Lectionary Commentaries for November 5, 2017
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

Susan Hylen

Most of us do not expect to hear Jesus say this: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it!” (Matthew 23:2-3)

Can that be right? It’s tempting for many to skip over this part of Jesus’ teaching. The criticism of the scribes and Pharisees that follows is more familiar and comfortable: “but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” However, we will misunderstand Matthew’s Gospel if we ignore the first part of the instructions: the scribes and Pharisees teach others to follow God’s law, and they are right to do so!

Modern interpreters of Matthew somehow manage to convince ourselves that Jesus opposed the law. In doing so, we are conditioned by many centuries of Protestant interpretation and by our own experiences of Judaism as a religion that is wholly separate from Christianity. Yet from the very beginning Matthew has been clear to point in the other direction. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18-19). He goes on to teach what it means to keep God’s commandments, like “you shall not murder” (Matthew 5:21) and “you shall not commit adultery” (Matthew 5:27).

Throughout Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is critical of the Pharisees. However, he is not critical because they keep the law. For example, in one case, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for preferring their traditions over God’s command to honor father and mother (Matthew 15:3-5). Similarly, in this passage Jesus is critical of the Pharisees’ actions, but only because they do not practice what they teach. The Pharisees’ teachings are not a problem. But in their practice, the observance of the law becomes a burden that falls on the shoulders of others while the Pharisees reap public acclaim.

Matthew characterizes Jesus as an excellent teacher because he interprets the law with an eye to God’s larger vision for and love for humanity. The Pharisees serve as a literary foil, against which Jesus’ interpretation of the law stands out. In particular, Jesus teaches others to keep the law in a way that also meets the demands of God’s justice and God’s mercy.

Jesus’ actions are consistent with his teachings. Throughout Matthew’s Gospel, readers have seen Jesus practicing the law in light of God’s justice and mercy. He keeps the Sabbath while bringing God’s wholeness to people (Matthew 12:9-14). He honors the Sabbath and feeds the hungry (Matthew 12:1-8). He cures the leper and sends him to the priest (Matthew 8:1-4).

Jesus’ message is similar to the prophets who went before him. We like to credit Jesus for offering a new teaching, but the message he speaks here runs deep throughout Judaism. One example is Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” which Jesus quotes twice in Matthew’s gospel. One of these references is Jesus’ response to criticism that he eats with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus answers, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Later, Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 when he is criticized because his disciples pluck grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:7). His responses do not mean that tax collecting and sinning are good. Nor does he argue that keeping the Sabbath is bad. However, Jesus suggests that keeping the law without exercising mercy does not fulfill God’s expectations.

The idea that God’s law should be practiced with mercy was not unique to Jesus, though many Christian interpreters have suggested that it was. Interpretations of this passage often suggest, intentionally or not, that Jewish norms of the time upheld legalistic observance of the law over the practice of mercy. This is a mischaracterization of first century Judaism. It is better to see Matthew as portraying Jesus with ideals that are deeply Jewish. God’s law is a gift to help humans live in relationship with God and one another. Humans need guidance in understanding how to interpret and apply God’s word to their lives.

That is why Matthew characterizes the Messiah as a teacher. “Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah” (Matthew 23:10). Jesus is a teacher par excellence because he interprets God’s law in a way takes seriously the demands of God’s justice and mercy.

Living according to God’s word means living as a servant. “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees suggests that the problem is that they use the law as a pretense to receive honor from others. “They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi” (Matthew 23:6-7). This description rings too true for many of us. We love the trappings of living according to God’s word. We set ourselves up for applause. But it is easier to appear pious or to instruct others regarding their faults than to implement God’s commands in our own lives.

Jesus’ interpretation of the law underscores that humans are on a level playing field. God extends mercy to all, including the tax collector and the sinner. The one who seeks attention and status through God’s law misinterprets it. The attitude of a servant is more appropriate, for the servant shapes their actions according to the master’s will. Jesus shows us a master whose expectations are high, but they are guided first and foremost by mercy.

First Reading

Commentary on Micah 3:5-12

Margaret Odell

Lectionary texts are like photographs: when they are cropped and framed in certain ways, our attention is drawn to some features and not others.

Today’s selection from Micah is no different. By beginning with the denunciation of prophets who speak favorably only when they are paid, we are asked to draw comparisons between these false prophets and Micah, who alone is filled with the power and spirit of the Lord to speak truthfully. And when this text is paired with the Gospel lesson, we are invited to see the ways in which both texts contrast the inadequacy of human teaching with true teaching from God. Yet when we step back from this particular frame and examine Micah 3:5-12 in its literary context, we gain a different perspective on the vital connection between prophetic teaching and just practices essential to communal peace and stability.

By beginning with verse 5, the lectionary reading implies that the subject of Micah’s attack is false prophecy (Micah 3:5-8). However, the immediately preceding stanza in verses 1-4 and the concluding stanza in verses 9-12 indicate that the larger issue is the establishment of justice and equity in society at large. In Micah 3:1-4, Micah calls the heads of Israel to account with a sarcastic rhetorical question: should you not know justice? The question rests on basic hierarchical assumptions about the responsibilities of the more powerful and elite members of Israelite society to care for the less fortunate. The prophet answers his own question by accusing the leaders sabotaging justice by choosing evil over good. Rather than enumerating specific injustices, Micah likens their deeds to cannibalism. With their unjust practices, the heads of Israel are, in effect, consuming the very lives and bodies of those who most needed their protection.

The lectionary reading picks up at this point with an announcement of judgement against the prophets. Although it is possible to read this unit as a separate charge against a different group, the food imagery makes it more likely that the prophets are not innocent of the leaders’ wrongdoing but in fact benefit from it. Hans Walter Wolff has noted that “what comes out of the mouths of these prophets” depends on what has been put into it;1 thus well-fed prophets proclaim peace but stir up war against those who “put nothing into their mouths” (Micah 3:5). It doesn’t take much ideological criticism to see that prophets’ message cannot be trusted because they have allowed themselves to be bought for food. But the charge is more gruesome in two respects.

First, the underlying Hebrew is far more graphic in portraying the well-fed prophets as having a “bite between their teeth.” The imagery suggests an animal-like savagery, which is all the more gruesome when it is read in connection with Micah 3:1-3, where Micah accuses Israel’s leaders of busily flaying the body politic piece by bloody piece. If it is these leaders who are feeding the prophets, then it is tempting to imagine that the “bite” in their teeth has been drawn from this common pot. When it is seen that they are benefiting from the savagery of their patrons, the falsity of their declaration of peace is all the more apparent. As the intermediaries through whom the leaders inquire of God, the prophets fail for the same reason. By feeding off the destruction of Israel, they too have exchanged evil for good and are caught in a darkness of their own making.

Against the willing collusion of the prophets and heads of Israel, Micah presents himself as one who alone is filled with power, justice, and might to declare Israel’s transgressions. It is widely noted in the commentaries that these attributes tend more frequently to be associated with the valor and wisdom of rulers and are not, as a rule, associated with prophecy.2 Thus the “I” speaking here may as easily be contrasted with the heads of Israel as with the prophets. Unlike these ruling elders who were to have known justice but who have instead built Jerusalem on bloodshed, and unlike the rulers, priests, and prophets who can all be bought, Micah exposes their delusion and holds them accountable for the coming judgment.

In his commentary on this text, Daniel Smith-Christopher draws intriguing parallels between Micah’s indictment of the prophets and our own knowledge-driven society, in which paid studies all too often support the agendas of those footing the bill. He writes, “Micah’s anguish is our own: Does [thus as it was written] money and privilege always corrupt the ability to see clearly? Is truth simply the tune called for by those who pay the piper?”3

In my opinion, this text exposes a yet more fundamental problem — the ways in which our unexamined appetites and self-interest make it possible for us to be bought off in the first place. What is distinctive about the “I” who stands apart from all this is the ability to speak independently of the pack, and to claim a higher, divinely granted power and courage to step out of the cycle of emoluments and inducements that greased the workings or privilege and power in Jerusalem. Only through this divinely granted courage could Micah describe reality as it really was, a bloody mess of human making.


1. Hans Walter Wolff, Micah: A Commentary (trans. Gary Stansell; Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990), 102.

2. Walter Wolff, 105.

3. Daniel Smith-Christopher, Micah: A Commentary (Old Testament Library; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 120.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Joshua 3:7-17

Dennis Olson

It’s not surprising that a new, young leader like Joshua would feel anxious or inadequate.

Joshua is taking over the reins of leadership from the great and incomparable Moses who led Israel faithfully for forty years through the wilderness. Moses “was unequaled … for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:12). A tough act to follow!

A second reason for Joshua to doubt himself is the Canaanite enemy he is about to encounter. An earlier spy mission into Canaan had revealed that “the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:28). A tough enemy to face!

Joshua needed repeated words of encouragement and support. Before his death, Moses had encouraged Joshua, “Be strong and bold … It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:7).

God also repeatedly reassured Joshua once he became Israel’s leader. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5; see Deuteronomy 31:23). Again, “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). A third time: “I will begin to exalt you … so that you may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses” (Joshua 3:7 — our text). God will keep repeating the reassurance, “Do not fear!” (Joshua 8:1; 10:8).

“Do not fear. I will be with you.”

The negative command — “Do not fear!” — and the positive command — “Be strong and bold! — recur often through the pages of Scripture. When God calls a leader or a community to a new mission, fear gives way to confidence and hope. Of course, it is true that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). But fearing and trusting in the LORD means not being afraid of the forces that resist God, even when the obstacles seem impossible to us.

Not being afraid is only possible because of the promise that God will be with us. Faithfully fulfilling God’s call in our lives is not, first of all, rooted in our own estimates of our human abilities and resources. Success depends instead on whether God is with us or against us.

Throughout Scripture, God proclaims to God’s people, “Do not fear … “I will be with you!” The list is long: Abraham (Genesis 15:1), Hagar (Genesis 21:17), Jacob (Genesis 27:41; 28:13-15), Moses (Exodus 3:11), fleeing Israelite slaves (Exodus 14:10, 13), the judge Gideon (Judges 6:14-16), King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:5-7), the psalmist beset by powerful enemies (Psalm 118:6), the community of Jewish exiles (Isaiah 41:10; 43:5), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:8), Daniel (Daniel 10:12, 19), Mary (Luke 1:30), shepherds surrounded by angels (Luke 2:8-14), disciples caught in a storm (Mark 4:37-40), frightened disciples in the night of Jesus’ betrayal (John 14:27), disciples frightened by reports of a resurrected Jesus (Mark 16:8; Matthew 28:10, 18-20), the apostle Paul (Acts 18:9-10; 27:24; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), or John of Patmos (Revelation 1:17-18).

This large cloud of witnesses testifies that following God’s call into a new venture can often stir up fear in our hearts. Yet the repeated promises of God urge us to let go of debilitating fear: “I will be with you!” Trust God. Let go of whatever overwhelming anxieties and worries that paralyze you into retreat, inaction, or over reaction (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-32).

Water, power, and the living God

The events of Joshua 3 have a ritual and sacramental quality to them. The text combines a spoken command (“Do not be afraid”), a spoken promise (“I will be with you”), and a material, physical sign that brings an identity-defining event to remembrance and interpretation for future generations.

Joshua promises that “the LORD will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:6). That “wonder” will involve all Israel somehow crossing the raging floodwaters of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:15). At the center of this river crossing, the priestly tribe of Levites will carry the ark of the covenant in a liturgical procession.

The ark was a holy container that held the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:1-5; 31:26). The ark was also a material sign of God’s living presence in the midst of the people of Israel (“among you is the living God” — Joshua 3:10). As such, the ark radiated with holy and dangerous power. Any unauthorized person (non-priest) who came too close or touched the ark could die (see 2 Samuel 6:6-7). Thus, the people are instructed to give the ark some space — a distance of 2000 cubits or about 2/3 of a mile (Joshua 3:4).

Now the LORD’s great “wonder” is about to happen. As the toes of the priests touch the edge of the swollen waters of the Jordan River, the river abruptly stops flowing. The Jordan’s waters pile up in a “heap”! Dry land suddenly appears across the bed of the river. The priests solemnly process with the ark into the middle of the dry riverbed. The priests with the ark stand as the rest of the Israelites pass by (at a safe distance!) and cross into Canaan (Joshua 3:16-17).

What is the significance of this event? The crossing of the Jordan River clearly points back to the time of Moses and Israelites’ dramatic crossing through the parted waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-22, 26-29). Crossing the Red Sea involved fear and risk, but it led to freedom. The two water crossings — the Red Sea in Exodus 14 and the Jordan River in Joshua 3 — form bookends to Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom, from death to life.

Psalm 114 similarly puts the imagery of Israel’s fleeing Egypt through the sea (“the sea looked and fled”) in parallel with imagery of Israel’s crossing the river Jordan (“Jordan turned back” – Psalm 114:1, 3, 5). The parted waters and dry river bed in Joshua 3 also find resonance in the creation account in Genesis 1 when God pushed back the waters of chaos, making way for the dry ground that enabled new forms of life to appear (Genesis 1:2, 6, 9).

Stones Yearning to Speak

In the next chapter, Joshua completes the liturgical procession of crossing the Jordan River by commanding that two piles of twelve large stones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel, be erected. One mound of stones was set up at the water’s edge, and the other mound stood in the middle of the Jordan River as “a memorial forever” (Joshua 4:7).

These piles of stones are physical and material memorials, imbued with deep mythic meanings, memories and resonances over time. Like the waters of Baptism or the wine and bread of the Lord’s Supper, the stones resonate with commands (“Do not fear! Be bold! Remember!”). They sparkle with promises (“I will be with you!”). The rocks ring with a call to freedom rather than slavery, to life rather than death, to hope rather than despair. The stones yearn for a new preacher to lift up their voices again to proclaim the wonders of the LORD for a new day.


Commentary on Psalm 43

Kelly J. Murphy

Hermann Gunkel, famous for his work on the psalms, once noted, “The individual complaint songs form the basic material of the psalter.”1

He continued, “The order in many of these psalms is a characteristic one; first, the wailing, almost desperate lament and the passionate prayer; then, suddenly, the certainty of deliverance in a jubilant tone.”2

Unsurprisingly, if we open a commentary on the psalms, we’ll likely find some formulation of the following “order” we should expect to encounter in the individual lament psalms: first, the psalmist invokes God; second, the psalmist states their complaint; third, the psalmist petitions God to do something in response; fourth, the speaker states their trust in God’s ability to carry out the speaker’s request; fifth, the psalm ends with praise for and/or of God.

Yet what certitude or sureness do we find at the end of Psalm 43? There the speaker exclaims, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (verse 5). These final words only point forward, to a time when the psalmist hopes to praise God again. There is no certainty.

The careful reader of the psalter will notice that they have already encountered the words that end Psalm 43 not once but twice before, both times in the immediately preceding psalm (42:5-6a, 11). The repeated lines are not the only similarity between Psalm 42 and Psalm 43. Both ask “Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?” (42:9; 43:2) and both lament the psalmist’s distance from God (“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” [42:2); “For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?” [43:2]). Moreover, the speaker of Psalm 42 and the speaker of Psalm 43 each desire to come before God once again (42:4; 43:3-4). These connections, combined with the fact that Psalm 43 lacks a superscription, have led many scholars to suggest the two psalms should be read as one, an idea further supported by several ancient manuscript traditions that combine them.

Read together, there is yet another time where we see the speaker’s soul “cast down”: “My soul is cast down within me; therefore, I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar” (Psalm 42:6). While this line perhaps tells us the reason for lamentation (from the land of the Jordan, the psalmist is far from Jerusalem and God’s temple where they previously took part in pilgrimage [Psalm 42:4]), the psalmist nevertheless also remembers God from afar. Here we might invoke Desmond Tutu, who once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Even far from God, even taunted by enemies, even in the darkness of a moment when the soul feels disquiet, the psalmist remembers and hopes for God.

Next “deep calls to deep (tehom-el-tehom qore) at the thunder of your cataracts, all your waves and your billows have gone over me” (Psalm 42:7). The Hebrew tehom, “deep,” often signifies chaos. So “darkness covered the face of the deep” when God begins to create out of the primeval chaos waters (Genesis 1:2) and later the fountains of the deep burst forth to flood the earth, reversing God’s previous creation (Genesis 7:11). If the psalmist here is recounting an experience with God, it is one that draws on a Hebrew word often associated with chaos and, perhaps, darkness. Remember Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the great fish, where he recounts how “the waters closed in over me; the deep (tehom) surrounded me” (Jonah 2:5).

Yet even from here the psalm returns to hope and light: “By day the LORD commands his steadfast love” (Psalm 42:8). In fact, even at night, in the darkness, God’s “song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” (42:8). The psalm continues to waver between hope and despair, light and darkness, petitioning God to act (“Vindicate me!” [Psalm 43:1]) but also asking “Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:2). There is both positive anticipation, “O send out your light and your truth, let them lead me … Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4), and yet also a return to the psalmist’s troubled state, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 43:5).

The individual lament may be “the basic material of the psalter,” but Psalms 42-43 prompt us to remember that these psalms take many forms and follow many orders. The ending “hope in God” does not require the psalmist — or any of us — to ignore the reality of darkness. Yet these final words point forward, even if there is not yet certainty or jubilation. Such an ending in a lament psalm captures how life can rapidly and repeatedly move from the despair of a “cast down” soul to hope, from the darkness of the deep to light, again and again.


1. Hermann Gunkel, Introduction to the Psalms: The Genres of the Religious Lyric of Israel, completed by Joachim Begrich, trans by James D. Nogalski (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998), 122 n. 2. Italics in original.

2. Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967), 20.

Second Reading

Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Jane Lancaster Patterson

In my experience, it is rare to hear a preacher on a Sunday morning who is willing to tackle an Epistle of Paul.

The result is that very few Christians today have the chance to be formed by Paul’s teaching on a regular basis, even though letters like his were apparently the first type of literature that Christians were concerned to write, to read aloud, to memorize and pass on to others. Paul had only recently left Thessalonica when he wrote this letter, and it still contains the buzz and energy of his engagement with this relatively new assembly of Christ-believers (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 2:1-9). The task of the preacher, then, is to help present-day Christians come into contact not only with the letter, but with the flesh-and-blood people whose lives and commitments shaped it.

Unfortunately, in the portion we hear today, Paul begins with the kind of statement that most irks contemporary western readers: he talks about himself as a model of faithfulness. But to be fair, he also speaks about the Thessalonians as equally worthy of emulation.

The embodied word

Yet behind Paul’s unabashed willingness to serve as a model for others is something taken for granted in his day and much needed in ours: the foundational understanding that the Gospel of Christ is not a set of ideas about Jesus or about God, but rather a set of embodied commitments to be a Word of God in one’s own context, however difficult (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

  • Even the letter itself was a physical and social event, as it was dictated by a small group of people (Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, 1 Thessalonians 1:1) in conversation with a paid scribe.
  • Then the letter would be carried by a member of the community who could also interpret or explain it if necessary.
  • And of course, it would be read aloud to the gathered community, who no doubt asked questions and made comments during the reading.

As you read, note the ways in which the letter is written to heighten the sense of physical presence of the authors with the community of hearers, even as their separation from one another is lamented (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20). In today’s passage, Paul says, “You remember…,” “You are witnesses…,” “You know…” (1 Thessalonians 2:9-11). In doing so, he summons up the power of their lived experience from when he was with them: what courage, honesty, and guilelessness look and feel like in daily exchanges of kindness and self-offering.

Called to humility

And just as Paul used a surprising image for his relationship with the Thessalonians earlier (the wet-nurse of 1 Thessalonians 2:7), he once again seeks out images of profound and humble service. He describes the manual work he did to support himself during the mission as “labor and toil.” His language is so vivid that the reader can almost recall the smell of him after a long day’s work.

Recent scholarship on the economic realities of the earliest Christians in Macedonia has shown that landless craft-workers like Paul worked extremely hard to make a meager living, just as he suggests, and that this way of earning an income was not one that was particularly respected.1 It appears that he has taken on this way of life as a choice, in order to live into the calling to mission that God has laid upon him.

Though it might seem on the surface that describing himself as the “father” of the Thessalonians was a bid for honor, the actions he chooses to enumerate as fatherly are not typical of a Greco-Roman patriarch: urging, encouraging, pleading (1 Thessalonians 2:12). The last word, translated as “pleading” in the NRSV is, in Greek, martyromenoi (witnessing), another reminder of how significant is the sense of physical presence in this letter.

The logos of God

On reading all of 1 Thessalonians, it is clear that the true power behind all that is life-giving is God. So, it is fitting that today’s lection, short as it is, end not with Paul, but with God, “who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). 1 Thessalonians 2:13 is a challenge to preachers: “when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work (energeitai) in [among] you believers.”

The Greek word logos (word) is a relative of the English word “logic,” and has to do not only with God’s words, but with God’s whole way of reasoning, God’s practical wisdom as it can be discerned over time. God’s word can actually be observed at work among people, enabling them to live with embodied faith, courageous hope, self-offering love. In this final sentence we arrive at the wide frame in which Paul’s labor and toil, his nursing and fathering, his Gospeling and encouraging make sense: the plan of God, on the one hand inexpressible, but on the other hand observable in the lives of ordinary people who allow the word of God to be at work among them.

This short passage is important for helping contemporary Christians move beyond the understanding of faith as an idea or a set of beliefs into the challenge of faith as a practice, a way of living in community with others. Just as Paul uses himself and others as models, the passage might inspire the preacher to seek out ordinary people among whom God’s word is clearly “at work.” Paul offers pointers to the kinds of evidence one might seek: humility, honesty, guilelessness, willingness to work hard at tasks that do not command others’ respect, willingness to share deeply of oneself, courage to take risks for the Gospel, all grounded in a foundation of complete trust in God.


1. See, for example, Peter Oakes’ chapter, “The Economic Situation of the Philippians Christians,” in The People Beside Paul: The Philippian Assembly and History from Below, edited by Joseph A. Marchal, 63-82 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2015).