Lectionary Commentaries for October 9, 2016
Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 17:11-19

Audrey West

Ten men with leprosy are healed but only one returns and gives thanks.

This sounds like a lesson from almost every parent of a two year-old. “Don’t forget to say thank you, sweetheart.” To be sure, giving thanks for gifts received is always a good thing — O give thanks to the LORD for God is good, God’s mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1). However, when considered within Luke’s wider narrative, there is much more to be heard from this passage than a simple morality tale designed to improve the social graces of Jesus’ followers.

Jesus in borderlands and unsafe territory
Jesus’ encounter with the lepers takes place in the “region between Samaria and Galilee,” suggesting a potentially hostile locale at the border, neither inside nor outside Jewish territory. Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, a literary road sign that points ahead to the impending violence of the cross. It also points backward to the beginning of the journey (Luke 9:51ff), which, as we will see below, includes another reference to Samaritans.

The relationship between Samaritans and Jews at the time of Jesus was conflicted and sometimes violent. Centuries before this they had been one people, but changes and tensions wrought by exile and return put them at odds regarding beliefs about scripture, worship, what it means to be holy, etc. A history of hostility may explain why James and John suggest firebombing a Samaritan village (“Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” cf. 2Kings 1:10-12) after it refuses to serve as the first rest stop on Jesus’ journey. Jesus firmly rebukes their violent request (Luke 9:51-56).

In any case, despite potential danger, and without asking anything about their loyalties, heritage, or intentions (will they perpetuate the hostility?), Jesus works healing for all ten — including the Samaritan.

Jesus offers mercy to foreigners/outsiders
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus extends his mission beyond the boundaries of his homeland. He reminds the assembly “there were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). In response his townspeople seek to throw Jesus over a cliff (Luke 4:30). It can be difficult to accept the welcoming ways of God.

The Old Testament episode to which Jesus alludes (2 Kings 5:1-15) is an alternate reading for this week. Its reference in Luke, like footage from a movie trailer, previews our pericope and suggests that (1) outsiders too are recipients of God’s work in Jesus; and (2) there is something to be learned from them.

The stories of Naaman and the Samaritan share common details. Of course there is the fact that both refer to Samaria and concern healing from leprosy. Naaman (a Syrian) and the Samaritan both are foreigners: outsiders to the people of God. Naaman is even commander of an army that opposes Israel. Even so, God heals each from leprosy, despite their enemy/outsider status, before they pledge any allegiance to God. Both are healed from afar (without being touched). Both return to the source of their healing, and both are sent along their way with a command to “Go.”

Whatever are God’s criteria for showing mercy — demonstrated through Elisha and Jesus — they seem considerably more generous than our own norms, then and now.

Indeed, by way of repetition Luke focuses our attention on the outsider/foreigner status of one who returned to give praise to Jesus. First Luke notes that he is a Samaritan (v. 16), and then Jesus refers to him as a foreigner (v. 18). Like the “good” Samaritan of Jesus’ parable (yet another reference to Samaritans found only in Luke 10), God’s mercy is not limited by human conventions regarding insiders and outsiders — even when the outsider is an enemy.

Noticing that Jesus is worthy of praise
In a prior episode concerning a man with leprosy (Luke 5:12-15), the healing itself receives literary attention. Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the man, announces his intention to heal, and then says be clean. As proof of healing, Luke writes, “immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:13).

In the case of the ten, in contrast, the healing itself is not narrated, but only its outcome. Nor does Jesus comment on the men’s obedience, even though their healing occurs as they do what Jesus commanded. This suggests that healing and obedience per se are not really the focus of the episode.

After the Samaritan saw that he was healed, the rest of his response is characterized by four verbs: turn back (hypostrepho), praise (or give glory; doxazo), prostrate (literally fall on his face), and thank (eucharisto). Jesus highlights the first two verbs by repetition: “Was none of them found to return (hypostrepho) and give praise (doxa) to God except this foreigner?”

Return and praise play significant roles in Luke. At Jesus’ birth the shepherds “returned (hypostrepho), glorifying (doxazo) and praising God for all they had heard and seen … ” (Luke 2:20). After witnessing Jesus’ ascension, in the last two verses of this Gospel, the disciples “worshipped him and returned (hypostrepho) to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the Temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52). Return and praise frame this Gospel, suggesting a road map for our response to God’s activity in our world.

“Get up and go!” with the promises of God
The passage ends with a command to the Samaritan: “Get up (anistemi; rise) and go (poreuomai) on your way; your faith has made you well.” When it appears in Luke-Acts the phrase “get up and go,” suggests that a significant (even wondrous) change is about to occur. After the annunciation, for example, Mary “gets up and goes” to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39). The prodigal son decides to “get up and go” back to his father (Luke 15:18), and God tells Paul to “get up and go” to Damascus (Acts 22:10; cf. Acts 9:11; 10:20).

The command to get up and go comes with a promise to the Samaritan: “your faith has made you well (literally saved you).” The good news of this encounter carries with it the promise that through Jesus, God empowers people to step across boundaries, share mercy with outsiders, pay attention to things worthy of praise and move forward into God’s future with assurance that there is more to God’s story than meets the eye. For that, may we always give thanks.

First Reading

Commentary on 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c

Kathryn M. Schifferdecker

In this election season, we have grown accustomed to news reports, Twitter feeds, and television ads filled with the faces and voices of the candidates.

They are people of power and influence, usually wealthy, dressed well, telling us with great confidence why they should be elected rather than their opponent.

Naaman, to whom we are introduced in our text for today, is also a mover and shaker. The commander of the armies of Aram (in what is now Syria), a confidante of the king, he is a person of influence and prestige.

There is just one problem. Naaman suffers from leprosy (or some kind of skin disease) and no amount of influence and prestige can cure him of the disease.

Such is the set-up of the story in 2 Kings 5. It will be familiar to some of your parishioners, though not all. It is worthwhile, in either case, to re-tell the story, spending time on the details. Because whether or not the story is familiar to your people, it rehearses a theme that comes up again and again in biblical narrative: God works in unexpected ways, through unexpected people, to bring life where hope has been lost. And in doing so, God turns worldly expectations and worldly systems upside down.

Case in point: The story begins with Naaman, a person of influence and power who is helpless to help himself. The person who knows the information vital to his healing is a slave girl, a young Israelite, captured in one of the many skirmishes between the Arameans and the Israelites. If you tried to imagine a person on the lowest rung of the social ladder in the ancient Near East, you couldn’t get much lower than this. She is a girl in a male-dominated society. She is a foreigner in a foreign land. She is young and she is a slave. She holds no power or prestige. Nevertheless, it is this unnamed girl who holds the key to Naaman’s healing.

One can imagine how desperate was Naaman’s situation, to pay any heed to the voice of a young slave girl, but the text makes it clear that he is willing even to grasp at straws. He goes straight to the king of Aram and repeats (the Hebrew says) exactly what the slave girl said (verse 4).

The lectionary, for some inexplicable reason, leaves out the verses that tell of the actions of the king of Aram and the letter that he sends to the king of Israel (verses 4-6). So the assigned reading jumps from the slave girl’s words to those of the king of Israel. It is advisable instead to read the intervening verses, as they include another example of worldly expectations being turned upside down.

The king of Aram, who obviously highly values Naaman, sends a letter to the king of Israel. And with the letter is an opulent treasure trove of goods. A “talent” is the heaviest unit of measure for weight in the Bible, equal to about 75 pounds, so the silver alone that Naaman carries with him weighs about 750 pounds! Along with the silver are 6,000 pieces of gold and ten sets of clothing. (Considering that one garment cost many hours of labor — shearing wool or harvesting flax, spinning, dying, weaving, and sewing — clothes were a valued commodity in the ancient Near East.)

The king of Aram and Naaman himself seem to assume that a prophet of great renown would be part of the royal court in Israel and would require costly tribute. So Naaman goes to the royal court with this opulent treasure and with the letter from his king: “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy” (verse 6).

Again, the expectations of the rich and powerful are upended. The prophet is not part of the royal court. He doesn’t even come immediately to the mind of the king of Israel. This unnamed king of Israel, though he has his faults (see 2 Thessalonians 6:31), knows his limits. He knows he is not God and cannot cure Naaman, but he erroneously jumps to the conclusion that this is a ploy on the part of the Aramean king to invade Israel. So one can imagine his relief when Elisha sends him a message — Don’t despair; send him to me.

The scene that follows is not without humor. Naaman, the mighty man of Aram, rides up to Elisha’s humble abode with chariots and horses (both instruments of war). Though the prophet does not reside at court, Naaman still brings his costly tribute and likewise expects something dramatic from the prophet. Elisha will come out and perform some sort of incantation, perhaps sacrifice a few animals, call on his god to heal Naaman, set him a task so that he can prove his courage and receive healing.

Again, contrary to expectations, the prophet doesn’t even bother to come out of his house. He sends a messenger, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.”

Naaman’s bubble is burst and he sputters with outrage. It’s as if the President of the United States rolled up to a modest suburban house in the presidential motorcade and the owner of the house texted him (or her) instead of coming out to greet him (or her). Naaman was expecting a dramatic reception from the prophet, something appropriate to his power and prestige. But the prophet doesn’t even deign to come outside to greet him. He sends a messenger as if Naaman were someone unworthy of his attention. And just as bad, he tells Naaman to wash in a muddy backwater of a river.

The prophet’s actions, again, participate in that biblical theme of overturned expectations and thwarted pride. And it is Naaman’s pride that is almost his downfall. His wounded pride would have him turn around and go back home. It is only the advice of his servants that brings him to his senses. So Naaman, perhaps for the first time in his life, exhibits humility, washing in the Jordan according to Elisha’s instructions. And he is healed.

In this story, as in so many other instances in Scripture, God works through the lowly, the last, and the least to bring about healing and salvation, contrary to the ways and the expectations of the world. Naaman, the great and powerful, is helped by a slave girl and a prophet in a backwater country. He washes in a muddy regional river and he is healed.

The real power in the story does not lie in royal courts, military prowess, political influence, or great wealth (which Elisha refuses to accept). The real power in the story lies with the God whom Elisha serves. Naaman finally recognizes that truth at the end of the story and acknowledges this God as the only true God: “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel” (verse 15). Throughout Scripture, this God works in unexpected ways, through unexpected people, to bring life where hope has been lost. And in doing so, God turns worldly expectations and worldly systems upside down. Such is the biblical witness about true power, and it is an apt word for today.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

Richard W. Nysse

The truncated text of the lectionary selection distorts the message of the Jeremiah 29.

The dissonance of the injunctions to build a life in Babylon and to seek its welfare is muted, if not actually removed. The resulting distortion can easily sentimentalize the text into a generalized word of optimism for difficult times.

Jeremiah 29:2-3 are important because they key the reader into the double audience of Jeremiah’s message. The immediate audience of Jeremiah’s letter is the community in exile in Babylon: King Jeconiah, the queen mother, court officials, etc. (29:2). The second audience is those who remain in Judah and Jerusalem and who face a coming day of destruction: King Zedekiah, additional priests such as Zephaniah (29:24, 29) and other “kinfolk who did not go out into exile” (29:16). The former were exiled in 597 BCE; the latter will experience the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.

Jeremiah’s prophetic preaching is opposed in four consecutive chapters, chapter 29 being the last. Chapter 26 raised the possibility that Jerusalem could be marked for destruction. The sheer naming of that possibility in the threat portion of a call for repentance leads to sharp opposition from the establishment in Jerusalem. This conflict emerges prior to 597 BCE.

The opposition in chapters 27 and 28 is set in the period between 597 BCE and 587 BCE. The prophets in Jerusalem are preaching words of hope. Their view of the future is that the effects of the destruction of 597 BCE will soon be reversed and that there is no threat of future judgment. The prophet Hananiah specifically states that the reversal will occur in less than two years (Jeremiah 28:3). One could easily imagine the prophetic opponents of Jeremiah in Jerusalem tell their hearers to build houses, plant gardens, and have children as Jeremiah does in his letter to the exiles (Jeremiah 29:6-7). Words of hope spoken in Jerusalem between 597 BCE and 587 BCE are a lie; they are an act of rebellion against God.

Jeremiah’s message shifts as one proceeds from chapter 26 through 29. In chapter 26, if the people listen, they will avoid becoming “like Shiloh.” In context, the implication is that they will avoid destruction by Babylon. They did not listen and the devastation of 597 BCE occurred. After 597 BCE, a second and more extensive destruction looms. Jeremiah increasingly sees it as inevitable because of their persistent rebellion, but still there is an offer of a way to life, not death. If the people submit to Babylonian rule, they can live. That is a fundamental shift in the usual “if/then” construction of a call for repentance. There will be — not might be — a punishment; a yoke is in the future (Jeremiah 27:2). Submitting to it will be the way to life (see, 27:11 spoken to foreign countries and 27:17 spoken to Jerusalem). Not to submit is the way to death — the yoke of wood becomes a yoke of iron bars (28:14). The struggle between Jeremiah and Hananiah in Jeremiah 28 is replicated in Jeremiah 29 by prophets living in exile. As was the case with Hananiah, the latter are also promising a short period of Babylonian domination and an early return of people and property.

The opposition to Jeremiah’s prophetic preaching started with the leadership denying the possibility of divine judgment symbolized by Shiloh. Jeremiah was labeled unpatriotic and disloyal because he spoke of a future that was not limited by a myth of exceptionalism. When the invasion of 597 BCE punctured the assumption of security provided by that myth, the prophets and priests who opposed Jeremiah asserted that the judgment was a brief disruption to the myth, not a divine “NO.” Between 597 BCE and 587 BCE the opposition to Jeremiah’s commissioned prophetic word minimized the divine judgment. Whether termed denial or minimization, the possibility of a definitive judgment was rejected both in Jerusalem and among the early exiles in Babylon. Jeremiah characterized this conduct as rebellion. A yoke of iron bars was approaching Jerusalem; nothing could mitigate its impact.

Chapter 29 does announce that the judgment (i.e., the yoke of iron bars) will not become an eternal NO, but the length of the judgment will be long. It awaits the completion of Babylon’s run at imperial tyranny (symbolized by the number 70 [Jeremiah 29:10]). It will not be the two years Hananiah prophesied or the quick turnaround implied by the prophets Jeremiah opposes in the latter half of chapter 29. There is a future that does not include Babylonian captivity. But that future is not now and it includes praying, searching, calling that is not answered in the moment of petitioning (29:13-14). When the time is up (i.e., the exile is completed), then God will be find-able and will respond with deliverance. During “the 70 years” the people are to invest in life, but it will be a life also characterized by the non-visiting of God. There is no imminent visit of deliverance, unlike that promised by the lying prophets and their dreams.

The contrast between Jeremiah and the voices of false hope is not simply a matter of imminent reversal versus far-off restoration. The specific verses in the lectionary announce a positive message for the present life of the audience. In the form of imperatives to build, plant, and live out the cycles of family life, there is an inherent benediction. God commands these activities but in the command is also the announcement of life that is not characterized by the cruel punishment associated with captivity. Shelter, food, and family life — the basics necessary for life — will be sustainable present. There is abundant blessing — enough to even seek the welfare of those not directly members of the community — but deliverance from exile and return to Jerusalem is intertwined with the eventual demise of Babylon. To be commanded to build houses, plant gardens, raise children, and seek the welfare of the city into which God has sent them into exile is to be blessed in the midst of punishment. The exiles are given a vocation as they await the “attention” (Jeremiah 27:22) or “visit” (29:10) of divine deliverance. Accepting this vocation is a rejection of the false hope of the rebellious voices back in Jerusalem and present among them in exile — voices which promise a quick restoration of greatness.


Commentary on Psalm 111

Wil Gafney

Psalm 111 is a classic psalm of praise extolling the virtues of God presented as the praise of a single individual.

It is a Hallel, one of the psalms that begins with hallelu Yah, “Hallelujah”, (Psalms 104–106, 111–118, 120–136, and 146–150). Other psalms from this group are part of the festival lectionary of the Jewish people for the major observances of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles.

This psalm roots praise of and for God in God’s “works” and “deeds” using a variety of terms that are translated in similar ways. In v 2 God’s works are not further described but the expression evokes creation, exodus, deliverance from enemies and entering into a covenant with Israel, (see Exodus 34:10 where the same expression is used). Verse 3 uses what is regarded as a more poetic word for “work” which when combined with the adjective “majestic” suggests the expanse of creation. Verse 3 also lauds an essential attribute of God, inexhaustible righteousness. Verse 4 introduces a third term for God’s works, one that means “wonders” or “marvels.” If the unit on God’s works and deeds in vv 2-4 builds to a point, that point is the fundamental nature of God as gracious and loving at the end of v 4.

The description of God as “merciful” in v 4 does not do justice to the underlying Hebrew. The root of the word rachum is the word for womb, rechem. It is both the organ and the feeling that emanates from it in the same way that “headache” signals a body part and a feeling. I translate rachum as “mother-love” while others like Phyllis Trible translate it as “womb-love.” In the famous story about Solomon and the two sex-workers, it was the birth mother’s “mother-love” that motivated her to surrender her child to the other woman though it is often poorly translated as “mercy” or “compassion,” (1 Kings 3:26). This type of love is one of the two primary forms of love that God expresses for humanity, see Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 30:3; 2 Kings 13:23; Isaiah 14:1; 30:18; 49:15; Jeremiah 31:20.

The next few verses detail the ways in which God mother-loves. In v 5 God feeds humanity, but not with just anything. The psalmist chooses a word that indicates God hunts meat (literally “prey”) for God’s carnivorous offspring. Taking prey is often the work of lions, (Genesis 49:9; Ezekiel 19:3; Nahum 2:12), but also the work of the warrior-hearted woman in Proverbs 31:15. God’s care and concern is shown to be holistic in that God provides physical and communal support, the latter in maintaining God’s covenant with God’s people.

The psalm circles back to the works of God, framing them as evidence of God’s graciousness and mother-love in vv 6-9. Now the language become more specific to Israel, celebrating the dispossession of Canaan in v 6 and “redemption” in v 9 which is a likely reference to the exodus along with a second reference to God’s covenant and people in v 9. Verse 9 ends by proclaiming the holiness and fearsomeness of God’s unutterable Name (provoking awe or fear rather than being “awesome”). God’s name is never spelled out in Hebrew with vowels only the consonants YHWH appear. Instead, Hebrew readers pronounce the word for “lord,” adonai, which is where the title “Lord” comes from in the text. It replaces the name that cannot be uttered. While some contemporary scholarship supplies what they believe to be the missing vowels, the practice is considered greatly disrespectful in Judaism and is likewise avoided by many non-Jewish scholars as well. The description of God’s name as “fearsome” or “awesome” in v 9 points back to the people who “fear” God in v 5; both words have the same root.

Verse 10 continues to reflect on the proper fear of or reverence towards God citing a proverb that appears repeatedly throughout the scriptures, that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That saying occurs in Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:23; Job 28:28; Micah 6:9 and repeatedly in Sirach, Sirach 1:14, 16, 18, 20, 27; 15:1; 19:20; 21:11; 25:10. The psalm ends with the observation that God’s praise will outlast all things, including the psalmist’s own praises.

Second Reading

Commentary on 2 Timothy 2:8-15

John Frederick

Paul begins and ends this passage with Jesus Christ.

This bookending structure illuminates a central component to the argument that is threaded through chapter 2 of 2 Timothy. That thread is, of course, Jesus Christ. Jesus — though mentioned explicitly in verse 8 — is not mentioned by name in verse 15. Thus, it is easy to gloss over the implicit Christocentric structure which defines this passage. Yet, the “word of truth” to which Paul refers in verse 15 is clearly a reference to the “gospel” mentioned in verse 8. Further, in that verse, the term “gospel” is directly linked with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messianic Savior in the line of David (see also for example , 2 Samuel 7:12-17). Continuing with this central theme of Jesus’ person and work as “the gospel,” Paul states in 2 Timothy 2:9b that his own imprisonment and binding in chains does not bind “the word of God.” Rather, Paul’s faithful endurance as a minister of the gospel is a means through which “the elect” are brought into gracious connection with “the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10); in other words, in connection with “the gospel.” Jesus, and the word about him — that is, “the gospel,” “the word of God” and “the word of truth” — are Paul’s response to a divisive movement that threatens to distract the church at Ephesus and to dilute the power of Timothy’s ministry.

Paul’s solution is “Jesus.” But to what problem specifically is this response directed? Well, it is evident from 2 Timothy 2:16-18, and 23-26 that the underlying tension being addressed by Paul is that of innovative and incorrect — or in some cases foolish, ignorant and controversial — teachings that are distracting people’s attention from and disturbing people’s faith in the truth of Jesus’ gospel. The contemporary application of this text might, then, seem to present itself most obviously as a word directed primarily against so-called “revisionist” teachings and aberrations from the norm — whether the norm is defined broadly as creedal orthodoxy or more specifically as a particular system of theology (i.e. Calvinism, Arminianism, the magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, etc.). However, the bookended message here — namely, that Jesus is the Gospel — is the Good News which reorients and rebukes both revisionists and dogmatists, both the boundary-breakers and the boundary-keepers, whenever these parties prioritize their boundaries, agendas, religious ideas, ideologies, or theological systems above Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus Christ is the Gospel, not our revisionist ideologies, not our political ideologies, Jesus. The Gospel is not something other than or in addition to Jesus, but rather consists in Jesus Christ himself and in his work “for the life of the world” (see also John 6:51). This is not to say that additional theological inquiries and statements cease to be crucial and valuable; on the contrary they are extremely important and worthy of being cherished. Yet, denominational doctrinal statements are not “the gospel.” Rather, they are explications and syntheses of a vast number of texts that issue forth from and unpack the core message and person of the gospel, namely Jesus Christ. The gospel is about Jesus Christ. The gospel is rooted in Jesus Christ. The gospel is Jesus Christ. Thus, when we come to a passage like this, it strikes me that we ought to see it as an opportunity to recalibrate ourselves and our churches — not around systems and ideologies, not around any thing — but around the one person who saves, namely Jesus Christ, “the gospel.”

For the parishioner who fears or faces death, or is coping with the loss of a loved one, we do not merely hand them a catechism of words about Jesus, we give them the Word made flesh, Jesus. Or, more accurately Jesus gives himself to them (and to us). As Paul says: “If we died with him [referring to baptism], we will also live with him.”

For the weary soul struggling with depression, the single parent, the oppressed, the outsider, the forgotten, the lonely, the rejected, and all who carry the burdens of this sinful world, we do not first and foremost offer revisions of dogmas, or defenses of dogmas, or systems of theological facts consisting of an interconnected set of dogmas — we offer them Jesus. Better, Jesus offers himself to them and to us. Paul writes: “if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

To the soul centered on the self, to the one seeking not to worship God but instead to be “god,” to the one denying the Son of God, we offer Jesus. In these cases, we offer the Lord not as a repose but as a rebuke unto the hope of repentance (see also 2 Timothy 2:25). We do not rely primarily on apologetics, nor, on the other hand, do we capitulate into the cultural milieu of agnostic spiritual speculation. No, we offer them Jesus, for “if we deny him, he will also deny us” (verse 12b; my emphasis).

The focus on the faithfulness of God in 2 Timothy 2:13 that remains constant regardless of our faithlessness is not an example of Paul talking out of both sides of his mouth. While our faith may prove to experience various seasons and degrees of excess or deficiency, nevertheless our hope rests not in the sophistication, theological learnedness, or in the current status of the spiritual vitality of our faithfulness but rather in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Our faith is the gift, realization, and imperfect human response to the gospel that assuredly and immovably rests on the eternal and perfect faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ, who himself is the gospel.

In the context of 2 Timothy, Paul is addressing teachers who are wrongly claiming the resurrection already happened, and other strange and erroneous doctrines rather than the word of truth, which is Jesus, “the gospel.” Yet, this same kind of “red herring” warning should apply to preaching that proclaims an ideology of stand-alone propositions as “the gospel” rather than the person and work of Jesus Christ who is “the gospel.” Often rebuke is directed by doctrinal dogmatists toward doctrinal revisionists, and many times, rightly so. However, I think it is worth considering how in a similar manner, doctrinal dogmatists are at risk of worshiping their tidy theologies rather than worshipping Jesus. Our answer to the weary soul is never an ideology; it is an individual, Jesus Christ. The Gospel is Jesus, the one whom Paul tells us to remember and the one whom we meet in the rightly divided word of truth about him by the power of the Holy Spirit.