Lectionary Commentaries for July 25, 2021
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on John 6:1-21

Robert Hoch

Our narrator places the Bread Discourse in the middle of the Book of Signs (John 1-12). It feels like a centerpiece. The present verses include two miracles: John’s version of the multiplication of loaves for the 5,000 (the only miracle included in all four Gospels) and Jesus walking on water.

In the opening scene of this text, the narrative gives readers what might be the equivalent of a Johannine compass reading: the mountain, the students and their teacher, the occasion (the Passover), the crowds, and even the boat and stormy sea point to Jesus’ centrality in John’s Gospel. Our narrator views Jesus’ miracles as signposts leading to God’s glory. In the Synoptics, Jesus often responds to human need with acts born of deep emotion. In John, Jesus often seems unmoved (almost) by the distress around him (for example, John 2:4 and 11:5). Also, here the narrator does not show Jesus spilling over with compassion for the hungry (as in Mark 6:34). John’s narrator informs us that Jesus, knowing the hunger of the crowd, intends to administer a test (verse 6a). Like the story of the raising of Lazarus, the Johannine Jesus lives on two planes, the theological and the human, simultaneously and without contradiction.

Biblical allusions abound in this chapter. John’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand contains echoes of Elijah-Elisha stories (for example, 2 Kings 4:42-44) and allusions to the Psalms, especially Psalm 107:4-5, 23, and 28-30. The narrator uses eucharistic language but in a different form than is found in the Synoptics. Gail R. O’Day complains that interpreters often go to John looking for the Synoptic version of an institution text—instead, she suggests that it might be more helpful if we use Johannine categories.1

Consider, for example, how the Johannine category of personal intimacy with Jesus works as a lens for this text. Like the Last Supper in the Synoptics—and unlike the Synoptic multiplication stories—Jesus distributes the bread and fish by his own hand (verse 11). The Synoptic tradition of an ecclesial hierarchy (implied by the disciples who distribute bread) gives way in John to direct communion with Jesus. If this is not Jesus’ “last” supper, one upshot might be that the Johannine world accents Jesus’ eucharistic presence with the believer in the totality of life.

Readers often experience John as logos heavy, but this gospel can also be refreshingly direct at times. In the Synoptics, Jesus takes bread; in John, Jesus takes barley loaves. This uniquely Johannine detail adds realism as well as a social location to this meal. Barley, according to Raymond E. Brown, was the bread commonly available to the poor. It may also recall the story of Ruth, who returns with Naomi during the barley harvest. In rabbinic interpretations, Boaz’s gift to Ruth anticipates the messianic banquet for the poor. Brown also calls our attention to the realism relative to the fish: while the Synoptics use ichthys, the well-known Christian acronym for Jesus’ saving significance, John uses opsarion or “dried fish.” 2 John’s high Christology does not diminish the realism of real food meant for real hunger.

Jesus’ public approval skyrockets with people wondering whether he is “the prophet who is to come into the world” (verse 14b) while still others see an opportunity to conscript Jesus for some earthly campaign. According to the NRSV, Jesus “withdraws” (verse 15) from their coercion tactics; a more difficult and literal translation would be the one proposed by Brown: “so he fled back to the mountain alone.” The disciples, left to their own lights, take the initiative and push out to sea (verse 17).3

Darkness makes one of eight appearances in this Gospel: “It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them” (verse 17b)—the crowd is gone and crucially, so is Jesus.4 As our gaze turns to the disciples in the boat, we see a vivid picture of John’s pastoral approach to the human condition. Unlike the Synoptics where the story is told from Jesus’ perspective (see Mark 6:48), the narrator puts the reader in the boat with the disciples, as those who look for Jesus in the growing chaos and darkness of a stormy sea. Perhaps it is no accident that what follows is the second instance of Jesus’ use of the “I am” statement (verse 20) 5—and with it, a sense of impassable distance, a yearning seems to vanish in an instant.


Sometimes it feels as if we want Jesus on our terms, and when that’s the case, we don’t want Jesus, but rather our fill.

Instead of getting our fill, John would have us see Jesus, the One who is the messianic banquet for the poor. What does that mean? Maybe we struggle to fix our eyes on Jesus because we love darkness rather than the light that comes into the world. John places the community that has chosen to follow Jesus in the boat with the disciples, on a rough sea under cover of night, wanting but not having Jesus in their possession (verse 21). How many times in the past two years have the winds and waves of pandemic and social upheaval gripped our congregations and narrowed our imaginations?

We want to take Jesus into our boat, enlisting Jesus in our causes.

Or have we in the turmoil of the last year or so begun to recognize the nearness of Jesus, which is not the same as physical possession?

Photographer Sally Mann quotes one of her father’s diary entries in her memoir, Hold Still: “Do you know how a boatman faces one direction, while rowing in another?”6 In an Alcoholics Anonymous group, Rudy says that he has learned to see the past as a reference point but not as a residence. Yet, as we pull at the oars, our physical gaze only takes in where we’ve been. How will we ever get to our destination? “The brutal truth,” according to James K. A. Smith, is this: “You can’t get there from here. Not even a map is enough. You might already have realized where you need to go, but the question is how to get there. What if God sent a boat? What if the Creator captained a ferry from that other shore?”7


  1. Gail R. O’Day, “John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: Luke and John, volume 8 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015), 516.
  2. Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John: Introduction, Translation, and Notes in The Anchor Bible (Garden City: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1966), 246.
  3. Brown, The Gospel According to John, 231 (my italics).
  4. For the frequency and meaning of light-darkness vocabulary, see Brown’s “Johannine Vocabulary” (Appendix I) in The Gospel According to John, 515-6.
  5. See O’Day’s helpful organization of the “I am” sayings in “Figure 2: The “I AM” Sayings in John” in “John” in New Interpreter’s Bible, 511.
  6. Sally Mann, Hold Still (New York: Little, Brown, 2015), 361 quoted in James K. A. Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine: Real World Spirituality for Restless Hearts (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2019), xiii.
  7. Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine, 14.

First Reading

Commentary on 2 Kings 4:42-44

Dora R. Mbuwayesango

Second Kings 4:42-44 is part of a narrative complex (1 Kings 17-2 Kings 9) that depicts the struggle of prophetic figures (Elijah and Elisha) to keep the people of Israel’s focus on their God with whom they had a covenant relationship.

Elijah had initiated this attempt to convince the people of Israel that their God, and not the Canaanite God Baal, was their only true God by demonstrating subtly at first to the people Baal’s impotence and their God’s superiority: announcing a drought as way to counter belief in Baal as the giver of rain; showing God’s care for people in distress—providing for the Phoenician widow by the miracle of the never failing jar of meal and oil (1 Kings 17:8-16) and reviving her son from near death (1 Kings 17:17-24).

Then Elijah takes head on the proponents of Baal religion with the contest between Baal’s prophets and Elijah at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:1-46). Elisha, who succeeds Elijah, picks up the mantle of continuing to seek Israel’s loyalty to their God by showing God’s care and power through miracles. In 2 Kings 4 Elisha continues his ministry of rescuing those in distress that initiated his ministry in 2 Kings 2:19-22 when he purified water for a city.

The portion selected for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost concludes the chapter that has a series of five miracles. For the first miracle, Elisha is able to give security to a widow in distress because she cannot pay her debts and consequently, her two sons are being threatened with enslavement (2 Kings 4:1-7). The second miracle concerns Elisha’s prophecy that a childless couple would have a child (4:8-17). The third depicts the revival of the child after an illness and death (4:18-37). In the fourth miracle, Elisha successfully detoxified a pot of stew that had been rendered poisonous, for his group of prophets (4:38-41). The fifth miracle is about Elisha’s ability to feed a hundred people with what seems to be a scarce provision (4:42-44).

The miracles in 4:38-42 and 4:42-42 share the same context of scarcity from times of famine. The desperate situation in the first story is shown by the fact that when the pot of stew is rendered poisonous, it is not thrown away to be replaced by a fresh pot of stew. Elisha has to doctor the existing pot of stew probably because there is nothing with which to make a fresh pot of stew. The group of prophets share the detoxified pot of stew. Elisha successfully turned a situation of death into a situation of life-giving. The story in 4:42-44 continues with the theme of scarcity but with an emphasis on sharing.

There is an irony in how the man who brought the food to Elisha is identified as “a man from Baal-Shalishah”. Remember, the general setting of the stories of Elijah and Elisha is competition for the religious souls of the Israelite people. The name of the place is attached to Baal, which might reflect that this place was or had become the center for the worship of Baal in the region of Ephraim. Shalishah is mentioned as one of the countries in the hills of Ephraim (1 Samuel 9:4). What I find interesting is that a man from this place “brought food from the first fruits to the man of God.” This signals that there were still a few faithful people who were focused on the true worship of their God. According to Leviticus 23:10-14 this offering was given to the priest at the sanctuary. Here this man is giving them to a person who is clearly not a priest. Does this reflect lack of priestly leadership at this time? Elisha was a leader of a prophetic guild that lived at the margins of society.

The amount he brings also seems to be a departure from what was originally instructed. It appears a bit extravagant if he is representing just himself: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain. It is not surprising that Elisha instructs that the food be given to the people because we have already seen him concerned about the well-being of others as long as they are not taunting him, as the small boys did early in his ministry (2 Kings 2:23-25). The response of the person instructed with setting the food before the people indicates that the amount of the offering is disproportionate to the number of people at the place—a context of scarcity. How do we expect people to behave in the reality of scarcity? Is there fear of a stampede? These questions bring to memory how some of us behaved in response to the perceived scarcity of basic needs at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear sometimes brings a spirit of individualism that disregards the needs of others and ignores the connections among us. A spirit of hoarding consumed the nation and empty shelves testified to perceived scarcity.

In the case of Elisha and the 100 people with him, when food was set before them, everyone ate and there was even some left over! Why? Maybe because people only took what they needed and were not hoarding for the next day. I imagine that there was a spirit of community and orderliness guided by Elisha’s trust in a God who had continuously demonstrated faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness by the majority.

Indeed, the faithfulness of a few can serve a multitude and a spirit of sharing can be a sign of the loving presence of God in a context of real or perceived scarcity.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:1-15

Timothy L. Adkins-Jones

Growing up I remember hearing this infamous David and Bathsheba passage preached in ways that framed it as David succumbing to temptation. Bathsheba was described as either an afterthought without any agency or a temptress seducing David from across the rooftops. As it was told, our dear Goliath-slaying, warrior poet David simply could not resist the beauty of Bathsheba. Depending on the point that the preacher was trying to make, that was either Bathsheba’s fault or David’s fault. Returning to this passage now, I can’t help but notice the overwhelming control that David has in this entire situation. There doesn’t seem to be anything here that is up to chance, or that could be a result of any kind of stumbling. This is very much about David’s abuse of power and therein lies the problem. 

Pay attention to the assertiveness that David exhibits in this passage. David chose to remain at home when kings were supposed to go to war. David sends everyone away. David goes to the roof with what I think is a fair assumption that he could possibly see a woman bathing at this time of day. David sent someone to inquire about this woman. David chose to have her sent to him. David took her. David laid with her. David sent for Uriah. He actively set the plot in motion to bring about Uriah’s death, effectively committing manslaughter in our modern parlance. Over and over, David is in full control of his actions, there was no stumbling, and his subsequent actions were designed to cover his tracks without a hint of remorse. This is not a story of sexual temptation, nor in my estimation is this aptly described as adultery. This is abuse of a person and of power.

The preacher must wrestle with what it means for “a man after God’s own heart” to cause this kind of pain so callously and with the clear misuse of royal privilege. And maybe it is impossible to sit with this passage without thinking ahead to Uriah’s death and Samuel’s subsequent prophetic lesson, but what might come from reflecting only on the particular parameters of this lectionary entry, the entirety of David’s plot and the clear intentions that exist for David? 

Many who read this text, like David in it, have the luxury of ignoring their privileged position in the world and the ways that we commodify and objectify people. As a man and even more so as the King, David could see and treat Bathsheba as simply a sexual being to be enjoyed. One might craft a sermon that delves into the parallels of the kind patriarchal and abusive culture that belies David’s actions and the kind of abuses that happen today. More broadly, one might preach this passage as a word about recognizing privilege more broadly. 

How do we become numb to the ways that we carelessly cause harm? If there is a word about temptation here, possibly it is about the temptation of abusing one’s power. Or the temptation that we have to blame those who are being abused, the Bathshebas of our world, for the evil committed by the Davids of our day? 

Relatedly, this pericope preached anew might account for and work through the ways that people might have understood this passage before, and the ways that it has been used in your community’s history.  Is there hermeneutical repair that would be helpful in your context? 

A word about nobility?

Uriah’s nobility stands in stark contrast to the manipulative evil of David. Refusing to shirk his responsibilities, he remains loyal to his charge as a soldier even though it brings him into conflict with the King and causes him to avoid seeing his wife at home. If David’s agency in doing wrong is amplified, so too is Uriah’s decision to remain loyal, even though it puts him in a position to disobey a direct order from the King. Uriah’s ability to foil the King’s plan yet inadvertently bring about his own demise is also fertile ground for homiletical inquiry. 

Is the kind of loyalty and nobility that we see demonstrated by Uriah something to be emulated? 

Is there a critique to be made about Uriah’s unwavering allegiance to his country and his King?  

Is what we see in Uriah even nobility, or could it be better described in a different way?  

Bathsheba’s nobility is also on display in this text. First, she is affirmed by her connection to a family line (daughter of Eliam). Secondly, we are told the reason why she goes up onto the roof.  Verse 4 tells us that Bathsheba was and had been purifying herself after she had her menstrual cycle. She was not on a roof to tempt the king; in fact, it is much more plausible that she was on the roof to avoid seeing anyone. Finally, when she recognizes that she is pregnant, she goes immediately to the palace. 

David is presumably shocked and dismayed at the news and then immediately begins to plot Uriah’s death. But both Uriah and Bathsheba are used to magnify the villainy of David. Another sermon from this text might explore centering either of those characters and trying to imagine how they experienced this story. As mentioned earlier, the lectionary verse selection stops before Uriah is killed. It ends with word being sent to Joab to put Uriah on the front lines. This is a formative event in David’s royal career as these two mistakes, the rape of Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, begin a downward spiral for David from which he ultimately does not recover.  Ending this passage with David’s letter further places the spotlight on David’s evil in the moment and presents an opportunity for preachers to grapple with the great contradictions of King David.


Commentary on Psalm 145:10-18

Jerome Creach

The main subject of Psalm 145 is the eternal kingship of the Lord.1

The psalm contains a comprehensive expression of praise for God as heavenly king. Perhaps this is why the psalm’s superscription designates it as a “song of praise” (Tehillah). Psalm 145 is the only psalm to be identified this way. The Talmud recognizes its unique identity as a song of praise by saying, “Everyone who repeats the Tehillah of David thrice a day may be sure that he is a child of the world to come” (Berakot 4b).What the Talmud surely recognizes is that Psalm 145 invites the believer to praise God in ways that acknowledge God’s exclusive prerogative as ruler of the cosmos and God’s unique care for those who seek him. This central set of concerns is expressed in verses 10-18, the lectionary reading for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost.

Psalm 145 is an acrostic poem. Each successive verse begins with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostics were perhaps composed for ease of memorization or to make the theological point that what is expressed in the poem aims to be comprehensive. The acrostic style creates a somewhat artificial structure. Nevertheless, the psalm has two distinct points at which the psalmist invites praise of God. In the first verse the psalmist declares “I will extol you, my God and King,” thus giving personal witness to the intention to praise. Then verse 10 expands the voice of praise to “all your works” and “all your faithful.” Hence, verse 10 marks a second beginning of praise in Psalm 145. The initial “I” voice in verse 10 speaks on behalf of all God’s creatures and all God’s people with a similar promise of praise: “All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you.”

A key question about verse 10 concerns the identity of “your faithful.” Does this expression refer to a special group within Israel (e.g. “those who love him,” as opposed to the wicked; see v. 20), to all the Israelites, or to some broader constituency? Although the psalm does not make the identity explicit, the pairing of “your faithful” with “all your works” would seem to argue for a broad identity.3 Even if the faithful ones who speak God’s praise do not designate an expanded, inclusive group, however, their praise sends word of God’s grace to all people (v. 12). The message, if not the messengers, includes all who turn to God. The only criterion for inclusion is need recognized and expressed.

An important part of the theology of Psalm 145:10-18 is the location of the psalm in the Psalter. It appears as the last psalm before the final doxology (Psalms 146-150, tied together by “Praise the Lord” at the beginning and end of each). As the final psalm in the last Davidic collection in the book (Psalms 138-145), Psalm 145 is also the last word of David in the Psalter. Here David speaks and praises God, and his praise in turn introduces the praise-filled conclusion to the Psalter in Psalms 146-150. At the center of David’s praise, verses 10-18 declare that “your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations” (v. 13) and “the Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings” (v. 17). In other words, God as heavenly king is faithful in a way that no king of Israel ever was, and God’s kingdom of righteousness endures forever, in contrast to the Davidic monarchy that could not last. Perhaps most remarkably, David himself delivers this message. David appears here (as Moses earlier, in Psalm 90) as mediator for and guide to Israel from across the ages. He points the Israelites who have known humiliation and defeat at the hands of the Babylonians to the kingdom of God rather than to the kingdom of David’s descendants. They will find hope and future in the heavenly King rather than in a mortal “in whom is no help” (Psalm 146:3).

It is also appropriate that this final message on the lips of David sums up much of what the Psalter has been expressing in Psalms 1-144. Namely, God is uniquely concerned for the lowly and downcast (see Psalms 1; 34; 37). As verse 14 says, “the lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.” As the psalm expresses this feature of God’s character it also presents a thorough-going understanding of God’s grace available through dependence and faith. As verse 18 proclaims, “the lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Indeed, the main requirement for getting help from God and knowing God’s salvation is calling on him out of one’s need. In other words, God looks for those open to divine direction and help. Faithfulness is thus defined primarily by dependence.

One final note on the identity of David as “author” of Psalm 145: as suggested already, the identity with David is not meant to be an historical statement about authorship. Rather, David is representative of the people and thus voices their needs. Another way to describe the Davidic identity is to say the people are invited to pray as David. Thus, this psalm anticipates the practice of praying in Jesus’ name. This makes all the more appropriate that the prayer in verses 10-18 looks to God alone as the source of salvation and hope.4


    1. Commentary first published on this site in 2018.
    2. Cited in James Luther Mays, Psalms (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching; Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), p. 437.
    3. Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 3:A Commentary on Psalms 101-150 (Hermeneia; translated by Linda M. Maloney; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), p. 599.
    4. See Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 60-150: A Continental Commentary (trans. Hilton C. Oswald; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), p. 544.

Second Reading

Commentary on Ephesians 3:14-21

Israel Kamudzandu

The church is called to provide people with the means through which they can have communion and fellowship with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 3:14-15 the writer rises above culture and tradition in order to show readers that God is a parent to all humanity. The author is spiritually aware that God is inclusive of all people, nations, genders and ethnicities. In other words, the language of family is in the author’s heart, mind and soul.

Being aware of God, the author prays that Ephesian believers will be indwelled by the Holy Spirit whose office is to form faith in the hearts of all God’s children. The Holy Spirit is meaningful when it offers people what they need in times of hardships, instead of what they want. Hence, this prayer for the Ephesians, knowing that only prayer would strengthen their hearts and open new possibilities in their congregations.

Prayer is what the soul requires, and God seeks to communicate with us through prayer. Many New Testament books point to the importance of prayer, as the only thing desired by human souls. In many ways, prayer unlocks miracles in the lives of people. We in the 21st century, like the Ephesian Church, need to rediscover prayer and learn as well as grow in the art of prayer.

In the Gospels Jesus is portrayed as a prayerful leader. In the Gospels the disciples requested Jesus to teach them about prayer and praying. Similarly, having done his work of reconciling Jews and Gentiles, the author bursts into prayer, pleading with God on behalf of the Ephesian church. Summoning the Holy Spirit’s power, this passage prays that disciples in Ephesians be given power and strength to build up each other and also build the kingdom of God.

Not only that, but the author prays that Jesus Christ would dwell in disciples’ hearts and to be given the knowledge and full manifestation of God in their ministry, evangelism, and mission work. In reading and listening to Ephesians 3:14–21, we encounter this heart of prayer. Overwhelmed with God’s mystery of reconciling Jews and Gentiles, the passage begins by saying, “Because of this I bow down my knees.” This is a posture of humility and reverence to God who is able to unite all nations, cultures, ethnicities and male and female.

The Church today needs to revive the art of prayer, fasting and believing. In essence, the entire Ephesians letter can be called a prayer book. Hence, this section introduces us to a prayerful apostle, who summons all believers to carve out time for prayer. Ephesians 3:14–21 is not just an intercession prayer but it is also a doxology in which the author acknowledges the resurrection power of Jesus, whose identity after the tomb became the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

With doxology comes also an expression of the writer’s faith in Jesus Christ, the one whose spirit draws humanity into one faith community. Like Jesus in John 17:6–18, this passage’s prayer for the Ephesian church calls on the power and substance of the Holy Spirit, so that the church will continue to grow as a multicultural faith community. As pastors, leaders, parents, and siblings in Christ, we are called to prioritize prayer in all that we do on behalf of God. While people may be invited into the church, exposing them to a life of prayer helps them to be attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Strangely enough, most Christians have lost the art of kneeling in prayer, and instead prayer is taken as a ritual if not an item on a to-do list.

It is important to see the message embedded in this passage: the author is praying to God as a father figure with words revealing an intimate and life-giving relationship. It is indeed crucial to remember that human souls cannot be fed by food, money, power, or ego, but connection through prayer. We may also take note of the kneeling posture, and teach ourselves to pray in such a manner. Kneeling demonstrates that the praying person is one who has reverence for God, submission, as well as adoration of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the apostle Paul encourages believers to “pray without ceasing.” While the Bible speaks deeply about the need for prayer, Christians in the 21st century seem not to have time to pray. Hence, ministry and mission work have been turned into a professional exercise, instead of a vocation. However, in Ephesians 3:14–21, we also see the writer has a relationship with God, and is considered a member of the family.

Pastors and church leaders should perhaps reread Ephesians as it is a book about prayer, and for prayers. Divine healing, and life miracles are all manifested if one lives a life of dependence on God. The catalogue of Jesus’ time on earth is filled with prayers and miracles. Intimacy with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is possible in and through prayer. In fact, there is no Pentecost without prayer, and a summoning of the Holy Spirit.

In critical seasons like this global pandemic, droughts, wars, hunger, shootings of people, HIV/AIDS, polarization, and many other dehumanizing experiences, the church is called to institute prayer and invite people to prayer meetings. In acknowledging the graciousness and compassion of God, we see the author laying out requests on behalf of the Ephesians, and possibly for the church throughout our world. It is worth noting that this prayer entreats the Holy Spirit to enter into peoples’ hearts, minds and wills (3:16–17). While prayer sustains believers’ lives, the Holy Spirit who listens to our prayers allows Christians to live and experience the love of Christ in their lives, as well as among their fellow sisters and brothers. While the 21st-century church has abandoned faith healing, there is urgency to teach Christians that prayer is a vehicle through which healing miracles happen. Miracles of all kinds are a way to show Christians that when they humbly seek God and His presence, life becomes livable. In other words, faith and prayer are inseparable, as Jesus is shown at prayer in numerous parts of the New Testament.

The love that the author focuses on in Ephesians 3:18–19 is not just temporal, but Christ’s love is both earthly and eternal. As in verse 18, Christ’s love can rescue a sinner from hell, if one believes. In our 21st-century church, the boundless love of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is not realized. Maybe life challenges and COVID–19, have robbed people and communities of their experience of Christ’s boundless love. Church leaders and pastors should pray that people experience and live in the boundless love of Jesus Christ (3:19).

Realizing Christ’s love will lead to spiritual growth, faith formation, and character in people’s lives. People, especially in the 21st century know temporal love, and many people have been cheated, dumped, and humiliated by people, if not the church itself. Hence, their trust and love for the Church is deeply low. Just as Ephesians 3:20–21 ends with praise and acknowledgement of God, it is urgent that 21st-century rituals emphasize and teach believers about the importance of praising God. Summoning God’s spirit and praising God are not optional parts of faith, but they are a must in every church and every Christian believer. To praise is to worship, and without praise, there is no true worship.