All we have written before, now it is time to dig into 1 Corinthians 13:8-13; but before we begin, we MUST determine context. 1 Corinthians 13 is not on an island all by itself!! There is a continuous discussion by the Holy Spirit which the apostle Paul is being inspired to instruct those who misunderstood the role of the miraculous in the early Church. When the use of miracles is mentioned in the New Testament, most people think it is telling THEM something they are promised or with which they can become involved. All one has to do is look at the circumstance at hand. The Holy Spirit HAD to communicate a message to a young and doctrinally weak people that for the most part has JUST HEARD OF CHRIST!! He had to do this while at the same time many of them were called on to die for what they believed. Background and circumstances always play a great part in what people believe even if they have been correctly instructed!! Among the Gentile peoples of that day any one who had ANY ability to speak publicly was considered among the very elite. Speakers held GREAT sway and influence and therefore were not only in great demand but were treated as those who were extremely educated and gifted by the gods. In this situation the Church of Christ at Corinth began. When the apostle Paul hit town in Acts 18, having left Athens, Paul found Aquila and Priscilla, because Claudius, the Caesar, had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome (a much loved people then and even now). There were no other Christians. (It is my impression that Aquila had had his tongue tied by the persecutions at Rome, like some he probably thought no one wanted to hear of Jesus Christ anyway, so why get into trouble, again!!.) Silas and Timothy arrived in a few days from Macedonia. Corinth is very important to us Gentiles, for it was here that Paul began to fill the mission for which Christ had made him an apostle. The Jews, to whom Paul would immediately go, had no interest in Christ, indignant, Paul “shook his raiment, and said unto them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from here on I will go unto the Gentiles”. Acts 18:6 Corinth was a metropolis with every tongue, nation, people, and religion, there. It was in Corinth, that the apostle Paul had to change tactics, for the first time in his ministry, he had to begin to speak in other languages!! Before, all to whom Paul preached were Jews as was he and did not need to speak in other languages. It had been prophesied by Isaiah that “with stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people”. Isaiah 28:11 So, in Corinth, everything was new; new approach, new people, new audience, and a new direction to which the gospel was to be preached, but the same Jerusalem gospel!! There was NO NEED for tongue speaking when the gospel was to be preached ONLY to the Jew, the all spoke the Aramaic language, it was only when Paul turned to the Gentile nations that another tongue became important, FOR INSTRUCTION! Paul would be the ONLY apostle who would ever be seen in the New Testament dealing with tongues, for he was the apostle to the Gentiles.
In the 12th chapter, the discussion involves the fact that there WERE such things as spiritual gifts of a miraculous nature. The reason for their existence has been discussed. When preachers of the gospel, often called Angels, preached the Word, they spoke in tongues the audience spoke. Remember, the only reason for preaching the Gospel was to save souls!! When a brother preached to be heard or noticed or to add injury to another’s injury their preaching would do them harm, not good: SO, when the Holy Spirit was instructing the brethren about tongues (chapter 12), He had to first bring them into line about the message being important, not the messenger!!