1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Ordinary C10


If I speak in the tonguesI of mortalsII and of angels,III but do not have love,IV

Notes on verse 1a

I “tongues” = glossa. Root refers to a point that sticks out. This is tongue ina literal sense, but can also refer to language or a nation that speaks a different language. Figuratively, it can also refer to speaking in tongues or speech inspired by the Spirit.
II “mortals” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
III “angels” = aggelos. Probably from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide) + agele (flock, herd, drove); {also from ago (see above)}. This is angel or messenger. Properly, it is one sent with news or to perform a specific task. This messenger can be human or an angel from heaven. More commonly, it is used for angels in the New Testament.
IV “love” = agape. This is love, goodwill, benevolence. It is God’s divine love or human love that mirrors God’s love.

I amV a noisyVI gongVII or a clangingVIII cymbal.IX 

Notes on verse 1b

V “am” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another. This is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
VI “noisy” = echeo. 1x in NT. From echos (loud sound, roaring, or echo; a report, rumor, or fame); from eche (noise or sound). This is to be noisy or make a noise, to reverberate, to roar like the sea.
VII “gong” = chalkos. 5x in NT. Perhaps from chalao (let down, slacken, loosen). This is copper or bronze. Can also mean things made of brass – money, instruments.
VIII “clanging” = alalazo. 2x in NT. From alalai (a battle shout) OR from alale (a shout or halloo). This is to cry out in war, wail, clash or clang like a cymbal.
IX “cymbal” = kumbalon. 1x in NT. From kumbe (a cup) OR from kuma (wave, billow, curve, bend); from kuo (to swell as one pregnant). This is a cymbal – perhaps a cymbal that is hollow.

2 And if I have prophetic powers,X and understandXI all mysteriesXII

Notes on verse 2a

X “prophetic powers” = propheteia. 19x in NT. From prophetes (prophet or poet; one who speaks with inspiration from God); from pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is prophecy or prediction. It is telling beforehand.
XI “understand” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
XII “mysteries” = musterion. From mustes (an initiate); from mueo (to initiate someone into the secrets or mysteries of an order; to instruct learn, be disciples; properly, shutting your mouth and eyes to experience mystery); from muo (shutting eyes or mouth). This is a mystery or a secret doctrine that requires initiation to learn. In the New Testament, the plans of God were hidden until they were revealed in Christ through the Gospel. It is also used of Christian revelation in a broad sense rather than referring to something that cannot be known. This is the root fo the word “mystery.”

and all knowledge,XIII and if I have all faith,XIV so as to removeXV mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

Notes on verse 2b

XIII “knowledge” = gnosis. From ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience). This is knowing, knowledge, wisdom – understanding from personal experience that links theory to action.
XIV “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
XV “remove” = methistemi. 5x in NT. From meta (with, among, behind, beyond; implies a change following contact or action) + histemi (to stand, place, establish, appoint, stand ready, be steadfast). This is to change, transfer, remove, or turn away. Figuratively, it can mean exchange or seduce.

3 If I give awayXVI all my possessions,XVII and if I hand overXVIII my bodyXIX so that I may boast,XX but do not have love, I gainXXI nothing.

Notes on verse 3

XVI “give away” = psomizo. 2x in NT. From psomion (morsel, crumb, mouthful); from psomos (morsel, fragment) or from psocho (to rub, rub a kernel with fingers or hand); {from psallo (to twang, play, sing psalms, pluck a stringed instrument such as a harp); {from psao (to rub)}. This is to feed, give, to nourish with bits.
XVII “possessions” = huparcho. From hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power). This is to begin or be ready, to exist or possess. It is what one already has or possesses.
XVIII “hand over” = paradidomi. From para (from beside, by) + didomi (give, offer, place, bestow, deliver; give in a literal or figurative sense). This is literally to hand over – hence to deliver, abandon, or betray. It implies a personal involvement.
XIX “body” = soma. Perhaps from sozo (to save, heal, rescue); from sos (safe, well, rescued). This is body or flesh. It can be body in a literal or figurative sense (as the body of Christ). This is where the word “somatic” comes from.
XX “boast” = kauchaomai. Perhaps from auxen (neck). This is literally holding one’s head high – to boast proudly or to glory, joy, exult, rejoice. It can be boasting in a positive or negative sense.
XXI “gain” = opheleo. 15x in NT. From ophelos (help, gain, profit); from ophello (to heap up or increase). This is to help, benefit, do good, or be useful.

Love is patient;XXII love is kind;XXIII love is not enviousXXIV

Notes on verse 4a

XXII “is patient” = makrothumeo. 10x in NT. From makros (long, long lasting) {from mekos (length); probably related to megas (great or large)} + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}.This is to persevere, to be long-suffering, to be patient or forbear. This is choosing not to retaliate using anger. So, one who is not quick-tempered.
XXIII “is kind” = chresteuomai. 1x in NT. From chrestos useful, good, well-fitted, benevolent, kind, gracious; also a name given to slaves in the ancient world); from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request); related to chre (fitting, proper, necessary). This is to be kind or gentle – serving others. It can also be to be useful or benevolent.
XXIV “is…envious” = zeloo. 12x in NT. From zelos (eagerness or zeal on the one hand or rivalry and jealousy on the other; burning anger or burning love) perhaps from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is jealous, eager for, burning with zeal, deeply committed, envy. It is meant to mimic the sound that water makes when it boils. So, figuratively, this is bubbling over with zeal or eagerness. It can also have a positive sense – setting your heart on someone or something.

or boastfulXXV or arrogantXXVI or rude.XXVII

Notes on verses 4b-5a

XXV “boastful” = perpereuomai. 1x in NT. From perperos (a braggart) OR from the base of peran (over, beyond, across); akin to pera (on the far side); from peiro (to pierce)}. This is to boast or brag – it is someone who wants too much attention and acts like a show off.
XXVI “arrogant” = phusioo. 7x in NT. From phusa (air bellows) OR from phusia (inner nature, origin, birth, underlying make up, growth through natural processes like germination or progeny); from phuo (to produce, spring up, grow, germinate; perhaps originally meaning puff or blow). This is to puff up or inflate by blowing something up. Figuratively, it can mean swelled like an arrogant person with a large ego or someone who is proud/haughty.
XXVII “rude” = aschemeneo. From aschemon (shapeless; unappealing because it doesn’t have proper form; figuratively, unseemly, indecent, unattractive, deformed, inelegant); {from a (not, without) + schema (figure, appearance, form – outer shape; figuratively, external condition); from echo (to have, hold, possess)}. This is to act improperly, behave without honor or in an unseemly way.

It does not insist onXXVIII its own way; it is not irritableXXIX or resentful;XXX 

Notes on verse 5b

XXVIII “insist on” = zeteo. This is to seek, search for, desire. It is searching for something by inquiring or investigation. It can be seek in a literal or figurative sense. There is a Hebrew figure of speech “to seek God’s face” so it can also mean to worship God. Alternately, you could seek someone’s life i.e. plot to kill them.
XXIX “is…irritable” = paroxuno. 2x in NT. From para (from beside, by, close alongside) + oxuno  (to sharpen) or oxus (sharp edge, swift, eager, rapid); {from akmen (even now, still yet); from the same as akmazo (ripe, to be vigorous); from akme (point, edge); related to ake (a point)}}. This is to sharpen. In a figurative sense, it is to stimulate, provoke, anger, irritate. This is to cult close to, to jab someone to get their emotions up so that they will act. Figuratively, it can mean to exasperate someone.
XXX “resentful” = logizomai + ho + kakos. Literally “keep account of wrongs.” Logizomai is from logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; here, word as an account or accounting; can also be a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is this is to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, it is coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense. Kakos is bad, evil, harm, ill. It is evil that is part of someone’s core character – intrinsic, rotted, worthless, depraved, causing harm. It refers to deep inner malice that comes from a rotten character. Can be contrasted with the Greek poneros, which is that which bears pain – a focus on the miseries and pains that come with evil. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue.

it does not rejoiceXXXI in wrongdoing,XXXII but rejoicesXXXIII in the truth.XXXIV 

Notes on verse 6

XXXI “rejoice” = chairo. From char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is to rejoice, be glad or cheerful; a greeting. This is the root verb that the Greek word for “grace” comes from (charis).
XXXII “wrongdoing” = adikia. From adikos (unjust, wicked, or treacherous; one who goes against God’s law or, specially, a Gentile); {from a (not, without) + dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); {may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known)}}. This is properly, not justice – unrighteousness, harm. It is legal or moral injustice in character, action, iniquity, or wrong.
XXXIII “rejoices” = sugchairo. Related to “rejoice” in v6. 7x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + chairo (see note XXXI above). This is to rejoice with – to share joy, to celebrate God’s grace with someone else.
XXXIV “truth” = aletheia. From a (not, without) + lanthano (unnoticed, concealed). Truth is literally that which is not or cannot be concealed. This word covers more than the sense of true versus false. It spoke of truth as that which corresponds to reality – reality as opposed to illusion. Thus, it includes, sincerity, straightforwardness, and reality itself.

7 It bearsXXXV all things, believesXXXVI all things, hopesXXXVII all things, enduresXXXVIII all things.

Notes on verse 7

XXXV “bears” = stego. 4x in NT. Perhaps from stege (roof); from tegos (building thatch). This is to cover, put under a roof or cover with a roof. Figuratively, it can mean to bear with or endure (as with the cover/protection of a roof).
XXXVI “believes” = pisteuo. Related to “faith” in v2. From pistis (see note XIV above). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.
XXXVII “hopes” = elpizo. From elpis (expectation, hope, trust, confidence, faith; expectation whether abstract or concrete); from elpo (to anticipate, welcome, expect; usually to anticipate positively); from elpomai (to anticipate, expect). This is to expect, trust, hope for, or to wait in an active way.
XXXVIII “endures” = hupomeno. 17x in NT. From hupo (by, under, about, subordinate to) + meno (to stay, remain, wait, await, continue, abide). This is properly to remain behind or remain under. It implies endurance, patience, steadfastness, enduring trials, and waiting in hope.

8 Love never ends.XXXIX But as for prophecies, they will come to an end;XL as for tongues, they will cease;XLI as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 

Notes on verse 8

XXXIX “ends” = pipto. This is to fall in a literal or figurative sense. It can be fall down, fall under, or fall flat on one’s face in a prostration.
XL “come to an end” = katargeo. From kata (down, against, according to, among) + argeo (to delay, linger, be at rest, be idle, do nothing); {from argos (inactive, idle, lazy, thoughtless, useless, unemployed, unprofitable) {from a (not) + ergon (word, task, action, employment)}. This is making something inactive or bringing it to nothing. So, it could mean making something inoperative or powerless, annulling, or severing. It can also mean to make something ineffective or invalid.
XLI “cease” = pauo. 15x in NT. To stop, refrain, pause, restrain, quit, or come to an end.

For we knowXLII only in part,XLIII and we prophesyXLIV only in part; 10 but when the completeXLV comes, the partial will come to an end. 

Notes on verses 9-10

XLII “know” = ginosko. Related to “knowledge” in v2. See note XIII above.
XLIII “part” = meros. This is a part, a share, or a portion.
XLIV “prophesy” = propheteuo. Related to “prophetic powers” in v2. From prophetes (see note X above). This is to prophesy or foretell.
XLV “complete” = teleios. 19x in NT. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax). This is going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one. This is reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect.” It is also full grown or mature.

11 When I was a child,XLVI I spoke like a child, I thoughtXLVII like a child, I reasonedXLVIII like a child; when I became an adult,XLIX I put an end to childish ways. 

Notes on verse 11

XLVI “child” = nepios. 15x in NT. This may be from ne (not) + epos (word; by extension, to speak) {from epo (to answer, bring word, command). This is an infant, child, minor, or immature person. It can also be used figuratively for someone who is childish or unlearned.
XLVII “thought” = phroneo. From phren (diaphragm, heart, intellect, understanding; figurative for personal opinion or inner mindset; thought regulating action; sympathy, feelings, cognition); perhaps from phrao (to rein in or curb). This is to think, judge, use one’s mind, have an opinion, shape one’s opinion through action. It refers to one’s insight or inner perspective expressing itself through behavior.
XLVIII “reasoned” = logizomai. Same as “resentful” in v5. See note XXX above.
XLIX “adult” = aner. This is man, male, husband, or fellow. It can also refer to an individual.

12 For now we seeL in a mirror,LI dimly,LII 

Notes on verse 12a

L “see” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
LI “mirror” = esoptron. 2x in NT. From eis (to, into, towards, among) + horao (to see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience; to stare at, which implies clear discernment; by extension, attending to what was seen and learned; to see, often with a metaphorical sense, which can include inward spiritual seeing) OR from eis (see note above) + derivative of optanomai (to appear, be seen by). This is a mirror or looking glass. It is something that one looks into for a reflection – in the ancient world, it would have been polished metal rather than glass. One could only see clearly by gazing into the mirror from many different angles.
LII “dimly” = ainigma. 1x in NT. From ainissomai (to talk in riddles) OR from a derivative or ainos (praise, saying, story, proverb). This is a riddle or obscure saying. It is where the word “enigma” comes from.

but then we will see faceLIII to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully,LIV even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope,LV and love abide,LVI these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Notes on verses 12b-13

LIII “face” = prosopon. From pros (at, towards, with) + ops (eye, face) {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is the face, surface, or front. It can imply presence more generally.
LIV “know fully” = epiginosko. Related to “knowledge” in v2 & “know” in v9. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + ginosko (see note XIII above). This is to perceive, discern, acknowledge, recognize, know exactly because of direct interaction
LV “hope” = elpis. Related to “hopes” in v. See note XXXVII above.
LVI “abide” = meno. Related to “endures” in v7. See note XXXVIII above.

Image credit: “Love Mosaic” by Quan Ha, 2009.

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