May 31, 2007

Ac 13-14

(Today don’t forget to read 1 Samuel 2:1-10, the seasonal canticle for May, for which you can find my post with related links here.)

Image of “The Back Pew” comic by Jeff LarsonNo one likes stepping in gum, whether wearing a sandal or any other type of shoe. The image with this post, one of Jeff Larson’s comics titled “The Back Pew, uses a little levity to refer to Luke 9:5 and indirectly to its parallel in Matthew 10:14 and Acts 13:51, which we read today in the appointed reading of Acts 13-14 (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 apostles’ shaking dust from their feet is no laughing matter, however. The action indicated their repudiating and severing responsibility from those who had not only rejected them but also thereby rejected the Lord Who had sent them. In the case of Pisidian Antioch, the apostles’ action in Acts 13:51 is not so much a curse upon the whole place, as Luke 9:5 might be taken as suggesting, since we know some people there welcomed Paul and that he returned to the city and may even have used it as a minor base of operations. Such repudiation of those who did reject Paul and Barnabas is still worth reflecting on, however, for their intent and the intent of any similar severing of responsibility in modern times, such as excommunication, is to lead people to repent. When those who once have rejected the message of the Gospel turn from their sin and believe in Jesus Christ, they, too, receive the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith. (My previous post on Acts 13-14 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 Acts 13:26-33 as the “Epistle” reading for Easter Tuesday, but no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Acts 13-14.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

May 30, 2007

Ps 149 / Ac 11-12

Despite what some political and religious leaders say, the United States of America is not a new Old Testament Israel, nor is today’s nation-state of Israel a new Israel. I’m not denying that the United States or the Israel of today have roles in God’s plan or that their governments are God-given authorities like those Paul describes in Romans 13, but I am making it clear that we cannot read Psalm 149 today and think that its words apply to our government the way its words applied to the Israel of the Old Testament. (My previous post, which overviews the psalm, is here.) The Israel of the Old Testament is equivalent today to the Church of Jesus Christ, and the prophecies concerning Israel are fulfilled in that Church, those whom the Holy Spirit gathers together to receive the forgiveness of their sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 149 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for The Anunciation, The Visitation, the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, and the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity. Hymn #43 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 149.

The fresco “The Martyrdom of St. James” by Florentine painter Giusto de Menabuoi (c.1320-1391) in the chapel of St. Luca BelludiI’ve been reading Neil Postman’s 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, and Postman does not have good things to say about what television does to such things as news, education, and religion. One of Postman’s salient points about religion is that while “Christianity is a demanding and serious religion” when Christianity “is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether” (p.121). But, as Postman also points out, television evangelists are not the only ones guilty of delivering Christianity “as easy and amusing” and therefore changing the very nature of Christianity. Few and far between in such easy and amusing versions of Christianity are accounts of martyrdom, like that of St. James that we read today in Acts 11-12, and images of death, like that with this post of the fresco “The Martyrdom of St. James” by Florentine painter Giusto de Menabuoi (c.1320-1391) in the chapel of St. Luca Belludi (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 must remember that Jesus not only warned in such passages as Matthew 20:23 of His disciples coming suffering, but Jesus also warns of our coming suffering and perhaps even dying on account of the faith. Christianity is a way of suffering that leads to glory. Jesus’s death led to His glory, and it also leads to ours, as we believe in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. We follow in His steps and are treated the same way. Still want to believe? (My original post overviewing today’s chapters is here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Acts 12:12 and some tradition about Mark’s family (something we also talked at greater length about in our recent study of the resurrection accounts). 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 Acts 12:1-11 for the “Epistle” reading on the day of St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostles, and hymn #491 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Acts 11:24.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

May 29, 2007

Ps 148 / Ac 9-10 / Biblog folos

Heaven and earth are to resound with the Lord’s praise, we read today in Psalm 148. You can find my previous overview of the whole psalm here, and my previous post dealing more with verse 4 is here. You might also notice how the psalmist moves from living creatures in heaven to “inanimate” objects there and then from “inanimate” objects on earth to living creatures here. Literary devices are used to refer to everything within the different spheres of existence. Everything and everyone has motivation for praising God. Our chief motivation is, of course, the salvation God graciously gives us by faith in Jesus Christ.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 148 among those appointed for Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter), and The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 148.

An image of Matthaeus Merian the Elder’s 1625-1630 engraving from “Icones Biblicae” depicting the Baptism of CorneliusOpponents of infant Baptism will often ask for an example from the Bible of an infant being baptized. While there are no such explicit examples, today in our reading of Acts 9-10 we certainly have one of the implicit examples. (My previous post on these chapters, with an overview of the whole reading, is here.) Cornelius had brought his relatives and close friends together (10:24), and, as Peter preached to them, the Holy Spirit came through the Word to them (10:44). Peter called for them all to be baptized (10:47-48), and presumably they all were. The image with this post, a 1625-1630 engraving from Icones Biblicae by Matthaeus Merian the Elder, whom you can read more about here (the first time we used one of his images), does not show anyone other than Cornelius being baptized (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), but in all likelihood there were infants present and included. We must never forget that all of us, including infants, are sinful from the moment of our conception and in need of the forgiveness of sins, delivery from death and the devil, and eternal salvation given by the water and the Word of Holy Baptism through faith in Jesus Christ.

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.

Acts 9:1-22 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the “Epistle” reading for The Conversion of St. Paul, Acts 10:34-41 as the “Epistle” reading for Easter Monday, and Acts 10:42-48 as the “Epistle” reading for Whitmonday (the Monday after Pentecost). Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Acts 9-10.

Today I have a number of Biblog folos, my term in part carried over from TV news (pronounced “follows”) for follow-ups on previous Biblog posts. First, in the May 25 post on Acts 1-2 I linked to this previous Biblog folo and its comment about how we choose pastors. A reader emailed that maybe we should choose our pastors that way, and the reader indicated recalling hearing of a congregation that did something similar for choosing their lay “elders”.

Today’s second Biblog folo has to with the comment in Sunday’s post on Psalm 146. I wrote that God will rescue us from all the situations we face and that one form of His rescue is our death in this world, which is a very good reason to praise the Lord. A reader sent the following comment.

I saw that my Grandmother lost things and people until there was really nothing else she cared much about, on earth. Sometimes I think that’s one way God gets us ready to go, but I suppose we should always “be ready to go”!

We should indeed always “be ready to go”, and we do that by living each day in sorrow over our sin and with faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. Still, God does have ways of helping us be more at peace with the deaths of others and our own impending deaths. My original point was that we want to think of death not as defeat, which is how the unbelieving world views it, but as deliverance and victory, which is what death is for Christians. Death is the transition to eternal life and thus the fulfillment of all God has promised and for which we pray. Why are we so surprised and saddened when it comes?

The third and final Biblog folo has to do with the image included in Sunday’s post on Acts 5-6. I pointed out that the artist read the monk’s tonsured hair style back into Biblical times, and a reader asked if the hair cut wasn’t in fact Biblical and what the point of the haircut actually was. I don't know a great deal about the tonsure, but this informative Wikipedia article on the tonsure is more than I have seen anywhere else. Although Wikipedia must be read critically (sometimes it is just flat out wrong), the article linked generally agrees with the shorter article on the tonsure in my more-reliable Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

Thanks for bearing with me last week while I was out of town, and special thanks to our webmaster for his extra work on the Biblog, fixing typos and addressing link problems. Remember your questions and comments about the readings are always welcome! Email them to me; I will not use your name on the site. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

May 28, 2007

Ps 147 / Ac 7-8

Astronomer Carl Sagan may make us think that there are “billions and billions” of stars, but no matter the number Psalm 147 today tells us in verse 4 that God determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. In the context of the psalm, God’s power and understanding are being emphasized, but the verse itself can remind us both of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the stars (Genesis 15:5) and of Jesus’s description of Himself as the Good Shepherd Who calls His sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3). There may be a large number of believers, but each of us is important to our Lord Who died for us and has redeemed us with His blood. When we humbly repent, He forgives and sustains us (v.6). You can find my original post overviewing the psalm here, and my subsequent post on the psalm is here. To that second post I might add that God chooses to work faith through means that are resistible. His Word and Sacraments theoretically could force people to believe and keep them from ever falling away, but, for reasons He has not made clear to us, God chose to let people be able to reject the faith and fall away. We are tempted to probe deeper into such matters, but we do better to remember how such considerations led St. Paul to doxology (Romans 11:33-36).

Psalm 147 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 the Baptist, the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, and the day of St. Bartholomew. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 147.)

Rembrandt’s 1626 oil on panel depiction of “The Baptism of the Eunuch”There is a lot in Acts 7-8 today, and you can find a good overview of the chapters in my previous post, which includes a Biblog folo about deacons and pastors that also refers to verses from today’s reading. The Baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch is an important highlight of the reading, and the image with this post depicts that event. The image is of a 1626 oil panting by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) titled “The Baptism of the Eunuch”, which today is in the Het Catharijne Convent, Utrecht, Netherlands (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Remember that like the Ethiopian Eunuch you are not without a guide for your reading to help you understand, especially how all of Holy Scripture relates to the good news about Jesus, Who suffered and died to save us from our sins.

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 appoints Acts 7:54-60 as part of the “Epistle” reading for the day of St. Stephen the Martyr and Acts 8:14-17 as the “Epistle” reading for Whit-Tuesday (the Tuesday after Pentecost). Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Acts 7-8.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:06 AM

May 27, 2007

Ps 146 / Ac 5-6

Have you ever relied on someone to do something for you and been disappointed when he or she fails to follow through? I expect we all have. Does verse 3 of Psalm 146 tell us we should not rely on or trust other people? Well, not quite. The psalm seems to be contrasting the trust we place in other people with the trust we place in the Lord. We can call on others to help us, but they may or may not. When we call on the Lord, we can be sure He will help us, even if His helping us is not precisely what we want. Through His Son’s death and resurrection the Lord has rescued us from the eternal condemnation our sins deserve, and He will rescue us from all other situations we face, even if that rescue is to bring about our deaths. Praise the Lord indeed! (You can see my previous posts on this psalm here and here.)

Psalm 146 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Quinquagesima (the Sunday that falls in the fifth period of ten days before Easter), Jubilate (the Second Sunday after Easter), Exaudi (the Sixth Sunday after Easter), the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity. Hymn #26 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 146.

Fra Angelico’s fresco “Ordination of St. Stephen by St. Peter” painted from 1447-1449 in the Capella Nicolina of the VaticanAs I read Acts 5-6 today I noticed both the increasing contention over the Gospel and also the flow of thought from the sharing in the community of believers, to the increasing number of people in material need, and finally to the ordaining of the deacons to handle those material needs, which ordination left the apostles and their successors free to handle the people’s spiritual needs. The image with this post is Domincan Fra Angelico’s “Ordination of St. Stephen by St. Peter”, painted from 1447-1449 in the Capella Nicolina of the Vatican, and you can see how the monk’s tonsured hair-style is read back into Biblical 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, and you can read more about Fra Angelico here). I think the left side of the fresco shows the ordination and the right side the deacon’s work. For more on today’s reading, you can read my previous post on these chapters and this Biblog folo about deacons and pastors (see also the Q&A 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 Acts 6:8-15 as part of the “Epistle” reading for the day of St. Stephen the Martyr, but no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Acts 5-6.

God bless your Pentecost day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

May 26, 2007

Ps 145 / Ac 3-4

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

When we say “people” should do something, how often do we include ourselves in that group of “people”? I daresay that more often than not we mean other people should do something. Today in reading Psalm 145 I noticed in verses 5 and 6 how both “they” and “I” are included. (My first post on Psalm 145, which overviews the psalm, is here, and my subsequent post, which focuses in on verse 3, is here.) The psalmist began the psalm speaking of himself praising God (vv.1-2), and then he spoke of one generation telling another (vv.3-4). But, then he makes it clear that he is also meditating on God’s works and proclaiming His deeds. Although preaching and administering the Sacraments is just for pastors to do, the telling others about God’s salvation is not just for pastors. The Holy Spirit gives each and every believer opportunities to give an answer for the hope that they have in Christ. The question is not whether we witness for Christ but what kind of witness we are. Do not leave the speaking of the splendor of God’s majesty or the telling of the power of God’s awesome works to others. You and I do the same things, for God’s awesome work of righteousness for all people in Christ affects us, as it also affects those around us. Jesus not only died for you and for me, but He also died for those around us, whether or not we particularly care for them otherwise.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 145 among those appointed for the First Sunday of Advent, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Christmas (the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord), the day of St. John (Apostle, Evangelist), the Second Sunday after Christmas, the First Sunday after Epiphany, the Second Sunday after Epiphany, Quasimodogeniti (the First Sunday after Easter), Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter), The Visitation, the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, and the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity. The Lutheran Hymnal contains three hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 145.

An image of Peter and John appearing before the Sanhedrin, which image by an unknown illustrator appeared in Petrus Comestor's If a church official tells you to do something, generally, I suppose we’d say, you should do it. Today in our reading of Acts 3-4, however, we see an example where Peter and John refused to do what they were directed to do by the “church” officials because what the church officials directed Peter and John to do went against what God directed them to do (see especially Acts 4:19). The leaders of the Sanhedrin before whom Peter and John appeared did not want them to keep spreading the message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. As hard as it may be to believe, some leaders in our church body today are just about as much against such a message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone as were the leaders of the Sanhedrin back then. (The image with this post is by an unknown illustrator of Petrus Comestor's “Bible Historiale”, which is held by the Museum Meermanno Westreenianum in The Hague and dates from about A.D. 1372; to see a larger version of the image that we got from Mnemosyne just click it.). Keeping commitments or obeying directives is never binding on us if those commitments or directives would lead us to sin. How do we know such would be a sin? The Holy Spirit guides us through God’s Word, those who teach us in it, and directs our sanctified conscience so that we can make such determinations. As in all aspects of our lives as Christians, however, we will never do so perfectly, and so we remember that we live in a state of grace where all our sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ, that only way of salvation. (You can find my previous post, which overviews all of today’s reading, 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 verses from Acts 3-4 for Sunday or festival readings in church, but five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Acts 3-4.

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

May 25, 2007

Ps 144 / Ac 1-2 / John wrap-up

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

I know a little ten-year-old who recently did not have the kind of particular athletic success both that she wanted to have and that her friends had. Such disappointments can be crushing! I tried to remind her that her value as a person did not depend on her athletic abilities, especially not what other people thought of them. Today in Psalm 144 the psalmist in effect asks in verse 3 what gives people their value. (You can read my previous post here, which has comments on more of the psalm.) Ultimately, our value as children of God comes from God’s regard for us in Christ. (I’ve posted before on self-esteem versus Christ-esteem.) Whether or not we think we are loved or otherwise regarded by people in this world, we can know from God’s Word and Sacraments that we are loved and highly regarded by God for the sake of Jesus Christ, Who would have died for you or for me if we were the only sinful person on earth. Such great love of God for us in Christ should comfort us whenever we are crushed and disappointed, although I don’t know how much it helped the little ten-year-old.

Psalm 144 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 and a Day of National Thanksgiving. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 144.)

An image of French artist Gustave Doré’s depiction of the coming of the Holy Spirit on PentecostIn a fairly-timely reading, Acts 1-2 today tells us, among other things, of the events of Pentecost, which this year is Sunday. The image with this post is the popular 1865 depiction of the coming of the Holy Spirit on that first New Testament Pentecost by French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) from “La Sainte Bible” (to see a larger version of the image that we got from Christians Unite [Pentecost images] click it, and see here for more on Doré), which I think is fair to say heavily influenced the artist who did Grace's stained-glass windows. My post overviewing today’s reading is here, but in it I don’t mention much about the Old Testament Pentecost as background for the New Testament Pentecost. The Old Testament festival of Pentecost celebrated the close of the wheat harvest with a collection of its firstfuits. On the first New Testament Pentecost Day, the Holy Spirit through St. Peter’s sermon harvested 3 thousand into the Church as its firstfruits. We who believe today are later but no-less-important fruit that the Holy Spirit has also harvested into the Church. Praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to faith and preserving us in that faith until our eternal end! (By the way, there’s a question related to Acts 1:23-26 about how we choose pastors in this Biblog folo’s discussion about trial by ordeal.)

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.

Acts 1:1-11 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the “Epistle” reading for Ascension Day, Acts 1:15-26 for the day of St. Matthias the Apostle, and Acts 2:1-13 for Whitsunday (Pentecost). Eight hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Acts 1-2.
  • 1:9 -- #213 (you'll have to see your hymnal for this one)
  • 1:11 -- #212
  • 2:3 -- #504
  • 2:4 -- #224
  • 2:17 -- #228
  • 2:24 -- #195
  • 2:32 -- #207
  • 2:38 -- #428

Today I have a John 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. John the apostle was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this book that bears his name.
What is the book? The book of John is an account of the Holy Gospel, or “good news”, of Jesus Christ.
Where was it written? St. John is thought to have written this Gospel account from Ephesus, and the Gospel account is said to reflect some of the conflicts and temptations facing believers then, although those conflicts and temptations really face believers of all earthly times and places.
When was it written? There are two views of when St. John wrote, one that would suggest it was relatively early and independent of the other Gospel accounts, about A.D. 50-70, and the other more-usual conservative dating that puts the date after A.D. 85, possibly between 90-100, and assumes John knew of the other “synoptic” Gospel accounts (namely, Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
Why? St. John makes explicit his purpose for writing what he did in the Gospel account: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:21). The “believe” may also be “continue to believe”, making John’s purpose winning and strengthening converts.
How? Unlike the other accounts, which tend to see Jesus’s life with roughly the same eye, St. John’s account is said to soar theologically higher than the others. John begins with a statement of his theme that is then unpacked in a spiral that rises higher and grows wider but often returns to the same points of emphases.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of John, you may make use of the following:
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1942. (This lengthy volume of 1444 pages, like the other Lenski commentaries, is a bit dated in terms of modern scholarship but nevertheless a good, helpful Lutheran commentary, one that you can find in Grace’s library.)
  • Ridderbos, Herman. The Gospel according to John: A Theological Commentary, tr. John Vriend. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. (This commentary was used by the Rev. Dr. William Weinrich of the Ft. Wayne seminary when he taught the continuing education class in Austin a number of years ago. I have other John commentaries on my shelf that I also like, but this is the newest and, like the others, must be read with the special discretion needed for a book that comes from outside the Lutheran tradition.)

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

May 24, 2007

Ps 143 / Jn 20-21

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

They say time is relative. The same period of time can pass slowly for one person and quickly for another. Outside of Jesus Christ, of course, God is essentially outside of time, so what does it mean when, like the psalmist today in Psalm 143, we ask God to hear and answer us quickly? Obviously the relative time is from our perspective, not God’s. The Bible speaks of all sorts of things hastening or happening speedily, such as people quickly forgetting God’s deeds, turning away from Him, and doing evil. That sounds like us, and we are in need of forgiveness for our sins. The psalmist’s distress and our own prompts prayers for the prompt replies, but we can draw comfort that God will answer all our prayers in His way and when the time is just right. That’s when He sent His Son, when the time was right, made of a woman, to redeem us, so that we might be adopted as God’s children (Galatians 4:4-5). We can trust that, as God sent Jesus to die to save us from our sins when the time was right, so all of God’s acts to help us will similarly be at the right time, whether they seem to us to come slowly or quickly. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 143 here and here.)

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 143 among those appointed for Sexagesima (the Sunday that falls in the sixth period of ten days before Easter), Ash Wednesday, Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent), Wednesday of Holy Week, Good Friday, the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, and a Day of Humiliation and Prayer. The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 143.
  • 143:4 -- #322
  • 143:8 -- #424 (not available on-line, sorry; see your hymnal)

An image of the portion of the Catechism Window in Martin Luther Chapel of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, which portion shows the symbols for Baptism and the Office of the KeysHopefully you’ve been participating, if you were able, in the recent Adult Bible Class discussion of the Bible’s accounts of our Lord’s resurrection. (If you’ve missed them, you can find the two class handouts here.) As important as Jesus’s resurrection is, it would do us little good if we could not hear about it or otherwise receive its benefits. Today in our reading of John 20-21 we not only hear about the resurrection, but we also hear about how its benefits are given to us: through what is called the Office of the Keys. (My original post, which overviews these chapters, is here, and here is a Biblog folo on the authoritative nature of the sending in John 20:21, and another one related to John 20:22-23, discussing what comes out of Jesus’s mouth, is here.) The image with this post, a portion of the Catechism Window in Martin Luther Chapel at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, depicts the authority to forgive sins with the gold key pointing the way to heaven and the similar authority to retain sins with the subordinated silver key pointing the way to hell (to see an image of the whole window click it, or for a higher quality image see from where we got it). The apostles exercised this Office, or this authority to either forgive or retain sins, and so do their successors, pastors today. We also hear today of Jesus’s including in His sending of the apostles and their successors the commands to feed and take care of His lambs and sheep. Through pastors Jesus Himself feeds and takes care of you and me, forgiving our sins with Word and Sacrament by grace through faith in Him.

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.

John 20:19-32 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Quasimodogeniti (the First Sunday after Easter), John 20:24-31 for the day of St. Thomas the Apostle, and John 21:20-24 for the day of St. John the Apostle. Six hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 20-21.

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

May 23, 2007

Ps 142 / Jn 19

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

As I read Psalm 142 today, I reflected on the first part of verse 3. (You can read my previous post on the whole psalm here and my post focusing more on verse 7 here.) When we are in desperate need and overwhelmed by our situations, the Lord is not ignorant of our needs. Especially when we feel as if we cannot go on another day, hour, or even step, remember the Lord is there to strengthen, to guide, and even in some sense to carry out what we need to do or to pray for us (for example, Romans 8:26-27). No matter how desperate our need or how bleak our situation, we can rely on the Lord’s help. He will see us through and shower us with His goodness, even as He has done already by forgiving our sins through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 143 among those appointed for the Wednesday of Holy Week and Good Friday. The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 143.
  • 143:4 -- #322
  • 143:8 -- #424 (see your hymnal for this one)

An unidentified artist’s rendering of the notice Pilate ordered placed on the crossSomewhat continuing the focus yesterday on Jesus before Pilate, today’s post on John 19 reflects on Pilate’s having the title “King of the Jews” placed on the cross where Jesus was crucified. (You can find my previous post, overviewing the whole chapter, here.) In chapter 18 yesterday we heard Jesus deny to Pilate that He was the King of the Jews. So, why does Pilate put that title on the cross over the objections of the Jews? (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of that title; 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 you can find some explanation of the picture, to be read with discretion, here.) At least one commentary suggests Pilate needed to justify the crucifixion, and, indeed, the charges against people executed supposedly were fastened to their crosses. Again, we do not know exactly what Pilate was thinking, and I invite you to join me in thinking about the bigger picture. Jesus, God’s Lamb without blemish, was sacrificed for you and for me, on account of God’s charges of crimes against us. Jesus, Who had no sin, was made to be sin for us, so that we might be made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). Thank and praise God for finding a way to execute His justice that saved us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

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.

John 18:1-19:42 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Good Friday. Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 19.
  • 19:16, 17 -- #150 (see your hymnal for this one)
  • 19:26, 27 -- #182
  • 19:28 -- #184
  • 19:30 -- #170, #185

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

May 22, 2007

Ps 141 / Jn 17-18

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

You’ve seen muzzles on animals, such as pit bulls, right? Imagine such a contraption on human beings in order to control what comes out of and goes in to our mouths. That type of contraption is almost what the psalmist and we pray for today in Psalm 141, especially in verses 3-4. (You can read my previous post, on the psalm as a whole, here.) All too often we say things that we should not say, or at least to people to whom we should not say them. What business is it of the person to whom we speak? Are those people in positions to do something about the situations of which we often complain? Are we unwilling to directly confront the person with whom we have a concern or to speak to someone who can do something about a given situation? Would that the Lord did keep an irresistible guard and watch over our mouth and lips. Today I especially thought about the inward flow. My study Bible refers to food set from the proceeds of the wicked’s ways, but I think we might also be able to think about partaking of sacramental meals of which we should not partake. Thanks be to God that for all our outgoing and incoming sins of the mouth and lips, as for all our sins, there is forgiveness by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 141 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). Hymn #562 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 141:2.

A photo by an unidentified photographer of Jesus before Pilate in the Quincy (Florida) Music Theatre’s February-March 2005 production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”This past Lenten season I especially appreciated the opportunity to preach on Jesus’s Lenten words before Pilate, which are a part of our reading today of John 17-18. (My previous post on all of today’s reading is here.) The study of the Biblical text in preparing for a sermon is always a personally enriching experience as God works through His Word. In this case, I especially appreciated seeing how Jesus subtly pointed out to Pilate that since the Jews turned Jesus over to Pilate it would essentially be ridiculous for Jesus to be their king. Of course, Jesus did not deny that He was a king, as Pilate rightly perceived before making his statement about the nature of truth. That statement about the nature of truth, as I mentioned in the sermon, is variously interpreted, including an interpretation given by Tim Rice in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” (the image with this post is a picture of Jesus before Pilate in the Quincy [Florida] Music Theatre’s February-March 2005 production of that musical; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Precisely what Pilate meant mattered only to Pilate; what matters to us is that we confess Jesus as the Truth (John 14:6), receive the forgiveness of our sins by faith in Him, and let Him be our King.

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 John 18:1-19:42 for the Gospel reading on Good Friday, but there are no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal said to refer to verses from John 17-18.

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

May 21, 2007

Ps 140 / Jn 15-16

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

“What do you know?” Even that question can mean a variety of different things depending on how it is asked and the context in which it is asked. Can we “know” things without really “knowing” them? As I read Psalm 140 today, I reflected on the psalmist’s statement in verse 12, the beginning of the psalm’s conclusion, about “knowing” the Lord secures justice for and upholds the cause of the poor and needy. (You can read my previous two posts on Psalm 140 here and here.) The psalmist certainly seems confident that the Lord will secure justice for the poor and uphold the needy’s cause, even if the Lord has not yet done so. We, too, can know that God, Who even now forgives our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ, will also with Christ give us all that we need, and we can know that all God’s plans for us are good and gracious in Christ. But, often that “knowledge” is more in the sense of “belief”, because we are waiting for those things to happen. Sometimes, our heads “know” those things to be true and just need to convince our hearts. That process of convincing is brought about by the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word, as we study and meditate upon it and hear it from pastor and friends. That process of convincing is also brought about by the Holy Spirit working through the Sacraments, as we recall our Baptisms, return to them in confession and absolution, and feast on the life-sustaining Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, until at last we see, with our glorified eyes, all such things to be eternally true.

Psalm 140 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Maundy Thursday, the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity, and for the day of St. Matthias. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 140.)

An image of an icon depicting Jesus as the vine and the disciples as the branchesI don’t have much of a green thumb. That any of my plants survive is more a credit to their creator than to my care. The same is true spiritually when it comes to us, as we read today in John 15-16. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here.) Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. We will only be healthy and productive branches if we remain in Him. When we receive salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, God goes to work in us and produces the fruits of faith. Such fruits of faith necessarily follow our coming to faith. We are saved by faith alone, but faith, as Dr. Luther rightly says, is never alone. Jesus’s focus, however, is not just on the fruit we bear but also on our remaining connected to Him and thereby to one another and to all true believers of all times and places. Such is the nature of our union brought about and expressed, for example, in the Sacrament of the Altar. The image with this post is of an icon depicting Jesus as the vine and the disciples as the branches (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 you can read one person’s interpretation of the icon 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.

John 15:17-21 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for the day of St. Simon and St. Jude the Apostles, John 15:26-16:4 for Exaudi (the Sunday after Ascension), John 16:5-15 for Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter), John 16:16-23 for Jubilate (the Third Sunday after Easter), and John 16:23-30 for Rogate (the Fifth Sunday after Easter). Eight hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 15-16.

Thank you to everyone who this past weekend joined in celebrating, on campus or at church, the conferral of my doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin! I am going to be somewhat disconnected the next few days. Please continue to comment and ask questions, but know that I might not get to them as quickly as I would otherwise like. And, if you have technical problems or typos to note, you might send one email to me and to our webmaster. 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

May 20, 2007

Ps 139 / Jn 13-14

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

As you read Psalm 139 today and think of God searching you (v.1), what do you think of Him finding and therefore knowing? Stop and think about it for a moment. What does He find when He searches our thoughts, words, and deeds? I reflect on His knowing that I remain far too great of a sinner, one who does not love Him or my fellow human beings as I should. What about you? If you thought of God searching you, finding faith, and knowing you are a believer, that’s well and good, too. (If you thought of all the good you do that somehow merits God’s favor, well, that’s another story.) We should expect God to find not only the sinfulness that remains now and will remain throughout this life but also the faith He created through His Word and Sacraments, which faith trusts in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. That faith also produces a new spiritual nature that attempts to love God and fellow human beings as we should. (My previous posts on Psalm 139 are here and here.)

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 139 among those appointed for Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord), the day of St. Thomas, and the day of St. James the Elder. The Lutheran Hymnal contains three hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 139.

An Associated Press photo of Pope Benedict washing the feet of twelve men April 13, 2006In my Maundy Thursday sermon this past Holy Week, I mentioned that, if the command that gave the day its name was to wash people’s feet, then most of us were in trouble. Today in John 13-14 we read about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and telling them to do likewise (John 13:14), and the image with this post gives evidence that at least some still practice some form of footwashing (but you can see what one blogger made of the event here, from where we got the picture). The mere fact that footwashing has not meaningfully survived in the history of the church, however, indicates that some other “command” is the day’s real namesake. The “command” that has survived is the “do this” in the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar, as the Epistle reading for Maundy Thursday makes clear (see 1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). As we read today, Jesus alone is the Way to the Father, and that “way” is not a direction we can go on our own. Rather, the Spirit of Truth guides us in that way, so that we receive by faith the forgiveness of sins that gives a peace that is out of this world. (You can read my post that overviews these chapters here, and there’s a little more about Maundy Thursday in this post.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with John 13 and other care for the feet. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

John 13:1-15 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Maundy Thursday, John 14:1-14 for the day of St. Philip and St. James the Apostles, and John 14:23-31 for Whitsunday (Pentecost). Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 13-14.
  • 13:7 -- #514
  • 14:3 -- #216 (sorry, but the website doesn't have the lyrics, so you'll have to check your hymnal for this one)
  • 14:6 -- #355, #433
  • 14:15 -- #349
  • 14:23 -- #399
  • 14:26 -- #233

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

May 19, 2007

Ps 138 / Jn 11-12

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

Do you remember the Bette Midler song “From a distance”? As I read Psalm 138 today, I stopped and reflected on verse 6, and that song came to my mind. (You can find my original post overviewing the psalm here and my comments more specifically on verse 7 here.) What does it mean in verse 6 that the Lord knows the proud from afar? At first I thought the verse had to do with where the Lord keeps Himself in relationship to the proud in contrast to the humble, but a closer look indicates something else may at least be included. Verse 6 begins by saying “Though the Lord is on high”, so there is a “from a distance” idea already in the first part of the verse (possibly in the Bette Midler sense, although I’m not sure I really understand what she’s on about in the song). The idea regarding the proud apparently is that even from on high, from afar, the Lord sees through them or sees them for what they are. The proud may not think themselves observed or answerable to anyone, but they are, and ultimately the Lord will execute His judgment upon them for their impenitence and unbelief. Even though the Lord is on high, He looks “with favor” (implied) upon the humble, whom He makes His special object of regard. We know His loving and gracious regard for the penitent, sending His Only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Humble or proud: which are we?

Psalm 138 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Second Sunday after Christmas, Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord), the day of St. Simon and St. Jude, and the Dedication of a church. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 138.)

An image of Renaissance painter Sebastiano del Piombo’s 1517-1519 painting titled The Resurrection of Lazarus”, now found in the National Gallery, LondonJesus’s resurrection from the dead was not the only resurrection miracle He performed, of course. The other one that certainly got the most attention from the Jews of that day and was in some ways inextricably bound up with Jesus’s own resurrection was the raising of Lazarus, about which we read today in John 11-12. Italian Renaissance painter Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547) depicted that resurrection in the well-known painting shown with this post (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 read here for more on the artist and the painting). Sometimes we do well to reflect on the fact that, even though Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead as described in our reading today, Lazarus (and the others Jesus similarly raised) still died the kind of earthly death we all will die, unless Jesus returns in glory before then. I’m sure Mary and Martha were happy to have their brother back, but he didn’t stay around forever. Although there’s nothing wrong in general with prayers for a miraculous healing of a loved one or ourselves, sometimes we might be forgetting that an earthly death is nevertheless still ahead for that person, too. The life of this world is transitory, especially in the senses that it is temporary and a transition that leads to the life of the world to come. The person for whom we pray may well have responsibilities and loved ones in this world, but the person for whom we pray, if he or she is a believer, certainly is better off in the world to come. And, since Jesus rose victorious over death and stayed alive, we, too, can look forward to an eternal bodily resurrection from the dead on the Last Day, after which we, too, in body and soul, will never die again. Such are the blessings of receiving by faith the forgiveness Jesus won for all with His death and resurrection from the dead. (You can see my previous post, with its comments on the whole reading, here, and there’s a Biblog folo that mentions John 12:47-48 here, regarding the breath of Jesus’s mouth and His words that in judgment divide as a sharp 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.

John 12:1-23 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Monday of Holy Week and John 12:24-43 for Tuesday of Holy Week. Four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 11-12.

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

May 18, 2007

Ps 137 / Jn 9-10

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

How often do we sing hymns outside of the Divine Service and the church building? There’s nothing wrong with doing so, despite what we read today in Psalm 137, for our singing hymns in our daily lives is not the same situation as that which the psalmist describes. You can find my previous posts on Psalm 137 here and here, but today I want to comment further on this matter of singing hymns in our daily lives. Hymnals are properly called the prayer-book of the church, and they should find use in personal and family devotions (one of the reasons why we list hymns that pertain to the Daily Lectionary readings), the bedsides of the sick and dying, and the like. Like you are probably finding with reading the Psalms, so you likely find with reading or singing the hymns: there are some more familiar than others and some of the unfamiliar ones can teach us much and help shape our faith. All of the psalms and the better hymns not only point to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but they also describe how that salvation affects our lives now and for eternity.

Psalm 137 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity and the day of St. Matthew. Hymn #462 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 137.

A contemporary depiction of Jesus as the Good Shepherd by an unidentified artistOn “Good Shepherd Sunday” this year, I commented to Pastor Sullivan that one of the things I like about the three-year series of readings for church services is that they generally expose us to more of the teaching about Jesus, our Good Shepherd, that we read in John 9-10 today, than we otherwise get in the one-year series of readings we use at Grace. (You can see below that John 10:1-10 is the Gospel reading for the Tuesday after Pentecost in the one-year series, but who today has church services on that day?) There is plenty to reflect on, however, even in just the section we do use every year (vv.11-16). Five times in those six verses Jesus refers to laying down His life for the sheep (and note how He also twice mentions taking it back up, the resurrection). Clearly the self-sacrificing nature of the Good Shepherd is important, vitally important, to the life and well-being of the sheep. Yet, strangely enough, when I looked for images to accompany today’s post about John 10, none of those I saw gave any indication of the Good Shepherd’s great love in this way. Yes, there are lots of warm fuzzy aspects of Jesus’s being our Good Shepherd (such as those aspects evoked by the unidentified artist's image that I used with today’s post, which image I chose for that reason; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). But, Jesus’s being our Good Shepherd can never become only warm and fuzzy without the sacrifice He makes for us sheep, or else we will lose the very salvation by grace through faith in Jesus that should give us the most warmest and fuzziest aspect of all. (You can find my previous post on John 9-10 here, and be sure not to miss what I noticed for the first time reading these chapters today, namely, the close connection between chapters 9 and 10.)

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 John 10:1-10 for the Gospel reading on Whit-Tuesday (the Tuesday after Pentecost) and John 10:11-16 for Misericordias Domini (the Second Sunday after Easter, also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”). Hymn #631 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to John 10:11.

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

May 17, 2007

Ps 136 / Jn 7-8 / Biblog folo

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

“Give thanks” is the recurring exhortation we hear in Psalm 136 today. You can find my first post on Psalm 136 here, a subsequent post on the psalm’s lasting relevance for us here, and a Biblog folo about Psalm 136:1’s use in the liturgy here. Today I just want to add two things. First, while we in November set aside a Day of National Thanksgiving, we can and should give thanks to God every day. Second, while we can and do thank God for all His blessings, as the Proper Preface for the Easter season reminds us, “chiefly are we bound to praise [God] for the glorious resurrection of [His] Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for He is the very Paschal Lamb which was offered for us and hath taken away the sins of the world; who by His death hath destroyed death and by His rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life.”

Psalm 136 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter) and the day of St. John the Baptist. Hymn #570 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 136.

A picture by an unidentified photographer of a fountain found in a courtyard in downtown Kiev, UkraineIf after reading John 7-8 today you were to search for an Old Testament quotation that Jesus could be taken as making in 7:38, you would search in vain. However, that fact should only trouble you and me if Jesus had said He was quoting the Old Testament, which obviously He does not say. Rather, Jesus can be taken as referring to all of the Old Testament Scriptures that prophecy the dispensing of living and life-giving water. We can also rightly connect the other New Testament references to such water and locate Jesus as the source of all such water of life. But, where do you find Jesus today in order to receive such water? Where is water that works the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe? In a fountain like that pictured with this post from a city square in Kiev, Ukraine? (To see a larger version of the image by an unidentified photographer click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) No, we find that water of life in the Baptismal Font (or “fountain”). There water is used with God’s Word to bring about the very things He promises in His Word. Jesus’s statements in John 7 not only came at the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, but they were also saturated with imagery from Feast of Tabernacles, when trumpets would sound and the people would sing words recorded in Isaiah: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” May our response each and every day be to meaningfully remember our baptisms and with joy draw water from the wells of salvation! (Be sure to see my previous post on these chapters and this reference to John 8:44 and the “lines of descent” of unfaithful people.)

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.

John 8:46-59 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent). Five hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 7-8.

Today's Biblog folo comes in response to the reading of John 6 yesterday and a comment I made in the related post a year ago about the use of John 6:68-69 as the Alleluia verse in newer liturgical orders in our more recent hymnals. A reader, who also appreciated the picture with the post and the site from which it came, made the following comment.

That verse was one of the few things I appreciated about Lutheran Worship, but we usually sang it as we were getting up for the Gospel instead of before, or after we were standing, so it seemed to "get lost".

I know the feeling from congregations where I have worshipped, and not just those with LW! Sometimes even the Hallelujah verse from The Lutheran Hymnal gets lost or misunderstood. The verse is not a response to the Epistle reading but an anticipation of the Gospel reading, and so I think standing before the verse is preferable. The rubric to stand comes later, but, from what I can tell, that's due to longer versions of the verse being sung by the choir and the desire to keep the congregation seated for those. Incidentally, even at Grace we stand before the actual rubric to stand.

Thanks to another reader email, there are two new questions and answers posted, beginning with this one (the other is right below it). Incidentally, although the Paschal (Easter) Candle is normally extinguished at the readings of our Lord’s Ascension in services this day, the Easter season technically continues until Pentecost. So, we can continue the Easter greeting at the beginning of these posts, and at their end I can continue to say, 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

May 16, 2007

Ps 135 / Jn 5-6

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

God is truly a loving God Who not only wants to save all people but has also acted to save them; however, His wrath on those who refuse His plan of salvation is also equally unmistakable. Psalm 135 today puts that wrath somewhat cleverly, saying that those who trust in idols will be like them: unable to speak, unable to see, unable to hear, and unable to breathe (vv.15-18). Those who trust in the Lord have been enabled by the Spirit to speak, see, hear, and breathe. By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, they receive the Lord’s blessings of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, and they praise Him now in this world and for eternity in the next. (You can see my first post on Psalm 135 here and a subsequent post here.)

Psalm 135 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord) and The Feast of the Holy Trinity. Hymns #248 and #363 from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 135:1.

An image of part of the Bread of Life window at the Church of Scotland’s Kilmore Church in Dervaig on the Isle of MullDoes it seem to you that in my Biblog posts there’s an undue emphasis on Holy Baptism, Individual Absolution, and the Sacrament of the Altar? If so, you’ve picked up on what I am intending as an emphasis, but I pray that you do not consider the emphasis undue, as what I am emphasizing is what Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions emphasize, namely the very ways that we receive the forgiveness of sins from God’s grace. Today’s reading of John 5-6 provides a good example. (You can find my previous post commenting on these two chapters here, and there’s a reference to John 6:53 in my comments discussing a believer’s participation in the believing community’s worship here.) As Jesus had emphasized the “necessity” of Holy Baptism to Nicodemus in John 3:3, so Jesus in John 6:53 emphasizes the “necessity” of the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus in John 6 clearly teaches that He is the bread of life (or “living bread”) and that He gives His flesh for the life of the world. (The image with this post is of part of the Bread of Life window at the Church of Scotland’s Kilmore Church in Dervaig on the Isle of Mull; to see a larger version of the image click it, for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it, and for more of the window and its history see here.) We receive Jesus’s true flesh and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar, and with them forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Now, we do not say that Baptism and the Supper are so necessary that one who has not had the opportunity to receive them will be kept out of heaven because they are absent. Rather, the strict necessity applies to those who have had the opportunity to be Baptized or to receive the Bread of Life but have despised these means of grace and what they offer. May God forbid that such condemnation ever apply 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.

John 6:1-15 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Laetare (the Fourth Sunday in Lent). Six hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 5-6.
  • 5:24 -- #596 (you'll have to see your hymnal for this one)
  • 6:35 -- #277
  • 6:37 -- #276, #330, #388
  • 6:48 -- #312

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

May 15, 2007

Ps 134 / Jn 3-4 / Biblog folo

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

There is always the danger that people directly involved with church work are thought to somehow live more-holy lives, or at least have more-holy vocations, than those not directly involved with church work. I suppose Psalm 134 could be taken to reinforce that notion, but it need not. You may want to see my previous comments on Psalm 134 before you continue reading this post. The worshippers’ farewell to the Levites encourages them to be about their duties, but the Levites are not the only ones who praise the Lord. All those whose duties are not such churchly work still please God as they live as Christians in whatever vocation they have. The Levites’ benediction on the departing worshippers helps remind us all that the real blessing comes from God and is the forgiveness of sins granted not because of what we do in our vocations but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 134 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for The Presentation of Christ and the Purification of Mary and Quasimodogeniti (the First Sunday after Easter). (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 134.)

An image of Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld’s woodcut depicting Nicodemus’s visit to JesusTeachers are expected to know everything! I suppose that expectation is increased, if it were possible, for teachers with their Ph.D.s. I think I already instinctively knew and practiced it, but I remember being told at seminary that if we ever did not know the answer to say so but then also to find the answer, if one existed. In John 3-4 that we read today, Jesus in 3:10-12 somewhat chastises Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, for not understanding something so basic as the birth from above in Holy Baptism, or for at least not accepting Jesus’s testimony about it. (You can read my previous post overviewing today’s reading here; the image with this post is of a woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, and you can read more about him and the source of the image where we used his work last; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) As a teacher, Jesus knew all things, of course, but that doesn’t mean that He taught everything to everyone. There are things that God chooses not to reveal to us, so there will be questions that even the best earthly teachers cannot answer. However, everything we need to know for our salvation has been revealed, and we pray that God would enable even the worst earthly teacher to make clear such basic things as the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We know from elsewhere in St. John’s account that Nicodemus ultimately accepted Jesus’s testimony and came to faith. What about us? Do we accept what faithful followers of Jesus teach?

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.

John 3:1-15 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday, John 3:16-21 for Whitmonday (the Monday after Pentecost), and John 4:46-54 for the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity. Four hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 3-4.

Today’s Biblog folo comes in response to the image with yesterday’s post. A reader emailed the following.

That is not a comfortable picture. Devils are undoubtedly active! Do you suppose it is because this is a “do it yourself” vision that the angels are pictured far away and kind of “hands off”? I’d like to think that the “holy angel” in Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers really is between me and trouble.

I would love to know more about the icon, such as who is in that group near the lower right corner, but I guess I agree with you that the group in the upper left appears to be angels. Scripture certainly does suggest that angels are more actively involved in our day to day lives than a group of spectators watching from the sidelines. And, if the “holy angel” in Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers is, as at least one Lutheran author has suggested, a reference to Christ, I can assure you He’s more involved than just watching the devils assault and assail us. As for the depiction and its “do it yourself” salvation, I do know one of the web author’s comments about the icon that I read referred to the people on the ladder having the choice as to whether or not they continued on that path, and I think that’s something with which we’d agree. God will preserve us in the faith and protect us from our evil adversary’s attacks, as long as we don’t turn away from His preservation and protection.

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

May 14, 2007

Ps 133 / Jn 1-2 / Three wrap-ups

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

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” That’s what we hear in the opening verse of Psalm 133 today. (You can find my previous post on this psalm here.) I never had a brother, but I don’t think we need to have had brothers to know that by nature “brethren” do not want to dwell together in unity. Our sinful human nature shows itself in all sorts of ways that keep us from living together in unity, whether brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, parents and children, or just friends. The first thing we want to do is receive God’s forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ, so that we can be at peace with Him and within ourselves. Then, we want to forgive those who have sinned against us, as God has forgiven us. Only in the forgiveness of sins can we who are sinners live with other people who are sinners. Then, forgiven by God and forgiving one another, we can both be united in the one confession of the faith and truly live together in unity in a good, pleasant, and God-pleasing way!

Psalm 133 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 133.)

An image of an icon depicting St. John of Climacus’s vision of a ladder to heavenI am glad that we are reading John 1-2 today and thereby beginning the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (My original post with comments introducing the book and overviewing today’s chapters is here, and there’s a passing comment on John 1:3 in a Biblog folo here.) I mentioned yesterday in church that the account is straightforward, but there admittedly are some things that are less-straightforward, although if you’ve been reading along you will certainly understand more of them. For example, In John 1:51 Jesus tells Nathanael that Nathanael will see heaven open and angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Remember Jacob’s dream of a ladder back in Genesis 28:10-15? Jesus is clearly identifying Himself as that ladder. Jesus is the means by which God’s blessings come into the world and through which we have access to the Father. Now, the image with this post is a popular depiction of a ladder to heaven, the Christian life as it was supposedly seen in a vision of St. John of Climacus about A.D. 600 (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 might notice that the ladder is not in any way identified with Jesus, however. St. John of Climacus in a book described salvation, or religious perfection, as a 30-rung process that people, especially monks or nuns, can work through themselves. That understanding is all law, and it fails to consider John 1:51 and horribly overstates human ability. Thinking we can save ourselves by what we do, ultimately we will be led to despair. We can only find true peace and comfort recognizing Jesus as the ladder, the only Way to the Father. While I wish the image would identify our Lord as the ladder, one thing I especially do like about the image is the vivid depiction of the agents of the devil working to get people off their heavenly path. Lord, deliver us from evil!

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.

John 1:19-28 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent and John 2:1-11 for the Second Sunday after Epiphany. Fourteen hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from John 1-2.

Today I have Three wrap-ups: 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Such summaries of recently completed books were requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading. First is the summary of 2 John.

Who was the author? The Divinely-inspired author of 2 John is the apostle and evangelist St. John, who in the book refers to himself as the “elder”, perhaps as the youngest apostle has outlived his generation.
What is the book? The book of 2 John is an apostolic epistle or “letter” written to the whole church, or any congregation, which he refers to as “the elect lady and her children”, and so is classified as a “catholic” or “universal” letter.
Where was it written? The book of 2 John was likely written from Ephesus, although St. John’s reference to “the children of your elect sister greet you” could refer to the believers in any church.
When was it written? The book of 2 John probably was written around the same time as 1 John, between A.D. 90 to 100 or 85 to 95.
Why? The epistle sternly warns against believers showing hospitality to or otherwise supporting false teachers and thereby being a part of those who pervert the Gospel.
How? The book of 2 John emphasizes many of the same themes as 1 John: the commandment of love, the reality of Jesus’s incarnation, the designation of the false teaching as the work of the antichrist, and the insistence that the Father can only be accessed through the Son.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 John, you may make use of the following, both of which are in the 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. (There are 4 pages of comments on 2 John in this commentary.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (There are 20 pages specifically on 2 John in this commentary.)

Next is the 3 John wrap-up.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the book of 3 John through St. John, apostle and evangelist, who again refers to himself as “the elder”.
What is the book? The book of 3 John in at least some sense is a “catholic” or “universal” apostolic epistle. Despite the fact that it was directly addressed to a Christian named Gaius (probably not the same as the other New Testament figures with this name), the letter is indirectly addressed to a church’s leader named Diotrephes and his whole congregation.
Where was it written? Like the other two epistles of St. John and the Gospel account that bears his name, 3 John was likely written from Ephesus.
When was it written? The somewhat wide range of dates for 3 John is the same as for John’s other two epistles, A.D. 90 to 100 or 85 to 95, with some theorizing that the letter referred to in 3 John 9 is in fact 2 John.
Why? John had been warning the believers not to welcome false teachers, but, when Gaius welcomed a true teacher sent by John, Diotrephes tried to put Gaius out of their congregation. John writes to support Gaius and warn Diotrephes.
How? John’s support for Gaius and warning to Diotrephes is quite clear. If indeed 2 John and 3 John were written and delivered at the same time, John quite shrewdly exercises his apostolic authority, even promising to visit in person.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 3 John, you may make use of the following, both of which you can find 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. (There are 3 pages of comments on 3 John in this commentary.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (There are 17 pages specifically on 3 John in this commentary.)

Finally, we have the Jude wrap-up.

Who was the author? While the Holy Spirit is the ultimate author of the book of Jude, the human author identifies himself as “Jude” a “brother of James”, presumably both were “kinsmen” of our Lord, which could mean half-brothers, step-brothers, cousins, or as simple believers.
What is the book? The book is a letter to Christians troubled by false teachers; the specific recipients of the letter are not identified.
Where was it written? We do not know from where Jude was written, nor are there apparently enough clues to even make an educated guess.
When was it written? The dating of Jude depends in part on the dating of Peter and the decision as to which, if either, is depending on the other. Jude could have been written as early as A.D. 65 (or earlier) or as late as A.D. 80.
Why? Much like with 2 Peter, the letter targets false teachers, in this case specifically those who taught that Christian freedom included the freedom to sin.
How? Jude begins by assuring his hearers that they have been called by God, and he finishes by giving glory to the God who can keep them from departing that calling. In between Jude attacks the false teachers’ impious life and otherwise encourages the believers.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Jude, you may make use of the following (both are in Grace’s 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. (There are 6 pages of comments on Jude in this commentary.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (There are 55 pages specifically on Jude in this commentary.)

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 06:41 PM

May 13, 2007

Ps 132 / 2 Jn, 3 Jn, Jude / 1 John wrap-up

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

How often do we want something that we are convinced would be to God’s glory but God does not let us have it, at least not when we want? I reflected on this question today in reading Psalm 132, where the psalmist recalls David’s vow to build a dwelling for the Lord. The Lord did not let David build the Temple, however; fulfilling that vow fell to David’s son Solomon. If someone like David, who despite his sins is often held up as such a great saint, had to wait, how much should we also expect in some cases to have to wait for things that we are convinced would be to God’s glory to come about? Or, maybe the things we want won’t come about at all, but God will work something better instead. We can read how none of Jesus’s disciples wanted Him to suffer and die in Jerusalem, but that was the best thing that God could have done, as it accomplished their and our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. Our will needs to conform to His, not the other way around. To use the clichéd expression, often we need to let go and let God. (For additional comments related to Psalm 132, see my first post, my second post, and this Q&A on the “lampstand” mentioned in verse 17.)

Psalm 132 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for Christmas (the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord), Easter (the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord), The Visitation, the day of St. Matthew, and the Dedication of a Church. Hymn #490 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 132:9.

An image of the oil on canvas depiction of “St. Jude Thaddeus” (1615-1620) by French baroque painter Georges de La Tour (1593-1652There are several figures in the New Testament who have names deriving from the Hebrew name “Judah”. Those Greek names include “Judas” (as in Judas Iscariot, the other apostle named Judas, and a “kinsman” of our Lord), or “Jude” as in the author of the epistle we read today in our reading of 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Different traditions identify the author of the epistle with one either the other apostle named Judas or the “kinsman” of our Lord or both. That the other apostle named Judas and the “kinsman” were one and the same person seems unlikely, however, since Jesus’s “brethren” did not believe in Him (John 7:5) and presumably the other apostle named Judas did (see John 14:22, although that could arguably be taken either way). That the author of the epistle is Judas the other apostle also seems unlikely, as the author of the epistle does not identify himself as an apostle and speaks of the other apostles in a way that seems to separate himself from them (Jude 17). We would say that the author of the epistle “Jude” is the “kinsman” of the Lord, someone other than the other apostle Judas, who was also named Thaddaeus and is pictured with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). That other apostle, as near as I can tell, is the “forgotten” or “lost” apostle who was often forgotten because of the similarity of his name to the one who betrayed Jesus. And although, as I mentioned, some identify that other apostle and the author of the epistle, it is the author of the epistle that calls for perseverance in the face of desperate circumstances who is the “patron saint” of desperate and “lost” causes and thus the namesake of such things as Danny Thomas’s research hospital for children’s cancer. (In Peoria where I grew up we had an affiliate of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the TV station for which I first worked did an annual telethon to raise money for the affiliate; we got to hear some amazing stories of courage in the face of devastating illnesses and of God’s blessings of healing through modern medicine.) For comments on today’s readings themselves, see my previous post on these books.

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 readings from today’s reading. And, although there are no hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal that are said to refer or allude to verses from 2 John or 3 John, there are two that refer or allude to verses from Jude.
  • 3 -- #472
  • 20, 21 -- #264 (see your hymnal)

Today I have a 1 John 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 book of 1 John was authored by the Holy Spirit through the apostle and evangelist St. John.
What is the book? The book is an apostolic letter, or “epistle”, written to the Church in general, thus its placement in the category of “catholic”, “universal”, or “general” letters.
Where was it written? John apparently lived for an extended period of time in Ephesus, from where he is thought to have written this epistle.
When was it written? The book of 1 John is thought to have been written between A.D. 90 and 100, or perhaps between 85 and 95.
Why? John seems to write to combat an early form of Gnosticism, one of the most dangerous false teachings of the early church period. Gnosticism considered the spirit good and matter evil and thus taught falsely about human beings, salvation, Christ, and the Christian life.
How? The book of 1 John is said to exhibit a “white-hot passion for the truth”, summoning the church to penitence as it reflects on the antitheses of truth-lie, Christ-antichrist, and God-devil. In brief and pointed statements, John makes it clear where the church can and must stand enabled by God. No other similar book is said to furnish so many brief sayings that people can keep in their hearts “to live by and to die on.”

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 John, you may make use of the following, both of which are in the 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. (There are 22 pages of comments on 1 John in this commentary.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (There are 183 pages on 1 John in this commentary.)

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.

There is a new Q&A posted 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

May 12, 2007

Ps 131 / 1 Jn 4-5

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

We often want to know things. We often want to know things right now that God will reveal to us later. We often want to know things right now that God does not choose to reveal to us at all. Today Psalm 131 expresses in its first verse what should be our statement in faith: “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” (You can find my previous post on this psalm here.) There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know things, and, in fact, we are expected to use our sanctified reason in applying God’s law and Gospel. At the same time, however, there are limits! Our reasoning cannot go against what God has revealed to us in Holy Scripture, and we cannot probe more deeply into some areas than what God has chosen to reveal to us. For example, why are some saved and not others? Those who are saved by the Holy Spirit’s leading believe that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of their sins; those who are not saved by their own rejection do not believe that Jesus Christ died for the forgiveness of their sins. Much beyond that we dare not go, as in reasoning, because some are saved by the Holy Spirit’s leading, that those who are not saved are lost by the Holy Spirit’s failing to lead them. So that we think and reason where we should, we can pray with the hymn writer, as we did at the funeral yesterday, “Take my intellect and use / Every power as Thou shalt choose” (The Lutheran Hymnal #400:4:3-4).

Psalm 131 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. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 131.)

An image of part of the mosaics in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, which was redone in 1999“They’ll know we are Christians by our love”, the song says, and I suppose it is true to a point, and it is probably based in part on today’s reading of 1 John 4-5. (You can find my previous post on the reading here.) Christians will show God’s love to them in what they think, say, and do with regard to their neighbors. However, we never do that perfectly. If God’s identifying us depended on our showing love, we would be in big trouble. God’s identifying us depends on His making us His children by the water of Holy Baptism and sustaining our faith by the blood of the Sacrament of the Altar. The water and blood are how Jesus comes to us and, along with the Holy Spirit, testify to us about Him. Since God knows all things perfectly and doesn’t need anything to tell Him about what is in our hearts I don’t think they necessarily testify to Him about us, but I think we can say that the water and the blood testify about us to the world. The water and the blood are foundational to the Church, something the image with this post depicts, showing Mary, a figure of the Church, gathering in her left hand the water and blood flowing from Christ’s pierced side (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.

The historic 1 year lectionary appoints 1 John 4:16-21 as the Epistle reading for the First Sunday after Trinity and 1 John 5:4-10 for Quasimodogeniti (the First Sunday after Easter). Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 John 4-5.

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

May 11, 2007

Ps 130 / 1 Jn 1-3 / 2 Peter wrap-up

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

When we are at our lowest points may be when we are more likely to examine our lives and realize our sins, but when we are at our lowest points may also be when we are more likely to become defensive and angry with God for the things He at least allows to happen to us. Today in Psalm 130 the psalmist cries out from depths of woe but realizes and essentially confesses his sin. He knows the Lord will forgive him, and so he believes in the Lord and calls others to do likewise. (You can find my previous post on Psalm 130 here.) Remember that we should not wait until we are at our lowest points to confess our sins, but Dr. Luther teaches us that we are to “by daily contrition and repentance” drown the sinful nature in us and “die with all sins and evil lusts” so that a new person may “daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” His fourth question and answer on Baptism is clearly linked to confession and absolution. Note also that in this context “contrition” is “sorrow for sins” and “repentance” is “faith”.

Given its penitential nature, there is little surprise Psalm 130 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed mostly for the key penitential observances of the Church Year. The complete listing of Psalm 130’s appointments follows: Septuagesima (the Sunday that falls in the seventh period of ten days before Easter), Ash Wednesday, Wednesday of Holy Week, the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity, and a day of Humiliation and Prayer. Two hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 130: #327 and #329 (Luther’s great hymn of confession), and don’t forget the canticle De Profundis, which is #664.

An image of photograph by an unidentified photographer of an unidentified window depicting a pastor absolving a penitent sinnerSomewhat in keeping from the theme of the psalm, in my comments on 1 John 1-3 today I want to focus my thoughts on confession and absolution. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here, and you can find a passing reference to 1 John 1:8, 10 in a discussion of Psalm 7 here.) More-recent liturgical orders of the Divine Service rightly make use of 1 John 1:8-9, and the surrounding context of the verses help us see the importance of confessing our sins and receiving God’s cleansing or forgiveness, what we can call “absolution”. In the Lutheran Confessions, “absolution” is a technical term for the forgiveness God gives through the pastor. The ways the pastor gives God’s forgiveness include preaching, Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Altar, but “absolution” more frequently refers to the words the pastor speaks on Christ’s behalf to an individual who has confessed the sins that trouble him or her most (that’s a paraphrase of how the rite of Individual Confession and Absolution has the penitents introduce their confession, but the Small Catechism says “before the pastor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts”). The corporate confession and absolution we have in the Divine Service is not in this most strict sense truly confession and absolution. Dr. Luther in his Large Catechism says it is to individual confession and absolution that we “should be glad to run more than a hundred miles”. We come not for the sake of confessing the sins, as if getting them off our chests alone were all that helpful, but we come and confess for the sake of the absolution. Note that the image with this post depicts not a penitent sinner confessing but a faithful pastor absolving (see the right hand raised in the apostolic gesture; the name of the photographer and details of the window were not given, but to see a larger version of the image click it, and for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You may or may not know that pastors take oaths not to divulge the sins confessed to them (it is called the “seal of the confessional”), and once the sins are forgiven, in a sense, they are no longer around to divulge. They have been removed from us by Jesus’s blood, as far as the east is from the west. Thanks be to God!

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 John 2:22, Lutherans, and the office of the pope as that of the antichrist. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1 year lectionary appoints 1 John 1:1-10 as the Epistle reading for the day of St. John the Apostle. Six hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 John 1-3.

Today I have an 2 Peter 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 Jesus’s apostle Peter to write this second book that bears Peter’s name.
What is the book? Like 1 Peter, 2 Peter is an apostolic letter to the Gentile Christians of Asia Minor.
Where was it written? This second letter was also likely written from Rome.
When was it written? The letter that is 2 Peter was written after 1 Peter (see 2 Peter 3:1), and so the dating of 2 Peter depends on the dating of 1 Peter. We can say 2 Peter was written between A.D. 65 and A.D. 68, although Peter could have written it as early as A.D. 62.
Why? Attempting to help the Christians deal with false teachers and other evildoers who have come into the church, Peter’s purpose in writing is said by one commentator to be threefold: to stimulate Christian growth, to combat false teaching, and to encourage watchfulness in view of the Lord’s return.
How? Much like 1 Peter, 2 Peter emphasizes Christian hope, and he writes of knowledge in service of strengthening hope and defending it from error and doubt.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 Peter, you may make use of the following, both of which are available 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 volume has 13 pages on 2 Peter.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (This volume, originally published in 1945 is somewhat dated, but nevertheless you would likely find its 121 pages on 2 Peter helpful.)

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

May 10, 2007

Ps 129 / 2 Peter / 1 Peter wrap-up

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

“We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how about you?” I doubt there are too many people who don’t know how to respond to that invitation from a group of cheerleaders or other half of a stadium. I think we can say that even in popular society there are forms of what we in the church might call “antiphonal” responses. Today in Psalm 129 the people of Israel are invited to antiphonally confess that, although their enemies have oppressed them, the enemies have not defeated Israel. We can boldly confess the same thing! We who believe in Jesus Christ are also often oppressed, but our enemies do not defeat us. On the contrary! Jesus has won the victory for us! By grace through faith in Him we receive the forgiveness of our sins, life, and salvation. We are a part of the Church over which the gates of hell do not prevail. (My previous post on Psalm 129 is here.)

Psalm 129 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 day of St. Bartholomew. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 129.)

An image of contemporary French artist Macha Chmakoff’s work titled “Transfiguration, the Cloud”Comedic versions of the news are all the rage now. The original one is usually said to be “Weekend Update” on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”, but the most popular one now is the Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. With that one perceived as left-leaning, conservatives on the FOX News Channel have reportedly developed their own, “The Half-hour News Hour”, at least the title of which I think is ripped off from the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s “This Hour has 22 Minutes”, also a satirical news show. More disturbing are surveys and polls that suggest people rely on these shows as a source of news! The line between what is true and what is false continues to be blurred. Not so for 2 Peter that we read today. Peter emphasizes the truth of his message that he witnessed first hand and contrasts it to the falsity of stories made up by those who are justly condemned. One of the events Peter witnessed first hand to which he refers is the Transfiguration of our Lord, and the image with this post is contemporary French artist Macha Chmakoff’s depiction of what Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:17 as “the Majestic Glory” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). With eternal salvation at stake, I pray more would know where to turn for their source of the Good News! (My previous post on today’s reading, including introductory comments on the book itself, 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 appoints 2 Peter 1:16-21 as the Epistle reading for The Transfiguration, and 2 Peter 3:3-14 is one of the Epistle reading options for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (the Second-last Sunday of the Church Year, if it occurs). Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 2 Peter.

Today I have a 1 Peter 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 book of 1 Peter was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through its namesake, the Apostle Peter.
What is the book? The book is an apostolic letter from Peter to Gentile Christians throughout the five provinces of Asia Minor.
Where was it written? Peter likely wrote this first of the letters we have of his from Rome (he figuratively refers to the city as “Babylon”), from where he was later martyred.
When was it written? An approximate date for the writing of 1 Peter is A.D. 64.
Why? Possibly writing at the request of St. Paul, Peter writes to strengthen the believers and to encourage them to hope in the face of their increasing persecution, even as persecution was also increasing in Rome.
How? With a variety of rich themes, the letter packs a great deal of content into a few words. Perhaps most notably Peter makes a firm connection between believers’ baptisms and their hope and strength in the face of persecution.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Peter, you may make use of the following, both of which are available 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 volume has 27 pages on 1 Peter.)
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961. (This volume, originally published in 1945 is somewhat dated, but nevertheless you would likely find its 233 pages on 1 Peter helpful.)

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

May 09, 2007

Ps 128 / 1 Pe 3-5

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

Children and grandchildren are certainly a blessing from the Lord, as we read today in Psalm 128, where the psalmist in verse 6 seems to draw on Genesis 48:11, Jacob’s words to Joseph. Those of us who do not have children obviously will not have grandchildren either, but in no way should we be regarded as lacking any blessing from the Lord. In these last days, not getting married is a witness to the times, as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (and see Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 19:11-12). Moreover, all we need we have in Christ, most especially the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith. In Christ we also have new kinship ties of brothers and sisters in Christ through the water of Holy Baptism and the blood of the Sacrament of the Altar. Our fellow believers are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters (Matthew 12:50; Mark 3:35; Luke 8:21)—and, we might add, children and grandchildren! (My previous post on today’s psalm is here.)

Psalm 128 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the First and Second Sundays after Epiphany. Hymn #624 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 128.

An image of Tamer Shabaneh’s photograph of Beit Sahour, looking east over the so-called Sheherds’ Fields near BethlehemAs a pastor, which word is Latin for “shepherd”, I guess I probably notice (and point out) too much when the passages we read refer to pastors and other shepherds, like in today’s reading of 1 Peter 3-5. (My previous post on these chapters is here, and there is a passing reference to 1 Peter 5:8 here.) No doubt the Holy Spirit also works through such passages differently in each of us. For example, 1 Peter 5:1-4 spoke words of law to me, especially in light of discussions of late at Grace, where the passage may have prompted you to think critically of me. There are fine lines all over Holy Scripture, and none of us, to be sure, ever walks them perfectly. Pastors are not to be greedy for money but eager to serve, we hear St. Peter tell pastors today, but at the same time we hear Jesus and Paul elsewhere tell the congregations to give the workers their wages. Pastor Sullivan recently commented on how hard it is for pastors to teach regarding such matters without being perceived as money grubbing. Ultimately the judgment is the Chief Shepherd's, and, thanks be to God, we all who believe are judged not guilty by virtue of the blood He has shed for us. Reflecting on pastors as shepherds also reminds me that there were shepherds in Jesus’s family line (especially David), and that Jesus’s birth was first announced to such humble shepherds on the hills outside of Bethlehem. The image with this post is of the Shepherds’ Fields that since ancient times have been identified with the shepherds who saw the Star of the Nativity (the picture is by Tamer Shabaneh, 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).

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 appoints 1 Peter 3:8-15 as the Epistle reading for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 1 Peter 3:17-22 for Holy Saturday, 1 Peter 4:7-11 for Exaudi (the Sunday after Ascension), 1 Peter 4:12-19 for Sunday after New Year (that is, the Second Sunday after Christmas), and 1 Peter 5:6-11 for the Third Sunday after Trinity. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Peter 3-5.

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

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:50 AM

May 08, 2007

Ps 127 / 1 Pe 1-2 / James wrap-up

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

The tornado over the weekend that destroyed that town in Kansas is a vivid reminder that God’s ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are not our thoughts. So many homes and businesses were destroyed (not to mention an LCMS congregation’s church building, I’m told). Psalm 127 tells us that one cannot build a house without the Lord, but even when a house is built with the Lord there is no guarantee it will stand forever. And, people obviously play a role in the building of both literal and figurative houses. People can get in the way of the Lord trying to build a house, as they can destroy a house the Lord has built. We all should repent over our interference with God’s work or our destruction of His work, and we can know that there is forgiveness in Christ for these and all our sins. You can find my previous posts on today’s psalm here and here.

Psalm 127 is included by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, among those psalms appointed for the Second Sunday after Epiphany. Hymn #621 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 127:1.

An image of an icon depicting Saint Peter and his wifeSometimes in our focus on the books of the Bible, their authors and other central figures, we lose sight of the fact there are other people involved who may or may not be mentioned by name or at all. Today as we read 1 Peter 1-2 I thought I would at least reflect for a few minutes on Peter’s wife. We are never told who she was, but we are given indications in at least two places that he was married (remember that “Peter” is also called “Simon” and “Cephas”). The Gospel accounts tell of Jesus’s healing Simon’s wife’s mother (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; and Luke 4:38), and Paul makes reference to Cephas’s wife traveling with him. (The image with this post is of an icon of the pair; 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 may remember the apostles’ claim to have left “everything”, but we might also note that Jesus does not mention “wives” in His reply to their statement, at least not in some accounts (see Matthew 19:25-30, Mark 10:26-31, and Luke 18:26-30). God’s servants and their immediate and extended families make sacrifices actively and passively for the work of the Gospel, even those who do not travel from place to place such as Peter and his wife must have done. Such sacrifices and their later rewards reflect a recognition of the importance of proclaiming to a world lost in sin the forgiveness of sin by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my notes introducing the book and commenting on today’s reading itself here, and you can read more about 1 Peter 1:13-23 and holiness 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 appoints 1 Peter 1:3-9 as the Epistle reading for the day of St. Simon and St. Jude the Apostles, 1 Peter 2:11-20 for Jubilate (the Third Sunday after Easter), and 1 Peter 2:21-25 for Misericordias Domini (the Second Sunday after Easter). Seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from 1 Peter 1-2.

Today I have a James 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 author of the book was James, one-time leader of the Church in Jerusalem, the brother of Jude, and a “kinsman” of the Lord Jesus, likely a step-brother, but possibly anything from someone as close as a half-brother to a cousin or more distant relative or fellow-believer.
What is the book? The book is an homily in the form of an apostolic letter to Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, perhaps scattered after Stephen’s death (Acts 8:1; 11:19).
Where was it written? The letter was likely written from Jerusalem, despite some Christians having been scattered from the city, James was martyred there, and some Jews interpreted the Romans’ sack of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as God’s punishment for the Jewish leaders’ having put James to death.
When was it written? Possibly one of the earliest works of the New Testament, the letter can be dated as early as A.D. 45.
Why? Poverty and persecution, possibly in the wake of Stephen’s martyrdom, seem to have been tempting the original hearers of James to give in to the pressures of Judaism in the world. James seems to have written to provide needed correction and discipline.
How? In a truly Jewish letter that is organized simply, familiar with Old Testament writings and the teachings of Jesus, and written in good Greek, James emphasizes vital Christianity, Christianity that is characterized by faith that shows itself in the way the believers live and the things they do.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of James, you may make use of the following:
  • Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James. Columbus, OH: Wartburg Press, 1946. (This volume was originally published in 1937, is available in our library, and will likely have some helpful comments in its 173 pages on James.)
  • Scaer, David P. James, the Apostle of Faith: A Primary Christological Epistle for the Persecuted Church. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1994. (I have seen but do not think I have this book, originally published by Concordia Publishing House in 1983 and republished by CPH in 1994. If you want to order it, the current ISBNs are said to be 1592449905 and 9781592449903.)

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

May 07, 2007

Ps 126 / Ja 4-5

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

After I read Psalm 126 today, I have to admit that I stopped and wondered why anyone who had seed to sow would weep while doing do the sowing (v.5). The commentary I consulted explains that in the original context of the psalm the few exiles who had returned and were gratefully sowing seed in the land of promise were doing so with tears because the land was so dry that there was little hope of the seed sprouting and springing up. The figurative idea behind the verse is reflected in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:4), and we can also appreciate that we may cast literal and figurative seed out with little hope of it bearing fruit but nevertheless find ourselves rejoicing at the time of harvest. (You might also note a happy convergence of ideas between today’s psalm and our reading from James.) For my previous comments on Psalm 126, see here.

Psalm 126 does not appear to be appointed by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, for any specific day in the Church year. Hymn #30 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 126:3.

An image by an unidentified photorgrapher of someone washing their hands“Wash your hands, Roger!” That’s what they used to say in the 1970s commercial for Lava soap, and we hear something similar today in James 4-5 but for completely different reasons. The commercial, of course, was trying to sell Lava soap, and the Divinely-inspired St. James is calling for repentance. (No indication Lava soap is in use in the image with this post, which is by an unidentified photographer; 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 both the commercial and St. James lead to cleaning in their own right, the far more important cleaning is repentance and the closely-related Holy Baptism. You may recall from our reading of Exodus that at the Tabernacle and Temple there was a large basin for washing between the congregation and the altar (Exodus 30:17-21), and that directive for the Old Testament priests to wash their hands and feet and its symbolizing spiritual cleansing seems to be behind James 4:8. (See also Psalm 24:4 and Isaiah 1:16, and possibly also John 13:1-17.) We find the basin for our cleansing also positioned between the congregation and the altar, reminding us both that we can only come stand in God’s Presence by way of Holy Baptism and the forgiveness of sins it dispenses through faith in Jesus Christ and that we who confess the same faith can share in the sacramental meal (Hebrews 13:10), which sacramental meal also gives us that forgiveness. (For comments on more of today’s reading, see this previous post.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with James 4:13-17 and free will. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any verses from James 4-5 for Epistle readings, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal include any hymns specifically said to refer to verses from James 4-5.

Thanks to a reader's email, there's a new Question & Answer posted here. I'm always happy to receive such questions, as well as your comments on the readings. This is supposed to be an interactive as well as convenient and non-threatening way for you to participate in Bible study. 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

May 06, 2007

Ps 125 / Ja 1-3 / Hebrews wrap-up

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

I repeated for someone recently what my sister and I used to say to my parents when we were traveling and would be told to get our noses out of the books we were reading and look at the scenery—“When you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.” Now, of course that’s not completely true, but I have seen enough mountains to know both that there are real mountains, such as the Smokey Mountains and, more so, the Rocky Mountains, and that there are “fake” mountains (mountain “wannabes”?), such as the ones near my parents in Arkansas (the Ouachita Mountains, pronounced “Watch-a-taw”). Even here in Texas where everything is bigger we know to call the terrain outside Austin “the Hill Country”. Despite the fact that the terrain around Jerusalem probably is closer to the Hill Country than the Rocky or even the Smokey Mountains, the holy writers often refer to the rise on which Jerusalem sits and to those rises around it as “mountains”. Psalm 125 today is no exception. (You can read my previous post on the psalm here.) We of course might say that earthquakes have shaken the region and could do so again, but the psalmist’s inspired points are that the figurative Mt. Zion of the Lord is fixed forever and will always be surrounded, as Jerusalem is surrounded by those other hills. What a blessing to be a part of the Lord by Baptism and to daily receive forgiveness from Him by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, that we can be so confident!

Psalm 125 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 and Evangelist), Laetare (the Fourth Sunday in Lent), and The Festival of the Reformation. Hymn #474 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 125:2.

An image of a Russian icon depicting the James whom the Holy Spirit inspired to write the book we are reading todayWe may be tempted to let either a debate over the nature of Jesus’s relationship to James or Martin Luther’s hostility to the book on account of his opponents’ usage of it get in the way of our letting the Holy Spirit speak to us today through our reading of James 1-3. In the end, Jesus’s precise relationship to James does not matter in regards to the letter itself. (The image with this post is of a Russian icon depicting the James through whom the Holy Spirit inspired the book that bears his name; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Similarly, we are fine reading James as long as we understand its teaching in view of the Biblical understanding that we are saved by grace through faith alone, although faith is never alone because good works naturally follow, as effects follow a cause. For introductory comments to the book and for more specifically on today’s chapters, you can read my previous post 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 James 1:16-21 for the Epistle reading on Cantate (the Fourth Sunday after Easter) and James 1:22-27 for Rogate (the Fifth Sunday after Easter). No hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to any verses from James 1-3.

Today I have an Hebrews 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? To be perfectly honest, we don’t know who the Holy Spirit inspired the book of Hebrews through. Some say Paul, others Timothy, still others Barnabas, and yet others (including Martin Luther) Apollos. The lack of an identified or widely-accepted author may be one of the reasons why some spoke against including the book in the canon of Holy Scripture.
What is the book? The book was probably more of a sermon than an apostolic letter. Either way, the target audience was likely in Rome, where Jewish Christians (thus “Hebrews”) were strongly tempted to revert to Judaism in order to avoid persecution.
Where was it written? Identifying where the book was written is tied up in identifying its author. If a sermon, then the “book” was likely recorded in Rome; if a letter, then the location from where it was written depends at least in part on whom one identifies as its human author.
When was it written? Given that persecution was on the increase in Rome and that the Temple in Jerusalem seems to still have been in use, the usual range of dates for the writing of the book is from A.D. 65-70.
Why? As indicated, the original hearers were being tempted to return to Judaism to avoid persecution, so the author tries to convince them of Christianity’s superiority. We may be far less tempted to practice Judaism, but that doesn’t mean the letter isn’t relevant for us.
How? The author emphasizes Jesus’s humanity and His work as our all-sufficient Prophet, Priest, and King. The author is well aware that his original hearers were—as we are—living in the world’s final days, and that urgency drives the exhortations of the book.

The Concordia Commentary series has a volume forthcoming on Hebrews, authored by the present president of the seminary from which I graduated. But, if you are interested in further reading on the book of Hebrews now, you may make use of the following:
  • Luther, Martin. “Lectures on Hebrews” (1517-1518). Vol. 29, pp.107-241, of Luther’s Works, American Edition, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan and Walter A. Hansen; tr. Walter A. Hansen. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968. (There are some interesting comments by the “young” Luther, although the comments only go through Hebrews 11. You can find this volume in our Grace library.)
  • Westcott, Brooke Foss. The Epistle to the Hebrews: The Greek Text with Notes and Essays, second edition. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1892. (I have a number of Hebrews commentaries, and this is my favorite, although it is more than a century old. You are welcome to borrow the volume, but know that it is quite scholarly, with a heavy emphasis on the Greek and passages quoted in German and Latin.)

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

May 05, 2007

Ps 124 / Heb 11-13 / Praise God

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

I’m not a huge fan of contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant, but, as I’ve mentioned before, in particular one of her songs for the most part rings true for me. Today as I read Psalm 124, a line from that song came to my mind. (You can read my previous comments on the psalm here.) “God only knows the times my life was threatened just today,” she sings, and we can confess! If God were not constantly on our side protecting us from the threats in this world and the spiritual world, well, we would be long since lost. Our help from all threats, most especially from the eternal death we deserve on account of our sin, is in the Name of the Lord. Put upon us in Baptism, we are branded as His own, and He delivers us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Remember that death in this world is the great ultimate deliverance for which we pray! Let us so pray, “Deliver us from evil”, and let us praise Him as He does!

Psalm 124 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 Innocents, the Twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity, and The Festival of the Reformation. Hymn #267 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Psalm 124.

__With the post on 2 Timothy 3-4 I used an image from a modern Olympic race, and with today’s post I have an image from an ancient Olympic race. In fact, instead of gold, bronze, or silver medals as prizes in those races the prizes were such urns filled with olive oil or wine (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Today in Hebrews 11-13, particularly at the beginning of chapter 12, the holy writer likens present-day believers surrounded by the believers of the past (such as those mentioned in chapter 11) to the competitors racing in an amphitheater packed with supportive fans. In many ways our Christian lives are like such competitions, especially in that we need to fix our eyes on the goal and struggle along the way. One way that our Christian lives are not like such competitions is that getting the prize ultimately is not up to us, and, far better than a medal or an urn (or a wreath of flowers that will wither), we receive a share in the victory that Christ has already won for us. (You can read my previous post on Hebrews 11-13 here, and you can read some comments related to verses from chapter 13 regarding “aliens” here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Hebrews 13:15-16 and believers’ “priestly” role. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1 year lectionary does not appoint any Epistle readings from Hebrews 11-13, but ten hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Hebrews 11-13.

You may be interested to know that my doctoral dissertation has both been completed and officially and finally submitted to the University of Texas, and the appropriate University official has cleared me for graduation on May 19th. I thank all who have prayed for me and supported me in other ways over the last six years, but most of all I praise God! (In Hebrew, Hallelu-Ja!)

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 12:29 AM

May 04, 2007

Ps 123 / Heb 8-10

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

You may know that “Kyrie eleison” is Greek for “Lord (have) mercy” and that that’s why we call the three-fold “Lord have mercy” of the liturgy “the Kyrie”. When we sing the Kyrie, if you know those things, you may be inclined to think of the New Testament pleas to our Lord for mercy. As I read Psalm 123 today, especially verse 3’s plea for mercy, I reflected on how I don’t usually think of the psalms as a place for pleas to the Lord for mercy. (My original post on Psalm 123 is here, and the subsequent post is here.) Yet, there in verse 3 is the plea for mercy, and, as you might expect, in the Greek version of the Old Testament, we find “Kyrie eleison”. In all the dire circumstances of our lives or the lives of people we know we rightly plead for the Lord to have mercy, but we also rightly plead for the Lord to have mercy each and every day, for our circumstances each day are in a broader sense that we often forget about in many ways as dire. Ultimately, it is only of the Lord’s mercy, as we heard this past Sunday in the Old Testament reading, that we are not consumed. It is only of the Lord’s mercy that we have forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 123 does not appear to be appointed by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, for any Sunday or festival services, and no hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Psalm 123.

Kim Cook’s award winning photo of a Jesuit priest presenting the Blood of Christ in daily mass at St. John Francis Regis Chapel in DenverIt’s all about the blood! In Hebrews 8-10 we are duly reminded of the importance of the blood of the sacrifice for atoning for sin. Blood of sacrificial animals in Old Testament times was sprinkled on people, and people in New Testament times drink the blood of Jesus, the far greater sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness of sins, and we might also say without our consuming Jesus’s blood we have no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 10:28-29 and John 6:53). Jesus’s work of earning our atonement is done, but the benefits of His work continue to be made available. Let us always be faithful in receiving them! (Kim Cook of Regis University in Denver won honorable mention in the professional category of an Ignatian photo contest for capturing the image with this post of a Jesuit priest presenting the Blood of Christ during daily mass at St. John Francis Regis Chapel titled “Sanguis Meus”; 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 Hebrews 8-10 is here, and there are other posts that touch on Hebrews 9:13-14 here, Hebrews 10:14 here, and Hebrews 10:29 here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Hebrews 9 and “types”. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Hebrews 9:11-15 is appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as the Epistle reading for Judica (the Fifth Sunday in Lent). Six hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Hebrews 8-10.

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

May 03, 2007

Ps 122 / Heb 5-7

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

“Church again?” I suppose such a comment could be made with a tone of gladness and joy, but I expect that far more frequently it is made with a tone of disgust and incredulity. One doesn’t have to be listening to a child or only at the end of Holy Week’s daily services to hear such comments, either. From where do we learn to make such comments? If we are listening to Holy Scripture such as Psalm 122, we hear “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (KJV). If what is taking place in the Divine Service is the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments, then we should truly rejoice at the thought of being able to be present. For, there and in those ways we receive the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. If the thought of receiving those things does not make us glad and rejoice, what will? (My previous posts on this psalm are here and here.)

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 122 among those appointed for the First Sunday of Advent, the First Sunday after Epiphany, Laetare (the Fourth Sunday in Lent), and the day of St. Andrew. The Lutheran Hymnal contains two hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 122.

An image by an unidentified photographer showing various kinds and cuts of meatVegetarians and others potentially could be immediately turned off from this post because of the image with it (the picture’s photographer isn’t 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). If you are a meat lover, on the other hand, the image may immediately whet your appetite! (I love meat, although I don’t eat a great deal of it, which probably makes me enjoy it more when I do eat it.) Today in Hebrews 5-7 we hear the holy “writer” refer to how his hearers need meat, or solid food, but he also says that first they need to receive milk (for more on milk and its contrast with meat, see this recent post, and my original post on these chapters is here). The original recipients of the message of Hebrews may have wanted the meatier teachings of the Gospel, or they may not have wanted them. Somewhat continuing the thoughts above on Psalm 122, I wonder if they and we even always want the milk of the elementary truths! Too many come to church and receive what usually is milk alone in the sermon and never have the meat that is served with more in-depth Bible study. My guess is that if you are reading this, you want both the milk and the meat, and that is how it should be, for at different times in our daily lives we need both. Just as we tell our family and friends about a new dish that we might cook or enjoy at a restaurant, may we also tell our family and friends about the wonderful feeding we receive daily from God’s Word!

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 readings from Hebrews 5-7. Two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Hebrews 5-7.

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

May 02, 2007

Ps 121 / Heb 1-4 / Folo / Titus wrap-up / Philemon wrap-up

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

As someone who right now is not getting a lot of sleep, I don’t have difficulty imagining how not sleeping could be a bad thing. Maybe you are in the same boat; we all lead frantic lives at times. (I expect you’ll join me in laughing when you get to our reading about “rest” below.) Still, in Psalm 121 today not sleeping is a good thing, at least when it comes to God (vv.3-4). Even those of us who are a little sleep-deprived can think of people who we wouldn’t want to be sleeping on the job. When it comes to God, He’s always on the job—the Father sustaining creation and providing for our needs, the Son ruling the world and interceding for us with the Father, and the Holy Spirit drawing us to the forgiveness of sins given freely for Jesus’ sake and thereby sanctifying us and gathering the Church. My more-recent post on this psalm also talked a little about the sleeping matter, and my first post on this psalm made some other comments.

The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for church services at Grace, includes Psalm 121 among those appointed for Invocavit (the First Sunday in Lent), Misericordias Domini (the Second Sunday after Easter), and for Rogate (the Fifth Sunday after Easter). The Lutheran Hymnal contains five hymns said to refer or allude to verses from Psalm 121 (in addition to the chant setting of the psalm, #665).
  • 121 -- #538
  • 121:1 -- #110, #560 (you'll have to check your hymnal)
  • 121:3 -- #556
  • 121:8 -- #45

An image of an unidentified wall relief showing a king with his foot upon the neck of a captured kingWe’re all so egalitarian today! From society’s point of view, God forbid that anyone not be equal economically, socially, or in rank! What a different view of things we find in our reading of Hebrews 1-4. For example, Hebrews 1:13 quotes Psalm 110:1 and makes it clear that Jesus has a higher rank than other rulers, as well as the angels. The idea of enemies as footstools is beautifully depicted in the image with this post, an unidentified wall relief showing an Assyrian king subjecting those he has defeated (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 reflected on what a blessing Christ ruling and reigning over all is for us—especially ruling and reigning over the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh that want to take us into sin and away from Him. (My previous post that introduces the book and overviews more of today’s reading is here, and you can read more about Jesus’s mouth and the sword mentioned in 4:12 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.

No verses from Hebrews 1-4 are appointed by the historic 1 year lectionary as Epistle readings, but seven hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer or allude to verses from Hebrews 1-4.
  • 1:6 -- #221
  • 1:14 -- #254 (a rare Melanchthon hymn, one often used on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels)
  • 2:10 -- #219
  • 4:9 -- #615, #617, #660
  • 4:16 -- #531

Today’s Biblog folo relates to last Saturday’s post and its discussion of the last section of Psalm 119, which is known by the Hebrew letter Taw. A brother pastor turned seminary professor, who is completing his Ph.D. in Old Testament studies and knows Hebrew much better than I do, tells me that the first verb in verse 172 is definitely a unique conjugated form that usually is translated with the “let happen” wish or prayer. The verb forms at the beginning of the other verses could also be this same form, except with those particular verbs the form for the wish or prayer is the same as another conjugation (and so could have other meanings). Given the close connections between the verses, the one form we know is the prayer likely tells us the form of the rest. The bottom line, then, is that the ASV, NIV, NASB, and the second commentary I checked are correct in their translation.

Today I have a Titus 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? By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul wrote the book of Titus.
What is the book? The book of Titus is an apostolic letter to St. Paul’s coworker and representative by that name and those under his care on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean.
Where was it written? St. Paul likely wrote the letter from Philippi, or possibly Corinth.
When was it written? Though some date the letter later, Paul may have written it between A.D. 62-63, the usual dates for the so-called fourth missionary journey.
Why? Paul had left Titus on Crete to finish the work the Holy Spirit had started through the two of them there, and Paul knew Zenas and Apollos were going by Crete and so sent the letter with them to give Titus Paul’s authority and guidance, instruct them about faith and conduct, and warn them about false teachers.
How? Paul’s letter to Titus is distinguished by emphasizing believers’ “doing what is good” and by its classic summaries of Christian teaching and thus faith.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Titus, 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 that has 81 pages specifically about Titus, and you are welcome to borrow it. 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 comments of this arguably “dated” work are by and large still helpful, and you can find it with its 62 pages on Titus, in our Grace library.)

Like a double-header in baseball, today I also have a Philemon wrap-up.

Who was the author? The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philemon.
What is the book? Philemon is more of a personal letter than the others of Paul that the Holy Spirit saw to it the Church preserved. Philemon was likely the owner of the runaway slave named Onesimus and lived in Colossae, where a congregation probably met in his house.
Where was it written? Paul’s letter to Philemon is grouped among the so-called “captivity letters” and so is thought to have been written from Rome during Paul’s first imprisonment there.
When was it written? The usual date range for Paul’s first Roman imprisonment during which he likely wrote Philemon is A.D. 59-61.
Why? Paul had apparently met up with the runaway slave, Onesiumus, and the letter asks Philemon to both forgive Onesimus and essentially free him to return to Paul.
How? In the letter to Philemon, which was likely transmitted with the letter to the Colossians, Paul is said to follow ancient letter models, first building rapport, then persuading the mind, and finally moving the emotions. The end result is a beautiful illustration of Christian love that is applicable to our guilt and slavery to sin before God, for which Christ mediates our forgiveness that He Himself won on the cross.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Philemon, you may make use of the following:
  • Nordling, John G. Philemon, Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture. Saint Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 2004. (I own a copy of this recent commentary that you are welcome to borrow. The volume’s 350 pages seem disproportionately long for the letter’s 25 verses, but Nordling does a good job, and, while a scholarly commentary, its format makes it quite accessible.)
  • 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. (You can find this somewhat dated volume, with its 25 pages of still-helpful comments on Philemon, 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!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

May 01, 2007

1 Sa 2:1-10 / Tit & Phm / 2 Timothy wrap-up

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

Pastor Sullivan’s sermon Sunday on John 16:20 rightly pointed out that God turns the sorrow of our repentance over sin into the joy of forgiveness, and we hear a similar statement as we read the seasonal canticle for May, 1 Samuel 2:1-10. I’m referring to verse 8, in which Hannah refers to the poor in spirit, the humble and those needing forgiveness, being raised from the dust and ashes of repentance. Our sorrow over our sins is met with God’s forgiveness in His Word, in Holy Baptism, in the Sacrament of the Altar, and in Holy Absolution, where pastors speak to us individually after we confess those sins that trouble us most. All sins are forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Truly our hearts can rejoice in the Lord for all He does for us! (My original post on May’s seasonal canticle is here, and there’s a passing comment on 1 Samuel 2 here.)

1 Samuel 2:1-10 is appointed by The Lutheran Liturgy, which we use for Sunday and festival services at Grace, as the Old Testament reading for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity. (No hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to 1 Samuel 2:1-10.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Paul leaving Titus in CreteToday we read Titus and Philemon, and I was reflecting on the fact that although we call the letters to Timothy and Titus “pastoral letters”, Timothy and Titus really were not “pastors” to the people in Ephesus and Crete the way we think of pastors. I read something the other day that called Timothy more of an “apostolic representative”, and I think the same can be said of Titus. As the letter says (1:5) and as the image with this post by an unidentified artist depicts (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), Paul left Titus in Crete to do what Paul had not done, including appointing “elders” or “pastors”. To be sure, pastors like we think of pastors should be involved in the ordaining of pastors and in their being inducted into office, whether or not they are apostolic representatives. And, even apostolic representatives proclaim the Gospel and "pastor" souls entrusted to their care. You can read more about the letter to Titus and the letter to Philemon in my previous post on these two books here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Philemon 22 and Paul’s release from prison. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Epistle readings from either Titus or Philemon, but hymn #382 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Titus 3:3, 7.

Today I have a 2 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? Saint Paul is the divinely-inspired author of 2 Timothy.
What is the book? The book of 2 Timothy is the second of two apostolic letters to Paul’s coworker Timothy.
Where was it written? Paul likely wrote 2 Timothy from prison in Rome.
When was it written? Paul likely wrote the letter between A.D. 65-67.
Why? Paul is said to have had three reasons for writing 2 Timothy: his being lonely, concerned about the churches under growing persecution, and wanting to communicate with the Ephesian churches.
How? In what was likely his last letter, Paul as moved by the Holy Spirit encourages Timothy to proclaim the message of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, a message that some consider Timothy’s inheritance from his “father” Paul in this Paul’s “last will and testament”. The letter in some ways prophesies about the end times in which we find ourselves living.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 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 117 pages specifically on 2 Timothy, that you are welcome to borrow, but, while helpful, it definitely is a more-scholarly type commentary that, like all commentaries, needs to be read with 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 still helpful, and our Grace library has this volume with its 148 pages on 2 Timothy.)

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