Scripture: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Observation: And now—Translate, “But now.” “In this present state” [Henderson]. Or, “now” does not express time, but opposition, as in 1Co 5:11, “the case being so” [Grotius]; whereas it is the case that the three gifts, “prophecy,” “tongues,” and “knowledge” (cited as specimens of the whole class of gifts) “fail” (1Co 13:8), there abide permanently only these three—faith, hope, charity. In one sense faith and hope shall be done away, faith being superseded by sight, and hope by actual fruition (Ro 8:24; 2Co 5:7); and charity, or love, alone never faileth (1Co 13:8). But in another sense, “faith and hope,” as well as “charity,” abide; namely, after the extraordinary gifts have ceased; for those three are necessary and sufficient for salvation at all times, whereas the extraordinary gifts are not at all so; compare the use of “abide,” 1Co 3:14. Charity, or love, is connected specially with the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of the loving union between the brethren (Ro 15:30; Col 1:8). Faith is towards God. Hope is in behalf of ourselves. Charity is love to God creating in us love towards our neighbor. In an unbeliever there is more or less of the three opposites—unbelief, despair, hatred. Even hereafter faith in the sense of trust in God “abideth”; also “hope,” in relation to ever new joys in prospect, and at the anticipation of ever increasing blessedness, sure never to be disappointed. But love alone in every sense “abideth”; it is therefore “the greatest” of the three, as also because it presupposes “faith,” which without “love” and its consequent “works” is dead (Ga 5:6; Jam 2:17, 20). [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Co 13:13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: The words of today’s text are some of the best known among Christians.  At the end of this section of Paul’s letter to the members of the church at Corinth, which has come to be known as the “love chapter,” for obvious reasons, we find three things which Paul says are more permanent than the gifts of prophecy or other languages.  These three are Faith, Hope, and love.  There are very important theological implications of these three words, some of which are addressed above.  But I want to suggest that these three are crucial ingredients for a lasting marriage.  Let’s think about them separately:

1. Faith.  Researchers have found that successful couples that agree on four crucial areas tend to have more lasting, more satisfying relationships.  Those four areas are spirituality, finances, in-laws, and parenting.  If we can’t agree on our spirituality as a couple, the foundation for a long, strong relationship will be weak.  Faith in God helps us when we go through the hardships of life, the pain of illness and death, the fear of losing a loved one, the conflicts and the resolutions.

2. Hope.  When we become complacent in our relationship, we may not realize until it is very late in the game how far we have drifted apart from each other.  After betrayal, when there seems to be no way out and no reason to move forward, when the waters of despair seem to overwhelm us, hope can still keep us together and may be the motivation to hang in, to hold on until the relationship is restored.

3. Love.  The type of giving, unselfish, sacrificial love that Paul speaks about in this chapter is crucial for the well-being of a lasting marriage.  Love brought us together, love has been with us through the ups and downs of life, and love will be glue that keeps us together.

When these three are still part of our marriage, I believe it can survive even the worst events and the worst memories, and will help you move forward to a more satisfying relationship.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may these three abide in our life and marriage, and may they keep us together for the long run.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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