1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

4a These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.


The word “Genesis” means “origin” and the Book of Genesis starts with the Creation Stories and concludes with the death of Joseph (Jacob’s son) in Egypt. The Book is an amalgam of religious traditions, some of which were based on oral traditions that were written down about 950 BCE and some of which were developed as late as 450 BCE. It is divided into two major parts: Chapters 1 to 11 are the “Primeval History” and Chapters 12 to 50 are the “Ancestral History.”

Today’s reading is the First Creation Story. (The Second Creation Story begins at 2.4b and tells of YHWH’s forming the earthling – adam – out of the fertile earth – adamah – and breathing life into the earthling.) In the Second Creation Story, the name of God is YHWH (translated in the NRSV as “LORD God”) and is a different name from the name of God in the First Creation Story.

The First Creation Story is structured as seven days in which God — Elohim (literally, “the gods”) in the Hebrew – brought order (Shalom) to all reality by separating its component parts. It is noteworthy that “creation” was not presented as creation out of nothing but rather as an ordering of the earth, the waters, light, and time. (The already-existing earth is described as “formless” and darkness is said to cover the already-existing waters in verse 2.) Two themes crucial to the story are the goodness of creation, and that “creation” came through God’s ordering, separating, and naming the elements of the known universe.

The Jewish Study Bible observes that to ancient peoples, the opposite of the created order was something much worse than “nothing.” The opposite of a “created order” was an active, malevolent force best described as chaos. In v.2, chaos was envisioned as a dark, undifferentiated mass of water. The JSB adds: “In the Ancient Near East, to say that a deity had subdued chaos is to give [the deity] the highest praise.”

This Creation Story is similar in structure to the seven-day Babylonian Creation Story (the Enuma Elish) which the Jewish People encountered during the Babylonian Captivity (587-539 BCE) – if not before. For this reason and because of the emphasis on order and the Sabbath on the seventh day (2:2-3), scholars generally agree that this First Creation Story was composed by the “Priestly” authors in the period from 550 to 450 BCE. Because the Jewish day begins at sundown, the order is evening and then morning (v.5).

The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes that there is a parallelism among Days 1, 2 and 3 and Days 4, 5 and 6 which heightens the symmetry and order of God’s creation. For example, God’s creation of heavenly lights on Day 4 corresponds to the creation of light, day, and night on Day 1. The Jewish Study Bible notes that the first three days described the creation of generalities or domains, whereas the next three days showed the creation of specifics or the inhabitants of those domains.

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary points out that verses 29 and 30 provided for humans to be vegetarians. God gave the humans all the plants to eat (v.29) and also gave plants for animals to eat (v.30), but God did not provide for humans to eat animals. A similar direction was given in the Second Creation Story in Genesis 2:16. The consumption of meat is seen by some scholars as another unfortunate result of the “Disobedience Event” recounted in Chapter 3. The permission to eat meat (but not blood) was given by God to Noah and his sons after the Flood (Gen. 9:3-4).

The story in today’s reading also made a critical response to non-Israelite cultures which worshipped heavenly bodies. In Genesis, the heavenly bodies are not named and are identified as mere timekeepers.

This reading is likely selected for Trinity Sunday because (among other things) the name of God in Hebrew in this account (Elohim) is a plural word (Hebrew words ending in “im” are plurals) and because Verse 1:26 says “Let us make humankind in our image.” Male and female are created at the same time and both are in the image of God (v.27).

Christian interpreters have sometimes also seen “the wind from God” (v.2) as the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13


11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.


Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was Hellenistic and emphasized reason, secular wisdom, and a hierarchical structure in society. Paul’s relationship with the community was often strained.

The NAOB notes that Paul wrote a number of letters to the Corinthians. One that has been lost is mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9. After sending that (now lost) letter, Paul sent Timothy to Corinth who returned with news that a group of Jewish Jesus Follower missionaries were undermining Paul’s teaching. Paul referred to these missionaries ironically as “super-apostles” 2 Cor. 11:5, 12:11.

Paul then visited Corinth a second time and a member of the congregation offended him seriously (2 Cor 2:5-6). He referred to this as a “painful visit” (2:1). He then wrote what he called the “letter of tears” (2:4), a letter that was well-received in Corinth but is also lost.

Most scholars believe that 2 Corinthians is a composite of several letters because Paul’s tone shifted so significantly within the letter. It moved from conciliatory (Chapter 2) to argumentative (Chapters 3 to 5), to reconciling (Chapters 6 and 7), to appealing for funds for the poor in Jerusalem (Chapters 8 and 9), to attacking “super-apostles” (Chapter 11), to a defensive tone regarding accusations that he enriched himself from the collections (Chapter 12). The NJBC sees it as two letters that are dramatically different in tone — Chapters 1-9 and Chapters 10-13.

Today’s reading is the concluding part of this letter and was both an appeal for good behavior on the part of the Corinthians (v.11 and 12) and a benediction upon them (v.13). The Jewish Annotated New Testament points out that this blessing is the only Trinitarian benediction in any of Paul’s letters, but The NJBC notes that it is not “a trinitarian formula in the dogmatic sense.”

Matthew 28:16-20


16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


The Gospel of Matthew highlights Jesus’ origins and identity. Written around 85 CE by an anonymous author, the Gospel began Jesus’ genealogy with Abraham and depicted Jesus as a teacher of the Law like Moses. More than any other Gospel, Matthew quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures (using the Greek Septuagint translation) to illustrate that Jesus was the Messiah.

Because it was written after the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Gospel reflected the controversies between the Jesus Followers and the Pharisees for control of Judaism going forward. Accordingly, the Gospel contains many harsh sayings about the Pharisees. The Gospel is aimed primarily at the late First Century Jewish Jesus Follower community.

The Gospel relied heavily on the Gospel of Mark and included all but 60 verses from Mark. Like Luke, Matthew also used a “Sayings Source” (called “Q” by scholars) which are stories and sayings found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark and John. There are also a substantial number of stories that are unique to Matthew: the Annunciation of Jesus’ conception was revealed to Joseph in a dream (rather than by an angel to Mary as in Luke); the Visit of the Magi; the Slaughter of the Innocents by Herod; the Flight to Egypt; the Laborers in the Vineyard; and the earthquake on Easter Morning, among others.

Unlike the direction given to the disciples in Luke to remain in Jerusalem, the disciples (according to Matthew and Mark) went to the Galilee.

Today’s reading consists of the closing verses of this Gospel and is often referred to as “the Great Commission” in which the disciples were sent to all nations. This was a significant change from the direction given to the Twelve in Matt. 10:5-6 (“Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”), a restriction that was modified after Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to cure her daughter and told Jesus that “even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matt. 15:27).

Continuing the depiction of Jesus as the “New Moses,” Jesus gave his final instructions from a mountain. The direction to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is understood by The Jewish Annotated New Testament as “a liturgical usage in Matthew’s later community, as other accounts of baptism (e.g. Acts 2.38) do not use this formula.” The JANT points out that the Trinity did not become Christian doctrine until at least the second century.

The JANT also notes that the words “I am with you always” and the mandate of global evangelization (“make disciples of all nations”) likely decreased tension over the delay in the Second Coming.