2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
The Book of Kings is part of the “Deuteronomic History” that includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. These books are a didactic history of Ancient Israel from the time in the Wilderness (c. 1250 BCE) to the Babylonian Captivity in 587 BCE. The books all emphasize that God controls history.
Consistent with that point, in today’s reading, it is Yahweh (!) who gives victory to Naaman, a general of Aram (modern Syria) over Israel around 850 BCE (v. 1). Elisha, the successor to Elijah, was in Samaria, the capital of Northern Israel at this time. Naaman came to Elisha with great riches and a letter from the king of Aram to the king of Israel asking that Naaman be cured of his “leprosy” (which could have been any skin ailment). Elisha directed Naaman to wash in the River Jordan seven times, and Naaman was healed.
As Naaman states (v.15), the lesson of this story is that Yahweh’s power is not territorially limited to the lands of Israel and Judea – it extends to the whole world.
2 Timothy 2:8-15
The Letters to Timothy and Titus are called “Pastoral Letters” because they concern the internal life, governance and behavior of the early Christian churches and their members. Most scholars agree they were written in the early Second Century in Paul’s name by some of his followers (Paul died in 64 CE). Writing something in someone else’s name was a common practice in the First and Second Centuries. By then, the Jesus Follower Community had become more institutionalized and concerns about “heresy” had arisen.
2 Timothy is more personal than 1 Timothy. In today’s reading, the author, writing as Paul, restates key elements of the Gospel and emphasizes that “Paul” has endured hardships so that others may obtain salvation with eternal glory (v. 10). Verses 11 to 13 are generally regarded by scholars as an ancient hymn, and “Paul” encourages Timothy to present himself as one approved by God.