Lectionary Commentaries for November 7, 2021
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Mark 12:38-44

Amanda Brobst-Renaud

The text for this week presents both a caution and an example. “Watch out for the scribes” who devour the houses of widows, on the one hand, and “Look at this widow, who put in her whole life,” on the other. Mark 12:38-44 transforms our understanding of honor, who has it, who receives it, and what it means to communities of faith. The text begs the question: What consumes our whole lives? Where do we put our energy, our finances, our time, and our patience? What results or recognition do we expect in return? 

While the caution against pursuing honor seems relatively clear, the example of the widow is less clear. While many interpretations present the widow’s offering as an example of discipleship in keeping with loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength,1 recent commentators have questioned whether the widow’s action is an illustration of systemic injustice or the devouring of widow’s houses.2 Raquel Lettsome notes rightly: “How we understand the relationship between the woman and the Temple influences how we use this passage either to encourage or discourage relationship between giver and the faith community to which they give.”3 

Perhaps this widow’s house has been devoured as she gives the last of it to a broken system. Maybe this widow places her whole life in the treasury because she trusts God with all she has and all she is. Maybe the widow’s offering is both an expression of trust in God in the midst of the world comprised of broken people, systems, and communities of faith. These people, systems, and communities of faith often forget the call to care for the poor, the undocumented alien, the widow, and the orphan (Deuteronomy 10:18, 14:28-29; 24:17; 27:19). Given Jesus’s interaction with the scribe last week and its connection to Deuteronomy, this exchange—as the Gospel of Mark presents it—continues the trajectory of the argument.

The Text

Mark 12:38-44 bridges two different contexts. Mark 12:38-40 is located in the Temple; the audience includes those in the Temple, the disciples, and various religious leaders. In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus is opposite the treasury, and the disciples are the primary audience. The shift from the scribe who was “not far from the kingdom of God” seems quite far off from the scribes Jesus describes in verses 38-40. 

“Beware,” Jesus says. Jesus does not say “beware of all scribes.” Rather, the community is to be on guard against the scribes who pursue prestige, respect, and honor and against those who would devour widows’ houses. This devouring was likely the result of either 1) the demand for tithes beyond what the widow could sustain or 2) mismanagement of the widow’s assets by the scribes entrusted with such tasks. Given the concern for widows expressed in Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the TaNaKh, this caution would not be a surprise to Jesus’ auditors. 

What would have likely been a surprise, however, was what happens in the next scene of the text. As people give from their excess, a widow gives two lepta, the smallest monetary denomination in first century Palestine. Jesus, somehow knowing this woman’s financial situation, indicates that she has put in her whole life. The NRSV here softens the Greek expression olon ton bion autēs from “her whole life” to “all she had to live on.” While the phrase can mean the latter, the former connects this phrase with Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30 (“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”). Those whose sacrifices provided for the Temple financially were not the ones who gave the most. Rather than lifting up those with power and influence in the community, Jesus identifies the widow as having given more: she gives herself. 


Preachers this week may want to engage what devours or consumes our communities and our society today. Many among us are exhausted as COVID-19 numbers are on the rise when some only recently started worshipping face-to-face and letting down our guards. Many have worked tirelessly to resist racist structures and confront our own racism. It often feels like the demands made of us outrun the time, energy, and life we have been given. Regardless of whether the widow’s offering is an example or a critique, it is crucial to remember that the house of God is not a place to devour widows. It is not a place where anyone should be devoured. There is a difference between giving everything and having everything taken away.

The cruciform existence, or the life of discipleship, according to Mark, involves giving one’s life (Mark 8:34-37). It is important, however, to keep front and center what consumes us. If we are consumed by honor, power, social media, beauty, or money, they will eat us alive, and they ultimately leave us empty. Emptiness devours us, and it promises a life it cannot give. Part of the task of preaching is to identify hunger for Good News when spiritual junk food is readily on offer. Invite people to taste and see: when you give your whole life to God, it becomes fuller than you imagined.


  1. Adela Yarboro Collins, Mark, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 590; Collins notes, however, that this behavior is in contrast with the scribes described in Mark 12:38-40.
  2. Emerson Powery suggests that the widow’s action is a condemnation of injustice, “Mark,” in True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, ed. Brian K. Blount (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 145. 
  3. Rachel St. Clair Lettsome, “Mark,” in The New Testament: Fortress Commentary on the Bible, ed. Margaret Aymer, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, and David A. Sánchez (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 202.

First Reading

Commentary on 1 Kings 17:8-16

Lisa Thompson

This week’s text is one in a series of miracle stories in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, and one of several stories involving women and either Elijah or Elisha.1

The climax of the story involves a “big ask” and a willing participant. How we are inclined to read the story influences our final interpretation of the resulting miracle.

A difficult directive

The ask that Elijah makes in this passage might be one of the most striking features of the text. Instead of a genuine ask, in terms of questions, it is more so a directive at times. And more significantly, the one of whom he makes his request is contradictory to the expectations of the circumstances named.

The story explains that Elijah is instructed by the Holy One to travel to Zarephath in the region of Sidon. Likewise, he is informed that a widow there will feed him. Widows are among those who should be taken care of by others, just as the orphans and those most in need. (Deuteronomy 14: 9) They are to be fed and clothed. And here, the widow is described as the one who will provide food and sustenance for Elijah. When he arrives at the town gate the unnamed woman, presumably the widow, is there gathering sticks. And to this woman he makes his request in verse 11,

…he called to her and said,
“Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”

She complies with the initial request without a record of responding verbally. However, as she is on her way to get water, Elijah ups the ante of his request and adds, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” She is recorded as not responding verbally to the first request. However, at the request for bread she responds, that she has nothing baked and affirms the warrant of her claim in the living God.

But she said, “As the Lord your God lives,
I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug;”

Not only does she not have anything baked but it also becomes clear that her supplies for food and sustenance have run low. And she vouches for this scarcity by evoking the witness of the living God. She names an intention of “gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” After the intimate request to be fed from her hand and her naming a lack of food, Elijah increases the intensity of his request once more.

This time in verse 13 he tells her,

Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.

The directive reads as Elijah being insensitive towards the stated situation, or at minimum undeterred by the widow’s circumstances of scarcity considering his directive from the Lord. The way in which the story ends pushes the reader to sit with and listen through the directives of Elijah which may cause discomfort. We are pressed to ask what makes the nature of this ask for one’s last different than others that we may encounter in our world that lead to one’s literal last and ultimate demise. If we move beyond the answer of miracle and one directional obedience as in, “the widow was obedient to the word event” — other possibilities may emerge by probing the text.

Gaps in the Story

Elijah’s final directive is followed immediately by words attributed to the Lord the God of Israel in verse 14.

For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.

According to Elijah the promise is that the meal would not empty and the oil would not fail until the drought ends. And with this promise the widow proceeds to fulfill the requests of Elijah. As the story ends, it came to pass that the meal and oil did not run out just as the word from the Lord had promised. “She as well as he and her household ate for many days.” (verse 14) This particular cake of bread was not the last cake of bread for she or her son. The story ends with life instead of the death.

Considering the promise given and its final fulfillment — life not death — the gaps present in the plot of this story are intriguing. The words attributed to the Lord changed from the opening of this passage in verse 9 to the end of the passage in verse 14. When the initial message is given to Elijah the Lord says, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” (17:9) Elijah is then recorded as going to the region.

By the time Elijah shares what the Lord says, the description of God’s words has changed. The words have expanded to not only Elijah being fed by this widow, but also a promise that the provision for the widow would not run out until rain returned to land. At some point between his departure from the wadi and his encounter with this widow, the reader is to assume and trust that the prophet has received an expanded revelation.

The nature of scripture as once oral stories passed along before eventually being written down and recopied, makes it reasonable to believe that pieces of the narrative may have been dropped or added along the way. It follows the tradition of any good story passed down from person to person. Ironically, we often graciously forgive some details that are missing or contradictory and not others. In this instance, one might be quick to assume the “trustworthy knowledge of the prophet,” and in turn, the trustworthiness of his expanded revelation and push for this widow’s last. Considering the gaps in the prophet’s story and the presence of a revised revelation, it brings to question as to whether or not there are other gaps in the narrative that we do not readily probe or consider because of our biases and inclinations of reading.

Perspective shifts

What of this widow and her knowledge? Is it just as trustworthy as Elijah’s? We are obviously missing parts of the widow’s story. We do not know why she’s a widow, how she’s fending for herself and her son, nor who else might be living in the household with she and her son. Another point of curiosity in the widow’s story is the question as to whether or not she is the passive participant we often paint or interpret her to be in this story. It is plausible that she might have been aware of the upcoming exchange with Elijah — that would then result in a miracle as she offers her cake of bread.

In verse 8 when Elijah is told to go to Zarephath, the Lord says,

I have commanded a widow to feed you there.

The text seems a bit vague about whether this was a matter of one being “willed to feed” or “told to feed.” Either way, viewing the widow as not simply a docile participant but a mutually knowing agent brings to question if she had her own encounter with the Lord prior to Elijah arriving on the scene. And more specifically, an encounter in which the Lord commanded or told her to feed Elijah.

If we assume the widow had prior and trustworthy revelation before Elijah showed up at the town gate, this shifts our approach to their final exchange at the gate. Their encounter at the town gate might then be one of discerning the continuation of a word they both receive independent of this moment. And in this moment, the manifestation of the miracle is dependent on their showing up to participate in pulling forth that which provided sustenance for them and others. The miracle here relies on the mundane materials of oil and bread, mutual presence, trusting one’s knowing of God, and an ongoing discernment in the present moment.

The prophet’s forced dislocation and relocation after the wadi dries up does not seem coincidental. The location of this miracle is in the actual homeland region of Queen Jezebel, the one who is storied as putting Elijah to flight in the coming chapters. Plausibly, the prophet may need to remember this mundane miracle as the next leg of his journey continues. Elijah’s ministry will continue as he flees threats to his life, performs more miracles, and finds himself in need of more sustenance along the way. Here in this instance he has the aid of the least expected participant, an unnamed widow from Zarephath.

Considerations for preaching

There are often times when the places of silence or gaps in the text produce the greatest fodder for preaching. As readers, we benefit from dislocating ourselves from traditional readings alone. Our biases often continue to silence characters in a text who are skewed towards silence already or painted as lacking the capacity to play a vital role in the story at hand. And yet, we are prone to fill in imaginative gaps or give allowance to characters in a text who are foregrounded as major characters — such as Elijah.

A willingness to shift our perspective and read deeper or “at a slant,” opens up alternative possibilities for this miracle story. Namely, we push back on dangerous assumptions of sacrifice or one offering up their last in a world that is prone to take their last without return. And we open up the capacity for understanding the potential of the miraculous in the everyday stuff of life, as people show up together discerning and intuiting revelation of God together for the sake of something more. Ultimately, the miraculous seems to be participatory and that which continues life.


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 11, 2018.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17

Megan Fullerton Strollo

Last week’s commentary on Ruth 1:1–18 outlined the centrality of Naomi in the book of Ruth. The present entry will give attention to the theological implications of reading the narrative from Naomi’s perspective.

The book of Ruth was most likely composed during the early postexilic period (for example, 6th–4th centuries CE), during a time when particular theological understandings were predominant. Both implicit and explicit references abound in the book to theological assertions made in others books of the Hebrew Bible, particularly Deuteronomy. Indeed, a Deuteronomic theology underpins the entire narrative—notably the belief that obedience to God leads to blessings, while disobedience results in curse. Moreover, the faith-filled belief that God hears and cares for the people of Israel—the assurance of divine providence—undergirds the story. 

These theological perspectives are evident in Boaz’s speech and actions. Throughout the narrative, Boaz invokes God repeatedly in conventional blessings and greetings, substantiating the claim that he represents a theological and societal constant for the reader.

But these theological assertions are challenged by Naomi. There are several exegetical points to make here: 

  1. Naomi speaks about God more than any other character in the narrative. She alternates between using the divine name, YHWH, and another moniker, “Almighty” (Hebrew Shaddai). The latter term’s use is ironic, being used in other Hebrew Bible stories of fertility and blessings. By using the term, Naomi challenges the work and even identity of God as the one who brings blessings and life. 
  2. Notions of “sin” or “guilt” do not factor into the narrative. While the country of Moab is often presented negatively in the biblical narrative (for example, Deuteronomy 23:3–6; Isaiah 15–16), there is no indication that the decision to seek refuge in that place or that the marriage of Naomi’s two sons to Moabite women is somehow the cause of her grief (a form of punishment). The fact that the narrative leaves out any explanation for her grief and suffering intensifies the reader’s empathy for Naomi.
  3. The absence of explanation also amplifies her complaints, highlighting the disconnect she feels from God. In chapter 1, Naomi openly states that God’s will has come out against her (verse 13), that God has made her bitter (verse 20), that God has returned her empty to Bethlehem (verse 21), and that God has testified against her (verse 21). It is noteworthy that she makes her complaints about God rather than to God. Other biblical figures—Job and Jeremiah—are known to have made similar complaints, but they speak directly to the Deity. Naomi’s experience of abandonment is so great that she can’t even bear to look at God right now.
  4. Her speech to her daughters-in-law in 1:8–9 illustrates this. First, in verse 8, she makes a surprising—often glossed over—claim. She says, “May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me.”1 Reading between the lines, Naomi wishes that her daughters-in-law’s actions might serve as a model for God, whose actions thus far, in her experience, have contradicted her understanding. Complications continue in the Hebrew text of verse 9, in which the sentence cuts off and begins again quite abruptly—as if midway through Naomi changes her mind. We don’t see this disruption in the English. Jeremy Schipper renders the Hebrew in this way “May YHWH give to you … [Oh, forget it!] Find rest, each one in the household of your husband!”2 Her uncertainty with regard to God’s presence and working in her life is clear here.
  5. The uncertainty of Naomi’s blessing in 1:8–9 finds an unexpected answer in 3:1–5. It is Naomi herself that will seek Ruth’s “rest” or “security” (Hebrew manoakh): “My daughter, shouldn’t I seek security [Hebrew manoakh] for you, so that things might go well for you?” (3:1).
  6. As noted in last week’s commentary, Naomi’s silence at the end of the narrative (4:16–17) highlights the continuation of her grief. It also suggests that her perspective on God remains unchanged even in the midst of new blessings.
  7. Throughout the book of Ruth, Naomi repeatedly presents us with a theological perspective that is rooted in questions, challenges, and even doubts. She struggles to comprehend the world that she is experiencing—the pain, struggle, grief—because it contradicts her preconceived Deuteronomic theologies. 

It is important to acknowledge that Naomi’s theological perspectives are not condemned in the book. Whereas they are countered by Boaz’s, they are not subsumed by them. Both are upheld as valid. In the end, Naomi still receives the blessings of children and redemption (see last week’s commentary for the pastoral implications of this). The book of Ruth from Naomi’s point of view offers a theological perspective that embraces questions and leaves space for anger and frustration. 

The book of Ruth also presents human agency as a theological response. Given the uncertainty felt with regards to God’s presence and actions, both Ruth and Naomi partner with one another—and with Boaz—for security, redemption, and wellbeing. Both step up, acting for one another in ways that God does elsewhere in biblical literature. Ruth calls upon Boaz to be a comfort for her and Naomi in 3:9, using the language of God’s prevenient care (see also 2:12).3 Naomi seeks “security” (Hebrew manoakh) for Ruth on her own, abandoning her blessing in 1:9. In doing so, she shows the transformative power of human agency.

The theology of the book of Ruth celebrates the ways in which we can care for one another when the world seems to be crashing down around us, amidst even our doubts. Throughout the narrative, Ruth and Naomi both “cling” (1:14; Hebrew dabaq) to one another. Both women are “women of worth” (3:11; Hebrew eshet khayil) and the narrative honors both of their experiences. 


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all English translations derive from the CEB translation.
  2. For a more detailed discussion of the complexities of Ruth 1:8–9, see Jeremy Schipper, “The Syntax and Rhetoric of Ruth 1:9a,” Vetus Testamentum 62 (2012): 642–645.
  3. Boaz praises Ruth for seeking favor and refuge under God’s “wings” (Heb. kanaf) in 2:12. In 3:9, Ruth will use the same term in reference to Boaz’s cloak, indicating that she seeks refuge from Boaz specifically rather than God


Commentary on Psalm 146

Beth L. Tanner

Psalm 146 is structurally simple, yet theologically profound.1

Its genre is one of praise and it is part of the crescendo ending of the psalter. The psalm begins and ends with the same “Praise the LORD” or “Hallelujah,” providing an envelope called an “inclusio.” Inside this envelope are two doxologies surrounding two stanzas, giving a symmetrical shape to this prayer.

The first doxology is personal and enduring and better translated as “I will praise God with my whole self” instead of the standard “soul.” “Soul” provides a meaning of an inner devotion or that the “soul” is something other than the self. The prayer calls for us to involve our whole selves in the life-long act of praise to the LORD. It is a call to action.

In our world, praise has been difficult recently. News from our country and across the world is filled with religious wars, murder, slaughter of innocents, and massive refugee migrations. It is hard to “praise God with my whole self.” Yet, in most of the history of ancient Israel, their situation was similar. Here is the first lesson of this psalm. Praise of God is sometimes an act of discipline. Under the circumstances of war and destruction, praise is not the result of external happiness, but stubborn belief in the face of evidence to the contrary. Indeed praise is defiance of worldly powers. It shouts that despite the situation around me, God is still worthy of praise. The ancients knew that life-long praise can change the world by transforming and empowering individuals. Crying to God is an important cathartic, but praise can change our outlook. Praise provides power when we feel powerless.

The first stanza (Psalm 146:3-4) changes direction abruptly. The move from praise to “do not trust” is a harsh one. But the stanza is a reminder. We are not to place our trust in humans, even human leaders. Notice, the psalm makes no distinction as to the nature of the leader. The leader may be good or bad, his or her merits are not the point, rather their human condition is. Leaders, like all humans, will come and then go to the ground and all of their plans will go with them. Like the old sage, Qohelet, we are reminded of the fleeting nature of the humanity. Human plans are small and transitory. Life-long praise and trust are reserved for the LORD alone.

The next stanza (verses 5-9) returns focus to the one praying. It opens with the Hebrew ‘asher, often translated as “happy.” In the context of a praise psalm, this definition works as long as we remember it is not a passing or superficial happiness, but a deep abiding “contentment” with the human condition and one’s God. It is life as it is supposed to be and it is achieved by having God as one’s “help” and “hope.” This is the contrast to the stanza above. If happiness is elusive, contentment may even be more difficult. We live in a world where contentment is countercultural. Much of our economy is based on consumerism and a capital economy fueled by the desire to acquire more and more things. Yet true contentment is centered in God, not human made items and plans.

And what a God we serve! God is Creator of the heavens, the earth, and the seas (v 6). God is the Sustainer who keeps faith (in Hebrew the word also means “truth” and “firmness”) forever (v 6), and God is the Redeemer who rescues those who are oppressed and hungry (v 7). These attributes serve two purposes. The first is to remind us why God is to be praised for our whole lives and the other is to provide additional contrast to those human rulers. God and God alone is the reason for our creation and continued existence. The psalm adds five ways of the LORD, all centered on God’s justice (vv 8-9a). One can imagine that as each line is read or sung, it is followed by a resounding response of praise. The psalm concludes a final doxology celebrating God’s enduring presence in the world and a final shout of “Hallelujah.”

For preaching, this psalm offers an oasis; a cool, comfortable place where we can put aside the world and praise God for who God is. The prayer is designed to combat narcissism and consumerism. It is to lift our eyes above our day-to-day troubles and into the infinite realm of God. In a world gone crazy, this moment of perspective has been a shelter for centuries. As African-American churches have experienced threats over the summer, the people gathered to sing praises to God and these praises provide strength and sustenance. This is a tradition reaching back to slavery. Sunday morning praise allowed these folks to become fully human for a moment. What the ancient Israelites knew about the power of praise has and is being lived out in communities overshadowed by racist threats. Troubles still exist, but the worshippers are now better equipped to go forward. Praise, it seems, is the very definition of Sabbath rest in God.

Another preaching possibility is to use the contrasts in the psalms and parallel them with the contrasts in the Gospel lesson. This is a wisdom psalm and contrast is part of its structure. The contrast is between human plans and their inherent frailty juxtaposed with God’s justice plans and God’s eternity. The Mark text is a great example of human plans to impress others and God juxtaposed with the widow and her small mite. The summary of that story could easily be “the LORD upholds the widow and the orphan, but the way of the wicked he bends (verse 9).”


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 8, 2015.

Second Reading

Commentary on Hebrews 9:24-28

Madison N. Pierce

Hebrews can be overwhelming, and Hebrews 9, I think, is perhaps the most overwhelming chapter. The author weaves together so many aspects of the Levitical priesthood (or “cult”) seamlessly, and he moves from comparing the first covenant and the second covenant to contrasting it and back and forth, setting up this week’s reading in Hebrews 9:24–28.

In the verses just prior, the offering in view is the inauguration of the covenant in Exodus 24. When Moses sprinkles blood on the people and the tabernacle, he cleanses them, or more specifically, he consecrates them so that they can be a part of worship in the tabernacle. This is a special ritual that took place to signify the beginning of the sacrificial system which was a development in their relationship with YHWH. After this took place in Exodus 24, the cloud covered all of Mount Sinai as a visual representation that God was in their midst (24:15–18).

This sacrifice to inaugurate the covenant takes place with the new covenant also, but the heavenly tabernacle cannot be cleansed with the blood of bulls and goats. It requires a better sacrifice (9:23). Jesus—as both priest and offering—does not enter the earthly tabernacle to perform his act of worship; instead, he enters the heavenly tabernacle with his perfect self-offering.

Since the earthly tabernacle existed first, one might wonder if the heavenly tabernacle is in some way derivative. But, of course, the relationship is quite different. The author of Hebrews tells his audience that the heavenly tabernacle is the “true one,” and the earthly tabernacle is its “representation” (antitypos). 

Throughout Hebrews a number of words are used to relate aspects of the earthly and the heavenly things, and in each instance, the heavenly is the “true” or “better,” while the earthly is the “sketch” or “shadow” or “representation.” Even so, despite this contrast between the two worship spaces, the words used to represent the earthly are not pejorative, especially within the author’s argument, because the earthly helps the people of God understand the heavenly. That is an important function. The earthly is a silhouette that shows us the shape of Christ’s offering.

Nevertheless, the selected portion of Hebrews focuses on the heavenly tabernacle. The author says that Jesus appears in heaven “on our behalf” (9:24). This is a picture of his mediation and intercession. But he does offer himself “again and again,” like the earthly high priests—who perform the Day of Atonement rites annually. They also, the author says, approach with the blood of another. The lives of animals are taken for the sins of the high priests and the people they serve.

In Hebrews 9:26, the author reiterates the contrast between the single offering of Christ and the many offerings of the Levitical priests, but this is not redundant. Here the emphasis is on the timing. Since his offering covers all sins for all of human history, if his offering had the same function as the Levitical offerings, then Christ would have to suffer repeatedly from the time of the fall until the end of days. In this case, Christ’s work would be reduced to his death. (The resurrection is after all one of the keys to his distinctive priesthood; see especially 7:23–28.)

But this is a counterfactual: what did not and will not take place. Jesus has offered himself once for all time and for all sins (7:26b).

The final two verses of this selection (7:27–28) must be taken together. Again, the author presents an important comparison between Jesus and his “companions.” He is a human, just as they are, and human beings only die once. Thus, not only is it not necessary for him to die again and again because his offering is effective, but also it is not possible. “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many” (7:27a).

But he will still come again. Here, in Hebrews 9:28, we have a succinct presentation of the doctrine of the parousia or “coming” of Christ. The author emphasizes that the sins of the people will not be addressed again; Christ did that. When Christ returns, he will “bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

This picture of the people waiting, emphasizing aspects of salvation that remain unrealized, complements what the author presents elsewhere. He describes them as those who are “made perfect” (10:14) and those who “have come” to “thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (12:22). But Hebrews 9 presents them waiting.