Aug 7, 2010

Hays on 1 Corinthians 13

Here are two more quotes from Richard Hays.

“The purpose of chapter 13 is to portray love as the sine qua non of the Christian life and to insist that love must govern the exercise of all the gifts of the Spirit. Paul’s lyrical prose in this unit has encouraged many readers to take it out of context as a lovely meditation on the nature of love; nevertheless, the many verbal and conceptual links between 1 Corinthians 13 and the rest of the letter show that this chapter is not a hymn or an independently composed oration on love. Within 1 Corinthians it serves a clear argumentative purpose: Paul is trying to reform the Corinthians’ understanding and practice of spiritual manifestations in worship.”

. . .

“Two common misunderstandings of the chapter must be set aside in the beginning. First, Paul does not write about love in order to debunk tongues and other spiritual gifts. His point is not that love should supersede spiritual gifts but that it should govern their use in the church- as chapter 14 will clearly demonstrate. Love is not merely a feeling or an attitude; rather, “love” is the generic name for specific actions of patient and costly service to others. If we attend closely to what Paul actually says in this chapter, all sweetly sentimental notions of love will be dispelled and replaced by a rigorous vision of love that rejoices in the truth and bears all suffering in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox, 1997), 221, 222.

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