Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 13:1 - 13:13

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 13:1 - 13:13

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

2. The measure of the worth and the rule of the use of the gifts; love, its worth (1Co_13:1 ff.), nature (1Co_13:4 ff.), and eternal duration, in contrast with the transient gifts (1Co_13:8 ff.)


1     Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love, 2 ἀãÜðçí ], I am become [have become, ãÝãïíá ] as sounding brass, or a tinkling [clattering, ἀëáëáæïí ] 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, ἀãἁðçí ], I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor [have fed out (in morsels) all my goods, öùìßóù ðἁíôá ôὰ ὑðÜñ÷ïíôὰ , and though I give [have delivered up, ðáñáäῶ ] my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself [sheweth not itself ðåñðåðåýåôáé ], is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked [whetted up to anger, ðáñïîýíåôáé ], thinketh no evil [makes no account of the evil, ëïãßæåôáé ôὺ êáêüí ] 6Rejoiceth not in [at the, ἐðὶ ôῇ ] iniquity, but rejoiceth in 7[along with, óõã÷áßñåé ] the truth; Beareth [puts up with, óôÝãåé ] all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth [falls away, ἐêðßðôåé ]: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [come to nought êáôáñãçèÞóïíôáé ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, 9it shall vanish away [come to nought, êáôáñãçèÞóåôáé ]. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then [om. then] that which is in part shall be done away [come to nought, êáôáñãçèÞóåôáé ]. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood [perceived, ἐöñüíïõí ] as a child, I thought [reasoned, ἐëïãéæüìçí ] as a child: but [om. but] when I became a man, I put away [brought to nought, êáôÞñãçêá ] childish things. 12For now we see through a glass-[as by a mirror, äἰ ἐóýðôñïõ ], darkly [in an enigma, ἐí áἰíἱãìáôé ]; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know [fully know, ἐðéãíὠóïìáé ] even as also I am known 13[was fully known, ἐðåãíὠóèçí ]. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of [greater among, ìåßæùí ôïýôùí ] 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 ἀãÜðç , unhappily translated in our version in accordance with the LXX. by the word charity, which is by no means its English equivalent. The substantive ἀãÜðç from the verb ἀãáðáῶ 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”].

1Co_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,—̓ Åὰí , 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, ôáῖæ ãëþóóáéò ; 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; or that of others, who take it simply as implying some eloquence higher than human. [Alford says, “it is hardly possible to understand ãëþóóáé here of anything but articulate forms of speech,” and so also Hodge].—and have not love.— ἀãÜðç 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 Mat_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, ãÝãïõá , 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. 2Sa_6:5). [For a description of the cymbal in its several varieties see Smith’s Dic. of the Bib.]. The verb ἁëáëÜæåéí 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 1Co_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. 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 (2Pe_2:15; Numbers 22) [also of Caiaphas, Joh_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 1Co_12:8). [Besides, Paul elsewhere distinguishes between prophecy and knowledge (1Co_13:8; 1Co_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,” 1Co_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 zeugma (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. Mat_17:20; Mat_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 øùìßóù and ðáñáäῶ .—And though I dole out all my goods.—The verb øùìßæåéí , when used primarily with a personal object (Rom_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.And though I give my body that I may be burned.—The reading ἵõá êáõèÞóïìáé is strongly supported…but êáõèÞóùìáé 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 Dan_3:19 ff.; 2 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 óôßæåéí and óôéãìáôßæåéí . 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, ß ̓ íá êáõ÷Þóùìáé , 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 êáõèÞóùìáé 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 (1Ti_4:8), can only be given to a humble disinterested love.

1Co_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 ÷ñçóôåýåôáé [from ÷ñÞóôïò , 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 æçëïῦí , 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 æçëïò in Rom_13:13, and elsewhere.—love vaunteth not itself, ðåñðåñåýåôáé 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.Next 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 ἀó÷çìïíåῖí does not allude precisely to such conduct as is rebuked in 1Co_11:5, but rather to an unseemly obtrusiveness in the use of gifts (comp. 1Co_14:27 ff.; 1Co_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. 1Co_10:24; 1Co_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,—[ ðáñïîýíåôáé ; “ 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 1Co_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;— ïὐ ëïãßæåôáé ôὸ êáêüí ; this does not refer to the evil which proceeds from one’s-self, as though ëïãßæåèóáé meant to think upon, to meditate, as in Jer_26:3; Nah_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 Rom_4:8; 2Co_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 êáêüí , ‘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. Rom_1:32; Rom_12:9.—As a contrast with this, he says,—but rejoiceth with the truth; óõã÷áßñåé äὲ ôῇ ἀëçèåßᾳ , not “at the truth,” thus making the óõí 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 (Col_1:5; Colossians 4 Thess. 1Co_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 (Joh_3:21; Joh_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 ðÜíôá óôÝãåé is variously rendered. The verb may be construed either as in 1Co_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 õðïìÝíåé ,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 1Co_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 óôὲãåéí , 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. Php_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 ὑðïìÝõåéí , 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 (2Ti_1:10; Heb_10:32; Heb_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 2Th_1:3, comp. 2Ti_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 óôÝãåéí , which has in its favor Pauline usage, is not set aside. To suppose a close connection here with 1Co_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 (Rom_2:4; 1Ti_1:6; 1Pe_3:20; Tit_3:4; Eph_2:7) he proceeds to display its excellence still further by showing the permanence of those things in respect to which it stands preëminent.

1Co_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 ἐêðßðôåé (Tisch. Ed. 7. [Words.]), or with A. B. C. [Alf., Stan.] ðßðôåé ; the sense is the same,— ïῦ êáôáñãåῖôáé , ïὐ ðáýåôáé (comp. Luk_16:17). It states negatively what is positively asserted in 1Co_13:13.—Love never faileth;—The compound ἐêðßðôåéí 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 Rom_9:6, spoken of the Word of God, corresponding to the Old Testament ðָôַì , (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 ðßðôåéí 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 åß ̓ ôå åß ̓ ôå , 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. (Jer_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 ãíþóåéò , knowledges, is not sufficiently accredited, and the plural was used perhaps in comformity with the previous word.—it shall come to nought.—On êáôáñãåῖí see 1Co_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 1Co_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” ( ôὸ ôÝëåéïí ) 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 Hab_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. 1Co_2:6; 1Co_3:1; 1Co_14:20; Eph_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. Ëáëåῖí 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; öñïíåῖí 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 ëïãßæåóèáé 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 1Co_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 öñïíåῖí 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 1Co_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 ( âëἐðåéí ); 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. Ἔóïðôñïí some interpret to mean a window-pane, whether of isinglass or some other translucent substance. But the word for this is äßïðôñïí , never ἔóïðôñïí . 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. äéÜ , ‘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. The expression ἐí áἰíßãìáôé is not to be construed adverbially [as in the E. V. and by Heyden, Billr. and others] ‘enigmatically,’ ‘darkly’ ( ἀìáõñῶò ); 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 Num_12:8, where the Lord says of Moses: “With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches ( äἰ áἰíãìÜôùí , 70.), and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold.” Compare with this Gen_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 1Jn_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 2Co_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 ἐðéãíþóïìáé ; the ἐðé in composition is intensive, shall I thoroughly know, pernoscam.even as I also was known.—Here, too, the same verb is employed, ἐðåãíþóèçí , 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 Mat_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 ἐðåãíþóèçí , 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, Ed. 3). 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 (1Co_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 íõíὶ äὲ . Is this to be taken in its temporal acceptation as equivalent to the “now” ( ἄñôé ) of the preceding verse, and in contrast with the “then?” 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 1Co_13:8, he extends now to the other fundamental graces of Christianity that are also elsewhere associated with love (Col_1:4 ff.; 1Th_1:3; 1Th_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 2Co_5:7, where ‘walking by faith’ is opposed to ‘walking by sight;’ and Rom_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 1Co_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 2Co_5:7); still less is it the faith mentioned in 1Co_13:2; neither is hope to be taken in contrast with actual possession and enjoyment (as in Rom_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 1Co_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. ìåßæùí ôïýôùí ; ôïõôùí , 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 (1Co_13:4 ff.; Col_3:14), does not rest on the fact that it includes in itself faith and hope, as one would infer from 1Co_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,” 1Co_14:5);—and God is not called faith or hope absolutely, but He is called ‘love;’ ” and Meyer in Ed. 3 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. Mat_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 l