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The Love in First (1) Corinthians Chapter 13

In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul is continuing to teach people how to behave according to God's standards. All holy-people (Christians) have received the gift of holy spirit, and therefore we are able to live according to His spiritual viewpoint when we are alone or gathered together, instead of being jealous of one-another's different functions within the one spiritual body of Christ, the church.

Each one of us is a limb (member) within Christ's body of people. Each one can perform the function that God via Christ would ask any one of us to perform. We are to carry out our functions in love - the love referred to in I Corinthians chapter 13.

This word translated "love" (or "charity" in some translations and versions of this passage of Scripture) comes from the Greek word agape which is God’s kind of love. To love with His love means to love the same way as God loves, to manifest God's love towards another, whether it is towards God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, yourself, your Christian neighbor, or towards anyone else.

God tells His children today (all who have the spirit of Christ within us) how to Godly-love by means of His previously-revealed written Word and also via our holy spirit-life whereby we receive information from Him regarding how to love in different specific situations.

It is the carrying out of God's commandments, His Word, which is the correct usage or way to manifest God's kind of love according to His will (refer also to I John 5:1-3). It is not the same as the brotherly or friendly kind of love, nor is it the same as the emotional/feelings/sexual kind of love.

Let us read I Corinthians chapter 13 where Paul continues from chapter 12, and he puts himself as an example.

I Corinthians 13:1-3:
13:1if-ever I may utter-forth with the tongues of men and of angels but I may not have love, I became copper sounding or a cymbal clanging; .2and if-ever I may have prophecy and I may have known all the mysteries and all the knowledge, and if-ever I may have all the belief so-as to change-the-standing-place-of mountains but I may not have love, I am nothing; .3and-if-ever I may feed all-things (to people), the-things beginning-from me, and if-ever I may give my body over in order that I may boast but I may not have love, I am profited nothing.

Paul writes: If it should ever happen that I (Paul)…

  • would utter-forth (speak) with
    • the tongues of men and the tongues of angels (it does not matter which language I would speak because it is my holy spirit-life that gives me the actual words to utter)
  • but I would not have love1 (hold God’s kind of love while I am uttering-forth with tongues)
  • then I became and continue to be (in the figurative sense)
    • copper making a sound (bronze, brass or any metals echoing, which is not its correct operation, and therefore making a confused noise)
    • or a cymbal making a harsh metallic sound (which is not its correct operation)
      • in the walk (behavior, conduct) category.

Paul does not write that the uttering-forth with tongues becomes copper sounding or a cymbal clanging – but that he himself becomes that way in his behavior, even though he is a functioning limb in the one body of Christ.

In chapter 12 Paul has already taught us that the manifestation of holy spirit is given to each holy-person towards the-thing contributing, spiritually – the spirit will not manifest itself for any other reason. However, the holy-person uttering-forth may have other reasons and motives in his/her fleshly thinking, emotions, feelings, etc. The holy spirit-life within the speaker always does the will of God, not the will of the person – unless that person also wants to do God's will, then both the holy spirit and the holy-person are in harmony, walking and living with and for God.

Paul continues: if it should ever happen that…

  • I would have prophecy (receive God’s words via my holy spirit-life to speak-forth to, before, or in front of another person or people concerning the past, present and/or future)
  • and I would know (perceive, see to the end of perceiving and knowing with my mind)
    • all the mysteries (every one of God’s secrets; a mystery contains the details that are known and can be understood by those involved in it and by those to whom it has been revealed – it is not inexplicable to those involved in it)
    • and all the knowledge (God’s personal knowledge of/about someone or something, a truly active and relative knowing, having information concerning every specific situation or circumstance),

…and if it should ever happen that…

  • I would have all the belief (God's belief, the information that God gives me to believe, to have confidence-in with assured certainty and surety, what He gives me to trust, to have faith-in concerning every specific situation or circumstance)
    • with the consequence and result that I would be able to change the standing place of mountains (remove them from their current position, change their location, transfer them from one place to another)
  • but if I would not have Godly-love while I am doing this (as verse 1 above)
  • then I am nothing (my behavior being a functioning limb is nothing of substance, not one thing deserving of reward as a result, nothing to be looked-upon by others as an example to follow);

…and if it should happen at any time that…

  • I would feed people all the things beginning from me (feed them everything that starts from me, my belongings, possessions, the things in my domain, as though putting little bits of food into their mouths like a nurse would feed young-children when they are hungry)

…and if it should happen at any time that…

  • I would give my body over (hand over, deliver my fleshy body alongside or beside another, to/for other people's purposes, as though to harm myself for their sakes)
    • with the purpose and result for me to boast (to speak justifiably loudly)
  • but if I would not have Godly-love while I am doing this (as verse 1 above)
  • then I am profited nothing (my behavior being a functioning limb is benefitting me in not one thing of substance, there is no advantage for me deserving of reward as a result of my conduct).

Paul continues teaching concerning spiritual-things by writing what the characteristics, qualities and attributes of Godly-love are and what they are-not.

What is love?

Verses 4-7:
.4The love is patient, it is benevolent, it is not jealous, it does not vaunt itself, it does not puff itself up, .5it is not indecorous, it does not seek-after the-thing of itself, it is not sharpened, it does not calculate the bad-thing, .6it does not joy on the unrighteousness, but it joys-together with the truth, .7it protectively-covers all-things, it believes all-things, it hopes all-things, it patiently-endures all-things.
  1. Love is patient
    • (it continues to be long-suffering, long-tempered, having long-forbearance);
  2. it is benevolent
    • (it continues to show itself kind, supplying what is appropriately needed for use in specific situations);

...

  1. it is not jealous
    • (it is not being zealous in the bad sense, it does not have a boiling or vehement passion that is contrary to God’s Word);
  2. it does not vaunt itself
    • (it is not bragging, it does not push itself forward showing-off itself as a braggart in a vainglorious display);
  3. it does not puff itself up
    • (it is not inflating itself with its own importance or anything else);
  4. it is not indecorous
    • (it is not being unseemly, it does not behave indecorously, in a not-elegant, not-well-figured, not-seemly way);
  5. it does not seek-after the-thing of itself
    • (it is not looking for its own thing, it is not self-centered);
  6. it is not sharpened
    • (it is not being whet, made sharp as by something rubbing on it, it is not stimulated or caused to be irritated, touchy, incited, no paroxysm, it cannot be sharpened by something else trying to improve or change it);
  7. it does not calculate the bad-thing
    • (it is not reckoning, computing, counting something bad, it is not reasoning logically within itself anything that does not issue from God, that is not God’s will);
  8. it does not joy on the unrighteousness
    • (it is not being joyful resting upon injustice, it does not rejoice over unjustness, something based-on what is not right/just but is wrong);

...but...

  1. it joys-together with the truth
    • (it continues to be joyful, rejoicing in conjunction with the truth, which is what God says, the essential reality, God’s inherent verity, the state of being true);
  2. it protectively-covers all-things
    • (it continues to shelter, keeping or fending off anything which may hurt and thereby it is sustaining and supporting all of God's spiritual-things, as the roof of a house protectively-covers the inside of that house which is concealed by the roof);
  3. it believes all-things
    • (it continues to trust, having faith in all of God's spiritual-things, which is what Paul is in the middle of teaching here in chapter 13 – this phrase does not mean that it believes anything and everything because that would be against God's will!);
  4. it hopes all-things
    • (it continues to expect all of God's spiritual-things to come to pass, to come into being, to happen at a future time);
  5. it patiently-endures all-things
    • (it continues to hold-out, bearing-up, staying or remaining upright relative to God and the things of God under all of God’s spiritual-things).
Verses 8-10:
.8The love never falls, but whether prophecies they will be rendered-ineffective, whether tongues they will stop, whether knowledge it will be rendered-ineffective – .9for partially we know and partially we prophesy, .10but whenever the completion may come the-thing (which is) partial will be rendered-ineffective.

The love1 (God’s kind of love which is available to be evidenced by all holy-people at all times during the everyday living of our lives)…

  • never falls (at no time does it fall, it is not falling down at any time in relation to its availability, purpose, etc, as from a higher to a lower place thereby being rendered ineffective or stopping).

But at various times during different situations and circumstances…

  • since there are holy-people who have prophecies via holy spirit (refer to verse 2 above and I Corinthians 12:10),
    • these prophecies will be rendered ineffective (caused to be inactive, inoperative, useless at the future time of our gathering together with the Lord Jesus Christ; refer to I Corinthians 15:51-57 and I Thessalonians 4:13-17);
  • since there are holy-people who speak with tongues via holy spirit,
    • these tongues will stop (willingly come to an end, cause themselves to cease activity);
  • since there are holy-people who have personal-knowledge via holy spirit,
    • this knowledge will be rendered ineffective.

By not writing all of the different ways that the gift of holy spirit within each holy-person can manifest itself towards what is contributing in the spirit category, Paul emphasizes to his readers that all nine contributions are to be included (refer to I Corinthians 12:7-11).

The reason why these will be rendered ineffective or stop in the future is that in truth…

  • partially we know (we personally know only part of the whole amount of God's knowledge which is given to us at specific times by means of holy spirit),
  • and partially we prophesy (we prophesy only part of the whole amount of God's prophecy which is given to us at specific times by means of holy spirit).

We don't know all of God's knowledge neither do we prophesy all of God's prophecy, but it is by God's grace that He would reveal a certain amount of knowledge and prophecy to us. Again, the whole manifestation of holy spirit should be included in the reader's mind.

Why does Paul write that the manifestation of holy spirit is only partial? Because the gift of holy spirit that every holy-person (Christian) has within him/her is only the token (earnest, deposit) of the whole inheritance that has been promised to us by God. It assures us that we will definitely receive the fullness of our salvation at a future time.

But at whatever time that…

  • the completion (that-which is perfect by the ultimate arrival of the state of completeness, reaching God’s fulfilling ending-issue)
    • would come,
  • then the-thing which we have only partially (not wholly)
    • will be rendered ineffective (caused to be inactive, inoperative, useless).

At that time, what is partial will be rendered ineffective – because we will receive what is whole (it would not make any sense to want to remain with only part of what is available and thus incomplete, instead of the whole of what is available – the completion!).

When the resurrected Christ comes to gather us together with him, then we will receive our full inheritance – the completion of the deposit of holy spirit that all holy-people have now as a gift from God by means of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will each have a spiritual body like the resurrected Christ has already received from God, and we will have the availability of all of God’s spiritual-things all of the time.

Paul teaches and explains verses 8-10 by illustration, and again he puts himself as the example.

Verses 11 and 12:
.11When I used-to-be an infant I used-to utter-forth as an infant, I used-to think as an infant, I used-to calculate as an infant – when I became an adult-male I rendered-ineffective the-things of the infant; .12for now we observe by means of a mirror in an enigma, but then face towards face; now I know partially, but then I will fully know according as also I was fully known.

He writes...

  • When I was continuing during a past time, historically, to be an infant (a minor being under-age, immature in the physical category)
    • I used to utter-forth as an infant (utter sound, speak, use my voice as a baby having received life but still without the power of adult/mature speech and so being childish in my behavior),
    • I used to think as an infant (have childish thoughts in my mind),
    • I used to calculate as an infant (reckon, compute, count logically in a childish manner) –
  • but at the time that I became and continue to be an adult-male (a grown man in the physical category)
    • then I rendered ineffective (inactive, inoperative, useless)
      • the things which pertain to the infant, and they are still ineffective during the everyday living of my adult life.

Corresponding to this illustration, Paul continues regarding the spirit category:

  • In truth, at this very moment we holy-people observe (to this point in time we are looking and mentally-envisioning, we are mentally-aware and contemplate spiritual-things, even though we may not see anything with our physical eyes)
    • by means of (through)
    • a mirror (at the time when Paul was living a mirror was usually made with polished metal, and the person looking at the mirror saw the reflected rays of light producing a reflection of the source-object whether it was the person himself or something else, and these reflected rays of light from the polished metal would also land-on and so light-up his face)
    • in an enigma (which is observing in an obscure hinting of the actual object, as a riddle or indirectly, the object itself is not being seen directly),
  • but then (at that future time of completion) we will observe
    • face towards face (directly at the object without anything in-between);
  • now I know partially (at this very moment, to this point in time I have a truly active and relative knowing of part of the whole amount of God’s knowledge concerning spiritual-things – I am personally knowledgeable of only part of it),
    • but then (at the future time of completion)
    • I will fully-know (I will have full, clear and exact personal knowledge within myself concerning spiritual-things)
      • according as also I was fully-known (just as, according to how, in comparison to the way that I was known with full, clear and exact personal knowledge – looking from the future backwards to the present time it will be in the past-tense).

God and the Lord Jesus Christ have full, clear and exact personal knowledge concerning Paul in the spirit category. In the future after Christ gathers all holy-people together with him, Paul will also fully-know about himself in the spirit category.

Because we have only a part of what we will have in the future, our present observance of spiritual-things is enigmatic to us, like looking at a blurred reflection in a mirror. Paul is not saying that our holy spirit-life communicates obscurely to us, but, because of our physical limitations, we do not understand the fullness of spiritual-things at the moment.

However, when the completion comes at a future time and we will receive our complete inheritance, then we will observe spiritual-things face to face. There will be nothing interfering with us concerning spiritual-things.

Verse 13:
.13But now these three things – belief, hope, love – remain, but the love (is) greater of these-things.

At the present time, these three things are staying available to be evidenced by all holy-people at all times during the everyday living of our lives (they are not stopping nor are they falling, but these 3 are continuing):

  1. belief – God's belief
    • (belief/faith is the information that God makes known to people to have confidence-in with assured certainty and surety; it is what God believes and gives us to believe, to have faith-in, to trust concerning a specific situation or circumstance);
  2. hope – God's hope
    • (hope is what God gives us to expect to come to pass in the future; it is what God hopes, His firm-anticipation concerning a future specific situation or circumstance);
  3. love – God's love
    • (love is God’s kind of love, as described above)…

…but the love is greater of these-things. It is comparatively more-great, larger in quantity, quality, magnitude pertaining-to or regarding these 3 things.

Paul did not write that love1 is better than belief and hope – but he wrote that it is greater of them. This comparison is similar to the way that a mustard seed grows and then it is the greater of herbs in the category of its size. It remains being a herb also, but relative to its size it is larger than the other herbs (refer to Matthew 13:31 and 32).

Belief and hope and love remain – but God’s kind of love in evidence by holy-people covers a larger area; it encompasses (includes) hope, and hope encompasses (includes) belief.

All three should be active during the life of every holy-person. These are available to be evidenced by all holy-people at all times during the everyday living of our lives.

We have freedom of will to love with Godly-love. We are either manifesting it during our everyday living or we are not manifesting it – because it is not possible to partially Godly-love.

We can thank God that He has given us the ability to Godly-love – and now it is up to us to do what God says.

I John chapter 4 explains that God is love and the He loved us first.

I John 4:16-19:
.16and we knew and believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the (person) remaining in the love remains in God and God remains in him. .17In this the love was made-complete with us, in order that we may have boldness in the day of the judgment – because according as that-one is also we are in this world. .18There is not fear in the love but the complete love throws the fear outside because the fear has curtailment, but the (person) being fearful was not made-complete in the love. .19We love because He first loved us.

John writes that emphatically we...

  • knew and continue to know (we have a truly active and relative knowing, we are personally knowledgeable of)
  • and believed and continue to believe (we have faith, we trust)
    • the love which God has in us (within the holy spirit-life that is in all holy-people, Christians; refer to Romans 5:5, Galatians 5:22, and II Timothy 1:7).

God is love. God is the One Who issues His love and He sets the standard to be conformed to by others of what His kind of love is.

The person who is continuing within the sphere of action of the love...

  • remains in God (within God’s sphere of action)
  • and God remains in him (within that person’s sphere of action).

In/by this the love was made-complete (it was made perfect, it arrived at its ultimate state of completeness) and it continues made-complete...

  • in company and association with holy-people (true Christians who have received the gift of holy spirit, which is the anointed-thing, the spirit of Christ in us) -

...for the purpose and result that...

  • we would have boldness (freedom of speech, frankness and openness of speaking)
  • during judgment day (the time-period of the action of pronouncing sentence, the decision being made in judgment) –

…because…

  • according as that-one (just as, according to how, in comparison to the way that specifically that one, God’s son Jesus Christ)
    • presently and actively is (exists during the present time)
  • also emphatically we
    • presently and actively are (exist during the present time)
      • within the sphere of action of the current world (which will continue to exist until it will be replaced by the new heaven and new earth as recorded in Revelation 21:1).

God has placed His Godly-love within Christ Jesus and within all holy-people. All of us, including Christ Jesus, have received the complete Godly-love from God our Father. Therefore, all of us including God and Christ Jesus are able to love with God’s kind of love. God gave the same love to all of us so that we would have boldness during judgment time. We will stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive judgment regarding our behavior (refer to Romans 14:10; I Corinthians 3:12-15; II Corinthians 5:10; James 2:12).

John continues:

  • There is not fear (terror, fright, being scared, terrified of someone or something, or being afraid of doing something wrong and then receiving consequences of the performance of any wrong behavior; fear does not exist)
    • within the cause and sphere of action of the love
  • but contrary to fear, the complete love (God’s kind of love which is perfect by the ultimate arrival of its state of completeness, having reached God's intended fulfilling ending-issue)
    • casts the fear outside (external to Godly-love’s sphere of action)
      • because the fear has curtailment (it holds a pruning, docking, it causes a person’s actions to be limited or cut-back within certain bounds),
  • but the person who is being fearful (having fear)
    • was not made-complete (he was not caused to reach and arrive at his ending-issue, he was not made perfect, he did not arrive at his ultimate state of completeness) and continues not made-complete
      • within the sphere of action of the love.

Emphatically we love…

  • because emphatically He first loved us.

God Himself loved us first time-wise. His love to/for us was not a response to our love to/for Him.

God is the One Who loved us first - and now we have the ability to love with His love.

Jesus also spoke about Godly-love when he was asked about the law of Moses during the old covenant time.

Matthew 22:35-40:
.35and one law-person out-from them asked making-trial-of him, .36“Teacher, of-what-kind (is) a great commandment in the law?” .37But he said to him, “'You will love (the) Lord your God in your whole heart and in your whole soul and in your whole mind-process'; .38this is the great and first commandment. .39(The) second (is) like to it, ‘You will love your neighbor as yourself.’ .40In these two commandments the whole law and the prophets are hung.”

The law-person asked making trial of Jesus, “Teacher, of what sort is a commandment that is large in importance?" He was asking Jesus to select a specific one from the law of Moses, which were the commandments that God told Moses to tell to all of the children of Israel.

Jesus brought to light by saying him...

You will love the Lord your God…

  • in your whole heart
    • (within the entire sphere of action of the center/core of your being, the seat of your whole personal self and life) and
  • in your whole soul
    • (within the entire sphere of action of the life of your physical body which is soul-life, evidenced by your breathing, breath-life, and figuratively referring to your being, including your character and disposition as you are living your life) and
  • in your whole mind-process
    • (within the entire sphere of action of your meditation, the conscious thinking-through and reflecting-on the perception in your mind)’;

…this is the great and first commandment.

The second is similar to the first...

  • You will Godly-love your neighbor
    • (love with God’s love the person living near you and therefore has the same background and belief, i.e. the people from among the children of Israel)
  • as yourself
    • (as you will Godly-love yourself).

Within these two commandments the whole law of Moses and what the prophets prophesied are suspended. These two are on top and the whole law and the prophets hang below them being fastened to them thereby being supported by them from above, not from below.

The great and first commandment was regarding that-which God asked His people to do towards God Himself: you will Godly-love the Lord your God in your whole heart and in your whole soul and in your whole mind-process. They were to love the Lord their God with Godly-love, not just a brotherly or a friendly type of love.

The second commandment was like the first one in that Godly-love was involved, but this time it was regarding that-which God asked His people to do towards each-other and towards themselves (each himself): you will manifest Godly-love towards your neighbor (that person who is near from-among the children of Israel) as you will manifest Godly-love towards yourself.

Before the day of Pentecost (which is recorded in Acts chapter 2), God told His people how to Godly-love in His revealed spoken and/or written words, and also at times certain individuals among His people received holy spirit from God temporarily whereby they received information from Him regarding how to love in different specific situations.

Also in this context, it is beneficial to note that loving one-another with God’s kind of love is the completion of the law of Moses (refer to Romans 13:8-10 and Galatians 5:14). The law had to be carried-out within the realm of the flesh because mankind did not have holy spirit-life on a permanent basis prior to Acts 2:1-4. The law instructed people how to love correctly towards God and one-another (refer to Matthew 22:37-40 above).

Jesus Christ completed the law of Moses (refer to Romans 8:3 and 4, and 10:4).

All holy-people have the spirit of Christ in us and so we have God’s love in Christ within us, and our holy spirit-life teaches us regarding God and the things of God, including how to Godly-love in different circumstances (refer to Romans chapter 8 and I Thessalonians 4:9).

II Timothy 1:7:
.7for God did not give to us a spirit of cowardice but of ability and love and sound-thinking,

Paul explains to Timothy…

  • in truth, God did not give to us a spirit of cowardice
    • (God didn’t give to us, all of us, you and I and every other holy-person, a cowardly spirit, a spirit having the distinctive quality of timidity, in awe and fearful regarding different circumstances or situations) –
  • but on the contrary – God gave to us a spirit having the distinctive quality of:
    • ability
      • (able-power, capability) and
    • love
      • (God’s love, His kind of love) and
    • sound-thinking
      • (thoughts in its mind that are sound, safe in God's viewpoint, with prudence, thoughts in alignment with salvation).

Our holy spirit-life is a spirit of ability, love, and sound thinking.

As we live our lives we can behave in accordance with the holy spirit within us.

To close this article, below is a summary of what 1 Corinthians chapter 13 tells us regarding God's kind of love:

  • it is patient,
  • it is benevolent,
    • it is not jealous,
    • it does not vaunt itself,
    • it does not puff itself up,
    • it is not indecorous,
    • it does not seek-after the-thing of itself,
    • it is not sharpened,
    • it does not calculate the bad-thing,
    • it does not joy on the unrighteousness,
  • but it joys-together with the truth,
  • it protectively-covers all-things,
  • it believes all-things,
  • it hopes all-things,
  • it patiently-endures all-things --
    • relative-to God and the things of God.

For more details on God's kind of love, you may refer to: Romans 5:5, 8:28 and 35-39, 12:9, 13:8-10; I Corinthians 2:9, 8:1-3, 14:1, 16:14; II Corinthians 6:6, 9:7, 13:11; Galatians 2:20, 5:6, 13, 14 and 22; Ephesians 1:3-6, 2:4-7, 3:17-19, 5:2 and 25-33; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:8, 3:14; I Thessalonians 4:9, 5:8; I Timothy 1:5, 6:11; II Timothy 1:7 and 13, 4:8; James 1:12, 2:8; I Peter 1:22, 4:8; I John 2:5, 3:1, 2, 11, 16 and 23, chapter 4, 5:1-3.

Refer also to the video index for 1 Corinthians.