About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Chapters 12 and 13
has just spoken about the Lord’s Supper that the Corinthians partake of
when they gather together for what was called a love feast. Now
Paul continues to speak to these people about their gatherings.
This time he speaks concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As a matter of fact 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 is all about the
spiritual gifts. Chapter
12 speaks to the Christ centeredness of the gifts.
Chapter 13 states that the gifts must be demonstrated from a
motivation of love while chapter 14 tells us that the gifts must be used
to edify the church.
the way through this letter we see the problems that the Corinthian
believers were having. In the
next three chapters Paul answers questions about the abuses of spiritual
gifts in the Corinthian church.
verse 1 Paul begins by saying, "now about spiritual gifts
brothers." What we should
realize is that even though we read the word "gifts" in our
English Bibles, there is no corresponding word in the Greek text.
The Greek word "pneumatikos" is translated as
"spiritual gifts." This
word finds its roots in the word "pheuma" that means spirit.
Pneumatikos means something like "the spirituals." This
is a post pentecost word in the New Testament.
You can't find it prior to Acts 2.
than says that he does not want his readers to be ignorant, as in without
understanding. Part of
Paul’s apostolic ministry was teaching, which is clearly seen in here
and throughout his writings. Teaching
is fundamental to the church, but something I feel is lacking in many
local churches these days.
my thinking that the western world Evangelical church prefers to be
inspired instead of being educated. I
call this "inspired ignorance," something that will sooner or
later cause a Christian and the church to fail badly if not changed.
Christians must be educated in the Word of the Lord in order to not
only survive but to properly represent Jesus to the world in which they
verse 2 Paul says that "when you were pagans … you were influenced
and led astray by mute idols." These
idols were mute because they were made of wood or stone.
They had no life in themselves, yet at the same time we should note
that Paul mentioned in chapter 10 verse 20 that there were demon spirits
behind these idols. In fact,
when pagans worshipped mute idols they were worshipping demons.
verse 2 the words "you were led" is an imperfect passive
indicative verb. This Greek
verb was often used when prisoners were led to prison.
It suggests an action outside of one that is continually
influencing the person.
this in mind, that is, these people being influenced by idols and demons
in the past, in verse 3 Paul says that no one can say "Jesus is
cursed" while being influence by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit would never cause anyone to say such a thing.
A demon, or even our own human nature, could say these words apart
from the Spirit of God. Paul
was obviously mentioning this because of abuses that were taking place
within the gathering of these saints.
reverse would also be true as well, according to Paul.
No one can say that "Jesus Christ is Lord" except through
the influence of the Holy Spirit. A
demon would not admit to such a truth and cause someone to proclaim that
Jesus is Lord; yet, our own human nature could repeat these words without
really meaning it. One time I
asked a non-Christian who was quite proud of not being a Christian if he
could say the words "Jesus Christ is Lord."
He repeated these four words without any hesitation.
So, I believe what Paul is saying here is that someone cannot say
these words and really mean it without being influenced by the Holy
is one way in which the Christian can say Jesus is cursed here, but it's
not in the way Paul is talking about.
Jesus was, in fact, cursed when He hung on the cross.
He took the curse for us, so we would not have to be cursed.
So, if we say that Jesus is, or was, cursed in this sense of the
word, we do no harm to Jesus.
should realize that the phrase "Jesus is Lord" was the number
one confession that the early church verbalize.
In opposition to the Christian confession that Jesus is Lord, the
Roman Caesars demanded their subjects to say "Caesar is Lord."
This was a major problem in the first few generations of the
church. Many believers were
executed for their faith, for not saying the Caesar is Lord.
verse 4 Paul says that "there are different kinds of gifts but the
same Spirit." The English
word "gift" that is used here is derived from the Greek word
"charisma." This is
where we get our modern English word "charismatic," as in the
Charismatic Movement. Charisma
means "a gift of grace." Charisma
is from the Greek word "charis," meaning grace.
Paul says that there are many gifts, but just one Spirit, and that
is the Holy Spirit. These
gifts are not demonically or humanly inspired.
These are supernatural gifts from God the Spirit.
Paul goes on to say in verse 5 that there are "different services,
but one Lord." The Greek
word "diakonos" is the word translated as services in our
English Bibles. Diakonos
simply means servant, or to serve in the verb form.
The KJV uses the word "administration."
Some other translations use the word "minister."
This is where we get our modern word "minister," as in
minister of a church. Our
English word “minister” then means one who serves.
I suggest that not all modern day ministers act like servants.
Some act as if they are the CEO of a Fortune 500 Corporation.
has just mentioned that there is one Spirit and one Lord, and now in verse
6 he completes the Trinity by saying that "there are different kinds
of workings, but the same God." The
English word "working" (operation in KJV) comes from the Greek
word "energema." We
get our English word "energy" from the Greek word "energeia."
Energeia is the outworking of some kind of energetic power, and in
this case, the power is God Himself.
in verses 4, 5, and 6 we see the Trinity, the Spirit, the Son Jesus, and
God the Father. Each one has
something to give to the believer. The
Spirit gives gifts as we will see in the next few verses.
Jesus gives ministries as we will see in the last half of this
chapter. See also Ephesians
4:11. Then, the Father gives
gifts as well. I believe these
gifts are talents that each and every person receives at birth, talents
that God the Father would like us to use in His service.
verse 7 Paul says that "to each one the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for the common good." The
gifts spoke of here and in the next few verses are the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. They are not the gifts
or ministries of Christ or the talents received at birth by God the
is saying here that as Christians we have the Holy Spirit within us, and
therefore, the Holy Spirit will manifest, or show Himself through each one
of us. One way that this
happens is that the gifts that are attributed to the Spirit will be seen
in operation in the life of the person in whom the Spirit lives.
Thus, it should be clear that these gifts are real in the church in
every generation. The reason
is that the gifts are a manifestation of the presence of God’s Spirit in
the lives of both the individual and the church.
If God’s Spirit is not resident in a person or the church, you
will not see these gifts being manifested.
Where the Holy Spirit truly is, you will see His effects in and
through the people involved. It
makes no sense that these gifts have been laid aside after the end of the
first generation church, as some say.
gifts of the Spirit are meant "for the common good" of the
community of believers. These
gifts are not given to make someone a spiritual superstar.
The gifts are to make a church and all of its individuals healthy
in all respects. These gifts
are service gifts. They are
meant to be used in the service of the Lord as His will dictates.
It's not our will but His will.
are 9 gifts given by the Holy Spirit that Paul lists here.
Whether 9 is a set number, or 9 is just a sample of gifts, is
somewhat debatable. Paul does
list 9 of them. You might want
to note that there are also 9 corresponding fruit of the Spirit that Paul
lists in Galatians 5:22 and following.
So the number 9 might well be important.
9 gifts of the Spirit are; the message of wisdom, the word of knowledge,
the gift of faith, the gift of healings, the gift of miracles, the gift of
prophecy, the gift of distinguishing between spirits, the speaking in
different kinds of tongues, and, the gift of interpretation of tongues.
are some things to note with these gifts of the Spirit.
One thing is that these are supernatural gifts.
They cannot be performed through human abilities.
In this way they differ from the talents God gives us from birth
that can be performed by human effort.
see the first gift of the Spirit in verse 8.
It is the message of wisdom. This
is supernatural wisdom. It is
wisdom for a specific situation given to someone to help someone else out.
This wisdom speaks to an issue that the one giving the wisdom could
not humanly know about. This
is not mere wisdom that people gather over a life time.
verse 8 we also see the second gift, the gift of the message of knowledge.
Again, this is supernatural knowledge.
The one receiving this knowledge that is beyond humanly knowing
receives it for the benefit of someone else.
Personally speaking, I have received this gift to pass on to others
many times in my life as a Christian.
see the next gift in verse 9. It's
the gift of faith. I do not
believe this is faith that leads us to salvation.
I believe is a faith beyond any kind of human ability to
demonstrate. It is
supernatural faith that is required to do something that is beyond
someone's human ability to do. Romans
12:5 tells us that faith is something that God gives us, but if you study
the Scripture, you will see that there are different aspects to faith. There
is faith, meaning trust, by which we are saved, and, there is faith or
trust given for a specific ministry or situation, as we see here.
next gift is the gift of healing. This
is the supernatural ability given to one to give a healing to another.
Some may suggest that this gift is actually the healing of
someone's sick body. The
context suggests otherwise. Verse
7 specifically says that each one of these 9 gifts are given to each one
for the common good of the believers.
This gift of healing is given to one person so he or she can pray
for the healing of another person.
verse 10 we see the gift of miraculous power.
We often think of a miracle in terms of healing a sick body, but
there are all kinds of miracles that have noting to do with a sick body.
This is what is being talked about here.
Paul actually separates the gift of healing from the gift of
miracles, so he did not have healing sick bodies in mind here.
next gift is the gift of prophecy. Prophecy
can take on different forms. Prophecy
is simply speaking on behalf of God. It
can be predicting the future, speaking a word of encouragement,
admonition, or even judgment. Whatever
the case, this gift is supernatural. It
is a gift that is given for the strengthening of those who hear it.
Personally speaking, I have been given this gift to use on many
next gift is the discerning of spirits.
We should all realize that there are demon spirits and human
spirits. Not all that is done
in the name of the Lord is a product of the Holy Spirit.
This gift is a supernatural gift given to people so they can help
the church know what spirit is being seen in the midst of the church
next gift is tongues. This is
language given that the person could never have learned on his own.
It can be tongues of angels or of men as we will see later.
Then, along with tongues is the last gift.
That is the interpretation of tongues.
If someone speaks in tongue in a meeting Paul says in chapter 14
that it must be interpreted. This
interpretation is a supernatural gift given for the benefit of all.
11 is important. Paul says
that it is the Holy Spirit that gives these gifts, and, they are given to
each one. This tells me that
everyone in the church should be available to receive one or more of these
gifts. I really don't think
that every Christian believes he can have one or more of theses gifts from
the Spirit. They are not for the supper elite.
They are for everyone, every member of a local congregation of the
The last phrase in verse 11 is equally important. To whom these gifts are given and when, is up to the will of the Holy Spirit. Here is where the term "God's will" comes into play. It's not our will. It is His will that determines who receives a gift and when the gift should be given and used.
One question has always been raised when thinking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Are these gifts given to people to keep, as to say, they are always resident within the person, or, are these gifts given spontaneously when needed? That is to say, the gifts are not continually resident within the person. I can only speak from my experience. I believe that I have received, or example, the gift of prophecy, that I use often. I thus believe that gift resides in me. I also have received the gift of tongues, which, I have used every day since receiving this gift in September 1971. I'll talk more about tongues when we come to chapter 14
is about to explain how the church is like a body.
In reality, since Jesus is not physically on earth, we are indeed
His physical body in one real sense of the word.
Paul states that in a body there are many parts that go together to
make up that one body. Even
though there are many parts, there is only one body.
The same is true with the church.
We are many, with varying gifts, talents, ministries, personalities
and so on, yet we are still just one body.
uses the word “baptize” in relationship to individuals in the church.
When we become a Christian, we become part of the church, part of
Jesus’ body on earth. There is no way around this.
It is like a baptism Paul says.
In the same way that we get all wet when we go under the water of
water baptism, we are totally emersed into God’s people when we become
Christians. As I said, there is no way around this.
When we get saved, God becomes our Father, Jesus becomes a special
brother, and then beyond that we have many brothers and sisters in the
Lord, whether we like them or not.
Paul says that it doesn’t matter whether we are Jews, Greeks,
slave, or free. We all drank
of the same Spirit and therefore are all connected in one body.
goes on to say that a foot cannot claim independence from the body because
it is not a hand. Neither can
an eye claim independence because it is not an ear.
Therefore we as individuals in the body, the church, cannot be
independent from each other.
in verse 17, “if the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of
hearing”. It is obvious that
the body consists of a variety of parts.
One part cannot claim to be a whole body.
One part cannot function properly on its own.
As a matter of fact, “God has arranged the parts of the body …
just as He wanted…” It
is God’s choice to place where He wants those in the body.
verse 21 Paul says that the “ eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need
you”. We cannot live as isolated Christians, even though the tendency at
times is to do just that. The
more independent and
isolated we are from each other, the less effective the church is.
actually says in verses 22 – 24 that the “weaker parts, the less
honourable parts, the unpresentable parts” of the body are just as
important as the rest of the body. There is no part of the church, no
member that should be thought of as second class.
Each member has his or her role to play.
verse 25 Paul says that the reason for everyone being first class
Christians in the church is so that “there will be no division”, and
that there should be ‘equal concern for each other”.
There should be true equality in the church.
goes on to say that “if one part suffers than all parts suffer”.
The reverse is true as well. For
this reason in many parts of the church worldwide we see a suffering
church. The church suffers
because of division, because of partiality, because of independence. We
misrepresent Jesus in our divisions. It
is a real disservice to our Lord.
verse 27 Paul says clearly that “you are the body of Christ”. In this
body “God has appointed first apostles”.
I would think that apostles come first because it was these men
that spread the news of Christ’s salvation and built the church in the
first place. He goes on by
saying the second group of people God placed in His body are prophets.
Once the apostle established the church the prophet would speak
God’s words to the church. Then
thirdly comes teachers, teaching the established church the ways of God.
specifically mentioning the top 3 ministries Paul list others that
include, those having the gift of healing, those able to help others,
administrators, and those who speak in tongues.
I don’t believe that this list is exhaustive. It is only an
example of different ministries within the church.
ends this chapter by asking a few questions.
The answer to these questions are obviously no.
He asks, “are all apostles”? The answer is “no”. “Do all
work miracles? Do all have
gifts of healing? Do all speak
in tongues? Do all
interpret?” No, we all do
not have all gifts, or at least all at once in one gathering.
are different thoughts on whether these gifts are given permanently to
people or given when needed. One
might have a gift of healing in one meeting and the gift of tongues in
another, or so some might say. Others
believe that one always has the gift of healing, and can use it as the
Spirit leads whenever it is needed.
the use of tongues when Paul asks, “do all speak in tongues”. Many use
this verse to say that all Christians do not or should not speak in
tongues. There is some
controversy over this point. Some
believe that all can speak in tongues, some believe that only some can
speak in tongues, and use this verse to back up their point.
Yet as we see in chapter 14 Paul seems to distinguish between
"speaking forth in tongues in a meeting” where an interpretation is
needed and tongues as a personal prayer language.
I do not believe that Paul is speaking about a personal prayer
language in this verse. I
believe he is speaking about a message in tongues given to the whole
gathering to hear. Therefore
this verse cannot be used to back up the point that all should not speak
in tongues. If this is your
position, you should find other Scriptures to base your thinking on.
closes this chapter by saying, “eagerly desire the greater gifts’.
Personally, I wished Paul had not said these words because of the
debate that has arisen over what gifts are more important than others.
People who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer for
today use this verse in their defense, and sometimes state that love is
the greatest gift. I don’t
believe that love is a gift. It
is a fruit of the Spirit, something that is produced and worked into a
Christian over time.
you note, the NIV has an alternate translation for this verse that would
be based on certain manuscripts. It
would read, ”you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts”.
This might suggest that the Corinthians are on the right tract by
desiring greater gifts than what they already have.
This translation differs in that Paul would be pointing out the
fact that they are desiring greater gifts instead of encouraging them to
desire greater gifts.
thing to note is that Paul has just talked about equality of the members
in the body of Christ, though everyone is different, we are all important.
Why then would he think differently concerning the gifts that come
from the Holy Spirit? Why
would he think that some gifts are more important, or greater than others?
I think we should factor this point into our thinking when we interpret
important thing about this section of Paul's letter concerns what I call
"functional relationships" in the Body of Christ.
Paul states that the church is in fact the present physical body of
Christ on earth. I don't
believe he is using the term "body" as an analogy.
He is using the term as a real thing.
the body are members who are joined to one another, and as a body is, one
member is not joined to all the body, but only to a few parts that it is
connected to. There are two
reasons why members are joined in the body.
The first is for friendship. The
second is for ministry. We
often understand being joined in a friendly relationship, for mutual
fellowship and encouragement. We
don't often see our relationships as being functional, that is, to do
something in the service of the Lord.
We leave this up to the organized church structure.
This is how we should view the church, view our friendships with other Christians. We should note who are Christian friends are, strengthen those relationships because Jesus has put these relationships together. Then we should ask our friends and the Lord, "what can we do together to serve Jesus"? This is the functioning part of relationships. This is what church is all about. Church is not about organizational structure. It is about friends functioning together in the work of the Lord, and you don't need a massive organizational structure to do this. Some people over the years have been forced to live this way due to persecution. This might well be our fate in the western church at some point, not so far off in the future. We might as well start living it now.
At this pont I'd like to insert an article I wrote on 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Into Christian Community
You might think this is
heretical, but I believe that if we substitute the term "community of
Christ" for the word "church" in the New Testament, we'll
understand church better. I
say this because I believe our present western world concept of church
does not reflect the Bible's concept of church.
I hope you know that the Apostle Paul, Peter, and even Jesus, never
spoke our English word "church".
Church is not a sacred word.
In 1974 I listened to a
four cassette tape teaching series on Christian community entitled
"Gathered For Power" by Graham Pulkingham, an Anglican minister
If I understood
Pulkingham correctly, he said that church has traditionally fallen into
two categories. Some churches
are task orientated; others are community orientated.
Most western world churches are task orientated.
Their focus is on church activities.
Few western world churches are community orientated.
Their focus is on personal relationships.
I view church as being
relational. When we receive
the Holy Spirit into our lives, He not only joins us to Jesus, He joins us
to others in the community of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13 the Apostle Paul says the process by which
we are joined in Christian community is via a baptism.
He says that we have been baptized into the Body of Christ.
Paul isn't talking about water baptism.
Neither is he talking about joining a church, going to church, or
church being a casual concern. Being
baptized into the community of Christ means to be submerged, immersed,
saturated in fellowship with those to whom we are joined.
That's what the word "baptize" means. From
the relationships in which we are baptized, ministries, or tasks, are
I agree with Pulkingham.
In our western world task orientated church, ministry stems from
ecclesiastical structure and not from personal relationships. It's
the church that provides the tasks or the ministries.
Whether it's a volunteer Sunday school teacher or a paid pastor, we
apply for the job and the organization of church accepts or denies our
Our present day
westernized church doesn't link baptism with church.
To our detriment, many think of water baptism, not church baptism,
when they read 1 Corinthians 12:13. In
water baptism we're totally immersed into water. In
church baptism we're totally immersed into the lives of those to whom
Jesus has joined us in the community of Christ.
Christian community is
more than warm feelings we get from fellowshipping with others in a Sunday
service. Christian community
is being immersed into the lives of those to whom Jesus has joined us, not
just for the fun of fellowship, but for the work of the Lord.
In New Testament terms ministry stems from personal relationships
in Christian community. This
is why Pulkingham's teaching series was entitled "Gathered For
Power". The power of God
is best demonstrated in community, as seen in the book of Acts.
For this reason, if we replace the word "church" in the
New Testament with the words "the community of Christ", we'll
understand church from a Biblical perspective.
The teaching of koinonia,
or community, isn't new. Over
the centuries believers have attempted to live in community, but as it
always seems to be, community eventually evolves into an ecclesiastical
maze of doctrinal, cultural, and economic, distinctives.
From my understanding of church history, what pushes Christians
away from the maze and into community are the pressures experienced from
an anti-Christ culture. Persecution
drives us into finding support and ministry in personal relationships.
This is certainly the case in countries like Iran
today. Iranian Christians have
no other choice. State
sponsored persecution drives them into Christian community.
For them, finding support in personal relationships is a matter of
spiritual survival. Within the
context of Christian community God's power is demonstrated in the Iranian
believers as it was in the book of Acts.
Our western world is
plunging head long into an anti-Christian cultural abyss.
Christians are now being pressured to cave into the demands of an
anti-Christ culture. As in
Iran, we'll be forced to choose between Christ or culture.
If we choose Christ, the ecclesiastical maze will be of little use
to us. We'll understand what
it means to be baptized into Christian community where we'll find support
for our spiritual survival and ministry that demonstrates the power of
singer/songwriter, Larry Norman, put it this way
Corinthians 13 is often called the “Love Chapter”.
Many times over the years you might have heard all or parts of this
chapter read at weddings. Yet
do we really understand what is said in these verses?
Love, more than any other word has been misused over the centuries.
It seems to me in our day that this word is one of the most over
used words in our culture. It
is sung in songs, demonstrated in movies and portrayed in the arts.
Yet the world’s definition of love as seen in songs, movies and
art is far from the Biblical definition.
is not fuzzy feelings and sentimental emotions.
Love is not something that is demonstrated in words alone.
You don’t really make love, you show love in your actions.
Love is serving others. Love
is putting others before yourself. Love
without sacrifice is not love. All
this and more Paul will explain in this chapter.
society tells us that we need to love ourselves before we can love others.
No one has ever convinced me of the validity of this statement.
As a Christian I would say, the more we love our Lord, the more we
will show our love to others. The
idea of loving ourselves in order to love others in reality means, “I
will love myself, and if I have any time left, maybe I will attempt to
love others. And if I don’t have the time to show you love, I will tell
you I love you. That should be
good enough”. I am glad that
Jesus didn’t show us His love in this fashion.
simple fact is that if love is not seen in action, then there is no love.
John, in his first letter, ( 1 John 3:18) tells his readers “not
to love in word, but in action”. Look
at some other things that John says about love. “…if anyone obeys His
words, God’s love is truly made complete in him”.
(1 John 2:5) Note here
that God’s love that is made perfect in us comes as a result
of an action of obedience to God.
John says, “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in
him”. (1 John 2:15)
Also, “we know that we have passed from death to life because we
love our brothers”. (1 John 3:14)
1 John 3:16 says, “this is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid
down His life for us. And we
ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”.
This is the Biblical definition of love.
I could go on with many other Scriptures from John, but we are
studying Paul and we will now see what he has to say about the subject.
NIV actually opens this section with the last half of the last verse of
chapter 12. It says, “now I
show you a more excellent way”. Paul
has just encouraged these people to desire the best gifts, or he commended
them on desiring the best gifts, whatever way you interpret his statement.
Desiring the gifts of the spirit is a good thing, but now he wants
to show his readers the way in which these gifts should be used.
Remember, these gifts are for the common good of all, not for our
own good. So Paul is about to show them an excellent way to live their
lives and use their gifts.
1 says, “if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not
love, I am only a resounding gong …”
Note hear that speaking in tongues can be a language of men or
angels. There are more than
7000 different languages and dialects in the world, so God has many
different tongues that He can give you.
And if He chooses not to give you a language common to man, He
could give you a language spoken by angels.
language He gives you means very little if you do not love.
The tongues “become a resounding gong”.
Therefore if you do not love, you are turning God’s precious gift
into a meaningless jester. You
are not only making a show of yourself as you speak in tongues, but
you disgrace the precious gift that God Himself has given you.
says the same thing about some of the other gifts such as, prophecy, the
word of knowledge and wisdom, and miraculous faith.
He says that if I can do all of these things and do not love, then
“I am nothing”. (ch. 13:2) All
of these powerful gifts used in the wrong way, used out of selfishness and
not love are meaningless. Once
again, you disgrace and nullify the good gifts that God has given you.
goes on in verse 3 to say that even if I give everything I have to the
poor, and not do it in love, I am nothing.
He takes his argument one step farther by saying “if I give my
body to the flames”, meaning, giving his body in death for the sake of
Christ. If I die for Jesus, but don’t die in love, I am nothing.
is not saying that you will not make Heaven if you become a martyr for
Jesus without love. He is
saying that it won’t benefit you, and that you are nothing.
You are no big hero. Your
death will not reap a Heavenly reward, and Christians will be rewarded for
the works they do that are done from faith and love.
Their reward is not heaven, is not the next life, but specific
rewards. Heaven is not a
reward. It's a result of our trust in Jesus.
verse 4 Paul proceeds to explain what love is.
He says, “love is patient, love is kind”.
By patient, he means that you don’t fly off the handle quickly at
someone because they may not see what you see, or do what you do. You give
grace. You give space to
others. Love is definitely
kind to others. You treat them
says that love doesn’t envy. If
someone has something that you would like, you don’t lust after it.
You may like to have what others have, but you are at least happy
that the other person has whatever it may be, even though you can’t have
does not boast, it is not proud”, Paul says.
A loving person is a humble person.
He does not have to boast about what he can do.
He simply does what he needs to do and makes no big deal about it,
even though he may be the best in his field.
“is not rude”. Rudeness
seems to be gaining in popularity as time goes on.
People don’t mind being rude.
Some even like being rude and think it is cool.
Yet Paul says that being rude is not loving.
“is not self seeking”. Our
world today is very self seeking. We
tend to seek out our own interests ahead of others. We tend to love
ourselves instead of loving others.
“is not easily angered”. If
seems as if Paul is saying that at times we do get anger, yet the more we
love, the longer are fuse gets. Our
reaction time is stretched out a lot farther and so we are not easily
upset and angered.
“keeps no record of wrongs”. Although
it is really almost impossible to forget a wrong, depending on how bad it
was, we can still live in love and act as if it did not happen.
The memory may still be there, but we live as though the wrong was
never committed. What I am
saying here is not forgiveness. It
is love. The two are
different. I won't get
involved in the subject here, but unless one repents and asks for
forgiveness, you can't forgive him. God
does not forgive those who do not repent, and neither should you.
That being said, we still love the one needing forgiveness.
does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth”.
One who loves, flees from evil.
Paul says that this person who loves “rejoices in the truth”.
You might expect him to say that the person “rejoices in good”,
since good is the opposite of evil, yet he says that the person
“rejoices in the truth”. Maybe
it is because truth and goodness are closely related.
God’s truth is good.
always protects (looks after the other), always trusts (trust first in
Jesus and then in others, without being naive), always hopes, (always
believes that there can still be better times ahead) always perseveres
(does not give up).
might wonder what hope and perseverance has to do with loving others.
Well, you can always hope the best for others.
You can always persevere in building a better loving relationship
and not give up as so often happens. Really, a loving relationship can
only continue with a strong sense of perseverance.
verse 8 Paul says that prophecy, knowledge at some point in history will
cease to be, but “love never fails”.
True love, because it is from God will continue on into eternity.
Once this age has passed away, we will not need the gifts of the
Spirit any longer, but until that day comes, we still need the gifts of
the Holy Spirit.
says that we now know and prophesy in part. We do not know or understand
the full extent of God and how He works.
We do not have complete understanding of anything in God’s
creation. We see and know bits
and pieces of all there is to know. The
puzzle has many parts still to be put into place.
when perfection comes, the imperfect will disappear”. (ch. 13:10)
In my understanding this verse has been misinterpreted in some
circles. That which “is
imperfect” is clear. We and
our understanding are imperfect, but what does Paul mean by “that which
is perfect”. Some have said
that it is the Canonized Bible itself.
When thinking this way these people say that we therefore don’t
need the gifts of the Spirit because that which is perfect has already
come, meaning the Bible.
attribute the word “perfect” to Jesus Himself.
Until Jesus returns we will know in part.
Only after He enters directly into human history again will we
understand perfectly. Only
then will the gifts of the Spirit cease to be.
verse 11 Paul explains all of this by comparing this life to when he
“was a child”. He thought
and understood like a child, but when he became a man, as he says, “I
put childish things behind me”.
We are all like children in the present age.
We live our existence in life with partial understanding of all
things. When Jesus returns to
this earth, we will then grow up into manhood, or you might say we will
mature. Our lack of
understanding and imperfections will be left behind.
we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to
face”.(ch. 13:12) Here Paul
uses another analogy to explain his thinking.
It is like looking into a dirty mirror and not really being able to
see our face as we would like. But
someday that mirror will be clean and we will see face to face.
We will see things like never before.
All aspects of our life will become clear and in focus.
says that in this life he “knows in part”.
Even Paul with all of his great revelations only knew in part.
Yet when Jesus comes he says, “then I shall know fully, even as I
am fully known”. At this
future time we will know things just as we ourselves are fully known by
God. God knows all there is
about us. He knows us better
than we know ourselves. Yet
when Jesus comes back for us we will know as God knows.
Paul closes this section by saying that three things remain, and these are “faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love”. Paul seems to be saying that there are 3 important items that make up our lives as Christians. They are faith hope and love. Whether this is an exhaustive list or not, (it seems to be) he tells his readers that love is the most important.
We should remember the context of chapter 13 is between chapters 12 and 14. The context is how to express your gifts in the church. As Paul says in the next section, we need to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts but exercise them in a loving way, something that the Corinthians were having a hard time doing.