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1 Corinthians 13:7

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

(12.)

Beareth all things - Παντα στεγει . This word is also variously interpreted: to endure, bear, sustain, cover, conceal, contain. Bishop Pearce contends that it should be translated covereth all things, and produces several plausible reasons for this translation; the most forcible of which is, that the common translation confounds it with endureth all things, in the same verse. We well know that it is a grand and distinguishing property of love to cover and conceal the fault of another; and it is certainly better to consider the passage in this light than in that which our common version holds out; and this perfectly agrees with what St. Peter says of charity, 1 Peter 4:8; : It shall cover the multitude of sins; but there is not sufficient evidence that the original will fully bear this sense; and perhaps it would be better to take it in the sense of contain, keep in, as a vessel does liquor; thus Plato compared the souls of foolish men to a sieve, and not able, στεγειν δια απιστιαν τε και ληθην, to contain any thing through unfaithfulness and forgetfulness. See Parkhurst and Wetstein. Some of the versions have στεργει, loveth, or is warmly affectioned to all things or persons. But the true import must be found either in cover or contain. Love conceals every thing that should be concealed; betrays no secret; retains the grace given; and goes on to continual increase. A person under the influence of this love never makes the sins, follies, faults, or imperfections of any man, the subject either of censure or conversation. He covers them as far as he can; and if alone privy to them, he retains the knowledge of them in his own bosom as far as he ought.

(13.)

Believeth all things - Παντα πιστευει· Is ever ready to believe the best of every person, and will credit no evil of any but on the most positive evidence; gladly receives whatever may tend to the advantage of any person whose character may have suffered from obloquy and detraction; or even justly, because of his misconduct.

(14.)

Hopeth all things - Παντα ελπιζει· When there is no place left for believing good of a person, then love comes in with its hope, where it could not work by its faith; and begins immediately to make allowances and excuses, as far as a good conscience can permit; and farther, anticipates the repentance of the transgressor, and his restoration to the good opinion of society and his place in the Church of God, from which he had fallen.

(15.)

Endureth all things - Παντα ὑπομενει· Bears up under all persecutions and mal-treatment from open enemies and professed friends; bears adversities with an even mind, as it submits with perfect resignation to every dispensation of the providence of God; and never says of any trial, affliction, or insult, this cannot be endured.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Beareth all things - Compare the note at 1 Corinthians 9:12. Doddridge renders this, “covers all things.” The word used here ( στέγει stegei) properly means to “cover” (from στέγη stegēa covering, roof; Matthew 8:8; Luke 7:6); and then to “hide,” “conceal,” not to make known. If this be the sense here, then it means that love is disposed to hide or conceal the faults and imperfections of others; not to promulgate or blazon them abroad, or to give any undue publicity to them. Benevolence to the individual or to the public would require that these faults and errors should be concealed. If this is the sense, then it accords nearly with what is said in the previous verse. The word may also mean, to forbear, bear with, endure. Thus, it is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:5. And so our translators understand it here, as meaning that love is patient, long-suffering, not soon angry not disposed to revenge. And if this is the sense, it accords with the expression in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “love suffers long.” The more usual classic meaning is the former; the usage in the New Testament seems to demand the latter. Rosenmuller renders it, “bears all things;” Bloomfield prefers the other interpretation. Locke and Macknight render it “cover.” The “real” sense of the passage is not materially varied, whichever interpretation is adopted. It means, that in regard to the errors and faults of others, there is a disposition “not” to notice or to revenge them. There is a willingness to conceal, or to bear with them patiently.

All things - This is evidently to be taken in a popular sense, and to he interpreted in accordance with the connection. All universal expressions of this kind demand to be thus limited. The meaning must be, “as far as it can consistently or lawfully be done.” There are offences which it is not proper or right for a man to conceal, or to suffer to pass unnoticed. Such are those where the laws of the land are violated, and a man is called on to testify, etc. But the phrase here refers to private matters; and indicates a disposition “not” to make public or to avenge the faults committed by others.

Believeth all things - The whole scope of the connection and the argument here requires us to understand this of the conduct of others. It cannot mean, that the man who is under the influence of love is a man of “universal credulity;” that he makes no discrimination in regard to things to be believed; and is as prone to believe a falsehood as the truth; or that he is at no pains to inquire what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. But it must mean, that in regard to the conduct of others, there is a disposition to put the best construction on it; to believe that they may be actuated by good motives, and that they intend no injury; and that there is a willingness to suppose, as far as can be, that what is done is done consistently with friendship, good feeling, and virtue. Love produces this, because it rejoices in the happiness and virtue of others, and will not believe the contrary except on irrefragable evidence.

Hopeth all things - Hopes that all will turn out well. This must also refer to the conduct of others; and it means, that however dark may be appearances; how much soever there may be to produce the fear that others are actuated by improper motives or are bad people, yet that there is a “hope” that matters may be explained and made clear; that the difficulties may he made to vanish; and that the conduct of others may be made to “appear” to be fair and pure. Love will “hold on to this hope” until all possibility of such a result has vanished and it is compelled to believe that the conduct is not susceptible of a fair explanation. This hope will extend to “all things” - to words and actions, and plans; to public and to private contact; to what is said and done in our own presence, and to what is said and done in our absence. Love will do this, because it delights in the virtue and happiness of others, and will not credit anything to the contrary unless compelled to do so.

Endureth all things - Bears up under, sustains, and does not complain. Bears up under all persecutions at the hand of man; all efforts to injure the person, property, or reputation; and hears all that may be laid upon us in the providence and by the direct agency of God; compare Job 13:15. The connection requires us to understand it principally of our treatment at the hands of our fellow-men.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Some of the effects of charity are stated, that we may know whether we have this grace; and that if we have not, we may not rest till we have it. This love is a clear proof of regeneration, and is a touchstone of our professed faith in Christ. In this beautiful description of the nature and effects of love, it is meant to show the Corinthians that their conduct had, in many respects, been a contrast to it. Charity is an utter enemy to selfishness; it does not desire or seek its own praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Not that charity destroys all regard to ourselves, or that the charitable man should neglect himself and all his interests. But charity never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or to neglect others. It ever prefers the welfare of others to its private advantage. How good-natured and amiable is Christian charity! How excellent would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it were more under this Divine principle, and paid due regard to the command on which its blessed Author laid the chief stress! Let us ask whether this Divine love dwells in our hearts. Has this principle guided us into becoming behaviour to all men? Are we willing to lay aside selfish objects and aims? Here is a call to watchfulness, diligence, and prayer.
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 290

God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses before the sea, that He might manifest His power in their deliverance and signally humble the pride of their oppressors. He might have saved them in any other way, but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path for them. It was “by faith” that “they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.” Hebrews 11:29. In marching down to the very water, they showed that they believed the word of God as spoken by Moses. They did all that was in their power to do, and then the Mighty One of Israel divided the sea to make a path for their feet. PP 290.1

The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, “Go forward.” We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, “Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly;” but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things. PP 290.2

The cloud that was a wall of darkness to the Egyptians was to the Hebrews a great flood of light, illuminating the whole camp, and shedding brightness upon the path before them. So the dealings of Providence bring to the unbelieving, darkness and despair, while to the trusting soul they are full of light and peace. The path where God leads the way may lie through the desert or the sea, but it is a safe path. PP 290.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 27

The clouds that gather about our way will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Unbelief says: “We can never surmount these obstructions; let us wait until they are removed, and we can see our way clearly.” But faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things. Obedience to God is sure to bring the victory. It is only through faith that we can reach heaven. 4T 27.1

There is great similarity between our history and that of the children of Israel. God led His people from Egypt into the wilderness, where they could keep His law and obey His voice. The Egyptians, who had no regard for the Lord, were encamped close by them; yet what was to the Israelites a great flood of light, illuminating the whole camp, and shedding brightness upon the path before them, was to the hosts of Pharaoh a wall of clouds, making blacker the darkness of night. 4T 27.2

So, at this time, there is a people whom God has made the depositaries of His law. To those who obey them, the commandments of God are as a pillar of fire, lighting and leading the way to eternal salvation. But unto those who disregard them, they are as the clouds of night. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Better than all other knowledge is an understanding of the word of God. In keeping His commandments there is great reward, and no earthly inducement should cause the Christian to waver for a moment in his allegiance. Riches, honor, and worldly pomp are but as dross that shall perish before the fire of God's wrath. 4T 27.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 404

Among the people professing present truth there is not a missionary spirit corresponding with our faith. The ring of the true gold in character is wanting. Christian life is more than they take it to be. It does not consist in mere gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindliness. These graces are essential; but there is need of courage, force, energy, and perseverance also. Many who engage in the work of canvassing are weak, nerveless, spiritless, easily discouraged. They lack push. They have not those positive traits of character that give men power to do something,—the spirit and energy that kindle enthusiasm. The canvasser is engaged in an honorable business, and he should not act as though he were ashamed of it. If he would have success attend his efforts he must be courageous and hopeful. 5T 404.1

The active virtues must be cultivated as well as the passive. The Christian, while he is ever ready to give the soft answer that turneth away wrath, must possess the courage of a hero to resist evil. With the charity that endureth all things, he must have the force of character which will make his influence a positive power for good. Faith must be wrought into his character. His principles must be firm; he must be noble-spirited, above all suspicion of meanness. The canvasser must not be self-inflated. As he associates with men he must not make himself conspicuous, talking of himself in a boastful way; for by this course he would disgust intelligent, sensible people. He must not be selfish in his habits nor overbearing and domineering in his manners. Very many have settled it in their minds that they cannot find time to read one in ten thousand of the books that are published and put upon the market. And in many cases when the canvasser makes known his business, the door of the heart closes firmly; hence the great need of doing his work with tact and in a humble, prayerful spirit. He should be familiar with the word of God and have words at his command to unfold the precious truth and to show the great value of the pure reading matter he carries. 5T 404.2

Well may everyone feel an individual responsibility in this work. Well may he consider how he may best arrest the attention, for his manner of presenting the truth may decide the destiny of a soul. If he makes a favorable impression, his influence may be to that soul a savor of life unto life; and that one person, enlightened in regard to the truth, may enlighten many others. Therefore it is dangerous to do careless work in dealing with minds. 5T 405.1

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