13:1 If not accompanied by love, the ability to speak human or angelic tongues would be unbearable to others, like misused musical instruments.
13:2 Paul did have the gift of prophecy, he had great faith to the point of doing miracles, and as an apostle he was “manager” of God’s mysteries (4:1). His point here is that he could have these gifts to perfection and it would be pointless without love.
13:3 Sacrifice of one’s life (give over my body) can be the ultimate act of love (Jn 15:13; Rm 5:6-8), but it is also possible to make such sacrifice in order to boast rather than out of love. In this case, nothing is gained.
13:4-5 Paul personifies love in order to show its daily character and choices. Love is not self-centered but other-focused.
13:5-6a The Corinthians would have recognized these faults as taking place among them.
13:6b Contrary to common perception, love is not marked by tolerance for error.
13:7 Love endures in this age with a sure expectation of better things to come in the next.
13:8-13 Many aspects of church life will end at the end of this current age, but love never ends. This permanence signals love’s priority within the church.
13:10 The perfect refers to the next age, the eternal age when Messiah reigns.
13:11 Paul uses the analogy of infancy versus adulthood to explain the contrast between our present understanding and the understanding we will have in the next age.
13:12 Believers are granted to know truth in this age but only a reflection as in a mirror. Our imprecise perception of Christ will be made complete in eternity, where we will know him face to face.
13:13 Of faith, hope, and love, love is the greatest because it continues into the next age. Both faith and hope will be fulfilled in eternity, and so will not remain. This statement concludes a semantic bracket that began in v. 8—“Love never ends.”