Forthright Magazine

Love at the peak

Some have considered the chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13 as a parenthesis in the discussion about the use of gifts, in chapters 12-14. In truth, it is the center and peak of the whole discussion. It all comes down to this. Or rather, it is up to love at the peak where we must climb.

Not everyone has the same gift. But every single saint must have the same motivation of love. Here, Paul personifies love. Some think he has the Lord Jesus Christ in mind. If so, he will move quickly from Jesus as love to the disciple as love. But perhaps he seeks to pass on the idea that wherever love is present, this is how it will act. If love is present in you, this is how you will act.

Chapter 13 divides naturally into three parts: the superiority of love (vv. 1-3), the behavior of love (vv. 4-7), and the permanence of love (vv. 8-13). Again, the centerpiece of the chapter is the middle element. Here is how love behaves.

Our modern world conceives of love as an emotion or a feeling, an idea that’s light years away from the biblical truth. Love is a choice to behave in a certain way. And that way can be clearly identified. This way is what Paul wants the Corinthians to show in their relationships with each other, because it is lacking in their use of God’s gifts. This loving conduct will solve this and many of the other problems in the congregation.

So Eduard Schweizer is right in his Theological Introduction to the NT, that this chapter “sees in unlimited love the way in which faith in [Christ] can be lived” (p. 64). Love is the only way.

Paul agrees with the Lord Jesus Christ that love is at the center of the Way. Christ identified love as being in the two major commandments. And Paul plainly puts love at the center of the solution for the Corinthians. Love is what makes it all work.

William Law wrote, “The greatest idea that we can frame of God, is when we conceive Him to be a Being of infinite love and goodness; using an infinite wisdom and power, for the common good and happiness of His creatures” (Law 1729, 278). This being the case, then, he states,

“The highest notion, therefore, that we can form of man is when we conceive him as like to God, in this respect, as he can be; using all his infinite faculties, whether of wisdom, power, or prayers, for the common good of all his fellow-creatures; heartily desiring they may have all the happiness they are capable of, and as many benefits and assistances from him, as his state and condition in the world will permit him to give them” (Law 1729, 278.)

Truth and love belong together. Service is preserved from self-interest by love. God is love. May be we love, also.

This articles comes from what the editor hopes to be a follow-up book to his work: Choose! 13 Choices to Transform Your Heart and Soul.


J. Randal Matheny
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