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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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    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, 2022 at 14:26
  • Or is it a place, or even state of being? John 15:9 Abide in my love. Jude 1:21 Keeping yourself in the love of God. Feb 28, 2023 at 16:30

6 Answers 6

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I think it is best to read further, in 1 Corinthians 14:1:

Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts ...

This clarifies that love is not itself a spiritual gift, but something higher and set apart.

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Romans 5:5

"and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into out hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us."

The Holy Spirit has been given to us; God's love has been poured/ekcheo/bestowed liberally into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

John 5:5

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

A close dependent relationship between God and us, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, enables the fruit of the Holy Spirit to grow.

Galations 5:22

"The fruit of the Spirit is love,..".

Love is the first fruit mentioned here. A fruit of the Spirit.

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. The fruit is a significant part of the gift.

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Perhaps the best way to think about this question is to identify whether those options are mutually exclusive (i.e. an "either-or"). Physicists use to ask the question, "Is light a wave or a particle?" They asked because it demonstrated characteristics of both. To their surprise, they eventually learned that that answer to their question was "It's actually both."

I would suggest that love can be a gift given by the Spirit (feelings that we do not automatically have for othres), and also a fruit of living in harmony with the Spirit (a result of our Christian service and sacrifices for each other).

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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 comes 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 (love, joy, peace, etc, Gal 5:22, 23) 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).
    – user38524
    Jan 21, 2022 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, 2022 at 20:40
  • What are your thoughts on this question: Will faith and hope continue or cease when the perfect comes? 1 Corinthians 13
    – user38524
    Jan 21, 2022 at 20:41
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - I was about to almost copy and past my answer here (now modified) into that one as well.
    – Dottard
    Jan 21, 2022 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, 2022 at 2:25
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It might be helpful to reflect on how the love of God is not the same kind of love that humans naturally have for their children, their spouses, their relatives, their closest friends. Humans can have such love, even if they don't believe any God exists.

So, what is this love that is unique to those who love the only true God?

This text shows that is given to some by the power of the Holy Spirit:

"And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us." Romans 5:5 A.V.

It does not say "love for God" but "love of God", suggesting that it is God's love that is given to those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That would harmonize with the text that says God loved us first, before we ever loved him - 1 John 4:8-11

The process (if that's not the wrong word to use) is first, God's love for us, shown supremely in his initiative in sending his Son to die for our sins, and us being deeply moved by that, in confession, faith, and in loving Christ. As Jesus explained to his followers:

"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him [via the indwelling Holy Spirit vs. 26].

He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing...

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." John 14:23 & 15:5, 8 K.J.

This shows how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enable us to receive the love of God, and for that gift of love to grow in us as we abide in the Son, producing the fruit of love. All of this is done via the working of the Holy Spirit so it can be seen how this love is the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of some (not all) and such divine love produces fruit to the glory of God. The Holy Spirit being the one who produces such fruit, it can truly be said to be a fruit of the Spirit, just as much as he gifts it to us in the first place.

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God is love living on the inside by faith for all the redeemed children's who believes in the Son of God. Jesus Christ which by faith and grace atone and redeemed the sinners of their sins. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ resurrected and is resurrecting us on the inside daily as we come closer to Him, in obedience to all his commands and commandments rescuing our very souls from death.The Holy Spirit is our witness to this change within our lives by our actions and our words and works in which we give our fellow men. All who are born again is born again in the human spirit by the Spirit of God which dwell within all God's children's. It's a progressive transforming of sanctification process of the Spirit of God working His perfect Will in us and it takes on a new nature in our character Christlike, Even until achieving the mind of God to an extent for God alone is all knowing not men. Our thinking, can be pleasing, our behavior our words can be genuine, our moral conduct can be changed in ways we have never fathom possible only with the work of the Holy Spirit of God living within us all things are possible. The Holy Spirit of God is Truth is all powerful functioning on the inside out a living organizm living and breathing Christ within His saints apart from Him we can do nothing. These functioning we can't do on our own, only God can destroy the work of the enemy in our ondition hearts the perfect Will of God is to restore men to His perfect image. We can not serve two masters we either renounce to our old nature and take on the new nature... So that we can experience the fullness of God's love among each other and all the wonderful gifts and fruit of the Spirit for the uplifting and building up the five fold ministry in The Church of God, A living, breathing active organizm not an organization like many are custom to represent. Let us continue in obedience to God's instructions and teachings by his disciples, apostles and prophets until we become living breathing Epistles for the glory and honor of the God who called us out to be made whole and separated in Christ Jesus. All mankind will have to one day give an account to God for there thoughts, words, behavior and actions with their fellow men let us try to be at peace and unity to all so that this God given nations can start to heal from their wicked ways and turn away towards God, for divine healing and power the world is wathing the Church. Let us continue In Faith, hope and the greatest gift ever given to mankind Jesus Christ is the gift, and God's love to all who receive Him. The gift of grace...is an undeserving gift of love and Mercy. Let us my brothers and sisters Service one another in spirit and in truth for the broken heart's are in need of healing and healing is freely given and placed in your hands to give, so continue given to the needs your obedience to God is highly important. Thank You OH faithful One,Son of God your love and compassion has changed the lives of many in faith,and by faith my hope must importantly be in your faithfulness and love for all mankind. Shalom, Shalom all ye faithful one's. God bless you all. May the anointing power of Father God, Son and Holy Spirit shower you all with peace and harmony on Earth and with a greater cause to continue in Love.

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