Lectionary Commentaries for August 9, 2009
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Gospel

Commentary on John 6:35, 41-51

Brian Peterson

This week the real challenge of preaching John 6 from the Revised Common Lectionary begins.

We face another Sunday in which the Gospel text focuses on a discussion between Jesus and the crowds about bread which comes from Heaven. To make matters more difficult, we have one more Sunday after this one which seems to be yet another round of the same conversation. A diet of bread, week after week, may get rather tiresome and stale — unless careful attention is paid to the movement of John 6.

Verse 35 is included to make the necessary connection back to Jesus’ claim that he himself is the bread of life. The rest of today’s text acts as an explanation of that claim. In last Sunday’s text, the center of attention was upon Jesus as the gift from the Father for the life of the world. Building on that claim, this Sunday’s text focuses on Jesus as the center of faith to which the Father draws people. The movements within chapter 6 for these two Sundays, and for the one that will follow, are certainly interconnected, but they are not identical. Jesus is not simply repeating himself, and John is not writing in circles.

The conversation is getting more and more difficult. In verse 41, the crowds who had made such efforts to find Jesus after he had crossed the lake begin to grumble (NRSV translates this as “complain”), just as Israel in the wilderness had done (for example, Exodus 17:3). Their complaint in verse 42 focuses on the difficulty caused by their own presumed knowledge of Jesus. They conclude that he has not come from Heaven, because they know his parents. Familiarity is breeding contempt. One who has been among them cannot possibly be what Jesus claims to be.

There is theological irony at play here. The crowd’s professed knowledge of Jesus’ “father and mother” only reveals their complete ignorance of the Father who sent Jesus (verse 44). The truth is not found in knowing the human parents who have nurtured Jesus’ childhood. Rather, the truth is found in knowing that Jesus has come from the Father in Heaven. The crowd’s self-assured “knowledge” stands in their way of seeing the truth. We suffer from the same difficulty of seeing beyond what we “know” to be true (about the poor, about ourselves, about the line separating “the saved” from everyone else, etc.), so that we might see the divine Truth among us.

The only way out of such deadly unbelief is to be drawn into faith by the Father, and this activity of the Father is a major focus of today’s text. Once again, the profound and holy mystery of faith is embraced by this text, and we ought to be careful not to unravel it into bland or moralistic pieties. Faith is not simply a human choice to be made, but is the activity of the Father drawing people to Jesus. The word used in verse 44 is the same word used to describe fishing nets being hauled into the boat (21:6). We must be dragged into faith by God; there is no other way to come. But what does that say about the grumblers in this text? What does it say about those around and among us who, to all appearances, have not been drawn to Jesus? What does it say about ourselves, when we recognize our own resistance to faith to be so deep and persistent?

There are no easy answers to such questions, but there is promise and hope in this text’s declaration that God does in fact draw people to faith in Jesus. God is busy doing that right now (“the work of God”, verse 28) through the words of Jesus read in this text and preached from the pulpit. The paradoxical tension in this text between the call to faith and the declaration that faith can come only from God is not something to be untangled but to be heard and believed, and thereby to be drawn by God. Even to the grumblers, Jesus comes as the bread of life, opening our eyes and hearts to new possibilities.

Jesus is hardly making this any easier on the crowds. He had begun by talking about “bread from heaven,” and he was misunderstood. In response to that misunderstanding, Jesus made the claim both clearer and more offensive: “I am the bread of life.” That claim got the people grumbling and complaining at the beginning of today’s text. When people begin to complain about our own statements, the common response is to try and make this point more gently, more acceptable, less open to objection. Instead, Jesus again makes the claim even more bold and offensive. At the end of our text, Jesus defines the bread that he will give as his own flesh. Such a statement seems designed to make people nervous and worried about just what following Jesus might involve.

L. William Countryman (The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel) has called this sort of repeated pattern in John’s Gospel “obnoxious discourse.” Jesus seems intent on making his claims as difficult and offensive as possible. As conversations go on and objections are raised, Jesus does not seem interested in making it easier to swallow. The point here is not that we can use our own offensive speech as a measure of our faithfulness. Rather, the point is that one must follow Jesus on Jesus’ own terms; that’s what it means to be a disciple.

Though there is significant debate about the meaning of “my flesh” in verse 51, it probably points most directly to Jesus’ death on the cross rather than to the Eucharist as the primary referent. If the crowds have been offended by trying to reconcile Jesus’ heavenly claims with Jesus’ familiar parents, what will happen when they are faced with the brutal reality of the cross? The bread from Heaven will give life to the world, astonishingly, by dying for it. This bread of life from Heaven is no “free lunch;” it will cost Jesus his life. Feeding on this bread will bring us as well to the cross (12:32).


First Reading

Commentary on 1 Kings 19:4-8

Sara Koenig

Elijah’s story lends itself well to preaching, with plenty of miraculous deeds and his challenge of the ungodly authority of Ahab and Jezebel.

This particular section, however, may be overshadowed by the more dramatic or better known passages about Elijah, including those that immediately precede and follow it. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah calls down fire from heaven to demonstrate God’s power over Baal. Immediately after our text, Elijah encounters God on Mount Horeb not in the earthquake, wind or fire, but in the sound of sheer silence, traditionally rendered “the still small voice.” He then passes his mantle on to Elisha, whose subsequent deeds of might and power will even overshadow Elijah’s. Indeed, it is significant that the lectionary asks us to pause and consider these lesser emphasized verses in Elijah’s story and acknowledge their enduring relevance for today.

To set the stage, in the preceding first three verses of 1 Kings 19, we are told that Ahab has reported to Jezebel all that Elijah did, and specifically that Elijah killed all the prophets with the sword. Jezebel’s response is to send a messenger to Elijah with a death threat that she vows will be fulfilled in one day. Elijah is afraid, flees for his life, and goes to Beersheba. 1 Kings 19:3 reminds us that Beersheba is under Judah’s control, which means that legally, it is beyond Jezebel’s reach.

Verse 4 begins by telling us that Elijah goes beyond Beersheba, another day, into the wilderness. In terms of geography, he is safe–he is in the land where Jezebel does not rule. In terms of time, he is safe–Jezebel’s death threat was supposed to be fulfilled by this time. But Elijah’s words and actions belie any sense of relief or safety. He sits under a large desert bush (NRSV and NIV: “broom tree”) and asks to die, telling God, “It is too much; now, Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

Elijah’s words have been understood in at least two ways: first, that he is referring to his dead ancestors and wishes to join them in death, and second, that he is referring to his “ancestors” in the prophetic vocation, and specifically Moses,1  who also complained in the wilderness and asked the Lord if he could die (Numbers 11:14-15). That is, Elijah is no better than his prophetic predecessors, who also had heavy burdens they had to bear on their own. Even if Elijah’s reason is not entirely clear, that latter clause is conditioned by the first. Elijah is overwhelmed, and death is preferable to what he faces, to what he has to do, to his tasks.

After making his request, Elijah lies down and sleeps under the bush, but his sleep is interrupted by the touch of an angel who commands him to rise and eat. The Hebrew word for angel, mal’ak, is the same word for messenger used in verse 2, when a mal’ak was sent with Jezebel’s death threat. Thus, there is some narrative tension with this first appearance of the angel. It is not until the mal’ak comes to Elijah “a second time” (1 Kings 19:7) that the text specifies this is an angel of the Lord, and the tension is relieved.

The food that is before Elijah is described as a “cake baked on coals, and a jar of water” (verse 6). The only other place in the Old Testament where we find the Hebrew word used for coals (resapim) is in Isaiah 6:6, referring to the coal that touched Isaiah’s lips to purify him, when Isaiah expressed his dismay at his ability to accept God’s commission. The word used for jar (sapphat) is another uncommon word, appearing only in 1 Samuel 26:10-16 and 1 Kings 17:12-16. In the latter set of texts, it refers to the jar of oil belonging to the widow of Zarephath. Because of God’s provision, that jar miraculously remained full during the drought, and provided food for Elijah and the widow. Thus the very vocabulary used to describe Elijah’s food and drink recall another prophet who felt unworthy, and reminds us of God’s provisions for Elijah in the past.2 

After Elijah eats and drinks the first time, he lies down again, and once again, an angel touches him and commands him to rise and eat (verse 7). During this second encounter, the angel explains the reason why Elijah must eat, “because the way is too much for you.” The Hebrew points us back to Elijah’s complaint in verse 4 that it was “too much” (rab), when the angel uses the same language in his frank assessment of what lies ahead. Elijah has had rab (verse 4), but he is sent on a way that is also rab for him (verse 7).

Many interpreters of this text see Elijah as discouraged, suffering burnout from his ministerial (or prophetic) duties, or even exhibiting signs of depression. Richard Nelson explains, “God’s therapy for prophetic burnout includes both the assignment of new tasks and the certain promise of a future that transcends the prophet’s own success or lack of it.”3  But Leong Seow observes, “Given his attitude, one should expect a divine rebuke. There is not one, however. Instead, there is a series of epiphanies…Elijah’s perspective is strongly challenged, and a lesson is offered to him; but he is never rebuked for showing weakness.”4 

What Elijah receives are practical, tangible provisions that enable him to go “in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights” (verse 8). What is given, then, is sufficient and strengthening. The gospel lectionary for today identifies Jesus as the living bread that came down from heaven (John 6:51). Certainly, the bread of Jesus gives us strength for the journeys in our lives, however difficult or overwhelming they may be.


1Leong Seow, “1 Kings.” New Interpreters Bible Volume III (Nashville: Abingdon, 1999), 140.
2Ibid.
3Richard Nelson, First and Second Kings. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987), 129.
4Seow, 145.


Alternate First Reading

Commentary on 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Ted A. Smith

The long, violent conflict between David and Absalom has finally run its course.

Absalom is dead. David’s kingdom is again secure. And David pours forth his grief: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (33). This is not the long, carefully-composed hymn that David sang to mourn Jonathan and Saul (2 Samuel 1:17-27). It is not the anguished silence with which he mourned the first child he conceived with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:19-23). And David’s words have none of the ambiguity and detachment that marked his plea, just a few verses above, to “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (v. 5). This is the anguished torrent of a father. He does not mourn a “young man.” He mourns “my son,” over and over. He mourns Absalom.

But surely he also sings out of guilt at the role he played in Absalom’s death. When he arranged the murder of Uriah, husband of Bathsheba, he consoled Joab, his partner in the crime, by saying that “the sword devours now one and now another” (2 Samuel 11:25). Those words came back to haunt him when the prophet Nathan announced the consequence of David’s taking of Bathsheba: “the sword shall never depart from your house” (2 Samuel 12:10). Nathan’s words have come painfully true, and David has borne ongoing responsibility for them.

David served as a kind of accomplice when his son Amnon raped Absalom’s sister, Tamar. Even after the rape he did nothing to punish his son. Absalom seethed at this injustice. Eventually he set a trap and killed Amnon. Then he fled, and David refused to see him until Joab and a wise woman from Tekoa worked a kind of reconciliation. Shortly after this moment of reconciliation, though, Absalom started positioning himself to supplant David as king. He won the favor of the people, ascended to the throne, and then continued his war against his father, raping his father’s concubines in full public view (chapters 13-16).

Just as Nathan warned, the sin David tried to keep a secret would be revisited on him in the light of day (12:11). Rivalry between fathers, sons, and brothers has spilled out of its banks and now threatens to drown all involved. Women are swept into this violence as mothers, sisters, lovers, intermediaries, peacemakers, and agents with agendas of their own. David is the victim of all this. But he is also a contributing cause. His river of words at Absalom’s death sings not only of grief, but also of guilt.

David’s guilt comes from his role in these larger processes of violence. But the text hints that it might also have a source much closer to Absalom’s death. Verse 5 underscores the very public nature of David’s command that the troops “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” As a modern commentator has noted, this is “apologetic writing in its most forthright vein.”1  It would absolve David from responsibility for Absalom’s death and attribute it to the rogue actions of his army. It clears the path for Absalom’s followers to show their loyalty to David, and for future readers to continue to revere his name.

David’s words make that apologetic possible. But they also create lethal ambiguity. What would it mean to “deal gently” with the young man? Would it mean to capture him alive? To let him go? To kill him quickly and painlessly? David’s words are open-ended, and Joab does not necessarily misinterpret them when he leads a gang of men in executing Absalom. David has a history of speaking in a code that only Joab can understand. When David wants Bathsheba’s husband killed, he sends a cryptic note to Joab. Joab knows what to do (2 Samuel 11:14-17).

Earlier, when Joab asks David why he let his rival Abner get away, David’s silence tells Joab all he needs to know. He kills Abner without David needing to order it (2 Samuel 3:24-27). Thus David can say — with what those who order torture today might call “plausible deniability” — “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner son of Ner. May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house …” (3:28-29). David curses Joab for the death of Abner, but he does not remove Joab. Neither does he punish Joab immediately after the death of Absalom. Joab is too useful. He can hear what David wants.

We, too, should hear the layers to David’s speech, even in the song of verse 33. He sings not only of grief, but also of guilt. And he is not only sad, but also satisfied — after all, Absalom wanted to kill him. And surely he is relieved — if this terrible episode with Absalom has ended badly, at least it is over. We might even hear in the depths of David’s song his horror at his own guilt, satisfaction, and relief.

The story of David and Absalom can be preached as a kind of mirror to society. This is what it looks like, a preacher might say, when fathers, sons, and brothers jostle for dominance. It is not that such conflict is inevitable between men. And it is not that women are completely without sin. (Suggesting this only masks the power of women to act and so plays into the hands of powers that would keep women from acting.) But it is the case that deep, sinful patterns of male domination help to order the social structures that fuel and channel human violence.

As this story shows, rivalry often drives men to destroy one another, and we — I write as one who is not above this process — bring others down with us. We often do terrible violence to women in our attempts to damage one another. These struggles play out in dining rooms and conference halls as well as battlefields. Men find themselves caught up in rivalrous violence as both victims and perpetrators. Usually our grief and guilt linger just under the surface, festering and unnamed. Acknowledging this grief and guilt is difficult, because its exposure threatens so much of how we understand ourselves and the meaning of our lives.

The structures of violence cannot survive the light of day. A sermon that could help us hear David’s song and sing it ourselves would let in the light that makes rivalry and violence wither. And a sermon that could remember God’s presence in all of this — suffering it with us, judging us out of it, saving us from it — would surely have some gospel in it.2


1P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. II Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes and Commentary, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1984), 405.
2Thanks to Donna Giver Johnston for research assistance and valuable conversations in preparation for this essay.


Psalm

Commentary on Psalm 34:1-8

Nancy deClaissé-Walford

Psalm 34 is classified as an Individual Hymn of Thanksgiving.

Fifteen individual Hymns of Thanksgiving occur in the book of Psalms. In them, psalm singers give thanks to God for deliverance from various life-threatening situations: illness, enemies, and dangers. Two aspects of Psalm 34 intrigue this reader.

First, the superscription of the psalm places it within a particular life situation of King David: “when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.” The only story in the biblical text that might be associated with Psalm 34’s superscription is found in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. There, David fled from Saul and went to King Achish–not Abimelech–at Gath. But Achish recognized him and David was afraid for his life, so he feigned madness to disguise his true identity.

Ascertaining a specific historical event in the life of David in which to place Psalm 34 is not as important as using the setting to gain insight into the meaning and intent of the psalm. In Psalm 34, David praises God for deliverance from a life-threatening situation–perhaps his encounter with King Achish of Gath, later remembered as Abimelech.

Second, Psalm 34 is an alphabetic acrostic. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostic poems were the works of highly skilled literary artists and functioned in ancient Israelite literature in a number of ways. Acrostics were most likely memory devices to aid in private and public–that is, individual and corporate–recitation; in addition, literarily, they summarized all that could be said or that needed to be said about a particular subject, summing it up from alif to tav, from A to Z. Adele Berlin suggests further that in an acrostic, the entire alphabet−the source of all words−is marshaled in praise of God. One cannot actually use all of the words in a language, but by using the alphabet one uses all potential words.

Thus, Psalm 34 is an individual hymn of thanksgiving of David sung on the occasion of the deliverance of his very life by God, perhaps as the ultimate word about God’s help to those who are in need (a summary of all that could be said about God’s help in the face of oppression and hurt). Readers and hearers, then, should heed the words of Psalm 34, a song of thanksgiving for deliverance and find in them hope for deliverance from various oppressive situations. In the focus text, Psalm 34:1-8, the psalmist first offers praise to God:

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD (1-2).

Blessing and praising God are common themes in the Psalter. The word “bless” comes from the same root as the Hebrew word “knee.” Thus, to bless is literally “to bend the knee”–to kneel before a sovereign. The words “praise” and “boast” come from the same Hebrew root word, the word that occurs in the phrase “hallelujah.” Thus, praise will be in the mouth of psalmist; while the psalmist’s inmost being (here translated as “soul”) finds its praise (“boasts”) in the Lord.
The psalm singer then states the reasons for offering praise to God:
I sought the LORD and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears. (4)
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,
and was saved from every trouble. (6)

Two more common themes of the Psalter occur in these verses. God delivers (natsal) and God saves (yashah) the psalm singer when the singer cries out to God. The two verbs are similar in meaning, but carry slightly different nuances of meaning. Natsal suggests a “snatching away” or “pulling away.” Thus, we may picture God plucking the psalmist out of midst of fears and moving the psalmist to a safer place. Yashah means “to take full care of” or “to help,” suggesting that God enters the troubled situation of the psalmist and cares for the psalmist in the midst of the trouble. Note that the word “soul” occurs in verse 6, just as it does in verse 2. The inmost being (soul) of the psalmist cried out to God and was cared for (verse 6) and thus finds its praise (boasts) in the Lord.

Finally, the singer exhorts hearers/readers to join in praise of God’s deliverance with words of admonition:
O magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together. (3)
Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed. (5)
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and delivers them.
O taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him. (7-8)

The words of verse 8 are familiar words, but what does it mean to “taste and see” the goodness of the Lord? The word translated as “taste,” means “to try something by experiencing it.” The psalm singer admonishes readers/hearers to try God’s goodness for themselves and experience it as one would taste a new food. The word is used in the same metaphoric way in Job 11:12 and Proverbs 31:18. Tasting is one of our five senses. Seeing is another. We see the goodness of God powerfully displayed in the created world. Recall that in Genesis 1, after each creative act, God “saw” that it was good. And at the end of the creation story, God saw that creation was not just good, but that it was “very good.” Psalm 34 encourages us to experience God for ourselves and to open our eyes and see the goodness of God that is all around us.

Verse 8 ends with the words, “Happy are those who take refuge in him.” The word translated here as “take refuge” means “to hide oneself.” This writer pictures a small child wrapped up in its parent’s arms–protected, warm, loved. The result? Happiness. The word “happy” occurs some twenty-five times in the Psalter (see 1:1; 2:12; 41:1; 65:4; 112:1, etc.). Some translations render the word as “blessed,” others as “happy.” Another option for translation is “content.” Taking refuge in God–being protected, warm, and loved–can result in a deep, inner sense of contentment, a feeling in the very depth of your being that all is well. Content, indeed, are those who allow themselves to be wrapped up in the arms of God.


Second Reading

Commentary on Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Susan Hylen

The opening word of the passage (in Greek, dio, “for this reason”) is a reminder to situate these instructions in their context in Ephesians.

The immediate context recalls the transformation of those who are in Christ: “You were taught to put away your former way of life… and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to clothe yourself with the new self” (4:22-24). In verse 25, the words “putting away falsehood” echo the putting away of one’s former way of life. The new life experienced in Christ is meant to have far-reaching effects, and it is precisely those effects that are elaborated in 4:25-5:2.

In the larger context of the letter, the gift of God in Christ has brought about reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles, creating one community, which the author describes metaphorically both as Christ’s “body” (e.g., 1:22-23) and as a building (2:21-22). Both metaphors are pertinent to the language of this passage, which reminds the reader that “we are members one of another” (4:25) and emphasizes “what is useful for building up” (4:29; cf. 4:12, 16). The behavior of the faithful should reflect the grace of God in Christ, and should benefit the community as a whole.

The instructions that follow focus on the power of speech. The writer cautions the reader about anger. Verse 26 quotes Ps 4:4 (LXX): “Be angry but do not sin.” The phrasing is not meant as an exhortation to anger, but is more likely conditional: “If you are angry, do not sin.” Anger is understood as a normal part of human emotional experience, yet also as an occasion for temptation (making “room for the devil,” verse 27). The solution is the limitation of anger: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (verse 26). Living with anger for an extended period is likely to lead to sin. In a later verse, the writer uses five different words that all indicate some variety of anger, perhaps in an order that suggests escalation: “bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander” (verse 31). All these are to be put away, as all represent a threat to the growth of the body.

The church has often had difficulty teaching about anger. While this passage and others sound an important cautionary note about the effects of anger on the community, too often the message has been that anger should be swallowed or ignored. The irony is that, in trying to act like “good Christians” who do not experience anger, anger that does exist often goes underground where it festers and creates more serious problems. The results can be easy to spot. In many congregations, what began as a small incident sometimes lingers for years because of the anger that exists on either side, anger that is never expressed. The situation applies to individuals within congregations as well as to conflicts between groups. Pastors and other leaders in the church often exacerbate the problem by skirting around the issue in order to avoid conflict themselves. Yet the “peace” that results is not rightly called “peace.” Sometimes it is “détente,” but other times it is barely contained hostility.

The passage itself contains a helpful corrective to this, in the opening maxim, “let all of us speak truth to our neighbors” (verse 25). The wording here reflects the earlier language of the chapter, which is also helpful: “Speaking the truth in love, let us grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (4:15). Speaking the truth in love can be a healing strategy in a situation of anger. Such speech identifies the situation for what it is, calling others to account, giving voice to feelings, and confessing one’s own participation in wrong-doing. When anger is the framework for such truth telling, the division of the body often results. Yet when love is the framework, healing can result. Even situations that seem intractable or unpardonable are sometimes transformed by this approach.

Other language within the passage helps to flesh out the notion of speaking the truth in love. Believers are to speak only “what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (verse 29). The reader is also exhorted to be kind (or “generous”), tenderhearted (or “compassionate”), and forgiving of one another (verse 32). Just as the list related to anger in verse 31 may increase in intensity, so also the attributes of verse 32 may be sequential, with a generous heart giving way to compassion, leading toward true forgiveness.

The ultimate call is to imitate both God and Christ (5:1-2), whose love has been central to the message of Ephesians (cf. 2:4; 3:19) and is meant to characterize the life of faith (1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15, 16). Although the command to “imitate” in the New Testament more commonly refers to the imitation of Christ or Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6), the call to imitate God is consistent with the viewpoint of Ephesians. Just as the Christian community was “created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24), so here the “new self” of the believer is formed by the imitation of God. God’s love and reconciliation brought about though Christ should be formative of Christian life.

Even with the transformative effects of the love of God, the writer of Ephesians recognizes that sin does not disappear. The persistence of sin is not an indictment of the transformation itself but a reflection of human frailty. Many of the New Testament writings deal at length with the persistence of sin within the body of Christ. The language of 4:28, “Thieves must give up stealing” is a reminder that even thieves are to be found within the body–along with people doing every other act that is clearly identified as sin by both the Old and New Testaments. Ephesians provides an opportunity to address these practical and spiritual concerns in a way that “promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love” (4:16).