Reflection: 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8a; John 13: 34 – 35.
‘Agape’ is mentioned ten times in this chapter, probably the most important in the entire New Testament on ‘love;’ the sine qua non of Christian behavior. The theologian James Moffat commented, “this was written out of a close and trying experience … of a realist who has come safely through contact with the disenchanting life of the churches … wrung from long relationship with ordinary Christians.” The high ground Paul has defined for love is a stinging rebuke on what is really rotten in the Corinthian church. It is expressed with 15 verbs in the Greek, conveying its dynamic and active other-centered behaviors rather than a purely emotional response. Each Greek verb, at times, conveys much more than the English word used, so what is enumerated below is an expanded description of each term. The New American Standard Bible is used as the text. LOVE …..
1. IS PATIENT. A loving forbearance towards others; to be slow to anger and patient in spirit, where the right timing plays a huge part in securing the welfare of the other. (6:7-8)
2. IS KIND. A vibrant goodness to others; to be thoughtful and helpful, always in a pleasant way with magnanimity. (6:7-8)
3. IS NOT JEALOUS. Does not burn or boil with envy; does not begrudge the status and honor of another, but delights in it. (3:3-4)
4. DOES NOT BRAG. Is not conceited; does not seek one’s own status nor promote it. (3:18-23)
5. IS NOT ARROGANT. Does not cherish inflated ideas of one’s own importance, nor obsessed with attention accorded to the self. (8:1-2)
6. DOES NOT ACT UNBECOMINGLY. Does not behave with ill-mannered impropriety, or in thoughtless pursuit of self-interests regardless of the conventions and courtesies of interpersonal life. (7:36-38)
7. DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN. Is not preoccupied with the interests of self-gain, self-justification, self-worth. (10:23-24)
8. IS NOT PROVOKED. Does not take offense because one’s self-regard has been dented, wounded, or punctured by some sharp point; does not cause others to be irritated. (12:14-26)
9. DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A WRONG SUFFERED. It refuses to notice that anything has happened, and keeps no score of wrongs nor reckons the fault of others. (4:1-5)
10. DOES NOT REJOICE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. Does not become superior and censorious at someone else’s wrongdoing or gloating over people’s failures. (5:1-5)
11. REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. Joyfully celebrates or applauds truth in that there is no need to fear, or to hide from the truth. (5:1-5)
12. BEARS ALL THINGS. Supportive in putting up with everything for a limitless duration; never tires in persevering.
13. BELIEVES ALL THINGS. Never looses faith; believes in the best about everything and everyone.
14. HOPES ALL THINGS. Never exhausts hope.
15. ENDURES ALL THINGS. Never gives up despite setbacks and rebuffs.
Paul’s intent is to differentiate for the Corinthian believers what the lifestyle of a genuine renewed Christian looks like in the face of their excesses. As love reflects God’s nature, the texture of our life in community ought to mirror it in our relationships, inclusive of nonbelievers and enemies. This is our distinguishing mark as followers of Jesus (Matt 5:48).