1 CORINTHIANS 13 THE ETERNAL LOVE
We may have many definitions of Love. But the actual definition and characteristics of real love are explained in this chapter. We cannot expect this real love from a man. Because real love is called Agape love which is the love of God. This chapter explains the worthlessness of our great achievements before love. We need to possess this godly love so that we could bring those people who perish without a Savior to salvation.
1. (Verses 1-3) Superiority of love
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
Tongues represent languages we speak. There are hundreds of languages spoken by people of the world. Paul who wrote this letter to Corinthians says, even if he was wise enough to speak in all the languages spoken by the people on the earth and by the angels in heaven but if he doesn’t have true love, then he would be useful for nothing like a brass that makes a big sound or a clanging cymbal.
Expressing our love for one another through words in any language with great talking skill is not actual love. If we could not bring our words to act, our words are worthless and our skill to speak in any language is also worthless. A person with this eternal love will fulfill his promise word even if it causes loss to him.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Gift of prophecy, understanding all mysteries, the gift of knowledge, faith are all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Even if we are a prayer warrior who possesses all these great gifts of the Holy Spirit, our gifts won’t bring people to Christ if we don’t have a love for the perishing people as the love of Christ for them.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
If we are helping people who suffer without love and compassion for them, then we are doing it just for our own propaganda. Even if we give all our wealth to feed the poor but hate to go near them or touch them we don’t have the love of God. It won’t be counted before God (Matthew 6:1-4).
We won’t be honored before God for offering ourselves even as a martyr for Christ if we don’t have a love for the people living around us. He won’t accept us because those who could not love his own brother or his neighbor cannot love God (1 John 4:20,21).
2. (Verses 4-7) Characteristics of love
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
People with true love won’t bring out the mistakes of the loved one and make it as an issue as they don’t want their relationship to break (Proverbs 15:18). They accept the pain for themselves and won’t remind the mistake again. God endured our sins with long-suffering and so we got the grace to remain in His presence (Romans 9:22).
People with love are kind to other people. They will help people who are suffering in their needs with joy. God was kind to us and so we got deliverance from sin and made us sit in heavenly places together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-7).
True love won’t get envy for the blessings of others. People with true love will be glad when someone else gets a better position than their own position (1 Peter 2:2).
True love won’t boast for it’s achievements. People with true love would help other people with kindness, but they won’t show it off to others.
A person with true love won’t be selfish and want himself to be approved and praised by others. He consider everyone as equal and love them without discrimination (2 Corinthians 10:18).
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
As true love is kind to everyone, people with true love won’t treat others rudely in any situation.
Selfish person who want their own benefit doesn’t have the love of God. Jesus was not selfish and He left all His glory and become a man to save us. This true love won’t look for its own benefit think of others’ benefit (Philippians 2:4).
A person won’t get angry with someone else even if someone else try to provoke him and destroy their relationship (Proverbs 26:21).
A person with true love won’t think evil against their enemy or anyone else (Proverbs 3:29). He won’t raise against poor people and persecute them
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
God will never do injustice to His people (Job 34:12). People with true love won’t be a partner with those who do evil to others (Exodus 23:2). They won’t consent to the enticement of sinners to do evil to the innocent people (Proverbs 1:10-16).
When they see injustice, they won’t support it rather they would help justice to be revealed. People with true love rejoice when truth triumphs and when there is justice. They rejoice in righteousness (Proverbs 2:20).
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
A normal man cannot bear, believe, hope and endure everything. But a person with true love of God for people around him, he will love them like a child who believe everything. But at the same time he will be able to discern evil people also and he will be careful with them (Matthew 10:16).
To bring some people to God, the person with the love of God will bear any pain or persecution for God (1 Corinthians 9:22).
3. (Verses 8-13) Immortality of love
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
We may give importance to prophecies and think they won’t change. But God changes His mind when people repent back to Him hearing the prophecy and won’t make it happen (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
We might think speaking in tongues is incredible and is eternal. But when we go to heaven, we don’t have to speak secrets (1 Corinthians 14:2). We can see God face to face. This we don’t need for speaking in tongues.
Speaking in tongues edifies the person who speak it. Prophecy edifies those who hear and accept it (1 Corinthians 14:4). But if the parts of the body of Christ-the people of God are joined together with love, there will be edification for the whole body of Christ(Ephesians 4:16).
Our knowledge is nothing before God’s knowledge and wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19). It won’t help us in eternity. Even in heaven, only love binds us together with Christ. So love is incredible and will never fail.
But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When there is perfect love there is no need for imperfect things. Perfect love removes fear which is the imperfect one (1 John 4:17,18). When the love of God fills us we become more and more perfect in His love and so works of the flesh which are our imperfections will go away from us (Galatians 5:19-21).
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
When we accepted Christ and joined in His family, we were like children in His love. But when we grow to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, the works of flesh within us which we had when we did not know God should go away (Ephesians 4: 11-14; 1 Peter 2:10-12).
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
We believe the love of Christ and are reflecting it to the people. People see God through us. When love of God become perfect in us, we will have boldness to face Him on judgement day. When we become perfect in love, we don’t fear to stand before God to see Him face to face (1 John 4:16-18).
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Finally, faith in God, hope for Eternal life and Love of God abides. But we will be able to receive eternal life through faith in God who loved us. Thus the Love of God is the reason for our salvation. Thus it is the greatest among all the three things that abide.