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Charity Never Faileth

Victor M. Eskew




A.     “And with the end of the war (WWII), married love underwent cultural changes.  For the first time in history, the decision to stay married became purely voluntary, depending on the depth of commitment there was in a couple’s married love” (Parrott, 85).  NOTE:  WWII ended September 2, 2945.


B.     The reason we note the changes in marital love is because it is a love that is sealed with vows. 

1.       If love that is sealed with vows can come to an end, what about other relationships involving love that are not sealed with vows?

2.       In the church, we say that we have love one for another, but

a.       Often it is a love that is practiced “at a distance” and without much actual displays of love.  We might properly refer to our love as Christians as a “tolerance” one for another.

b.      If we have truly loved a few brethren, some of us have “fallen out of love” with one or two for various reasons.


C.     Paul ends this list of the qualities of love with these words:  “Charity never faileth…” (I Cor. 13:8a).


D.    Let’s look at this final study under three headings.

1.       The definition of the trait

2.       Bible examples of this trait

3.       Application of the trait to our lives




A.     Never

1.       Strong (3763):  not even at any time, that is, never at all

2.       Thayer:  never


B.     Faileth

1.       Strong (1601):  to drop away; specifically be driven out of one’s course…to lose, become inefficient

2.       Thayer:  to be all out of, to fall down from, to fall off…to fall powerless, to fall to the ground, be without effect

3.       “It means that love never falls to the ground as do the petals of a faded flower, because there are in love no elements of decay; it means that love never loses its strength, as does a weary traveler who gives up a journey; it means that love never leaves its place, as do falling stars; and it means that love never drops out of line, as exhausted soldiers on a march fall by the way.  All love’s comrades may fail and fall, but she doggedly and patiently marches on” (Scroggie, 38).

4.       Robertson:  Love survives everything.

5.       Vincent:  fall off like a flower on a leaf…love holds its place

6.       Barnes: 

a.       To fall away, to fail, to be without effect to cease to be in existence

b.      Love is permanent…love is of enduring value

7.        Clarke:  it is necessary through life, but will exist throughout eternity


C.     Versions:

1.       KJV:  Charity never faileth

2.       ASV:  Love never faileth

3.       NKJV:  Love never fails

4.       NASV:  Love never fails

5.       ESV:  Love never ends

6.       NIV:  Love never fails

7.       NLT:  Love will last forever

8.       Phillips:  It is one thing that stands when all else has fallen

9.       MSG:  Love never dies.




A.     Jesus (John 13:1)


Now before the feast of Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.


1.       End

a.       Strong (5056):  to set out for a definite point or goal, the point aimed at as a limit

b.      Thayer:  the end…eternal

c.       “The Lord loved His own to the absolute limit.  He loved His own in the most perfect way that love can be expressed” (Jeremiah, 115).

2.       Romans 8:38-39


For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


B.     Perhaps the closest example of a never failing love from a human standpoint was the love which Jonathan and David had for one another.

1.       I Samuel 18:1


And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.


2.       I Samuel 18:3


Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.


3.       I Samuel 20:17


And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him:  for he loved him as his own soul.


4.       II Samuel 1:26


I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:  very pleasant hast thou been unto me:  thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.




A.     Paul put this in the contrast to the temporary nature of spiritual gifts that were causing division in the church at Corinth (I Cor. 13:8b).


…but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge; it shall vanish away.


1.       The church put so much emphasis on who had the greatest spiritual gift that is caused envy, strife, and divisions among them.

2.       The spiritual gifts were temporary.  One day they would be gone.  What would the Corinthians have at that point if they continued to argue over the miraculous gifts?  They would just have hate and division.

3.       When the miraculous gifts came to an end, Paul wanted them to have something lasting among them.  He wanted them to continue to have love one for another.

B.     There will never come a time when love will be incapable of performing.


C.     “You know what normally happens in human love?  We respond to our circumstance.  When things get bad we perform to our circumstance” (Jeremiah, 114).

1.       Our charity often ends

a.       When lust is no longer present

b.      When we have a disagreement with another

c.       When things are no longer exciting in a relationship

d.      When the money is gone

e.       When there are difficult obstacles to tackle (sickness, death of a child, etc.).

2.       Many individuals believe that they can practice “love at a distance.”

a.       They are angry with the person that they say they love.

b.      They withdraw from them, but say:  “Oh yes, I still love him/her.” 

1)       They forget that love is not just mouthing the words.

2)       Love involves action that can only be taken when they are with the one they love.


D.    “Love looks beyond the bounds of time and space; love takes eternity in its embrace” (Scroggie, 39).




A.     “It’s thrilling when scriptures use strong words like never, first, last, and best.  Imagine how much weaker this phrase would be if it read: ‘Charity hardly ever faileth,’ or, ‘There is really a good chance charity won’t fail’” (www.johnbytheway.com, “Charity Never Faileth”).


B.     Snow-capped peaks evaporate.

Rivers run dry.

Trees lose their leaves.

Famous buildings topple to the ground.

            Not love.  Charity never faileth.