How Love Overcomes A Multitude of Wrongs

Why did Paul put such an emphasis on love, and why did he place “the love chapter” in the middle of a section about spiritual gifts?

It’s important to note that Paul is not the only one who emphasized the importance of love. Peter and James called it the Royal law. They understood love as Jesus described it, that is, as the greatest of commandments.

As Paul talked about love in 1 Corinthians 13, he concluded with the statement that “now faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.”

What was he trying to emphasize?

A careful reading of 1 Corinthians 12–14 shows that the entire section is about spiritual gifts, particularly speaking in tongues. There is no dispute about that assessment. Everyone recognizes that this section is about spiritual gifts.

What is often missed is that Paul is not encouraging the practice of tongues but correcting tongues and giving guidelines for their practice in the church.

He places this emphasis on love right in the middle of the section for this reason. He wanted the believers in Corinth to recognize that love is the first and greatest  of gifts and that love should take priority over every other gift.

The church at Corinth struggled with spiritual pride. They saw their many gifts as evidence that they were superior to others.

Paul wanted them to see the importance and priority of love in every relationship. This is the common teaching of Scripture.

The Bible tells us not to owe anyone anything except love. Jesus gave us the greatest commandment which is to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. He also told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Again and again in Scripture, we are commanded to love one another.

Paul knew that emphasizing what really mattered would help the church at Corinth function in ways that please God.

He wanted to show them what really matters.

While we may not face the same issues as the church at Corinth, we face issues. Many times our issues also have to do with pride.

Love is the antidote to our issues as it was in Corinth . Paul wanted us to know as well that “the greatest of these is love.”

This is the second of three posts on love in 1 Corinthians 13. You can read the first by pressing here.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! — Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)