The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:13 Explained

1 Corinthians 13:13

KJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

YLT: and now there doth remain faith, hope, love -- these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Darby: And now abide faith, hope, love; these three things; and the greater of these is love.

ASV: But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

What does 1 Corinthians 13:13 Mean?

Study Notes

charity
i.e. love; and so in 1 Corinthians 13:2 ; 1 Corinthians 13:3 ; 1 Corinthians 13:4 ; 1 Corinthians 13:8 ; 1 Corinthians 13:13 .

Verse Meaning

The point of this beautiful classic exposition of love is this. We should value and give attention to the cultivation and practice of love even more than to that of the spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:31). The gifts, as important as they are, are only partial and temporary. As love is the greatest of the virtues that will endure forever, so the gift of tongues is the least of the gifts. It will last only a short time.

Context Summary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 - The One Essential For All
With what wonder his amanuensis must have looked up, as the Apostle broke into this exquisite sonnet on love! His radiant spirit had caught a glimpse of the living Savior. Jesus sits for His portrait in these glowing sentences, and of Him every clause is true. Substitute His name for love throughout the chapter, and say whether it is not an exact likeness. With Paul love stands for that strong, sustained, and holy subordination of self for others, which begins in will and act and is afterward suffused by emotion, as a cloud lying in the pathway of the rising sun. But if you want the divine love, you must get it after the manner of the bay which opens its bosom to the incoming tide. God is love, and if you would love, you must abide in Him and He in you. Love is better than miracles, gifts, or philanthropy, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Love is the parent of all that is most delightful in the moral sphere, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is the best of all, because it is eternal. All else will perish. Our highest attainments will be as the babblings and playthings of childhood. But when we are in touch with the reality of things, love will be all in all. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 13

1  All gifts,
3  however excellent, are of no worth without love
4  The praises thereof,
13  as love is greatest before hope and faith

Greek Commentary for 1 Corinthians 13:13

Abideth [μενει]
Singular, agreeing in number with πιστις — pistis (faith), first in list. [source]
The greatest of these [μειζων τουτων]
Predicative adjective and so no article. The form of μειζων — meizōn is comparative, but it is used as superlative, for the superlative form μεγιστος — megistos had become rare in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 667ff.). See this idiom in Matthew 11:11; Matthew 18:1; Matthew 23:11. The other gifts pass away, but these abide forever. Love is necessary for both faith and hope. Does not love keep on growing? It is quite worth while to call attention to Henry Drummond‘s famous sermon The Greatest Thing in the World and to Dr. J.D. Jones‘s able book The Greatest of These. Greatest, Dr. Jones holds, because love is an attribute of God. [source]
And now [νυνὶ δὲ]
Rev., but; better than and, bringing out the contrast with the transient gifts. Now is logical and not temporal. Thus, as it is. [source]
Abideth []
Not merely in this life. The essential permanence of the three graces is asserted. In their nature they are eternal. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Corinthians 13:13

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after love [διωκετε την αγαπην]
As if a veritable chase. Paul comes back to the idea in 1 Corinthians 12:31 (same use of ζηλουτε — zēloute) and proves the superiority of prophecy to the other spiritual gifts not counting faith, hope, love of 1 Corinthians 13:13. [source]
Galatians 5:22 Love [αγαπη]
Late, almost Biblical word. First as in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, which see for discussion as superior to πιλια — philia and ερως — erōs Joy (χαρα — chara). Old word. See note on 1 Thessalonians 1:6. Peace See note on 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Long-suffering (makrothumia). See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Kindness See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Goodness (μακροτυμια — agathōsunē). See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Faithfulness Same word as “faith.” See Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 13:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13. Meekness (prautēs). See 1 Corinthians 4:21; note on 2 Corinthians 10:1.Temperance See Acts 24:25. Old word from egkratēs one holding control or holding in. In N.T. only in these passages and 2 Peter 1:6. Paul has a better list than the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics (temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice), though they are included with better notes struck. Temperance is alike, but kindness is better than justice, long-suffering than fortitude, love than prudence. [source]
Galatians 5:22 Peace [eirēnē)]
See note on 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Long-suffering (makrothumia). See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Kindness See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Goodness (μακροτυμια — agathōsunē). See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Faithfulness Same word as “faith.” See Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 13:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13. Meekness (prautēs). See 1 Corinthians 4:21; note on 2 Corinthians 10:1.Temperance See Acts 24:25. Old word from egkratēs one holding control or holding in. In N.T. only in these passages and 2 Peter 1:6. Paul has a better list than the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics (temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice), though they are included with better notes struck. Temperance is alike, but kindness is better than justice, long-suffering than fortitude, love than prudence. [source]
Galatians 5:22 Kindness [ειρηνη]
See 2 Corinthians 6:6. Goodness (μακροτυμια — agathōsunē). See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Faithfulness Same word as “faith.” See Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 13:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13. Meekness (prautēs). See 1 Corinthians 4:21; note on 2 Corinthians 10:1.Temperance See Acts 24:25. Old word from egkratēs one holding control or holding in. In N.T. only in these passages and 2 Peter 1:6. Paul has a better list than the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics (temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice), though they are included with better notes struck. Temperance is alike, but kindness is better than justice, long-suffering than fortitude, love than prudence. [source]
Galatians 5:22 Faithfulness [pistis)]
Same word as “faith.” See Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 13:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13. Meekness (prautēs). See 1 Corinthians 4:21; note on 2 Corinthians 10:1.Temperance See Acts 24:25. Old word from egkratēs one holding control or holding in. In N.T. only in these passages and 2 Peter 1:6. Paul has a better list than the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics (temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice), though they are included with better notes struck. Temperance is alike, but kindness is better than justice, long-suffering than fortitude, love than prudence. [source]
Colossians 1:5 For the hope [διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα]
The A.V. connects with we give thanks (Colossians 1:3). But the two are too far apart, and Paul's introductory thanksgiving is habitually grounded on the spiritual condition of his readers, not on something objective. See Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:15. Better connect with what immediately precedes, love which ye have, and render as Rev., because of the hope, etc. Faith works by love, and the ground of their love is found in the hope set before them. Compare Romans 8:24. The motive is subordinate, but legitimate. “The hope laid up in heaven is not the deepest reason or motive for faith and love, but both are made more vivid when it is strong. It is not the light at which their lamps are lit, but it is the odorous oil which feeds their flame” (Maclaren). Hope. See on 1 Peter 1:3. In the New Testament the word signifies both the sentiment of hope and the thing hoped for. Here the latter. Compare Titus 2:13; Galatians 5:5; Hebrews 6:18; also Romans 8:24, where both meanings appear. Lightfoot observes that the sense oscillates between the subjective feeling and the objective realization. The combination of faith, hope, and love is a favorite one with Paul. See 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:1-5; Romans 12:6-12. [source]
Colossians 1:5 Because of the hope [δια την ελπιδα]
See note on Romans 8:24. It is not clear whether this phrase is to be linked with ευχα ιστουμεν — eucha istoumen at the beginning of Colossians 1:3 or (more likely) with την αγαπην — tēn agapēn just before. Note also here πιστις — pistis (faith), αγαπη — agapē (love), ελπις — elpis (hope), though not grouped together so sharply as in 1 Corinthians 13:13. Here hope is objective, the goal ahead. [source]
1 Thessalonians 5:8 Putting on [ἐνδυσάμενοι]
The son of day clothes himself for the day's work or battle. The same association of ideas as in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, is found in Romans 13:12-14; Revelation 16:15; 1 Peter 1:13. Comp. lxx, Ephesians href="/desk/?q=eph+6:14&sr=1">Ephesians 6:14. The figures are not original with Paul. See Isaiah 59:17; Wisd. 5:18,19. Notice that only defensive armor is mentioned, in accordance with the darkness and uncertainty of the last time; and that the fundamental elements of Christian character, faith, hope, and love, are brought forward again as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 13:13. For the figure of the armed soldier, comp. also Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4. [source]
2 Peter 1:7 Love [την αγαπην]
By deliberate choice (Matthew 5:44). Love for Christ as the crown of all (1 Peter 1:8) and so for all men. Love is the climax as Paul has it (1 Corinthians 13:13). [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 13:13 mean?

Now however abide faith hope love the things three these [the] greatest of these [is] -
Νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις ἐλπίς ἀγάπη τὰ τρία ταῦτα μείζων τούτων

Νυνὶ  Now 
Parse: Adverb
Root: νυνί  
Sense: now, at this very moment.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
μένει  abide 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: μένω  
Sense: to remain, abide.
πίστις  faith 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: πίστις  
Sense: conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it.
ἐλπίς  hope 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐλπίς  
Sense: expectation of evil, fear.
ἀγάπη  love 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀγάπη  
Sense: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.
τὰ  the  things 
Parse: Article, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
τρία  three 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: τρεῖς 
Sense: three.
ταῦτα  these 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
μείζων  [the]  greatest 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular, Comparative
Root: μέγας  
Sense: great.
τούτων  of  these  [is] 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Genitive Neuter Plural
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.