First Corinthians 13


Aristotle’s Virtues and Vices from Nicomachean Ethics


In life anything without love is nothing.
Love by itself is everything.
Love is the very nature of God.  Love is more than a character of God.


Three sections:

13:1-3 – The Necessity of Love

13:4-7 – The Character of Love

13:8-13 – The Eternal State of Love


The Gifts mentioned here:

·        tongues

·        prophecy

·        fathom all mysteries (word of wisdom?)

·        knowledge (word of knowledge?)

·        faith (gift of miracles??)

·        giving (gift of helps?)

·        martyrdom (gift of faith??)


The gifts mentioned here basically fill four areas:

1.     Ecstatic speech (tongues)

2.     Teaching (prophecy, fathom mysteries, knowledge)

3.     Miracles (faith)

4.     Service (giving money or giving life)


What follows with the word “if” are three conditional sentences.



Tongues of men speak of natural languages.

Tongues of angels might refer to ecstatic utterances.  Paul is not just being creative with his words here.  Some say “tongues of angels” refers to eloquent speech.  This is true in some cases but not in the context of ch. 12-14 here.  Tongues are in the chapter before and is the topic of the following chapter.  In addition, if “tongues of angels” means eloquent speech then “tongues of men” must refer at least to speech that is less than eloquent.  In the worst case “tongues of men” would refer to barbaric, incoherent speech.  In context, tongues of angels are the tongues of chapter 12 and 14.


“gong” is from “chalkos” and means copper, brass, bronze.

“resounding” is “echon” the present active of “echew” and means “to sound, to ring, to echo, to roar.  These two words combined refer to a hollow echoing groaning noise


“cymbal” is “kumbalon”.  Cymbals were used by Jews in their worship services but were even more popular in heathen ceremonies.

clanging” is “alaladzon” and refers to a  loud sounding, a clashing.  It is used to identify a war cry or a triumphal shouting.



q       Prophecy,

q       Fathom mysteries,

q       Knowledge,

q       Faith


These gifts focus on the area of communicating information or instruction.

In other words, if you have full understanding of God’s word or revelation but do not have love it is worthless.


Mountain moving faith:

Isaiah 54:10; Mark 11:22; Matt. 17:20; 21:21



These are administrative or service gifts.

Both are giving:

1.     Possessions to others.

2.     Life for cause of Christ


One of the focuses in this verse is the extreme level of service:

1.     “I give all I possess” – all of your possessions

2.     “I surrender my body to the flames” – all of your life

Extreme acts do not prove love.

So, love could be demonstrated without “all” or extreme being involved.



Verse 13:1

“I produce nothing”

Verse 13:2

“I am nothing

Verse 13:3

“I gain nothing”

Ver. 13:1-3

The gifts themselves

are still valuable


The point is not to force a choice between gifts or love.

Love is in a completely different category than the gifts.
The gifts should be used but the motivation for seeking the manifestation of the gifts is love.


Jewish writing shows that they believed angels to have their own language and through the Spirit a Jew could speak these languages.

In the Jewish book “Testament of Job” the daughters of Job spoke “ecstatically in the angelic dialect.”



1.     “Patient” –

2.     “Kind” –

3.     “Does not Envy” –

4.     “Does not Boast” –

5.     “Is not Proud” –

6.     “Is not Rude” –

7.     “Is not Self-seeking” –

8.     “Not easily Angered” –

9.     “Keeps no record of wrongs” –

10 “Does not delight in evil but rejoices with the Truth” –

11 “Always Protects” –

12 “Always trusts” –

13 “Always Hopes” –

14 “Always Perseveres” –


The list has:

1.     Two positive (one pair)

2.     Eight negative (four pair)

3.     Four positive (two pair)


“Patient” (“macrothumia”) is long-suffering, long-tempered”.  It is patient of pain and injury without paying back.  This is a passive response to people.  It is God’s attitude toward mankind in Romans 2:4 along with God’s kindnesss.  This word is saying that it takes a long time before breaking out into action which is understood to be passion.


“Kindness” (“chresteuetai”) is the active side of patience.  It means to be useful, to be kind and gracious, to show well-disposed service to others. This is active goodness


“Envy” means “fervent, to boil with envy, to be jealous.


“Boast” means to brag, to boast, one who talks a lot and acts presumptuously.  Main idea is ostentatious or flamboyant. It is self-center behavior.


“Proud” means  to puff up, to expand yourself like a pair of bellows.  This is a result of the one before, boasting.



“Rude” means “unbecoming”.  It is to behave indecently or in a shameful manner.  Tact is lacking and people are embarrassed.




“Angered” means to be irritated, promoted to anger, to be touchy.  This is a result of the one before, self-seeking.


“Record of wrongs” is literally “does not reckon the evil”.  “Record” is a word that means to credit someone’s account.  Love is not keeping score.  It means “does not think about it” or “does not take notice.”



Does not delight in evil” and “Rejoices with the truth

Here the rejoicing is in the truth not in evil.

Evil and Truth are two sides of the same reality.



“Always” or “in everything”


“Protects” means to cover as does a roof.  It has the idea of protecting like a roof and also enduring (holding up) like a roof.


Trusts” or “believes”.  This means love never looses faith.  This does not mean love believes everything nor does love trust everyone.


Hopes” projects love into the future.


“Perseveres” is “hupomenei” which means to endure and to bear patiently not in passive defeat but in blazing hope.