Lectionary Commentaries for August 6, 2023
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Matthew 14:13-21

Nicholas J. Schaser

The so-called “Feeding of the Five Thousand” appears in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14). Matthew’s version both recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt and foreshadows the Last Supper. Framing the feeding in this way allows the evangelist to draw a parallel between God saving the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and Jesus saving his people from their sins.

Yet, there is irony in the Gospel’s presentation of the feeding in terms of the exodus. Just before Jesus blesses the loaves and fish in front of the hungry multitude, Matthew describes the death of John the Baptist (14:1-12). At the behest of Herod, John had been arrested and beheaded in prison (14:3, 10). Whereas God had worked through Moses and Aaron to free the Hebrews from bondage under Pharaoh, John’s internment and death at the hands of Herod anticipate Jesus’ own judgment and crucifixion under Pilate. John, Jesus, and their fellow Jews never experience the physical liberation that Moses and his people enjoyed. 

And still, the Gospel frames the feeding of the five thousand as an “exodus moment” to suggest that Jesus’ presence and power in the lives of his followers is on par with God’s work on behalf of the enslaved Israelites. Specifically, the sustenance that Christ provides is a foretaste of the freedom from sins that he will forecast for his disciples at the Last Supper.

Matthew echoes the exodus in the very first verse of our pericope. After Jesus withdraws to a deserted place, the Gospel notes that the crowds “followed him on foot (pezē)” (Matthew 14:13). According to the Greek translation of Israel’s Scriptures, the first two times that people travel “on foot” are after the Israelites come out of Egypt. Following the first Passover, “the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot (pezē)” (Exodus 12:37, Septuagint). As Israel wanders through the wilderness, Moses addresses God, saying, “The people among whom I am are six hundred thousand on foot (pezē), and you said, ‘Meat I will give them’” (Numbers 11:21 Septuagint). In Matthew, the crowds follow Jesus “on foot” and he feeds them, just as God feeds the pedestrian people after the exodus.

Another reference to the exiting Israelites may exist at the end of our Matthean passage. After Jesus feeds the crowds, the Gospel says that those who ate were “about five thousand men (andres hōsei pentakischīlioi), besides women and children” (Matthew 14:21). Similarly, those who came out of Egypt numbered “about six hundred thousand men (eis exakosīas chiliādas… hōi andres)” (Exodus 12:37, Septuagint). Though the Septuagint follows its number with the phrase “besides the property,” the Hebrew text has “besides the little ones”—which would “logically have to imply or include the women who nurtured them.”¹ Matthew’s addition of “besides women and children” may be a more explicit version of what the Hebrew only infers. 

More, Matthew’s inclusion of “women and children” aligns with the Jewish tradition reflected among the evangelist’s contemporaries. The first-century historian Josephus retells the exodus by noting that “the entire multitude of those who went out, including the women and children, was not easy to number, but those who were of an age fit for war were six hundred thousand.”² Similarly, Philo of Alexandria notes that the biblical “six hundred thousand” was the number besides “children and women.”³ Based on this early Jewish understanding of the Exodus account, it is likely that Matthew’s reference to “five thousand men besides women and children” is meant to recall Israel’s escape from Egypt.4

The crowds follow Jesus to a “deserted place” (Matthew 14:13). Matthew reiterates this topography when Jesus’ disciples tell him, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves” (14:15). The Greek for “deserted” is erēmos, the same term that the Septuagint uses for the area to which God demands Pharaoh release the enslaved Israelites: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Send away my people that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness (erēmos)’” (Exodus 5:1, Septuagint). In the Gospel, Jesus’ followers have come “on foot” to the wilderness already and are about to share a miraculous meal—to follow Christ is to have an “exodus experience.” For Matthew, the feeding of the five thousand recalls the God-ordained goal of exiting Egypt.

Not only does the Gospel evoke the Exodus, but the feeding event also looks forward to the Last Supper. Matthew states that Jesus “took (lambāno) the five [loaves of] bread (artos) and the two fish, and looking up to the heavens, he blessed [it] (eulgēo) and broke [it] (klāo) and gave the bread to his disciples (kai edoken toīs mathetaīs toūs artous), and the disciples [gave it] to the crowds” (Matthew 14:19). Likewise, the night before he was betrayed, “Jesus took bread and after blessing [it] he broke [it] and gave [it] to his disciples” (26:26). 

After Jesus refers to this broken bread as “my body” (26:26), he asks his disciples to drink from the cup, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the release of sins” (26:28). At the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus gives the bread to his disciples, and they give it to the crowds. By repeating this scene at the Last Supper, the Gospel implies that Jesus dies to release the crowds of his followers from their bondage to sin. Matthew’s rendition of the miraculous feeding both recapitulates the exodus and foreshadows the crucifixion to underscore Jesus’ role as the savior of his people.


  1.  Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible, Volume 1: The Five Books of Moses (New York: W. W. Norton, 2019), 263 n. 37.
  2. Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 2.317  
  3. Philo. On the Life of Moses. 1.147
  4. See W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (3 vols.; ICC; London: T&T Clark, 1988-1997), 2.493.

First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 55:1-5

Kristin J. Wendland

The exilic and post-exilic sections of Isaiah, beginning in chapter 40, reckon with questions of the ongoing message of a religious tradition in the face of questions of divine justice and divine reliability. In other words, what do words of abundance and promise, of covenant and loyalty, mean after the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem and the scattering of God’s holy people? How shall the strong and sure tradition be interpreted into a new situation?

Isaiah 55:1-5 speaks words of hope, likely to a people returning to Jerusalem. These verses, rich in imagery and tradition, communicate themes of divine invitation, renewal and restoration, and vocation. These verses are both a reaffirmation of God’s presence in their midst and a reinterpretation of what God’s presence means when God’s people find themselves in a new time and place.

Come to the water

The call for the thirsty to come to the water is a reversal of earlier verses in Isaiah that described Judah as a garden without water (Isaiah 1:30) and the LORD as withholding water from Jerusalem (Isaiah 3:1). Beginning in Isaiah 40, water becomes a sign of life as the LORD once more pours water on a thirsty land (see Isaiah 41:18; 43:20; 44:34; 49:10). Isaiah 55:1 joins this theme of renewal and restoration. Much needed water will be available for all who thirst, and grain would be available without cost of silver. A season of abundance and satiation has arrived.

The images of water and silver in Isaiah 55:1 may also recall Isaiah 1:22 where silver dross (basically silver scum) and beer mixed with water are part of a series of images that describe Jerusalem’s descent from a righteous and prosperous city on a hill to the very opposite. In Isaiah 55 the people are not in need of silver, scummy or otherwise, and their water is for refreshment rather than for diluting their drink, whether for personal use or to increase profit. These images that once signified their weakness and sinfulness are now symbols of salvation. Jerusalem will be welcomed with a feast to delight in what is good.

Outside the book of Isaiah, Woman Wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-6 also invites hearers to a banquet table where they may eat of her food and drink of her wine. As in Isaiah 55, those feasting at this meal will find life. In both these texts, the one extending the invitation matters as much as the food itself, for it is the host who offers life. In Proverbs 9 that host is Woman Wisdom, a figure connected intimately with God, who is the host offering a divine invitation in Isaiah 55. 

An eternal covenant

Verses 3-4 recall the so-called Davidic covenant that David’s house and descendants would rule in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7, though the word covenant does not actually appear in that chapter). The end of the Davidic dynasty, along with the destruction of God’s own temple residence on Mount Zion, had raised questions for those who had trusted that the Davidic monarchy and the temple on Mount Zion signaled security and safety for the holy city. The declaration had been that God would build David’s descendants into a house that would rule forever (‘olam), yet the Babylonians had succeeded in conquering it. 

That word forever or everlasting, as New Revised Standard Version translates, returns in Isaiah 55:3. This time, though, the covenant is not with an individual but with the whole people as an extension of God’s steadfast love of David. The New Revised Standard Version translation, “I will make with you an everlasting covenant,” is somewhat more declarative than the Hebrew, which is cohortative and better translated as “Let me make with you … ”, continuing the invitational tone begun in verse 1. Surely a reference to the Davidic tradition, the phrase “everlasting covenant” further recalls the covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:16) and the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:13) as inherited by Isaac (Genesis 17:19), and Sabbath practices as described in Exodus 31:16. This pronouncement of an everlasting covenant is fully aligned with the practice of Judah’s God, and its restatement here is yet another sign of a renewed relationship. 

Verse 4 further describes David and his vocation before transitioning into verse 5 which describes the future vocation of the people called to this feast. David, claims verse 4, was a witness to the peoples, even as he was a ruler and commander of peoples. While it is easy to see the words ruler and commander associated with David, the king and military hero, the word witness is surprising here. The word shows up nowhere in the Davidic narratives in 1-2 Samuel, but military strength would have been a sign of a strong god as was peace and prosperity in a land.

Your God glorifies you

Verse 5 is linked with verse 4 with the introductory word “behold” (hen). As David had been a witness and commander to peoples, so now the people of this new covenant will be called upon for that same purpose. It is challenging to know exactly what it means for nations to call upon this people in the process of being renewed, but it aligns with images such as Isaiah 2 that describe many peoples streaming to Zion, the mountain of the LORD (Isaiah 2:2-5). Isaiah 55:5 sets Israel once more as an earthly sign of the LORD, the God of Israel and as a people to whom other nations will turn. This reflection of God’s glory out into the world is their purpose and their calling, what we might call their vocation.

These three themes are present throughout scripture, and their confluence in these five short verses offers preachers a chance to think with congregations about how these themes might be reinterpreted for yet another time and another place. Divine invitation alongside a promise and experience of renewal and restoration are surely necessary ingredients as congregations continue to discern their vocations and callings for the sake of God’s world.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Genesis 32:22-31

Mark S. Smith

This story appears foreboding, with Jacob alone at night. It is also playful, with the stream’s name punning on his name (verses 22-24) and anticipating the further pun on the verb, “to wrestle” (*’bq, in verses 24-25). The scene unfolds mysteriously, with Jacob wrestling a nameless “man” whom he will recognize as an ’ělōhîm (verse 29).  

The plural noun ’ělōhîm applies to “gods” in general (Judges 9:9, 13), and for minor divinities subordinate to Yahweh (for example, Psalm 86:8; see also Job 1:6, 2:1). It also denotes “other gods,” in other words, gods other than Yahweh, as in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7). It also refers to God (for example, Genesis 1:7, 16, 25) as a sort of plural of majesty. The noun ’ělōhîm can even denote also the ghost of a dead person (1 Samuel 28:13, referring to the dead Samuel; see also Isaiah 8:19). The word has a wide range of usage. All this raises a question in the story: what sort of ’ělōhîm is wrestling with Jacob?

Hosea 12:4-5 takes the ’ělōhîm in this scene as an “angel.” This is not surprising, since in ancient Israel angels were low-level divinities (see Zechariah 12:8). Their identity and power derive from the major deities whom they serve literally as “messenger” (the Hebrew word for “angel,” is related to the verb “to send”). An angel can be both divine in nature and human in form, as with the figure in Genesis 32. So no wonder Hosea 12:4-5 represents the figure this way, but does Hosea 12:4-5 settle the matter for Genesis 32?  

There is no evidence that an angel was assumed in Genesis 32 itself. Since biblical authors usually show little or no difficulty saying what they want audiences to know, Genesis 32 may deliberately present a mysterious figure. The story ends with Jacob naming the site Peniel (“face of God,” verse 30; see the variant Penuel in verse 31), following his declaration of “seeing God face to face” (verse 30). Since this motif was at home in the ritual experience of the Jerusalem Temple (Psalms 11:7, 17:15, 27:4, 42:2, 63:2, and 84:7), the “god” that Jacob believes he has experienced may be the god of the sanctuary site who has appeared to him in human form.¹ Who was that?

Before the name of Yahweh was revealed to Moses in Exodus 6:3, the patriarchs knew this god as “God Almighty,” in Biblical Hebrew El Shadday (Genesis 17:1, 28:3, 35:11, 43:14, 48:3, and Exod 6:2; see also Genesis 49:25). This El could have been the god of the sanctuary and/or a god of Jacob’s family (see also Genesis 49:25, “by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty, who will bless you”). The story hints in this direction with Jacob’s, new name Israel (verse 28), which includes El, the divine name generally associated with the patriarchs and matriarchs in Genesis (for example, not only El Shadday, but also “El-Elohe-Israel,” New Revised Standard Version, or “El god of Israel” in Genesis 33:22; see also “El the eternal one,” in Genesis 21:33, “the Everlasting God” in New Revised Standard Version).² In time, this divine figure came to be identified with Yahweh, as narrated in Exodus 6:2-3 and as reflected in the combination of the name of Yahweh with El-titles (for example, Genesis 21:33). English translations such as the New Revised Standard Version often render the word for El in these contexts as “god,” a grammatical possibility that facilitates the Bible’s conflation of Yahweh and El as a single god. So El may be the older figure lying in the background of the narrative.  

In the end, however, Jacob’s encounter is not simply a divine puzzle that he wants to know (“Please tell me your name” in verse 29). The story also highlights the mystery of Jacob’s engagement with the divine. Who is God for Jacob-Israel? What does God intend for Jacob?  

It is Jacob’s destiny to be returning to the land (verse 22) and to be Israel (verse 28). It is to struggle with God and with humans (verses 24-25, 28). When the ’ělōhîm says to Jacob, “you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed” (verse 28), the italicized words in this speech reverse and play on Jacob’s new name. Israel’s destiny is even to be wounded by God (see verses 25, 31), and still somehow to prevail (verse 28), as it has so often in history. It is also Israel’s destiny to be blessed by God (verse 29) and to see the face of God (verse 30); and it is no less to keep God’s teaching, signaled by the story’s reminder of Israel’s duty to observe dietary law “to this day” (verse 32). Overall, the story is about Jacob’s mysterious identity—and destiny—to be Israel in relationship to a mysterious God. This story, set in Israel’s distant past, envisions its ongoing destiny “to this day.”


  1. Here we might compare the goddess Anat in conflict with the human Aqhat at a shrine, in Ugaritic Narrative Poetry, ed. Simon B. Parker, Society of Biblical Literature Writings from the Ancient World 9 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1997), 59-62.  See “her temple” in line 39 of column V as the setting for the scene that follows in column VI when they clash.
  2. See the classic treatment of these El titles in Frank M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University, 1973), 46-60.


Commentary on Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

James K. Mead

The scriptures often describe people and things in absolute terms, with a rhetorical flair I advise my students to avoid.¹

I tell them that critical thinking requires us to seek precision in our language and shun generalities that make reality look simpler than it actually is. This Psalm 145 selection, therefore, makes it challenging for interpreters readily to embrace the exuberant declaration that “The Lord is good to all” (verse 9).

On one level, the language of Psalm 145 is straightforward and simple. The words, “The Lord is,” occur five times, and their object is usually “all” or “every” of some category, for example, “all who are falling” (verse 14). Another type of statement predicates actions of the Lord, such as “raises,” “gives,” “fulfills,” “hears,” and “watches.” In other words, it is the theology we first learned at the table: “God is great. God is good.” What is there not to understand?

On another level, however, human history and personal experience prompt us to wonder just how the Lord’s goodness becomes active and effective for all creation. Whatever our theological convictions may declare, sometimes it’s just difficult to feel that goodness at work in the midst of suffering and loss.

So, can we profess with the poet that “the Lord is good to all”? In our congregations there will be situations in which this statement brings confusion and pain instead of joy and peace. The fact is that there’s no way to argue someone into this affirmation of faith; but the reason we keep leading in worship and stepping into the pulpit is that we know the Holy Spirit works within — and the fellowship of believers surrounds — the broken-hearted. It’s with that confident hope that I make the following observations.

First, let’s start with the obvious: our selection is about one-half of the entire psalm, whose acrostic structure and consistent style require that the parts of the psalm should be understood in light of the whole.2 The verb “to bless” at the beginning (verse 1), middle (verse 10), and end (verse 21), and the key Hebrew word kol (“all, every”) seventeen times in the poem are two other signs of its unity.3 Parallel panels move from praise (1-2, 10) to greatness (3-6, 11-13a) and goodness (7-9, 13b-20).4

So, while this Sunday’s selection concentrates upon the goodness of God, it passes over verses 10-13, wherein the poet extols the kingship of God. We must be careful, therefore, not to sever the positive theology in our verses from its source in God’s royal power. As James Luther Mays writes of verses 4-7, “God’s power is good and God’s goodness is powerful.”5

The choice to pass over verses 10-13 isn’t based on the avoidance of monarchic language for Israel’s God, since those verses appeared when Psalm 145 was used in the lectionary just three Sundays ago. Still, we don’t want short-term liturgical memory to fail us when it comes to interpreting the rest of the psalm.

Second, we need to understand just how the Hebrew word kol (“all, every”) functions in this psalm. Instead of leaping into philosophical and theological conundrums, we would do well to ask whether kol must be taken here as “all” in the sense of an absolute, numerical comprehensiveness. To be sure, there are places where an author seems to intend this: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

In other places an author intends to express a representative comprehensiveness, as when “David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem” (1 Chronicles 15:3). There were certainly some Israelites who didn’t make it to Jerusalem for that celebration. The poetic style and imagery of Psalm 145 intend us to see the goodness of God in “successively broader circles,”6 so that nature and history point to the complete goodness of God’s nature, rather than to a human moral assessment about each and every event is in the cosmos. Paul’s thinking in Romans 8:28 runs parallel to this truth, namely, that it is the experience of God’s people that “all things work together for good,” not that all things are morally good in themselves.

Third, the major portion of this Sunday’s lection (verses 14-21) interprets the goodness of God primarily in terms of God’s faithfulness (verse 13b) to and for the people of God. Psalm 145 invites those who sing and pray it into a circle of trust, a place where we begin to see God’s relation to the world not in terms of our own needs but in terms of the larger stage of divine purpose and action.

Thus, in spite of the fact that this psalm begins with the first person singular, it soon moves well beyond any single individual to all times and places. Seeing Psalm 145 as a “community” praise psalm helps us realize that its theology transcends its personal application to one’s own spiritual growth, and certainly beyond praying for the next nice thing God can do for me.8

Moreover, regular corporate praise becomes, as Walter Brueggemann suggests, “an evangelical act that invites a deep departure from the greed system of self-securing.”7 A community that praises in this way must also pray boldly, dependent for each day’s good gifts from God above (Matthew 6:11).9


  1. Commentary first published on this site on August 3, 2014.
  2. On the structure see Gerald H. Wilson, “The Qumran Psalms Scroll Reconsidered: Analysis of the Debate,” CBQ 47 (1985): 624-642.
  3. Leon J. Liebreich, “Psalms 34 and 145 in Light of their Key Words” HUCA 27 (1956): 181-192.
  4. Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 506.
  5. James Luther Mays. Psalms (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994), 439.
  6. Reuven Kimelmann, “Psalm 145: Theme, Structure, and Impact,” JBL 113 (1994): 53.
  7. Artur Weiser, The Psalms: A Commentary, translated by Herbert Hartwell (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 827.
  8. Walter Brueggemann, “Praise and the Psalms: A Politics of Glad Abandonment, Part II” Hymn 43 (1992): 14-15.
  9. Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 3, Hermeneia, trans L. M. Maloney (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), 602-603.

Second Reading

Commentary on Romans 9:1-5

Anna M. V. Bowden

We find in this week’s epistle lesson a moment of tenderness. In the middle of his letter to the Romans, Paul pauses for a brief reprieve, a break from his theological thinking. In this pause we are invited to remember that relationships are messy. And we learn that this messiness greatly distresses Paul. 

The heartbeat of Paul’s letter to the Romans is God’s relationship to both Jews and Gentiles. Up to this point, Paul has argued that both Jews and Gentiles exist in a broken relationship with God (Romans 1-3). But God, through the faith of Christ, sets out to reconcile both Jews and Gentiles to God and to teach each other. 

Many contemporary Christians read Paul as replacing the Jewish community with Jesus-followers—Judaism with Christianity—and this passage has often served as a proof-text. But such readings are inadequate. Paul repeatedly reminds his readers that this is a Jewish story: “but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek” (2:10-11). 

Chapter and verse designations create a false division between the end of chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 9. Paul makes a strong theological statement at the end of chapter 8. He writes: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38-39).

Instead of beginning a new section, it is possible to read verse 1 as continuing Paul’s message from chapter 8. Though it might shock some to hear such a bold claim about God’s love, he explains, “I am speaking the truth” and “my conscience confirms it” (verse 1). Paul is adamant—nothing can separate us from God. 

The next two verses complicate things. Paul admits in the subsequent verse that he experiences great sorrow and has a relentless anguish in his heart (verse 2). But what brings about Paul’s grief? Many interpreters suggest a broken relationship with Israel, but this is not convincing. Paul refers to the Israelites as his brothers (adelphōn). Paul’s use of familial language to name them highlights their continued connection. It does not appear from this language that he feels any animosity towards the Jews or heartache from a separation. 

Verse 3 is also tricky. It begins with an unclear acknowledgement of a past action. The NRSV translates, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed (anathema) and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.” The verb translated here “could wish” is an imperfect verb. The use of the imperfect suggests that Paul is not indicating what he could do but what he used to do. Paul is not posing a possibility; he is describing a previous state of being. 

This detail is important because it helps to reframe the wish or prayer. Paul is describing what he wished for previously. It is not something he currently longs for, nor is it a future request. So, what did Paul formerly desire? Scholars are divided. 

Two factors lead to confusion about the translation of verse 3. First, we do not really know what the noun anathema means, and second, we do not know how Paul employs it. The noun has multiple meanings. It can refer to 1) an offering, 2) a curse, or 3) more generally, as something that is set apart. It is unclear how Paul is using the term in Romans. 

Verse 3 is further complicated by interpretations. If Paul seeks separation, then we must ask, “from who?” From the Jews? From knowledge of Christ? Scholars pose a variety of answers. Some read Paul as suggesting he would give up his place in heaven for the Jews to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. But this reading does not make sense. Paul is clear that everyone receives God’s grace in the end (8:38-39). 

Finally, verses 4 and 5 remind us that this is still a Jewish story. In Roman 3, Paul asks: “What advantage has the Jew?” Here he carefully curates a list. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (verse 4). Paul ends with a doxology. In a few short verses, he has moved from grief to praise. 

At the end of this passage, there are two things we can know for sure: Paul is not anti-Judaism and something troubles him. Exactly what troubles Paul, however, is not clear. Paul is likely attempting to puzzle out what he does not fully understand himself—such as, what the finer details of this new relationship between God and creation are. In the end, I think that what we most gain from these few verses is a reminder that we often do not really know what Paul is saying. We are not privy to his inner thoughts or even what troubles his heart. 

This week’s epistle reminds us that the work we are called to do is hard work and it often takes a toll on our relationships. Like Paul, it is good to name our emotions and the ways this makes us feel. Paul’s moment of vulnerability is a gift to pastors who similarly find themselves in a moment of sorrow or time of anguish. They are not alone. As Romans attests, Paul, too, is at times overcome with these feelings. He feels them in the depths of his heart. 

This text from Paul’s letter to the Romans also reminds us that we do not have to have all the answers. Like Paul, we are in the process of figuring things out. Maybe we find ourselves in a position to say what we used to do. Paul’s vulnerability in this week’s passage demonstrates that what it looks like to be a Christian has been and always will be a process of negotiation.