Biblical Words 
Epiphany is light to the nations, whose sages come to find a king, and who hear of their inclusion in the good news.
celebrated the share of the humble and poor in God’s salvation for
Epiphany is about light shining.
This great Prophetic passage of Epiphany summons
This is a
breathtaking view, worthy of a
The script of verses 1-3 would read:
All the world is a
vast black space when a piercing light cuts through from the east and illumines
a glorious city on an elevated summit (see
The great light
that shines on
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14.
The Psalm selection also focuses on the tribute and enrichment from the nations, but now the emphasis is on God’s rule through a chosen king instead of on the glory of the city.
The psalm is a prayer uttered on behalf of God’s king by the king’s people. The superscription says the psalm is “For Solomon,” i.e., for “the Son of David.” In the prayer the king is seen as the source of blessing for the whole natural realm, producing “prosperity” (shalom) for the people and rain and showers for the earth.
More especially is
the king the source of justice and righteousness for the poor and oppressed of
God’s people. The tribute prayed for
from the kings of Tarshish and
This is the kind of rule by the Son of David that will lure the devotion of the nations and cause them to stream to God’s city with gifts and new orientations of their power and wealth!
The Epistle selection for Epiphany is an instance of a passage too rich to be exhausted in a lectionary reading.
The relevant thread, however, is “the mystery of Christ” (NRSV; “secret plan” or “hidden plan” in CEB). This mystery concerns the nations.
(The English versions use “Gentiles/gentiles” to translate the Greek ethne and the Hebrew goyyim, both of which mean “nations.” This is a translation error: there were no such things as "gentiles" between Judeans ("Jews") and the Nations. “Gentiles” is a Latin word left over by lazy translators -- who spoke Latin in their everyday work. Instead of “gentiles” read either “the nations” or “people of the nations.”)
While much of this passage emphasizes Paul’s status as the Apostle to the Nations, the major point is the content of the “mystery.”
The mystery referred to is that
the assembly of God’s people (the church) is not confined to the people of
The conclusion of this inspired
line is that the heavenly powers themselves have received the revelation — the
revelation that the nations are joined with
The multi-ethnic and
The exalted language and imagery
of the message about the nations used in the Prophetic reading and in the
Epistle are left behind by the Gospel reading. Here a series of simple circumstances are
related very concisely. We do not even
hear of these magoi while they are still in the east, but they simply
Here there is no fanfare or spectacular laser light show; only some ambassador types trying to get local directions in order to make an appearance in a very modest court. Where the prophets and the psalmists exulted in pyrotechnic language to refer to worldly realities that were more modest, here the divine aura behind the simple events is significantly understated.
Some of the
mystery behind these events is revealed unintentionally by the current king,
Herod the Great. Learning of the foreign
ambassadors’ goal, Herod has the local scholars consult the scriptures. The small town of
The narrative presents, without emphasizing, that these sages are lofty representatives of the nations of the world, seeking the secret king whose coming changes the whole world. Their star leads them to precisely the house they needed, and they bow in worship before presenting their gifts.
These are royal gifts, representing great treasures, but their glory is presented in a few simple narrative phrases. The modesty and the secrecy of the real identity and destined work of God’s saving King are preserved. Only those with special wisdom (knowing the “mystery”) are aware of the cosmic import of what has happened and know how to conduct themselves accordingly.
The welfare and the secret of these sages are preserved by God. Having been warned in a dream, as is usual in Matthew, they “left for their own country by another road.”
The light which Epiphany is about had come into the world, and only a few knew it.