If I speak in the languages of peoples living and dead, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have a PhD and can fathom all sorts of mysteries and significant amounts of knowledge, and if I have the common sense to know that “faith that can move mountains” is a metaphor, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body for the purpose of scientific research or organ transplants, but have not love, I gain nothing.
If I have knowledge of biology sufficient to keep me from falling for young-earth creationist claptrap and intelligent design pseudoscience, but have not love, I am but a prattling primate or a chattering chimpanzee.
If I have an understanding of Biblical studies to rival the most famous scholars, and publications galore on my CV, but have not love, all I have written is like a hypothetical source lost in the sands of time.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there is scholarship, it will go out of print; where there are discoveries, they will be superseded, or else will become familiar as common knowledge and seem ho hum to future generations; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we understand in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a chrome car bumper; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these remain: faith, hope and love. Oh yeah, and knowledge, at least for the time being. And wisdom. But at any rate, even if the list went on forever, the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13 paraphrased (based on the NIV)