World English Bible translation
13:8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 13:10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. 13:13 But now faith, hope, and love remain--these three. The greatest of these is love.
Paul was confronted with dealing with an assembly of newly converted Christians that cared more for their differences than they did for their similarities. Instead of being united in Christ, they were dividing themselves and bickering about petty things. To these people Paul writes to commend to them a better way. Paul tells them that love is greater than anything about which they might differ. Love is patient and kind and doesn't keep any records of wrongdoing. Love is the word that Paul uses to describe the best that we are capable of achieving and also the word that best describes the nature and person of God.
Paul admonishes them that love never fails. Many of the things that we struggle to achieve in our daily lives are fleeting. We concern ourselves with the day-to-day struggles of busy lives. Through Paul, God reminds us that these things will all pass away. Not only will mortal things cease, even the spiritual gifts that God gives us now to build the church will pass away. God has given some the gift of prophecy and others the gifts of language and knowledge. One day even these things will cease.
Paul explains this by using an analogy of a man as he grows up. When he is a child, he speaks as a child and does childish things. But when he becomes a man he puts away childish things and has to act like a man. In the same way, this life and even the church is only a beginning of our new life with God. Now we are only children. Only God knows fully what we are to be. Now we learn and grow and mature in Christ. When we are fully matured into the image of Christ, we will be far removed from the concerns of this life.
To the Corinthians these were originally words of chastisement, but for us they can be words of hope. Scripture tells us that this world is not our home. We often grow weary of the concerns of this world and are eager to begin the life to come. This passage assures us that in the life to come, we will be changed. The worries of this life will be gone. The concerns that trouble us will cease.
Not even our spiritual lives are without concern. Often we are disappointed in our own churches, the very places when we should be most at home. Just as we, as individuals, do not live up to our full potential in Christ; so also our churches, as collections of individuals, do not live up to their potential. But the work of the church now is only a dim reflection of the glory that will be ours in the next life. In the life to come, we will have perfect unity in Christ. Our purpose and our work will be clear.
Paul encourages the Corinthians to cling to what will survive into the next life. Three things will remain -- faith, hope and love. He even goes on to tell us that the greatest of these is love. We should live our lives so that our focus is on faith, hope and love. Everything else is subject to change. Consider yourself officially notified.
How much of your recent life will survive in the life to come? What are you doing to prepare for our new life in Christ?
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