Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Corinthians 13 -- By: Russell Morton
ATJ 31 (1999) p. 11
Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Corinthians 13
Russell Morton (Th.D., Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago) is Research Librarian at A .T.S.
In 1 Cor 12–14 Paul proposes several solutions to divisions within the Corinthian church caused by strife over spiritual gifts. One is through the metaphor of the “body of Christ,” which was intended to alleviate two opposite, but related errors. On the one hand, individuals lacking the more dramatic gifts were denigrating their own contribution to the Christian community. Likewise, those possessing more dramatic and showy gifts held those lacking these manifestations in some contempt.1 In short, we see a situation characterized by stratification. To alleviate this problem,2 to put the role of gifts into perspective, Paul proposes his most profound answer to Corinthian factionalism by inserting 1 Cor. 13, the “love chapter”3 into his argument. This is one of the most cherished portions of the entire NT, and for good reason. Yet, however valuable it is simply to read over the text, to meditate upon it, and to memorize it, one should also take time to analyze its contents and begin to plumb the depths of Paul’s thought.
Linguistic Excursus on the Three Common Greek Words for Love
Often individuals expounding this text to discuss the differences between the three most common Greek nouns used for love, φἱλος (
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