Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      1 Corinthians - Chapter 13 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels? If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    2. What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets and all knowledge? And what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing, unless I loved others.
    3. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others.
    4. Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or
    5. rude. Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.
    6. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
    7. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.
    8. Love never fails! Everyone who prophesies will stop, and unknown languages will no longer be spoken. All that we know will be forgotten.
    9. We don't know everything, and our prophecies are not complete.
    10. But what is perfect will someday appear, and what isn't perfect will then disappear.
    11. When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.
    12. Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don't know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us.
    13. For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love.
Reflections

1 Corinthians - Chapter 13

Entered: September 30, 2005
[REFER TO CHAPTER 12]

Entered: November 01, 2011

Paul concluded his discussion of spiritual gifts in chapter 12 with the statement: "I will show you an even better way." (12:31) Love is that better way. If the conflict in the Corinthian church and the member's self-indulgence were any indication, they were giving love a rather low priority. Through the eloquence of chapter 13, often referred to as the "love" chapter, Paul tells the Corinthians that love should be of greatest priority. When all has been said and all has been done and Christ returns, only love will remain. Love is eternal while everything else, including all of the great spiritual gifts, is temporary. Temporary, at least, in an eternal perspective.

Paul begins the chapter by relating love to the spiritual gifts which were his focus in chapter 12. These gifts are of considerable value and are Christ's tools to the church to carry on the mission He gave it, but they are of little value unless they are administered in love. Love gives them value. Jesus told His disciples that love would always be the identifying mark of His disciples:  "By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) He didn't mention spiritual gifts or any other actions, only love.

From spiritual gifts Paul went to behaviors and attitudes that love elicits. The list makes one mindful of the fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Love is placed first in this list. Whether or not that was intended to give it greatest importance, this 13th chapter in 1 Corinthians gives it that position. One can claim love toward others and toward God, but if these characteristics are not present in those relationships, neither is love.

Finally, Paul brings the chapter to a close with mention of the eternal nature of love. "Love never ends," he says. The only things that will remain after all else is gone, is "faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (13:13) Love is the factor that makes everything else work.