1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
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(4) Charity suffereth long.—Better, Love is long-suffering. Here follows a description of love. Descriptions of positive characteristics and negations of evil qualities are now employed by the Apostle in what he would have us believe to be his impossible task of adequately describing true love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5. Love suffereth long — Here the apostle attributes to love the qualities and actions of a person, in order to render his account of that divine grace the more lively and affecting. The love of God, and of our neighbour for God’s sake, is patient toward all men. It suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and infirmities of the children of God; and all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world; and all this not only for a time, but to the end; and in every step toward overcoming evil with good, it is kind — Mild, gentle, benign; inspiring the sufferer at once with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection. Love envieth not — The advantages, gifts, or graces, which others possess, but rather takes pleasure in them, and by friendly participation makes them its own. Love vaunteth not itself — Greek, ου περπερευεται, acteth not rashly, as the expression is translated by many critics, following Phavorinus. Indeed, to render it as our translators do, is to make it signify the same thing with the next clause. The lover of God and mankind does not hastily condemn any one; never passes a severe sentence on a slight or sudden view of things. Nor does he act or behave in a violent, headstrong, or precipitate manner. Is not puffed up — With pride or self-conceit on account of any endowments or qualifications, mental or corporal, natural or acquired, civil or religious. On the contrary, love to God, whereby we esteem him as the greatest and best of beings, desire him as our chief good, delight in him as our portion and treasure in time and in eternity, cannot but humble us in the dust before him, while we contrast our various weaknesses, imperfections, and sins, with his infinite excellences and matchless glories, and compare his superlative goodness with our great unworthiness. And the love of our neighbour, naturally leading us to dwell on his virtues, and overlook his defects, must also, though in a lower degree, produce the same effect, and cause us to prefer others to ourselves in a variety of respects. Doth not behave itself unseemly — Or indecently, as ουκ ασχημονει properly signifies; that is, it is not rude or willingly offensive to any one, but renders to all their dues, suitable to time, place, person, and all other circumstances. Seeketh not her own — Ease, pleasure, honour, or temporal advantage. Nay, sometimes the lover of God and of mankind seeketh not, in some sense, even his own spiritual advantage; does not think of himself, so long as a zeal for the glory of God and the souls of men swallows him up. But though he is all on fire for these ends, yet he is not provoked, (the word easily is not in the original,) to sharpness or unkindness toward any one. Outward provocations indeed will frequently occur, but he triumphs over them. Thinketh no evil — The loving man indeed cannot but see and hear evil things, and know that they are so; but he does not willingly think evil of any, neither infer evil where none appears. The love in his heart prevents his imagining that of which he has no proof, and casts out all jealousies, evil surmises, readiness to believe evil, and induces him to put the kindest constructions upon the actions of others, and on the principles from whence they proceed, which the nature of circumstances will by any means allow.

13:4-7 Some of the effects of charity are stated, that we may know whether we have this grace; and that if we have not, we may not rest till we have it. This love is a clear proof of regeneration, and is a touchstone of our professed faith in Christ. In this beautiful description of the nature and effects of love, it is meant to show the Corinthians that their conduct had, in many respects, been a contrast to it. Charity is an utter enemy to selfishness; it does not desire or seek its own praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Not that charity destroys all regard to ourselves, or that the charitable man should neglect himself and all his interests. But charity never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or to neglect others. It ever prefers the welfare of others to its private advantage. How good-natured and amiable is Christian charity! How excellent would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it were more under this Divine principle, and paid due regard to the command on which its blessed Author laid the chief stress! Let us ask whether this Divine love dwells in our hearts. Has this principle guided us into becoming behaviour to all men? Are we willing to lay aside selfish objects and aims? Here is a call to watchfulness, diligence, and prayer.Charity suffereth long - Paul now proceeds to illustrate the "nature" of love, or to show how it is exemplified. His illustrations are all drawn from its effect in regulating our conduct toward others, or our contact with them. The "reason" why he made use of this illustration, rather than its nature as evinced toward "God," was, probably, because it was especially necessary for them to understand in what way it should be manifested toward each other. There were contentions and strifes among them; there were of course suspicions, and jealousies, and heart-burnings; there would be unkind judging, the imputation of improper motives, and selfishness; there were envy, and pride, and boasting, all of which were inconsistent with love; and Paul therefore evidently designed to correct these evils, and to produce a different state of things by showing them what would be produced by the exercise of love. The word used here μακροθυμεῖ makrothumei denotes "longanimity," slowness to anger or passion; longsuffering, patient endurance, forbearance. It is opposed to haste; to passionate expressions and thoughts, and to irritability. It denotes the state of mind which can bear long when oppressed, provoked, calumniated, and when one seeks to injure us; compare Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:15.

And is kind - The word used here denotes to be good-natured, gentle, tender, affectionate. Love is benignant. It wishes well. It is not harsh, sour, morose, ill-natured. Tyndale renders it, "is courteous." The idea is, that under all provocations and ill-usage it is gentle and mild. "Hatred" prompts to harshness, severity, unkindness of expression, anger, and a desire of revenge. But love is the reverse of all these. A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be "gentle," not severe and harsh; will be "courteous" because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings. And as religion is love, and prompts to love, so it follows that it requires courtesy or true politeness, and will secure it; see 1 Peter 3:8. If all people were under the influence of true religion, they would always be truly polite and courteous; for true politeness is nothing more than an expression of benignity, or a desire to promote the happiness of all around us.

Envieth not - οὐ ζηλόι ou zēloi. This word properly means to be "zealous" for or against any person or thing; that is, to be eager for, or anxious for or against anyone. It is used often in a good sense (1 Corinthians 12:31; See the 1 Corinthians 14:1, 1 Corinthians 14:39 notes; 2 Corinthians 11:2 note, etc.); but it may be used in a bad sense - to be zealous "against" a person; to be jealous of; to envy. Acts 7:9; Acts 17:5; James 4:2, "ye kill and envy." It is in this sense, evidently, that it is used here, - as denoting zeal, or ardent desire "against" any person. The sense is, love does not envy others the happiness which they enjoy; it delights in their welfare; and as their happiness is increased by their endowments, their rank, their reputation, their wealth, their health, their domestic comforts, their learning etc., those who are influenced by love "rejoice" in all this. They would not diminish it; they would not embarrass them in the possession; they would not detract from that happiness; they would not complain or repine that they themselves are not so highly favored - To envy is to feel uneasiness, mortification, or discontent at the sight of superior happiness, excellence or reputation enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; and to fret oneself on account of his real or fancied superiority.

Of course, it may be excited by anything in which another excels, or in which he is more favored than we are. It may be excited by superior wealth, beauty, learning, accomplishment, reputation, success. It may extend to any employment, or any rank in life. A man may be envied because he is happy while we are miserable; well, while we are sick; caressed, while we are neglected or overlooked; successful, while we meet with disappointment; handsome, while we are ill-formed; honored with office, while we are overlooked. He may be envied because he has a better farm than we have, or is a more skillful mechanic, or a more successful physician, lawyer, or clergyman. "Envy commonly lies in the same line of business, occupation, or rank." We do not, usually envy a monarch, a conqueror, or a nobleman, unless we are "aspiring" to the same rank. The farmer does not usually envy the blacksmith, but another farmer; the blacksmith does not usually envy the schoolmaster, or the lawyer, but another man in the same line of business with himself.

The physician envies another physician more learned or more successful; the lawyer envies another lawyer; the clergyman is jealous of another clergyman. The fashionable female who seeks admiration or flattery on account of accomplishment or beauty envies another who is more distinguished and more successful in those things. And so the poet envies a rival poet and the orator, a rival orator; and the statesman, a rival statesman. The correction of all these things is "love." If we loved others; if we rejoiced in their happiness, we should not envy them. "They are not to blame" for these superior endowments; but if those endowments are the direct gift of God, we should he thankful that he has made others happy; if they are the fruit of their own industry, and virtue, and skill and application, we should esteem them the more, and value them the more highly. They have not injured us; and we should not be unhappy, or seek to injure them, because God has blessed them, or because they have been more industrious, virtuous, and successful than we have.

Every person should have his own level in society, and we should rejoice in the happiness of all - Love will produce another effect. We should not "envy" them, because he that is under the influence of Christian love is more happy than those in the world who are usually the objects of envy. There is often much wretchedness under a clothing "of purple and fine linen." There is not always happiness in a splendid mansion; in the caresses of the great; in a post of honor; in a palace, or on a throne. Alexander the Great wept on the throne of the world. Happiness is in the heart; and contentment, and the love of God, and the hope of heaven produce happiness which rank, and wealth, and fashion, and earthly honor cannot purchase. And could the sad and heavy hearts of those in elevated ranks of life be always seen; and especially could their end be seen, there would be no occasion or disposition to envy them.

Lord, what a thoughtless wretch was I,

To mourn, and murmur, and repine,

To see the wicked placed on high,

In pride and robes of honour shine!

But oh! their end, their dreadful end!

Thy sanctuary taught me so;

On slipp'ry rocks I see them stand,

And fiery billows roll below.


4. suffereth long—under provocations of evil from others. The negative side of love.

is kind—the positive side. Extending good to others. Compare with love's features here those of the "wisdom from above" (Jas 3:17).

envieth—The Greek includes also jealousy.

vaunteth not—in words, even of gifts which it really possesses; an indirect rebuke of those at Corinth who used the gift of tongues for mere display.

not puffed up—with party zeal, as some at Corinth were (1Co 4:6).

Lest the Corinthians should say to the apostle: What is this love you discourse of? Or how shall we know if we have it? The apostle here gives thirteen notes of a charitable person.

Charity suffereth long: by love or charity he either meaneth a charitable person, a soul possessed of that love, which he had been commending; or if we take the term plainly, to signify the habit itself, the meaning is, it is a habit or power in the soul, enabling and inclining it to do these things: to suffer long, not to be too quick and tetchy with brethren that may offend or displease us; the charitable man will withhold and restrain his wrath, not be rash in the expressions of it, and hasty to revenge.

And is kind; it disposeth a man to desire to deserve well of all, and to do good to all, as he hath occasion and opportunity; so as it is impossible there should be in a man any thing more opposite to this grace, than a currish, churlish temper, with a study and desire to do others mischief.

Charity envieth not; though a charitable person seeth others in a higher and more prosperous condition than himself, yet it doth not trouble him, but he is glad at the preferment, good, and prosperity of other men, however it fareth with himself. Every envious man, that is displeased and angry at another’s faring well, is an uncharitable man, there is no true root of love to God or to his neighbour in his heart.

Vaunteth not itself; he doth not prefer himself before others, ambitiously glorytug or boasting, and acting rashly to promote his own glory, and satisfy his own intemperate desires or lusts. He

is not puffed up, proudly lifting up himself above others, and swelling with high conceits of himself.

Charity suffereth long,.... The apostle, in this and some following verses, enumerates the several properties and characters of the grace of love; and all along represents it as if it was a person, and no doubt designs one who is possessed of it, and in whose heart it is implanted and reigns; such an one is said to "suffer long", or be "patient", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read; not only under afflictions by the hand of God, which such an one considers as arising from love; but under the reproaches and persecutions of men, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, and in imitation of him; such a person is slow to anger when abused, not quick of resentment, nor hasty to revenge when affronted; but exercises forbearance, suffers long, and bears much, and is ready to forgive:

and is kind; liberal, and bountiful, does good to all men, even to enemies, and especially to the household of faith; he is gentle to all men, affable and courteous to his brethren, and not morose, churlish, and ill natured; he is easy and yielding to the tempers and humours of men; accommodates himself to their infirmities, capacities, manners, and circumstances, in everything he can, that is not contrary to the glory of God, the interest of Christ, the honour of religion, his own con science, and the good of men;

charity envieth not; or he that has the grace of love to God, Christ, and the saints, does not envy the temporal happiness of others, though it is what he has not, or is greater than he enjoys; as Rachel envied her sister, because she had children when she herself had none; as Joseph's brethren envied him because he had a greater share in his father's affections than they had; or as good men may be tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked, when they themselves are in adversity; but this grace, when in exercise, will not suffer a person to do: nor will such an one envy the superior measures of grace, the more excellent spiritual gifts, or the greater degree of usefulness, and of success in any spiritual undertaking, and so of greater honour and respect, in any of the saints and servants of Christ to themselves, of which Moses and John the Baptist are remarkable instances, Numbers 11:28,

charity vaunteth not itself, is not ostentatious, a proud boaster; either of what he has, the things of nature, as wisdom, riches, honour, strength, &c. or spiritual gifts; or of what he does, since what such an one does, he does from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, and not to be seen of men, or to gain their esteem and applause: or is not rash, and precipitant; does not run headlong into measures, to promote his own honour and interest, without considering what will be the consequence of things; nor is he rash with his mouth, or hasty with his lips, to utter anything unbecoming before God or men. The Arabic version renders it, "does not speak deceitfully"; or hypocritically, for nothing is more contrary to true genuine love than this; the Syriac version renders it, "is not tumultuous"; noisy and seditious: such an one is not troublesome in a commonwealth, nor does he go into parties and factions in churches, but is all the reverse:

is not puffed up swelled with pride, and elated with a vain conceit of himself, of his parts and abilities, of his learning, eloquence, wisdom, and knowledge, as the false teachers in this church were; knowledge without grace, unsanctified knowledge, mere notional speculative knowledge, puffeth up; but charity, or the grace of love, does not; that edifies and preserves persons from being puffed up with themselves, or one against another.

{2} 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.

1 Corinthians 13:4. Love is personified; the living concrete portrait of her character, in which power to edify (1 Corinthians 8:1) reflects itself, is presented as if in sharply drawn outline, with nothing but short, definite, isolated traits, positively, negatively, and then positively again, according to her inexhaustible nature.

μακροθυμεῖ] she is long-suffering; in face of provocations controlling her anger, repressing it, giving it up, and maintaining her own proper character. The general frame of mind for this is χρηστεύεται: she is gracious (comp Tittmann, Synon. p. 140 ff.), Clem. Cor. i. 14. The verb is found, besides, only in the Fathers.

Observe here and in what follows the asyndetic enumeration, and in this “incitatior orationis cursus ardorem et affectum” (Dissen, a[2064] Pind. Exc. II. p. 275). But to write, with Hofmann, following Lachmann, Ἡ ἈΓΆΠΗ ΜΑΚΡΟΘΥΜΕῖ. ΧΡΗΣΤΕΎΕΤΑΙ Ἡ ἈΓΆΠΗ, is less, suitable, for this reason, that, according to the traditional division, the long list of negative predicates which follows is very appropriately headed again by the subject.

Οὐ ΖΗΛΟῖ] negation of all passionate, selfish feelings towards others (envy, jealousy, and such like).

Οὐ ΠΕΡΠΕΡΕΎΕΤΑΙ] she boasts not, practises no vaunting. See Cicero, a[2065] Att. i. 14; Antonin. v. 5, and Gatak. in loc[2066]; also Winer, Beitr. zur Verbess. d. neutest. Lexicogr. p. 5 ff. Comp ΠΈΡΠΕΡΟς in Polyb. xxxii. 6. 5, xl. 6. 2; Arrian. Epict. iii. 2. 14.

[2064] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[2065] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[2066] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 13:4-13. § 43. THE QUALITIES OF CHRISTIAN LOVE. The previous vv. have justified the καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν of 1 Corinthians 12:31. The loftiest human faculties of man are seen to be frustrate without love; by its aid alone are they brought to their proper excellence and just use. But this “way” of Christian attainment has still to be “described,” and the promise of 1 Corinthians 12:31 b fulfilled. So while 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 have proved the necessity, the rest of the chap. shows the nature and working of the indispensable ἀγάπη. The Cor[1981] may see in this description the mirror of what they ought to be and are not; they will learn how childish are the superiorities on which they plume themselves. (a) The behaviour of Love is delineated in fifteen exquisite aphorisms (1 Corinthians 13:4-7); (b) its permanence, in contrast with the transitory and partial character of the prized χαρίσματα (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

[1981] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind] The first the passive, the second the active, exercise of love; the one endurance, the other beneficence.

vaunteth not itself] The word here used is derived from the Latin perperus, vicious, boastful. Both this and the next sentence have reference to the manner in which excellencies he actually possesses are regarded by one imbued with the spirit of love. Cf. Romans 12:3.

1 Corinthians 13:4. Ἡ ἀγάπη, love) He points out the nature of love. He does not say, love speaks with tongues, prophesies, gives to the poor: but it is long-suffering. This is a metonymy for the man, who has love. But Paul chiefly mentions those fruits of love, necessary in the use of the gifts, which he requires from the Corinthians, and without which there may be prophecies, but there can be no profit. If we take 1 Corinthians 8:1, we may advantageously compare together the delineation of love which Paul adapted to the Corinthians, and the delineation of wisdom, which James in like manner adapted to [portrayed for] those to whom he wrote, Jam 3:17.—μακροθυμεῖ, suffers long) The twelve praises of love are enumerated by three classes, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7—(if we reckon together one pair at the beginning, and two pairs at the end, as we show in the following notes). The first consists of two members, (1.) it suffers long, is kind: (2.) envies not. We have the same synthesis and antithesis, Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:20. Long-suffering has respect to evil proceeding from others: kind has respect to the extending of good to others; on the other hand, it does not grieve at another’s good, nor rejoice at another’s calamity. The conjunction is wanting to is kind [Asyndeton].

Verses 4-7. - The attributes of love. Verse 4. Suffereth long, and is kind. Passively it endures; actively it does good. It endures evils; it confers blessings. Envieth not. Its negative characteristics are part of its positive perfection. Envy - "one shape of many names" - includes malice, grudge, jealousy, pique, an evil eye, etc., with all their base and numerous manifestations. Vaunteth not itself. The meaning would probably be most nearly expressed by the colloquialism, does not show off. It does not, for instance, "do its alms before men to be seen of them" (Matthew 6:1). The Latin perperus, which is from the same root as this word, means "a braggart," or "swaggerer." Cicero, speaking of a grand oratorical display of his own before Pompey, says to Atticus, "Good heavens! how I showed myself off (ἐνεπερπερευσάμην) before my new hearer, Pompeius!" ('Ad. Art.,' 1:14). Is not puffed up. Has no purse proud or inflated arrogance." Love, therefore, is free from the characteristic vice of the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 4:6, 18, 19; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 8:1). 1 Corinthians 13:4Suffereth long (μακροθυμεῖ)

See on James 5:7.

Is kind (χρηστεύεται)

Only here in the New Testament. See on χρηστὸς, A.V., easy, Matthew 11:30, and see on χρηστότης good, Romans 3:12.

"The high charity which makes us servants

Prompt to the counsel which controls the world."

Dante, "Paradiso," xxi., 70, 71.

Vaunteth (περπερεύεται)

From πέρπερος a braggart. Used of one who sounds his own praises. Cicero introduces a compound of the word in one of his letters to Atticus, describing his speech in the presence of Pompey, who had just addressed the senate on his return from the Mithridatic war. He says: "Heavens! How I showed off (ἐνεπερπερευσάμην) before my new auditor Pompey," and describes the various rhetorical tricks which he employed.

Puffed up (φυσιοῦται)

See on 1 Corinthians 4:6, and compare 1 Corinthians 8:1. Of inward disposition, as the previous word denotes outward display. The opposite is put by Dante:

"That swells with love the spirit well-disposed."

"Paradiso," x., 144.

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