13 5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 [1-13] This chapter involves a shift of perspective and a new point. All or part of the material may once have been an independent piece in the style of Hellenistic eulogies of virtues, but it is now integrated, by editing, into the context of 1 Cor 12-14 (cf the reference to tongues and prophecy) and into the letter as a whole (cf the references to knowledge and to behavior). The function of 1 Cor 13 within the discussion of spiritual gifts is to relativize all the charisms by contrasting them with the more basic, pervasive, and enduring value that gives them their purpose and their effectiveness. The rhetoric of this chapter is striking.
2 [1-3] An inventory of gifts, arranged in careful gradation: neither tongues (on the lowest rung), nor prophecy, knowledge, or faith, nor even self-sacrifice has value unless informed by love.
3 [4-7] This paragraph is developed by personification and enumeration, defining love by what it does or does not do. The Greek contains fifteen verbs; it is natural to translate many of them by adjectives in English.
4 [8-13] The final paragraph announces its topic, Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8), then develops the permanence of love in contrast to the charisms (1 Cor 13:9-12), and finally asserts love's superiority even over the other "theological virtues" (1 Cor 13:13).
5  In speaking of love, Paul is led by spontaneous association to mention faith and hope as well. They are already a well-known triad (cf 1 Thes 1:3), three interrelated (cf 1 Cor 13:7) features of Christian life, more fundamental than any particular charism. The greatest . . . is love: love is operative even within the other members of the triad (7), so that it has a certain primacy among them. Or, if the perspective is temporal, love will remain (cf "never fails," 1 Cor 13:8) even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession.