Revelation 3:7-13 — Prophetic Oracle for Philadelphia

June 28, 2013

Though often called the “letters to the seven churches” (with somewhat good reasons), the address to each church functions as a prophetic oracle. John has called his work a “prophecy” (Revelation 1:3) and in these “letters” the prophet calls the churches to respond in faithfulness much like Israel’s prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. Philadelphia was […]


Mark 15:33-38: The Last Three Hours of the Execution of Jesus

August 14, 2012

During the first three hours of his execution, Jesus was beaten and then despoiled by Roman soldiers as they cast lots for his clothes, mocked by Jewish bystanders and the Temple authorities for his apparent inability to destroy the Temple or save himself, and scorned by those crucified with him as a naive pretender to […]


Mark 15:21-32 – The First Three Hours of the Cross

August 1, 2012

The movement of Jesus from Praetorium to the cross is known as the Via Dolorosa among the pious. But for the Romans, and in Mark’s story, it is something quite different. It is not only the depths of Christ’s sorrow and humiliation, but it is also imperial triumphalism and an imperial assertion of power. Crucifixion […]


Haggai 2:10-19 — You Better Think About This!

June 28, 2012

Haggai’s third oracle, like the previous two, is precisely dated. The first oracle was delivered on a new moon festival and the second was delivered during the Feast of Tabernacles. This third oracle, however, has no clear canonical link to a Jewish festival. Nevertheless, the day is significant. The oracle is delivered on December 20, […]


Haggai 2:1-9 — Be Strong and Do Not Fear

June 12, 2012

Haggai’s second oracle comes to Judah on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the next to the last day, on October 17, 520 B.C.E. The seventh month is a particularly busy one in Israel’s calendar. Besides the New Moon festival which began every month, the seventh month included both the Day of Atonement […]


Haggai 1:12-15 — “I am with You!”

June 7, 2012

Haggai’s first oracle, on August 29, 520 B.C.E., was directed to the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua as the royal (house of David) and priestly (house of Aaron) representatives of the people. Zerubbabel and Joshua, along with the “whole remnant of the people,” responded to Haggai by beginning work on the temple on […]


Mark 13:24-37 — The Son of Man Will Gather the Elect

June 4, 2012

The key question in reading Mark 13:24-37 is its relation to Mark 13:5-23. In the first section Jesus alerted his disciples to a coming conflagration in which they must beware of deceivers and persecutors who will attempt to enlist them in the service of the Jewish revolt of 66-70 C.E. Does Jesus continue this motif […]


Haggai 1:1-11 — “It is Not Yet Time,” the People Say.

June 1, 2012

Haggai, whose name derives from the Hebrew word for “feast” (hag), delivers this first oracle on the first day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the Persian Emperor, that is, August 29, 520. The significance of this date is that it is the monthly New Moon festival; this was a holy […]


Mark 12:35-13:3 – Jesus Exits the Temple Disgusted but Determined

May 23, 2012

After Jesus cleansed the temple, he was incessantly confronted by temple authorities and other leaders within the Jewish community. They peppered him with questions hoping he might say something that might undermine his popularity with the people or endanger his life from the Romans. Eventually, however, they backed off, and now Jesus becomes more proactive. […]


Mark 12:28-34 — Kingdom Priorities

May 14, 2012

As Jesus teaches in the temple courts, his opponents confront him with a series of questions. Jesus had enraged the temple authorities when he cleansed the Court of the Gentiles from merchandizers. They questioned his authority, his allegiances, and his theology. These hostile questions intended to subvert his popularity and/or endanger his life. Now, however, […]