The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 15: Christian Love

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Tonight will not be one of my longer presentations, but only because for the most part I wanted to limit the discussion to this one topic, while at the same time not beating it to death. The subtitle of tonight's presentation is Christian Love, and I am certain we all have our favorite passages to quote in relation to that topic. The children of Israel have yet to practice that Christianity which is found in absolute brotherly love on any great scale, yet it is one of the lessons of history that they must learn before perfecting their obedience to Christ. However misguided love probably does greater harm to the children of Israel than practically any other sin, especially since misguided love leads them into blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and to their very own demise.

The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 15: Christian Love

In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 Paul of Tarsus had turned from addressing aspects of Christian deportment in the pagan world to addressing aspects of Christian deportment within the assembly of Christ itself. However it must be remembered that from chapter 7 of this epistle Paul continues to address subjects which the Corinthians had inquired of him. For that reason Paul's discussions of these topics are not as complete as they may have been if he had intended to write essays explaining them, but instead they are based upon things about which the Corinthians had questions in relation to the things which they had already been taught. Therefore it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of all preceding Scripture before one may understand Paul, because Scripture is Paul's authority and the guide for Paul's worldview. Additionally, it is necessary to understand as much of Paul's own letters as possible, because his letters as a whole are a reflection of his study of Scripture as well as his reception of the Gospel. No one statement by Paul can forcibly be interpreted as if to conflict with either the balance of his own writings or with the Holy Writ. If one has such an interpretation of anything which Paul wrote, one must reconsider it, rather than unwittingly projecting one's own hypocrisy onto Paul of Tarsus.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 (vv. 20 and 21) Paul spoke of the members of the Christian assembly who had attended Sabbath-day gatherings eating and drinking, while others of their brethren at those same gatherings were going without food and drink. Paul did not address this directly except to ask them whether they had houses in which to eat and to drink, telling them explicitly that the reason for their gathering is not to eat the “supper of the Lord”, as he called those meals which Christians shared, or should share, in common with one another. While Paul had also used this occasion in his reply to address other important aspects of Christian communion, he otherwise seems to have ignored the behaviour of those wealthier Corinthian Christians towards their less fortunate brethren. But in reality that is not the case. Paul did correct those wealthier Corinthians in this epistle, but in a very discreet manner so as to teach them a lesson without censuring or embarrassing them. The evidence of this correction is found here in 1 Corinthians 13:3, in a statement which is included into a broader discourse on the varying gifts of God bestowed upon men in relation to the need of Christians to have love above all other things, including those gifts which they may be granted.

Of course, the application of Christian love in the mind of Paul of Tarsus must be understood in the context which Paul himself provides, and in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 Paul had discussed those who were partaking of communion in the assembly of Christ unworthily, and that Christians should make a distinction of themselves, where in part he concluded that “If then we had made a distinction of ourselves, perhaps we would not be judged.” Therefore Christians are bound to love one another, and Christians are also obligated to discriminate against those who are unworthy of the Body of Christ. Understanding this, it must also be understood that Paul considered the Body of Christ to properly consist of “Israel according to the flesh”, of those of Abraham's seed who accepted the Gospel of Christ. Paul explained this in part in both Romans chapter 4 and in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, as well as elsewhere in his epistles.

There are three passages of Old Testament Scripture which should give a Christian insight into how the members of the Body of Christ should behave in relation to one another. The first is found in Exodus chapter 16 in the account of the gathering of manna in the desert: “16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. 18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.” While some men had a greater ability to gather than others, it is plainly evident that all men ate what they needed and that no man did without. The second Scripture is in Leviticus chapter 19 where the law says “17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” Finally, the third passage is found in Deuteronomy chapter 8 where it says “11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; 13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; 17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”

We shall come back to this topic soon, with the opening verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. In the meantime, and in conjunction with what he is going to say in chapter 13, here in chapter 12 Paul has been illustrating that it is the will of God which is the source of the inspiration of men, and that those gifts which God bestows upon men are not distributed evenly, but in a diverse manner, that one member of the body of Christ specializing in a certain area may use the expertise which he, or she, is granted from God in order to serve the rest of the body. Discussing this in our last presentation, we saw some relevant examples from Old Testament scripture. With this Paul also explained that the lesser members of the Body of Christ should be esteemed equally, and even more abundantly, than the more noble or more elegant members. When we are granted gifts from God, we should not despise those of our brethren who are not so gifted. Paul then concluded, speaking to the Corinthian Christians, by saying in verse 27 “So then, you are an anointed body [or a body of Christ], and members by destiny.” Each and every child of Israel was foreknown by Yahweh and appointed to fulfill the destiny which Yahweh has assigned to them. Here Paul continues by discussing some of the gifts which God bestows upon men in order that men may fulfill their role in His kingdom. Paul uses spiritual gifts as an example, considering them to be the better gifts, however the perception of Paul's intentions should not be limited to spiritual gifts. Indeed, members of the Body of Christ are blessed with carnal gifts as well. Continuing with 1 Corinthians chapter 12:

28 And while Yahweh places these in the assembly: firstly ambassadors, secondly interpreters of prophecy, thirdly teachers, after that those with abilities, then gifts of the means of healing, supports, guides, sorts of languages.

In verse 31 Paul considers these abilities to be the “better gifts”, ostensibly because they all either give insight into the Word and will of Yahweh or, after the manner of the Spirit of Pentecost, they openly demonstrate the power of Yahweh in the world.

There is a note and a short digression which must be made concerning the word προφητής (Strong's # 4396). According to Liddell & Scott the meaning of the word is “one who speaks for a god and interprets his will to man...generally, an interpreter, the New Testament … one who possesses the gift of προφητεία, an inspired preacher and teacher...”. Then Liddell & Scott also add the usual Biblical interpretation of the word: “the revealer of God’s counsel for the future, a prophet (in the modern sense of the word), a predicter of future events.”

Paul said in Hebrews chapter 1 that “1 On many occasions and in many ways in past times Yahweh had spoken to the fathers by the prophets. 2 At the end of these days He speaks to us by a Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages.” This indicates that there would be no longer any prophets in the Old Testament sense of the word, but that all future revelation of the Will of God would come through Christ. Bearing that in mind, in the Christogenea New Testament the word is rendered as prophet when the subject of the reference dates to before the Resurrection, but it is an interpreter of prophecy when the subject of the reference is later than the Resurrection. Exceptions So the “modern sense of the word”, as Liddell & Scott call it, is only accurate in relation to the age prior to the Resurrection, since Paul's words concerning this in Hebrews chapter 1 are certainly accurate.

But however accurate that assessment is, it does not take into account a third way in which the word was used, which is that prophet could refer to one who had the uncanny ability to reveal the secrets of men, or things about them or their lives which could not be known without some Divine guidance. In 1 Corinthians chapter 14, at verses 24 and 25, this use of the word is certainly what Paul intends, although in the Christogenea New Testament we continue to see it rendered as an interpreter of prophecy in those instances as well. We may say that men receive messages from the Spirit of God, and can only employ those messages effectively if they are able to interpret them correctly. The entire meaning, however, is difficult to effectively relate in translation on every occasion.

29 Are all ambassadors? Are all interpreters of prophecy? Are all teachers? Are all able? 30 Do all have gifts of the means of healing? Do all speak in languages? Do all interpret? 31 Now you admire the better gifts, and yet I show to you a way just as excellent.

Even though Paul uses these spiritual gifts as examples, and he considers them to be the “better gifts”, he shall explain in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that these are also temporal. That means that just like the carnal abilities which are endowed upon men by God, these too shall pass away, as Paul further explains in the chapter to come. So a Christian, even if he is endowed with all of these wonderful gifts, is still nothing if he does not have love. According to the Gospel of Christ, love for our brethren over and above any concern for worldly riches is how Christians store up treasure in heaven. From Matthew chapter 19: “16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Now this too is only another example, because not all men have any degree of wealth.

Furthermore, not all men are ambassadors, or apostles, and not all men are interpreters of prophecy, or teachers. In fact, the apostle James in the 3rd chapter of his lone epistle warns that “You must not produce many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive a greater judgment.” Not all men are gifted in languages, and not all men have the means of healing. In truth, relatively few men or women are truly gifted with any of these things. Paul is not stating that all men should aspire to these things. And many of those today who do have such gifts sell them to the Adversary for a worldly reward rather than use them freely to edify the Body of Christ. That is the single largest challenge to understanding Christianity today: that historically it has never been practiced with any success. The first Christian communities which were described by Luke in the Book of Acts were persecuted and dispersed by the enemies of God, by those who are now known as Jews, and while there may have been other attempts all have failed who have tried to replicate the Christian community of Acts chapter 4.

The word economy is abused in modern English because it is generally used to refer only to commerce. However the Greek word from which it was derived, οἰκονομία, originally referred to the management of a household or family. Paul described his ministry as an οἰκονομία in relation to the reconciliation of the family of Israel to Yahweh. Typically, the management of a family requires many skills other than those which merely enable one to engage in commerce. Paul did not list ambassadors, prophets, teachers miracle workers, healers, or interpreters and speakers of languages because we should all aspire to be any of those things. Very few of us are any of those things, and when we do have these talents we must recognize them as a gift from God, and seek to employ that gift as best as we can. But there are other gifts as well, and ostensibly, whatever talent we have is actually a gift from God and we should seek to use that gift in the edification of our Christian brethren.

An economy, the management of a household, requires the skills of ranchers, farmers, carpenters, vine dressers, seamstresses, bakers, butchers, mechanics, smiths and many other talents as well. While these are not the “better gifts” which Paul describes, they are nevertheless integral to the maintenance of a family and, by extension, the community of the family of God found in the Body of Christ. Not all members of the Body of Christ are endowed equally, but men who have talents in these areas are every bit as inspired by God as those who are prophets, apostles and teachers. Just as the prophet or apostle or teacher should share his gifts freely with the other members of the Body of Christ, so should the proverbial butcher, baker and candlestick maker. The ability of each individual member of the Body of Christ belongs to the body as a whole. Only then is Christianity practiced, and until then Christians shall be persecuted and enslaved by the world. When the Kingdom of God is finally established, economy will once again have little to do with money, and it will instead be organized around brotherly love.

13:1 If perhaps I would speak in the languages of men and of Messengers, but I do not have love, I have become brass sounding or a cymbal clanging.

Paul makes the analogy that the sounds of any language are actually meaningless unless Christians love one another. We may interpret that to mean that at the time of the fulfillment, only those things which we have done whereby we have exhibited our love for our God and our brethren shall matter to us, because only those things have stored up for us treasure in heaven.

2 And if I have the gift of interpretation of prophecy, and I know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if perhaps I have all the faith so as to remove mountains, but I do not have love, I am naught.

Even with all of the gifts and the knowledge of God, without love those gifts are meaningless.

3 And if perhaps I employ all my possessions in feeding others, and if I would hand over my body in order that I may boast, but I do not have love, I am due nothing.

The Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D) have καυθήσομαι and the Majority Text καυθήσωμαι, both of which are forms of the verb καίω (2545) and read “if I would hand over my body in order that I should be burned”; the text follows the third century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048) which have καυχήσωμαι, which is “that I may boast”, a difference of one consonant. Christians, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, are undergoing a time of persecution. Therefore Paul infers that if he handed himself over to the enemies of Yahweh God as a Christian, and was slain for that reason, that he would have a boast, and with that inference he attests to his belief in the immortality of man. In his first epistle the apostle Peter referred to these same persecutions where he said “16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Here we also have a subtle glimpse into the genius of Paul of Tarsus. In chapter 11 of this epistle, Paul did not directly upbraid those wealthier Corinthians who did not provide for the lesser brethren in the assembly. But rather, he gives them an example within a greater discourse on the gifts of God and the love which must accompany the use of those gifts, and that example is that the gift of wealth is just another gift from God, as these spiritual gifts are which he has also mentioned here. The law tells us that same thing in Deuteronomy chapter 8. Therefore wealth is to be administered by those who are blessed in that manner for the edification of the Body of Christ and the building of His Kingdom, just like those other gifts which Paul mentions here. The gift of wealth is generally perceived as a carnal, rather than a spiritual gift. However in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 Paul had asked in relation to himself and the other apostles “11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” This same principal applies as well in relation to the wealthy and the lesser members of the Body of Christ. The Corinthians Christians, if they loved their less fortunate brethren, would either make certain that they could also eat, or if they were not quite that wealthy, with humility they should have eaten their own meals at home and not in front of poorer brethren who themselves had to do without.

From the Wisdom of Sirach, chapter 11: “14 Prosperity and adversity, life and death, poverty and riches, come of the Lord. 15 Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the law, are of the Lord: love, and the way of good works, are from him.” So the possession of any and all of these things, for better or worse, ultimately comes as a trial from God, or as a gift from God..

The apostle James taught this same concept in very different manner in James chapter 2. There he warned about treating poor brethren worse than one may treat the wealthy. Among other things, he said “14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Having faith we must realize that we should love our brethren as Christ also had, and therefore devote our own lives to caring for one another rather than for ourselves.

4 Love has patience, is beneficial, love is not jealous, love does not vaunt itself, is not inflated, 5 does not behave disgracefully, seeks not things for itself, is not provoked, does not consider evil, 6 does not rejoice upon injustice, but rejoices with the truth; 7 contains all, trusts all, expects all, endures all.

In verse 4, the Codex Vaticanus (B) wants the third occurrence of “love”. Papyrus 46 in this same place has not “love” but repeats the verb rendered “vaunt itself”, clearly a scribal error. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D), Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048), and the Majority Text. In verse 5, P46 has εὐσχημονεῖ, “behave decently” rather than ἀσχημονεῖ, or “behave disgracefully”, clearly another scribal error.

Provocation, vaunting, jealousy, are all rooted in pride. The apostle James wrote that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Paul is about to add that love never fails. Paul is telling us of the value of love, and how love in the heart of man should manifest itself in man. But here Paul does not explicitly repeat what kind of love or what it is that we should or must love, and we cannot create our own context for these admonishments to love. Paul explains the character of love, but love like any other gift or attribute found among the members of the Body of Christ can also be misappropriated. We must not misappropriate our love, but rather we must observe Paul's context, and he has already admonished these Corinthian Christians not to keep company with nor partake of the tables of devils, nor to keep company with fornicators, and also that they should discriminate against others in favor of themselves because the members of the Body of Christ should make a distinction of themselves.

Likewise, Paul conveyed to the Christians at Rome a message which was a summary form of this message here in chapters 12 and 13 in this epistle to the Corinthians. This is found in Romans chapter 12 where he wrote: “4 Just as in one body we have many members, but the members all do not have the same function; 5 in this manner we are many in one body with Christ, and each one members of one another. 6 But having varying gifts according to the favor which is given to us: whether interpretation of prophecy according to the proportion of faith; 7 or service in the ministry; or he that is teaching, in education; 8 or he that encourages, in encouragement; he that is sharing, with simplicity; he that is leading, with diligence; he showing mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Love without acting; abhorring wickedness, cleaving to goodness: 10 brotherly love affectioned towards one another; in honor preferring one another 11 with diligence, not hesitating; fervent in Spirit, serving the Prince.”

Again, in Romans 12 we see one of the dispensations of Christians explained in the phrase “he that is sharing, with simplicity”, where we see sharing mentioned among the gifts of teaching, prophesying and ministering. This corroborates what we have asserted in this respect concerning this message to the Corinthians, that wealth is a gift from God like any other, and is to be administered like any other. The Christian who hides his gifts is akin to the servant of the parable of Christ, who hid his talent in the ground for fear of losing it.

Paul told the Romans that they should “love without acting”, or hypocrisy since the English word hypocrite is from the Greek word for an actor, ὑποκριτής, and that they should do so while abhorring – or hating – wickedness. In Psalm 97 the Word of God says “10 Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” So we see an injunction for those that love God to hate evil. In 2 Chronicles chapter 19 we see an admonishment against the King of Judah by a prophet, where it says “2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” So Christians should certainly not love the ungodly, and Paul himself had advised that sinners be put out of the assembly of Christians here in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. From Psalm 145: “20 The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.”

From Deuteronomy chapter 7: “9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; 10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.”

Therefore, as the Scripture says and as Christ taught in the Gospel, in Matthew chapter 22: “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” However loving God first, we must hate the wicked, and the wicked are not to be counted as neighbors even when they are one of our own. Christ said later, as it is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 14: “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Then later in that same discourse in John chapter 15: “12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

8 Love never fails. But whether interpretations of prophecy, they shall be abolished; or languages, they shall be brought to an end; or knowledge, it shall be left unemployed.

The words abolished and unemployed are both translated from the same Greek verb (καταργέω (2673), where I chose to avoid the redundancy.

9 By destiny we know, and by destiny we interpret prophecy; 10 but when the fulfillment would come, that by destiny shall be abolished.

The phrase τὸ τέλειον is literally “the fulfillment” here, where the King James Version has “that which is perfect”. The word τέλειος (Strong's # 5046) is an adjective meaning finished, complete or perfect and here it is a substantive, where with the definite article it is used as a noun. [We may also conjecture that the phrase has given us our English word total.] This is a digression, but there is an obscure and interesting use of this word which gives us insight into an aspect of Scripture. The Greek historian Herodotus once used this same phrase (circa 450 B.C.) to translate the Persian word tykta which he said had referred to a great royal banquet. Liddell & Scott also make a note of this usage, which appears in Herodotus' The Histories in Book 9, paragraph 110. In that place, describing a great royal banquet which the Persians had held annually, the historian wrote that “'Tykta' the feast is called in the Persian tongue, which in our language may be rendered 'perfect'”, using this same phrase which Paul uses here.

In the Psalms of David as they appear in the Septuagint, we often see in the prologues the words “For the end, a Song of David...” This is evident in Psalms 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 through 14, and frequently elsewhere. The Greek word in those places is τέλος, which is the noun from which the adjective τέλειος is derived. The lingua franca of the Persian empire being Aramaic, if the idiom described by Herodotus gives us any insight into the Hebrew usage, then David is not really saying that his Psalms are for the end, but rather they were written for a banquet! The banquet may have been celebrated for the fulfillment of something, such as one of Yahweh's appointed feasts, but the Psalms were clearly performed to music for those very occasions. However the significance still has relevance for the end, as the Septuagint in both Greek and English understood the Hebrew word literally, since at the fulfillment of the ages prophesied in Scripture there is indeed a great banquet, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

To repeat Paul's ideas in verses 8 and 9, Love never fails, but prophecy and its interpretation shall be abolished. Diverse languages shall be done away with. Knowledge as we know it in this world will no longer be necessary. God bestows upon each one of us certain gifts as He sees fit, but all of those gifts, regardless of what they are, are only temporal, for our use and edification while we are in this world.

11 When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. When I had become a man, I laid aside the things of the infant.

So all of the wonderful gifts of God given to men in this world should be seen as toys given to infants, which the infant plays with and learns from. Once we come to the full understanding of the love of Yahweh our God, we too may see those things as Paul understood them. Love for our God and our brethren brings us to Christ, however we must do that on His terms and not on our own, which is loving His law and keeping His commandments. Only in that are we mature Christians willing to conform ourselves to His image even if our execution of that conformance is not entirely perfect.

12 For now we see through a mirror in riddles, but then face to face; now I know by destiny, but then I will recognize just as also I have been recognized.

The knowledge which any of us have in this world is a gift from God, and if we have the ability to take the time to learn more that too is a gift from God. Paul says of himself that “now I know by destiny” because, as he said elsewhere, God selected him from his mother's womb to fulfill the purpose of his life. But no man can possibly know all things, and the truth of the things which shall matter in the end are not always clear. The Greek word for what we call glass is ὕαλος, a word which appears in the Revelation on several occasions. Here the word which the King James Version has as glass is ἔσοπτρον (Strong's # 2072), which only appears elsewhere in the New Testament at James 1:23.

Joseph Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon informs us that “The mirrors of the ancients were made, not of glass, but of steel” and he cites several sources supporting this statement. Paul purposely used the word for mirror, however why he did so can only be conjectured. May I venture to guess that he used the term for a mirror because everything we perceive is also a reflection of our own selves. We hear terms and concepts from men or from Scripture, and we filter them through our own worldview. We interpret words, instructions and even events according to what knowledge we have at any given time.

The Greek word rendered as riddles here is the plural of αἴνιγμα (Strong's # 135), from which we have the English word enigma. It is literally something which is obscure, a dark saying or a riddle. There are many plain words of Scripture, and then there are things which are related only in parables or that are obscure to each one of us in varying degrees. At the fulfillment, each child of God will see things as they really are.

The King James Version ends this last verse with the clause “but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The Greek word is ἐπιγινώσκω (Strong's # 1921), which has a stronger connotation than the word γινώσκω, which is merely to know. According to Liddell & Scott the word may mean “to look upon, witness, observeto recognise, know againto acknowledge or approveto find out, discover, detect … [and even] to come to a decision, resolve, decide”. Perhaps approve would also have been a fitting translation, since no man make it to the fulfillment, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, unless he is among those of whom Yahweh God approves. In turn, while Paul uses a different word for approve in his epistle to the Philippians, he nevertheless says there in chapter 1 of that epistle that “9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” The Christian endeavoring to conform himself to Christ is approving of the laws of Yahweh his God.

Yet here we chose to render ἐπιγινώσκω as recognize in agreement with others of Paul's teachings. Namely, in Romans chapter 8 where he said of Yahweh “29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” In Amos 3:2 the Word of Yahweh says to the children of Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” If Yahweh has only known Israel, then only the children of Israel shall be recognized at the fulfillment of which Paul is speaking.

13 And now, abide in faith, expectation, love, these three things; but the greater of these is love.

The apostle John says in chapter 4 of his 1st epistle: “10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

Paul of Tarsus went into this entire discourse concerning love in relation to the gifts which are from God in order to demonstrate that all the gifts of God are temporal, but that one's love for one's brethren is eternal, and by that, as John explained, we demonstrate our love for God, because ostensibly we being men can do nothing else for a God who has and does everything. We keep the commandments of Christ, as He showed us in John chapter 15, because of our brethren. If we love our brethren we keep the commandments of Christ. It is no mistake that the first murder victim died at the hand of one who was supposed to be his brother, and seeing through a glass darkly we can determine that the murderer was really not his brother at all. Therefore, as John also explained we know our brethren by the fruits of the spirit and the love that they show for the body of Christ.

However this is also why all Christians must be willing to submit themselves first to God. We cannot truly conduct ourselves after the manner of love for our brethren unless we agree to the law of God. Bringing wolves into the sheepfold, justifying the laying aside of the Law for any reason, allowing sodomy or any other grievous sin, we cannot truly love our brethren. Submission to God is true Christian humility, and when we are willing to do so we shall not trespass against our brethren. For that reason Paul said in Romans chapter 13, as the Christogenea New Testament has it, “10 Love for him near to you who does not practice evil: therefore fulfilling of the law is love.” Likewise Paul said in Galatians chapter 5 “14 For all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: 'You shall love him near to you as yourself.'” Accordingly the apostle James wrote (2:8) “If, however, you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture: 'You shall love him near to you as yourself', you do well.”

From the Wisdom of Sirach, perhaps 300 years before Christ: “15 They that fear the Lord will not disobey his Word; and they that love him will keep his ways. 16 They that fear the Lord will seek that which is well, pleasing unto him; and they that love him shall be filled with the law. 17 They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and humble their souls in his sight, 18 Saying, We will fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men: for as his majesty is, so is his mercy.” True humility is humility before God, to submit oneself to His Word.

The 4th Book of Maccabees is a late book, probably from the late 2nd or even the 1st century BC. In it there is an account of a priest named Eleazar, his wife and sons, seven brothers and their parents who were put to death by Antiochus Epiphanes, for standing up to the tyrant and remaining steadfast in the laws of God. In the conclusion of the account it says in part of the brothers that “23 Brotherly love being thus sympathetically constituted, the seven brethren had a more sympathetic mutual harmony. 24 For being educated in the same law, and practising the same virtues, and reared up in a just course of life, they increased this harmony with each other. 25 For a like ardour for what is right and honourable increased their fellow-feeling towards each other.” (Brenton's Septuagint, IV Maccabees 13:23-25.) A common love for the Law of Yahweh God in Christ is the only way that Christians will ever find a truly steadfast and common love for one another.

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