[In chapter 13 we find “The More Excellent Way Of Love” carefully and
beautifully defined for us. Paul’s discourse on love is divided into
three parts, the first being…]
I. THE NECESSITY OF LOVE
A. DESCRIBED BY PAUL…
1. Necessary in the exercise of spiritual gifts – 1Co 13:1-2
2. Necessary in the exercise of great sacrifice – 1Co 13:3
— Without love, such things are of no value!
B. APPLIED BY US TODAY…
1. Without love, any ability we have is of little value (such as
teaching, preaching, etc.)
2. Without love, any knowledge we obtain will only hurt us – cf.
3. Without love, any service rendered is not pleasing to God – cf.
— Love is truly a necessary virtue!
[But what exactly what is love? That leads us to the second part of
Paul’s discussion of “The More Excellent Way Of Love”, in which he
II. THE QUALITIES OF LOVE
A. LOVE’S POSITIVE QUALITIES…
1. Suffers longs – endures slights and wrongs patiently and long,
like God Himself (Ps 103:8) – B. W. Johnson
2. Is kind – obliging, willing to help or assist – Complete
B. LOVE’S NEGATIVE QUALITIES…
1. Does not envy – is not jealous of what others have or have
become – Pulpit Commentary
2. Does not parade itself – does not brag or boast of one’s
abilities or possessions – Barnes
3. Is not puffed up – swelled with pride and elated with a vain
conceit of himself – Gill
4. Does not behave rudely – to behave in an ugly, indecent,
unseemly or unbecoming manner (cf. 1Pe 3:8, “be courteous”)
– The Complete WordStudy Dictionary
5. Does not seek its own – does not seek its own happiness to the
injury of others (cf. 1Co 10:24,33) – Barnes
6. Is not provoked – does not fly into a rage, but keeps the
temper under control – B.W. Johnson
7. Thinks no evil – puts the best possible construction on the
motives and the conduct of others; not malicious, censorious,
disposed to find fault, or to impute improper motives to others
8. Does not rejoice in iniquity – Does not rejoice over the
“vices” of other people; does not take delight when they are
guilty of crime, or when, in any manner, they fall into sin. It
does not find pleasure in hearing others accused of sin, and in
having it proved that they committed it. – ibid.
C. LOVE’S POSITIVE QUALITIES (CONT.)…
1. Rejoices in the truth – lit., “with the truth”; truth is
personified as is love, and when love sees truth manifested in
the lives of others, love greatly rejoices along with it, cf.
2Jn 4; 3Jn 3-4
2. Bears all things – lit., “covers, protects”; but as used by
Paul elsewhere, it can also mean to endure, suffer (cf. 1Co 9:
12; 1Th 3:1,5); thus in regards to the sins or failings of
others, there is willingness to bear with them patiently
3. Believes all things – in regard to the conduct of others, there
is a disposition to put the best construction on it; to believe
that they may be actuated by good motives, and that they intend
no injury; and that there is a willingness to suppose, as far
as can be, that what is done is done consistently with
friendship, good feeling, and virtue. Love produces this,
because it rejoices in the happiness and virtue of others, and
will not believe the contrary except on irrefragable evidence.
4. Hopes all things – that all will turn out well. This must also
refer to the conduct of others; and it means, that however dark
may be appearances; how much so ever there may be to produce
the fear that others are actuated by improper motives or are
bad people, yet that there is a “hope” that matters may be
explained and made clear; that the difficulties may be made to
vanish; and that the conduct of others may be made to “appear”
to be fair and pure. Love will “hold on to this hope” until all
possibility of such a result has vanished and it is compelled
to believe that the conduct is not susceptible of a fair
explanation. This hope will extend to “all things” – to words
and actions, and plans; to public and to private contact; to
what is said and done in our own presence, and to what is said
and done in our absence. Love will do this, because it delights
in the virtue and happiness of others, and will not credit
anything to the contrary unless compelled to do so. – ibid.
5. Endures all things – bears up under, sustains, and does not
complain. Bears up under all persecutions at the hand of man;
all efforts to injure the person, property, or reputation…
The connection requires us to understand it principally of our
treatment at the hands of our fellowmen. – ibid.
[The final quality of love introduces us to the third and last section
of “The More Excellent Way Of Love”…]
III. THE PERMANENCY OF LOVE
A. LOVE NEVER FAILS…
1. Love never fails – to fall away, to fail; to be without effect,
to cease to be in existence.
a. While other endowments of the Holy Spirit must soon cease
and be valueless, love would abide, and would always exist.
b. The “argument” is, that we ought to seek that which is of
enduring value; and that, therefore, love should be
preferred to those endowments of the Spirit on which so high
a value had been set by the Corinthians. – Barnes
2. Spiritual gifts (e.g., prophecies, tongues, and knowledge) will
fail, cease, vanish away – 1Co 13:8-12
a. Such gifts were to reveal and confirm the Word – cf. Mk 16:
19-20; He 2:3-4
b. Once the Word was completely revealed and confirmed, the
need for such gifts ceased – cf. 2Ti 3:16-17; 2Pe 1:3;
B. LOVE ABIDES…
1. Along with faith and hope – 1Co 13:13a
a. Spiritual gifts like prophecies, tongues, and knowledge
b. Yet the virtues of faith, hope and love would “abide” (Grk.,
meno – remain, dwell, continue, tarry, endure)
c. Implying a period of time between the cessation of spiritual
gifts and the fulfillment of faith and hope
2. Greater than faith and hope – 1Co 13:13b
a. We now walk by faith, not by sight – 2Co 5:7
b. We now hope for what is unseen – Ro 8:24-25
c. When Christ comes, the need for faith and hope will be no
1) We will then walk by sight, not faith!
2) We will see that for which we eagerly await, and no
longer need hope!
d. Yet throughout eternity, in the presence of Christ, “love
1. Love is truly “a more excellent way” (1Co 12:31), what Paul
describes elsewhere as…
a. The fulfillment of the Law – Ro 13:8
b. The bond of perfection – Col 3:14
2. When properly defined and understood, love is also “the way of
a. For in Paul’s description of love, we see a picture of the
character of Christ
b. As disciples of Christ, we are to walk in the way of love as well
– cf. Ep 5:1-2
3. How does our conduct measure up to Paul’s description of love…?
a. In our dealings with others, whether they be friends or foes?
b. Remember, without love, our labor means nothing!
Are we committed to walking in “The More Excellent Way Of Love”…?