Archive for October, 2020

The True Lover; 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4 – 8

October 25, 2020

What love is?

Last time we looked at what love is not. Now we will look at what love is.  Before we go deeper, I think it is important to look at the idea of the nature of love.  In the English language love can be used in many different ways and it is not always love.  In the Greek language there are a few words for love

  • Eros, or sexual passion
  • Philia, or deep friendship
  • Storge  (Love of family, ptriotic love) https://conservapedia.com/Storge ()
  • Ludus, or playful love
  • Agape, or love for everyone
  • Pragma, or longstanding love (modern idea)
  • Philautia, or love of the self (Two types; healthy love of self or narcissistic)

Taken from (www.yesmagazine.org/health-happiness/2013/12/28/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life/)

The type of love Paul means is sacrificial love, putting others before yourself.

Let us now read 1 Corinthians 134-8 ;

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7   bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So, there could be two types of people the Hater or the True Lover.  We as well as the Corinthians have choices to make.  I have personified the above text negatively and positively and this was the result;

The Hater

  1.  I am impatient and want things now; I am unkind and seriously jealous; I brag a lot and I am full of myself; At times I act disgracefully no matter what people may think;  I am selfish and always want my own way; I am provoked easily and get into verbal or physical fights regularly; If someone takes advantage of me I will make them pay for it; If someone breaks the law and steals something, I think good for them, I wish I could get away with that too.  I am a compulsive liar and if someone crosses me they are going to know about it;  I don’t trust anyone; Hope is for weaklings; if some one does me wrong they are going to pay me back in kind and then some more on top!

The True Lover

  1. I am very patient even when it hurts me and makes me sad; I always show a kind act, if someone is hungry I will buy them a sandwich and put them in contact with the Salvation Army;  If I here something that is a little bit  off I keep quiet about it so that I can help them on the straight and narrow;  I am always doing the right thing and keep on the straight and narrow with humility; If someone does me wrong I will pray for them but I won’t look to pay them back because that isn’t me; When I see someone break the law and steals something then I feel sad and I pray about it; If someone want a fight I try peaceful means and if I do get hit I try to keep my composure even though I know the martial arts well, I understand the importance of wisdom; I like people who are always honest with me even if it means I get hurt sometimes; I will go the extra mile to help people out;  I have a great hope that I will one day be in heaven and I put up with people doing bad things to me on a regular basis although I am no weakling.

The question is; Paul is asking the Corinthians what type of person they want to be. A loving person or an unloving person.  They had their faults at Corinth and the majesty of the second type of person is what Paul wanted the Corinthians to become. The second type of person is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.  I personified this love in verses 4 -8 to find out what Paul was really getting at.  One does not need to understand the Greek to get the feel of Pauls meaning.  It is now your call and your choice. 

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When there is no love! 1 Corinthians 13

October 16, 2020

Once the late professor Stanton said to me, “A text out of context is a pretext”. (1 Corinthians in English lectures KCL about 1995).  So, I think a general discussion about the letter is important.  From the beginning of the book we learned that this group of people liked to argue, “I am of Paul, I am of Cephas, I am of Apollos” and so on.  Each group thought they were the best.  It doesn’t surprise me that there is a chapter on love. Having had discussions about moral/ethical issues he moved on to the Last Supper in which Christ showed ultimate love for us by dying on a cross.  He then began talking about Spiritual gifts (gifts from the Holy Spirit). Right smack bang in the middle of these gifts there is a chapter on love.  After the gifts Paul will move on to talk about the resurrection.  Paul is taking the believers of Corinth from their sinful earthy ways to the glorious heights of the Gospel.  He will finish the book by AOB (any other business)

Let us read the first three verses and reflect on it;

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

IfExtreme activityPlus no love = A complete waste
  If   Able to speak divine and human languages.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  If    Prophet who knows everything.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  IfMost powerful faith+ no love= Nothing achieved
If  Giving all wealth away+ no love= Nothing achieved
IfDie for a cause+ no love= Nothing achieved
The Logic of the first three verses

I like the logic in these verses as we see Paul the great master of letter writing takes us to another dimension.  Let us break it down a little

It seems strange to a person born in the 21st century that Paul speaks in this way but let us remember that this was written approximately 2000 years ago.  It was a very different world, and this was the world of Rome.  They had many gods who the people consulted for advice.  Priestesses’ of orders would have claimed to be in contact with the gods.  They spoke in tongues; they believed the gods spoke to them so they could give advice to people how they should live.  They would have had a deep belief in their divine heroes.  Sometimes they would give their wealth away and even be willing to die for their god.  This was commonplace in a lot of Roman cities especially Corinth.  Poseidon’s Temple can still be seen. So why did I come to these conclusions you may ask. 1 Don’t be surprised then that this culture can also be found in the Church but here it has become a sanctified culture.  The believers are no longer under the influence of Paganism but under the Gospel.

A general introduction to the relationship of faith and love before proceeding to 1 Cor 13 proper

October 12, 2020

1 Corinthians chapter 13

Where should I start? God is love and being created in his image should love not be the goal of faith? So, we need to start to open up this glorious chapter.   The chapter is full of beautiful language it seems a long way away from earlier book in which there are all these factions vying for who’s preacher or teacher is the greatest.  Paul pushes in the opposite direction and his love for the Corinthians is to bring them to maturity as Christians. 

31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
   And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

At the end of chapter 12 and halfway through the discussion on gifts we have this excellent verse.   Without this ‘way’ the gifts are no different to the Pagan use of their gifts of the ‘spirit/spirits’.

The way of love! As Bavinck says, ‘the fruit of faith is love’. (Pages 68- 69 of his ethics). 

  1. I think there are different strands we need to look at as a general introduction to the relationship of faith and love and we will do this through Herman Bavinck the great Dutch theologian (What Bavinck says).
  2. Our second stage will be to go through 1 Corinthians 13 and look at especially how he speaks in the negative and those key words.  Perhaps these words will give us a deeper understanding and goal found in Corinthians (What the Greek says).
  3. Our third stage will be to ask the questions; Why this chapter on love bang smack in the middle of the gifts and prophecies; There is a reason (The order and topic of love).
  4. Any other findings (any other Business)
  5. Conclusions

Stage 1

What Herman Bavinck Says

The following quotation is taken from;

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, created and fallen and converted Humanity, edited by John Bolt.

I hope John Bolt doesn’t mind me using this quote but I seriously would urge anyone to read it who is interested in the relationship of faith and love. 

Page 68

The fruit of faith is love:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good Conscience

and a sincere faith. (1 Tim. 1:5)

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar

and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love

of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he

abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:44

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything,

but only faith working through love. (Gal. 5:6)

So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say,

“You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works,

and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Page 69

Similarly, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  

A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good

Fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the

fire” (Matt. 7:17=195 cf. 12:33; Luke 3:9; 6:43- 45). A tree is known by its fruit.

The examples of people given in Scripture also demonstrate the same connection

between faith and deeds: Lydia (Acts 16:14-15); Tabitha (Acts 9:36);

Cornelius (Acts 10:2, 48); Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8); the church at Colossae

(Col. 1:4); the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:3). New birth brings about

changed lives: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were

sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the

Spirit of our God™ (1 Cor. 6:11). Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22); faith

in Christ Jesus results in love for the saints (Eph. 1:15). Paul’s prayer for the

Ephesians is that their new faith may bring forth love, “that according to the

riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through

his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through

faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to

comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height

and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that

you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16—19; cf. Col. 1:4).

Love is the highest virtue, the bond of perfection: “And above all these put

on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

So, Scripture teaches that also subjectively religion and morality cohere

intimately and inseparably. The one demonstrates itself and is authenticated

in the other. The one is the fruit of the other.

5. The church of all ages has taught this, including Gregory the Great,

Bernard of Clairvaux, Lactantius, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.” Zwingli

showed the relation more psychologically and ethically. For Zwingli, even

the good works of the unbelievers were the fruit of faith. In answer to the

question “What are good works?” the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 91) gives

this answer: “Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s

law, and are done for God’s glory; and not those based on our own opinion or

human tradition.” And this is what all the Reformed teach. There is no morality

except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

The problem is in a lot of theologies is that we get lots about faith but it seems to be disjointed on how we live this life in God’s way.  This is why Bavincks ethics advice is so important because we have a deeper understanding of this faith love rationale.  Galatians 5 6,another book of Paul’s, he says, ‘faith working through love’.  He then gives examples of people who after conversion lives ‘new lives.’  We are not any different!  Then he quotes;

15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, Ephesians 1:15

Then Bavinck quotes;

14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14

‘put on’ is not in the Greek here but is implied by context.  I think you can see the link between faith and love.  There can be no sacred love without true faith and the outworking of faith is works and love in that order.  Faith is a gift and it comes from A God who is described by John as ‘Love’.  At the end Bavinck says;

There is no morality except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

So now we have a deeper understanding of the relationship of faith and love and how it works.  This was important because as we go through this chapter, we have an inkling into Pauls use of faith and love in his other writings.   This is where higher criticism fails: It tries to dissect each text individually and think of the books and letters as separate entities. How Many St Paul’s were there?  There is only one Paul, there are not five or six Pauls. I am stating the obvious, but this needs to be stressed.  The man Paul directed by the Holy Spirit will come to a sanctified understanding of love.

Pauls analogy of the body for the Church!

October 3, 2020

One Body

‘Each One’ comes up a lot in 1 Corinthians and the questions is why (13x in the letter).  We need to take note of this as it an important syntax that Paul uses.  In no other letter of Paul or other writers does the words each one come up so often.  This underlying theme of unity and division is something that runs through the whole of the book and sometimes we might not realize that.

The list;

  1. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:12
  2. 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 1 Corinthians 3:5
  3. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8
  4. 7  Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.
    1 Corinthians 7:7
  5. 17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17
  6. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
    1 Corinthians 7:24
  7. 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 1 Corinthians 11:21
  8. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
  9. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
    1 Corinthians 12:11
  10. 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Corinthians 12:18
  11. 26  What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26
  12. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 1 Corinthians 14:27
  13. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:2

This is important because Paul is separating each member of the Church. The Holy Spirit deals and gives gifts on an individual basis.  The problem in this letter tends to be that some people think they are better than others.  Paul needs to change this arrogant mindset to one of humility and get the Corinthians to realize that they are ‘all’ important and that it is time to ditch their divisions.  Paul can only now turn to talk about ‘the body’  which is a fitting and suitable topic by Paul for the Corinthians.

Before we turn to the text of 1 Corinthians; What does body actually mean?

The Greek is σῶμα sōma and it means body.  We need to find the context from the passage.  The passage that we are going to read uses words such as feet hands unseemly parts.  It sounds like the human body so in his example we interpret body as any human body.


12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For  by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has  appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then  miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:11-31 From Olive tree.

My interpretation of this would be that Paul is using analogy of the body to explain that all members of the church are equally important.   In that sense perhaps the ‘the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues etc’ was room for Paul to be concerned with the pride in the church; that some members, because they practiced such and such gifts were better and more important than the other members.  This goes on in the Church today. In some churches it might not be spiritual gifts, but it could be something else; ‘I am the treasurer of the church and everyone needs me’ at the expense of the cleaner.  In Pentecostal churches and other charismatic churches this is directly relevant and also the other things I said that was aimed at a non-charismatic readership of my writings. 

Going back to whether or not Paul is using analogy I found this

‘The point needed to be made in a concrete way and

the body analogy achieves this by showing first that diversity is

necessary in the body, and then that the members of the body are

interdependent and interrelated.

Gale10 locates several elements in the analogy which evidence the

influence of the situation on its use. Among these are:

(i) The inclusion of v. 13 after the initial analogical statement

in v. 12 shows that something other than the picture of the

human body occupied the central position in Paul’s mind.

This was an explanation of how this unity in diversity came

into being.

(ii) Reflection on the physical body would not suggest even the

possibility that one member or another might not “belong

to the body” (vv. 15, 16.).

(iii) The idea of discord is not a possibility within the physical

body (v. 25).

(iv) Members of the physical body cannot “have the same care

for one another” (v. 25), nor strictly speaking can they

“suffer together” or “rejoice together” (v. 26).

All this indicates that Paul has introduced the analogy for a

polemical purpose.’

Brian Daines, Evangelical quarterly 1978;

I think analogy is a better word to describe the body than metaphor because in a metaphor the idea is to use one idea to make with comparisons with another.  It is up to you to decide on that; I’m now going to dive into the text and see where it takes us.

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12

The general word used for body here is soma (body).  The church of Christ is one body, one Church. The number one (εἷς heis) is used; One body = One Christ.  Paul is emphasising the importance of the unity of the church   and we haven’t even left verse 12. I have an interesting question here though; Why does Paul give us ‘so also is Christ?’  οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός 1 Corinthians 12:12  So also is Christ.  Maybe a better way to read this might be thus indeed is the Christ.

Christ is the head of the Church let us leave it at that for now.

I’m also interested in the switch verse 12 – 13

οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός· 13 καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι ἡμεῖς πάντες εἰς ἓν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

so also is Christ. 13 For  by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Something is missing here in the NASB and has been left untranslated.  The small ‘kai’ which is usually a conjunction ‘and’.  However, when it is used with ‘gar= for’ then the ‘and’ turns into indeed or something like it(adverbial).  I looked at a few translations and they all don’t add that little extra.  I think the reason might be that the idea of ‘indeed’ came with the earlier ‘kai’.  The NIV from my point of view was a disaster in translation;

13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’ Taken from Bible Gateway.

The words ‘so as to form’ is not in the Greek text at all.  Dynamic equivalence is acting more as a commentary on the text than a translation.   The body of Christ is already here we don’t need the Bible translators to tell us the obvious.  I suppose that a more literal and wood text will protect scripture more.  If one starts adding a little here and a little there, there is room for religious cults to mince up the Holy Scriptures and give us a fairy tale.