Commentary on Titus and Jude

  March 31, 2013
Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #8: Questions Concerning Christian Worship, 1 Corinthians 11.2-14.40
 
 
Lesson 8.4: Primacy of Love
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13.8-13

Part 3: Exercise of Gifts of the Spirit In the Church, 1 Corinthians 13.8-13


8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Introduction

In this portion of the chapter Paul compares love with the gift of prophecy, and with the power of speaking foreign languages, and with knowledge. He shows that love is superior to all of them. Love will live in heaven; and will be the principal glory of that world of bliss.
 

Commentary

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Charity never faileth:
The word translated “faileth” conveys the meaning, to fall out of, to fall from or off; and may be applied to the stars of heaven falling (Mark 13:25[1] ), or to flowers that fall or fade, (James 1:11[2] , 1 Peter 1:24[3] ,) or to chains falling from the hands, etc. (Acts 12:7[4] ). Here it means to fall away, to fail; to be without effect, to cease to be in existence. The expression may mean that it will be adapted to all the situations of life, and has a nature which must be exercised at all times; or it may mean that it will continue for all eternity, and be exercised in heaven forever. The latter is probably the meaning here. The sense is that while other gifts of the Holy Spirit must soon cease and be worthless, LOVE would abide, and would always exist. The argument is, that we ought to ask for that which has a long-term value; and that, therefore, love should be preferred to those gifts of the Spirit on which the Corinthians placed such a high value.

“Love” does not fail because it bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is why at the end of the chapter it says, “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Love abides. It is everlasting. Love for God and man can never be done away with. It is a vital part of social and religious life; without it, it would be impossible to sustain a spiritual union with God. How could anyone whose heart and soul is not permeated with love ever be prepared for heaven. When the world was without it there was no true religion, and the world became so wicked that God had to destroy it with a great flood. Love is not only necessary throughout life; but it will exist throughout eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem entitled “I Loved Once,” in which she writes, “They never loved who dreamed that they loved once,” and “Love looks beyond the bounds of time and space, Love takes eternity in its embrace.” You and I will die someday, but love is immortal. It cannot be defeated, it is never pessimistic, and it is never disappointed. Love that is mere passion burns like a stack of straw and is consumed before long. That is the reason there are so many divorces today. They do not have the kind of love that holds two hearts together.

Love is eternal. It is permanent. God’s love is that kind of love. Isn’t that wonderful! His love is not limited by time and space. Christ did not begin loving when he was born into this world; He loved before the world was created and He has never stopped. You can’t do anything to keep Him from loving. No sinner has committed an unpardonable sin. You may be in the state of unbelief, but He still loves you. You may have committed a horrible sin, but He still loves you. You cannot keep Him from loving you. You can put up an umbrella to keep yourself out of the rain, but you cannot stop the rain from falling. Neither can you stop God from loving you—regardless of the umbrella of sin or unbelief that you are under.

There is a question I want to ask: Is it wrong to tell children that God won’t love them. I will answer with a story I read. “I used to be in a Sunday school class of little fellows. They were a bunch of mean brats—I was the only good boy in the class! The teacher would say to us, “God won’t love you boys if you keep acting that way.” I used to think, God surely can’t love me very much. But He did in spite of my meanness.” How wonderful it is to know that God loves us! Friends, allow me to get a little personal; I have always found it hard to believe that God can love a person like me; only a God-sized heart could do so. I love Him so very much, because He first loved me.

The apostle said “Charity never faileth,” and I agree; but I must add, “The exercise of it may fail, as other graces do; it may be abandoned, but not lost; the passion of it may diminish and subside; it may wax cold through the pervasiveness of sin; it may be drastically consumed by the growth of disrespect for everything having to do with religion; and may be significantly blocked by an excessive desire for the things of this world. But this grace never fails as far as its principles are concerned. It is an immortal and an incorruptible seed; it lives where temptations may be intense, as it was when Peter denied Christ.

Beginning here, and to the end of the chapter, Paul stresses the permanence of love by contrasting it with the supernatural gifts which were so highly treasured by the Corinthians, to the utter neglect, and virtual extinction, of charity. And before moving to declare that all of these things which had so dazzled and inflated the Corinthians were soon to end, Paul had outlined the glory and desirability of Christian love[5] , and in 1 Corinthians 12.31 he called it the “most excellent way.” But here he made the unconditional and conclusive declaration of the end of supernatural gifts in the church. They were only to edify the church on earth, and that was to be only for a short time, not lasting throughout the entire church age. We may only hope that the Corinthians got the point better than many of the modern commentators.

Love is a permanent and perpetual grace, lasting as long as eternity; whereas the extraordinary gifts on which the Corinthian believers placed so much value were for a short duration.

but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
“But whether there be prophecies,” that is, the gift of prophecy, or the faculty of speaking as a prophet, or of communicating the truth of God to men in an understandable manner under the influence of the Holy Spirit; the gift of being a Gospel preacher; of instructing and edifying the church; the interpretation of scripture by immediate inspiration, and foretelling future events (see 1 Corinthians 14:1[6] ).

“They shall fail.”  The gift will cease to be exercised; there will be no further need for this gift in the light and glory of the world above, and it will cease. As a matter of fact we know that it has long since done so. Today there is no need to confirm the truth of religion by the predicting of future events, and no need to warning against looming danger, because the Bible is full of predictions (most have already been fulfilled) and warnings (most pertain to the end times), which has been ignored by most men everywhere? The Bible is the standard by which we are to judge what men say; if it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, we should not believe a word of it. God does not have anything new to tell us; when He finished with Revelations He closed the door on prophesy; and now we must live by faith, and it is the preaching of the Word and instruction in the Word that is to encourage and excite us. Furthermore, once the Church has been removed from this world to live eternally in heaven, the gifts of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of preaching the doctrines of the Gospel, will be no more, because there will be no need of them in a state of perfection.

whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
“Whether there be tongues,” refers to the gift of speaking in unknown or foreign languages without learning them. There will be only one language in heaven. There is no confusion of tongues in the realm where perfect tranquility reins. During the resurrection, the tongue will be restored along with the rest of the parts of the body, and it will be eternally employed in celebrating the perfections of God, by singing hallelujahs to the Lamb, and in joining with angels and other saints in songs of praise to the eternal Three; but the gift of speaking with unknown tongues will cease; if truth be told it has already. There will not be any need for such an extraordinary gift in the other world; when probably, and as it is thought by some, there will be only one language, and that will be the Hebrew language; it will be like it was when the whole earth was of one language before the confusion at Babel.

“They shall cease” means that the TRUE gifts of tongues would cease. In many generations after those days, the gift of so-called 'tongues' would flourish at intervals throughout the history of the Christian faith; but Paul's words here absolutely denies any authenticity whatever to the so-called charismatics of the present day. It is true that this is the only place where it says that “tongues SHALL cease”; but there is no reason whatsoever to believe that this gift, which is the least of all supernatural gifts should have survived when supernatural knowledge, divine prophecy, and the gift of miracle-working faith perished; which, of course, they did. Any authentic speaking in tongues is restricted here by the apostle Paul to the age of miracles; and when that ceased, the tongues ceased, except for the pretentiousness of those who indulge in the counterfeit “tongues” of the present day.

The very fact that Paul's declared “the more excellent way” implies that the supernatural gifts would soon pass away, otherwise that generation would not have needed the instruction. Those gifts present at Corinth had a purpose. In that day in Corinth, no man had a copy of the New Testament; therefore it was necessary that supernaturally gifted men would teach and lead them; but today, “No preacher or teacher has any message from God unless he gets it from the Bible.” During the childhood age of the church, miracles authenticated the message of the inspired preachers (Mark 16:20[7] ). Miracles were for a specific purpose, to confirm the word of God. “No miracle today could confirm the word of God, since it is already confirmed. Men simply need to believe and obey it.” The burden of proof must rest upon those who suppose that we are still living in the age of miracles. If there are super-natural gifts, where are they? The contradicting claims of religious bodies pretending to work miracles are mutually destructive. This writer believes that there are no miracles being performed today by anyone. Paul said they would cease; and they have ceased! There are certainly marvelous occurrences of divine interventions, but they are so infrequent and astonishing that it is not surprising that they startle people. It cannot be denied that God is still working in the world, and especially in his kingdom; but that quality of miracles which may serve to confirm God's word is not discernible today. You may ask, “What about the answer to prayer?” Yes indeed God answers prayer, and sometimes in the most astonishing ways; but such a thing bears no likeness to the supernatural and visible wonders of the apostolic age. The character of people pretending to perform miracles in this generation refutes their claims. They get rich doing it; but the apostles never took money for healing anyone. As Foy E. Wallace stated it: “The miraculous endowments designated SPIRITUAL gifts have FAILED, have CEASED, have VANISHED AWAY and are therefore no longer in force. All such powers were temporary and provisional and cannot now be exercised.” It is important to note that tongues are never mentioned again in the New Testament after this warning.

whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 “Whether there be knowledge,” that is, the word of knowledge, which is only given to certain people; or that peculiar gift of knowledge of divine things, by which some are qualified to be instructors. This is not knowledge in general, which includes all human arts and sciences, but the “gift” of knowledge by direct revelation (cf. 12:8[8] ; 13:2[9] ). Macknight and others understand this to pertain to the knowledge of the mysteries of the Old Testament, or "the inspired knowledge of the ancient revelations, which should be abolished when the church has arrived at its mature state;" but this is a shameful, irreverent interpretation.

“It shall vanish away.” Not only will our imperfect knowledge seem to have vanished in the superior light and glory of the eternal world, but much of what passes now for knowledge will become unknown. Much of that which is today called science is "called that falsely;" and a great deal of that which is connected with literature that has attracted so much attention, will be unknown in the eternal world. And it is evident that much of that which is connected with the knowledge of languages, and with philosophy, anatomy, physiology, and geology, and much of the science which relates to creation and the operation of the universe is erroneous, and will be proved to be so in the future; and will pass away. Other subjects may rise into importance which are now unknown; and possibly things connected with science which are now regarded as the least important will then become objects of great importance. For example, the science that I learned in college is already out of date. The science of today will be replaced by the science of tomorrow. Knowledge is progressive. It vanishes away.

This does not mean that in heaven, when we are in a perfect state, being holy and happy souls that we will be ignorant: it would be a poor happiness that can exist in utter ignorance. The apostle is plainly speaking of miraculous gifts, and therefore of knowledge that is obtained in an uncommon way (see ch. 14:6[10] ), a knowledge of mysteries supernaturally communicated. Such knowledge was to vanish away. Some believe this refers to common knowledge acquired by instruction. This way of knowing is to vanish away, though the knowledge itself, once acquired, will not be lost. But it is clear that here the apostle is contrasting the grace of love with supernatural gifts. Love is more valuable, because it is more durable; it will last long after they are gone; it will enter into heaven, but they will be barred, because they will be of no use there, though, in a sense, even our common knowledge may cease in heaven, due to the improvement that will occur in our perfect state. Imperfect knowledge of every sort will disappear; it will become perfect; that knowledge which is in part will be done away, when perfect knowledge takes its place.

The supernatural knowledge, granted as a spiritual gift, was temporary. It was only granted while the church was in an immature state.

The essential idea in this passage is that all the knowledge which we now possess will lose its brilliance, become dim and lost in the superior light of heaven. But LOVE will live there; and we should, therefore, seek that which is permanent and eternal.
 
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

For we know in part,
Since we are currently flesh-and-blood creatures, we have only a little knowledge of earthly things, and even less knowledge of heavenly things. Those who know the most know very little in comparison with what the angels know, and what is known by the spirits of saved men who have been made perfect in heaven. And seeing that we know so very little and are currently lacking in love, we are definitely defective! Do you suppose the Angels may marvel at the dearth of our knowledge, and the spirits of saints may wonder at the excellence of their own, since they have acquired so much as a result of being separated from the body, than they could even imagine to be possible while they were in that body. Sir Isaac Newton made such amazing discoveries in the laws of nature, that he may have surpassed anything that had been done by all his predecessors in science from the days of Solomon.  One of our poets may have been thinking of Mr. Newton and the meagerness of human knowledge when compared it with that which is possessed by the inhabitants of heaven when he penned this witticism:—


Superior beings, when of late they saw
A mortal man explain all nature's law,
Admired such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And show'd our NEWTON as we show an ape.


These humorous lines are a paraphrase from an axiom that originated with Plato: "The wisest of mortals will appear but an ape in the estimation of God."

It would be wrong for anyone to suppose that the Scriptures which are the source of spiritual knowledge are imperfect, and for that reason there is a need for unwritten traditions and exciting revelations delivered with lively gestures and unintelligible language, to inform the people of God about things that would otherwise be unknown. Although the scriptures were delivered by the Holy Spirit “at sundry times, and in divers manners”, they have for ages contained a complete canon of divine truths, to which nothing is to be added, and from which nothing is to be taken away.  It would also be wrong to suppose that only a part of the saints know the things of God simply because there is a difference between them, some having more
knowledge than others, yet all have some, all are taught by God, and all know Him, and all have that anointing which teaches all things. Some have drawn the wrong conclusion, that only a part of the truth, and not the whole truth, is known. It is wrong because it is said, “the Spirit of God leads into all truth. The whole counsel of God is revealed in the Scriptures and by the ministers of the Word; but, although that knowledge is perfect, and all the saints have knowledge, and every truth of the Gospel is known; nevertheless, evens those that know the most, knows it imperfectly. Although the truth, as it is revealed in the Word may well be understood there may be many difficulties surrounding it, and objections that may be raised, which are not easily solved; such as  the doctrines of the Trinity, predestination, the union of the two natures in Christ, and the resurrection of the dead.

The knowledge that Christians have is imperfect and obscure. It may, therefore, all vanish in the heavenly realm amidst its superior enlightenment and understanding; therefore, we should not place such a high value on those things that are imperfect, obscure and soon to expire (1 Corinthians 8:2[11] ). The apostle illustrates this idea of the obscurity and imperfection of our knowledge, when compared with heaven, by comparing the knowledge which a child has with the knowledge which comes with maturity (see 1 Corinthians 13.11); and in 1 Corinthians 13:12 he compares the knowledge which we have, which is like looking through a glass—an imperfect medium—with heavenly knowledge which is like looking closely and directly at an object without any medium.

and we prophesy in part.
This does not mean that we only know part of the truths of religion, and guess at the rest of them. But what the apostle is showing is the imperfection of the prophetic gift; and he observes, that there is the same imperfections associated with “prophesy” as there is with knowledge. It is only partially revealed , and therefore it is imperfect; it is obscure, compared with the full view of truth that we will have in heaven; it is currently unclear; and all that is disclosed by that gift will soon become dim and lost, in the superior brightness and glory of the heavenly world. But these gifts were tailored to fit the present imperfect state of the church; they are valuable in themselves, but are not to be compared with LOVE, because they will vanish along with the imperfections of the church, or rather, have already vanished (and that was long ago), while love was designed by God to last forever. That’s why the apostle takes this occasion to show how much better it will be for the church in the hereafter than it can be in the here and now. The argument that Paul is making is that we should not desire that which is so imperfect and obscure, and which must soon disappear; but instead, we should desire LOVE which is permanent, growing, and eternal.
 
Even the most inspiring prophets have not been able to say much about the state of heaven; and the best preachers have left it up to the Spirit of God to supply those details. Moreover, if all our religious knowledge came from men and books, and the knowledge we possess of God and ourselves came from preaching, our religious comprehension of these things would be low indeed. Nevertheless it is our duty to acquire all the knowledge we possibly can; and since preaching is the usual means by which God has chosen to instruct and convert sinners, we should use it, and be thankful for it. Every preacher should be careful to instill this reality in the hearts of his parishioners: “When you have learned all you can from your ministers, remember that you have much more to learn from God; and for that reason you should diligently seek to learn more by reading His word, and by persistent prayer.” All prophesying or explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament or the mysteries of the Gospel is imperfect at best in the present state of things. The gift of prophesy ceased when God, through the Holy Spirit revealed all He wanted little man to know on the pages of His Holy book.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

But when that which is perfect is come
“That which is perfect” refers to the perfect knowledge of God, of Christ, and of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven which we will obtain, not in this life, but when we enter into our heavenly state; which is what the apostle refers to here. The Jews say this knowledge will be revealed at the resurrection, at which time the soul and body will be reunited, and “the children of men shall attain to ‘perfect knowledge.’” Some think that it came when the church reached its full maturity, since the special gifts ceased at that time; although there were those who expected "the perfect" at the coming of Christ.

The great problem facing Paul was the education and guidance of the church in Corinth; and the most acceptable opinion of what might be called “perfect” in connection with that problem would be the completed body of scripture contained in the New Testament. McGarvey understood “that which is perfect” to mean “the recorded word.” Kelcy called it “The body of truth fully revealed.” DeHoff said it meant “The New Testament.” The comparison which Paul made earlier contrasted the infancy period of the church with the church's maturity, not the present dispensation with the ultimate condition of the saints in heaven; and this requires that the phrase “that which is perfect” must be linked, not with conditions in heaven, but with the maturity of the church; and that stipulation is met only by referring the words to God's completed revelation, the Bible.

A great many commentators insist upon connecting “that which is perfect” to conditions in heaven, which looks forward to the Second Coming, at the culmination of the Church Age. To suggest that “the perfect” refers to the “ultimate condition of the saints in heaven” fails to find any support in the Biblical usage of perfect ... Such an interpretation exists only to explain the absence of certain CHARISMATA[13]  in many churches today. With regard to the Biblical usage of “perfect,” it should be noted that in the Old Testament it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul” (Psalms 19:7); therefore “perfect” should definitely be applied to the revealed word of God; and that which is true of the Old Testament is even more applicable to the New Testament. As for the absence of “certain CHARISMATA” in present-day churches, it may be unequivocally affirmed that “ALL CHARISMATA” has vanished from all present-day churches, with the exception of counterfeit tongues performed by certain denominations and independent churches. The behavior of those practitioners consistently reveals that their so-called “spiritual gifts” are contrary to the commands of the Holy Spirit; they are unscriptural and therefore bear no resemblance whatever to the genuine gift which existed in the times of the apostles.

“When that which is perfect is come,” the partial knowledge and prophecy of today will disappear. The imperfect will give way to the perfect; the perishable to the enduring. “That which is perfect” is understood best in light of I Corinthians 2:6[14] , in the sense of “mature” or “complete” (cf. also Col 3:14[15] ; Heb 6:1[16] ). Conservative biblical scholars have proposed two main interpretations of perfect.
1. It may be a reference to the completion of the canon of Scripture, with which partial revelation (by knowledge, prophecy, or tongues) came to an end, culminating in a complete revelation of God in the Biblical writings.
2.  Or it may refer to the maturing of the body of Christ (in the sense of Ephesians 4:11–16[17] ). Paul employs the neuter because he does not contemplate an individual. Thus, that which is perfect cannot refer to the coming of Christ Himself.

and then that which is in part, shall be done away:
Failure to see that “MIRACULOUS knowledge, tongues, prophecies, etc., which is called “spiritual gifts,” in this and earlier chapters are to be identified with the things we know in part that shall be done away with involves interpreters in an impossible position. Take ordinary “knowledge,” for an example; will it be done away with when we get to heaven?—certainly not. Later, at the end of the chapter, Paul gives his readers a glimpse of eternity, but not here. The things “which is in part” which were to be done away were the supernatural gifts that existed during infancy period of the present church age. Paul considered the days of spiritual gifts as the process the church must go through in order to reach the goal of maturity. Lipscomb said this about it: “These gifts were to continue in the church to guide and instruct it until the completed will of God was made known. They were to serve a temporary purpose; then when their office was fulfilled, they were to pass away and give place to the revealed will of God.” The pattern of many commentators is like that of Macknight who paraphrased this verse in this way: “When the perfect gift of complete illumination is bestowed on all in heaven, then that which is partial, namely, the present gifts of knowledge and prophecy, shall be abolished as useless.” However, who can believe that Paul was trying to control the outrageous situation in Corinth by assuring them that all of those miraculous gifts would disappear when they all got to heaven? The perfect illustration of what he really means was childhood giving way to maturity, stated in the very next verse.

The apostle has explained what he means by the cessation and failing of knowledge, and prophecy; that what will be removed is the imperfection of knowledge; the imperfect manner of communicating knowledge, and of receiving and acquiring it, will cease. Knowledge will NOT disappear, and a state of ignorance and darkness follow it; but imperfect knowledge will vanish away, or rather will be perfected, or be swallowed up in perfect knowledge; the imperfection of it will disappear; and it will be no more taught and received in part; truth in its entirety will be clearly known. There will be no need of tongues, and prophecy, and inspired knowledge, in a future life, because then the church will be in a state of perfection, complete both in knowledge and holiness. God will be known clearly, and in a manner similar to intuition, and as perfectly as the capacity of glorified minds will allow; not by such fleeting glimpses, and little portions, as at the present time.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

When I was a child, I spake as a child,
In this verse the change he has declared—“when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away”—is illustrated by the change from childhood to manhood. The speech, thoughts and feelings of the child give way to those of the man. In a similar way, the church progresses from childhood to full development and maturity. The point the apostle makes here is this: The knowledge which we have now, compared with that which we shall have in heaven, is like the knowledge which is possessed by an infant, compared with the knowledge we have in manhood; and when we reach maturity we lay aside those things that are undeserving of our attention; the notions, feelings, and plans we had in boyhood, which we thought were very important; accordingly, when we reach heaven, we will lay aside the views, feelings, and plans which we have in this life which we now regard as wise and valuable. Here the word child indicates a baby, an infant, though there is not a definable limitation placed on age. It refers to the first periods of existence, before the period which we designate as boyhood, or youth. Paul refers to a period when he could speak, though evidently his speech was barely intelligible—when he first began to speak coherently, but not clearly, he aims at words rather than expresses them, delivers them in a stammering manner. This is how the apostle characterizes the gift of speaking with divers tongues in the Corinthian Church, which was an extraordinary gift of the Spirit. It was a gift given to some, but practiced by many of the believers there; and yet this gift, in its highest measure, was like the stammering of a child, in comparison with what will be known and expressed by saints, when they come to be perfect men in heaven. This future state of blessedness is as far beyond the highest perfection that can be attained in this world, as our adult state of Christianity is above our state of natural infancy, in which we understand only as children understand; speak only a few broken articulate words, and reason only as children reason; having few ideas, little knowledge; and no experience. But by the time we became men (adults), we had gained a great deal of knowledge about men and things, and we spoke and reasoned more correctly, and we cast off all the immature behavior and habits of our childhood.


I understood as a child,
My understanding was incompetent and flawed. I had a narrow and limited view of things. I knew very little. I fixed my attention on objects which now seem to be useless and of little value. I acquired knowledge which has since vanished, or has sunk in light of the superior intelligence of maturity. "I was affected as a child. I was thrown into a transport of joy or grief on the slightest occasions, which manly reason taught me to despise."-Doddridge.

I thought
I thought, or reasoned.
 
as a child:
“I thought as a child.” I thought, argued, reasoned in a weak and indecisive manner. My thinking, and plans, and opinions were infantile, and now I see them to be short-sighted and unsound. It will be the same with our thoughts, when compared to our future thinking in heaven. There will be, no doubt, as much difference between our present knowledge, and plans, and beliefs, and those which we will have in heaven, as there is between the plans and views of a child and those of a man. Just before his death, Sir Isaac Newton made this remark: "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself by now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
“Childish things” may refer to childish talk, childish love, and childish thoughts and reasoning. In comparison with grown men, children have narrow views, and confused and vague notions of things. It is natural for men, when reason has ripened and matured, to despise and relinquish their childish thoughts, and put them away (reject them, regard them as nothing). This is how we will think of our most valued gifts and attainments in this world, when we come to live in heaven. When we are grown up to men in Christ, we will despise our childish pride in such things. When the child becomes a man his speech is under the control of his mind, his understanding is tempered by experience and learning, and his knowledge is complete. Paul is not implying that the Corinthians had reached or attained that level of maturity but, akin to what Paul said of himself in Philippians 3:7–15[18] , that is the end toward which they should be striving.

Can this be anything other than a suggestion that the Corinthians should stop being children and grow up? In case any of them might have missed the point, he added this warning a little later, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature” (1 Cor 14:20; NKJV). Furthermore, the warning was given in the same breath with Paul's statement that five intelligible words were worth more than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue!

So, when the saints have grown into full maturity in Christ, and have become perfect men in Him, tongues will cease, prophecies will fail, and knowledge will vanish.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

For now we see through a glass, darkly;
Paul is still talking about things associated with religion, especially our knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, seeing that we have been enlightened by the Spirit of God. At the present we see God; the perfection and glory of his character, the riches of his grace and goodness, as displayed in Christ. We see the glory of Christ, full of grace and truth, and we are filled with love for him. Our souls yearn to be with Him, and we are changed by His Spirit into a likeness of Him. We understand the things of the Spirit of God better than before, since He has removed the veil that covered them. We behold amazing things in the law of God and the Gospel of Christ, such things that were formally unseen, and unknown by the natural man. We can see so much more now that we are born again, and we are in Him and He is in us; but all of it is blurred, as if we were looking "through a glass." God has said that no one can give an excuse for not believing in Him because the invisible things of God may be seen and understood by anyone; and God, as the creator of the natural world, may be seen in nature[19] ; however, He cannot be seen as the God of grace; it is only in His Son, and through the clear glass of the Gospel that He may be seen in this light. And so, in our present state of imperfection it is only through the glass of the Word and ordinances of God we can see the glory of Christ and His work, and the fulness of His grace and righteousness.

The apostle is attempting to make a point by comparing our current understanding of God and the Christian faith with how our image appears in a mirror, or how things appear when viewed through glass. Things are all dark and confused now, in comparison to what they will be in heaven. It evidently occurred to Paul in connection with what he had just said about the childhood age of the church giving way to maturity, which was applicable to the current era of that day; but like many other examples in the Bible, it has a secondary reference to something much more distant. We may therefore apply the words about “seeing through a mirror darkly,” and “knowing in part” to the present dispensation of God's grace, and the words about being “face to face” (presumably with the Lord Jesus) and knowing “completely” may be understood as descriptive of conditions as they exist in eternity. This is the emphasis of our verse, and Paul, as if to substantiate that notion promptly returns to the “now” in the next verse. A failure to recognize this assessment of 1 Cor. 13:12 is fatal to any true interpretation of this passage.

“A glass, Darkly” is understood to refer to a "mirror." The mirrors of the ancients were made from polished metal[20] , and were easily tarnished and far inferior to ours. The mirror images were unclear and indistinct in comparison. They were dark, blurry, and defective. Therefore, in our present state, our knowledge of divine things is definitely imperfect and incomplete. That is why it is vitally important that the people of God live by faith; because what they may see even under the best of conditions must be described as “seeing through a glass, darkly.”

Some commentators say that Paul is not referring to a mirror at all, but to seeing objects through some imperfect medium. They believe that he refers to those transparent substances which the ancients had, which they occasionally used in their windows; such as thin plates of horn, and transparent stone split into thin laminate or scales. Humboldt mentions such kinds of stone being used in South America in church windows. It is possible that in Paul’s time the ancients had the knowledge of producing glass, although it was probably very imperfect and murky at first. There is some reason to believe that glass was known to the Phoenicians, the Tyrians, and the Egyptians. It is acknowledged that glass was in common use around the beginning of the Christian era. About the time of the reign of Tiberius, drinking vessels were commonly made of glass; and glass bottles for holding wine and flowers were in common use. The remains of glass artifacts discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii proved that glass was in common use. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that Paul may have alluded to the imperfect and discolored glass which was then in extensive use, since we have no reason to presume that glass was then as transparent and as perfect as it is now. It was, without question, an imperfect and obscure medium, and therefore well adapted to illustrate the nature of our present knowledge, compared with what it will be in heaven.

The word “darkly” means an enigma; an obscure intimation, a mystery, puzzle or riddle. In a riddle, a statement is made with some resemblance to the truth; a puzzling question is proposed, and the solution is left to conjecture. It follows then, that what the apostle means by describing our current understanding of God and the Christian faith, as obscure, dim, and imperfect is that little is known; much is left to conjecture; which is a very accurate account of most of that which passes for knowledge. Compared with heaven, our knowledge here resembles the obscure allusions in a riddle compared with clear statements and obvious truth. Now—in this life, we see by means of a mirror reflecting the images of heavenly and spiritual things, in an ambiguous and complex manner, invisible things being represented by visible, spiritual by natural, eternal by secular; but then—in the eternal world, we will see things as they really are, and not by means of a representative or likeness.

but then face to face:
In heaven there will be no intervening mediums to affect our vision, not even the glass of the Word and ordinances; there will be no need of them, because God and Christ will be seen as they truly are. The judgments of God and His beneficial endowments, will be all made discernible, and will be legible without the help of a glass; the doctrines of grace and truth will be unlocked, and made clear, free of all murky language, vague hints, or incomprehensible expressions. Preachers will not provide instruction, their assistance will no longer be necessary, and there will be nothing to distort or block our sight—We will see face to face; the objects will be close; the view will be full and clear, the sight will be perfect. There appears to be reference to what the Lord says of Moses in Numbers 12:8: “I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD…" (Num 12:8; NKJV). The apostle suggests there was a difference between Moses and the rest of the prophets, the former saw clearly, the later through a glass darkly; but there is an even greater difference between the clearest views saints have of divine things now, and those views they shall be blessed with in the hereafter.

The apostle understands that complete maturity will not be achieved until we see the Lord face to face[21] . At that time we will not only achieve complete maturity but perfect knowledge.
 
now I know in part;
It is hard to imagine that Paul would say that the knowledge he possessed in his present state was imperfect because at this time he was not an iota behind the chief of the apostles, his knowledge of Christ exceeded that which had been given to any in ages past,  and he had been caught up into the third heaven and had heard words not lawful to be uttered. But perhaps there is a lesson here for those who are apt to entertain a high opinion of themselves, and dream of perfection in this life. There were limitations even upon the knowledge that Paul possess; which was partial. There are two things to note: first, the chronological “now”; and second, that Paul was not referring to the Corinthians who knew far less than he did; but of himself. What a shocking rebuke of intellectual arrogance is this! The greatest mind of the apostolic age, other than the perfect mind of Christ himself, points out here the partial (see vs. 9) and incomplete nature of that body of revelation which Paul, more than any other, delivered to mankind. “The permanent danger of intellectual eminence is intellectual snobbery,” according to Barclay; but there is an antidote for it in a passage like this.

but then shall I know, even as I am known.
Paul indicates here that in the eternal world and state he would know God, Christ, angels, and glorified saints, and all truths in the same perfect way that he was known by God and Christ, except for the difference he acknowledges existing between the Creator and the creature. The gist of his statement is that he would have as full and complete a knowledge of persons and things as he was capable of; it would be like, though not equal to, the knowledge which God had of him; and it would be accompanied with strong love and affection, similar to how he was known and loved by God. Paul’s remark does not relate to the extent, but to the manner and the comparative clearness of his knowledge. He would see things as he was now seen and would be seen there. It would be face to face. He would be in their presence. It would not be where he would be seen clearly and distinctly, while he was compelled to look upon all objects confusedly and obscurely, and through an imperfect medium. But he would be with them; would see them face to face; would see them without any medium; would see them in the same manner as they would see him; and when we are in the heavenly world, we will see the truths, not at a distance and obscurely, but plainly and openly.

We are known to God by mere inspection; he sees and searches us and immediately knows all there is to know about us. In the eternal world we will be able to look at Him and see him as he is21. We will know how we are known, and understand all the mysteries of divine love and grace. OH WHAT A GLORIOUS CHANGE! To pass from darkness into light, from clouds to the clear sunshine of our Savior’s face, and in God’s own light to see light[22] ! Note, only the light of heaven will remove all clouds and darkness from the face of God. It is at best but twilight while we are in this world; there it will be a perfect and eternal day, when the veil is taken away, and the full revelation has come in the presence of Christ, we shall know fully; know God, eternity and its secrets, even as we are known to God. This does not mean that we would know everything, or that we would be omniscient; but that in regard to those things in which we are interested, we would have a clear understanding, arising from the fact that we would be present with Them, and permitted to see Them, instead of looking at Them from a distance.

A great many people ask, “Will I know my loved ones in heaven?” You certainly will. What is the scriptural proof? “Now we see through a glass, darkly.” You have never seen me. It is possible you may think you have seen me, but what you saw was a suit of clothes with a head and two hands sticking out of it. You didn’t really see me. And I have never really seen you because we just see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know only in part, but then I will know even as I am known. Someone asked G. Campbell Morgan, “Do you think we will know our loved ones in heaven?” Dr. Morgan in his truly British manner answered, “I do not expect to be a bigger fool in heaven than I am here, and I know my loved ones here.”

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
“Abideth” means to remain, continue, abide; and is applied to persons who remain in a place, in a state or condition. It is the opposite of leaving, stopping, changing their place, or passing away. In this verse it must be understood that Paul intends to express permanency, while the other things which he mentioned had passed away; and the gist of it is, that faith, hope, and love would remain after the gift of tongues had ceased, and the need for prophecy had vanished; that is, “these three” would survive all those things of which he had been speaking, and must therefore include knowledge, (see vss. 8 and 9) as well as miracles, and the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. They would survive them all, therefore they should be sought after; but of these three the greatest and most important is love. If the present Christian experience were to be reduced to three essential qualities they would be faith, hope, and love. Most commentators assume that Paul is speaking here only of this life, and that he means to say that "faith, hope, and charity exist on this side of eternity, but that in the future world faith and hope will have vanished and only love will remain, and therefore the greatest of these is love." Shore and many others insist that “NOW is not used here the sense of the chronological, but the logical;” but this viewpoint should be rejected, as James Macknight declared: The clause “now abideth” implies that these graces (faith, hope and love) are not always to abide; at least the graces of faith and hope will not abide; seeing that faith is the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), and hope that is seen is not hope (Romans 8:24); in heaven, where all the objects of our faith and hope are put in our possession, there can be no place for either.

There is another point of view which is popular with some commentators, and I will explain it next and leave it up to you to decide which one is correct or is in agreement with what you believe. Paul means to say that faith, hope, and love, will survive all those other things of which he had been speaking; that they would disappear, or be replaced by better gifts; that the time would come when they would be useless; but that faith, hope, and love would still remain; but of these love was the most valuable. It is not that love would last the longest, since the apostle does not suggest that; but because it is more important to the welfare of others than they are. This line of reasoning requires us to look to another state, to a future world where prophecy will have ceased and knowledge has vanish, but faith, hope, and love will exist there; and that there, as here, LOVE will be more important than faith and hope. This opinion cannot be objected to on the basis that there will be no need for faith and hope in heaven. There is no evidence to support that opinion, and it is not confirmed by Paul. He gives no such suggestion. Faith is confidence in God and in Christ; and there will be as much necessity for confidence in heaven as on earth. Actually, the great objective of the plan of salvation is to restore confidence in God in alienated creatures; and heaven could not manage to survive for a moment without confidence; and therefore, faith, must be eternal. In heaven, confidence[23]  in God MUST survive for ever. And the same can be said for hope. It is true that many of the objects of hope will have been accomplish by then, and in the possession of those who desired them. But will the Christian have nothing to hope for in heaven? Will there be nothing to anticipate and desire, things such as improved knowledge, everlasting delight, perfect peace, and the happy association with the blessed forever? All heaven cannot be enjoyed at one time; and if there is anything in the future that is an object of desire, it will be hope. Hope[24]  is a compound emotion, made up of a desire for an object and an expectation of acquire it. But both of these will exist in heaven. It is stupid to say that a redeemed saint will not desire eternal happiness in heaven; it is equally stupid to say that there will be no eager expectation of obtaining it. Therefore, all that is said about faith being about to cease, and hope not existing in heaven, is said without the authority of the Bible, and in violation of what must be the truth, and is contrary to the whole scope of the reasoning of Paul here.
 
Abideth has the force of saying that the miraculous spiritual gifts will not abide; and, of course, they did not; nor do they exist now. Faith, hope and love abide in this dispensation; but what is mainly emphasized here is that “Love is the greatest” of the trio.

but the greatest of these is charity.
Paul sums up the brilliance and superiority of charity by saying that he prefers it not only to the gifts of the Spirit, but to other graces, to faith and hope. True grace is more outstanding than any of the spiritual gifts. And faith, hope, and love, are the three principal graces, of which love is the chief and the end to which the other two are only the means. And it is everlasting, while faith and hope will pass away. In heaven we will love one another perfectly; all the saints meet there, and only saints will be there, and the saints will be made perfect there. What a blessed state! It far surpasses the best there is below! Love is the offspring of God, because it says, “For God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, 16[25] ). And where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity will exist in its pre-eminence and strength; only there will it be perfected.

Without love, faith and hope are nothing: and in addition, its usefulness is more extensive than either of the other two. A man's faith is only for himself; a justified man lives by his own faith, and not another's; one man's faith is not useful to another, and the same is true of hope; but the saints serve one another with love, both in things earthly and spiritual. Love is said to be the greatest, because it is the most durable. In the eternal world, faith will be exchanged for vision, and hope for enjoyment, but love will abide, and it will be fully perfected and constantly exercised throughout all eternity.

It is an unqualified disaster for advocates of the “faith only” theory that here love is ranked ahead of faith; and, consequently, it is usually interpreted as meaning “God's love for men,” not men's love for God and for each other. Throughout this chapter, Paul has made it clear that what he is speaking of is “love as a virtue of men,” not as an attribute of God, is. It is true, of course that the love in Christian hearts has been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit; but by the benefit of that very fact it becomes a Christian virtue.

This chapter may be viewed as one of the most important in Scripture, not merely for the truly marvelous things said about love, but also for the solid word found there regarding the cessation of the miraculous age. In this chapter Paul is not describing an abstract term—love. He is writing a biography of Jesus Christ. Of Him it was written, “… having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). The love of Jesus is an eternal love. My friend, Jesus Christ will never cease loving you.

WHY LOVE IS THE GREATEST THING
1) Love is the fulfillment of the law, which was never true of faith (Romans 13:10[26] ).
2) Love outranks faith in the power to motivate people.
3) Love includes obedience (John 14:15[27] ), which is not true of faith or hope.
4) Love is the heart of the Great Commandment to love God and one's neighbor (Mark 12:28-31[28] ).
5) Love Will abide eternally, whereas both faith and hope will not, except in some special sense.
6) Love, if lacking in the heart would be a sufficient deficiency to prevent one's salvation, even if one possessed “all faith” (1 Corinthians 13:2[29] ).
7) Love works the greatest miracle of transformation in human hearts, distinguishing it from faith, which exists in some pretty cold fish!

Love is the clearest expression to be seen on Golgotha’s hill. Thus Paul’s approach to correcting the puffed-up Corinthians is not to condemn the possible abuses at Corinth but to challenge them to something much better by extolling the virtue of love.

LOVE LASTS, AND WHAT LOVE DOES WILL LAST. LOVE IS THE GREATEST AND DOES THE GREATEST BECAUSE “GOD IS LOVE” (1 JOHN 4:8).


_______________Notes and Scripture___________________

  [1]“And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken” (Mark 13:25; KJV).

  [2]“For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways” (James 1:11;KJV).
  [3]“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (1 Peter 1:24; KJV).
  [4]“And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7; KJV).
  [5]See Lesson 8.4-1 and 8.4-2
  [6]“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1). We should desire spiritual gifts—I think it would be unusual if a Christian didn’t want that—“but rather that ye may prophesy.” To prophesy is to give out the Word of God, to speak it simply and to speak it intelligently.

  [7]“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20; KJV). The disciples did go out to carry the gospel to every creature, and the Lord did work with them and confirmed the Word with signs which they performed. 

  [8]“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:8; KJV).
  [9]“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2; KJV).
  [10]“Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?” (1 Cor 14:6; KJV). By making it intelligible. By explaining it so that it is understood. Here knowledge stands opposed to the ignorance and obscurity which would result from a communication in a foreign language.

  [11]“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor 8:2; KJV). If he is inflated with a sense of knowledge, he has not got on the right track for true knowledge. Humility is essential.

  [13]Within Theology; a divinely conferred gift or power. A spiritual power or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large numbers of people.
  [14]“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” (1 Cor 2:6; KJV). “The perfect” are the full-grown in Christ, instead of babes. Babes must be fed on milk, but the grown can endure strong meat. For such there is a depth of wisdom revealed in the gospel, but not the wisdom of this world.

  [15]“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:14; NKJV). The bond of perfection is an upper garment which completes and keeps the rest of the garments together, without which, they would be loose and disconnected. So-called graces, where love is lacking, are mere hypocrisy. Justification by faith is assumed to have already taken place in those whom Paul addresses in Colossians 3:12; the "elect of God, holy . . . beloved." so that there is no justification here for Rome's view of justification by works. Love and its works are "perfect," that is, manifest the full maturity of faith developed (Mt 5:44, 48). Love . . . be ye perfect,  (Jas 2:21, 22 1John 2:5). "If we love one another, God's love is perfected in us" (Ro 13:8 1Co 13:1-13 1Ti 1:5 1John 4:12). As for the meaning of "bond," compare Col 2:2, "knit together in love" and (Eph 4:3), "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

  [16]“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Heb 6:1; NKJV). Let us go on unto perfection, signifies going on to the higher lessons which belong to full grown men. The exhortation is to go on from the lessons of Christian childhood to those of manhood in Christ. See also verses 13, and 14 of Hebrews 5.

   [17]“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:11-16; NKJV).

   [18]“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Phil 3:7-15; NKJV).

  [19]“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20; NKJV).

  [20]“With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror?” (Job 37:18; NKJV). Mirrors were not made of glass, but were formed from molten metal which was then  polished until it reflected an image.

  [21]Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2; KJV). We already have the great privilege of being sons, but our future glory is not yet discernible. Here Paul makes a glorious revelation—at the coming of Christ we shall have a body like His: “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil 3:21; NKJV). Then we shall be like him in body and we shall also be found morally in his image. To look upon him has power to change us into his glory. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18; KJV).

  [22]“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Ps. 36.9) No man can illuminate his own soul; all understanding must come from above. Here God is compared to the sun in the firmament of heaven that gives light to all the planets and their inhabitants. "God said, Let there be light; and there was light;” by that light the eye of man was enabled to behold the numerous works of God, and the beauties of creation: so, when God speaks light into the dark heart of man, he not only beholds his own deformity and need for the salvation of God, but he beholds the "light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;" "God, in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." "In thy light shall we see light." This is literally true, both in a spiritual and philosophical sense.

  [23“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward… But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb 10:35, 39; KJV).

  [24]“Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Peter 1:21; KJV). Faith, with Peter as well as Paul, is essential to salvation. The salvation is of God, not of ourselves, and is made ours by faith. —People's New Testament, The

  [25]“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love… And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1John 4.8, 16).  The proof of God’s love for us is clearly seen in Him sending His only Son into the world to die on the Cross as our substitute and by the generous act of God; Christ in us and we in Him.


  [26]Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom, 13.10; NKJV).  All divine law is fulfilled by love. God requires nothing which is not comprehended in this word.

  [27]“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15; KJV). Again, Jesus used this conditional structure, “If you love Me,” to teach the profound truth that loving God requires obedience. In the light of Peter’s intense confession of loyalty to His Lord, Jesus told the disciples that if they really loved Him, they would keep His commandments.

  [28]“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31; KJV).

  [29]“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2; KJV). If I did not love, all else would be useless. It could not save me. I would still be an unredeemed, unpardoned sinner. A somewhat similar idea is expressed by the Savior, in regard to the day of judgment, in Matthew 7:22,23: "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Do you have any questions or comments?

 In northern Italy, a tourist found this beautiful picture of what it means to be expectant of Christ’s return. At the Villa Asconati, along the shore of Lake Como, he was introduced to a friendly older man who cared for the castle’s garden. The grounds were immaculate and the gardener was doing everything he could to further improve their beauty. To his surprise, the tourist discovered the owner of this castle had not been on the property in twelve years. He seemed confused by the man’s compulsion for perfection when the owner had not appeared in over a decade. So he said, “You keep this garden in such fine condition, just as though you expected your master to come tomorrow.” The gardener promptly replied, “Today, sir, today!” That groundskeeper had the expectancy that every believer should possess. Are you looking for his return tomorrow, or today?

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