1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is the most prominent text in wedding ceremonies and Valentine’s Days sermons, but did the writer, Apostle Paul really intend to talk about love in the context? Looking on the general thought including the next chapter, you will notice that he was actually emphasizing Prophecy. Most likely, his address to the church in Corinth was especially alluding and emphasizing futuristic events not in his time but TO US.
The chapter is introduced by 3 important things: Languages, Prophecy, and Good Works before it was followed by, “Love is patient and kind, it is not jealous, not proud, not rude, not irritable. It does not keep records of wrongs. It does not rejoice in injustice and love rejoices whenever truth wins out.” Not mainly a “Shakespeare” sort but just by looking at daily news, you will distinctly depict such definition.
Posted in the media, we see officials, celebrities and religious leaders rendering good acts. Not bad, right? The bad thing is how those acts of kindness are carried out to divert the minds from seeing what’s real. Moreover, those “good works” have misled the masses from knowing the real essence of love with propaganda, religiosity, manipulation, image, selfie, popularity, etc. This kind of show is something which Jesus mentioned, “I tell you, they have received their reward in full (when people praised them).” It’s great to be a good example but if one is truly a good person, his light will come out however, as well as if a country is governed with kindness because indeed, by their fruits you will recognize them.
Love has grown cold these days and for that, relationships have been the most common dilemma of our time. Hence, Paul might have likely suspected that the doctrine of love will be a tool used by corrupt religious machines. We can believe in soul mates but we have to remember that not all soul bonds are good for you. Do not believe every spirit, but test if it comes from God (1 John 4:1)
Right after Paul defined love, he mentioned in verse 8, “Everyone who prophesies will stop… All that we know will be forgotten.” It means that people will convince more people but all their knowledge will turn useless after all because their words are none but a humanly wisdom. They reject God and rather depend on the intellects of people. Dependence on human knowledge without crediting God causes too much division.
After that Paul said, “When I was a child, I thought like a child.” It means, people love foolish talks and they never grow up! They can’t think of their own as grown adults. They are being proud mocking others with their backfire effect by unbalanced judgment and lack of understanding.
Paul had then concluded, “Faith, Hope, Love- but the greatest of these is Love.” Why did he say that? Every religion and class can practice faith and hope but not everyone can love. This time, he emphasized that love is the core of faith and spirituality. Without love, all your good works are nothing. People will only build a statue for you but your acts are not credited in heaven for an eternal reward. Be sure that we do not really practice and believe in acts of hypocrisy. Not all kisses are good!
Paul’s advice? Check the very first lines of chapter 14. There, he said, “Love should be your guide. Be eager to have spiritual gifts (or gifts from the Holy Spirit) especially Prophecy.” Why Prophecy? In 14:3 he said that prophecy edifies the church. It wakes our sleeping minds about the things going around NOW.
Do we have to be a prophet? In general sense, Prophecy is at least a gift of understanding and discernment of events and predicting how it can affect the future. In that, Paul continued in 14:20, “Dear brothers and sisters, do not be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind.”
The significance of prophecy exposes the hearts of the people by how they take “warnings”. It means if you don’t believe in God, of course you can neither relate to prophetic signs, words, and events as Prophecy basically means, “divine prediction”. In other words, Prophecy is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers (v.22). From here, Paul continued, “If unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and will be judged by what you say.” If you don’t believe, the safest way to react is Respect. If you do not agree about something at least we can be gentle with our words.
“To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light to them.” Isaiah 8:20