Summary: This chapter is among the most famous chapters in the Bible. Although it is often read as a unit in itself, it is most meaningful when it is studied—as it was written—as a part of Paul̓s message in chapters 12-14.
THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFT
INTRO: This chapter is among the most famous chapters in the Bible. Although it is often read as a unit in itself, it is most meaningful when it is studied—as it was written—as a part of Paul̓s message in chapters 12-14.
This chapter hit at the very heart of the divisions, the strife, and the callous unconcern for others that plagued them. They had no concern for the father betrayed by a lustful son and faithless wife, or for the son and woman; no concern that some were hungry at the weekly church meal while some became drunken; arguing over who they should follow, Paul, Peter, Apollos. Their greatest concern was putting on a show of speaking in tongues. Paul shows that the most important gift that they can have is Christian Love.
I. WHAT IS LOVE?
A. The key word in chapter 13.
1. Greek word (άγἀπη) agape.
2. What we mean by charity, and what Paul meant by agape, are two different things.
a. Read vs. 3.
b. To us, bestowing our goods to feed the poor is charity.
B. Many translations of the word love in the English language.
1. Romantic love. (ἐρος) eros.
2. Love of family, friends, etc. (πλέω) phileo.
3. Love or God (άγἀπι) agape.
C. We must do what the translator cannot do—interpret the meaning of agape.
1. Paul didn’t define agape, he described how it works (vv. 4-7).
2. Christian Love is the opposite way of life that a lost man lives.
a. The world̓s way treats man as victims, rivals, or nobodies.
b. The emphasis is on self.
II. THE MEASURE OF CHRISTIAN SUCCESS.
A. The Corinthians were measuring their success:
1. By claiming to have special gifts.
2. Some groups do the same today.
3. Sometimes we measure success by our records.
B. According to Paul, the true measure was the degree of Christian agape.
1. Love is eternal. (vv. 8-13).
2. Love is indispensable.
3. Everything minus love equals nothing.
CONC: 1 Corinthians provides an instrument by which we may measure our success by God̓s standards, not mans. God̓s standards are completely contrary to worldly standards of success. Unfortunately, our goals are often more strongly influenced by human rather than divine standards of success.