Lectionary Commentaries for November 8, 2020
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Matthew 25:1-13

Dirk G. Lange

The fairy tale ending we all hope for does not happen in this parable.1

In fact, many of the parables contradict our hopes, our expectations, even our values. But surprisingly, they also contradict our deep-seated fears and insecurities. How much easier it would be to preach these Matthean parables if the Bridegroom or the Master were more generous and inviting. Attempts, of course, have been made to re-write the ending but that is not the preacher’s task.

This parable (part of the eschatological discourse), along with the other “watchful” parables in the preceding chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, challenge our quickly made assumptions about judgment, grace and the end times. It would be too easy, as we have witnessed in the history of interpretation, to allegorize the characters in this parable in terms of simply good and bad. The definitions we give “good” and “bad” have always reflected our own prejudices more than they have faithfully represented Gospel truth. Even the oil in the lamps has been denominationally (and unfortunately polemically) interpreted as works (you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven without good works) or faith (you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven without faith). We are challenged to move beyond these simplistic bipolarities.

The Matthean community is, of course, dealing with several issues—rupture from the synagogue, a delayed parousia, flagging vigilance. What is striking in this parable, which appears to focus on the severity of judgment, is the confinement of judgment to one character—the bridegroom. Judgment is reserved to the only one who can judge (see Romans 14 but also Matthew 7). Even the wise young women do not judge the foolish one; they merely refuse to share their oil and send the foolish women to the shopkeepers. The history of interpretation, of course, has not remained faithful to this reserve. It has quickly assigned qualities to the foolish and the wise and lifted these qualities up as virtues and vices. In other words, the tradition has continually judged who is good and bad.

The young women were all waiting for the bridegroom. They all belonged to the same community, the same group of friends. They all fall asleep waiting for the bridegroom to come. Within the community, it is impossible to tell who has enough oil in their lamps, who has been more faithful. This is not for us to see or to judge. The church remains always a mixed community. Making the center of interpretation the issue of foolish or wise would miss the point of the parable. The so-called foolish young women also knew the bridegroom, calling out to him “Lord, Lord, open to us!” (verse 11).

That they remain unrecognized by the bridegroom raises the question of knowledge in the parable. What is it to know the bridegroom? What is it to recognize the one called “Lord?”

The cry “Lord, Lord,” takes us back to the earlier chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). And, of course, the lamps (or torches) recall other words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (5:16).

Living or waiting (maybe even sleeping) with enough oil in our lamps, when set in the context of these earlier chapters, suggests that it is the spirit of the beatitudes that, above all else, characterizes those who recognize the bridegroom, the Lord. This spirit is the spirit of the cross that disrupts all of our categories, all of our judgmental predispositions. The life into which the beatitudes invite us is a life not centered on our works, not on our faith, but on the cross and how God is glorified through our lives.

The holy possession of the cross (as Luther calls the seventh mark of the church) is not really a possession (as if we “owned” the cross or some special access to God). It is a life that is characterized by choices that make it clear God is the actor and the giver of life. In Luther’s words, a community that is characterized by the holy possession of the cross is a community that knows suffering: “They must endure every misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil from the devil, the world, and the flesh (as the Lord’s Prayer indicates) by inward sadness, timidity, fear, outward poverty, contempt, illness, and weakness, in order to become like their head, Christ.” This description hardly fits what we would imagine under the nomenclature “wise young women,” yet in the context of Matthew’s Gospel, this is precisely the suggestion.

Those who are enduring misfortune, even poverty, for Christ’s sake are not the one who will be quick to judge others. Judgment is now purely reserved for God who alone knows or recognizes each individual. Grace is in the cross that lets shine forth a light, a light so unique that people do not praise our good works but rather praise God who is acting and giving life in the midst of suffering, life in the midst of death, opening the door to those who have engaged the way of the cross, who have engaged the way of death. The world cannot understand this way. It does not recognize the Lord though it continually cries out, “Lord, Lord!”

The parousia becomes not a one-time event at some “end point” but rather a continuous event that involves us, the community of Christ, in our baptismal vocation: living in the light of the cross, in mercy not judgment. The feast to which we are invited is, in the words of Philipp Nicholai  (who used this parable as a primary metaphor in the hymn “Wake, Awake”), the Abendmahl—the Lord’s Supper. The parousia is now not about a far-off event but Christ’s continual presence with us through all of our waiting.


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 9, 2008.

First Reading

Commentary on Amos 5:18-24

Charles L. Aaron, Jr.

How would a typical congregation feel if the members truly heard these words of the prophet?

God as a wild, predatory animal? God turning the divine back on the church’s liturgy, holding the divine nose, plugging the divine ears, clamping the divine eyes shut to ignore the acts of worship offered up by the people? Which image would prove more devastating? Would the fearful image of God as a dangerous lion or God showing disdain for the worship of the church hurt more deeply?

If the prophet intended these words to gain the attention of the hearers, he certainly chose startling scenes. One can assume that the original audience felt beleaguered by the threat of the Assyrians, so that they anticipated the now mysterious “Day of the Lord” as vindication and triumph. Amos turns their expectation on its head. The day of the Lord will not see them cheering on as God crushes their enemies. The day of the Lord will have them stumbling in the dark, trembling in fear. The animal images present an unrelenting picture of a danger one cannot escape. One threat simply gives way to another. The “prey” for the animals cannot find safety even after finally reaching home.

A common statement among contemporary Christians affirms that the “fear of the Lord” involves respect, not knee-shaking terror for one’s safety. Yet, Amos’s images evoke just such terror. The God to whom one turns for comfort, for protection now becomes the threat. What might these heart-pounding scenarios accomplish? At a minimum, they shake the listener out of complacency. They communicate that one cannot take God’s love, care, and comfort for granted. The fear of the Lord involves awe, but perhaps also the recognition that one does not trifle with God.

As commentators typically note, God reacts to the worship of the people in total rejection. With anthropomorphic metaphors, Amos portrays God blocking every sense from enjoying or even acknowledging the worship offered by the people. God will not look on the worship, will not smell the offering, will not listen to the songs. At the beginning of the passage, God attacks. Here God ignores. The God who considered the people a “treasured possession” in Exodus 19:4 now feels repulsed and disgusted by their worship. If the animal imagery sought to frighten the people, the words about God’s rejection seem intended to shame them.

The reading ends with well-known words about justice and righteousness. Interpretations differ about the exact message the words should convey. Does the call for justice rolling down like waters describe the sudden destruction of Israel? Do the waters wash away the northern kingdom as a demonstration of divine anger? Although that interpretation has some plausibility, the passage more likely calls Israel to enact justice as the expected result of genuine worship. The concepts of justice and righteousness go together. Justice refers to fairness, attention to the needs of the poor, an end to oppression, a legal system that protects the rights of all people. Righteousness connotes healthy relationships, a sense of commonality, a recognition of God as the one who has formed the people into a community, a respect for the bonds among the people. The image of justice rolling down like waters calls for justice to happen immediately, like a sudden deluge. The poor and marginalized should not have to wait for justice. Justice must happen now, with the urgency of a storm. The ever-flowing stream calls for a steady supply. The community should sustain justice. Justice should remain available just as a stream provides a reliable source of water.

Preachers should treat this passage with great care. Amos gives us powerful words, but the preacher must wield that power with skill. If one affirms my assessment above that the passage begins with images that frighten and shame, the preacher should avoid using the words that way. Faith that results from fear and shame rarely grows into healthy faith. A person in the pew fears a lion, a bear or a snake (in the wild), but rarely loves those animals, and cannot love such animals when they attack. The preacher has the task of using these images to convey God’s serious rejection of injustice, while still affirming God’s love.

Amos directed his words to those in Israel who worshipped, who made the sacrifices, sang the songs. He does not prophesy against those indifferent to the faith, or those who have rejected it. He directed these words to those who felt threatened by outside forces and expected God’s deliverance from enemies. Amos fulfilled the role of prophet, but he did not serve as a pastor. The contemporary pastor should seek in using this passage to communicate God’s hurt and anger over the treatment of the poor, and life’s victims. The contemporary preacher should not ignore the harshness of these words, or dismiss them. The preacher should use these words and images to proclaim God’s passion for the poor, and to call the congregation to live out their worship.

If we pray the Lord’s Prayer and have asked for the divine will to be done as part of worship, should we not work—even if imperfectly—to enact God’s will? If we ask God to speak to us through scripture, should we not seek to hear what God says about the victims in the world? If we celebrate the sacrament, should we not seek true fellowship with all? The preacher must wrestle with the words of Amos that God has grown angry enough to attack. Nevertheless, the entire book of Amos contains words of wrath (5:18-23), but also calls for repentance (5:4-6), and promises of mercy (9:13-15).

The preacher should honor the passionate God of this passage, but also include the whole message of Amos. Even in the fiery words of Amos, God offers forgiveness and healing, as well as challenge.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

Carolyn J. Sharp

The closing address in the book of Joshua is a brilliant example of ancient Israelite rhetoric.1

Joshua’s farewell speech is designed to reinvigorate the people’s commitment to the LORD who had delivered them from slavery and given them victory in their battles for the Promised Land. Broad resonances with Moses’ farewell speech (Deuteronomy 29-30) underline the continuity of Joshua’s authority with that of Moses and reinforce the importance of covenant renewal for the ongoing faithfulness of God’s people.

Joshua begins with a rhetorical move that would have alarmed an ancient Israelite audience: he names their origin among Mesopotamians who worshipped other gods. Joshua chooses to present their ancestor Abraham not as a venerable leader chosen to become a blessing for all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3), nor as a steadfast believer whose trust in the LORD’s promises was reckoned as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), but simply as an outsider brought from Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:31).

While some traditions visible in Joshua 24 are not entirely consonant with Deuteronomistic concepts, it is likely that we should hear a veiled warning in Joshua’s opening line, given that worship of other gods was strictly forbidden in the Deuteronomistic worldview and given the overall force of Joshua’s speech. The Israelites are given to understand that they have come from idolatrous foreign roots; the audience thus is invited into this discourse from a position of marginality.

Because Joshua’s speech is a beautifully crafted rhetorical whole, preachers may want to take account of the intervening material that is omitted in the lectionary (verses 3b-13). A few words concerning the omitted material may help to set the stage for homiletical work with the rest of the lectionary-appointed text. The intervening verses articulate powerfully the grounds on which the Israelites should be grateful to God. First they hear of God’s gracious giving to the patriarchs: “I gave him [that is, Abraham] Isaac; and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir…”(verses 3-4). More divine graciousness is on view in God’s sending of Moses and Aaron, as well as in God’s striking Egypt with plagues to compel the pharaoh to let the enslaved Israelites go (verse 5).

Next named is God’s protection of the Israelites during their flight from Egypt and in their battles with Canaanite armies (verses 6-12). The recital of God’s sovereignty concludes on a renewed note of gracious gift: “I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns you had not built … you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant” (verse 13).

Worth noting in this material is an elegant semantic maneuver that connects the ancestors from ancient times with the Israelite audience in the present moment of the text. “They” and “you” pronouns and verbs alternate in a way that deftly interweaves the history of the ancestors with the identity of the Israelites now listening to Joshua.

The alternation is most striking in the narration of Israel’s liberation from Egypt: “afterwards I brought you out. When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea … When they cried out to the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt,” (verses 5-7). This artful interweaving teaches the people to know themselves as constituted and preserved by God’s marvelous grace even now—fully in continuity with the redemption enjoyed by generations past.

The implied audience is meant to be utterly mastered by this rhetoric, overcome by awe and gratitude for what the LORD has done. The Israelites have been brought by God from outsider status to the status of a beloved and protected community. Led through the trauma of slavery and the terror of military conflict, Israel has finally arrived at the joy of peaceful dwelling in a fruitful land. As Joshua constructs it, this people have emerged from the fraught mists of historical memory into the rich abundance of a present in which all has been graciously provided by their invincible God. They can only rejoice to bow before a God so strong to save.

Now Joshua presses them to commit themselves anew to the LORD, thundering, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” By this point in Joshua’s magnificent speech, there is no real choice at all: Israel may serve the old foreign gods of Mesopotamia, or the shamed gods of the defeated Amorites—or they may serve the LORD, whose mighty hand and outstretched arm have brought countless generations of Israelites safely through times of brutal deprivation and fierce conflict. At the climactic moment of decision, the hero Joshua offers a stirring and unexpectedly intimate confession that invites every hearer into community with him: “… as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (verse 15).

What follows is an extraordinarily effective dialogue that underlines what is at risk for the believing community. First, the people affirm God’s saving power, elaborating on what Joshua had narrated with new phrases that demonstrate the depth of their understanding of their own history of redemption. They commit themselves to the LORD in no uncertain terms: “he is our God” (verse 18). But Joshua heightens the drama of the moment, emphasizing the terrible risk they face in undertaking to serve the LORD. This God will turn and consume them if their faith and their halakhic observance ever waver.

Loving and serving the LORD is possible only for those who will never again seek a different way! The implied audience knows this risk all too well, for they were watching, narratologically speaking, not only when the walls of Jericho miraculously fell (6:20) but also when the transgressor Achan and his family were obliterated from within the community (7:24-26). And so the Israelites dare do nothing other than affirm their faith in the LORD. There is only one viable way forward: to love this gracious, terrifying God who demands passionate, lifelong service with all the heart, soul, and might (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Joshua 24 invites each hearer into profound gratitude for the unmerited graciousness of God. Covenant is a matter of discerning who God has been to us and who we are called to be—this is true of Israel’s enduring covenant with God (Isaiah 40:8; Romans 11:28-29) and true of the new covenant that Christians affirm in Jesus Christ. This spiritually formative text brims with riches for homileticians.

The preacher could focus on the challenges of the spiritual journey from “foreignness” to being at home in God; or she could explore the joys and risks involved in daring to offer to God our whole selves, including our past and our future. The preacher might witness to the cost of discipleship for every believing community that is set apart from the ways of the world; or underline the powerful continuity of memory and hope linking us with our ancestors in the faith; or offer anew that dramatic moment of choice, whether understood as a pivotal conversion decision or as a continuous opportunity for every faithful person in daily living.


  1. Commentary first published on Nov. 6, 2011.


Commentary on Psalm 70

Kelly J. Murphy

In a letter dated May 15, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his parents from prison: “I read the Psalms every day, as I have done for years; I know them and love them more than any other book.”1

Earlier in the same letter, Bonhoeffer wrote, “One of my predecessors here has scribbled over the cell door, ‘In 100 years it will all be over.’ That was his way of trying to counter the feeling that life spent here is a blank … ‘My time is in your hands’ (Psalm 31) is the Bible’s answer. But in the Bible there is also the question that threatens to dominate everything here: ‘How long, O Lord?’ (Psalm 13).”2

Like Psalm 13 with its opening imploration (“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” [Psalm 13:1]), Psalm 70 is an individual lament that begins with an urgent entreaty for divine intervention: “Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O LORD, make haste to help me!” (verse 1). In Psalm 70, the psalmist cries out to God for deliverance from enemies, who “seek my life” and “desire to hurt me” (verse 2). The psalmist asks that those people “be put to shame and confusion” and “be turned back and brought to dishonor” (verse 2). Although Psalm 70 includes a moment of hope (“Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” [verse 4]), the psalm immediately returns — and ends — with a call for God to act: “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” (verse5).

“Do not delay!” The psalm ends with a final, urgent appeal. There is no recorded divine response, no move to praise.

Of course, there are moments in each of our lives where the words of Psalm 70 could easily be our own words. Moments marked by a desire for divine intervention (and for that divine intervention to happen now, soon, without delay) and a yearning to see those who have done us wrongs shamed and dishonored. And, doubtless, there are moments in our lives when we wish for immediate help and deliverance, but hear no instant answer. In those moments, Psalm 70 provides us with a scriptural basis for lament, for airing our grievances, and for asking for help. Psalm 70 is also a reminder that we might not receive an immediate answer.

But doubtless there are also moments in each of our lives where the urgency of Psalm 70 is not our own, moments when our lives continue in a steady stream of regular days filled with regular concerns. And so, if we hear Psalm 70 read on a Sunday when our lives our rolling along as they normally do, we might not feel particularly connected to this psalm of lament. We might find, instead, that we sit and think of other things, mostly mundane (“Do we need anything from the grocery store?”, “What’s for lunch?”, “What do I need to get done this week?”).

Yet it is perhaps on those days that we might benefit most from hearing a psalm like Psalm 70. After all, the urgent cry of the psalmist (“O LORD, make haste to help me!”) is someone else’s cry. The psalm can serve as a prompt, a powerful reminder that even while our own lives might be rolling regularly along, that is not necessarily the case for everyone. Others might be hurting, calling out for help, awaiting deliverance. Others might be crying out, but hearing no response.

In his letter to his parents, Bonhoeffer briefly invokes Psalm 70, noting that “I cannot now read Psalms 3, 47, 70 and others without hearing them in the settings by Heinrich Schütz.”3 (Schütz’s “Eile mich, Gott, zu erretten” [“Make haste, O God, to save me”] draws from Psalm 40:13-17, which is repeated almost verbatim in Psalm 70). Edwin Robertson reminds us that “If our image of Bonhoeffer does not fit an anxious prayer” like that found in Psalm 70, “it is because we are among those who observe him from the outside.”4 Yet the reality was that Bonhoeffer was also asking “How long, O Lord?”, struggling with both the necessities of daily life (in the same letter, he asks for ink and stain remover, and also sends birthday wishes to someone he knows) and with his imprisonment. In one of his poems, as Robertson notes, Bonhoeffer compares how others see him (“composed, contented, and sure”) with how Bonhoeffer himself feels (“troubled, homesick, ill like a bird in a cage”).5

Psalm 70, like many lament psalms, can provide us with a voice to express our own grief, our own anger, and our own hope for divine help. It can be a way to beseech God to “make haste to help” us.

But when we hear this psalm in the moments when our own lives are going along pleasantly enough, such a lament can serve another purpose. Psalm 70 also calls listeners to stop and listen: Who around us is living in a moment where the words of this psalm are their own? Who might be experiencing anxiety and turmoil even if we cannot see it in their day to day actions? And how might we help and deliver those who are so urgently crying out?


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 12, 2017. Citation from opening sentence: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison: The Enlarged Edition, ed. Eberhard Bethge (Touchstone: New York, 1997), 40.
  2. Bonhoeffer, 39.
  3. Bonhoeffer, 40.
  4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Meditations on Psalms, ed. and trans. Edwin Robertson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 145.
  5. Bonhoeffer, 145. For the full text of Bonhoeffer’s poem, entitled, “Who Am I?”, see pp. 145-146.

Second Reading

Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Jane Lancaster Patterson

The reading for today and the one assigned for next Sunday (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) function together to describe the nature of Christ’s longed-for return in the most vivid language possible, to help the recipients of the letter have the sense that they can actually see, hear, and trust the salvation they are risking their lives on.1

Today’s reading sets forth the theological framework that will then ground the ethical counsels of 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11.

Unfortunately, the kind of imagery that supported the faith of first-century believers is problematic for 21st century Christians operating with a very different cosmology. Yet the basic Christian understandings, intuitions, and hopes that guided Paul’s pastoral response in 1 Thessalonians are still operative today, though expressed in very different terms. What follows is an attempt to open up Paul’s theological framework in a way that might offer pastoral guidance for 21st-century hearers.

A pastoral problem

It appears that someone has conveyed to Paul the Thessalonians’ concern about those who have died (literally, “fallen asleep”) before the Lord’s coming (parousia) in victory. Scholars today are mainly agreed that the Thessalonians’ concern is not so much about the salvation of their loved ones as it is about community, about whether they will be eternally cut off from those they have loved, simply on account of a slip of timing.

Construing the underlying concern as one of community actually helps to bring this whole passage into focus. The vision of Christ’s triumph that Paul develops in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is one in which heaven and earth are suddenly and beautifully reconciled in an embrace (“caught up together”) that takes place in a newly opened space between heaven and earth (“in the air”) and which will never end (“and so we will be with the Lord forever”). The image gathers together Paul’s deepest beliefs about God’s reconciling purpose in Christ (see also 2 Corinthians 5:18-21), and paves the way for the ethical counsels to follow (1 Thessalonians 5:4-24).

Paul’s understanding of his mission is to assist the Gentiles (Galatians 1:16) in fully accepting the salvation offered to them in Christ by learning to live in holiness toward God and their neighbor (for example 1 Thessalonians 5:5). The vision he paints of Christ at the parousia, gathering up the nations, is intended to give the Thessalonians courage to stay the course, in spite of earthly opposition.

Does Paul have secret information about exactly what the parousia will look like? No. What he does have is a history of mystical practices (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) that no doubt help to inform the vision he describes. His imagery is also informed by biblical literature, by the pomp of Roman military victories, by apocalypticism, and by his own experiences of God’s reconciling power at work among the communities he serves. This passage offers a view into Paul’s pastoral practice: he is willing to use all the resources at his disposal to encourage the Thessalonians to trust God entirely with their present and their future.

The parousia of Christ

The popular phrase “second coming” (the New Revised Standard Version says simply “coming,” 1 Thessalonians 4:15) is one of the most unfortunate mistranslations of the Greek New Testament. As the time has grown long since the “first coming,” there is a tendency, after two thousand years, to doubt in the whole idea of a parousia (appearance, presence), thus making Christian hope seem fruitless or delusional. The phrase “second coming” sounds like a hope for God to send Jesus again, and it implies that the time between the first and second comings is just an open space, rather than the electrically charged field of salvation that Paul saw it to be.

But the full appearance, or full presence of Christ that the earliest Gentile Christians were awaiting was grounded in their lively experiences of the power of Christ and the Spirit to bring them into right relationship with the one true God and their neighbor in righteousness and justice, in holiness and love. In other words, their partnership with Christ in their day-to-day moral decision-making was the first edge of the presence making its way into human life. They could see it, touch it, believe it, because it wasn’t solely in an imagined future; it could be seen in the transformation of themselves and their communities.

The presence they were preparing for would be the ripened fruit of what they were experiencing, a time in which, finally, God would be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:27-28). They expressed their trust and hope in this future fullness by living daily with the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-13), by being built up in practices of love toward one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; see also 1 Corinthians 8).

Bridging the centuries

Paul’s skillful pastoral response to his hearers invites an equally skillful pastoral response to the questions generated by our own communities. What Paul is seeking to do in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is to make ultimate realities that are beyond ordinary sight so real that the Thessalonians can entrust themselves completely to them. What is expressed as a future reality is, ethically, an expression of the ends, or purposes, of the creation. These ultimate realities are:

  • The origins and ends of the creation are in God.
  • Jesus Christ is God’s means for reconciling people to one another, to the creation, and to God.
  • God will leave no one out who desires to be in right relationship.
  • The transformational presence of Christ is known tangibly when the reconciling Christian community gathers and also when believers partner with Christ in loving their neighbor.
  • Thus, Christians live with faith in the goodness of God’s purposes, with love for the people who come into their lives, and with hope for a time when God will be all in all.

It is in living the Christian life, of seeking right relationship with God and with all, that believers in the first century and in the 21st century have actual experiences of Christ in, through, and among them. These experiences of the power to love beyond human capacity then grounds a deep thirst for the full presence of God.


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 12, 2017.