Love as an Action Verb, Not a Feeling Noun

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, RSV)

“Like faith, love is a word people fill with all kinds of significance. For many, love is an emotion rather than an action. For Paul, however, love is a verb, an action. This becomes especially clear in the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 13. Where the English translations have a series of adjectives ascribed to love (‘love is patient, love is kind,’, etc.), the Greek text  that Paul actually wrote has a string of verbs associated with love. The closest we can get in English is to translate them as ‘love acts patiently, love does kindness,’ etc.

Like faith, then, for Paul love is an action-word, a covenantal term that describes the fundamental relationship that should exist among God’s people and from God’s people toward others. If faith is the essential ‘vertical’ relationship in the covenant, love is its corollary ‘horizontal’ relationship. Faith expresses itself in love (Gal. 5:6).” (Michael J. Gorman, Reading Paul, p 156)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)


7 thoughts on “Love as an Action Verb, Not a Feeling Noun

    1. Nicholas

      I’ve never been introduced to any teaching that God tells us to hate our mothers and fathers. He does say that if we do not love God more than relatives then we are not worthy of him, but the commandment says that one “shall honor father and mother”. Nowhere does it say we should hate our parents.

      1. Fr. Ted

        In Luke 14:26, Jesus says: “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

  1. Pingback: The Blessed, the Cursed and the Stranger – Fr. Ted's Blog

    1. Nicholas

      also the comment above, when I first read it, I thought they were saying God is just not love. God the syntax wrong. I see now it says “not JUST love”. My mistake.

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