Friday, August 23, 2019

1Cor13 Christians: Loving Like God - Lesson 4 Preeminence of Love

Lesson 4  Preeminence of Love

1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Paul Stresses the Superiority of Love

The last section of the chapter deals with Love's preeminence over all other virtues or qualities.  Paul says it is greater, first because it cannot cease to exist, second because it is complete and finally because it is absolutely supreme.

Love's permanence.

Paul recalls the sign gifts , tongues, wisdom and knowledge, which had caused such problems in the Corinthian church.  He then says that these gifts were only temporary they would fail, vanish and cease to exist.  Then in verse 10 he says when this will take place.  "When that which is perfect is come then that which is in part shall be done away."  It is easy to understand the "that which is in part" it refers back to the sign gifts.  However, the "that which is perfect" has been the source of much speculation.  Let's try and interpret this verse.

First, look at the language. 

What does the word perfect mean?
From Greek word teleios {tel'-i-os},  1) brought to its end, finished 2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness

Second, look at the context. 

What subject in Chapter 12 brought us to the more excellent way of Love?  Gifts, particularly of revelation, such as tongues, prophecy, and word of knowledge. 

What was Paul speaking of in the verse immediately preceding verse 10?  Prophecy, tongues, supernatural knowledge. 
What do this gifts do for the church?  God used them to communicate with the early church. 

If "that which is in part" is dealing with revelation from God, then what is "that which is perfect" dealing with?  Revelation from God as well. 

Finally, look at other scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16-17.  What does it say brings a child of God to completeness?   The verse says that scripture provides all that is needed to serve God.  We do not need more revelation unless God's word is somehow lacking.

Also read Jude verse 3. What does the phrase, "faith once delivered unto the saints" mean?  The tense is perfect which mean an action in the past which continues into the future.  The faith (truth, doctrine, teaching, way of life) was given one time and no more can be added it.


Paul is saying that the supernatural, partial revelation like tongues, word of wisdom, word of faith, etc,  from God would cease when full revelation was complete.  This took place when all New Testament scripture was completed with the writing of the book of Revelation.  Once scripture was completed there would be no need of new revelation from God through tongues, prophecy or word of knowledge. 

Love's Completeness

In verse 11 Paul makes a statement about growing from a child to a man.  What does the man do when he is grown?  Put away childish things. 

What should we compare to being a child?  The early churches need of sign gifts until they were brought to maturity in the written word. 

In verse 12 Paul use the symbol of a glass or mirror.  Corinth was famous for it's mirrors but they were not the quality we have now.  Mirrors then were highly polished bright metal, which gave a poor image of the gazer.  

What is Paul comparing the mirror to?  The imperfect revelation of God through sign gifts. 

If the completed Word of God is what Paul is speaking of, how can we see face to face and know even as I am known? 
In the pages of scripture I see myself and come to know myself as God really sees me.

Love's Preeminence

In verse 13 Paul sums up the discussion of love by looking now not just at gifts but at the three major Christian virtues, Faith, Hope and Love.  He says that these three abide, these three will last,  yet Love is preeminent over them all. 

Faith is often considered the chief attribute of a Christian but Paul say it is not.  We can define faith as belief and trust.  To a child of God it is belief and trust in our Savior.  Yet Faith cannot exist without love.  Why?  You do not trust someone with your soul and with your eternal existence unless you know they love you and you love them.

Hope is also belief but a different facet.  Whereas faith is like a rock, standing on the promises,  hope is like an arrow shot from a bow with the belief that it will find it mark.  Hope brings me to action, it causes me to look forward and to keep going in anticipation of all the blessings of God and especially the return of Jesus Christ.  Yet Paul says Love is greater.  Is Hope possible without Love?  No, if I do not love Christ I will neither serve him or look forward to his coming again.  Love is the key ingredient to every Christian action or attribute.

Why do you think love is greater than all?  It is the first virtue, without it Jesus would not have died for us.  It is the most powerful virtue, long after faith and hope dwindle love continues to grow.  It will be the last virtue, Faith and hope will no longer be need after we get to heaven, but love will never cease.

Final Application

After studying the "Love Chapter" all of us should stop and reevaluate our own life in the light of what we have learned.  Apply God's Love to the following situations.

Someone has done something which has hurt or offended me what will I do?  Read Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15

I have been hurt badly by a fellow Christian, now they have come to talk with me and they ask my forgiveness for the offense.  Yet I know they will hurt me again in the future.  What must I do?  Read Matthew 18:21-22

I invite a friend to church and she shows up wearing pants or worse yet shorts.  What actions do I take?  Read Proverbs 10:12. & 1 Peter 4:8

A family comes to our church to visit they are sitting by their selves on a pew different from the one I usually sit on.  They are of a different race, or culture or maybe class.  Where will I sit or what will I do?  Read John 4:9 & Mark 16:15

You are basically a shy person, it is hard to meet new people and act friendly.  Today a new person was hired at your work place.  You would like to invite them to church but are afraid they would say no.  Is shyness greater than love?  Is it an excuse for not reaching out?  Read 2 Timothy 1:7 & 1 John 4:18

I have heard a story about a fellow church member which I know will cast them in an unfavorable light.  I don't really like this person.   What will I do with my gossip?  Read Proverbs 11:13, 25:9, 26:22

Personally reflect upon the following questions in light of the "Love of God shed abroad in our hearts".

Is Love really preeminent in my life?  How do I show it?

Can bitterness, envy, gossip backbiting or unforgiveness exist in the same life as agape love?

Do all my Christian actions depend on and are guided by Love?

How would my daily life change if I determined to live 1Corinthians 13 without exception for just one complete day.

If  I commit myself to read 1 Corinthians 13 every day for the next week or month, what kind of person would I be at the end of that time?

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