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Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 13

Verses 1-7

  1. Intro:
    1. Chapter 13 is like waking up & realizing spring is here!
      1. The cold of winter is gone, & the flowers of spring are popping up everywhere! (our Israel trip)
    2. Let’s slow down & smell this chapters fragrance!
    3. Lets not focus so much on getting informed but on being transformed!
    4. As Alan Redpath said, I trust you will get a spiritual suntan as you look into the face of our Lord Jesus Christ & absorb the glow of His love!
    5. Outline: Love’s Preeminence; Love’s Ingredients. (Next week) Love Lasts!
      1. ​​​​​​​The Greek word agapao/love seems to have been virtually a Christian invention. A new word for a new thing!
    6. LOVE’S PREEMINENCE! (1-3)
      1. ​​​​​​​The believers in Corinth had spiritual gifts but not spiritual graces!
        1. Love is like a pair of reading glasses. One, lens represents Love; The other represents any truth, or service, gift, or obedience.
          1. When you pop out the lens of love, it all starts to blur.
          2. You can squint for a time looking out of the one lens, but it gets tiring after a time. – Love should be yoked w/everything!
      2. (1) Your speech is not determined by the extent of your vocabulary but by the depth of your heart...by how much you love.
        1. When love comes to a man’s life he doesn’t need words, for love is universal in every language.
      3. (2) Judas Iscariot acquired all the knowledge he could, as he sat at his Masters feet for 3 years, but he didn’t have love… & betrayed the Lord.
        1. Some have the faith to move mountains, but they end up moving them right into the path of someone else!
      4. (3) Give away your goods, or offer your body to be burned (or fixed to a cross like we see in P.I.).
        1. Some attempt to make atonement for their sins by almsgiving. This isn’t out of love but out of hope for reward!
        2. The heathen cuts himself to death to make peace w/God. This isn’t out of love but out of fear!
        3. Some court persecution, boasting “I’d die for Christ!” thinking only of how we’d look to the rest of our Christian community…a type of hero…yet it is simply a product of pride & not of devotion!
      5. Results of love-less-ness? – I have become nothing(1); I am nothing(2); I profits me nothing(3)
        1. So it’s saying, “You are not something or somebody, but you are absolutely nobody, worthless for time & for eternity!”
        2. Our greatest activities & accomplishments, exercised without love, are empty & temporal.
        3. Love it or loose it!
      6. Rev.2:2-4 I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.…and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
  2. LOVE’S INGREDIENTS! (4-7)
    1. ​​​​​​​“This word agapao has little to do with mere emotion; it indicates love which deliberately, by an act of will, chooses its object, & through thick or thin, regardless of the attractiveness of the object concerned, goes on loving continually, eternally.” (Alan Redpath, pg.156.)
    2. Every description of love in this chapter is applicable to Jesus.
      1. Jesus suffers long & is kind…Jesus never fails!”
    3. When we become NT Christians agape is born in us. If this study is to mean anything we should be able to say by the end…“I suffer long & am kind, I do not envy…”
    4. Lets look at the Ingredients of love!
    5. (4) Love suffers long! (patient)
    6. This is the 1st quality love displays.
    7. The Greek word used always describes patience w/people & not patience w/circumstances.
      1. “It takes a long time before fuming & breaking into flames.” (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament)
      2. He is slow to anger. It doesn’t strike back.
      3. When you’ve been wronged, love is patient & silent.
    8. Chrysostom said that it is the word used of the man who is wronged & who has it easily in his power to avenge himself & who yet will not do it. (like David in En Gedi)
      1. Such patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength.
    9. Story – No one treated Abraham Lincoln w/more contempt then did Stanton. Stanton called him “a low cunning clown”, he nicknamed him “the original gorilla”. Lincoln never responded. - When it came time to pick his war minister he picked Stanton because he was the best for the job & he treated him w/ever courtesy. Years later when the assassin’s bullet murdered Lincoln in the theatre, in the little room the body was taken to, there stood Stanton. Looking down on Lincoln’s silent face, he said through his tears, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.” The Patience of love had conquered in the end!
    10. ​​​​​​​Love is kind!
    11. If we just endured wrong this could be just a triumph of obstinacy.
      1. The love of God is not only patient but is kind!
      2. Origen defined this as, “Love is sweet to all”.
    12. Jesus showed the greatest kindness to Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him.
    13. So many of us would have sided with the rulers & not with Jesus if we had had to deal w/the woman taken in adultery! :(
    14. Do you show kindness to the children of God?
      1. Jn.13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
    15. Slide#15 Love does not envy!
    16. To boil with envy, to be jealous.
    17. Where there is no love there will inevitably be envy!
      1. Envy was the seed of the 1st murder in human history, & it has been a seed of murder ever since!
      2. Envy is like a 2 sided coin – On one side envy is coveting the possessions of others. The other side is even worse. It resents the very fact that others have what they don’t have (it doesn’t necessarily want them for themselves, it just wishes others had not got them).
    18. Are you eaten up w/envy, jealous of other’s gifts, opportunities, abilities, possessions, position in life?
    19. Love does not parade itself!
    20. Love doesn’t brag or boast! – “Love makes no parade!” (Moffatt)
      1. When I was 5 years old, Mr. Prenevost used to have all the kids on the Cerecita block in Whittier go home & get pots & pans, & we’d parade up & down the street.
        1. How often I’ve done that with my “love”.
      2. When a man begins to boast, he is advertising his emptiness & his ignorance.
    21. The Lord Jesus never “showed off”!
    22. “True love will always be far more impressed w/its own unworthiness than its own merit!” (William Barclay)
    23. “The real lover cannot ever get over the wonder that he is loved!”
      1. I can see this 2 ways: One with the Lord; the other w/Kelly!
      2. The Lord – Why does the Lord love me…I know me.
      3. Kelly – My 1st date with her…I couldn’t believe she’d go out with me (popular cheer leader type; me the wanna be jock/surfer/party’r type)
      4. When I get frustrated w/either of these relationships, that truth is a great reminder! Then my love is kept humble!
    24. How about you? Are you boastful, conceited, proud?
    25. Love is not puffed up!
    26. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​“To puff oneself out like a pair of bellows”. (RWP)
      1. It is never arrogant, but always humble.
      2. It is not inflated with its own importance!
    27. William Carey once a cobbler, became 1 of the greatest missionaries & linguistics the world has ever seen. (He translated at least parts of the bible in approx. 34 Indian languages) When he came to India he was treated w/dislike & contempt. At a dinner party a snob trying to intimidate him, said, “I suppose you once worked as a shoe-maker.” - “No your lordship”, answered Carey, “not a shoe maker, only a cobbler.” He did not even claim to “make shoes”, just “mend them”!
    28. (5) Love does not behave rudely!
    29. Love is not ill-mannered, but always courteous.
    30. Love is tactful & does nothing that would raise a blush.
      1. There should be a graciousness in Christian love which never forgets that courtesy & tact & politeness are attractive things!
    31. Who do you have problems being rude to? Your wife/husband? Your kids? Your employees? A teacher?
    32. Love does not seek its own!
    33. Love does not insist upon its rights; but finds its joy in serving others.
    34. Do you seek your own advancements & interests,…at the expense of others?
    35. Oh if men would think less of their rights & more of their duties!
    36. Love is not provoked!
    37. KK.Love never flies into a temper. Love is not irritable or touchy.LL. Christian love never becomes exasperated w/people!
    38. Often it is excused as something that people cannot help, but it demonstrates a lack of love,…no if, &’s, or buts!
    39. MM.When we loose our tempers we loose everything! - Master your temper & you can master about anything!
      1. Jesus never was vindictive nor did He retaliate.
    40. Are you temperamental, thin-skinned, easily offended, quick to be resentful?
    41. Love thinks no evil!
    42. Love always keeps a list of the kind things done to it, but never a record of the wrongs it has suffered.
    43. It does not cherish in its memory a list of injustices.
      1. Love has an amazing power to forget!!!
      2. Jesus came to blot out our sin & remember our sin no more…forever!
    44. It is said of President Lincoln, that he never forgot a kindness, but he had no room in his mind for the memory of a wrong…How about you?
      1. One of the great arts in life is to learn what to forget!
      2. In Polynesia the natives spend much time fighting & feasting. They have a custom to keep some reminders of their hatred. They suspend articles for the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of their wrongs, until it is impossible to forget them.
        1. If I came over to your house what would I see hanging from your roof?
        2. Christian love learns how to forget!
    45. In USA TODAY, April 14, ‘88 - “Have you ever noticed that sometimes we get angry and remain bitter with people and actually forget why we're so upset? Take, for example, the notorious Hatfield-McCoy feud. It hit newspaper front pages in the 1880's, when the Hatfield clan feuded with the McCoy clan from across the border in Kentucky. Historians disagree on the cause of the feud -- which captured the imagination of the nation during a 10-year run. Some cite Civil War tensions: McCoys sympathized with the Union, Hatfields with the Confederacy. Others say it began when the McCoys blamed the Hatfields for stealing hogs. As many as 100 men, women and children died. In May 1976, Jim McCoy and Willis Hatfield – the last two survivors of the original families -- shook hands at a public ceremony dedicating a monument to six of the victims. McCoy died Feb. 11, 1984, at age 99. He bore no grudges & had his burial handled by the Hatfield Funeral Home in Toler, KY!”
    46. (6) Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth!
      1. ​​​​​​​It seems easier to weep with those who weep, than to rejoice with those who rejoice!
      2. In Jesus interview with the woman taken in adultery, He did not condone her sin, but He protected & forgave her!
    47. (7) Love bears all things!
      1. ​​​​​​​To bear up as to support as a roof.
        1. Love gets under the load of life & bears it to the limit.
      2. Love suffers wrong w/o retaliation.
      3. Love can bear any insult, any injury, & any disappointment.
        1. “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
    48. Love believes all things!
      1. ​​​​​​​Love takes God at His word!
      2. Love always believes the best about other people.
        1. Not that love is easily deceived. Nor love is blind.
        2. It means love is not basically suspicious.
        3. It takes the kindest view of others in every circumstance, as long as it possibly can!
    49. Love hopes all things!
      1. ​​​​​​​Love doesn’t despair of anybody! – Love never ceases to hope!
      2. How sad, the dad that tells his son or daughter, “you’re hopeless, you’ll never amount to anything.” (that shatters their hope!)
    50. Love endures all things!
      1. ​​​​​​​Love never gives in! - Such love took Jesus to Calvary!
      2. The ability to love can only come from love’s source.
        1. Recall afresh the great love God has shown us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
      3. Don’t try to produce these qualities by self-improvement, it’s submission to the H.S.
        1. Rm5:5 the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the H.S. who was given to us
        2. Yield yourself to Him!
    51. Sneak Peek into next week - Love never fails!
      1. ​​​​​​​Love will stand - Love will never let you down! - Love survives everything! - It is invincible love! – It is love that will never go extinct!

Verses 8-13

  1. Intro:
    1. Twisted Mouth, by Richard Selzer, M.D., Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery. I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “It is kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. (Richard Selzer, M.D., Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, 1978, pp. 45-6)
      1. Pray: Ps.2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,...blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
    2. We long for a day when the abstract will be made concrete; where narrative will boldly illustrate the didactic(teaching). (adapted from R.C.Sproul, Love by God, pg.209)
    3. Last week we looked at Love’s Preeminence(1-3) & then defined Love’s Ingredients(4-7).
      1. This week Love Lasts(8-13).
    4. Quote vs.1-7 from (Msg) If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
    5. One of the ingredients we looked at last was, “love endures all things”.
      1. L.B.Cowman writes in her famed Streams in the Desert devotional (which she put together for herself while her husband Charles was dying, after coming home from the mission field). From Prov.10:12 Love covers over all wrongs (sins; broken covenants; a breach in relationships between 2 parties). Read pg.243.
      2. Many heartaches will come our way, and the desire to give up and quit will often pass through our minds. But God’s love for us endures even our shortcomings. How can we do any less?
  2. LOVE LASTS!
    1. ​​​​​​​It is special that God would have us land here in the Passion Week.
      1. Love never fails...all the way to the cross It goes! [It’s permanency & lasting nature]
    2. (8-10) That which is perfect
    3. Is this, Jesus’ 2nd Coming; or, the perfect age in which these gifts will no longer be needed.
      1. Some interpret it to be the completion to the NT, thus they are not for today.
        1. But then what about vs.12? Now, we are already know as we are known? Nope.
      2. Some interpret it to be Jesus’ return, which similar wording is found in 1Jn.3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
      3. Some interpret to be the completion/maturation/perfection of the Church.
        1. I think this holds most weight as it flows best in its context to the following verse(11).
          1. Then Paul would see God as God now saw Paul.
          2. Then partial knowledge would be displaced by the perfect knowledge of God
          3. i.e. A slow maturing process from infancy to adulthood.
        2. Mt.5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
    4. Some of the gifts were foundational (prophecies and knowledge)
      1. Eph. 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
    5. Some of the gifts were confirmatory (tongues)
      1. Heb. 2:4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
        1. Every gift is linked in some way to building up the church to maturity.
        2. These have been functioning in the Church Age & will continue till the church is perfected.
          1. When that perfection is achieved, the gifts will have served their purposes and will be rendered obsolete.
          2. But...this will not happen to love!
      2. Remember context of this whole chapter? Love is greater than gifts.
        1. One is temporal & one is eternal.
    6. (11,12) 2 Illustrations:
      1. Child to Man - Until Jesus comes, we’ll continue to think like children; but when He comes we will have adult/mature understanding.
        1. Childish things: I no longer play with Tommy Turtle, Rock-em Sock-em Robots, G.I.Joe.
          1. Now I play with more expensive toys! ipad, iPhone, Canon Cameras :)
      2. Cloudy mirror to clear mirror - Corinth was famous for their mirrors.
        1. The modern mirror, w/its perfect reflection as we know it today didn’t come around until the 13th century.
        2. The Corinthians mirror was made from highly polished metals. And even at its best, gave but an imperfect reflection.
          1. Much like the blind mother, who after her eye operation, saw her son for the first time. She said, “I thought I knew you, but today I see you.” Before, limited to touching him & hearing his voice. Now if he entered her dreams at night, she would recognize him.2
        3. Today, we know Christ like the clarity of seeing our own reflection in a stream. But one day face to face!
          1. The Priestly blessing: The Lord make His face to shine upon you. Numb 6:25
          2. Job’s confidence: For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God. Job19:25,26
          3. David’s assurance: As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. Ps.17:15
          4. Jesus’ promise: Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Mt.5:8
            1. When we see the Savior face-to-face our question marks will all be changed to exclamation marks!!!
    7. (14) Love is greatest because God is Love!
    8. Faith = is trust that rests upon evidence & leads to action.
    9. Hope = is confidence in the future.
      1. Slide#12 Faith w/o love is cold, & hope w/o love is grim. Love is the fire which kindles faith & it is the light which turns hope into certainty.
    10. Faith will be replaced by sight, & hope replaced by possession.
      1. Or, some see all 3 of the full Triad of Christian virtues, will abide.
    11. Does Love come to the surface of your life more often than any other virtue?
    12. If those around you were to choose one virtue to describe you, would it be love?
    13. End: (14:1) Pursue love!
    14. To hunt, to pursue. The pres. imp. calls for a habitual action!
      1. Everyone who follows(pursues) the way of love finds “the most excellent way” (31), because every individual characterized by love carries that mark eternally.
    15. Practice Love in daily life.
      1. Take every opportunity to love your God, love one another, love others, love your neighbor, love your enemy.
        1. Here’s the test: “I suffer long and am kind; I do not envy; I do not parade myself, I am not puffed up; I do not behave rudely, I do not seek my own, I am not provoked, I think no evil; I do not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth; I bear all things, I believe all things, I hope all things, I endures all things. I never fail when it comes to Agape love!”
    16. A man will love a dog or a bird sooner than be loveless. Captives have been known to fall in love with rats, & even spiders on the wall have been the objects of their affection. A little flower that could not speak has been the prisoner’s beloved friend. We must have something to love.
      1. Oh, & what wealth of love Jesus brings into the heart when He enters it! (Spurgeon at his Best, #803, pg.122)
    17. Quote vs.8-13 from (Msg)
    18. 8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

      11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

      12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

      13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
    19. In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity. - Augustine
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-corinthians-13.html. 2017.