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The context of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 (spiritual gifts) appears to suggest that love (as well as hope and faith) is a spiritual gift:

31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. [1 Cor 12:31 ESV]

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. [1 Cor 13:13 ESV]

However, Galatians 5 presents love as a spiritual fruit:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Galatians 5:22-24 ESV]

Is love a spiritual gift or a spiritual fruit?

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  • Interesting. Up-voted +1. Faith works by love.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 21 at 17:30
  • Is there any reason why love cannot be both gift and fruit? "We love, because He first loved us" (1 Jn 4:19).
    – Nhi
    Jan 25 at 14:26

2 Answers 2

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Not so fast - love, and hope are never listed as spiritual gifts but part of the "fruit" (singular) of the Spirit. I will deal with faith shortly.

Note the distinction Paul makes between the "spiritual gifts" in 1 Cor 12:31 and the "much better" way involving the fruit of the Spirit. (Compare Gal 5:22, 23).

However, let there be no doubt that, "love come from God" (1 John 4:7). However, this is fundamentally different from the spiritual gifts for a very simple reason:

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16)

Let me make this clearer:

  • Spiritual gifts are for the upbuilding the church (Eph 4:12, 1 Cor 14:12) and thus will not be required in the next life (1 Cor 13:10)
  • Fruit of the Spirit will always be required both in this life and the next.

When God created mankind, he was made "in the image of God" (Gen 1:26, 27) and one of the principal ways this image is reflected is by the characteristic of love, faith, hope, joy peace, etc.

Faith

In the case of faith is listed both as a spiritual gift and part of the fruit of the Spirit. Thus it is needed for the upbuilding of the church and in the next life as well.

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  • Faith is listed among the spiritual gifts though (see 1 Cor 12:9). Jan 21 at 20:39
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - that is true but it is also part of the fruit of the Spirit and thus will be needed in the next life.
    – Dottard
    Jan 21 at 20:40
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - I was about to almost copy and past my answer here (now modified) into that one as well.
    – Dottard
    Jan 21 at 20:44
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    @GratefulDisciple - you are correct that faith is not needed for many things such as seeing the Lord. But faith is still required because we trust God to sustain us and do many things. So faith and trust in God will still be required but for different reasons in the next life.
    – Dottard
    Jan 22 at 2:25
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Romans 1:11

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you..". ESV

Here the sender is "spiritual", the Holy Spirit strenghtening the church.

The gift is delivered by postman Paul who imparts it.

Romans 12:6

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us".

Here the gift is whatever the Holy Spirit gives an individual. Individual gifts include service, teaching and exhortation. But "Let love be genuine". Romans 12:9. Here love is common to all, as opposed to the gifts which are only for individuals.

Revelation 22:2.

"the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations".

Perhaps today we do not see whole nations healed, but we do see the healing process in action in the nations.

Say someone gave an apple tree to someone else. The tree would be a gift, but a living gift. The gift itself being able to produce fruit every season for many years. Thus the gift produces fruit.

Why has God given us the Holy Spirit?

Partly at least for the same reason that someone might give an apple tree. i.e. They want its fruit to be part of the gift.

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