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I Corinthians 13: A STUDY OF LOVE (1)
Victor M. Eskew
A. Several chapters of the Bible stand out in the minds of Bible students.
1. The Creation Chapter (Gen. 1)
2. The Shepherd Psalm (Ps. 23)
3. The Suffering Servant of God (Isa. 53)
4. The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)
5. The Hall of Fame of the Faithful (Heb. 11)
B. For the next several weeks, we will be directing our attention to a very famous chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13, also known as, “The Love Chapter.”
C. As we study each of the qualities of love in this chapter, we will do three things:
1. Define the quality.
2. Look at illustrations of this quality of love.
3. Make application of the quality to our personal lives.
D. In this lesson, we want to introduce this chapter to you.
I. SPIRITUAL GIFTS
A. I Corinthians 13 falls right in the middle of Paul’s discussion of miraculous gifts (I Cor. 12-14).
B. The discussion begins in I Corinthians 12:1.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
1. These spiritual gifts were miraculous and were nine in number (I Cor. 12:8-10).
2. These gifts had been given by the laying on of the hands of the apostles (Acts 8:14-17).
3. These gifts were for the edification of the church. At that time, the church did not have the complete, written revelation from God to man (Eph. 4:7-12).
C. Spiritual gifts became a source of two problems in the church at Corinth.
1. Individuals began to believe that some gifts were better than others.
a. The church began to splinter and divide over the gifts.
b. Paul wrote I Corinthians 12-13 to heal this division.
2. There was also the misuse of the spiritual gifts, especially in the assemblies of the church. Thus, Paul regulates these gifts in I Corinthians 14.
D. Paul’s arguments to heal the division over the gifts.
1. All gifts come from the same source (I Cor. 12:4-11).
2. The diversity of gifts should work together just as the members of one’s physical body work together in unison (I Cor. 12:12-27).
3. The church needed to practice love. There was coming a day when the spiritual gifts would come to an end and the only thing left would be their love for one another (I Cor. 12:31-13:13).
II. A MORE EXCELLENT WAY
A. I Corinthians 12:31
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
1. The more excellent way is “the way of love.”
2. Love was needed by the Corinthians now, and it would be what would remain.
B. An outline of I Corinthians 13
i. THE ESSENTIALITY OF LOVE (I Cor. 13:1-3)
ii. THE ELEMENTS OF LOVE (I Cor. 13:4-8a)
iii. THE ENDURANCE OF LOVE (I Cor. 13:8b-13)
III. THE ELEMENTS OF LOVE
A. This love is what some refer to as “agape” love.
a. Strong (26): affection, benevolence
b. Thayer: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
2. Other comments:
a. It is the supreme form of love.
b. It is an intensely active love.
c. It is the love that God has for mankind.
d. It is a love that seeks the best interest of another.
e. It is a love that is sacrificial in nature.
B. Paul describes this love as having sixteen qualities.
1. These elements show that love is active.
2. Love does certain things, and love does not do certain things.
3. In place of the word “charity,” we could substitute the name, “God,” because “God is love” (I John 4:8).
4. In place of the word “charity,” we should be able to substitute our names.
A. Love has fallen on tough times in our society.
1. It is viewed solely as a feeling.
2. It is viewed as something that is temporary.
3. It is said to be something that comes and goes, that is, something one falls into and out of.
B. The love about which we speak is
1. Commanded by God.
2. Something that can be taught, learned, and practiced by all.
3. That which can heal the fractions and divisions among God’s people if it is properly applied.