1 Corinthians 13:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

World English Bible
If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

Young's Literal Translation
If with the tongues of men and of messengers I speak, and have not love, I have become brass sounding, or a cymbal tinkling;

1 Corinthians 13:1 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

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...

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I speak.

1 Corinthians 13:2,3 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith...

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

1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation...

2 Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

2 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness...

have not.

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.

Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.

Romans 14:15 But if your brother be grieved with your meat, now walk you not charitably. Destroy not him with your meat, for whom Christ died.

Galatians 5:6,22 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love...

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

as.

1 Corinthians 14:7,8 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds...

Library
What Lasts
'Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three....'--1 COR. xiii. 8, 13. We discern the run of the Apostle's thought best by thus omitting the intervening verses and connecting these two. The part omitted is but a buttress of what has been stated in the former of our two verses; and when we thus unite them there is disclosed plainly the Apostle's intention
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

Now, and Then
There are some things which we count very precious now, which will soon be of no value to us whatever. There are some things that we know or think we know, and we pride ourselves a good deal upon our knowledge; but when we shall become men we shall set no more value upon that knowledge than a child does upon his toys when he grows up to be a man. Our spiritual manhood in heaven will discard many things which we now count precious, as a full grown man discards the treasures of his childhood. And there
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Charity and Loneliness.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.-I COR. xiii. 13. The possession of this Divine Charity often necessitates walking in a lonely path. Not merely in opposition and persecution, but alone in it, and here, again, Jesus, who was the personification of Divine lore, stands out as our great example. He was emphatically alone, and of the people there was none with Him. Even the disciples whom He had drawn nearest to Him, and to whom He had tried
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Revival in the Home
Thousands of years ago, in the most beautiful Garden the world has ever known, lived a man and a woman. Formed in the likeness of their Creator, they lived solely to reveal Him to His creation and to each other and thus to glorify Him every moment of the day. Humbly they accepted the position of a creature with the Creator--that of complete submission and yieldedness to His will. Because they always submitted their wills to His, because they lived for Him and not for themselves, they were also completely
Roy Hession and Revel Hession—The Calvary Road

Cross References
Psalm 150:5
praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.

Mark 16:17
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

1 Corinthians 12:10
to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 14:2
For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 14:4
Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.

1 Corinthians 14:5
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

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