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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - 1 CORINTHIANS 13

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    13:1 {With the tongues} (tais glwssais). Instrumental case. Mentioned first because really least and because the Corinthians put undue emphasis on this gift. Plato (_Symposium_, 197) and many others have written on love, but Paul has here surpassed them all in this marvellous prose-poem. It comes like a sweet bell right between the jangling noise of the gifts in chapters 12 and 14. It is a pity to dissect this gem or to pull to pieces this fragrant rose, petal by petal. Fortunately Paul's language here calls for little comment, for it is the language of the heart. "The greatest, strongest, deepest thing Paul ever wrote" (Harnack). The condition (ean and present subjunctive, lalw kai me ecw, though the form is identical with present indicative) is of the third class, a supposable case. {But have not love} (agapen de me ecw). this is the _crux_ of the chapter. Love is the way _par excellence_ of #12:31. It is not yet clearly certain that agape (a back-formation from agapaw) occurs before the LXX and the N.T. Plutarch used agapesis. Deissmann (_Bible Studies_, p. 198) once suspected it on an inscription in Pisidia. It is still possible that it occurs in the papyri (Prayer to Isis). See _Light from the Ancient East_, p. 75 for details. The rarity of agape made it easier for Christians to use this word for Christian love as opposed to erws (sexual love). See also Moffatt's Love in the N.T. (1930) for further data. The word is rare in the Gospels, but common in Paul, John, Peter, Jude. Paul does not limit agape at all (both toward God and man). Charity (Latin _caritas_) is wholly inadequate. "Intellect was worshipped in Greece, and power in Rome; but where did St. Paul learn the surpassing beauty of love?" (Robertson and Plummer). Whether Paul had ever seen Jesus in the flesh, he knows him in the spirit. One can substitute Jesus for love all through this panegyric. {I am become} (gegona). Second perfect indicative in the conclusion rather than the usual future indicative. It is put vividly, "I am already become." Sounding brass (calcos ecwn). Old words. Brass was the earliest metal that men learned to use. Our word _echoing_ is ecwn, present active participle. Used in #Lu 21:25 of the roaring of the sea. Only two examples in N.T. {Clanging cymbal} (kumbalon alalazon). Cymbal old word, a hollow basin of brass. alalazw, old onomatopoetic word to ring loudly, in mourn (#Mr 5:38), for any cause as here. Only two N.T. examples.

    13:2 The ecstatic gifts (verse #1) are worthless. Equally so are the teaching gifts (prophecy, knowledge of mysteries, all knowledge). Crasis here in kan=kai ean. Paul is not condemning these great gifts. He simply places love above them and essential to them. Equally futile is wonder-working faith "so as to remove mountains" (hwste ore meqistanein) without love. this may have been a proverb or Paul may have known the words of Jesus (#Mt 17:20; 21:21). {I am nothing} (ouqen eimi). Not ouqeis, nobody, but an absolute zero. this form in q rather than d (ouden) had a vogue for a while (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 219).

    13:3 {Bestow to feed} (ywmisw). First aorist active subjunctive of ywmizw, to feed, to nourish, from ywmos, morsel or bit, and so to feed, by putting a morsel into the mouth like infant (or bird). Old word, but only here in N.T. {To be burned} (hina kauqeswmai). First future passive subjunctive (Textus Receptus), but D kauqesomai (future passive indicative of kaiw, old word to burn). There were even some who courted martyrdom in later years (time of Diocletian). this Byzantine future subjunctive does not occur in the old MSS. (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 876). Aleph A B here read kauceswmai, first aorist middle subjunctive of kaucaomai (so Westcott and Hort), "that I may glory." this is correct. {It profiteth me nothing} (ouden wfeloumai). Literally, I am helped nothing. ouden in the accusative case retained with passive verb. See two accusatives with wfelew in #14:6. Verb is old and from ofelos (profit).

    13:4 Verses #4-7 picture the character or conduct of love in marvellous rhapsody. {Suffereth long} (makroqumei). Late _Koiné_ word (Plutarch) from makros, long, qumos, passion, ardor. Cf. #Jas 5:7f. {Is kind} (cresteuetai). From crestos (useful, gracious, kind) and that from craomai, to use. Not found elsewhere save in Clement of Rome and Eusebius. "Perhaps of Paul's coining" (Findlay). Perhaps a vernacular word ready for Paul. Gentle in behavior. {Envieth not} (ou zeloi). Present active indicative of zelow (contraction oei=oi, same as subjunctive and optative forms). Bad sense of zelos from zew, to boil, good sense in #12:31. Love is neither jealous nor envious (both ideas). {Vaunteth not itself} (ou perpereuetai). From perperos, vainglorious, braggart (Polybius, Epictetus) like Latin _perperus_. Only here in N.T. and earliest known example. It means play the braggart. Marcus Anton. V. 5 uses it with areskeuomai, to play the toady. {Is not puffed up} (ou fusioutai). Present direct middle indicative of fusiow from fusis (late form for fusaw, fusiaw from fusa, bellows), to puff oneself out like a pair of bellows. this form in Herodas and Menander. Is not arrogant. See on »4:6.

    13:5 {Doth not behave itself unseemly} (ouk ascemonei). Old verb from ascemwn (#12:23). In N.T. only here and #7:36. Not indecent. {Seeketh not its own} (ou zetei ta heautes). Its own interests (#10:24,33). {Is not provoked} (ou paroxunetai). Old word. In N.T. only here and #Ac 17:16 which see. Irritation or sharpness of spirit. And yet Paul felt it in Athens (exasperation) and he and Barnabas had paroxusmos (paroxysm) in Antioch (#15:39). See good sense of paroxusmos in #Heb 10:24. {Taketh not account of evil} (ou logizetai to kakon). Old verb from logos, to count up, to take account of as in a ledger or note-book, "the evil" (to kakon) done to love with a view to settling the account.

    13:6 {Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness} (ou cairei). See #Ro 1:32 for this depth of degradation. There are people as low as that whose real joy is in the triumph of evil. {But rejoiceth with the truth} (suncairei de tei aleqeiai). Associative instrumental case after sun- in composition. Truth personified as opposed to unrighteousness (#2Th 2:12; Ro 2:8). Love is on the side of the angels. Paul returns here to the positive side of the picture (verse #4) after the remarkable negatives.

    13:7 {Beareth all things} (panta stegei). stegw is old verb from stege, roof, already in #1Co 9:12; 1Th 3:1,5 which see. Love covers, protects, forbears (_suffert_, Vulgate). See #1Pe 4:8 "because love covers a multitude of sins" (hoti agape kaluptei feqos hamartiwn), throws a veil over. {Believeth all things} (panta pisteuei). Not gullible, but has faith in men. {Hopeth all things} (panta elpizei). Sees the bright side of things. Does not despair. endureq all qings (panta hupomenei). Perseveres. Carries on like a stout-hearted soldier. If one knows Sir Joshua Reynolds's beautiful painting of the Seven Virtues (the four cardinal virtues of the Stoics--temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice--and the three Christian graces--faith, hope, love), he will find them all exemplified here as marks of love (the queen of them all).

    13:8 {Love never faileth} (he agape oudepote piptei). New turn for the perpetuity of love. piptei correct text, not ekpiptei, as in #Lu 16:17. Love survives everything. {They shall be done away} (katargeqesontai). First future passive of katargew. Rare in old Greek, to make idle (argos), inoperative. All these special spiritual gifts will pass. It is amazing how little of human work lasts. {They shall cease} (pausontai). Future middle indicative of pauw, to make cease. They shall make themselves cease or automatically cease of themselves.

    13:9 {In part} (ek merous). See on »12:27. As opposed to the whole.

    13:10 {That which is perfect} (to teleion). The perfect, the full-grown (telos, end), the mature. See on »2:6. hotan elqei is second aorist subjunctive with hotan, temporal clause for indefinite future time.

    13:11 {A child} (nepios). See on »3:1 for nepios in contrast with teleios (adult). {I spake} (elaloun). Imperfect active, I used to talk. {I felt} (efronoun). Imperfect active, I used to think. Better, I used to understand. {I thought} (elogizomen). Imperfect middle, I used to reason or calculate. {Now that I am become} (hote gegona). Perfect active indicative gegona, I have become a man (aner) and remain so (#Eph 4:14). {I have put away} (katergeka). Perfect active indicative. I have made inoperative (verse #8) for good.

    13:12 {In a mirror} (di' esoptrou). By means of a mirror (esoptron, from optw, old word, in papyri). Ancient mirrors were of polished metal, not glass, those in Corinth being famous. {Darkly} (en ainigmati). Literally, in an enigma. Old word from ainissomai, to express obscurely. this is true of all ancient mirrors. Here only in N.T., but often in LXX. "To see a friend's face in a cheap mirror would be very different from looking at the friend" (Robertson and Plummer). {Face to face} (proswpon pros proswpon). Note triple use of pros which means facing one as in #Joh 1:1. proswpon is old word from pros and oy, eye, face. {Shall I know} (epignwsomai). I shall fully (epi-) know. Future middle indicative as ginwskw (I know) is present active and epegnwsqen (I was fully known) is first aorist passive (all three voices).

    13:13 {Abideth} (menei). Singular, agreeing in number with pistis (faith), first in list. {The greatest of these} (meizwn toutwn). Predicative adjective and so no article. The form of meizwn is comparative, but it is used as superlative, for the superlative form megistos had become rare in the _Koiné_ (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 667ff.). See this idiom in #Mt 11:11; 18:1; 23:11. The other gifts pass away, but these abide forever. Love is necessary for both faith and hope. Does not love keep on growing? It is quite worth while to call attention to Henry Drummond's famous sermon _The Greatest Thing in the World_ and to Dr. J.D. Jones's able book _The Greatest of These_. Greatest, Dr. Jones holds, because love is an attribute of God.

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