1 Corinthians 13 – True Love

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This chapter is a rather popular one for weddings, and rightly so.  When we talk about vowing to God and to each other it is this deep, self-sacrificial love that we steep ourselves in.  But actually, Paul didn’t write this passage with weddings in mind.  His thoughts here are the apex of his discourse here about how we treat others, how we use the gifts of the spirit, and the foundation of the life of Christ in general.

At the end of chapter 12, Paul says he will “show them the most excellent way.”  In fact, he has been doing this all throughout his writing.  All this time he has been talking about using your freedom, steeped in the love of Christ, in consideration of others.  Here, he describes in detail what this looks like.

In the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, there were three ways in which the word “love” was used.  There is “eros,” the sort of romantic, erotic love that we often think about within the context of relationships and sex, “philos,” the brotherly love of friends and family, and “Agape,” the deep, self-sacrificial love that is used here in 1 Corinthians 13.  This “agape” love is used only when in reference to God’s love, to the love of Jesus Christ the led Him to the cross to die for us, and to the love that we are called to exhibit as those who are “in Christ Jesus,” as it is described here.

The love that is described here is also the foundation for the appropriate use of the gifts of the spirit as well as a description of our appropriate conduct in worship, subjects that bookend this chapter.  And this love grows, as we mature and are sanctified, our love in Christ grows deeper as our hearts beat more and more in sync with God’s own heart as well.



1 Corinthians 12 – Spiritual Gifts

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The manifestation of Spiritual Gifts like speaking in tongues or prophetic words is, sadly, not something that is very prominent in the denomination that I come from.  In fact, in western culture, these types of things aren’t very prominent at all.  Yet they are a part of the Christian life.  We should not be quick to dismiss such things when they happen.  Neither should we accept them wholesale when things may be in question.

Paul addresses this issue likely because of troubles that arose from the crossover between a person’s life before they put their faith in Jesus Christ and now experiencing the new life that He offers them.  Such “spiritual” utterances were not uncommon in the cultic worship of other gods, however their purpose in the body of Christ is significantly different.

Whereas those who exhibited such gifts in pagan worship were thought to be somehow “superior,” and so could abuse that status, here Paul places the use of these gifts within the body of Christ for the purpose of building up the church.  Like all of what he has been talking about, these too are a part of our freedom in Christ which is always used in consideration of the other.  All gifts, no matter what they are, were meant for edification and building up, not self promotion.

This too is why Paul urges them to desire the “greater” gifts, not necessarily the ones that create a large public display drawing attention to one’s self.

Again, like Paul has continually said, the life of Christ and those included in it is firmly rooted in consideration for others; humble service that is rooted in love.  Paul will talk about gifts and worship again in chapter 14, a bookend to what he calls “the most excelent way,” which is that of deep love for one another as Christ loves them.