5It is notrude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easilyangered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Prep. Adj. Prep. Prep. Verb preposition phrase
6Lovedoes notdelightin evilbutrejoiceswith the truth. 7It always protects, always
Noun verb. Noun prep. Conj. Verb prep. Prep. Adv.
trusts, alwayshopes, alwaysperseveres. (NIV)
Noun adv. Verb adv. Intr. Verb
As one reads this paragraph once again with the parts of speech of each word, one will notice that there is a powerful and most be understood message. It seems as though the main idea is portrait in this sense units: Love-is and Love-is-not. However, there are of course more to the passage than just that as one notice the details. Observing the details in grammar and parts of speech helps one understand the main idea or concept being portrait or emphasized in the passage. The next good step to do in studying this passage is to outline it to find out the themes and what is saying.
Three themes have been found in this passage that lets us know what exactly the author is trying to tell us. Obviously love is very important and we must know that what love is what love is not and love’s attitude towards wrong/evil. Knowing this one can then see where the author is heading with this message. Now the question is what the context issues of this passage are.
Context Issues of the Passage
The supposedly title of the chapter is “The Greatest Gift.” However, if one goes back even further one can notice that in chapter 12 Paul is talking about Spiritual gifts. I believe this to be the source that led to “The Greatest Gift,” which is chapter 13. The verses preceding 4-7 are saying that one may have all the talents and riches and blessings of the world, but if one does not have love then is all worthless—one has nothing. That is how important love is according to Paul. The verses after 4-7 indicate that love lasts forever, that is agape love, and that it is a gift from God. God has given us many gifts in life; but faith, hope and love have been the greatest. However, out of all these the greatest is love.
As I studied this verse I found at least 20 marginal references that were related to this passage. The list goes as follow:
Most of these references do relate to the verses in some way, however there are couple that don’t seem to be very close to what 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is talking about. I did a bit more searching and found some key words using Bible Works. One of them was perseverance which is talked about also in Genesis 29:20, second was hope and is also talked about in Romans 8:24 finally rejoice and is talked about also in proverbs 18:9. Of Course the Bible talks about all of these every where, but in the context of love and in relation to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 these are the reference that relate to it. Now that one knows the context of the passage, it is also good to know the background issue of the passage.
Background Issues of the Passage
The book of Corinthians was written by Paul during his many journeys around the world. Paul was a very bold disciple or apostle. He preached the gospel wherever he went. He was full of wisdom and understanding given to him by God. He was inspired by God to write all of the books he has written. Paul is also the author of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Acts, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1& 2 Thessalonians. These are all called epistles or letters to the latter churches at that period of time. All of Paul’s writings definitely describe his character and what kind of person he is. His writings portrait the bold and leadership he had. The book of 1 Corinthians was written by Paul around 50-60 AD while he was in another country. This book was written to the people of Corinthians because there was an issue about spiritual gifts and other gifts from God. Paul wrote them explaining to them, in this passage that having all the talent and other spiritual gifts is worthless if you do not have the agape love. Agape love is the love described in verses 4-7 of chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians.
It seems that the church must have had some problem with knowing their gifts and not knowing what to with them. Nevertheless, it could have also been that they did not know their gifts and wanted to learn more about it. I believe the crisis was that the Corinthians did not know what to do for God and his people as a Church since they didn’t know what their gifts were. Paul wrote them to let them know about what kind of gifts are there and that not everybody has the same gifts. Also that if one is going to have a gift, one most first have the greatest gift all given to all which is love.
So in conclusion to this background issues, Paul’s books are all under the genre of Epistles or letters with wisdom and knowledge from God. There are, however, some revelations that were given to some of the Churches to which Paul wrote to. So in total there are about 4 genres within the Epistle genre: Gospel, wisdom, narrative and some apocalyptic literature.
Translating the Text and Versions It is always a good idea to study a passage with different versions because one can learn a lot about the passage and even find detail meanings of the passage.
After studying the different versions I believe the one that helps me understand the passage the best is the NLT translation, which is the New Living Translation. I really like the way this version describes the verse. To me it’s made so clear what love is and is not. Other than that all versions are pretty much the same. The only difference is the using of words and phrases.
Textual Criticism The only textual criticism I found is based on the “Ultra-Radical Attack.” This is a story on a man by the name of Bruno Bauer who 1rejected Rome on the grounds that, according to Acts, no Church existed in Rome in Paul’s day. His views received little attention, until, in 1886 onward, they were taken up and extended by a series of writers in Holland, Pierson and Naber, and Loman, followed rapidly by Steck of Bern, Volter of Amsterdam, and above all by Van Manen of Leyden. According to these writers, with slight modifications of view among themselves, it is very doubtful if Paul or Christ ever really existed; if they did, legend has long since made itself master of their personalities, and in every case what borders on the supernatural is to be taken as the criterion of the legendary. The epistles were written in the 1st quarter of the 2nd century, and as Paul, so far as he was known and was believed to be a reformer of anti-Judaic sympathies. The aim of the whole series was to further the interests of a supposed circle of clever and elevated men, who, partly imbued with Hebrew ideals, and partly with the speculations of Greek and Alexandrian philosophy, desired the spread of a universalistic Christianity and true Gnosis. For this end they perceived it necessary that Jewish legalism should be neutralized, and that the narrow national element should be expelled from the Messianic idea. Hence, the epistles, the principles on which the main contentions of the critics are based may be reduced to two:
(1) that there are relations in the epistles so difficult to understand that, since we cannot properly understand them, the epistles are not trustworthy; and
(2) that the religious and ecclesiastical development is so great that not merely 20 or 30 years, but 70 or 80 more, are required, if we are to be able rationally to conceive it:
to accept the situation at an earlier date is simply to accept what cannot possibly have been.
Word Studies After reading the passage of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 several times I picked out the words that stood out the most in the passage and did a word study on it. I searched its history and I found it meant pretty much the same before as it does now days. The following words were the ones chosen:
Definitions of noun and verbs.
Love--_Agapan_ has more of judgment and deliberate choice; _philein_ has more of attachment and peculiar personal affection.
Suffer--The commonest meaning perhaps in the English Versions of the Bible is "to permit," "to allow," "to give leave, to go through,"' "to endure" , to be ill-treated .
Envy---"against," and video, "to look," "to look with ill-will," to redden," "to glow" (Job 5:2, the Revised Version (British and American) "jealousy.
Provoke---to call forth," hence, to excite or stir up, whether in a good or bad sense, "to make angry" "to make jealous"
Truth---t denotes that which is opposed to falsehood.
Iniquity---crookedness," "perverseness," i.e. evil regarded as that which is not straight or upright, moral distortion
Hope---one of the three main elements of Christian character 1Co 13:13 It is joined to faith and love, and is opposed to seeing or possessing Ro 8:24 1Jo 3:2 "Hope is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential indeed, that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence of Christianity.
Each word is communicating a theological concept that is very important when reading the passage. The word Love is expressing the agape love which is more of a love that has more judgment and deliberate choice than emotional love—philein. The word suffer is referring to enduring some type of trial or test. Envy has a pretty obvious meaning of jealousy. The word provoke has its theological meaning of to excite or stir up whether in a good or bad way. Truth’s meaning is that which is opposed to falsehood. Iniquity can be said to be evil or moral distortion or sin itself. Hope has a theological concept that it is an element that all Christians have as part of their character.
There certain expressions that I found to be interesting as I did this word study. A couple that caught my attention were “Love never gives up and never loses faith.” The fact that Love never gives up is quite shocking to me. I believe here is where one distinguishes the difference between agape love and philein love. Emotional love, one knows from everyday life experiences, does not last long when it comes to relationships. However, agape love never gives up. To me this version of NLT is better to understand than the other ones because when one says “bears all things”, it seems a bit too general in this case. To say it never gives up tells one the context to which “bears all things” is said. Agape love is much more powerful because it never gives up no matter if a relationship does not go well it will never give up trying to recon ciliate. The second one is love never loses faith, and I like it better than saying “believes all things” because saying that it believes all things makes one sound gullible. However, by saying it never loses faith tells you the meaning and context to which “believes all things” is said. This part of love never loses faith is very important in a believer’s life. This part is what helps one grow close to God and strengthens the faith itself. One can learn many things by doing a translation comparison.
Theological Issues of the Passage
This passage of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 has portrait some general principles of right and wrong and those are that one most has loved in order to accomplish holiness. It is wrong to hate for hatred stirs up dissension, but it is better to love for love covers over all wrong. This is one of the passages that tell us what God is like. God is love and not just any kind of love, he is agape love. He never gives up on us; he is always looking for ways to draw people near to him to be saved. He has faith in us that we will find our way to him and be saved. His love endures forever. God works in mysterious ways, but it all works well for those who trust him and believe in him. God knows the plans for our lives and they plans of good and not of evil to give us a future and a hope. Man is to follow these instructions of agape love. After sin entered the world a different kind of love has been taking the place of agape love and that is the emotional love of philein. Philein is not a bad love is just not the complete love that mankind needs. Mankind needs the agape love that which originates and comes from the Father above. Man should love each other with agape love.
1 Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CORINTHIANS, FIRST EPISTLE TO THE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". Published by LightSpeed Technology. Online November 29, 2005.