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Monday, November 24, 2008

+ A D V E N T + O N E +

Lexegete™ | Year B | Mark

First Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2008
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (7)
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Prayer of the Day

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Show us your steadfast | love, O LORD,
and grant us | your salvation. Alleluia. (Ps. 85:7)

1a. Context: Mark 13:24-37

This lesson is Mark's conclusion to what is known as the Synoptic
Apocalypse, so named because it describes the signs of the parousia.
It is delivered in the context Jesus' statements about the
destruction of the temple, and is sometimes known as the "Mount of
Olive Discourse' because it presents Jesus taking the disciples away
from Jerusalem to this high place where he tells them of the signs of
the last times (Mark 13:1-4).

Matthew and Luke present essentially the same material. The chief
difference is in how each of the synoptics presents the conclusion of
this grouping of the sayings of Jesus.

Mark 13:5-13. Jesus warns that there will be 1) false prophets;
2) wars; 3) his followers suffering many tribulations: arrests,
court appearances marked by Spirit-led witnessing, beatings,
betrayal, hatred, imprisonment -- all for him and his name's sake.

Furthermore, the temple will be invaded and desecrated and the
people of Jerusalem driven into the hills to suffer great
deprivation. (How terrible for those with child or nursing little
ones!) But for the shortening of the days, no one could endure these
hitherto unparalleled tribulations (Mark 13:19; Matthew 24:23).

While people may be lured into looking for a false Christ, there will
actually be no mistaking the day of the Son of Man when the heavens
themselves will be in disarray. Therefore, remember that as the
first springtime shoots on a fig tree foretell of what is coming, so
all these things tell us that 'he is near, at the very gates (v.

Just as surely as you will see all these signs, just as surely you
will not know the hour or the day of his coming. (Such knowledge is
not even given to the Son but is strictly the property of the Father
(cf.. Acts 1:7). The signs are not given for the sake of would be
time-setters. On the contrary, they are accompanied by such warnings
as "but the end is not yet" (v. 7) and "this is but the beginning of
the sufferings. (v.8).

In fact, without the forceful, unequivocal statement that no one,
not the angels, not anyone, knows the hour or the day, the urgency of
Jesus basic summons loses much of its force. For from first roll of
the drums heard in Jesus warning, 'Take heed that no one leads you
astray,' and through all the ensuing signs, the beat goes on with
ever greater intensity, '!" (v. v/ 33.35.37).

As Mark has it, the central thrust of Jesus' last will and testament as he enters into the time of his Passion (Mark 14:1 ff.) is strictly eschatological: Watch!

1b. TEXT: Mark 13:24-37


The Coming of the Son of Man

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day or Hour

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. [1] For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants [2] in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, [3] or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

[1] 13:33 Some manuscripts add and pray
[2] 13:34 Greek bondservants
[3] 13:35 i.e., third watch of night, between midnight and 3 a.m.


24αλλα εν εκειναις ταις ημεραις μετα την θλιψιν εκεινην ο ηλιος σκοτισθησεται, και η σεληνη ου δωσει το φεγγος αυτης, 25και οι αστερες εσονται εκ του ουρανου πιπτοντες, και αι δυναμεις αι εν τοις ουρανοις σαλευθησονται. 26και τοτε οψονται τον υιον του ανθρωπου ερχομενον εν νεφελαις μετα δυναμεως πολλης και δοξης. 27και τοτε αποστελει τους αγγελους και επισυναξει τους εκλεκτους [αυτου] εκ των τεσσαρων ανεμων απ ακρου γης εως ακρου ουρανου. 28απο δε της συκης μαθετε την παραβολην: οταν ηδη ο κλαδος αυτης απαλος γενηται και εκφυη τα φυλλα, γινωσκετε οτι εγγυς το θερος εστιν. 29ουτως και υμεις, οταν ιδητε ταυτα γινομενα, γινωσκετε οτι εγγυς εστιν επι θυραις. 30αμην λεγω υμιν οτι ου μη παρελθη η γενεα αυτη μεχρις ου ταυτα παντα γενηται. 31ο ουρανος και η γη παρελευσονται, οι δε λογοι μου ου μη παρελευσονται. 32περι δε της ημερας εκεινης η της ωρας ουδεις οιδεν, ουδε οι αγγελοι εν ουρανω ουδε ο υιος, ει μη ο πατηρ. 33βλεπετε αγρυπνειτε: ουκ οιδατε γαρ ποτε ο καιρος εστιν. 34ως ανθρωπος αποδημος αφεις την οικιαν αυτου και δους τοις δουλοις αυτου την εξουσιαν, εκαστω το εργον αυτου, και τω θυρωρω ενετειλατο ινα γρηγορη. 35γρηγορειτε ουν, ουκ οιδατε γαρ ποτε ο κυριος της οικιας ερχεται, η οψε η μεσονυκτιον η αλεκτοροφωνιας η πρωι, 36μη ελθων εξαιφνης ευρη υμας καθευδοντας. 37ο δε υμιν λεγω, πασιν λεγω, γρηγορειτε.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th editio © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart; The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Mark 13:24-37

v. 33. "Take heed' (blepete) or 'be alert' is used not only in respect to enemies without (pharisees, 8:15; scribes, 12:38; deceivers, 13:5; but also those inner weaknesses which could lead to our downfall.

v. 33. 'Watch' (agrupneo). Stay awake. Be vigilant. A German translation is instructive: schlaflos, sleepless. This is a key word occurring also in 35.37. It is the heart of the Markan conclusion.

v. 33. Some texts add proseuchesthe, pray, linking this exhortation to the instruction in Gethsemane (14:38).

v. 33. 'You do not know...the kairos, the time.' Kairos refers to a decisive moment. There is another word for time: chronos. It refers to the passage of time. When Jesus say that we do not know when the time will come he is referring to that decisive moment which will mark the end of this world's passage of time.

v. 34-36 'This parable of the absent householder is distinctive of Mark (cf. Matthew 34:43; Luke 12:35-46). In Luke 12 the master is away at a wedding and his return is imminent. He will return at night , but the servants simply do not know at what hour. In the Markan parable account is taken of the delay in returning and the notion that the master has gone on a far journey. Vigilance is called for .... because the return may be delayed.' Interpretation, 32 p. 411.

v. 34 The householder places the servants exousia, "in charge', or he gives 'authority' for each (ekastos) to do their distinctive and appointed task (ergon). This phrase deserve notice because "watchfulness' is primarily being found as faithfully carrying out one's given responsibility.

The vigilant waiting is again emphasized by the picture of the (thurooros), doorkeeper, staying on guard through all four watches (a Roman division of watches rather than the Hebrew marking of only three watches) lest the householder in his returning suddenly, (exaphanais) return find the servants sleeping (katheudontas,) part. of katheudoo).

3. STRATEGY: Mark 13:24-37

The exhortation to "eternal vigilance' is certainly fitting for us who are aware of how much time has passed since the first promise of the parousia. But how do we frame such an exhortation?

The use of the context could be a good introduction, simply because
the sayings about the end times are not usually mentioned in mainline
churches. (Mark 13 is also an appointed Gospel lesson for the 27th
Sunday in Pentecost, but since the full number of possible Sundays
seldom occurs, it is rarely read. This appointed lesson for Advent
1 at least appears every three years). No matter how often such
lessons are read, the fact remains that the church today is like
the person who has heard the morning alarm or clock radio go off but
remains in bed, and only dreams that he/she is dressing.

How to stir up watchfulness? A rehearsal of the events described by
Jesus in that portion of the chapter leading up to the lesson is a
possible start. The events should not be described as having an exact
parallel or fulfillment in yesterday's headlines, but most certainly
they describe events familiar to us, events that should awaken us to
the fact that history will one day have its closure.

Our basic difficulty in remaining alert, however, does not lie in the
absence or unawareness of 'signs" but in the fact that our own
personal lives, as well as the total span of history, are played out
as if we are in a game which has no visible 'game clock.' There may
such a clock, but it is not visible to us or to anyone else. Have
gone by the "two minute warning ' or not? The only thing we can
sure of is that we are expected to run the next play.

We need to begin admitting this gap in our knowledge and also
recognize that people cannot and should not be kept 'alert' by
inducing nail biting anxiety or by giving them promises that the
secret ending can be found out, after all.

A more positive answer comes through the presentation of the fact
that right at this moment one and all are in the kairos the decisive
moment when we are meeting Christ the Lord. We have just finished a
church year which has rehearsed fully his coming among us. We are
beginning the cycle again. He who is to come is already with us.
It is the 'already' of Christ's presence which keeps alive our joyful
expectation of the 'not yet.' It is our relationship with someone
whom we already know and love, and whose love of us is such a certain
thing, which lifts up our hearts in joyful expectation and longing
for that loved one's return. This is the presence and the coming,
the 'already' and 'not yet' of our relationship with Christ which can
in turn become the source of a watchfulness which is characterized by
faithfully carrying out the assigned task the Lord has given to us
until he returns.

Lamar Williamson, Jr. reminds us of the time early in the history of
our nation when disturbances in the heavens and a great midday.
darkness convinced the people of Massachusetts that the Second Coming
was imminent. The state legislature was in a panic and prepared to
flee the building. Then one elder of the group rebuked they

would appear to be the greatest of fools, but that if they were
right, there could be no better way to show their readiness than to
be found doing with the work appointed to them. With that he called
for candles to be brought in, and they carried on as the should.

4. REFERENCES: Mark 13:24-37

Williamson, Lamar, Jr. INTERPRETATION, A Bible Commentary FOR
Teaching AND Preaching . V. 31, 1983 . John Knox Press. Atlanta,

Throckmorton, Jr. ed., 1967, Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville, Tenn.

Trotti, John Boone, Interpretation 32, 1978, pp.410-413.

Rienecker, Fritz, SPRACHLICER SCHLUSSEL zum Griechischen Neuen
Testament, 1956, Brunnen Verlag GMBH, Giessen und Basel.

Exegete: Rev. Dr. Vernon R. Schreiber †, formerly pastor of the Lutheran
Church of the Savior in Paramu, NJ, and a leader in the advocacy for civil rights and interracial harmony, has entered his heavenly rest.

Lexegete™ © 2008

Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

+ Y E A R B + MARK +

Advent / Christmas / Epiphany

Baptism of Our Lord
January 11, 2009 (Lectionary 1)
Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29 (3)
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, | the Beloved,
with whom I | am well pleased." Alleluia. (Matt. 3:17)

Color: White
Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 18, 2009 (Lectionary 2)
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins
1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 (1)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

Prayer of the Day
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer, for the countless blessings and benefits you give. May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. We have found | the Messiah:
Jesus Christ, who brings us | grace and truth. Alleluia. (John 1:41, 17)

Color: Green
Confession of Peter
January 19, 2009 (transferred from January 18)
Acts 4:8-13
Psalm 18:1-6, 16-19 (3)
1 Corinthians 10:1-5
Matthew 16:13-19

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you inspired Simon Peter to confess Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the living God. Keep your church firm on the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth and follow one Lord, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea | and Samaria,
and to the ends | of the earth. Alleluia. (Acts 1:8)

Color: White
Third Sunday after Epiphany
January 25, 2009 (Lectionary 3)
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12 (6)
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God | has come near;
repent, and believe | in the good news. Alleluia. (Mark 1:15)

Color: Green
Conversion of Paul
January 26, 2009 (transferred from January 25)
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends
Acts 9:1-22
Psalm 67 (3)
Galatians 1:11-24
Luke 21:10-19

Prayer of the Day
O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant that we may follow his example and be witnesses to the truth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up,
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)

Color: White
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
February 1, 2009 (Lectionary 4)
Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111 (10)
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

Prayer of the Day
Compassionate God, you gather the whole universe into your radiant presence and continually reveal your Son as our Savior. Bring wholeness to all that is broken and speak truth to us in our confusion, that all creation will see and know your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The people who sat in darkness have seen | a great light;
for those who sat in the shadow of death | light has dawned. Alleluia. (Matt. 4:16)

Color: Green
Presentation of Our Lord
February 2, 2009
Malachi 3:1-4
Psalm 84 (1) or Psalm 24:7-10 (7)
Hebrews 2:14-18
Luke 2:22-40

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, your only-begotten Son was presented this day in the temple. May we be presented to you with clean and pure hearts by the same Jesus Christ, our great high priest, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. My eyes have seen | your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence | of all peoples. Alleluia. (Luke 2:30-31)

Color: White
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
February 8, 2009 (Lectionary 5)
Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c (3)
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

Prayer of the Day
Everlasting God, you give strength to the weak and power to the faint. Make us agents of your healing and wholeness, that your good news may be made known to the ends of your creation, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The servant of God took | our infirmities
and bore | our diseases. Alleluia. (Matt. 8:17)

Color: Green
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
February 15, 2009 (Lectionary 6)
2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30 (2)
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Mark 1:40-45

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, with mercy you look upon our weaknesses. Stretch out your wondrous hand to protect us from danger and restore us to health, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The word about Jesus | spread abroad;
the power of the Lord was with | him to heal. Alleluia. (Luke 4:15, 17)

Color: Green
Transfiguration of Our Lord
Last Sunday after Epiphany
February 22, 2009
2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6 (2)
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts. Transfigure us by your beloved Son, and illumine the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. This is my | Son, my Chosen,
lis- | ten to him! Alleluia. (Luke 9:35)

Color: White

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christ the King | Thanksgiving (USA)

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew



November 23, 2008 (Lectionary 34)

Complementary Series

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a (7)
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46
Color: White or Green

Semicontinuous Series

Exekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100 (3)
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

November 30, 2008
Ezekiel 3:16-21 | Psalm 19:1-6 (4) | Romans 10: 10-18
John 1:35-42
Color: Scarlet/Red

1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 25:31-46

Wedding apocalyptic imagery with Sermon on the Mount ethics, this
judgment scene is unique to Matthew and bears his theological stamp. It
is placed as the last word of Jesus to his disciples before the Passion as
well as the climax of the apocalyptic section (Ch. 24-25). Its content
sums up both Jesus' identity with the suffering, which he is about to make
complete on the cross, and his understanding of the life of faith, for which
the disciples will be held accountable.

Immediately preceded by the parable of the wise and foolish
investors, our text further develops the parable's settling of accounts and
concern with how one uses the time when the master is away. But it
stands out in three ways.

1. The scene is bracketed by apocalyptic imagery which carries
with it dramatic expectations of the coming of the Son of Man and
judgment, (cf., Mt. 13:41ff., 24:27ff., Daniel 12:2).

2. The criteria for judgment are given ethical content, sounding
much like the Sermon on the Mount. (See especially Mt. 6:1-4 [give alms
unself-consciously] and Mt. 7:15-27 [on hearing and doing Jesus' words
and knowing false prophets by their fruit]). One wonders if Matthew's
community was plagued by false prophets whose lives bore little
compassion or humility, giving rise to the evangelist's special concern
with those qualities of faithful living--qualities which remain important
for the community of faith in a proud and self-centered culture.

3. Holding apocalyptic and ethic together is a radical Christology of
incarnation. Jesus is present in "the least." Matthew expresses such
identification with the "little ones" elsewhere (18:5, 10:40-42; cf.
Proverbs 19:17). But uniquely here it is the King, the Son of Man in his
glory, whose presence is known in the vulnerable ones. (Note also that the
extrahistorical nature of apocalyptic thought is abrogated in service to
incarnational Christology.)

1b. TEXT - Matthew 25:31-46


The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, [1] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

[1] 25:40 Or brothers and sisters


31οταν δε ελθη ο υιος του ανθρωπου εν τη δοξη αυτου και παντες οι αγγελοι μετ αυτου, τοτε καθισει επι θρονου δοξης αυτου: 32και συναχθησονται εμπροσθεν αυτου παντα τα εθνη, και αφορισει αυτους απ αλληλων, ωσπερ ο ποιμην αφοριζει τα προβατα απο των εριφων, 33και στησει τα μεν προβατα εκ δεξιων αυτου τα δε εριφια εξ ευωνυμων. 34τοτε ερει ο βασιλευς τοις εκ δεξιων αυτου, δευτε, οι ευλογημενοι του πατρος μου, κληρονομησατε την ητοιμασμενην υμιν βασιλειαν απο καταβολης κοσμου: 35επεινασα γαρ και εδωκατε μοι φαγειν, εδιψησα και εποτισατε με, ξενος ημην και συνηγαγετε με, 36γυμνος και περιεβαλετε με, ησθενησα και επεσκεψασθε με, εν φυλακη ημην και ηλθατε προς με. 37τοτε αποκριθησονται αυτω οι δικαιοι λεγοντες, κυριε, ποτε σε ειδομεν πεινωντα και εθρεψαμεν, η διψωντα και εποτισαμεν; 38ποτε δε σε ειδομεν ξενον και συνηγαγομεν, η γυμνον και περιεβαλομεν; 39ποτε δε σε ειδομεν ασθενουντα η εν φυλακη και ηλθομεν προς σε; 40και αποκριθεις ο βασιλευς ερει αυτοις, αμην λεγω υμιν, εφ οσον εποιησατε ενι τουτων των αδελφων μου των ελαχιστων, εμοι εποιησατε. 41τοτε ερει και τοις εξ ευωνυμων, πορευεσθε απ εμου [οι] κατηραμενοι εις το πυρ το αιωνιον το ητοιμασμενον τω διαβολω και τοις αγγελοις αυτου: 42επεινασα γαρ και ουκ εδωκατε μοι φαγειν, εδιψησα και ουκ εποτισατε με, 43ξενος ημην και ου συνηγαγετε με, γυμνος και ου περιεβαλετε με, ασθενης και εν φυλακη και ουκ επεσκεψασθε με. 44τοτε αποκριθησονται και αυτοι λεγοντες, κυριε, ποτε σε ειδομεν πεινωντα η διψωντα η ξενον η γυμνον η ασθενη η εν φυλακη και ου διηκονησαμεν σοι; 45τοτε αποκριθησεται αυτοις λεγων, αμην λεγω υμιν, εφ οσον ουκ εποιησατε ενι τουτων των ελαχιστων, ουδε εμοι εποιησατε. 46και απελευσονται ουτοι εις κολασιν αιωνιον, οι δε δικαιοι εις ζωην αιωνιον.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 25:31-46

Matthew 25:31 - Son of Man - This title is used three principle ways in
Matthew's gospel: (1) as Jesus' self-referent (16:13), often emphasizing
servanthood (11:19) or authority (9:6); (2) in passion and betrayal
predictions (17:12, 26:2,24,25); and (3) in apocalyptic imagery of the
coming one (16:27, 19:28). Although our text reflects the last usage most
clearly, it implicitly embraces the other two, giving unity to the text in
spite of the confusing shift to "king" in vs. 34.

25:34 - King ( ho basileus) - The Son of Man is identified with judgment
and a kingdom (16:27-28) but never as king. In Matthew, Jesus is directly
identified as king only sarcastically (except in 2:2), and parabolic usage
points to the first person of the Trinity, not the second. Only in Revelation
and the pastorals is Jesus ascribed the honor as "king of kings," (1 Tim.
6:15), perhaps reflecting the hesitancy of the early church to use such a
political term. The shift in titles has raised the question whether this
text originally referred to God as judge, with the superscription (v.31),
and thus the Christological focus, added later. But the King is so
incarnational that it is hard to imagine this text not referring to and
fundamentally defining Jesus the Christ.

25:32 - all the nations - Ethnos is translated either as "nations" or
"Gentiles," with context being the judge. Were this to be only a Gentile
judgment, our text would carry significantly different meanings. However,
"nations"--including Israel--is the generally preferred meaning of ethnos
(TDNT, vol. 2, p. 369), and the qualifier panta confirms the choice (cf.
Mt. 28:19).

25:37, 44 - Lord - Both the blessed and the cursed call the king "Lord."
(cf. Mt. 7:21)

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 25:31-46

Christology is primary, in both the text and the day, and preaching
on the sublimity of the incarnation or the uniqueness of this king is
tempting. But doing either without also emphasizing unself-conscious
love of "the least" is to violate the text's meaning for the Christian
community. Yet such an emphasis leads right into the "problem" of the
text--salvation by works. This is like other texts which some argue with
as "not Lutheran enough," says Krister Stendahl. "But if it's good enough
for Matthew, it's good enough for me," (1984 Beecher Lectures, Yale
Divinity School). Furthermore, far from prescribing a rigid legalism of
service--the surprise of both sheep and goats undoes such a notion--this
text describes the integrity of a simple faith blessed with unpretentious
compassion for people in obvious need, and warns the Christian community
against a satisfied, unincarnated faith cut off from deeds--and thus cut
off from Jesus himself.

There are other problems for the preacher--chiefly that there's
just too much to preach about, too many good images, too many
contemporary issues addressed. But clarity of focus on the central energy
of both text and day will serve our communities well. Besides, what
intense ironies the day presents us! Christ the King comes to us naked.
The emperor has no clothes indeed. Christ the King in prison--South
Africa, take heart. Christ the King with food stamps in the check-out line.
THIS king is our judge. And therein lies our hope--not in our own
compassionate work but in our king's.


The ironies also keep this festival of Christ from lapsing into
triumphalism. Make use of them in worship. Daring congregations could
visualize the gospel's images with a crowned beggar at the door who might
also read the lessons, or have a trumpeted processional with banners,
cross, and the "little ones." It is an ideal Sunday to support ministry with
the "least"--refugees, sanctuary, a local food bank--with education and
offerings. Good hymns abound. AT THE NAME OF JESUS (LBW #179) is a
great hymn which should not be limited to a lesser festival. Two which
sing forth both the king's glory and justice are CHRIST IS THE KING (LBW


BIBLE, Supplementary Volume, Keith Crim, ed. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976,
pp. 580-583.

Schmidt, Karl Ludwig, "Ethnos in the NT," THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF
THE NEW TESTAMENT, voll. II, Gerhard Kittel, ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's,
1964, pp. 369-372.

John Knox Press, 1975.

Stendahl, Krister, "The Art of Preaching," 1984 Lyman Beecher Lectures,
available on audio cassette from the Paul Vieth Christian Education Center
of Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT.

Exegete: Rev. Jean Larson Hurd
Pastor, Our Saviour’s Lutheran, Bonner, MT


November 27, 2008
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 | Psalm 65
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Luke 17:11-19
Color: Green

1a. Context: Luke 17:11-19

Following a Lukan pattern of words/teachings of Christ followed
by acts of loving service this lesson follows a strong section
(16:1-17:10) on discipleship. In this section Jesus calls his
apostles (17:5), the inner circle of twelve amongst the disciples, to
a full commitment to the Gospel and not to use the gift of faith as a
tool to self-glory or advancement as did several of Jesus' opponents.

Healing, in Luke, is a sign of God's divine grace. Some may
conjecture as to whether or not this is because of the Gospel's
namesake being a physician, but healing plays a key role in this
Gospel. From Jesus' sermon text in Nazareth (4:18 ff) to the end of
this Gospel Jesus' teachings are reinforced with exorcisms and
healings. Those healed are usually the outcast or at least the lesser
of society unlike contemporary healers. Philostratus, a contemporary
of the Gospel writers' era wrote in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana -
miracle of Apollonius very similar to Luke 7:11-17, the Healing in Nain,
except in Apollonius' case the dead child was from an important
family, in Jesus' healing it was "a widow". Not from the upper or
privileged class, as Jesus' contemporaries did, but the common people
and outcasts. Our pericope today illustrates this point graphically
with a Samaritan being the one who demonstrates faith in the manner
recommended by the Psalms (Psalm 30:10-12 for example) i.e. to give
thanks and praise to God for his gifts.

In Luke's Gospel those healed include people with demons and
diseases: 4:33ff, 4:40ff, 6:17ff, 8:2ff, 8:26ff, 9:10ff, and 11:14ff;
Simon Peter's Mother-in-Law: 4:38; someone paralyzed: 5:18;
handicapped individuals: 6:6ff, 8:42 ff, 13:10ff, 14:2ff, 18:35ff,
and 22:51ff; those dying and dead: 7:1ff, 7:11ff, 8:40ff; and those
with leprosy: 5:12ff and 17:12ff. Invariably the actions of healing
came as a response or fulfillment of Jesus' teaching, most often as
Jesus teaches of forgiveness and faith.

Our lesson for today is the third from the last healing story in
Luke's Gospel (followed only by the blind man in Jericho (18:35ff) and
the restoring of the slave's ear in the Garden of Gethsemane
(22:51ff). Following Jesus' teaching on discipleship it serves to
epitomize responses of God's grace (either a faith response or not).

1b. Text: Luke 17:11-19

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, [1] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” [2]
[1] 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
[2] 17:19 Or has saved you


11και εγενετο εν τω πορευεσθαι εις ιερουσαλημ και αυτος διηρχετο δια μεσον σαμαρειας και γαλιλαιας. 12και εισερχομενου αυτου εις τινα κωμην απηντησαν [αυτω] δεκα λεπροι ανδρες, οι εστησαν πορρωθεν, 13και αυτοι ηραν φωνην λεγοντες, ιησου επιστατα, ελεησον ημας. 14και ιδων ειπεν αυτοις, πορευθεντες επιδειξατε εαυτους τοις ιερευσιν. και εγενετο εν τω υπαγειν αυτους εκαθαρισθησαν. 15εις δε εξ αυτων, ιδων οτι ιαθη, υπεστρεψεν μετα φωνης μεγαλης δοξαζων τον θεον, 16και επεσεν επι προσωπον παρα τους ποδας αυτου ευχαριστων αυτω: και αυτος ην σαμαριτης. 17αποκριθεις δε ο ιησους ειπεν, ουχι οι δεκα εκαθαρισθησαν; οι δε εννεα που; 18ουχ ευρεθησαν υποστρεψαντες δουναι δοξαν τω θεω ει μη ο αλλογενης ουτος; 19και ειπεν αυτω, αναστας πορευου: η πιστις σου σεσωκεν σε.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. Analysis: Luke 17:11-19

Luke17:11 Jerousalom - Jerusalem Luke uses Jerusalem not just a the
physical site of the climax of Jesus' ministry i.e. his death and
resurrection, but also as a symbol of Jesus' opposition and the
stories that follow those references are usually correctives to
misunderstandings of the faith.

Luke 17:11 auto diorcheto dia meson Samareias kai Galilaias. - he
passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Geographically
very hard to do as that is the East-West running border well to
the North of Jerusalem. Some have translated this passing
through as between Samaria and Galilee. More likely Luke used
this reference to account for the presence of a Samaritan (even a
leper) amongst the Jews.

Luke 17:12 elenson omas - pity us / have mercy on us

Luke 17:14 ekatharisthosan - they were cleansed/they were made clean

Luke 17:15 idon - seeing with alertness, suddenly realizing

Luke 17:15 iatho - healed, cured, made well

Luke 17:19 sesoken - save (as in Christian), make well, preserve

3. Strategy: Luke 17:11-19

This passage with its themes of healing, outreach to outcasts
(lepers), and faith shown by a "double" outcast - Samaritan leper to
God and a Jewish Rabbi, together can give a powerful message that can
too easily be lost in the familiarity of the story. In addition to
its place in Year C of our Pericope schedule it is also the appointed
Gospel for the Lutheran calendar's day of Thanksgiving.

A first theme to explore is leprosy. Leprosy was a disease that
would exclude the sufferer from the community. Leviticus 13-14
discussed all the proper procedures for diagnosing, responding to,
and cleansing lepers. Our pericope follows the outlined procedures
properly from the warning cry to oncomers, to the distancing
themselves from the village proper, to Jesus' instructions to go see
the Priest. Luke has Jesus treating this contact with lepers
differently than in 5:12ff, where Jesus heals them. Here he follows
the Levitican directions explicitly, instructing the lepers to present
themselves to the Priest, as the Priest was the only person qualified
to declare a person clean of leprosy.

Though these lepers were unclean, outcasts once again our Lord
reaches out to them with love and grace. The fear of becoming
unclean, either ritually or physically does not deter our Lord.

Donald Juel in his book LUKE - ACTS THE PROMISE OF HISTORY -
"Jesus' ministry and his teachings embody God's concern for
sinners. God is not indifferent. The law is to be obeyed,
but religion that becomes merely exclusive, that seeks to
perpetuate social injustice, that destroys any genuine
concern for outsiders, is perverse. The pious in Luke fear
contamination from outsiders. Jesus is not corrupted,
however. By their contact with him, sinners and tax
collectors--people like Matthew and Zacchaeus--are
converted, reformed, restored. Touching the women with a
hemorrhage (Luke 8:43-48) or lepers (5:12-15 and 17:11-19)
or even the dead (Luke 7:11-17) does not defile Jesus;
rather, the sick are healed, lepers cleansed, and the dead

It might be well for us to examine who the outcasts, lepers are
in our communities, even in our congregations. AIDS comes quickly to
mind these days, but what about chemical abusers, the homeless, the
unemployed, the single parents, the abused, the abusers, the aged
living alone, the physically impaired? These may be contemporary
"lepers" that we are inclined to leave alone, as individuals and as
communities of the faithful.

Samaritans also fit into the outcast mold, as they were seen as
racially unclean and theologically in error by their Jewish
contemporaries. Yet Luke each time he mentions Samaritans or Samaria
it is in a positive way. This is consistent with his treatment of
other traditional outcasts, reinforcing the theme that is persistent
in Luke-Acts, that for God there are no outcasts, and that should be
true for God's people.

The issue of healing is also a significant theme in this
pericope. Luke uses different words for the ten lepers and the one
who returns for healing. The ten lepers are cleansed -on their way to
the priest, the one sees that he is cured -
the Rabbi who did this marvelous thing. Jesus then says that he is
healed. The word used by Jesus in vs. 19 for healing is the same word
as is used for saving. An implication of this progression may be that
though all were cleansed, only the one was healed, brought to
wholeness, saved. Faith made the difference between the one and the
nine. Nine were satisfied with returning to their communities, one
found something deeper to return to.

Eduard Schweizer commenting on this passage in The Good News
According to Luke writes these thought provoking words about healing:

"A Christian community where the sick are not healed is
a spiritually poor community. A community in which the
healing does not take place quietly but is placed in the
center for its propaganda effect is a spiritually endangered
community. Whether healing takes place through
extraordinary means such as prayer or through "ordinary"
means, such as the faithful ministrations of a doctor, is
not the most important question. What matters is whether or
not the bodily healing leads to a new life with God. Here
the sign of healing through prayer can be helpful, and its
total absence is an unnatural condition for the community."
(page 269).

This day may be an occasion to focus on healing and its true
meaning, perhaps using the Service of the Word for Healing from the
LBW Occasional Service Book or a parallel service from other
traditions. The focusing of worship in this important and often
overlooked area could breathe new, healing life into any congregation.

Another theme to follow is the theme of thanksgiving. The
Samaritan praising God fell at the feet of Jesus and "euchariston"
thanked him. The whole concept of thanksgiving and Eucharist could be
explored as well as it related stewardship emphases.

Following one or more of these threads of themes in a worship
service can breathe new life into a very familiar passage and perhaps
lead to healing surprises for all.

4. References: Luke 17:11-19

Danker, Frederick W. JESUS AND THE NEW AGE According to St. Luke
St. Louis, Clayton Publishing House, 1987 (2nd ed.).

Gilbertson, James G. PC STUDY BIBLE Seattle: Biblesoft, 1988
Computer Study Bible and Concordance in NIV, KJV, & ASV

Juel, Donald LUKE-ACTS The Promise of History Atlanta: John Knox
Press, 1983

translated by David E. Green. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984

Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 17:11-19

LBW # Hymn Name

520 Give to Our God Immortal Praise!

336 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me

111 Lamb of God, Pure and Sinless

533/4 Now Thank We All Our God (HB 396/7)

543 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (HB 390)

549 Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven (HB 410)

364 Son of God, Eternal Saviour

355 Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow (cf. HB 527)

252 You Servants of God (HB 535)

6. Further Study

I would like to recommend for a different perspective on The
Gospel of Luke the SELECT Video Tape Course Series sponsored by
Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Among their many
course offerings for clergy groups is one entitled "The Gospel of
Luke." It is a well defined six session course that any cluster of
Clergy or Biblically literate lay people could undertake. It is
designed for the Church Professional, but need not be limited to
such. Each course involves a reading from the Course professor
(Donald Juel) in his book Luke-Acts The Promise of History , a
discussion period based on the accompanying study guide and a short
(approximately 25 minutes) video tape lecture by Dr. Juel.

The Clergy group I participate in were studying this course at
the time of this writing and all of us gained new insights into
Luke's Gospel. A call to Trinity Seminary [614/235-4136]
will put you in touch with the course offerings and procedures to enroll
or you may want to write them at: Continuing Education Office, Trinity
Lutheran Seminary, 2199 E. Main St., Columbus, OHIO 43209. BTW, they also have
Many resources for studying Mark and Matthew and John as well!

For details:

Exegete: Philip N. Gustafson is Pastor at New Hope Lutheran Ministries
In VanderGrift, PA.

November 16, 2008 (Lectionary 33)
Complementary Series
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 90:1-8 [9-11] 12 (12)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30
Color: Green

Semicontinuous Series
Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123 (2)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30
1. CONTEXT: Matthew 25:14-30

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 25:14-30

This parable is recorded in three versions, Mt. 25:14-30; Lk. 19:11-27
and the Gospel of the Hebrews. It is apocalyptic in nature both because of
its subject matter, especially the focus on rewards and punishment and its
placement in the fifth discourse in Matthew. In its present form it is an
allegory in which Jesus is represented by the merchant. Prior to this
stage the parable was a tale of reversal of roles.

The first two servants, as depicted in the original parable, have acted
as agents for their master and have taken the generous sum he has given
them and increased it. The third servant has followed Rabbinical law and
to prevent theft has buried it. While he has not been daring, he has been
correct. To the hearers of the parable the third servant has behaved
appropriately, he has preserved what has been passed on to him, he is
blameless. To the hearers the condemnation passed on him would have
been incomprehensible (McGaughy). In the first century context Jesus was
saying that it can never be enough to simply hold on to the Torah.

At a second redacted stage this parable was understood as parenetic, so
the Gospel of Hebrews, and vs. 29, see below, was added to it to complete
the parenetic thought. In so doing the critique of Judaism was blunted and
the parable instead confirmed Jewish morality (McGaughy). Matthew then
take this already worked over parable and thorugh its Sitz im Text
interprets is as yet another call to be watchful as the final day

1b. TEXT: Matthew 25:14-30

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 25:14-30

Matthew 25:14 - the gar links what follows to what preceds so that
25:13 serves as an introduction to this parable.

25:15 - A talanton is a considerable amount of money. We should think in
terms of about $2,000.00.

25:19 - meta polyn chronon - The return of the merchant/Christ is likened
to the return of Christ after the Ascension (Jeremias, p. 61).

25: 24,26 - " The juxtaposition of speiro and diaskorpizo...suggests the
metaphor of scattering seed...diaskorpizo might refer here to the
winnowing of grain. If so therizo refers to the cutting of the grain and
synago denotes the gathering into the barn of the grain that has been
purged to the chaff" (Michel, p. 421-2).

25:29 - to gar echonti panti dothsetai kai perisseuthsetai. toi de he
echontos kai ho echei arthsetai ar autou - is the verse with the greatest
agreement in wording between Matthew and Luke, and it occurs elsewhere
at Mt. 13:12; Mk. 4:25 and Lk. 8:18 "One may conclude that it was a free
floating logion and was added to this parable sometime before it reached
the evangelists" (McGaughy). Because this is what God's judgment is like,
the need to avoid failure is overhwelming (Jeremias, p. 62).

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 25:14-30

Four observations for preaching are suggested by Steinmetz' article in

1. "Where the judgment of God is concerned, the question is never how
much I have been given, but what I have done with what I have" (p. 174).

2. "There is no responsible use of the gifts of God which does not involve
taking risks" (p. 175).

3. "The judgment of God excludes the excuses with which we deceive
ourselves" (p. 176).

4. "The judgment of God is mercifully severe" (p. 176).

This Sunday is the day which usually falls before the OXFAM Fast
for a World Harvest. The material OXFAM provides will furnish the
preacher with ample illustration for how we can avoid being the third
servant who plays it safe or begin being one who takes risks. The Lord is
not going to ask us whether or not we kept our hands clean. He is going to
ask us how we used the gifts he has given us. Fast on Thursday; prepare
your congregation for it today.


Jeremias, J. THE PARABLES OF JESUS. New York: Scribner's, 1972.

McGaughy, L.C. "The Fear of Yahweh and the Mission of Judaism: A
Postexilic Maxim and its Early Christian Expansion in the Parable of the
Talents." JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 94 (1986), pp. 235-245.

Michel, O. "skorpizo," "diaskorpizo," and "skorpismos," in THEOLOGICAL
Eerdmans, 1964-74.

Steinmetz, D.C. "Matthew 25:14-30," in INTERPRETATION 34 (1980),
pp. 172-176.


THE LORD WILL COME AND NOT BE SLOW (HB 462, LBW 318) brings out the
certainty of Judgment in a processional hymn. FATHER ALL LOVING (HB
568) stresses a similar theme. FATHER ETERNAL (HB 573, LBW 413) is a
hymn with a clear call for the coming of the Lord and will be appropriate
for this theme as well as for the penultimate Sunday after Pentecost.

Other suggestions: FORTH IN THY NAME, O LORD, I GO (LBW 505) JUDGE

Exegete: Peter R. Powell, Jr.
Director IHA Interfaith Housing, Westport, CT

From the NY Times:

To the Editor:

Re ''Homelessness in New York'' (editorial, Dec. 27):

One reason New York City is overwhelmed with homeless men, women and families is the lack of emergency shelter beds in suburbs. Too many suburbs see the cities as the solution to the problem and provide nothing for local homeless people. People in need of shelter flock to where the shelter is, rather than remain where they are not welcome.

Since 1984, Westport, Conn., has bucked this trend. Shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing are provided in several small programs for families and individuals in need. We do not begin to have the capacity to solve New York's problem, but if other suburbs were to join us, we could make a significant dent in solving the problem of homelessness and relieving some of the burden on the city.

Interfaith Housing Association
Westport, Conn., Dec. 27, 2001 December 29, 2001


As the old church year passes away, it is always a good time to speak of the very
idea of a liturgical year. An excellent new resource for the speaking is
Paul Bosch's little CHURCH YEAR GUIDE (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1987),
a survey of the meaning of Sabbath, of Easter, Lent, Christmas,
Epiphany,Advent, the Time of the Church, and the Lesser Festivals.

While this at first seems an odd sequence, author Bosch shows very
convincingly through vivid examples and illustrations why the Church Year
is best understood inductively and instructively as a lens through which to
view life, rather than as a ritual cycle to traverse over and over. This
book would be of value in any church library!

BTW, Paul Bosch’s Worship Workbench is online at:


Monday, November 3, 2008

†  P E N T E C O S T † XXVI †

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

November 9, 2008 (Lectionary 32)

Complementary Series

Amos 5:18-24 or Wisdom 6:12-16
Psalm 70 (5) or Wisdom 6:17-20 (17)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

Semicontinuous Series

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 178:1-7 (4)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 25:1-13

The Parable of the Ten Maidens is unique to Matthew. It occurs in
the last of his five teaching discourses, the discourse on Eschatological
Admonitions. It addresses the problem of the delay of the parousia. The
focus of the discourse is on practicing and keeping what has been
commanded by Jesus. The theme of dividing echoes 24:40-43, 45 and
25:21, 26. Other themes of the discourse included here are the coming of
the master and the theme of eschatological judgment, especially in light
of the delay in parousia. We are to wait in WATCHFULNESS and
PREPAREDNESS where the second is especially central to this parable

The genre of this pericope is debated. No longer can one simply say
that there is a clear distinction between a parable and an allegory. This
pericope has elements of both. It is a parable because it "upsets the
world" (Tilley, STORY THEOLOGY, p. 39), and an allegory because unless we
understand what the various parts meant to Matthew's audience, we cannot
appreciate its centrality to Matthew. (Donfried) With Ricoeru and
regardless of the genre, we must note that Jesus is not describing the
kingdom of God, he is merely saying what it is like. Furthermore, he is not
saying that it is like a bridal party; rather he is saying that it is like the
action in this story: a story which at once challenges and reimages the
world of the early church.

Mt. 7:13-27 and this pericope contain many common themes and
share the same conclusion. The rejection of the foolish is because they
have not adequately prepared, not that they have not prepared. If they had
had sufficient oil, then they would have done the will of the Father. Thus,
Christians are to continue faithful in all that they do even if the end is
delayed and even if some die before the parousia. (Donfried)

1b: TEXT: Matthew 25:1-13

ESV Bible:

25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps [1] and went to meet the bridegroom. [2] 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

[1] 25:1 Or torches
[2] 25:1 Some manuscripts add and the bride

1τοτε ομοιωθησεται η βασιλεια των ουρανων δεκα παρθενοις, αιτινες λαβουσαι τας λαμπαδας εαυτων εξηλθον εις υπαντησιν του νυμφιου. 2πεντε δε εξ αυτων ησαν μωραι και πεντε φρονιμοι. 3αι γαρ μωραι λαβουσαι τας λαμπαδας αυτων ουκ ελαβον μεθ εαυτων ελαιον: 4αι δε φρονιμοι ελαβον ελαιον εν τοις αγγειοις μετα των λαμπαδων εαυτων. 5χρονιζοντος δε του νυμφιου ενυσταξαν πασαι και εκαθευδον. 6μεσης δε νυκτος κραυγη γεγονεν, ιδου ο νυμφιος, εξερχεσθε εις απαντησιν [αυτου. 7τοτε ηγερθησαν πασαι αι παρθενοι εκειναι και εκοσμησαν τας λαμπαδας εαυτων. 8αι δε μωραι ταις φρονιμοις ειπαν, δοτε ημιν εκ του ελαιου υμων, οτι αι λαμπαδες ημων σβεννυνται. 9απεκριθησαν δε αι φρονιμοι λεγουσαι, μηποτε ου μη αρκεση ημιν και υμιν: πορευεσθε μαλλον προς τους πωλουντας και αγορασατε εαυταις. 10απερχομενων δε αυτων αγορασαι ηλθεν ο νυμφιος, και αι ετοιμοι εισηλθον μετ αυτου εις τους γαμους, και εκλεισθη η θυρα. 11υστερον δε ερχονται και αι λοιπαι παρθενοι λεγουσαι, κυριε κυριε, ανοιξον ημιν. 12ο δε αποκριθεις ειπεν, αμην λεγω υμιν, ουκ οιδα υμας. 13γρηγορειτε ουν, οτι ουκ οιδατε την ημεραν ουδε την ωραν.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 25:1-13

Matt. 25:1 - The type of lampas is debated with Jeremias TDNT stipulating
that it is a storm lantern. The nymphios is generally assumed to be the
Messiah despite the absence of OT or Rabbinical parallels. There are
however Pauline parallels for the understanding of Christ as the
Bridegroom. Exactly what happened this evening is muddled in the story.
The bridegroom customarily went to the bride's home and brought her to
the feast at his home. Presumable the maidens/virgins were friends of
the bride who joined in in this procession. It is not necessary to
understand the local custom to grasp the meaning. No significance should
be drawn from the departure from custom.

25:2,3 - The distinction is clear from the start. Some are moros and some
are phronimos. The oil here will stand for keeping the customs passed on
by Jesus (cf. Donfried for argument) standing parallel to the "fruits which
befit repentence." Those with insufficient oil stand for those who have
not taken their Christianity seriously.

25:5 - chronizo - refers to the delay in the parousia and katheydo is a
euphemism for dying. We know from the Epistles that this is a concern for
the early church.

25:7 - Elsewhere in the portions unique to Matthew egeirw means to be
resurrected. Given the interpretation of sleep as death what Matthew here
refers to is the resurrection of the elect.

25:10 - On the exchatological day the thura will be closed (Mt. 7:13f.,
24:33). Judgment must be taken seriously, no cheap grace in this passage.

25:11 - kyrie kyrie (cf. 7:22) - It is not enough to know the name of the
Lord; one must live a life which reveals that knowledge. As the foolish
virgins reveal, no on else can live it for you.

25:12 - amen lego humin, ouk oida humas. (cf. 7:23) - To hear this parable
is to know that one's life is taken seriously.


The lectionary is focussed on anticipation of the Feast of Christ the
King. Most Americans are strong proponents of individual right,
self-determination, and free-will. This pericope embraces these concepts.
The preacher must however be careful in the use of this passage to not
preach works righteousness. Rather, the path is simply that, a path, and it
is one's direction on the path which matters. Unlike most popular
philosophy, our choices in theology are two. We can either be for God, or
against God, there is no, "I don't know what I believe," middle ground.

One can illustrate this passage with an appeal to siphoning gas out
of the gas tank. Unless I have a locking gas cap, my tank is open and
unguarded almost all of the time, and the thief can expect to get away
uncaught, if not undetected. Many of us look at sin the same way. But this
pericope denies this possibility. We are not only detected, the virgins ran
out of oil; we are caught, the door was closed. This text expects a sermon
on conversion in which we become aware of the implications of our
actions. The placement of this text with Amos 5:18-24 cries out for this
interpretation. The parallels between our time and his are fertile ground
for drawing out challenges. But the preacher must be aware that Amos
was with the people in the problem, not above them in a pulpit. We are one
of the maidens and not the bride.


Donfried, K.P. "The Allegory of the 10 Virgins as a Summary of Matthean
Theology," JBL 93(1974), pp. 415-428.

Jeremias, J. "nymphh, nymphios," in TDNT. Grand Rapids, MI. Vol.
IV1099-1105, 1967.
__________. THE PARABLES OF JESUS. New York: Scribner, 1972.

Ricoeur, P. "Kingdom," in THE PARABLES OF JESUS. ATR. 63(1981), pp.

Tilley, T.W. STORY THEOLOGY. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1985.


SLEEPERS, WAKE! is the obvious choice for this day (The Hymnal 1982,


If one accents the call for ethical behavior, then FATHER ETERNAL, RULER
OF CREATION supports the thrust (The Hymnal 1982 #573).


(The Hymnal 1982, #589) is appropriate in light of the lesson from Amos.

Exegete: Peter R. Powell, Jr.

For biography, see:




Dartmouth,MA 02747-1925