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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.

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Jesus is presented in the New Testament as the “seed,” the offspring or descendant, of Abraham (Matt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16). He is the true Israel. Matthew 2:15 quotes Hosea 11:1 as referring to Jesus. The prophet’s words referred to Israel, the son of God called from Egypt. Matthew could apply the text to Jesus as the embodiment of the nation. What happened to Israel in its calling and election was applicable to Jesus. What was true of Israel in the ideal sense was true of Jesus. In a similar way, Matthew 12:18-21 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 as fulfilled in Jesus. In some of the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah (see p. 43) the servant is a group, either the nation of Israel or the faithful remnant within the nation (Isa. 41:8-9; 44:1). Matthew can individualize these statements, because Jesus fulfills what was intended by God for the people. Similarly, Jesus is the son of David (Matt. 1:1; 21:9). His resurrection is presented as the fulfillment of the promise that a descendant of David would occupy his throne (Acts 2:30-31; 13:33, with reference to Ps. 2). Jesus Christ is God’s Chosen One. He is the fulfillment of God’s choice of Abraham, Jacob, and David.

Ferguson, Everett. The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996.

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