Pray without ceasing: Jesus

pray-without-ceasing7 Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? 8 I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Jesus comments make clear the intended parallels: from an unjust judge to God; from the widow to God’s elect.  The term “his chosen ones” (hoi eklektoi), used in Luke-Acts only here, echoes texts such as Isa. 42:1; 43:20; 65:9, 15, 22; Ps. 105:6, 43 (cf. Sir. 47:22), which use the term “chosen” in a context that emphasizes election to serve Yahweh (also refers to Deut. 4:37; 7:7; 1 Chron. 16:13; Ps. 77:31; 88:3). Continue reading

Pray without ceasing: widow

pray-without-ceasingIn the ancient near-east (ANE) widows had no intrinsic standing within the community. Further the court system in ANE was a world of men – woman were not considered stable witnesses and often has no rights of inheritance. It was typical for a woman’s case to represented by one of her kinsmen.  In this parable the widow seems to lack kinsmen and resources (for a bribe), and thus pursues the case herself. As even this parable makes clear, in the tradition of Israel a widow is the ultimate state of vulnerability, deprivation and need. Continue reading

Pray without ceasing: judge

pray-without-ceasing2 “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3 And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4 For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”

More literal translation: There was a certain judge in a certain town. Echo of previous passages – a certain rich man who experienced an abundant harvest or a certain rich man (fool) who lived in purple garments and fine linens but never gave heed to poor Lazarus.  Continue reading

Pray without ceasing: parables

pray-without-ceasingJesus’ parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary (v.1) stands as a climax for the longer section on faithfulness at the coming of the Son of Man (17:20-18:8). Read against the horizon of 17:22-37, Jesus’ teaching is particularly oriented toward the necessity of steadfast, hopeful faith in the midst of trials. Continue reading

Pray without ceasing: context

pray-without-ceasing1 Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, 2 “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3 And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4 For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” 6 The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 7 Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? 8 I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Continue reading

“The” Faith

I am partial to the Gospel according to Luke. I think his writing is good at telling the story and leaving room for the hearer to work though the implications of it all.  Some of the most memorable parables – the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, Lazarus and the Rich Man, and more are all unique to Luke’s gospel. Also, Luke is particular about his choice of words and phrases – the small nuances of language find their place in his telling of Jesus’ story.

Today we have one of those small curiosities of language: But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8).  What the Greek actually says is not “find faith” but “find the faith.” It is the only place in all of Luke’s gospel he uses this phrase.  In fact it is the only place in all the New Testament. Maybe it’s nothing, but then again, as he often does, maybe Luke is trying to tell us something in this small parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge. Continue reading