13:1 Though 1 I speak with the tongues of men and of a
angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding
brass, or a b tinkling cymbal.
(1) He reasons first of charity, the excellency of which he
first shows by this, that without it, all other gifts are
as nothing before God. And this he proves partly by an
induction, and partly also by an argument taken of the end,
for what reason those gifts are given. For, to what
purpose are those gifts but to God's glory, and the profit
of the Church as is before proved? So that those gifts,
without charity, have no right use.
(a) A very earnest amplifying of the matter, as if he
said, "If there were any tongues of angels, and I had
them, and did not use them to the benefit of my
neighbour, it would be nothing else except a vain and
prattling type of babbling."
(b) That gives a rude and uncertain sound.
13:2 And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand
all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all c
faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not
charity, I am nothing.
(c) By "faith" he means the gift of doing miracles, and not
that faith which justifies, which cannot be void of
charity as the other may.
13:42 Charity d suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity
envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
(2) He describes the force and nature of charity, partly by a
comparison of opposites, and partly by the effects of
charity itself. And by this the Corinthians may understand
both how profitable it is in the church, and how necessary:
and also how far they are from it, and therefore how vainly
and without cause they are proud.
(d) Literally, "defers wrath".
13:5 Doth e not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
(e) It is not insolent, or reproachful.
13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but f rejoiceth in the truth;
(f) Rejoices at righteousness in the righteous. For by
"truth" the Hebrews mean "righteousness".
13:83 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be]
prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues,
they shall cease; whether [there be] g knowledge, it
shall vanish away.
(3) Again he commends the excellency of charity, in that it
will never be abolished in the saints, whereas the other
gifts which are necessary for the building up of the
church, so long as we live here, will have no place in the
world to come.
(g) The getting of knowledge by prophesying.
13:94 For we know in h part, and we prophesy in part.
(4) The reason: because we are now in the state that we have
need to learn daily, and therefore we have need of those
helps, that is, of the gift of tongues, and knowledge, and
also of those that teach by them. But to what purpose
serve they then, when we have obtained and gotten the full
knowledge of God, which serve now but for those who are
imperfect and go by degrees to perfection?
(h) We learn imperfectly.
13:115 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.
(5) He sets forth that which he said by an excellent
similitude, comparing this life to our infancy, or
childhood, in which we mutter and stammer rather than
speak, and think and understand childish things, and
therefore have need of such things as may form and frame
our tongue and mind. But when we become men, to what
purpose should we desire that stammering, those childish
toys, and such like things, by which we are formed in our
childhood by little and little?
13:126 For i 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.
(6) The applying of the similitude of our childhood to this
present life, in which we darkly behold heavenly things,
according to the small measure of light which is given to
us, through the understanding of tongues, and hearing the
teachers and ministers of the Church. And our man's age
and strength is compared to that heavenly and eternal life,
in which when we behold God himself present, and are
enlightened with his full and perfect light, to what
purpose would we desire the voice of man, and those worldly
things which are most imperfect? But yet then all the
saints will be knit both with God, and between themselves
with most fervent love. And therefore charity will not be
abolished, but perfected, although it will not be shown
forth and entertained by such manner of duties as
belong only and especially to the infirmity of this life.
(i) All this must be understood by comparison.
13:137 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but
the greatest of these [is] charity.
(7) The conclusion: as if the apostle should say, "Such
therefore will be our condition then: but now we have three
things, and they remain sure if we are Christ's, without
which, true religion cannot consist, that is, faith, hope,
and charity. And among these, charity is the chiefest
because it ceases not in the life to come as the rest do,
but is perfected and accomplished. For seeing that faith
and hope tend to things which are promised and are to come,
when we have presently gotten them, to what purpose would
we have faith and hope? But yet there at length we will
truly and perfectly love both God and one another."