Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 13

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-13

XIII 1. ’Charity’: the Greek word has much the same range of meaning as ’love’ in English. ’Brass’: i.e. trumpet or gong. ’Tinkling’: ’Clashing’. He seems to choose instruments which cannot play a tune.

2. ’Mysteries’: secret unrevealed spiritual knowledge. Perhaps this charisma is ’the utterance of wisdom’ in 12:8. ’Faith’: see note on 12:9.

3. ’Distribute . . .’: almsgiving is among the charismata in Romans 12:8. It must mean almsgiving on a heroic scale. ’To be burned’: he is probably thinking of the fiery furnace in Dan ch 3 or of the Maccabean martyrs (2 Mac 7) for we do not know that any Christian martyrs were burned till a.d. 64, some years after this. But the two best Greek manuscripts read: If I lay down my life for vainglory and have no love . . .’

4-7 Description of the Beauty of Christian Love—4. ’Dealeth not perversely’; probably: ’is not ostentatious’. 5. ’Is not ambitious’, ’does nothing dishonourable’.7. ’Rejoiceth with the truth’: i.e. shares in the joy which God and all good men receive from goodness and holiness. Truth here means practically goodness, cf. 2 Corinthians 13:8; John 3:21; 1 John 1:6.

8-13 Other Charismata are Transitory, Love is Eternal —The other charismata are bound up with the weakness and imperfection of our present state, and become superfluous hereafter. It now becomes clear that God, not our neighbour, is the first object of love.

8. ’Falleth away’; ’Is never done with, never becomes obsolete,’cf.Luke 16:17. ’Prophecies’: i.e. various instances of the prophetic charisma. ’Made void . . . destroyed’: ’superseded’. The Greek word is the same in both cases and also at the end of v 10.

9. ’In part’: or ’imperfectly’. The knowledge that he speaks of is knowledge of God, cf. 12 f. In this world our knowledge of God is indirect and imperfect, based on comparisons and contrasts to things which come within our experience. This dim picture will be abandoned when we know Him directly, ’face to face’. So also the prophet’s shadowy foreknowledge is superseded by the reality, and the gift of languages is clearly useless after this life.

10. ’When . . .’: i.e. in the future life.

11. Our present life is compared to childhood.

12. ’See’ i.e. see God. ’Glass mirror’,i.e. indirectly, by a reflexion, which in ancient mirrors (they were only polished metal) would generally be rather dim. ’In a dark manner’. The Greek word ainigma (riddle) is used in the OT sense of parable or comparison or figurative language. Therefore ’by means of (earthly) imagery’. ’Am known’: or perhaps ’have been known’, and there may be the incidental thought that God’s knowledge means God’s approval (8:3) though this is unessential to the argument. The conclusion of all this reasoning (8-12) had already been stated at its commencement, and is not repeated. Charity on earth and in heaven is essentially the same, differing only in degree, and is therefore an eternal virtue. 13. ’And now’ seems to mean ’For the present’ or ’meanwhile’, for Paul himself intimates elsewhere that faith and hope are only for this life, 2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 8:24: they naturally cease when we see what we have believed in, and attain to what we have hoped for.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/1-corinthians-13.html. 1951.
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