Exposition of 1 Corinthians 13

1.    The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit must be operated with the fruit of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

Tongues have no meaning without love; it is an empty noise

Prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith without love do not make a person to be a man or woman of God. We are nothing without love no matter how great our ministry appears to be.

Generous giving or martyrdom without 'agape' love is rooted in self and not in Christ. No matter how much appreciated it is not the product of new life in Christ; it is the outworking of a carnal nature.

The gifts and ministries mentioned:

        Gift of tongues

        Gift of prophecy

        Word of wisdom

        Word of knowledge



All must operate with love the fruit of the Spirit.

2.      The fruit of the Spirit is seen in the character of the believer

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;

6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Love suffers long,             (longsuffering)

and is kind;                      (kindness, gentleness)

love envies not                 (rejoices in the exaltation of others)

love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,           (meekness)

Does not behave itself unseemly                    (self control),

seeks not her own             (seeks the good of others),

is not easily provoked         (not aggressive),

thinks no evil                    (pure thought life);

Rejoices not in iniquity        (hatred of sin),

but rejoices in the truth      (joy for God's word);

Bears all things                 (meekness to carry burdens),

believes all things              (faith),

hopes all things                 (hope),

endures all things              (patience).


3.      Spiritual gifts will pass away but love is eternal

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

8 Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The enduring character of love

Love never fails               (dependable and lasting):

Prophecy will cease          (become unemployed, abolished)

Tongues will cease           (be restrained)

Knowledge will cease        (become unemployed, abolished)

Knowledge and prophecy is in part.

Will be done away when perfection comes.

Illustration: A child has partial understanding of the world. Maturity removes the childish thoughts and understanding.

The gifts are necessary because perfection has not come.

When we see the Lord face to face and enter eternity then we will know all things.




Greatest is love because love endures.

The interpretation of v10 that the gifts operated until the canon of scripture was complete does not agree with the context.

Verse 12 refers not to the completion of scripture but to the future state of the Christian in eternity.

The gifts will cease because they will no longer be necessary; knowledge will become unemployed because all things will be fully known. This does not refer to the present time but refers to the time when we will see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.

Lesson 2 (love)

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