1 Corinthians 13
|1 Corinthians 13|
1 Corinthians 7:33-8:4 in Papyrus 15, written in the 3rd century.
|Book||First Epistle to the Corinthians|
|Bible part||New Testament|
|Order in the Bible part||7|
1 Corinthians 13 is the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle and Sosthenes in Ephesus. This chapter covers the subject of "love". In the original Greek, the word ἀγάπη agape is used throughout. This is translated into English as "charity" in the King James version; but the word "love" is preferred by most other translations, both earlier and more recent.
- The original text is written in Koine Greek.
- Some most ancient manuscripts containing this chapter are:
- This chapter is divided into 13 verses.
New King James Version
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
This chapter of 1 Corinthians is one of many definitional sources for the word agape when used to refer to divine love. Introducing his homage to love in 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul describes agape as "a more excellent way".
"Through a glass, darkly"
1 Corinthians 13:12 contains the phrase βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι (blepomen gar arti di esoptrou en ainigmati), which was translated in the 1560 Geneva Bible as "For now we see through a glass darkly" (without a comma), which wording was used in the 1611 KJV, which added a comma before "darkly". This passage has inspired the titles of many works, with or without the comma.
The word ἐσόπτρου esoptrou (genitive; nominative: ἔσοπτρον esoptron), here translated "glass", is ambiguous, possibly referring to a mirror or a lens. Influenced by Strong's Concordance, many modern translations conclude that this word refers specifically to a mirror. Example English-language translations include:
- Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror (New International Version)
- What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror (Good News Bible)
Paul's usage is in keeping with rabbinic use of the term אספקלריה (aspaklaria), a borrowing from the Latin specularia. This has the same ambiguous meaning, although Adam Clarke concluded that it was a reference to specularibus lapidibus, clear polished stones used as lenses or windows. One way to preserve this ambiguity is to use the English cognate, speculum. Rabbi Judah ben Ilai (2nd century) was quoted as saying "All the prophets had a vision of God as He appeared through nine specula" while "Moses saw God through one speculum." The Babylonian Talmud states similarly "All the prophets gazed through a speculum that does not shine, while Moses our teacher gazed through a speculum that shines."
Other notable passages
There are other passages from 1 Corinthians 13 which have been notably influential.
Perhaps the most significant portion of 1 Corinthians 13 is the revered passage that defines love and indicates how Christians should love others.
1 Corinthians 13, verse 1: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal."
Bob Dylan paraphrases verse 1 in his song 'Dignity': "I heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men... wasn't any difference to me."
1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-8, and 13: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 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. ...And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love." (New International Version)
The passage is frequently read during wedding ceremonies.
- "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (KJV).
The verse was used in the 1995 anime, Ghost in the Shell, at time 1:16:55.
Verse 13, in praise of the Theological virtues:
- νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπὶς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα, μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη.
- "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (NRSV)
US president Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath at his inauguration in 1933, with his hand on his family Bible, open to 1 Corinthians 13.
The Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso set verses 11-13 in his sacred motet "Cum essem parvulus."
A paraphrase of the text is the basis for the song "Love Is the Law" composed and sung by Australian musician Paul Kelly.
Symphony No.6 "Liturgical" for baritone, choir and orchestra by Andrei Yakovlevich Eshpai (1989).
Joni Mitchell uses much of the text in 20th century vernacular including "through a glass darkly" in her song "Love" from her 1982 album Wild Things Run Fast, and fully--and dramatically--orchestrated on her 2002 retrospective Travelogue.
Macklemore uses the verse "Love is patient. Love is kind" in his 2012 song, "Same Love".
The text is drawn on / paraphrased in Lauryn Hill's song 'Tell Him' hidden on 'The Miseducation Of ..."
- Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an Abbreviated Bible Commentary, 23rd edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1962.
- Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
- Range of translations at BibleGateway.com
- Some translations read so I may boast
- KJV 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
- Entry: εσοπτρον (espotron – Strong's 2072), retrieved from blueletterbible.org
- Adam Clarke, Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. II, J. Butterworth & Son, London, 1817; commentary on 1 Corinthians 12.
- Gordon Tucker, translator's footnote to Abraham Joshua Heschel, 'Heavenly Torah as Refracted Through the Generations,' Continuum, New York, 2008; page 308.
- Leviticus Rabbah 1:14.
- B.T. Yevamot 49B
- Metamorphosis (Yeng Constantino album)#Singles
- 1 Corinthians 13:11
- "Barack Obama's Inaugural Address". The New York Times. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
- "The Funeral Service of Diana, Princess Wales". BBC. 6 September 1997. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- "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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I abandoned my childhood, I put these ways behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known / And now these two remain". Genius. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
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