I Corinthians 13 (Love)
Acts 9:11 (Saul from Tarsus)
Acts 9:1-19 (Saul’s Conversion)
Acts 13:9 (Saul became Paul)
2 Corinthians 11:22 ESV
Philippians 3:5-6 ESV
Acts 22:3 ESV
Acts 5 (Gamaliel)
Acts 7:57 to 8:1 (Stoning of Stephen)
Acts 22:20 ESV
1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV
In I Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul outlined for us the sweeping power that love has in our lives.
I am constantly amazed by Paul’s intellect and understanding of God.
Scripture does tell us who Paul was and where he came from.
We know from Acts 9:11 that Saul (Paul) was from Tarsus, which was located in Cilicia which is located in modern day Turkey.
Prior to Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), he was called Saul of Tarsus. We learn in Acts 13:9 that at the time Saul was also called Paul. After that time Saul was referred to as Paul.
2 Corinthians 11:22 tells us that Paul said, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.”
We know from Philippians 3:5-6 Paul was, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
In addition to Paul being a Pharisee, we know from Acts 22:3, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.”
We know from Acts 5 that Gamaliel was a Hebrew Rabbi and leader of the Hebrew Sanhedrin (Acts 5) and (https://www.gotquestions.org/Gamaliel-in-the-Bible.html).
What does that boil down to?
Paul was a highly educated Pharisee who had adhered strictly to the Hebrew faith all his life. Prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus he persecuted the people of The Way (Christians or followers of Jesus).
Because of his history of persecution of the followers of Jesus he was not readily accepted. For example, Saul was present when Stephen was stoned in Acts 7:57 to Acts 8:1. Paul admitted in Acts 22:20, “when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’”
Accepting Saul as Paul was difficult, but clearly not impossible.
Of course, Paul of Tarsus was eventually accepted and his contribution to the New Testament and to all the churches he visited on his missionary journeys was an important part of the early church!
When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he said in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “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 have not love, I am nothing.”
Paul did understand prophetic powers.
He knew the mysteries and knowledge of Jesus who appeared to him on the road to Damascus.
Paul did have faith in Jesus.
Through that faith Paul did move mountains.
Yet he counted all of that as being ‘loss’ or less important than love.
He knew without the love of Jesus everything else was meaningless.
This highly educated Hebrew Rabbi gave up his life that he had forged out so he would know and understand the love of God through His Son Jesus.
All for love…
As the children’s song says, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Love is what matters.
Paul understood that knowing and receiving the love of Jesus personally makes all the difference.
I can’t honestly say I know for sure when I knew that Jesus loved me. Looking back, it seems like I always knew it. I grew up hearing about it and I accepted it but gradually it became important.
Then it became essential.
At some point it carried me.
Then it sustained me. Without thinking about it or knowing it, the love of God through Jesus was my life force.
Today, I can’t imagine and I know I will never have to imagine anything without God’s love through Jesus.
Eternally…God is love.
Let God love you.
In God, Deborah