Chapter Thirteen OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To see the value of love in our service to the Lord 2) To understand the scriptural definition of "love" 3) To determine when spiritual gifts would cease SUMMARY In the middle of his discussion on spiritual gifts, Paul describes the "more excellent way" of love. After first emphasizing the importance of love (1-3), he then defines love by what it is and what it does (4-8a). Ending with love's quality of "permanence", Paul contrasts it with the temporary nature of spiritual gifts. Though such gifts fulfilled an important function, the time would come when they would cease, while qualities like faith, hope, and love would remain (8-13). OUTLINE I. THE "IMPORTANCE" OF LOVE (1-3) A. IN REGARD TO SPEAKING IN TONGUES (1) 1. Even if one spoke with tongues of men and of angels... 2. Without love, the person would be like sounding brass or a clanging cymbal B. IN REGARD TO THE GIFTS OF PROPHECY AND FAITH (2) 1. Even if one had the gift of prophecy to understand all mysteries and all knowledge... 2. Even if one had the gift of faith sufficient to remove mountains... 3. Without love, such a person is nothing C. IN REGARD TO GREAT PERSONAL SACRIFICE (3) 1. Even if one gave all their goods to the poor... 2. Even if one were willing to be burned at the stake... 3. Without love, it profits the person nothing II. THE "DEFINITION" OF LOVE (4-8a) A. LOVE'S "POSITIVE" QUALITIES (4a) 1. Suffers long 2. Is kind B. LOVE'S "NEGATIVE" QUALITIES (4b-6a) 1. Does not envy; does not parade itself, is not puffed up 2. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil 3. Does not rejoice in iniquity C. LOVE'S "POSITIVE" QUALITIES, CONTINUED (6b-8a) 1. Rejoices in the truth 2. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things 3. Never fails III. THE "PERMANENCY" OF LOVE (8-13) A. IN CONTRAST TO SPIRITUAL GIFTS (8-12) 1. Love never fails, but spiritual gifts will cease (8) 2. Spiritual gifts to cease when that which is perfect is comes (9-10) 3. Spiritual gifts equated with "childish things", which are put away at maturity (11) 4. Spiritual gifts necessary when knowledge (revelation?) is partial (12) B. IN ITS ABIDING NATURE (13) 1. What will abide (remain) is faith, hope, love 2. The greatest being love REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - The "Importance" Of Love (1-3) - The "Definition" Of Love (4-8a) - The "Permanency" Of Love (8-13) 2) What is necessary for any service that we may render to be of value? (1-3) - Love 3) What is the main difference between love and spiritual gifts? (8) - Love never fails, but spiritual gifts will cease 4) What does "that which is in part" refer to in verse ten? (9) - Knowing in part, prophesying in part (i.e., partial knowledge, partial revelation) 5) What does "that which is perfect" refer to in verse ten? (10) - Complete knowledge, complete revelation (see question nine below) 6) What two illustrations does Paul use to show the temporary nature of spiritual gifts (11-12) - A man putting away childish things - Seeing clearly after a period of viewing in a dim mirror 7) In verse twelve, what word is being modified by the expressions "in part" and "fully"? - Know (or knowledge) 8) What will remain after spiritual gifts cease? (13) - Faith, hope, and love 9) Why is it unlikely that the expression "that which is perfect is come" in verse ten refers to Christ, or to heaven? - Paul speaks of faith, hope and love abiding (remaining) after spiritual gifts have ceased (13) - Because of the nature of faith (Hebrews 11:1) and hope (Romans 8:24-25),
they will cease to exist when Christ or heaven comes
- If "that which is perfect is come" refers to Christ or heaven, and spiritual gifts were to last till then, verse thirteen would be meaningless - For this reason it is more in keeping with the context to understand "that which is perfect is come" to refer to the complete knowledge or revelation of God's Will
The greatest gift
[1Co 13:1-13 NASB] 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed [the poor,] and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind [and] is not jealous; love does not brag [and] is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong [suffered,] 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if [there are gifts of] prophecy, they will be done away; if [there are] tongues, they will cease; if [there is] knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.