1 Corinthians
Chapter 13

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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

  • Riverfox
    this is good
  • Veneda w allen
    The subject of this letter is love,it shows us love is the greatest of because this is th character of god,1st jonh4 8, God is love
  • Fred
    Some of the best teachers teach with desire.The kjv is this inspired will of God. The teacher of the love of Christ , and God the Father, with the holy spirit Our sanctification, our redemption,being justified by faith, we have peace. When you understand these things, you will love, you will have charity, you will be like Him! Let this mind be in you. Desire the sincere milk of the world.
  • Teri
    the greatest of these is love...and the hardest!
  • Florine
    1Corinthians tell Christian how God want us to really love one another how to love also tell us what love is not
  • Lolalane
    Out of faith, hope, and charity, for charity to be number one ???? I had to find out why that was the truth. But I understand that all the faith and hope in the world that we know is possible is lessened by a lack of wanting that for others outside our personal circle of existence. Faith and Hope are easy when you believe, but Charity takes understanding within the brutal, unfair, everyday world
  • ELAINE
    How very true. Well put!
  • JP
    being a mechanic, I believe that Charity is the engine of Christianity without Charity, Christianity is car out of service.
  • Bo
    Lets stop pursuing temporary things like titles, positions, things.. etc. ...but pursue what Never fails.. LOVE...love like the FATHER
  • HELEN ADAMS
    Love is what GOD WANT US TO DO IT IS SO EASY TO DO.


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Bible Trivia

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