The greatest is love (1 Cor. 13:13)

“Thus now,

Faith,

Hope,

And Love

Abide,

These three.

But the greatest of these

Is love.”

νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα· μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη.

Paul said that now these three (τὰ τρία ταῦτα), faith (πίστις), hope (ἐλπίς), and love (ἀγάπη) abide (νυνὶ δὲ μένει).  But the greatest of these is love (μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη).  Paul concluded his comments about love by pointing out that faith, hope, and love continue, but Christian agape love had the greatest enduring quality as the eternal love with God.  Human faith and hope would turn into eternal divine love with God.  There was no question that love conquers all.  Love was the greatest of the three great human and theological virtues of faith, hope, and love because of its eternal quality.  Do you value love as the great gift of life?

Now and then (1 Cor. 13:12)

“Now we see

In a mirror dimly,

But then face to face.

Now I know in part.

Then I shall understand fully,

Even as I have been fully understood.”

βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι’ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον· ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

Paul said. “Now we see (βλέπομεν γὰρ) in a mirror dimly or in an enigmatic haze (ἄρτι δι’ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι), but then it will be face to face (τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον).  Now I know in part or imperfectly (ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους).  Then I shall understand fully (τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι), even as I am fully understood (τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι).”  Only this Corinthian letter used this word αἰνίγματι, that means a riddle or an enigma.  Paul explained that now we only see things like a bronze Corinthian mirror that had a hazy, indistinct, or enigmatic image.  However, they would come to know God face to face like Moses in Numbers, chapter 12:8: “When there are prophets among you, I Yahweh make myself known to them in visions.  I speak to them in dreams.  Not so with my servant Moses.  He is entrusted with my entire house.  With him I speak face to face, clearly not in riddles.  He beholds the form of Yahweh.”  To some he made himself known in visions and others in dreams.  However, with Moses it was different.  Moses was a special prophet, not like the others.  Yahweh spoke face to face, clearly, and not in riddles with Moses. Paul further said that at the current time, his knowledge about God was incomplete or imperfect.  However, after he would have seen God face to face like Moses, then he would have full knowledge and be fully known by God.  Paul made a clear distinction between the present time and the future eschatological end times with an eternal God.  Do you long for the day when you see God face to face?

Childish ways (1 Cor. 13:11)

“When I was an infant child,

I spoke like an infant child.

I thought like an infant child.

When I became a man,

I gave up my childish ways.”

ὅτε ἤμην νήπιος, ἐλάλουν ὡς νήπιος, ἐφρόνουν ὡς νήπιος, ἐλογιζόμην ὡς νήπιος· ὅτε γέγονα ἀνήρ, κατήργηκα τὰ τοῦ νηπίου.

Paul said that when he was an infant child (ὅτε ἤμην νήπιος), he spoke like an infant child (ἐλάλουν ὡς νήπιος).  He thought or reasoned like an infant child (ἐλογιζόμην ὡς νήπιος).  When he became a man (ὅτε γέγονα ἀνήρ), he gave up his childish ways (κατήργηκα τὰ τοῦ νηπίου).  Paul explained that when he was a small child, he spoke and thought like a small child.  However, now that he has become a man, he has put away all his childish ways.  Paul said that there was nothing wrong with speaking and thinking like a small child.  However, once you became a man, you should not revert to your childish infantile ways.  You had to end your childish speaking and thinking ways.  You should speak and think like a mature human.  Are you childish or mature?

The perfect and imperfect (1 Cor. 13:10)

“But when the perfect

Comes,

The imperfect

Will pass away.”

ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται.

Paul said that when the perfect comes (ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον), the imperfect would pass away (τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται).  Thus, the consequences are obvious.  When perfection or the completion of human days are fulfilled, this imperfect human lifestyle will pass away or be obliterated.  God’s eternal perfection would do away with human imperfection.  Are you expecting a divine eternal life of perfection?

Imperfect knowledge and prophecy (1 Cor. 13:9)

“Our knowledge

Is imperfect.

Our prophecy

Is imperfect.”

ἐκ μέρους γὰρ γινώσκομεν καὶ ἐκ μέρους προφητεύομεν·

Paul said that our knowledge is partial or imperfect (ἐκ μέρους γὰρ γινώσκομεν).  Our prophecy is partial or imperfect (καὶ ἐκ μέρους προφητεύομεν).  Thus, Paul explained that we only have a little imperfect knowledge and prophecy.  When we know things or prophesize about things, it is only incomplete, partial or not perfect.  Only God has perfect complete knowledge and complete prophetic power.  We only slightly and imperfectly share in the perfection of God.  Do you recognize your knowledge limitations?

The spiritual gifts all pass away (1 Cor. 13:8)

“Love never ends.

As for prophecies,

They will pass away.

As for tongues,

They will cease.

As for knowledge,

It will pass away.”

Ἡ ἀγάπη οὐδέποτε πίπτει· εἴτε δὲ προφητεῖαι, καταργηθήσονται· εἴτε γλῶσσαι, παύσονται· εἴτε γνῶσις, καταργηθήσεται.

Paul says that love never fails or ends (Ἡ ἀγάπη οὐδέποτε πίπτει).  As for prophecies (εἴτε δὲ προφητεῖαι), they will pass away (καταργηθήσονται).  As for tongues (εἴτε γλῶσσαι), they will cease (παύσονται).  As for knowledge (εἴτε γνῶσις), it will pass away (καταργηθήσονται).  Paul was clear.  Love or agape has an enduring quality, since it will not fail or end.  However, the charismatic gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will pass away, be abolished, or cease to be with human death.  Love is eternal.  All other divine gifts were given to humans until their human demise.  The value of Christian agape love is eternally well defined.  Do you have a never-failing love?

Love bears all (1 Cor. 13:7)

“Love bears

All things.

Love believes

All things,

Love hopes

All things,

Love endures

All things.”

πάντα στέγει, πάντα πιστεύει, πάντα ἐλπίζει, πάντα ὑπομένει.

Paul explained that love bears all things (πάντα στέγει), believes all things (πάντα πιστεύει), hopes all things (πάντα ἐλπίζει), and endures all things (πάντα ὑπομένει).  Only the Pauline letters used this word στέγει, that means to cover closely or bear up under, ward off, or endure patiently.  Once again, Paul explained what the Christian agape love was.  This Christian love bears up, believes, hopes, and endures all things.  The Christian has faith and hope to go along with his love.  Plus, the Christian is able to bear up and endure because of this Christian agape love.  Paul has laid out the expected behavior of those who have Christian agape love.  Do you live up to the expectations of Christian love?

Love rejoices in truth (1 Cor. 13:6)

“Love does not rejoice

At unrighteous wrongs.

But love rejoices

In the truth.”

οὐ χαίρει ἐπὶ τῇ ἀδικίᾳ, συνχαίρει δὲ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ·

Paul clarified that love does not rejoice (οὐ χαίρει) at wrong unrighteousness (οὐ χαίρει ἐπὶ τῇ ἀδικίᾳ), but love rejoices (συνχαίρει) in the truth (δὲ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ).  Paul indicated that Christian love agape does not get excited or rejoice at unrighteous bad wrong behavior.  Christian love agape only rejoices in the truth.  A Christian would know the difference between right and wrong, between unrighteous behavior and truthful behavior.  Do you rejoice in the truth?

What love is not (1 Cor. 13:5)

“Love is not inconsiderate.

Love does not insist

On its own way.

Love is not irritable.

Love is not resentful

Of past wrongs.”

οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ, οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς, οὐ παροξύνεται, οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν,

Paul further explained what was not Christian love agape, ἀγάπη.  Love is not inconsiderate (οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ).  Love does not insist on its own way (οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς).  Love is not irritable (οὐ παροξύνεται).  Love is not resentful of past wrongs (οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν).  Only this Corinthian letter used this word ἀσχημονεῖ, that means to act unbecomingly, improperly, or inconsiderate.  Paul then presented what attitudes were not consistent with Christian love, ἀγάπη.  Christians were not to be inconsiderate, insisting on their own way, irritable or resentful about past incidents.  These were inadequate Christian behavioral attitudes that did not line up with Christian agape or love.  Are you still lacking in Christian love?

The description of love (1 Cor. 13:4)

“Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love is not jealous.

Love is not boastful.

Love is not arrogant.”

Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ, χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη, οὐ ζηλοῖ, ἡ ἀγάπη οὐ περπερεύεται, οὐ φυσιοῦται,

Paul explained that love is patient or long suffering (Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ).  Love is kind or gentle (χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη).  Love is not jealous or envious (οὐ ζηλοῖ, ἡ ἀγάπη).  Love is not boastful or pretentious (ἡ ἀγάπη οὐ περπερεύεται), arrogant or proud (οὐ φυσιοῦται).  Only this Corinthian letter used this word χρηστεύεται, that means to be kind, full of service to others, or gentle, and the word περπερεύεται, that means to boast or vaunt oneself, plus the word φυσιοῦται, that means to puff up, blow up, inflate, arrogant, or proud.  Paul left no doubt about what he meant by Christian love, ἀγάπη.  He explained in his unique vocabulary that this Christian love is patient, long suffering, kind, and gentle.  At the same time, he explained what Christian agape, ἀγάπη, was not, since it was not jealous, envious, boastful, pretentious, arrogant, or proud.  The Christian should be patiently kind and not enviously arrogant.  Do you love like a Pauline Christian?