Chapter Twelve begins with Paul implying that his readers are ignorant. Chapter Fourteen ends with him implying they had previously been lacking in decency and self-control. The remainder of the two chapters consists of their mentor informing, reproving, correcting, and teaching them in what would become part of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 3:15-16). Chapter Thirteen also implies something; it implies that they lacked the first of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and they were failing to live in the image and likeness of God (1 John 4:8, 16; Genesis 1:26-27). Instead of humility and selflessness, they thought too highly of themselves, and arrogantly sought to be the person against whom all should measure themselves. He had seen these "qualities" before (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4; Romans 12:3). Here, in Chapter Thirteen, Paul defines Christ-likeness as the true measure of one's stature.
In the first three verses, he states that spiritual gifts (abilities) and religious acts of charity are worthless unless motivated by the love for God and for one's fellow man. The gift of tongues, the least of all the spiritual gifts (12:10), and the gift of prophecy, the highest of the spiritual gifts (14:1), are useless to the Lord if they are not motivated by love. Neither are oaths of poverty and martyrdom. Love has to be the "why" of our actions. The word charity in Chapter Thirteen is translated from the Greek word agape, which is the highest form of love; it is the same kind of love that God had for His lost creation (John 3:16). It is a love that is totally selfless. It cannot be earned, nor is it deserved. It does not require reciprocity. It is a thought, word, or deed that is the fruit, the product of the indwelling Spirit of God. The New Testament has another Greek word for love, phileo, but it has to do with a mutual bond between two persons, a brotherly love.
The next four verses (4-7) describe what love is and what it is not. God-like love is long-suffering and kind, but it is not envious, boastful, or proud (4). It acts well-behaved and it does not act inappropriately; it is not self-centered, it does not respond to provocation, nor does it think like Satan (5). God's kind of love weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice (6 - Romans 12:15). Love tolerates, trusts, is optimistic, and suffers through all things (7).
Love, God's kind of love, never fails, never quits, never gives up. This fruit of the Spirit is as eternal as is God Himself. It will never end. However, Paul had some sad news for the Corinthian church; those things that so infatuated them and which were misused, would soon be gone. The gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge would be replaced. There has been much debate as to what would replace them, and when it would occur. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will try to explain the different theories or interpretations of the rest of the chapter. If I ever needed prayer before, I certainly need it now. God bless in Jesus name. Amen.