1 Corinthians 12:31 & 13:1-13 … THE GIFTS ARE SURPASSED IN GREATNESS BY LOVE.
Q.1. What qualities are indispensable in the believer? To what is Paul referring when speaking of human and angelic tongues? What place does he give to spiritual gifts? – (1 Cor.12:31-13:1-3) =
Q.2. What kind of love is Paul speaking about? How does he describe love? Why are these qualities identified? How can we best sum up what love looks like? – (1 Cor.13:4-8a c.f. Gal.5:22-23) =
Q.3. Why will spiritual gifts become obsolete? How will our understanding change? Which qualities remain? What is the greatest of all qualities? Why? – (1 Cor.12:8-13 c.f. Heb.8:13; 1 Jn.4:16-17)
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
The Way of Love
13 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,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 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.
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.
Q.1. What qualities are indispensable in the believer? To what is Paul referring when speaking of human and angelic tongues? What place does he give to spiritual gifts? – (1 Cor.12:31-13:1-3) = Boastfulness about gifts wasn’t fazed out with the Corinthian Church! Such pride is misplaced, because –What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor.4:7). Paul suggests it is much more about developing the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, especially love, of which Jesus said – By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn.13:35 c.f. Gal.5:22-23). Paul underscored this truth by pointing out that the spiritual gifts must be accompanied by love, otherwise – 1 … I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 … I am nothing. 3 … it profits me nothing (1 Cor.13:1-3). The – tongues of men and of angels (1 Cor.13:1) is like comparing someone with an orator (1 Cor.1:20). There is nothing to indicate that angels ever spoke in anything but known languages.
Q.2. What kind of love is Paul speaking about? How does he describe love? Why are these qualities identified? How can we best sum up what love looks like? – (1 Cor.13:4-8a c.f. Gal.5:22-23) = Paul is speaking about sacrificial and unmerited love (Gk: ἀγάπη = agape). Everything about such love is unselfish and focused on others. Paul describes the characteristics of love, to explain how real love will be expressed in the believer – 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 … (1 Cor.13:4-8a). Only one person has ever exhibited all these qualities of love, and that is Jesus. No mortal person has all these qualities naturally, but they are developed by the Holy Spirit as we grow in Christlikeness (c.f. Rom.8:29; Gal.5:22-23).
Q.3. Why will spiritual gifts become obsolete? How will our understanding change? Which qualities remain? What is the greatest of all qualities? Why? – (1 Cor.12:8-13 c.f. Heb.8:13; 1 Jn.4:16-17) = Spiritual gifts were given to edify others in the church (1 Cor.12:7; 14:3, 5, 12, 26). When the church has completed God’s appointed function, the gifts – will be done away (1 Cor.13:8). Just like childish behaviour is appropriate for a child, when we are mature that will cease. The gifts are given because – 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 (1 Cor.13:12). The quality of love will never cease, because that is who God is (c.f. 1 Jn.4:16-17). All the Christlike qualities will continue forever, because they describe perfection – and according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness dwells i.e. all that is right (2 Pet.3:13). Paul concludes – But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor.13:13). Love is the antithesis of all sin and evil. It will reign supreme in our everlasting existence.
(Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
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