1 Corinthians 13:1
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.
Tongues. The gift of tongues is the ability to speak, pray, or praise the Lord in unknown languages. Other languages include human languages (e.g., Acts 2:4–6) and angelic or heavenly languages. See entry for 1 Cor. 12:10.
1 Corinthians 13:2
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.
(a) The gift of prophecy is the ability to impart truth from God’s heart in a way that encourages, strengthens, and comforts people (Acts 15:32, Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor. 12:10, 14:3–5). Sometimes this gift will manifest in visions or foresight (e.g., Acts 11:28, 16:9–10, 21:10–11). This spiritual gift helps us understand spiritual mysteries.
(b) Mysteries. Spiritual insights into God and his purposes; see entry for 1 Cor. 4:1.
1 Corinthians 13:3
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.
I give all my possessions to feed the poor. Like Jesus, Paul eagerly gave to the poor (Gal. 2:10). He did not give out of religious duty or to put a shine on his reputation. He did it because he loved people and wanted to share the love of God with as many as possible. See entry for 1 Cor. 9:24.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
(a) Love is. The original word for love (agapē) is the same word used to describe God in 1 John 4:8. “God is love.” Since God is the source and definition of unconditional love, this wonderful passage about love, can also be read as a picture of God’s true character. God is patient and kind. God is not easily provoked and keeps no account of wrong. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. God never fails.
(b) Love is kind which means God is kind. As the psalmist wrote, his lovingkindness is everlasting (Ps. 136).
1 Corinthians 13:5
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
(a) Does not seek its own. True love is other-focused. It doesn’t keep score.
(b) Is not provoked. Some people imagine that God is easily angered, that his benevolence evaporates the moment they sin. But God’s love for you is as constant as sunshine. Your heavenly Father loves you when you’re up and he loves you when you’re down. He loves you when you get it right and he loves you when you get it wrong.
“But does he love me when I sin?” Haven’t you seen the cross? “The proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, Phillips). You need to settle this in your heart: God loves you. Period. There is nothing you can do to make him love you more, and nothing you can do to make him love you less.
Further reading: “Does God love me when I sin?”
(c) Does not take into account a wrong suffered. True love holds no grudges, and keeps no record of wrongs. Contrary to what you may have heard, God will never play video tapes of your secret sins (2 Cor. 5:19).
1 Corinthians 13:7
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(a) Believes all things. Faith and trust are the fruit of love. It’s the unfailing love of God that inspires us to trust him (see entry for 1 John 4:16).
(b) Endures all things. God loves you with an enduring love that never quits. God loves you when you’re up and he loves you when you’re down. He loves you when you get it right and he loves you when you get it wrong.
Whether you’re preaching condemnation from the pulpit or receiving it in the pew, God loves you. Whether you’re in the zone or the gutter, the one constant you can count on is your Father’s unwavering love for you. You need to settle this in your heart. God loves you. Period.
Further reading: “Does God love me when I sin?“
1 Corinthians 13:8
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.
(a) Love never fails. The love of people is frail and weak but your Father’s love endures forever. It never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end (to quote the Amplified Bible).
Every kind of love you will experience in this world is a failing love—it breaks and it bruises, it disappoints and ultimately it dies. But God’s love never fails. Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38–39). Not even death can separate you from your Father’s love.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). Everlasting means everlasting. Either God has to raise you from the dead and keep on loving you or he is a liar. Cancer can’t keep you from his love. Neither can anxiety, AIDS, or alcoholism. The devil and all his demons cannot separate you from his love. The only thing that can come between you and his love is your refusal to receive it.
See entry for Love of God.
(b) Prophecy; see entry for 1 Cor. 13:2.
(c) Tongues; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:10.
(d) Knowledge; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:8.
1 Corinthians 13:13
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(a) Faith, hope, love. Faith stems from hope (Heb. 11:1) which comes from love. It’s the unfailing love of God that inspires us to trust him (see entry for 1 John 4:16).
(b) The greatest of these is love because without the love of God there would be no hope and no reason for faith.
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- 1 Corinthians 13:1
- 1 Corinthians 13:2
- 1 Corinthians 13:3
- 1 Corinthians 13:4
- 1 Corinthians 13:5
- 1 Corinthians 13:7
- 1 Corinthians 13:8
- 1 Corinthians 13:13