The Love chapter is one of the best known New Testament chapters. It magnifies the importance of Christian love and shows, among other things, how it is vital for the servants of God to have this quality, as they minister to others.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
It is important to NOTE that this chapter is a continuation of the truth laid out at the end of the preceding chapter, which says:
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Cor 12:28-31)
The confusion is now cleared up about what is most important with 13:1. There he says tongues, without love, makes the tongue talker like a resounding gong or clanging cymbal and nothing better! Just speaking in tongues, therefore, does NOT mean one is a super Christian, as some might imply! What a refutation this verse is to those who exalt tongue talking as the ultimate, without considering anything else.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)
Again, spiritual gifts are NOT the most important thing! Love is shown again to be exalted much higher than what most people would think. Those wonderful gifts, without love, show the person doing them to be nothing important, as some wrongly think!
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:3)
Giving your possessions to the poor is one of the ways to gain spiritual treasures:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33)
But you won't gain anything unless you have love (1 Cor. 13:3). Similarly, dying in the flames without love will gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (1 Cor 13:4)
So what is love? Here is the Biblical definition of it -- patient and kind. It is shown by what reflects out from a person to others. Also, to find out what love is not, helps us tremendously to better understand the love so exalted in this chapter. It is NOT envious, boastful and/or proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor 13:5)
What love is NOT continues to be shown here. It is not self-seeking, easily angered and doesn't keep records of wrongs. (Do you still think you are loving?)
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Cor 13:6)
**Here is a KEY verse that brings in another vital aspect of this exalted love, which many deny and contradict. This exalted love does NOT delight in evil, but instead it rejoices with truth. NOTE: God's truth is the opposite of evil. Therefore falsehood (the opposite if truth) is evil. It is NOT just sin which is evil! False doctrine, associated with salvation, is also especially evil, since it will lead to the damnation of multitudes.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to have this exalted love without God's truth in mind. In other words, if you really love a person you will expose him to God's truth (Scripture). To love all people in general, spread the message of the Bible to as many as possible.
It is impossible to truly love a person and just let him go to hell without trying to get him saved. Furthermore, many think they are saved, but they are deceived. Love will try to help the religious deceived out of that lethal deception for the sake of their SOUL. This is also a general responsibility ALL Christians have, not just a few! Such is a manifestation of this love exalted in 1 Cor. 13.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:7)
More truths about love are shown. The view of love for most church-goers is so limited and twisted it doesn't even come close to allowing for these descriptive details.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Cor 13:8)
The word fails here means to drop away and seems to be how it should be understood because of prophecies, tongues and (the gift of) knowledge all ceasing, being stilled and passing away in contrast to love.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (1 Cor 13:9, 10)
Again, spiritual gifts are shown to not be the ultimate since they will cease and are only partial and imperfect. They will disappear entirely when perfection comes -- Jesus.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Cor 13:11)
Paul makes an analogy when growing up to manhood, which is the same for spiritual maturity. A spiritually mature person no longer talks, thinks or reasons like a baby Christian because of various factors, including his Scriptural understanding.
**NOTE: A spiritually mature person is NOT necessarily someone who was saved for many decades! Time produces a physically mature person, but not always a spiritually mature person.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)
The contrast between this age and a future time is shown with the now and then contrast. In that future time, we will fully know, unlike now.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
As might be expected from the way this chapter has read, real love as described here, continues to be exalted and is superior to (greater than) both faith (to move mountains, verse 2) and hope! Love is shown repeatedly to be exalted elsewhere in Scripture too, as it is in this chapter. Especially 1 John does this. Here are a few more passages on love:
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:14)
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17,18)
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)Clearly, Christian love as expressed in the love chapter in the bible is shown to be of supreme importance.