Bible Commentaries

1 Corinthians 13

Verses 1-13

The apostle dealt with love, its values (verses 1 Corinthians 13:1-3), its virtues (verses 1 Corinthians 13:4-7), and its victory (verses 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). The values of love are discovered in the fact that, apart from it, all the best things are worthless.

Its virtues are shown with force and beauty. Every sentence is simple and sublime, and the whole contains a perfect analysis of love.

Passing from this description of the virtues of love, the apostle now showed how it is supreme because of its victory. The first element is its duration -"Love never faileth." The thought in the word translated "faileth" is falling off, like the leaves of a flower. Love never loses its life principle. To emphasize the truth of his affirmation, the apostle now put love into comparison with excellent things, things indeed to be desired as gifts; and showed how, while they are transient, love is permanent. He added the final word in demonstration of the proof when he compared love no longer with the things that pass, but with the things that abide, and yet declared it to be the greatest-"Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

It is the greatest because it is the reason and strength of the others. If it were possible to lose it, faith would fail, and hope would die. It is the greatest, moreover, because it is the real heart of the spirit's union with God and the light of its understanding of Him.