Lectionary Commentaries for July 14, 2019
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 10:25-37

Amanda Brobst-Renaud

The Parable of the Good Samaritan has all the makings of a good story: conflict, bandits, plot twists, unlikely protagonists, and a call to action.

It draws its audience in and invites them to be a part of the action of the story. It lures some preachers into thinking that the sermon will simply manifest itself, leaving us to stare at a blank screen later in the week than we had intended. Whether this scenario applies to you or does not, the challenges this parable presents to preachers are manifold. Sometimes the paved paths lead us into the ditch on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

Preachers are not the only ones to find themselves in the interpretive ditch. The lawyer who approaches Jesus “in order to test him,” comes with questions to which he seems to already know the answers. The teacher — perhaps infuriatingly — does not answer him directly, but responds with his own questions before offering any answers. The lawyer correctly answers Jesus’ question about the law, offering Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:8 as his answer. Relationship with God extends outward toward one’s neighbors. The debate looks as though it will end at verse 28 when the lawyer has the answer to his initial question. The question “Who is my neighbor?” seems to be a genuine question. Were his neighbors those in physical proximity? Were his neighbors those in social proximity? How can he be sure that he is caring for his neighbors properly? The lawyer has discovered another interpretive ditch in his question of how far this neighborly love extends.

Jesus illustrates his answer through a parable, a useful tool for reinforcing messages elsewhere in Luke (for example, Luke 4:16-19). Despite the improved infrastructure brought to Judaea during Roman Rule and claims otherwise (see Res Gestae 25-26), bandits remained a constant threat on the wilderness roads. The man on the side of the road probably would have been no more of a shock to first-century audiences than to twenty-first century ones. The Samaritan, from a people group who trace their ancestry back to Jacob and uphold the Torah, was the person who followed the call for the Torah to care for others when the audience may have expected the priest or the Levite to be more likely respondents to the man in the ditch. This expectation would have likely been heightened by the tensions between Jewish and Samaritan groups in the ancient world, which are documented by the ancient historian Josephus.1 Though some commentators appeal to the importance of ritual purity for the priest and the Levite, Amy-Jill Levine challenges this notion: “Neither [Jesus nor Luke] gives the priest or Levite an excuse. Nor would any excuse be acceptable.”2 Though they are clearly not the protagonists of the story, the priest and the Levite tell a truth that is important to hear: They had the Torah; they knew the calls to care for those in trouble; they had their own “go and do likewise,” but — for whatever reason — passed by the man. Perhaps the shock of the narrative is the unlikely protagonist. This shock ought not overshadow that the priest and the Levite — who likewise have a call to care for others — passed by.

The shock that hits closes to home, however, is how frequently we are the ones who pass the other by. The command to “Go and do likewise,” extends about as far as the end of the story for modern hearers, landing us in the ditch between knowing the Samaritan and his compassionate generosity are set forth as an example and our tendency to ignore the cries of the downtrodden and disenfranchised. This tendency is exemplified strikingly in a video published by Character9 in 2014.3 For the project, one family member was transformed to appear as though displaced, and the video captures another family member walking by without noticing their kin on the street. While it might be argued that the lack of context precipitated the failure to recognize one’s own family on the street, the directors of the film provide a memorable indication of how easy it can be for us to pass by another person. What the film does not tell us, however, is how the family member who appeared as though displaced felt.

The command to “Go and do likewise” presents a tantalizing invitation to preach the call to care for the downtrodden and disenfranchised. It is a fine invitation, and — along with the innkeeper — we are drawn into the care for those in the proverbial (or actual) ditch. There is also an invitation, however, that comes to the preacher from the man in the ditch. The man in the ditch reminds us what it feels like to be forgotten by others — and perhaps even God. The feeling of loneliness and forsakenness invites compassion and empathy for all who experience it.

And Jesus is in, with, and under it all. On a narrative level, Jesus is the one who tells the story. On the theological level, however, the image of God is borne by the one in the ditch. The image of God is reflected by the one who shows compassion and mercy. Those who pass by also bear the indelible mark of the Creator, inasmuch as the Bible reminds us that even when we turn away, God draws near to us. Maybe God — through Christ — comes to us as the one in the ditch or maybe as the one who shows compassion and mercy; perhaps God even comes to us as a reminder that the call to care for others frequently goes unheeded as we pass by the cries of those in need of help.

The Parable of the Compassionate Samaritan preaches from the ditch, binding us up and implicating us at the same time. It is also from the interpretive ditch “And who is my neighbor?” that the lawyer emerges at the end of the parable, correctly answering Jesus’s question.



  1. See Josephus, Ant. 20:125-133.
  2. Amy-Jill Levine, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi (New York: Harper One, 2014), 94.
  3. https://youtu.be/Bel3vITdnGE

First Reading

Commentary on Deuteronomy 30:9-14

Valerie Bridgeman

I am not sure why those who provided us the Revised Common Lectionary texts began this week’s passage in the middle of a thought by beginning with verse 9.

It would be better, if you plan to preach it, be “begin at the beginning,” or at least at Deuteronomy 30:1. This chapter is a continuation for the blessings-cursing dialectic found within this book of laws. And as much as it may grate upon our sensibilities, it lays out a transactional relationship. It is very much, “if/when you do x, God will do y.”

Or maybe it is better to say that this text reinforces the reality that choices have consequences. Prosperity is possible, if one obeys God. And obeying God is deemed possible, if one pursues with all one’s heart. Prosperity requires reciprocity. God will make us prosperous; we will obey all the commandments. All choices have implications and consequences. Each choice leads to another choice, then another one. And a person’s life is constructed through those choices. Deuteronomy 30 is preceded by an account of blessings should the people of ancient Israel obey the commandments God gives, followed by an account of curses should they disobey them (Deuteronomy 28).

These descriptions are followed by a renewal of the covenant at Moab (Deuteronomy 29). The renewal conditions are no easy read, filled with threats against those who already may be turning away from God. For example, the people are told God’s wrath can be kindled and they can be destroyed “like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim,” Deut. 29:23. These cataclysmic destructions would have been stories the people knew, and the shorthand of just naming them might have made them shiver. But just as ominous as these threats are and seem inevitable, we next encounter a remedy with sure promises of prosperity that if the people and their children return and obey God “with all your heart and with all your soul,” Deuteronomy 30:2, all will be well.

And yet, this recapitulation of how God will bless them when they obey and observe God’s commandments and decrees underscores the very opposite of much of our Christian understanding, i.e., whether it is possible to follow them. The law-and-order of God’s commandments seem impossible. Though many Christians claim that the “whole Bible” informs their faith, what often happens is that we don’t know what to do with Deuteronomy or any of the laws in the first testament. It becomes easy to default to “that was then, this is now,” where the texts claimed by Jews and Christians as sacred are dismissed by Christians for what is perceived as an easier grace-filled New Testament word.

Here in Deuteronomy 30, we are exhorted that it is in fact possible to keep the law, “because you turn to the Lord your God with all our heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 30:10). Here, the “you” and “your” is singular. What happens to the community, if read literally in the Hebrew, depends on individual members of the community turning wholeheartedly to God. Here, Christians are called to take seriously the possibility that one may turn fully to God, despite the way some Christians read Paul on the law (see especially Galatians where the law is a “teacher” or “tutor”). What are we to do with Matthew 5:17-20, where we are told Jesus came to fulfill this law? Or what are we to do with the righteous Gentile, the upright man and God-fearer, Cornelius (Acts 10)? How do we understand the post-exilic text of Jeremiah 31:33, where the law is “written on our hearts”?

The biblical tradition in both testaments is rich for exploration and mining concepts of what it means to be human, as well as what it means to be able to obey God. The Deuteronomy writer notes in verse 11: “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away.” This text insists that the commandment is not too hard for the ones hearing it. It is near, in the mouth of anyone who desires God.

For many Christians, this understanding flies in the face of their understanding of sin and humans’ inability to resist it. Here might be a place for dialogue between Jewish understandings and some Christian ones. A simple google of the phrase “Christians and the law” will reveal much angst about whether Christians can or ought to follow the laws in Deuteronomy or anywhere else in the First Testament. And the answer will depend on who is asking. Unveiling these differences might help listeners understand that “law” and “commandment” is a complicated issue, not easily answered with a “yes” or “no.” And engaging other parts of the canon might also help. For example, what if the preacher decides to consider whether being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) was irrevocably destroyed by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, or whether Jewish understandings of human nature might teach us something?1

For some people, even imagining that God still speaks through first testament texts is hard. But the writer in this passage starts, not with a law, but with a promise and a memory. Preachers might begin in the same place. In the end, preachers have an opportunity to clarify and to proclaim what they understand about God’s commandments, about the nature of God, about the nature of humanity, and what obedience is possible with God’s help. That is the thing. God wants us to succeed. And makes it possible.


  1. I recommend Alan L. Mittleman, Human Nature & Jewish Thought: Judaism’s Case for Why Persons Matter, Princeton University Press, 2017. See also Y. Michael Barilan, “From Imago Dei in the Jewish-Christian Traditions to Human Dignity in Contemporary Jewish Law,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal Vol. 19, No. 3 (September 2009): 231-259.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Amos 7:7-17

Anne Stewart

Amos and Amaziah offer a cautionary tale for contemporary preachers.

Delivering a word from the Lord is a weighty — and often dangerous — task.

The book of Amos is a collection of sayings and visions of the prophet Amos, who was active in the 8th century BCE, during a period of relative prosperity and peace in Israel. The book indicates that Amos was a shepherd from the southern kingdom of Judah, from the small village of Tekoa (1:1), and prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel.

Throughout the book, Amos appeals to God’s justice and righteousness as inseparable components of God’s commandment. Amos critiques the social, political, and religious structures of Israel for their failure to uphold ethical responsibility. In particular, the prophet condemns the social inequity that allows the wealthy to luxuriate while the poor wither (see Amos 6:4-7; 8:5-6), and he critiques empty worship that fails to promote justice and righteousness (see Amos 5:18-24). In our contemporary understanding, we often conceive of social justice and piety as distinct practices, but in Amos’ vision there is no such division. The foundation of justice is the right worship of God, and worshipping God rightly requires promoting justice in the world.

The lectionary text picks up in the midst of a series of three visions in Amos 7. In the first two visions (verses 1-6), Amos sees images of destruction: locusts devouring the newly sprouted grass and a shower of fire consuming the land. In each case, Amos acts as intercessor and pleads with God to forgive Israel. Each time God relents and replies that the vision shall not come to pass.

Yet the third vision has a dramatically different outcome. The vision is centered in an image of measurement. The Hebrew term ’anak, usually translated “plumb line,” is obscure and only occurs here in the Old Testament. The image conveys God’s measurement of the actions of Israel. This time the judgment will come to pass, and the vision ends with the sacred places destroyed amidst the threat of violence: “the high places of Israel shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with a sword” (verse 8b-9).

These images of judgment and destruction in the Old Testament often leave contemporary readers pondering what kind of word this might be for our time and place. We prefer a message of uncompromising mercy. Yet God’s love and God’s judgment are not mutually exclusive. God mercies are meaningless without God’s justice. And the concept of justice has no bearing if God cannot be offended. This vision is powerful precisely because it insists that God takes offense at the injustices perpetrated in the sacred spaces and will not stand for an expression of religion that does not advance the divine demand for justice and righteousness. This vision may rightly distress or disturb, for it prompts the reflection of faith communities to examine if their own mission and witness is in line with God’s vision of justice.

Amos’ vision also disturbs Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. As the religious official representing the king, Amaziah grows alarmed at the suggestion that Jeroboam’s kingdom will fall, and he makes clear that Amos and his proclamations are not welcome in the sanctuary. These visions are dangerous.

Amos responds by articulating his call to the ministry of proclamation. Amos insists that he is not a professional prophet — “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son” — but a humble herdsman who was plucked from his flock at God’s calling to prophecy to Israel (verses 14-15).  

Amos and Amaziah each face their own dilemma. Amos speaks an uncomfortable word in the sanctuary, compelled by a holy vision of justice and righteousness. His preaching is not met with resounding affirmation and conversion, but with suspicion and fear. Amaziah, on the other hand, seeks to censor proclamation that may disturb; he promotes political equilibrium. Amos cannot compromise the powerful word he has received, yet Amaziah’s strategy is perhaps better for long-term employment. Prophesying is not for the faint of heart.

Preaching is also not for the faint of heart. Contemporary pastors may be able to relate to the tension between these opposing impulses of Amos and Amaziah. Stepping into the pulpit and standing before the people of God requires discernment, sensitivity, and courage. Amos’ bold prophecy is a model of unabashed proclamation, unhindered by the consequences of speaking truth to power. Amaziah’s response is easy to critique, yet he may also deserve our sympathy. Have you ever felt the temptation to silence or ignore the voices that make you uncomfortable? What if Amaziah had helped the king to hear Amos’s warning, instead of turning him out of the town?

The challenge for pastors is to deliver Amos’s message when you are a priest like Amaziah, responsible for the maintenance of the sanctuary. Prophets have the luxury of standing outside the sanctuary, speaking their truth to provoke and to unsettle. There are times when preachers must do this too, yet they must do so in a way that the congregation can hear, requiring pastoral sensitivity. Sometimes the preacher must be the prophet, and sometimes the preacher’s task is instead to lift up the voices of other prophets found in the text, tradition, or contemporary culture. There are voices of Amoses all around us, if we have the ears to hear. One of the preacher’s sacred responsibilities is to help the congregation to identify these voices, interpret their witness, and discern the word of the Lord.  

As you prepare to step into the pulpit this Sunday, perhaps your task is to speak like Amos or, if you are priest like Amaziah, perhaps it is to draw attention to the voices of the prophets standing outside the sanctuary, helping the congregation to hear their proclamation and measure the plumb line within it.


Commentary on Psalm 25:1-10

Joel LeMon

Psalm 25 is an alphabetic acrostic poem. Though its structure is obvious in Hebrew, it is obscure in translation.

But when we attend to the structure of Psalm 25 we can start to comprehend it message. In short, the psalm claims that God shows us the way. God provides the way out of danger, the way to live in harmony with others, the way to order our lives. And this psalm shows us way to pray.

The structure of the psalm

Psalm 25 is one of several alphabetic acrostics in the Psalter (Pss 9-10, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, 145). As such, each line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with the 22 verses of the psalm corresponding to the 22 Hebrew letters. The chart below contains the initial words of the first three lines of poetry to illustrate the pattern.



Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet

To you, O LORD (verse 1)

’eleka YHWH


In you I trust (verse 2)

beka vatakhti


Indeed, all who wait on you (verse 3)

gam kol-qoveka


The alphabet is the fundamental element of one’s education. It is the first thing that any young student learns on the pathway to literacy. In ancient Israel, writing was seen as the special medium of God’s revelation. Thus the alphabet became associated with God’s word. Since the Torah, God’s law or instruction, came to Israel through writing, the structure of the alphabet was understood to reflect the structure that God provides the community through the law.

Many of the alphabetic acrostic psalms revolve around the theme of the law or instruction. Psalm 119 is the the prime example. At 176 verses, it is an extended meditation on the law of God. In this case, the poem contains twenty-two eight-line stanzas, the first word of each line starting with the same Hebrew letter. The theme that unites all of these verses is the instructive value of God’s word, epitomized in its most famous verse: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (verse 105).

Walking and learning

Psalm 119:115 suggests that the psalmist is walking, going along a way and in need of instruction and guidance. The word of God, the law, illuminates the path. Psalm 25 has the same message and a similar structure. It makes frequent use of words related to teaching, learning, walking, and being led along pathways.

In Psalm 25, the psalmist asks God show him God’s ways, to make them understandable (verse 4), and then to lead him in those ways (verse 5). The Hebrew verb at the beginning of verse 5 means literally “cause me to walk” (hadrikheni). God is the one who reveals the path and God is the one who makes the psalmist walk it.

Everyone benefits from God’s instruction, both the humble (verse 9) and sinners (verse 8). Sinners can learn the right way by attending to God’s word. The psalmist should know. He himself is a sinner (verse 7). He has failed to walk uprightly in the past, but hopes that God will instruct him and keep him on the right track as he goes forward (see verses 11, 18).

Teaching one how to pray

The poem’s structure enables one to memorize it easily, at least in Hebrew. The acrostic guides the one reciting it from one line to the next. Similarly, the psalm contains a series of “hinge words” that facilitate memorization. Hinge words are words that appear in one line and are then repeated in the next, often in slightly different but related form.

In verses 2-3, for example, we find two forms of the Hebrew verb, bosh, “to be ashamed”: ’evoshah (“do not let me be put to shame,” verse 2) and yevoshu (“let them be put to shame,” appearing twice in verse 3). In verses 4-5 two words about walking occur that are drawn from the root drk: derakheka (“your ways,” verse 4) and hadrikheni (“cause me to walk,” verse 5). In the same two verses, the imperative form of the verb “to teach” are repeated: lammedeni (“teach me,” verses 4-5). And in verses 6-7 the verb zkr, “to remember” appears three times: zekhor (remember [your compassion],” verse 6) and al-tizkor … zikhor-li-attah (“do not remember [the sins] … remember me,” verse 7).

There are others examples across the psalm, but these alone, and especially the verbs of memory highlight the fact that this psalm has been carefully arranged so that it can be memorized. The acrostic form and the hinge words enable one to commit these words to memory. And once memorized, the psalm provides a roadmap for the faithful to pray. The psalm, like God’s law, becomes a guide. It travels with you whenever you go. The psalm thus becomes a way for God’s order to be realized in one’s life through prayer.

The instruction of Psalm 25

The psalm begins like a classic lament (see, e.g., Psalm 6), with a statement of trust and a series of direct requests for God’s aid. The psalmist is in trouble. And when trouble besets him, he thinks about the law of God. The psalmist is keenly aware of the ways that he has failed to keep the law. Indeed, teh specter of shame, guilt, and sin hangs over the psalmist (verses 2-3, 7-8). Even so, the psalmist understands that salvation comes in the form of divine instruction: “teach me, for you are the God of my salvation” (verse 5). The psalmist imagines his salvation in the form of learning.

So what can we learn about God from Psalm 25? The psalmist articulates a set of characteristics about God. These characteristics are revealed explicity through his direct claims about the divine character (verse 8-10) and implicitly through his requests for God’s action (verses 1-7). God provides order and meaning for human life through the law (verses 4-5). God forgives (verses 7-8). God acts on behalf of the faithful, satisfying those who wait on God (verse 3, 5). God is in it for the long haul, that is, God has been faithful in the past and God will continue to be faithful in the future (verses 6, 8-10).

And what can we learn about the psalmist, and by extension, about ourselves? The psalm reveals much about what it means to walk the path of life in a relationship with God. Being a sinner doesn’t exclude us from the ability to learn from God (verses 7). Even those who have experienced great shame and oppression can experience God’s redemption (verses 2). God’s mercy overwhelms any of our failings (verses 8-9). Following God’s paths leads us to salvation (verses 1-2, 5, 10).

Psalm 25 shows us these paths of salvation. It shows us the way.

Second Reading

Commentary on Colossians 1:1-14

Lois Malcolm

This week begins a series of four readings from Colossians that are appropriate for “ordinary time,” the season after Pentecost.

However, far from being merely “ordinary” (in the sense of being mundane or unremarkable), the series deals with living out of the extraordinary — Christ’s death and resurrection — within our everyday lives.

Prayer as participatory pedagogy

After the customary salutation, this passage introduces, with a thanksgiving prayer, the kind of pedagogy that runs throughout Colossians — a pedagogy in which the writer and readers participate in the reality or wisdom being taught and learned. As an introduction to this “participatory pedagogy,” the thanksgiving has two parts.1 It begins with the writer thanking God that the Colossians have heard the gospel and recognized God’s grace in it (Colossians 1:3-8). It then moves on to depict the writer’s prayer that they be further “filled” with the insight and lived practice that divine grace engenders among them (Colossians 1:9-14).

The use of pronouns in this prayer vividly renders how this pedagogy involves not only the writer and the Colossians, but also Epaphras (who founded the congregation) and, most importantly, God’s presence and activity through the Messiah Jesus. Echoing the format of the salutation (consisting of a sender, a receiver, and a greeting, Colossians 1:1-2), each stage of the thanksgiving begins by depicting the writer’s act of praying for the Colossians — using “we” (Colossians 1:3-4; 1:9). It then describes — using “you” — what has already taken place among the Colossians (in the first stage, Colossians 1:5-6) and what the writer hopes will take place in their lives in the future (in the second stage, Colossians 1:10-12). Concluding each stage is a portrayal — using the third person — of Epaphras, who initially founded the congregation (in the first part, Colossians 1:7-8), and of God, who continues to be at work among them (in the second part, Colossians 1:13).

Faith, hope, and love

The writer begins by thanking God for the Colossians (Colossians 1:3). God is addressed as “the Father of our Jesus the Messiah” — highlighting that this God differs from all other “rulers and authorities” (Colossians 2:15), a distinction that will be emphasized throughout the letter (see Colossians 2:10).

The writer is grateful for the Colossians’ “faith in the Messiah Jesus” and “the love they have for all the saints” because of “the hope reserved for them in heaven” (Colossians 1:4-5). In Pauline literature, these three — faith, love, and hope — are the chief ways our lives are oriented “in the Messiah” (Romans 5:1-5); they will abide or persist forever, with love being the greatest among them (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The Colossians initially heard of this hope through the “word of truth” — the gospel — that came to them (Colossians 1:6). Just as this “good news” has begun to bear fruit and growth throughout the entire world, so now it has begun to bear fruit among them, starting with the time they first heard it and recognized God’s grace in it (Colossians 1:7).  A Pauline baptismal metaphor, “bearing fruit for God” visually depicts dying to sin and being raised with Christ (Romans 7:4, 5). Such fruit and growth results from the Spirit’s expansive work within and among us, in contrast to the constriction of our own often self-preoccupied desires and deeds (Galatians 5:16-15).

This first section concludes by establishing a connection with Epaphras, the one through whom the Colossians first heard the gospel (Colossians 1:7; 4:12). As a “faithful servant of the Messiah” on their behalf, he has informed the writer about the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:8).

Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding

The writer, however, has not ceased praying for the Colossians (Colossians 1:9). If he had previously thanked God for the Colossians’ faith, love, and hope, then he now prays that they will receive another trio: “the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Probably drawn from Isaiah 11:2, this second trio is recited in baptismal liturgy, accentuating the fact that in baptism we receive the same “Spirit of the Lord” that rested on the Messiah — a spirit characterized by “wisdom and understanding” and “the knowledge and fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2).

Why highlight this second trio? Because the writer seeks to move the Colossians from merely “hearing” the gospel of the Messiah Jesus (Colossians 1:5) to “walking” (peripatesai) — or living — in ways that are pleasing to the Lord and correspond with his values (Colossians 1:10). This echoes another Pauline theme: in baptism, we have been buried with the Messiah so that — in the same way that he was raised from the dead — we too we might “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Repeating the fruit metaphor, the writer now prays that the Colossians will bear fruit in every good work, as they grow more fully into a deeper and more expansive recognition of God’s grace throughout their lives (Colossians 1:10). In addition, he prays that the Colossians will be empowered by the Lord’s own glorious authority to face whatever happens to them with perseverance and patience (Colossians 1:11).

Yet they can joyfully give thanks for what God has done among them, even now. God has already made them sufficient to share, with all the saints, in the Messiah’s inheritance (Romans 8:17). Throughout the letter, the writer will portray the way this inheritance consists of sharing the image of the Messiah, who is the very Wisdom of God (Colossians 1:15-20; 3:10; 2 Cor 4:4).

The writer concludes by narrating how God “rescues” us from oppressive powers and authorities and “transfers” us — within our everyday lives — to another sphere of existence: the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13a). In this Son, we have “redemption,” a biblical theme related to being bought back as slaves or freed as prisoners by ransom. Moreover, such redemption is equated with “the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13b): the word for “forgiveness” used here (aphesis) depicts being set free from unjust forces and contracts, as in the Jubilee Year when debts were remitted and land was allowed to be fallow (Luke 4:18; see also Isaiah 61:1). 


  1. Scholars disagree on whether Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul or someone influenced by him.