This Sunday’s epistle reading is one of the very best known. Frequently called the “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13 is indeed about love. It is also completely appropriate for a wedding, or an anniversary, or lots of other occasions. However, is this the reason Paul wrote it?
As both sermons make clear, Paul wrote this letter we call 1 Corinthians to a church facing some difficulties, especially around their understanding of spiritual gifts. One of the things we need to keep in mind, and it isn’t always easy, is the nature of Paul’s epistles. “Epistles” is a fancy name for a letter and that’s what Paul was writing, letters. Think back to the last time you wrote a letter, or an email for that matter. You were almost certainly writing to a particular person or group about a particular thing or things. This doesn’t mean someone else might not get value from your letter. If you are a witty letter writer then it is quite likely a stranger would enjoy reading what you wrote but it is also likely they won’t understand everything about the letter; they might misunderstand part of it. It is the same with us and Paul’s letters (and everyone else’s letters in the Bible).
So Paul wrote this letter to correct some misunderstandings about spiritual gifts. What it seems he is addressing is people not “getting” why spiritual gifts were given at all and what and/or how they should be used.
It some ways it is very simple, if you can’t use spiritual gifts in love, you’re doing them wrong.
As always, if you think I missed something or you would like to interact with what I’ve written above or said below, drop me a line in the comments.