Lectionary Commentaries for October 23, 2022
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 18:9-14

Francisco J. García

This parable, if we do our exegetical homework, puts us in something of a bind. At face value, the parable is written so that we will be drawn to identify with the tax collector due to his demonstration of humility (Luke 18:13), as opposed to the Pharisee who displays a sense of moral superiority (18:14). Be humble like the tax collector, and don’t be haughty like that Pharisee, and you’ll be justified before God. Simple, right?

There are many problems with this traditional interpretation. Not only can it lead us to commit the same offense that the parable is teaching against, as we thank God that we’re not like that Pharisee, more importantly, it can lead us inadvertently into perpetuating harmful ideas about the Jewish community. At the most basic level, because the average reader of this text will make no distinction between a Pharisee and “all Jews,” it plays into old tropes about Jewish people and Judaism as legalistic, elitist, and out of touch  with the “true” God; at the more extreme end, it can actively lead to the kind of anti-Jewish hatred that has plagued Christianity since its inception and continues to cause harm today. Recall how in the gospel of John, “the Jews” are called “children of the devil” (John 8:44) and how the passion narrative uses “chief priests” and “the Jews” interchangeably as those who demanded Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:1-16).

While it’s important to note that the gospels were written in a context that predates the often-conflictual history between Judaism and what became Christianity, preachers must contend with anti-Jewish tendencies that have occurred across history through the reception, interpretation, and application of the gospels and other scriptures by leaders and institutions within our Christian tradition. From the earliest doctors and bishops of the church (Tertullian, Ambrose), to Martin Luther and even contemporary voices, we must contend with the troubling assertion made by theologian David Efroymson: Is there a road that travels (whether indirectly or not) from the New Testament to the Holocaust?1

Ultimately, Christian preaching is about proclamation of God’s word, made known to us through Jesus Christ, and it’s about sharing the good news. So, given all the above, how do we proceed with the good news here? First, I would offer that we need to be honest about this parable and the difficult situation that it presents in setting up the Pharisee “bad” versus tax collector “good” dichotomy. A preacher that takes seriously the great commandments—of loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves—affirmed by Jesus in Luke 10:27 and across the gospels, would be wise not to fall into the age-old trap that sets up Jesus and his teachings as against Judaism or anti-Jewish. It never hurts to remind our congregations that Jesus was thoroughly Jewish, and that the great commandments (originally found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) and all of Jesus’ teachings have their roots in the Torah and the prophetic Jewish tradition.

Second, as sharing the good news is also about truth-telling, we can give voice to the negative portrayals of the Pharisees in other parts of Luke to paint the full picture. According to New Testament and Jewish scholar Amy Jill-Levine, the Pharisees in Luke get a mostly negative review and are portrayed as consistently in opposition to Jesus’ program. Given Luke’s mostly gentile context and audience, this makes the portrayal of the Pharisees even more polemical. The first words of the Pharisees in Luke accuse Jesus of blasphemy (Luke 5:21); they accuse Jesus and his disciples of violating the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-11); Luke calls them “lovers of money” (Luke 16:14), and Jesus calls them “hypocrites” (Luke 12:1).2 The portrayal of the Pharisee as self-righteous in our current parable in question is therefore part of a build-up of conflictual encounters and negative portrayals of Pharisees in Luke. Levine notes that “given the connection of Jews with Pharisees, it’s an easy slide from the conventional insult … ‘the Pharisees, who were lovers of money …’ to all Jews.”3

Third, as we dig deeper into the text, we can also look to the historical record to challenge the conventional wisdom and stereotypical characterization of Pharisees, and as a result, our Jewish neighbors. The ancient Jewish historian and priest Josephus described the actual Pharisees as living meagerly and shunning excess. In addition, within the broader Jewish tradition, the Pharisees are not understood as legalistic, rigid, and elitist. On the contrary, because of their attention to oral tradition and interpreting the spirit of the Torah, they are seen to have played an essential role in ensuring the theological and spiritual continuity of Judaism, and rabbinical Judaism in particular, to this day.4

Finally, with all this mind, we can return to interpreting our parable in question. Instead of falling into the either/or situation of the tax collector versus the Pharisee, what if we admitted the complexity of all humanity and searched for common ground? We can assume that the tax collector’s powerful demonstration of repentance and humility was prompted by some egregious feeling of wrongdoing—perhaps it was the fact that he was an agent of the Roman empire extracting wealth unjustly from his community. Regardless of how we judge the Pharisee’s response, this context may have played a role in his negative feelings against the tax collector. Also, according to Jewish practice, the Pharisee was righteous, going above and beyond what the customs required in fasting and giving.5 Levine offers an interesting take: What if the Pharisee’s good works helped in the justification of the tax collector? When we pray “forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4) we acknowledge how one person’s harmful acts can negatively impact a community. The flipside can also be true—the righteous acts of one person can benefit the community.6

Pope Francis, in addressing how to move forward with the legacy of anti-Jewish portrayals and actions, says this: “Love of neighbor, then, represents a significant indicator for recognizing affinities between Jesus and his Pharisee interlocutors. It certainly constitutes an important basis for any dialogue, especially among Jews and Christians, even today.”7 By being honest about the legacy of Christian biblical interpretation, uncovering the harmful and violent impact on the Jewish community, and grounding our preaching in truth-telling and love of neighbor, we can find a way for the life-giving essence of God for all to emerge.


  1. Reinaldo Siqueira, “Holocaust and the New Testament: Is There Any Connection?,” in Shabbat Shalom: A Journal of Jewish-Christian Reflection, Winter 2002-03, 14-16.
  2. Amy-Jill Levine, “Luke: Introductions and Annotations,” in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (Oxford University Press), 105.
  3. Amy-Jill Levine, “When the Bible Becomes Weaponized: Detecting and Disarming Jew-hatred,” 189.
  4. “Pharisee,” entry in Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pharisee, accessed September 20, 2022.
  5. Mikeal Parsons, Luke, Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament, edited by Mikeal Parsons et al., Baker Academic, 2015, 266-267.
  6. Levine, “Luke,” 138.
  7. Pope Francis, “Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Pontifical Biblical Institute,” May 9, 2019, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2019/may/documents/papa-francesco_20190509_pont-istitutobiblico.html, accessed September 21, 2022.

First Reading

Commentary on Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

Andrew Wymer

Are there limits to God’s forgiveness? Is there a point at which God will no longer forgive human behavior, a point at which personal or social evil is too great to be forgiven? 

As a scholar who researches the violence of white supremacy and the still unfolding aftermath of colonialism in the United States of America (USA), these are questions I frequently grapple with. Does God forgive the sixteenth-century conquistadors, accompanying friars, and their sponsoring institutions whose genocides killed millions of indigenous persons and erased countless indigenous cultures in the Americas? Can God forgive the seventeenth century Christian theologians, ministers, and lay persons in what would become the USA who in the name of God devised modern notions of race and utilized those to implement and benefit from chattel slavery? Can God forgive those of us alive now—those of us who experience social privilege along lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, or ability—who still have not practiced reparations or dismantled the violent systems from which we benefit? Can God forgive us as we extract from the earth and consume the spoils in such a way that is driving the sixth mass extinction that this planet has ever known—the extermination of countless species, other than human creatures? 

I know what our theological systems tell us to say. “Of course! God forgives anyone if only they ask!” However, this passage invites us to critically check that cheeky theological assumption and to sit with an alternative vision of God—one that might cause us some theological discomfort and that does not necessarily fit neatly into our tidy theological grids. 

In this passage we find an unforgiving God, unswayed by desperate human pleas for forgiveness. This passage reveals a God whose forgiveness has limits, or perhaps boundaries. This is a God who fully sees the intense economic and ecological pain that the people of God have wrought on others, themselves, and the earth—it’s not cheating to read verses 11-18—but will still not forgive. Pictured here is a God who will not change God’s mind. God’s judgment for the injustice and unfaithfulness of God’s people is inescapable. 

Let’s be honest. This is tough theology to work with. This passage represents a disturbing engagement between God and the people of Judah. The people lament their sins (verses 7-9), and they use every avenue of lament that they can. They earnestly confess (verse 7), and they appeal to God’s sense of shared history as their Savior (verses 8-9). In the second portion of the reading (verses 19-22), the people again lament to God, appealing to God’s sense of relationship, to the covenant that they had broken, and to God’s place among other gods. Yet God’s response is implacable. Their sins are insurmountable. Judgment is unavoidable. 

Surrounding biblical texts provide some evocative and meaning-laden backstory. The first verses of the chapter (verses 1-6) present an evocative vision of economic and ecological devastation. This is a vision that brings to mind the ecological changes that are ravaging many ecosystems in our present day and—like the experience of God’s people in this passage, also connected to failures to fully embody God’s justice. This connection of such devastation to the experience of God’s judgment may be uncomfortable but is potentially meaning-laden in our contemporary context. The people’s lament is coming too late to prevent this collapse. 

As was noted previously and bears repeating, the verses that are excluded (verses 11-18) also provide some important theological insight. Here we find particular reproof of religious leaders who “lie” and are misleading the people away from grappling with God’s judgment. One need not look far in the religious sphere to find leaders whose theologies and practices do not envision an expansive kin-dom of God in which those who are targeted by violent systems claim the center. Of particular note in these excluded passages is some insight into God’s character. We find God crying tears for God’s people and the violence which they are experiencing. These verses provide a glimpse of a God who is sorrowful for all of the violence and suffering which they encounter. Yet forgiveness is not granted. Judgment is unstoppable.  

This is a harsh theology for an already harsh contemporary context in which too many folk who experience social privilege on some level (race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, et cetera) have dug in their heels as it relates to religion and politics. They are too often unwilling to make further concessions as it relates to their own dominant, privileged identities and formations that could lead toward a more just society. How do we preach this text in this context? How do we preach this text in a way that our people can find themselves within it? My colleague Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks wisely says, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” and while that is almost always true, the reality is that this is a vinegar passage. If connected to parallels in society, it has the potential to make us wince and pucker up our face a bit.  

This passage provides us a vision of a God who is supremely committed to justice, and when God’s people repeatedly fail to live into God’s covenant with them, God is unwilling to compromise with them. This is a vision of God which speaks into the questions I asked at the beginning, and it invites us to check our privileged assumptions that “Of course! God forgives…” This is a God who may just mess us up. This is a God who is not to be toyed with. This is a theological vision that just might put a bit of “the fear of God” into us for failing to embody God’s justice. 

If there is any faintest vestige of divine grace to be found in this passage, it is simply that God is still dialoguing with God’s people even after they have repeatedly breached all covenants with God to act justly in the world. 

So are there limits to God’s forgiveness? Is there a point at which God will no longer forgive human behavior, a point at which personal or social evil is too great to be forgiven? If we listen to this passage and our surrounding contexts, those questions may just continue to haunt us.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Joel 2:23-32

Garrett Galvin

No scholarly consensus surrounds the dating of Joel. We must be content to say that Joel, like Obadiah and Jonah, seems to be a book of unknown origins. While the book is of unknown origins, its content falls into the familiar body of oracles of desolation and consolation. Most prophetic literature consists of oracles of desolation, but we often turn to the prophets for oracles of consolation. This passage delivers a reading full of hope after many verses stating the difficult straits in which Israel found itself. 

Although Joel is of unknown origins, the language at the center of this passage taps into a common tradition of Isaiah and Deuteronomy: “there is no other.” This is the language of an emerging monotheism. Joel describes many reversals in the passages preceding our passage, which former generations may have attributed to the powers of other gods. Even in the Ten Commandments we are warned not to worship other gods; we are not told that they do not exist. Joel describes an emerging understanding within Israel that there is nothing else worth contemplating in the heavens other than Israel’s God. If we agree that this phrase, “there is no other” stands at the literal and metaphorical center of our passage, it will help order the reality of this passage and our own reality today. 

Our passage begins with a vision of abundance. This vision contrasts starkly with the many verses before it that describe Israel’s deprivation and suffering. As is so often the case, the prophet feels called to portray the status quo in which Israel lives. Israel has turned away from God, and life without God leads to scarcity and a lack of meaning. Our passage offers a vision of life with God.

This vision contrasts sharply with the current reality as it focuses on the positive emotions of joy and gladness. This is God’s destiny for humanity: joy and gladness. Rather than a state of constant worry and trepidation, we see anxiety quickly relieved by the early rains. Those of us who live in Mediterranean climates know how much anxiety builds during the rainy season when the rains do not come. The Southwest of the United States has been living through unprecedented drought. Each winter we wonder whether the drought will break, early rains lead to an early relief from anxiety. We see in this passage how the prophet Joel describes a vision of abundance with both early and late rain, a future full of hope. 

I believe this passage asks us to extend the metaphor of rain into our own lives. Israel contends with great adversaries during the time of the prophets, Egypt to the west, and whatever empire (Assyrian, Babylonian, or Persian) that was inhabiting Mesopotamia to the East. These adversaries are alluded to in verse 25. Contending with these adversaries was tough, but it was a part of life just like contending with droughts is tough, but it too is a part of life. I think the Hebrew Bible asks us to extend that metaphor into our own lives. We will find times of spiritual dryness and spiritual abundance. 

False Christianity in the guise of the Gospel of Prosperity denies this reality. It only promises moving from strength to strength. Great empires like the Babylonians offer this same promise: we will only move from strength to strength. The prophet Joel undermines this lie. There will be good times and bad times. Just like the spring follows the winter or the rainy season follows the dry season, we will have ups and downs in our lives. We will be tempted to follow the Gospel of Prosperity that promises only miracles and sunshine. We will be tempted to put the empire before God and place all our trust in it rather than the God of Joel who uses other empires to chastise Israel.

This is why “there is no other” is at the center of our passage. Joel does not describe a God who removes all suffering from our daily life. While we should never seek out suffering, we will be tempted to turn to the empire or the Gospel of Prosperity if we cannot accept suffering in life. Just as spring follows winter or the rainy season follows the dry season, we must be prepared for suffering and spiritual dryness in our life. The quicker we run away from this, the faster it will find us or the more we will be susceptible to the idols of prosperity and empire. There is no other.

What Joel does describe is a God for all people, especially the marginalized. If anyone would seem to be punished by God, it would be a slave. Joel does not see it that way. God will pour out the Spirit on slaves just as God pours out the Spirit on everyone else (2:29). The Gospel of Prosperity and the empires of this world deny this reality. For them, God is only found among the rich, healthy, and prosperous. This is a different God than Joel describes and a different gospel than Jesus preaches. Joel’s words come resounding back to us: there is no other. When we substitute prosperity and empire for the God of Israel, we are ultimately worshiping idols.

Joel is on the path to the radical monotheism of Jesus. He is preaching to a society that is not quite there yet. Isaiah has preached this before him and Deuteronomy will get there. He is preaching to us as well as we can see all the things that are competing with God in our society, whether it is consumerism, nationalism, or narcissism. Joel makes a simple promise to us. If we turn away from the idols, no matter what they may be for us, we will be saved. Rather than an abundance of money or power, we are promised an abundance of meaning and love.


Commentary on Psalm 84:1-7

W. H. Bellinger, Jr.

The Songs of Zion celebrate God’s presence with the community in Zion, the Jerusalem temple, the central place of worship for the community. This divine presence in the sacred temple brings life to the community. These psalms are part of ancient Israel’s praise of the God who is present with them and enlivens them. Psalm 84 looks forward to arriving at the temple and to rejoicing in God’s presence in that sacred place. 

There are a number of musical settings of the psalm, and they focus often on the anticipation of worship reflected in the opening verses. Perhaps the psalm reflects the tradition of pilgrimages to the temple and to festivals there and arriving at the temple or the anticipation of beginning the pilgrimage to the temple. Readers and hearers of the psalm can imagine the joy of standing at the gates of Jerusalem having arrived at the holy city and seeing the temple and rejoicing in its beauty and importance.  

This psalm comes from the time of the Davidic kingdom and reflects the importance of Jerusalem as the community’s central city. The beginning of the psalm (verses 1-4) and the end of the psalm (verses 10-12) look forward to coming to the temple and the life-giving worship there. Verses 5-7 remember the pilgrimage to the sanctuary. Verses 8-9 pray for the anointed Davidic king. The lectionary psalm is listed as verses 1-7 and so that will be the focus of this commentary.  

Ancient Israel rejoiced in the divine presence with the community, and the focus of that tabernacling presence was in the temple. Psalm 84 opens with an exclamation of the beauty of that sacred place. The singer yearns to be in that beautiful and life-giving place and so sings for joy. It is a joyous moment; perhaps the pilgrims come into the first view of Jerusalem or the temple. The “soul” indicates the whole person who longs and even faints in anticipation of worship in the temple, “the courts of the Lord.” The “heart” and “flesh” again suggest the whole person. The heart in ancient Hebrew is the seat of the intellect and will. 

Verse 3 uses the image of the sparrow and swallow as small birds who find a “home” as a place to nest in the Lord’s altars. Even such small birds have a place in the care of the one named Lord of Hosts, King, God. YHWH provides safety and shelter in this sacred place. To be present in the sanctuary and sing praise there to the creator brings joy. Verse 4 articulates a beatitude for the pilgrims who live and sing in the sanctuary. They will find the blessing and joy of worship and safety in Zion. The singer of this psalm anticipates that hope with great yearning and faith.  

Verses 5-7 also take the form of a beatitude hoping for joy to come upon those who find strength in the divine presence on their pilgrimage to Zion. Beatitudes are part of wisdom in ancient Israel and observe life, life related to temple worship in Psalm 84. The pilgrimage to Zion and worship in the temple includes singing praises to YHWH in the context of fullness and completeness coming from the encounter with the divine. Verses 6-7 are about the pilgrimage to Zion. As the pilgrims move toward the sacred place of the divine presence, they see renewal from refreshing rains and move “from strength to strength.” The journey may be difficult and lengthy but the hope of encountering the presence of YHWH in the temple brings anticipation and expectation. Verse 10 reflects this hope with the affirmation that one day in the temple far exceeds the hope for a thousand days elsewhere. The briefest encounter with the divine presence proffers great hopes for the pilgrims. The divine presence brings joy that no other experience can offer.  

Two particular notes at the beginning of Psalm 84 are noteworthy. The first is the title used for YHWH in verse 1: “Lord of hosts.” The title is used four times in the psalm (verses 1, 3, 8, and 12). The literal translation would be “YHWH of armies” with the armies or hosts being the heavenly hosts of angels or heavenly hosts of sun, moon, and stars or the hosts of Israel’s armies. The title suggests that YHWH is the great and victorious God who is present in power in Zion.

It is also noteworthy that the superscription of Psalm 84 identifies the psalm as “of the Korahites.” The first collection of Korahite psalms comes in Book II of the Psalter (Psalms 42-49). A second grouping of psalms of the Korahites comes in Book III (Psalms 84-85 and 87-88). These psalms come after the conclusion of the Psalms of Asaph and the Elohistic Psalter in Psalm 83. Korah was the leader of a group of psalmists/collectors of psalms. Psalm 84 brings to mind the first psalm in the first Korahite collection, Psalms 42-43, originally one psalm. Images of looking forward to worship in the sanctuary and hoping to encounter the divine presence are central to both psalms that begin Korahite collections.  

The festival worship celebrated in Psalm 84 centers in the Jerusalem temple. YHWH is present with the community anchored in Zion, and pilgrims on the way to worship in Zion look forward to encountering the divine presence in the temple (Psalms 27:4; 42:2). Psalm 84 also anticipates such a worship event. It is that presence that makes the place and the event so significant and so hearers/readers of the text today can understand why the pilgrims yearn for this festive worship. Wholeness of life is found in encounter with YHWH, made real in the worship in the sanctuary. These events of pilgrimage and festival worship are community events rather than private events. The pilgrimages and festivals can give focus and hope to the community; in these events, the life God has created and blessed becomes a reality for the pilgrims. Psalm 84 expresses the yearning for these worship events. The singer of Psalm 84 has reflected on the preparation for this life-giving worship experience and the yearning for this festival worship.

Second Reading

Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Stephen Fowl

Although there are many approaches to this text, let us read this passage as the author (whomever it may be) clearly wants us to read it. That is, let us read it as a reflection from Paul on the end of his life and ministry. Let us read it in the light of other Pauline texts. Let us learn what it may say to us about how we might think of the end of our lives and ministries. 

In the paragraph immediately preceding 2 Timothy 4:6, Paul provides Timothy with a set of strong admonitions about how he is to conduct himself as a minister of the gospel. These admonitions are summarized in the final clause of 4:5, “carry out your ministry fully.” It makes sense for Paul to offer such directives under any circumstances. As 4:6 begins, however, we read that Paul is convinced that his death is imminent. The Lord has established the moment of his release or departure and Paul is convinced that moment is soon.  

In 4:6 he speaks of his death as a “pouring out.” The only times this Greek word is used in either the New Testament or the Septuagint, it refers to the pouring out of a drink offering. Hence, the New Revised Standard Version fills out what the Greek text seems to presume. The only other time the Greek verb spendo “to pour out” appears is in Philippians 2:17. There the imprisoned Paul also speaks of the possibility that his life will be poured out as a sacrificial offering. In both cases, Paul wants his audience to think of his life and imminent death is an offering.  

The image of a contest or struggle in verse 7, along with a reference to a prior trial in verse 16, may indicate that Paul is to die a martyr’s death. Thus, the idea of Paul’s life as a drink offering poured out to God makes one thing very clear. No authority, not government, no empire can take Paul’s life. They may kill him, but Paul has already offered his life back to God. In such a situation the authorities seek to impose their power on Paul. They presume they can override his agency with their power. In response Paul’s claim reminds Timothy that things are not always the way the powerful perceive them to be.

In evaluating his own life, Paul offers Timothy three interrelated images. First, he has “fought the good fight.” In both Greek and English there is a built-in ambiguity in this phrase. Most immediately, Paul is claiming that he has fought well. That is, he has demonstrated the courage, determination, and effort characteristic of all good soldiers. In addition, Paul can also be claiming that he has fought in good struggles. That is, he has fought well for things well worth fighting for.  One can, of course, fight ardently for all sorts of bad causes. That is not Paul’s claim here.  

Secondly, Paul has “completed the race.” Paul does not say he has won the race. Rather, he has finished the course set before him. Thinking of one’s life as a goal directed journey or race is fundamental to the way Christians imagine their lives. It is also deeply embedded in most of the moral philosophies that Paul would have known.  

Finally, Paul says, “I have kept the faith.” In the Septuagint the Greek word translated as “kept” often describes someone who observes the commandments. The verb also can be used to describe guarding, preserving, or protecting something or someone. Here in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul certainly wants to give the impression that he has both kept the faith in the sense that his life reflects a fidelity to the gospel and that he has guarded the deposit of faith which he is now passing on to Timothy. 

Taking these three assertions together, Paul is offering a robust estimation of his life in Christ. This is confirmed in 4:8 when he expresses the confident view that the Lord, the righteous judge, will award him the crown of righteousness. Not only will Paul receive this crown, but so will all those “who have loved his appearing.” To better understand this clause, we should look to 2 Timothy 4:1. There Paul also refers to Christ’s eschatological judgment that will happen at his “appearing,” when his kingdom is established in full (see 1 Corinthians 15:22-29). Without establishing when this will happen, Paul is confident that Christ will reward him and all those like him who have kept the faith. This form of confident self-assessment may make modern readers uncomfortable. It is, however, quite commonplace in the ancient word, both in Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts.  

Ultimately, although Paul makes strong assertions about himself, these assertions only make sense in his equally strong assertions about the justice of Christ’s impending judgment and the Lord’s unstinting support of Paul in all types of circumstances. This becomes clear in the final verses of this reading. In 4:16 Paul speaks about his “first defense.” The Greek term here suggests a judicial proceeding, probably one that landed Paul in jail. This also implies that a second proceeding may be imminent, one that will result in Paul’s death. Regardless of the legal specifics of Paul’s situation, he wants to assert both that his human comrades deserted him and that the Lord faithfully remained with him. Again, rather than dwell on the failings of his fellow believers, Paul focuses on the Lord’s care and sustenance. The point of God’s strengthening of Paul is to advance the gospel among the Gentiles. Finally, this passage closes with a reassertion that the Lord will rescue Paul and bring him into the kingdom of God.

Much in this passage resonates with Paul’s discussion in Philippians 2-3. There an imprisoned Paul speaks of the possibility of being poured out as a drink offering. He is concerned that he may have run in vain if the Philippians are not able to maintain a faithful witness to the gospel in the light of opposition. He seeks only to be “found in Christ,” to attain the righteousness found in Christ, to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. In Philippians Paul makes it clear that he has not reached the end. Here in 2 Timothy 4 the end is close at hand. Paul reprises some of the same themes that animated him in Philippians in the light of having reached the end of his journey.