Paul’s three favorite words
We all have favorite things that we really like. There are favorite foods to eat, favorite cars to drive, favorite movies to watch, favorite games to play, and so on. We even have favorites in the church. We have favorite songs or hymns that we like to sing, favorite Bible verses that we like to read, and favorite Bible stories that we like to have told to us. Even in the Bible, we can see some recognizable favorites. Different Bible writers, even though they were operating under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, had favorite words or expressions that they were fond of using.
In the writings of the Apostle Paul, we can readily see favorite themes such as joy, contentment, and faithfulness. But we can also identify some favorite words that he loved to use; three of which were faith, hope, and love. He used the word “faith” 187 times, the word “hope” 41 times, and the word “love” 81 times. Most interesting are those texts when Paul used all three favorite words in the same passage. One example of this is found in I Corinthians 13:13, where he said, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Other examples can be found in Colossians 1:4-5 and in I Thessalonians 1:2-3.