The meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 KJV & NIV
In 1 Corinthians 13 or what is called "The Love Chapter", Paul gives a detailed definition of love and today, it continues to have a universal impact as this scripture is normally used at weddings or to explain the love that should exist between couples. Let us explore this chapter and learn why it continues to be a compass guiding many in their understanding of true love and unity.
1. Where is the Love Chapter?
The Love Chapter can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4-7. While there are different translations of the bible, the message in this love chapter remains the same.
The New King James Version (NKJV) states that Love suffers long, however both the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New International Version (NIV) state that Love is patient – both translation denoting the level of endurance required in exercising this love.
“Love does not parade itself” is used in the New King James version (NKJV) while both the NIV and ESV record that “love does not boast”. Being boastful is really a public show or “parade” used in order to gain some form of recognition or attention.
Love “does not rejoice in iniquity” (NKJV). “Love does not delight in evil” (NIV). “ it does not rejoice at wrongdoing” (ESV). While all three translations use different words to describe this negative behavior, the essence is that love does not find happiness in the unfortunate downfall of other persons.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV (New King James Version) says, 'Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV (New International Version) says, 'Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV (English Standard Version) says, 'Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
2. What is 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 all about?
The meaning of 1 Corinthians 13 is about Paul was addressing the Corinthian church as they were experiencing a period where the spirit of love was absent. In this chapter, the Apostle Paul outlined the importance of demonstrating love in action by showing sincere concern for other members of their community.
3. What kind of love is in 1 Corinthians 13?
The kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is the Agape love. This is God’s perfect, sacrificial and unconditional love that can save and restore even when we sin. What Paul says about love in this chapter, gives a clear picture of the Agape love as it focuses on this selfless love that persons should strive to cultivate.
Below in section 4, I will take about the 4 kinds of biblical love and give more in depth information about the meaning of Agape love.
4. What are the 4 types of biblical love?
There are 4 types of biblical love are communicated through the Greek language are Eros, Storge, Philia and Agape.
4a. What is Eros Love?
Eros Love is the romantic love that is found between a husband and wife. This love expresses sexual and romantic attraction. Song of Solomon outlined several verses in the bible offering instructions on how this physical attraction can be shared between partners.
God sanctions this intimacy in the marriage relationship as he says that “And the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. St Mark 10:8
4b. What is Storge Love?
Storge Love is the love that exists between families. We have seen many demonstration of this love in the bible for example Mary and Martha, love between Abraham and his son Isaac, among others.
This love is so important as Jesus warns that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20
4c. What is Philia love?
Philia love speaks of deep friendship and partnership. It encompasses the deep love and compassion shared for persons, especially among those of the household of faith. God encourages us throughout scriptures to demonstrate this sincere love and respect for each other.
God is the truth and by trusting Him, we must seek to love and care for each other. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1;22
4d. What is Agape Love?
The Agape love is described as the unchanging, unselfish and sacrificial love. This love is not dependent on repayment nor is it practiced in an effort to seek personal rewards or benefits.
This love also results in successful marriages as each partner commits in pleasing the other above self. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1
This is the sacrificial love that God has for us, His children. He loves us unconditionally and still expects us to love each other sacrificially as He prepares us for His everlasting Kingdom.
5. What does Love is Patient mean?
The meaning of Love is Patient is that Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit that many are still trying to cultivate in an effort to reflect the character of Christ.
God is a loving Father and He continues to exercise patience with His children. Many times we fail or are indecisive in areas which would benefit us but still God still patiently waits for us to come to the realization that He alone can give us the opportunity to live an abundant life.
Love for each other requires patience and endurance. In the demonstration of patience towards your spouse, it requires tolerance even in areas that you once found intolerable.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2.” Patience is not easily angered of forceful but requires a calm spirit as you trust God to fulfill His will in your life.
6. What does Love is Kind mean?
Love is Kind means that it's always important to show kindness towards each other. In our daily interactions, showing kindness is an important attribute which seeks to foster harmony and bring happiness to those around us. Show empathy, be courteous and make intangible and tangible contributions in uplifting the lives of others. “
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2
Be kind to your spouse and choose to be helpful as your show mutual love, respect and courtesy. Be kind in your communication as you choose to speak kind words to each other which will uplift and not degrade.
7. What does Love does not Envy mean?
Love does not Envy is saying that Envy is a destructive emotion that can destroy even the healthiest relationships.
When envy creeps in a relationship, it will create a friction and opens the gate for distrust and insecurities. Do not be jealous of others or resent persons based on their accomplishments or achievements. God has ordained each of us with special gifts and we can make our contribution in this world in our own unique way.
Your relationship with your spouse is a partnership where you share your dreams, attainments and accomplishments with a heart of oneness. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and do not entertain toxic thoughts that can ruin your emotional and physical health as “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30
8. What does Love does not Boast mean?
Love does not Boast is saying that Boasting or bragging is an unloving attitude where an individual choose to focus on their own accomplishments without acknowledging the achievements of others.
So many times we meet individuals who behave as if they are superior to others, act selfishly and boast about their possessions and achievements. This type of behavior is not Godly and it displeases the Lord as God’s desire is for us to treat others with respect, love and sincerity.
His word says that we should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phillipians 2:3,4
A boastful attitude has no place in your relationship with your spouse. You ought to treat your spouse with love and respect and bragging about yourself only reveal your vain and conceited attributes.
Your duty is to honor your spouse and speak positively to each other. A healthy marriage is one that allows each individual to grow each day and not to hamper each other’s progress.
9. What does Love is not Proud mean?
Being proud means that one lacks humility and this is displeasing to God. Pride is a destructive trait that can impede an individual’s development and fracture their relationship with others. Love is humble and as such being proud cannot be associated with the love that God ordains for His children.
Everything that we have and all that we have become are acquired through God’s merits and therefore, it is useless to laud ourselves, but we should rather credit God for His tremendous blessings.
A heart of self-importance can create disharmony within the marriage leading to hostility. Each individual should demonstrate an act of humility within the marriage as you seek to mutually encourage and fulfill the needs of your partner. Be humble and act wisely as “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
10. What does Love does not dishonor others mean?
Love does not dishonor is talking about God’s love does not seek to dishonor others. We should strive to speak to each other with kindness, not in a rude or derogatory manner as this is very disrespectful and does not meet God’s approval. “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16;24. Harsh words are destructive while kind words are restorative.
Speak to your spouse with love, dignity and respect. Do not use words that will embarrass or belittle your spouse. Be gentle with each other as this is God’s standard in maintaining a happy and healthy union.
11. What does Love is not self-seeking mean?
Love is not self-seeking means that love is not just looking out for ourselves, but also the welfare of others. In other words, Biblical love is not about us continually seeking things within our best interest but rather looking out for the interest of others.
Self-love is widely promoted in our culture and while this is important, it is not God’s desire to exclusively seek our own welfare. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. Phillipians 2:3,4
In marriage, love should never be self-seeking.
You have made a commitment to live in oneness and it is important to focus on advancing each other in all aspects of their lives. As you seek to assist each other in becoming a better individual, it’s always important to remember to be gentle and patient with your spouse.
12. What does Love is not easily Angered mean?
Love is not easily Angered means that God’s love is not associated with strive and ill-tempered behavior and being irritable, angered and annoyed can destroy the fabric of our relationships.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1. Even in areas of disagreements, we are encouraged to strive to speak to each other with kindness and humility.
Husbands and wives should seek to communicate in love. Harsh words cannot be retracted and hence it is important to avoid getting angry which can result in the use of harsh words which further exacerbates the situation. Abide in Godly love and live in peace and do not give in to the destructive emotion of anger.
13. What does Love keeps no record of wrongs mean?
Love keeps no record of wrongs is about Love not keeping scores of past mistakes and hurts. Love should not be shown only when it is convenient for us but we are to demonstrate God’s unconditional love to each other at all times.
In this passage, we are encouraged to desist from keeping an account of wrongs as this is used to determine how we relate to each other. We serve a forgiving God who continues to love us in spite of our shortcomings.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32. Treat your spouse with kindness and compassion as this is God’s instruction.
Do not be revengeful of spiteful but rather be compassionate and forgiving as this will further enhance your love and affection towards each other. Do not harbor negative views about your partner’s actions, motives, words and conduct and expect to enjoy a happy marriage
14. What does Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth mean?
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth is about Love cannot thrive where evil exists. It is impossible to show love while concurrently fostering evil thoughts. We can never behave or say we love people when we at the same time have some evil motives which can negatively impact their lives. The love of God has pure motives and thinks only of the best for others.
God’s love does not seek to develop schemes or tell lies that can destroy ones character.
When the marriage is built on evil intent and distrust, this is a recipe for destruction. True love is not cultivated in half-truths but the whole truth, true love does not continue to see evil in your spouse, but the good. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
15. What does Love always Protects mean?
Love always Protects is about God loves for us and for that reason He is always available to shelter us under His mighty wings of safety. In the demonstration of love for each other, the protection of others is vital, especially in times of danger, calamities and sorrow. Love always protects also means shielding those you love from possible dangers.
Protect and strengthen your spouse in areas of weakness, always be a shield when exposed to danger. You may not be able to bear each other’s pain, but it’s comforting to know that you are not alone.
There are so many evidences of God’s protection and reassurance recorded in His word. In every area of our lives, we can claim His protection through faith to lead and guide us on a path of safety. The psalmist rightly puts it when he says that “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4
16. What does Love always Trusts mean?
Love always trusts means placing full confidence in those you love. Trusting and believing in each other is a demonstration of the love that God ordains in His word. Distrust creates tension which can negatively impact any relationship.
Loving God means trusting in Him and believing in His word and he expects us to demonstrate this love for each other.
You will keep Him in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3,4.
Trusting in God brings peace as it creates an environment of harmony where spouse can confide in each other. God’s love refrains from accepting news from talebearers, but always believing in the best about each other. Mistrust and suspicions are not associated with God’s love.
17. What does Love always Hopes mean?
Love always Hopes means that hope is having an unwavering optimism even amidst situations that seem hopeless. This is the love that God desires that His children will emulate. The same love He has for us where He continues to see us, not as men sees but He sees the best that we can become.
Do not entertain doubts in loving each other as God’s word reminds us to “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Having hope can dispel darkness in your marriage. Hope gives a renewed eagerness to press on as you continue to look for better days ahead. Keep hoping in God, keep hope alive in your marriage.
18. What does Love always Perseveres mean?
Love always perseveres means that love will endure under all circumstances. “Love beareth all things”, not just some things, but even in the most difficult situation, the love of God can lift the heaviest burdens and set you on a path of peace, happiness and restoration.
God has a reward for those who show love through perseverance. His word in the scriptures says that “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Conflicts may arise in marriage, but when you choose to demonstrate God’s love that perseveres, you will able to resolve issues and enjoy stability in your union. When you truly love each other, you will be committed in enduring all the attacks of the enemy come what may.
This love that Paul describes is the love that God ordains for His children. 1 Corinthians 13 paints a beautiful description of how we should conduct ourselves as we relate to each other.
This love is pure, kind and forgiving.
Unselfishness is not accommodated in the circle of God’s love. How harmonious will be our would if we all strive to practice this love! How amiable we would appear in our relationship with one another if we should choose to adopt this love! If you are wanting to learn more about God' greatest command, 'Love the Lord your God' I wrote another deep dive which you can check out.
Through God’s divine inspiration and prayer, we can lay aside all the encumbrances which are preventing us from practicing this God-ordained love. Seek God to guide you in this principle of love as we all aim to create a better society and more loving families as we prepare to reunite one day with the God of love.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8.
Think right and you will love right.