In our last post we had aimed to understand the thrust of 1 Corinthians 13. Today we offer a suggested outline of the chapter.
1. The Priority of God's Love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Without God's love, I'm no better than...
A. The finest speaker
B. The most faithful saint
C. The most fervent martyr
These three categories were prized in the cultures of Corinth and 1st century Judaism. In the Greco-Roman world, were speakers that practiced what was called "rhetoric". Rhetoric entailed the finely skilled art of communication. Certain philosophers in Greek history would had been respected, since they had followings and in some cases (like Socrates), died for their teachings. Judaism had its share of Martyrs (such as the Jews who died in the Maccabbean revolts of 168-165 b.c) and saints (like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses). If God's love is not included in these efforts, such actions are useless. God's love is prioritized. To apply what Paul is saying here, are we as Christians cultivating our love for God, and allowing His love to flow through us by our obedience, surrender and exercise of the gifts.
2. Practice of God's love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Compare what love "is" and what love "is not"...
Love is...patient, kind, rejoices in truth, bears all, believes all, hopes all, endures all (7 positives).
Love is not...jealous, bragging, act in unbelief, self-seeking, provoked, counts wrongs, rejoices in unrighteousness, never fails (9 negatives).
3. Power of God's love. 1 Corinthians 13:8b-13
A. Enduring quality of God's love. 13:8b-10
B. Maturing quality of God's love
C. Illuminating quality of God's love. 13:12-13
Now as we think of the priority, practice and power of God's love, additional cross references can be used to shed light on 1 Corinthians 13.
1 John 4:15-19 "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us."
We can also note how the love here is spoken of in 1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."
God's love, poured through the Christian and the gifts He gives, can be likened unto a mighty river flowing through an otherwise dry river bed. Consider for example John 7:37-39 "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
Today we have offered a brief outline of 1 Corinthians 13, along with some appropriate cross references. May the reader use this for the glory of God to the betterment of their spiritual lives and others.