EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 10-Feb-2008


by John McOwen


Love, and this is the last of three parts of “love,” and you do have handouts today, so I am going to ask you to take a look, and we are going to leapfrog all the way to #12 on the sheet because, as I mentioned, there are sixteen different definitions, or analogies, or descriptions of the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13.   I am going to read that again, the first eight verses, and then we are going to take a look at the last five descriptions of “love” for our final part of this series.  So, let me start in verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 13. 

If once again you would allow me to translate the old English word “charity” into “love,” which is the more common word we use today, and it is the word agape in the Greek. 

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not [love], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not [love], it profiteth me nothing. [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. [Love] never faileth…

And we will end our reading right there.  As I have said before, verses 1-3 of this passage clearly establish the preeminence of “love” above and beyond all other attributes anyone could ever desire to possess.  And the word “love” in this chapter is Strong’s 26, it is agape, the Greek word agape, it is the word used over and over in this chapter.  Now, this word is best epitomized, and it is probably best for us to once again ground ourselves into what is the ultimate example of this agape “love.”  At the highest level, what is it?  Jesus Himself said it in John 15:13.  Once again, let us go there just to refresh our memories and what He said in verse 13 of John 15:

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.

There is the word agape, the same word “love,” that is in 1 Corinthians 13, that same chapter that is read over and over and over again at weddings.  “Love,” “[love] is kind,” “love” is patient, etc, etc.  Here it is, “Greater love hath no man than this,” and Jesus did that, the epitome of it, He laid down “his life for his friends,” “his friends,” being the elect of God, that is it at the higher level, the highest level, complete selflessness.  It is a total self sacrifice in His own body, His own life.  He lost His own life in His human form at Calvary to give this “love” to those that He did “love,” the elect. 

So, we have been analyzing the various descriptions of “love” for the last two studies, and this being the third and final.  We are going to pick up where we left off before, and we had gone through verse 6.  Now, we are going to pick up in verse 7, and if you have your handout it is #12 on the handout. 

Now, I said there are sixteen.  This is why this is easy to refer to.  So keep it, study it, have it handy.  If you feel yourself lacking a little “love” towards someone, pull this out and say, “I need this, and I need that.”  This number over here circle it, highlight it, whatever, where you need to work on it, because that is the practical application of what we are going to learn today as well as some spiritual issues.  That is why I numbered it, sixteen discreet examples that God gives us of this agape “love” in this one chapter in only eight verses, and it really only starts in verse 4, so really verses 4-8 are where we find these sixteen different descriptions.  And if anyone would like a copy of this, if you are listening to this over the airwaves, write in and I will be happy to send you a copy, it is a four-page Word document, very easy to send to you.  Verse 7, “love”:

Beareth all things…

Again it is #12 on your sheet.  “[Love] beareth all things.”  The literal translation of that is “quietly covers all things,” “[love] quietly covers all things.”  So we know what the word “bear” means, I “bear” a lot.  Maybe I have a huge burden, whether it is a lot of tasks I have to perform at work, or there are a lot of places I need to go and be here, be there for the children, and do a lot, or maybe I am bearing a lot of pain because I just broke a bone in my body.  But here the word “bears all things” means “quietly covers.”  It is the Strong’s 4722, and here is what it means, to cover by silence or keep confidential, that is interesting.  It is only used four times in the New Testament.  It is very difficult to get a great description from the four references, so I really am relying a lot in this one on the Greek, as far as how that word is used and translated in the Greek grammar.  So again, let us try to remember because, I think it fits when we look at what we have been studying about “love,” and also what we see later on in this chapter that it really does mean, to “quietly cover all things.” 

Well, “quietly cover,” to keep silence.  Let us first look at “all things,” and then we will try to define the whole phrase of “covering,” or “bearing all things.”  “All things” is the Greek 3956, and there are two references I want to give you.  Matthew 11:27, let us go there first.  What are “all things”?   Is it qualified?  Or is it really “all,” “all” whatever that means?  Matthew 11:27 says, and here is the same word that was used in 1 Corinthians 13, about “love bearing all things.”

All things are delivered unto me of my Father…

Said Jesus.

…and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

So look at that, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father.”  Is there any exception to what Christ received because of His successful Atonement?  No, it really is “all things,” everything.

John 1:3 is another example where “all things” is used; let us go there just to define it.  John 1:3, this is talking about, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,” “The same was in the beginning with God.”  Speaking about Jesus, John 1:3 says:

All things…

There is our word.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

There it is, “All things were made by him” Christ made everything, all of it, every single thing.  The word “all things” really does mean “all things.”  It is not a qualified “all.”  You know how sometimes the word “all” is qualified in the Scriptures?  Like when?  Does anyone want to give me an example of when “all” does not necessarily mean “all” in the Scriptures?  When you see the word “all,” “all the world should be taxed” or we see things in the Bible, or it seems to indicate all men shall come to me, (Jesus), it is those who are elect, there is a qualified “all.”  This is not qualified, in “love bearing,” or “quietly covering all things,” it is no qualification, it is “all,”  “quietly covering,” or silent about it. 

Here are some applications on it, to apply this description of “love.”  “Love” does not air dirty laundry about someone else.  There we go, “quietly covering,” or being silent about “all things,” rather.  What does “love” do?  It covers it, it puts it away, out of mind, no more to be remembered or brought up again.  Have you heard the phrase in a relationship, marriage perhaps, where someone will say, “well, I can forgive you, but I will never forget that”?   We hear that on TV, unfortunately, that is not “love,” “Love” covers all, it is silent, it does not air dirty laundry to other people, in other words, telling other people about someone else’s faults or sins.  “Love” is going to cover that, it is going to forget about it and completely put it out of mind.  The best example of this is God Himself.  He does it better than anyone, no matter what the sin, and that is in Hebrews 10.  Let us look at God’s example to give me motivation of how I am to apply this “[love] covering all things,” “all things,” no matter what they are, as far as a negative, or something that is sinful or hurtful to me.  Hebrews 10:15-17, the Bible says:

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Verse 17 is the key there:

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Now, God Himself is the ultimate epitome of “[love] beareth all things,” “covering all things.”  Remember we said at the very beginning, agape “love.”   Jesus said it best, “Greater love.”  So there is no higher level of “love” then this, to give your life for your “friends,” He did that.  How else does God show “love”?  He “beareth all things,” He “covers all things,” every single sin if you are saved.  No matter whether it is murder, maybe you had multiple abortions, maybe you have killed an adult human being, you robbed, steal, sexual immorality, adultery, no matter what the sins, if you are saved, that is God’s “love,” covers it all, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”  It is beautiful, it is actually a good inspiration, and it should inspire everyone of us to “love” the same way, not only our spouses and our children, but our friends, our enemies, everyone, “all things,” “love beareth all things.”

Let us move on to the next one, #13 on your list, which is again in verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13.  It says there that “love”:

…believeth all things…

“Believes all things.”  What is “believe”?  Well, that is the Greek 4100 in the Strong’s; it means to have faith, or to “believe,” trusting in God.  One of the words we can pick that up in is Matthew 9, so let us go to Matthew 9:27-28:

And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? …

There is the word, “believe,” same word in 1 Corinthians 13, “[love] believes all things.”

…Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

They just simply said, “Yea, Lord.”  We do “believe” that you can do this.  See, “[love] believes all things.”  “All things” is the same word as the last one where it means “all” “all,” everything.  God is able to do everything we know that, there is nothing impossible with God, the Scriptures say, “with God all things are possible.”  And here, the Bible says that, “[love] believeth all things.”  These blind men, can you imagine believing that you could see again?  And Jesus asked them do you “believe” that I can do this?  And they said, I am sure, emphatically, “Yea, Lord.”  What a blessing, what a great faith, confidence, a belief that anything is possible.  And that is what I ask you.  Do you “believe” the Lord can do “all things”?  How about yourself?  Transforming you more and more into the image of Jesus Christ if you are saved?  Dramatically, transforming the one you “love.”  Perhaps you have a spouse, who you are not on the same wave length with spiritually.  Or maybe there are a lot of squabbles.  Do you “believe” that that can all change?  “[Love] believes” it can.  How about a child, a sibling, parent, a friend, a neighbor, completely unregenerate, do you “believe” that God can save them?  Or have you given up?  “[Love] believes all things.”  If God made these blind men see, and He asked them, do you “believe” I can do this?  “Yea, Lord.”  Say the same thing when you are praying, “Lord I know you can save my spouse, I know you can save my friend who I “love” so much, I believe you can do it, and I pray that you would do it.”  You do it with confidence, that is the beauty of agape “love” at its best here, “believeth all things” are possible, especially spiritually, that is the most important thing, that is the most important, that God can transform anyone in your life, anyone in your walk God can change them, do not ever give up because “[love] believes all things.”

Let us go to #14 on the sheet.  It is still verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13.  Here we see that “love”:

…hopeth all things…

And once again “all things” is the same word 3956 in the Strong’s that we read the last two times, it is “all,” it is everything, there is nothing excluded, no qualifications.  Here it says, “[love] hopeth all things.”  What does it mean to “hope”?  Well, we kind of know what that word is it is a very common word.  I “hope,” I “hope” it is sunny tomorrow because I have to take a long drive and I do not like driving in the rain.”  Well, “hope” means to expect, to look for.  A great example is in Romans 8.  Let us turn there.  The Bible uses the word “hope” in Romans 8:24-25, and there we read:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

What is the take away from that verse?  It talks about “hope” a couple of times in those two verses.  The take away is that, “we with patience wait for it.”  If I have “hope” it means I patiently wait, I patiently wait.  What is the “ultimate law of the farm”?  When I say that phrase, what does that mean?  It is used a lot in literature, especially in business literature about building a business.  And the “law of the farm” is an analogy, constantly used, especially in some of the higher level training in management, they talk about the “law of the farm” being, when you plant a seed in the spring, it is not going to sprout up two days later, it is not going to happen right in front of you.  And God has not changed that law.  Now, we have introduced different aids, genetically modified organisms, and things like that that speed the process a little bit, and steroids, and what not, and hormones for cattle to make them bigger, faster, but by and large, when you plant, it is going to take time before the harvest.  Certain crops take a lot longer than others.  The “law of the farm” means I plant, I wait, patiently wait, and I till the ground, I work the ground, I care for it, I weed it, and then I get my result, my produce, whatever it is that I planted. 

The Bible says here that “[love] hopeth all things.”  So I do not expect it overnight, it is not instant pudding.  Just because someone else is not changing immediately, and I am loving them with all these things I am learning in the Bible about “love” being “kind,” “[love] vaunteth not itself,” “is not puffed up,” “[love] seeketh not her own,” but rather someone else’s welfare.  I am doing all these things, and I am not getting the result from someone else.  Or, I am hoping for salvation for my spouse, my friend, my children, my parent and it is not happening and I am ready to give up, but “[love] hopes all things” even if I do not see it.  The Bible says in Romans 8, yet I still hope for it.  And that is, I “with patience wait for it.” 

So what is the application?  I am to be patient with a spouse, a child, at work a peer, a fellow student, a roommate, a neighbor, whoever the person is, above all what I “hope” for most is eternal life for that person.  Be patient for its arrival.  God is saving a multitude today in our midst, and may indeed save even more as we draw really close to the very end of time, even to the last day a few years from now, even to the last day, do not lose “hope.”  We are told that in 1 Corinthians; let us get encouragement from the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:19, we read:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ…

There is our word, “hope.”

…we are of all men most miserable.

Jump all the way down now to verse 23:

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

So, in other words, patiently wait, that day is coming, that day is coming.  If you, “in this life only … have hope,” you “are of all men most miserable.”  You are hoping and waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ if you are saved, and for those who are not, or not showing evidence of salvation, today you are hoping, because “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.”  When “his coming” happens, we are going to see all those who are the elect.  Do not lose “hope,” even up to the last day. 

And for salvation, probably my favorite verse in the whole Scriptures is Lamentations, I quote it all the time, Lamentations 3:26, it is a beautiful verse and it really encapsulates [summarizes] the essence of what we are saying here.  Lamentations 3:26:

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait…

For what?

…for the salvation of the LORD.

“The salvation of the LORD,” not only for yourself.  See, there is another application.  “[Love] hopes all things.”  Wait patiently for God’s salvation.  It is not on your timetable anyway, nothing you can do to expedite the process, nor can you do it for a friend, or a spouse, a loved one.  “Hope all things,” “wait” on God, but “believe,” because He is able to do it. 

Let us move on, there are two more, #15 on the chart, we are still in verse 7, “love”:

…endureth all things.

Once again, “all things” is 3956, Strong’s number, it is the “all” meaning everything there are no exceptions here.  What does it mean to “endure”?  Now, there is a word we use a lot today.  Endurance, I have a lot of endurance, or endurance training and fitness. What does that mean?  If I have endurance, what does it mean?  I can go a long time without tiring, right?  I can put up with a lot, or I can bear a heavy burden, whether it is work or athletics, whatever the case may be.  If you have a car battery that lasts you eight years, that is a real enduring battery, today they usually go at five or six years and burn out. 

So, here you have the word “endure.”  But, what does it mean in the Bible?  It is 5278 in the Strong’s, and it really means to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding, and we are going to see a couple of examples.  Let me read that again.  This is a great definition I think of what that word “endure” means, to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding.  Someone give me the penultimate example in the Old Testament of a human being that lived, who is recorded in the Scriptures, who exemplified the epitome of endurance.  Job, the ultimate, “[love] endures all things.”  Through any of that misfortune, or suffering, you do not yield, that is the key.  You can “endure,” but grumble and moan the whole way through it that is not endurance.  You are putting up with it a little bit maybe, but you are not enduring.  Endurance means without yielding.  And here we have examples.  Mark 13 is a great one for “[love] enduring all things.”  Mark 13:13, and here we read:

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…

Jesus said.

…but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

We are not going to analyze this verse from the standpoint of what it really is teaching.  It is not teaching that, as long as you “endure” then you are going to earn your way to Heaven.  But what does it mean?  Jesus said, “but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” because the qualifier before was, you are going to be “hated” “for my name’s sake.”  You are not going to bend or fold under pressure as the end draws near and you become more and more of the laughing stock because you are calling for the end of the world to come.  You are passing out literature, tracts, Family Radio material, whatever it may be, inviting people to listen, you are talking about the end of time, no matter what it costs you reputation wise, with friends, family, neighbors, it does not matter.  Enduring to the end, you may have a lot of heartache or trouble come your way, even physically, whatever the case may be.  You may have a health problem, are you going to curse God?  No, you better not.  You have to look at Job, you have to look at Job and say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Because Jesus said, “he that shall endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.” 

So, have “hope.”  Because what is the “hope”?  You “hope all things,” you know the end is coming and you have glory to look forward to, there is nothing better than that, so you can if you do have “hope,” if you are loving with agape “love,” and you do have “hope” in “all things,” you can “endure” everything, can you not?  How about a spouse who is unsaved and life is absolutely miserable at home?  Can you “endure” another couple of years?  Yes, you can, if you look to God for the strength, “[love] endures all things.”  It puts up without yielding, without giving in, whatever the temptation of sin may be in front of you.  That is another example.  Do not give in, we are close to the end, and even if we were not close, there is still the instruction injunction, you are to “endure,” not to yield.  But, we have the superior advantage point of knowing we only have a few short years left, there is no excuse why you should not “endure” if you are a saved person today, any heartache in life, easy for me to say, but it is hard to do, that is why I point out the Scriptures because, not one of us knows what tomorrow may bring in our lives. 

Let us go to Romans 12:12, about enduring:

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

See there again, a summary of what we just said about “[love] endures all things.”  I am “rejoicing in hope,” and therefore I am able to be “patient in tribulation.”  I am “patient,” I can “endure.”  How?  “Continuing instant in prayer.”  There is part of the prescription.  What characters who are not in the Bible because this happened?   Posted the last writing of the book of Revelation?  What people in history exemplified “[love] enduring all things,” to the absolute ultimate, to the very end of their own lives?  The martyrs in the Reformation era, burned at the stake.  Why did they “endure,” “patient in tribulation”?  They had “hope.”  They knew what was waiting on the other side.  “Continuing instant in prayer,” that is how you get through it.  What great examples. 

And the ultimate model of endurance, Hebrews 12, we have great models here.  If you are having a tough time at home with children or a spouse, please circle #15 on the sheet I gave you, and go back and look at that and read those references once a week for the rest of this year.  I guarantee you, you will be inspired to exercise this “endurance” a whole lot more, with a lot more “joy” in your life and “hope.”  Hebrews 12:2, Chris started off the year with this sermon, this message for 2008, it was a great one.  Hebrews 12:2-3, this race, what is ahead of us is a race.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Do you see the word “endurance” there twice in verse 2 and in verse 3?  There it is, He “endured the Cross” in verse 2.   Jesus Christ, in verse 3, “endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.”  Christ did it how?  He did it because He knew what was going to happen afterwards, “despising the shame” “for the joy that was set before him.”  What was “set before him”?   He knew that “all things” would be delivered into His hand when this was done and that motivated.  I am sure it encouraged, that gave Christ the example to give us of how to “endure,” because the Bible says it is very easy to get “wearied and faint in your minds,” verse 3, because it says if you do not look to Christ who is the greatest example of “endurance” of contradiction against Himself, you will grow weary and you will “faint in your minds” and you will get depressed, etc, etc.  But you do not need to if you go to these Scriptures, and you pray for God’s strength to get you through it. 

Let us look at the last example of “love,” #16, and the final one on your chart, because there are sixteen descriptions in 1 Corinthians 13 of this agape “love.”  It says in the first part of verse 8, and it is a great way to finish:

[Love] never faileth…

Wow!  What does it mean to “fail”?  It is 1601 in the Greek, it is a verb, and it means to fall off, drop away, or to lose, to fall off, drop away or to lose.  Well, a lot of times things “fail”; items, material things, things that are built “fail” over time, but the Bible says here that “[love] never fails.”  Our health can “fail” but “[love] never fails.”  What does it mean to fall off or drop away?  Let us go to James 1:11 and pick up God’s definition of “failing.”  James 1:11, it is the word “falleth,” let us look for it.

For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

There was the word “fall,” “the flower thereof falleth,” I will use the modern English, “falls.”  What happens when the sun comes up and scorches that flower, the Bible is giving us an example, what happens to that flower?  It “falls, and the grace of … it perisheth.”  It “falls” off. 

Here is the application.  Is the sun illuminating, burning heat on you today?  Is it coming from another person?  It is February there is not a whole lot of heat from the sun at this time of year on the East Coast.  But what I am talking about is the burning heat, like the sun of someone else’s anger, prodding, troubling of you.  Is that troubling you or bothering you today?  The Bible says, “[love] never fails,” so do not fall off, or give up.  “Love” does not fall off.  Love does not drop away.  It never “fails.”  And therefore, I am never going to fall off, or “fail” from my commitment to “love” that other person.  Let us go to the immediate family, let us go with the marriage.  Sadly, this chapter, or verses, at least verses 4-8 are read often at weddings.  If they really meant it and studied it, like we are studying the last three studies, if they really meant it, would there ever be divorce?  No.  I can unequivocally say that there would be a zero percent divorce rate if we follow 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, because it says, “[love] never fails,” that means it does not fall off or drop away for any reason.  No matter what the other person does, adultery, they are in prison for murdering, gambling, whatever the case, the most heinous sin, “[love] never fails.”  How about a child?  It does not matter what the child is doing, I continue to “love” them, continue to “love” them no matter what.  My neighbor, my enemies at school, at work, seemingly enemies, they may pick on me, they may make fun of me, they may say things about me behind my back or in front of me, “[love] never fails” it does not drop off.  So, you do not want to stop from that commitment to “love,” because Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” “love” those who “despitefully use you and persecute you.”  So this agape “love” spans all of your life, not just your spouse, not just your parents, not just your children, not just your neighbors that like you or you get along with, it is everyone.

And the final example we will use, and we will close with this, is in 2 Peter 3, of falling off, and “love” never falls off.  So we are looking at the contrary.  2 Peter 3:17-18:

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before…

What are “these things”?  What is the whole chapter talking about?  Someone want to give me the context of this chapter?  The end of the world, and even more specifically knowing about the end of the world.

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall…

There is our word “fall,” “[love] never [falls]” though.

…from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

You are in a superior advantage point if you are here today and you recognize and realize that we only have a few short years before the end is coming.  The Bible says, “[love] never [falls off] never fails.”  The Bible warns us here, when “ye know these things…beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”  Do not let it happen.  How many times have you seen this either in sports, if you are familiar with that, or in life when you go all the way up to the end?  I will never forget when I was a senior in High School.  We were the best team in my county, we were ranked #1 in the district, and we took for granted our very first playoff game, and it turned out to be the last game of my basketball career, because we got killed, because we came in unprepared.  We fell off right at the end of the season.  Do you know why?  We took the opponent lightly.  The Bible warns us, “lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked.”  Do not “fall from your own steadfastness.”  It is crunch time now that we are at the end.  “[Love] never fails.” 

May God give each one of us this incredible spirit of agape “love,” that your life will benefit a multitude of other people as you express in sixteen different ways this beautiful gift of God’s “love.”  Amen.