Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®

Soul and Body

from the Responsive Reading

Isaiah 2:2

It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

In ancient times, mountaintops were regarded as holy places. “The mountain of the Lord’s house,” usually called Mount Zion, is celebrated throughout Hebrew Scripture (see examples in Psalms 48:2; Isaiah 4:5, 6; Joel 2:32; Obadiah 1:17; Micah 4:7). That it is “exalted above the hills”—in contrast with the lower status of human valley-dwellers—emphasizes the sacred nature of God’s house.

In Hebrew history, mountains are often the sites of momentous events. For instance, Noah’s ark comes to rest on Mount Ararat; Moses is directed to save his people and later given the Ten Commandments on Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai); and Elijah demonstrates God’s power on Mount Carmel, then witnesses the divine might on Horeb (see Genesis 8:4; Exodus 3:1; chaps. 19, 20; I Kings 18:17–39; 19:9–12).

In the New Testament, the Mount of Olives is the location of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane and ascension at Bethany (see Mark 14:26–42; Luke 24:50, 51). And the Master’s Sermon on the Mount, transfiguration, and final discourse with his disciples before the crucifixion all take place on mountains (see Matthew, chaps. 5–7; 17:1–8; 24:3—26:46).

“Last days” can indicate the future (see, for example, Jacob’s “last days” predictions for his sons in Genesis 49:1–28) or an apocalyptic event, as in several New Testament texts (see Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; II Peter 3:3).

Isaiah 2:17

The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

loftiness: pride
haughtiness: feeling of superiority over others
exalted: glorified; praised

II Corinthians 5:4, 5

We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 

Arrabōn, the Greek word rendered earnest, is a legal term. It denotes an installment or pledge guaranteeing payment of a balance due. (Today “earnest money” signifies a good-faith deposit toward a larger amount owed.) 

As in II Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13, 14, here this commercial term is used for a spiritual concept. A scholar explains, “The gift of the Spirit . . . is the title deed to future inheritance, the seed from which will spring the flower of an immortal life.”

tabernacle: tent; temporary residence (symbol for the human body)
wrought: made; created
selfsame: identical
earnest: pledge; guarantee

II Corinthians 5:6, 8, 17

We are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: . . . We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. . . . Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

One source describes being “at home in the body” as “bearing the burdens of mortal existence.” Two Greek words illustrate the spiritual commitment needed to relinquish this state. Tharreō, rendered confident, refers elsewhere to boldness (see Hebrews 13:6). Eudokeō (willing) is sometimes translated well pleased (the term God uses to introduce His Son at Jesus’ baptism; see Matthew 3:17).

Ekdēmeō, the Greek term rendered absent, means emigrating from a homeland or going on a long journey—further evidence of the demand for courage and willingness.

Paul employs the words “in Christ” dozens of times in his letters to his fellow Christians, reminding them of their unity with Christ and exhorting them to preserve this relationship—and their Christly bond with each other—through faith.

from Section 1

1 | Psalms 90:1, 17 

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. . . . Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.

Translation

Lord, through all the generations 
        you have been our home! 
. . . may the Lord our God show us his approval . . . .

—New Living Translation

2 | Acts 17:24, 25, 28

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; . . . for in him we live, and move, and have our being.

Paul is speaking to a group of Athenians after seeing their altar to the “unknown God.” Some of his listeners are Epicureans, materialists who believed that worship of deities (and temples for this purpose) were unnecessary to the pursuit of moral virtue or sensual pleasure. Others are Stoics, rationalists who recognized a distant deity that has some authority but is governed by fate. The apostle introduces them to the one God—the God who is knowable as the supreme and benevolent power over all creation.

The statements “In him we . . . have our being” and “We are . . . his offspring” have been attributed to two Greek philosophers, Epimenides and Aratus. By citing these thinkers, Paul connects with his intellectual listeners and builds a bridge to his explanation of the new doctrine of Christianity.

3 | Job 23:13 

He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

Translation

He is of one mind; who can reverse it? 
        What he desires, he does. 

—Common English Bible

4 | Isaiah 43:1, 10, 21

Now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. . . . Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. . . . This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

In this passage, redeemed is translated from the Hebrew verb gā’al, referring to the redemption of someone from servitude or debt by a kinsman. Figuratively, Hebrew Bible usage represented divine deliverance from trouble or harm (see another example in Psalms 106:10).

By New Testament times, redemption had further deepened in meaning to signify salvation from sin and death through Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind. Paul writes, “God sent forth his Son . . . to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4, 5).

God has called “all the nations” (Isaiah 43:9) to bring their witnesses. Now He proclaims His own witness—not a great military power or economic force, but His servant Israel. Like those taking the stand in a trial, Israel is to testify to the character and might of the one God.

5 | Jeremiah 32:38, 41 

They shall be my people, and I will be their God: . . . Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.

Translation

They will be my people, and I will be their God. . . . I will take delight in them to do what is good for them, and with all my heart and mind I will faithfully plant them in this land.

—Christian Standard Bible

from Section 2

7 | Psalms 34:22

The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

desolate: comfortless; left alone

9 | I Corinthians 3:9, 17

Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. . . . The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Translation

. . . you are like God’s farm, God’s house. . . . God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.

—New Century Version

Husbandry (Greek, geōrgion) means the cultivation of a field. God’s people are, in Isaiah’s words, “the planting of the Lord” (61:3). As land and crops do not cultivate themselves but are tended by farmers to produce plentiful harvests, so God’s care for His children brings forth fruitful and productive lives.

Bible authorities point out that Paul is addressing the entire community of Christians as God’s temple. One offers this paraphrase: “You are . . . a sacred shrine in which God’s very presence dwells. You are the church of the living God.” Another remarks, “This ‘warning’ has implications for the life of the individual believer, but never outside the context of the community of faith.”

from Section 3

10 | Mark 3:7, 8, 10, 11

Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. . . . For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

At this early point in Jesus’ ministry, news of his healing works had already spread to areas beyond the land where Judaism was the main religion. The sites mentioned here represent regions far to the south (Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea) and east (beyond Jordan). Tyre and Sidon lay to the north.

pressed upon: crowded around

10 | Mark 3:22–27

The scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

Because Hebrew law imposed the death penalty for prophets who misled God’s children (see Deuteronomy 13:1–5; 18:20), the scribes’ accusation is a serious one. Using the twin images of kingdom and household, the Master not only denies his cooperation with evil but explains his ability to exercise divine dominion over it. One commentary portrays Jesus’ analogy as “part of the housecleaning that reveals God’s kingdom.”

11 | John 5:8, 9, 14

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. . . . Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Apparently discerning further need of healing, Jesus admonishes this man—as he will command the adulterous woman in John 8:11—to cease all wrongdoing. A scholar sees more profound meaning in the Savior’s counsel: “The healing was . . . imperfect until the man had learned its spiritual significance. Every gift of God is doubled in value when its source is recognized. God’s signature on his own mercies gives them their true meaning.” 

from Section 4

13 | Matthew 12:22 

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

possessed with: influenced or controlled by 

14 | I Corinthians 2:9, 10

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Translation

“No one has ever seen this. 
        No one has ever heard about it. 
No one has ever imagined 
“No one has ever seen this. 
        what God has prepared for those 
        who love him.” 
But God has shown us these things through the Spirit. The Spirit knows all things, even the deep secrets of God.

—International Children’s Bible

No human faculty, Paul declares, can make God’s good purposes clear—only the searching Spirit reveals them. A scriptural authority clarifies the searching activity as “the ever active, accurate, careful sounding of the depths of God by the Spirit.”

from Section 5

15 | I Corinthians 6:19, 20

Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Translation

You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. You do not own yourselves. You were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies.

—International Children’s Bible

Paul’s metaphor suggests the payment of a ransom. The “price” paid for humanity is the crucifixion of Jesus, a sacrifice that compels allegiance to God and the working out of individual salvation. A similar idea appears later in the same letter: “He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (7:22, 23).

Body, translated from the Greek noun sōma, is mentioned over forty times in this epistle. To Paul it signifies the whole self. A commentator notes: “As will become evident, glorifying God ‘in your body’ will at once mean (1) that individuals exercise stewardship of their own bodies, their very selves, and (2) that collectively the believers live lovingly and in an edifying fashion with each other as members of the one body that is Christ’s.”

16 | I Corinthians 9:24–27 

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Translation

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

—New Living Translation

mastery: victory
temperate: self-controlled
corruptible: perishable; subject to decay and destruction
incorruptible: indestructible; not subject to decay
into subjection: under control

17 | Romans 12:1, 2 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Translation

So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.

—New Century Version

from Section 6

18 | Matthew 6:22

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Translation

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts].”

—Amplified® Bible

In both Jewish and Greek tradition, eyesight and light symbolize understanding or revelation. Jesus teaches that spiritual clarity (the eye that is “single”—whole or sound) is like a brightly shining inner light. Confusion or laxness regarding divine things (the eye that is evil, v. 23) is mental darkness.

19 | I Thessalonians 5:23

The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy had recently founded this church in the Macedonian capital of Thessalonica, and had encountered strong opposition from some of the local Jewish population (see Acts 17:1–8). Now Paul prays that the embattled new Christians find peace in the holiness that pervades their whole being. 

Translated from the Greek word parousia, which simply means presence, coming describes a state rather than an event. Centuries before Paul, however, parousia was interpreted as an arrival—often, as in this verse, the second advent of Christ Jesus as a human being. This still-expected reappearing is known as the Parousia today.

20 | II Corinthians 3:4, 5, 18 

Such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; . . . We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Translation

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, . . . all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

—New Revised Standard Version


Read a related article, “When there seems no reason to hope” by Bill Moody.

The Bible Lessons serve as weekly study guides as well as the sermon in every Christian Science Sunday church service. Learn more at BibleLesson.com

Resources quoted in this issue

RR: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 10, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57; Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.

Cit. 9: Eiselen, Frederick Carl, Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, eds. The Abingdon Bible Commentary: New Testament. New York: Abingdon Press, 1929; Soards, Marion L. New International Biblical Commentary—1 Corinthians. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.

Cit. 10: Green, Joel B., et al., eds. The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Common English Bible, 2013.

Cit. 11: Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice, Joseph S. Exell, and Edward Mark Deems, eds. The Pulpit Commentary. London, 1880–1909. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 14: Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1946. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 15: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 9, Acts, Introduction to Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

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