Another View of I Corinthians Chapter 13

Another View of I Corinthians Chapter 13

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In this article, we want to discuss the proper view of love. The commandments of God will be the standard for us. We must learn to live by every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God (Deut. 8:3, Matt. 4:4).

Paul wrote an entire chapter on love in his first letter to the Corinthians. To give you some background, the Corinthian church had some serious issues. They wanted all of these gifts, manifestations, and mysteries, but their personal lives were a wreck. We all start out that way, but there should be change over time if we are truly converted.

In I Corinthians chapter 13, Paul focused on love. He then lists a series of actions that we would normally consider expressions of love. He tells us that we can perform them without having love!

He mentions:

  • Martyrdom
  • Giving to the poor
  • Prophesy
  • Knowledge
  • Unveiling mysteries

He tells us that none of these actions in and of themselves are love. Notice that there is ONE thing he does NOT mention that is very important. He does NOT say – “if you obey God’s commandments and have not love…”

Let us recall a previous verse from this same letter: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (I Cor. 7:19).

Paul focused their actions towards the commandments of God.  Jesus clearly connected the commandments to love (see John 14:15-21). The commandments are a Law or Instruction of love. Let’s look at an excerpt in the Torah that helps us to understand how we love other people.

Leviticus 19:11-18 (NIV)

“11 Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. 12 Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. 13 Do not defraud or rob your neighbor. Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight. 14 Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord. 15 Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.16 Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord. 17 Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. 18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

If we compare I Cor. 13:4-7 and Lev 19:11-18, we see tremendous similarities:

I Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 Leviticus 19:11-18
Love is patient, kind All of the Lev. 19:11-18
It does not envy “Do not hate a fellow Israelite” or  bear a grudge” – verses 17, 18
Love does not boast, it is not proud “Judge your neighbor fairly”, “Do not spread slander” – Verses 15-16
Love always protect, trusts, and hopes; it is not self seeking. Does not delight in evil. “Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life” – verse 16
It keeps no record of wrongs; it is not self seeking Does not delight in evil. “Do not hate a fellow Israelite” “Do not bear a grudge in your heart” “Love your neighbor as yourself” verses 17-18

We can see how well these chapters flow together. Paul was a tremendous student of the Torah. He knew it well. When he described love, where would he derive his definition? He had to derive it from the Old Testament.

The Law of God is an expression of the Love of God. The Law teaches us how to allow the Love of the Holy Spirit to flow through us properly. Without that standard, the definition of love becomes skewed, as it happened in the Corinthian church and as still happens today.

Kelly McDonald, Jr. BSA President

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