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 1 Corinthians Chapter 13

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter 13   Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:39 am

1 Corinthians 13:1
Spiritual gifts were present in Corinth, 1-7; right doctrine was ever in place, 11:2; but love was absent. This led to the quarrels and exhibitions of selfishness and pride that plagued the church – notably in the area of spiritual gifts. Instead of selfishly and jealously desiring showy gifts which they don’t have, believers should pursue the greatest thing of all, love for each other.
This chapter is considered by many the greatest literary passage ever penned by Paul. It is central to his earnestly dealing with spiritual gifts (chapters 12 – 14), because after discussing the endowment of gifts in chapter 12 and before presenting the function of gifts in chapter 14, he addresses the attitude necessary in all ministry in the church (chapter 13).
Eloquence was greatly admired in the first century and the Corinthians were no exception, though they found little of it in Paul (cf. 1Co_2:1, 1Co_2:4; 2Co_10:10). This may explain in part their fascination with tongues. Paul’s application of this and the following conditional clauses (1Co_13:2-3) to himself was forceful since he could claim exceptional experiences, particularly in regard to the languages of men (1Co_14:18) and of angels (cf. 2Co_12:4). But the statement was probably meant to include every imaginable mode of speech. It was a statement of hyperbole concerning exalted eloquence, which if void of love might be momentarily electrifying like a clash of gong or cymbal but then vanished just as quickly. The word that was translated "charity" is agape, which means love. This use of love is not the kind of love that has conditions. It is not "I love you because", but "I love you in spite of". This type of love is the kind the Lord Jesus has for all of us. While we are yet in sin, Christ gave his life for us. This is the God kind of love. The nearest thing to that kind of love on this earth is the mother's love for her child. Even that falls very short of being the perfect love that God has for mankind.
"The tongues of men": That this gift was actual languages is established in Acts 2:1-13, affirmed in this text by Paul’s calling it “of men” – clearly a reference to human language. This was the gift which the Corinthians prized so highly, abused so greatly, and counterfeited so disastrously. God gave the ability to speak in a language not known to the speaker, as a sign with limited function.
“Tongues of angles”: The apostle was writing in general hypothetical terms. There is no biblical teaching of any special angelic language that people could learn to speak.
Love: Self giving love that is more concerned with giving than receiving. The word was not admired and thus seldom used in ancient Greek literature, but it is common in the New Testament.
Without love, no matter how linguistically gifted one is to speak his own language, other languages, or even (hypothetically) the speech of angels, his speech is noise only. In New Testament times, rites honoring the pagan deities Cybele, Bacchus and Dionysius included ecstatic noises accompanied by gongs, cymbals and trumpets. Unless the speech of the Corinthians was done in love, it was no better than the gibberish of pagan ritual.
Love on the other hand produces eternal effects (cf. 1Co_13:13).

1 Corinthians 13:2

Even the gift of prophecy (cf. 1Co_12:10) which Paul championed as a great gift for the Corinthian church (1Co_14:1) or the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and faith (cf. 1Co_12:8-9) were nothing compared with love. Paul was not depreciating those gifts but was appreciating love by showing it to be incomparable. You may even be filled with the knowledge of God to overflowing, but without love, no one will listen. "Prophecy", in this instance, has to do with predictions. Paul speaks of this gift as the most essential one because it brings God’s truth to people. Even this gift must be ministered in love.
"Understanding all mysteries" This encompasses gifts of wisdom, knowledge and discernment, which are to be exercised in love.
“All faith”: This refers to the gift of faith, enduring, believing prayer; which is useless without selfless love for the church.
We must place our faith in God's ability and not in our own ability. All things we might do are no use at all, unless we are full of love for God and man.

1 Corinthians 13:3

Even self-sacrifice can be self-centered (cf. Mat_6:2), and the ultimate sacrifice, here depicted as self-immolation (cf. Dan_3:17-18; 2 Maccabees 7:5; is ultimately futile without love. In all the lessons, you see it is more important why you do something, than in the actual doing. The woman gave all she had, which was very little monetarily. Jesus said she had given more than those who gave great sums, because she gave all she had. The Lord does not want us to figure out some formula about giving and receiving. He wants us to give from a free heart, expecting nothing in return.
God who sees in secret will reward you openly. It is not the fact of giving all that he owns that is important. If he did not give it from a loving heart, he should have kept it. It will do him no good. We are not to give begrudgingly, or of necessity.
I1 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
You may give your body to be burned, but that is not what God wants from you. He does not want you to die for Him; He wants you to live for Him. Everything I do with love in my heart is better than ten times that much without love.
In the previous comments of v.1-3, the focus is on the emptiness produced when love is absent from ministry. In the verses from 4-7, the fullness of love is described, in each case by what love does. Love is action, not abstraction. Positively, love is patient with people and gracious to them with generosity.
Negatively, love never envies or brags, or is arrogant, since that is the opposite of selfless service to others. Never rude or overbearing, love never wants its own way, is not irritated or angered in personal offense, and finds no pleasure in someone else’s sin, even the sin of an enemy.
On the positive side again, love is devoted to truth in everything. With regard to “all things” within God’s righteous and gracious will, love protects, believes, hopes and endures what others reject.

1 Corinthians 13:4

Paul shifted from the first person to the third person and replaced himself with a personification of love. Some have seen in 1Co_13:4-6 the fruit of the Spirit (Gal_5:22-23); others have seen here a description of Christ Himself. As different sides of the same coin, both are applicable and provided a solution to the many Corinthian problems. Love, defined by 14 predications (half of them negative, half positive) constituted the “way.” Love, Paul wrote, is patient… kind… does not envy or boast, and is not proud. Now, we see a description of this type of love in action. How can you tell if I have this type of love? This type of love is willing to suffer for the ones he loves. This is speaking primarily of love for God, but extends to mankind, as well. This type of love is a positive. This type of love overlooks shortcomings in others. It is even patient, until they can change.
This perfect love, spoken of here, never wants what someone else has, or wonders why they did not get that, too. They are happy for the one who does have it. "Vaunteth", in the verse above, means boast. Someone who truly loves will not boast and brag to make someone else feel little.
This being "puffed up" is speaking of pride. We must never act proud and cause someone else pain in the doing. True love thinks of others feelings, before they think of their own.
Patience (makrothymia) is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. The Corinthian church had many members who had been wronged (e.g., in lawsuits [1Co_6:8] and the poor at communal meals [1Co_11:21-22]). The response of love to these wrongs would be a display of kindness and goodness. Envy and boasting seemed to abound as two poles of the same problem (e.g., divisions [1Co_1:10; 1Co_3:3, 1Co_3:21]; gifts [1Co_12:14-25]). The Corinthians had no monopoly on pride though they seemed to. The verb physioō occurs only seven times in the New Testament, six of which are found in this letter (cf. 1Co_4:6, 1Co_4:18-19; 1Co_5:2; 1Co_8:1).

1 Corinthians 13:5

Paul then gave four negative descriptions of love: It is neither rude nor self-seeking nor easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. "Unseemly" means indecently, or shamefully. A person who has love in his heart would not embarrass others and God doing things that would be a shame. He would always do the decent thing. Love in the sense of " seeketh not her own" could be very well covered by the word charity. It would mean that other's needs would be more important to them, than their own needs.
This person, full of love, would not go around with a chip on his shoulder looking for someone to knock it off. He would be a peace maker. He would have the mind of Christ and would not be thinking evil thoughts. His mind, stayed on Christ would have no room for negative thoughts.
Rudeness found expression in the problem of women in worship (1Co_11:2-16), the disorders at the Lord’s Supper (1Co_11:17-22), and the general organization of worship (1Co_14:26-33). Self-satisfaction was a pervasive disorder particularly manifested in the eating of food sacrificed to idols (1Co_8:9; 1Co_10:23-24). People who are not easily angered usually do not start lawsuits (as in 1Co_6:1-11). Love does not record wrongs, though there was ample opportunity for doing so in Corinth (e.g., 1Co_6:8; 1Co_7:5; 1Co_8:11).

1 Corinthians 13:6

Love does not delight in evil (e.g., incest [1Co_5:1-2, 1Co_5:8]), but rejoices in truth (1Co_5:Cool. The person, who has the kind of love that this is speaking of, does not find pleasure in earthly things. His pleasure is in pleasing God. The truth would be his motto. We see from the whole armor of God that all Christians must wear, what part truth has.
Ephesians 6:14 "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;"
You see you are not only to speak truth, but to have it tightly bound around you. The true Christian with this godlike love does not love to make a lie, but gets real joy from telling the truth.


1 Corinthians 13:7

Love always protects (cf. 1Co_8:13), trusts (cf. 1Co_15:11), hopes (cf. 1Co_9:10, 1Co_9:23), and perseveres (hypomenei, “remains steadfast in the face of unpleasant circumstances”; cf. 1Co_9:19-22). Paul thought it all joy to suffer for Christ. This verse, above, is speaking of being willing to bear whatever persecution comes our way, in the name of the Lord. This "believeth all things" has to do with faith in God.
Abraham believed, and it was counted unto him as righteousness. This means continues to believe, even in the face of problems. Christians have hope of the resurrection.
Matthew 10:22 "And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
We see from this Scripture that there is something to endure. It, also, tells us how long it will be required of us to endure.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10

Following this elaboration of the preeminence (1Co_13:1-3) and perfections (1Co_13:4-7) of love, Paul concluded with a discussion of its permanence (1Co_13:8-13). Love never fails, in the sense it will never come to an end. Positively stated, it is eternal. This is not true of the spiritual gifts. Some of the gifts were foundational (e.g., prophecies and knowledge; cf. Eph_2:20) and confirmatory (e.g., tongues; cf. 2Co_12:12; Heb_2:4). Every gift is linked in some way to building up the church to maturity — some (prophecy, knowledge, tongues) functioning in the early years of the Church Age and others continuing on till the church is perfected. When that perfection is achieved, the gifts will have served their purposes and will be rendered obsolete. But this will not happen to love. As Paul explained it, the gift of knowledge (1Co_13:Cool, essential as it was, was not exhaustive. The ability to prophesy, however crucial for the church’s life, was of limited scope. The gifts were temporary blessings in an imperfect age. One day they would give way to perfection, toward which all the gifts pointed.
These verses refer to love’s lastingness or permanence as a divine quality. Love outlasts all failures. Paul strengthens his point on the permanence of love by comparing it to the spiritual gifts which the Corinthians so highly prized: prophecy, knowledge, and languages, all of which will have an end. There may be a distinction made on how prophecy and knowledge come to an end, and how the gift of languages does. This is indicated by the Greek verb form used. In the case of prophecy and knowledge, they are both said to “be abolished” (in both cases the verb indicates that something will put an end to those two functions).
Verses 9-10 indicate that what will abolish knowledge and prophecy is “that which is perfect.” When that occurs, those gifts will be rendered inoperative. The “perfect” is not the completion of Scripture, since there is still the operation of those two gifts and will be in the future kingdom. The Scriptures do not allow us to see “face to face” or have perfect knowledge as God does in verse 12.
The perfect” is not the rapture of the church or the second coming of Christ, since the kingdom to follow these events will have an abundance of preachers and teachers. The perfect must be the eternal state, when we in glory see God face to face and have full knowledge in the eternal new heavens and new earth. Just as a child grows to full understanding, believers will come to perfect knowledge and no such gifts will be necessary.
On the other hand, Paul uses a different word for the end of the gift of languages, thus indicating it will “cease” by itself, as it did at the end of the apostolic age. It will not end by the coming of the “perfect,” for it will already have ceased. The uniqueness of the gift of languages and its interpretations was, as all sign gifts, to authenticate the message and messengers of the gospel before the New Testament was completed.
“Tongues” were also not a sign to believers, but unbelievers, especially those unbelieving Jews. Tongues also cease because there was no need to verify the true messages from God once the Scripture was given. It became the standard by which all are to be deemed true. “Tongues” was a means of edification in a way far inferior to preaching and teaching.
In fact, chapter 14 was designed to show the Corinthians, so preoccupied with tongues, that it was an inferior means of communication, an inferior means of praise, and an inferior means of evangelism. Prophecy was and is, far superior. That tongues have ceased should be clear from their absence from any other books in the New Testament except Acts. Tongues ceased to be an issue of record or practice in the early church, as the Scripture was being written. That tongues has ceased should be clear also from its absence through church history since the first century, appearing only sporadically and then only in questionable groups.
What Paul meant when he referred to the coming of perfection is the subject of considerable debate. One suggestion is that perfection described the completion of the New Testament. A few have suggested that this state of perfection will not be reached until the new heavens and new earth is established. Another point of view understands perfection to describe the state of the church when God’s program for it is consummated at the coming of Christ for His bride and is presented to the Father. There is much to commend this view, including the natural accord it enjoys with the illustration of growth and maturity which Paul used in the following verses.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Paul elsewhere described the purpose of gifts by an illustration employing the imagery of growth and maturity. According to Eph 4: 11-16 the gifts to us were to be used to bring the church from a state of infancy to adulthood the word translated “mature” in that passage (Eph_4:13) is the word translated “perfection” (teleion) in 1Co_13:10. In the Ephesians passage, maturity is defined as “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This is just saying that we cannot always stay a baby in Christ. Sometime down the road, we need to start being an adult in the Lord. Milk is for babies. Get where you can chew the Word and get stronger nourishment. We need to grow in the Lord to the extent that we can stop being fed, and begin to feed others. It is alright to be a child, when you are first saved. There is a time, however, to put all that behind and take on the responsibilities of adulthood.
It would appear that the same perspective was developed in this passage to the Corinthians. Paul applied the illustration to himself (cf. 1Co_13:1-3). The threefold talking, thinking, and reasoning were probably meant to balance the thrice-mentioned gifts (1Co_13:Cool. With the coming of adulthood, such gifts become passé. Paul’s use of the word became (gegona, a perf. tense verb, probably proleptic; cf. Rom_13:8; 1Co_14:23) was of course to be understood in the context of the illustration. It does not indicate that he personally or the church collectively had yet arrived at that point (cf. Php_3:12). It would not, on the other hand, necessarily rule out a gradual obsolescence of certain gifts as the church progressed toward maturity.

1 Corinthians 13:12

A city like Corinth, famous for its bronze mirrors, would have particularly appreciated Paul’s final illustration. The perfection and imperfection mentioned in 1Co_13:10 were deftly likened to the contrasting images obtained by the indirect reflection of one’s face viewed in a bronze mirror and the same face when viewed directly. Such, Paul said, was the contrast between the imperfect time in which he then wrote and the perfect time which awaited him and the church when the partial reflection of the present would give way to the splendor of perfect vision. We will not fully understand about the Lord until we meet Him face to face. We see Him now in types and shadows in the things we read of Him, There will come a time when the dark glass is removed and we will see Him face to face. Jesus tore the curtain away into the Holy of Holies. We can now enter in.
1 John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
Then Paul would see God (cf. 1Co_15:28; 1Jn_3:2) as God now saw Paul. Then partial knowledge (cf. 1Co_8:1-3) would be displaced by the perfect knowledge of God.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul completed his three-paneled portrait of love (1Co_13:1-3, 1Co_13:4-7, 1Co_13:8-13) with a final triad: faith, hope, and love. Much discussion has focused on whether faith and hope were portrayed by Paul as being (with love) eternal. The solution is probably found in 1Co_13:7. Faith is an expression of love (the word “trusts,” pisteuei, 1Co_13:7, is the verb form of the noun “faith,” pistis), as is hope (cf. Gal_5:5-6). Faith and hope, as manifestations of love, will endure eternally. Faith, hope, and love are all very much of Christianity. They do not change. You might even say, they are conditions of Christianity. "Abideth" means continues to abide. You see, these never change, and they are absolutes. If we had to give up all but one, we would have to hang on to love. John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
To sum up this lesson, we would have to say that Paul is teaching them the proper functions of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the confines of their traditions. There is a song written from the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians called "Charity".
So too everyone who follows the way of love (1Co_14:1) finds “the most excellent way” (1Co_12:31), because every individual characterized by love carries that mark eternally. The spiritual gifts will one day cease to exist, but love will endure forever.
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