1 Corinthians 13:5
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
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(5) Thinketh no evil.—That is, does not dwell upon the evil done to her.

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.Doth not behave itself unseemly - (οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ ouk aschēmonei). This word occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:36. See the note on that verse. It means to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming in the circumstances and relations of life in which we are placed. It prompts to the due respect for superiors, producing veneration and respect for their opinions; and it prompts to a proper regard for inferiors, not despising their rank, their poverty, their dress, their dwellings, their pleasures, their views of happiness; it prompts to the due observance of all the "relations" of life, as those of a husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister, son, daughter, and produces a proper conduct and deportment in all these relations. The proper idea of the phrase is, that it prompts to all that is fit and becoming in life; and would save from all that is unfit and unbecoming.

There may be included in the word also the idea that it would prevent anything that would be a violation of decency or delicacy. It is well known that the Cynics were in the habit of setting at defiance all the usual ideas of decency; and indeed this was, and is, commonly done in the temples of idolatry and pollution everywhere. Love would prevent this, because it teaches to promote the "happiness" of all, and of course to avoid everything that would offend purity of taste and mar enjoyment. In the same way it prompts to the fit discharge of all the relative duties, because it leads to the desire to promote the happiness of all. And in the same manner it would lead a man to avoid profane and indecent language, improper allusions, double meanings and inuendoes, coarse and vulgar expressions, because such things pain the ear, and offend the heart of purity and delicacy. There is much that is indecent and unseemly still in society that would be corrected by Christian love. What a change would be produced if, under the influence of that love, nothing should be said or done in the various relations of life but what would be "seemly, fit, and decent!" And what a happy influence would the prevalence of this love have on the contact of mankind!

Seeketh not her own - There is, perhaps, not a more striking or important expression in the New Testament than this; or one that more beautifully sets forth the nature and power of that love which is produced by true religion. Its evident meaning is, that it is not selfish; it does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly; it does not seek its own happiness to the injury of others. This expression is not, however, to be pressed as if Paul meant to teach that a man should not regard his own welfare at all; or have no respect to his health, his property, his happiness, or his salvation. Every man is bound to pursue such a course of life as will ultimately secure his own salvation. But it is not simply or mainly that he may be happy that he is to seek it. It is, that he may thus glorify God his Saviour; and accomplish the great design which his Maker has had in view in his creation and redemption.

If his happiness is the main or leading thing, it proves that he is supremely selfish; and selfishness is not religion. The expression used here is "comparative," and denotes that this is not the main, the chief, the only thing which one who is under the influence of love or true religion will seek. True religion, or love to others, will prompt us to seek their welfare with self-denial, and personal sacrifice and toil. Similar expressions, to denote comparison, occur frequently in the sacred Scriptures. Thus, where it is said (Hosea 7:6; compare Micah 6:8; Matthew 9:13), "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;" it is meant, "I desired mercy more than I desired sacrifice; I did not wish that mercy should be forgotten or excluded in the attention to the mere ceremonies of religion." The sense here is, therefore, that a man under the influence of true love or religion does not make his own happiness or salvation the main or leading thing; he does not make all other things subservient to this; he seeks the welfare of others, and desires to promote their happiness and salvation, even at great personal sacrifice and self-denial.

It is the "characteristic" of the man, not that he promotes his own worth, health, happiness, or salvation, but that he lives to do good to others. Love to others will prompt to that, and that alone. There is not a particle of selfishness in true love. It seeks the welfare of others, and of all others. That true religion will produce this, is evident everywhere in the New Testament; and especially in the life of the Lord Jesus, whose whole biography is comprehended in one expressive declaration, "who went about doinG good;" Acts 10:38. It follows from this statement:

(1) That no man is a Christian who lives for himself alone; or who makes it his main business to promote his own happiness and salvation.

(2) no man is a Christian who does not deny himself; or no one who is not willing to sacrifice his own comfort, time, wealth, and ease, to advance the welfare of mankind.

(3) it is this principle which is yet to convert the world. Long since the whole world would have been converted, had all Christians been under its influence. And when all Christians make it their grand object "not" to seek their own, but the good of others; when true charity shall occupy its appropriate place in the heart of every professed child of God, then this world will be speedily converted to the Saviour. Then there will he no lack of funds to spread Bibles and tracts; to sustain missionaries, or to establish colleges and schools; then there will be no lack of people who shall be willing to go to any part of the earth to preach the gospel; and then there will be no lack of prayer to implore the divine mercy on a ruined and perishing world. O may the time soon come when all the selfishness in the human heart shall be dissolved, and when the whole world shall be embraced in the benevolence of Christians, and the time, and talent, and wealth of the whole church shall be regarded as consecrated to God, and employed and expended under the influence of Christian love! Compare the note at 1 Corinthians 10:24.

Is not easily provoked - (παροξύνεται paroxunetai). This word occurs in the New Testament only in one other place. Acts 17:16, "his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." See the note on that place. The word properly means to sharpen by, or with, or on anything (from ὀξύς oxus, sharp), and may be applied to the act of sharpening a knife or sword; then it means to sharpen the mind, temper, courage of anyone; to excite, impel, etc. Here it means evidently to rouse to anger; to excite to indignation or wrath. Tyndale renders it, "is not provoked to anger." Our translation does not exactly convey the sense. The word "easily" is not expressed in the original. The translators have inserted it to convey the idea that he who is under the influence of love, though he may he provoked, that is, injured, or though there might be incitements to anger, yet that he would not be roused, or readily give way to it.

The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion is not "prone" to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate. He is calm, serious, patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured, yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings. This, Paul says, would be produced by love. And this is apparent. If we are under the influence of benevolence, or love to anyone, we shall not give way to sudden bursts of feeling. We shall look kindly on his actions; put the best construction on his motives; deem it possible that we have mistaken the nature or the reasons of his conduct; seek or desire explanation Matthew 5:23-24; wait till we can look at the case in all its bearings; and suppose it possible that he may be influenced by good motives, and that his conduct will admit a satisfactory explanation. That true religion is designed to produce this, is apparent everywhere in the New Testament, and especially from the example of the Lord Jesus; that it actually does produce it, is apparent from all who come under its influence in any proper manner. The effect of religion is no where else more striking and apparent than in changing a temper naturally quick, excitable, and irritable, to one that is calm, and gentle, and subdued. A consciousness of the presence of God will do much to produce this state of mind; and if we truly loved all people, we should be soon angry with none.

Thinketh no evil - That is, puts the best possible construction on the motives and the conduct of others. This expression also is "comparative." It means that love, or that a person under the influence of love, is not malicious, censorious, disposed to find fault, or to impute improper motives to others. It is not only "not easily provoked," not soon excited, but it is not disposed to "think" that there was any evil intention even in cases which might tend to irritate or exasperate us. It is not disposed to think that there was any evil in the case; or that what was done was with any improper intention or design; that is, it puts the best possible construction on the conduct of others, and supposes, as far as can be done, that it was in consistency with honesty, truth, friendship, and love. The Greek word (λογίζεται logizetai) is that which is commonly rendered "impute," and is correctly rendered here "thinketh." It means, does not reckon, charge, or impute to a man any evil intention or design. We desire to think well of the man whom we love; nor will we think ill of his motives, opinions, or conduct until we are compelled to do so by the most unbreakable evidence. True religion, therefore, will prompt to charitable judging; nor is there a more striking evidence of the destitution of true religion than a disposition to impute the worst motives and opinions to a man.

5. not … unseemly—is not uncourteous, or inattentive to civility and propriety.

thinketh no evil—imputeth not evil [Alford]; literally, "the evil" which actually is there (Pr 10:12; 1Pe 4:8). Love makes allowances for the falls of others, and is ready to put on them a charitable construction. Love, so far from devising evil against another, excuses "the evil" which another inflicts on her [Estius]; doth not meditate upon evil inflicted by another [Bengel]; and in doubtful cases, takes the more charitable view [Grotius].

Doth not behave itself unseemly; he doth not behave himself towards any in an uncomely or unbeseeming manner, and will do nothing towards his brother, which in the opinion of men shall be a filthy or indecent action.

Seeketh not her own; he doth not seek what is his own, that is, what is for his own profit or advantage only; he hath an eye to the good and advantage of his brother, as well as his own profit and advantage. Such a man

is not easily provoked; he is not without his passions, but he is not governed by his passions, and overruled by them to fly out extravagantly against his brother upon every light and trivial occasion; he knows how to bear injuries, and is willing rather to bear lesser wrongs, losses, and injuries, than to do any thing in revenge of himself, or to the more remarkable prejudice of his neighbour. He

thinketh no evil, that is, no mischief, nothing that may be hurtful and prejudicial to his neighbour. Or else, he doth not rashly suspect his neighbour for doing evil (which possibly may be the better interpretation); and so it teacheth us, that lightly to take up evil reports of our neighbours, is a violation of charity; for the man that hath a true love to his brother, though he may believe evil of his brother, and charge him with evil, when it evidently appears to him that he is guilty; yet before that be evident to him, he will not suspect, nor think any such things of him.

Doth not behave itself unseemly,.... By using either unbecoming words, or doing indecent actions; for a man unprincipled with this grace will be careful that no filthy and corrupt communication proceed out of his mouth, which may offend pious ears; and that he uses no ridiculous and ludicrous gestures, which may expose himself and grieve the saints; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, "neither does it commit that which is shameful": such an one will not do a little mean despicable action, in reproaching one, or flattering another, in order to gain a point, to procure some worldly advantage, or an interest in the friendship and affection of another. Some understand it in this sense, that one endued with this grace thinks nothing unseemly and unbecoming him, however mean it may appear, in which he can be serviceable to men, and promote the honour of religion and interest of Christ; though it be by making coats and garments for the poor, as Dorcas did; or by washing the feet of the saints, in imitation of his Lord and master: or "is not ambitious", as the Vulgate Latin version reads; of honour and applause, and of being in the highest form, but is lowly, meek and humble:

seeketh not her own things: even those which are "lawful", as the Arabic version renders it; but seeks the things of God, and what will make most for his honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom; and also the things of other men, the temporal and spiritual welfare of the saints: such look not only on their own things, and are concerned for them, but also upon the things of others, which they likewise care for:

is not easily provoked: to wrath, but gives place to it: such an one is provoked at sin, at immorality and idolatry, as Paul's spirit was stirred up or provoked, when he saw the superstition of the city of Athens; and is easily provoked to love and good works, which are entirely agreeable to the nature of charity:

thinketh no evil; not but that evil thoughts are in such a man's heart, for none are without them; though they are hateful, abominable, and grieving to such as are partakers of the grace of God, who long to be delivered from them: but the meaning is, either that one possessed of this grace of love does not think of the evil that is done him by another; he forgives, as God has forgiven him, so as to forget the injury done him, and remembers it no more; and so the Arabic version reads it, "and remembers not evil"; having once forgiven it, he thinks of it no more; or he does not meditate revenge, or devise mischief, and contrive evil against man that has done evil to him, as Esau did against his brother Jacob; so the Ethiopic version, by way of explanation, adds, "neither thinks evil, nor consults evil"; or as the word here used will bear to be rendered, "does not impute evil"; reckon or place it to the account of him that has committed it against him, but freely and fully forgives, as God, when he forgives sin, is said not to impute it; or such an one is not suspicious of evil in others, he does not indulge evil surmises, and groundless jealousies; which to do is very contrary to this grace of love.

Doth {e} not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

(e) It is not insolent, or reproachful.

1 Corinthians 13:5. Οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ] she acts not in an unseemly way. See on 1 Corinthians 7:36. To hold that Paul was thereby alluding to unsuitable attire in the assemblies (Flatt), involves an inappropriate petty limitation, as does also the reference to unseemly conduct on the part of those speaking with tongues (de Wette). He means generally everything that offends against moral seemliness.

τὰ ἑαυτῆς] comp 1 Corinthians 10:33.

Οὐ ΠΑΡΟΞΎΝΕΤΑΙ] does not become embittered, does not get into a rage, as selfishness does when offended. This is the continuance of the μακροθυμία.

οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν] she does not bring the evil, which is done to her, into reckoning (2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 4:6, al[2069]; Sir 29:6; Dem. 658. 20, 572. 1, al[2070]). Comp 1 Peter 4:8. Theodoret puts it happily: ΣΥΓΓΙΝΏΣΚΕΙ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΤΑΙΣΜΈΝΟΙς, ΟὐΚ ἘΠῚ ΚΑΚῷ ΣΚΟΠῷ ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓΕΓΕΝῆΣΘΑΙ ΛΑΜΒΆΝΩΝ. Others render: she thinks not evil (Ewald; Vulgate: “non cogitat malum”). This thought, as being too general in itself, has been more precisely defined, either as: “she seeks not after mischief” (Luther, Flatt, and several others; comp Jeremiah 26:3; Nahum 1:9), which, however, serves so little to describe the character of love, that it may, on the contrary, be said to be a thing self-evident; or as: “she suspects nothing evil” (Chrysostom, Melanchthon, Grotius, Heydenreich, and others; comp also Neander), which special conception, again, would be much too vaguely expressed by ΛΟΓΊΖΕΤΑΙ.

[2069] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[2070] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

5. doth not behave itself unseemly] The Vulgate renders unseemly by ambitiosa; Erasmus by fastidiosa; Wiclif by coveitous; doth not frawardly, Tyndale. But see note on ch. 1 Corinthians 12:23, where a word of similar derivation occurs. Also ch. 1 Corinthians 7:36; and cf. Romans 1:27; Revelation 16:15. Here it means ‘is not betrayed by a sense of superiority into forgetfulness of what is due to others.’

seeketh not her own] See ch. 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:33.

is not easily provoked] οὐ παροξύνεται. The ‘contention’ between Paul and Barnabas is, according to the Greek, a παροξυσμός. Acts 15:39.

thinketh no evil] So the Vulgate and other versions. Rather, imputeth not the evil, i.e. bears no malice. St Chrysostom explains it by “is not suspicious.” See Romans 4, where the word is translated indifferently ‘reckoned’ and ‘imputed.’

1 Corinthians 13:5. Οὐ παροξύνεταιπάντα ὑπομένει, is not provoked—beareth all things) The third class, consisting of six members; of which the third and fourth, and so the second and fifth, the first and sixth agree with one another. For there is a chiasmus, and that too retrograde, and quite agreeing with the double climax by steps negative and affirmative. And of all these our neighbour is the personal object;—the real[118] object, as regards the future, is, love is not provoked, it hopeth all things, it endureth all things; as regards the past, the object of the thing is, it thinketh no evil, it covereth [Engl. Vers., beareth] all things, believeth all things: as regards the present, it rejoiceth not at iniquity, but rejoiceth together with others in the truth; now by thus transposing the members, the elegance of the order, which Paul has adopted, is the more clearly seen; which the following scheme thus represents, and its evident plan shows the thread and connection:

[118] The object of the thing, as contrasted with the object of the person. “reale objectum”—“objectum personale.”—ED.

Thus the order is mutually consistent with itself; and the reason appears, why these last, hopeth, endureth, are put at the end, because in fact they are to be referred to the future.—οὐ παροξύνεται, is not provoked) although love glows with an eager desire for the Divine glory, yet it is not provoked; comp. Acts 15:39.—οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακὸν, [Engl. Vers. thinketh no evil]) doth not meditate upon evil inflicted by another, with a desire to avenge it. So the LXX. for חשב רעה often. [It does not think thus, This or that man inflicts upon me this or that wrong; he has either done, or deserved this or that.—V. g.]

Verse 5. - Doth not behave itself unseemly (see 1 Corinthians 12:23; 1 Corinthians 14:40). Vulgar indecorum is alien from love, as having its root in selfishness and want of sympathy. "Noble manners" are ever the fruit of "noble minds." "Be courteous" (1 Peter 3:8). Seeketh not her own. Self seeking is the root of All evil (1 Corinthians 10:24, 33; Philippians 2:4; Romans 15:1, 2). Is not easily provoked. The word "easily" is here a gloss. The corresponding substantive (paroxusmos, whence our "paroxysm") is used of the sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:39). Love, when it is perfected, rises superior to all temptations to growing exasperated, although it may often be justly indignant. But, as St. Chrysostom says, "As a spark which falls into the sea hurts not the sea, but is itself extinguished, so an evil thing befalling a loving soul will be extinguished without disquietude." Thinketh no evil; literally, doth not reckon (or, impute) the evil. The phrase seems to be a very comprehensive one, implying that love is neither suspicious, nor implacable, nor retentive in her memory of evil done. Love writes our personal wrongs in ashes or in water. 1 Corinthians 13:5Easily provoked (παροξύνεται)

Easily is superfluous, and gives a wrong coloring to the statement, which is absolute: is not provoked or exasperated. The verb occurs only here and Acts 17:16. The kindred noun παροξυσμός, in Acts 15:39, describes the irritation which arose between Paul and Barnabas. In Hebrews 10:24, stimulating to good works. It is used of provoking God, Deuteronomy 9:8; Psalm 105:29; Isaiah 65:3.

Thinketh no evil (οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν)

Lit., reckoneth not the evil. Rev., taketh not account of. The evil; namely, that which is done to love. "Love, instead of entering evil as a debt in its account-book, voluntarily passes the sponge over what it endures" (Godet).

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