Thu, Jul 01, 2004
I CORINTHIANS 13
1 Corinthians 13 by Joe Guglielmo
Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
Series: Thursday Service

I CORINTHIANS

 

            Please turn in your Bibles this evening to I Corinthians chapter 13 as we continue our study through the Word of God.  In I Corinthians chapters 12-14 Paul is dealing with spiritual gifts.  As we said last time, these chapters can be broken down or divided up as follows: The purpose of the gifts – I Corinthians 12:1-30.  The purpose of the gifts are not to promote or exalt self but to build up others and in the process glorify Christ.  Paul then lists several gifts that the Holy Spirit gives out for this purpose and he shows us that a healthy body utilizes the gifts of the Spirit for the betterment of the body of Christ.

            I am going to skip the second division of these chapters for a minute and give you the third division: Exercising these gifts in love – I Corinthians 14.  Paul not only shows us how these gifts are to be exercised but also how they are not to be exercised, and he uses the Corinthians themselves to show us what not to do.  As they used the gifts of the Spirit they were more interested in themselves, the glory they received, the recognition they got instead of bringing glory to God through the edification of the body of Christ.  And Paul concludes this section by exhorting the Corinthians and their confusing and disorderly services to Let all things be done decently and in order.  I Corinthians 14:40.

            The second division of these chapters and what we will be studying tonight is: The best gift is love – I Corinthians 12:31-13:13.  Keep in mind the chapter divisions and verses were added at a much later date for us to make the Scriptures more user-friendly you might say.  Thus, what Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:31 flows right into chapter 13.  Paul said, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

            You see, Paul just got done asking some rhetorical questions, Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  I Corinthians 12:29-30.  The answer being “No!” of course!  Thus, we should desire the best gift for the situation we are in with the motive being the betterment, the edification of the body of Christ.

            Now if Paul ended there, it would seem to make sense, desiring the best gift for the situation you are in, but he doesn’t end there.  He then says, And yet I show you a more excellent way.  What can be more excellent than the gifts of the Spirit being exercised?  Paul is going to tell us, to put all this into the proper perspective for us, to have the right heart motivation as we are exercising these gifts. With that said, let’s begin reading in I Corinthians chapter 13, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us this evening.

I CORINTHIANS 13

 

VERSES 1-2

            The Corinthians were proud of the spiritual gifts they had but Paul brings them back down to where they needed to be.  Yes they exercised all these spiritual gifts but because the motivation of their heart was not love, they were making a lot of noise, there was no beautiful music coming from their lives, they were out of tune you might say, out of tune with God which lead to them to be out of tune with their fellow man.

            Some feel this section on love, the greatest gift is out of place, sandwiched between two chapters that deal with spiritual gifts.  Please understand, it is not out of place, it is the heart of this section on spiritual gifts, because, like I said, without love being the motivating factor in exercising these gifts, you are just making noise!

            The Greeks had three words for love and then, in the New Testament times there was a fourth word for love that came into being.  Folks, it is very important that we understand what word for love is being used as Paul is dealing with spiritual gifts, the power of God being poured out upon a believer, and thus, love is important!  Let’s look at each of these words and the last one we will look at is the word that Paul uses for love here in this chapter.

            A.  STORGI: This word for love speaks of a deep affection towards someone.  It could be an affection towards family members, even your dog.

            B.  EROS: This word for love is where we get our English word “erotic” from and it refers to a physical love. This is the kind of love Hollywood offers, a superficial love, a love that is only interested in satisfying your own physical needs.  Turn on the television and you see a person sleeping with one person and before you know it, they are with someone else, that is EROS love!

            C.  PHILEO: This is a brotherly type of love, a friendship.  This love says “If you are nice to me, I will be nice to you!”  Outside of God’s help, this is the deepest love man can give or reach.

            D. AGAPE: This word that Paul uses here is a sacrificial love, a love that gives in spite of what we might get in return or what the person may do to us. It gives not expecting anything in return.  This is God’s love, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16.  Also, in Romans 5:8-11 Paul tells us of God’s love and again notice that love is an action word, it is not passive.  Paul said, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

            Thus, if God has done that for us, we too should love our enemies, pray for those who spitefully use us, we should reach out to people even when, in our mind they don’t deserve it! AGAPE love is sacrificial and it is not something we can do on our own, it is a supernatural empowering of the Holy Spirit to love the unlovable, to love those that are tough to love as well as others.  You see, the natural man, when someone does something wrong to them, their natural response is to punch their lights out but the Spirit tells us we are to have AGAPE love!

4.  Let me give you an example of what sacrificial love is like.  Jon Courson tells us: “In the year 1647, during England’s Civil War, a deserter in Cromwell’s army was captured and brought before him.

            ‘When the curfew bell sounds tonight, you shall be executed,’ said the general.

            But that night, the curfew bell was not heard.  Upon investigation, it was discovered that, receiving news of her fiancé’s sentence, his betrothed made her way quickly to the camp and hid in the bell tower.  As curfew neared, she positioned herself within the bell in such a way that when the rope was pulled, the clapper hit her body rather than the inside of the bell. Seeing the bruised and battered lady standing before him, Cromwell was so deeply touched by her love that the soldier’s life was spared.

            Jesus Christ climbed not a bell tower, but the hill of Calvary in order that you and I would be spared the execution we so rightfully deserve.  Whether the word is charity, love, or agape, the love Jesus showed us, the love we are to extend to one another is spelled one way: S-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e.”

            So then, Paul seems to be saying that if we are to show AGAPE love to a lost and dying world we must give of ourselves sacrificially?  Well, yes and no.  Let’s read on and you will see what I mean.

VERSE 3

            The gift of tongues is good, prophecy is good, knowledge is good, faith is good, giving to others in sacrifice is also good but if it is done out of the wrong motivation then that which was good could be evil, could be bad.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:1-7, Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.  And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

            Why are you in that ministry?  Why are you helping that person out?  Why are you doing whatever you are doing?  The point I am making is not that any of these things are wrong unless your heart motivation is wrong, you are doing it for the wrong reason, as good as what you are doing may be!  Love needs to be the basis, not self, not glory, not anything else besides, of course, God’s will.  How do I know what is motivating my heart to do something?  Do you want the glory, the acknowledgement, the praise of man or are you just satisfied in giving of yourself even if no one takes notice, even if you don’t get the pat on the back?  AGAPE love!  I remember Pastor Chuck telling the story of a church he was the pastor, it was before he was the pastor of Calvary Chapel, and each Sunday morning there was a beautiful arrangement of flowers up front. The first Sunday Chuck taught one of the elders told him afterward that he forgot something.  He didn’t know what it was so the elder told him that he forgot to thank the woman who put the flowers in the front of the church, she would always get a thank you, every Sunday.  Chuck felt awkward and didn’t think the praise of men was necessary, it would take away from her gift from God, so he didn’t do it. The elder warned him that if he didn’t she would stop doing it and sure enough, after a few Sunday’s of not getting praise, the flowers stopped!  What is motivating you?

            Now Paul is going to give to us a definition of what AGAPE love is all about.  In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit, and I want you to notice that he doesn’t say “fruits” it is not plural.  And he tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, AGAPE love.  That love is then manifested in eight different ways: it is JOYFUL, it is PEACEFUL, it is LONGSUFFERING, it is KIND, it is GOOD, it is FAITHFUL, it is GENTLE, it is under CONTROL.  Outside of that are the works of the flesh!  Now, here in Corinthians Paul will tell us what love is by giving us two examples, and then he will give to us eight examples of what this kind of love is not, and he will conclude with four more things regarding what love is.  Here is the definition of AGAPE love and if you want to see what this kind of love is all about, what it looks like, then look to Jesus for His life is an example of what AGAPE love is all about.  Let’s read through this section and then we will go back and look at these a little closer.  Paul tells us Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”  I Corinthians 13:4-8a.

VERSE 4a

            First of all Paul says that this kind of love suffers long and he uses the Greek word MARKROTHUMEO, (mak-roth-oo-meh’-o).  The early church father Chrysostom said of this word, “It is a word which used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it.” That’s not natural and you are right, it is supernatural. We can’t do this through the power of the flesh, but by the power of God’s Spirit upon our life.  Love never retaliates but suffers long!

            John MacArthur tells us “One of Abraham Lincoln’s earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton.  He called Lincoln a ‘low cunning clown’ and ‘the original gorilla.’  ‘It was ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a gorilla,’ he would say, ‘when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois.’  Lincoln never responded to the slander, but when, as president, he needed a secretary of war, he chose Stanton.  When his incredulous friends asked why, Lincoln replied, ‘Because he is the best man.’  Years later, as the slain president’s body lay in state, Stanton looked into the coffin and said through his tears, ‘There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.’  His animosity was finally broken by Lincoln’s long-suffering, nonretaliatory spirit.  Patient love won out.”

            Next Paul says that love is kind or CHRESTEUOMAI, (khraste-you’-om-ahee) in the Greek and it speaks of active goodwill. It is as Paul said in Romans 2:4, and this is from The Amplified Bible, Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent ( to change your mind and inner man to accept God's will)?  AGAPE love is kind! You see, love is more than a feeling, it is an act of your will, it is action, not passive, it is reaching out to others as God would, with kindness!

VERSES 4b-6

            God’s love is not envious, in fact God’s love and envy are mutually exclusive from each other. Envy or jealousy is dangerous to us, it hurts relationships.  Instead, let’s put the positive on it, love rejoices in what God is doing with others!

            God’s love does not parade itself or it doesn't need to be the center of attention.  In jealousy we want what others have but here we try to make others jealous of what we have and that is just as bad!  Let us not boast in what we have done, let us not try to be the center of attention wherever we are at, but let us boast in what God has done and may He be the center of attention!

            God’s love is not puffed up or arrogant.  The Corinthian believers were puffed up, they thought they had it all, they were perfect and the exact opposite was true!  What happens when a balloon is inflated too much?  It pops or blows up and the same is true with Christians!  Don’t be puffed up or arrogant which leads to you getting a big head, but be big-hearted and God will lift you up!

            God’s love does not cause us to behave rudely.  We may not think of this as important, but it is. God’s love is not seen in poor manners, acting rudely, having temper tantrums, and-so-on, but having good manners towards others!

            God’s love does not seek its own but is interested in the welfare of others.  Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, and this is from The Amplified Bible, Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].  Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.  Look at the example of Jesus; looking out for others when He was tired, beat, and yet He put their needs above His, that is God’s love!

            God’s love is not provoked which speaks of being aroused to anger, a fit of anger you might say!  Are you irritated by those people who are just plain annoying?  That is not God’s love, don’t be provoked to anger because of what someone has done to you or something they said to you, but respond in God’s love.

            God’s love does not keep an account of the evil that has been done against them.  The Greek word for thinks is LOGIZOMAI, (log-id’-zom-ahee) and it means to “take into account.” It was a bookkeeping term with the idea of keeping a permanent record of the books.  Let me say this, if you want to be angry, unhappy, then keep a record of all the wrongs that have been done unto you. But if you want God’s love flowing from your life, if you want to be truly happy, then don’t keep a record of the things just as God has wiped your record clean of all your sins. That is God’s love, not keeping a record of the past sins done against us!

            In Matthew 18:21-35  Jesus gives to us an example of forgiveness as we are told, Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.”  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe!”  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.”  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?”  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’ Forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics but a matter of the heart!

            God’s love does not rejoice in iniquity or sin, be it our own or others. We rejoice in God’s truth, which is good, there is no darkness in it at all!

VERSES 7-8a

            Now Paul gives to us four things that love is. First of all God’s love bears all things which is a word that means “to cover with silence.”  It has the idea of protection.  It is as Peter tells us in I Peter 4:8, And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’

            God’s love believes all things, the truths of God.  We can also believe the good in others, not thinking of evil of them unless the facts demand it and then with the idea of restoration not condemnation!

            God’s love hopes all things in that we know the end of the story, we can rest assure that God wins and thus, our hope is in Him and as we have that hope God’s love will flow through us.

            God’s love endures all things or it remains steadfast in the midst of difficult times.  It is unshakeable!

            To sum it all up, God’s love NEVER FAILS!  To illustrate this, put the name of Jesus in wherever the word love is in these verses.  If we did it would read like this, JESUS suffers long and is kind; JESUS does not envy; JESUS does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  JESUS never fails.  It fits perfectly.  Now, to see how we are doing, put your name in there every time you see the word love and see how it sounds.  I will use myself as an example.  It would read like this, JOE suffers long and is kind; JOE does not envy; JOE does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  JOE never fails.”  Why are you laughing?  You see, the reality is, it doesn’t fit perfectly, but God is working in me just as He is working in you!  We are not what we use to be and we are not what we want to be, but we have come a long way!  And Paul’s point here to the Corinthian church and to us is this, spiritual maturity is not seen in the exercising of spiritual gifts but the AGAPE love that flows from your life!

VERSES 8-10

            Paul is saying that some of these gifts will end, the $100,000 question is “When will that occur or has it occurred already?”  Some say that the sign gifts came to an end at the completion of the Word of God but that is not the case because this verse is not talking about the Bible, that which is perfect has come.  In fact, not until after 1906, the year of the Azusa Street revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit did anyone even suggest this was speaking of the Word of God and the sign gifts being passed off the scene in the first century.  In fact, if you read the content of this chapter, that idea doesn’t even fit.

            Others, like John MacArthur claim the sign gifts stopped, “Tongues ceased in the apostolic age and that when they stopped, they stopped for good.”   His case is this, the verb will cease is in the middle voice and can be translated “tongues will stop by themselves.” But that goes against virtually all Greek scholars for the text tells us that tongues will cease ONLY when that which is perfect has come!

            When Paul speaks of that which is perfect has come he is speaking of Jesus Christ! How do I know that?  Let’s read on in our study and you will see.

VERSES 11-12

            First of all mirrors didn’t exist until the middle of the 1200’s and prior to that they used polished brass or glass to look at themselves.  In fact, Corinth was famous for its bronze mirrors but you really couldn’t see yourself clearly, it was dim. The same is true with Jesus, the Bible gives to us a picture of Jesus but it is dim when compared to seeing Him fact-to-face!  John tells us in I John 3:2, Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  Thus, Paul is speaking of seeing Jesus fact-to-face as we are in glory with Him and that is when these gifts are no longer needed because we are with Him!

            What is the purpose of the church?  One of the things is to bring believers from infancy to adulthood, to mature in the faith.  That is what Paul said in Ephesians 4:11-16, And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

            It seems like here, in verse 11, Paul is saying that when we are mature we won’t need spiritual gifts any longer.  Is that true?  Not at all!  What has been the focus of this chapter? LOVE!  Thus, Paul is saying that if we are mature we will not let spiritual gifts cause divisions, confusion, making a lot of noise with no melody, with no tune to it. Love is the basis and it shows we are mature in the faith, not exercising spiritual gifts, as great and as needed as they are, we should exercise them but the most excellent way is LOVE!

VERSE 13

            When you talk to some believers the three greatest pursuits of the Christian life are “miracles, power and gifts.”  But that is not what Paul is saying here. He tells us that the three greatest gifts of the Christian life are FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE, with the greatest of the three being LOVE!  You see, without love the rest are empty!  Let’s look at these three and see what they are all about.

            FAITH looks back at what Jesus has done, paid in full the penalty for our sins.  What a comfort that is but you must believe it by faith.  Peter tells us in I Peter 1:17-21, And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. And in Revelation 1:5-6 we are told, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.  To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  FAITH looks back!

            HOPE looks ahead to the glorious return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of  His kingdom.  In Acts 1:9-11 as Jesus ascended up into heaven after His death and resurrection, we are told, Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”  And in Revelation 5:9-10 we are told, And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’  HOPE looks forward to the coming of Christ!

            LOVE looks around and tells us that Jesus is here with us, and what a comfort that is to each of us.  Jesus said in John 14:15-21, If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.  God’s love is always with us in Jesus if we would only look and receive that into our lives.  The result, John tells us in I John 4:7-14, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.”  LOVE looks around and tells us Jesus is here!

            As I close this evening let me say this, Paul is not putting down the gifts of the Spirit but he is saying that as they are exercised they must be done in the AGAPE love of God or else it is empty!  Let me leave you with this picture of God’s love, for Paul’s picture of AGAPE was drawn from him looking at Jesus.  In John 3:16 Jesus tells us, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  GOD’S LOVE, IT IS THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY!