We are going to read the whole of 1 Corinthians 13
When we think of ‘Love’ we do not want to think of it from a human perspective, but we want to understand it from a Biblical or G-dly perspective. The greatest example of love is found in John 3:16 – G-d so loved that He GAVE His Son. Love involves sacrificial giving – not giving to satisfy our own desires, for our own sakes, but giving for the sake and betterment of someone else. G-d didn’t give Yeshua to us for His well-being, but He gave Him so that we could be blessed.
v1: Tongues of men and angels: This is not speaking of tongues in terms of the tongues given as a spiritual gift. This is referring to different kinds of languages – earthly languages and heavenly languages. Paul is saying that if he could speak all of the known languages but have not love….
- I have become as sounding brass and a clanging cymbal: These two instruments serve a purpose in a band, but without the complement of other instruments they can be an annoying distraction. Without love, all of a person’s abilities would not be pleasing, but their abilities would become annoying to others and would lack value.
v2: Paul is giving another hypothetical situation.
- Faith: Faith is important. Without faith it’s impossible to please G-d. If all of our knowledge and all of our faith is not undergirded by love then it is of no value to us. Love is foundational. It should be the driving force behind all service to G-d, all ministry.
v3: The poor: Written in italics in the NKJV, which tells us that these words were added to try to smooth out the text. In the original text it speaks of simply giving our goods – whether to the rich or to the poor.
- To be burned: This is also not the way this was translated originally. It originally spoke of giving up our bodies (to hardship etc) in order that we can boast (about how great and wonderful G-d is, as He is faithful to take us through hard times).
- Have not love, it profits me nothing: If we are willing to lay down our lives as living sacrifices and we endure hardships for Messiah but we have no love then all the sacrifice has no value at the end of the day. Love is so important. It is a thought process, a commitment, and is not a feeling (if love was based on feelings, it would be here one day and gone the next). Biblical love is rooted in sacrifice. It involves sacrificing for others so that the will of G-d can become a reality in their lives.
v4: This describes the character of the love (Biblical love) that needs to be foundational in our lives in order to successfully serve G-d. This describes the kind of love that G-d has for us.
- Envy: Love is not jealous.
- Does not parade itself: It is not boastful
- Is not puffed up: It is not proud.
v5: Does not behave rudely: Love is never inappropriate All its words and actions are appropriate or fitting for a situation. When we act in love it causes G-dly changes to happen in situations.
- Does not seek its own: This is a very important characteristic of Biblical love. Biblical (true) love never has its own objectives, desires or purposes in mind. It is always focused on the spiritual and physical well-being (within a Scriptural framework) for another individual.
- Not provoked: It doesn’t cause someone to act or respond in an unkind way.
- Thinks no evil: Evil is anything which is opposed to G-d’s will. Love never considers something which is contrary to the will of G-d.
v6: Iniquity: Unrighteousness.
- Rejoices in the truth: Unrighteousness happens because of a disconnect from truth. Truth is not based on our perspective but is based on G-d’s perspective – based on His Word. Truth does not change; it remains the same (it does not change from person to person and nor does it change from situation to situation). Truth changes situations. Situations do not change truth.
v7: Bears all things: Love expresses itself in faithfulness. Love endures. It perseveres. It moves forward and doesn’t give up.
- Believes all things: Meaning that it utilises faith. Faith is rooted in the Word of G-d (truth) – Scripturally grounded. When it says love has faith for all things it means that it applies truth to all things. It does not mean that if we love someone we believe everything they say or do.
- Hopes all things: Hope believes that there is going to be a future result, an outcome (Believes that it will eventually receive what G-d has promised).
- Endures all things: It remains at all times. Love never abandons others.
v8: Fails: This is not the normal word for fail but is a word that has to doing with falling – like falling by the wayside. Love doesn’t fall or falter, it continues on (Deut 31:8).
- Prophecies…they will fail: The word ‘fail’ here is a wrong interpretation of this word. Prophecies reach a point where we can say that they have been fulfilled (they have served their purpose) eg the prophecy that the Messiah (Christ) was to be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2. This prophecy is still relevant for us today but it is retrospective for us and not prospective (still future). It is a prophecy that has reached its maturity (so to speak). Prophecy is true because prophecy comes
from G-d. History can confirm the truth of prophecy but that confirmation by
history doesn’t make the prophecy true. G-d’s Word makes the prophecy true. So
it’s not that prophecy has failed or that it has gone away. Even though it has been fulfilled it still has relevance for us today.
v9: Prophesy in part: A prophecy does not give us the sum total of everything. It is incomplete or insufficient. It’s only when we bring a few prophecies together that we begin to understand what G-d is going to bring about in its fullness – His total plan.
v10: Perfect: Reaches a state of completion. Paul is talking about the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d.
- Will be done away: It would have served its purpose. It will all be fulfilled.
v11: Paul is giving us an example here of a normal progression to maturity. We don’t do away with our childhood. It will always be a part of our history. But we mature beyond our childhood. Childhood, although necessary for maturity, is incomplete. Childhood is not our objective. There is something greater than it. This is what is going to happen to prophecy, to knowledge, with the law, with the heavens and the earth etc. They are still relevant for us now, but they are going to come to an end – just like childhood comes to an end.
v12: Face to face: This is an idiom for clarity. Getting a good or a proper look, without any obstruction.
- I shall know: We will know ourselves as G-d knows us. We will have a proper view, a heavenly view, of who we are.
v13: Paul makes it very clear that love is foundational – that ability to put others before ourselves. Unless we have that type of love (Matt 22:39) our actions are not going to be pleasing to G-d.