1 Corinthians 13
Love, The Most Excellent Way
And the end of chapter 12, Paul said to desire the higher gifts. Then, he said he would show a still more excellent way, more excellent than even the higher gifts.
13:1-3 Love Or Nothing
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,  but have not love, I gain nothing.
You are nothing, and your gift is nothing, if you do not have love.
3 words for love: Eros, Philia, Agapao. We are discussing "agapao" love, a self denying love. Eros love is sexual love. Philia is brotherly love.
The command to love is not new: greatest commandment in Matt. 22:34-40 and John 15:12-13.
13:4-6 What Love Is
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Not defined by feelings, but by its traits.
Patient = long tempered, not quick to take offense or retaliate
Kind = related to patient, it is gentle and merciful. It does good to those who do harm. You need this if you have or work with kids.
Does not envy = not jealous or having wrong feelings about others. In Luke 9:46, disciples argue over who is the greatest. 1 Corinthians 12:26-suffering and rejoicing together.
Does not boast\is not arrogant or proud = proud person is hard to be around. Luke 18:9-14, Pharisee and tax collector.
Not rude – Christians should be the most considerate and well mannered people.
Does not insist on its own way – willing to let others have their own way-church is a group of people and you won’t always be able to get your own way and your way will not always be best
Does not rejoice in wrong doing (committed by others)
Rejoices with the truth-in contrast to wrong doing
Bears all things-annoyances and troubles
Believes all things-is not suspicious, gives the benefit of the doubt, never loses faith
Hopes all things-always hopes, or hopes in all circumstances
Endures all things-perseveres in persecution, suffering and adversity.
13:8-13 Love is the Eternal Theme
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Spiritual gifts will end. They are given for a purpose, and when that purpose is fulfilled, they will cease. We may argue about when that will be, when the Bible came or when Jesus comes, but they will cease.
Paul listed prophecy, tongues and knowledge as all ceasing. When we are with the Lord, we will know and understand all we need to, so we will not need to prophesy for we will know him. In heaven, the curse of Babel will be removed and we will all be able to communicate without the need of tongues.
Starting in verse 11, Paul gives some analogies. The first is children. They are cute in their childish thinking, but childish thinking and acting is not cute in an adult. The lesser is put away in favor of the greater. The analogy is that we are like children now, in a state of immaturity. But, when Christ comes, we will be mature, so we will not need the gifts.
The, he speaks of seeing dimly in a mirror. Mirrors were not as clear then as today, and you did not get a perfect image. But, face to face, you see someone clearly. Today we might make the comparison to a video screen that is far away, or has a fuzzy picture. When Christ comes, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is. There is again an analogy of moving from the imperfect to the perfect, doing away with the need for the gifts.
Love, however, will last forever. Love is eternal. It has always existed because God is love. The Father loves the Son. Francis Schaeffer said:
God could create by a free act of the will because before creation there was the Father who loved the Son and there was also the Holy Spirit to love and be loved. In other words, God had someone face-to-face with Himself in the three Persons of the Trinity. (Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis In Time and Space, Ch. 1)
So, in heaven, the Father will continue to love the Son, the Son will love the Father, they will both love us, and we will love each other.
The context of this passage is the operation of the church. We are to love each other in the body of Christ with this unselfish kind of love. What would that look like? How would you start this today?
Also apply it in your other relationships, such as your marriage. How would that work?