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Charity ; love to God and to men.
Sounding brass ; empty and worthless. As love to God and to men is the best gift which God bestows, all should most earnestly desire and cherish it in themselves and in others.
Gift of prophecy ; see note to chap 1 Corinthians 12:28 .
Understand all mysteries , and all knowledge ; have the power of unfolding all the deep counsels of God as contained in his word, and of declaring by inspiration what has been hitherto concealed from the world.
All faith ; the faith of miracles.
Men often eagerly pursue and glory in what will be to them of no permanent benefit. Nothing which they do or possess, without love to God and to men, will save them from perdition.
Suffereth long ; with patience, under injuries.
Is kind ; not to friends only, but to foes.
Envieth not ; is not uneasy at the prosperity of others.
Vaunteth not ; does not boast of its own excellence.
Seeketh not her own ; as the chief end; is not selfish, but benevolent.
Thinketh no evil ; is not disposed to impute to others evil designs.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity ; as is done by the selfish, whenever iniquity in themselves or others can be made subservient to their own personal interests, or the destruction of their enemies.
Rejoiceth in the truth ; in the reception and propagation of it, whoever may be the instruments, and whatever the effects on us.
Beareth all things ; inflicted by others, so far as is consistent with duty, without being disposed to publish their misconduct or to punish it.
Believeth-hopeth all things ; is disposed to put the best construction upon men’s conduct, and hope the best concerning them.
Endureth all things ; which it may be called to suffer in the path of duty. Love is so active in its nature and marked in its effects, that none need or ought to be in doubt whether they possess it.
Never faileth ; it will continue to eternity; while the gifts of foretelling future events, or of miraculously speaking with tongues, or by inspiration understanding and communicating divine truth, will soon pass away as no longer necessary.
We know in part ; that is, in our present state.
We prophesy in part ; we are not capable of either receiving or communicating truth by prophecy, except in a partial and imperfect way.
That which is perfect ; the perfect knowledge of heaven.
That which is in part ; our present imperfect knowledge, with our present imperfect means of gaining it through prophecies, tongues, etc.
A child-a man ; as the conceptions and speech of a lisping infant differ from those of an educated and full-grown man, so do our highest attainments in this life differ from what they will be in the life to come.
Childish things ; the imperfect conceptions and reasonings of a child. Supply, So in heaven we shall put away our imperfect conceptions of God’s truth, and our imperfect helps for gaining it.
Now ; in our present earthly state.
We see through a glass , darkly ; our knowledge of God and divine truth is indirect and obscure, like that of a man who looks not directly on the object itself, but only on a dim image of it, such as was reflected from the imperfect mirrors of the ancients.
But then ; in heavenly state.
Face to face ; that is, immediately, and clearly, as one looks on the face of another. Compare Numbers 12:8 ; and Exodus 33:11 ; Deuteronomy 34:10 .
Shall I know ; God and divine truth.
Even as also I am known ; more literally, even as also I have been known; that is, known by God in the present state; where our knowledge of him, though real and saving, is yet so faint and imperfect, that it may be better said that we are known of God, than that we know him. Galatians 4:9 . The apostle plainly has in mind not the extent of our knowledge in the heavenly state, but rather its manner, as direct and clear.
Abideth ; according to some, will outlive all miraculous gifts; according to others, will abide for ever: faith in the sense of confidence in God and Christ; and hope, as the joyous looking forward to an eternity of ever increasing blessedness.
The greatest of these is charity ; not only in itself, but because it is the root and ground of the other two. Things which are only temporary should never awaken our deepest interest or be our chief concern. Nothing should do this that will not last for ever.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17