The 'more excellent way'

For the lesson titled "Love" from July 23 - 29, 2012

July quarterly
This week’s Bible Lesson, titled “Love,” opens and closes with the Apostle Paul’s “poem” to love in First Corinthians 13. As someone who moved in two overlapping spheres of Judaism and Greco-Roman culture, and understood them, Paul was well positioned to be very effective in his work of spreading Christianity. And his use of the word agape must have been particularly helpful in sharing the message of God’s love.

Paul was familiar with God as hesed in the Old Testament. Hesed is usually translated “steadfast love,” or “lovingkindness,” and is used to explain the covenant (or promise) between God and Israel. Paul frequently used the word agape, which was the Greek word used by philosophers such as Plato for the highest form of love, which is enduring and forgets self.

Paul traveled to Corinth, a busy port city, around 49–50 A.D. and started a congregation there. His letter to the Corinthians, written a few years later, addresses some of their concerns. He wanted them to be more unified; and the way, he explained, is through love. He introduced his poem to love by calling it the “more excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31). It doesn’t matter what or how wonderful my gifts seem, explained Paul, if I “have no love, I amount to nothing at all” (I Corinthians 13:2, J.B. Phillips, Responsive Reading).

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In the Christian Science Bible Lesson
Finding our God-given freedom
July 23, 2012

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