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Bible Studies/St Paul's Letter on Love


QUESTION: Hello Thurman,

I am putting up a Youtube video on St Paul' letter on love.
There are different versions of it, so I did my best to come up with a blend, of sorts.
I am especially unsure of whether we see reflections in a mirror, or see in a mirror dimly (so I used both).

Would it be possible for you to cast your eye over the text to see if I've made any big errors?  The text is below.


Best regards,

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not arrogant.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love bears all,
hopes all,
endures all.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies,
they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge, it will pass.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see reflections in a mirror, dimly;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

ANSWER: Dear Usuff,

Thank you for your question about 1 Cor. 13. I've always enjoyed meditating on this text. It helps me to weigh my thoughts, words, and actions by the Bible standards.

The mirrors in Paul's day were made of brass, polished to a shine. They did not always give a true image of the one who looked in them. Often, the person would go away with an imperfect "self-image," that might color his attitude of himself and others.

This text can be interpreted in a number of ways, as you've mentioned. Here are two:

Now we see but a poor reflection;...
Now we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror;...

Paul is trying to help us to understand the present with the eternal. He wanted his readers to realize the the future cannot be compared with the present.

I, one time, used this line to describe the efforts of astronomers to comprehend the starry heavens. (This, of course, is not what Paul was talking about, but it seemed a good illustration.)

Your intent is good. I wish you God's blessing on your project.

Thurman Petty

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks, Thurman. That helps my understanding better.

I don't understand the part about "though I speak in the tongues of men or angels".   Does this refer to the ability of going into an altered state and channeling voices of external entities?

Also, St Paul was one of Christ's disciple?  The one who kept the religion alive and spread it to the West after the cruxifiction, when Christianity was at it's lowest ebb?  He kept the flame alive? So I gather he was the one who "got" the message of Christ, if not him, then who else?  (This is my understanding from a documentary I saw about him recently.)


Dear Usuff,
If you’ll read 1 Cor. 12, you’ll understand why Paul spoke about speaking in the tongues of men or angels. The Corinthian believers had gotten mixed up on the Holy Spirit’s gift of tongues. Paul goes on in chapter 14 talking about the gift of tongues vs. the gift of prophecy. I suggest that you go to my web site (, click on Bible Questions Answered, click on Questions about Bible Teachings, and then Questions about Spiritual Gifts. There are three articles that will be of help to you.

So, in 1 Cor. 13, Paul says that it doesn’t matter if you have the gift of tongues, or any other gift for that matter, if you don’t have love. Love is the greatest gift, and all gifts are unimportant if there is no love. (If you have the King James Version of the Bible, the word “charity” appears. It is translated from the Greek word for love.)

It’s not a good thing to base our Bible teachings on movies. The director and producer have their own concept of how things happened, and they are not always correct—usually they are wrong—and they produce the film for the purpose of what they SUPPOSE would make a good story. Often these people are not even spiritual people.

To answer your question: Saul was not one of the 12 disciples, though he’s called an apostle—because Jesus called him to work for him. Actually his name was Saul of Tarsus. He didn’t become a Christian until 4 or 5 years after Jesus was crucified. In fact, he persecuted the church and tried to destroy it.

He got permission from the High Priest to go to Damascus and arrest anyone who was a follower of Christ that he found there. On the way, he was confronted by a brilliant light and fell on the road. Jesus called to him out of the light and told him to go into the city and there He would be told what to do.

I suggest that you read the story for yourself in Acts 8:1-3 and chapter 9:1-30. Only later did he go by his Roman name, Paul.

Paul became a great apostle and evangelist and preached the gospel throughout Asia Minor (now Turkey) and into Greece and later Rome. He died in Rome by beheading at the order of Emperor Nero.

Acts 13 onward tells the story of Paul and his life work. By the way, Luke wrote the book of Luke and the book of Acts. He’s the only Gentile who is an author of 2 books of the Bible.
If you have other questions, you may use Allexperts, or if it’s convenient, write me at my email address

God bless you as you continue to study the Bible.

Thurman Petty

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Thurman C. Petty, Jr.


I`ve been a Pastor and Bible teacher for 40 years.


I`m a writer--author of 18 Bible-based books and over 200 journal articles. Web site: where a lot of my books and writings are posted. I've been married to the same lovely lady for 55 years. We're more in love now than when we married. My wife and I were missionaries to Pitcairn Island, in the South Pacific, from 1982-1984.

I've been a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since the age of 9.

Books: Pacific Press Publishing Association; PettyPress. Number of titles published: 16. Journal Articles: Adventist Review; Signs of the Times; Guide Magazine; Ministry: A Journal for Clergy; Sabbath School Leadership; The Youth's Instructor; Student Movement; Cord, and others. Total Journal articles: over 200. Web Site: Contents: 18 of my books; 41 Bible study guides; over 30 sermons; Stories; poems; links to other sites, etc. E-mail address:

I have a BA and a Master`s degree--both degrees are in Biblical studies.

Awards and Honors
I was awarded the "Golden Cord" from my Alma Mater, Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, for my foreign mission service.

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