1 Corinthians 13

1c13.jpgGreetings!  If you’ve been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard this passage.  It isn’t just about marital love, though.  This is about agape love, the highest form of love – the kind that puts the interests of others before our own.

13     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.


4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Some people thing that spiritual truths are unknowable, but that isn’t the Christian worldview at all.  We don’t know everything, but we can know what we need to know.  And we’ll learn much more later.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

One exercise I’ve heard to do with this next section is to read it three times:

  • Once as written
  • Once with “God” or “Jesus” instead of “love” (i.e., “God is patient, God is kind, . . . “).  This will help you understand God’s attributes
  • Once with your name instead of “love.”  This will keep you humble and challenge you to be more loving!  When I use my name there I am tempted to have question marks instead of commas (“Neil is patient?  Neil is kind?  Really?!).

Try it!

8 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 13”

  1. Hi, I found your cool Bible blog through Don’s. Since nobody’s commented on this entry yet, I figured I’d throw my $0.02 in.

    Nothing too deep, really…I was taught to do the same when I was being discipled back in college. Substitute “My Father” for “love” to remember the attributes of God. Actually, I’ve found this a helpful reminder when I’m tempted to think of God as harsh or losing patience with me. It’s all there in black and white – how good and gentle He really is.

    I noticed here somewhere you recommended Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven — we are doing that next winter for our women’s Bible study. Looking forward to it!


  2. Hi Marie – thanks for visiting and commenting! Another blessing from Don’s site.

    Hope you enjoy Heaven – the book and especially the place!


  3. Hi my friends. Please bare with me. I Cor 13 is a section of scripture that I can get stuck in for long times. Actually, it should be the most worn section of our bibles based on Mat 22:34-40 and the first three verses of I Cor 13. I fault the church for much of the problem. If love is really the most important thing (and I know it is) then why doesn’t the church structure its teaching accordingly?
    Please hang in here with me for a moment.
    Look at it this way. If I had first been taught the elements of love.. like, “not even accounting an evil done to me”, then what would I need to sit in a class entitled “Forgiveness” for.

    I don’t speak in tonges but in light of the passages I am referring to… why would a church have me go to a class on Tonges before I have learned and even begun to operate in a spirit of Love.
    Now, I know there are a lot of loving churches out there… with loving people. And I know they teach about examples of Gods love and even examples of love themselves… but how many of us were taught theses elements of Gods love over other teacher.

    Let me put it this way and i’ll quit.
    How can I tell by looking at this years teaching lineup in the church, that the greatest thing of “all” is love?


  4. I think it is awesome how Jesus is pointing out at the end of this teaching about Real Love, the difference between acting like a child and not…
    It shows us that this section of scripture is for the mature christian. I love you guys out there and I know that if you are still struggling with many christian issues, its because you are not soaking up what Christ is telling us here in chapter 13.


  5. Neil,… In light of Mat 22:34-40 and I Cor 13:1-3, do you believe the Church teaches it’s followers in the same order of importance?

    Example: Why would I be instructed on any of the subjects referred to in vs 1-3 (which I don’t believe God is “just” talking about those few subjects listed) if I had not first learned the teachings or instructions on Love.

    Here is the mystery of keeping to the priority or order of His reference in these passages. {If, I have been taught the importance of love and it’s true meaning… If I am now walking in love… then I don’t even account for the wrong (evil) done against me. Now, if I am not accounting for … then what intruction do I need of Forgiveness?}

    This, is why I believe Chapter 13 ends on the subject of maturity.


  6. Thank you Neil,
    Well, I certainly don’t mean that there are no loving churches out there… or that the church doesn’t teach love. I belong to a church that is wonderful in that regard. And I am no teacher nor do I represent anyone else, other than the Spirit as He leads, but I just feel there is something foundational here for us in these verses containing words like “most important” and “just a clanging gong”.. you know what I mean? 🙂
    Anyway, I do so appreciate your service to the Lord and the smart presentation of Gods’ word here. Thank you.


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