1 Corinthians 13 is rooted in the supremacy of God’s love. Written by Paul of Tarsus, he talks of having faith that can move mountains and that without love in our lives we are just an empty noise.
As one of the most popular sections from the Bible written to the Corinthians, it is commonly read at wedding ceremonies, funerals and other church occasions. This passage was read at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. More recently it was read by Barack Obama from verse 11 in his inaugural address in 2009 – ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things’.
In verses 9-12 Paul talks about the present – ‘for we know in part’ but he talks about our future too ‘when completeness comes, what is in part disappears’ and it is then that we shall know fully. Imperfection becomes perfection of knowledge, ‘for now we see but a poor reflection as in the mirror’ will then become ‘we shall see face to face’. With the return of Christ we will see Him as He really is and where He really is, seated on the throne, Lord of Glory. Paul reasons this contrast between the present and the future, similar to the contrast between the way a child thinks and understands and the way an adult thinks and understands.
We can love in the long haul and know that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love is there to the end and will be there beyond the end. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.