Reflections on the Lectionary: Philippians 4:4-7
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflections on the Lectionary: Philippians 4:4-7

This passage is an apocalyptic vision of great tribulations, evidently preceding “redemption” of Jesus’ followers. Jesus declares, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place” (Luke 21:32; see also Mark 13:30). If we are to understand that Jesus is predicting the destruction of the world as we know it and the Final Judgment, then was Jesus and/or the writers of Mark and Luke wrong?
This is the conclusion of many New Testament scholars, including Albert Schweitzer and Rudolf Bultmann. Some, such as N.T. Wright, have argued that the apocalyptic vision relates to the disastrous revolt against the Romans, which culminated in the destruction of the Temple.
I offer another theory. Perhaps Jesus recognized that these times, as with nearly all other times in human history, would see great tumult. Humans have found it difficult if not impossible to avoid violence. Sometimes that violence is limited by the scapegoating process, which tends to restrict violence to a smaller number of victims. But scapegoating violence does not eliminate all other violence in the community, and of course scapegoating violence is still violence.
Nearly every generation thinks that it is experiencing times of strife, because what one experiences is far more vivid than what one has heard about. Jesus was warning his followers that his ministry would not immediately result in peace and harmony, though he did offer a path toward communal peace for those who chose it. There are different kinds of “redemption,” and one is to be redeemed from the human attraction to violence and scapegoating. Only with this kind of redemption can there be communities of peace. 

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