The Greatest of these is Love

Could there be any more beautifully expressed words then Paul’s exposition on love in 1 Corinthians 13? Join Brian and Tim and as they talk about the Greek words for love to get a better understanding of how to love like Christ. They then go on to explore each phrase and consider what it means for us in our life of discipleship.

Key Verse:

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


1 Corinthians 13 Version Comparison Spreadsheet

1 Corinthians 13 Comparison with Exodus 34

1 Corinthians 13 Comparison with Galatians 5

Show Notes:

Definitions of the Greek words for love

  • Agape (Strong G25, G25 and G27) – to love (in a social or moral sense)
  • Phileo (Strongs G5368) to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while agape is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head)
    • Root G5384 philos – properly dear, ie. a friend
    • Used as a root of several other words. G5386 philosophos – philosopher, fond of wise things

Quotes about love

  • Agape is “the love that flows from a person’s association with God’s purpose in Christ, a principled love that is not free from passion, but is not driven by passion.” – Michael Ashton, The Christadelphian Magazine, 2002.
  • “the Greek agape takes on a special meaning: it is used to designate a volitional (or relating to one’s will) love as opposed to the purely emotional kind. It is a self-sacrificial love, a kind naturally expressed by God.” – Stephen Whitehouse, The Christadelphian Magazine, 2009.

Special verses that define agape love as self sacrificing (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16).

The beautiful definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13

  • Appreciating the context and comparing different versions.
  • Similarities between 1 Cor. 13 and the character of God in Ex. 34:6-7 and the fruits of the spirit in Gal. 5:22-23.

Breaking down 1 Corinthians 13

  • “Love is patient and kind” compare Eph. 4:1-3. “Kindness is love communicating” Dennis Gillet, Genius of Discipleship
  • “love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”. KJV “not puffed up”. This was a problem with the Corinthians (4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 8:1)
  • “love is not rude”
  • “It does not insist on its own way”, not self-centered
  • “it is not irritable”, that is, not easily provoked to anger.
  • “or resentful” literally mean to not keep a record of wrongs. Doesn’t hold grudges.
  • “it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
  • Two ways of interpreting this – love does not gloat over the wickedness of others (Ezek. 33:11) and love does not overlook error but speaks the truth (2 Tim. 2:17; Eph. 4:15)
  • “Love bears all things”. Literally means to cover over like a roof. Compare Prov. 10:12; 17:9
  • “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Love includes faith (belief) and hope

In the Kingdom there will be no need for faith (Heb. 11:1) or hope (Rom. 8:24) but love will endure.

J.B. Phillips translation of 1 Cor. 13:7-8 “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”

The Greatest Commandment

Jesus said the greatest commandment of all was “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” and that there was a second like it “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This was so important that he said, “on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

Tim and Aaron explore the importance of love as an essential of essential Bible studies. They go back to the Old Testament reference that Jesus draws upon as well as the context. Discover what love is really all about and how to know and show forth the love of God in your life.

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