What does 1 Corinthians 13:13 really mean?

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Setting the Scene for 1 Corinthians 13:13

The scene in 1 Corinthians 13:13 takes place in a small, dimly lit room in the city of Corinth. The room is filled with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. Among them are members of the early Christian community in Corinth, gathered together for a bible study session led by the apostle Paul.

The group is seated in a circle on simple wooden benches, their faces illuminated by the soft glow of oil lamps placed strategically around the room. The atmosphere is one of anticipation and reverence as Paul begins to speak about the importance of love. He emphasizes that faith, hope, and love are the three pillars of Christian life, but the greatest of these is love.

As Paul expounds on the qualities of love – its patience, kindness, and selflessness – the members of the group listen intently, their hearts stirred by his words. They are reminded of the central role that love plays in their relationships with one another and with God. In this moment, surrounded by their fellow believers, they are inspired to cultivate a deeper love for one another and for the world around them.

What is 1 Corinthians 13:13 about?

This verse is from 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the Bible, a passage that is often read at weddings and other celebrations of love. It highlights the enduring qualities of faith, hope, and love, emphasizing that while all three are important, love stands out as the greatest.

Faith represents our belief and trust in something greater than ourselves, giving us strength and guidance in times of uncertainty. Hope is the anticipation and expectation of good things to come, keeping us motivated and resilient in the face of challenges. Love, however, transcends all boundaries and is the driving force behind our actions and relationships. It is the ultimate expression of empathy, compassion, and connection with others.

So, when we reflect on this verse, we are reminded of the eternal nature of faith, hope, and love in our lives. We are encouraged to cultivate these qualities within ourselves and to prioritize love above all else, as it has the power to transform us and the world around us. Why do you think love is considered the greatest of these virtues? How can you nurture faith, hope, and love in your own life?

Understanding what 1 Corinthians 13:13 really means

Structure for Commentary:

  1. Introduction to the Verse
  2. Context within the Chapter and Book
  3. Detailed Analysis of Key Phrases
  4. Cross-References with Other Biblical Passages
  5. Relevance to Modern Life
  6. Anecdote to Illustrate the Message
  7. Conclusion and Call to Reflection

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:13

Introduction to the Verse

The verse reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” This succinct yet profound statement encapsulates key Christian virtues. Let’s unpack its deeper meaning and relevance.

Context within the Chapter and Book

1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “Love Chapter.” Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, addressing issues of division and spiritual gifts. He emphasizes in the preceding verses that without love, all other gifts and actions are meaningless. This context enhances our understanding of why love is deemed the greatest.

Detailed Analysis of Key Phrases

  • “These three remain”: This phrase implies permanence. Even as other things fade, faith, hope, and love endure. They are foundational.
  • “Faith”: Trust in God and His promises. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
  • “Hope”: An expectation of future good, rooted in God’s faithfulness. Romans 15:13 speaks of God as the “God of hope.”
  • “Love”: Agape love, selfless and unconditional. Paul declares it the greatest because it is the very nature of God (1 John 4:8).

Cross-References with Other Biblical Passages

  • Galatians 5:6: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” This reinforces the intricate link between faith and love.
  • Romans 5:5: “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts.” Here, hope and love are interconnected through God’s grace. These three virtues are essential in today’s world, where uncertainty and division are rampant. Faith anchors us, hope uplifts us, and love unites us. How often do we prioritize love in our daily interactions? Reflect on your relationships and consider if love is at the forefront.

Anecdote to Illustrate the Message

Imagine a community facing a crisis—perhaps a natural disaster. Amidst the chaos, a group of volunteers tirelessly works to provide aid. Their actions are driven by faith in a better future, hope for recovery, and above all, love for their neighbors. This modern-day example echoes Paul’s message: love compels us to act selflessly and brings people together. Consider closing by manifesting these virtues in your life. Do you embody faith, hope, and love in your actions and decisions? Paul states that the greatest of these is love. Let it be the guiding force in all you do. Reflect on how you can cultivate these virtues in your daily life and community.

How can we truly love others unconditionally?

We can truly love others unconditionally by understanding that love is not based on conditions or expectations. It is a selfless act that seeks the well-being and happiness of others without seeking anything in return. When we love others without any ulterior motives or strings attached, we are embodying the true essence of love that is described in the verse. This type of love is patient, kind, forgiving, and always persevering, regardless of the circumstances.

To love others unconditionally, we must cultivate a heart that is filled with compassion, empathy, and understanding. It involves accepting others as they are, flaws and all, and showing them the same grace and mercy that we ourselves would hope to receive. We reflect the love that God has for us by demonstrating this kind of love, a love that is pure, unwavering, and everlasting. To love others unconditionally ultimately prioritizes their well-being and happiness above our own desires and needs. It requires us to set aside our own selfishness and egos, and to extend grace and forgiveness even when it is difficult. We not only fulfill the command to love one another, but we also bring light and hope into a world that is often filled with darkness and despair.


Imagine your life as a bustling office or a busy household. Just like deadlines or family tasks, faith, hope, and love are essentials that keep everything running smoothly. Without faith, we can’t tackle challenges. Without hope, our plans fall apart. Without love, our connections fade. Show these qualities in every action today. How will you bring faith, hope, and love to your corner of the world?