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Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 13

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-13

2. The measure of the worth and the rule of the use of the gifts; love, its worth (1 Corinthians 13:1 ff.), nature (1 Corinthians 13:4 ff.), and eternal duration, in contrast with the transient gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8 ff.)

1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

1     Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love, 2 ἀγάπην], I am become [have become, γέγονα] as sounding brass, or a tinkling [clattering, ἀλαλαζον] cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love, ἀγἁπην], I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor [have fed out (in morsels) all my goods, φωμίσω πἁντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντὰ,1 and though I give [have delivered up, παραδῶ] my body to be burned,2 and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself [sheweth not itself περπεπεύεται], is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked [whetted up to anger, παροξύνεται], thinketh no evil [makes no account of the evil, λογίζεται τὺ κακόν] 6Rejoiceth not in [at the, ἐπὶ τῇ] iniquity, but rejoiceth in 7[along with, συγχαίρει] the truth; Beareth [puts up with, στέγει] all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth [falls away, ἐκπίπτει]:3 but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [come to nought καταργηθήσονται; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, 9it shall vanish away [come to nought, καταργηθήσεται]. For4 we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then [om. then]5 that which is in part shall be done away [come to nought, καταργηθήσεται]. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood [perceived, ἐφρόνουν]6 as a child, I thought [reasoned, ἐλογιζόμην] as a child: but [om. but] when I became a man, I put away [brought to nought, κατήργηκα]7 childish things. 12For now we see through a glass-[as by a mirror, δἰ ἐσύπτρου], darkly [in an enigma, ἐν αἰνἱγματι]; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know [fully know, ἐπιγνὠσομαι] even as also I am known 13[was fully known, ἐπεγνὠσθην]. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of [greater among, μείζων τούτων] these is charity.


[The “supremely excellent way,” by which to ascertain the best gifts and to regulate their use, is the subject which occupies the whole of this chapter. This way is in the original termed ἀγάπη, unhappily translated in our version in accordance with the LXX. by the word charity, which is by no means its English equivalent. The substantive ἀγάπη from the verb ἀγαπαῶ is, as Trench remarks, “a purely Christian word, no example of its use occurring in any heathen writer whatever,” and it was employed by the inspired writers, to denote love in its highest and purest sense—a love which embraced as its proper objects both God and man. And this is the rendering adopted by the translators Tindal and Cranmer as well as in the Geneva version; and it is to be regretted that the precedent, here set has not been followed in the version of King James, inasmuch as the word “charity,” adopted in this connection, has given rise to many errors of thought and practice. Many have in consequence been led to think that alms-giving and kindness to the sick and the poor is the sum total of all religion, because of the superior worth here ascribed to charity, exalting it above both faith and hope. But what the Apostle here speaks of, is not any one particular virtue or grace, but that which is the root and spring of all virtues and graces, and which to possess is to be both like God and in God. In describing and recommending this fundamental grace, therefore the Apostle might well be expected to enlarge most eloquently. Accordingly, we have here presented to us a chapter which, as Hodge well remarks, “for moral elevation, for richness and comprehensiveness, for beauty and felicity of expression, has been the admiration of the Church in all ages.” Paul here exhibits to us love after the manner of a jeweller handling the most precious gem of his cabinet, turning it on every side, shewing it in varied lights, and holding it up to view in a way best fitted to awaken desire for its possession. As Tertullian says, “his description of love is uttered totis Spiritus viribus, with all the strength of the Spirit”].

1 Corinthians 13:1. The worth of love is first set forth negatively, by the assertion of the utter worthlessness even of the highest endowments and of the greatest self-sacrifices, when not associated with it. [“In this passage there is a climax throughout. He begins with mentioning the gift of tongues, as it was against the exaggerated estimate of this, that he had chiefly to contend.” Stanley.].—Though,—̓Εὰν, supposing that; he here imagines a case which might possibly occur—“a case in the future,” as Meyer says, “the realization of which must be known by the event.”—I speak with the tongues, ταῖζ γλώσσαις; the article indicates the thing in general—‘with all possible tongues’. And these he exhibits in their highest conceivable development,—of men and of angels.—If we adopt the rendering languages, we shall have to insist on the idea that there were various classes of angels, and then assume either various modes of spiritual communication among them, or a diversity in the forms of expression used, according to their various orders and ranks without involving, however, any such rupture or disharmony as appears in human languages and dialects. But if we adopt the rendering tongues as meaning organs of speech, then we must suppose a reference here to some mighty jubilation, rung out in all the fullness of tone of which angels and men were capable. Besser says, “with angel tongues whereby the glory of God’s face, as beheld by them, is set forth.” Ewald says, “with tongues far more wonderful and enchanting than those employed on earth by the ordinary speakers with tongues who could not like the angels adopt a purely heavenly strain.” We are at any rate to reject the interpretation of Heydenreich, who takes the expression to denote all sorts of tongues in general, and that of Calvin, who regards this as “a hyperbolical expression to denote what is singular or distinguished;8 or that of others, who take it simply as implying some eloquence higher than human. [Alford says, “it is hardly possible to understand γλώσσαι here of anything but articulate forms of speech,” and so also Hodge].—and have not love.—ἀγάπη in this connection means that brotherly affection which excludes all self-seeking in the possession and use of gifts, and is directed exclusively to the furtherance of the welfare of the brotherhood. It implies a perfect acceptance of the divine life as the principle of all action—a pervading of the entire disposition by the fundamental moral nature of God, while in the particular gifts the several sides of human life are laid hold of and fashioned by the operations of the divine power; or, in other words, special forms of life and action are combined with divine powers which all necessarily presuppose a perfect union of the human will with the divine will, and that perfection of the divine life which is implied in love. (Comp. also Matthew 7:22). Osiander states the matter somewhat differently, p. 580. Neander well asks here: “how shall we conceive of that which can only proceed from the power of a Christian life as existing, where the very principle of that life, even love, is wanted?” To this he replies: “it may indeed happen that the Christian life actually existed in a man, though in a troubled state, love having departed, while yet the power it gave, continues a while longer, just as a chord continues to vibrate after it has once been smitten. It is possible also that the particular gift itself may lead to the fall, through the selfishness which fastens upon it and perverts it to its own ends.”—I have become, γέγουα, i.e., by the reception of such gifts as that mentioned; [or as Hodge better says, “through the mere want of love which notwithstanding the gift in question would reduce me to a level with—sounding brass.”]—This denotes, not exactly a brazen musical instrument, but any resonant piece of brass. The instrument is first specified in the following—or a clanging cymbal,—an instrument like a hollow basin which struck by another of the same sort emits a shrill, clanging sound (comp. 2 Samuel 6:5). [For a description of the cymbal in its several varieties see Smith’s Dic. of the Bib.]. The verb ἁλαλάζειν is onomatopoetic and was formed to express the loud yell with which an army rushed into battle; and then from this it came to mean the making of any loud noise. The epithet here is certainly suggestive rather of loud and confused exclamation on the part of the speakers with tongues [so Hodge, referring to 1 Corinthians 14:23], than of any such muttering in low and scarcely audible tones as some have ascribed to them. But to suppose an intimation intended of the repulsiveness and annoyance of the din occasioned by them, as Chrysostom does, is hardly warranted.9 The point of the comparison is, as Meyer states it, that ‘the man who speaks with never so many tongues, and is at the same time devoid of love, becomes but the organ of a foreign impulse, without independent worth,’ and, as Besser adds, “having neither emotion nor consciousness.”—and though I have prophecy,—i.e.., the gift of prophecy. This in Paul’s view was something higher than the former, because it contributed more to the edification, of the Church, and furthermore, because it was combined with a clear self-consciousness which was wanting in the other case. Yet, excellent as this gift was, we see in the instance of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15; Numbers 22:0) [also of Caiaphas, John 11:49 ff.] how worthless it is when not united with love. But how are we to connect this with that next mentioned?—and know all the mysteries and all knowledge.—Are these particulars only designations of the degrees in which the gift of prophecy was had? or are they special gifts? The former is apparently sustained by the fact that the particles “and though” are not repeated until we come to the next gift, and so the three seem included under one head (so Meyer). But although ‘the knowledge of mysteries,’ as implying a supernatural revelation like that in prophecy, may suit with this construction, yet the other expression “all knowledge” is just as far the other way (see on 1 Corinthians 12:8). [Besides, Paul elsewhere distinguishes between prophecy and knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10); and to this it may be added that the words ‘mysteries’ and ‘knowledge’ depend not on “I have,” but ‘I know’]. Hence it were better to understand him as speaking of separate gifts proceeding from the divine illumination and serving to enlighten others. The first of these, ‘the knowledge of mysteries’ (which possibly may be the same as “wisdom,” 1 Corinthians 12:8), implies a direct insight into the secret counsels of God as brought out in the great plan of redemption. This, indeed, could not be had without revelation, such as that which forms the basis also of prophecy, from which it is distinguished also by the nature of the objects involved; while it itself forms the basis rather of instruction. But inasmuch as the prophet may be at the same time an earnest inquirer, and through the help of the Spirit, may become a profound explorer into the truth of God’s revelation, there is nothing in the nature of the case to prevent our accepting Meyer’s view as expressed above. The extent of these gifts is represented as the greatest conceivable by the repeated use of the term “all.”—The union of the words “and all knowledge” directly with the verb “I know,” gives rise to the constructio conjugati (Osiander), or a zeugma10 (Meyer), so that instead of “I know” you must supply some such verb as ‘I have.’—And though I have all faith,—i.e., faith in its whole extent and fullest measure. The word here means a power of will energized by faith (Neander).—so that I could remove mountains,—i.e., so as to be able to accomplish that which transcends our natural powers, and appears impossible. (Comp. Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21). The expression can hardly be derived from a supposed tradition of Christ’s speeches, but must rather be taken as a current proverb. [Inasmuch as the term faith is used in a variety of senses, we must be careful to observe the special signification in which it is here employed. Chrysostom calls it “the faith of miracles,” that which apprehends Christ simply in His wonder-working power, and may sometimes exist in an unsanctified person, like Judas. Nothing can be inferred therefore from Paul’s statement here to the disparagement of faith as the fundamental grace of the Christian life (Calvin)].—I am nothing.—A short and expressive statement of the result. Without love, though endowed with these most remarkable gifts which are so highly esteemed and capable of such use, and which seem to indicate a special divine favor, a person is in fact a mere nullity. [“They do not elevate his character, or render him worthy of respect or confidence. Satan may have, and doubtless has, more of intelligence and power than any man ever possessed, and yet he is Satan still. Those, therefore, who seek to exalt men by the mere cultivation of the intellect, are striving to make Satans of them,” Hodge].—He advances in the climax by next mentioning acts which are regarded as the exercises of a love of the most ardent, and self-sacrificing kind, but which are, nevertheless, affirmed to avail nothing when devoid of their proper actuating spirit. Such acts are but the outward forms of love, which may be performed under the promptings of a refined selfishness and vanity; or, as Besser, says, “are the forth-puttings of a self-will, which, being devoid of love, expends itself in empty, fruitless blossoms.” Since he is here speaking of transient acts, he employs the aorist forms ψωμίσω and παραδῶ.—And though I dole out all my goods.—The verb ψωμίζειν, when used primarily with a personal object (Romans 12:20), means to feed as a mother docs her babe, by putting into its mouth little morsels previously chewed; then, to feed in general, to nourish. When used with the accusative of the thing, it means to feed out, to distribute to the poor.11And though I give my body that I may be burned.—The reading ἵυα καυθήσομαι is strongly supported…but καυθήσωμαι is a barbarism, though found in several editions. [See Winer II. § xiii, i.e.]. The burning here may be either a burning to death, or simple torture by fire. Perhaps Paul had in mind such events as are recorded in Daniel 3:19 ff.; Daniel 2:0 Maccabees 7. The history of his time had not yet furnished any instances of martyrdom at the stake; but in accordance with the precedents just alluded to, and through the outlook which he cast into the future, he might here have anticipated something of the sort in spirit.—It is entirely erroneous to suppose that the reference here is to branding, as that of slaves; the usual words for this are στίζειν and στιγματίζειν. And still less can he allude to the casting of one’s self into the fire in presumptuous expectation of Divine deliverance. The parallelism with the first clause naturally suggests the idea of a self-sacrifice for the good of others. [This is the thought which Hodge considers to be presented here]. But this does not exclude the idea of a martyr-death, inasmuch as such a death may serve to manifest both an unwavering confidence in God, and also a readiness to devote one’s self, body and life, for the benefit of others. But if such self-devotion did not spring from love, it is obvious that the martyrdom thus suffered would be only of a kind that often occurred later in the history of the church—[a mere parade of heroic endurance or defiance]. Thus the gloss early arose, ί̓να καυχήσωμαι, in order that I may boast; which then would have so much the more easily come into the place of the more difficult, and grammatically singular καυθήσωμαι since it would have involved the change of only one letter. This gloss would also, in such a connection, be both flat and disturbing to the sense.—I am profited nothing.—Thus he takes down all conceit about the meritoriousness of such works. The divine reward, i.e., the crown of righteousness (1 Timothy 4:8), can only be given to a humble disinterested love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7. In this paragraph we have a eulogy of love in a description of its qualities, setting forth its superior excellence both positively and negatively. The beauty of the description is heightened by a personification of love, to which those things are ascribed that are found in such as truly love. Throughout the whole there are occasional side-glances at the faults in the Corinthian Church, which stood in contrast with the excellences set forth.—Love suftereth long, and is kind;—Here we have opposite aspects of the same quality. The former expression denotes the withholding of anger, or displeasure at the offences or failings of others, and thus implies the overcoming of a natural indignation; the latter denotes the exhibition of a mild, gracious, tender disposition. The word χρηστεύεται [from χρήστος, useful] occurs only here in all the New Testament; and elsewhere we find it only in the Church Fathers. It primarily means disposed to be useful. Calvin exhibits the contrast thus—in tolerandis malis—in conferendis bonis. Next follows a series of statements in which several bad features are denied to love.—love envieth not;—The word ζηλοῦν, as here used, denotes the exhibition of wrong or unpleasant feelings in view of advantages possessed by others, giving rise to strife and schism; so ζηλος in Romans 13:13, and elsewhere.—love vaunteth not itself,—περπερεύεται is onomatopoetic [“and comes from the old Latin word perperus, a braggart.—See Polybius 32:6, 5; 1Co 40:6, 2;” Stanley]. It means to show off one’s self—to cut a swell, make a display, especially with false pretences, to talk big, to swagger.12Next we have an allusion to the inward ground of all such conduct.—is not puffed up,i.e., inflated with vanity. As this expresses the subjective state of conceit and self-exaltation, so does the former express the natural manifestation of this in boasts over advantages possessed, and in attempts to get honor for them. [Of course there is a contrast here implied. Through these negatives he would give them to understand that “love is modest and humble; modest because humble.” Or as Chrysostom beautifully says: “He adorns love not only from what she hath, but also from what she hath not. For he saith that she both brings in virtue, and extirpates vice, nay, rather she suffers it not to spring up at all”.]—does not behave itself unseemly,—The word ἀσχημονεῖν does not allude precisely to such conduct as is rebuked in 1 Corinthians 11:5, but rather to an unseemly obtrusiveness in the use of gifts (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:27 ff.; 1 Corinthians 14:39). [Meyer and Hodge interpret the word of unseemly conduct in general, i.e., “love does nothing of which one ought to be ashamed; its whole deportment is decorous and becoming.”]—seeketh not her own,—Here we have the exact opposite of the real nature of love, a selfish seeking after one’s own advantage, honor, and influence as the great thing to be obtained (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:33).—“Love seeks not its own pleasure, its own enjoyment, its own reputation, its own advantage, its own freedom—yea, not its own blessedness, for, as a general thing, it seeks nothing which it would have alone for itself.” Besser.—is not provoked to anger,—[παροξύνεται; “ the expression is a strong one, and denotes all those feelings of violent irritation, and bitter exacerbation, which are so easily excited in an irritable man.” Bloomfield].—It points back to the long-suffering spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Osiander distinguishes it from the former (which he explains as shewing meekness under wrong in general) by the explanation ‘love does not allow itself to be aroused even into a transient passion, such as arises from the supposed infringement of one’s own claims and interest.’ Hence this declaration is closely connected with the one immediately preceding; and as much so with what follows.—imputeth not the evil;—οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν; this does not refer to the evil which proceeds from one’s-self, as though λογίζεθσαι meant to think upon, to meditate, as in Jeremiah 26:3; Nahum 1:9; and as Luther renders it: “Sie trachtet nicht nach Schaden;” but it refers only to the evil done to it, q. d., ‘love does not charge the evil inflicted,’ ‘does not carry it ever in mind, but forgives it.’ (Comp. the word as used in Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19, and elsewhere). The rendering ‘suspect’ [given by Grot., Heyden., and adopted by Jon. Edwards in his celebrated discourses on this chapter] is, to say the least, doubtful. It is opposed by the article before κακόν, ‘the evil,’ [which evidently implies the actual existence of some particular evil that was to be dealt with; so Alford, Hodge].—rejoiceth not at the iniquity,—Here, too, the thing spoken of is found outside of the subject, as may be seen from the positive antithetic clause which follows. [Jon. Edwards takes the opposite view, and understands the passage as affirming that love, so far from delighting in the practice of iniquity, tends towards holiness in the life. This is to overlook the general drift of the passage, which is rather to represent love in its relations to others]. But the iniquity to which he alludes is not iniquity in general—iniquity as it triumphs and spreads, and because it is in the ascendancy [Stanley, Wordsworth]; but, more suitably with the context, iniquity as perpetrated by particular individuals, and rebounding to their own hurt [Alford]. The trait here brought out, is that disposition to rejoice in the downfall or injury of others (Schadenfreude), which springs out of ill-will or jealousy, and which is gladdened when those who are envied for their advantages are compelled through some mis-step to come down from their high position and incur disgrace. This explanation is more natural than to suppose such a love intended as blindly or falsely approves even the errors of others, applaudit male agentibus (Grot.); comp. Romans 1:32; Romans 12:9.—As a contrast with this, he says,—but rejoiceth with the truth;—συγχαίρει δὲ τῇ�, not “at the truth,” thus making the συν in composition only intensive [as do most of the commentators and the E. V., altogether overlooking the force of the verb and the altered construction]; nor as though the persons concerned were also taken into the account as Bengel: gratulatur [justis] justitiam; but, “with the truth,” truth being here personified. It is taken either to denote the absolute truth contained in the Gospel (Colossians 1:5; Colossians 4:0 Thess. 1 Corinthians 2:12, etc.) the aim of which is to make morality prevalent and which rejoices in the attainment of this end (Meyer); or in an ethical sense, as the good. Burger says : “ the truth in the fullest sense (John 3:21; John 8:32-44) as the ground of true morality;” and Neander: “Paul here traces back the idea of the good to that of the divine truth.” Or it is interpreted subjectively, moral good in the concrete, i.e., men who have been rescued to morality (Rückert); or the heart filled and sanctified by the truth and by obedience to it (Osiander). The ethical interpretation suits best with the antithesis; to that immorality, which is a violation of the divine righteousness and the divine will, there is here contrasted the harmony of human life in will and act with God and His will, i.e., truth in a moral sense. With this, whereever it appears, love rejoices; it holds fellowship with it, and shares in the joy of its success. [So Hodge, who says: “the sympathy of love with the Gospel, therefore, does not seem to be appropriate in this connection, for it is of love as a virtue of which Paul is speaking”].—The conclusion of this description is made up of four positive statements. The first πάντα στέγει is variously rendered. The verb may be construed either as in 1 Corinthians 9:12, “it suffereth all things,” and so be referred to the pains and privations endured for the benefit of others (Burger), in distinction from the υπομένει,endureth, that follows, which is referred to the trials and persecutions inflicted by others. Or it may be rendered “covers up all things,” i.e., conceals and is silent about those faults of others which a malignant selfishness would gladly expose; as Bengel very finely says: “hides to itself and to others.” So rendered it would stand in easy connection with the “rejoicing not in iniquity” of 1 Corinthians 13:6, and also would suit well with what follows. [Jon. Edwards interprets the clause as denoting a disposition which makes us willing for Christ’s sake to undergo all sufferings to which we may be exposed in the way of duty! But this, however, truly it may be asserted of love, is hardly consistent with the drift of the passage. It is better to adhere to the strict meaning of the verb στὲγειν, to cover, which, as used by Paul, carries with it the idea of covering over and bearing in silence whatever may be put upon one. So Stanley and Wordsworth].—believeth all things,i.e., shows a trustful disposition which instead of suspiciously and malignantly surmising and exposing faults, is ever inclined to suppose the existence of a good not seen, and in failures to presume the existence of a right intention.—To this then is added,—hopeth all things.—This denotes the disposition to hope for all good by looking unto God (comp. Philippians 1:7); confidently to expect the future victory of good in others, whatever may be the faults and imperfections which for the present bar such hope. [Many commentators are disposed to widen the acceptation of these two last qualities, and to give them a religious significance. So Jon. Edwards who regards the Apostle as here connecting love with faith and hope, thus showing how all the graces of Christianity are connected together in mutual dependence; and De Wette says: “ the religious ideas, faith, hope, patience, are too well known not to be supposed to come into play here. A proper confidence in our neighbor passes over in many respects into the faith we have in the wisdom and goodness of God; the hope, by virtue of which we anticipate good in relation to our fellow-men, mounts up into the hope we have in the final victory of the kingdom of God; and the patience with which we endure opposition for our neighbors’ sake, partakes of our steadfastness in doing battle for the kingdom of God. The true way therefore will be to interpret these statements both morally in relation to our neighbor, and religiously, in relation to God.” But, however true in itself, this expansion of thought may be, it is questionable whether the Apostle intended to give his language this scope].—From this there follows the ability for that which is expressed in the next clause,—endureth all things,—whether it be taken in the sense of expecting in patience, or of calmly enduring everything painful and trying that appears in the object of our hope. [“The verb ὑπομέυειν, as Hodge says, is properly a military word, and means to sustain the assault of an enemy. Hence it is used in the New Testament to express the idea of sustaining the assaults of suffering or persecution, in the sense of bearing up under them, and enduring them patiently (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 12:2). This clause, therefore, differs from that at the beginning of the verse; as that had reference to annoyances and troubles [or, still better, to faults and offences], this to suffering and persecutions.” Edwards, however, in consistency with his previous exposition interprets this clause as expressing the final perseverance of love, enduring to the end; this likewise must be considered as transcending the Apostle’s line of thought. The union of faith and patience appears also in 2 Thessalonians 1:3, comp. 2 Timothy 2:25. The expression “all things” is of course to be taken with a degree of allowance. In the first instance it im plies ‘all things’ which may be endured or concealed so far as duty and conscience do not require their exposure; in the two following it means ‘all things’ so far as truth allows, so that a person does not impose on himself, nor yield to groundless fancies; and in the last it is to be understood so as not to exclude that earnest reproof which circumstances may demand, [or, taking the second explanation given above, so as not to exclude such a resistance to injury and wrong as the public good or the interests of righteousness may require]. In this way the whole description becomes beautifully consistent. Besides, in this way the first explanation of στέγειν, which has in its favor Pauline usage, is not set aside. To suppose a close connection here with 1 Corinthians 13:6, is by no means necessary; the voluntary enduring of all possible labors and hardships for the good of others, in striving for their salvation, expressed in the first clause of this verse, is naturally joined with the acts expressed in what follows. Besides, we need not understand by the last clause [as Hodge does] the endurance of persecutions and the like, and can hold fast to the second of the explanations given above. Mark the climax of expressions in this beautiful verse. “ Whatever love may encounter from others that is calculated to make it impatient, all this it bears; whatever can make it distrustful, all this it trusts for; whatever might serve to destroy hope in a neighbor, all this it hopes for; whatever might cause it to sink in weakness, beneath all this it holds its ground in firmness and endurance.” Meyer.—After having exhibited the excellence of love by portraying those fundamental features of it which are found also in its divine Archetype (Romans 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 3:20; Titus 3:4; Ephesians 2:7) he proceeds to display its excellence still further by showing the permanence of those things in respect to which it stands preëminent.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13. The main proposition in the following exposition here stands first. As to the original text, critics are not yet agreed as to whether, with the Rec., it is to be read ἐκπίπτει (Tisch. Exodus 7:0. [Words.]), or with A. B. C. [Alf., Stan.] πίπτει; the sense is the same,—οῦ καταργεῖται, οὐ παύεται (comp. Luke 16:17). It states negatively what is positively asserted in 1 Corinthians 13:13.—Love never faileth;—The compound ἐκπίπτειν is applied to denote the fading of flowers, the falling of trees, the dislocation of the limbs and the like; also displacement from one’s position, becoming void, in Romans 9:6, spoken of the Word of God, corresponding to the Old Testament נָפַל, (Job 21:43; Job 23:14). “There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken;” and similarly Job 23:14. The simple form πίπτειν means to fall, as houses, stars and the like fall. Mere continuance in use is not the thing meant; nor yet simply, that love never fails of its object; but, actual existence. As Neander expresses it, “All manifestations of the higher life are transient, save love. It endures for ever.”—Instead of continuing in regular sequence, as might be expected, ‘but the gifts of various kinds will all cease,’ he introduces the mention of particular gilts by εί̓τε—εί̓τε, whether—whether. By this the general idea of gifts is split into its species, followed by distinct assertions respecting each,—but whether (there be) prophecies,i.e., the gift of prophecy, in all its varied forms.—they shall come to nought;i.e., when their contents are all fulfilled, when all that was once hidden is clearly revealed, and “every one is taught of the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:34).—whether (there be) tongues, they shall cease;—Not human languages as such, but the special gift of speaking with tongues, whatever it be.—whether (there be) knowledge,—the reading γνώσεις, knowledges, is not sufficiently accredited, and the plural was used perhaps in comformity with the previous word.—it shall come to nought.—On καταργεῖν see 1 Corinthians 1:28. All these gifts belong to the present state of imperfect spiritual operations and will cease when the period of perfection has come. This he fully asserts in relation to those of knowledge and prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 ff. For the cessation of the gift of tongues such assurance was unnecessary, since it was evident of itself that this partial ecstatic and unintelligible manifestation of the Spirit was not to be regarded as anything perpetual and destined to continue in a state of perfection. [Chrys. and others, however, understand these futures, of the time when, faith having spread abroad, these special gifts will be no longer needed; hence, as belonging to the present age. And this has been the practical construction put upon them by a large portion of the Protestant church. Whatever may be the exegesis given this passage, the prevailing belief is that these gifts, especially those of a miraculous nature, were destined only for the apostolic period, and have already ceased. But this, certainly, it was not Intention of the Apostle to assert here. The time alluded to is undoubtedly that of ‘the age to come’, ushered, in by the second advent of the Lord]. Since the assertion that these gifts were to terminate, would seem most strange when applied to knowledge, he proceeds to enlarge on this first.—For we know in part and we prophesy in part.—[Here we have the reason why knowledge and prophecy were to cease. As here exercised, they were partial and imperfect, and therefore in their present form must necessarily pass away when the state of perfection arrived. The most that the most enlightened and Inspired seers of the present revelation could boast of, were but momentary glimpses, whether they were into the mysteries of the spiritual world around them, or into the future beyond them].—But when the perfect has come, that in part shall come to nought.—By “the perfect” (τὸ τέλειον) he means the consummation of the kingdom of God which is to take place at the appearance of Christ, and not the state of believers after death. See Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” [At that time all partial illumination will be quenched by the superior effulgence of the divine revelation then made, just as the light of lamps and stars is all quenched by the shining of the sun].—The relation of our present defective condition to what it will be in this future state, is next set forth by an illustration furnished by comparing the several stages of human development—that of ignorant and inexperienced childhood with that of ripe manhood, which is elsewhere described by the epithet “perfect.” (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1Co 3:1; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:13 ff.).—When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child;—[“He here once more returns to himself, as the representative of man in general;” and the verbs employed to express the infant condition may be thus defined and distinguished. Λαλεῖν means to use the voice, without any necessary reference to the word spoken, and is as applicable to the prattle of children as to the speech of men; φρονεῖν denotes the internal state of the mind, heart or will, which expresses itself through the former, and means not only to think, but also to feel or to be inclined in any particular direction; and λογίζεσθαι implies a continual process of thought, a course of reasoning, and means to judge, also to purpose; and it may also denote behavior, so far as the result is established and reckoned on]. To refer these three acts of childhood to the three charisms mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:8, viz., of speaking with tongues of prophecy and of knowledge [Beng., Olsh., Stan., and others], is to say the least very problematical; for although the first may allow of this, it is hardly allowable of the other two, even though with Osiander we give to φρονεῖν a merely intellectual significance, sentire, sapere.—We might also be tempted to apply the condition of infancy, in its contentedness with its own prattle and acts and thoughts, to illustrate the self-sufficiency of the Corinthians in the possession and use of their gifts; so that then the Apostle would give us to understand in what follows, how everything of this sort, likewise which belongs to a period of immaturity, must be done away in riper manhood when the state of perfection has come. But the course of thought here forbids such an application of the analogy, and allows only that appertaining to the point in view. Ho means to say, that as one who has become a man has put away the childish character in every respect, so, in the future age, those forms of thinking, feeling and speaking which belong to the present age, will give place to something far better. [The comparison here, it must be observed, is not as between the false and the true, but between the more and the less in regard to what is true. The thoughts and feelings of a child may be correct as far as they go, sufficient for it at its stage, but utterly inadequate when compared with the objects with which it is concerned: all error, if error exists, will be that arising from the limitation of its powers; and this will be gradually removed as its powers expand. Just so our views of divine things at present are not to be suspected and disowned as though they were false because imperfect; but if formed under the guidance of the word and of the Spirit, they are to be relied on as practically sufficient for us in our present condition, even though destined to be greatly modified in the future].—The inadequateness of the present state of knowledge is more fully illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13:12, in two contrasts—one as to tire directness of knowledge, and the other as to its completeness.—For now we see through a mirror in an enigma;—Here knowledge is spoken of under the form of vision (βλἐπειν); but it is not human knowledge in general that is intended, but Christian knowledge as a gift. Whether this “seeing” refers to prophetic vision in distinction from simple knowing, is, to say at least, doubtful. Ἔσοπτρον some interpret to mean a window-pane, whether of isinglass or some other translucent substance. But the word for this is δίοπτρον, never ἔσοπτρον. The latter denotes a mirror which, according to the fashion of the time, consisted of a bright metallic plate, which, however, reflected dimly at the best. The prep. διά, ‘through’ [by which some support the interpretation of a window-pane], is used in accordance with that optical illusion which makes the object reflected seem as if behind the mirror, and so, as if seen through it.13 The expression ἐν αἰνίγματι is not to be construed adverbially [as in the E. V. and by Heyden, Billr. and others] ‘enigmatically,’ ‘darkly’ (ἀμαυρῶς); but here the Apostle passes out of the sphere of seeing into that of hearing, and shows us the nature of that in which the objects alluded to are seen. This he calls an ‘enigma’—a word denoting obscure phraseology, some mode of statement that only hints obscurely what is meant, or propounds a riddle to be solved. And by this term he characterizes the objective medium of Christian knowledge, viz., the revealed word in which divine things are seen reflected as in a mirror. The appropriateness of the designation is seen in the fact that the divine word does not convey to us these things in perfect clearness, but only suggests them, leaving much still problematical. As Melancthon says: “The word, as it were, veils a wonderful fact which in the heavenly state we shall contemplate fully disclosed to our sight.” And Burger: “The revealed word is called an enigma, because it necessarily sets forth divine truth in modes of expression borrowed from human conditions and natural phenomena—consequently in a sort of figurative language, the import of which our minds but partially apprehend. [And Hodge: “We do not see the things themselves, but those things as set forth in symbols and words which but imperfectly express them.”] Delitzsch, also, interprets the phrase in question of the revealed

word. Perhaps there was floating before the mind of the Apostle that passage in Numbers 12:8, where the Lord says of Moses: “With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches (δἰ αἰνγμάτων, 70.), and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold.” Compare with this Genesis 32:30 : “I have seen God face to face”—where, indeed, we have the expression in the antithetic clause of our text, which designates the immediateness of vision.—but, then face to face:—On this point see 1 John 3:2 : “We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” Essentially the same contrast is expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:7.—now I know in part;—[As before, the point of comparison was as to the directness of knowledge, so here it is as to its extent. The imperfectness of knowledge is owing, however, to its indirectness].—but then shall I know—ἐπιγνώσομαι; the ἐπι in composition is intensive, shall I thoroughly know, pernoscam.even as I also was known.—Here, too, the same verb is employed, ἐπεγνώσθην, was thoroughly known. Supply ‘by God.’ The perfection of human knowledge is compared with that of the Divine knowledge which apprehends its object not from one side or the other, but is central and total. “We should not hesitate to assert the entire fulness of the promise which the Holy Scripture gives to the soul that is related to God. The New Testament occupies the proper mean between deism and pantheism; it never allows us to divest ourselves of the character peculiar to ‘personality, with its limitations; but, at the same time, it points us away to the highest exaltation of the human spirit by virtue of the fellowship it acquires with God. This statement of Paul corresponds with the beatitude of our Lord in Matthew 5:8 : “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Neander. As the object of the verbs “see” and “know,” some supply ‘God’ or ‘Divine things,’ or ‘God in Christ,’ but there is no necessity for such specification. The objects of vision and knowledge are obviously the things contained in the revealed word. The transition from the plural to the singular number is occasioned by the change in the mode of exposition. The aorist ἐπεγνώσθην, I was known, does no prejudice to the eternity of the Divine knowledge. It is employed simply to express the priority of that knowledge in respect to that of man in the future state, as a thing then past (Meyer, Exodus 3:0). It points back to the time of his conversion, when he became the object of the divine knowledge that then was turned directly on him (1 Corinthians 8:3). Respecting the relation of this passage to others, where the clearness and perfection of the Divine revelation, and of the Christian’s knowledge of God are prominently brought out, comp. Osiander, p. 601.—But what is the meaning of the concluding verse, and in what connection does it stand with the preceding?—And now—νυνὶ δὲ. Is this to be taken in its temporal acceptation as equivalent to the “now” (ἄρτι) of the preceding verse, and in contrast with the “then?”14 If so, to what extent does he emphasize the continuance of the things specified in the present dispensation of the world? Does he intend to put them in contrast with the other gifts which were soon to cease? This can hardly be, for in the Apostle’s view the advent of Christ was ever at hand—so imminent, indeed, that he regards the gifts as continuing until then. And apart from this, in what goes before, he has proved that they would cease then from the fact that they have no place in a state of perfection. We are therefore compelled to take the words “and now” in a logical sense (Burger says, “as an inference from what precedes”)=‘under these circumstances,’ i.e., since these gifts are appropriate only for this dispensation, and must cease with the incoming of the period of perfection.—there (therefore) remains permanently faith, hope, love.—Thus what he has said of love in 1 Corinthians 13:8, he extends now to the other fundamental graces of Christianity that are also elsewhere associated with love (Col 1:4 ff.; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). The chief objection to this construction arises from the fact that Paul elsewhere exhibits to us faith and hope as belonging to the present life in contrast with the future. So in 2 Corinthians 5:7, where ‘walking by faith’ is opposed to ‘walking by sight;’ and Romans 8:24, where we are said to be “saved by hope,” which was hereafter to be merged in sight. Shall we then put the Apostle in contradiction with himself? Various attempts have been made to obviate this. Some would abstract from faith and hope their results or effects, and take these simply into view as the things which were to remain; but this will not do since they must be construed in the same way that love is, which is here taken in a subjective sense. Others would construe the verb “abide” in other than a temporal sense, q. d., ‘so there is left to us these three fundamental virtues; these three alone have an abiding significance (Burger), are the essential and sufficing elements of the Christian life. But all such interpretations are in this connection arbitrary (comp. on 1 Corinthians 13:8 ff). Others still maintain, indeed, the temporal sense of the verb, but, so far as faith and hope are concerned, only relatively. They abide only until the advent. But here again the old difficulty arising from the gifts occurs. Others still interpret the verb to denote perpetual duration, in contrast with the practical and spasmodic character of the gifts; which is somewhat arbitrary. Others suppose a distinction between the glorified kingdom of Christ upon earth and the absolute perfection of heaven, and refer the verb to the former state; but this cannot be, since the previous verses plainly point to a state of absolute perfection. In our exposition we must settle upon this, that the Apostle ascribes to faith and hope the same permanent character which he ascribes to love. But the faith he speaks of is not opposed to sight, (as in 2 Corinthians 5:7); still less is it the faith mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:2; neither is hope to be taken in contrast with actual possession and enjoyment (as in Romans 8:24). But faith here is the everlasting foundation of the state of blessedness—faith as the trustful apprehension, and fast-holding of Christ, the sole ground of salvation for each and all; and hope is the perpetual expectation of ever new and delightful manifestations of God’s glory, as such expectation must also exist in the future state—a thing impossible only under the supposition that God’s glory was at once enjoyed to the full, and admitted of no further unfolding. But this stage of perfection no more excludes progressive developments in sight and knowledge, than does the maturity of manhood in the natural life. Such mainly is Meyer’s view. He interprets faith as an abiding trust in the atonement effected by Christ, which preserves the glorified in the perpetual enjoyment of salvation, and forms the living bond of an eternal fellowship with their Saviour; and hope he explains of the eternal duration, and progressive unfolding of the glory Conferred upon them; and also from 1 Corinthians 15:24 he seems to find such developments in the future state indicated. And Neander says, “precisely because faith anticipates a higher stage of development in life, is it certain that that which it now has only as an object of faith is not to be had as a perfect possession of knowledge.” Somewhat different is Menken’s view; he assumes the eternal duration of both faith and hope in relation to ever fresh revelations of God, and to ever new degrees of blessedness also in the higher state. Accordingly we need not, with Osiander, refer back simply to the general state of mind underlying both: viz., that of a true and blessed attachment to God in Christ, which is to go on unfolding itself even in yonder world.—these three; but the greater of these.—μείζων τούτων; τουτων, of these, is commonly referred to faith and hope, so that it is translated ‘greater than these.’ But the nearer reference is to the words “these three,” and the proper rendering is as above. Of them all the greater, the one possessing higher worth—is love.—From the fact that love has nothing to do with the justification of the sinner, and that here faith alone comes into the account, no inference can be drawn in respect to the relative worth of faith; hence also the inquiry which Calvin institutes in respect to how far, also, on the other hand, faith is greater than love, is here superfluous. The superior worth of love, which is the sum and substance of all virtues, and is the bond of perfectness (1 Corinthians 13:4 ff.; Colossians 3:14), does not rest on the fact that it includes in itself faith and hope, as one would infer from 1 Corinthians 13:7 [as De Wettk, who beautifully remarks, “we have faith only in one whom we love, we hope only for that which we love”]; but rather on this, that in it the image of God, who is love itself, is most perfectly exhibited, in so far as, unlike the other two, it does not relate to the receiving of our salvation with all its blessings, but is essentially imparting and self-bestowment. It is to this that Bengel finely points: “Love is of more advantage to our neighbor, than mere faith and hope in themselves (comp. “greater,” 1 Corinthians 14:5);—and God is not called faith or hope absolutely, but He is called ‘love;’ ” and Meyer in Exodus 3:0 says: “Since, in relation to faith, the love by which it works conditions its moral worth as well as the moral fruitfulness of the Christian life, faith without it would be mere show; and hope can spring only from a faith that is active and loving (comp. Matthew 25:35).” And Burger: “Love is the greater because it is the fundamental form of the Divine life itself, which, in us, should be set forth in the ways of faith, and of hope.” [And Hodge: “Throughout this chapter the ground of preference of one gift to others is made to consist in its superior usefulness. This is Paul’s standard; and judged by this rule, love is greater than either faith or hope. Faith saves ourselves, but love benefits others”].


1. Love the essential principle of all moral excellence. The personal worth and eternal welfare of an individual consists not in any thing which he may have or be capable of, whether it be called talent, or endowment, or aptitude, or capacity, which may enable him to accomplish any thing of greater or less importance in any sphere of life, in the way either of thought or knowledge, of willing or working. In this matter it makes no difference even though the person may act as an organ of the Spirit of God, who for the time being may take possession of his natural powers and employ them upon Divine things. Let him do, or say, or think, what he will under such circumstances, from this alone no personal worth, no true salvation ensues. This rests solely and alone in an actual likeness to God as evinced in the whole tendency of a person’s life. And this likeness is found in love, by means of which a man patterns after God in his whole inner and outward conduct, becomes fundamentally united with God, thinks and acts like God, and purposes to have and to hold nothing good for himself alone, but to impart it to others also, gives up all exclusiveness, and devotes himself with his utmost energies to works of benevolence, seeking therein not his own advantage, nor honor, nor influence, but his neighbor’s good, and so also the fulfilment of the Divine ends, even the glory of God. So long, then, as Christ, who is the revelation of the Father’s love, is formed in a man, does he possess a worth which nothing else can confer; and in company with Christ is he admitted into the very fulness of the Divine blessings, to share in Christ’s salvation and enter on a life of everlasting blessedness. Has he any particular qualifications, with these he serves the body of Christ, and devotes himself and all he has to promote the welfare of that heavenly communion into which he is incorporated. Thus does he become a veritable member of this holy and blessed society, and participates in the Divine fulness which fills it.

But he that is devoid of love, however great his gifts, however superior his knowledge or his performances, is in consequence void of worth. The Spirit of Christ is not the life of his life—not the vital bond of his union with God—not the power which possesses his heart and draws it out from its selfish isolation and sheds abroad in him that love by means of which he in the very image and frame of his mind shall be conformed to the Divine image. In acting upon him the Spirit of God operates from without, and employs his particular powers only as the instruments for the accomplishment of specific objects, and only so long as it may please Him. Remaining fast in his own selfishness, and becoming an end to himself apart from God, he for this reason forfeits all claim to regard, and deserves to be used only as a means by that Being whose honor he has thus violated. All the reward he has is in the pleasure and reputation he may have acquired by his gifts; and shut up in himself he lives and moves untouched by that stream of Divine blessing which flows in upon and fills the body of Christ, and makes every member rich to his profoundest contentment through the interchange of benefits which goes on between the members. The same holds true also in relation to such actions as are supposed to betoken a stronger love, viz., extraordinary sacrifices, both of property and of life itself, and that too amid martyr sufferings. Should these be made in a loveless temper, and in a selfish spirit, though never so refined, they secure no advantage. The person forfeits his crown, because instead of honoring God he sought only to glorify himself.

2. The excellent quality of love. That which thus conditions our personal worth and salvation must in itself be supremely excellent. Accordingly we see that love displays itself in a nobler array of glorious attributes which are but the outgoings of its inmost nature. Indeed, its beauty is seen not only in what it has, but also in what it is devoid of. If with disinterested affection I devote myself to my brother’s highest welfare, then will there be no room in my heart for spite or ill-will, and no relaxation in my labors and prayers in his behalf. Even though his progress be slower than I anticipated, though he exhibits all manner of weakness and imperfection, though he fails and backslides again and again, though he evinces an unteachable or ungrateful disposition, though he causes me weariness and disgust, though he grieves and provokes me, though he betrays my confidence and disappoints my hope often, yet for all this will I not turn from him in indignation. Love teaches me to endure, and to restrain my impatience, and to cherish and manifest my benevolence still, according to the example of my God. It prompts me to go on and bear all things, and endure labors and crosses in His behalf, on the ready supposition that where God’s work has begun, however concealed from me, some good must exist which calls for my persevering effort even when the danger of failure seems most imminent. Again, if in cordial love I have given myself up to the communion of saints in Christ, then I shall feel neither envy nor jealousy in view of the preëminent gifts, or greater influence, or higher honor of others.—So, too, I shall be exempt from pride and boasting on account of my own superior advantages; nor will I unbecomingly obtrude myself on others’ notice; but every where maintain a modest and decorous deportment; neither shall I be seeking mine own honor, or power, or enjoyment, nor give place to bitterness and evil passion when disappointed in such attempts or baffled by rivals. Moving continually in the sphere of that grace which freely and abundantly pardons all sin, I too shall not be ready to impute the injustice I suffer from, but rather shall seek to aid and bless in return, and requite good for evil. Moreover, having been made free by the truth myself, I shall sympathize with truth in every victory it gains, and take no pleasure in unrighteousness, nor feel a malignant satisfaction when others fall, as though their fall redounded in some way to my credit. Thus is love supremely beautiful, both from what it lacks and from what it possesses, shining forth in contrast with the sins and imperfections of the world, like a visitant from heaven.

3. Faith, Hope and Love alone permanent. Particular gifts which afford us only transient glimpses into the depths of the Divine plans and purposes, serve well for the wants of the present life, and satisfy certain needs of the church during its earthly career; but for this reason they are not suited to that state of perfection where the partial gives place to the complete, and where, instead of a knowledge mediated by inadequate words and signs, we enjoy the direct vision of God and of all things in Him. That only can endure which may be regarded as a conclusive union of our renewed nature with the life of God—with eternal grace, and truth, and glory. And such is faith which firmly and trustfully clings to God’s redeeming grace in Christ as the sole foundation of safety both for time and eternity; such is hope, which reaches out joyfully after ever fresh manifestations of the Divine glory; such, too, is love, the union of the regenerate soul with the Triune God, in which the very life of God gushes forth in inexhaustible streams, and which must have the preëminence, even as the Divine principle of distribution and self-bestowment must have the superiority over the earthly principle of receiving and enjoying, because “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”



1 Corinthians 13:5. As a spark which falls into the sea hurts not the sea, but is itself extinguished, so let any thing evil befall the loving soul, and it will soon be extinguished without disquietude.


1 Corinthians 13:3. Giving is indeed a fruit of love, but it is not love itself: love is a spiritual gift which involves the heart and not the hand alone; love denotes not that which the hand does, but which the heart feels.

1 Corinthians 13:5. ‘Not to seek its own;’ behold, this is the nature of love where it is sincere; but it is sincere only where faith is sincere. A Christian lives not in himself alone, but in Christ and in his neighbor—in Christ, through faith; in his neighbor through love. Through faith he passes beyond himself into God, and out of God he passes again below himself through love, and ever abides in God and in Divine love.


1 Corinthians 13:1. Glorious gifts make no man a Christian, but it is love that makes and proves him such (Galatians 5:6; John 13:35).—What is the knowledge contained in that speech which is not used through love and unto love, but the confusion of Babel. Oftentimes there is great sounding in the ear when there is no profit before God. Many a man speaks to his neighbor in pure angelic words, while his heart is devoid of love; and to God he daily draws near while his heart is far from him.

1 Corinthians 13:2. The knowledge of divine mysteries is a remarkable thing; but take away love and it loses its praise.—A wonder-working faith is not the faith which makes blessed. Though possessing it, we may yet be plunged into the prison-house of unbelieving souls (Matthew 7:22 ff.).


1 Corinthians 13:3. Let no one be charmed with giving and suffering. Inquire after the disposition—the ground and the aim. Love gives weight to all.—Though I do all the good a man can, and suffer all a man may; without love it is no good work for which I can hope a gracious reward.—To hazard life rather than the truth is indeed in itself something commendable; but he who might on this account endure the severest martyrdom without love, would nevertheless derive therefrom no profit.—There are true and false martyrs—God’s and the devil’s.—1 Corinthians 13:4-7. As in a crown there are many precious stones, so in the single virtue of love there are imbedded many virtues. But to no wickedness must love be so hostile as to wrath and revenge, which it encounters in the beginning (“long suffering”), middle (“is not easily provoked”), and end (“endures”).—Whom we love, we highly esteem; how then can we exalt ourselves above him?—O, how sadly is the sweet name of love abused in that it is made to serve as a veil for all unchastity and wantonness (ἀσχημονεῖν)!—Love is so far from making unrighteous demands that it rather yields its rights and imparts itself, with all it has and can, unto others. That which is called love and friendship is oftentimes nothing but a trade—with one hand it gives, but with both hands it is ready to take again. Behold how rare true love has become (1 Corinthians 10:24).—Love does not ‘laugh in the sleeve’ when it sees a neighbor fall into sin; rather, it rejoices when men act uprightly and it goes well with them.—Void of love are they, who for the sake of peace in the church would readily sell the truth of the gospel. This is far too precious a jewel to be thus bartered.—Because love wishes all good to every one, it can surmise evil of none, but ever hopes well of a neighbor. Although often deceived in its good opinion, yet does it fill out the measure of its goodness by enduring everything, and labors still to set him right with all mildness and meekness. It does not readily despair of any sinner, however bad, and keeps hoping that God will still preserve him, and that he will yet acknowledge and reform from his unrighteousness.—Love has a broad mantle which it spreads over a multitude of sins and guards itself from the curse of Ham with all diligence.

1 Corinthians 13:8 ff.: Love produces its fruits here without intermission and is a foretaste of eternal life; yonder it will become perfect; and in this our blessedness will consist. Although we possess everything in faith, and do now perceive something of what God is, and what He gives us, yet is this knowledge scant when compared with the clear vision of the future. Here we have only a few drops out of an ocean of divine knowledge; and who does not often find in these very drops an abyss which he cannot fathom (Romans 11:33)?—The imperfect knowledge is as far surpassed by the perfect as a wax light is by the sunshine (Hed.).—If thy knowledge is but patchwork, why dost thou boast thereof? Heaven is the school where we shall first become masters.—Even prophecy, although it is the perfection of an enlightened mind, is yet imperfect, inasmuch as it does not behold the promised blessing as present, but only contemplates it from afar. This will cease when we shall behold the chief object of all prophecy fulfilled, even our redemption.—By reason of our childish apprehension even the otherwise clear word of God comes to us as a veiled speech in which we ever look with industrious contemplation and only gradually discover the import; but in that perfect state we shall have God and all heavenly things present to our view and behold them as they are.

1 Corinthians 13:13 : Faith receives good, love does good. Faith and hope profit me only, but love serves many. It alone of the three is an attribute of God, and in men it is the most distinguished feature of the divine image.—Faith is the ground of a holy life and of good works; hope builds the edifice of the same; and love perfects and crowns it.

Berlenb. Bibel:

1 Corinthians 13:1. It is better to appear foolish and weak before men, than to speak without the spirit of Christ; better to lack speech, than to lack love.

1 Corinthians 13:2. In comparison with love everything is small, even the miracles of a wonder-working faith. Wherefore? Because our nature arrogates to itself all these works. But love ever bows low before the object loved, both God and man, and so is secured against all temptations to this.—As even the most plausible words are dead without love, so without love the best knowledge is also unfruitful; yea, it serves to enhance man’s condemnation. Without it the glorious gift of prophecy especially is nothing, since God designs to be praised only in the Son of His love; and without love no words, however excellent, do Him service. The love of God, as it is His very nature and life, we may well call the mystery of mysteries. For who can rightly compute its power, attributes, and operations ? Hence the knowledge of all mysteries and all other science, otherwise never so good, is cheap in comparison with it.—With all your spiritual gifts, always consider how far the one divine power of love may yet be wanting in thee for softening all your wild natural enthusiasm. Love makes the heart true and obedient. The greatest works may be performed from false motives, or even may be perverted to our own self seeking.

1 Corinthians 13:3. Love surpasses all sacrifice. A person can still love himself in the highest degree, be seeking his own honor, and the praise of men, even when dividing all his property among the poor, or complying with other religious requirements only for the purpose of being praised as a zealous Christian. So out of self-love may a person fling away his life, and suffer martyrdom, only that he may gain an immortal name. Such, indeed, have their reward.—But what boots it for them to cast away all their goods, if they do not also cast away their self-will? All formal sacrifice profits nothing, because it is without the true love of God, which indeed admits of no such self-love; and by it one becomes worse instead of better. Love is the disposition of God; as common the word, so uncommon is the thing itself. Set over against it the most extraordinary things are overtopped, and seem undesirable. From this we may infer the greatness of love, and how much it is to be preferred against all else. But, O Love, man knoweth thee not, because thou art hid behind thine own simplicity. Only by thy workings canst thou be recognized.

1 Corinthians 13:4 ff. Love is invincible. By impatience the strongest and the wisest, when devoid of love, may be overcome of evil; but love is able to endure the keenest sufferings, and it is this that makes it strong. It shows itself, therefore, in those who have Jesus dwelling in them, partly by the manifestation of good, and partly by the endurance of evil, and in both meekness and long-suffering as exhibited in the heart and life of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:4. By virtue of its soft, gentle nature, which shuns all rashness and haste, love is in itself long-suffering, even as God Himself is (Romans 9:22), especially in its dealing with difficult cases in the church; not that we are to let all evil pass, but only not to overdrive reform. Love is kind (Gal. 8:22); this is its nature. The love of God, infused at the new birth, makes the soul kind, so that it gladly affords others the means of enjoyment also. It says not: “I am not bound to do this and this;” but where there is no law it makes one, in order to do as much good as it can, and to pour itself freely upon all men.—With love envy, revenge, wickedness, and pride can find no room. Love feels no jealousy in seeing another achieving great things.—Its whole action is modest. Its tender spirit allows of no arrogance. It boasts not of its divine nature, since its disposition is only to serve. It makes itself small and child-like; it bows its temper to a low estimate of itself, and a high estimate of others. It aims not at the praise of men, nor at self-pleasing; but strives, in every way, to please God, and all who are loved of God.

1 Corinthians 13:5. According to a common proverb, the final end of love, in which it rests and is content, is the satisfaction and pleasure of the object beloved. True love has no separate interest of its own, but it gives itself entirely, with all its being and means, to its object. His good is its good, his joy its joy; it lives solely and alone in him and for him. If it knows that it has occasioned him any displeasure, then is its all embittered; and it cannot rest until it is assured that he has become reconciled again. Love allows itself in no violence, nor any inordinate desires after anything, nor in any ill humor even against evil.—It can forget; has no memory for evil; strikes it out of mind.

1 Corinthians 13:6. Love takes no delight in seeing a person stumbling, so that it can raise a hue and cry after him. Antichristian spirits rejoice when anything goes wrong with those who do not coöperate with them in all things. Love is righteous, and rejoices when the spirit obtains a conquest over wickedness.—The love which does not rejoice in the truth, is no love.

1 Corinthians 13:7. Love is not credulous, but believes all good of another sooner than allow itself easily to believe, or to imagine anything wicked, because love ever inclines to the side of the good. Love trusts God for final victory in all things. What it does not see, it awaits in patience; it exercises itself in prayer, and does not soon become weary of fidelity and patience towards others, but quietly endures the sufferings meted out unto it.—As in good, so in evil, is it invincible. It would rather bear, believe, hope, suffer all things than allow evil to triumph. Away, therefore, with your passionate, false, wrathful natures!—O Thou eternal Life, in the midst of Thine enemies rule Thou in us, through Thy lamb-like loving Spirit, in the patience and faith of Thy saints, in mildness and meekness, and tranquility!

1 Corinthians 13:8. Love is unending and ceaseless as God’s own eternal life, even so far as He imparts it to His believing creatures. It continues in eternity as an eternal essence and life in God, and in all blessed spirits. Other spiritual gifts are indeed from God, but they are not God’s essence and life as love is, and they retire before it in eternity.—All other gifts are only preparations for perfect love; in it all those things terminate which have not in themselves the entire divine life.—1 Corinthians 13:9-10. One knows this, another that, none everything. The Church of God anticipates a summer which shall never pass away. At last the tree produces ripe fruits, the child loses himself in the youth, and the youth in the man. When the veils which now curtain us are all taken away, then will the perfect come. To abide in that which is fragmentary when age is matured, is childishness. When we hold to special gifts for their own sake alone, then are we liable to become extinguished with them.

1 Corinthians 13:11 f. Mature manhood in Christ exchanges the patchwork of the outward exercises in speech and knowledge for the perfect essence of love. This makes us Christ godly-minded, and glorifies in us Christ, in the Father.

1 Corinthians 13:13. Faith, hope, and charity, all three, are the simple cleaving of the loftiest disposition to God, as that Being who alone can and will help us through Himself. In love we have joy in Him as the highest good which can satisfy all our longings, and we strive to please Him supremely. In fait we commit ourselves wholly to Him on the ground that He loves us, and consequently will help us. In hope we patiently expect that He will love us in eternity, will impart Himself to us, and be our help forever.

Rieger:—1 Corinthians 13:1-3. That a person may have gifts without communion with God is a witness of the general disposition on the part of God to do good and simply to give. If a man endowed with many gifts is nothing without love, what must that man be who is utterly estranged from the life of love, and has nothing at all wherewith to clothe his nakedness. As long suffering, love can consume much time over the failings of others; as kind, it considers how it can make itself acceptable to them for their improvement. It desires not to be and to do everything itself; but it looks gladly on when its defects are supplied by the assistance and gifts of others. Together with this, it avoids all that petulance which characterizes those who love to please themselves. It is not puffed up with the breath of human applause, and in all it does, has reference rather to the Father who seeth in secret. Hence, it never behaves itself rudely, neither by making too common of high things, or by being too free with equals or by looking contemptuously on what is low; but it keeps in the place where God has put it as a member. It neither seeks its own in selfishness, nor fails to prefer the general good to its own. It imputes not evil, holding others aloof in suspicion or in revenge. It helps the truth, and it suffers much that is unjust towards it to pass as though unobserved. As far as it can, without prejudice to others and without injury to the public peace, it believes all things and hopes all things; and until this hope has become a joy, it endures all things and holds fast;—mercy rejoicing against judgment.—1 Corinthians 13:8-12. All knowledge and prophecy is patchwork; these can represent the truth only in partial aspects without giving a complete survey, because God has determined to draw men to Himself through His word, and the gradual revelation of Himself therein, and to operate upon their hearts under these external presentations, according as men allow themselves to be brought thereby to the obedience of faith and to heed the partial revelations given. After the light that was quenched in the fall, God purposed to restore man not through a direct illumination that would have rendered faith and conviction, obedience and love unnecessary. As he sinned through hearing and through disobedience, so was he to be saved also by hearing and faith and obedience. Therefore God showed to him so much as was necessary to awaken faith and obedience, left it so far obscure as to allow room for the excuses of unbelief in case he ceased to have pleasure in the truth.—All of us are too ready to engross to ourselves everything with the desire of becoming perfect ourselves; but the Scriptures admonish us to hold everything as a common good which has been conferred on us and others. The perfect descends upon me—even the kingdom of God, into which I enter, and which brings with itself something far beyond that which I could hitherto attain unto with my partial knowledge in prophesying. 1 Corinthians 13:13. Among the perfected righteous, love will remain as the bond of perfection. He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.


1 Corinthians 13:1. Love alone has unconditioned worth, it carries in itself its own contents; everything else, even the highest spiritual advantages obtain their worth through it. All speech without it is lifeless. The most beautiful orator devoid of heart is but a beautiful instrument unconscious of what is played on it. The simplest words spoken in love are of more worth than the most charming speeches void of heart. Those who are eminent for insight should not forget to love. And to whom this insight is denied, let him not trouble himself if he has love.—Indeed, there is a service which offers up all things and endures all sufferings and yet obtains not the grace of God nor any eternal reward, because love is wanting—because the thing was done for love of fame.

1 Corinthians 13:4 ff. As the worth of love shines forth by a comparison with other excellencies, so is it seen also from its blessed fruits. Its chief attributes are a sparing tenderness, a gentleness which never injures, a simple self-forgetfulness, holy sympathy, invincible courage,—Division: I. according to the subject: benevolent (1 Corinthians 13:4), true (1 Corinthians 13:5), holy (1 Corinthians 13:6), invincible (1 Corinthians 13:7); II. according to its objects: the failures, infirmities, follies of others (1 Corinthians 13:4), injuries (1 Corinthians 13:5), needs (1 Corinthians 13:6).

1 Corinthians 13:4. Love is not a transient ebullition, but a benevolence which does not allow itself to slumber, or kindle into wrath on account of the failings or indocility of others. It so associates with others that they can observe and feel the inner affection in its friendly ways.—It does not deal petulantly with the weaknesses and follies of others, nor make them the subject of ridicule.—It is free from conceit and self-consciousness, and is willing to let others feel its own weakness.

1 Corinthians 13:5. Amid injuries it does not break out into wrath and contemptuous expressions, nor does it allow itself in anything by which another’s sensitiveness or feeling of shame can be wounded, nor is it unseemingly obtrusive. It asks not, “what is that to me?” nor disavows the natural relationship among men, nor measures the iniquities of others according to the damage suffered.—It does not allow its benevolence to be disturbed by the pains which others inflict upon it. It hunts not after evil to insist on an atonement, but cherishes thoughts of peace.

1 Corinthians 13:6. Observe its holy interest in the spiritual welfare of others: while the evil-minded rejoice over other’s sins and punishments and disgrace, and narrate them with laughing lips, love delights in beholding the sincere piety of others clearly displayed.

1 Corinthians 13:7. Love does not secretly impose severe labors upon others, but performs them itself, and bears their brunt.—It gives the best credit possible to others for their doings and hopes always for their improvement, and undertakes to promote it in all possible ways.

1 Corinthians 13:8 ff. The worth of love is seen thirdly, from its eternal duration. It alone avails in Heaven where all that is here learned is useless.—In Heaven there is no preaching, since only one spiritual tongue is there spoken. We shall read each other’s thoughts is our souls. The highest human knowledge is in its extent and depth and connections but mere patchwork.—Now God has given us a problem to solve; we are to find its solution in nature, in History, in His word where His holy love exhibits itself to us in the image of Christ. Then shall we behold that which is now unseen, face to face.

W. F. Besser.:

1 Corinthians 13:1. As the life blood of the body is poured from the heart into all the members, and as every heart-beat pulsates in all the veins, so is love the heart of the body of Christ. God has love without measure. His essence is love. The Christian has only drops from this divine sea of love, some small portion of the divine fulness. And Paul is strenuous that the love of the Spirit which renews the human soul in Christ, shall move the tongue of him who prays and sings praises; that love to the Lord Jesus, love to the church, love to all mankind shall give to the sounding instrument its living tune.

1 Corinthians 13:3. O, how many works of undying fame perish before God and follow not their authors, because they are not quickened by that love which is alone imperishable!—1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The twice-seven graces of love here shine like the seven colors of the rainbow. The rainbow is the token of the triumph of the sun over the rain; so love shows itself triumphant over all hostile obstructions in manifold ways. The heavenly daughter of the Spirit triumphs over that which is carnal and earthly.—The varnish of a worldly polish is nothing in comparison with the culture of the heart in the Christian, however humble his condition may be; love ennobles the whole conduct of him who has it.—O, Thou true Savior, in our poverty we cry to Thee! Turn Thyself to us! From being wrathful, unfriendly, envious, haughty, conceited, rude, selfish, implacable, revengeful, cold tempered, unmerciful, suspicious, mean, impatient do Thou make us loving in heart.—1 Corinthians 13:9-10. The edifies of evangelical doctrine has many openings which will remain unclosed, for they are the windows out of which we look toward Heaven and for the coming of that which is perfect.

1 Corinthians 13:13. The Christian life is subject to the triumvirate of the three here lauded (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Colossians 1:4-5; Hebrews 10:22-24).—Faith lays hold of the promise of eternal life; hope waits for the appearing of the object of faith; but love is eternal life itself in its power as manifested toward God and man. It is greater in duration; its being has no end.

Ewald:—1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The worth of love. There is not a Christian virtue which is not strengthened by its power, not an evil which it cannot keep aloof, not a condition in life to which it cannot impart a Christian character.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Pericope for Esto Mihi Sunday, Oetinger, Sermons on the Epistles p. 161 ff.—I. True love distinguished from attachment and partiality; II. overcometh all wrath and judgment.

Heubner.—I. Love is the highest gift of grace, on account of: 1. its inward worth; 2. its blessing, and 3. its influence upon eternal life. II. Love is the consummation of Christianity: 1. it puts the crown upon all excellencies; 2. it exhibits preeminently the power of Christian faith; 3. it sets us in connection with eternity and God. III. The comparison between the excellencies of the mind and of the heart: 1. the former have in themselves no unconditioned worth; without love they may inflict injury; the latter alone impart worth, and united with it the former become truly renowned; 2. the formen do not make a person beneficial to the public; love only makes one ready to serve and generally useful; 3. the former confer no claim for salvation; love alone makes us worthy of heaven. IV. The Christian road to true fame (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:31): 1. It is a holy road, different from the ordinary one; 2. it is a truly difficult road, requiring much labor (comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7), often not remunerative, often losing itself in the dark; but yet 3. it is safe, and certain of leading to heaven. V. The worth of true love: 1. often eclipsed by glittering gifts and showy Acts 2:0. its peculiar spirit, being often occupied in unseen labors, is not visible; 3. its eternal reward still hidden.—1 Corinthians 13:1-8. Sermons by J. G. Krafft. Vol. 1, p. 165 ff. Love: I. Its peculiar character: 1. as to its ground (humility); 2. as to attributes. II. Its higher worth: it sanctifies knowledge; is the soul of faith; is the consecration of every good deed. III. How we shall partake of the same: 1. by the contemplation of its archetype in Jesus Christ; 2. by receiving love from Him who is the fountain of grace and love.

1 Corinthians 13:7. Schleiermacher’s Collected works. Vol. I. p. 40. The limits of forbearance: I. in our judgment respecting men; II. in our behavior toward them. “It is only justice toward the good and the pious, when you look upon them with the eyes of love, all glowing with faith and hope; it is only love to the evil, when you show strict justice towards the evil which is in them.”

[Jon. Edwards. Charity and its fruits. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. All the virtue that is saving and distinguishes true Christians from others, is summed up in Christian Love. I. The nature of this love: 1. in all true Christians is one and the same in principle; a. from the same spirit; b. wrought by the same work; c. has the same motives. II. Proof that all true virtue is summed up in it: 1. from what reason teaches of its nature: a. that it disposes to all proper acts of respect towards God and men; b. that whatever seeming virtues there are without love are unsound and hypocritical; 2. from what Scripture teaches: a. of the law and word of God in general, b. and of each table of the law in particular; 3. from what the apostle asserts of faith that “it works by love:” a. love is the most essential and distinguishing ingredient in a true and living faith; b. all Christian exercises of the heart and works of love are from love. Application: 1. by way of self-examination; 2. by way of instruction. a. It shows us what is the right Christian spirit. b. Professors of Christianity may be taught as to their experiences whether they be real Christian experiences or not. c. It shows the amiableness of the Christian spirit; d. also the pleasantness of a Christian life; e. the reason why contention is so destructive to religion; f. hence the need of watchfulness against envy and malice and all like passions; g. hence no wonder we are commanded to love our enemies; h. we learn the importance of seeking a spirit of love, and of growing in it more and more.]


1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 Corinthians 13:3.—The Rec. has ψωμίζω, but in opposition to the most decisive authorities. [The Elzevir form of ψωμίζω is sustained only by B. (Mai), K., some cursives, and Damasc. (Par.). The colloquial use of the Ind. Present for the Subj. Aor. prevailed in the later Greek, as is common in a similar form in English, but it could hardly have been allowed by Paul. It may have come into the text from the similar pronunciation in dictation.—C. P. W.].

1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 Corinthians 13:3.—Some old MSS. (and with them agrees Lachmann) have καυχήσωμαι. The evidence in its favor is not, however, quite satisfactory. See Exeg. notes. [For the reading καυθήσωμαι, which is given in the Rec. and adopted by, Bloomf., Meyer, Alford, Stanley, and Wordsworth, we have C. K., a number of versions, Chrys., Theodt., several Lat. Fathers, and Jacob (Nisib.). For καυχήσωμαι (which Meyer says that even Lachmann has now given up) we have A. B. (though Mai has καυχήσομαι), Sinait., Aeth., Copt., (MS.), Ephr., Jerome (who remarks that among the Greeks the copies differ, and that among the Latins an error had crept in on account of the resemblance between καυθήσωμαι and καυχήσωμαι. On internal grounds, καυχήσ. seems like an addition to make prominent the possibility that such sacrifices might be performed without love, and to avoid the objection that martyrdoms by fire were almost unknown in the Apostle’s time. The Subj. Future was, however, a barbarism which could not be expected in writers as early as those of the N. T., and as pure as the Apostle Paul. Tischendorf, Griesbach, and Stanley (in his note) have preferred the Ind. Fut. (καυθήσομαι), which might be easily changed by a careless copyist into the Subjunctive. This reading is supported by D. E. F. G. L., some cursives, Macar., Max., and Clemens Alex.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8.—Lachmann has πίπτει after A. B. C. [Sinait. 17] and some Fathers. Meyer regards ἐκπιπτει (Rec.) as a gloss to define more particularly what the Apostle meant. [Tischendorf prefers ἐκπἰπτει, as it has in its favor C. (3d hand), D. E. F. G. K. L., almost all the cursives, many versions (Vulg. has excidit, and different copies have excidet, excedit and cadit) and most of the Greek and some Latin Fathers. Comp. Romans 9:6.—C. P. W.].

1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Corinthians 13:9.—Tischendorf has δέ, but the best MSS. are in favor of γὰρ.

1 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Corinthians 13:10.—The Rec. inserts τότε before to τὸ ἐκ μέρους, but against the largest number, and to some extent the best, of the MSS. It appears to have been an addition from 1 Corinthians 13:12. [It is found in D. (2d and 3d hand) E. (τότε καὶ) K. L. Syr. (both), Orig., Melet. (in Epiph.), Theodt.; but it is omitted in A. B.D. (1st hand) F.G. and eight others, the Ital., Vulg., Goth., Copt., Aeth. (both), and a number of the Greek Fathers.—C. P. W.].

1 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Corinthians 13:11.—In the Rec. ὡς νήπιος is put before the verb in each of the three clauses. Tischendorf, iu each case, sets these words after the verb. The MSS. are not decisive in behalf of either arrangement. [These words are before the verb in D. E. F. G. K. L. et al; the Ital, Vulg. (Fuld.), Syr. (both), and a number of the Greek and Latin Fathers. A. B., Sinait., the Vulg., Copt., Aeth., and a similar number of the Greek Fathers, with Jerome and August., place them after.—C. P. W.].

1 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Corinthians 13:11.—The Rec. inserts a δέ after the second ὀ̓τε, but in opposition to the best authorities.

[8][This is also Stanley’s view, and it certainly commends itself to a person’s common sense; and is moreover sustained by the order of the words, “though with the tongues of men I speak, or even of angels.” The latter seems thus to come in as an after-thought, added simply for the sake of making the statement as strong as possible, and not with any distinct idea that angels used either tongues or languages].

[9][Why not? If there are any who deserve to be “counted as giving impertinent trouble, as an annoying and wearisome sort of persons,” to use Chrysostom’s language, they are those loud-mouthed talkers and exhorters who sometimes appear in the church as possessed of a marvellous gift of tongues, but utterly devoid of the wisdom and modesty of love; “sounding brass and clanging cymbal” are not more intolerable than they].

[10][A figure of speech by which an adjective or verb which agrees with a nearer word, is, by way of supplement, referred to another more remote and perhaps less suited to it].

[11][Coleridge in a MS. note on this passage, given by Stanley, says: The true and most significant sense is, ‘Though I dole away in mouthfulls all my property, or estates.’ Who that has witnessed the aims-giving in a Catholic monastery, or the court of a Spanish or Sicilian bishop’s or archbishop’s palace, where immense revenues are syringed away in farthings to herds of beggars, but must feel the force of the Apostle’s half satirical ψωμίσω]?”

[12][This, however, is contrary to the meaning given by Chrys., and most of the Greek commentators, by all the older English versions, except the Genevan, and by Schleusner, Suidas, Bloomfield, and others, who all agree in the sense: ‘doth not act precipitately, frowardly, rashly, inconsiderately.’ Chrys. comments: “Love renders him who loves both considerate, and grave, and steady in his movements.” The balance of authority is in favor of this interpretation. Amid such disagreement it is difficult to form a decision].

[13][But is not this an unnecessary refinement on the meaning? Instead of the local why not give διά the causal sense by means of? See Jelf. Gr. Gram. § 627, 3. d.]

[14][So Poole, Bloomfield, and others (contrary to its use just after in 1 Corinthians 14:6), who interpret this verse as asserting the permanent character of the three graces in contrast with the transientness of the gifts, and that for this dispensation, while the eternal duration of love is set forth by implication in the last clause: “ the greatest of these is love.” “The difficulty,” as Bloomfield says, “hinges on this: the Apostle has omitted to mention the cause of the superiority; yet he hints it in the words ‘now abideth,’ viz., since faith and hope only remain in use now, in this world only, love will also be exercised in another world, and to all eternity. The sense, then,may be thus expressed: ‘Faith, Hope, and Love, these three together exist in the present scene only; but in the future world Faith and Hope will be done away, and therefore the greatest of these is Love.’ ” This interpretation certainly obviates some difficulties attending the other, and sustains the theory of the temporary nature of the gifts in question; but is it not adding to the letter and import of Scripture something not found there? And is it not opposed by the change of particles, νυνί δὲ being used instead of ἀ̓ρτι in order to avoid such construction]?

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-corinthians-13.html. 1857-84.
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