1 Corinthians, 13
Love conquers all
1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2: 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5: Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10: But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Previously, Paul had discussed the distribution of spiritual gifts in the church. Paul had said l want to show you a more excellent way and then follows chapter 13. So Chapter 13 is a more excellent way of thinking and living spiritualy. Paul poses a number of hypothetical scenarios. He says lets suppose that l did speak with the languages and of angels (that’s even supposing that they do speak some sort of angelic language – its purely hypothetical) He says - lets suppose that l did speak with the languages of angels if l do not have love in my heart then my gift of languages is just clashing brass and a noise which means nothing like the sound of wind chime. Then Paul says Lets suppose that l receive direct revelations from God and l understand all of the secret things that God has not explained yet and lets suppose that l have all the knowledge that it is possible to have and lets suppose that l have all the faith that it is possible to have so that l can move mountains but if l don’t have love in my heart then it amounts to nothing. And lets suppose that l give away everything l have to feed the poor (the height of Jewish piety) and lets even suppose that l give my own life away being burnt at the stake, If l have not love in my heart then all that is pointless. Love surpasses all gifts, languages, prophecy, knowledge, and even self sacrifice. Love is patient, Love is kind, and Love does not envy or think highly of itself, Love is not proud. Love is not rude or selfish and is not easily provoked, Love thinks no evil of anyone, Love does not rejoice in the sins of other people. Love rejoices only in the truth, Love is able to bear all things. Love is able to believe in the best in everyone. Love hopes for the best of everyone. Love can endure any unkind word. Love never fails. But when we compare love to gifts we see that love supersedes gifts every time. Although Love never fails the gift of prophesy will fail. There will come a time when the gift of languages will cease. Supernatural knowledge will vanish like the morning mist. At the moment the knowledge we have of the Lord is only in part. But when the full revelation of God (the scriptures) comes then all the partial revelations will pass away. When l was a child l spoke with childish language, and l had a child’s understanding and l thought as children think but when l became a man l put away childishness. At the moment we see things in a dark mirror but then we will see face to face. Just now we know the revelation of the Lord only in part but soon we will know God fully in the same way that men know me. So for now faith, hope and love remain. But the greatest of these three is love.