Riff on 1 Cor 13

[Text: 1 Corinthians]

It’s easy to read these familiar words too quickly, and it’s easier still to take this lovely Love poem out of its complicated context and frame it for our wall.  But remember the concept of “Pickup Theology”: these descriptive statements about the love that ought to characterize believers’ interactions are deeply relevant to the specific situation of a less-than-loving congregation way-back-then in Corinth.  Here’s a riff by Paul on Paul – some practical, earthy commentary on the very qualities the Corinthians lack, and which Paul himself tries to emulate so they’ll catch his example.  (The fact that he has to mention the fact that he’s providing them with an example is an indication of how slow on the uptake they were in this area!)*

“See, this is what I mean about being considerate…”

Love is patient…

            “In eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal…wait for one another!”

Love is kind…

“Sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

It does not envy…

            “For while there is jealousy and strife among you…[you are] puffed up in favor of one against the other.”

It is not boastful…

            “Let no one boast in man…Your boasting is not good!”

It is not arrogant or rude…

            “And you are arrogant!…Do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?”

It does not insist on its own way…

            “But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision.”

It is not irritable or resentful…

            “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?…When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat.”

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing…

            “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans…And you are arrogant!  Ought you not rather to mourn?”

  …but rejoices with the truth.

            “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Love bears all things…

            “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands…”

…believes all things…

“For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

…hopes all things…

            “You wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

…endures all things.

            “We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.”

 “Now, go and do likewise!”  

— Paul



*This post is also a test for readers of 1 Corinthians.  Do you know the context of each of the above commentary statements?  Try to remember the topic and chapter they are associated with.  If you can’t stand the suspense or you really don’t know 1 Corinthians very well, here’s the cheat sheet.  All biblical quotations are from the ESV, though some are paraphrased.


Filed under Biblical Genres, Epistles, Historical Context, Instructing the Body, Paul

2 responses to “Riff on 1 Cor 13

  1. Awesome post! This would be a great ‘last class’ for a 1 Cor. course.

  2. Pingback: Military Mnemonics | Grass Roots Theological Library

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