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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 13)

13:1 {With the tongues} (\tais glōssais\). 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, \lalō
kai mē echō\, though the form is identical with present
is of the third class, a supposable case. {But have
not love}
(\agapēn de mē echō\). This is the _crux_ of the
chapter. Love is the way _par excellence_ of 12:31. It is not
yet clearly certain that \agapē\ (a back-formation from \agapaō\)
occurs before the LXX and the N.T. Plutarch used \agapēsis\.
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 \agapē\ made it easier for
Christians to use this word for Christian love as opposed to
\erōs\ (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 \agapē\ 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 (\chalchos ēchōn\). Old words.
Brass was the earliest metal that men learned to use. Our word
_echoing_ is \ēchōn\, 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. \Alalazō\, old onomatopoetic word to ring
loudly, in lament (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
. 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" (\hōste orē methistanein\) 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} (\outhen eimi\). Not \outheis\,
nobody, but an absolute zero. This form in \th\ rather than \d\
(\ouden\) had a vogue for a while (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 219).

13:3 {Bestow to feed} (\Psōmisō\). First aorist active
subjunctive of \psōmizō\, to feed, to nourish, from \psōmos\,
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
(\hina kauthēsōmai\). First future passive subjunctive
(Textus Receptus), but D \kauthēsomai\ (future passive indicative
of \kaiō\, 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 \kauchēsōmai\, first
aorist middle subjunctive of \kauchaomai\ (so Westcott and Hort),
"that I may glory." This is correct. {It profiteth me nothing}
(\ouden ōpheloumai\). Literally, I am helped nothing. \Ouden\ in
the accusative case retained with passive verb. See two
accusatives with \ōpheleō\ in 14:6. Verb is old and from
\ophelos\ (profit).

13:4 Verses 4-7 picture the character or conduct of love in
marvellous rhapsody. {Suffereth long} (\makrothumei\). Late
_Koinē_ word (Plutarch) from \makros\, long, \thumos\, passion,
ardour. Cf. Jas 5:7f. {Is kind} (\chrēsteuetai\). From
\chrēstos\ (useful, gracious, kind) and that from \chraomai\, 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 behaviour. {Envieth not} (\ou zēloi\).
Present active indicative of \zēloō\ (contraction \oei=oi\, same
as subjunctive and optative forms)
. Bad sense of \zēlos\ from
\zeō\, to boil, good sense in 12:31. Love is neither jealous
nor envious (both ideas). {Vaunteth not itself} (\ou
. 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 phusioutai\). Present direct middle
indicative of \phusioō\ from \phusis\ (late form for \phusaō,
phusiaō\ from \phusa\, 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 aschēmonei\). Old
verb from \aschēmōn\ (12:23). In N.T. only here and 7:36. Not
indecent. {Seeketh not its own} (\ou zētei ta heautēs\). 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 chairei\). 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}
(\sunchairei de tēi alētheiāi\). 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\). \Stegō\ is old verb
from \stegē\, 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 agapē
kaluptei phēthos hamartiōn\)
, throws a veil over. {Believeth all
(\panta pisteuei\). Not gullible, but has faith in men.
{Hopeth all things} (\panta elpizei\). Sees the bright side of
things. Does not despair. \Endureth all things\ (\panta
. 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} (\Hē agapē 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}
(\katargēthēsontai\). First future passive of
\katargeō\. 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 \pauō\, to make cease.
They shall make themselves cease or automatically cease of

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

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

13:11 {A child} (\nēpios\). See on ¯3:1 for \nēpios\ in contrast
with \teleios\ (adult). {I spake} (\elaloun\). Imperfect active,
I used to talk. {I felt} (\ephronoun\). Imperfect active, I used
to think. Better, I used to understand. {I thought}
(\elogizomēn\). Imperfect middle, I used to reason or calculate.
{Now that I am become} (\hote gegona\). Perfect active indicative
\gegona\, I have become a man (\anēr\) and remain so (Eph
. {I have put away} (\katērgēka\). 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 \optō\, 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} (\prosōpon
pros prosōpon\)
. Note triple use of \pros\ which means facing one
as in Joh 1:1. \Prosōpon\ is old word from \pros\ and \ops\,
eye, face. {Shall I know} (\epignōsomai\). I shall fully (\epi-\)
know. Future middle indicative as \ginōskō\ (I know) is present
active and \epegnōsthēn\ (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} (\meizōn
. Predicative adjective and so no article. The form of
\meizōn\ is comparative, but it is used as superlative, for the
superlative form \megistos\ had become rare in the _Koinē_
(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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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(1 Corinthians: Chapter 13)