Thoughts on Today’s Text
To begin with it will be important to keep in mind that this is poetry, and well-attested by use as easily one of the most beautiful and loved pieces in the New Testament. The task will thus be in part to rescue or recover a reading that has gained so close an association with weddings and married love. Its placement here as a culmination of the argument of chapter 12 makes clear that it is rather a vision of the love that characterizes the one body of a caring community that is the gift of the Spirit in Christ Jesus our Lord.
At the end of this beautiful poem Paul will remind us that this vision of community is ultimately not about knowing or doing things, but is about knowing a person “face to face” and that living in such a community is merely a reflection of our having first been known and caught up in the love of God (13:12).
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” — these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (2:9-10). It is revelation. Like the beauty of an opening flower, it comes as surprise and as a fantastic vision of the possibilities of life in the oneness of community that is the gift of the Spirit.
“An more excellent way.” The word used here — “way,” road,” or “path;” Greek hodos — has a rich history in the Scriptures and in early Christian reflection and practice. The invitation is to a journey, a venture of which the end is of course only known to God. And so it is ultimately to be cast back upon trust in the wisdom and promises of the God who is faithful and who has called us into this community (1:9).