And Now These Three Remain: Faith, Hope And Love. But The Greatest Of These Is Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “God Is Love.” 1 John 4:16


Several years ago while reading 1 Corinthians 13:13 shown above, the question came to my mind that if we are saved by God’s grace through faith as Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8, why isn’t faith the greatest? Why is love the greatest?

It finally came to my mind months later that love is the fulfillment of faith. Greater knowledge of our faith is not the fulfillment of faith. Love is the fulfillment of faith. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that by speaking the truth, which is our faith, in love, we mature “attaining to the whole measure of fullness of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:11-15 

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. [Emphasis added.]

Through love, we mature. 

How do we love? If we have true faith in Christ, He lives in us and loves through us as Paul writes:

Galatians 2:20 

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When Christ lives in us through faith, love lives in us because: 

1 John 4:8, 16  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. …

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

When God lives in us, Love lives in us and Love works through us. 

Is everything we say once we come to faith in God said in love? We need to check our words against the advice Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13. Do our words measure up to the standard Paul gives us for words spoken lovingly?

1 Corinthians 13 

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. 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. 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.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.[Emphasis added.]

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. 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. [Emphasis added.]“

All these descriptions Paul gives of love are descriptions of God the Father, of Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit. When our words do not measure up to this standard Paul sets for us, we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us as God wishes to speak.

Through Christ in us, we can speak as a loving Father as Paul did or we can quench the Holy Spirit within us and not be loving.

1 Thessalonians 2:

7-8, 11, 5:19 

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. … 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. … 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit. [Emphasis added.]

Speak in love. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you.  The Trinity’s love in us is the fulfillment of our faith. What a thrill to know God our Father; Jesus, His Son and our savior; and the Holy Spirit want to, can and do live in those of us who believe in Jesus. 

Thank you, Father, for your love for us, in Jesus’ courageous name. Amen.

All quotations above are from the NIV®.

Photo of Glacier Nat’l Park courtesy of Dan Bennett.