We’ve been talking a lot about love. Today, I want to share what has come to be known as The Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. The apostle Paul used the Greek word agape, one of several Greek words that can be translated love. Agape in the New Testament is used to describe the deep, constant, unselfish love that is God’s very nature. “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8).
As Paul “paints his picture of what love is, he consciously or unconsciously draws us a portrait of a person—Jesus himself. He is the living embodiment of this outgoing, long-suffering, self-giving, self-effacing love” (Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, 1973, p. 594). As Christ followers, we are to walk as He did.
“Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all (Romans 15:2), and works no ill to any (Romans 13:8-10), love seeks opportunity to do good to ‘all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith (Galations 6:10),’” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, p. 382).
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” No matter what we do for others, if it is not done in love, it is useless.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Agape love is used here to express the highest form of love that comes through the Holy Spirit. The love we are supposed to be demonstrating must be a godly love, which comes from God, the being who personifies this attribute.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Faith and hope are vital aspects of the Christian life and are not to be minimized. But even greater is the outgoing concern that epitomizes the nature of God. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16).
- NIV Study Bible
- The Love Chapter