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

Mortals and Immortals

from the Responsive Reading

Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. 

Christ Jesus had earlier cautioned his disciples, “Whosoever . . . shall be ashamed of me and of my words . . . of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed” (Mark 8:38). “Among the elite leaders and philosophers of the honor/shame culture that was the Greco-Roman world,” a commentary explains, “the Christian message of a rejected and humiliated crucified Messiah seemed foolish and shameful.” But to fellow believers in Rome (the dominant power of this period), Paul now declares unreservedly that true power lies in the gospel of Christ. 

Another source reflects, “. . . it is in the proclamation of this gospel, and its acceptance in faith, that people begin to glimpse a great curtain being drawn aside and the covenant faithfulness and justice of God displayed to view. Faced with that sight, it is impossible to remain a mere spectator.”

from Section 1 

2 | I John 2:17, 25

He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. . . . And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

Belief in the possibility of eternal life is deemed largely a New Testament concept by many scholars. The only clear Hebrew Bible reference to everlasting life doesn’t occur until the book of Daniel (see 12:1, 2), written after the Babylonian exile.

By Jesus’ time, future resurrection and immortality were generally accepted ideas in Jewish doctrine (as shown in a lawyer’s question to the Master; see Luke 10:25). But Jesus introduces eternal life as present (see examples in John 3:365:24–2910:27, 28), found in a spiritual perception of God—and manifested in his resurrection and ascension.

3 | Hebrews 10:23, 38

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) . . . The just shall live by faith.

Translation

Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. . . . My righteous people, however, will believe and live; . . .

—Good News Translation

4 | Hebrews 11:1, 2

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Translation

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith.

—Common English Bible

from Section 2

10 | Habakkuk 2:4

The just shall live by his faith.

Here God is speaking to the prophet Habakkuk, charging him to continue trusting Him in the face of threatening Chaldean or Babylonian forces (see 1:6–11)—even though a promised divine vision is yet to be realized (see 2:1–3). A commentator submits: “The righteous, the sincerely religious, those who long and work for justice and righteousness, receive the strength to go on, not because the world itself is just or because it rewards those who work for justice, but because . . . [t]hey possess the vision, as did Habakkuk, of God’s just reign.”

This text is cited three times in the New Testament (see Romans 1:17, RR; Galatians 3:11, citation 21; Hebrews 10:38, citation 3) and became a theme of the Protestant Reformation centuries later.

from Section 3

11 | Luke 18:35–43

A certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God. 

Given the crowd’s opposition, Bartimaeus’ repeated shouts to Jesus demonstrate extraordinary persistence and illustrate the faith the Savior commends. The second instance of cry is translated from the Greek term krazō, which appears again in Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ attempt to silence crowds welcoming the Master to Jerusalem: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out [krazō]” (19:40). And it is the word employed for Jesus’ last cry from the cross (see Matthew 27:50). 

Just prior to this healing, the disciples had failed to understand Jesus’ instruction about his coming execution and resurrection (see Luke 18:31–34). Sources contrast their mental blindness with the blind man’s perception of Jesus as the “son of David.” 

Nearly identical stories are found in the Gospels of Matthew, where two blind men are healed, and Mark (see Matthew 20:30–34Mark 10:46–52). Despite differences in details, all three accounts place this episode right before Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, making the healing one of the last of his career.

13 | John 10:7, 9, 10

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. . . . I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Christ Jesus uses familiar images to portray his tender care of his followers. Shepherds commonly protected their sheep at night by sleeping at the entrance or door of the sheepfold. Verse 9 expands this metaphor beyond protection to include welcome or permission for entry. By contrast, the Pharisees bar from the synagogue such individuals as the blind man Jesus had recently cured—and are themselves utterly closed to the Savior’s teachings (see chap. 9). 

“The salvation spoken of,” a Bible expert observes, “refers to protection from the sheep’s enemies, here understood to be false teachers as typified by the Jewish opponents. Such teachers threaten death by keeping people from a true knowledge of God, who is himself the sole source of life.”

from Section 4

15 | Lamentations 3:22, 23

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Translation

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue,

Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

—Good News Translation

While the book of Lamentations has been attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, who was present in Jerusalem during its fall circa 586 bc,  present-day authorities question this authorship. Whoever the writer, he affirms God’s dependability and power to restore and redeem in the midst of this devastation.

A commentary asserts: “. . . there are instances of [God’s compassions] every day, not only in a temporal, but in a spiritual sense; they are ever new, always fresh and vigorous, constant and perpetual; . . . God is faithful to . . . his counsels and purposes, which shall be truly accomplished; and to his covenant and promises, which shall be fulfilled; and to his Son, the surety and Saviour of his people.”

16 | Jude 1:20, 21

Ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Translation

Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help. Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life.

—GOD’S WORD®  Translation

17 | II Corinthians 5:17

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Translation

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.

—GOD’S WORD®  Translation

Paul’s reasoning builds on his own experience of spiritual transformation, a paradigm shift that raised his material view of Jesus to an understanding of him as the risen Messiah. In the same way, believers are made new “in Christ”—a renewal of spirit that entirely eradicates old, mortal ways of thinking.

The apostle’s message recalls Isaiah 43:18, 19: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth.”

from Section 5

18 | Acts 20:7–12 

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. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Paul’s missionary efforts took him to far-flung locations in Asia Minor and Europe. In this narrative he is on his way to Jerusalem from Macedonia. With a deadline to leave in the morning (see v. 16), he speaks late into the night. His preaching is likely a mix of instruction and conversation. (Dialegō, the Greek term rendered preached, is the source of the English word dialogue.)

The “first day of the week” is Sunday—evidence of a gradual movement away from the observation of Hebrew Sabbath on Saturday. In the early Christian community, this day came to be known as “the Lord’s day,” set aside to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. The breaking of bread, or Eucharist, in remembrance of the last supper was already central to this weekly gathering.

19 | II Timothy 1:7, 9, 10

God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. . . . Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Translation

God gave us his Spirit. And the Spirit doesn’t make us weak and fearful. Instead, the Spirit gives us power and love. He helps us control ourselves. . . . God has saved us. He has chosen us to live a holy life. It wasn’t because of anything we have done. It was because of his own purpose and grace. Through Christ Jesus, God gave us this grace even before time began. It has now been made known through the coming of our Savior, Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death. Because of the good news, he has brought life out into the light. That life never dies.

—New International Reader’s Version™

Original meanings shed light on this passage. Deilia, the Greek term rendered fear, occurs only here in Scripture. It signifies extreme timidity, even cowardice, in a challenge or battle.

Sound mind is translated from the Greek sōphronismos, indicating self-control or self-discipline. A related word describes the Gadarene after the Master heals him—“clothed, and in his right mind [sōphronō]” (Mark 5:15).

Epiphaneia, rendered appearing in this text, usually alludes to the second coming of Christ—a future event of great import to Christians (see example in I Timothy 6:14). In verse 10 it refers to Christ’s first advent, including his decisive abolishment of death and revelation of eternal life.

20 | I Corinthians 15:51–54

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Translation

But look! I tell you this secret: We will not all sleep in death, but we will all be changed. It will take only a second—as quickly as an eye blinks—when the last trumpet sounds. The trumpet will sound, and those who have died will be raised to live forever, and we will all be changed. This body that can be destroyed must clothe itself with something that can never be destroyed. And this body that dies must clothe itself with something that can never die. So this body that can be destroyed will clothe itself with that which can never be destroyed, and this body that dies will clothe itself with that which can never die. When this happens, this Scripture will be made true: 

“Death is destroyed forever in victory.” 

—New Century Version

21 | Galatians 3:11, 26

The just shall live by faith. . . . For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Translation

“THE RIGHTEOUS (the just, the upright) SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” . . . For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.

—Amplified®  Bible

from Section 6

22 | II Timothy 4:7 

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

Translation

I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error].

—Amplified® Bible

Though the authorship of the letters to Timothy is uncertain, scholars see in this text a closing account of Paul’s ministry. Where the apostle elsewhere describes himself as a current runner in a race (see I Corinthians 9:24–27Philippians 3:13, 14), now the metaphor celebrates faithful completion of the Christly work. 

Fight is translated from the Greek noun agōn, referring to a place of battle or contest (often applied to the ancient site of the Olympic games).

23 | Ephesians 2:4, 6–8

God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, . . . hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Translation

God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, . . . For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

—New Living Translation

Divine riches is a frequent New Testament subject, appearing six times in this letter alone (see also 1:7, 183:8, 16). Paramount in this wealth is God’s merciful love. One source remarks: “Mercy is the riches or the wealth of God. . . . In [mercy] he abounds and he is so rich in it that . . . he can make all blessed.” A second notes, “There is an inexhaustible treasury of . . . mercy in the loving heart of God.”


Read a related kids’ article, “What Marilyn saw” by Anne Stearns Condon, at jsh.christianscience.com/what-marilyn-saw.

Resources cited in this issue

RR: Barker, Kenneth L., John H. Stek, Walter W. Wessel, and Ronald F. Youngblood. NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002; 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.

Cit. 10: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 5, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 13: Osborne, Grant R., et al., eds. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. 20 vols. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 1990–. Also available at biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries.

Cit. 15: Gill, John. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. London, 1746–63. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 23: Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. New York, 1834–85. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries; Barker, Kenneth L., John R. Kohlenberger, Verlyn Verbrugge, and Richard Polcyn. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

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