and fro and blown every which way by the storms of doctrine. Now, knowing which way the wind is blowing may still be useful, especially if you have to navigate into it, but too often those who lead by following polling data are more concerned about the easy course with the wind than about doing what is right. Ultimately such a course can take the ship of the church well away from its Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that He freely offers us by grace through faith. (This is my previous post overviewing all of today’s reading, and you can also read about Ephesians 6:14’s connection to St. Patrick and how Ephesians 6:17 relates to breath, the Word, and a sword.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Ephesians 4:1-6 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, Ephesians 4:22-28 for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, Ephesians 5:1-9 for Oculi (the Third Sunday in Lent), Ephesians 5:15-21 for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, and Ephesians 6:10-17 for the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity. (You can see a little bit of the idea of having a continuous lectionary with the Epistle readings.) Ten hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Ephesians 4-6.

If Tuesday's post greeted you Wednesday morning, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Again Wednesday's post was on the site much earlier on Tuesday and just not yet published Wednesday morning. Hopefully I'll do a better job remembering and no one will have to start sending me email reminders the night before! May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 18, 2007

Ps 119:89-96 / Ep 1-3 / Galatians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Even in non-spiritual matters perfection is hard if not impossible to achieve. As I work on finalizing my dissertation, I am well aware from my own experience and the experiences of others that, although I will do all I can to make it perfect, once it is published I likely will find typos that were missed. If we cannot achieve “perfection” in such mundane matters, we can hardly achieve perfection in spiritual matters. Those thoughts came to mind as I reflected on the final verse of today’s psalm, Psalm 119:89-96. (My previous posts on this psalm section are here and here.) Verse 96 tells us that earthly perfection has a limit, but God’s commandment (maybe the perfection of God’s commandment?) has no limit—what one commentator says means it is very broad and unlimited in its duration and verification. (There’s said to be a pun in this verse, although I don’t see it in the Hebrew.) Another commentator says the lack of a limit means God’s commandment is “an inexhaustible source of wise counsel for life”, but if that commentator is focusing just on the law, we’re still in trouble. Only in Christ are we made perfect. Christian perfection is faith in, or fear of, God. Although we never achieve perfection in this world, we increase in or come closer to perfection as we repent of our sins and grow in faith. God will make us fully and completely perfect in eternity, where our perfection will at last also be limitless.

This twelfth section of Psalm 119, Lamedh, is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the day of St. John (Apostle, Evangelist), the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Exaudi (the Seventh Sunday after Easter), and the Sixth Sunday after Trinity. Lamedh is also appointed for Matins on the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:89-96.)

A picture of Radu Aftenie’s bronze sculpture titled “Father with Child”Hard to see in our English translations is why, as we read today in Ephesians 1-3, God the “Father” gives name to His whole “family” in heaven and on earth (3:15). The Greek word for the Father, pater, is, however, the root word for the Greek word that is translated “family”, patria. An alternate translation of this second word, one found, for example in the NIV margin, is “fatherhood”. Either way, we can remember that parents ideally model God the Father’s unconditional love and forgiveness to their children, even as God the Father has forgiven them by grace through faith for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The image with this post is a picture of Radu Aftenie’s bronze sculpture titled “Father with Child” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my original post introducing the book of Ephesians and overviewing today’s chapters here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Ephesians 2:20 and the “corner” or “cap” stones. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Ephesians 3:13-21 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity. Eight hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Ephesians 1-3.

Today I have an Galatians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Apostle Paul is the Divinely-inspired author of the book we call Galatians.
What is the book? The book is an apostolic epistle, or “letter”, to the churches (pastors and people) of Galatia. By one theory, Galatians was addressed to churches in the southern part of the Roman province of Asia Minor known as Galatia, which Paul had visited on his first missionary journey, including such cities as Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 13:14)—all in what is modern-day Turkey.
Where was it written? One theory is that Paul was still in Pisidian Antioch (also known as Antioch on the Orontes) near the end of his so-called first missionary journey when he wrote the letter. Or, he may have been out of Galatia already and back in Syrian Antioch.
When was it written? If authored from Pisidian Antioch, the letter may be dated A.D. 48; if from Syrian Antioch, the letter may be dated slightly later. The letter was likely authored around the time of the Apostolic Council of Acts 15, which is usually dated A.D. 49.
Why? Paul apparently wrote the letter to defend his authority, the Gospel, and salvation by grace through faith—all of which had been attacked by the Judaizers, Jewish converts to Christianity who, often at the expense of the Gospel, called for keeping more of the Old Testament law than was necessary (they were also known as the “circumcision group”).
How? Paul’s letter answers each aspect of the Judaizers’ three-pronged attack: defending Paul’s apostolic authority as coming from God, recognized by the other apostles, and even rebuking Peter; defending the Gospel of free grace without works of the law by discussing three witnesses, three aspects of the relationship between the law and the Gospel, and three aspects of sonship that confirm the Gospel’s truth; and defending the Gospel of freedom in its practical application.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Galatians, you may make use of the following, both of which are in our Grace library:
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (This commentary was first published in 1937 and so, like Lenski’s other commentaries, is out of date as far as scholarship goes, but his interpretations are nevertheless generally reliable and quite accessible to most readers. The volume has some 324 pages on Galatians.)
  • Luther, Martin. Lectures on Galatians 5-6 (1535) and on Galatians 1-6 (1519), Luther’s Works volume 27, editors Jaroslav Pelikan and Walter A. Hansen. St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 1964. (Galatians played a prominent role in Luther’s theological development, and this volume brings together two sets of lectures Luther gave on the book, one set earlier in his career and one set later.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 17, 2007

Ps 119:81-88 / Ga 4-6

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Do you remember or did you ever know the song “Bad Reputation”? The artist arguably has the reputation fitting for the way she lives and doesn’t care what people think. I think not caring about one’s reputation is harder when people have slandered us and the reputation does not fit the way we actually live. That’s the case today for the psalmist in Psalm 119:81-88. (You can find my previous comments on Kaph, this section of Psalm 119, here and here.) Recently I spoke to someone who told me what a psychologist on TV said to do when someone says something untrue about us, but that psychologist wasn’t working from a Christian perspective. As Christians, we follow the way of the cross, and that sometimes means letting such things go, knowing that God ultimately will vindicate us. But, boy that can be hard to do, especially since God almost always seems to take longer than we’d like! As we read below, however, He redeemed us through Jesus Christ at the right time, as He carries out all His plans at the right time.

This eleventh section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the day of St. Stephen, Good Friday, Exaudi (the Seventh Sunday after Easter), and the Sixth Sunday after Trinity. This psalm section is also appointed for Matins on the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:81-88.)

The BuMann Sculpture Studio’s “Mary and Child” (1996) installed in Saint Joseph’s Cemetery, Auburn, New YorkSonship is very much at the center of at least the first chapter of Galatians 4-6 that we read today. (You can find my previous post overviewing the whole reading here.) Especially important in today’s reading is the sending of God’s Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem us who are under law. (The image with this post is of a 1996 sculpture by the BuMann Sculpture Studio titled “Mary and Child” that is installed in Saint Joseph’s Cemetery in Auburn, New York; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) We receive that redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, by faith, and we can especially point to Holy Baptism as where and when our adoption into God’s family takes place. At the Baptismal Font the Spirit enters our hearts, the Spirit Who calls out “Abba”, “Daddy”. (You can think of how Dr. Luther in his Small Catechism says that in the Lord’s Prayer we ask things of God “as dear children ask their dear father”.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

Galatians 4:1-7 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the (First) Sunday after Christmas, Galatians 4:21-31 for Laetare (the Fourth Sunday in Lent), Galatians 5:16-24 for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, and Galatians 5:25-6:10 for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Galatians 4-6.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 16, 2007

Ps 119:73-80 / Ga 1-3 / 2 Corinthians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

“You complete me,” Jerry Maguire said to his girlfriend Dorothy in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”. I never saw the movie, but I know the story and that famous quote. Today in Psalm 119:73-80 we read a prayer for God, Who made us, to complete us by giving us understanding to learn His commands. On account of our sinful human nature all we can do by ourselves apart from faith is sin, but as God brings about faith in us and forgives our sins, He also creates in us a new spiritual nature that wants to keep the commands and can actually keep them. In this world that holy living (the technical term is “sanctification”) is never complete, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and, when we fail, He comforts us with His mercy. (You can read my previous brief post on this psalm section here.)

Today’s tenth part of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Reminiscere (the Second Sunday in Lent) and the Fifth Sunday after Trinity. We also use this section for Matins on the Tenth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:73-80.)

An unidentified depiction of significant “faith” events in Abraham’s lifeThe good things that we might do after coming to faith have no role to play in our being declared or made righteous, although they do give evidence to the fact that we believe. We know this, that works do not save, in part because of the Old Testament example of Abraham, whose faith led to his being declared and thus made righteous, which example recurs again today in Galatians 1-3. (For some previous discussion of this example of salvation by grace through faith, see here.) Also significant for St. Paul in today’s reading is that Abraham was declared righteous long before the law was formally given to Moses—even before the covenant of circumcision was made with Abraham. Abraham was declared righteous even before the events depicted in the image with today’s post, those of the three visitors and the sacrifice of Isaac (I’m sorry I can’t find any information about the image, but to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). For more on today’s reading, including some introductory comments to the book of Galatians, see here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Galatians 2:3 and the question to circumcise or not to circumcise. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Galatians 3:15-22 as the Epistle reading for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity and Galatians 3:23-29 for the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Galatians 1-3.
  • 2:16 -- #375
  • 3:27 -- #299 (you'll have to check your hymnal for this one)

Today I have a 2 Corinthians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? As with 1 Corinthians, the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write the book we know as 2 Corinthians.
What is the book? The book is an epistle (or “letter”) to not only the believers in Corinth but, according to 2 Corinthians 1:1, also to all the other Christians in Achaia (the Roman province at the time that included all of Greece south of Macedonia).
Where was it written? The letter is thought to have been written from Macedonia (see 2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:5).
When was it written? The letter we know as 2 Corinthians is thought to have been written before winter began, just months after 1 Corinthians, which was likely written in the spring of A.D. 55.
Why? The usual theory is that after Timothy delivered 1 Corinthians to its recipients and worked among them for a while, Timothy brought back a bad report to Paul, who himself made a “painful” visit to Corinth and wrote a “severe” letter. Titus is thought to have bore that letter and brought better news back to Paul who then wrote the letter we know as 2 Corinthians, which addresses some of the same challenges facing the people that were addressed in 1 Corinthians.
How? In one analysis, Paul is seen in 2 Corinthians as addressing his past, present, and future actions and ministry. In another analysis, Paul is seen as using the letter to address his upcoming third visit to Corinth, explaining the reason his itinerary changed earlier, encouraging the people to complete their collection, and vindicating his apostolic authority.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 Corinthians, you may make use of the following (both are in our Grace library):
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (This often helpful volume has 56 pages on 2 Corinthians.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg Press, 1946. (Although reprinted in 1947, this commentary was first published in 1937 and so is out of date as far as scholarship goes, but his interpretations are nevertheless generally reliable and quite accessible to most readers. The volume has some 551 pages on 2 Corinthians.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here. We sure appreciate all he does to help make the Daily Lectionary pages possible.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 15, 2007

Ps 119:65-72 / 2 Co 11-13

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

If we take seriously God’s promises to do good things to us, can anything that happens ultimately be bad? Think about it. What does today’s reading of Psalm 119:65-72 say about the matter? See if there’s help in my previous posts on this section known as Teth, here and here. Remember the greatest good thing God has done is to forgive our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and thereby to deliver us from death. Anything that keeps us on that path of faith is for our greatest good!

Teth, the ninth section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Fifth and Twenty-fourth Sundays after Trinity. By another of its schedules, the psalm section is appointed for Matins on the Ninth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:65-72.)

A picture by an unidentified photographer of a Kansas City-area company’s lighted angel for home Christmas decorationIf Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light, as St. Paul writes in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 11-13, how are we to know whether what appears to be angel of light is actually an angel of light? (The image with this post fits well our discussion of angels of darkness masquerading as angels of light, but the Kansas City-area company that sells these angels as Christmas decorations for homes surely intends to be good angels; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Does St. Paul tell us in 2 Corinthians how to tell the difference? Perhaps the answer is in 2 Corinthians 11:4 (see also Galatians 1:6-9, which we read tomorrow, and note its reference even to an angel from heaven). The content of the preaching and teaching matters. How are you to know whether it is right or not? By being in the Word. (For my previous post on these final chapters of 2 Corinthians, see here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9 for the Epistle reading on Sexagesima (the Sunday that falls in the sixth period of ten days before Easter), and hymn #240 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Corinthians 13:14.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you today receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 14, 2007

Ps 119:57-64 / 2 Co 8-10

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We all may have some problems with portions. Children want “the bigger half” when they split something with a sibling. Thursday at a charity barbecue on campus I really wanted to ask for another scoop of potato salad. (Maybe I could have substituted it for the beans, but the beans are supposed to be good for you.) How different is the Bible’s concept of “portion” that we see in such passages as Psalm 119:57-64 today! (My previous post on this psalm section briefly mentions this point and others.) Early in the Old Testament the Hebrew word cheleq technically refers to the share of the land given as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel when they entered the Promised Land. (The word could also be used to refer to the share of the spoils that went to the victors.) From there it comes to mean “share of land” given out by lot, and the word thus also took in the share in the Lord and His covenant promises. The priests and Levites did not really have a share of Land, so the Lord was said to be their share and inheritance (they were materially supported by the offerings to the Lord, and the word can also refer to their share of those offerings). Ultimately, this idea of the Lord as a share or portion was extended to every believer’s spiritual relationship with God, indicating all that their relationship with God guaranteed. Likewise God is our portion and so our sufficiency. Baptism makes us co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17), and the full inheritance is ours, even if we only fully experience a small piece of it now. With our sins—including those of not being content with what we have—forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we truly can be content with God as our portion. (See also Philippians 4:11 and 1 Timothy 6:6-8.)

Today’s eighth section of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, and by another schedule the psalm section is used for Matins on the Eighth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:57-64.)

A photo by an unidentified photographer of an ATM-like giving center for congregationsContinuing on a not-so-unrelated theme, a good portion of 2 Corinthians 8-10 that we read today has to do with offerings. (You can find my previous post, with its comments on the whole reading, here.) The image with this post is of an ATM-like device unveiled last year for churches to use so that members can give in their “lobbies” via their ATM and credit cards (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Some seven years earlier someone wrote this satirical vision of the future that is not all that far from reality. Congregations have not always passed offering plates, nor do they all obviously do so even today. There is a benefit, however, to our placing our offering in envelopes and dropping those envelopes in a passed plate or stationary box. Of course, the offering should never be seen as the price of “admission” (see this popular song that ridicules Pentecostal-type worship), nor are our offerings a sort of payment for the forgiveness we receive. Rather, God’s great love showered upon us in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ motivates us cheerfully to give a generous portion off the top of what we have received.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1 year lectionary does not appoint any verses from 2 Corinthians 8-10 as Epistle readings for Sundays or festival services, but four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 2 Corinthians 8-10.

Thank you to all those who have been praying for my successful defense of my doctoral dissertation and otherwise supporting me in my work. Yesterday after the defense was completed my committee signed off on my work, which means that, if I get the revisions made in time by May 4, all lights are green for my graduation on May 19. Praise God! May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you tomorrow receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 13, 2007

Ps 119:49-56 / 2 Co 5-7 / Tidbits?!

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

When we are afflicted in any way or when something we perceive as bad happens to us, there is a huge temptation to be angry with God and to turn away from him. In Psalm 119:49-56 today we hear the psalmist say that despite his affliction he will not turn away from God’s torah, His teaching of law and Gospel (v.51). Resisting in this way the temptation to be angry with God and to turn away from him is a part of our faith that trusts both that God Who has given us His Son Jesus to forgive our sins by grace through faith will also give us all things we truly need (Romans 8:32) and that God Who at least passively allows us to face the affliction will also give us the strength to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9) and work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). (You can see my first post on this Psalm section here, and my post focusing more on verse 50 is here.)

Psalm 119:49-56 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity. (Our practice at Grace, as per The Lutheran Hymnal p.160 and pp.440-441 in The Lutheran Liturgy, also has us use this seventh section of Psalm 119 in Matins on the Seventh Sunday after Trinity.) No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:49-56.

A picture by an unidentified photographer of an old-style yokeI don’t know a lot about farming or ranching, but I think I understand correctly that if two different kinds of animals are yoked together to pull something like a plow that the path is not likely to be too straight or too even. (The same may well be true if two of the same kind of animals who differ in strength try to pull something.) Today in 2 Corinthians 5-7 St. Paul is saying not only that individual Christians should not be yoked in marriage with non-Christians, but he is also saying that Christians should in no way cooperate with false teachers, who are really servants of Satan. Such a yoking destroys the harmony and fellowship that result from unity in Christ. Paul says when such a yoking takes place the Christian community ceases to actually exist, even though it may outwardly appear to still exist. (Note that the two quotes in 6:17-18 are from Isaiah 52:11 and 2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8. My Bible does not format them in a helpful way; I don't know about yours.) I am reminded, too, of the unequal yoking used by the pagan philosopher Plato to describe the good and bad inclinations of the soul as horses that pull soul in different directions and leave its charioteer to try to drive a good course. Such is our individual internal struggle, even as we also try to avoid unequal yoking in our relationships with others. (The image with this post is an unidentified photographer’s picture of an old-style yoke; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) For more on these chapters, see my previous post.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 for the Epistle reading on Invocavit (the First Sunday in Lent), but no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to 2 Corinthians 5-7.

Today I also have Tidbits?! I had a perfect number of three things in my email inbox that I thought you might be interested in, so I thought I would share them with you. (I know, it was like I had sworn them off in year two, but I couldn't resist.) First is this scandalous piece demonstrating science's arrogance in the face of God, bordering on a new Tower of Babel. Second is this "recanting" of the earlier claims about the Jesus-family ossuaries, and third is this much more edifying recent Memorial Moment about Jesus's "three days" in the tomb.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 12, 2007

Ps 119:41-48 / 2 Co 1-4 / 1 Corinthians wrap-up

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

If you are familiar at all with the way some Pentecostals or some so-called Evangelicals worship, you may have seen people lift up their hands while praising, much as some pastors lift up their hands as they pray on behalf of the gathered congregation. In Psalm 119:41-48 are the hands lifted up to the Lord’s commandments in prayer or praise (v.48)? My self-study Bible says praise, but a commentary I think has more reliability says, “The lifting up of the hands in ver. 48 is an expression of fervent longing desire, as in connection with prayer”. Both the study notes and the commentary cite such other Psalm verses as 28:2; 63:4; 134:2; and 141:2. The context does not definitively direct us one way or the other, but I think in my own life I probably pray for help keeping the commandments more than I praise them. I praise God that His Son Jesus Christ kept them perfectly for us and that by grace through faith in Him I am forgiven for failing to keep them. You can praise God for those same blessings, too. (You can also see my previous post on this psalm section here.)

Today’s sixth part of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Third Sunday after Trinity and the Festival of the Reformation. (Our practice at Grace, as per The Lutheran Hymnal p.160 and pp.440-441 in The Lutheran Liturgy, also has us use this sixth section of Psalm 119 in Matins on the Sixth Sunday after Trinity.) No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:41-48.

A picture by an unidentified photographer of a cracked potPastors in their human frailty and unworthiness are the jars of clay that “conceal” the treasure of the Gospel, St. Paul says in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 1-4. You may know that in Biblical times people customarily concealed treasure in clay jars. (Sometimes they even buried those jars in fields, as in the parable Jesus teaches in Matthew 13:44.) Truly pastors are just as sinful and imperfect as any other believer, just as in need of forgiveness. The glory of the ministry that shines forth is all God’s. My previous post on these chapters includes the background of this letter and should explain why the image with this post is of a cracked pot (no photographer was identified for the image; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it).

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 for the Epistle reading on the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, and hymn #398 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Today I have an 1 Corinthians wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, wrote this book by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
What is the book? The book is a letter, which what “epistle” means, to the congregations at Corinth, at the time the largest city in Greece and one significant for its commerce, culture, pagan religions, and immorality.
Where was it written? The letter known as 1 Corinthians was likely written from Ephesus, although we do not know for sure.
When was it written? St. Paul is commonly thought to have written 1 Corinthians while on his so-called third missionary journey, dated 52/53-56/57.
Why? As the letter itself indicates, Paul had received disturbing news of the conditions of the Corinthian congregations, and the letter was written to address the factions that were developing there, the people’s moral irregularities, and questions that people in Corinth were asking.
How? At the Spirit’s leading, Paul systematically addresses each of the issues that prompted the writing of the letter, instructing the people in and inspiring them to the way they should go. On account of the resulting content, the book continues to be highly relevant for us today, in part evidenced by its chapters being some of the most familiar and dearly-loved of the Bible.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Corinthians, you may make use of the following:
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The New Testament, Volume II, The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles, the Book of Revelation. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1922. (You can find this volume with its 85 pages on 1 Corinthians in our Grace library. While I didn’t use blogging on the book, I think you would find it somewhat helpful and generally accessible. The format runs the text in bold with the comments immediately following the relevant text, so you can in effect read the whole text and his conveniently-placed comments, if you like that format.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg Press, 1946. (I have the 1957 printing, but this commentary, with its 790 pages on 1 Corinthians, was first published in 1937 and so is out of date as scholarship goes. But, his interpretations are generally reliable and quite accessible to most readers.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 11, 2007

Ps 119:33-40 / 1 Co 15-16

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

As the possibility of my finishing my Ph.D. this semester continues to become more and more of a probability, I am increasingly excited about finishing this phase of my education. There is still more research that I want to do, however, and I suppose one can say that good scholars never finish learning. The same can be said of Christians; the learning process for Christians is womb to tomb. Today in Psalm 119:33-40 we join the psalmist’s prayer for the Lord to instruct us, remembering that we who are by nature dead in trespasses and sins cannot on our own do these things for which we petition the Lord, anymore than we can be saved from our sins apart from God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and resurrected. (My previous post on this fifth part of Psalm 119 known as “He” is here.)

The fifth part of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for First Sunday after Epiphany, the Third Sunday after Trinity, and the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity. (Our practice at Grace, as per The Lutheran Hymnal p.160 and pp.440-441 in The Lutheran Liturgy, also has us use this fifth section of Psalm 119 in Matins on the Fifth Sunday after Trinity.) Hymn #416 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 119:33, 35.

Kathy Willens’ Associated Press photo of the so-called Jesus family ossuariesTimely for this week after Easter part of our reading of 1 Corinthians 15-16 today is the great resurrection teaching in chapter 15. (My previous post on these chapters is here.) This reading is also timely given the attention given in the past few months to containers found decades ago in Jerusalem that some claim at one time held the bones of Jesus and His “family”. Those containers are shown in the image with this post, a Kathy Willens Associated Press photo; the ossuary on the left is the one they said Jesus’s bones were in, and the one on the right is said to have held Mary Magdalene’s bones (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I responded to these claims a little bit in the “From Our Pastors” column of the April edition of our parish newsletter, Grace to You, which also included this piece by Rev. Dr. Paul Meier responding to the claims. I continue to be amazed at so-called Christian leaders who say that finding Jesus’s bones would have no impact on the Christian faith, as I am also amazed at so-called Christians who in survey after survey deny the resurrection of the dead. St. Paul could hardly be more clear than what we read today. If Christ has not been raised in some transformational way (in contrast to just being resuscitated to die again later), then preaching and believing are useless, we are liars and still in our sins, and we have hope only for this life, which is hardly hope at all. Thanks be to God Christ was raised to never die again and that we one day will be likewise!

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

1 Corinthians 15:1-10 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading on the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Corinthians 15-16.
  • 15:10 -- #378
  • 15:20 -- #187 (see your hymnal)
  • 15:35 ff. -- #206
  • 15:55 -- #198 (see your hymnal)
  • 15:57 -- #193
  • 16:13 -- #445, #486

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 10, 2007

Ps 119:25-32 / 1 Co 12-14

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The devil, the world, and our flesh tempt us to think, say, and do things that seem right, but in the end they are not. We might identify such tempting bad decisions with the “false way” (NASB; confer “deceitful ways”, NIV) of Psalm 119:25-32 today (v.29). Such a false way includes lying and deceit (see KJV and ASV), but the idea in verse 29 seems to be targeting something broader than that—namely, the false way that seems right to us but leads to death (Proverbs 14:12) in contrast to the true way that God’s Word lays out for us and leads to life. The Holy Spirit works through the Word and Sacraments to guide us in that way, that is, to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and thus for eternal life with Him. (My original post on this psalm section is here.)

This fourth part of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent), the Second Sunday after Trinity, and the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity. Our practice at Grace, as per The Lutheran Hymnal p.160, also has us use this fourth section of Psalm 119 on the Fourth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 119:25-32.)

An undated picture by an unknown photographer of the construction of the current sanctuary for Grace Lutheran Church, ElginWhen you hear the word “edifice”, what comes to mind? What about the words “edify” and “edification”? Depending on the translation you are reading, you may find these words today in 1 Corinthians 12-14. (The words are said to have come into English in the 14th century from Latin words that, not surprisingly, we find in the Latin edition of today’s reading.) As St. Paul by Divine inspiration writes today about spiritual gifts, his overriding goal is the “edification” of the church. (For my rather lengthy previous comments on these chapters see here.) An “edifice” is a building, something that has been “edified”, or built up, something that has undergone “edification”, although the literal sense of “edification” as the process of “building” is apparently now obsolete. “Edify” still has both a literal and figurative sense, even though “edification” is by one source defined as “the building up of the church, of the soul in holiness, etc.; mental or moral improvement”. Many people think of physical structures when they think of building up the church (the image with this post is of the construction of Grace’s present sanctuary; sorry we don’t know who the photographer was, but to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Such “edification” is easy to observe, while the kind of “edification” that results in greater faith and understanding is more difficult to measure. When we pray the Collect for the Church (see The Lutheran Hymnal, page 14, for example) or for “the building up of God’s kingdom in this place”, we are mostly praying for the figurative type of “edifying”, although, as a result of the figurative edifying, God may well choose to bring about the more literal kind of edifying, too.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity and 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 for Quinquagesima Sunday (the Sunday that falls in the fifth period of ten days before Easter). Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Corinthians 12-14.

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 09, 2007

Ps 119:17-24 / 1 Co 10-11

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Twice in the last two days I have talked to older people who are more than ready and willing to go to heaven. They would consider it a blessing from God if He would summon their souls out of this vale of tears to our eternal home at any time—but preferably sooner rather than later. I was reflecting on their desire in light of the first verse of today’s reading of Psalm 119:17-24. (I obviously didn’t get very far before I had to stop and reflect.) The idea in Psalm 119:17 is that the Lord would “deal fully or adequately” with the psalmist, and, although the verb can be used either of dealing favorably or unfavorably, the context would seem to dictate favorable dealing. If the Lord so deals bountifully with the psalmist, then the psalmist will live and so keep God’s Word. At first I was wondering if these two souls who want so much to “die” in this world were somehow wanting God to deal with them unfavorably, but they certainly wouldn’t think their death was unfavorable dealing. But, if God dealt with them in such a way that their life in this world ended, would that be in keeping with what the psalm said? In the end, I thought so, for even if our lives in this world end, we believers continue to live eternally with God, and that’s certainly favorable dealing. We as believers can also say that however the Lord deals with us out of His love, mercy, and grace is favorable, and, according to Psalm 116:7, we can be at peace. Also worth noting is how, according to Psalm 13:6, we respond to the Lord’s favorable dealing. (For my previous comments on this third part of Psalm 119 known as Gimel, see here and here.)

The third part of Psalm 119 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the day of St. Stephen, Quinquagesima (the Sunday that falls in the fifth period of ten days before Easter), and the Second Sunday after Trinity. (Our practice at Grace also has us use this psalm section on the Third Sunday after Trinity.) Hymn #586 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 119:19.

A picture by an unidentified photographer of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy wearing one of her famous hats with her children Carolyn and John Jr.When I consult one of my books from seminary, especially the part dealing with the authority of Holy Scripture, I find that at the time I frequently wrote the word “hats” in the margin. At the time, saying that all of the New Testament was binding on us seemed to me to suggest that women should still be wearing hats to church, in part on the basis of what we read today in 1 Corinthians 10-11. (For my previous post on all of today’s reading, see here, for a somewhat passing comment on 1 Corinthians 10:23 see here, and for a Maundy Thursday comment on 1 Corinthains 10:24-25 see here.) My mom, aunts, and grandmothers used to wear hats to church (my mom has one on in a picture framed with my Baptismal certificate hanging in my study at Grace), and can anyone who knows the early 1960s ever forget one of their inspirations, Jackie Kennedy and her famous hats? (The photo with this post did not have a photographer or source identified; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Of course, by the time I was in seminary women were no longer wearing such hats. In seminary and since then I came to understand that in this case Scripture makes clear Paul’s words regarding head coverings did not permanently bind practice, although the Divine principle of headship on which he based the practice is permanently binding. The permanent principle of loving our neighbor similarly had a time-bound practice of footwashing (John 13:34 and John 13:3-17). We don’t know exactly what the customs of Paul’s day were regarding these scarves or shawls, but there is some speculation that the practice of modern Islam is similar (and for the latest on that controversy, see here). Paul seems to be telling the women who did not want to follow the usual social custom that if they wanted to blur the distinction between the sexes, then they should go all the way and shave their heads (see his similar argument in Galatians 5:12). In 1 Corinthians 11:16 a better translation is “such” (KJV, ASV, ESV) and not “other” (NIV, NASB); the idea may be that neither Paul nor the other churches have instituted this practice but are following local custom (although see Augsburg Confession XXVIII:53). It seems that hats or no hats, there is still much our gender-bending society can learn about appropriateness for our worship in the presence of the angels. There, of course, we receive God’s gift of forgiveness in Word and Sacrament, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Corinthians 10:4 and Christ as a “rock”. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

1 Corinthians 10:6-13 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity and 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 for Maundy Thursday. Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Corinthians 10-11.
  • 10:4 -- #376
  • 10:17 -- #314
  • 11:23-25 -- #304 (note "awe-full" as in "full of awe" and not "awful" as in "horrible")
  • 11:23 ff. -- #164
  • 11:26 -- #306, #308
  • 11:28 -- #315 (one of my favorite Lord's Supper hymns, and note that "highest good" is an expression with deep roots in theology and philosophy, in this case roughly equal to God Himself)

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 08, 2007

Ps 119:9-16 / 1 Co 7-9 / Folos

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Good Friday night while visiting an Austin hospital I was called over by a man who wanted to talk to a priest. As he described to me his life and the guilt and pain he felt for things he had done in the past and to some extent was still doing, I assured him that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ all his sins were forgiven and that he did not need to carry the guilt or the pain because Jesus had carried them for him. The man said he was trying to live a good life but also said there were things that were wrong that he would still do. He asked me how he could possibly live a good life, and, knowing in that moment he needed to hear the law, I told him he could live a good life by following God’s Word. Without realizing it at the moment, I was anticipating our reading today of Psalm 119:9-16. Look at verse 9: God’s word is a perfect guide to a perfect life. Now, once the man recognized his need to live the perfect life, I assured him that in this life he would fail to do so, as we all do, and that in Christ there was forgiveness for him, as there is for all of us. For more on that, see my second post on this part of Psalm 119, and, for my first post and its comments, click here.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes this second part of Psalm 119 among those appointed for the First Sunday after Epiphany and Quinquagesima (the Sunday that falls in the fifth period of ten days before Easter). (Our practice at Grace also has us use these verses from the second part of Psalm 119 on the Second Sunday after Trinity.) The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Beth.

An unidentified artist’s depiction of a couple with marital troublesAs a pastor, Martin Luther was so troubled by others’ marriage matters that he one time said he wished he didn’t have to deal with them at all. But, like St. Paul and our Lord before him, Luther nevertheless did have to deal with them and so did deal with them. Today in our reading of 1 Corinthians 7-9 we have St. Paul’s approach to marriage matters. (For my previous post that overviews the whole reading and makes comments on other verses, see here.) That St. Paul spends a rather lengthy chapter on the topic should not surprise us. Marriage is the most intimate of relationships and thus one where sin and betrayal can hurt the most. (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction, for a Canadian government website, of a couple with marital troubles; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Husbands and wives especially are really able to stay together only as they live together in the forgiveness of sins, although the same can be said of each of us in any relationship. God forgives us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and we forgive our fellow human beings, showing to them the love that God has shown to us.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5 for the Epistle reading on Septuagesima Sunday, but no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to verses from 1 Corinthians 7-9.

As we mark our 500th post by one count, reader email brings us two Biblog folos, both in regards to yesterday's post. The first reader comment said that looking at artist Max Magnus Norman's other work gave an impression far from the Holy Spirit. In regards to my statement about Jesus's body as a greater temple of God in our midst, the second reader comment said, "Now that's a thought for today, and one I don't always remember in just that way!"

May the joy of our Lord’s Resurrection fill your heart and comfort you today and always, and may you today receive through Word and Sacrament the great gift of forgiveness Jesus won for you by His death and resurrection.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 07, 2007

Ps 119:1-8 / 1 Co 4-6

In many ways we are victims of the Bible translations we read. Psalm 119:1-8 today is a good example. (My previous post introducing Psalm 119 and commenting on today’s part is here.) As I read verse 7 in my NIV study Bible, I was all ready to ask how God’s “laws” could be “righteous”. You see, “rightness” or “justice” largely has to do with conforming to a standard, so it seems odd that “laws” that are a standard could themselves conform to a standard. However, if one looks at other translations, one finds a better rendering than "righteous laws": “righteous judgments” (KJV, ASV, NASB; although the ESV’s “righteous rules” is more like the NIV). Now, “judgments” can be “righteous”, that is, conform to a standard, so that translation seems to be better. In the case of this verse in the context of this psalm, the judgments, one commentator says, “are the decisions concerning right and wrong which give expression to and put in execution the righteousness of God”. So, the psalmist says we praise God for how He carries out all the functions of governing (judicial, executive, and legislative), but especially for His transferring our guilt to His innocent Son in order to deliver us from the eternal death we deserve. Not a bad thing to ponder on this Holy Saturday.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes this part of Psalm 119 among those appointed for the day of St. Stephen, the First Sunday after Epiphany, Quinquagesima (the Sunday that falls in the fifth period of ten days before Easter), Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent), the First Sunday after Trinity, and the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity. The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 119:1-8.

Contemporary Swedish artist Max Magnus Norman’s work of oil and acrylic on wood, with a gloss finish, titled “Is This My Temple?” (2003)We live in a time of increasing popularity for what are usually called “new age” religion, in which people can eclectically and individually explore their own spirituality. Although precise definitions are hard to nail down because of diverse individuality in practice, we might think of such things as mysticism, meditation, magic, and certain music. “God” is usually seen as just a form of energy that connects all life in the universe, and yoga might be a way of focusing oneself to tap into that energy. New agers, as you might guess, are syncretistic, that is, they take bits and pieces of various different religions, ultimately believing that all religions are equally valid. One of the bits and pieces they seem to have adopted from Christianity is the notion of the body as a temple, but not, as St. Paul envisions it in our reading of 1 Corinthians 4-6 today, of the Holy Spirit. (The image with this post is seemingly a “new age” type work titled “Is This My Temple?” by Swedish artist Max Magnus Norman [b.1973]; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it or the link on this page of the artist’s site.) St. Paul introduced the idea of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit in 3:16-17, and he extends his thoughts in 6:12-20. We would be remiss to not also think of how Jesus’s body was a greater temple of God in the midst of humans and how, when the Jewish leaders tried to destroy that temple, God raised it up again in three days—for us and for our salvation! The commemoration of that raising we keep vigil for today. (For my previous post on 1 Corinthians 4-6, with an overview and comments on other verses, see here, and, for Biblog folos on 6:12, see here and here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Third Sunday in Advent, and 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 for Easter Sunday. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Corinthians 4.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance and tomorrow to celebrate with great joy the high feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection, receiving His living and life-giving Body and Blood!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 06, 2007

Ps 118 / 1 Co 1-3 / Romans wrap-up

There are plenty of Holy Week connections to Psalm 118 today. You can read about some of them in my previous post, and you can read about the various translations of and matters related to verse 22’s “stone” here.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 118 among those appointed for the Third Sunday after Epiphany, Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord), and the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity. The Lutheran Hymnal contains eight hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 118.

An unidentified photographer’s picture of pouring milk”Drink your milk!” How many times in our lives have we heard that said to us or said it ourselves to others? Today in 1 Corinthians 1-3 St. Paul by Divine inspiration says “Drink your milk!” (3:1-4), but the milk he has in mind is a figure of speech for basic and simple truths of the Christian faith. As in Hebrews 5:12-14, “milk” in 1 Corinthians is contrasted with “solid food” or “meat”, as if we should move from one to the other, but 1 Peter 2:2-3 seems to suggest that all of our lives we should have a steady diet of milk, maybe with our meat. By the way, there were, at the time of the New Testament writings, some pagan religions and rites that used milk sacramentally, but we need not think that such unduly influenced the holy writers, who more likely were drawing on the obvious uses of all kinds of milk in daily life. In the Greek version of the Old Testament, this same milk can indicate blessings in general (for example, Job 29:6, from the Greek, “the mountains flowed for me with milk”), and it is mentioned as a characteristic of the Promised Land (for example, Exodus 3:8) and of the fulfillment of the Messianic age (for example, Joel 3:18). The image with this post is an unidentified photographer’s picture of pouring milk (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my previous post on these chapters, including introductory comments for the so-called “Corinthian correspondence”, here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 and Paul’s not doing many Baptisms. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity. Four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Corinthians 1-3.

Today I have a Romans wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul, the one-time persecutor of Christians known as “Saul”, to write this book.
What is the book? The book is an “epistle” or “letter” to the church at Rome, which likely consisted of many small house churches, which consisted of both Jews and Gentiles, possibly founded by visitors from Rome present in Jerusalem at Pentecost.
Where was it written? St. Paul likely wrote the letter from Corinth.
When was it written? Romans is thought to have been written during St. Paul’s so-called third missionary journey, which is usually dated 52/53-56/57 A.D. More specifically, Romans may have been written early in the spring of 56 or 57.
Why? Obvious pragmatic motives for the letter appear to be preparing the congregations for Paul’s expected visit to Rome and soliciting their support for his trip from there to Spain. Related but surely more importantly, however, St. Paul is also concerned about presenting the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to a church that had not previously received his teaching. The Church of Jesus Christ is to be firmly established in a full and complete understanding of the Gospel.
How? The letter is said to be the most systematic of all of Paul’s letters, with an emphasis on the teaching related to such things as sin, grace, faith, justification, and sanctification. Romans also relies on Old Testament quotations to carry along the apostle’s Spirit-inspired arguments.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Romans, you may make use of the following. (Romans is one New Testament book on which Lenski’s commentary is not thought to be too reliable.)
  • Cranfield, C. E. B. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, in two volumes, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975. (I have the 1994 “impression” of these commentary volumes, and they are quite thorough, although they admittedly may be too scholarly for the average reader. They succeeded an earlier volume on Romans with the same title in the International Critical Commentary series that was also quite good—the one by William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam; its first edition was dated 1895 and the fifth edition 1902, that latest one reprinted as late as 1960 [the date of my copy].)
  • Grothe, Jonathan F. The Justification of the Ungodly Canada: Jonathan F. Grothe, 2005. (I was given this two volume commentary on Romans as a much-desired gift, but I have not yet had much occasion to use it. The Rev. Dr. Grothe was president of the seminary from where I graduated, as well as one of my professors and the advisor on my master’s treatise. He was also at one time co-general editor of the current Concordia Commentary series, for which this commentary on Romans was prepared. While circumstances kept the commentary out of that series, as published it uses the “format and orientation” of the Concordia Commentary and thus should be relatively accessible to lay readers.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

Depending on when you read yesterday’s post, you may want to take another look at it, as I added a missing Biblog folo link midway through the morning.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 05, 2007

Ps 117 / Ro 14-16 / Apologies / Prayers

Sometimes people think God’s plan to include Gentiles (“the nations”) in salvation is a New Testament innovation, but Psalm 117 that we read today is said to be “the grandest of witnesses” against the limitation of God’s revelation to the Jewish “nation”. In a happy Daily Lectionary “coincidence”, we also read Romans 15:11 today, where Psalm 117:1 is quoted by Divine Inspiration as proof that God did not only think about saving the Gentiles “later”. (Certainly we can remember that in the beginning there was only “one nation” and that God wanted to save all of its people.) Most of us are “Gentiles” and know others who are “Gentiles”, and we can and should comfort ourselves and them with the Lord’s mercy and truth in the Person of Jesus Christ Who died and rose again to save us from our sins. (For my previous comments on “all” of Psalm 117, see here.)

Psalm 117 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Third Sunday after Epiphany, Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter), Whitsunday (The Feast of Pentecost), and the day of St. Peter and St. Paul. Hymn #15 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 117.)

An image of the stained glass window titled “Kiss of Peace” at the United Nations by French artist Marc Chagall 1887-1985After United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and fifteen others died on a peace mission in Zambia in 1961, French surrealist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) created a stained-glass window to memorialize them. The window, titled “Kiss of Peace” was installed in the lobby of the United Nations Secretariat in 1967 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). While I’m not sure what all is going on in the window, I don’t think I see the same kind of “kiss of peace” St. Paul mentions in our reading today of Romans 14-16. (For my previous post, which gives an overview and some specific comments on these chapters, click here, and for a folo on that discussion about so-called "contemporary" worship, see here.) By Divine inspiration, St. Paul had been teaching the pastors and people of the congregations in Rome to be at peace with each other, by unity both in what they believed and how they lived out that belief. When there is such unity and mutual forgiveness, then they could greet one another with the holy kiss (Romans 16:16) and together partake of the Lord’s Supper. St. Paul’s teaching, of course, also applies to us today. How well do we heed it?

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Romans 15:4-13 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Second Sunday in Advent. Three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Romans 14.

I sincerely offer my apologies to all and plead for your forgiveness for the delay in publishing Wednesday's post. The post was drafted and on the server, but I failed to publish it before I went to bed Tuesday and to notice that it wasn't published early on Wednesday when I started drafting this post. Our webmaster published the post as soon as he noticed. If you ever notice such a problem, feel free to email me, and, if I've forgotten again, we can get the post published sooner.

It hath pleased Almighty God to summon out of this vale of tears to our eternal home the soul of Josh Keistman, son of Rev. Herbert A. Keistman (pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Paige [Mannheim]), who departed this life Wednesday afternoon, at the age of 24; his mortal remains likely will be committed to the ground Monday, the service to be held at Ebenezer Lutheran Church at 2:00. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15). Prayers are requested for Rev. Keistman, his wife Barb, their son Ben, their daughter Alycee, and all those who mourn Josh's loss from this world, even as he will celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection in heaven.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 04, 2007

Ps 116 / Ro 10-13

More than 20 years ago the Missouri Synod had an emphasis titled “His Love—Our Response”. While some of the features of the emphasis were not very sound theologically, its basic notion was helpful to me at the time in driving home how all we do to praise God, serve Him, or offer gifts back to Him comes as our response to His love. Psalm 116 is a beautifully straightforward Biblical presentation of that concept. He hears our cries, so we love Him. He answers us, so we always call on Him. We participate in the Sacrament of the Altar, fulfill vows of service to Him, and give Him thank offerings because He has redeemed and freed us from sin when we repent and believe that Jesus died and rose again for us. (My previous posts on this psalm are here and here.)

Psalm 116 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the day of St. Stephen, the Third Sunday after Epiphany, Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord), and the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity. Hymn #600 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 116:9.

Paul Pikel’s picture of his thread-grafting a Chinese Elm bonsai treeIf we have limited exposure to trees and vines or other plants where branches are sometimes grafted on or in, we might have some difficulty understanding what St. Paul is going on about in Romans 10-13. Especially in 11:11-24 he speaks of the believing Gentiles (the “wild olive shoot”) as a branch grafted into the Christian olive tree (“among the others” and the “olive root”). What’s “contrary to nature” about this is said to be that the usual procedure was to graft cultivated branches into a wild tree; reportedly grafting wild branches into a cultivated tree would not produce fruit. Notice how in this discussion St. Paul essentially tells the Gentiles not to feel guilty about the Jewish branches making way for them, but he also tells the Gentiles not to think they won’t be broken off themselves if they become unfaithful, as if to make way for Jewish branches that might repent and be reattached to their own tree. We do well to similarly live every day in repentance, with sorrow over our sin and faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. The image with this post is Paul Pikel’s picture of his thread-grafting a Chinese Elm bonsai tree (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my previous post on Romans 10-13, with more of an overview of the chapters and comments on other parts, here, and there are three Biblog folos touching on verses from these chapters: Romans 10:18 and the Gospel being preached to all nations, Romans 12:19 and a practical case of vengeance, and, a folo to that folo, Romans 13 and how that vengeance is usually executed.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Romans 11:33-36 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for Trinity Sunday, 12:1-5 for the First Sunday after Epiphany, 12:6-16a for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 12:16-21b for the Third Sunday after Epiphany; 13:8-10 for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, and 13:11-14 for the First Sunday in Advent. (Note one of the few places in the lectionary we use where there is a little bit of a continuous reading from week to week.) Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Romans 10-13.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 03, 2007

Ps 115 / Ro 7-9

Did the Old Testament know of angels and saints continuously praising God even then? In commenting on today’s Psalm 115, one of my generally reliable commentaries says “no”, but at the same time it has to admit that the psalm today gives “hints” that it did. (Admittedly the Old Testament teaching about what happens to the dead is, as one of my friends put it, “murky”.) In verses 17-18, there are both a statement that the “dead” do not praise the Lord and a statement that “we” praise the Lord now and forever. How are those statements to be reconciled? One way might be to assume wrongly some sort of “soul sleep” where the dead are held until the resurrection of the body, but we know from elsewhere in Holy Scripture that such is not the case. So, instead we might think of the “dead” as the spiritually dead, unbelievers, who do not praise the Lord now, and consequently go down to silence where they also do not praise the Lord forever. (For other statements about the silence of the dead, see Psalms 6:5; 30:9, and 88:10-12. For other statements about the resurrection and the ultimate praise of at least believers, see Isaiah 26:19 and 25:8—part of the seasonal canticle for this month.) Remember, too, from Palm Sunday’s Epistle reading that in the end even the dead confess Jesus is Lord, although then it is too late (Philippians 2:10-11). May God grant that we are always those who confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and so also praise Him now and forever. (For additional comments on Psalm 115, see this post and this post, and be sure to note how the reading of this festival Psalm nicely coincides with Holy Week.)

Psalm 115 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Feast of the Holy Trinity and the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 115.)

An unidentified photographer’s picture of the Praying Hands Memorial in Webb City, MissouriI first took note of Romans 8:26-27, part of our reading of Romans 7-9 today, when I was in high school and preparing to help lead a discussion of Euthanasia for our youth group’s ski retreat (which in retrospect seems like an odd topic for a youth group ski retreat, but maybe the topic had come up in Bible class and we had wanted more time to study the issue together than the Sunday morning or Sunday night opportunities allowed). Anyway, the verse was very comforting then in that it spoke of a seemingly comatose believer’s communication with God by way of the Holy Spirit. Today, I find even more comfort in the verse as I admit that I do not always know what to pray, what will be in accord with God the Father’s will, but that I want the Holy Spirit to pray for me for what He knows to be in accord with the Father’s will. The Praying Hands Memorial in Webb City, Missouri, pictured with this post is said to be in part a symbol of the importance of prayer (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it; for more about the Memorial see here; the photographer is not identified). Yes, prayer is important, but far more important is God’s love, mercy, and grace that lead Him to know our needs even before we pray and to give us what we need, we might say “answer our prayers”, even without our voicing them ourselves. (For my previous post that overviews and comments on Romans 7-9 click here, and for a folo about nature’s ongoing suffering click here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Romans 8:12-17 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity and Romans 8:18-23 for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity. Nine hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Romans 7-9.
  • 7:19-25 -- #379
  • 8:9 -- #236
  • 8:11 -- #201(one of my favorite Easter hymns)
  • 8:15 -- #226
  • 8:28 -- #529
  • 8:31 ff. -- #372
  • 8:31-39 -- #528(a absolutely wonderful Paul Gerhardt hymn; note especially stanzas 1 and 15, and in stanza 1's second line note that "host" is used with the now archaic meaning of "an armed company or multitude of men; an army" [Oxford English Dictionary])
  • 8:35-39 -- #372
  • 8:37 -- #506

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 02, 2007

Ps 114 / Ro 4-6 / Folos

The God of history is our God, Who not only did saving acts once but continues to do them. Psalm 114 makes that point, albeit somewhat indirectly, by recounting God’s miraculous acts involving water and by calling the earth to tremble still in our time, even as He continues to do miraculous acts involving water. For more, see my first and second posts on this psalm.

Psalm 114 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Maundy Thursday and Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord). (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 114.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Jesus Himself distributing the Lord’s Supper and of the disciples receiving as we might“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” St. Paul quotes that psalm verse in Romans 4-6, which we read today. (My previous post overviewing these chapters is here.) St. Paul also tells us today that we can rejoice in our suffering! Suffering initiates a chain of effects that are all good for us (that is, perseverance, character, hope), but that doesn’t make the suffering easier at the time. Thanks be to God for the “food for the way”, His blessed Body and Blood, that not only forgive our sins but strengthen us in body and soul to endure the suffering we face so that we can be found faithful at the last. The image with this post shows our Lord Himself distributing His Body and Blood to the disciples much like we might receive it, penitently kneeling before our Lord (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it).

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Romans 6:3-11 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for Sixth Sunday after Trinity and 6:19-23 for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity. Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Romans 4-6.

We have two Biblog folos today. The first has to do with this Q&A on Luke 20:1, 9. A reader commented that it seemed as if Jesus was teaching the people in both verses and that, based on the other verses, the Pharisees and others interrupted but stuck around. One of the commentaries I read painted a likely-accurate picture of this chapter where the Pharisees and pilgrims were so crowded around Jesus that no one could go anywhere. Certainly Luke 20:1 says that Jesus was primarily teaching the people, and the Pharisees and others do seem to interrupt. The teaching that results from the interruption, Luke 20:2-8, is primarily directed at the Jewish leaders, although Jesus is no doubt aware that the people are still there and paying attention. In Luke 20:9, Jesus seems to turn again primarily to teach the people, although likely aware the Jewish leaders are still there and obviously directing verses 17-18 to them (thus giving us good reason to think that one of the Pharisees or other Jewish leaders present made the statement in verse 16). Of course, all the teaching is relevant to us as we hear it today, too.

Our second Biblog folo has to do with Romans 1:13, especially as worded in the linked King James Version of the Bible. A reader emailed, “It is very odd that ‘prevented’ did not mean ‘stopped from doing’ in 1611, but ‘let’ did!” Welcome to the oddities of the English language! Indeed, in Romans 1:13 “let” has the now archaic meaning of “hindered”, and in some sixteen passages, such as Matthew 17:25, “prevent” has the obsolete meaning of “came or went before; preceded, anticipated”. I know some make a distinction between archaic meanings and obsolete ones, but I think there is no difference for the hearer—both are confusing or at best unclear. As a teaching assistant and foreign language student, I often said to international students learning English that I thought they had a tougher task than we native English-speakers learning foreign languages had.

Thanks go to the readers who submitted those comments and the question that resulted in this new Q&A on Luke 24.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

April 01, 2007

Is 25:1-9 / Ro 1-3 / Luke wrap-up

Isaiah 25:1-9 makes a perfect seasonal canticle for April, as to some extent it describes the victory that our Lord by faith gives us over sin, death, and the power of the devil (most especially in Baptism). There is more about this seasonal canticle in the background information on April’s readings and in this post from when we read the chapter in December. Be sure to note that “death” in verse 8 is the “shroud” and “sheet” of verse 7. That the Lord wipes away the tears (v.8) but apparently does not stop us from crying may also be significant.

A “contemporary” depiction of St. Paul writing his Epistles by French painter Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632)With the reading of Romans 1-3 today, we begin to read, in their Biblical order, essentially all of the New Testament epistles, which reading stretches into the middle of May. There are some details about St. Paul’s epistles in the background information for April’s readings, and there are more details specifically about his writing of Romans in my previous post on these chapters. The image with this post is of an oil painting by French painter Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), and you should note how the artist makes St. Paul appear both to write the letters himself and to use then-contemporary methods of writing instead of dictating the letters, as he most likely did, and using writing materials current in New Testament times (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Still, the depiction of Paul consulting what is most likely a Hebrew Bible is true to the spirit of the facts, if not their actual details (that is, Paul most likely had parchment scrolls of the Old Testament, not a modern “book”, although a scroll is represented in the painting). To be sure, Paul frequently cites the Old Testament, and we see some of that today as we read Romans 1-3. In these final days of Lent, the chapters' emphasis on each of us being sinful is helpful, but Paul does not leave us without the Gospel that by faith we sinners receive the righteousness of God and are thus ourselves justified, made righteous.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Romans 1:24-28 and God giving people up to their own wickedness. (There’s also a passing reference to Romans 1:18-32 in a Biblog folo here.) What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

No verses from Romans 1-3 are appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary for any Epistle readings, but four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Romans 3.
  • 3:12 -- #369 (a good hymn on the extent of original sin)
  • 3:25 -- #319 (a hymn originally in four stanzas that Luther included in a 1545 hymnal; the harmony we have in The Lutheran Hymnal is by J. S. Bach)
  • 3:28 -- #387 (a wonderful Luther hymn)
  • chs.3-5 -- #377 (a wonderful hymn of the Reformation)

Today I have an Luke wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The writing of this Gospel account was brought about by the Holy Spirit through a man named Luke, who was a Gentile doctor and both a friend to and coworker of St. Paul (see the so-called “we” portions of Luke’s second book, Acts—Acts 16:11, for example).
What is the book? The book is an orderly account of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection for the salvation of all people. St. Luke seems to assume his hearers’ unfamiliarity with the land where these events took place, so the book may have been written for people in Antioch, Achaia, or Ephesus.
Where was it written? Bible scholars suggest that the book may have been written in Rome, although Achaia, Ephesus, and Caesarea are also given as possibilities.
When was it written? A usual date for the writing of St. Luke’s account of the Holy Gospel is 59-63 A.D., or perhaps a bit later. Some early church writings imply the account was written after St. Paul’s martyrdom.
Why? In a formal preface (Luke 1:1-4), St. Luke states his purpose for writing: that Theophilus, possibly his patron, and all people might know the certainty of what he and they have been taught.
How? More than any other Gospel account, St. Luke gives the full scope of Jesus’s life, from birth to ascension, in an orderly, detailed fashion that is said to be “characterized by literary excellence, historical detail, and warm, sensitive understanding of Jesus and of those around him.” More than the writers of the other Gospel accounts, St. Luke is said to emphasize how God’s plan also includes Gentiles, the importance of prayer, how people react to the Good News with joy, the role of women, Jesus’s interest in the poor, His concern for sinners, family, His role as the Son of Man, and the role of the Holy Spirit (although John’s account I think has more on the Holy Spirit). I might also mention St. Luke’s focus on the Temple and worship.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Luke, you may make use of the following:
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (First published in 1946, Lenski’s commentary is out of date as scholarship goes, but his interpretations are nevertheless generally reliable. He mixes more technical matters with general interpretation, but most readers would probably find his commentary quite accessible.)
  • Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, MI: The Paternoster Press of William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978. (I have the 1992 reprint of this volume of the New International Greek Testament Commentary, and, while it is a little more higher-critical than I might like, Marshall is generally conservative in his final position and interpretation. The average lay reader may find the format used and the Greek content to be barriers to meaningful use, however.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

May God enable your faith to live every day in repentance, and may you especially today join those receiving in faith through Word and Sacrament the Blessed One Who comes to us in the Name of the Lord!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM