What does 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 really mean?

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 [Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Setting the Scene for 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

In the bustling city of Corinth, a group of believers has gathered in a humble meeting place for a Bible study session. The room is dimly lit by flickering oil lamps, casting a warm glow on the faces of those present. The air is filled with the scent of incense, creating a sense of peace and reverence.

Among the group are Lydia, a wealthy merchant known for her generosity, and Aquila and Priscilla, a devoted couple who are skilled tentmakers. They have all come together to study a letter they received from the apostle Paul, which is now known as the book of 1 Corinthians. As they sit in a circle on cushions spread across the floor, their faces are filled with anticipation and eagerness to learn from the teachings of the apostle.

As they delve into the words of 1 Corinthians 13, the room is filled with a sense of unity and love. The verses speak of the importance of love, patience, and kindness in their interactions with one another. Lydia, Aquila, and Priscilla listen intently, their hearts stirred by the profound message of love that Paul has shared with them. In this moment, surrounded by their fellow believers, they are reminded of the true essence of their faith – to love one another as Christ has loved them.

What is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 about?

This verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 beautifully describes the attributes of love according to the Christian faith. It serves as a powerful reminder of how love should be expressed in our relationships with others. Imagine a love that is patient and kind, never seeking its own benefit or holding grudges. Can you picture a love that is not envious or boastful, but rather humble and considerate of others? This verse challenges us to reflect on the way we show love to those around us.

When we strive to embody the qualities of love outlined in this verse, we are fostering healthy and fulfilling relationships. We demonstrate empathy and understanding towards others by being patient and kind. Avoiding envy, boasting, and pride allows us to focus on building genuine connections based on respect and compassion. Letting go of anger and forgiveness enables us to cultivate forgiveness and understanding in our interactions. This verse ultimately encourages us to nurture love in its purest form, promoting harmony and unity in our relationships.

Understanding what 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 really means

Structure for Commentary:
1. Introduction to the Passage
2. Detailed Analysis of Key Phrases
3. Related Biblical References
4. Relevance to Modern Life
5. Anecdote for Personal Connection
6. Apostle Paul outlines the essence of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, emphasizing its paramount importance in the life of a believer. This passage serves as a cornerstone for understanding Christian love, often referred to as “agape” love, which is unconditional and sacrificial. It’s essential to grasp the depth of these verses to fully appreciate the transformative power of love in our lives.

Detailed Analysis of Key Phrases:

Paul begins by stating that love “is patient” and “kind,” highlighting the foundational qualities of enduring and compassionate love. Patience here implies a willingness to endure hardships and annoyances without frustration. Kindness encompasses acts of goodwill and empathy. The passage then contrasts love with negative behaviors by stating that love “does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Envy and pride are barriers to genuine relationships, as they foster division and self-centeredness.

Further, Paul explains that love “does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” This speaks to the selfless and forgiving nature of true love. Love respects and uplifts by not dishonoring others. Love prioritizes the well-being of others by avoiding self-seeking behaviors. The emphasis on forgiveness is crucial; love does not hold grudges but seeks reconciliation.

The passage continues by asserting that love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” This delineates love’s moral compass, aligning with righteousness and integrity. Finally, Paul concludes with love’s resilience and perseverance, stating that love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” These attributes underscore love’s enduring and steadfast nature, providing a foundation for lasting relationships.

Related Biblical References:

This passage is complemented by other scriptures, such as John 15:12, where Jesus commands, “Love each other as I have loved you.” This verse echoes the sacrificial and selfless nature of love Paul describes. Additionally, Romans 12:9-10 encourages believers to “love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves,” reinforcing the themes of genuine, honorable, and selfless love. Paul’s description of love is more relevant than ever in today’s fast-paced and often self-centered world. Relationships frequently suffer due to impatience, envy, and unforgiveness. We can transform our interactions and communities by embodying the qualities of love outlined in this passage. Imagine a workplace where colleagues are patient and kind, or a family where forgiveness prevails over grudges. Such environments foster peace and mutual respect.

Anecdote for Personal Connection:

Let me share a story about a couple in our congregation who exemplify these principles. Early in their marriage, they faced significant challenges, including financial strain and health issues. Despite the stress, they chose to be patient and kind to each other, refusing to let envy or pride take root. Instead of keeping a record of wrongs, they forgave each other daily. Their love not only endured but grew stronger, serving as a testament to the power of the love Paul describes.

Call to Reflection and Application:

Reflect on your own life: Are there areas where impatience, envy, or unforgiveness have taken hold? How can you cultivate a love that is kind, selfless, and enduring? Start with small steps—practice patience in your daily interactions, offer kindness without expecting anything in return, and choose to forgive rather than hold onto past hurts. This kind of love not only transforms your relationships but also brings you closer to the essence of what it means to live as a follower of Christ as you do. We embody the very heart of the Gospel by approaching love with the depth and sincerity Paul describes, fostering a world that reflects God’s unending love for us.

How can we practice patient and kind love?

To practice patient and kind love, we can strive to be understanding and compassionate towards others. This means showing empathy and putting ourselves in their shoes, even when we may not agree with their actions or viewpoints. Being patient allows us to learn to wait without complaining or reacting impulsively, allowing space for growth and reconciliation in relationships.

Kind love involves actively seeking out ways to show kindness and goodwill towards others, even when it may be difficult or undeserved. This can be through small acts of generosity, words of encouragement, or simply being present and listening attentively to someone in need. We can cultivate a spirit of humility and selflessness by practicing patient and kind love, putting others’ needs and well-being above our own desires and expectations.


Think of love as your most important project, the one that needs your constant care and attention. Embody patience, kindness, humility, and perseverance like you would in your career and family life. Use these qualities to build stronger, more meaningful connections. Don’t just understand these virtues; let them be the framework for all your actions. Are you ready to take on this vital job of practicing love every day?