Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13
Why does Paul say these three will last forever?
Surely if “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Then when it happens faith is no longer needed. How can Paul say faith will last forever. When we see Jesus face to face there will no longer be any need for faith. He will no longer belong to the category of the things unseen. We will see Him face to face. And if we have the thing for which we hope for how can He say hope too will last forever? If indeed we have come to the resurrection and the redemption of the saints and see Jesus face to face it is no longer a matter of faith nor a matter of hope.
The Jews say much the same of humility the apostle does here of love: “wisdom, fear, humility, they are alike, ענוה גדולה מכולן אך, “but humility is greater than them all”.”
Has Paul been inspired by this statement but has changed the players; the characteristics in focus? Some think that is where he got his inspiration from – a Jewish saying. I don’t. I think it runs way deeper than that. Paul has been inspired by the Holy Spirit to look beyond the grave. Remember he has already said “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Cor 13:7) Well if that is true, then as long as there is love, there is always going to be faith and hope. As long as there is Jesus / God there is always going to be love, faith and hope.
Love is the greatest commandment. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Do you think that commandment will ever cease to be operative? Hardly! In heaven we will always love God. Only lovers of God will be in heaven. God is in heaven therefore love will remain. The logic requires it. But we are also commanded to “love your neighbour as yourself”. It is also safe to assume our love for one another will continue in heaven. Therefore love will continue. If love lasts forever so too will faith and hope on the basis of 1 Cor 13:7 above. But this concept is far more than a logistical syllogism: God is love; God is in heaven, therefore love is in heaven. It runs deeper than that.
Faith is not just a characteristic or trait which is needed for belief. Faith is not something that is relegated to Christian apologetics and if the focus of my faith has been proved then I no longer need faith to believe because I have the evidence for which I hoped (a la Hebrews 11:1) Faith in biblical terms is always and forever a trusting, believing relationship in Him (Christ). We are to live and move and have our being in Him. Totally trusting Him to be the essence of life. How can that ever fail? How can faith in Christ ever come to an end? Much less in glory / heaven when we know even more keenly how much He loves us, how much His word is totally dependable and trustworthy – then it stands to reason that faith will never end but will last forever. Far removed for the concept of evidence for our cerebral beliefs and therefore when we have the evidence we no longer need faith. No! No! No!
The same applies to hope. Hope in New Testament terms is not some vague longing for something to be true or for something to “work out” as we desire. Do you think when you are in heaven and surrounded by the other saints and all the angels that hope and inspiration will suddenly pass away. No, God placed within the human heart a hope component. The human heart will always hope because God planted it there. Heaven is full of things beyond what our minds can conceive or hope or imagine. Will God just turn off the hope button in us all when the hope for the resurrection is past because it is present and fulfilled? No, your heart will always be filled with faith, hope and love in heaven. And what’s more with nothing to thwart it. Now that is a hopeful, faith filled, loving thought.
Why does Paul then say love is the greatest of the three?
Here are some answers from the offerings of others:
- 1. Some say love is the greatest because it remains throughout eternity, whereas faith and hope proceed only through life
- 2. Others say by love we resemble God; and by it alone are we qualified to enjoy heaven, and be one with him throughout eternity.
- 3. Because Love includes the other two, Faith and Hope. Therefore Love must be the more pre-eminent.
Time for you to stop and do some more pondering. We will continue again tomorrow when I will offer my opinion to add to the above.
Dear GOD, I bet it is very hard for You to love everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.Nan (6)
Love does more than make the world go round; it drives eternity too.Anon
Love must be the most important because it is the most talked about and sung about concept in any age.Anon