1 Corinthians 13:11
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.
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(11) When I was a child.—The natural childhood and manhood of this life are analogous to the spiritual childhood of this life and the spiritual manhood of the life to come.

I understood as a child, I thought as a child.—The first word expresses mere simple apprehension, the second word implies active intellectual exertion. It has been suggested that the three words here used refer back respectively to the gifts previously mentioned. “I spoke” corresponds to the “tongues,” “understood” to the “prophecy,” and “I reasoned” to the “knowledge.” Without intending any such very definite correspondence of these three expressions, the Apostle probably naturally made the points of analogy correspond in number with what they were intended to illustrate.

But when I became a man.—Better, but now that I have become a man I have given up the ways of a child. The point brought out is his present state as a man, and not, as the English version might seem to imply, some fixed point of transition in his past history. The contrast he seeks to make clear is between two states of life.

1 Corinthians 13:11-12. When I was a child, &c. — The difference between our present and future conceptions of spiritual things may be illustrated by the knowledge of a child compared to that of a man. For in our present state, we are mere infants in knowledge, in comparison of what we shall be hereafter. I spake as a child — Would naturally do, words hardly intelligible, and often unmeaning; I understood — Or was affected, as εφρονουν may be rendered; as a child — That is, thrown into transports of joy or grief on trifling occasions, which manly reason soon taught me to despise. I thought Ελογιζομην, I reasoned; as a child — In a weak, inconclusive, and sometimes ridiculous manner. But when I became a man — My faculties being ripened; I put away childish things — Of my own accord, willingly, without trouble; and entertained sentiments, and engaged in pursuits, correspondent to such advancements of age and reason. Such shall be the improvements of the heavenly state, in comparison with those which the most eminent Christians can attain on earth. For now we see — Even the things that surround us; through a glass — The expression, διεσοπτρου, thus rendered, Dr. Pearce thinks, “signifies any of those transparent substances which the ancients used in their windows, such as thin plates of horn, transparent stone, and the like, through which they saw the objects without obscurely. But others are of opinion that the word denotes a brazen mirror, like those of which Moses made the laver, Exodus 38:8; and that the apostle’s meaning is, that we see things as it were by images reflected from a mirror. But this does not accord with seeing things obscurely. Darkly Εν αινιγματι, literally, in an enigma, or riddle. A riddle being a discourse in which one thing is put for another, which is in some respects like it, we are said to see things at present in a riddle, because in the revelations of God, invisible things are represented by visible, and spiritual things by natural, and eternal things by such as are temporal.” But then — We shall see, not a faint reflection, or an obscure resemblance, but the objects themselves, in a clear and distinct manner; face to face — As men see each other, when they behold each the other’s face. Now I know in part — Even when God himself reveals things to me, a great part of them is still kept under the veil; but then shall I know even as also I am known — In a clear, full, comprehensive manner; in some measure like God, who penetrates the centre of every object, and sees at one glance through my soul and all things. It is justly observed by Dr. Macknight here, “that the darkness in which things at present are involved, is in some respects necessary; for as in childhood our knowledge and conception of things are wisely made imperfect, that we may the more easily submit to the exercises and discipline which are proper to our childish state; so in the present life, which in relation to the whole of our existence may be called childhood, our knowledge of invisible things is appointed to be imperfect, that we may employ ourselves with pleasure in the occupations of the present life. But when the season of childhood is over, and the grand scenes of the heavenly world open upon us, we shall no more see spiritual things darkly as in a riddle, but we shall see them clearly, and shall fully know even as we ourselves are fully known of superior beings, or of our most familiar friends. In short, we shall leave off all those imperfect methods of acquiring knowledge which we made use of on earth.”13:8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused notions of things, have children when compared with grown men! Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now, compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! God is love, 1Jo 4:8,16. Where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its greatest height; there only will it be perfected.When I was a child - The idea here is, that the knowledge which we now have, compared with that which we shall have in heaven, is like that which is possessed in infancy compared with that we have in manhood; and that as, when we advance in years, we lay aside, as unworthy of our attention, the views, feelings, and plans which we had in boyhood, and which we then esteemed to be of so great importance, so, when we reach heaven, we shall lay aside the views, feelings, and plans which we have in this life, and which we now esteem so wise and so valuable. The word "child" here (νήπιος nēpios) denotes properly a baby, an infant, though without any definable limitation of age. It refers to the first periods of existence; before the period which we denominate boyhood, or youth. Paul here refers to a period when he could "speak," though evidently a period when his speech was scarcely intelligible - when he first began to articulate.

I spake as a child - Just beginning to articulate, in a broken and most imperfect manner. The idea here is, that our knowledge at present, compared with the knowledge of heaven, is like the broken and scarcely intelligible efforts of a child to speak compared with the power of utterance in manhood.

I understood as a child - My understanding was feeble and imperfect. I had narrow and imperfect views of things. I knew little. I fixed my attention on objects which I now see to be of little value. I acquired knowledge which has vanished, or which has sunk in the superior intelligence of riper years. "I was affected as a child. I was thrown into a transport of joy or grief on the slightest occasions, which manly reason taught me to despise" - Doddridge.

I thought as a child - Margin, "Reasoned." The word may mean either. I thought, argued, reasoned in a weak and inconclusive manner. My thoughts, and plans, and argumentations were puerile, and such as I now see to be short-sighted and erroneous. Thus, it will be with our thoughts compared to heaven. There will be, doubtless, as much difference between our present knowledge, and plans, and views, and those which we shall have in heaven, as there is between the plans and views of a child and those of a man. Just before his death, Sir Isaac Newton made this remark: "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself by now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me" - Brewster's Life of Newton, pp. 300, 301. Ed. New York, 1832.

11. When … a child—(1Co 3:1; 14:20).

I spake—alluding to "tongues."

understood—or, "had the sentiments of." Alluding to "prophecy."

I thought—Greek "reasoned" or "judged"; alluding to "knowledge."

when I became … I put away—rather, "now that I am become a man, I have done away with the things of the child."

The apostle compareth the state of believers in this life, compared with their state in another life, to the state of a child, compared to that of a man. Look, as one, when he is a child, knoweth things imperfectly, and discourseth of them in the style and according to the knowledge of a child; but when he is grown up, he discourseth of them at another rate, according to the degree of knowledge which he hath acquired by instruction of others, or his own experience and observation: so it is with all of us; in this life we, like children, have a poor, low, imperfect knowledge of spiritual things, and accordingly discourse of them; but when we come to heaven, we shall know them and discourse of them in a more perfect manner. When I was a child I spake as a child,.... That cannot speak plain, aims at words rather than expresses them, delivers them in a lisping or stammering manner: hereby the apostle illustrates the then present gift of speaking with divers tongues, which was an extraordinary gift of the Spirit, was peculiar to some persons, and what many were very fond of; and yet this, in its highest degree and exercise, was but like the lisping of a child, in comparison of what will be known and expressed by saints, when they come to be perfect men in heaven:

I understood as a child; and so does he that understands all mysteries, in comparison of the enlightened and enlarged understandings of glorified saints; the people of God, who are in the highest form and class of understanding, in the present state of things, are but children in understanding; it is in the other world, when they are arrived to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, that they will in understanding be men:

I thought, or "reasoned",

as a child; whose thoughts are low and mean, and reasonings very weak; and so are the thoughts and reasonings of such as have all knowledge here below, in comparison of that perfect knowledge, those clear ideas, and strong reasonings of the spirits of just men above:

but when I became a man, I put away childish things; childish talk, childish affections, and childish thoughts and reasonings; so when the saints shall be grown to the full age of Christ, and are become perfect men in him, tongues shall cease, prophecies shall fail, and knowledge vanish away; and in the room thereof, such conversation, understanding, and knowledge take place, as will be entirely suited to the manly state in glory.

{5} When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

(5) He sets forth that which he said by an excellent similitude, comparing this life to our infancy, or childhood, in which we mutter and stammer rather than speak, and think and understand childish things, and therefore have need of such things as may form and frame our tongue and mind. But when we become men, to what purpose should we desire that stammering, those childish toys, and such like things, by which we are formed in our childhood by little and little?

1 Corinthians 13:11. Illustration of what was said in 1 Corinthians 13:10 by an analogy taken from each man’s own personal experience in life, inasmuch, namely, as our present condition, when compared with our condition in the αἰὼν μέλλων, is like that of the child in comparison with that of the man. The man has given up the practices of the child.

ἐφρόνουν refers to the interest and efforts (device and endeavour), ἐλογ. to the judgment (reflective intellectual activity). To make ἐλαλ., however, point back to the glossolalia, ἐφρ. to the prophesying, and ἐλογ. to the gnosis (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Bengel, Valckenaer, Heydenreich, Olshausen, D. Schulz, Ewald; Osiander undecided), is all the less warranted an assumption, seeing that ἐφρ. and ἐλογ. are no specific correlates of the prophecy and gnosis respectively.1 Corinthians 13:11 illustrates the abolition of the partial by the perfect through the transition from the child to the man—in speech (ἐλάουν), in disposition and aim (ἐφρόνουν), and in mental activity (ἐλογιζόμην). These three points of diff, can hardly be identified with the γλῶσσαι, προφητεία, and γνῶσις respectively; though “spake as a babe” may allude to the childish fondness of the Cor[1994] for γλωσσολαλία (cf 1 Corinthians 14:18 ff.), and “to reason” is the distinction of γνῶσις. On the later-Gr. mid[1995] form ἤμην, see Wr[1996], pp. 95 f.—ὅταν with sbj[1997] is the when of future contingency, ὅτε with ind[1998] the when of past or present fact.—ὅτε γέγονα ἀνὴρ κατήργηκα κ.τ.λ.: “now that (ex quo) I have become a man (vir factus sum: cf. ἀνὴρ τέλειος in Ephesians 4:12), I have abolished the things of the child”. Such is the κατάργησις which Prophecy and Knowledge (Scripture and Theology), as at present known, must undergo through the approaching “revelation” (1 Corinthians 1:7). “Non dicit, Quum abolevi puerilia, factus sum vir. Hiems non affert ver; sed ver pellit hiemem: sic est in anima et ecclesia” (Bg[1999]).—γέγονα and κατήργηκα, in pf. of abiding result; for καταργέω, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:28 and parls.

[1994] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1995] middle voice.

[1996] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1997] subjunctive mood.

[1998] indicative mood.

[1999] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.11. I thought as a child] Better as margin, I reasoned. The same Greek word is used here as in 1 Corinthians 13:5, ‘thinketh no evil.’ See note there.

when I became a man, I put away childish things] Rather, since I have become a man, I have brought to an end (see note on 1 Corinthians 13:8) the things of the child, referring, not so much to the act which put away these things, as to the fact that they had been put away finally and irrevocably.1 Corinthians 13:11. Ὄτε, when) The progress from grace to glory, which awaits individual believers and the whole Church, is compared to the different stages of human life.—νήπιος, a child) Exemplifying the humility of Paul. The natural man does not willingly remember his childhood because he is proud; but the soul, pining away under adversity, confesses the early passages of its early growth, Job 10:10.—ἐλάλουν, I spoke) There is a reference to tongues.—ἐφρόνουν, I understood [I had the sentiments]) The reference is to prophecy; for it is something more simple.—ἐλογιζόμην, I reasoned as a child) The reference is to knowledge; for it is more complex.—ὅτε δὲ, but when) He does not say, when I put away childish things, I became a man. Winter does not bring spring; but spring drives away winter; so it is in the soul of man and in the Church.—κατήργηκα, I put away) of my own accord, willingly, without effort.—τὰ τοῦ νηπίου, childish things) childish speaking, childish understanding, childish counsel. τὰ, the Abstract. The humanity is not taken away, but manhood is assumed.Verse 11. - I understood as a child, I thought as a child; I felt as a child, I reasoned as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things; now that I am become a man, I have done away with childish things. No specific time at which he put away childish things is alluded to, but he means that "manhood" is a state in which childishness should have become impossible. A child

See on 1 Corinthians 3:1, and see on 1 Corinthians 2:6.

I understood (ἐφρόνουν)

See on Romans 8:5. The kindred noun φρένες occurs only once in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 14:20, where also it is associated with children in the sense of reflection or discrimination. Rev. renders felt; but the verb, as Edwards correctly remarks, is not the generic term for emotion, though it may be used for what includes emotion. The reference here is to the earlier undeveloped exercise of the childish mind; a thinking which is not yet connected reasoning. This last is expressed by ελογίζομην I thought or reasoned. There seems to be a covert reference to the successive stages of development; mere idle prating; thought, in the sense of crude, general notions; consecutive reasoning.

When I became (ὄτε γέγονα)

Rev., better, giving the force of the perfect tense, now that I am become. Hence I have put away for I put away. Lit., have brought them to nought.

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