34th Sunday of Year B

COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYFEATUREDCATENA AUREACHURCH FATHERS
DR. BRANT PITRE
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So in closing then I just would like to end with a reflection from St. Augustine in his Tractates on the Gospel of John. He has a number of tractates on John where he comments on this and he makes a point about the nature of Christ’s kingdom. This is what he says:

Indeed, his kingdom is here until the end of time, and until the harvest comes will contain weeds… And this could not happen if the kingdom were not here. But even so, it is not from here, for it is in exile in the world. Christ says to his kingdom, “You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19)… [E]veryone who is reborn in Christ becomes the kingdom that is no longer of the world. For God has snatched us from the powers of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

So notice what Augustine does, he draws out one more implication of Jesus’ words here, namely this, the relationship between the kingdom and the church. I’ll never forget years ago I had a disagreement with a Protestant friend of mine about the kingdom, and it became quickly apparent that we saw it at completely different terms. For him the kingdom was something that would only come at the end of time; only at the final judgment would the kingdom come. For me, as a Catholic, the kingdom was already present in the church. When I tried to identify the kingdom in the church, he said no, no, no, the kingdom doesn’t have anything to do with the church, the kingdom comes at the end of time; the church is now, the kingdom is in the future.

And it’s interesting’s because there is some truth to that. The kingdom will come in its fullness at the end of time, but the church is very clear here that the church on earth is the kingdom of God but present in mystery, right. It doesn’t look quite like the kingdom but it is the kingdom, there’s still weeds and wheat in the field, so to speak. And you know this is the case because Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom and makes him the foundation stone of his church, right. So in that statement to Peter in Matthew 16, kingdom and church are two ways of talking about the same reality. So I just think it’s important to remember that. That although the church is essentially heavenly in her nature and she will only be fulfilled at the end of time, the church is the kingdom present in mystery, as Vatican II taught. So what Augustine is saying ßto us here is that insofar as we belong to the church, we live in this world, but we’re not of the world, because we belong to a kingdom that is essentially heavenly in character.

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MORE VIDEOS BY DR PITRE
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

Daniel 7:13-14

The Son of Man will come on a cloud.

  • The reading from Daniel is part of a vision of the victory of God’s kingdom over all human kingdoms.
  • The kingdom of God appears as a human who comes from heaven, God’s domain.
  • God presents everlasting kingdom, power and glory to the human (“son of man”).
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

Revelation 1:5-8

Jesus is the faithful witness.

  • The Book of Revelation, written during the Roman persecution at the end of the first century, looks forward to the return of Jesus and the establishment of God’s kingdom.
  • The reading portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, the witness to the truth of resurrection and the hope for everlasting life.
  • Jesus is the victor over all earthly rulers and has made God’s people into a royal nation, a nation of priests.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

John 18:33b-37

My kingdom does not belong to this world.

  • The Gospel of John presents Christ the King in a different light.
  • During his lifetime Jesus bears the title of ruler only at his most vulnerable moments.
  • Jesus rejects the title, “King of the Jews,” that Pilate gave to him because his kingdom is not of this world, he is the Messiah sent from heaven.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

DR. KIERAN J. O’MAHONY, OSA

Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice

THIS WEEK'S VIDEO
Navarre Bible, et alia
Commentary on Sunday's Readings (PDF)

Click to access christ-the-king-b.pdf

Sources include The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, and The Navarre Bible. In addition, Church History by Laux (TAN Books), Introduction to the Bible by Laux (TAN Books), A Guide to the Bible by Fuentes (Four Courts Press), and Sharing Our Biblical Story by Russell for background information. We also included quotations from The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 volumes) by Jergens and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (many volumes) edited by Odum.
SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY

The Sunday Website

Preaching the Lectionary – Scripture in Depth

The King’s Standard – The Word Embodied

Kingship and Truth – Historical Cultural Context

Feast of Christ the King? – Let the Scriptures Speak

What Kind of King? – Spirituality of the Readings

That Was Then, This Is Now – Glancing Thoughts

The Kingdom of God is … – The Perspective of Justice

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster
Michal Hunt

Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and the Origin and Goal of History!

The Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent. In our readings, we end the Church’s liturgical year with a vision of the return of Christ the King at the end of the age, and we celebrate His universal kingship.

“Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled ‘with power and great joy’ by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitely by Christ’s Passover. Until everything is subject to him, ‘until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to his present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.’ That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Marana tha! Our Lord comes!” CCC 671

We become heirs of Christ the King when we receive the Holy Spirit’s anointing in the Sacrament of Baptism and become members of a royal family in Christ’s Kingdom of the Church. We are a royal priestly people, sharing in our King’s crown. While most earthly kings wear jewel-encrusted crowns and sit on golden thrones, our King’s crown is one made of thorns, and His throne is the wood of the Cross. He calls us to share in His Kingdom of justice, self-sacrifice, peace, and freedom. And the more our hearts grow spiritually, the more the Holy Spirit purifies us, and the more we come to recognize the face of our royal ruler in the faces of the impoverished, the hungry, and the oppressed. It is the promise our King made to us that has a present and future reality when He said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
FIRST READING

The Everlasting Kingship of the Son of Man

13 As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, 14 the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

The prophet Daniel’s vision began in Daniel 7:9, where he saw God’s heavenly court.

  • First, Daniel saw God the Father seated on a throne with His radiating glory encircled by angels. Divine judgment was about to be announced, followed by the Divine Judge’s sentence for the righteous and the wicked.
  • Next, the Books of Deeds, containing the actions of all men and women during their lifetimes, were opened (verse 10).
  • Then Daniel saw a figure that had the appearance of someone sharing the human condition “coming on the clouds of heaven” (verse 13). When presented to God, the mysterious figure received kingship and dominion over all peoples and nations of the earth.
  • His kingship is announced as everlasting (verse 14), fulfilling the promise of the eternal covenant God promised King David’s heir, the Messiah, who would have authority over all peoples of the earth forever (2 Sam 7:16, 29; 23:5).

Reading this passage in light of the ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, we understand that Daniel received a vision in the 6th century BC of Christ ascending to God the Father from a heavenly perspective. It is the same event witnessed by Jesus’s Apostles and disciples from an earthly perspective, centuries later in AD 30 at His Ascension in Acts chapter 1. Daniel saw the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ, whose favorite title for Himself was “Son of Man.” Jesus used this title for Himself not only because He possessed two natures, human and divine, but because He is the anticipated divine Messiah Daniel saw in his vision.  Scripture applies this title to Jesus some eighty times in the Gospels and in all but two times as a self-designation by Jesus; outside the Gospels, the phrase occurs only four times.

Jesus alluded to the passage from Daniel 7:13-14 when He is on trial before the high court of the Jewish Sanhedrin. He quoted from Daniel 7:13 in answer to High Priest Joseph Caiaphas’s demand to tell the court if He is the Messiah. When Jesus quoted from the passage, Caiaphas realized Jesus was claiming to be the divine Messiah of Daniel’s vision, and he and the court immediately condemned Jesus to death on the charge of blasphemy (Mt 26:64-66; Mk 14:61-64).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM

The Lord is King

Response: “The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty.”

LORD in capital letters replaces the Divine Name, Yahweh, in the NAB translation and several other translations. The NJB always uses the Divine Name when it appears in Scripture. The four Hebrew consonants YHWH read with vowels as “Yahweh” appear in Scripture as God’s holy Covenant name about 6,800 times, more than any other title or name. In the five verses of Psalm 93, the Divine Name is repeated five times. This psalm is the first in a series of eight hymns that proclaim the kingship of God. It is a confession of faith in God’s sovereignty and His dominion over the earth.  The Psalm begins by focusing on God’s majesty as the victorious king who rules the world (verse 1). His rule is everlasting with no beginning and no end (verse 2; cf. Ps 10:16). The psalmist proclaims that Yahweh makes laws like earthly kings, but unlike them, His commands/decrees are always just, and everyone can trust the wisdom and rightness of His laws.

“Your house” in verse 5 refers to God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem where His divine presence resided among His covenant people. Reading this Psalm in the context of the New Covenant Church, Church Father, St. Eusebius of Caesarea, wrote:

“This house is the Church.  To remain standing forever what it needs above all is holiness. As truth is at the heart of Christ’s testimony, so holiness is at the heart of his house” (Commentaria in Psalmos, 92).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
SECOND READING

The Alpha and the Omega

5 Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever.  Amen.  7 Behold, he is coming amid the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.  All the peoples of the earth will lament him.  Yes.  Amen.  8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

In verse 5, three Messianic titles identify Jesus. All three are from Psalms 89:26-38, and each calls to mind the promise of the three-fold mission of the Messiah as God’s prophet, priest, and king. Jesus is:

  1. The faithful witness
  2. The firstborn from the dead
  3. The highest of earthly kings

“The Faithful Witness”Martyr is the Greek word for “witness.” Originally the Greek word martyr, as used in the first century AD, meant one who worked to enforce the Law and assisted in its execution, even to the enforcement of the death penalty.  The significance of this title applied to Jesus Christ is that He both witnesses against those opposed to God’s divine will and also prosecutes/judges them. As God’s supreme prophet, Jesus Christ serves as God’s prosecuting attorney in God’s judgment against the wicked. He especially fulfilled that role in Matthew Chapter 24’s prophecy of the Apocalypse when Jesus pronounced judgment on an unfaithful Old Covenant people and when He met His death at the hands of false witnesses.  Many of those who followed Christ, bearing true “witness” to Him as the promised Redeemer-Messiah in their deaths, fulfilled our modern interpretation of the word.

This title finds its fulfillment God’s covenant promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7:16-17; 23:5 and Sirach 45:25/31 that someday a Davidic heir would rule forever. Jesus is a direct descendant of the great King David (Mt 1:1, 6-16; Lk 1:32-33). He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises God the Father made concerning the Davidic Redeemer-Messiah and is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant Law (CCC 577-82, 592, also see 2 Sam 7:1a; Ps 89; Is 7:14; 55:3-4; Zec 12:8).

“The firstborn from the dead”: St. Paul called Jesus “the firstborn of the dead” as well as the “first-fruits of the dead” (1 Cor 15:18-20; Col 1:18). In His resurrection, Jesus defeated sin and death and obtained supremacy, having “first place” in everything. St. Peter expresses this same concept in his address on the feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:32-36. In Jesus’s resurrection, God fulfilled His promise in Psalms 89:27, I will make Him my Firstborn, the highest of the Kings of the earth. St John (and God the Holy Spirit) must have had this passage in mind because the third title he applied to Jesus is from the next verse, Psalms 89:28.

“The highest of earthly kings”: Jesus is not only our Savior; He is also the universal King. Christ is the King of kings sitting at the Father’s right hand with dominion over the earth. As the supreme King, all earthly kings are subject to Him (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16; and see Ps 110:1-7). His will uniquely manifest His kingship in His Second Advent. Read Psalm 89, comparing verses 26-38 with Jesus’s titles in Revelation 1:4-5 and with His mission as God’s anointed. As the heir of the Davidic covenant, Jesus only appeared to be repudiated by God in His crucifixion. However, He was victorious in conquering death and the grave (Sheol) in His resurrection. Notice the repudiation of God’s anointed (Ps 89:38-45), the plea for God’s justice in the question “who can save himself from the clutches of Sheol” (Ps 89:48), and the call for God to remember His covenant with David (Ps 89:49).

6 who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever.  Amen.

Jesus fulfilled what no Old Covenant animal sacrifice could accomplish (Heb 9:1-4, 14-22). And, through the merit He won for us, we have the assurance that we have become a “Kingdom of Priests.” It is a privilege that comes to us through the ministry of our High Priest, Christ Jesus: But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light (1 Pt 2:9; also see Heb 2:17; 3:1; 4:14; 9:11; etc.).

As His heirs, we inherit this priestly role in the Sacrament of Baptism when we are spiritually reborn into the family of God and no longer live as a fallen child in the family of Adam. Later, when we complete our baptism in the Sacrament of Confirmation, we take our place as active members of Christ’s royal priesthood of believers, becoming apostles of Christ and carrying His Gospel (“good news”) message of salvation to the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Christ, high priest and unique mediator, had made of the Church ‘a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.’ The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly.  The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the faithful are ‘consecrated to be a holy priesthood'” (CCC 1546).

Under the Sinai Covenant, the Israelites were initially designated a “kingdom of priests” because God destined every firstborn son of every Israelite family to serve God in the Sanctuary (Ex 13:12-15; 19:6). However, in the rebellion of the Golden Calf, the firstborn sons did not come to Moses’ aid to defend the covenant. Instead, Moses’ tribe of the Levites put down the rebellion, and they replaced the firstborn sons as the lesser ministers who assisted the chief priests, Aaron and his sons who were the chief ministerial priests (Ex 19:3-8; 31:1-4, 25-29; Num 3:11-13; 18:6-7). Thus, in fulfillment of God’s original plan, we have two divisions in our New Covenant priesthood: baptized believers are all members of the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ, but some of us are called to serve in ministerial priesthood (CCC 1547).

6 who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:6 is John’s doxology of praise to Jesus the Redeemer-Messiah. Not only are we redeemed from slavery to sin by the power of His perfect sacrifice, but He has also constituted us as a Kingdom of priests in the New Covenant priesthood of the laity and the ministerial priesthood. The end of the Old is the beginning of the New, and Christians are now ruling with Christ (see Eph 1:20-22; 2:6; Col 1:13), serving in His Kingdom of the Church, and spreading His Gospel (“good news”) across the world over which only He has dominion and power.

7 Behold, he is coming amid the clouds

“Coming on the clouds” is an allusion to Daniel 7:13 in our First Reading. St. John uses what is one of the most familiar Biblical images for judgment: the Glory-Cloud ( see Gen 15:17; Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-20 & 24; 19:9, 16-19; Ps 18:8-14; 104:3; Is 19:1; Ez 32:7-8; Dan 7:13-14; Nah 1:2-8; Mt 24:30; Mk 14:62; and Acts 2:19 ). The Glory-Cloud is God’s heavenly chariot by which He makes His glorious presence known on earth. It is also a revelation of His throne from which He brings judgment upon the wicked and justice and deliverance to the righteous (Dan 7:13-14). In Matthew 26:63-66, Jesus identified Himself with the divine Messiah in Daniel 7:13 and the Davidic king in Psalms 110:1, when pressed by the High Priest to reveal His true identity: But Jesus was silent.  Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so.  But, I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven'” (Mt 26:63-65). The High Priest immediately realized Jesus was accepting the title of Messiah in the context of these two prophetic passages and was claiming divinity and judgment upon Israel and the world.  The High Priest then tore his clothes (the sign of a final and irreversible judgment) and condemned Jesus to death (Mt 26:66).

Verse 7 continues: and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.  All the peoples of the earth will lament him.  Yes.  Amen. This verse is a reference to Zechariah 12:10-11. It is the second time John referred to this passage from the book of the prophet Zechariah. He also used it in the Gospel of John 19:37. Compare the quotes (emphasis mine):

  • Zechariah 12:10b-11 (NJB) ~ They will mourn for the one whom they have pierced as though for an only child, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child.
  •  John 19:35-37 (NABRE) ~ An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For that happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” And again, another passage says: They will look to the one whom they have pierced.” 

Those who “pierced” Christ are the Romans who crucified Him and everyone who figuratively “pierced” the Messiah by contributing to His death.

These verses signify that one day those who crucified the Messiah would see Him coming in judgment. In other words, they would experience and understand that His coming “on the clouds” prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14 would mean God’s judgment on the people of the Old Covenant for their failure to embrace the New Covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The Old Covenant was the preparation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a tutor and guide, but the old Law was incapable of offering eternal salvation because it did not have the grace of the Holy Spirit to fulfill it (CCC #1962-64).

The Zechariah passage occurs in the context of the Southern Kingdom of Judah’s mourning in repentance for the people’s sins. However, the Judea of St. John’s day was beyond the point of no return in its apostasy. They were facing the judgment of “the Last Days” (of the Old Covenant), also called “the Day of the Lord,” that Peter announced in Acts 2:17-20. But notice that Zechariah’s prophesy also promises redemption fulfilled by the excommunication or “cutting off” of the Old Israel so that the world could be saved through Jesus Christ. The message of salvation was carried out to the world by the redeemed New Israel of His Apostles and disciples (CCC #877), just as Jesus told the Jewish priests in Matthew 21:43.

It was the responsibility of the Jewish followers of Jesus Christ to bring their lost brethren, who still clung to the Old Covenant, into the New Israel of the Universal Church (see Romans Chapters 9-11). The “coming into the New” was how those of the Old Covenant could “turn again to the Lord and be saved.” In Acts Chapter 2, St. Peter shocked the Jews by telling them that they had crucified their Messiah: Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-41). 

Jesus our Messiah (Christ) comes not only for judgment but for “judgment unto salvation”: Isaiah 26:9 ~ When Your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness (NJB)And John 3:17 ~ For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,

The “I AM” in this verse is significant (see Ex 3:13-15) because it is understood as God’s holy covenant name: YHWH = Yahweh by which every generation should invoke Him (Ex 3:14-15). In his Gospel, St. John record’s Jesus’s use of the words “I AM” (Ego Ami in Greek) seven different ways: I AM the bread of life, I AM the light of the world, before Abraham was I AM, etc. (see the Chart of “The Seven I AM’s” in the Gospel of St. John study>).

Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet and means that Jesus Christ is the beginning and the ending of all things. The Old Testament reference in Isaiah 44:6 expresses this concept: Thus says Yahweh, Israel’s king, Yahweh Sabaoth, his redeemer: I am the first and the last; there is no God except me (NJB)Jesus will use the title, “the Alpha and the Omega,” three times in Revelation 1:8; 1:17 and 21:6. Then, at the end of the book, in Revelation 22:13, the title appears a fourth time: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

God exists throughout time and eternity with no beginning and no end. The title “the Almighty” at the end of Revelation 1:8 is the most common translation of the Greek word Pantokrator, which means “the One who has all power and rules over everything” (it is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament “Yahweh Sabaoth,” meaning “Yahweh of the Armies (of heaven and earth).” Jesus is our Shepherd-King who cares lovingly for those who belong to His flock, and He is also the all-powerful King of the Universe to whom we owe our obedience and allegiance. Our eternal King is returning at an unknown time at the end of the age to judge the living and the dead! Are you prepared to witness His Second Coming and to endure His divine judgment?

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
GOSPEL

Christ’s Kingdom

33 Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nations and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.  For this, I was born, and for this, I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate removed Jesus from the presence of His Jewish accusers and privately asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews. Jesus’s answer to Pilate’s question was critical to the Romans. Since Herod the Great’s death, the only King of the Jews was the Roman Caesar; even Herod’s sons did not have this title. All the Gospel accounts record this question as the first words Pilate spoke to Jesus (Mt 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; Jn 18:33). In response to Pilate’s question, Jesus asked Pilate if he was asking this of his own accord or if others had told him (verse 34).  

Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nations and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Pilate answered that he did not know anything about Jesus other than what the Jewish religious leaders told him, and he was willing to listen to Jesus’s defense. In this dramatic exchange, Jesus does not deny his royal status and explains to the Roman governor that His mission is non-political. However, His spiritual coronation begins with His Passion and is completed in His Ascension (see Eph 1:20-23). In Heaven, Jesus rules His earthly dominion across the earth through the preaching of the Gospel and the sacramental ministry of His Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the Universal Church (Mt 28:18-20).

Jesus told Pilate that He came to testify to the truth. 

The revelation of “truth” has the effect of judgment. Jesus said in John 9:39 that it was for judgment that He came into the world to reveal the truth. Those who can discern the truth are those Jesus received from the Father; they heard His voice and followed Him (Jn 10:4). They are the same ones who listened to the truth and belong to Him.

After their exchange, Pilate judged Jesus as innocent, saying I find no fault/guilt in him. 

Pilate judged Jesus and found Him innocent three times, using this same phrase (John 18:38; 19:4, 7). The irony is that animals offered to Yahweh in sacrifice had to be judged as perfect and without flaw, especially the unblemished Tamid lambs, perpetually offered for the atonement and sanctification of the covenant people. The Tamid was a single sacrifice offered in two worship services around which the entire sacrificial system was centered (Ex 29:38-43; Num 28:3-8; see the book, “Jesus and the Mystery of the Tamid Sacrifice,” ). Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, chose Jesus as the sacrificial victim when he announced three times that Jesus had to die in John 11:50, 52; 18:14. However, Pilate, a heathen Gentile, judged the intended sacrifice “without fault,” using the same words the High Priest pronounced over the sacrifice of the Tamid lamb at the Temple. And on the plaque above the Cross, Pilate ordered the inscription to read: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (Jn 19:19)!

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
AFRICA STUDY BIBLE

Truth Prevails

Pilate asked an important question: “What is truth?” It is a question that has been asked for centuries—and is still asked today. Truth was an important topic in the Gospel of John. Luke refers to truth twelve times; Mark fourteen times; Matthew thirty-two times; but John refers to truth sixty-nine times.

Like many religious leaders today, Pilate seemed to define truth as the popular idea that truth is whatever appeals to the majority. If people in a church prefer a certain style of preaching or singing without paying much attention to the content of those sermons or songs, they may unknowingly be drifting away from the truth. Pilate knew the truth that Jesus was innocent, but he would not accept it because it was not the popular idea. Pilate turned away from the truth and bowed down to what worked best for him.

  • Truth is not negotiable for us. It is an essential part of our Christian faith. According to John:
  • Truth enables us to truly worship God—“True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
  • Truth sets us free— “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
  • Truth helps make us holy—“Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17).

Many of us follow what is popular, even if it is not right. We do what works, even if it goes against God’s law. Too many people deceive and manipulate to make money. Too many teach wrong doctrines because that is what people want to hear. Too many pay bribes because it has become the acceptable “true practice” in our societies. Those who speak or practise the truth can be seen as the odd ones.

Do you follow God’s truth, or do you allow your own thoughts and ideas to define your “truth”? Are you willing to stand for the truth even if it goes against what might work best for you? Remember, if you know God’s truth and do not do it, you stand against God, and you will miss his blessings.

SOURCE: CONTENT taken from Africa Study Bible, NLT  which brings together 350 contributors from over 50 countries, providing a unique African perspective. It’s an all-in-one course in biblical content, theology, history, and culture, with special attention to the African context. Copyright © 2017.
LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE
THIS SUNDAY'S EXCERPTS

FIRST READING

Obeying God’s Will for our Life

DANIEL 7:1-14 This vision parallels Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the grand statue in chapter 2. Here, however, the presentation of the successive world empires is made from a godly perspective: They are “beastly” in their thirst for power and control. Their violence and pride are directly opposed to what biblical recovery is all about. We can choose to be proud and abusive, but we will suffer the same terrible fate as the fourth beast. Or we can choose to enter recovery, obeying God’s will for our life. If we do, we will enjoy the glory of God’s Kingdom forever.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

PSALM

The Lord Always Keeps his Promises

Psalm 93:1-5The Lord is more powerful than the mighty oceans. Surely such a God is able to help us exercise control over our universe—our life. He always keeps his promises. Since he has said he will help us if we turn to him, we can count on it.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

SECOND READING

God is in Control of Our Past, Present, and Future

REVELATION 1:7-8 The future coming of Jesus Christ will be desperately painful for those who refuse to believe and follow him. The terrifying consequences of their denial will be eternal judgment (see 20:11-15). On the other hand, if we pursue recovery by faith in Christ, we can rejoice in the new life his return will bring. God is “the beginning and the end” of all things. We can have hope because God is in control of our past, present, and future.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

GOSPEL

Accountable to God’s Truth

John 18:28-38 Many people believe that truth is relative, as did Pilate. Modern moral relativists live without absolute guidelines for right and wrong, not realizing how destructive even the most private sins can be. Since we are all tempted at times to disregard God’s guidelines for healthy living, we need to be held accountable to God’s truth. We need godly people who can help us measure our attitudes and actions against the truth of God’s Word. If we try to write our own rules for recovery, we are headed for painful relapses.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Niell Donavan

Biblical Commentary Notes

FIRST READING

DANIEL 7:13-14. THERE CAME ONE LIKE A SON OF MAN

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baldwin, Joyce G., Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Daniel, Vol. 21 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978)

Duguid, Iain M., Reformed Expository Commentary: Daniel (Philipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 2008)

Ferguson, Sinclair B., The Preacher’s Commentary: Daniel, Vol. 21 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988)

Goldingay, John E., Word Biblical Commentary: Daniel, Vol. 30 (Dallas: Word Books, 1989)

Lederach, Paul M., Believers Church Bible Commentary: Daniel (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994)

Miller, Stephen R., New American Commentary: Daniel, Vol. 18 (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998)

Moule, C.F.D., The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: The Gospel According to Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965)

Pace, Sharon, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Daniel (Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2008)

Smith-Christopher, Daniel L., The New Interpreters Bible: Daniel, Vol.VII (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001)

Towner, W. Sibley, Interpretation Commentary: Daniel (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984)

SECOND READING

REVELATION 1:4-5a.  JOHN TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN ASIA

REVELATION 1:5b-8.  TO HIM WHO LOVES US

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aune, David E., Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5, Vol 52a (Dallas: Word Books, 1997)

Blevins, James L., Knox Preaching Guides: Revelation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984)

Boring, M. Eugene, “Priests in the NT,” in Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (ed.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: Me-R, Vol. 4 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009)

Boring, M. Eugene, Interpretation: Revelation (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1989)

Boxall, Ian, Black’s New Testament Commentary: The Revelation of Saint John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009)

MacArthur, John, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11 (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 2000)

Mangina, Joseph L. Brazos Theological Commentary: Revelation (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009)

Metzger, Bruce M., Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993)

Morris, Leon, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Revelation, Vol. 20 (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1987)

Mounce, Robert H., The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of Revelation(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977)

Osborne, Grant R., Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002)

Palmer, Earl F., The Preacher’s Commentary: 1,2,3, John, Revelation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982)

Patterson, L. Paige, The New American Commentary: Revelation (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012)

Peterson, Eugene H., Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John & the Praying Imagination (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988)

Reddish, Mitchell G., Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Revelation (Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2001)

Rowland, Christopher C., in The New Interpreter’s Bible: Hebrews, James 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude, Revelation, Vol. XII (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998)

Thompson, Leonard L., Abingdon New Testament Commentary: Revelation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997)

GOSPEL

JOHN 18:33-38a.  ARE YOU THE KING OF THE JEWS?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brooks, James A., The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture: Mark (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1991)

Brown, Raymond, The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI (Garden City: Doubleday, 1970)

Bruce, F. F., The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983)

Carson, D. A., The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991)

Morris, Leon, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel According to John, Revised (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995)

Myers, Allen C. (ed.), The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987)

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

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ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

John 18:33–38

33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

34. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

35. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

37. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

38. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

COMMENTARY

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii.) Pilate, wishing to rescue Him from the hatred of the Jews, protracted1 the trial a long time: Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall, and called Jesus.

THEOPHYLACT. i. e. Apart, because he had a strong suspicion that He was innocent, and thought he could examine Him more accurately, away from the crowd: and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?

ALCUIN. Wherein Pilate shews that the Jews had charged Him with calling Himself King of the Jews.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii. 4) Or Pilate had heard this by report; and as the Jews had no charge to bring forward, began to examine Him himself with respect to the things commonly reported of Him.

Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?

THEOPHYLACT. He intimates here that Pilate was judging blindly and indiscreetly: If thou sayest this thing of thyself, He says, bring forward proofs of My rebellion; if thou hast heard it from others, make regular enquiry into it.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv) Our Lord knew indeed both what He Himself asked, and what Pilate would answer; but He wished it to be written down for our sakes.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) He asks not in ignorance, but in order to draw from Pilate himself an accusation against the Jews: Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv) He rejects the imputation that He could have said it of Himself; Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me: adding, what hast Thou done? Whereby he shews that this charge had been brought against Him, for it is as much as to say, If Thou deniest that Thou art a King, what hast Thou done to be delivered up to me? As if it were no wonder that He should be delivered up, if He called Himself a King.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) He then tries to bring round the mind of Pilate, not a very bad man, by proving to him, that He is not a mere man, but God, and the Son of God; and overthrowing all suspicion of His having aimed at a tyranny, which Pilate was afraid of, Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv. 1) This is what the good Master wished to teach us. But first it was necessary to shew the falsity of the notions of both Jews and Gentiles as to His kingdom, which Pilate had heard of; as if it meant that He aimed at unlawful power; a crime punishable with death, and this kingdom were a subject of jealousy to the ruling power, and to be guarded against as likely to be hostile either to the Romans or Jews. Now if our Lord had answered immediately Pilate’s question, He would have seemed to have been answering not the Jews, but the Gentiles only. But after Pilate’s answer, what He says is an answer to both Gentiles and Jews: as if He said, Men, i. e. Jews and Gentiles, I hinder not your dominion in this world. What more would ye have? Come by faith to the kingdom which is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, but they that believe in Him, of whom He saith, Ye are not of the world: although He wished that they should be in the world. In the same way, here He does not say, My kingdom is not in this world; but, is not of this world. Of the world are all men, who created by God are born of the corrupt race of Adam. All that are born again in Christ, are made a kingdom not of this world. Thus hath God taken us out of the power of darkness, and translated us to the kingdom of His dear Son.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) Or He means that He does not derive His kingdom from the same source that earthly kings do; but that He hath His sovereignty from above; inasmuch as He is not mere man, but far greater and more glorious than man: If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. Here He shews the weakness of an earthly kingdom, that it has its strength from its servants, whereas that higher kingdom is sufficient to itself, and wanting in nothing. And if His kingdom was thus the greater of the two, it follows that He was taken of His own will, and delivered up Himself.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv) After shewing that His kingdom was not of this world, He adds, But now My kingdom is not from hence. He does not say, Not here, for His kingdom is here unto the end of the world, having within it the tares mixed with the wheat until the harvest. But yet it is not from hence, since it is a stranger in the world.

THEOPHYLACT. Or He says, from hence, not, here; because He reigns in the world, and carries on the government of it, and disposes all things according to His will; but His kingdom is not from below, but from above, and before all ages.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) Heretics infer from these words that our Lord is a different person (ἀλλότριον) from the Creator of the world. But when He says, My kingdom is not from hence, He does not deprive the world of His government and superintendence, but only shews that His government is not human and corruptible. Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a King then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv) He did not fear to confess Himself a King, but so replied as neither to deny that He was, nor yet to confess Himself a King in such sense as that His kingdom should be supposed to be of this world. He says, Thou sayest, meaning, Thou being carnal sayest it carnally. He continues, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. The pronoun here, in hoc, must not be dwelt long on, as if it meant, in hâc re, but shortened, as if it stood, ad hoc natus sum, as the next words are, ad hoc veni in mundum. Wherein it is evident He alludes to His birth in the flesh, not to that divine birth which never had beginning.

THEOPHYLACT. Or, to Pilate’s question whether He was a King, our Lord answers, To this end was I born, i. e. to be a King. That I am born from a King, proves that I am a King.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii. 4) If then He was a King by birth, He hath nothing which He hath not received from another. For this I came, that I should bear witness to the truth, i. e. that I should make all men believe it. We must observe how He shews His humility here: when they accused Him as a malefactor, He bore it in silence; but when He is asked of His kingdom, then He talks with Pilate, instructs him, and raises his mind to higher things. That I should bear witness to the truth, shews that He had no crafty purpose in what He did.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. cxv) But when Christ bears witness to the truth, He bears witness to Himself; as He said above, I am the truth. (c. 14:6) But inasmuch as all men have not faith, He adds, Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice: heareth, that is, with the inward ear; obeys My voice, believes Mc. Every one that is of the truth, hath reference to the grace by which He calleth according to His purpose. For as regards the nature in which we are created, since the truth created all, all are of the truth. But it is not all to whom it is given by the truth to obey the truth. For had He even said, Every one that heareth My voice is of the truth, it still would be thought that such were of the truth, because they obeyed the truth. But He does not say this, but, Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice. A man then is not of the truth, because he hears His voice, but hears His voice because he is of the truth. This grace is conferred upon him by the truth.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxxiii) These words have an effect upon Pilate, persuade him to become a hearer, and elicit from him the short enquiry, What is truth? Pilate said unto Him, What is truth?

THEOPHYLACT. For it had almost vanished from the world, and become unknown in consequence of the general unbelief.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
PHILIP SCHAFF DIGITAL COLLECTION

CCEL Early Church Fathers

RELATED REFERENCES ARE HIGHLIGHTED ORANGE

Courtesy of Catholic Cross Reference

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