1 Corinthians Chapter 13: The Greatest of These Is Love
Key verses: (1 Corinthians 13:1–13)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 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 away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is such a beautiful passage and perhaps the most elegant and inspiring words that Paul ever penned. Our Easter celebration of the resurrection of Christ reminds us of His sacrificial love for humankind by taking the sins of the world onto Himself so that humans might be redeemed from their sins, receive a new and holy nature and inherit eternal life.
After speaking in chapter 12 of the spiritual gifts granted to humans, in this chapter Paul emphasizes that no matter how gifted we are, if our spiritual gifts are not coupled with love, they will lack any enduring affect.
A Moment to Reflect
As you read through the verses of chapter 13, you will note references to what love is and what love is not. Think back on the multitude of human relationships you have had over your lifetime, and ask yourself when your behaviors and attitudes demonstrated what Paul proclaims “love is not” versus what “love is.” For example, in verse 4, love does not envy, does not boast and is not proud. In verse 5, love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. In verse 6, love does not delight in evil. We have all fallen short of loving as Christ loves us, but on this very special holy day, may we all recognize that we must constantly strive to extend Christ’s love to others.