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

Reality

from the Golden Text

Psalms 40:5

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Reckoning or numbering was familiar to the Hebrew people—head counts verified tribe membership and growth of the overall population (see the book of Numbers, as well as examples in Joshua 8:10I Samuel 11:8). By contrast, God’s works are proclaimed to be countless. And His saving power, earlier acknowledged for the individual Psalmist (see Psalms 40:1–3), is celebrated here as universal and infinite.

to us-ward: to or about us

from the Responsive Reading

Psalms 139:3, 8–10

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. . . . If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

ascend: rise; move upward
uttermost: farthest

from Section 1

1 | Philippians 4:8

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Logizomai, the Greek word rendered think in this verse, means more than mere pondering. According to one Bible authority, it describes “a workman [taking] careful measurements before he sets about his task.” He continues: “. . . moral or spiritual truth with which Christianity is concerned must be expressed in living persons. It cannot be abstracted from action . . . .”

In his list, Paul affirms virtues common to Greek and Jewish thought as basic to Christian life. Another source suggests, “. . . he is claiming that anything and everything that is ‘excellent or praiseworthy’ is divine in origin.”

Translation

2 | Jeremiah 29:11

I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

• • •

. . . surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

—New Revised Standard Version

3 | Psalms 33:10

The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

heathen: people who don’t worship God
devices: plans; schemes 

Translation

3 | Psalms 33:4, 5, 10, 11

The word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. . . . The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

• • •

. . . the word of the LORD holds true, 
and we can trust everything he does. 
He loves whatever is just and good; 
the unfailing love of the LORD fills the earth. . . . 
The LORD frustrates the plans of the nations
and thwarts all their schemes. 
But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; 
his intentions can never be shaken.

—New Living Translation

from Section 2

5 | Mark 1:14, 15

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

gospel: good news; truth revealed by God 

5 | Mark 1:27

They were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this?

Witnesses of Jesus’ casting out of the unclean spirit wondered at both the remarkable cure and the teaching it demonstrated. To them, this was new—not only recent in time but also unprecedented in their experience and heralding an entirely original revelation.

7 | John 8:46

Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

Translation

Can any of you convict me of committing a sin? If I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?

—GOD’S WORD Translation

Convinceth is translated from the Greek verb elegkhō, signifying to convict or find at fault rather than to persuade. Later biblical statements attest to Jesus’ sinlessness (see II Corinthians 5:21Hebrews 4:15I John 3:5). Now, since his opponents cannot find him guilty of sin, his words must be accepted as truth. A scholar interprets, “A doctrine might be rejected if it could be proved that he that delivered it was an impostor; but as you cannot prove this of me, you are bound to receive my words.”

The Master’s questions are part of a lengthy interchange with a group of Jews “which believed on him” (John 8:31)—who had evidently accepted his ideas on a superficial level but were unwilling to look beyond a merely biological view of their status as descendants of Abraham. The discussion ends with Jesus’ statement “Before Abraham was, I am” and an unsuccessful attempt to stone him (see vv. 58, 59).

8 | Matthew 5:17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Translation

Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.

—Amplified® Bible Classic

Jesus’ saying follows his first lessons in his Sermon on the Mount, including the verses known as the Beatitudes. He is reassuring his listeners that neither the Mosaic law (the Torah or Pentateuch) nor the writings of the prophets are at risk of loss or misinterpretation, but are to be confirmed through his example and life.

To most Jews, adhering to the Law meant obeying hundreds of requirements. Regularly rejecting narrow and rigid interpretations of these rules, Jesus touched people considered unclean, healed on the Sabbath, and dined with those judged as sinners. His reverence for God and regard for his fellow beings, notes a commentator, “did not consist in obeying a multitude of petty rules and regulations. They consisted not in sacrifice, but in mercy; not in legalism but in love; not in prohibitions which demanded that men should not do things, but in the instruction to mould their lives on the positive commandment to love.”

9 | Matthew 8:14–16

When Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.

The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law is the third of three in this chapter (see also vv. 1–13). All three of the individuals Jesus cured—the leper, the Gentile, and the woman—would have been among those commonly denied full participation in Jewish society. Their healings showed the inclusiveness of God’s love.

Mark’s account places this healing on a Sabbath (see Mark 1:21)—a detail that clarifies why this crowd arrived “when the even was come.” Since even, or evening, was designated the beginning of a new day in Jewish tradition, people were free to seek healing without breaking the Sabbath ban on work. For Jesus, of course, healing flowed naturally every hour and every day.

ministered: served; took care of others’ needs

from Section 3

10 | Proverbs 1:33

Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

hearkeneth: listens; pays attention

Translation

10 | Proverbs 1:10, 20, 33

If sinners entice thee, consent thou not. . . . Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: . . . whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

• • •

“. . . if sinners entice you, 
turn your back on them! . . . 
Wisdom shouts in the streets. 
She cries out in the public square. . . . 
all who listen to me will live in peace, 
untroubled by fear of harm.”

—New Living Translation

11 | Acts 13:1, 2, 4

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; . . . As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. . . . So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

At this time, Barnabas is the better known of these two men. But Saul appears to have gained prominence at Antioch. Verse 13 refers to “Paul and his company”—and “Paul and Barnabas” largely replaces “Barnabas and Saul” from then on. 

Syrian Antioch (the site of this story) was distinct from Pisidian Antioch in Galatia, and was considered the third most important city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. Seleucia was a nearby Mediterranean port.

It is on Cyprus, an island located about 75 miles (120 km) west of Antioch, that Saul is first known by his Greek name of Paul. Except in recounting his conversion experience in Acts 22, Paul soon drops the use of the name Saul.

11 | Acts 13:6–10

When they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar–jesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 

Paphos, the Roman capital of Cyprus, was known for its worship of the pagan goddess Aphrodite. Yet its governor, Sergius Paulus, was apparently open to many forms of “wisdom”—in this case, both the speculations of sorcerers and the new doctrine of Christianity. 

Elymas was the Greek name of the Jewish sorcerer Bar-jesus. Fearing loss of influence over Sergius, he strongly opposes the visiting apostles. Saul immediately exposes him as a “child of the devil” and “enemy of all righteousness”—and proves his point by rendering him blind. With this evidence of divine dominion, the governor embraces Christianity (see vv. 11, 12).

sorcerer: someone who uses belief in evil spirits to try to gain power over events and people
deputy: assistant who has been given power to act for someone else, usually in an organization or government
prudent: wise
withstood: resisted; opposed
subtilty: craftiness; slyness; trickery
pervert: misdirect or corrupt from what is good or moral

About Barnabas
A Jewish native of Cyprus, Barnabas is portrayed by Luke as “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24). Like many early believers, he sells his land at his conversion and donates the proceeds to the young church (see 4:36, 37). After Saul’s escape from enraged Jews at Damascus, Barnabas befriends him, persuading the fearful Christian community at Jerusalem to welcome him (see 9:26, 27). 

Later, the Jerusalem church commissions Barnabas to look into the disquieting news that Gentiles are being allowed to worship with Jews in Syrian Antioch. Seeing the growth of the young movement there, Barnabas brings Saul from Tarsus to support and teach the faithful—called Christians for the first time (see 11:19–26). Their work together continues through Paul’s first missionary journey and a deputation to the Jerusalem Council (leading to the momentous decision that circumcision would not be required for Gentile believers; see 15:1–35). Though a disagreement leads to their separation before Paul’s second missionary trip, Paul continues to speak of Barnabas with respect (see 15:36–41I Corinthians 9:6; Colossians 4:10).

12 | II Corinthians 4:3, 4

If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Translation

. . . if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost. For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), . . .

—Amplified® Bible Classic

In the previous chapter, Paul describes blindness to God’s Word as a veil: “Even unto this day . . . the veil [Greek, kalymma] is upon their heart” (3:15). Now, using a related Greek term translated hid (kalyptō), he asserts that the shining truths of the gospel are hidden only to hardhearted unbelievers. The “god of this world” is viewed as an allusion to the devil, the opponent of the light of Christ. 

A scriptural authority depicts “the glorious gospel of Christ” this way: “The gospel does not consist in what Christ taught, or even in what he did; it consists in what he is—the living center of power and love from which his teaching and his actions spring. His glory is explained by the fact that he is the likeness of God and reveals his nature and character.”

from Section 4

Translation

14 | I Corinthians 1:10

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

• • •

I beg you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree with each other and not be split into groups. I beg that you be completely joined together by having the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.

—New Century Version

Translation

16 | James 3:14

If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

• • •

. . . if you are selfish and have bitter jealousy in your hearts, you have no reason to brag. Your bragging is a lie that hides the truth.

—International Children’s Bible

17 | Ephesians 4:31

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.

clamour (clamor): crying out; distressful wailing 
malice: ill will; hatred

from Section 5 

18 | Romans 8:38, 39

I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Translation

18 | Romans 8:35, 38, 39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

• • •

What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? . . . I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

Principalities refers to anyone in a position of authority. In Ephesians 6:12, it has a dark meaning: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” For the purposes of the verse in Romans, use of principalities serves to emphasize that not even the most formidable being or agency can interrupt God’s love for His creation.

19 | Acts 20:7–9

Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

At the end of his Aegean travels, Paul stops at the seaport town of Troas, a city near the ancient site of Troy. In order to continue his planned trip to Jerusalem the next morning, he speaks until midnight—and continues until daybreak after healing Eutychus (see vv. 10–12).

In buildings of the time, windows were often little more than openings in walls. In larger structures, they were sometimes cut into upper-story rather than ground-floor walls to deter intruders. Window glass had not yet been developed, and shutters or lattices were frequently left open—in this case, to alleviate the heat, and possibly smoke or fumes from lamps.

from Section 6

21 | III John 1:2

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Deemed the shortest document in the New Testament by word count (Second John has fewer verses), Third John was written by a spiritual leader—“the elder”—to an associate named Gaius. Its tone is deeply affectionate, as seen in the greeting “unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth” (v. 1). The author commends Gaius for his hospitality to traveling missionaries and strangers alike (see vv. 5–8). “Even as thy soul prospereth” may be an acknowledgment of Gaius’ spirituality.

Translation

21 | III John 1:2, 4, 11

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. . . . I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. . . . Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God.

• • •

Dear friend, I’m praying that all is well with you and that you enjoy good health in the same way that you prosper spiritually. . . . I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are living according to the truth. . . . Dear friend, don’t imitate what is bad but what is good. Whoever practices what is good belongs to God.

—Common English Bible

Translation

22 | I Peter 3:13

Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

• • •

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?

—New International Version

Related healing ideas


Read a related article at jsh.christianscience.com/don-t-leave-eutychus-on-the-windowsill. 

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

Cit. 1: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 11, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, Hebrews. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57; Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 11, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001.

Cit. 7: Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. New York, 1834–85. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 8: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

Cit. 12: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 9, Acts, Romans. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57.

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