1. Love is the greatest of the three special subjects listed in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
2. By examining a number of passages, especially 1 Corinthians 13, we can understand why
love is such an important subject in Christianity.
3. The Bible speaks of various types of love, including:
a. "brotherly love" (Romans 12:10)
b. "charity" [actively seeking the welfare of other people even though it may not be deserved,
as illustrated in Matthew 5:44].
4. In this lesson we are studying Scriptures that relate to this latter type of love.
I. CHRISTIANS MUST LOVE EACH OTHER
A. Jesus commanded His followers to love one another (John 13:34-35).
1. Jesus described His command as being "new" [His love is the pattern -- John 15:12-13].
2. Jesus' followers are to be identified as such by their love for each other.
B. The New Testament letters repeatedly teach Christians to love each other (Galatians 5:22-23;
Ephesians 5:1-2; Philippians 2:2; Colossians 3:14; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 4:10-11).
C. While these passages teach Christians to love each other, . . .
II. 1 CORINTHIANS 13 EXPLAINS WHY CHRISTIAN LOVE IS ESSENTIAL
A. The letter we call 1 Corinthians shows that the church in Corinth was plagued by a number
of problems that were actually symptoms of a more serious problem.
1. The members of this congregation:
a. were divided into various factions (1:11-12)
b. were extending fellowship to a fornicator (5:1-2)
c. were settling their differences by going to court (6:1, 6)
d. were experiencing difficulties over eating meat offered to idols (8:12)
e. were not observing the Lord's Supper properly (11:20-21)
f. were exalting certain spiritual gifts and looking down on others (ch.12 & 14).
2. These matters indicate that the church in Corinth suffered from a lack of love.
a. Christians are to do everything with love (16:14).
b. However, love appeared to be lacking in everything these Christians did.
3. (12:31) Paul said he was showing this congregation "a more excellent way."
B. In ch.13, we are shown three reasons why the more excellent way includes love.
1. (vs.1-3) The more excellent way includes love because without love we are nothing.
a. (vs.1-2) This principle applied to spiritual gifts.
b. (vs.3) It also applies to all acts of benevolence and sacrifice.
2. (vs.4-7) The more excellent way includes love because of its characteristics.
a. Negatively, love does not envy [is not jealous], does not vaunt itself [brag or boast],
is not puffed up [arrogant], does not behave itself unseemly, does not seek its own
[insist on having its own way], is not easily provoked, does not think evil [hold a grudge],
and does not rejoice in iniquity [unrighteousness].
b. Positively, love suffers long [is patient], is kind, rejoices in the truth, bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
c. True love is determined by behavior -- not by words (1 John 3:18).
3. (vs.8-13) The more excellent way includes love because love is everlasting.
a. Love never fails, but spiritual gifts would end when "that which is perfect" came.
1) If the Corinthians continued using their gifts without love, when the gifts disappeared,
only strife and division would remain.
2) If they used their gifts with love, when the gifts no longer existed, love would continue.
b. Even though faith will eventually become sight and hope will become reality, love will
continue and is therefore the greatest.