Faith, Hope, And LoveRelated Media
While giving instructions and important advice to the believers at Corinth because of their many and varied disorders, Paul reminds them of the high value and necessity of faith, hope and love, the last of these being the most significant:
For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1Cor. 13:12-13)1
Chapter 13 of First Corinthians lies in the midst of a discussion concerning spiritual gifts and godly living (chs.12-14). Having pointed out the diversity of gifts available to believers and the necessity of maintaining unity among themselves (ch.12), before moving on to a discussion concerning the superiority of prophecy to the gift of tongues (ch.14), Paul turns to the key subject of love (chs.12:31-13:13).
Paul begins by pointing out the necessity of love, declaring that underlying the successful use of spiritual gifts and their great value is the character quality of love (13:1-3). Having then discussed some of the characteristics of love (vv. 4-6), Paul concludes that love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: (v.7). Paul then goes on to assure his readers of the permanence and superiority of love (vv. 8-13). As Hodge points out,
What Paul wishes to impress upon the Corinthians is, that the gifts in which they so much prided themselves, were small matters compare to what is in reserve for the people of God…faith, hope and love. These are the three great permanent Christian graces, as opposed to the mere temporary gifts of prophecy, miracles and tongues. 2
In the midst of his discussion in chapter 13 Paul has touched on the subjects of faith (v. 2) and hope (v.7), while emphasizing the subject of love. He now brings that discussion to its climax by declaring that love is indeed vastly superior to faith and hope (v. 13).
In the following study we shall examine the nature and high quality of faith, hope, and love before making some concluding applications for living a more rewarding Christian life.
The High Value of Faith
In viewing the many emphases of faith throughout the Scriptures, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, one thing is certain: faith is a basic and necessary quality of the believer. Moreover, true faith
in the vocabulary of Christians is not only belief and trust, but also faithfulness and loyalty. Put technically and linguistically, ‘faith’ is both active and passive in sense. It is not only the inspiration of all religion but is also a moral excellence.3
Such was expressed and maintained long ago by the prophet Habakkuk: “The righteous one will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4b; HCSB). So important was this text that it was cited three times in the New Testament, twice by Paul (Rom. 1:17: Gal. 3:11) and once by the author of Hebrews (Heb. 10:35-39). In Romans 1:17 Paul emphasizes as did Habakkuk that the person who is justified by faith is the one who truly lives. Moreover, Paul “emphasizes that man’s right standing before God is not based on works (cf. Eph. 2:8), not even those of the law (cf. Gal. 3:11), but only on genuine faith.”4 The author of Hebrews employs Habakkuk’s text in a distinctive manner, which mirrors Habakkuk’s emphasis on a faith that is truly faithful.
Quoting the text of the LXX [The Greek Septuagint] (though reading “my” after “righteous one” and inverting the final two words of the verse: “My righteous one will live by faith[fulness]”) the author of Hebrews applies the outworking of the believer’s faith to his living in the certain hope of Christ’s [second] coming.5
Thus he says,
In a very little while,
The coming one will come and not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith;
And if he draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him. (Heb. 10:37-38).
In all of this we see that true faith is more than just an emotional feeling or even a belief. True faith is a whole-soul commitment to God.
Such is evident already in the David’s words to the people of Israel in the well-known wisdom psalm, Psalm 37.6 Wisdom psalms do indeed contain significant advice for today’s Christians. They have many crucial features such as: (1) The exaltation of God-given wisdom in the face of life’s difficulties; (2) Prescriptions for the godly life, while describing contrasts between the righteous and the wicked; (3) Suggestions for the righteous as to how to struggle with the problem of the apparent successes and prosperity of the wicked, perhaps even while they endure difficulties and suffering; (4) The importance of faith and obedience and trust in the Lord; and (5) The need to study and learn from God’s Word.
Psalm 37 is reflective of such wisdom, for it contains collected observations on life, its rewards and punishments, both now and in the future. It provides instruction in wise living for the reader. The Psalm may be outlined in the following fashion:
I. Opening contrast between the wicked and the righteous (vv. 1-7)
A. Counsel against overreacting concerning the wicked (vv. 1-2)
B. The importance of total trust in the Lord (vv. 3-7)
II. Further contrasts between the wicked and the righteous (vv. 8-22)
A. Additional counsel against overreacting concerning the wicked (vv. 8-15)
B. The advantages of the righteous (vv. 16-22)
III. The high value of being righteous before the Lord (vv. 23-40)
A. The blessings enjoyed by the righteous (vv. 23-34)
B. Concluding contrast between the righteous and the wicked (vv. 35-40)
The focus in this study concerning Psalm 37 is on verses 3-7 in which genuine faith is explained:
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
delight yourself in the LORD;
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
trust also in Him and He will do it.
Rest [Be still] in the LORD and wait patiently for Him. (Ps. 37:3-5,7a; NASB)
True faith may be defined as a whole-soul committal to God: (1) The believer’s intellect must encase complete trust in the Lord; (2) His emotions must desire what God designed and desires for him; and (3) His will must involve a complete commitment to the Lord. Thus he is one whose will “is thoroughly blended in love” with God’s will.7 When such is the case, God will increase the believer’s righteous nature with the result that he will “wait patiently” for the Lord. Interestingly enough, within the psalmist’s presentation of the nature of true faith one may notice some accompanying rewards. God will richly reward believers whose “Hope is in the LORD” (v. 9; NIV) and will keep extending His love toward them “and will not forsake his faithful ones” (v. 28; NIV). 8 Thus,
The believer who has a firm, unreserved belief in the Lord, one which involves absolute trust, will find his “delight” in the Lord, and devote himselfto God’s will and purposes for his life. This kind of faith begins and ends in a total trust, which finds such complete confidence in the Lord that the believer can rest his entire life and future in the Lord.9
As the hymn writer declares concerning complete trust in Jesus Christ:
My faith has found a resting place—
Not in device nor creed:
I trust the Ever living One—
His wounds for me shall plead.10
Having explored the nature and value of faith, we turn to those associated with hope, before turning to their climax in love.
The High Value of Hope
The psalmist builds upon the theme of hope in God in a series of refrains in the psalm that appears in the collection of psalms known as Psalms 42 and 43. Thus he says,
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God. (Ps 42:5; cf. v.11; Ps 43:5; NIV).
This psalm is often understood as a prayer psalm and to be sure, it does praise God. Yet, it also contains the distinctive features of a worship psalm. Thus the psalmist expresses a strong longing for God as well as the psalmist’s fond remembrance of his own past ministry for the Lord (42:1-4). This longing also features the psalmist’s lament as he deplores his present condition (vv. 6-10) even though he remains certain that God is available to him:
By day the LORD directs his love,
at night His song is within me—
a prayer to the God of my life. (v. 8)
Accordingly, he goes on to pray to the Available One for vindication and restoration to his former status (Ps. 43:1-4).
In addition to the refrain in which the psalmist praises God in full assurance of hope and declares the Lord is “My Savior and my God” (42:5, 11; 43:5), he also praises the Lord first, as “The Living God (42:2); second, as the “the God of my life” and “my Rock” (42:8-9; and third, as “my joy and delight” (43:4). This psalm is a firm reminder that the hope of salvation is centered in God alone (cf. Ps 62:5-7; NIV). Moreover, the Lord is the one sure hope of safety and deliverance in times of danger. Accordingly, Paul testifies to the Corinthians that in his ministry for Christ he has experienced this and is confident of God’s continued deliverance in whatever lies ahead: “He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver yet again” (2 Cor. 1:10).
Indeed, the believer’s very hope is based upon his salvation. It is a salvation that comes via the grace of God (cf. 2 Thess. 2:16). The Lord has granted salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:
We must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. (1 Thess. 5:8-10; cf. 1 Tim. 1:1).
It is a glorious salvation that has brought the believer into an eternal living union with Jesus Christ, one that may be described as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). As we have noted elsewhere,
As united to Christ the Christian has not only a sure hope of a glorious future but an ever present source of strength in his spiritual service (2 Cor. 12:9). As believers await the assured hope of their eternal destiny with Christ, not only do they have the stabilizing influences of joy and peace, but they have the high privilege of serving him in their earthly walk. It is to be a labor of love (Eph. 4:15-16).11
Accordingly, in Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul encourages each believer to understand “the hope to which he has called you, the spiritual riches that await the saints in glory, and the spiritual power that is available to the saints now.”12
This salvation is indeed an assured salvation that is not only based on the believer’s union with the resurrected Christ, but gives the believer an assured hope of his own resurrection from the dead (Acts 23:6; 26:6-8). It is a hope reserved for and guaranteed only to believers. Thus Paul declares that unbelievers “have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). Ah! But what a blessed hope lies ahead for the believer:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will suddenly be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. (1Thess. 4:16-17)
Meanwhile the believer is to live “a life pleasing to God,”13 which includes a holy life, loving association with fellow believers, and to live an active, honorable, respectable life before all men (1 Thess. 4:1-12).
Peter points out that Christ’s resurrection provides for the believer a “living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3) to be part of the Lord’s everlasting family, “who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1: 5). As English declares,
Here is a hope that is real; it is living. Because Christ arose from the grave, from among the dead, we know that His death satisfied the justice of a holy God; we know that we are justified; we know that He conquered the grave and death; we know that we, too, shall be raised; we know that His Word is sure and that He will come again. This hope is our present possession.14
Ours is indeed an assured heavenly hope. Thus Paul says to the Colossian believers that,
We heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Col.1: 4-6).
Once again we see that hope has a vital connection with faith and love. Both have provided for the believer “a confident hope,” which not only gives assurance of a heavenly future, but which enables the believer to live a godly life here and now. As Bruce remarks, “ The phrase ‘faith in Christ Jesus’ indicates not so much that Christ Jesus is the object of their faith as that he is the living environment within which their faith is exercised.”15 As Baxter summarizes it,
Then let me sanctify each day
By prayerful service while I may;
Until at last I share with Thee
The hope “laid up in Heaven” for me.16
On the basis of Christ’s finished work the believer has a confident hope of an eternal life with God. Death does not end it all for the believer, because in God’s kindness and love He has provided salvation “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope (NET, “confident expectation”) of eternal life” (Tit. 3: 6-7; NIV).17 So it is that the believer may lead a fully satisfying life here and now in eager anticipation of an eternity with the Lord.
However greatly a believer may enjoy and profit by matters in this life, no matter how satisfying, it is only a foretaste of a greater, fuller, more abundant and blessed life in eternity with God through the finished work of Christ. As the hymn writer expresses it,
His grace has planned it all—‘Tis mine but to believe,
And recognize His work of love, and Christ receive.
For me He died, for me He lives;
And everlasting life and light He freely gives.18
Fanny Crosby declares,
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
Accordingly, this “confident expectation” should lead the believer to a life of faith and faithfulness, eager to be “engaging in good works” (v. 8; NET; cf. vv.1-2), while he waits with anticipation the trip to Heaven and of the return of Christ (cf. Tit. 2: 11-14). For as Jesus himself promised his disciples, “If I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too” (John 14:3).
In sum, as Barclay said, “The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else than true.”19
Faith, hope, and love are indeed prominent in the Scriptures. Faith and hope appear together at the onset of the great faith chapter in the book of Hebrews (Heb. 11). On the basis of a settled, active, and confident faith in God, the believer can live a life of assured hope; “Now faith is being sure of what hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1). Here, “The author gives not so much a definition of it. Faith, he contends gives reality… to ‘what we hope for’ and firm evidence…‘of things we cannot see’.” 20 Lightfoot suggests that both “are probably to be taken together, forming one declaration: faith is the full assurance and inner conviction that gives men the power to stake their lives on unseen realities.”21
Thus the believer may enjoy life even now whatever the difficulties, because his faith produces a settled life of hope for a far better land and life.
As the hymn writer declares,
My hope for eternity rests in Thy hand,
My heart deeply longs for that far better land,
Where one day complete in Thyself I shall stand;
My hope is in Thee.22
The Great Value of Love
Having considered several aspects of faith and hope, we turn to the theme of love. We should note first of all that, like holiness and truth, love has its origin in God’s attribute of perfection. By it the Lord communicates himself, as so often expressed by his mercy and grace toward man (e.g., 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 2:4. Titus 2:11-12). Like faith and hope, for man to love involves the whole soul. As Barclay rightly points out, “It takes all of a man to achieve Christian love; it takes not only his heart; it takes his mind and his will as well.”23 As Paul encourages the Colossian believers,
As the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing well with one another and forgiving one another. If someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else, just as the Lord has forgiven you so you also forgive others. And to these virtues and love, which is the perfect bond. (Col. 3:12-14)
Having been redeemed by God’s perfect love through the sacrifice of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16), guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. John 16:7-8) the believer is able to go on to greater spiritual perfection. As the Apostle John observes, “If we love one another, God resides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit” (1John 4:12-13).
Although the term “love” appears in various ways in the Scriptures, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, our concern is in its relation to faith and hope as developed by the Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians, 12:31-13:13. In this classic discussion of love Paul points out that love is the ultimate spiritual gift. It is a “way that is beyond comparison” (1Cor. 12:31). As Paul begins to depict the superiority of love, he points out that however valuable and powerful faith may be, it is overshadowed by love; “If I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). The faith that Paul discusses here is not saving faith. Rather, it denotes the believer’s trust in God to be able to accomplish whatever is necessary in serving the Lord. Truly, it is an active faith. Nevertheless, the exercise of this gift of faith is impossible without God’s superintending and enabling love. Both the deed and its doer are valueless without love. As MacArthur remarks, “Even with this wonderful gift from God---of making the impossible possible—Paul says a Christian is nothing if he does not have love.”24
With such love, however, the believer may be confident that faith can and will produce good works for the Lord. Citing verses two and three Hodge adds, “Neither intellectual gifts nor attainments, nor power, without love, are of any real value...All outward acts of beneficence are of no avail without love.”25
Thus active faith has its origin in and is encased in God’s bestowal of love and does accomplish a ministry for the Lord. It is for the Lord; it is not designed to embellish pride or self-glorification, nor does it operate through personal power or self-confidence. True faith is a gift from a loving Lord given in order to accomplish his will and contributes to the believer’s spiritual growth. Therefore, a believer should live in a whole-soul faith that decides, desires, and determines to think and act immersed in the outpouring of God’s love.
Having shown that whole-soul faith is encased in God’s love, Paul moves on (vv. 4-7), building on the fact that without love, “I receive no benefit” (v.3). With God’s love in control many benefits do accrue and become active in the believer’s life, such as patience and kindness and truth. Moreover, as the believer lives out his life he is not self-seeking or self-centered. Quite the contrary, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (v. 7). As Baker points out in this statement the two outer words,
“bears” and “endures” are nearly synonymous in depicting love as rising out of the real-life struggles that people face. The two inner words, “believes” and “hopes” overlap in describing the character quality that emerges out of the present struggles wherein one trusts that these struggles move toward a more meaningful future.26
The realization that verse 7 is written in a chiastic format underscores the fact that belief and hope are central to the message contained in this verse. The believer’s whole-soul assured hope is the result of being the recipient of God’s love. Such love produces a settled, confident hope that enables the believer to face whatever comes to pass in this life with eager anticipation of a far, far better future. As Verbrugge observes,
“Love “Always hopes”; loving people keep looking ahead to better days, for they know that God has sent his Spirit to work out his will in his people (cf. Php. 2:12b-13; 3:14). Love “always perseveres”; loving people stand firm in the midst of trials and hardships and do not give up the ship.27
As the hymn writer points out,
The King of love my Shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
and He is mine forever.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
within Thy house forever.28
In addition to the virtues, values, and excellencies of love mentioned in verses 4-8, Paul goes on to point out that, unlike those gifts that are designed for the believer’s good and spiritual growth in this earthly life, “Love, never ends” (v.8). Even knowledge will give way to a more perfect understanding of reality (v. 12). Paul then sums up his discussion by saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (v. 13). As great and wonderful as a whole-soul commitment in faith and the confident expectation of a glorious future hope are in this present age (and surely they are), love is the greatest spiritual attribute. This is true, “For love covers not only what we experience in our relations to others but what we experience from God himself.”29 To this conclusion MacArthur adds that love is especially important,
not only because, even in this temporal life, where we now live, love is supreme. Love already is the greatest not only because it will outlast the other virtues, beautiful and necessary as they are, but because it is inherently greater by being the most God-like. God does a not have faith or hope, but “God is love” (1 John 4:8).30
Yes, as Paul goes on to discuss in 1 Corinthians 14, the ability to communicate God’s truth in many languages can be valuable, and even more so the gift of prophecy, yet love is by far the best. As we have noted above, this is because love is an attribute of God himself.
Whether faith and hope will exist in the believer’s after-life has been debated by many scholars. Our point simply is that whether this is the case or not, they are crucial to our present earthly life because they are immersed in God’s love, which is itself an essential, revealed character attribute of God’s perfection. As I have remarked elsewhere, “True Christian love reflects and acts in accordance with God’s own love. For a Christian’s whole-soul attitude toward others is to love others and seek their highest good—no matter who or what—just as God does (Matt. 5:43-48).”31 May we, therefore, so live our lives that the love of God is reflected in and through us. Just as God loved the world so much that he gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in order that people may have eternal life, so may we in love desire to see our fellow man become part of God’s everlasting family. May they join us in singing,
I’m so glad I’m part of the family of God—
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod—
for I’m part of the family, the family of God.32
Concluding Observations and Applications
Faith, hope and love occur together in many contexts as the following examples demonstrate. Thus the author of Hebrews points out that these three virtues can work together effectively saying,
Let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works. (Heb. 10: 22-24)
His stress is on the importance of an active faith, which should undergird all of our doings even as he goes on to say, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for; being convinced of what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1; cf. Heb. 6: 10-12). Indeed, faith in Christ’s finished redemption should provide an impetus to hold fast (cf. 3:6, 14) to this assured hope regardless of life’s difficulties or opportunities (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). As Bruce expresses it, “Our hope is based on the unfailing promise of God; why should we not cherish it confidently and share it boldly?”33 Both faith and hope should spur the believer on so as to be an example, encouragement, and support to an active life lived in God’s love. Moreover, believers should seek to love others even as God loves them. This is especially true for the believing community. As Hughes points out,
It is important … that the reality of Christian love should be demonstrated in the personal relationships and mutual concerns of the Christian community. And it will be found that not only does love promote fellowship but also that fellowship stimulates love, because it is by meeting together as a true community that Christians have the opportunity for encouraging one another by mutual support, comfort, and exhortation.34
In sum, Michaels observes, “Hope in Hebrews is a faithful or persistent hope, and love is a faithful or enduring love. All three rely on the faithfulness of God.”35
The Apostle Paul employs the triad of faith, hope and love several times. Thus in Romans 5:1-5 he stresses the fact genuine faith brings the believer to peace with God through the finished work of Christ and a life of faithfulness. Such faith gives the believer a conscious sense of joyful hope of a glorious life in God’s love given through the Holy Spirit. Such hope does not disappoint, for as Moo says, “Paul is asserting two things at once: that God’s love has been poured in our hearts in the past, and that this love is now within us. And this love is conveyed to our sensations by the Holy Spirit, who resides in every believer.”36
In Galatians 5:5-6 Paul’s emphasis is that the faith that produces hope is produced by “faith working in love,” which enables the believer to be led by the Holy Spirit for “the hope of righteousness” (v.5). As Borchert remarks, believers, “will attain their hope by faith and through the Spirit.”37 Living in accordance with God’s love is the means by which the believer lives a righteous life, free from sin’s dominance, and resting in the hope that comes by “faith working through love” (v.6).
Interestingly, Paul reminds the Colossian believers that an active faith and love give assurance of the reality of their heavenly hope (Col. 1:5). Would that all believers would have such faith, for God’s boundless love is ever available to the faithful believer. How amazingly great is God’s love! For by it he gave his Son in order that man might live in assured hope.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How marvelous and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
the saints’ and angels’ song.38
In writing to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul tells them that he and his fellow workers for Christ, “Recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). Here again we note that true faith operates within the bounds of God’s love. Thus Paul commends the Thessalonian believers for their faithful ministry for the Lord. It is a constant ministry that gives “hope in the Lord Jesus Christ” both now and for the future. We noted above that as believers do so, they are spiritually clothed in such a way as to live in full assurance,
by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. (1 Thess. 5:8-10)
Not only is the believer protected from sin’s eventual punishment for the unbeliever, but the Spirit-led believer can live in the fond hope of heaven. But there is even more: an even better life awaits him in that great climax in the second coming of Christ. As Morris points out, “Death is only final and decisive when we speak in worldly terms. For the believer the whole concept has been transformed. For him it holds no terrors. In life or in death he is in Christ.”39 As Walvoord further explains,
Whether we “wake,” that is, are living in the world at the time the Lord comes, or whether we “sleep” and our bodies have been laid in the grave, though our spirits have gone to heaven, when Christ comes back for his church there will be a wonderful reunion—both a translation of the living saints and a resurrection from the dead. It is all based on the hope of the death of Christ.40
We have noted above that faith is a whole-soul committal to God. A believer’s intellect, emotions, and will all combine to live so as to realize fully the surety of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The believer can and should live each day basking in God’s love and confident of his presence not only in this earthly life, but because of his union with Christ, have a confident expectation (a true hope) of an eternal life with God.
Faith, hope, and Love are indeed prominent in the Scriptures. Paul reminds us that love is the greatest of these because it has its source in God’s attribute of perfection, which is realized constantly through his grace and mercy. Therefore, like faith and hope a believer should love the Lord and do his best to live in his revealed will in his Word. Moreover, as does the Lord the believer should desire to share God’s love with others either for their salvation or as an encouragement to their spiritual growth. All through his earthly life and ministry the faithful believer may live in joyous anticipation of a blessed eternity with God both in heaven and on a renewed glorified earth.
Genuine faith, hope, and love are all real, and should be exercised, but “The greatest of these is love” (1Cor. 13:13).
God’s love—it’s from eternity.
So great was God’s love, Jesus went to Calvary.
God’s love—it reaches to you and me;
by knowing God’s love, it makes us family.
God loves us; it’s salvation’s message plain;
God loves us, echoes back the glorious strain.
Because God loves you, you can start your life anew,
for Christ died alone, for you and me, to live with him eternally.
1 Unless otherwise noted, all citations are taken from the NET.
2 Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 274, 275. For a full discussion of 1 Corinthians 12-14, see, D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1Corinthians 12-14) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987).
3 Nigel Turner, Christian Words (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, 1980), 158.
4 Richard D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2003), 202.
5 Ibid., 203.
6 Psalm 37 is also in alphabetic format, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet being expressed in coupled verses (with the exception of vv. 27-29 in which two letters of the alphabet are attested.
7 Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, trans. Francis Bolton, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955) 2:12.
8 See further, the extensive discussion concerning faith by Otto Michel in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 1:587-605.
9 Richard D. Patterson, “Faithful to the End,” Biblical Studies Press (2015), 5.
10 Lidie H. Edmunds, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.”
11 Richard D. Patterson, “Foretaste of Glory,” Biblical Studies Press (2012), 7.
12 NET text note.
13 See NET section heading for 1 Thess. 4:1-12.
14 E. Schuyler English, The Life and Letters of Saint Peter (New York: Publication Office “Our Hope,” 1945), 159.
15 F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians,” in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 41.
16 J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake My Heart (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1994), 194.
17 See further, Andreas Kȫstengerger, “Titus,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 12: 623.
18 Norman J. Clayton, “My Hope is in the Lord.”
19 William Barclay, More New Testament Words (New York: Harper 1958), 46.
20 J. Ramsey Michaels, “Hebrews,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009) 17: 431.
21 Neil R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ Today: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 205-206.
22 Ava M. Christiansen, “My Hope is in Thee.”
23 Barclay, More New Testament Words, 16. For a deeper understanding of the many occurrences and uses of this Greek term for love, whether as a noun or a verb, see Barclay’s full discussion, pages 11-24.
24 John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 334.
25 Hodge, Corinthians, 268.
26 William Baker, “1 Corinthians,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009) 15: 192.
27 Verlyn D. Verbrugge, “1 Corinthians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008) 11: 373.
28 Henry W. Baker, “ The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”
29 Verbrugge, “1 Corinthians,” 375.
30 MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, 367.
31 Richard D. Patterson, “God So Loved the World” Biblical Studies Press (2010), 2.
32 Gloria and William J. Gaither, “The Family of God.”
33 F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews in The New International Commentary on The New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 252.
34 Philip Edgecombe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 415.
35 J. Ramsay Michaels, “Hebrew” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009) 17:421.
36 Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 305.
37 Gerald L. Borchert, “Galatians,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007) 14:315.
38 Frederick W. Lehman, “The Love of God.”
39 Leon Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 162.
40 John F. Walvoord, The Thessalonian Epistles (Findlay, OH: Dunham Publishing Company, 1955), 86.