Christadelphians - Bible Believing People

home | what christadelphians believe | bible study | daily readings | christadelphian webring


by Phil Edmonds


This study falls into 6 sections:

Love - An Introduction
In Love
1Cor.13 - A Definition of Love
Col.3 - Another Definition of Love
Love, Chastening and Rebuking
Love and Friendship



Love - An Introduction
[Return to Top]


There are a number of words in the Bible translated as love. This study will look primarily at aspects of the greek word "agape" (love) and the related verb "agapao" (to love).

1 John 4 v 10-11 is a good place to start a consideration of love:

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another".

So, as God loved us and sent his son to save us from our sins, we should love one another. By "loving one another" we perfect God's love, as 1 John 4 v 12 goes on to explain:

"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us".

1 John 2 v 5 describes God's love being perfected in different terms, through keeping his word:

"But whoso keepeth his (God's) word, in him verily is the love of God perfected".

If God's love is perfected by us loving one another and by us keeping his word, then one possible conclusion is that we love eachother by keeping God's word. This is confirmed by 1 John 5 v 2-3:

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments...".

This passage also shows that keeping God's commandments is how we love him. So in summary, if we keep God's commandments in his word, we a) love him and b) love one another.

Jesus said that the greatest commandments in the law are

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22 v37-40).

By keeping God's commandments we love God and love our neighbour. If we have love then we are keeping the law. Romans 13 v 8-10 says

"Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law".

We have seen that by loving our brethren we love God. However, what is the case if we do not love our brethren? I John 1 v 5-7 says:

"... God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin".

Fellowship with other disciples is dependant on walking in the light and not in darkness. However, 1 John 2 v 9-11 says:

"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother, abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother, is in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes".
If we hate our brother, we are in darkness, and if we are in darkness  we do not have fellowship with other brethren.

Scripture teaches that there are ultimately only two forms of behaviour, "love" on one side and "not love" on the other. Consider 1 John 4 v 20 - 1:

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also".

If we do not love our brother, irrespective of whether we call this attitude hate or not, we cannot love God. Love is the only correct attitude, anything else is unacceptable. Consider also 1 John 3 v 10 in this respect:

"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother".

"Not loving" our brethren is unacceptable. The conclusion is that we must positively "love" our brethren, and that this is done by obeying God's commandments.

In Love
[Return to Top]

Jesus speaks about his disciples keeping his commandments in John 15 v 9-10:

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love".

Jesus keeps his Father's commandments and abides in his love, similarly we abide in Christ's love if we keep his commandments. This passage provides the basis for understanding the expression "in love" that occurs in scripture. We are "in love" if we keep the commandments of God and his son.

Passages which have the expression "in love" are:

1 Corinthians 4 v 21, 2 Corinthians 6 v 6, 8 v 7, Ephesians 1 v 4, 3 v 17, 4 v 2, 4 v 15, 4 v 16, 5 v 2, Colossians 2 v 2, 1 Thessalonians 5 v 13, 2 Timothy 1 v 13

a) 1 Corinthians 4 v 21

1 Corinthians 4 v 21 shows that our relationship with our brethren can only be "in love" if there is a mutual keeping of the commandments. Paul says to the Corinthians

"What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness".

Some of the Corinthians were puffed up, we shall see later on from looking at 1 Corinthians 13 that this is not love. Paul's threat to come with a rod shows love on his part, as Proverbs 13 v 24 teaches
"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes".

Paul shows love in his actions, but the Corinthians do not show it. Paul's relationship with the Corinthians could only be called "in love" if both were keeping God's commandments.
b)  Ephesians 3 v 17 - 19

In Ephesians 3 v 17-19, it says

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth (or exceeds) knowledge, that ye might be filled with the fulness of God".

The greek word translated "grounded" is related to the word translated "foundation" in Ephesians 2 v 20, but it would be worthwhile quoting vs 19 - 22;

"Now therefore ye (non - jews) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit".

The way in which this temple of believers was built or "grounded" on the foundation of the apostles and prophets was "in love". In the case of non jews, they have become "fellowcitizens with the saints (i.e. jewish believers) and in Jesus Christ are heirs to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As Romans 11 v 16-24 explains, we non - jews have been given access to this holy root, we have been "rooted". By being "rooted and grounded in love" we can comprehend the breadth, length, depth and height of the holy temple which is being constructed in Ephesians 2.

d) and e) - Colossians 2 v 2 and Ephesians 4 v 15

The use of "in love" in Colossians 2 v 2 and Ephesians 4 v 15 indicates that this attitude was necessary for the early ekklesia to grow from the state of dependence on charismata or spirit gifts to one of perfection. In Colossians 2 v 2 Paul says that he wished disciples to be "knit together in love". The word translated "knit together" (sumbibazo) occurs in Ephesians 4 v 16 where it is rendered "compacted", verses 14 - 16 saying

"that we be no more children, tossed to an fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine .... but speaking the truth IN LOVE, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and COMPACTED by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself IN LOVE".

The context of this passage is the giving of "gifts" by Christ to allow the ekklesia to come unto a "perfect man" and the "measure of the fulness of Christ", these statements describing the ekklesia's state when the gifts would no longer be needed. Verses 14 - 16 describe the phase when the ekklesia is growing up and needs the charismata that Christ provided. This growth was only possible "in love", however when the ekklesia did reach maturity the charismata might cease but love would not. This is the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13 which, after arguing that charismata or the things which are "in part" would cease, ends by saying there

"now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love". There are good grounds for regarding the statement about the ekklesia "edifying itself in love" as describing what it would do when the charismata had ceased . Disciples of Christ who keep the commandments of Christ and his Father are "in love", irrespective of whether the charismata are available in the ekklesia, as love is not limited to their operation.

f)  2 Timothy 1 v 13

In 2 Timothy 1 v 13 it says

"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus".

From  this  it  is clear that "having sound words" is  something  which  is acceptable to God, because it is something which is possessed by those  who are "in love" and "in Christ Jesus".

We  can conclude that those who do not have "sound words" are not in  love, and these people are described in 1 Timothy 6 v 3 - 5

"If  any  man teach otherwise, and consent not to  SOUND   WORDS  (AV wholesome  words),  the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,  and  to  the  doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing  nothing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy,  strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of  men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain  is    godliness: From such withdraw thyself".
g) 1 Thessalonians 5 v 13

In 1 Thessalonians 5 v 12 - 13 it says:

"We  beseech you brethren, to know them which labour among  you,  and  are  over you in the Lord, and admonish you: and to esteem them  very highly IN LOVE for their work's sake".

To esteem someone is to recognise their status and to treat them accordingly. The Thessalonians were to recognise the worth of those who laboured  in the ekklesia and who admonished them, accepting that the disciples who  did these things were acting out of love for the brethren.

h)  Jude v 21

Jude verses 20 and 21 say:

But  ye,  BELOVED, BUILDING UP yourselves on your  most  holy  faith, praying  in (the) Holy Spirit, KEEP yourselves in (the) love of  God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life".

As well as containing the expression "in love (of God)", this passage  contains other ideas that have already been considered in this study. In  Jude v  20  it  speaks of "building up yourselves", the  greek  word  translated "building  up" (epoikodomeo) is used in Ephesians 2 v 20 when it speaks  of gentiles being "BUILT UPON (gk epoikodomeo) the FOUNDATION of the  apostles and prophets". When we looked at Ephesians 3 v 17, it was seen that we  can only be built on this foundation by being "in love" ("ye, being rooted  and grounded in love" - "grounded" is the greek word themelioo which is related to  the word translated "foundation" in Ephesians 2 v 20). It is  concluded that  the  "building  up"  that is referred to in Jude is  founded  on  the apostles and prophets and can only be done "in love".

The  passage  in Jude also says that disciples should be "praying  in  Holy Spirit".  One  reason why the bible refers to "Holy Spirit" as  opposed  to just  "Spirit" is to emphasize the sanctifying qualities of  God's  spirit. The  relationship  between "holy" and "sanctification" is  clearer  in  the greek than in english, the greek word for holy (as in the expression  "Holy Spirit") is HAGIos, whereas the word for "sanctify" is HAGIazo. So when  we consider  the  expression  in Romans 15 v 16 that  the  Gentiles  might  be "SANCTIFIED in HOLY Spirit", we understand that it is God's sanctifying  or holy spirit that sanctifies.

We have previously seen links between being holy and being "in love"   when Ephesians 1 v 4 was considered. It was seen that it is God's intention that we should be "HOLY (or sanctified) and without blame in love". The  expression  "HOLY and without blame" led us to Ephesians 5 v 27, where  the  same expression is used. Verses 25 - 27 say:
"Christ  ...  loved the ekklesia, and gave himself for  it;  that  he might  SANCTIFY ... it, that ... it should be HOLY and without  blame (AV blemish)".

Putting  these  ideas together, it is seen that the sanctification  of  the ekklesia is a result of Christ's love for his bride, and that this  sanctification  is achieved by the ekklesia being "in Holy Spirit" (Romans  15  v 16).  If  disciples  abide in Christ's love, then they are  "in  love"  and "holy".  Without  explaining  any  further what it means  to  be  "in  Holy Spirit",  it  can  be seen that it describes a  state  which  results  from Christ's love for the ekklesia and the mutual love of brethren for him.

In Jude 21, it says that the disciples should

"Keep themselves in (the) love of God".

The  use  of the word "keep" leads back to John 15 v 10, which is  where  we started this section and these words of Jesus:

"If ye KEEP my commandments, ye shall abide IN my LOVE".

How  do we KEEP ourselves in the love of God? By KEEPING his  commandments. If we keep the commandments of God and his son, we will build ourselves  up and we will be sanctified or holy.


Being "in love" means keeping the commands of God and his Son. If we do not keep  God's commands then we are not "in love" and other  disciples  cannot deal  with us in an "in love" manner. It is also necessary to be "in  love"in order for the ekklesia to be edified and for us to take admonition in  a right way. Finally, if we are not "in love", we will not "have sound words" and will not be part of the holy and blameless bride that will be presented to Christ in the day when he returns.


1 Corinthians 13 - A Definition of Love
[Return to Top]

The following section seeks to understand the way in which love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7. As has already been seen, love means keeping God's commandments. If a disciple is obedient to God it will result in him showing certain characteristics. 1 Corinthians 13 lists some of these qualities, however there are many others which appear elsewhere in scripture (eg in Colossians chapter 3) which a disciple should have. As such, 1Corinthians 13 v 4-7 should not be regarded as a comprehensive list of what love is. These verses say:

"Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things".

a) Love suffereth long

"Suffereth long" is a translation of the greek word makrothumeo. A number of conclusions can be drawn from the use of this word in scripture, together with the related words makrothumia and makrothumos.

It is a quality of God, enabling him to endure the disobedience of men in order to give them time and opportunity to repent and be saved:

Romans 9 v 22,3

"God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering (gk makrothumia) the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory".

1 Peter 3 v 20

"... the longsuffering (gk makrothumia) of God waited in the days of Noah, while the Ark was a preparing: herein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water".

2 Peter 3 v 9

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise (as some men count slackness) but is longsuffering (gk makrothumeo) toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance".

As God is love (1 John 4 v 8), it is not surprising to find him exhibiting the qualities that love comprises of, like longsuffering. We shall see that other qualities of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13 are used to describe God's character.

Jesus showed longsuffering to Paul, as 1 Timothy 1 v 16 makes clear:

"I (Paul) obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might show forth all LONGSUFFERING, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting".

The Lord Jesus Christ showed longsuffering towards Paul during the time of his unbelief, even though he was persecuting the ekklesia, in order that Paul should have the opportunity to believe in the gospel. The passage tells us that we too should show the same sort of longsuffering towards the disobedient and unbelievers.

Hebrews 6 v 15 tells us that longsuffering was shown by Abraham, verses 12 - 15 say

"be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and longsuffering (AV patience) inherit the promises ... so after he (Abraham) had shown longsuffering (AV patiently endured), he obtained the promise."

From this passage it is seen that longsuffering is opposed to slothfulness, which is a translation of the greek word "nophros". Nophros is only used elsewhere in Hebrews 5 v 11 where it describes the Hebrews as being "dull of hearing". From this it can be concluded that longsuffering people are likely to have a right response to hearing the word of God, whereas those who do not have this attitude will be dulled by it. The passage in Hebrews 6 also shows that we may well need to be longsuffering before we receive God's promises.

Longsuffering is the example set by the prophets of the Lord who prophesied in his name. Consider James 5 v 7 - 10

"Be longsuffering (AV patient) therefore, brethren, unto the coming of Lord: behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath longsuffering (AV long patience) for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also longsuffering (AV patient) .... Take my brethren, the Prophets, who have spoken in the Name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and of longsuffering (AV patience)".

Longsuffering may need to be shown to our brethren in order to give them time to bring forth fruit to God's glory.

One final reference, longsuffering is contained in Paul's command to Timothy:

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering (gk makrothumia) and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4v2).

This shows that our exhorting should be of a persistent nature, in order to achieve change in disobedient and immature brethren.

From all the foregoing references, longsuffering can be understood to be persistence which is aimed at restoring the disobedient and encouraging the weak, even in adversity.

b) Love is kind

"Kind" is a translation of the greek word chresteuomai. A number of conclusions can be drawn from looking at this verb and  the related words "chrestos" and "chrestotes".

Romans 2 v 4 says that kindness is a quality of God which brings about repentance and salvation:

"Despisest thou the riches of his (God's) goodness (gk chrestotes), and forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness (gk chrestos) of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

[NOTE: It has already been seen that longsuffering is a manifestation of love, the section on Colossians chapter 3 shows that forbearance is also a quality of love. Romans 2 v 4  confirms what we already know, that God is love.]

Luke 6 v 35 shows that God's kindness is not discriminating:

"Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again: and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is KIND unto the unthankful, and to the evil".

This passage also shows that "doing good" and "lending, hoping for nothing again" are ways in which kindness can be shown. We should do good to all men, including our enemies, in the same way that God is kind. Romans 12 v 20 - 21 says

"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so DOING thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with GOOD."

"Doing good" involves feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty. If we behave like this to our enemies, how much more should we provide for the needs of our brothers and sisters? In Matthew chapter 25 it describes events that will happen when Christ judges those who are accountable to him. Verses 32 - 40 say

"... and before him (Jesus) shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another ... Then shall the King say unto them  on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an HUNGRED, and ye gave me meat: I was THIRSTY, and ye gave me drink .... Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? ... And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Verses 40 - 45 go on to state that those who don't do good to their brethren by feeding them and giving them drink will not find a place in the kingdom. It is concluded that showing kindness to our brethren by doing good to them is necessary in order for us to enter the kingdom.

The background to the passage in Matthew 25 is provided by the promises made to Abraham. This is seen from Jesus' reference to "all nations" being gathered, and that those who are acceptable are "blessed" and "INHERIT the kingdom" (compare these ideas with Galatians 3 v 8, 18). The promises to Abraham also emerge from a consideration of Ephesians 4 v 32 which teaches that we need to show kindness to one another. The verse says

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you".

In this passage, kindness appears in the context of being "tenderhearted" (gk eusplagchnos), we shall see later on when looking at Colossians 3 that the "splagchnos"  part of the word (which means "bowels") is also linked to love. "Eusplagchnos" only occurs again in 1 Peter 3 v 8, where it is translated "pitiful". Verses 8,9 say
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrawise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should INHERIT a BLESSING".
It can be concluded that the blessing referred to here is the "BLESSING of Abraham" (Galatians 3v14) which is also called an "INHERITANCE" (Galatians 3v18), that we can share in. So, by being pitiful or tenderhearted we bless others, and this is in response to God blessing us with the same blessing he gave to Abraham.

In Ephesians 4v32, being "kind" also appears in the same context as "giving grace to (gk charizomai - AV forgiving) one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath given grace to (gk charizomai - AV forgiven) you".

Charizomai is related to the greek word charis which is often translated grace, and has a broader meaning than just that of forgiveness, as the AV translates it in Ephesians 4 v 32. This is demonstrated by Galatians 3v18
"God gave (gk charizomai) it (the inheritance) to Abraham by promise".
When God gave the inheritance to Abraham, it was not something he was obliged to do. This is demonstrated by Romans 4 v 3 - 4:
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt".
Similarly, Romans 11 v 6 speaks concerning "a remnant (of Israel) according to the election of grace" (v5) and says of them:
"... if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace."
The inheritance that Abraham received was not given because of his works, rather it can be considered to be a gift of God given to those who believe on him. Certainly the grace given to us is a gift of God, as Romans 5 v 15 explains:
"For if through the offence of one (Adam) many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the GIFT BY GRACE, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many".
Applying these ideas to the statement in Ephesians 4 v 32 that we should "give grace to one another", we see that our actions towards our brethren should not be witheld until we receive any works or debts that we think we are owed. Rather we should show them grace in the same way that God showed grace to Abraham and to us, by "doing good" to them irrespective of hether or not we feel they have obligations towards us.

[NOTE: The use of the greek word charizomai in Ephesians 4 v 32 leads again to Colossians 3, this time to v13 and the statement "forgiving (gk charizomai) one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave (charizomai) you".]
Summarising these arguments, kindness in Ephesians 4 v 32 is linked with tenderheartedness and giving grace (AV forgiveness), both of which describe how God dealt with Abraham. We need to show kindness, tenderheartedness and grace to our brothers and sisters if we also wish to inherit the promises made to Abraham.

Ephesians 2 v 7  provides a further link between "kindness" and "grace, when it describes God's kindness to us:
"(God) might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his KINDNESS towards us, through Christ Jesus".
God's kindness was shown in providing us with a means of salvation through Jesus Christ. However, there is a need to continue in God's kindness, this is made clear by Romans 11 v 22 which speaks of God's kindness to us gentiles:
"Behold therefore the kindness (AV goodness) and severity of God: on them which fell (the jews), severity; but towards thee (gentiles) , kindness (AV goodness), if thou continue in his kindness (AV goodness): otherwise thou also shalt be cut off".
"Kindness" is a quality of Christ that demands a response from his disciples. 1 Peter 2 v 1 - 3 says
"Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocricies, and envies, and evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is kind (AV gracious)".
If we have tasted that the Lord is kind, we should desire the sincere milk of the word, so that we grow. We should also leave the things of the flesh behind.

There is a command to "put on kindness" (and longsuffering) as part of putting on the new (gk neos) man (Colossians 3v12)  (note v14 which says  "And above all things,  put on  LOVE, which is the bond of perfectness" - more of this later on when Colossians 3 is looked at more closely).

Showing kindness towards brethren involves behaving towards them in the same way that God behaves towards men. This is through seeking their repentance from what is wrong, doing good to them, showing grace to them  and blessing them in order that they may receive the inheritance God has promised to Abraham's seed.

c) Love envieth not

Envy or zeal (gk zelos), in a bad sense is displayed in the following passages:

Acts 5v17 (after Peter had healed a sick man):
"Then the High Priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with envy (AV indignation)."
Acts 13v45:
"When the Jews saw the multitude (at Antioch), they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting, and blaspheming".
Acts 17 v 5 (describing events in Thessalonica):
"But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, (because a great multitude of the Greeks believed the gospel) took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people".
 This shows that those who do not have a right attitude can be envious of the success of others in doing the will of God and can result in them speaking against the truth.

In 1 Corinthians 3v3, envy is linked to strife (gk eris) and divisions (gk schisma), Paul says to the Corinthians:
"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men".
[NOTE : Envy is also used in the same context as the greek word "eris" (translated "strife" in this passage) in 2 Corinthians 12v20 and Galatians 5v20.]

Envying is also spoken about in James 3 v 14,16:
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth .... For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work".
[NOTE: The greek word translated "strife" in these verses is "eritheia", which is related to "eris"].

In v14 the envying is described as "bitter" (gk pikros), drawing on ideas in verse 11 which says that bitterness comes forth like water from a fountain ("Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet (water) and BITTER"). In turn, the comparison with a fountain comes from the observation that "out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing" (v10). From this it can be concluded that cursing is a manifestation of having an envious heart, as both are described as being "bitter".

Another use of envy/jealousy occurs in Acts 7 v 9, where it records that the patriarchs were "moved with envy" against Joseph. Concerning these events, Genesis 37 v 4 records that
"when his (Joseph's) brethren saw that their father loved (Joseph) more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him".
Furthermore, after Joseph had dreamed that his parents and brethren would make obeisance to him, it is recorded that "his brethren envied him" (v11).

Similarly, if some in the ekklesia are loved by our heavenly father and have greater abilities than ourselves to serve their brothers and sisters, it would be wrong to envy them.

If we have a wrong understanding of truth and a carnal attitude, it can lead to envying those who God loves or to working against the truth (like the Jews in Acts 13). Envying is not of love.
 [NOTE: It should also be recognised that there is a sort of godly envy, which God has towards us and which we should have towards our brethren. In Deuteronomy 5 v 7 - 9 God says:
"Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am an envious (AV jealous) God ....".
Paul showed a similar envy or jealousy for the Corinthians, he says in 2 Corinthians 11 v 2:
"For I am envious (AV jealous) over you with GODLY envy (AV jealousy), for I have espoused you to one husband ... but I fear ... your minds should be corrupted ...".
In both passages, the context is of people forsaking right ways and following after idolatry and false gospels. We should be envious about our brethren in this sense, we should not want them to forsake the ways of God and follow after lies.]

d) Love vaunteth not itself

The greek word translated "vaunteth itself" is perpereuomai. This word is only used on this one occasion, however it is possible that it is derived from hebrew, which often contains words where the first two consenants are repeated. It may be that it is the greek equivalent of a form of the hebrew verb PaRaR which occurs in Job 16 v 12. In this verse Job says
"I was at ease, but he (God) hath broken me asunder (heb Ye|PaRPeR|eNI) : he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark".
As the verb PaRaR seems to have the idea of breaking associated with it, the statement about love "vaunteth not itself" may mean love "does not break itself" and refer to love not causing schism and division within the body.

e) Love is not puffed up

The greek word rendered "to puff up" is "phusioo", its meaning can be obtained from looking at its other uses as well as the occurences of the related words "phusis", "phusiosis" and "phusikos".

(NOTE: There are two greek words which can be represented by "phusikos" in the english, one is an adjective and one an adverb, ie natural and naturally.)
"Phusis" and "Phusikos" are often used when describing the behaviour or status of things which belong to the natural order around us. For example, gentiles were "by NATURE the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2 v 3), because they were not physically related to Abraham. On the other hand, there were jews "by nature" (Galatians 2 v 15) like Paul and Peter who were physical descendants of Abraham.

What it is important to realise is that the spiritual order of things or the "divine NATURE" (2 Peter 1 v 4) does not always fit in with what would be expected from the natural order of things. For example, gentiles were "cut out of the olive tree which is wild by NATURE, and were grafted CONTRARY to NATURE into a good olive tree" (Romans 11 v 24) (the good olive tree representing the descendants of Abraham (Romans 11 v 1)).

The natural mind is not attuned to the things of God. This is demonstrated by 2 Peter chapter 2 which speaks of those who
"walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous, selfwilled: they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities (2 Peter 2v10) ... but these as NATURAL (phusikos) BRUTE beasts ...(v.12)".
The greek word rendered "brute" is "alogos", literally "without word". Men who do not have "the word" may well behave in ways consistent with the pattern of nature, but they will be ways which are contrary to God's nature.

1 Corinthians 4 v 6 shows that the brethren in Corinth were puffed up "one against another", v7 continuing
"For who maketh thee to differ (gk diakrino) and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
The greek word "diakrino" (translated "to differ" in 1Corinthians 4 v 7) can express the way that people naturally discern each other, for example discerning between jew or gentile (see use of "diakrino" in Acts 10 v 20 where it is rendered "doubting"). Because the Corinthians were thinking naturally, they were distinguishing between themselves on the basis of things they had received from God, like charismata or spirit gifts (eg "I'm better than you because I can speak in tongues"). On the contrary, they should have considered themselves as one body who were growing into a holy temple in the Lord.

Another use of "puffing up" occurs in Colossians 2 v 18, where it is described as being a result of having "a fleshly mind". This state is described as
"NOT HOLDING THE HEAD, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God" (Colossians 2 v 19).

This passage bears many  similarities to Ephesians 4 v 16, which describes the growth of the ekklesia when it was dependant on the charismata, where it tells us that association with the head would lead to a state of "the edifying of" the body "in love". On the contrary, being puffed up would result in the fragmentation of the body due to the members thinking in a natural way. This would cause a lack of growth in the body's development when it was dependant on charismata and stop it being edified or built.

In 1 Corinthians 5 v 2, it is stated that the Corinthians were "puffed up" and that this had prevented them mourning when fornication was discovered among them (v1). This shows that "puffing up" or natural thinking stunts the perception of evil and causes wrong to be tolerated.

In summary, when it is stated that love is "not puffed up", it shows that God's love does not accord with natural thinking, it is different. The natural man with a fleshly mind cannot practice God's love, there needs to be a conversion to the mind of the spirit and the divine nature before God's love can be manifested by a disciple.

f) Love doth not behave itself unseemly

The greek word translated "behave unseemly" is "aschemoneo". A consideration of the use of the related word "aschemosune" in Revelation 16 v 15 is of help in understanding what it is to behave in an unseemly manner.

Revelation 16 v 15 says
"Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (gk aschemosune)".
From this, it can be understood that unseemliness or shame is seen when we are naked in some way. A similar idea of not being naked is contained in 2 Corinthians 5 v 2,3, where Paul and Timothy say that they are
".... earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being CLOTHED we shall not be found naked".
The greek word rendered "clothed" (enduo) is used to describe corruptible putting on incorruption (1 Corinthians 15 v 53,54), being clothed with the armour of God (Ephesians 6 v 11, 1 Thessalonians 5 v 8), putting on the new man (Ephesians 4 v 24), putting on Christ (Galatians 3 v 27) and putting on "bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Colossians 3 v 12).

Being clothed means not being naked and having unseemly or shameful behaviour exposed. Some of the things listed in Colossians  3 v 12 as clothing have already been considered earlier in this study, ie kindness and long suffering. Unseemly behaviour can simply be regarded as what we will undoubtably manifest if we are not clothed with the qualities of love.
g) Love seeketh not her own

Two uses of the expression "seeking own" provide the meaning of this expression.

1 Corinthians 10 v 24 says "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's", and v33 "... I (Paul) please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the (profit) of many, that they may be saved".

The context of these verses is that of not doing things that cause offence to others, in this case it is not giving offence to any by eating food sacrificed to idols (v28). The teaching of Paul is "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the ekklesia of God" (v32).

The term "profit" in v33 is related to the greek word translated "to be expedient" in v23 which says
"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not".
Things which are not expedient or profitable do not edify, however love edifies (1 Corinthians 8 v 1), so seeking one's own is not to do with love and edification. Doing things which are not commanded by God that cause offence to our brethren are not things that edify. It would be love to refrain from these things so as not to put a stumbling block in the way of other brethren.

One more reference in this section, men who "seek their own" do not seek "the things which are of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 2 v 21).

h) Love is not easily provoked

The three other uses of greek words related to the one translated "easily provoked" (gk paroxuno) are in Acts 17 v 16, Acts 15 v 39 and Hebrews 10  v 24. Acts 15 v 39 describes the "contention" (gk paroxusmos) between Paul and Barnabas, over whether to take Mark on a journey, a contention ending in Paul and Barnabas departing from eachother. The teaching of Corinthians 13 is that this behaviour by Paul and Barnabas was not of love.

However, there are other types of provocation, one being demonstrated in Acts 17 v 16 when Paul's spirit was "PROVOKED (AV stirred) in him, when he saw the city (Athens) wholly given to idolatry". This is different from Acts 15 in that it is a provocation from outside the ekklesia and is an acceptable reaction to the things of this age. The other use of this term  "provoke" is in Hebrews 10 v 24 where the teaching is to "provoke (one another) unto love and good works". This demonstrates that there is a provocation which is acceptable, if the aim of it is to bring about things that are acceptable to God.
  i) Love thinketh no evil

The greek word translated "thinketh" (logizomai) is elsewhere rendered by words like account, impute and reckon. It is translated "counted" in Romans 4 v 3 where it says that Abraham's faith was "counted unto him for righteousness". This passage quotes Genesis 15v6 where logizomai is put as the greek equivalent for the hebrew word CHaSHaB. This hebrew word is used in a number of passages where it is linked to "evil". Two of these occur in Zechariah, Zechariah 7 v 9,10 say
"Thus speaketh Yahweh of hosts, saying, Execute true judgement, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you IMAGINE EVIL against his brother in your heart".
Zechariah 8 v 17 says
"Let none of you IMAGINE EVIL in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith Yahweh".
From these it is seen that "imagining evil" is a condition of the heart, that it is hated by Yahweh and that it is opposed to true judgement. A practical example of "thinking/imagining evil" is the way in which Joseph's brothers treated him. In Genesis 50 v 20 Joseph says about his brothers that "ye THOUGHT EVIL against me". This refers to when they "conspired against him to slay him" (Genesis 37 v 18) because they "hated him" (Genesis 37 v 4,5).

The attitude of Joseph's brothers towards him has already been noted under the heading "love envieth not", this further link to the same incident confirms that their behaviour was contrary to God's requirement for love between brethren. If our thoughts and actions towards our brethren are aimed to bring them harm, then they are evil and are not of love.

j) Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth

The contrast between iniquity (gk adikia) and truth (gk aletheia) occurs in a number of other passages.

Romans 2 v 8 contrasts obeying the truth with obeying unrighteousness (gk adikia - rendered "iniquity" in 1 Corinthians 13 v 6). Those who are in the category who "obey the truth" will receive "glory, honour and peace" and are described as "working good" (Romans 2 v 10) and continuing in "well doing". Those who "obey unrighteousness/iniquity" will receive "indignation and wrath" (Romans 2 v 8).

In 2 Thessalonians 2 v 10,12 it describes "those who perish", in whom the wicked one (v8) works with "all deceivableness of unrighteousness (v10) (gk adikia)". They "received not the love of the truth" (v10) and "believed not the truth" (v12), instead they "had pleasure in unrighteousness (gk adikia)" (v12).
From these passages it is seen that iniquity/unrighteousness is contrary to the things of God and that those who practice it will receive indignation, wrath and will perish.

[NOTE: "Unrighteousness" is a better translation of "adikia" than "iniquity", because "adikia" is made up of two parts, a- meaning "not" and dikia meaning "righteous".]

1 Corinthians 6 v 7-10 is instructive in defining unrighteous acts, it says:
"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong (gk adikeo) ? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong (gk adikeo), and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous (gk adikos) shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God".
This says that the Corinthians were being unrighteous to their own brethren, and that instead of allowing themselves to be defrauded they were taking eachother to law. It then lists unrighteous/iniquitous acts with the warning that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

It is now clear that rejoicing in unrighteousness or iniquity is not love, but instead is contrary to the ways of God.

In 1 Corinthians 13 v 6, the AV says "(Love) rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth". The last part of the verse should read "rejoiceth WITH the truth", the greek word which we could translate "to rejoice with" only occuring a few other times, in Luke 1 v 58, 15 v 6,9, 1 Corinthians 12 v 26 and Philippians  2 v 17,18.

In all these cases, it is used to describe rejoicing with those who do what is acceptable to God. In Luke 1 v 58 Elizabeth's neighbours and cousins rejoiced with her when she bore John the Baptist, after hearing how "the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her". In Luke 15, the man who finds a lost sheep and the woman who finds a lost piece of silver say to their neighbours "Rejoice with me". Jesus then adds that "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth". In 1 Corinthians 12 v 26, the members of the body rejoice with a member who is honoured. In Philippians 2 v 17,8 Paul and the Philippians rejoice with each other because they all offer acceptable sacrifices and offerings to God.

In summary, if our rejoicing is with the things of God, then it comes from love. Our rejoicing should not be in the unrighteous things of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 k) Love  beareth    all things
       "    believeth   "    "
       "    hopeth      "    "
       "    endureth    "    "

These four statements about love occur in 1 Corinthians 13v7, bearing and enduring all things will be dealt with first, then believing all things and finally hoping all things.

1) Love beareth all things

There are 3 other occurences of the greek word (stego) translated "beareth" in 1 Corinthians 13 v 7, namely 1 Corinthians 9 v 12, and 1 Thessalonians 3  v 1 and 5. In Thessalonians it refers to Paul and Silvanus not being able to "forbear" (gk
stego) in their concern for the Thessalonians, resulting in them sending Timothy to establish them. In this passage, "stego" describes Paul and Silvanus not being able to restrain themselves any longer from taking action to see how the Thessalonians were.

However, in 1 Corinthians 9 and 1 Corinthians 13 "stego" is used to describe a restraint brought about by love. Both passages speak about "bearing all things", in 1 Corinthians 9 v 12  Paul says "(we) suffer (gk stego) all things, lest we should hinder (gk egkopto) the gospel of Christ". Love does not hinder the gospel, an example of  those who do hinder it being given in Galatians chapter 5. In this passage, Paul confronts those who said that men had to be bound to the law and be circumcised, he says to the Galatians "Who did HINDER you that ye should not obey the truth" (v7).

It is concluded that "bearing all things" is a form of restraint, which has as its goal the furtherance of the gospel. It does not mean that we should restrain ourselves from doing good, but it should stop us from doing those things which are unhelpful to our brethren.

2) Love endureth all things

The greek word translated "endure" (hupomeno) and the related word hupomone, which is often rendered patience, are used to describe continuing in the ways of God until the time when the faithful are rewarded. Examples of this are Matthew 10 v 22 ("he that ENDURETH to the end shall be saved") and Hebrews 10 v 36 ("ye have need of PATIENCE, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise").

James chapter 1 shows that patience/enduring is related to the trying of faith. In James 1 v 3 it says:
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh PATIENCE, but let PATIENCE have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect, and entire, wanting nothing."
To this can be added a statement in verse 12:
"Blessed is the man that ENDURETH temptation".

James 1 v 3 teaches that the trying of faith brings about patience and that the trying of faith comes from temptations. However, James 1 v 12 makes it clear that we need to show patience or endurance when we are being tempted. It is concluded that temptations are necessary in order to teach us patience, and we learn this by being patient when we are tempted. The result of patience is a state of "perfection" or completeness (James 1 v 4), and those who have this quality are then able to control and direct the ekklesia for its benefit (see James 3 v 2).

The statement "endureth all things" occurs again in 2 Timothy  2v10 where Paul says
"... I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory".
This shows that we should endure things, including those things which tempt us, not only for our own sakes but also for our brethren's, in order that they may obtain salvation.

3) Love believeth all things

"Believing all things" occurs in Luke 24 v 45 and Acts 24v 14. In Luke 24 the risen Jesus says to Cleopas and his companion "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken", and in Acts 24 Paul says that he worships "the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets".

From these passages it can be seen that "believing all things" refers to belief in scripture. Love believes the law and the prophets, this is because love is derived from its teaching. Scripture teaches that "he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law" (Romans 13 v 8) and "love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13 v 10).

In passing, the greek word rendered "ill" in Romans 13 v 10 (kakos) is related to the word translated evil in the expression "(love) thinketh no evil (gk kakia)" (1 Corinthians 13 v 5). Romans 13 v 10 gives confirmation that evil is not related to love.

4) Love hopeth all things

Hope is used in two ways when used in relation to disciples, firstly it describes a hope that a isciple will achieve something, and secondly it is used of a disciple having a hope in what God has promised.

An example of the first kind of hope is 2 Corinthians 1 v 13 where Paul says to the Corinthians
"... we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust (gk elpizo - the word
rendered "to hope" in 1 Corinthians 13 v 7) ye shall acknowledge even to the end".
In this case, it is Paul's hope that the Corinthians would continue in the ways of God. An example of the second kind of hope is Acts 26 v 6-7, where Paul says
"I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which (promise) our twelve tribes, instantly serving (God) day and night hope to come".
The hope of having a part in the promises and the hope that brethren would continue in the ways of salvation are
brought together in 1 Thessalonians 2  v 19, where Paul , Silvanus and Timothy say to the Thessalonians
"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? (Are) not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?".
Their hope was that the Thessalonians would continue in the ways of God and receive an inheritance in the kingdom, for which they hoped. "To hope all things" includes trust in God's promises, but also the hope that brethren would share in them as well. The hope of salvation and the hope that others will participate in God's grace, should motivate us to show longsuffering towards those who are disobedient and encourage us to lead them to repentance.


In conclusion, the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is a persistence aimed at correcting faults in brethren and seeking their salvation, it seeks the edification of the body and does not put stumbling blocks in the way of other disciples. It does not seek the harm of brethren, either from hate or self interest, it does not rejoice in the unrighteous things of the world or teach what is wrong. In loving our brethren we love God, for to keep his commandments is to love him.