Paul’s Footsteps #141

Footsteps #141

There were 4 Greek words for love. Firstly, ‘eros’ which referred to sexual love. Secondly ‘storge’ which referred to family love as between a parent and child. ‘Philia’ referred to brotherly friendship and affection. Paul uses the fourth word, ‘agape,’ in this passage. It is a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting repayment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves; it does not love in order to receive. We get our English word agony from agape. It can be defined as a sacrificial, giving, absorbing kind of love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another.

“But the greatest of these is love:” Love is greatest because it will continue, even grow, in the eternal state. When we are in heaven, faith and hope will have fulfilled their purpose. We won’t need faith when we see God face to face. We won’t need to hope in the coming of Jesus once He comes. But we will always love the Lord and each other, and grow in that love through the un-numbered nethermost reaches of eternity.

Love is also the greatest because it is an attribute of God (1John.4:8), and faith and hope are not part of God’s character and personality. God does not have faith in the way we have faith, because He never has to “trust” outside of Himself. God does not have hope the way we have hope, because He knows all things and is in complete control. But God is love, and will always be love.

Fortunately, we don’t need to choose between faith, hope, and love. Paul isn’t trying to make us choose, but he wants to emphasize the point to the Corinthian Christians: without love as the motive and goal, the gifts are meaningless distractions. If you lose love, you lose everything.

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