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God’s Love: “A Still More Excellent Way”


1 Corinthians 13 has nothing to do with sentimental love, romance, and courtship. Instead, it contains a rebuke from Paul against the Corinthians‘ various violations of God‘s directives for loving God and neighbor.

Readings: Psalm 136; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (text) Download PDF sermon

February 13, 2011

Valentinus of Terni and his disciples

Valentinus of Terni and his disciples

Who among Christians do not know about the problems in the church in Corinth? There was division, sexual immorality, lawsuits among members, disorder in the worship service, and their famous misuse and misunderstanding of spiritual gifts. Instead of using the extraordinary gifts of tongues and prophesies for the building up of the church and for the glory of God, they became proud of them, looking down on those who didn‘t have them. Aren‘t there many churches today who consider those who do not show extraordinary gifts second-class Christians?

Chapter 13 of Paul‘s first letter to the Corinthian church is popularly known today as “the love chapter.” Its lyrical nature, beauty and power rivals that of poetry, but the chapter is not a poem, as some imagine it to be. 1 Adolf Harnack once wrote that this chapter was “the greatest, strongest, deepest thing that Paul ever wrote.” 2

The Greek noun for “love” here is agape, which together with the verb form, is used in the New Testament more than 200 times. Most of its use is in regards to God‘s love for his people and a person‘s love for God and neighbor. We can say that agape is the highest and deepest kind of love. A second word used for “love” in the New Testament is phileo, a word used mostly for a person‘s love for a friend or others beloved to him. But it is also used for God‘s love for the Son and for his disciples, and Jesus‘ love for his people. A related word is philadelphia, a combination of phileo and adelphos, “brother,” so the city of Philadelphia is nicknamed the “City of Brotherly Love.” This word describes the love that brothers and sisters in Christ have for one another, as in Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection.”

Two other words for “love” used in Greek literature, but not in the New Testament, are storge, which is the affinity and affection between family members or friends, and eros, passionate, carnal, and usually sexual, love between a man and a woman, from where we get the English word erotic. As well, Eros is Greek mythology‘s god of love and beauty. The use of 1 Corinthians 13 by Christians today in weddings, love letters, poems, and most often, on Valentine‘s Day is filled with the idea of eros much more than agape.

St. Valentine was actually so named from two Christian martyrs named Valentinus honored on February 14: Valentinus of Terni, martyred around A.D. 197 under Emperor Aurelian; and Valentinus of Rome, martyred about A.D. 269 by Emperor Claudius II. Tradition says that Valentinus of Rome was arrested by Claudius II who tried to convert him to Roman paganism. But Valentinus chose a martyr‘s death rather than renounce his Christian faith. So how did these martyrs both named Valentinus get connected with romantic roses, chocolate and corny love notes? Many historians have offered answers, but the relationship is shrouded in mystery.

My favorite explanation is the one suggested by Henry Ansgar Kelly, a medieval scholar at the University of California in Los Angeles. Kelly‘s theory takes us back to the 14th century when the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem, “The Parliament of Fowles,”Â  in honor of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia on May 3, 1381. In it, he mentioned “Saint Valentine‘s Day”:

For this was Saint Valentine‘s Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

The poem has many parallels between human courtship and the mating rituals of birds. Chaucer associated the May 3rd date with the feast day of another Valentinus: Valentinus of Genoa, Italy. This resulted in the connection between love birds and St. Valentine‘s Day on February 14 because readers of Chaucer‘s poem mistakenly thought that he was referring to Valentinus of Rome whose feast day was February 14, when in fact, he had Valentinus of Genoa in mind, whose feast day was May 3.

Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343-1400) as a pilgrim from the Ellesmere manuscript

Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343-1400) as a pilgrim from the Ellesmere manuscript

In the modern era, American Greetings, a greeting card company, embellished the connection with another tall tale for obvious profitable motives. On the night before his execution, Valentinus of Rome wrote the first “valentine” card addressed to a young girl he loved and signed it, “From your Valentine”!

While the origin of romantic “love” related to Valentine‘s Day is mysterious, and its idea of love shallow and fleeting, “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 is clear, deep, and has eternal results. This is because the chapter describes the kind of love that God has for us and how this love is reflected by Christian brothers and sisters in loving one another. It has nothing to do with sentimental love, romance, and courtship. Instead, it contains a rebuke from Paul against the Corinthians‘ various violations of God‘s directives against loving God and neighbor.

Today, let us look at the three parts of this “love chapter”: (1) “Without Love, I Have Nothing” (verses 1-3); (2) “Love Is This, But Not This” (verses 4-7); and (3) “All Things End, Except Love” (verses 8-13).

“Without Love, I Have Nothing” (verses 1-3)

In the first three verses, Paul contrasts the possession of four spiritual gifts with the gift of God’s love: tongues, prophecies, knowledge and faith. This chapter is sandwiched between Chapters 12 and 14 which are discussions of spiritual gifts, especially speaking in tongues. The Corinthians had zeal for tongues and other extraordinary spiritual gifts, but they did not use them with love to build up each other in the church. They were more interested in edifying themselves instead of the church. So Paul momentarily discusses the importance, characteristics and supremacy of love even over faith and hope.

Paul begins with five conditional “if” statements beginning in verses 1-3. In these opening statements, Paul uses hypothetical statements combined with hyperbole or exaggeration to stress the necessity of love as the motivation for believers’ actions. When he says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,” is he endorsing this practice among them? “Tongues of men” means languages spoken by different peoples. Because some Jewish interpreters believe that angels speak in some unknown heavenly language, and by the Spirit, one could also speak this tongue, the Corinthians might have believed that if one were spiritual enough, he or she will be able to speak this heavenly language. Since there is no evidence elsewhere in Scripture that it was possible to speak angelic tongues, Paul was not endorsing this practice, but was actually reprimanding them for their zeal for tongues at the expense of Christian love for one another.

Having pride in prophecies, knowledge and faith, in addition to speaking in tongues, is also included by Paul in his rebuke. The Corinthians congratulated each other for their possession of these spiritual gifts, just as many Christians today mistakenly think that having these extraordinary gifts is a mark of their higher spirituality. This pride is the reason that led to division, lawsuits, sexual immorality, disorder, and consequently, bad reputation in the community. It led to ungodly behavior because of the lack or absence of love.

Prophecy, knowledge and faith were three of the Corinthians’ favorite spiritual gifts that Paul mentions in I Corinthians 12:8-10. Paul considered prophecy as the gift to be desired most, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor 14:1). He also thanked God for the grace he had given to them, “that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge,” but this knowledge led to their empty pride, “we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1). And faith that can move mountains, of course, was taught by Jesus himself to emphasize that, with faith in him, “nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt 17:20). Faith is also mentioned in the last verse of this chapter, together with love and hope.

Thus, Paul considered these three gifts as important, but he regarded them as nothing if they were not motivated by love for one another in Christ. Without love, the church was like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Have you ever been in a concert where you unfortunately sat right next to a gong or a cymbal? You would have to plug your ears to avoid the deafening noise! Without love, all of their speaking in tongues, prophecies, knowledge and wisdom sounded like a jarring gong or a clanging cymbal. These instruments, if not used in harmony with all the other instruments, do not add to the beauty of a symphony, producing empty, meaningless and cacophonous sounds. Paul might also be referring to the noisy, hollow, discordant use of gongs and cymbals in disorderly pagan worship of the pagan gods Dionysius and Cybele.

In addition to contrasting these three gifts with love, Paul gives a couple of real life examples to demonstrate the importance of love as the highest motivation. One is the giving of one’s possessions to the poor. The Pharisees were condemned by Christ for their hypocrisy in this matter, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others” (Matt 6:2). On the other hand, Jesus also reminded his disciples that following him is more important than life’s riches, when he said to the rich, young man, “Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But this young man’s first priority in life was his great possessions (Matt 19:21-22). Both the Pharisees and the rich, young man were not motivated by love. The Pharisees gave in hypocrisy, but the rich man’s love for his riches prevailed over Jesus’ command to love and follow him.

The second example in verse 3 presents a great difficulty in interpretation, If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Some manuscripts say, “If I deliver up my body that I may boast.” By far, most translators agree with the ESV’s reading; only NRSV and NLT agree with the second reading. Gordon Fee agrees with the latter for two reasons: First, the burning of Christians was not yet done when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, since Nero’s fiery persecutions were still a decade away. Second, even if there were persecutions in this way, Paul would not offer or give his body to be burned. The Romans would have to take his body to be burned, just as Daniel’s three friends did not offer their body to be burned by the Babylonians. They were sentenced to be burned in the furnace (Dan 3:19-23; Heb 11:34).

No matter what Paul originally meant, his point was that even our sacrificial offerings, whether our money or our bodies, if they were offered without love, they are all hollow and empty and would gain nothing. He echoes Christ’s confirmation of a scribe’s profession, “To love [God] with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).

Thus, if you were to go to the Lord’s Day worship services faithfully and if you honored your parents only because of a sense of duty and not out of love, then these are not acceptable to God. Or even if you do not hate your brethren in Christ, do not steal from them, do not commit adultery, and do not tell lies about them””if you obey the Ten Commandments out of fear of punishment and not out of love””you are nothing and you gain nothing.

After pointing out the necessity of Christian love, Paul then explains its characteristics.

“Love Is This, But Not This” (verses 4-7)

Paul and Silas in Philippi by Louis de Boullogne

Paul and Silas in Philippi by Louis de Boullogne

Paul lists these characteristics both positively and negatively. He lists 14 of them, beginning with two positive traits, then eight negative ones, and ends with a rapid succession of four more positive qualifications. Since this section is very dense, the explanations here will be very brief.

Paul says first of all that love is patient and kind, which Paul also lists as two of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Here, patience implies slowness to repay another’s offense. Are you patient and longsuffering when your brethren offend or sin against you? When they treat you badly, do you have patience with them, or do you quickly react in anger, feel slighted or insulted, or seek revenge? Do you lose your temper quickly when your brethren provoke you? The psalmist says that God’s anger is not quickly kindled, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psa 86:15). You are to reflect God’s love with patience.

The second thing about love is its kindness. Kindness has to do with being gentle and considerate with our brethren in both word and deed. Do you speak kind words to them? Do you show kindness to them, even small things such as visiting them when they’re sick, giving a gift on their birthday or anniversary, inviting visitors to your homes, or having coffee with them? More than these, kindness goes a long way towards reconciling brethren who are angry towards another. Paul says that God is kind towards you in order “to lead you to repentance” (Rom 2:4). Soft and gentle rebuke can also be included in kindness, as Paul demonstrated to the Corinthians, “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor 4:21) Kindness is also shown not only in being gentle, but also in being considerate towards others. Paul says that you should not think only of yourselves, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).

Third””in a negative way””love does not envy. Envy or jealousy issues from our dissatisfaction with what we have. The Decalogue says we are not to covet anything that is not ours, whether it is possessions, position, character, or gifts. Paul and his companions were attacked by a Jewish mob in Thessalonica because they were jealous of his success (Acts 17:5). Are you jealous or envious of those who have more possessions than you? Are you jealous of your brethren because they have important roles in the church? Are you jealous because some of your brethren are praised by others for their good behavior, integrity and character? Are you envious of those who are gifted with a good voice, or wit, or good speech? As James says, jealousy creates many problems in the church, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (Jas 3:16).

Fourth, love does not boast. When we boast, it is because we covet the praise of others. How do you boast? Do you drop names, as the Corinthians did (1 Cor 1:12)? Do you show off your nice house or shiny new car or your latest iPhone or laptop? Do you show off your knowledge of the Bible and your spirituality, as the Corinthians did with their spiritual gifts (1 Cor 3:18-21)? Do you show off your generosity in your giving, as the Pharisees did by making their coins tinkle and sounding a trumpet (Matt 6:2)? Do you exaggerate your experiences and deeds to gain praise?

But there is rightful boasting, as when Paul condemned the Corinthians because they boasted in men, and cautioned them, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17). Again, he boasts of Christ’s grace in his weaknesses, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor 12:9). Instead of being boastful and arrogant, we are to reflect the humility of Christ who forsook his glory in heaven to save his people from sin.

Fifth, love is not arrogant or proud. The evidence of arrogance and pride is boasting. It is described as an abomination to the Lord (Prov 16:5), and it leads to one’s disgrace and destruction (Prov 11:2, 16:18). Like the Corinthians, the unrighteous are so proud of their sexual immorality that they even promote the practice of their evil deeds (1 Cor 5:2; Rom 1:29-32).

Sixth, love is not rude, which means it “does not act unbecomingly” (NASB). Since this word occurs only twice in the New Testament, its meaning is difficult to establish, but in non-Biblical usage, it means behaving contrary to standard or accepted practice, “disgracefully, dishonorably, or indecently.” 3 Today, we might think of “inappropriate” behavior, which shows disrespect and low regard for other people’s customs, likes or dislikes. This may be an oblique reference to the Corinthians’ disorderly worship (1 Cor 11:4-6, 18-22; 14:23, 33), or their disgraceful sexual behavior (1 Cor 5:1; 6:15-18). But non-conforming behavior is not always unbiblical if it is against the ungodly culture of the world. Christians are commanded to be different, “not be conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2), and to “not love the world and the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).

Seventh, love “does not insist on its own way,” or “is not self-seeking” (NIV, NASB, NKJV). This means that the Christian who has love puts the interest of other brethren above his own, such that his lowest priority is his own good. Paul modeled this when he refused to use his “rightful claim” for just wages for his apostolic ministry for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor 9:12). Of course, this law does not prohibit considering one’s lawful rights.

Eighth, love is not irritable, “not easily angered” NIV), or “not provoked” (NASB, NKJV). Believers who love their brethren are not easily irritated or angered by others’ provocations, sins, or even ignorance and immaturity. Compare this with patience. But again, this does not mean that believers cannot have righteous anger against sin (Eph 4:26). Jesus was angry at those who were hardhearted (Mark 3:5) and the merchants at the Temple (John 2:14-17), and Paul was angry at the Athenians for their idolatry (Acts 17:16). Sometimes, we are called to defend God’s honor, and even the honor or rights of our brethren. God himself is not just angry, but wrathful, against sin, and will pour out his righteous wrath against sinners on Judgment Day (Rev 6:16, 17).

Ninth, love is not “resentful,” but literally, it says love “does not count the evil.” So the NIV, ”does not keep a record of wrong,” and NASB, “does not take into account a wrong suffered,” are good translations. But the KJV/NKJV are also possible translations, since the words used by Paul are similar to Zechariah 8:17, “do not devise evil in your hearts against one another” (LXX). Because of envy or anger, do you keep a record of all offenses committed against you by your brethren? When you forgive someone, do you say, “I forgive you, but I won’t forget”? Because of love and mercy, God does not do this with his people, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psa 130:3-4) Rather, he forgives, again and again. However, this does not mean that the church should ignore its members’ sinful behavior. Church discipline requires that a record of wrongdoing be kept so the wayward member is made accountable in order to help him be restored to the church.

Tenth, love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” When we delight in evil, it shows our envy and jealousy. But when we rejoice with the truth, we show that we are not jealous. Do you gloat when your brother stumbles into sin, when his marriage breaks, or when he fails in his career? Sin destroys lives, and to rejoice at someone’s fall is to rejoice in sin. Rather, believers are to mourn over sin, whether it is theirs or others. Those who mourn over their sin are blessed (Matt 5:4), and rather than tolerating gross sexual immorality among them, the Corinthians are to mourn (1 Cor 5:1, 2), because “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Cor 7:10). Do you rejoice whenever someone is saved from sin, or forgiven and restored to the church? Do you rejoice whenever you hear the truth of the gospel preached and taught on the Lord’s Day?

Eleventh, love bears all things. In this last verse, the word for “all” is used four times in the sense of “all things,” but also in the sense of “always” (NIV). The verb that Paul uses here literally means “to cover,” “to hide,” or “to protect,” so most translations interpret it to mean “to put up with” or “to bear.” The Christian who has God’s love bears and puts up with many offenses against him and many sufferings for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor 9:12), and even loves his enemies and persecutors. But the NIV has the sense of “protecting” or “covering” things that are not pleasant, especially sin, when brought out into the open, such as when Peter commands believers, “keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8). But again, this does not mean that Christian love tolerates evil and sin, and sometimes, for the benefit of peace and harmony in the church, the offender has to be exposed, rebuked or disciplined “in the presence of all” (1 Cor 5:2, 13; I Tim 5:20). Unchecked sin and false teaching “will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene” (2 Tim 2:16-18).

Twelfth, love believes or trusts all things. A loving Christian will assume that his brethren are trustworthy and will assume the best, and not the worst, in them. In a controversy, do you give your brethren the “benefit of the doubt,” and investigate people, facts, and circumstances to determine the truth before making conclusions? But this trust is not limitless, for if the trust is broken by repeated offenses and deceptions, continuing a relationship of trust will become foolishness and gullibility.

Thirteenth, love hopes all things. Christian love demands optimism. A believer’s life always includes trials and sufferings, but he is different from the unbeliever in that he has hope in the world and the next. Hope keeps him moving forward and onward with his life, trusting that God will produce good from evil and even accomplish what seems to be impossible, since God is able to work all things for the good of his people (Rom 8:28). He has hope that Christ, “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day” of his coming (Phil 1:6). Again, hope is not blind or fanatical or wishful thinking, as when the beloved of the terminally ill on the last hours of life clings to the hope of a cure. As well, Christian hope is not based on sinful motives or false teachings, as when someone prays to win millions in a lottery, or when a false prophet predicts that the Philippines will become a blessed nation.

Fourteenth and last, love endures all things. The quality of Christian love is seen in its persevering through sins, trials, temptations, sufferings and persecutions. Jesus warned his disciples that their lives will be full of afflictions until the end (John 16:33), thus, the New Testament writers encourage believers to persevere to the uttermost (Rom 12:12; Heb 12:1-2; Jas 1:2; I Pet 4:12; 1 John 5:3-4).

Paul did not intend that this list of the characteristics of Christian love arising out of God’s love be exhaustive, because Paul uses the noun and verb forms of agape about 100 times in his letters. Love is necessary, and these are the characteristics of true love for our brethren in Christ. Most of all, love is permanent; more than that, is eternal.

“All Things End, Except Love” (verse 8-13)

In comparing love with all the other gifts, especially the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge, Paul affirms the supremacy of love over them. This is because all of these other three gifts will cease and pass away, but love never ends. As well, spiritual gifts are also partial and imperfect, but love will be perfect. In explaining the primacy of love over other spiritual gifts, Paul uses other contrasting descriptions: child versus man; seeing dimly versus face to face; and now versus then.

These verses are a big point of contention about whether the extraordinary gifts possessed by first century believers still continue today. Some believe they still do; others argue that these gifts ceased to exist because the offices of apostles and prophets also ceased to exist after the first century.

When did or when will the perfection come? Two of the best interpretations contend for recognition, both of which having valid arguments. The first view is that the “perfect” came when the canon of Scripture was completed by the apostles’ writings in the first century. In this view, “perfection” means maturity of the church and the completion of the Holy Scriptures. This is why Paul uses the illustration of a child maturing into adulthood, “When I was a child ”¦ When I became a man” (verse 12). The church increased in maturity as the gifts started disappearing with the closure of the canon, “to mature manhood ”¦ so that we may no longer be children” (Eph 4:13-14), a striking parallel to the “child-man” example in verse 12.

The second view is that the “perfect” is still to come when Christ returns from heaven. The strength of this view is in the mirror illustration. Paul says that in this age, our knowledge is only partial. In his day, mirrors were not made of opaque glass like we have today, which reflect our faces very clearly. Their mirrors were metal, usually bronze, and the reflection of these mirrors is dim and hazy, not very clear. When Christ returns, we will not see him as in a mirror, but we will see him “face to face” (1 John 3:2), and all things will be revealed and made fully known, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). But until the day Christ returns, all we see are dim reflections of knowledge.

But whether the first or second view is what Paul meant, Scriptural evidence is more than sufficient to conclude that after the apostles and prophets established the foundation of the church, new revelations and extraordinary gifts also ceased (1 Cor 3:10-11; Eph 2:20).

Everything will cease when Christ returns, but not love. Love for one another will continue. God’s love for his people will continue. And Christ’s love for the church will continue.


In his conclusion, Paul says that of all three””faith, hope, and love””love for our brethren in Christ is the greatest and the most excellent way. And this love that we show for one another as Christians are given to us by God. As the apostle John says,

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:19-21).

How did Christ first love you? He loved you from eternity past, when the Father ordained him to be “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” to be a Lamb crucified for his people (Acts 2:23).

Christ is patient and kind and not irritable with you, not willing that any of you should perish, but that all of you should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psa 86:15).

He was not boastful, proud or self-seeking, but instead, he humbled himself and was silent, like a sheep led to its slaughter, obedient all the way to the cross (Isa 53:7; Phil 2:8).

He was disgraced and rejected, “endur[ing] the cross, despising the shame” (Isa 53:3; Heb 12:2), because your life of sin was unbecoming, shameful, and a disgrace before God.

He does not count your evil against you, not remembering your sins (Isa 43:25), because he has already bestowed his perfect righteousness on you on account of your faith in him (Rom 4:5).

Because he is the Holiest of Holies, he does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but grieves over your sin (Psa 78:40; Eph 4:30). But he rejoices in the proclamation of truth, because he is the Truth (John 14:6).

Because “he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa 53:4), you are able to bear and endure your sufferings through him (1 Cor 10:13).

Because he believed all his Father’s promises of a glorious inheritance, he had hope in all things, and he endured all his sufferings (John 10:17; Heb 12:2), just as we endure because of our hope in Christ (Rom 15:4).

Because of his love, Christ gave up all his possessions and riches in heaven and came down to earth, so that “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). As your Great Prophet, Christ spoke about heavenly things so he may give you all wisdom and knowledge that lead to salvation (Col 2:3). Then as your Great High Priest, he offered his body to be “burned” on the cursed cross, suffering eternal hell for us who should be the ones to suffer in hell (Matt 27:46). And after he completed his mission, the Father rewarded him, highly exalting and giving him the name that is above every name in the whole creation (Phil 2:9-10). And on the last day, he will return in glory as King of Kings to judge the living and the dead.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you are God’s “valentine,” because he first loved you. But his love for you is not about romance, flowers and chocolate; rather, his love is about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to save you from sin and from his wrath. When he returns, he will share all the riches of heaven with you because you loved your brothers and sisters in Christ with the love that your Father has given you.

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  1. Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 626.
  2. Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 176.
  3. Bauer, Walter, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Fredrick W. Danker, eds., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 147.