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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 - Learning the truth of love is optional

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

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If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.


This is the Epistle selection to be read aloud on the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow a reading from Jeremiah, where the prophet wrote of Yahweh telling him: “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over peoples and over sovereigns.” A singing of Psalm 71 will follow, which includes the verse saying, “In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me.” All will accompany a reading from Luke’s Gospel, where we read of Jesus being rejected in Nazareth: “All in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”

This reading needs to be realized to be a whole chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. To put that in perspective, this reading is way too long to properly read aloud in a church. If read properly … very slowly … the priest would be tapping his watch and making several loud “ahems” be heard. To read a whole chapter of any Epistle quickly is like listening to Muzak in an elevator. The importance is more on “When will my floor come, so I can get off,” rather than, “Oh, that Paul so had a way with divine language.” Because the Epistles are all that way, seldom do they edge out the Gospel as something a priest will serve up to an audience, like a nice, thick slab of freshly carved roast beef. “Mmmmmmmm,” says the congregation, “We love the sacrificial meat hot off the altar grill.” The Epistle is more like a side of roasted ears of corn, in the husk.

Bon appétit!

The theme of this reading has to be seen as “love.” There are nine references to “love,” written as “agapēn” (3 times, found in verses 1-3) and “agapē” (6 times, found in verses 4-13). The root word is “agapē,” which is defined as “love, goodwill,” while implying in usage “love, benevolence, good will, esteem.” [Strong’s] HELPS Word-studies says about it use: “properly, love which centers in moral preference,” adding “In the NT, (agápē) typically refers to divine love.”

Since Paul’s letters do appear in the New Testament [as does everything originating in the Greek language], this tidbit about “divine love” needs to be grasped. Therefore, I will pontificate about how one should read these references to “love,” made here in the letter written by Paul.

The religions of Christianity love to preach love, especially now days when every filthy sinner is said to be loved by God and Christ [the last name of Jesus]. While they spew that false concept of “love,” they spew hatred for all who do not accept their view of “love” as the unconditional acceptance of sinners into the religions of Christianity that should have ALL been founded on a true “love” of Yahweh. In today’s total mis-conceptualization of “love,” to speak of who Jesus would “love” today, based an intellectual misunderstanding of Scripture, says those spewing the lies of “love” have never married their souls to Yahweh, never given birth to the “Doubly fruitful” [“Ephraim”] soul of Jesus in their souls, so they have never experienced “divine love.”

This reading only coming up in the after the Epiphany time period says Paul’s view of “love” is relative to that: divine marriage to Yahweh [not some nebulous “Lord”], so one has taken on the name “Israel” [like Saul changing his name to Paul], which means one has become Spiritually one “Who Retains Yahweh as one of His elohim” [where an “el” is one of Yahweh’s “angels in the flesh,” which says the “Yahweh elohim” that was Adam, known as “Jesus” – meaning “Yahweh Saves” – resurrected within a soul-body]. Everything springs from a “love” of Yahweh; and that is the “love” from which divine unions are made. It is “divine love,” which means Spiritual “love.”

The problem modern Christians have [“modern” meaning after the Romans began turning their Empire into the business of religion, so beginning around 350 A.D.] is they read or heard spoken the word “love” and they can only think that means the feelings associated with “love.” To think of “love” as something originating from impulses emitted from the nervous system, activating the five senses [sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell], so the body of flesh begins physically changing to fit emotional needs, that is wrong. Physical "love" is not the same as “divine love.” When one understands that, one can understand what Paul wrote in the first three verses.

Relative to this reading is the conditional being established, where the word “if” [“Ean” or “ean” – five times] is written in the first three verses. Another form of “if” [“eite” – three times ] is written in verse eight alone. Simply because every human being has physical senses and emotional needs, all know “love” on a human level of understanding. This is how some priest, pastor, minister or preacher can stand up and yell, “Love!” and everyone stands to clap and cheer. Everyone knows emotional “love” … which is possible, at times, to be seen as a root of evil … like the “love” of money, sex, power, and [fill in the blank lust]. The “ifs” of Paul [especially the ‘Big If’ that leads verse one] speak about “divine love” not being known by everyone. It is a Spiritual “love” that is possible for all souls to seek and find; but it is a “love” unknown by the vast majority of souls inhabiting bodies of flesh in earth [add in any orbiting astronauts these days].

When Paul put forth the conditions of “speaking Scripture, explaining Scripture, professing belief in Scripture, and finding Scripture to be the motivation of that charitable,” where all are cornerstones of Judaism and Christianity, but one does so out of false, human “love,” not “divine Spiritual love,” then the condition of “if” asks: 1.) Are you in love with your brain and self-abilities?; or, 2.) Are you in “love” with Yahweh, married lovingly as His wife [regardless of human gender], the loving mother of His Son Jesus, who leads one lovingly into ministry, ordained by the Father?

Most people cannot truthfully check off number two as, “Yes! That’s me!” However, as Paul wrote his verses knowing the truth, he saw plenty of Jewish folk who thought for sure they were in “love” with God … all while they persecuted Christians to death. They all talked well of “love,” but none of them lived up to the truth of “divine love.”

In verses four through seven, Paul took a trip down the “This is what divine love is” lane. It is “patient, kind, not envious or puffed up with pride.” Love is “not rude, pretentious or easily angered.” Love does “not hold grudges or delight in the wicked being punished.” Instead, love takes great “delight in the truth.” True “divine love” makes “all things” possible, because Yahweh gives one access to “all things” through His “divine love” being returned.

In verse eight, the capitalized article “He” is completely overlooked, when it leads to a use of “agape,” which then connects to the three uses of “eite,” meaning “if, whether, or,” implying “if both.” The capitalized “He” is a divinely elevated statement of “This,” which connects to “love,” stating “This love” of Yahweh, which is unlike that love of the physical realm. To then see Paul write “eite,” where the “if” is now relative to a human being then having access to “both” “divine love” AND “physical love,” the conditional says one has become divinely transformed. When this “if” is the condition, then “divine love never ceases, it truly prophesies, no longer speaking poorly translated Scripture verses.” The self-will, self-ego, and intellectual self will die, never to return.

Now, the greatest symbol of modern Christianity has become the crucifix. Many crosses made of precious metals [like gold or silver] hang from chains around necks, some even depicting the dead body of Jesus still nailed to that cross. The clear symbolism made by that icon is “death.” The “tongues” of modern Christians, based on that taught to them by priests, pastors, ministers and preachers is this: “Jesus died so you are saved.” Of course, the unspoken message in such a meaningless catchphrase – a paraphrased misinterpretation from mistranslation – whispers in the minds of Christians, “Go out and sin, because Jesus died so you can.”

The point missed is the death of self, just as Paul wrote, “when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end” [NRSV]. The death of self means the end of partial fulfillment of Scripture; so, true fulfillment of Scripture begins anew. One is reborn! One is the resurrection of the soul of Jesus within one’s own soul – Doubly fruitful – because Yahweh made His Son to be reborn in us!

To make a point of this death taking place without one's physical being really dying, Paul wrote of his once being a child, but then he transformed into an adult. The child in Paul died. There would be no returning to that childlike state of being. Just as Nicodemus knew how impossible it was to be an adult sized man and go back into his mommy’s womb [even if ancient Jewish males only grew to be about five foot, eight inches], in order to be “born again,” that was not a physical reality that Jesus said. The analogy of becoming an adult is like the child being born again through natural growth and development. The old body died, never to return again as it was before.

When Paul then used the analogy of a “mirror” [“esoptrou,” or “looking-glass”], saying “face to face” [“prosopon pros prosōpon”], the transformation of Paul [changed from Saul] was when he saw two in one, as himself and his reflection. The reflection is that “Doubly fruitful” presence of Jesus’ soul within Paul. The funny thing is it looked just like Paul, even though the only way Paul could understand what he looked like would be to become someone else. The “looking-glass” was adult Saul looking at Jesus reborn as Paul, with Saul becoming the reflection of the way he was when he was a child. Saul died, never to return. Thus, Saul became “dimly” visible [NRSV translation], with the Greek word written – “ainigmati” – meaning “a riddle, an enigma.” Thus, Saul became an “obscurity” that those who knew his past vaguely recalled, when Paul no longer acted like he did when Saul. The child had died, the boy had grown; never to return again.

All of this was possible only because of “divine love” entering into Saul, forever changing him. The “love” Saul knew was as he stated in the first three verses. He “loved” being a Jew. He “loved” being designated as the one who could seek out the followers of that zealot Jesus and destroy them. Saul “loved” hearing them cry as he tortured them to death, if they would not curse Jesus and condemn his influence. That “love” was physical pleasures of sin, not “divine love.”

The sad thing about what Paul wrote here is Christianity has become a reflection of the way ancient Judaism was. Christianity is now the face in the looking-glass that is a reflection of Saul, not Paul. The same human flaws that destroyed Judaism are now destroying Christianity. Too many are singing the lyrics of the atheist Beatles, when they sang, “Love, love, love, love, love, love, All you need is love,” when their concept of “love” was as human and physical as John Lennon singing suggestions to “imagine there is no religion. It is easy if you try.”

There is that word “if” again.

As a reading selection to be read aloud on the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, the focus here is on “divine love” and how it is obtainable by all. Divine love is not to be mistaken as physical, emotionally driven or human “love.” Divine love can only come from a transformation from the old to the new. The new always includes a Spiritual marriage between one’s soul and Yahweh, with the subsequent rebirth of His Son Jesus. This is the focus of Christmas and the Epiphany, when it becomes time to realize that rebirth within one’s being. The after the Epiphany time is when one knows there is no turning back to the old ways of sin. In fact, one knows the path ahead leads to ministry, where Jesus will be the one doing all the talking. One’s soul has become obscured, as just the maintenance man in the temple, where Jesus is the High Priest. One has come from a past that knew and still remembers the physical loves generated by a body of flesh; but to know divine love is that unexplainable love of devotion that only wants to please Yahweh, day in and day out, for eternity.

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