The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13
(Part 3)

Having begun a discussion of a more excellent way (from its introduction in verse 31 of chapter 12) showing that the lack of love (charity) in whatever one does makes that effort empty, Paul now moves on to define why it is that having love as a motivating factor is more excellent.

Verses four through seven define the ways in which love is expressed and manifested. Known as the great chapter on love, we are able to see the depth to which true love goes in doing whatever it is that one can do. It involves total selflessness.

1 Cor 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. KJV

Recall, if you will, the mother, who has such deep love for her children; she so patiently endures so many disappointments as she rears them up, having hope that the lessons she teaches will be taken to heart by them. As she molds them into fine young men and women, she watches day-in and day-out with long-suffering, being kind in all of her “lessons.” She is not so interested in boosting her own ego, but rather the edification and growth of her children. She does not treat them with contempt nor undeserved impatience; and she delights in their progress as their own behavior improves from the lessons learned. She bears all the times which seem to bring no positive results, all the while hoping that they will come to be the young ladies and gentlemen she has spent so much time and effort in developing. After all, its about them, not about her. This kind of thing is what love drives one to do and accomplish.

The Father in heaven has such love for His own creation, having over several millenia revealed and brought to fruition His scheme to redeem mankind from their sins, reconciling them back to him by and through His only-begotten Son, sending him to die upon a cross, shedding his blood by which all must be justified.

1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

This is the more excellent way the Holy Spirit, through the pen of Paul, wants us to follow after. This is the way a congregation can achieve perfect unity, consistent with holding fast to the sound doctrine which Paul had taught so carefully to the them in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:10), and to the Christian brethren in Galatia. (Gal. 1:6-9), and which would allow them at Corinth to achieve even then. Following after this more excellent way will result in the kind of unity Christ desired for his church, the kind of unity for which he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (John 17:8-9, 17, 20-21).

Is it no wonder that Paul would conclude the whole discussion on the importance of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit relative to love with these words?

1 Cor 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Love abides now and continues to abide. The miraculous is temporary, and will pass away.

Next, we shall discuss the significance of all of this as it pertains to the intended longevity of the miraculous gifts.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX
Curtis A. Little
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