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The First Letter Of Paul To The Corinthians: Chapter 13

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1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, a Other ancient authorities read body to be burned but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love 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, b Gk in a riddle 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.

Notes:

a Other ancient authorities read body to be burned

b Gk in a riddle

Text Commentary view alone

13.1–13 : Praising love

in contrast with the overvaluation of spiritual gifts that produces divisiveness. Paul's sudden shift into the high‐blown style of formal, artful praise of a virtue may be a parody of those who are fond of rhetoric.

1–3 :

Paul first mockingly exaggerates both the Corinthians' favorite spiritual gifts along with his own key values, then suddenly deflates them. On tongues (v. 1 ), see 14.1–33n.

4–7 :

The positive qualities of love are the opposite of the Corinthians' behavior presented elsewhere in the letter.

8–13 :

In these comparisons, Paul becomes more rhapsodic, no longer ironic, glorifying the qualities he most values—while still denigrating the Corinthians' most valued spiritual gifts. Against their sense of present transcendence, Paul emphasizes future fulfillment.

12 :

To now we see in a mirror, dimly, compare Wisdom as “a spotless mirror of the working of God” in Wis 7.25–26 .

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