When Everything Else Fails
CENTRAL IDEA - The text is tailored to teach us that God is not impressed by Gifts, He is moved by Love
The Preeminence of Love (vv. 1-3)
The Perfections of Love (vv. 4-7)
Paul shifted from the first person to the third person and replaced himself with a personification of love. Some have seen in verses 4–6 the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23); others have seen here a description of Christ Himself. As different sides of the same coin, both are applicable and provided a solution to the many Corinthian problems. Love, defined by 14 predications (half of them negative, half positive) constituted the “way.” Love, Paul wrote, is patient … kind … does not envy or boast, and is not proud.
Patience (makrothymia) is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. The Corinthian church had many members who had been wronged (e.g., in lawsuits [1 Cor. 6:8] and the poor at communal meals [11:21–22]). The response of love to these wrongs would be a display of kindness and goodness. Envy and boasting seemed to abound as two poles of the same problem (e.g., divisions [1:10; 3:3, 21]; gifts [12:14–25]). The Corinthians had no monopoly on pride though they seemed to. The verb physioō occurs only seven times in the New Testament, six of which are found in this letter (cf. 4:6, 18–19; 5:2; 8:1).
13:5. Paul then gave four negative descriptions of love: It is not rude nor self-seeking nor easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Rudeness found expression in the problem of women in worship (11:2–16), the disorders at the Lord’s Supper (11:17–22), and the general organization of worship (14:26–33). Self-satisfaction was a pervasive disorder particularly manifested in the eating of food sacrificed to idols (8:9; 10:23–24). People who are not easily angered usually do not start lawsuits (as in 6:1–11). Love does not record wrongs, though there was ample opportunity for doing so in Corinth (e.g., 6:8; 7:5; 8:11).
13:6. Love does not delight in evil (e.g., incest [5:1–2, 8]), but rejoices in truth (5:8).
13:7. Love always protects (cf. 8:13), trusts (cf. 15:11), hopes (cf. 9:10, 23), and perseveres (hypomenei, “remains steadfast in the face of unpleasant circumstances”; cf. 9:19–22).