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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2
but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and
comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move
mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand
my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
3 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not
jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own
interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but
rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes
all things, endures all things.
4 Love never fails. If there are prophecies,
they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it
will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy
but when the perfect comes, the partial will
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as
I am fully known.
5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but
the greatest of these is love.
1 [1-13] This chapter involves a
shift of perspective and a new point. All or part of the material may once have
been an independent piece in the style of Hellenistic eulogies of virtues, but
it is now integrated, by editing, into the context of 1 Cor 12-14 (cf the
reference to tongues and prophecy) and into the letter as a whole (cf the
references to knowledge and to behavior). The function of 1 Cor 13 within the
discussion of spiritual gifts is to relativize all the charisms by contrasting
them with the more basic, pervasive, and enduring value that gives them their
purpose and their effectiveness. The rhetoric of this chapter is striking.
2 [1-3] An inventory of gifts,
arranged in careful gradation: neither tongues (on the lowest rung), nor
prophecy, knowledge, or faith, nor even self-sacrifice has value unless informed
3 [4-7] This paragraph is developed
by personification and enumeration, defining love by what it does or does not
do. The Greek contains fifteen verbs; it is natural to translate many of them
by adjectives in English.
4 [8-13] The final paragraph
announces its topic, Love never fails (⇒ 1 Cor
13:8), then develops the permanence of love in contrast to the
charisms (⇒ 1 Cor 13:9-12), and finally asserts
love's superiority even over the other "theological virtues"
(⇒ 1 Cor 13:13).
5  In speaking of love, Paul is
led by spontaneous association to mention faith and hope as well. They are
already a well-known triad (cf ⇒ 1 Thes 1:3), three
interrelated (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 13:7) features of
Christian life, more fundamental than any particular charism. The greatest . .
. is love: love is operative even within the other members of the triad (7), so
that it has a certain primacy among them. Or, if the perspective is temporal,
love will remain (cf "never fails," ⇒ 1 Cor
13:8) even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession.
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