The Supremacy of Love
I Corinthians 13:13
With this simple but almost fathomless sentence the apostle brings this exquisite hymn to a finish. He ends it on the top note. He keeps his most splendid chord for the last. Everything he has said hitherto culminates in the climax of this final statement. In the verses immediately preceding he has been asserting the superiority of love over the gifts of tongues and prophecy and knowledge-the gifts on which the Corinthians plumed and prided themselves-on the ground that, while these gifts were transient and temporary, love was permanent. 'Love never faileth, but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.' But in this verse Paul says something about love more wonderful still; he makes a claim for it more daring still. Not only is love better than such transient things as prophecy and tongues and knowledge, but of the permanent and abiding things love is the greatest and the best. For love is not the only thing that abides. Faith abides, and hope abides as well. Now abideth faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these-even of these supreme and vital things-the greatest of these is love.
In that beautiful little booklet in which Henry Drummond expounds this chapter, he speaks of love as 'the greatest thing in the world.' Of course, it is that. But that description of it is an understatement. It falls short of the truth. Love is not only the greatest thing in the world, it is also the greatest thing in heaven; it is not only the greatest thing in time, it is also the greatest thing in eternity. 'Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.'
It seems something like sacrilege to begin to examine critically a verse like this, but I should not be quite honest if I did not at least let you know that a whole school of commentators, beginning with Chrysostom, put a rather di ...
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