Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve decided to take us on a tour lately of 1 Corinthians 13 and see what this magnificently beautiful chapter has to say about love. My wife knows that one of my prayer requests every night is to understand this chapter. Tonight, I’d like to look at the first part of verse 2. It raises the point about having the gift of prophecy.
What do we know about Paul and his view of prophecy? Paul was abundantly clear that prophecy was the greatest of the gifts and he advised the church to seek prophecy. Moses in the Old Testament had a wish that all of God’s people could be prophets and in the New Testament we see at Pentecost the start of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel as to the pouring out of the Spirit would mean that people would prophesy.
Now we’re not going to get to the end of the verse tonight, but Paul’s point here is that if one has prophecy, but they do not have love, then they are nothing. Note that he is not saying that he has nothing. He is saying that he himself is nothing. As important as prophecy was to Paul, love was far more important.
What was prophecy? Today, we can often think of prophecy as simply foretelling the future. To an extent, that did happen in prophecy in the Old Testament especially, but it was not always that. Much of prophecy in the Old Testament is the exhorting of the people to righteousness. It was not so much telling the future as it was giving commentary on the present.
In the New Testament, the closest role could be to that of a pastor. Because someone was a prophet, it did not mean that they were telling the future. It could mean that they possessed a key insight into the message of God at the time and knew how to apply it to the lives of the people. After all, it is doubtful following the rules of 1 Cor. 14 that God would give one prophecy to one person only to have them sit down when He decided to give another prophecy to a different one.
Paul values prophecy because it is involving the proclamation of the gospel. Tongues would be seen as a means of conveying the gospel, but prophecy would be seen as having to do with the content of the gospel. Paul was grateful to God that he had the ability to prophesy. Of course, being an apostle, he did such on a far greater scale, yet at the same time differentiated. In 1 Cor. 7, we find him making a distinction between what he says and what the Lord says. If anyone could say “Thus sayeth the Lord” surely Paul could, but he did no such thing. He simply pointed to his authority as an apostle and we trust today that God did guide this fine evangelist in what he said.
Let us not skip over this part however. Remember what Paul says about prophecy and look at what he says about it after this chapter and what is his conclusion? IF you have prophecy, but you do not have love, you are nothing. You’re not worth talking about. No one should take you seriously at all.
Let us keep this in mind as we pursue what love really is.