1 Corinthians 13
The book of 1 Corinthians is the seventh book of the New Testament and is located between the books of Romans and 2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians is also referred to as the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, as it was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Church in Corinth. It has been debated that letters and epistles differ from one another in literary style, as letters where meant to be nonliterary, versus epistles were meant as a public literary form (Fee 56) . For the purposes of this paper, I will use epistle and letter interchangeably. We know the literary form of 1 Corinthians is a letter and/or epistle because it followed the standard form of ancient letters. The standard form of ancient letters, much like letters of today, contained six distinct pieces, name of the writer, name of the recipient, greeting, prayer wish or thanksgiving, body, and final greeting and farewell (Fee 56-57). Paul’s epistle contained all of these standard elements, Paul was the writer, the church in Corinth was the recipient, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father…” is the greeting, thanksgiving “I always thank God for you…”, the body, and then the farewell, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you” (Fee 57). Paul’s letter was written approximately 55 AD (“Corinth in the Time of Paul” 1) and was constructed to address rumors of non-Christian acts that were going on with Christians in the city of Corinth. The city of Corinth was a very influencial city in Greece at the time, as it was known for its commerce, culture, and religion (“Corinth in the Time of Paul” 1). “The city of Corinth was a very important hub in ancient Greece. Located between Italy and Asia this major trade center was bustling with ethnic diversity. Even though it was a commercial success, its immorality was unrivaled. The Aristophanes coined the term Korinthiazomai, meaning "to act like a Corinthian"-synonymous to sexual immorality. They worshiped Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty with their lewd rituals” (“History of the Book of 1st Corinthians” 1). Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth was written to “instruct and restore the church in its areas of weakness, correcting erroneous practices such as divisions, immorality, litigation in pagan courts and abuse of the Lord’s Supper to correct false teaching concerning the resurrection” (“Corinth in the Time of Paul” 1). Paul’s epistle addressed many of the same issues that Christians face in today’s society, over nineteen hundreds years after it was was written.
Paul’s letter served as a “how-to guide” to the church of Corinth covering a variety of topics on being a Christian. This letter addressed divisions in the church, moral and ethical disorders in the life of the church, instruction of marriage, instruction on questionable practices, instruction on public worship, instruction on the resurrection, and practical and personal matters (“Corinth in the Time of Paul” 1). I will be taking a more detailed look at the topic of instructions on public worship, which spans chapters eleven through fourteen, and more specifically the concept of “Love”. In chapter thirteen, Paul addresses the importance of the gift of love to the church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen is located towards the end of book, as there are a total of sixteen chapters, and reads (Holy Bible: New Living Translation):
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 4 Love is patient...