What’s Love Got To Do With It? – 1 Corinthians 13

By John Bellingham on January 7, 2018
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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

1 Corinthians 13


I.  The Supremacy of Love  (vv. 1-3)

1)     The Corinthian Church excelled in spiritual gifts, but lacked in Christian love (cf. 1:7)

2)     Love is the foundation for spiritual gifts

  1. Gift of Tongues
    1. The Corinthians were claiming to speak in an ‘angelic’ or ‘heavenly’ language
    2. They wrongly considered this gift to be the mark of Christian maturity
    3. Paul informs them that tongues without love is no better than noise in a pagan temple.
  2. Gift of Prophecy
    1. The Corinthians prided themselves on having superior knowledge and wisdom
    2. Paul has already corrected their flawed view of wisdom (ch. 1-2) and of knowledge (ch. 8)
    3. Although Paul will soon contend that ‘prophecy’ is more desirable than ‘tongues’, even this gift is worthless apart from love
  3. Gift of Faith
    1. Not a reference to saving faith, but a special trust/ conviction from God that He will answer prayer in the affirmative
    2. The person who possesses this gift is ‘nothing’ if he has no love

3)     Love is the foundation for good deeds

  1. Extreme generosity – unless motivated by love it profits the giver nothing
  2. Martyrdom – the supreme sacrifice is not of any value it’s not motivated by love


– Paul is not teaching that gifts and good deeds are unimportant for the Christian– his point is that these things are of no value apart from the context of Biblical love

– As Christians we must understand that nothing we say, understand, believe, or do, pleases God apart from a foundation of love.    Love is the cardinal virtue of our faith.  If we don’t have love in our hearts, we don’t have anything!

– A loss of love for Jesus Christ will quickly lead to a loss of love for other people.   (cf. Revelation 2:1-7)


II. The Character of Love

1)     What Love Is:

  1. Patient – endures provocation;  not retaliatory
  2. Kind –manifests mercy and goodwill

2)     What Love is not:

  1. Envious – displeased by the success of another
  2. Boastful – heaping praise upon selfArrogant – exaggerated view of self
  3. Rude – indecent, disgraceful, dishonourable
  4. Self-seeking – placing interests of self first
  5. Easily Angered – quick-tempered
  6. Resentful – keeping a record of wrong

3)     What Love does:

  1. Rejoices with the truth – love always corresponds with what is true and right
  2. Bears all things – protects the other from harm
  3. Believes all things – willing to give benefit of the doubt and to think the best
  4. Hopes all things – does not despair
  5. Endures all things – stands up against opposition


– Christian love is not primarily a ‘feeling’ or ‘emotion’ – is it action that is enabled and motivated by the Holy Spirit.   The ultimate model for Christian love is our Lord Jesus


III.  The Permanence of Love

1)     Love never fails = love never ends

2)     Spiritual gifts will come to an end

  1. The gifts will cease to fulfill their intended function when the ‘perfect’ comes (ie. Christ’s return)
  2. Behaviour appropriate for children (ie. the Church in this present age) is not appropriate for adults (ie. the Church in the age to come)
  3. Our present experience with the gifts is a partial and indirect reflection of God’s glory


– Paul is not implying that Christians who speak in tongues are ‘childish’, but he is saying that the gifts must be put in their proper perspective because they will not last forever

– Paul’s illustration in v. 12 makes it unlikely that the ‘perfect’  refers to the completion of Scripture.   Aside from the unique gift of Apostleship, all of the gifts are still in operation today


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