This is a continuation of 1 Corinthians 13: The Most Beautiful chapter of Scripture.
Many people view 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love, as the most beautiful and perhaps the most important chapter of Scripture. While some earnest Bible students would disagree – this passage – penned by the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is arguably at least one of the most beautiful and more important chapters in God’s Word.
My favorite author, Ellen White, put it this way:
“The Lord desires me to call the attention of His people to the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Read this chapter every day, and from it obtain comfort and strength. Learn from it the value that God places on sanctified, heaven-born love, and let the lesson that it teaches come home to your hearts. Learn that Christlike love is of heavenly birth, and that without it all other qualifications are worthless.” (RH July 21, 1904).
Imagine how it would be if every professed Christian did this!
As I have been trying to do this the past year, I have learned that I have much to learn. I have been challenged, invigorated and blessed. And it has been a paradigm-shifting experience – in a positive sense. I definitely recommend it and I want to encourage you to follow this counsel – to join me on this journey.
You will be blessed!
A helpful tool
One thing that has helped me to understand and benefit from this passage is Albert Barnes good old classic commentary, which is said to have been issued in more than a million copies already by the time of his death in 1870. Here follows verse eight of the chapter together with most of his commentary on the verse.
Verse 9-11: We know just a little part
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 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.” – 1 Corinthians 13:9-11
Verse 9. For we know in part. Comp. 1Cor 12:27. This expression means, “only in part;” that is, imperfectly. Our knowledge here is imperfect and obscure. It may, therefore, all vanish in the eternal world amidst its superior brightness; and we should not regard that as of such vast value which is imperfect and obscure. Comp. 1Cor 8:2. This idea of the obscurity and imperfection of our knowledge, as compared with heaven, the apostle illustrates (1Cor 13:11) by comparing it with the knowledge which a child has, compared with that in maturer years; and (1Cor 13:12) by the knowledge which we have in looking through a glass–an imperfect medium–compared with that which we have in looking closely and directly at an object without any medium.
And we prophesy in part. This does not mean that we partly know the truths of religion, and partly conjecture or guess at them; or that we know only a part of them, and conjecture the remainder. But the apostle is showing the imperfection of the prophetic gift; and he observes, that there is the same imperfection which attends knowledge. It is only in part; it is imperfect; it is indistinct, compared with the full view of truth in heaven; it is obscure; and all that is imparted by that gift will soon become dim and lost, in the superior brightness and glory of the heavenly world. The argument is, that we ought not to seek so anxiously that which is so imperfect and obscure, and which must soon vanish away; but we should rather seek that love which is permanent, expanding, and eternal.
(a) “in part” 1Cor 8:2
Verse 10. But when that which is perfect is come. Does come; or shall come. This proposition is couched in a general form. It means that when anything which is perfect is seen or enjoyed, then that which is imperfect is forgotten, laid aside, or vanishes. Thus, in the full and perfect light of day, the imperfect and feeble light of the stars vanishes. The sense here is, that in heaven–a state of absolute perfection–that which is “in part,” or which is imperfect, shall be lost in superior brightness. All imperfection will vanish. And all that we here possess that is obscure shall be lost in the superior and perfect glory of that eternal world. All our present unsatisfactory modes of obtaining knowledge shall be unknown. All shall be clear, bright, and eternal.
(b) “But when” 1Jn 3.2
Verse 11. When I was a child. The idea here is, that the knowledge which we now have, compared with that which we shall have in heaven, is like that which is possessed in infancy, compared with that we have in manhood; and that as when we advance in years we lay aside, as unworthy of our attention, the views, feelings, and plans which we had in boyhood, and which we then esteemed to be of so great importance, so, when we reach heaven, we shall lay aside the views, feelings, and plans which we have in this life, and which we now esteem so wise and so valuable. The word child here (νηπιος) denotes, properly, a babe, an infant, though without any definable limitation of age. It refers to the first periods of existence, before the period which we denominate boyhood, or youth. Paul here refers to a period when he could speak, though evidently a period when his speech was scarcely intelligible–when he first began to articulate.
I spake as a child. Just beginning to articulate, in a broken and most imperfect manner. The idea here is, that our knowledge at present, compared with the knowledge of heaven, is like the broken and scarcely intelligible efforts of a child to speak, compared with the power of utterance in manhood.
I understood as a child. My understanding was feeble and imperfect. I had narrow and imperfect views of things. I knew little. I fixed my attention on objects which I now see to be of little value. I acquired knowledge which has vanished, or which has sunk in the superior intelligence of riper years. “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 as a child. Marg., reasoned. The word may mean either. I thought, argued, reasoned in a weak and inconclusive manner. My thoughts, and plans, and argumentations were puerile, and such as I now see to be short-sighted and erroneous. Thus it will be with our thoughts, compared to heaven. There will be, doubtless, as much difference between our present knowledge, and plans, and views, and those which we shall 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.”–Brewster’s Life of Newton, pp. 300, 301, edit. New York, 1832.
Two more verses, stay tuned for the last part…