Lectionary Commentaries for August 17, 2014
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28

Carla Works

Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman is unsettling.

Jesus is less than eager to help this woman, explaining that his mission is first to the house of Israel. However, Jesus is the one who has left Jewish territory and invaded this woman’s world. Furthermore, this Canaanite woman — an unclean, outsider — demonstrates that she has a better grasp of Jesus’ identity than the hand-selected disciples do at this point in the narrative. Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman unsettles boundaries and calls into question definitions of clean and unclean.

Jesus has entered into Tyre and Sidon where the Canaanite woman instantly greets him. It is remarkable that enough word about Jesus had spread to this region that this woman would somehow know who Jesus is (cf. Mark 3:8). The text does not say that he performed any signs in Tyre and Sidon before meeting her (see 11:20-24), yet she somehow recognizes him, not just as a roaming healer but as a rightful king.

The woman greets Jesus as the “Son of David.” Her recognition is all the more remarkable because the disciples have been a bit slow in recognizing Jesus. In Matthew 14, after the walking on the sea, they do recognize Jesus as the Son of God, but it is not until 16:16 that Peter declares Jesus as Messiah. Yet, this woman hails Jesus as the Son of David, begs his mercy, and entreats his power over a demon that has “severely” possessed her daughter (v. 22). How is it possible that this woman has more insight into Jesus’ identity than his disciples? She is, after all, an unclean outsider, part of a people who are remembered as an old enemy of Israel.

Jesus’ response is, perhaps, the most perplexing piece of this narrative. At first, he does not say a word to her, but he refuses to send her away. Only after her persistence does he converse with her. Twice, he explains to her that his mission is first to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Indeed, the narrative has emphasized that the “house of Israel” has provided Jesus with more work than one laborer could feasibly handle (9:35-10:6). The need in Israel is indeed great.

The disciples, too, seem to think that Jesus should stay focused on the needs of Israel. They kept telling him to send her away because they are tired of hearing her cries for help (15:23).

Perhaps, Jesus’ refusal to listen to the disciples gave the woman hope that her request would be heard. She does something that is significant in this Gospel: she kneels before him. The author of Matthew uses this action as one befitting a king. The magi, who are also Gentiles, are the first to offer worship to Jesus in this way (Matthew 2:2, 8, 11). The unrepentant slave bows before the king in the parable of unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:), and the mother of James and John kneel before Jesus as a king of a kingdom (Matthew 20:20). For the woman to treat Jesus in this manner is in keeping with her earlier declaration of Jesus as the Son of David.

Kneeling is not only a sign of kingship, but also recognition of power. There is a connection between those who kneel before Jesus and the healings that Jesus performs. A leper kneels before Jesus and asks to be made clean (Matt 8:2). A ruler kneels and asks for his daughter’s healing (9:18). At the end of this Gospel, when the resurrected Lord appears, the disciples bow before him, and Jesus says that all authority in heaven and earth is his (28:17-18). Bowing in worship also recalls Jesus’ command to worship only the Lord God (4:9). This woman kneels before one whom she recognizes as having authority not only to sit on the throne of David, but to wield power over evil.

Jesus’ response to her second cry for help includes a reiteration of his mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He even likens her status as a Gentile to the status of the small, pet dogs who long to be fed from the table (15:26).

The woman, however, is not deterred. She claims a place in the household, but it is a not a position of privilege or even the position of an insider. She accepts the status of a family’s dog by claiming that even the dog enjoys crumbs from the table.

Her statement is striking. She places hope in what others have discarded. This Son of David has so much power that there is enough power for the house of Israel and more than enough left over for her. She is not trying to thwart his mission. She just wants a crumb, recognizing that even a crumb is powerful enough to defeat the demon that has possessed her daughter.

Jesus praises her faith. This woman seems to understand what the members of the household of Israel have yet to grasp.Jesus is not just hope for Israel, but hope for the world.

In the passage that immediately precedes this story, Jesus responds to challenges from the scribes and Pharisees by reframing the boundaries of clean and unclean. In 15:18, Jesus declares that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and what comes out of the heart determines what makes one clean. What comes out of the Canaanite woman’s heart is faith — certainty that Jesus has power enough for Israel and power enough to save her non-Israelite daughter.

Her words demonstrate that the boundary separating her from the house of Israel must be reconsidered. With a faith so pure, how can she be deemed unclean? The encounter with the Canaanite woman prepares the reader for Jesus’ great commission to go and to make disciples of all the nations (28:20).

Reading Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman during Pentecost reminds the church that God is constantly entering new territory and breaking boundaries. This God is in the unsettling business of meeting outsiders and granting them not just a crumb, but a place at the table.

First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

Samuel Giere

Many people have sound reasons for disregarding or leaving church, not least of which is the insidious line-drawing done by Christians.

Favoring of our own judgment of who is in and who is out, we too often displace the Lord as sovereign of all that is. Whether it’s politics done in the name of “justice” or religion painted over with a thin veneer of “righteousness,” faith is disregarded in favor of exclusive quackery that displaces God as Lord of all. Not unlike the 6th century BCE when the Lord spoke through the prophet, so today God’s embrace is far wider than many Christians tend to imagine.

“Thus says the Lord … ” (Isaiah 56:1a) starts the third major movement in the book of Isaiah. Rather than getting caught up in trying to reconstruct the historical Sitz im Leben of Isaiah 56-66, consider reading this final movement of Isaiah as suggested by John Oswalt: Isaiah 56-66 “serves as a reprise of the opening themes of the Isaian symphony … they are written to show how the theology of chapters 40-55 fits into that of chapters 1-39.”1

While Isaiah 1-39 diagnoses the problem of Israel’s lack of trust in Yhwh, with foci on Israel’s faithlessness and Yhwh’s judgment, and Isaiah 40-55 provides a witness to God’s redeeming disposition (e.g. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem … ”) and promise to restore, Isaiah 56-66 returns to a basic question: With the diagnosis and the renewed promise both in view, what now?

The first movement in this “what now?” is Isaiah 56.1-8. It addresses the reality that God’s blessing spills over the boundaries assumed by God’s people — the insiders.

Reread Isaiah 55 as the segue into this Sunday’s pericope. In particular recall:

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you (Isaiah 55:3-5).

Note that central to the reestablishment of this everlasting covenant with David2 is that the covenant will spill over to “nations that you do not know.” The covenant with David as the everlasting covenant is transformed from one of safety from enemies toward their welcome (2 Samuel 4:11b).

And so this third movement of Isaiah 56-66 begins by exploring the spillage of the everlasting covenant against the backdrop of the religious practice of drawing lines in particular lines that exclude the foreigner and the eunuch. (Yes, the preacher is encouraged to include the whole of Isaiah 56:1-8, as the donut hole created by the lectionary weakens the force of the text.)

Note that the strong language used here is not about offering an “olive branch” to the “other.” This is not about some kind of associate membership.

To the eunuch who keeps Sabbath, the Lord promises full inclusion, recognition better than that given to a son or daughter, and “an everlasting name which shall not be cut off.” To the foreigners who keep Sabbath, these the Lord will bring into His presence, make them joyful, and accept their offerings. This is not peripheral inclusion. Rather, the Lord invites from the margins to the center of the covenant and to the center of Israel’s cultic life and worship.

It is pretty clear in Scripture that eunuchs are not permitted to enter into the assembly of the Lord3 and that foreigners are an abomination.4 Yet the Lord flips this up-side-down. For those who keep Sabbath. That is, for those who live in the everlasting covenant, the house of the Lord is open. Why? “ … for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered” (Isaiah 56:7b-8).

So it is that the Lord’s “steadfast and sure love for David” spills over into the world. The everlasting covenant is not about exclusion. It is about inclusion. Radical inclusion. An inclusion so radical that it reinterprets Scripture.

This Isaiah text resonates well with the gospel for today, Matthew 15:10-28, in that Jesus challenges established boundaries that some might consider both “just” and “righteous” (cf. Isaiah 56:1b).

Consider rereading John 5 in preparation for preaching Isaiah 56:1-8, especially in relation to this radical inclusion that reinterprets Scripture, in particular keeping Sabbath, the very thing that Isaiah 56:1-8 uses as a common denominator of inclusion. Note that at the outset of the chapter Jesus breaks Sabbath and commands the now-healed fellow to do the same, and then at the end of the chapter he says: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:46-67).

Lest any of us Christians think that we’ve finally discerned the boundaries of God’s “steadfast, sure love for David” or that we’ve fully discerned Gods justice and righteousness, Jesus calls us to himself and to his cross where any boundary that we Christians might want to construct around God’s steadfast, sure love are shattered.


1 John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 11.

2 Cf. 2 Samuel 7:4-17.

3 Deuteronomy 23:1: “He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.”(RSV) Also, though more specifically directed to the descendants of Aaron, i.e., priests, cf. Leviticus 21:20b.

4 Cf. Leviticus 22:25, Ezekiel 44:6ff, Nehemiah 9:2. It should be noted that the place of the foreigners is slightly more complicated than eunuchs, because of some delineations between foreigners, e.g. Deuteronomy 23:3-8.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Genesis 45:1-15

Cameron B.R. Howard

Long before HBO had Tony Soprano, the Bible had Joseph, arguably the original bad-guy protagonist.

Many excellent commentaries will describe Genesis 45 as an admirable moment of forgiveness, reconciliation, and catharsis, and that interpretation is both reasonable and edifying. But we miss the theological and emotional complexity of this passage if we allow Joseph to become merely a paragon of mercy, a model for how we approach reconciliation.

For that reason, I want to offer in this commentary a deliberately skeptical counter-reading of his character. Rather than being a “good guy” with complicating character twists and occasional missteps, consider in what ways Joseph is a “bad guy” with whom we are nonetheless encouraged to sympathize because of his larger role in the story of God’s journey with Israel.

We saw in last week’s reading that Genesis 37 presents no virtues for Joseph that should win our admiration or our sympathy for his character. He is a tattle-tale and a braggart, and he inexplicably receives favoritism from his father Jacob. He might not look like a bad guy yet, but he doesn’t quite come across as a good guy, either. We initially root for him because he is the one the camera lens — i.e., the narrative’s point of view — follows. The camera follows him because of who he is: the favorite son of Jacob, i.e., Israel, and Israel has been chosen by God. In the Joseph story, everybody plays favorites.

As we read through the Joseph cycle (Genesis 37-50), Joseph’s character becomes more complex. We discover in Genesis 39 that Joseph is handsome and successful, rising to the position of overseer over his fellow slaves. We hear Joseph’s piety shine through when he refuses Potiphar’s wife’s advances and, as a consequence, is imprisoned on false charges of sexual assault.

In chapters 40 and 41 we learn that Joseph is skilled in dream interpretation, and, upon interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he advises Pharaoh to store up 20% of the harvest in seven years of abundance to feed the land in seven years of famine. He becomes Pharaoh’s second-in-command: “Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:45).

In chapter 42, Joseph’s family life and his work life collide. Facing starvation in Canaan, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy some of the grain hoarded there. It should not surprise us that Joseph can recognize his brothers even though they do not recognize him; his ability to interpret dreams has already demonstrated his perspicacity.

That insight, combined with his control over the largest known food supply during that time of famine, gives Joseph all of the power in this situation. If Joseph is a stand-up guy, a hero with forgiveness in his heart, surely this is the point in the story at which we should expect reconciliation?

Rather than reconciliation, Joseph meets his brothers with manipulation. He pretends not to know them, accuses them of spying, throws them all in jail for three days, and demands that after they take their grain home, they return to Egypt with Benjamin, their youngest brother. He even has Simeon bound and held in Egypt to guarantee their return (42:24). He sneaks the money they paid for the grain back into their sacks, surely a gesture of generosity but understood by the brothers, terrified of the powerful governor and racked with guilt, as a sure indication that stealing will be added to their spying charges.

Citing the loss of both Joseph and Simeon, Jacob refuses to allow Benjamin to return with the brothers to Egypt until the family is out of food again and left with no other choice. The emotional roller coaster continues for the brothers in chapters 43 and 44, when Joseph feasts with his family, including the newly favorite son Benjamin.

Rather than reveal his identity now, Joseph has his own silver cup slipped into Benjamin’s sack, setting him up for a charge of stealing. Judah, who, at Genesis 37:26 lobbied for selling Joseph rather than killing him, steps in to plead for Benjamin’s release for the sake of their father Jacob, whose “life is bound up in the boy’s life” (44:30). It is at this point, with Jacob’s life on the line, that Joseph makes himself known to his brothers.

Genesis 45 is the climax of the Joseph cycle. All the dramatic irony of the story — the details that we readers know but Joseph’s brothers do not, especially Joseph’s true identity — builds to this moment, when Joseph reveals himself to his family. Multiple times over the course Genesis 37-44, Joseph has turned aside to weep privately, but those deeply held feelings have not stopped him from testing and otherwise manipulating his brothers.

It would be difficult to overstate Joseph’s position of imperial power in this story; anyone who wants to eat must come to Joseph. He hoards the grain, and he decides who may purchase it and at what price, at a time when all of the world is riddled with famine (41:57). Once powerless at the bottom of a pit, outnumbered by brothers who hated him, Joseph now gets to decide who will live and who will die. Having that power does not necessarily make Joseph a bad guy, but his use of that power to control those around him surely does, no matter how much he cries.

The power to forgive must always be in the hands of the one who has been wronged; it is right for Joseph to be empowered to forgive the wrongs done to him by his brothers. But before Joseph weeps on their necks (15:14-15), he plays on their fears and exploits his imperial power over them. His actions may not constitute intentional revenge, but they certainly are not worthy of a Hallmark card, either.

We will see in Genesis 50 that the brothers remain terrified of the brother they wronged long after this scene from Genesis 45, and such persistent fear will continue to indicate Joseph’s power over his brothers, not reconciliation with them. But will this family ever be made whole? And can we agree with Joseph’s observation that God, rather than Joseph or the brothers, is the primary agent in the drama? Stay tuned.


Commentary on Psalm 67:1-7

James K. Mead

This psalm is a favorite for several reasons.

Its repetitions and relative brevity make it memorable; its literary connections to other texts inform our biblical theology; and its aspirations for all nations and peoples to receive God’s blessings encourage a holistic understanding of God’s purposes on earth. Psalm 67 creatively integrates the priestly blessing of Israel and the ancestral promise of a blessing to the nations in order to project a renewed vision of the way things were meant to be from the beginning.

As clear as this thesis seems to be on the surface, the fact is that scholars have not agreed on matters as fundamental as the psalm’s translation and its setting and function. To be sure, these major issues do not sideline our attempt to incorporate Psalm 67 into Christian worship and preaching, but they can play into a more complete understanding of its powerful rhetoric. So, rather than separate my remarks into exegetical and homiletical comments, I instead will unpack the psalm’s message on three levels.

First, this psalm is aword of praise to God. Whatever we may think about the literary history and religious setting behind the final form of the psalm, we can derive insight and blessing from its “surface” message of praise. This is a community psalm of thanksgiving (or declarative praise) for a particularly abundant harvest with which God had blessed Israel (verse 6).1 And, of course, it is not merely Israel that praises God for a given harvest. “The peoples” are twice enjoined to praise the Lord in a refrain that surrounds (verses 3, 5) the central prayer of the psalm, which invites “the nations” joyfully to acknowledge God’s guidance and justice (verse 4).

Thus, whether it is Israel’s praise or the nations’ praise, they are “interwoven by means of the perspective of the world of the peoples.”2 Some scholars believe that this non-Israelite praise of God’s justice should be read in light of ancient Near Eastern traditions, where the sun god Shamash was known by the epithet, “the one who leads rightly.” But in Psalm 67, even Shamash’s devotees acknowledge that Israel’s God oversees the proceedings of creation and history.3 Although inspired by the bountiful produce of nature, this psalm depicts the whole world joining in the worship, not of nature itself, but of its sole creator.4

Second, as we look a bit deeper, we engage this psalm’s word of blessing on the world. Here we are reminded that the praise within the heart of the psalm is surrounded by prayers for blessing (verses 1, 7). At first glance, the blessing seems completely focused on Israel itself (“us” 3x in verse 1 and once in verse 7). Craig Broyles rightly calls verse 1 “an echo” of the beautiful Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:24-27, which was spoken by the priests upon the people of Israel.5

However, verse 7 goes on to link God’s blessing on Israel with the hope that “all the ends of the earth [would] revere him.” It is difficult to miss the echo of Genesis 12:3, wherein the ancestral promises of land and descendants were associated with another promise, namely, that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This surprising theological conclusion is a game-changer for our interpretation of the psalm. Both the praise and the prayer speak to Israel’s vocation as the elect messengers of the divine covenant to all nations who, after all, share a common ancestry with the nations as children of Noah. We therefore realize that the biblical theme of election “does not mean that God has his favorites but simply that he has a chosen channel of blessing for all.”6

Finally, and perhaps most subtle of all, we are confronted by this psalm’s word of challenge to the church. This multi-faceted prayer comes home with surprising force by virtue of the “voice” in which it is spoken. What had always been a benediction spoken just by Aaron’s priestly descendants is here taken up by the people at large. Yes, they respectfully hint at the full language of the benediction, so as not to usurp the office of the priesthood; but what nevertheless comes across is a public theology challenging Israel’s inward focus.

And when proclaimed in Christian worship, this psalm speaks to the church’s need ever to be vigilant in presenting God’s desire for the world to join in praise with his people. Not only do these ancient words critique an ecclesiology severed from mission; they also remind us that mission is both universal in its geographic scope and also prophetic in its concern for a world “torn by racial, ethnic, and national exclusivism and strife.”7

What strikes me most about this psalm is the fact that its wonderful spirit was not representative of the Old Testament. Throughout the canon, mention of the nations and peoples was typically negative.8 To find it here reminds the church that those who influenced the canonization of the psalms insisted on this poem’s inclusion. As heirs of their bold vision, may we insist on putting its hopes and prayers into action.


1 Some scholars avoid the traditional form category of “thanksgiving” and prefer the term “prayer,” based on the abundance of jussive forms (“may,” “let”). See Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51-100, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1990), 155.

2 Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 2, Hermeneia, trans. L. M. Maloney (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 153.

3 Ibid, 156.

4 Artur Weiser, The Psalms: A Commentary, Old Testament Library, trans. Herbert Hartwell (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 473.

5 Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 278.

6 Ibid, 280.

7 J. Clinton McCann, Jr., “The Book of Psalms” in the New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 4 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 941.

8 An interesting way to connect this psalm with the other lectionary readings is to note how the gospel reading (Matthew 15: 21-28) tells of Jesus’ venture into the Gentile regions with a disturbing interaction.

Second Reading

Commentary on Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Elizabeth Shively

A cursory reading of Romans might lead one to think that chapters 9-11 are a tangent or insertion unrelated to the rest of the letter.

A more careful reading, however, leads to a different conclusion. At the beginning of the letter, Paul states that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16). Although the gospel of salvation is “to the Jew first,” it becomes apparent that a majority has not believed.

Paul’s explanation of the gospel through the first half of the letter culminates in chapter 8 with the assurance of God’s irrevocable promises to his people: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (verse 28). Does Paul include Israel among those who are “called”? Does Israel receive this assurance?

Or, is God in the business of revoking promises? Some of Paul’s audience might wonder how firm is the foundation upon which they stand. Others might find a reason to boast, thinking that they as Gentiles have replaced Israel in God’s plan. For these reasons, Paul must make a case that God’s promises to Israel remain intact.

Romans 11:1-2a and 29-32 frame chapter 11. In verses 29-32, Paul reaffirms the point with which he starts: God has not rejected his people because God’s promises are irrevocable.

The question in verse 1 arises from the subject matter at the end of chapter 10. Paul has establishes that Israel cannot plead ignorance because the good news has been preached to them through the prophets and the writings (10:14-21). Israel has not understood the message it has received and has been disobedient. This leads to the question in 11:1, “Has God rejected his people?” The logical force is, “God has not rejected his people, has he?” Paul answers himself, “By no means!”

Paul does two things to buttress his answer. First, he gives himself as a proof of God’s faithfulness. He lists his credentials as an Israelite in verse 1b and concludes that, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (verse 2). Paul’s point is that if he has believed, God has not rejected his people. His statement alludes to a line in 1 Samuel 12:22.

In that context, Israel has asked for a king, signalling that they have forsaken God. Samuel prays for them and assures them that that, “the Lord will not forsake his people.” This recalls Paul’s earlier argument in 3:1-6, particularly, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means!” (verses 3-4a).

Second, Paul grounds his answer with a story about Elijah (11:2b-6; see 1 Kings 19:1-18). King Ahab has killed God’s prophets. Elijah escapes, dejected because he is the only one remaining who has refused to worship Baal. But God promises Elijah to preserve a remnant of 7,000 Israelites who refuse idolatry. Here is a pattern for the way God shows faithfulness to Israel by preserving a remnant by grace.

These verses are part of a larger section in which Paul addresses Gentiles (verse 13). He has told his Gentile audience not to boast over Jews who have been cut off from the metaphorical olive tree because of unbelief, because they too may find themselves in the same position (verses 13-24). No one has a ground for boasting, because all stand before God on the basis of grace.

Most immediately, the section in which our text fits begins with verse 25, in which Paul warns his audience not to be wise in their own eyes. God’s dealing in the work of salvation is a “mystery,” because Israel’s unbelief somehow plays a role in God’s plan to redeem Gentiles (verses 25b-27).

Paul’s argument in chapter 11 comes to a head in verses 28-32. A disparity exists in that Israel has the status of enemy with regard to the gospel because of unbelief; but beloved with regard to election “for the sake of their forefathers,” that is, because of the promises of God (verse 28; see 9:1-6). The next verse gives the basis for their beloved status: “for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”

Paul solves this disparity by envisioning Israel’s disobedience as both purposeful and temporary. It is purposeful as part of God’s plan for the salvation of Gentiles (verse 30). It is temporary because it ends when faced with widespread Gentile belief (verse 31). God uses unlikely circumstances to build the church: Gentiles believe when many in Israel turn away; then many in Israel believe when provoked by Gentile belief. In Paul’s estimation, God accomplishes salvation of “all Israel” through the reciprocal movements of Jews and Gentiles.

These reciprocal movements look ahead to practical themes of later chapters. God works among Jews and Gentiles in salvation such that no one may boast, be arrogant (11:7) or wise in their own conceits (11:25). Then, as Jews and Gentiles live out their faith with one another, no one may think more highly of himself than he ought to, but must use his gifts humbly in a body with many members (12:3-8). No one may pass judgment on another or cause another to stumble, but must live to please his neighbour rather than himself (14:1-15:7).

Ultimately, these reciprocal movements look to God, because Paul ends in worship (11:33-36). He envisions all God’s people together worshipping God in view of God’s faithfulness and mercy. In fact, the whole letter moves in this direction: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (15:6).

Perhaps there are ways we can reflect such reciprocal movements as we consider the “other” in our understanding of salvation, practical living, and worship.