First Corinthians 13--Love rejoices not in injustice, but in truth
Jul 27, 2017
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness” (NASB). The KJV renders it, “rejoiceth not in iniquity.” Paul uses the word adikia, which means “injustice.” It is a legal term that refers to the act of violating the law in one’s dealings with others.
Obviously, this does not refer to being happy when your own rights are violated or when others treat you unjustly. We are to understand this to be referring to the violation of the rights of other people. In other words, one who has agape love is neither indifferent nor happy when injustice is done to others.
Most people are unhappy when injustice is done to family and friends, but it is common for people to care little for those they do not know—and those they do not like. Believers, however, are given a standard of agape by which they can measure how well they live according to the character of God in Christ.
Rejoicing in Truth
If we should not rejoice when injustice is done, then what should make us rejoice? Paul says, “but rejoices with the truth,” thereby making a contrast between injustice and truth. This shows that Paul, who knew the law, was thinking of a trial in a courtroom, where a righteous judge was supposed to search for truth and discern false testimony. Much injustice has been done by the testimony of false witnesses.
Paul had already stated earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that “the saints will judge the world.” If that is the case, they must learn to judge with the mind of Christ, which reflects true love. True love does not rejoice in injustice. Hence, believers are not to be unjust judges. Instead, they are to rejoice in the truth. They are not satisfied until the whole truth is uncovered and all falsehood exposed. Only when truth is fully discerned can anyone make a proper judgment according to the mind of Christ.
The link between truth and justice is brought out in Psalm 111:7, 8,
7 The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are sure [aman, “faithful, steadfast]. 8 They are upheld forever and ever; they are performed in truth and uprightness.
In other words, God’s “precepts” are unchanging principles of truth and justice, and God Himself does all things by those steadfast principles. His pursuit of truth is relentless, because God does not “rejoice” (He is not satisfied) until truth is established everywhere. The God of love judges the world with righteousness according to His own nature, and so “the works of His hands are truth and justice,” which are derivatives of love. In other words, His loving hands are extended in the cause of truth and justice.
The Law Regarding False Witnesses
God’s interest in truth and justice caused Him to establish laws against false testimony in the Ninth Commandment in Deuteronomy 5:20,
20 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The law in Deuteronomy 19:16-19 says,
16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. 18 And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.
The injustice caused by false witnesses is to be judged according to the seriousness of the lie. If a false witness accuses a man of a capital crime, then the law condemns the false witness to death (unless his victim forgives him, of course, which is his right). If a false witness accuses a man of stealing $100, intending to make him pay $200 restitution, then the false witness owes his victim $200.
This is justice, which is an extension of divine love, not only for the victim, but also for the false witness, for the judgment teaches him righteousness and truth by hard experience.
God has set up earthly judges to reflect His own principles of love, balancing justice and mercy.by spiritual discernment. Whether we are formal judges or ordinary citizens of the Kingdom, we are all called every day to judge (discern) right from wrong and truth from falsehood. We should never be satisfied until we know the whole truth, so that we see the world as God sees it. The place to begin is within ourselves, for it is only when we are honest with ourselves that we can be honest with others. Only then can we rejoice in the truth.
This is part 81 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones