Love Never Ends (1 Corinthians 13:8–13)

sermon photoThis last Sunday we considered how love endures, looking at four movements in Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

  • From the temporary to the eternal (v. 8)
  • From the partial to the perfect (vv. 9-10)
  • From the child to the man (v. 11)
  • From the mirror to face to face (v. 12)

Sermon audio is available online; discussion question and study resources are listed below.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Discussion Questions

Opening Observations

  • Look at the structure of Paul’s argument: What parallel statements can you identify? Keep these parallel statements in view as they will help to interpret each other.

The Conclusion of Gifts (vv. 8-10)

  • Why would Paul contrast love’s endurance to the transitory nature of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge?
  • How should the church Corinth respond to the revelation that their partial knowledge and prophesy will pass away?
  • Do you see in anything in the text that helps illuminate that is meant by “the perfect” in verse 10?

Growing in Spiritual Maturity (v. 11)

  • What kind of maturity characterizes Corinth? (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-2)
  • What childish behaviors are on display in Corinth?
  • What is the difference between “the most excellent way” and these “childish ways”?
  • What are some practical steps one might take to move toward spiritual maturity?
  • Why might we be tempted to use wrong metrics (giftedness and knowledge) to measure spiritual maturity?

From a Mirror to Face to Face (vv. 12-13)

  • What are the implications of seeing “in a mirror dimly”?
  • In 13:12, Paul is referencing Numbers 12:8. How might this give clarity to Paul’s argument?
  • How does the Scripture speak of seeing the face of God? See also Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11, 18-23; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 34:10; Psalm 42:1-2; Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 5:8; John 1:18, 14:8-10; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; 1 John 3:1-2; Revelation 22:3-4.
  • Who can see His face?
  • What will happen to those who see His face?
  • If God is Spirit, does He have a face?
  • How does the doctrine of the Trinity shape our understanding of this question?
  • What is the difference between our sanctification and glorification?
  • In what ways will we be transformed on the day when we see face to face?
  • How will love continue into the New Creation?
  • Why is love greater than faith and hope?

For Further Study

Articles and Sermons


  • Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards — Edwards classic work is a theological and devotional exposition of 1 Corinthians 13
  • Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Philip Graham Ryken – Ryken, former pastor and current president of Wheaton College, looks at Jesus’ love through the lens of 1 Corinthians 13
  • Divine Inspiration by Ebenezer Henderson– In his final chapter, Henderson nicely tackles some of the reasons why the miraculous (and revelatory) gifts ceased in the generation after the apostles.