1 Cor 13:13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (KJV)
1 Cor 13: 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (NLT)
In the old King James Version when reading 1 Cor. 13:13 – you can replace the word Charity with Love for a more modern understanding- they are interchangeable.
I’ve always heard that when reading the KJV of the scriptures, when you get to 1 Cor 13 that the word Charity can be replaced by the word Love and the meaning which Paul was trying to express is the same.
It’s not as though the King James translators were not able to distinguish these two words, they are definitely two separate words in their translation. Consider John 3:16 “For God so LOVED the world…” and Romans 5:8 “For God commendeth his LOVE toward us..” So it’s not as though every time the concept of Love was addressed the word Charity was instead used. I think that Paul, and more especially our Heavenly Father, guiding Paul through His Spirit, had a specific lesson in mind for us as these translations down through the centuries have understood what has become commonly known as “The Love Chapter.”
I am not disputing the fact that the meanings of the two words are similar, nor am I questioning the translators who chose to replace the word Charity with Love. But since we have the resource of the Internet available to us let me share something with you.
Here is a Bible search on the word Love
Here is one on Charity
Did you notice a difference? The Bible search for the word Love gives 40 different refferences – so there are many ways of expressing and experiencing love, and I agree with that. But when you look at the search for Charity, what did you see? Only one – Agapē, the God kind of Love – it is a love that is demonstrated in action.
When we think of the word love, what generally comes to mind is an emotional feeling we have for someone. When we think of the word Charity, what comes to mind is the act of giving. It is a giving that comes without expectation of return, it is a selfless act that can not help but be done out of Love.
I think this is the kind of Love that Christ expected his disciples, and us today to demonstrate to one another and to the world. Love God, and Love one another. Serve God, and serve one another.
And now abideth Faith Hope and Agapē, but the greatest of these is Agapē.
Heavenly Father please help me to have Agapē for everyone whom you place in my path. Grant me the fervent zeal to serve You with an Active Love that demonstrates faith, in Your grace, and Hope for the eternal future.
Lord Help me to give up passive Love for my neighbor and cultivate Agapē into my life and actions.