Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
from the Golden Text
We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
No single English term is equivalent to hesed, the Hebrew word rendered lovingkindness in this verse. In the Bible it is most often translated as mercy—for instance, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy [hesed] endureth for ever” (Psalms 107:1 ).
A Bible authority explains, “. . . the principal connotation of hesed is ‘loyal love’—a love which is associated with the covenant (Deut 7:12 ; 1 Sam 20:8 ). . . . the hesed of God always signifies His merciful and faithful aid.”
from the Responsive Reading
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Debate about which commandment was greatest was common among Jewish intellectuals. Jesus responds to hostile questioning from a Pharisee (see vv. 34, 35 ) with the first summary of Mosaic law in two “great” commandments, a reference to Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. (He also cites Leviticus in Matthew 5:43 and 19:19 .) Grounding his teachings in venerated Jewish precepts, the Master demonstrates his knowledge of the entire Hebrew Bible—“the law and the prophets”—and silences the attempt to ensnare him.
“The Law is to be obeyed to the fullest extent possible (5:17–20),” writes one scholar, “but in obeying the Law what really matters is human need. For this reason, love is the greatest commandment, and everything else is subservient to it.”
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
A contemporary paraphrase reads: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
bushel: measure for grain, used here to indicate a covering to hide light
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
Israelites interpreted the charge “love thy neighbour” as relating primarily to fellow Jews, although kindness to foreigners was expected as well (see Leviticus 19:34 ). The words “hate thine enemy” are not found in the Hebrew Bible, but the practice was accepted in Jesus’ day—and likely justified by such scriptural texts as “Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?” (Psalms 139:21 ). Here Jesus dramatically expands Jewish custom with the call to actively bless and pray for even the most hostile adversaries.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.
from Section 1
1 | Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
"The Lord your God is with you.
The mighty One will save you.
The Lord will be happy with you.
You will rest in his love.
He will sing and be joyful about you.”
—International Children’s Bible
from Section 2
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works.
If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. . . . I know your works, your love and faithfulness, your service and endurance.
—Common English Bible
4 | Hebrews 6:10
God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
God is fair. He won’t forget what you’ve done or the love you’ve shown for him. You helped his holy people, and you continue to help them.
—GOD’S WORD Translation
from Section 3
6 | Psalms 40:11, 16
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. . . . Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.
Lord, do not hold back your mercy from me.
Let your love and truth always protect me. . . .
But let those who follow you
be happy and glad.
They love you for saving them.
May they always say, “Praise the Lord!”
—International Children’s Bible
7 | II Kings 4:8–10
It fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
Shunem was a village in the Jezreel valley in Galilee. “Great woman” describes a woman of rank or riches, just as the term great is applied to men of wealth in First Samuel 25:2 and Second Samuel 19:32 . And most sources consider the “chamber . . . on the wall” to be a small upper room, probably located on the flat roof of the house.
The Shunammite’s generosity to Elisha brings great good to her and her family—she is healed of barrenness and her son is raised from death (see II Kings 4:12–37 ).
constrained: strongly encouraged
Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.
Jesus’ words here are part of his final counsel to his disciples before his crucifixion. He has shared several parables and detailed warnings about the “last days” (see chap. 24 and earlier verses in chap. 25 ). His concluding admonition, however, calls for Christly benevolence and love. A commentary observes, “The messianic king has lived out his teaching that his kingdom consists of service to others . . . .”
from Section 4
10 | Psalms 40:9, 10
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. . . .I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
I’ve told the good news of your righteousness
in the great assembly.
I didn’t hold anything back—
as you well know, LORD! . . .
I didn’t hide your loyal love and trustworthiness
from the great assembly.
—Common English Bible
11 | Mark 6:34
Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
“Much people” is the crowd of five thousand Jesus feeds with only a few loaves and fishes (see vv. 35–44 ). As the “good shepherd” (John 10:11 ), the Savior feeds his flock spiritually—and then meets their human need for food.
compassion: deep understanding and tender desire to help someone
12 | Luke 4:16–19, 21
[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. . . . And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Just as today, synagogues were local houses of worship that provided regular reading of Hebrew law and talks on theological points. Any man with knowledge of the law could read or speak in a synagogue, a practice that furnished Jesus with opportunities for public preaching. In Nazareth’s synagogue, he assumes the traditional preaching stance, reads the opening verses of Isaiah 61 —and identifies himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy.
Mention of “the acceptable year of the Lord” is an allusion to the Jewish jubilee year. During this period every fifty years, debts were forgiven and enslaved people released (see Leviticus 25:8–55 ). Now the Master emphasizes the meaning of “acceptable year”—not as an infrequent Hebrew rite but as the present reality of deliverance and healing for all humanity.
Jesus’ harsh rejection by hometown Jews (see Luke 4:28–31 ) doesn’t impede his ministry. Heading to Capernaum, he teaches—and then accomplishes his first recorded cure of a demon possession. From there, recognition of his divine power spreads “into every place of the country round about” (see vv. 33–37 ).
bruised: beaten; injured
13 | Romans 10:8, 13, 15
The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. . . . How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach, . . . For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved. . . . How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [How welcome is the coming of those who preach the good news of His good things!]
—Amplified® Bible Classic
In his message to the Romans, Paul cites the prophet Joel: “It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32 ). Linking Hebrew prophecy with the Christly assurance of salvation, the apostle strengthens his affirmation that everyone—Jews and Gentiles alike—will be saved.
A scholar puts it this way: “The gospel is not the possession of a privileged few—not even the chosen people. The gospel is salvation without limits, a universal promise for everyone who believes.”
from Section 5
15 | Psalms 107:20, 21
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
—New International Version
16 | Psalms 138:1, 2
I will praise thee with my whole heart: . . . I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
LORD, I will thank you with all my heart; . . .
I will bow down facing your holy Temple,
and I will thank you for your love and loyalty.
You have made your name and your word
greater than anything.
—New Century Version
from Section 6
18 | II Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval.
—GOD’S WORD Translation
profitable: bringing benefits; productive
reproof: expression of disapproval
19 | Luke 6:27–29
Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other.
Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. . . .
20 | Proverbs 15:1, 23
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare. . . .
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
—New Living Translation
Though commonly ascribed to Solomon, the wisdom sayings in the book of Proverbs (as well as in Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon) were written and collected by educated sages over several centuries. In these verses, gentle, well-chosen words are celebrated as expressions of wisdom.
from Section 7
22 | Matthew 4:23
Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Basileia, the Greek term translated kingdom, signifies sovereignty and dominion. In the New Testament it means God’s government of His creation. One scriptural authority suggests that proclaiming this divine dominion is central to early Christian ministry, and adds, “. . . its authority is demonstrated through healings and/or ‘works of power’ . . . .”
23 | Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
—New Living Translation
from Section 8
26 | James 5:13–15, 16
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; . . . pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Anyone who is having troubles should pray. Anyone who is happy should sing praises. Anyone who is sick should call the church’s elders. They should pray for and pour oil on the person in the name of the Lord. And the prayer that is said with faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will heal that person. . . . pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.
—New Century Version
As a commentator observes, James’ counsel reminds readers that “. . . their lives are bound by more than mutual affection, above all by their shared relationship to God. The community is therefore to respond to threats of sickness or sin by gathering in prayer.”
Tradition identifies the author of this letter as a brother of Jesus. While he apparently wasn’t a follower of Jesus until after the Savior’s resurrection and ascension, James soon emerged as a respected leader in the early Church.
Read a related article, “2 Commandments that are ever new” by Allison Phinney.
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
GT: Encyclopedia of The Bible—Bible Gateway. Bible. Accessed May 21, 2021. www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Lovingkindness.
RR: Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012; The Message, copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Cit. 9: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 7, The Gospels and Narrative Literature, Jesus and the Gospels, Matthew, Mark. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.
Cit. 13: Edwards, James R. New International Biblical Commentary—Romans. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.
Cit. 22: Contexticon of New Testament Language, copyright © 2009 by Contexticon Learning and Research, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. All rights reserved.
Cit. 26: Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
Scriptural quotations marked International Children’s Bible are taken from the International Children’s Bible®, copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked GOD’S WORD Translation are taken from GOD’S WORD®, copyright © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of God’s Word Mission Society.
Scriptural quotations marked Common English Bible are taken from the Common English Bible, copyright © 2011 by the Common English Bible. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible Classic are taken from the Amplified® Bible Classic, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked New International Version are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scriptural quotations marked New Century Version are taken from the New Century Version®, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible are taken from the Amplified® Bible, copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked New Living Translation are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
© 2021 The Christian Science Publishing Society. The design of the Cross and Crown is a trademark owned by the Christian Science Board of Directors and is used by permission. Bible Lens and Christian Science Quarterly are trademarks owned by The Christian Science Publishing Society. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.