Lectionary Commentaries for July 28, 2013
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 11:1-13

Elisabeth Johnson

Luke, more than any other evangelist, demonstrates the importance of prayer in Jesus’ life and ministry (3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 9:18, 9:28, 10:21-22, 11:1, 22:41-4, 23:46).

Luke 11 begins with Jesus “praying in a certain place.” When he has finished praying, one of his disciples asks, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (11:1). In response, Jesus offers a three-part teaching, including a model prayer, a parable about prayer, and some sayings about prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus’ prayer and the teaching that follows are mutually illuminating. Jesus invites his disciples into a deeply personal relationship with God, encouraging them to call upon God using the same name he uses — Abba, Father. He invites his disciples to call upon God as children call upon a loving parent, trusting that they belong to God and that God wants for them what is good and life giving.

Jesus’ sayings in 11:11-13 reinforce this invitation. If human parents, with all their faults, know how to give their children gifts that are good for them, how much more will the heavenly Father give good gifts to his children who ask of him, including and especially the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Jesus also invites his disciples to pray that God’s name be hallowed or kept holy (hagiastheto). The passive voice indicates that we ask God to hallow God’s own name, to act in such a way that God’s name is held in honor. The petitions that follow flesh out what this means. When God’s name is hallowed and God’s kingdom comes, there is daily bread for all, forgiveness is practiced, and God delivers the faithful from the time of trial.

The Shameless Friend
To illustrate that God can be trusted to respond to our prayers, Jesus tells the parable of the friend who calls at midnight. Hospitality was of paramount importance in the biblical world, and when a guest arrived — even unexpected, even at midnight — there was no question that hospitality must be extended. So when the man in the story finds himself without enough bread for his guest, he goes to a friend and asks to borrow some, even though he must wake up his friend’s entire household.

“Do not bother me,” the friend answers from within. “The door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything” (11:7). Hearers today might empathize with the woken-up friend and think that the midnight caller is pushing the limits of friendship. But in the culture of the biblical world, it is the woken-up friend who is behaving badly. The ability of his friend to provide hospitality, and thus his honor, is at stake.

Jesus says that the man will eventually respond to his friend’s request, not because he is a friend, but because of his friend’s shamelessness (better translation of anaideia than the NRSV’s “persistence”) (11:8). His friend displays no shame in asking for help to meet the requirements of hospitality. The woken-up friend would incur dishonor if he failed to help his neighbor in this essential obligation. So he will respond because of social pressure at the very least.

Jesus’ parable implies that if it is so among friends with their mixed motives and self-interest, how much more so with God who wants to give us what is good and life-giving, and who is invested in keeping God’s name holy.

Asking, Seeking, Knocking
Jesus continues: “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (11:9-10).

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the passage to preach because our experience contradicts Jesus’ words. So often we have asked and not received; we have searched and not found. In spite of our most fervent prayers for their health and safety, we have lost loved ones to cancer and senseless accidents. In spite of the fervent prayers of people around the world, daily we hear of tragedies of violence, hunger, disease, and natural disasters.

If God is like a loving parent who desires to give what is good and life giving (11:11-13), why do so many prayers seem to go unanswered?

There is no simple answer to this question, though simple answers are often given. One answer given is that it only seems that God has not answered our prayers; God always answers, but sometimes says no.

There are times, perhaps, when that is the case. We do not always ask wisely, and God, to be a truly loving God, must refuse our request. Yet this explanation cannot account for the many cases in which our requests must surely be in tune with God’s will. Scripture bears witness to God’s will that everyone have enough to eat and that violence and war cease. Jesus tells us to pray for daily bread and for God’s kingdom to come. Yet millions continue to go hungry and wars rage on.

Another explanation often given to the problem of unanswered prayer is that “everything happens for a reason.” God has some purpose in everything that happens. No matter how bad it may seem, it is all part of God’s plan to bring about some higher good.

This is a troubling explanation, to say the least, as it holds that whatever happens must be God’s will. One would then have to say that all kinds of evil — such as violence, torture, starvation, and premature death — are the will of God. We dare not call the tragic results of our own sin and rebellion “God’s will.”

Of course we believe that God can bring good out of evil. Indeed, this is our only hope and the heart of our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. But that is quite a different thing from saying that whatever evil thing happens is God’s will.

What then can we say about unanswered prayer? It is wise to be wary of saying more than we can possibly know. We can, however, affirm what Scripture tells us: that God is all-powerful, yet God is not the only power in the world. There are other powers at work, the powers of Satan and his demons, the powers of evil and death, often manifested in human sin. Although God has won the ultimate victory over these powers through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the battle still rages on. Consequently, God’s will can be — and often is — thwarted.

Why bother to pray, then, if God’s will can be thwarted? Again we affirm what Scripture tells us, and particularly what Jesus tells us in this passage: that we are invited into relationship with a loving God who wants to give us life, and who continues to work tirelessly for our redemption and that of all creation.

We dare to be shameless in our prayers, to keep bringing our needs and hopes to our heavenly Father, because Jesus tells us to do so, trusting in God’s loving purpose for us. Not everything that happens is God’s will. But we can affirm with St. Paul, “in all things God works for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

First Reading

Commentary on Genesis 18:20-32

Sara M. Koenig

Whenever we think about or talk about God, there is a wonderful tension between certainty and mystery.

On the one hand we know God because we have God’s own revelation. We draw on the witness of scripture. We experience God at work in our own world and in our own lives. We use our reason and ecclesiastical traditions to develop frameworks for understanding who God is and how God can be expected to behave and act.

But on the other hand, at some level, God remains mysterious. This gets expressed in pithy expressions that warn against putting God in a box or forgetting the distinction between the Creator and the creatures. If God is God, and we are humans, how can we ultimately understand God’s nature and God’s ways? Scripture itself confronts us with those messy texts where God acts in ways that cannot be rationally explained away.

Moreover, we have those life experiences of God allowing — or causing — things to happen that defy our understanding of a good or powerful God. Particularly in those cases, the clash between certainty (God is good, God is powerful) and mystery (why do bad things happen?) can be painful.1 Abraham, however, seems to gracefully balance that tension, and for that reason Abraham in this text is such a wonderful model how to approach God.

This lectionary selection begins with God’s statement about Sodom and Gomorrah, but would have been well served to start in verse 17, with God’s question to God’s self. Not only is it rare — and important! — to read God’s internal dialogue, but as God muses about Abraham, God explains that Abraham has been chosen (literally, “known”) so that his descendants will keep God’s way to do justice and righteousness (18:19). Those theme of justice and righteousness becomes an important reason why Abraham intercedes the way he does.

Abraham understands God as one who will act justly and righteously, and that understanding emboldens Abraham to pray the way he does. Still, one of the benefits of the lectionary selection beginning with verse 20 is how it illustrates that prayer can start with God’s words, and not only need to begin with human initiative. The gospel lectionary this week from Luke includes Luke’s introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. This text is another, albeit different, example of how to pray.

We notice that this section of the text does not go into the specific details of Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin. In fact, Genesis 19 is not included in the Revised Common Lectionary, nor is Ezekiel 16, where verse 49 details Sodom’s sin as arrogance, an abundance of food and ease without care of the poor and needy. What this text does say, in generalities, is that their sin is very heavy, and the outcry against them has come to God (18:20).

When the three men leave, Abraham is still standing before the Lord. He draws near, and asks if God will destroy the righteous with the wicked (18:23). The Hebrew interrogative with the particle ha’ap can either be translated as “indeed,” or “really,” either one suggesting that Abraham is incredulous at this possibility. Will God really do such a thing? Indeed, could God do such a thing?

In verse 24, Abraham repeats that, and then in verse 25 he uses another exclamation, halilah, often translated as “far be it,” or “never.” These minor words of Abraham point to the way that Abraham understands God to operate within a certain framework, that God would surely not destroy righteous or refuse to forgive. Abraham’s question in 18:25 is based on this, “Shall not the judge of all the earth act justly?”

The mystery is preserved, however, in the fact that Abraham asks this of God as a question and does not state this as a bald fact. Additionally, in verse 24 Abraham uses the particle ‘ûlay, translated as “perhaps.” Perhaps there will be a certain number of righteous people in the city. Perhaps God will be merciful. That same word occurs in Jonah 1:6 when the sailors say in the middle of the storm, “Perhaps God will take notice of us, and we will not die.” “Perhaps” can express hope, or it can express fear or doubt. It does not express certainty.

Another example of the tension between certainty and mystery is in God’s own word, “if,” repeated in verse 26 (“if I find fifty”), verse 28 (“if I find forty-five”) and verse 30 (“if I find thirty”).2 Could it be that God genuinely does not know how many righteous people are in the city? If so, that would call into question God’s omniscience. Or, does God know that there are less than ten righteous in the city, and merely go along with Abraham’s attempt at bargaining for some other reason?

If so, that would suggest that Abraham’s conversation with God has no effect whatsoever on God, and God is less than honest in how God speaks to him. Neither possibility is terribly satisfying, and this aspect of the passage illustrates how it may be better to stay in that space between what we can say with certainty about God, and what remains mysterious.

But the repetition of the particle, ‘abur, “for the sake of,” affirms that God is a God who acts for the sake of, on behalf of others. This word occurs in verses 26, 29, and 32, when God says that God will not destroy (or, “I will not do it”) for the sake of the forty, the twenty or the ten righteous. Based on God’s own words, we can say with certainty that God does not operate in a vacuum but out of concern and care for the sake of the righteous.


  1. Abraham’s language in 18:27, that he is but “dust and ashes” calls to mind Job 42:6, when Job is comforted concerning his humanity, his state of “dust and ashes.”
  2. Interestingly, God does not say “if” regarding the numbers forty, twenty, or ten.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Hosea 1:2-10

David G. Garber, Jr.

Preaching and teaching from the prophets is already difficult.

The task becomes all the more complicated when the prophets use language and metaphors that conflict with modern sensibilities about gender, marriage, and sexuality.

On the surface, it seems obvious why Hosea would choose marriage imagery to convey the intimate relationship between God and God’s people, as marriage still represents one of the most poignant relationships throughout human culture. When one slows down to read the representation of marriage in this passage of Scripture, however, our current cultural definitions of marriage (in flux as they are) come into direct conflict with the ancient Israelite understanding.

While marriage still represents a covenant, especially in the Christian community, most now view marriage as a relationship into which both parties willingly enter. In the ancient patriarchal world, however, marriage constituted a covenant relationship between two unequal parties. Certainly the male party to the covenant in the ancient world possessed more authority. In this passage, the sole focus is on Hosea’s faithfulness to the covenant and Gomer’s unfaithfulness, reinforcing the misogynistic stereotype of the sympathetic male and a disobedient, unwholesome female.1

The metaphor in Hosea 1:2-10 operates within these unequal characterizations of gender. Because the prophet must take for himself a wife of “whoredom” (NRSV), the power dynamics within the relationship automatically construct an image of a sympathetic, noble male character, who must lower himself to marrying a woman of ill repute, further complicating an already unequal partnership. The term traditionally translated as “whoredom” comes from the Hebrew root znh, which carries connotations of prostitution, but also of general promiscuity, or even simple disobedience and anger.

For example, in the horrific story of the Levite’s concubine in Judges 19, the term for the woman’s anger is the verbal form of znh, although there do not seem to be any sexual exploits involved in her flight from her husband. Znh does not necessarily imply the exchange of goods or capital for sexual service. More likely, it is much closer to the slang English usage of the term “whore,” which can possibly designate a prostitute, but also commonly refers to either a promiscuous person or someone, usually female, who is merely displeasing in some other way.

By asking Hosea to marry such a woman, the text suggests that the woman is inherently base and almost unlovable. Verse 2, then, sets up the elements of the metaphor. Hosea equals God, and Gomer equals Israel. The metaphor requires its ancient audience to sympathize with God as a long-suffering and offended male and condemn Israel as an undesirable and inherently rebellious woman. Although this is a metaphor, it still has the dangerous, and often realized, potential of reinforcing patriarchal understandings of gender.

As if this were not enough of an unpleasant picture, God then commands Hosea to give horrible names to the three children produced by his marriage to Gomer: Jezreel, Lo-ruhammah, and Lo-Ammi. Jezreel’s name in Hebrew means “God sows” and recalls the name “Israel.” The valley of Jezreel also would evoke for Hosea’s audience the violent overthrow of the Israelite king Joram by Jehu, and the gruesome prophecy that the dogs would eat the body of Jezebel, Joram’s mother (another woman the text holds in ill-repute), in the valley of Jezreel (2 Kings 9:6-10).

The second child is a daughter named Lo-ruhammah, which means “no compassion.” There seems to be another wordplay at work here in the root, rechem, whose noun form means “womb.” This symbolic name therefore could signify God’s withholding of compassion from Israel as well as Israel’s own infertility. Finally, Hosea names the third child, Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people.” Within the metaphor, God disowns the chosen people for their sins: “you are not my people, and I am not your God” (verse 9).

This harsh rhetoric was neither lost on the original collectors of the Hosea tradition, nor on the editors of the Revised Common Lectionary. Verse 10 constitutes a radical reversal that offers hope. While Israel will pass through the judgment of God’s rejection, God will ultimately redeem Israel, once more calling them “Children of the living God.” While this probably is a later, post-exilic redaction, verse 10 still draws upon the Hosea tradition to offer a transformative word of hope and ultimate blessing.

This word of hope continues in 1:11 and 2:1 in a passage that portrays God gathering together the people of both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, who will once again see God’s compassion, be called God’s people, and inhabit their land.

Making the move to the preaching task with this passage is quite problematic. Even with the words of hope at the end of the passage, the preacher and congregation must still wrestle with the metaphor that has dangerous implications for our perceptions of gender and our understanding of God as merciful and compassionate.

I have often heard students and colleagues suggest that preachers and teachers could “flip the metaphor.” In other words, we could speak of God as a spurned wife and Israel as a promiscuous husband. Doing so, however, only holds up a mirror to our sometimes implicit and often explicit residual patriarchy that still tends to forgive male sexual exploits while holding women more accountable. Another way to “manage” this text is to say simply that it was a metaphor that would have communicated clearly to its ancient Israelite audience. What we must do, therefore, is extract the meaning from the metaphor and cast the metaphor aside, like husking an ear of corn. The passage emphasizes, then, God’s ultimate displeasure with God’s people for abandoning their covenant obligations to God and to each other.

While this is certainly a tempting option, current understandings of how metaphors operate suggest that the residual impact of the metaphor cannot be so easily forgotten nor dismissed. In moving from interpretation to proclamation with this text, it may be best to expose the weaknesses of the metaphor and its theology, lest our language somehow implicitly condone patterns of speech that continue to support misogynistic worldviews.


1For a fuller discussion of the representation of evil as female, see Gale Yee, Poor Banished Children of Eve: Women as Evil in the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).


Commentary on Psalm 138

James K. Mead

Is it realistic to have faith?

To some folks, that description might seem far too weak. For faith, they would say, ought to be optimistic. There is indeed something to be said for a confident and hopeful trust in God; however, most of us are wary of a facile optimism that leaves no room for wrestling with the bad things that befall us.

On the other end of the spectrum, having a pessimistic faith surely proves inadequate as a desired goal for Christian experience. As pastors and teachers contemplate using Psalm 138 for proclamation and instruction this Lord’s Day, I would submit that realistic faith works quite well for the biblical witness of this psalm.

Several scholars have noted structural markers in this modified individual thanksgiving psalm,[1] be it the “inclusion” formed by the Hebrew word hesed (“steadfast love,” verses 2, 8),[2] or the chiastic framing of the “generalizing, world-inclusive, expansive stanza” (verses 4-6) by the first-person speech of verses 1-3 and 7-8.[3] For proclamation, the NRSV paragraphing of three stanzas works well, each having roughly seven verbal phrases.

I would call attention to the predominantly positive tone throughout the psalm, except for the conclusion of each stanza. To be sure, the seventh element of the first stanza, translated by the NRSV as “you increased my strength of soul” (verse 3b) sounds nice, but the Hebrew text is not so clear, perhaps literally meaning, “you made me arrogant in my soul with strength” (NRSV textual note). Such a translation fits with sentiments in other psalms (30:6-7) and with the seventh element in stanzas two and three: “but the haughty he perceives from far away” (verse 6b); and “do not forsake the work of your hand” (verse 8c).

The general tone of praise and thanksgiving is thus held in tension with the realistic faith of these elements, wherein disciples must be realistic about aspects of our uncertain world. One way of guiding worshipers through this balance is by first “majoring in the major” theme and then acknowledging the necessity of realism about the “minor” theme.

The praiseworthy character of a faithful God
Keeping in line with the structural cues, it is clear that the major message of the psalm is positive and hopeful. God is given praise with respect to three spheres: in the presence of an unseen, divine realm (verses 1-3); in relation to the visible realm of kings and nations (4-6); and in light of one’s personal encounter with enemies (7-8).

Another way to think about the content of the psalm is to illustrate God’s attributes and actions of God. God’s name and word is exalted (verse 2, 4); God hears and answers prayer (verse 3; see today’s gospel reading from Luke 11); God’s glory is evident to all (verse 5); and God’s deliverance actively achieves God’s purposes (verses 7-8a). It is important for disciples of Jesus to recognize this principal witness of the Bible, to “major in the major” by embracing the praise of God among the people of God.

Worship is the goal of human history and a (if not the) primary calling of the church. This outlook need not be confined to times of plenty, for we are reminded by Paul to “give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). A realistic faith capitalizes on the so-called “good times” by growing deep in the knowledge of the Triune God whose kingdom rule is sure. This growth prepares believers for the “bad times” when doubts arise and it is difficult to identify, much less rejoice in, what is praiseworthy.

The prayer-worthy character of an uncertain world
On to the “minor” theme. The college where I teach does not require all students to minor in an academic discipline, but most of them choose one or more subjects as a minor focus. Similarly, while the church community makes its praise of God a central priority, it is nevertheless part of our calling to prepare disciples to face the world with realistic faith. The “strength of soul” (NRSV) spoken of in verse 3 could have the unintended result of personal pride, making us — along with others — the object of God’s “far away” perception of our haughtiness (verse 6).

The internal and external striving that leads to so much trouble places us ever in the need of the closing petition: “Do not forsake the work of your hands” (verse 8). For all of the praise we gladly offer God on this side of the consummation, we will continue to be “standing in the need of prayer.” The irony of this psalm’s high view of God’s person and works is its insistence that God’s “exaltation above all does not entail his distance from us” in our lowly estate (verse 6).[4] God’s word and ways (verses 4-5) ensure that justice will finally overcome all that is fallen in the world, as much as we might struggle to understand how that justice is meted out (see the OT lection from Genesis 18:20-32).

We cannot finally access the original setting of this psalm or know precisely how it was regularly employed in Israel’s worship. Psalm 138’s distinctive emphasis on kings offering praise may mean that this psalm was composed by or for a king or governor.[5] Whatever its origin, all believers can sing and pray this psalm today with a realistic faith that lives between grief and joy, between unemployment and meaningful work, between loneliness and deep friendship, between an unrealized goal and its successful achievement.

[1] It has some elements typical of Individual Thanksgiving but a less-developed account of rescue. SeeFrank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 3: A Commentary on Psalms 101-150, Hermeneia, trans. Linda M. Maloney (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), 528.

[2] Konrad Schaefer, Psalms, Berit Olam (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2001), 324.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Craig C. Broyles, Psalms, NIBC (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 482.

[5] John Goldingay, Psalms: Volume 3: Psalms 90-150 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 616, 622.

Second Reading

Commentary on Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]

Richard Carlson

This can be a very challenging passage to interpret. It contains a number of rather unique images and metaphors, uses words and concepts that are rare or unique in the New Testament, and unfolds in very dense sentences populated with numerous subordinate clauses.

What is most important to realize when dealing with this passage in particular (though it also applies to much of Colossians) is that this author (probably not Paul) is writing to warn his audience about the false teachings of some who claim that in order be in full relationship with God one needs to have mystical visions and ecstatic experience as they have had. Thus the author is opposing those who see themselves as being on a higher spiritual plane or are more fully with God because of their visionary experiences.

In this text, the author will argue two related points, one positive and one negative. Positively, he wants to let his audience know that they are already fully experiencing a relationship with God because of what God has done for them in Jesus Christ. Negatively, he seeks to make it quite clear that these vision quests and their requirement are not only unnecessary but are detrimental in a number of ways.

The brunt of the negative arguments are in 2:8, 16-19, which are introduced with negative warnings or commands (“see to it,” 2:8; “don’t let anyone judge you,” 2:16; “don’t let any disqualify you,” 2:18). In 2:8 such teachers are imaged as those who take people captive as booty or as prisoners. Their teachings are classified as empty and deceitful philosophy whose standards are human tradition or elementary concepts rather than according to the standard of Christ.

In 2:16 the audience is told that these visionaries pass judgments against others on the basis of their use of food, drink, and special days to enhance their ecstatic experiences. In 2:18 they are imaged as judges in an athletic contest who disqualify participants when they do not have the same experiences as they have had. In light of such wrong outlooks and insistences, the author concludes that they are arrogant with minds attuned to sinful things and have detached themselves from Christ, who is the unifying head of the Church (2:18b-19).

In emphatic distinction to such theological practices and judgments, the author presents extensive explanations of Christ’s reality and so our reality in Christ. It is important to note that at least six times the phrase in him/whom is used wherein the object of the preposition is Christ (2:6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and possibly 2:16). This builds on the previous nine uses of “in Christ/in him” (1:2, 4, 14, 16, 17, 19, 22, 28; 2:3) wherein Christ is either the sphere of reality in which we now dwell or Christ is the person in whom God is actively at work.

Thus in 2:6-7 the audience is exhorted to make their conduct reflective of the reality in which they now dwell (which is Christ) by continuing to be rooted (agricultural image) and built up (architectural image) in this Christ reality. In 2:9 the emphatic theological claim is made that all the fullness or entirety of God’s deity dwells in Christ (expanding on the previous claim in 1:19). For the recipients this means that they have been continuously made full in Christ (2:10a). The Greek construction of 2:10a highlights that this is an ongoing divine reality and activity that was initiated in the past and continues into their present and future. Hence the opposing claims of the visionaries are both false and ludicrous.

In 2:10b and 2:19 Christ is imaged as the head (recalling 1:18). Thus Christ is the supreme ruler over every human and cosmic ruler and power (2:10b), an anti-imperial declaration that counters Roman propaganda that the gods have made them the rulers over the inhabited world. Ecclesiologically, Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body so that Christ is the unifying reality, and the nourishing force of our communal existence (2:19; also see 1:18, 24; 2:17; 3:15).

In 2:11-15 the author uses the imagery of circumcision and the actual rite of baptism to describe our former and current realities. All who were baptized (gender inclusive) experienced a type of circumcision in that they were inaugurated into God’s people and transferred out of the realm where sin enslaves our existence (2:11 recalling the claims of 1:13-14). By depicting this as the circumcision of Christ (2:11b), the author is highlighting that Christ is our new reality and identity.

This also sets up his claim that in baptism we were both buried and raised with Christ (2:12a). Here the author is drawing on Paul’s understanding of baptism in Romans 6:1-7 with one prominent theological shift. In Paul’s view we are not yet raised with Christ whereas the author of Colossians understands our resurrection with Christ to have happened via baptism (thus one of the prime indicators that our author is not Paul).

Unfortunately almost all English translations miss the further claim of verse 12b of which the NRSV is typical: “you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” In such a translation the means for our resurrection with Christ was our faith. The actual thrust of 2:12b, however, is that our resurrection with Christ was through the faithfulness of God’s who also raised Christ from the dead. Thus the whole emphasis in 2:10-15 is on divine activity that determines and shapes our reality.

Finally in 2:13-15 God eliminated our former reality in which we were dead in sinful conduct and made us alive by forgiving our sinful conduct. Thus God expunged the heavenly record of our sinfulness by nailing it to the cross where God also disarmed human and cosmic rulers and powers (recalling the claim of 2:10). In a closing flourish he draws on imagery from a Roman triumph in which the defeated imperial enemies are publicly paraded to demonstrate their defeat and disgrace as well as the power and honor of the Roman military. Ironically (even paradoxically), this grand, sweeping divine victory over the rulers and powers occurred in Christ’s crucifixion.