1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
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Though I speak with the tongues of men - Though I should be able to speak all the languages which are spoken by people. To speak foreign languages was regarded then, as it is now, as a rare and valuable endowment; compare Virgil, Aeneas vi. 625ff. The word "I" here is used in a popular sense, and the apostle designs to illustrate, as he often does, his idea by a reference to himself, which, it is evident, he wishes to be understood as applying to those whom he addressed. It is evident that among the Corinthians the power of speaking a foreign language was regarded as a signally valuable endowment; and there can be no doubt that some of the leaders in that church valued themselves especially on it; see 1 Corinthians 14. To correct this, and to show them that all this would be vain without love, and to induce them, therefore, to seek for love as a more valuable endowment, was the design of the apostle in this passage. Of this verse Dr. Bloomfield, than whom, perhaps, there is no living man better qualified to give such an opinion, remarks, that "it would be difficult to find a finer passage than this in the writings of Demosthenes himself."

And of angels - The language of angels; such as they speak. Were I endowed with the faculty of eloquence and persuasion which we attribute to them; and the power of speaking to any of the human family with the power which they have. The language of angels here seems to be used to denote the highest power of using language, or of the most elevated faculty of eloquence and speech. It is evidently derived from the idea that the angels are "superior" in all respects to human beings; that they must have endowments in advance of all which man can have. It may possibly have reference to the idea that they must have some mode of communicating their ideas one to another, and that this dialect or mode must be far superior to that which is employed by man. Man is imperfect. All his modes of communication are defective. We attribute to the angels the idea of perfection; and the idea here is, that even though a man had a far higher faculty of speaking languages than would be included in the endowment of speaking all the languages of human beings as people speak them, and even had the higher and more perfect mode of utterance which the angels have, and yet were destitute of love, all would be nothing. It is possible that Paul may have some allusion here to what he refers to in 2 Corinthians 12:4, where he says that when he was caught up into paradise, he heard unspeakable words which it was not possible for a man to utter. To this higher, purer language of heaven he may refer here by the language of the angels. It was not with him mere "conjecture" of what that language might be; it was language which he had been permitted himself to hear. Of that scene he would refain a most deep and tender recollection; and to that language he now refers, by saying that even that elevated language would be valueless to a creature if there were not love.

And have not charity - (ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω agapēn de mē echō . And have not love. This is the proper and usual meaning of the Greek word. The English word charity is used in a great variety of senses; and some of them cannot be included in the meaning of the word here. It means:

(1) In a general sense, love, benevolence, good-will;

(2) In theology, it includes supreme love to God and universal good-will to mankind;

(3) In a more particular sense, it denotes the love and kindness which springs from the natural relations, as the "charities" of father, son, brother;

(4) Liberality to the poor, to the needy, and to objects of beneficence, as we speak commonly of "charity," meaning almsgiving, and of charitable societies;

(5) "Candor" liberality in judging of people's actions indulgence to their opinions; attributing to them good motives and intentions; a disposition to judge of them favorably, and to put on their words and actions the best construction. This is a very common signification of the word in our language now, and this is one modification of the word "love," as all such charity is supposed to proceed from "love" to our neighbor, and a desire that he should have a right to his opinions as well as we to ours. The Greek word ἀγάπη agapē means properly "love," affection, regard, good-will, benevolence. It is applied:

(a) To love in general;

(b) To the love of God and of Christ;

(c) The love which God or Christ exercises toward Christians, Romans 5:5; Ephesians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:5;

(d) The effect, or proof of beneficence, favor conferred: Ephesians 1:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 John 3:1. Robinson, Lexicon.

In the English word "charity," therefore, there are now some ideas which are not found in the Greek word, and especially the idea of "almsgiving," and the common use of the word among us in the sense of "candor" or "liberality in judging." Neither of these ideas, perhaps, are to be found in the use of the word in the chapter before us; and the more proper translation would have been, in accordance with the usual mode of translation in the New Testament, love. Tyndale in his translation, renders it by the word "love." The "love" which is referred to in this chapter, and illustrated, is mainly "love to man" 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; though there is no reason to doubt that the apostle meant also to include in the general term love to God, or love in general. His illustrations, however, are chiefly drawn from the effects of love toward people. It properly means love to the whole church, love to the whole world; love to all creatures which arises from true piety, and which centers ultimately in God - Doddridge. It is this love whose importance Paul, in this beautiful chapter, illustrates as being more valuable than the highest possible endowments without it. It is not necessary to suppose that anyone had these endowments, or had the power of speaking with the tongues of human beings and angels; or had the gift of prophecy, or had the highest degree of faith who had no love. The apostle supposes a case; and says that if it were so, if all these were possessed without love, they would be comparatively valueless; or that love was a more valuable endowment than all the others would be without it.

I am become - I am. I shall be.

continued...

Though I speak, etc. - At the conclusion of the preceding chapter the apostle promised to show the Corinthians a more excellent way than that in which they were now proceeding. They were so distracted with contentions, divided by parties, and envious of each other's gifts, that unity was nearly destroyed. This was a full proof that love to God and man was wanting; and that without this, their numerous gifts and other graces were nothing in the eyes of God; for it was evident that they did not love one another, which is a proof that they did not love God; and consequently, that they had not true religion. Having, by his advices and directions, corrected many abuses, and having shown them how in outward things they should walk so as to please God, he now shows them the spirit, temper, and disposition in which this should be done, and without which all the rest must be ineffectual.

Before I proceed to the consideration of the different parts of this chapter, it may be necessary to examine whether the word αγαπη be best translated by charity or love. Wiclif, translating from the Vulgate, has the word charity; and him our authorized version follows. But Coverdale, Matthews, Cranmer, and the Geneva Bible, have love; which is adopted by recent translators and commentators in general; among whom the chief are Dodd, Pearce, Purver, Wakefield, and Wesley; all these strenuously contend that the word charity, which is now confined to almsgiving, is utterly improper; and that the word love, alone expresses the apostle's sense. As the word charity seems now to express little else than almsgiving, which, performed even to the uttermost of a man's power, is nothing if he lack what the apostle terms αγαπη, and which we here translate charity; it is best to omit the use of a word in this place which, taken in its ordinary signification, makes the apostle contradict himself; see 1 Corinthians 13:3 : Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. That is: "Though I have the utmost charity, and act in every respect according to its dictates, yet, if I have not charity, my utmost charity is unprofitable." Therefore, to shun this contradiction, and the probable misapplication of the term, Love had better be substituted for Charity!

The word αγαπη, love, I have already considered at large in the note on Matthew 22:37; and to that place I beg leave to refer the reader for its derivation and import. Our English word love we have from the Teutonic leben to live, because love is the means, dispenser, and preserver of life; and without it life would have nothing desirable, nor indeed any thing even supportable: or it may be taken immediately from the Anglo-Saxon lofa and lufa love, from lufan and lufian, to desire, to love, to favor. It would be ridiculous to look to the Greek verb φιλειν for its derivation.

Having said so much about the word love, we should say something of the word charity, which is supposed to be improper in this place. Charity comes to us immediately from the French charite, who borrowed it from the Latin charitas, which is probably borrowed from the Greek χαρις, signifying grace or favor, or χαρα, joy, as a benefit bestowed is a favor that inspires him who receives it with joy; and so far contributes to his happiness. The proper meaning of the word Charus, is dear, costly; and Charitas, is dearth, scarcity, a high price, or dearness. Hence, as in times of dearth or scarcity, many, especially the poor, must be in want, and the benevolent will be excited to relieve them; the term which expressed the cause of this want was applied to the disposition which was excited in behalf of the sufferer. Now, as he who relieves a person in distress, and preserves his life by communicating a portion of his property to him, will feel a sort of interest in the person thus preserved; Hence he is said to be dear to him: i.e. he has cost him something; and he values him in proportion to the trouble or expense he has cost him. Thus charity properly expresses that affectionate attachment we may feel to a person whose wants we have been enabled to relieve; but originally it signified that want of the necessaries of life which produced dearth or dearness of those necessaries; and brought the poor man into that state in which he stood so much in need of the active benevolence of his richer neighbor. If the word be applied to God's benevolence towards man, it comes in with all propriety and force: we are dear to God, for we have not been purchased with silver or gold, but with the precious (τιμιῳ αἱματι, costly) blood of Christ, who so loved us as to give his life a ransom for ours.

As Christians in general acknowledge that this chapter is the most important in the whole New Testament, I shall give here the first translation of it into the English language which is known to exist, extracted from an ancient and noble MS. in my own possession, which seems to exhibit both a text and language, if not prior to the time of Wiclif, yet certainly not posterior to his days. The reader will please to observe that there are no divisions of verses in the MS.

The XIII. Chapter of 1 Corinthians, from an Ancient MS.

Gyf I speke with tungis of men and aungels sotheli I have not charitee: I am maad as brasse sounynge, or a symbale tynking. And gif I schal habe prophecie and habe knowen alle mysteries and alle hunynge or science. and gif I schal have al feith so that I oder bere hills fro oo place to an other. forsothe gif I schal not have charite: I am nought. And gif I schal deperte al my goodid into metis of pore men. And gif I schal bitake my body so that I brenne forsothe gif I schal not have charite it profitith to me no thing. Charite is pacient or suffering. It is benyngne or of good wille. Charite envyeth not. It doth not gyle it is not inblowen with pride it is not ambyciouse or coveitouse of wirschippis. It seeketh not the thingis that ben her owne. It is not stirid to wrath it thinkith not yvil. it joyeth not on wickidnesse forsothe it joyeth to gydre to treuthe. It suffreth all thingis. it bileeveth alle thingis. it hopith alle thingis it susteeneth alle things. Charite fallith not doun. Whether prophecies schuln be bolde eyther langagis schuln ceese: eyther science schul be distruyed. Forsothe of the party we ban knowen: and of partye prophecien. Forsothe whenne that schal cum to that is perfit: that thing that is of partye schal be avoydid. Whenne I was a litil chiilde: I spake as a litil chiilde. I understode as a litil chiilde: I thougte as a litil chiild. Forsothe whenne I was a maad a mam: I avoydid tho thingis that weren of a litil chiild. Forsothe we seen now bi a moror in dercness: thanne forsothe face to face. Nowe I know of partye: thanne forsothe I schal know and as I am knowen. Nowe forsothe dwellen feith hoope charite. These three: forsothe the more of hem is charite.

This is the whole of the chapter as it exists in the MS., with all its peculiar orthography, points, and lines. The words with lines under may be considered the translator's marginal readings; for, though incorporated with the text, they are distinguished from it by those lines.

I had thought once of giving a literal translation of the whole chapter from all the ancient versions. This would be both curious and useful; but the reader might think it would take up too much of his time, and the writer has none to spare.

The tongues of men - All human languages, with all the eloquence of the most accomplished orator.

And of angels - i.e. Though a man knew the language of the eternal world so well that he could hold conversation with its inhabitants, and find out the secrets of their kingdom. Or, probably, the apostle refers to a notion that was common among the Jews, that there was a language by which angels might be invoked, adjured, collected, and dispersed; and by the means of which many secrets might be found out, and curious arts and sciences known.

There is much of this kind to be found in their cabalistical books, and in the books of many called Christians. Cornelius Agrippa's occult philosophy abounds in this; and it was the main object of Dr. Dee's actions with spirits to get a complete vocabulary of this language. See what has been published of his work by Dr. Casaubon; and the remaining manuscript parts in the Sloane library, in the British museum.

In Bava Bathra, fol. 134, mention is made of a famous rabbin, Jochanan ben Zaccai, who understood the language of devils, trees, and angels.

Some think that the apostle means only the most splendid eloquence; as we sometimes apply the word angelic to signify any thing sublime, grand, beautiful, etc.; but it is more likely that he speaks here after the manner of his countrymen, who imagined that there was an angelic language which was the key to many mysteries; a language which might be acquired, and which, they say, had been learned by several.

continued...

Though I speak with the tongues of men,.... That is, of all men, all languages that men anywhere speak, or have been spoken by them. The number of these is by some said (i) to be "seventy five"; but the general opinion of the Jews is, that at the confusion of languages at Babel, they were seventy; for they say (k), that then

"the holy blessed God descended, and "seventy angels" surrounding the throne of his glory, and confounded the languages of seventy people, and every nation of the seventy had their own language and writing, and an angel set over each nation;''

whether this may be the reason, why the tongues of angels are mentioned here with those of men, let it be considered. Mordecai, they say (l), was skilled in all these seventy languages, so that when he heard Bigthan and Teresh, who were Tarsians, talking together in the Tarsian language, he understood them. The same is said (m) of R. Akiba, R. Joshua, and R. Eliezer; yet, they say (n), that this was one of the qualifications of the sanhedrim, or of such that sat in that great council, that they should understand these seventy languages, because they were not to hear causes from the mouth of an interpreter. It is affirmed (o) of Mithridates, king of Pontus and Bithynia, that he had "twenty five" nations under his government, and that he so well understood, and could speak the language of each nation, as to converse with men of any of them, without an interpreter. Apollonius Tyaneus (p) pretended to understand, and speak with the tongues of all men; such a case the apostle supposes here, whether attained to by learning, industry, and close application, or by an extraordinary gift of the Spirit, which latter seems to be what he intends; and the rather he mentions this, and begins with it, because many of the Corinthians were greatly desirous of it; some that had it not, were dejected on that account; wherefore to comfort them, the apostle suggests, that the grace of love which they were possessed of, was abundantly preferable to it; and others that had it were lifted up with it, and used it either for ostentation or gain, or to make parties, and not to the edification of their brethren; which showed want of love, and so were no better than what the apostle hereafter asserts: what he says here and in the following verses, is in an hypothetical way, supposing such a case, and in his own person, that it might be the better taken, and envy and ill will be removed: he adds,

and of angels; not that angels have tongues in a proper sense, or speak any vocal language, in an audible voice, with articulate sounds; for they are spirits immaterial and incorporeal; though they have an intellectual speech, by which they celebrate the perfections and praises of God, and can discourse with one another, and communicate their minds to each other; see Isaiah 6:3 and which is what the Jews (q) call,

"", "the speech of the heart"; and is the speech (they say) , "which the angels speak" in their heart; and is the "pure language", and more excellent than other tongues; is pleasant discourse, the secret of the holy seraphim--and is , "the talk of angels"; who do the will of their Creator in their hearts, and in their thoughts:''

this is not what the apostle refers to; but rather the speech of angels, when they have assumed human bodies, and have in them spoke with an audible voice, in articulate sounds; of which we have many instances, both in the Old Testament and the New, wherein they have conversed with divers persons, as Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Manoah and his wife, the Virgin Mary, Zechariah, and others; unless by the tongues of angels should be meant the most eloquent speech, and most excellent of languages; or if there can be thought to be any tongue that exceeds that of men, which, if angels spoke, they would make use of. Just as the face of angels is used, to express the greatest glory and beauty of the face, or countenance, Acts 6:15 and angels' bread is used for the most excellent food, Psalm 78:25. Dr. Lightfoot thinks, and that not without reason, that the apostle speaks according to the sense and conceptions of the Jews, who attribute speech and language to angels. They tell us (r) that R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, who was contemporary with the apostle, and lived to the destruction of Jerusalem, among other things, he was well versed in, understood , "the speech of demons", and "the speech of the ministering angels": and which they take to be the holy tongue, or the Hebrew language; they observe (s), that

"the children of men (by whom I suppose they mean the Israelites) are in three things like to the ministering angels; they have knowledge as the ministering angels, and they walk in an erect stature as the ministering angels, , "and they speak in the holy tongue, as the ministering angels".''

They pretend that the angels do not understand the Syriac language; hence they (t) advise a man,

"never to ask for what he wants in the Syriac language; for (says R. Jochanan) whoever asks for what he wants in the Syriac language, the ministering angels do not join with him, for they do not know the Syriac language;''

and yet, in the same page, they say that Gabriel came and taught one the seventy languages: but let the tongues of angels be what they will, and a man be able to speak with them ever so well,

and have not charity; by which is meant not giving of alms to the poor, for in 1 Corinthians 13:3 this is supposed in the highest degree it can be performed, and yet a man be destitute of charity; nor a charitable opinion of men as good men, let their principles and practices be what they will; for this is not true charity, but rather uncharitableness, and acting the most unkind part to their souls, to consider and caress them as such, when destruction and ruin are in all their ways; but the grace of love is here meant, even love to God, and love to Christ, and love to the saints, which is a grace implanted in regeneration by the Spirit of God; and which, if a person is destitute of, as he may, who has never so great a share of learning, or knowledge of the languages, or even the extraordinary gift of speaking with divers tongues; all his learning is but an empty sound, his eloquence, his diversity of speech, is but like the man's nightingale, "vox & praeterea nihil", a voice and nothing else; or as the apostle here says, supposing it was his own case,

I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; or rather, "the loud", or "high sounding cymbal", as in Psalm 150:5 which the Septuagint there render by , a phrase of the same signification with this: for not that little tinkling instrument used by the Heathens is here meant; though what is here said of the cymbal agrees with that; which made a tinkling noise when shaken, or struck with anything, or with one against another; and was an hollow vessel of brass, in form of the herb called "navel wort" (u); but rather that musical instrument which bore this name, used in the Jewish worship under the Old Testament; and which, the Jews (w) say, was an instrument that gave a very great sound; and that the sound of it was heard as far as Jericho (x), which was some miles from Jerusalem; they say (y), that the cymbals were two brazen instruments or pieces of brass, which they struck one against another, and so made a sound. The cymbal was also used in the worship of Heathen deities, and the allusion here in both the things mentioned, is either to the tinkling of brass, and the sounding of cymbals in the worship of idols (z); which were mere empty sounds, and of no avail, as is a man's speaking with divers tongues, destitute of the grace of love; or to the confused clamours and noises made upon going to battle, just upon the onset, by drums and cymbals, and , hollow sounding pieces of brass; as appears from Polytenus, Plutarch, Appianus and others (a); to which confused noises the apostle compares the most eloquent speech without love. The Greeks had a play they used at feasts, I will not say the allusion is to it here, but leave it to be though of, which they call "Cottabisis"; when, the liquor that was left, they cast into cups of brass, and such whose liquor made the greatest sound in the cup, fancied himself to be loved again, by the person he loved (b): sounding brass and tinkling cymbals are inanimate things, things without life, as all such persons are destitute of spiritual life, who are devoid of the grace of love; and though they, by an extraordinary gift, and under a divine impulse, speak with divers tongues, they are but like hollow vessels of brass, and sounding cymbals, which only make a noise when they are stricken, and what they give is a mere empty sound, which is of no profit to themselves; they cannot hear, nor be delighted with it, but are rather hurt, being worn out thereby; nor of no great advantage to others, unless they give a musical sound, and that only delights the ear, but neither feeds nor clothes the body; of such little use and profit are men, speaking with tongues destitute of the grace of love, either to themselves or others.

(i) Eupherus & alii in Clement. Alex. Stromat. l. 1. p. 338. (k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 24. (l) Targum in Esther ii. 22. Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 1. T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 48. 4. T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 13. 2.((m) Juchasin, fol. 36. 2.((n) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 17. 1. & Menachot, fol. 65. 1.((o) A. Gellii Noct. Attic. l. 17. c. 17. (p) Philostrat. Vita Apollon. l. 1. c. 13. (q) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 2. 3. & 13. 4. (r) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 28. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 134. 1. Vid. Zohar in Numb. fol. 92. 1.((s) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 16. 1. & Sabbat. fol. 12. 2. Vid. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 74. fol. 65. 2. & Vajikra Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 147. 1.((t) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 33. 1.((u) Vid. Pignorium de Servis, p. 163. 165. (w) Bartenora in Misn. Shekaelim, c. 5. sect. 1. & Kimchi in Psal. cl. 5. (x) Misn. Tamid. c. 3. sect. 8. (y) Bartenora in Misn. Eracin, c. 2. sect. 5. R. David Kimchi & R. Samuel Laniado in 2 Sam. 5. (z) Vid. Arnob. adv. Gentes, l. 7. p. 280. Ed. Elmenhorst, & Ovid, Metamorph. l. 3, fab. 7. (a) Vid. Vaa Till. not. in Lydium de re militare, p. 38. (b) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 10.

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.

CHAPTER 13

1Co 13:1-13. Charity or Love Superior to All Gifts.

The New Testament psalm of love, as the forty-fifth Psalm (see Ps 45:1, title) and the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament.

1. tongues—from these he ascends to "prophecy" (1Co 13:2); then, to "faith"; then to benevolent and self-sacrificing deeds: a climax. He does not except even himself, and so passes from addressing them ("unto you," 1Co 12:31) to putting the case in his own person, "Though I," &c.

speak with the tongues—with the eloquence which was so much admired at Corinth (for example, Apollos, Ac 18:24; compare 1Co 1:12; 3:21, 22), and with the command of various languages, which some at Corinth abused to purposes of mere ostentation (1Co 14:2, &c.).

of angels—higher than men, and therefore, it is to be supposed, speaking a more exalted language.

charity—the principle of the ordinary and more important gifts of the Spirit, as contrasted with the extraordinary gifts (1Co 12:1-31).

sounding … tinkling—sound without soul or feeling: such are "tongues" without charity.

cymbal—Two kinds are noticed (Ps 150:5), the loud or clear, and the high-sounding one: hand cymbals and finger cymbals, or castanets. The sound is sharp and piercing.

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! 13:1 The Greatest of All Things

SUMMARY OF I CORINTHIANS 13:

Christian Love Better Than Miraculous Gifts. The Nature of Love and Its Action. All the Miraculous Gifts Shall Pass Away, but Love Endureth. Forever. All Human Knowledge Imperfect and Transient. But Faith, Hope, and Love Eternal. Of the Three, Love Is the Greatest.

Meyer says of this chapter:

This praise of love, almost a psalm on love it might be called, is as rich in its contents drawn from deep experience as in rhetorical truth, fullness and power, grace and simplicity.''

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. In 1Co 12:8-10 Paul has spoken of spiritual gifts, one of which was to speak in tongues. A more excellent way (1Co 12:31) is now to be shown. Hence, various spiritual gifts are taken up and shown to be useless and vain without love.

And have not charity. Love, in the Revised Version. If he spoke not only with the tongues of men, but even those of angels, it would be, without love,

as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. An empty sound. The latter was a brazen basin, which was beaten. The sounds of these instruments would not be musical.

Verses 1-13. - The supremely excellent way of Christian love. This chapter has been in all ages the object of the special admiration of the Church. Would that it had received in all ages the loftier and more valuable admiration which would have been expressed by an acceptance of its lessons! Tertullian says that it is uttered "with all the force of the Spirit" (totis Spiritus viribus). It is a glorious hymn or paean in honour of Christian love, in which St. Paul rises on the wings of inspiration to the most sunlit heights of Christian eloquence. Like the forty-fifth psalm, it may be entitled "A Psalm of Love." Valcknaer says that the "oratorical figures which illuminate the chapter have been born spontaneously in an heroic soul, burning with the love of Christ, and placing all things lower than this Divine love." In vers. 1-3 he shows the absolute necessity for love; in vers. 4-7 its characteristics; in vers. 8-12 its eternal permanence; in ver. 13 its absolute supremacy. Verse 1. - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. The case is merely supposed. The tongues of men are human languages, including, perhaps, the peculiar utterance of ecstatic inspiration with which he is now dealing. It is, perhaps, with reference to this latter result of spiritual exultation, at any rate in its purest and loftiest developments, that he adds the words, "and of angels." It is unlikely that he is referring to the rabbinic notion that the angels only understood Hebrew, and not Aramaic or other languages. The words are meant to express the greatest possible climax. The most supreme powers of utterance, even of angelic utterance - if any of the Corinthians had or imagined that they had attained to such utterance - are nothing in comparison with the universally possible attainment of Christian love. It is remarkable that here again he places "tongues," even in their grandest conceivable development, on the lowest step in his climax. And have not charity. It is deeply to be regretted that the translators of the Authorized Version here introduced from the Vulgate a new translation for the sacred word "love," which dominates the whole New Testament as its Divine keynote. Greek possesses two words for "love." One of these, eros, implying as it did the love which springs from sensual passion, was dyed too deeply in pagan associations to be capable of redemption into holier usage. It is characteristic of the difference between paganism and Christianity, that Plato's eulogy in the 'Symposium' is in honour of eros, not of anything resembling agape. The apostles, therefore, were compelled to describe the ideal of the gospel life by another word, which expressed the love of esteem and reverence and sacred tenderness - the word agape. This word was not indeed classical. No heathen writer had used it. But the verb agapao, corresponding to the Latin diligo, and bring reserved for this loftier kind of love, suggested at once the substantive agape, which, together with the similar substantive agapesis (Jeremiah 31:3, etc.), had already been adopted by the LXX. and by Philo and in Wisd. 3:9. The word is thus, as Archbishop Trench says, "born in the bosom of revealed religion" ('New Testament Synonyms,' p. 41). The Vulgate chose caritas (whence our "charity") to express this love of reason and affection, the dearness which reigns between human beings, and between man and God. This word, like agape, is absolutely unstained with any evil association. If "charity" had been exclusively used for agape, no objection need have arisen, although "love" is English while "charity" is Latin. But it was an Unmixed evil that, by the use of two different words for the same Greek word, English readers should have been prevented from recognizing the unity of thought on this subject which prevails among all the books of the New Testament (Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:7, 8, etc.). To argue that the word "love" in English is not unmingled with unhallowed uses is absurd, because those uses of the word have never been supposed for a single moment to intrude into multitudes of other passages where love is used to render agape. Who has ever dreamed of objecting on such grounds to the favourite hymn? -

"Faith and Hope and Love we see
Joining hand in hand agree;
But the greatest of the three
And the best is Love."
It is true that Lord Bacon admired "the discretion and tenderness of the Rhenish Version" in using the word "charitie," "because of the indifferencies and equivocation of the word [love] with impure love." But that objection, if it ever existed, has now been done away with by the use of "love" in such a multitude of other pure and lofty passages of Holy Writ. It is, therefore, a great gain that the Revised Version restored to this passage the word "love," which had been used by Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Geneva Bible. For in modern English usage the word "charity" is almost confined to "almsgiving," and that of a kind which is often made an excuse for shirking all real self denial, and for not acting up to the true spirit of love. Christian love is always and infinitely blessed, but the almsgiving which has usurped the name of "charity" often does more harm than good. I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; more literally, I have become booming brass, or clanging cymbal. My "tongues" without "love" become a mere discordant, obtrusive, unintelligible dissonance. The Greek word for "clanging" (alalazon) is an onomatopoeia, like the Hebrew name for cymbals, tseltselim (Psalm 150:5). Margin angels

See note, See Scofield Note: "Heb 1:4".

Margin charity

i.e. love; and Song in 1Cor 13:2,3,4,8,13.

I speak.

1 Corinthians 13:2,3 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, …

1 Corinthians 12:8,16,29,30 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another …

1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall …

2 Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, …

2 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through …

have not.

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have …

Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as …

Romans 14:15 But if your brother be grieved with your meat, now walk you not charitably. …

Galatians 5:6,22 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; …

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and …

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity …

as.

1 Corinthians 14:7,8 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, …

Tongues

Mentioned first because of the exaggerated importance which the Corinthians attached to this gift.

Angels

Referring to the ecstatic utterances of those who spoke with tongues.

Charity (ἀγάπην)

Rev., love. The word does not occur in the classics, though the kindred verbs ἀγαπάω and ἀγαπάζω to love, are common. It first appears in the Septuagint, where, however, in all but two of the passages, it refers to the love of the sexes. Eleven of the passages are in Canticles. See, also, 2 Samuel 13:15, Sept. The change in the Rev. from charity to love, is a good and thoroughly defensible one. Charity follows the caritas of the Vulgate, and is not used consistently in the A.V. On the contrary, in the gospels, ἀγάπη is always rendered love, and mostly elsewhere, except in this epistle, where the word occurs but twice. Charity, in modern usage, has acquired the senses of tolerance and beneficence, which express only single phases of love. There is no more reason for saying "charity envieth not," than for saying "God is charity;" "the charity of Christ constraineth us;" "the charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts." The real objection to the change on the part of unscholarly partisans of the A.V. is the breaking of the familiar rhythm of the verses.

Sounding brass (χαλκὸς ἠχῶν)

The metal is not properly brass, the alloy of copper and zinc, but copper, or bronze, the alloy of copper and tin, of which the Homeric weapons were made. Being the metal in common use, it came to be employed as a term for metal in general. Afterward it was distinguished; common copper being called black or red copper, and the celebrated Corinthian bronze being known as mixed copper. The word here does not mean a brazen instrument, but a piece of unwrought metal, which emitted a sound on being struck. In the streets of Seville one may see pedlers striking, together two pieces of brass instead of blowing a horn or ringing a bell.

Tinkling cymbal (κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον)

The verb rendered tinkling, alalazo, originally meant to repeat the cry alala, as in battle. It is used by Mark (Mark 6:38) of the wailings of hired mourners. Hence, generally, to ring or clang. Rev., clanging. Κύμβαλον cymbal, is derived from κύμβος a hollow or a cup. The cymbal consisted of two half-globes of metal, which were struck together. In middle-age Latin, cymbalum was the term for a church or convent-bell. Ducange defines: "a bell by which the monks are called to meals, and which is hung in the cloister." The comparison is between the unmeaning clash of metal, and music; between ecstatic utterances which are jargon, and utterances inspired by love, which, though unintelligible to the hearers, may carry a meaning to the speaker himself and to God, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:7.

13:1 Though I speak with all the tongues - Which are upon earth, and with the eloquence of an angel. And have not love - The love of God, and of all mankind for his sake, I am no better before God than the sounding instruments of brass, used in the worship of some of the heathen gods. Or a tinkling cymbal - This was made of two pieces of hollow brass, which, being struck together, made a tinkling, but very little variety of sound.
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