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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 13

 

 


Other Authors
Verses 1-13

1 Corinthians 13. All Gifts and Sacrifices are Worthless without Love, which is Supreme and Incomparable.—The chapter falls into three divisions: (a) superlative gifts and costliest surrenders are valueless in the absence of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3); (b) description of love's manifold excellences (1 Corinthians 13:4-7); (c) love is imperishable (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). It is linked to chs. 12 and 14 by the mention in 1 Corinthians 13:1 f., 1 Corinthians 13:8 f., of tongues and prophecy. But knowledge and faith, the surrender of property and of life, are also selected as examples of things most highly esteemed. The angels, it was assumed, used language in their intercourse with each other; but although there had been no parallel among them to the catastrophe of Babel, it was thought that various orders of angels had their own dialects. Thus The Testament of Job represents Job's three daughters as each praising God in the dialect of a particular angelic order. If Paul can speak in all heavenly and earthly tongues but is devoid of love, he is like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal, mere sound not music, monotonous, inarticulate, conveying no intelligible thought and expressing no feeling. The faith that removes mountains is a reminiscence of Christ's teaching. In 1 Corinthians 13:3 "bestow" means to give away in morsels. There is much uncertainty as to the reading in the next clause. RVm, "that I may glory," is very strongly attested, and accepted by WH and Harnack. It is flatter, and the phrase "give my body" is too vague and indefinite by itself; we should be told to what the body is to be surrendered. It is questionable whether it gives a good sense. What is required is an act intrinsically excellent made morally void by lack of love. If the object of the surrender is that he may boast, the love of glory empties the act of much if not all of its moral excellence. The objection is mitigated if "glory" is the legitimate glorying at the bar of God. But RV seems intrinsically preferable. The burning is probably not martyrdom, but, as the phrase suggests, self-immolation. Shortly before, an Indian who accompanied the embassy sent by Porus to Alexander burnt himself alive at Athens, and Paul may have seen his tomb. An earlier famous example was that of an Indian gymnosophist who burnt himself alive in the time of Alexander the Great. The description of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) needs little comment. Love is patient under prolonged provocation, benevolent, free from envy and jealousy, is not given to display, is not conceited, exhibits no impropriety in behaviour, is not self-seeking, is not enraged and embittered, does not vindictively treasure up its wrongs, is not gratified by the triumph of injustice but by that of truth, keeps its own counsel (cf. mg., "covereth"), believes and hopes the best, patiently endures all trials. Finally (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) Paul affirms the imperishableness of love. Love is never superseded, but prophecies, tongues, and knowledge are only partial, and will be superfluous when perfection is attained. They belong to the stage of childhood, to be left behind at maturity. All our apprehension of spiritual realities is at present indirect and indistinct, such as is gained from the reflection in a metal mirror; then it will be direct, immediate, clear, vision face to face (Numbers 12:8). Then partial knowledge and partial prophecy will give place to knowledge of God like God's knowledge of us. So faith, hope, love last on into the world to come, but love is the greatest of the triad.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-corinthians-13.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 23rd, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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