1 Corinthians
Chapter 13

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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And 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, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Commentary for 1 Corinthians 13

The necessity and advantage of the grace of love. (1-3) Its excellency represented by its properties and effects; (4-7) and by its abiding, and its superiority. (8-13)1-3 The excellent way had in view in the close of the former chapter, is not what is meant by charity in our common use of the word, almsgiving, but love in its fullest meaning; true love to God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of no account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear head and a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolent and charitable heart. There may be an open and lavish hand, where there is not a liberal and charitable heart. Doing good to others will do none to us, if it be not done from love to God, and good-will to men. If we give away all we have, while we withhold the heart from God, it will not profit. Nor even the most painful sufferings. How are those deluded who look for acceptance and reward for their good works, which are as scanty and defective as they are corrupt and selfish!

4-7 Some of the effects of charity are stated, that we may know whether we have this grace; and that if we have not, we may not rest till we have it. This love is a clear proof of regeneration, and is a touchstone of our professed faith in Christ. In this beautiful description of the nature and effects of love, it is meant to show the Corinthians that their conduct had, in many respects, been a contrast to it. Charity is an utter enemy to selfishness; it does not desire or seek its own praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Not that charity destroys all regard to ourselves, or that the charitable man should neglect himself and all his interests. But charity never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or to neglect others. It ever prefers the welfare of others to its private advantage. How good-natured and amiable is Christian charity! How excellent would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it were more under this Divine principle, and paid due regard to the command on which its blessed Author laid the chief stress! Let us ask whether this Divine love dwells in our hearts. Has this principle guided us into becoming behaviour to all men? Are we willing to lay aside selfish objects and aims? Here is a call to watchfulness, diligence, and prayer.

8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused notions of things, have children when compared with grown men! Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now, compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! God is love, #1Jo 4:8,16|. Where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its greatest height; there only will it be perfected.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for 1 Corinthians 13

  • Vance Brown
    That it is the TRUE meaning of LOVE an AGAPE LOVE that can withstand the test of times.
  • A disciple
    Dear Brother Kurt; You bring up a very interesting topic, that I think is somewhat misunderstood, or misrepresented. As you said, we know as Christians, that the way up is down: he that humbles himself shall be exalted. But there were places where the Lord spoke of these things not condemning the desire for recognition and praise when it is fitting; but for the self love seeking vain glory.
  • Kurt Chappell
    Love as God and Jesus teach vs. man’s love of works: Martin Luther describes this difference. Some modern churches and/or members are caught up in pride. It can be destructive for all as we redefine Jesus saying, “ it is finished.” Human pride Jesus had none yet it’s a great sin we follow, doing works for recognition or recompense. Missions teaches me about this most humbling of Christian tenets.
  • Steve morrow
    1 PETER 4:7 but the end of all things is at hand be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer --4:8-- and above all things have fervent charity among yourselves for charity shall cover the multitude of sins 1 JOHN 2:10 HE THAT LOVETH HIS BROTHER ABIDETH IN THE LIGHT AND THERE IS NONE OCCASION OF STUMBLING IN HIM 1 JOHN 3:10 in this the children of GOD are manifest and the children of the devil --- whosoever doeth not righteousness --- is not of GOD --- neither he that loveth not his brother
  • Carmella DeMarco
    For God gave us love for the betterment of mankind.To love others as we love are selfs. Not the selfish kind of love but the God kind of love.Which is Peace ,Love ,And , Happiness ,Harmony.Is the best for us...JESUS
  • Smeshque
    God' love, is there before, during, and after it is needed. Humans often say they love, but don't exe ute what love means as in 1 Cor.13. The church wants to love like they have faith. With no works. And neither, love nor faith is executed without works. They both are action words.
  • RMB
    GOD love is so greater so power beyond any human ability that's why it important to allow GOD to live on the inside of us and love though us. Without GOD we don't know how to love.
  • BSP
    Verse 11~As we grow spiritually we must put away childish traits and strive to imitate the Christ more fully.

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Bible Trivia

If you don't have this attribute, your words are like a tinkling cymbal...
  • Hope
  • Charity
  • Peace
  • Forgiveness