The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

When I was picking scripture readings for our wedding, I found one entitled the Love Chapter. It said some fantastic things about love, and I could see that following what it said would benefit our marriage. 1 Corinthians 13 is often read at weddings for this reason. At the time, I didn’t know about interpreting scripture in context. While these love attributes are helpful in marriage, Paul wasn’t speaking to this. He was addressing how people should act toward one another in the church.  

What was Happening in Corinth?

Many believers in Corinth had worshipped idols where ecstatic language was highly prized. As a result, they consider those who spoke in tongues to be super-spiritual. They had created a status hierarchy that created division and caused chaos in their gathering for worship. Paul wrote that they should consider themselves different parts of the body. As in a human body, all the various parts are needed to be a healthy whole.   

Taking 1 Corinthians 12, 13, & 14 as a Unit

N. T. Wright says these three chapters act together as different parts of a symphony. Paul’s theme is in 1 Corinthians 12: 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[1] He explored this theme from several angles before ending the chapter by leading into the next section. 1 Corinthians 12:31bBut now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.[2]

Then Paul moves into the second movement, a poem about love, for it will take love for these Corinthians to act together in unity. Working together in love is the better way. Finally, in chapter 14, Paul takes the theory of chapter 12, seen in the light of love in chapter 13, and moves to application. It takes all three chapters to address the conflict between those who practice different spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 is so well known that people don’t realize it was the centerpiece of a much longer section. [3]  

Love and the Gifts

The spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge and wisdom, and healing are powerful gifts. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives these gifts to the church to build His Kingdom. Unfortunately, they may be misused because we are sinful. Paul reminds the Corinthians and us that everything we do in the church must be done out of love. These principles certainly apply to personal relationships, but Paul originally wrote these as a guideline for treating fellow church members. How might you apply the love chapter in your church? To learn more, listen here:

[1,2]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.

[3] Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (p. 154). Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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