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

Matter

from the Responsive Reading

Acts 19:24–29

A certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion.

A major commercial port on the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was a thriving economic and cultural hub originally populated by Greeks. In the second century bc , it became part of the Roman Empire. By Paul’s time, it had a population of 250,000, ranking with Rome, Alexandria, and Syrian Antioch in prosperity and sophistication. Its Temple of Artemis—an unmistakable indicator of its pagan traditions—was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 

Paul’s introduction of Christianity to the city rocks both its religious and commercial centers. Some who have prayed to Artemis (the Greek counterpart of the Roman goddess Diana) leave her temple, and the demand for sacred artifacts falls accordingly. These include miniature silver shrines and figurines sold to pilgrims and local devotees as worship offerings or souvenirs. Demetrius, representing the guild of silversmiths, protests this threat to their livelihood and incites a riot (see v. 23). Once it is put down by a town officer, Paul closes his final visit to Ephesus to travel into Macedonia (see vv. 35–4120:1).

I Corinthians 14:33

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

A commentary explains: “. . . where there is disorder, there is little religion. Religion does not produce it; and the tendency of tumult and confusion is to drive religion away. . . . [Pure religion] is calm, serious, orderly, heavenly. No person who is under its influence is disposed to engage in scenes of confusion and disorder.”

I Corinthians 8:5, 6

Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him. 

In his parenthetical phrase, Paul doesn’t admit the existence of deities other than God but acknowledges that belief in them is widespread. He may be referring as well to leaders who had proclaimed themselves to be gods. His message would have resonated with Christians of Jewish background, who spurned not only reliance on pagan gods but also the deification of the Roman emperor. In this verse the apostle emphatically restates the monotheism underlying Christ’s teachings.

from Section 1

1 | John 6:63

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.

Soon after Christ Jesus feeds a multitude (see vv. 5–13), a group of questioners calls for a physical sign—like the manna that came down from heaven during Moses’ time—to verify his words and works. Jesus replies in part that the true manna is not material (see vv. 28–3547–58). It is the life-giving spirit of God, which enlivens everyone who accepts it. One source observes, “. . . the Holy Spirit works powerfully in and through the words that Jesus speaks, and those words are spirit and life in the sense that they work in the unseen spiritual realm and awaken genuine spiritual life.”

2 | Romans 8:5, 8, 9, 12–14

They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. . . . So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. . . . Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Translation

People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. . . . If we follow our desires, we cannot please God. You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. . . . My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires. If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God’s Spirit you say “No” to your desires. Only those people who are led by God’s Spirit are his children.

—Contemporary English Version

Using the metaphor of debtors, the apostle urges total rejection of materialism. Believers have no obligation to the flesh but are to “mortify” its deeds. Thanatoō, the Greek verb rendered mortify, means “put to death”—a clear contrast to the promise “Ye shall live.” Renouncing the flesh leads to life in Spirit.

from Section 2

3 | Mark 3:7–11, 22–27

Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. . . . And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

Translation

Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples, and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far north as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. Jesus instructed his disciples to have a boat ready so the crowd would not crush him. He had healed many people that day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him. And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” . . . But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.” Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.”

—New Living Translation

Throngs regularly crowded around Christ Jesus. Though in this instance he has asked the disciples to have a small boat ready in case the press of people becomes too great, he compassionately remains to heal them before retiring to a mountain (see v. 13). 

Plagues, a broad term for illness of any kind, is translated from the Greek noun mastix. It means whip or scourge, signifying that diseases were thought to be sent by God as punishment for sin.

Ironically, while Jewish officials would not admit to Jesus’ divine authority, demons repeatedly recognized his God-bestowed status. Mark’s Gospel tells that the man with “a spirit of an unclean devil” addresses the Master as “the Holy One of God”—and that Jesus “suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him” (Mark 1:24, 34). Luke 4:41 reports that exorcised demons designate him “Christ the Son of God.” And all three synoptic Gospels record demons’ acknowledgment of Jesus’ dominion over them in the cure of the Gadarene (see Matthew 8:28–32Mark 5:1–13Luke 8:26–35, citation 5).

from Section 3

5 | Luke 8:22, 26–28, 30–35

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: . . . And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. . . . And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.

After quieting a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus crosses into Gentile territory. Some scholars hold that the healing of the demoniac takes place near the city of Gergesa, located much closer to the sea than Gadara (home of the Gadarenes)—an assumption supported in Matthew 8:28

In ancient thought, naming a spirit gave one control of it. Bible authorities surmise that in calling Jesus by the Messianic title “Son of God” the demons might have been attempting to dominate him. But the Savior turns the tables, demanding the possessed man’s name. Legion refers to a Roman regiment of several thousand soldiers, implying a great number rather than a military affiliation. 

The demons’ appeal to be sent into a herd of swine instead of “into the deep” illustrates the prevalent belief in an abyss—a bottomless pit, usually viewed as the underworld. Yet it is this request that brings irrefutable proof of the demons’ destruction in the drowning of the swine.

Sitting at Jesus’ feet in a disciple’s position, the healed man shows his desire to follow the Master. However, Jesus instructs him to return to his own community to declare God’s power—to be an active witness among the Gentiles (see Luke 8:38, 39).

from Section 4

6 | Proverbs 3:1, 2, 5, 7, 8

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. . . . Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. . . . Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Translation

My child, do not forget my teaching,
      but keep my commands in mind.
Then you will live a long time,
      and your life will be successful. . . .
Trust the Lord  with all your heart,
      and don’t depend on your own understanding. . . .
Don’t depend on your own wisdom.
      Respect the Lord  and refuse to do wrong.
Then your body will be healthy,
      and your bones will be strong.

—New Century Version

7 | Psalms 25:1, 17, 18, 21

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. . . . O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; . . . Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Translation

Lord, I give myself to you. . . .
      Free me from my problems.
Look at my suffering and troubles. . . .
My hope is in you.
      So may goodness and honesty guard me.

—International Children’s Bible

8 | Psalms 92:12–14

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.

Translation

The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful];
They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable].

Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.

[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age; . . .

—Amplified® Bible.

9 | Job 11:17

And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.

Translation

Then your life will be brighter than the noonday sun.
The darkness in your life will become like morning.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

10 | Song of Solomon 4:2 

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing.

Though carrying his name, Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs) was probably not written by King Solomon. Regardless of its authorship, readers find inspiration in its poetry. One commentator notes, “Traditional Jewish interpreters read the book as an allegory of God’s love for Israel, while Christian interpreters saw it as representing God’s love for the church.”

The comparison of teeth to a flock of shorn sheep suggests evenness and whiteness—well-recognized descriptions of beauty, order, and purity.

11 | Luke 10:19

Nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Jesus is speaking to seventy disciples upon their victorious return from the missionary work he gave them. The Savior declares their Christly authority over every danger, including “the power of the enemy” mentioned earlier in this verse.

from Section 5

12 | Exodus 23:1

Thou shalt not raise a false report.

Translation

“You must not pass along false rumors.”

—New Living Translation

From a section of Exodus known as the Book of the Covenant (see 20:22—23:33), this injunction warns against receiving and spreading rumors. A scriptural expert observes, “The laws in 23:1–9 rigorously and consistently voice the Mosaic commitment to justice as the norm for the community.”

14 | Matthew 9:27–30

When Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened.

Likely hoping for charity from Passover travelers, these two blind men now call out to Jesus. At this point he is en route to Jerusalem—the place, as he well knows, where betrayal, condemnation, and crucifixion await him. Yet he stops to heal them, overcoming the crowd’s efforts to marginalize them and demonstrating his tender care even in the face of impending violence.

“Son of David” is unequivocal recognition of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. A scholar remarks on a paradox—that “on the way to Jerusalem, where he is to present his claims before the leading spokesmen for the Jewish people, only the blind can see who Jesus really is.”

from Section 6

16 | Exodus 20:3, 5

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Here the biblical text shifts from a comprehensive account of God’s guidance and protection of His people (see chaps. 1–19) to the record of His covenant requirements of them (see chaps. 20–40). 

The Israelites’ covenant with the one God was tested during their many contacts with other cultures. Gentiles honored many gods, often by making images that became objects of worship themselves. Surrounded by these practices, many Jews were tempted to drop or adulterate their single-hearted devotion to Yahweh. The Commandment to “have no other gods” served as a touchstone and guide in the midst of false attractions throughout Hebrew history, and is embraced by Jew and Christian alike today.

17 | Romans 13:1

There is no power but of God.

Translation

. . . all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority. . . .

—J.B. Phillips New Testament


Read a related article, “ ‘Bind the strong man’ ” by Paul B. Gruschow, at jsh.christianscience.com/bind-the-strong-man.

from the Responsive Reading

Acts 19:24–29

A certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion.

A major commercial port on the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was a thriving economic and cultural hub originally populated by Greeks. In the second century bc , it became part of the Roman Empire. By Paul’s time, it had a population of 250,000, ranking with Rome, Alexandria, and Syrian Antioch in prosperity and sophistication. Its Temple of Artemis—an unmistakable indicator of its pagan traditions—was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 

Paul’s introduction of Christianity to the city rocks both its religious and commercial centers. Some who have prayed to Artemis (the Greek counterpart of the Roman goddess Diana) leave her temple, and the demand for sacred artifacts falls accordingly. These include miniature silver shrines and figurines sold to pilgrims and local devotees as worship offerings or souvenirs. Demetrius, representing the guild of silversmiths, protests this threat to their livelihood and incites a riot (see v. 23). Once it is put down by a town officer, Paul closes his final visit to Ephesus to travel into Macedonia (see vv. 35–4120:1).

I Corinthians 14:33

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

A commentary explains: “. . . where there is disorder, there is little religion. Religion does not produce it; and the tendency of tumult and confusion is to drive religion away. . . . [Pure religion] is calm, serious, orderly, heavenly. No person who is under its influence is disposed to engage in scenes of confusion and disorder.”

I Corinthians 8:5, 6

Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him. 

In his parenthetical phrase, Paul doesn’t admit the existence of deities other than God but acknowledges that belief in them is widespread. He may be referring as well to leaders who had proclaimed themselves to be gods. His message would have resonated with Jewish Christians, who spurned not only reliance on pagan gods but also the deification of the Roman emperor. In this verse the apostle emphatically restates the monotheism underlying Christ’s teachings.

from Section 1

1 | John 6:63

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.

Soon after Christ Jesus feeds a multitude (see vv. 5–13), a group of questioners calls for a physical sign—like the manna that came down from heaven during Moses’ time—to verify his words and works. Jesus replies in part that the true manna is not material (see vv. 28–3547–58). It is the life-giving spirit of God, which enlivens everyone who accepts it. One source observes, “. . . the Holy Spirit works powerfully in and through the words that Jesus speaks, and those words are spirit and life in the sense that they work in the unseen spiritual realm and awaken genuine spiritual life.”

2 | Romans 8:5, 8, 9, 12–14

They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. . . . So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. . . . Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Using the metaphor of debtors, the apostle urges total rejection of materialism. Believers have no obligation to the flesh but are to “mortify” its deeds. Thanatoō, the Greek verb rendered mortify, means “put to death”—a clear contrast to the promise “Ye shall live.” Renouncing the flesh leads to life in Spirit.

from Section 2

3 | Mark 3:7–11, 22–27

Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. . . . And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

Throngs regularly crowded around Christ Jesus. Though in this instance he has asked the disciples to have a small boat ready in case the press of people becomes too great, he compassionately remains to heal them before retiring to a mountain (see v. 13). 

Plagues, a broad term for illness of any kind, is translated from the Greek noun mastix. It means whip or scourge, signifying that diseases were thought to be sent by God as punishment for sin.

Ironically, while Jewish officials would not admit to Jesus’ divine authority, demons repeatedly recognized his God-bestowed status. Mark’s Gospel tells that the man with “a spirit of an unclean devil” addresses the Master as “the Holy One of God”—and that Jesus “suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him” (Mark 1:24, 34). Luke 4:41 reports that exorcised demons designate him “Christ the Son of God.” And all three synoptic Gospels record demons’ acknowledgment of Jesus’ dominion over them in the cure of the Gadarene (see Matthew 8:28–32Mark 5:1–13Luke 8:26–35, citation 5).

from Section 3

5 | Luke 8:22, 26–28, 30–35

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: . . . And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. . . . And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.

After quieting a storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus crosses into Gentile territory. Some scholars hold that the healing of the demoniac takes place near the city of Gergesa, located much closer to the sea than Gadara (home of the Gadarenes)—an assumption supported in Matthew 8:28

In ancient thought, naming a spirit gave one control of it. Bible authorities surmise that in calling Jesus by the Messianic title “Son of God” the demons might have been attempting to dominate him. But the Savior turns the tables, demanding the possessed man’s name. Legion refers to a Roman regiment of several thousand soldiers, implying a great number rather than a military affiliation. 

The demons’ appeal to be sent into a herd of swine instead of “into the deep” illustrates the prevalent belief in an abyss—a bottomless pit, usually viewed as the underworld. Yet it is this request that brings irrefutable proof of the demons’ destruction in the drowning of the swine.

Sitting at Jesus’ feet in a disciple’s position, the healed man shows his desire to follow the Master. However, Jesus instructs him to return to his own community to declare God’s power—to be an active witness among the Gentiles (see Luke 8:38, 39).

from Section 4

10 | Song of Solomon 4:2 

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing.

Though carrying his name, Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs) was probably not written by King Solomon. Regardless of its authorship, readers find inspiration in its poetry. One commentator notes, “Traditional Jewish interpreters read the book as an allegory of God’s love for Israel, while Christian interpreters saw it as representing God’s love for the church.”

The comparison of teeth to a flock of shorn sheep suggests evenness and whiteness—well-recognized descriptions of beauty, order, and purity.

11 | Luke 10:19

Nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Jesus is speaking to seventy disciples upon their victorious return from the missionary work he gave them. The Savior declares their Christly authority over every danger, including “the power of the enemy” mentioned earlier in this verse.

from Section 5

12 | Exodus 23:1

Thou shalt not raise a false report.

From a section of Exodus known as the Book of the Covenant (see 20:22—23:33), this injunction warns against receiving and spreading rumors. A scriptural expert observes, “The laws in 23:1–9 rigorously and consistently voice the Mosaic commitment to justice as the norm for the community.”

14 | Matthew 9:27–30

When Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened.

Likely hoping for charity from Passover travelers, these two blind men now call out to Jesus. At this point he is en route to Jerusalem—the place, as he well knows, where betrayal, condemnation, and crucifixion await him. Yet he stops to heal them, overcoming the crowd’s efforts to marginalize them and demonstrating his tender care even in the face of impending violence.

“Son of David” is unequivocal recognition of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. A scholar remarks on a paradox—that “on the way to Jerusalem, where he is to present his claims before the leading spokesmen for the Jewish people, only the blind can see who Jesus really is.”

from Section 6

16 | Exodus 20:3, 5

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Here the biblical text shifts from a comprehensive account of God’s guidance and protection of His people (see chaps. 1–19) to the record of His covenant requirements of them (see chaps. 20–40). 

The Israelites’ covenant with the one God was tested during their many contacts with other cultures. Gentiles honored many gods, often by making images that became objects of worship themselves. Surrounded by these practices, many Jews were tempted to drop or adulterate their single-hearted devotion to Yahweh. The Commandment to “have no other gods” served as a touchstone and guide in the midst of false attractions throughout Hebrew history, and is embraced by Jew and Christian alike today.


Read a related article, “ ‘Bind the strong man’ ” by Paul B. Gruschow, at jsh.christianscience.com/bind-the-strong-man.

Resources quoted in this issue

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

Cit. 1: ESV Global Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.

Cit. 10: Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

Cit. 12: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 1, Introduction to the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 14: Laymon, Charles M. The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971.

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