1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
These are faith, hope, love.
I. THEIR EXCELLENCE.
1. Faith. Unites us to Christ; secures our forgiveness, justification, sanctification, final and complete redemption. It is the great power in our present life: "The just shall live by faith."
2. Hope. Brightens the present by brightening the future. In distress we have hope of deliverance; in sickness, of restoration or translation to the painless life; in sin, of holiness; in sorrow, of joy; in the world, of heaven. Without hope, how could we live? And the Christian's hope is the brightest and most joy bringing conceivable.
3. Love. What a wilderness the world would be without love! Society would disintegrate; families would be wrecked; nations would fall. Love is the salt which checks the tendencies toward corruption. And love in its highest relation - love to God - elevates and purifies us, and brings to us the purest delights of which this life is capable.
II. THEIR CONTINUANCE. "Now abideth." We may be devoutly thankful for this. Sometimes we are prone to regret that what we call the "extraordinary gifts" of the Church have ceased (ver. 8); but if instead of losing these we had lost the others, how infinitely impoverished we should have become! Faith, hope, love: these are sufficient for all our present needs. Miraculous gifts ceased because it was best for them to cease. They were suited to the infancy of the Church; but the necessity for them having passed away, they have disappeared. The spiritually miraculous gifts of faith, hope, and love abide evermore with the Church in this world.
III. THE CHIEF OF THE THREE. "The greatest of these is love."
1. Longer continuance. Hereafter faith will be lost in sight and the objects of present hope will be attained. Now "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). "Faith is the substance of [or 'assurance of'] things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1) "We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" (Romans 8:24). As the special gifts of prophecy, miracles, and tongues disappeared when they would no longer have proved of service, so hope and faith will cease when their appointed task is finished, and love alone will reign on through the everlasting ages. Confidence in God will not cease, of course, nor the looking forward to further delights and Divine blessings; but these do not answer to the faith and hope which are ours in this world of darkness. Faith and hope mean to us, now, effort, struggle, difficulty; these things will "pass away."
2. More useful to others. Faith saves us; hope cheers us; love sends us out after our fellows. The former are chiefly self tending; the latter is expansive. Still faith is the root of love, and our hope makes us more helpful, but love, pre-eminently and most directly, is concerned in the welfare of those around us.
3. Makes us like God. God is not faith; God is not hope: "God is love." As true love grows in us, God grows in us. When true love is impressed upon us, the Divine image is re-impressed (Genesis 1:26). - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.