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Summary: Focuses on1 Corinthians chapter 13 on the Greek word for love which agape.

THE GREATEST OF THESE

Scripture: I Corinthians 13

INTRODUCTION:

This chapter of the Bible is recognized as one of the most beautiful literary pieces ever written. It is so spectacular that the preacher often hesitates to touch it lest he or she should impair its splendor by handling it. It certainly is a gem to be held up and admired as it gleams with beauty.

The word “charity” is used in the Bible in a different way than we use it in everyday language. Charity in our sense is lending a helping hand to the needy. However, the word “charity” in the Bible comes from the Greek word “agape” which is defined as love. It may not be love in the sense that we use the word love either.

For many years in American culture, love has been portrayed as a feeling that overcomes you. It includes weak knees, unexplainable head-in-the-clouds and that goofy look other people see on your face. That is not really love, but rather it is romance - a kind of lust-driven drunkenness. Russell Brownworth

Love in the “agape” sense goes beyond most of our ideas of love and can only be expressed fully in us by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. This is because God is love.

26 agape {ag-ah'-pay} from 25; TDNT- 1:21,5; n f

AV- love 86, charity 27, dear 1, charitably+2596 1, feast of charity 1; 116

1) brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

2) love feasts

Three Divisions ? While meditating over the chapter, I began to see three clear divisions. First, the writing centers on the individual and the possessing or lacking of charity. Second, charity is defined in terms of what it is and what it is not. Third, there is the comparison of the temporal to the eternal. Only what lasts will be important in the end.

I. INDIVIDUALITY ?What the individual accomplishes versus charity. (v. 1 – 3)

A. Personal Ability and Achievement (v. 1)

1. Speaking Naturally (Tongues of men.)

a. We communicate in the spoken word.

b. Type of speech changes from scene to scene, situation to

situation. Ex: Business vs. casual

c. Speaking with fluency and eloquency.

Remember Apollos: Acts 18:24 “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”

d. Speaking with the command of various languages.

2. Speaking Spiritually (Tongues of angels.)

a. Higher than men, and therefore, it is to be supposed, speaking

a more exalted language. J. F. B.

b. Perhaps speaking with tongues which is referred to in chapters

12 and 14 in which chapter 13 is sandwiched between.

Paul said “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than

ye all:” I Cor. 14:18

B. Action In Spiritual Matters (v. 2)

1. Possessing numerous spiritual gifts.

a. Prophecy.

b. Knowledge.

c. Faith.

2. Doing many wondrous works.

a. Understanding mysteries.

b. Moving mountains.

C. Action In Natural Matters (v. 3)

1. Giving of one’s money ? “bestow all my goods”

There may even be, and there is, a great deal of charity without love. It is a very easy thing to toss a coin to a beggar on the street; it is generally an easier thing than not to do it. Henry Drummond

2. Giving of one’s self ? “give my body to be burned”

Evidently as a martyr, or a witness to the truth of religion. Barnes

D. Results if done without charity.

1. Sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. (v. 1)

without soul or feeling J. F. B.

2. I am nothing. (v. 2)

3. It profiteth me nothing. (v. 3)

How often we would look at individuals who possess any or all that is spoken of above and yet lack the love of God, yet we give them great reverence?

The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having or getting anything, but only in giving. Half the world is on the wrong scent in pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting and in being served by others. It really consists in giving and in serving others. Henry Drummond

II. CHARITY (v. 4 – 7 )

A. What Charity Is

Whenever you attempt a good work you will find other men doing the same kind of work, and probably doing it better. Envy them not. Envy is a feeling of ill-will to those who are in the same line as ourselves, a spirit of covetousness and detraction. Even Christian work is little protection against unchristian feeling. Henry Drummond

Humility ? After you have been kind, after love has stolen forth into the world and done its beautiful work, go back into the shade again and say nothing about it. Love hides even from itself. Love waives even self-satisfaction. Henry Drummond

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