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


from the Responsive Reading

Psalms 19:1–4, 7, 8

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. . . . The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Called “the greatest poem in the Psalter” by British writer and theologian C. S. Lewis, Psalm 19 proclaims God’s glory in two ways—as the creative force of the universe and as the law undergirding creation. 

The Hebrew word qaw, translated line in the King James Bible, is rendered voice or message in some other versions. Heavenly bodies present their message as universal and without limit, going out “through all the earth.” The Apostle Paul cites this verse in writing about the spread of the gospel (see Romans 10:18).

from Section 1

1 | Isaiah 45:5

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.

Girding—encircling or encompassing—describes God’s activity of equipping His children with strength, gladness, and power (see Psalms 18:3230:1165:6).

1 | Isaiah 45:8

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it. 

• • •

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; 
   let the clouds shower it down. 
Let the earth open wide, 
   let salvation spring up, 
let righteousness flourish with it; 
   I, the Lord, have created it.”

—New International Version

2 | Exodus 3:14, 15

I AM THAT I AM: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

God’s communication of His name to Moses was held sacred in the Jewish faith—so sacred that a ban on speaking it aloud arose. (Today many Jews replace God’s name with Hashem, meaning “the name.”) In Scripture His name was represented by the four letters YHWH or JHVH. Scribes later added vowels from the Hebrew word Adonay (meaning Lord) to the letters JHVH, leading to the term Jehovah.

Because the Hebrew language doesn’t mark verb tenses, some commentaries interpret God’s declaration as “I will be what I will be.” However the name is viewed, one source affirms, it portrays “the living, self-existent God, the One who is and will be, and who has within himself the exhaustless resources of being. He is not defined by one event, or by one circumstance, or by the experience of one age or nation, but is ceaselessly renewing the revelation of himself . . . .”

from Section 2

3 | I Corinthians 2:5

Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

A contemporary scholar offers this paraphrase of Paul’s guidance: “. . . your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.”

4 | Deuteronomy 11:16

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them.

• • •

Be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside, worship, and bow down to other gods.

—Holman Christian Standard Bible

5 | Genesis 11:1, 4

The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. . . . And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.

Scriptural authorities agree that the tower of Babel was likely a ziggurat—a pyramid-shaped edifice with stepped sides. Ziggurats were massive structures estimated to be from about 170 to 350 feet (about 50 to 105 meters) square at the base and as high as about 175 feet (about 53 meters). In flat terrains, where there were no mountain-top sites for temples, they provided elevated worship spaces.

6 | II Timothy 2:15, 16

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Counsel about caring for the needs of believers in early Christian communities fills the epistles to Timothy and Titus. “These letters,” one commentator explains, “deal with the care and organization of the flock of God; they give instructions as to how God’s house should be administered . . . [and] how the threats which endanger the purity of Christian faith and life should be dealt with.” 

Here the writer urges spiritual discipline in thought and study. Rightly dividing is translated from the Greek verb orthotomeō. It is composed of two words: orthos, rendered upright in Acts 14:10 and straight in Hebrews 12:13, and a form of temnō, related to a word translated sharper in Hebrews 4:12

The combined verb suggests cutting a straight line, as a farmer cuts a straight furrow or a tailor makes a straight cut in fabric. The “word of truth” was to be understood and taught correctly, in contrast to the “profane and vain babblings” of false prophets.

shun: avoid; ignore persistently
profane: impure; disrespectful of sacred things

6 | II Timothy 2:15, 16, 22

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. . . . follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

• • •

Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly. Avoid pointless discussions. People who pay attention to these pointless discussions will become more ungodly, . . . Pursue what has God’s approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure heart.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

7 | Acts 17:28

In him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

• • •

“Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him. As some of your poets have said, ‘We are God’s children.’ ”

—GOD’S WORD Translation

from Section 4

8 | James 3:17

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.


. . . the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile].

—Amplified® Bible

partiality: favoring one thing over another
hypocrisy: false appearance of goodness

10 | Ecclesiastes 9:14, 15

There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city.

According to most scholars, this story is a parable or fable rather than a historical account. Like other texts of wisdom literature, it is valued as instruction about the central role of wisdom in human life.

In ancient times, bulwarks were ramparts or embankments that gave enemies commanding positions from which to launch weapons. After underscoring the contrast between “great bulwarks” and the “poor wise man,” the sage concludes, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war” (v. 18).

besieged: surrounded in order to cut off supplies

from Section 5

11 | Isaiah 41:13

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.


. . . I hold you by your right hand—
   I, the Lord your God. 
And I say to you, 
   ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’

—New Living Translation

With the invitation “Let us come near together to judgment” (v. 1), Isaiah 41 presents the image of a court trial. Opening arguments for God’s supremacy (see vv. 2–7) are followed by a salvation prophecy (see vv. 8–20). Verse 13 is part of this assurance to the people of God that He will strengthen, uphold, and protect them.

12 | Isaiah 30:15

In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.

In this chapter Isaiah rebukes Israel for seeking an alliance with Egypt against Assyria, rather than trusting in God (see vv. 1–3). The prophet reminds the people that salvation comes from “returning and rest”—from turning back to Him.

12 | Isaiah 30:15, 21

In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: . . . And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

• • •

“If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. 
   If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong.” . . .

If you go the wrong way—to the right or to the left—you will hear a voice behind you saying,
“This is the right way. You should go this way.”

—New Century Version

13 | Luke 8:43, 46

A woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. . . . Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.

Dynamis, the Greek word translated virtue here, is most commonly rendered power. Jesus’ words signify that healing power emanates from him, as his advancing ministry shows—not that it has left him or diminished his ability to heal.

Jesus challenges Jewish taboos about uncleanness in three consecutive instances. Just prior to this, he heals the possessed man who lives in tombs near a herd of swine (see vv. 26–35). Now he comes in contact with a woman considered impure. And immediately after this, he touches the dead body of Jairus’ daughter (see vv. 49–55). The Master’s healings decisively demonstrate purity as spiritual, able to annul physical conditions.

stanched: stopped flowing

from Section 6

14 | II Corinthians 13:11

Be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

To be of one mind is repeatedly called for in New Testament writing. Romans 15:5 (citation 18) and Philippians 2:2 use the term like-minded—and Paul continues with charges to “mind the same thing” and “be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 3:164:2). Uniting in thought and understanding, Paul assures the Corinthian church, leads to peace.

A Bible authority explains that “those who are within the Christian fellowship will have solved the problem of living together. They will be quite sure that the Christ who unites them is greater by far than the differences which may divide them.”

14 | II Corinthians 13:14

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

• • •

The grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the presence and fellowship (the communion and sharing together, and participation) in the Holy Spirit be with you all.

—Amplified® Bible Classic

15 | Acts 1:1

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.

treatise: long written explanation

16 | Acts 2:1, 2, 4–6, 44

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. . . .  And all that believed were together, and had all things common.

Pentecost, meaning “fiftieth day,” was a thanksgiving feast called in the Hebrew Bible the Feast of Weeks. Held the day following a period of seven weeks (49 days) from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it was one of three annual pilgrimages Jews made to Jerusalem. On the day referred to in Acts 2—about ten days after Jesus’ ascension—Jews from all over the known world were present.

Viewed by some as a reversal of the confusion of Babel (see Genesis 11:1–9, citation 5), speaking with “other tongues” marked a dramatic change for gathered Christians. One source notes: “The disciples had been present in Jerusalem at many feasts before, at which they had found themselves, as now, surrounded by pilgrims from many distant lands. Then they had worshipped apart by themselves, with no outward means of fellowship with these strangers, and had poured out their praises and blessings in their own Galilean speech, as each group of those pilgrims had done in theirs. Now they found themselves able to burst through the bounds that had thus divided them, and to claim a fellowship with all true worshippers from whatever lands they came.”

confounded: confused
common: belonging equally to everyone

from Section 7

17 | James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

People of antiquity were well aware of such regular celestial changes as eclipses, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the differing brightness of stars. Similarly, pagan deities were believed to be changeable and fickle. A commentator notes, “God is associated with light rather than darkness, with stability and consistency rather than change and alteration. . . .”

18 | Romans 15:5

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.

consolation: comfort
grant: give; allow

18 | Romans 15:5, 6

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

• • •

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—New Living Translation

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Resources quoted in this issue

RR: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 4, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001.

Cit. 2: Eiselen, Frederick Carl., Lewis, Edwin, and Downey, David G., eds. The Abingdon Bible Commentary. New York: Abingdon Press, 1929.

Cit. 3: Peterson, Eugene H. The Message, Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Pub. Group, 2003.

Cit. 6: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

Cit. 14: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letter to the Romans. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Letter to the Romans. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

Cit. 16: Ellicott, Charles John, ed. A Bible Commentary for English Readers by Various Writers. London: Cassell, 1897–1905. Also available at

Cit. 17: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 12, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, Revelation. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001.

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