A Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13

Last week I shared a reflection inspired by the 13th chapter of Pauls letter to the Corinthian church during the online service for Oak Life. As we wrested with the ramifications of this text for this moment, I was hoping that Paul’s words would move from the sentimental/fluffy context they’re often referenced in, to a call to action in the midst of dark or “mirror dimly” moments. With that aim, and after getting a few requests for the text, here is a paraphrase of the chapter that was a part of the reflection:

Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:

Love takes a breath before responding, and is a non-anxious presence

Love smiles in empathy and joy at every face it sees

Love is not fueled by ego or insecurity but finds its identity in God’s Love and nothing else

Love is burdened for others, especially those on the margins or who’ve been wronged by the world

Love’s burden for others translates to sacrificial action


Love doesn’t need to prove that it is right

Love does not need its agenda to be accomplished

Love doesn’t hold grudges and does not see people as their lowest moments

Love has boundaries when things or people are unhealthy because loving and being tender to oneself is an intrinsic part of Love’s flow

Love is slow to believe conspiracy theories or emotionally manipulative narratives from on high or in secret and is concerned about the hearts of those who have accepted false realities

Love puts in the work to find out what is true and real and knows that what’s true and real is often messy, complicated, and gray- and love is ok with that


Love isn’t in a hurry

Love does not seek to harm others, ever, and even if others do not understand it- love avoids the temptation and heresy of redemptive violence

Love never dominates or overpowers

Love takes pleasure in knowing and being known

Love bears all things, believes in the best for all creation, hopes all things, will out last all things

Love will win.  On the other hand political parties, tribal conflicts, and even nations will all fade into history.  Even the most charismatic leaders will pass away like clouds passing in the sky.  Right now it might seem like we don’t know what’s going on, that we can’t see the whole picture, but there will come a time that we’ll look back on this and see that God was there all along. 

So in this moment, in this dark time, remember that our faith and hope in God is ultimately that God’s forever love is here and will always be here.



Original Text:

1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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