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8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.


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8. never faileth—never is to be out of use; it always holds its place.

shall fail … vanish away—The same Greek verb is used for both; and that different from the Greek verb for "faileth." Translate, "Shall be done away with," that is, shall be dispensed with at the Lord's coming, being superseded by their more perfect heavenly analogues; for instance, knowledge by intuition. Of "tongues," which are still more temporary, the verb is "shall cease." A primary fulfilment of Paul's statement took place when the Church attained its maturity; then "tongues" entirely "ceased," and "prophesyings" and "knowledge," so far as they were supernatural gifts of the Spirit, were superseded as no longer required when the ordinary preaching of the word, and the Scriptures of the New Testament collected together, had become established institutions.

9, 10. in part—partially and imperfectly. Compare a similar contrast to the "perfect man," "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13).

10. that which is in part—fragmentary and isolated.

11. When … a child—(1Co 3:1; 14:20).

I spake—alluding to "tongues."

understood—or, "had the sentiments of." Alluding to "prophecy."

I thoughtGreek "reasoned" or "judged"; alluding to "knowledge."

when I became … I put away—rather, "now that I am become a man, I have done away with the things of the child."

12. now—in our present state.

see—an appropriate expression, in connection with the "prophets" of seers (1Sa 9:9).

through a glass—that is, in a mirror; the reflection seeming to the eye to be behind the mirror, so that we see it through the mirror. Ancient mirrors were made of polished brass or other metals. The contrast is between the inadequate knowledge of an object gained by seeing it reflected in a dim mirror (such as ancient mirrors were), compared with the perfect idea we have of it by seeing itself directly.

darkly—literally, "in enigma." As a "mirror" conveys an image to the eye, so an "enigma" to the ear. But neither "eye nor ear" can fully represent (though the believer's soul gets a small revelation now of) "the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1Co 2:9). Paul alludes to Nu 12:8, "not in dark speeches"; the Septuagint, "not in enigmas." Compared with the visions and dreams vouchsafed to other prophets, God's communications with Moses were "not in enigmas." But compared with the intuitive and direct vision of God hereafter, even the revealed word now is "a dark discourse," or a shadowing forth by enigma of God's reflected likeness. Compare 2Pe 1:19, where the "light" or candle in a dark place stands in contrast with the "day" dawning. God's word is called a glass or mirror also in 2Co 3:18.

then—"when that which is perfect is come" (1Co 13:10).

face to face—not merely "mouth to mouth" (Nu 12:8). Ge 32:30 was a type (Joh 1:50, 51).

know … known—rather as Greek, "fully know … fully known." Now we are known by, rather than know, God (1Co 8:3; Ga 4:9).

13. And now—Translate, "But now." "In this present state" [Henderson]. Or, "now" does not express time, but opposition, as in 1Co 5:11, "the case being so" [Grotius]; whereas it is the case that the three gifts, "prophecy," "tongues," and "knowledge" (cited as specimens of the whole class of gifts) "fail" (1Co 13:8), there abide permanently only these three—faith, hope, charity. In one sense faith and hope shall be done away, faith being superseded by sight, and hope by actual fruition (Ro 8:24; 2Co 5:7); and charity, or love, alone never faileth (1Co 13:8). But in another sense, "faith and hope," as well as "charity," ABIDE; namely, after the extraordinary gifts have ceased; for those three are necessary and sufficient for salvation at all times, whereas the extraordinary gifts are not at all so; compare the use of "abide," 1Co 3:14. Charity, or love, is connected specially with the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of the loving union between the brethren (Ro 15:30; Col 1:8). Faith is towards God. Hope is in behalf of ourselves. Charity is love to God creating in us love towards our neighbor. In an unbeliever there is more or less of the three opposites—unbelief, despair, hatred. Even hereafter faith in the sense of trust in God "abideth"; also "hope," in relation to ever new joys in prospect, and at the anticipation of ever increasing blessedness, sure never to be disappointed. But love alone in every sense "abideth"; it is therefore "the greatest" of the three, as also because it presupposes "faith," which without "love" and its consequent "works" is dead (Ga 5:6; Jas 2:17, 20).

but—rather, "and"; as there is not so strong opposition between charity and the other two, faith and hope, which like it also "abide."




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