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  • Writer's pictureJacob Mamachan

It’s all about Love!

This is the season of Love, celebrated as Valentine’s Day.

The origins of this day are shrouded in mystery and a quick survey, with a view to orient oneself, would only cause confusion.

Well, my topic is not Valentine’s Day or its origins. But just like this day has had its conceptual bent, the theme of “Love” too has had a theological bent from its true meaning and grandeur.

Yes, Love, an all too familiar word yet grossly misunderstood and immensely misapplied; Christian definitions of this truth are all over the Scriptures. The truth is cuddled in two extremes – Love none and love all.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13

Let me take you on a short study, humbly standing on the shoulders of many great men of God who have endeavored to tackle this beautiful truth - Love.

The love hymn of Paul - 1 Corinthians 13 - is the foremost passage that one would encounter in a Christian wedding, or even so-called love seasons like Valentine’s Day, or other occasions that have the “love” theme in them. But as every well-read biblical person would point out – Context is king!

Let us initially rattle some love-seats with a novel revelation – Paul did not write this letter to the Corinthians for Valentine’s Day or with any post-modern mindset of love!

In fact, he clearly states in 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 'I determined not to know anything amongst you, save Christ and Him crucified'. Paul was writing to a highly chaotic Church, a church nevertheless. He was generally unhappy regarding their spiritual state, but he surely showed compassion where necessary. He was indeed writing to unite the Church, not by a social restructuring (that didn’t seem to be a problem, rather they had too much of it!), but in doctrine and its full expression as laid down by the Apostles (1 Corinthians 3).

Love, in the letter to the Corinthians is truly a personification but in its verbal force. Love is the expression of character as action, not a one-line definition that one would use in some speech (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This expression is not by community building in society (though this is essential and necessary), but the building of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians. 12:7-14, 1 Corinthians 14:4,12). Paul has the love hymn nestled in the hope that the church will unite in doctrine which will thereby build the community of believers and present them perfect at the parousia of the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:8). Love is an expression for building up of the church and not community building. This is essential in narrowing our understanding of love.

  1. Ephesians 1.4

Another fascinating verse is Ephesians 1:4 – “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In Love”

As many scholars would comment, the “in Love” could grammatically fall to vs. 4 or vs. 5. Considering the rest of the uses of this phrase in Ephesians 4:2,16; we can fairly conclude that “in Love” follows vs 4.

Here again, love is closely related to themes such as Blessing in Christ, spiritual places (Heavenly), chosen before the foundation of the world, holy and blameless. In the rest of the 19 occurrences of this all too familiar Greek word “Agape, Agapao” – it appears in the contexts of Brotherly love, Christ’s love, Christian growth and marriage. And in every instance the overarching theme and narrative is not individual love toward each other, but a strong declaration of unity through Christ and His doctrines as a battle against the spiritual forces.

Love is defined in cosmic terms as a battle term and not an emotional experience. He starts with blessings in the heavenlies (Ephesians.1) and concludes as an opposition against the heavenlies (Ephesians.6). This is a lot different from what we define love loosely in our modern concept of love.

According to what we read in Ephesians, love is Gods act in man so man can reflect the similar pattern of redemption, adoption and glorification in the rest of the church, thereby touching the world around us through the gospel. It has nothing to do with accepting people and their opinions in the forefront. Accepting people is a natural extension but with the purpose of making them holy and blameless.

Conclusion – We have to dispense the words we use in our cultural application of words from the manner in which it was intended in the Biblical period. We must know that love is defined differently in 1 Corinthians 13 to mean ultimately “perfecting of the body, Church” and the similar meaning falls in Ephesians “Perfecting the body through growing in Christ, in love” and “Spiritual Warefare”.


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