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

Spirit

from the Responsive Reading

Isaiah 40:10–13

Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 

Verse 10 announces welcome news—the immediacy of God’s power and authority. Here God’s “reward” is seen by some scholars as His people. (The Hebrew words translated reward [śakar] and work [pe ‘ullâ] are often synonymous, alluding to wages, recompense, or deserts due.) Together with the image of divine shepherding, this text would have been greatly comforting to Jews exiled in Babylonia.

Rhetorical questions, extending through verse 14, impel the only possible answer: God, who “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (v. 22). In the book of Job, God asks: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?” (38:4, 5). Proverbs poses similar queries: “Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth?” (30:4).

from Section 1

2 | John 4:23, 24

The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Translation

. . . a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.

—Contemporary English Version

Christ Jesus is at the well in Samaria when he speaks these words. A Samaritan woman there has pointed out that her people’s place of worship is Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem. The Master reorients the discussion to spiritual devotion—to worshiping “in spirit and in truth” rather than in a physical location.

About the affirmation “God is a Spirit,” a commentator notes: “Spirit is the emphatic word; Spirit is God. The phrase describes the nature . . . of God.”

3 | Romans 8:14, 16

As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. . . . The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

Translation

Certainly, all who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. . . . The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

—GOD’S WORD® Translation

Central to early Christian teaching was believers’ status as children of God. Identity was no longer to be determined by human relationships or inheritance; the faithful would share in the close relation to their creator that Jesus exemplified as the Son of God. “The Holy Spirit is not an agent of bondage,” one source explains, “but is instead the means of our adoption into God’s family. By the Spirit we have a consciousness that God is our Father. . . . The Spirit also gives us assurance of our status and therefore of our salvation.”

4 | Galatians 4:6, 7

Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Translation

Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. He is the Holy Spirit. By his power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. So you aren’t a slave any longer. You are God’s child. Because you are his child, God gives you the rights of those who are his children.

—New International Reader’s Version™

Roman law deemed all sons and daughters equal heirs—a contrast to the Jewish law of inheritance, in which firstborn sons received larger portions and daughters inherited only in the absence of male heirs. As a Roman citizen, Paul would have been well acquainted with Roman practices and naturally able to view inheritance as a metaphor for Christian salvation.

from Section 2

6 | I Kings 17:1–6

Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

Elijah is identified as a resident of Tishbe, a town thought to have been near the Jordan River. The drought he announces encompasses all kinds of precipitation. Dew was the sole source of moisture in summer; rain usually fell only autumn through spring. Three seasons without water would devastate crops and lead to famine.

After predicting the drought, Elijah flees into the wilderness—likely beyond Ahab’s jurisdiction. God’s provision for the prophet is considered remarkable: The ravens that bring him food twice a day are greedy predators, deemed ritually unclean in Jewish tradition; water would probably have been supplied by a wadi, a dry stream bed carrying water only during the rainy season.

from Section 3

8 | Proverbs 8:1, 20, 21

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? . . . I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Translation

Listen! Wisdom is calling out.
     Reason is making herself heard. 

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

I walk the way of righteousness;
     I follow the paths of justice,
giving wealth to those who love me,
     filling their houses with treasures.

—Good News Translation

Abstract concepts were often personified in ancient cultures. In Hebrew, which classifies nouns as masculine or feminine, both wisdom and understanding are feminine. This chapter portrays wisdom as a woman speaking in the first person. What may seem like a self-promoting style is intended as a kind of résumé of wisdom’s meaning and value for humanity. 

Yēš, the Hebrew term translated substance, implies being, existence, actuality. A Bible authority remarks: “. . . the prize held out here to the lovers of heavenly wisdom is much more than worldly good. In deepest truth, the being which is theirs is God Himself.”

9 | Proverbs 1:23

Behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Translation

     I will pour out my thoughts to you,
     I will make known to you my teachings.

—NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®

11 | I Corinthians 2:9–12

As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Translation

. . . it is just as the Scriptures say,
“What God has planned
     for people who love him
is more than eyes have seen
     or ears have heard.
It has never even
     entered our minds!”

God’s Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God. You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God’s Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God’s mind. But God has given us his Spirit. This is why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think. This is also why we can recognize the blessings God has given us.

—Contemporary English Version

12 | Ephesians 2:19–22

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Translation

. . . now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

—New Living Translation

The “chief corner stone” metaphor strengthens the familial idea of the “household of God.” With Christ as the foundation, both Jew and Gentile are one building. For the writer of Ephesians, the Christian community is an extended family, with common rights and equal access to God for every member.

A commentary reflects on Spirit’s role in the building together of the faithful: “The Holy Spirit is essential to Christian unity. It is the seal of salvation for believers (Eph 1:13), gives all believers access to the Father (v. 18), and dwells in the believer for righteous living (5:18).”

from Section 4

14 | Psalms 19:1, 2

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Translation

How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory!
     How plainly it shows what he has done!
Each day announces it to the following day;
     each night repeats it to the next.

—Good News Translation

16 | II Corinthians 5:1, 5, 17

We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. . . . Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. . . . Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.

Translation

. . . we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. . . . Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise]. . . . Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); . . .

—Amplified® Bible Classic

Tabernacle (Greek, skēnos) refers to a tent, the most temporary of ancient Israelite dwellings and worship sites. Paul, a tentmaker by profession (see Acts 18:3), employs this image to contrast the fragile and transitory nature of the mortal body with the permanence of the “building of God.”

Arrabōn, the Greek word rendered earnest, is a legal term. It denotes an installment or pledge guaranteeing payment of a balance due. (Today “earnest money” signifies a good-faith deposit toward a larger amount owed.) Here, as in II Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13, 14, it represents a spiritual concept. “The gift of the Spirit,” a scholar observes, “. . . is the title deed to future inheritance, the seed from which will spring the flower of an immortal life.” 

18 | Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.

Although believers are to honor and heed Christian leaders (see v. 7), it is Christ Jesus alone whose message is lasting. The author’s pronouncement is viewed by some sources as a confession of faith—and as the basis for warning against false doctrines (see v. 9).

from Section 5

20 | Psalms 143:1, 8, 10

Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. . . . Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. . . . Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God. 

Translation

Lord, hear my prayer.
     Listen to my cry for mercy.
Come to help me
     because you are loyal and good.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

Tell me in the morning about your love.
     I trust you.
Show me what I should do
     because my prayers go up to you.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

Teach me to do what you want,
     because you are my God.

—International Children’s Bible®

21 | Psalms 73:26

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Translation

My body and my mind may become weak,
     but God is my strength.
     He is mine forever.

—New Century Version®

22 | Mark 5:25–34

A certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

In Hebrew culture, a woman experiencing even a normal flow of bodily fluids was considered impure (see Leviticus 15:19). Because it was thought that one’s state of holiness was compromised by contact with the unclean, this woman’s intentional touching of the Savior’s garment could have brought a sharp rebuke. But her faith and receptivity to Christ supersede her failure to observe Jewish law. Addressing her as “Daughter”—the only recorded instance of his calling someone by this tender appellation—Jesus confirms the healing.

from Section 6

24 | Psalms 139:1, 7, 9, 10, 17, 18

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? . . . 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. . . . How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Translation

Lord,  you have seen what is in my heart.
     You know all about me.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

How can I get away from your Spirit?
     Where can I go to escape from you?

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east.
     Suppose I travel to the west where it sinks into the ocean.
Your hand would always be there to guide me.
     Your right hand would still be holding me close.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .

God, your thoughts about me are priceless.
     No one can possibly add them all up.
If I could count them,
     they would be more than the grains of sand.
If I were to fall asleep counting and then wake up,
     you would still be there with me.

—New International Reader’s Version™

25 | I Corinthians 2:1, 4, 5

I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. . . . And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Paul draws an unmistakable distinction between human and divine wisdom. Greek orators presented polished arguments in persuasive language; the apostle spoke simply, relying on spiritual power to convey his message. A scriptural authority writes, “It is God’s Spirit within us that gives us spiritual wisdom and shows us the thoughts and purposes of Christ.”


Read a related editorial, “The Spirit of God bearing ‘outward, upward, heavenward’ ” by Allison W. Phinney, at jsh.christianscience.com/the-spirit-of-god-bearing-outward-upward-heavenward.

Resources cited in this issue

Cit. 2: Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. New York: Scribner, 1887. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 3: CSB Study Bible. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017.

Cit. 8: MacLaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture. London, 1842–1905. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 12: Barry, John D., et al., Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016.

Cit. 16: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 10, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57.

Cit. 25: Knowles, Andrew. The Bible Guide. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 2001.

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