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The Greatest of These is Love

Reference > Literature

The reading below comes from I Corinthians 13 of the Bible, in the King James Version. It is a beloved series of statements about love. Whenever you see the word "charity," remember that it is an older word for "love."

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


According to the reading, name three things that amount to nothing if they aren't accompanied by love.
Paul suggests that if he has love, even sacrificing his own self ("give my body to be burned") would be of no profit to him. Why do you think he says this?
What is envy?
What does it mean to "vaunt" oneself?
What is iniquity?
In your own words, list three qualities of love from the second paragraph.
Paul says that love never fails. Why do you think he says that?
Paul talks about "seeing through a glass darkly," which refers to seeing a very dim reflection in a mirror or piece of glass. What does this have to do with prophecy, knowledge, tongues, and love?
What is faith?
What is hope?
Paul says that love is greater than both faith and hope. Why do you think he says this? Do you agree?
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