Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
13:1 Though I speak with all the tongues - Which are upon earth, and with the eloquence of an angel. And have not love - The love of God, and of all mankind for his sake, I am no better before God than the sounding instruments of brass, used in the worship of some of the heathen gods. Or a tinkling cymbal - This was made of two pieces of hollow brass, which, being struck together, made a tinkling, but very little variety of sound.
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, and have not charity, I am nothing.
13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy - Of foretelling future events. And understand all the mysteries - Both of God's word and providence. And all knowledge - Of things divine and human, that ever any mortal attained to. And though I have the highest degree of miracle working faith, and have not this love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
13:3 And though I - Deliberately, piece by piece. Give all my goods to feed the poor, yea, though I deliver up my body to be burned - Rather than I would renounce my religion. And have not the love - Hereafter described. It profiteth me nothing - Without this, whatever I speak, whatever I have, whatever I know, whatever I do, whatever I suffer, is nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
13:4 The love of God, and of our neighbour for God's sake, is patient toward, all men. It, suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and infirmities of the children of God; all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world: and all this, not only for a time, but to the end. And in every step toward overcoming evil with good, it is kind, soft, mild, benign. It inspires the sufferer at once with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection. Love acteth not rashly - Does not hastily condemn any one; never passes a severe sentence on a slight or sudden view of things. Nor does it ever act or behave in a violent, headstrong, or precipitate manner. Is not puffed up - Yea, humbles the soul to the dust.
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
13:5 It doth not behave indecently - Is not rude, or willingly offensive, to any. It renders to all their due - Suitable to time, person, and all other circumstances. Seeketh not her own - Ease, pleasure, honour, or temporal advantage. Nay, sometimes the lover of mankind seeketh not, in some sense, even his own spiritual advantage; does not think of himself, so long as a zeal for the glory of God and the souls of men swallows him up. But, though he is all on fire for these ends, yet he is not provoked to sharpness or unkindness toward any one. Outward provocations indeed will frequently occur; but he triumphs over all. Love thinketh no evil - Indeed it cannot but see and hear evil things, and know that they are so; but it does not willingly think evil of any; neither infer evil where it does not appear. It tears up, root and branch, all imagining of what we have not proof. It casts out all jealousies, all evil surmises, all readiness to believe evil.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity - Yea, weeps at either the sin or folly of even an enemy; takes no pleasure in hearing or in repeating it, but desires it may be forgotten for ever. But rejoiceth in the truth - Bringing forth its proper fruit, holiness of heart and life. Good in general is its glory and joy, wherever diffused in all the world.
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
13:7 Love covereth all things - Whatever evil the lover of mankind sees, hears, or knows of any one, he mentions it to none; it never goes out of his lips, unless where absolute duty constrains to speak. Believeth all things - Puts the most favourable construction on everything, and is ever ready to believe whatever may tend to the advantage of any one character. And when it can no longer believe well, it hopes whatever may excuse or extenuate the fault which cannot be denied. Where it cannot even excuse, it hopes God will at length give repentance unto life. Meantime it endureth all things - Whatever the injustice, the malice, the cruelty of men can inflict. He can not only do, but likewise suffer, all things, through Christ who strengtheneth him.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
13:8 Love never faileth - It accompanies to, and adorns us in, eternity; it prepares us for, and constitutes, heaven. But whether there be prophecies, they shall fail - When all things are fulfilled, and God is all in all. Whether there be tongues, they shall cease - One language shall prevail among all the inhabitants of heaven, and the low and imperfect languages of earth be forgotten. The knowledge likewise which we now so eagerly pursue, shall then vanish away - As starlight is lost in that of the midday sun, so our present knowledge in the light of eternity.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part - The wisest of men have here but short, narrow, imperfect conceptions, even of the things round about them, and much more of the deep things of God. And even the prophecies which men deliver from God are far from taking in the whole of future events, or of that wisdom and knowledge of God which is treasured up in the scripture revelation.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
13:10 But when that which is perfect is come - At death and in the last day. That which is in part shall vanish away - Both that poor, low, imperfect, glimmering light, which is all the knowledge we now can attain to; and these slow and unsatisfactory methods of attaining, as well as of imparting it to others.
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.
13:11 In our present state we are mere infants in point of knowledge, compared to what we shall be hereafter. I put away childish things - Of my own accord, willingly, without trouble.
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.
13:12 Now we see - Even the things that surround us. But by means of a glass - Or mirror, which reflects only their imperfect forms, in a dim, faint, obscure manner; so that our thoughts about them are puzzling and intricate, and everything is a kind of riddle to us. But then - We shall see, not a faint reflection, but the objects themselves. Face to face - Distinctly. Now I know in part - Even when God himself reveals things to me, great part of them is still kept under the veil. But then I shall 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.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
13:13 Faith, hope, love - Are the sum of perfection on earth; love alone is the sum of perfection in heaven.