Love: Essential, Excellent, Eternal
1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1
Are you pursuing what is more excellent, what is essential and eternal?
Published April 27th, 2019; Updated April 30th, 2019
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Love is more excellent than spiritual gifts because love is essential, whereas gifts are not. Moreover, love shows more of God than gifts do. And finally, love never ends, whereas gifts are just temporary aids in the service of love. Therefore, value love above all gifts and virtues, but desire also the gifts with a view to loving God and people.
1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Umblaţi, dar y , după darurile cele mai bune. Şi vă voi arăta o cale nespus mai bună.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
Chiar dacă aş vorbi în limbi omeneşti şi îngereşti,
but have not love ,
şi n-aş avea dragoste,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal .
sunt o aramă sunătoare sau un chimval zăngănitor.
And if I have a prophetic powers,
Şi chiar dacă aş avea darul prorociei z
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
şi aş cunoaşte toate tainele şi toată ştiinţa;
and if I have all faith,
chiar dacă aş avea toată credinţa,
b so as to remove mountains,
aşa încât a să mut şi munţii,
but have not love ,
şi n-aş avea dragoste,
I am nothing .
nu sunt nimic.
c If I give away all I have,
Şi chiar dacă b mi-aş împărţi toată averea pentru hrana săracilor,
and d if I deliver up my body
chiar dacă mi-aş da trupul
to be burned, 1
să fie ars,
but have not love ,
şi n-aş avea dragoste,
I gain nothing .
nu-mi foloseşte la nimic.
e Love is patient and f kind ;
Dragostea c este îndelung răbdătoare,
love g does not envy or boast ;
este plină de bunătate; dragostea nu pizmuieşte; dragostea nu se laudă, nu se umflă de mândrie,
it h is not arrogant or rude .
nu se poartă necuviincios,
It does not insist on its own way ;
nu d caută folosul său,
it j is not irritable or resentful ; 1
nu se mânie, nu se gândeşte la rău,
it k does not rejoice at wrongdoing ,
nu e se bucură de nelegiuire,
but l rejoices with the truth .
ci se f bucură de adevăr,
m Love bears all things,
acoperă totul,
believes all things,
crede totul,
hopes all things,
nădăjduieşte totul,
e endures all things .
suferă totul g .
Love never ends .
Dragostea nu va pieri niciodată.
As for prophecies, they will pass away ;
Prorociile se vor sfârşi;
as for tongues, they will cease ;
limbile vor înceta;
as for knowledge, it will pass away .
cunoştinţa va avea sfârşit.
For n we know in part
Căci h cunoaştem în parte
and we prophesy in part ,
şi prorocim în parte;
but o when the perfect comes,
dar, când va veni ce este desăvârşit,
the partial will pass away .
acest „în parte” se va sfârşi.
When I was a child,
Când eram copil,
I spoke like a child,
vorbeam ca un copil,
I thought like a child,
simţeam ca un copil,
I reasoned like a child .
gândeam ca un copil;
When I became a man,
când m-am făcut om mare,
I gave up childish ways .
am lepădat ce era copilăresc.
For p now we see in a mirror dimly,
Acum, vedem i ca într-o oglindă, în chip întunecos;
but q then face to face .
dar atunci, vom vedea faţă j în faţă.
Now I know in part;
Acum, cunosc în parte;
then I shall know fully,
dar atunci, voi cunoaşte deplin,
even as r I have been fully known .
aşa cum am fost şi eu cunoscut pe deplin.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
Acum, dar, rămân acestea trei: credinţa, nădejdea şi dragostea;
but the greatest of these is love .
dar cea mai mare dintre ele este dragostea.
s Pursue love ,
Urmăriţi k dragostea.
and t earnestly desire the u spiritual gifts ,
Umblaţi şi după darurile duhovniceşti,
especially that you may v prophesy .
dar l mai ales să prorociţi.
Overview on 1 Corinthians 12:31b - 14:1 This passage is like a book: front cover , contents and back cover . The front cover is v.31b and we are exhorted to desire and pursue the spiritual gifts which build up the church most; and even more, we are exhorted to walk on this more excellent way, namely love. The content of the book consists in three arguments which are meant to show the superiority of love above spiritual gifts: essential, excellent and eternal. And the back cover is made up of 14:1, where the same thing found in 13:1 is restated as what would be the loving way of pursuing spiritual gifts in love, with a view to build up the church as much as possible, and so prophecy is the best gift which suits this purpose, at least compared to the gift of tongues. Then, in chapter 14, Paul applies what he has said in 12:31b - 14:1 to the Corinthians' eagerness for spiritual gifts (tongues and prophecy) and guides that eagerness through the channel of love and to the proper end of building up the church. Main point of chapter 13 Love is more excellent than spiritual gifts because love is essential , whereas gifts are not. Moreover, love is excellent when it comes to showing God's nature, much more so than gifts. And finally, love is eternal , whereas gifts are just temporary aids in the service of love. Therefore , value love above all gifts and virtues, and yet desire also the gifts with a view to loving God and people and building up the church. Overview on chapter 13 1. vv.1-3 | Love is essential , because even if you had all the spiritual gifts, without love, you would not benefit anyone, you are nothing and you gain nothing; all your gifts would count for nothing in God's sight. Whereas love, besides being a sure sign of salvation and not gifts ( 1 Cor. 16:22 ), it's also what gives value to gifts, because without it, they are of no benefit. 2. vv.4-7 | As Matthew Henry says in his commentary, love is excellent. God is love, so it seems that love is among the best virtues which displays God's nature. Thus, having love we show Him who is Excellent, more than if we had spiritual gift minus love, because the latter have no value outside of love's service. 3. vv.8-13 | Love is eternal , it starts when we are born again, implanted by the Holy Spirit who comes and indwells us, and it continues forever, growing more and more, forever. Whereas spiritual gifts, though they are necessary and useful here on earth, as long as the Church would exist, they are just temporary aids meant to cover our imperfections in the knowledge of God and in a life pleasing to Him. All spiritual gifts will cease once the Lord Jesus comes, and on the new heaven and the new earth, we won't need them anymore, being made already perfect by the face-to-face encounter with our Lord Jesus. But love... it shall be ever present in the hearts of the saints, even on the new earth, after being raised to new, imperishable bodies, we shall never dispose of love in heaven, but it will ever increase in us as we behold the most lovely being in the Universe, our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, heaven itself is a world of love, as Jonathan Edwards says and beautifully describes in his book. Conclusion The eternal reality of love is the most precious, much more excellent than the temporary reality of spiritual gifts, therefore we are exhorted to pursue the most valuable things, namely love. Let it be our goal and criterion in all things. Nevertheless, spiritual gifts have their role here on earth and the church needs them so that it would not lack any means in building up the church. So, we must always put spiritual gifts under the authority of the Scriptures and understand them through the lens of love and in the service of the edification of the church, because this is their role and their place in the life of the church. Otherwise, if we focus mainly on gifts, loosing sight of their purpose and their channel, which is love, we end up treasuring as most precious what is not worth the highest eagerness and dedication. And we reap as fruits abuses, contempt, pride, the problems which the Corinthians reaped also. And in this context, the spiritual gifts would end up being just empty forms, devoid of any power of building up the church, and so of no real benefit. Yet, even though there are those risks, the apostle Paul does not say to the Corinthians and to us to stop desiring and pursuing any spiritual gifts, but on the contrary, after putting them in their proper place, in the service of love eternal and with the purpose of building up the church, he exhorts them and us, to eagerly desire them, pursuing them in love and for the edification of the church in which we pour ourselves out. Let us in this way long for those spiritual gifts, and surely the Holy Spirit will gladly bestow them on us, so that we may serve others in love, as long as the church will continue in this present age. Amen.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.