Qualities of the Greatest Gift

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This is one of the most noted and best-loved chapters in the entire Bible. At the same time, few chapters have suffered more misinterpretation and misapplication than I Corinthians 13. Divorced from its context, it often becomes a sentimental sermon on Christian brotherhood. It is easy to forget that Paul is still dealing with the Corinthian problems of tongues, divisions, envy, selfishness, lawsuits, impatience, etc. The main evidence of maturity in the Christian life is a growing love for God and for God’s people, as well as a love for lost souls. 


Paul says that the incredible spiritual gift of speaking in tongues without love is nothing more than a lowed banging, more annoying than useful (v. 1). Prophesy, deep understanding of God’s mysteries, or even “mountain moving” faith without love is nothing (v. 2). Personal sacrifice, even to the point of death, without love gains nothing (v. 3). Paul shows us the qualities of real love:


1. Love is not easily roused to resentment (v. 4). 

2. Love has the idea of being useful (v. 4).

3. Love does not sound its own praises (v. 4). 

4. Love is not swelled with pride (v. 4). 

5. Love is not easily provoked (v. 5).

6. Love does not keep track of the offenses committed against it (v. 5).

7. Love does not take delight in that which is offensive to God (v. 6). 

8. Love rejoices when truth is proclaimed (v. 6). 

9. Love covers all things (v. 7).

10. Love will believe well of others unless convinced otherwise (v. 7).

11. Love is always positive and hopeful (v. 7). 


I want to be a vessel filled to overflowing with God’s love, so that His love might spill over onto everyone I meet. I must allow God to empty myself of all that is not from Him. 

I Corinthians 13:1-7 (English Standard Version)

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More I Corinthians commentaries

I Corinthians 14:33b-40
Rapping Up Spiritual Gifts

I Corinthians 10:1-5
The Dangers of Overconfidence

I Corinthians 10:6-13
God Will Help You Resist Temptation

I Corinthians 10:14-22
Eating Meat Offered to Idols

I Corinthians 10:23-33
Principles that Govern Christian Liberty

I Corinthians 11:1-16
Head Covering in the Church

I Corinthians 11:17-22
Conduct surrounding the Love Feasts

I Corinthians 11:23-34
Conduct surrounding the Lord’s Supper

I Corinthians 12:1-11
Speaking Various Languages

I Corinthians 12:12-20
Diversity of Spiritual Gifts

I Corinthians 12:21-26
Spiritual Gifts That Unite

I Corinthians 12:27-31
God Assigns Spiritual Gifts

I Corinthians 13:1-7
Qualities of the Greatest Gift

I Corinthians 13:8-13
The Supremacy of Love

I Corinthians 14:1-9
Preoccupation with Tongues

I Corinthians 14:10-17
Tongues Must Be Interpreted

I Corinthians 14:18-25
Tongues a Sign to Unbelievers

I Corinthians 14:26-33a
Instructions for Tongues Speakers

I Corinthians 15:1-11
Three Proofs of the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:12-19
Consequences of Denying the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:20-28
The Resurrection of Christians

I Corinthians 15:29-34
Effects of Denying the Resurrection

I Corinthians 15:35-44
What Our Resurrection Body Will Be Like

I Corinthians 15:45-50
Comparison of the Natural and Spiritual Body

I Corinthians 15:51-58
Victory is Coming

I Corinthians 16:1-12
Giving of Money and Time

I Corinthians 16:13-18
Qualifications for Leadership

I Corinthians 16:19-24
Paul’s Closing Remarks