12:31 desire the higher gifts. The meaning of this sentence is disputed. Some believe it refers to the more important gifts in v. 28 (especially prophecy, 14:1); others argue that it introduces the discussion of love in ch. 13. Most likely, Paul is anticipating what he will say later about gifts for “building up the church” (14:12), i.e., speaking “words with my mind in order to instruct others” (14:19).
more excellent way. Before explaining what the “higher gifts” are, as he will in ch. 14, Paul must point out what is the essential condition for the proper exercise of any gift—love.