What is love?
The answer can be found in a letter written to the early Christian church by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 of the New Testament section of the Christian Bible.
1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most recognizable Biblical passage, after the scripture John 3:16.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.” (WEB, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
This scripture verse on unconditional love has been quoted in movies, books, and is a popular choice to be read at weddings.
But what makes this phase so mind-blowing is its transcendence from biblical meaning to non-Bible readers and the non-religious.
While it is written in reference to God’s love, and the love gift of the baby Jesus turned Savior to the world, it is equally applicable to human love and kindness for everyone.
1 Corinthians 13 is the glue to a married couple in love or a parent with a child that has become defiant. It can be understood by a child on how to treat a sibling or other people in the family.
Anyone can be ‘kind, patient, not rude’ to a strange person or an unruly pet. 1 Corinthians 13 helps to frame the action of love expressed by a person to the world and even helps to define the self-love of a person to themselves.
It really does answer the question, “What is love?” because it states what is loving.
What is a state of loving? It’s the stillness you find within yourself when you feel confident that you love someone or how to test whether or not they love you.
You can see if you even love yourself by evaluating whether or not you apply the rule of love to yourself. It is a quietness in your mind that helps you to feel at peace with yourself. It helps you to open yourself up to love everyone and act in a way that respects and holds those people close.
This passage teaches us to rid ourselves of our conditions. It teaches us to accept the love we have to offer and to offer it without hesitation or guidelines. We learn here what it is like to love unconditionally and freely.
This is a passage that doesn’t preach to specific types of people. It doesn’t preach to only Christians, only straight couples, or only gay couples. It doesn’t preach to only women, or only men, or only those who chose not to choose.
This passage doesn’t identify because love doesn’t identify. Real love, is real love.
Here is a breakdown of this love verse, and the biblical interpretation of the scripture meaning, according to the World English Bible.
“Love is love is love is love is love is love is love” —Lin Manuel Miranda
1. Love is patient.
Patience isn’t used to determine a measure of time. It is used to represent a tenderness in the act and state of loving. This line is meant to demonstrate the overwhelming calm we feel when we feel loved.
Especially when our love is reciprocated. This line is saying that love will slowly and gently soften your edges and ease you’re the stress of the never-ending waiting and enter a realm of peace to still all of your worrisome energy.
“Love and peace are not just words, they are a way of life. And in an honest living, love will always conquer.” —Ahmad Ardalan
2. Love is kind.
Kindness in reference to love I think relates to confidence. When you yourself are in a state of loving, you are unafraid of the consequence of your own emotion. You are generous in your ability to love others.
All of the defensiveness and self-protection are inaccessible because you can uncross your arms that have been protecting your chest and enter the world with arms akimbo, so sure of the love in your heart, you are certain that nothing can pierce it.
“Eventually, you will come to understand that love heals everything. Love is all there is.” —Gary Zukav
3. It does not envy.
This phrase I believe speaks of acceptance, contentment, and joy relating to your life, the path you have taken to get where you are, and the people in your life who you choose to love.
Envy represents want and desire geared towards the things you don’t have. But if you are in a state of loving, you have everything you need. There is not an ache of dissatisfaction in your chest.
“If you could only love enough, you could be the most powerful person in the world.” —Emmet Fox
4. It does not boast.
Boasting of your emotional conquest is all surface activity. It has no depth and it is for the benefit of the people around you. Likely trying to elicit envy. These are feelings that you do not need when surrounded by love, romantic or otherwise.
Relating to modern times, we all think that when someone is posting about their partner and their happy life too much on social media… something is wrong. The security of a grand love doesn’t need outside validation.
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.” — Paulo Coelho
5. It is not proud.
The definition of pride is: “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”
So, I think that when the verse says love is not proud it is because it isn’t something you achieve; it is something you become. To truly love or be loved you leave the care of the perception of other people behind you. It is just you and those you love surrounded by peace and calm and contentment.
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” —Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault In Our Stars
6. It does not dishonor others.
Love is, deeply and to the core of the word, an uncontrollable force of tender affection bringing respect and understanding to those in its wake. For dishonor to occur it would be rooted in a feeling opposing love.
It would be rooted in hate, or jealousy, on envy, or self-protection. To love is to honor. It would be impossible for them to occur in the same act.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”—Maya Angelou
7. It is not self-seeking.
To love someone or something wholly is not an act of ambition. We all long to love and be loved, but as much as we dream of it and picture it, we cannot manifest or manufacture it.
It is rarely convenient or well-timed. Loving someone isn’t for the betterment of you the one who loves, but it is for the betterment of the one who is loved.
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” —Catherine Earnshaw, Wuthering Heights
8. It is not easily angered.
Easily is the keyword here. Love is understanding. One of the greatest things that love brings to the world is empathy and understanding. This isn’t saying that those who are in love or a state of love will never be angry.
For this is obviously false. What it does mean is that anger is not a knee jerk reaction. It is to say that love provokes more empathy than rage. When we are loving we are quicker to understand then to reprimand.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
9. It keeps no record of wrongs.
Speaking to empathy again, when you love someone, you understand them. You recognize their mistakes as exactly what they are. Mistakes. You understand their origins, you forgive and finally forget.
To love someone isn’t a competition. Don’t compete with your loved ones to see who is the most loving. Don’t keep score. It is telling us that it is easier to love someone without the weight of past failures pressing on our hearts.
“Love is an endless act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is me giving up the right to hurt you for hurting me.”— Beyonce
10. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth.
This passage is inviting us to explore the idea that evil and wickedness are a concept to be overcome, while love is a constant truth.
It is telling us to dismiss feelings of darkness and hate and open our minds and our hearts to the one actuality that we are able to control which is our own ability to love, in any context.
“The funny thing about the heart is a soft heart is a strong heart, and a hard heart is a weak heart.” —Criss Jami, Healology
11. It always protects.
Love is a shield on the heart of those in the warmth of your affection. To love someone is to keep them from any emotional pain that you can control, and to ease the emotional pain that you can’t.
It is the concept of surrounding them with so much love that any pain they may feel, will be cushioned by the love that surrounds them. That you love them enough to lessen the pain they feel.
“Love is its own protection” —Emma Goldman
12. It always trusts.
Personifying love into an entity that can trust is expressing the state of peace we feel while in a loving place. It is not necessarily saying that we trust our partners and loved ones wholly, whether you do or don’t is irrelevant to this line.
It is saying that while in a state of loving we are able to trust that regardless of what is thrown at us, we will be okay because we have experienced love.
“The choice that frees or imprisons us is the choice of love or fear. Love liberates. Fear imprisons.” —Gary Zukav
13. Always hopes.
The hope referenced in this line is the optimism that you experience while being a loving person. An effort we put into our lives in hopes of a better tomorrow.
We see the wonder in things and that inspires us to make changes toward a more loving world. Whatever is going on in our lives, where there is love there is hope.
“In every living thing there is the desire for love.” —D. H. Lawrence
14. Always preserves.
No matter what you experience in your life, be it financial troubles, heartbreak, or any type of trauma you can lose a lot of things. But one thing that we never lose is our ability to love.
We may teach ourselves to love more warily, we may become pickier with who gets to experience our love, but love will always exist in our hearts. We will always be able to choose love.
“With the whole world crumbling, we pick this time to fall in love.”—Ilsa Lund, Casablanca