1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I. THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THESE THREE.
1. It is implied by the apostle that they are all great. He speaks of "the greatest." Faith is a great thing. It implies reason, truth, and the investigation of evidence; it is a great thing in business, in science, in society, as well as religion; it is a power that removes mountains. See a record of its brilliant achievements in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Hope is a great thing too. It implies the recognition of good, a desire for good, and an expectation of good; it bears as an angel into the brightness of the future; it makes the greatest trials of the present bearable by bringing into the spirit the blessedness of the future.
2. It is implied by the apostle that they are all permanent. There "abideth."
II. THE SUPERIORITY OF ONE OF THE THREE. The greatest of these three is charity. Why is it the greatest?
1. It is a virtue in itself. There is no moral virtue in faith or hope. They are under certain conditions necessary states of mind; but love, disinterested, godly love, is in itself a virtue. It is in truth the substratum of all virtuous states.
2. It is that quality which alone gives virtue to all other states of mind. Where this love is not, faith and hope are morally worthless. They are trees without one leaf of virtue on their branches.
3. It is that state of mind by which the soul subordinates the universe to itself. The loving soul can alone interpret the universe. The loving soul alone appropriates the universe. "All things work together for good to them that love God," etc.
4. It is that state of mind which links the spirit to all holy intelligences. Love is the attractive power that binds the holy universe together. Faith and hope are not so.
5. It is that state of mind which includes the highest faith and hope. Love implies the both.
6. It is that state of mind which is in itself happiness. Love is happiness. We cannot say so either of faith or hope.
7. Love is the most Godlike state of the soul.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.