Monday, October 19, 2009

Love Interrupting

Let's get academical for a minute.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul writes to describe the impact and proper use of spiritual gifts. His intent is to educate his audience regarding the source and hierarchical nature of spiritual gifts as it applies to their use in worship services.

He begins by ascribing their power to their source - the Holy Spirit. He reasons that because the same Spirit is the source, the gifts are designed to work in bringing people together in that Spirit. He warns that improper use of the gifts can break up the collective group, as has been happening in meetings in Corinth. To emphasize this point, he describes how the use of speaking in tongues could alienate others, while prophesy includes others and edifies.

If we look at this as Paul's line of reasoning, the section of scripture from 12:31b up to and including 14:1 appears to be out of place. This has been the conclusion of more than a few scholars. They suggest that this passage is a later inclusion that breaks up and deemphasizes Paul's hard teachings about the gifts of tongues and prophecy. Given the east transition from 12:31a to 14:2, this seems possible. (Go ahead and read it that way - it works.)

So, what about the "Love Chapter"? It is one of the most oft-quoted and admired passages in all of scripture. Been to a wedding lately? You probably heard it. It seems like Paul just plastered love in the middle of a completely different topic. It doesn't fit, it doesn't flow, it changes everything.


That's what real love always does. It never fits. It never makes sense. It changes everything.

Dont' believe me? Try it. Love someone who doesn't deserve it. Choose to be nice to someone for no other reason than that choice. Love someone when they've messed up. Love someone who you don't know. Love someone who has hurt you or others. Love someone who lives in sin. Love the least of these and watch things change.


  1. I really like the way you look at scripture. Thank you for this post. I needed the reminder.