When there is no love! 1 Corinthians 13

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: