Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
from the Golden Text
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
With the Greek verb phroureō—meaning to keep watch or protect—Paul suggests the military image of a sentinel holding guard. A Bible authority writes, “God’s ‘protective custody’ of those who are in Christ Jesus extends to the core of their beings and to their deepest intentions.”
Peace in this verse encompasses unity, concord, quietness, and security. It is defined by another source as “every kind of blessing and good.”
from the Responsive Reading
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
Sosthenes was the name of the chief ruler of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth. After Jews brought Paul before the Roman governor Gallio to be condemned—a request Gallio refused to consider—Sosthenes was beaten by a Greek mob (see Acts 18:12–17) . Some scholars surmise that this is the same man Paul calls “our brother” in this epistle, indicating his conversion to Christianity.
One commentator points out that the apostle addresses this letter not to the church of Corinth but to the church of God. “To Paul,” he observes, “wherever an individual congregation might be, it was part of the one Church of God. . . . Christians are called into a community whose boundaries include all earth and all heaven.”
saints: followers of God
We are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
husbandry: object of careful supervision
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Paul uses rhetorical “Don’t you know?” questions repeatedly in his outreach to the Corinthian church, always to signal a certainty (see other instances throughout chap. 6). That believers are the very dwelling of God is indisputable to the apostle—and he employs the Greek term naos for temple, describing not merely the temple site but its sacred inner sanctuary.
God’s presence with His people is celebrated in several Hebrew Bible passages (see examples in Ezekiel 37:26, 27; Zephaniah 3:17) and is central to Christ Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God (see Luke 17:21).
from Section 1
God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Paul surely speaks from his heart. His own awakening on the road to Damascus—and his ensuing healing of blindness—was evidence of Christ’s light shining in his own consciousness. Now he encourages the Corinthians, referencing the Hebrew Bible account of spiritual creation (see Genesis 1:3) and/or Isaiah 9:2: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
3 | Mark 1:1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Gospel originally meant good news or good tidings of any kind. Jesus’ followers chose the term to announce the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy—salvation through Christ. The four Gospels were written principally to convey this message, rather than merely to record history or sketch a biography. (Considered the earliest Gospel, the book of Mark is believed to have been a source for Matthew and Luke in writing their accounts.)
3 | Mark 1:10, 11
Straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
—New Living Translation
In Matthew’s recounting of this event (see Matthew 3:17) the heavenly voice says, “This is my beloved Son.” Here the declaration is spoken directly to Christ Jesus. “God’s Word,” notes a scriptural authority, “confirms Jesus’ status as the unique source of salvation for humanity.”
Immediately afterward, the devil frames Jesus’ spiritual status in hypothetical terms: “If thou be the Son of God . . .” (see Matthew 4:3, 6) . The Master refutes each of Satan’s challenges, and launches a healing and teaching ministry that decisively demonstrates his divine Sonship.
The opening of the heavens is depicted by the Greek verb skhizō—to tear or split open. Skhizō also portrays the rending of the Temple veil at Jesus’ death on the cross (see Mark 15:37, 38) .
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.
. . . Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
—Common English Bible
Great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
Since the setting here is believed to be Gentile territory, these crowds are assumed to be largely Gentile. In light of this, their glorifying “the God of Israel”—the only such reference in the Gospels—is significant. One source writes,“The wonder of this story is that in these healings . . . we see the mercy and the compassion of Jesus going out to the Gentiles.”
7 | Matthew 16:24
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Jesus isn’t speaking of merely giving up specific personal benefits but of orienting one’s whole life to the Christly understanding of God. In Luke’s Gospel this statement includes daily, expressing the Savior’s intention that this activity be a regular part of everyday life (see Luke 9:23) . And Jesus has already warned, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
Living under Roman rule, Jews were very familiar with crucifixion—and would recognize the image of a man sentenced to crucifixion carrying the beam of his cross to the execution site. The disciples did not yet know that Jesus would be crucified, but this charge unmistakably foreshadowed the trials his followers were to face.
from Section 3
8 | John 6:16–21
When even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Christ Jesus’ self-identification “It is I” (Greek, egō eimi) is later echoed in his assertion “Before Abraham was, I am [egō eimi]” (8:58 ) and in his seven “ ‘I am’ statements” (see 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).
According to a scholar, this event “. . . is a miracle of theophany, of the revelation of the divine in Jesus.” Another explains, “He does not so much enter their world—the boat and the storm on the lake—as give them a glimpse and a taste . . . of his world.”
furlong: distance of 660 feet (about 200 meters)
from Section 4
There came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. . . . And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, he said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
Katheudō, the Greek verb rendered sleepeth, usually signifies a natural sleep. It’s an arresting term, given the people’s certainty of the girl’s death. By contrast, when Jesus later speaks of Lazarus’ passing, he uses koimaō—sometimes employed for the sleep of death: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth [koimaō]; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). In both cases, Jesus proves his authority over death.
minstrels: singers or musicians
scorn: strong disrespect
abroad: over a wide area
9 | Matthew 9:36–38
When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.”
—Common English Bible
Harvests are a recurring symbol in the New Testament, from the Baptist’s caution about the wheat and chaff to Jesus’ parable of the tares and wheat—and the Revelator’s figure of the Son of man as reaper (see Matthew 3:11, 12; 13:24–30, 37–43; Revelation 14:14–18).
Jesus’ request makes clear that this harvest requires reapers—workers whose love for God and neighbor impels them to join the missionary work. His message about the greatness of the harvest and fewness of the workers (restated when he prepares the seventy disciples for their missionary work; see Luke 10:1, 2) reveals the urgency of the need. And his metaphor of a cultivated crop shows that he expects people’s hearts to be ready for the gospel of Christ. After this instruction, the Master sends his 12 disciples out to preach and heal (see Matthew 10:1, 5–8, citation 10).
11 | Philippians 3:14
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.
—GOD’S WORD Translation
from Section 5
12 | I John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way—purpose, thought, and action].
advocate: someone who defends a person or cause
13 | John 14:8–10
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.” Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don’t come from me. The Father lives in me, and he is doing his own work.”
—International Children’s Bible
14 | Luke 15:1, 11–14, 20
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. . . . And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. . . . And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Publicans were tax collectors for the Roman government. Because they had to raise enough revenue to pay Rome whatever it asked—and were required to cover their own expenses—they were allowed to levy whatever taxes they saw fit, which often led to abuse. So although usually Jewish, publicans were despised by other Israelites and classified as sinners.
Riotous, from the Greek adverb asōtōs, appears only here in the New Testament. The related noun, asōtia, is translated riot and described as “lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (I Peter 4:3). Yet the prodigal’s excesses serve to accentuate the depth of his father’s forgiveness.
“The parable,” a commentator remarks, “was addressed to men who were like the older brother, men who were offended at the gospel. . . . Jesus vindicates his revolutionary conduct by claiming in the parable, ‘God’s love to the returning sinner knows no bounds.’ ” Understandably, this story is known by many as the “Parable of the Loving Father.”
from Section 6
17 | John 14:26, 27
The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
“. . . the Helper will teach you everything and will cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name. I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
—New Century Version
To early followers of Christ, Holy Ghost (also called Holy Spirit) represented the empowering influence of God’s presence. This divine influence was tangibly felt, as evidenced on the Day of Pentecost and following Peter and John’s release from detention in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:1–4; 4:31).
Jesus’ promise that his words would be brought to remembrance is attested to in small degree in John 2:22. After the ascension, the disciples remember the Savior’s statement about raising the temple in three days, “and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” A similar account asserts, “When Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him” (John 12:16).
Most translations render whatsoever as all or everything. The entirety of Christ Jesus’ teachings is to be made available through the Comforter.
Read a related article, “Christ-healing: natural evidence of divine law” by Margarita Sandelmann Thatcher.
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: Barker, Kenneth, et al., eds. The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995; Mounce, William D., et al., eds. Greek Dictionary. See www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary.
RR: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Corinthians. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Corinthians. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 3: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 7, New Testament Articles, Matthew, Mark. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57.
Cit. 6: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 8: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 8, Luke, John. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015; Michaels, J. Ramsey. New International Biblical Commentary—John. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.
Cit. 14: Jeremias, Joachim. The Parables of Jesus. London: S.C.M. Press, 1972.
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.
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 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 Amplified® Bible are taken from the Amplified® Bible, copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
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 New Century Version are taken from the New Century Version®, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. 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.