"The Greatest Of These Is Charity"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 185

Context: Paul, in giving instruction to the new Christians of Corinth, emphasizes the supremacy of love. The talents of Christian witnessing, the ability to speak well or in tongues, the gift of prophecy, and the devotion to seek martyrdom, are valueless unless tempered with love. Love has patience, and kindness; it is not jealous, arrogant, rude, irritable, or resentful; it bears, believes, hopes, and endures regardless of what occurs. Love is permanent, not transitory or incomplete like prophecy, the gift of tongues, and knowledge. Knowledge in this life is only partial, but in the life to come it will be complete like the knowledge of the Almighty. Love, however, is above all the other Christian attributes:

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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.
. . .
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.

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