Lectionary Commentaries for October 20, 2019
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 18:1-8

Brittany E. Wilson

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus provides us with a parable about the necessity of persistent prayer.

Jesus’ parable falls near the end of his journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51–19:27) and immediately follows his teaching about the coming of God’s kingdom and the end times (Luke 17:20-37).

Despite his shift to the topic of prayer in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus’ parable continues this eschatological thread from the previous passage. Now Jesus reveals the imperative of persistence and actively relying on God as we await the end, even though life in this world continues to be rife with injustice.

The parable

Jesus begins by telling his disciples that the parable he is about to tell is about praying “always” and not losing heart (Luke 18:1). The parable itself, however, focuses on a widow dealing with a judge in a corrupt justice system. Luke twice tells us that the judge in this tale is someone who neither fears God nor respects people (verses 2 and 4), and Jesus himself characterizes the judge as “unjust” (adikias) (verse 6). Regardless, the widow repeatedly comes to the judge in pursuit of justice. (This is conveyed in verse 3 by the tense of the verb ercheto: “she kept on coming.”) She tells him to “grant me justice [ekdikeson] against my opponent,” or literally, “against the one who has treated me unjustly [antidikou]” (verse 3). Despite her plea, though, the judge does nothing. He refuses to act because he is not willing (ouk ethelen), and so he does not respond at first (verse 4).

For those familiar with Jewish Scripture, the judge’s lack of action is especially appalling. In biblical texts, widows are counted among the most destitute of society, alongside other vulnerable groups such as the poor, orphans, and resident aliens. Because of the precarious social and economic position of such groups, biblical texts also make provision for them, helping to ensure that they do not fall victim to exploitation (for example, Exodus 22:21-25; 23:6-9; Deuteronomy 24:14, 17-18; Isaiah 1:17).

Yet while the widow’s social location certainly numbers her among Luke’s concern for the “lowly,” the widow in this parable resists the exploitation to which she is being subjected. Like other widows before her, such as Tamar in Genesis 38 and Ruth and Naomi, the widow in Luke 18 takes matters into her own hands. Her persistence and call for justice is such that the judge characterizes her actions as those of a boxer. It is difficult to discern this boxing image in the NRSV, which translates the judge’s words as follows: “because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming” (verse 5). In the original Greek, though, the judge says: “because this widow causes trouble for me, I will give her justice, so that she may not, in the end, give me a black eye by her coming” (verse 5). By using the verb hypopiazo, which means “to give a black eye,” Luke situates the judge’s language within the arena of boxing metaphors. (See also Paul’s use of the verb hypopiazo in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.) However, when English translations do not capture the meaning of this verb, they soften the tenacity of the widow’s actions, as well as her perceived status as a “trouble-maker” to the system.

Such translations also obscure the humor that Luke infuses into this scene. We are probably meant to laugh at this topsy-turvy picture of a lowly widow pummeling a recalcitrant arbiter of justice. But as New Testament scholar F. Scott Spencer rightly recognizes, the humor in this scene is not one of comic relief. The humor in this scene instead pokes fun at the powers-that-be, “lampooning and upending the unjust system stacked against widows, orphans, immigrants, and the like.”1 Like our political cartoons today, Jesus’ parable encourages us to laugh at those who wield their power unethically. We laugh, though, in order to challenge such figures, and ultimately, to offer a different way.

Jesus’ commentary on the parable

After delivering this short (and punchy!) parable, Jesus offers a few concluding comments that touch on the character of God and the nature of faith. He uses the judge’s words as a jumping off point to speak about God’s own deliverance of justice, which God dispenses to those “who cry out to him day and night” (verses 6-7) (see also Luke 2:36-37). But while Jesus compares God to the judge with this transition, the real point of comparison is one of contrast.2 God is in fact not like this reluctantly responsive judge.3 God does not need to be badgered into listening, and when God does respond, God does so willingly. If anything, God is more like the widow in her own relentless commitment to justice.4

The widow, though, also exemplifies how followers are to be oriented toward God. Jesus returns to this emphasis on the behavior of believers with a concluding rhetorical question that recalls his opening statement about prayer and not losing heart. Here Jesus says: “I tell you, [God] will quickly grant justice to [those crying out]. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (verse 8). This final word also recalls his earlier eschatological discourse (Luke 17:20-37) and points to other places where Luke indicates that the Son of Man will only return after an extended delay (for example, Luke 12:35-40; 19:11-27; 21:7-28).

By ending on a question of whether he will find faith at his return, Jesus raises a number of additional questions for us. How do followers not lose heart and maintain the faith in light of the fact that Jesus is not returning as soon as many would like? How are we to act if God’s justice is not delivered according to our own timetable? How do we go on in the face of injustice if God’s ultimate justice only arrives “suddenly” (en tachei) at Jesus’ return? (The phrase en tachei in verse 8 can be translated as “quickly” in a temporal sense, or as “suddenly.”) In response to such questions, Luke maintains that we are to act like the widow. We are not to wait quietly for Jesus’ return and accept our fates in an oppression-ridden world. We are instead to resist injustice with the resolve and constancy of the widow. As Jesus explains elsewhere (Luke 11:1-13), prayer is not a passive activity but one that actively seeks God and pursues God’s will.5 Like the widow, we are to persevere in the faith, crying out to God day and night. This is what persistent prayer looks like.


  1. F. Scott Spencer, Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows: Capable Women of Purpose and Persistence in Luke’s Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 292-93.
  2. Mikeal C. Parsons, Luke, Paideia (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic 2015), 264.
  3. John T. Carroll, Luke: A Commentary, New Testament Library (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012), 357.
  4. On this point, see Barbara E. Reid, Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996), 190-94.
  5. Spencer, 307.

First Reading

Commentary on Genesis 32:22-31

Callie Plunket-Brewton

Genesis 32:22-32 is a profoundly mysterious story with numerous unanswerable questions.

Its storyline—a lone human being wrestles through the night with a nameless antagonist and emerges from the night transformed—is one repeated so often in human experience that the reader scarcely realizes this is an ancient story. Because it involves the theme of human transformation, it is a familiar and compelling narrative to people of all times.

A closer look at the story …

The narrative begins with a puzzle: why does Jacob go to all the trouble of fording the Jabbok with his wives and children only to head back across it to spend the night alone? The questions only multiply as the story continues: who is this being with whom Jacob wrestles and what prompts this nightlong battle? What is significance of all the names at this end of this chapter, especially the new name Jacob receives? As the dawn breaks, we can’t help but ask what sort of blessing Jacob has received as he limps back to his family. There may be too many of these type questions to answer in a single sermon … and that’s OK.

There are some clues in the narrative and in the larger context of Genesis 32 that help open up the narrative—although they don’t necessarily provide definitive answers to all of the questions—including why Jacob is alone and vulnerable on this fateful night. Robert Alter points out that binary division (i.e., doubling) is a recurring motif in the stories of Jacob.1 Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, divide over a birthright and a blessing (25:29-34 and 27:1-40). His wives are two sisters who are divided against one another as they vie with each other for his affection (29:15-30:24). Jacob also makes a fortune dividing his flocks into multi- and parti-colored animals (30:25-43). As Jacob makes his return to his homeland and a reunion with Esau in this chapter, we find him anxious to trick or appease his brother so he desperately divides his property into two camps, hoping Esau and his men will attack one camp and not the other (verses 8-9). He then divides his tribute to his brother among not just two but into three different groups of his servants (verses 14-22). Jacob keeps dividing his property and household into smaller and smaller camps until he ends up alone. Thus, we can see that this strange departure from his family is consistent with the narratives about Jacob up to this point. His is a story of division and separation.

Jacob’s night by the river Jabbok also mirrors another dramatic night in his life: the night he fled from his brother and Canaan to Paddan-aram. In that narrative, Jacob lays his head on a stone and has a dream of angelic beings ascending and descending an immense ramp that connects heaven and earth (Genesis 29:10-22). Over the ramp, God appears and promises protection, blessing, and an eventual return to Canaan. In Genesis 32, the story begun in 29 has come full circle: the promise of the return to Canaan is being fulfilled and a potential showdown with his brother is on the horizon, and Jacob finds himself alone at night. The stage is set for another strange, supernatural encounter.

This encounter with the divine is more unsettling and mysterious than the first one. In the earlier narrative, there is no hint of conflict, and the divine being involved is clearly identified as YHWH who seeks to reassure Jacob and reaffirm the promise made to Jacob’s father and grandfather. The identity of the being in Genesis 32 is ambiguous. The narrator says only that a “man” wrestled with Jacob until the break of day. There are hints in the narrative that this “man” is not an ordinary man. He is capable of wrenching Jacob’s hip out of joint (verse 26) and appears to want to avoid the light of day like an elemental spirit common in folkloric tales (verse 27). Also, there is clearly something about the man that leads Jacob to demand of him a blessing. The closest the narrator comes to asserting anything about his identity, however, is in verses 29 and 30, where he is implicitly referred to as an elohim, but even this designation does not clarify matters much. Elohim is a fairly generic term that can refer specifically to YHWH, of course, but can also refer to divinities in a more general sense. The NRSV translates elohim as “God” in both verses, but it is by no means obvious that Jacob’s opponent is God for why should YHWH fear the light of day as this elohim seems to do, and why should YHWH need to ask Jacob his name?

The second contrast between the night of Jacob’s return to Canaan and the night in which he fled from Canaan is the significance of the divine encounter. As I said above, YHWH has a clear purpose in Genesis 29 to reassure Jacob of the divine blessing that will go with him to Paddan-aram and back again. The blessing Jacob asks for and receives from the divine being by the Jabbok is as ambiguous as the identity of the divine being.

As Jacob clings to his adversary and demands a blessing before he lets him go, he’s asked, “What is your name?” When Jacob supplies his name, the creature renames him Israel because, he says, “you have striven with elohim and with human beings and have prevailed.” The name “Jacob” was given to him at birth to mark his efforts to supplant his brother even in the womb. Now he’s given another name that matches his story of striving and overcoming all that stands in his way, including dangerous supernatural beings, and he’s given another blessing. While the details of that blessing aren’t part of the narrative, the narrator does make clear that he is blessed, and unlike the blessing stolen from his brother by trickery, this blessing he’s earned. He’s transformed. Now he’s Israel.

As he limps away, wounded and blessed, he’s amazed at the experience, and in a move that recalls his earlier experience of the divine in Genesis 29, he gives the place of his wrestling a name, Peniel (Hebrew for “the face of god/God”). Reflecting not on his injury nor on his upcoming reunion with his brother, he is quietly amazed that he survived the night as he makes his way back to his family in the early dawn. Morning finds him focused and ready for whatever is to come.

There is much that is ancient and foreign to us in this story, and yet Jacob’s experience with an unknowable assailant in the middle of the night is still a story that transcends time. Dark nights of the soul are part of the human experience, and few escape them. Whether we battle adversaries psychological or physical, the dawn does still come. The narrative of Genesis 32 promises that even a terrible, unsettling night can become a source of blessing. There is no promise that these dark nights of the soul will leave us unscathed—they test us, and we may struggle to meet the challenge. Our deep-rooted conflicts as modern, thoughtful Christians can leave scars, but there is hope that in enduring them with courage and God’s help they can transform us. As people of faith, we are summoned to greet what the new day brings with wonder and joy.


  1. Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1996), 178.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Jeremiah 31:27-34

Tyler Mayfield

After hearing Jeremiah’s unrelenting oracles of judgment earlier in September, our focal passage this Sunday contains oracles of promise and hope.

It is nice to hear some good news from the prophet!

The book of Jeremiah can be generally divided as follows:

  • Jeremiah 1-25             Poetry of Judgment
  • Jeremiah 26-45           Narratives of Hope
  • Jeremiah 46-51           Oracles against the Nations
  • Jeremiah 52                 Conclusion

As you can see, our passage is contained within the book section providing hope and promise to the newly exiled community.

We can also situate Jeremiah 31:27-34 within a more immediate literary context of Jeremiah 30-33. Jeremiah 30-33 (or just Jeremiah 30-31) is called “The Book of Consolation” by modern scholars because of the tone of this poetic section. The oracles in this section announce promise to the exiles.

To build and to plant

Using language from Jeremiah’s commissioning in Jeremiah 1:10, God promises to build and plant using the seed of humans and animals. It is the promise of a continued future for the people and creation. Despite all of the destruction wrought by Babylon, despite all of God’s judgment, despite the threat of divine punishment, God persists in hope.

Just as Jeremiah’s call made clear, there is a time for plucking up and destroying and a time for building and planting. For those who wondered about Jeremiah’s use of four destructive verbs but only two constructive verbs in his call narrative, the long period of judgment must end. No more destruction or plucking.

God plans to restore the fertility of Israel and Judah (notice the mention of both kingdoms).

God as the Master Builder and as Gardner has arrived to construct a new future for the people.

Sour grapes

The next section of the passage quotes a proverb concerning parents eating sour grapes and their children feeling the effect in their teeth. The proverb asserts that one generation’s sins cause the suffering of the next generation. However, Jeremiah rejects this understanding of sin and proclaims that each generation will suffer the consequences of their sin.

It is important to note here that the move is not from a communal notion of sin to a more individualistic one. Their understanding of sin and punishment remains firmly communitarian. However, the dismissal of the proverb does provide hope that this generation will not pay for the mistakes of their elders. They can live in hope with God and move into an assuring new future.

A new covenant

Christians have misread this passage (verses 31-34) in a supersessionistic way for centuries. A typical Christian understanding sees Jeremiah’s new covenant as fulfilled in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection such that the Church receives the new covenant with God. This reading effectively replaces or supersedes Israel with the Church. The only way this type of misreading is possible is if one understands the real audience of this prophecy to be the Church. However, it is abundantly clear that Jeremiah’s new covenant is made with the houses of Israel and Judah. The prophecy does not need to be a foretelling of the far off future. It has a reasonable meaning within its originating context of the exiled community.

When Christians forget to share their sacred texts with their Jewish neighbors, they appropriate passages such as this one in harmful ways that invalidate the vitality of Judaism both ancient and contemporary. There are ways for Christians to speak of covenant and our relationship with God that also validate the covenant God made with Jews.

The new covenant here is better understood as a renewed covenant between God and Israel. It does not negate previous covenants such as the ones given to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. So, the people of Israel do not receive new teachings or new laws.  

However, the teachings, which Israel did not follow, will now be written on their hearts. It will be within them, internalized. God innovates in the way that the teachings or law will be communicated to the people. God introduces a new way of relating.

God initiates a renewed relationship with the people after the destruction.

God forgives.


Commentary on Psalm 121

Amy Erickson

Psalm 121 is a “song of ascent.” It is the second psalm in a collection used by Israelites making pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Psalms 120-134).

In Exodus, Israelite males are commanded to “see the face of the Lord YHWH” three times a year (Exodus 23:17), for the festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread in early spring; Pentecost (or First Fruits and Feast of Weeks), which occurred after the wheat harvest in late spring; and Ingathering (The Feast or Booths), celebrated in early fall after the harvest of summer fruits and nuts (Exodus 23:14-17).

Pilgrimage has been understood in a number of different ways, but recent attempts at definition emphasize that it is not merely a religious or spiritual phenomenon (though it is that as well) but a social, political, and commercial one as well. It is a physical, ritualized journey undertaken through a particular landscape and often at a particular time to a destination that has been ascribed religious power (a place, a person, or an object). Upon arrival, the pilgrim offers prayers and sacrifices that will be particularly powerful and efficacious because of the holiness concentrated in the place. Mark S. Smith writes that pilgrimage to the Jerusalem Temple was “… like visiting paradise and temporarily recapturing the primordial peaceful and abundant relationship with God.”1

Perhaps because many modern Christians feel increasingly alienated from the landscape, from the rhythm of the seasons, and from their own bodies, pilgrimage has become a powerful way for Christians to link aspects of their lives that they have tended to hold separate: the spiritual and material, the body and the soul, the community and the individual. They go on pilgrimage in search of a full and intense experience of the divine. Although reading and preaching Psalm 121 in a church on Sunday morning surely cannot do what a pilgrimage can, it might be interesting for the preacher use the psalm as a way to imaginatively explore the phenomenon of pilgrimage.

The movement of the psalm

The psalm begins with a recognition that the world as-it-is is full of uncertainty, that fear threatens to uproot experiences of security and safety. The mountains (ha¯ri^m) loom large and daunting before the psalmist’s eyes. Thus the psalmist — in this case, the pilgrim—begins in a state of helplessness and wonders out-loud how they will be able to make this difficult journey (imagined literally or metaphorically): “from where will help come?” The answer comes quickly, but the process is important. The doubt and fear are expressed not squashed. The response channels the voice of tradition: “My help comes from YHWH.” YHWH is the god “who made heaven and earth” and who is powerful enough to help. The place of threat (the mountains) is also the place from which help comes. In the ancient world, divine abodes were associated with mountains. Perhaps the best-known example is Mount Olympus, the mountain home of the gods of Greek mythology. In the midst of fear and uncertainty, the pilgrim chooses to travel into the heart of holiness.

In the shift from “I” (verse 1) to “you” (verses 2-9), some biblical scholars have seen a mode of expression from the temple worship in which the people ask for help and the priest responds with a promise of divine assistance. Others have posited that this change in person reflects an interior dialogue (the psalmist talking to his or her own self or “soul”). Also compelling is the idea that the language captures communications between pilgrims, who exchange testimonies and support. One begins with a call for help and the other(s) respond with reassurance.

VERSE 3 addresses the literal, physical need of a pilgrim, whose feet are weary and wobbly; YHWH, who made heaven and earth, will not let the pilgrim falter. The one who watches over the pilgrim can be trusted to stay vigilant against the threats that assail them day and night. This is the same god who watches over Israel; the one who will neither slumber nor sleep. The verbs here are synonyms and the repetition (no slumber, no slumber, no sleep) is meant to assure the addressee that YHWH is ever-watchful, unlike human guards or shepherds (literal or metaphorical), who cannot resist sleep in the quiet hours of the night. While other Psalms implore YHWH to wake up, this one insists that YHWH does not need to be roused because he will never sleep (Ps 44:23). The emphasis here is on divine constancy and reliability.

The poem builds through a series of expansions, a “that and so much more” response to the initial question (“From where will my help come?”). YHWH will make sure, in this moment, that your foot will not slip. But YHWH will do so much more than that. YHWH will be “your shade” (verse 5), a comfort in the sun baked region of Jerusalem. The image draws on the metaphor of God as a raptor who covers his offspring with his wings (Ps 91:4) as well as on metaphors of God as a fortress that provides shelter and refuge (Ps 91:1-2). Because of this “YHWH shade,” you do need to fear the scary things that threaten at night (getting moonstruck or lunacy (from the Latin luna, “moon”) or during the day (getting heatstroke) (verse 6).

The assurance of protection by day and by night is extended in verses 7-8 to include “your coming and your going.” It is this affirmation (‘The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore’) that practicing Jews are to recite when they leave their houses and touch the mezuzah, a cylinder mounted on the doorpost that contains a small scroll etched with the words from Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and 11:13–21.

The psalm concludes by looking back on where it began. The word “come” appears at the beginning and the end of the poem, as does the preposition “from” (min) creating an enclosing envelope (inclusio) around the poem. Thus the poem begins with a basic and immediate question, “from where will come my help?” and ends with a response that radically expands the assumptions inherent in the question: “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forever.” The question, “from where?”, with its limited spatial scope, is dramatically widened with the addition of the temporal dimension, “forever.” YHWH will watch out for you not just here and now but always and in every single thing you do. The impression is of a perfect microcosm of divine protection, reflected in the pilgrims’ reverberating testimonies of perpetual safety under God’s watch day and night, during your coming and your going, now and forever.

The journey metaphor that holds the psalm together works on a number of levels. As the pilgrim affirms that the protective presence of God accompanies them on their journey to Jerusalem, they are invited to make associations between their individual life trajectories and the story of Israel’s relationship with God. In this way, each pilgrim is invited to recall the ways in which God has cared for them while also seeing their journey as part of Israel’s journey. The psalm also gives each pilgrim a language and a tradition that binds them to the community, past and present. And all this collective and individual remembering is prompted, not by a private reading, but through communal singing, which happens as the people walk together, moving through the landscape united by a common purpose and shared destination.

Psalm 121 is a traditional expression of faith intended to strengthen—indeed, to surround—the ones who journey toward God, literally and metaphorically.


  1. Mark S. Smith, Psalms: The Divine Journey. (New York: Mahwah, 1987), 45.

Second Reading

Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:14—4:5

Karl Jacobson

Once again in these verse from chapters three and four of 2 Timothy, Timothy is being exhorted to continue in and remain firm in what he has learned from “Paul.”

And there are two striking, and troubling pieces of this passage, which may speak as well to our current Christian climate in the United States of America as any passage in Scripture.

“Paul,” once more, charges Timothy with the proclamation of the Gospel:

Proclaim the message…
     …be persistent…
          …convince, rebuke, encourage…
               …with utmost patience in teaching.

This is, broadly speaking, a fine summary of what preaching and teaching (and living) ought to do. The reason for this solemn charge is telling,

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

While this has surely always been a challenge to believers, in some ways it seems right now that challenge is particularly great. Not only are there “other gospels,” and rival religious narratives, we live in a golden age of story-telling. Television and film (and of course novels and podcasts) are able to tell stories about redemption, about life and death, about “creation” and visions of apocalypse in ways that may be deeply attractive. It is into the “white noise” of contending (if not opposing) stories that seek to provide meaning and purpose for life, that “Paul’s” gospel nutshell of “Jesus (the) Christ, raise from the dead, a descendant of David” is to be spoken.

I would describe this climate “challenging,” and not something more serious-sounding, because there is still something deeply provocative, alarming, and attractive to this Gospel-story. It is different than any other story that is told. It is life out of real death. It is strength that looks like weakness. It gives the lie to false stories of dishonest progress and unreflective (careless or heartless) growth. It is the work of the evangelist—the one tells the “good news.” Such work requires just what “Paul” outlines: persistence, conviction, law and gospel. That is the calling to which all preachers, from Timothy on, are entrusted.

The second striking thing about this text is the claim that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16). This is striking because on the one hand it may seem like an absolute claim that is perfect for we Bible-story peddlers, in the face of rival or alternative narratives in our culture. This sounds to many like a claim of pure truth, and an antidote to stories that don’t matter or, worse, lie.

But what lies at the heart of that word “inspired,” is much more profoundly theological than any claim to literal or infallible truths about the biblical text. “Inspired” in Greek, is theopneustos, which can literally be understood as something like “God-breathed.” As I read Timothy, and think about the promise “Paul” sings that:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;…
if we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:11b-13).

I cannot help but be reminded of the way that God breathes in the Bible, and how that breath is creative, life- and faith-giving. Think of Genesis 2:7, “then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” Or again of John 20:22, “When Jesus had said this, he breathed into them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”

I take theopneustos, “inspired,” here, to be a summary of the way in which God and God’s breath/Spirit Work. This is theology at work. All scripture is a means by which God can breathe life and faith and hope and love and forgiveness and resurrection, into people.

More than anything, then, this reading from 2 Timothy articulates both the nature of, and the import of our preaching.

As such I would add to “Paul’s” exhortation of proclamation—and here we must think of more than just preaching, but as Gerhard Forde puts it, “in the sacraments and the liturgy, but also in the everyday mutual conversation of Christians”1—some other words, words which speak to “foolishness of our proclamation” as a means of God’s life-giving God-breathing. Our proclamation, both from the pulpit and embodied in the lived-faith of those who hear us, needs to be persistent and convincing, yes; it needs to speak both law and gospel; and it needs to be patient in doing all of this. But it needs also to be faithful and trusting; humble and unashamed; and above all filled with loving—for our message, “Paul’s,” and Timothy’s message, is one of the uttermost humility and love—it is “instruction for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”


  1. Gerhard Forde, Theology Is for Proclamation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 2.