Paul charged the Corinthians, “faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13, NASB). The Greek πίστις (pistis) has a Hebrew equivalent — אֱמוּנָה (emunah). It may surprise you, but the meaning of this Hebrew word is only partially related to the concept of “belief” or the “act of believing.” In Hebrew, the term conveys a “steadiness,” “stability,” and “reliability” that manifests as “trustworthiness” and “faithfulness.”

The Greek ἐλπίς (elpis) — “hope” — can correlate to several words in Hebrew. The ancient Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, the Septuagint (LXX), uses ἐλπίς to translate תִּקְוָה (tikvah; “hoping for the best”) and בָּטַח (batach; “trust” or “reliance”). The ancient Israelites lived in expectation of a future that would be either good or bad — hoping, of course, for the best possible outcome. As the famous New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann notes, Biblical Hebrew has “no neutral concept of expectation. An expectation is either good or bad and therefore it is either hope or fear” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 522).

The Greek ἀγάπη (agape) “love” usually corresponds to the Hebrew אַהֲבָה (ahavah). There are different types of love, of course. One can see it as a strong selfish desire and, at the same time, as a truly selfless ideal. Further, there is another kind of love in Biblical Hebrew — חֶסֶד (chesed) “steadfast love”, “kindness”, “faithfulness”, and “loyalty” — that is often tied to God’s character and the divine loyalty to keeping covenant promises. God’s chesed is the glue that binds our relationship with the Lord and ensures our continued place in the divine plan.

Perhaps that is why Paul says that “love” is the greatest of these three. Still, to abide in all three at the same time would be absolutely amazing!

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

45 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much ]prof. Pinchas in sharing about "Love" and the relationship in this verse with faith and hope. Personally this is very important as to understand the greatest commandment. Appreciate you insights and perspective!
  2. That’s a great explanation of (1 Cor 13:13) thank you, which is why when the Saducees tested Jesus saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied,”To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and then to love your neighbour as yourself. (Matt 22:36-39)

    The greatest gift of all then becomes love not because of what we can do; because in perfect love there is no fear; fear was cast out in love. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 Jn 4:17-19).

    If He didn’t love us first there would be no love and we wouldn’t even exist, which is why everything else flows from His love for us.

    This’s the greatest gift that was given to us so use it, share it, in Jesus name.
  3. I'm dissapointed in your message. Only when a text (writing) is written in both Hebrew and Greek by the same author can comparisons between the meanings of words of the two languages be made such as you have tried to make. What you have done is make me never want to take a course by you.
    • Sorry to disappoint, Albert. I am not sure I understand what exactly upset you so much about what I wrote. I am not doing a technical exegetical inquiry here, just making some general observations and remarks beyond the Greek by looking into Hebrew.

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    • Albert ,was the Word of G-d written in Hebrew or Greek ? Is Y'Shua a Jew or Greek ? When Y'Shua was born ,was He born in Greece or Beit Lechem /Israel ? When Y'shua taught ,did He teach in the synagogues and the Temple in Yerushalayim ? Was the Torah written in Greek or Hebrew ? Was the Tanakh written in Hebrew or Greek ? What was the original language spoken ? Hebrew or Greek ? Hebrew is the original language .Y'Shua is a Jew and all of His talmidim and emissaries were Jews .

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    • Albert's concerns might be overdone regarding this lesson, but I understand his point. We can't necessarily equate how 2 different writers use the same word.
  4. I to would be disapointed in what Albert said. I feel he just does not understand what was being said. I agree with you there are many kinds of love and I am sure we have all gone through it. But the best of them is the one you have with your spouse, that is where we become one. With studies of Yeshua and the rest in the Torah and Prophits. I would say that they all went through it. Especially with David in what he did but he was forgiven by Hashem and Yeshua. I feel that if people would ask for forgiveness in that they would would be forgiven and beable to live a better life.
  5. In heaven, in God's Kingdom, we will not need faith or hope because everything thing miraculous will then be realized and actualized, but love will be eternal, in my opinion.
  6. Thank you Prof Pinchas for leading us to think upon these matters. I believe there is a passive love and an active love which was never more clearly seen than in the love of God who in deep love gave his only begotten Son to suffer and die for our salvation. I'm sure you agree that our love to God and man should be active and caring even as our beloved Lord has for us John 15v13. Thank you.
  7. I too am a bit disappointed...you don't clarify what "ahavah" means, what type of love it is, but make general comments about different types of love (which we already know), so there is no light shed on the meaning of either agape of ahavah in the context, or what else it could mean from what we already know, by looking into the Hebrew.
    • Heidi, the articles are supposed to merely stimulate a desire to study, to advance ways of thinking, not provide comprehensive information on each topic.
  8. I was a Pastor and Teacher who is now recovering from Christian fundamentalism and legalism and replacement theology ( the battle between Greek thought or Hebrew thought basically what represents sound biblical historical and cultural textual outcomes). So lost my work and most of my family in part of the process in the search for truth which was eating away at my conscience for years in the endless doctrines dogmas and a lack of ‘love’ and lack of obedience. Now having stopped teaching , I simply desire to seek and know what did the author intend in his original thought...easy...
    • Be blessed, Mark on your difficult journey. I know that it is hard when so many things change. It know that it is hard to know what is ahead in seasons like this. May you be renewed daily by the Almighty who gives strength to all who rely upon him. I think your quest is worthwhile, though few may walk it with you.

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  9. During WEII the island of Malta had no air defense against German air attack, until they discovered three fighters in crates in a warehouse. These turned out to be obsolete biplanes and no match for the Luftwaffe but they did make a difference until help arrived They were named Faith, Hope and Charity which was the KJV translation. Just a piece of history
  10. Prof. Pinchas Shir.
    Thank you for your teaching. -- Only once significant thought: In your first paragraph it was not clear that you were discussing "faith" -- That did become clear as you discussed hope and love.
    I feel for Mark Allen -- His is a difficult journey. To him I say this -- When Truth is more important that doctrine you have passed though the gate and are now on a narrow (and often lonely) road -- BUT I say with confidence that the journey is both fulfilling and enriching -- It is a tranquil road abundant with peace.
    • Thank you John i greatly appreciate your concern and comfort. My LORD has been sooooo good to me in the midst of the trials and i forget not all his benefits. All the very best Mark
    • John, your remarks concerning Mark are very insightful, especially the part about "Truth being more important than doctrine ....." My response to that is doctrine when based on scripture is always truth.
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