"Faith, Hope, and Love" - Why Is Love the Greatest in 1 Corinthians 13?

Love is the greatest because God showed us, through His Son Jesus Christ, how great His love is for us. Therefore, through that expression from God, we know that love is the greatest. Love is everlasting and never-ending.

Contributing Writer
Updated May 29, 2024
"Faith, Hope, and Love" - Why Is Love the Greatest in 1 Corinthians 13?

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

The word “love” has been used in many forms and meanings all throughout human history. Love can have a positive meaning or negative. The way people express love varies between culture and circumstances. Love can be expressed as being kind to one person or cruel to another. I think it is important to understand what God is trying to teach us about love and how it is defined in His Word, even if we cannot fully comprehend His love for us.

Faith, Hope, and Love in the Bible

Let's look at Bible verses that describe the meaning of faith, hope, and love:

Faith - "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Hope - "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (Romans 15:13)

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8:24-25)

Love - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

"Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

What is Love according to Scripture?

So, what is love? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, it says:

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

It says in God's Word that “God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). But it also says that if you do not love, then you do not know God. God created us out of His love, and that love is from God alone. His love is incomprehensible to the human mind, but we do know this:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Love Is the Greatest Commandment

When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: ‘Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands" (Matthew 22:34-40).

How can you love with all your heart, soul, and mind?

It is not easy to express love all the time. We get tired, frustrated, angry, and many other emotions and expressions. Our sin and our flesh try to rule over our spirit. Our spirit, which is the Holy Spirit within us, begins to transform our lives when we receive salvation. Salvation itself isn't easy either. We have to go through sanctification. Sanctification is to be set apart or consecrated according to Strong Hebrew’s Concordance. There are many verses in the Bible that help us understand how God sanctifies us. But one of my favorites is Galatians 2:20,

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

How does the process of sanctification help us in understanding why love is the greatest? Let’s take a look at verses on sanctification:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

“To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

Love Never Ends

In the process of sanctification, the Holy Spirit will produce these fruits: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22). God gave us these fruits to produce because He loves us. Jesus was the best example of a human who produced these things. But also, Jesus showed us, in the flesh, what love is.

Jesus showed us patience, kindness, righteousness, truth, endurance, and much more described in 1 Corinthians 13.   Love is the greatest because God showed us, through His Son Jesus Christ, how great His love is for us. Therefore, through that expression from God, we know that love is the greatest. Love is everlasting and never-ending.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised —who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).

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Rebecca Mashburn (Gordon) has a wonderful husband named Joseph. She has a blog, Trust. Lean, Seek and is working on becoming what God is calling her to. She has a bachelor's in psychology and hopes to one day pursue a degree in biblical counseling. Rebecca loves to be in nature, especially in springtime, and she loves to travel. She has a loving family and hopes one day to have children of her own.


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