The words of this chapter about love are famous, and are often used, appropriately enough, in wedding ceremonies (including that of this blogger). While they certainly do apply to love in the context of a husband and wife, Paul is speaking more about the love that Christians should have for each other, and for the Lord. In chapter 12, Paul wrote to the Corinthians in part concerning the envy among them that arose from jealousy of some for the spiritual gifts that others had been given. These feeling were contributing to the divisions that had developed among them.
He is making the point to them that brotherly love will endure, but spiritual gifts will pass away (verse 8). Some of the churches throughout the land had letters written to them or circulated from churches in other location. But nobody in the Apostolic age had the completed New Testament. So these spiritual gifts not only served the purpose of building faith, but of giving them part of the knowledge of God’s truth they needed.
When Paul says in verse 9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away,” he refers to the fact that these gifts will no longer be needed when the recorded word of the Lord is complete. The partial knowledge of the word, that these gifts provide, will no longer be required (note the words “all the truth” in John 16:13). This makes their envy meaningless; and that is why Paul is cultivating their love for one another. When he says in verse 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,” he means that the maturity of knowledge due to its availability will be the driving force that will allow these gifts to cease.
Paul puts faith and hope together with love in verse 13, for they go together with it – and love is eternal.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.