Chapter
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Verse
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

1 Corinthians 13:2

ESV And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
NIV If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
NASB If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
CSB If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
NLT If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
KJV And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

What does 1 Corinthians 13:2 mean?

Paul is demonstrating just how worthless the spiritual gifts are when attempted without love for other believers. The Corinthians valued these gifts highly, apparently elevating those among them with the gifts of tongues and prophecy as the most spiritual. Paul has declared that this is not true. All the gifts are needed in the church.

Now, though, he is showing something else. The gifts are meaningless when practiced without love. Even more, the loveless person displaying the gift is "nothing." By this, Paul means the person is accomplishing nothing within the body of Christ. The gift is being wasted on him or her in that moment.

Paul says this is true even of the gift of prophecy or prophetic powers, which he described as one of the higher gifts in the previous chapter (1 Corinthians 12:28, 31). He puts that gift together with the gift of knowledge and the gift of faith, using hyperbole to describe a level of giftedness no Christian has ever had. Paul is not necessarily saying such a thing can happen—only that even if it could, it would not change the primacy of godly, self-sacrificing love.

Imagine a person, Paul writes, with the gift of prophecy and a full understanding of all the mysteries of God and an iron-clad faith that allowed him or her to move actual mountains. Jesus told his disciples they could move mountains with the amount of faith that would fit in a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Even this imaginary person Paul describes, without love, is nothing. All those gifts become worthless when exercised without concern, compassion, and empathy for other believers.
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