Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians 3’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 9, Year B (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Ludolf Backhuysen

Image in the Public Domain


JULY 5, 2020


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Exodus 2:11-25 or 2 Samuel 5:1-3; 6:1-17

Psalm 49:1-12

2 Corinthians 3:1-11

Mark 4:35-41


In this week’s assigned readings, we read that:

  1. Moses, raised as a prince in the Pharonic household, realized his place in the class struggle and acted accordingly.
  2. King David performed a lewd dance in public.
  3. Proximity to the holiness of God has proven fatal to some and positive for others.
  4. Socio-economic prestige has never impressed God.
  5. God’s policy has always been to quality the called, not to call the qualified.
  6. The Apostles, after spending much time with Jesus, were oddly oblivious to his nature for a long time.

Some things should remain hidden, at least in mixed company.

We need to shed delusions, such as the idea that God finds large bank balances, social prominence, and credentials impressive.  We have vocations from God, who equips us to fulfill them.

We depend entirely on God and lead interdependent lives.  May we understand these realities and act accordingly.  May we resist injustice, as we are able.  May we trust in God and help each other as we seek to leave the world or some portion of it better than we found it.  May the glory of God shine through our words and deeds.  And may we not be oblivious to that we ought to understand.










Devotion for August 25 and 26 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Christ Pantocrator

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Image in the Public Domain

1 Kings and 2 Corinthians, Part III:  Jesus, the Everlasting Temple

AUGUST 25 AND 16, 2022


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (August 25)

1 Kings 8:22-30, 46-63 (August 26)

Psalm 67 (Morning–August 25)

Psalm 51 (Morning–August 26)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening–August 25)

Psalms 85 and 47 (Evening–August 26)

2 Corinthians 3:1-18 (August 25)

2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (August 26)


It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake.

–2 Corinthians 4:5, The Revised English Bible


I have read 1 Kings many times.  Each time I do so I notice details that I missed or did not focus on during each previous reading.  This time, for example, I have thought deeply about the forced labor involved in the construction of the First Temple.  And now, as I re-read the pious Deuteronomistic speech placed in Solomon’s mouth, I find that oratory irrelevant.  The Temple was grand, but it was the result of forced labor.

Paul wrote of passing glory in 2 Corinthians 3:7f.  That portion of the epistle led to a discussion of liberty in God.  Paul and his companions did suffer, sometimes in prison.  But they were free in God.  Their labor was not forced; they gave it of their own accord.  And they proclaimed Jesus, a Temple which no power could destroy.  The Roman Empire tried, but he rose from the dead.

Some might criticize me for my Marxian Conflict Theory-based interpretation of these texts.  So be it!  I seek to write from an attitude of concern rooted in the concept of the Image of God and in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Whose physical labor would Jesus coerce?








Proper 3, Year B   7 comments

Above:  The Calling of St. Matthew, by Hendrick ter Brugghen

Sit Down and Eat

The Sunday Closest to May 25



Hosea 2:14-20 (New Revised Standard Version):

Therefore, I will now allure her,

and bring her into the wilderness,

and speak tenderly to her.

From there I will give her her vineyards,

and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,

as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

On that day, says the LORD, you will call me,

My husband,

and no longer will you call me,

My Baal.

For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.  I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.  And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.  I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

Psalm 103:1-13, 22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

3 He forgives all your sins,

and heals all your infirmities;

4 He redeems your life from the grave

and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness.

5 He satisfies you with good things,

and your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The LORD executes righteousness

and judgment for all who are oppressed.

7 He made his ways known to Moses

and all his works to the children of Israel.

The LORD is full of compassion and mercy,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us,

nor will he keep his anger for ever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

11 For as the heavens are as high above the earth,

so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our sins from us.

13 As a father cares for his children,

so does the LORD care for those who fear him.

22  Bless the LORD, all you works of his,

in all places of his dominion;

bless the LORD, O my soul.

2 Corinthians 3:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Mark 2:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.  As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him,

Follow me.

And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples–for there were many who followed him.  When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples,

Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?

When Jesus heard this, he said to them,

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him,

Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?

Jesus said to them,

The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they?  As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 3, Year A:

Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A:

Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B:

Mark 2:

Matthew 9 (Parallel to Mark 2):

Luke 5 (Parallel to Mark 2):

2 Corinthians 3:


The passage from Hosea occurs in the context of a condemnation of national idolatry and the pronouncement of punishment for it.  Monotheism did not come easily or quickly to the Hebrews of the Old Testament.  In fact, pagan fertility cults held much appeal.  With that in mind, note, O reader, the references to fertility that YHWH promises to give in the context of divine graciousness.  There is even the likening of a relationship with God to a marriage.  ”You have sinned,” God says, “and I will discipline you accordingly.  Then I will show mercy on you.”

Speaking of mercy, Jesus ate with notorious sinners, including literal tax thieves.  He even called one of them to join his inner circle.   This extraordinary gesture of grace, of acting based on the potential of person’s future, reflected the Spirit, which gives life.  Scribes, of course, objected vocally, but Jesus argued well against their case.  He would have welcomed them at the table, too, if they had sat down.

The difference between the scribes and the notorious sinners was that the latter recognized their need for grace.  Already being outcasts, they had no prestige to lose.  Too often we human beings cling tenaciously to poor substitutes for God.  These might be deities from competing religions.  Or they might be money or possessions or social status or some combination of these.  None of them fills the God-shaped hole, however.

May we lay our pretenses aside and sit down with Jesus.


Published in a nearly identical form as Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 4, 2011

Week of Proper 5: Thursday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  Title of the Didache (in Greek)

Love God and Do Whatever You Please

JUNE 15, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6 (An American Translation):

So since I have such a hope, I speak with great frankness, not like Moses, who used to wear a veil over his face, to keep the Israelites from gazing at the fading of the splendor from it.  Their minds were dulled.  For to this day, the same veil remains unlifted, when the read the old agreement, for only through union with Christ is it removed.  Why, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil hangs over their minds, but

whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

Now the Lord here means the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us, reflecting the splendor of the Lord in our unveiled faces, are being changed into likeness of him, from one degree of splendor to another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

So since by the mercy of God I am engaged in this service, I never lose heart.  I disown disgraceful, underhanded ways.  I refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s message.  It is by the open statement of truth that I would commend myself to every human conscience in the sight of God.  If the meaning of my preaching of the good news is veiled at all, it is so only in the case of those who are on the way to destruction.  In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep the light of the good news of the glorious Christ, the likeness of God, from dawning upon them.  For it is not myself but Christ Jesus that I am proclaiming as Lord; I am only a slave of yours for Jesus’ sake.  For the God who said,

Let light shine out of darkness,

has shone in my heart, to give me the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, that is on the face of Christ.

Psalm 85:7-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 Show us your mercy, O LORD,

and grant us your salvation.

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

Matthew 5:20-26 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

For I tell you that unless your uprightness is far superior to that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never even enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

You have heard that men of old were told ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders will have to answer to the court.’  But I tell you that any one who gets angry with his brother will have to answer to the court, and anyone who speaks abusively to his brother will have to answer to the great council, and anyone who says to his brother ‘You cursed fool!’ will have to answer for it in the fiery pit!  So when you are presenting your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother has any grievance against you, leave your gift right there before the altar and go and make up with your brother; then come back and present your gift.  Be quick and come to terms with your opponent while you are on the way to court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.  I tell you, you will never get out again until you have paid the last penny!


The Collect:

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth:  Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

–St. Augustine of Hippo

(Thanks to for the whole quote.)

One of my favorite books is a slim paperback volume, Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers, which Penguin Books publishes.  Among the Second Century C.E. documents in modern English translation in that book is the Didache, or Teachings.  The first section of the Didache explains the Way of Life (practicing good morals) and the Way of Death (living in an immoral way).  This part of the document does contain negative statements, or commands not to commit X, Y, and Z.  Yet the first section of the Didache focuses on the positive, on what God wants people to do.  This is a healthy approach to the topic, for merely stating what not to do does not indicate what one ought to do.

Jesus expands the Law of Moses in the reading from Matthew.  Our Lord and Savior mentions the Mosaic punishment for murder, for example.  Then he says that one must do better than that; one must not live in anger, from which many murders spring.  Furthermore, one must not defame another person, either.  Imagine how much better life would be if more people lived in love, not anger, and did not defame anyone.  The world would be a better place.  It would be a positive place.

I have known people who have nursed grudges for years, if not decades.  This has seemed to give them a purpose in life, albeit a negative one.  And I have met others who seemed to be in perpetual complaint mode.  Whenever I was around them, they kvetched about one thing or another.  None of this demonstrates living in freedom in God.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that there is freedom in God.  There is liberty to act as one should, to live according to what the Didache labels the Way of Life.  To borrow a thought from St. Augustine of Hippo, one trained to love God will not offend God.  So one who loves God can focus on living according to the Shema and the Golden Rule, and not obsess over hundreds of Sabbath laws, for example.

The Law of God has two parts:  the letter and the spirit.  The letter of divine law varies according to historical, cultural, and economic circumstances.  Read Leviticus, if you dare.  The literal details of many of those laws do not apply to a North American in the early Twenty-First Century C.E.  Yet the spirit of the law transcends circumstances, and that is what we need to contemplate when deciding whether actions are proper or sinful.

So why do so many people find ways to turn attempts at following God into exercises in legalism and misery?  Consider honoring the Sabbath, for example.  Slaves did not get a day off, so having a day off was a sign of freedom.  Besides, we need a day off for other reasons; nobody is a perpetual motion machine.  So the Sabbath is something we ought to relish.  Yet Pharisees in Jesus’ time and many people before and since have made it an occasion not to seem happy or to commit any other deed from a long list.  New England Puritans, for example, outlawed humming or singing to oneself in public on Sunday.  And once, when “blue laws” were in effect in South Carolina, one could not buy a light bulb legally in the state.  The emphasis for many has been on the “Thou shalt not” rules, not the list of “Thou shalt” activities.  People needed an attitude more like that of the Didache.

I am convinced that these and other misguided exercises in legalism are well-intentioned efforts to live a holy life, but that they miss the point.  The point is that God liberates us to live a holy life; God does not constrain us into one.  So let us love God then do as we please, not offending our Beloved Lord and liberator.  Let us dance with God–maybe doing the tango or the lambada, rejoicing in the company of our Beloved.  I hear that God knows how to lead.




Below:  Tango Dancers

Week of Proper 5: Wednesday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  Moses Receiving Then Delivering the Law

Jesus Expands, Not Negates, the Law

JUNE 14, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


2 Corinthians 3:4-11 (An American Translation):

Such is the confidence that I have through Christ in my relations to God.  Not that I am of myself qualified to claim anything as originating with me.  My qualification is from God, and he has qualified me to serve him in the interests of a new agreement, not in writing, but of spirit.  For what is written kills, but the Spirit gives life.

But if the religion of death, carved in letters of stone, was ushered in with such splendor, so that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face on account of the brightness that was fading from it, why should not the religion of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor?  If there was splendor in the religion of condemnation, the religion of uprightness must far surpass it in splendor.  For in comparison with its surpassing splendor, what was splendid has come to have no splendor at all.  For if what faded away came with splendor, how much more splendid what is permanent must be!

Psalm 99 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is King;

let the people tremble;

he is enthroned upon the cherubim;

let the earth shake.

2 The LORD is great in Zion;

he is high above all peoples.

3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome;

he is the Holy One.

4 “O mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established equity;

you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”

5 Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God

and fall down before his footstool;

he is the Holy One.

6 Moses and Aaron among his priests,

and Samuel among those who call upon his Name,

they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;

they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.

8 “O LORD our God, you answered them indeed;

you were a God who forgave them,

yet punished them for their evil deeds.”

9 Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God

and worship him upon his holy hill;

for the LORD our God is the Holy One.

Matthew 5:17-19 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Do not suppose that I have come to do away with the Law or the Prophets.  I have not come to do away with them but to complete them.  For I tell you, as long as heaven and earth endure, not one dotting of an i or crossing of a t will be dropped from the Law until it is all observed.  Anyone, therefore, who weakens one of the slightest of these commands, and teaches others to do so, will be ranked lowest in the Kingdom of Heaven; but anyone who observes them and teaches others to do so will be ranked high in the Kingdom of Heaven.


The Collect:

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth:  Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Classical Christian teaching, at least from the times of St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine of Hippo, holds that Jesus, by his Incarnation, expanded, not replaced, the covenant embodied in the Law of Moses.  I find no fault and much merit in this point of view.

Greek word meanings matter.  Consider, then, the term “new agreement” from 2 Corinthians.  This is “new covenant” in other translations.  I focus on the word “new,” which, in this case, is kainos.  This word indicates both newness in chronology and in quality.  So, to combine elements of lections, Jesus fulfilled, or completed the Mosaic Law by expanding it from the legalistic strictures into which the religious establishment had placed it.  Our Lord and Savior violated many ritual laws, of course, but he honored the spirit of the Law, which is to love God fully and one’s neighbor as oneself.  The Law, which was temporary but long-lived, pointed to Jesus, who endures.  So 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 does not indicate supercessionism.  Neither does Matthew 5:17-19.

The Apostle Paul was brilliant and his theology was profound.  There are two essential keys to much of this theology, however.  They are (1) grace and (2) Christ crucified.  Paul preached Christ crucified.  And grace permeates the Pauline epistles.  This unearned favor saves us from what we deserve.  Grace trumps legalistic purity codes.  Grace bestows life in God.

As I have written more than once in other blog posts, a clever legalist can find ways to manipulate a religious law code to made sin look like righteousness.  This version of alleged piety is self-serving, and Jesus condemend it in the canonical gospels.  But there is no law of God against loving one’s neighbor as oneself.  Obeying this rule makes minding a host of minute details unnecessary while it honors the spirit of much of God’s law.  Let us begin there.  Let us see the forest, not just the trees.

That will be surpassing splendor indeed.