Monday, May 2, 2016

Acts 16:16-34

This passage occurs in both the Narrative Lectionary Year 4 cycle, but also the Revised Common Lectionary, Easter 7C

For the Acts 16 passage:
Any English translation conveys the powerful scene of the jailer, trembling, before the prisoners!  This is not a passage where the Greek changes the meaning of everything -- the images intended by Luke are adequately translated!  But the Greek this week sharpens the reality that all of us are servants of something.  The question is not whether we serve, but which God we serve and the outcome of this service.

κυριοις ("lords", 16:16)  The word for for "masters" or "owners" here is no other than κυριοι (like kyrie elesion)  At the end of the passage, the jailer will be told to believe in κυριος (singular) Jesus.  The point that in life we are always serving one master or another, as Luther points out so astutely in his commentary on the first article.

δουλοι ("slaves" or "servants", 16:17)  To reaffirm the above point, the slave-girl calls Paul and Silas slaves of the most high God.  The question isn't whether humans will serve a master, the question is what path does the master send them on.

οδον ("way", 16:17)  Some translators leave this word, meaning "way", without an article - "a way of salvation."  Others add in an article, "the way of salvation" based on Greek grammar.  Its fair to say that the grammatical case isn't very strong either way here based on the construction.  It doesn't matter -- Luke doesn't see another path to salvation, even if this particular girl would have.  And fine, go universalist for a second.  The point remains, Jesus is a path of salvation.

Ιουδαιοι ("Judeans", 16:20)  The only charge needed was that they were Jews interrupting normal business.  A sad reminder that antisemitism long preceded Christianity....and that early Christians were primarily Jews.

πλαγας ("wounds", 16:23)  The word comes into English as plagues.  Paul and Silas were given a plague for their faith!

θεμελια ("foundation", 16:26)  Their foundation is rocked.  This is a great sermon entry point -- the foundation of their world is rocked.  This is when the person can finally hear the word of the Lord!

ελουσεν ("he washed", 16:33)  Poetically, the jailer washes them and then they wash him (baptize).  But notice that the verbs are different.  Baptism and washing aren't one and the same!

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