Saturday, November 28, 2015


From  "THE  ECONOMIST"  -  November  7TH - 13TH  2015

The Chancellor's crucible

After ten years in power, Angela Merkel is being forged anew in the refugee crisis

EMPHASIS  MINE  -  Keith Hunt

THIS September, at the height of what the German press has since dubbed an "autumn fairy-tale", Angela Merkel visited an asylum centre in Spandau, near Berlin. The refugees greeted the German chancellor as though she were their saviour, pressing close for selfies with her. Mrs Merkel does not usually take kindly to unsolicited male hugs. But this time she posed gamely and flashed winning smiles.

What made her a heroine to the refugees was a decision she had taken only days earlier. Thousands of people trudging through the Balkans toward northern Europe were stranded in Hungary in precarious conditions. Empathizing with these huddled masses, Mrs Merkel temporarily ignored the European Union's asylum agreements, which stipulate that the member state in which refugees first arrive must process their asylum requests. On the chancellor's command, Germany opened its borders to the refugees. Coming via Austria on foot, bus and train, more than 20,000 arrived in the first weekend of September alone.

At first, many ordinary Germans greeted them in a euphoric mood-from the railway station in Munich where the refugees disembarked by the wagonload to asylum centres around the country like the one in Spandau. But others in Germany and across Europe were taken aback. There has since been a marked backlash against the August Willkommenskultur whose spirit Mrs Merkel captured and encouraged, with those Spandau selfies held up as reckless enticements for yet more Syrians and others to join the lm [one million] refugees now expected in Germany this year.

Mrs Merkel at first seemed surprised by the sudden turn in public opinion. "Do you really think that hundreds of thousands leave their home and embark on this difficult journey only because of a selfie with the chancellor?" she asked Anne Will, a television talk-show host, on October 7th. Since then, however, Mrs Merkel has turned defiant and bold, as though inspired by a clear moral purpose.

Having been governed by her for ten years - she first took office on November 22nd 2005 - Germans thought they knew Mrs Merkel. Whereas her predecessor, Gerhard Schroder, was dubbed the "basta chancellor" for his brash assertiveness, Mrs Merkel was valued, if often also criticized, for her caution. Her governing was a "politics of small steps", lampooned for endless hedging and "leading from behind". As recently as this summer, the jury that chooses Germany's "youth word of the year" from a list of zeitgeisty neologisms was expected to plump for merkeln ("to merkel"), meaning to delay and obfuscate so as to avoid big decisions.

To widespread surprise and some unease, though, the merkelling chancellor has been transformed. She has found a new voice that is simple and strong. "If we start having to apologize for showing a friendly face in emergencies," she says, "then this is not my country."

Cometh the hour

The change in style reflects the nature of the new challenge. A lot of Mrs Merkel's decade in power has been taken up with the international demands of what might be called crisis management, had the problems involved not become chronic: the financial troubles in the Euro Zone, especially Greece; the confrontation between Vladimir Putin and the West; the spectre of a British exit from the EU. Preoccupied with these international worries, she stuck to small-bore fiddling at home, and the Germans forgave her. The dramatic acceleration of the refugee crisis, though, merges international and domestic demands into one daunting task.

The past challenges have all served, one way or another, to enhance Mrs Merkel's stature as Europe's pre-eminent leader. The Euro Zone's response to Greece always hinged mainly on her stance, even if she failed to act boldly enough. In the Ukraine confrontation, she reacted faster and more vigorously; while she brought Francois Hollande, the president of France, along to summits in Minsk with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and his Ukrainian counterpart, it was she who talked Mr Putin down from even worse escalation (at least so far). And it is Mrs Merkel who matters most to Britain's prime minister, David Gameron, in his effort to win the concessions he thinks needed to keep Britain in the EU.

There are four main reasons for Mrs Merkel's central role. First, she governs at a time when other European leaders seem weak or even absent and America's interest in solving European problems is on the wane. Second, she has no credible challenger within Germany, either in her own party or in others. Third, Germany is the biggest and strongest economy in the EU; it has a budget surplus and an unemployment rate (6%) last seen before reunification. Fourth, Mrs Merkel has proven herself adept at crisis diplomacy. At home or abroad, she has a knack for dealing with complicated, vain or macho men, from Mr Putin to Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Now two more of Europe's many difficult men threaten to undermine her stature. One is Viktor Orban, the illiberal Hungarian prime minister whose answer to the refugees has been barbed-wire fences. Speaking for several eastern members of the EU he has called Mrs Merkel's welcome of the refugees "moral imperialism".

That a nationalist demagogue should cause trouble is hardly a shock. 

More surprising are the attacks by Horst Seehofer, who is the premier of Bavaria, the state through which most refugees enter Germany, and also the boss of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the regional sister party to Mrs Merkel's national party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). These two Union parties, as they are called, sit as one group in the Bundestag and are usually reliable conservative allies. There is a long CSU tradition of sniping against the federal government to assert the interests of Bavaria. But CSU leaders usually stop short of damaging CDU chancellors.

This time is different. In September Mr Seehofer called Mrs Merkel's embrace of the refugees a big mistake. He then invited Mr Orban to a CSU gathering as guest speaker and smiled smugly as the Hungarian railed against the chancellor. He constantly demands that Mrs Merkel restore the "rule of law", implying that she has broken it. And he insists that she put a stop to the refugee flows, even though she has repeatedly said that the constitution foresees "no upper limit" to the human right for asylum - and even though he can offer no explanation of how a stop would work. In October he warned ominously about "an existential crisis for the CDU-CSU."

If not her, who?

His rebellion has spread in attenuated form to Mrs Merkel's own party. In October 34 regional CDU politicians complained in an open letter that her "policy of open borders accords with neither European and German law nor with the programme of the CDU". In meetings of the parliamentary party some members have openly attacked Mrs Merkel.

The internal whingeing, unusual in a party that sets much store by unity behind its leader, coincides with a deteriorating tone in public debate. At an anti-Muslim rally in Dresden in October, a man held up a drawing of a gallows with the caption "reserved for Angela Merkel". In Thuringia Bjorn Hocke, a politician of the Alternative for Germany, a xenophobic right-wing party, led a chorus of demonstrators chanting that "Merkel must go".

Polls confirm a turn in public opinion. Support for the Union parties has dropped seven percentage points since the summer and is now at its lowest point since 2012. Three other politicians in her coalition now enjoy higher ratings in opinion polls than Mrs Merkel, long Germany's most popular politician. Yet this slide should not be exaggerated. None of those more popular than Mrs Merkel will ever be a candidate for her job. Among members of the CDU only one in three takes Mr Seehofer's side on what to do about refugees, while 57% stand with the chancellor.

Her personal support is even higher than support for her position. One poll in October found that 82% of Christian Democrats approve of Mrs Merkel's leadership and 81% want her to run for chancellor for a fourth time at the election due in 2017. Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats, Germany's second largest party and the Union parties' coalition partner, can but dream of such numbers. Though he is likely to be Mrs Merkel's challenger in two years' time, only 40% of his party approves of him.

Support in the CDU might not matter if the public was turning wholeheartedly against the chancellor. So far it hasn't: averaging the most recent opinion polls shows the Union parties with 37.5% of the electorate, the SPD with 25%. The backlash, while real, is confined to a minority. A poll of seven European countries by IFOP, an institute in Paris, shows that German support for the idea that sheltering refugees from war and persecution is right in principle is dropping. But it is still high both in absolute terms and in comparison to attitudes in other countries. In September 79% of Germans agreed with the proposition; in October 75% did. Less than half the British, Dutch or French feel the same way. The differences are starkest among conservatives: 72% of Union supporters in Germany favour the principle of asylum; only 29% of Republicans in France do so. Part of the difference stems from German optimism about the economy and some of it from a sense of Germany's special responsibility given its past. The effect of Mrs Merkel's leadership probably plays a role, too.

Far from being the beginning of the end for the chancellor, this crisis seems to be re-invigorating her. Mrs Merkel has never commented on how long she intends to stay in power, but for years a few contrarians have surmised that she has been planning to step down after a decade, or perhaps when her third term ends in 2017. By doing so, they argue, she would avoid the fate of her only two longer-serving predecessors, Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963) and Helmut Kohl (1982-1998), both of whom overstayed their effectiveness and their welcome.

Mrs Merkel, however, gives every impression of being focused not on a graceful exit but on rising to her biggest challenge. A quantum chemist by background, she takes a scientific approach to intellectual conundrums, cutting them into their component parts. She enjoys the challenge of doing so even-perhaps especially - when the problem is as large and complex as the latest crisis. If she has eyes on some high international office it can surely wait; she is only 6l. When she failed to win the Nobel peace prize last month, after being rumoured to be the favourite, she appeared more relieved than disappointed; she has no yen for global recognition that might, as was the case with Barack Obama, make things harder domestically.

Moreover, she is all but assured of a forth term. At present the parties to the left of the CDU - the Social Democrats, the Green party and The Left - have a narrow majority in parliament; they do not make up the government because The Left, descended from East Germany's communist party, remains a pariah. An anti-refugee shift in 2017 would probably deprive the left of this notional majority and bring in the Alternative for Germany on the right, leaving Mrs Merkel in the middle and, barring an unprecedented CDU collapse, the leader of the largest party. She would thus be free to set about forming a centrist coalition (she has ruled out ever governing with the Alternative).

Black and green all over

The Greens may be her likeliest partners. They are hungry for power, and a CDU-Green state government in Hesse that some regard as a warm-up for a national deal is working well. That such a deal is possible reflects the fact that in her 15 years as leader of the Christian Democrats Mrs Merkel has nudged her party leftward to squat on centre ground. Where once the CDU stood for patriarchy and the traditional family, it now accepts civil unions for gays and lesbians, boardroom quotas for women and a legal right to creches so that mothers can work.

And, in an about-face after the disaster at Fukushima in 2011, Mrs Merkel ended the CDU's long support for nuclear energy with a decision to turn off Germany's nuclear plants by 2022. There were many who saw in that u-turn a telltale "Merkevellian" streak. German public opinion already favoured phasing out nuclear power. Mrs Merkel, while appearing spontaneous, neatly brought her party into line with an emerging consensus and neutered the Greens' main campaign issue. The CDU and the Greens are now on the same side in trying to transform Germany into a nation powered by renewables.

Combining such guile with unideological pragmatism has served Mrs Merkel well in her "grand coalitions" with the Social Democrats. To keep things stable, Mrs Merkel has conceded some policies that she is thought to consider dim-witted. For example, the pension age for some workers was lowered from 65 to 63, which is insane given the ageing population. But Mrs Merkel calculated that costs of the insanity were manageable and the political capital that would have been required to stymie it was needed for bigger problems.

By that logic the refugee crisis, which Mrs Merkel has described as greater than that of the Euro Zone, and on a par with the turmoil of reunification in 1990, will have her reaching deep into her reserves. She stands ready to do so. 

It is one of the few policy areas where this daughter of a Protestant pastor thinks in terms of non-negotiable principles. 

Others include the security of Israel, which she called part of Germany's raison d'etat in an address to the Knesset in 2008, European harmony and the transatlantic alliance. She viscerally opposes Mr Putin's transgression across internationally agreed borders in Ukraine. And now she sees succour for people fleeing war as a categorical imperative.

Mrs Merkel understands the pressure this puts on Germany. Municipal governments are overwhelmed by the challenges of finding accommodation. Schools are straining to integrate refugee children who speak no German. And there are legitimate questions about whether Germany can culturally integrate so many Muslims into a society that values sexual equality and free speech. There is a great deal on which to spend carefully nurtured political capital (not to mention cash).

In managing all this here is room for some judicious walking back from the heady days of September. Hurried legislation this autumn has tightened some rules. All Balkan countries are now considered "safe", which makes it easier to reject and deport asylum applicants from that region. Cash allowances to refugees are being replaced by vouchers, in the hope that this will reduce incentives for economic migrants. On November 1st she also did her best to freeze the conflict with Mr Seehofer, hashing out six pages of joint positions that he can trumpet as a victory to his supporters in Bavaria. Many of them, such as joint border patrols with Austria, have little more than symbolic value.

At the European level, Mrs Merkel's task is trickier. For a long time she opposed the relocation of asylum-seekers between EU states. Only since September, when Germany itself became the centre of the crisis, did Mrs Merkel begin pushing for large-scale and formal solidarity. So far the EU has agreed to share only 160,000 asylum-seekers, a comparatively modest number. Her demands for more solidarity have run into hard walls, especially with the eastern countries.

Merkelling no more

The roles defined by the Euro crisis have thus reversed; Germany needs help and is finding other member states to be recalcitrant. Mrs Merkel needs to play the supplicant. But in reality, she remains Europe's indispensable leader. Among other things, she has the most clout to help reimpose order on the EU's frontier with Turkey. Already she has softened her opposition to eventual Turkish membership in the EU and her criticism of Mr Erddgan's encroachments on free speech. She hopes that Turkey's election on November 1st, in which Mr Erdogan's party won an absolute majority, will allow him to press forward with a deal whereby the EU gives Turkey lots of money, and perhaps visa-free travel, while Turkey agrees to hold the 2m [million] refugees already there.

The ultimate causes of the refugee crisis are neither Mrs Merkel's fault nor in her control. She cannot end the civil wars and proxy conflicts in the Middle East. Bernd Ulrich, a German pundit, puts it nicely: Mrs Merkel "did not make history in early September, the refugees did. She only acknowledged history." 

But her legacy will be determined by whether she can hold together Germany and the EU as they absorb this shock. For a woman who spent half her life behind the intra-German wall, a Europe of fences and barbed wire would be a failure. Keeping Germany open and tolerant inside an EU true to its humanitarian founding values is not her policy. It is her mission. ■








Keith Hunt



8. Charity never fails. Paul here proceeds to illustrate the value of love, from its permanency as compared with other valued endowments. It is valuable, and is to be sought because it will always abide; may be always exercised; is adapted to all circumstances, and to all worlds in which we may be placed, or in which we may dwell. The word rendered fails denotes properly to fall out of, to fall from or off; and may be applied to the stars of heaven falling (Mark 13:25), or to flowers that fall or fade (James 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:24), or to chains falling from the hands, etc; Acts 7:7. Here it means to fall away, to fail; to be without effect, to cease to be in existence. The expression may mean that it will be adapted to all the situations of life, and is of a nature to be always exercised; or it may mean that it will continue to all eternity, and be exercised in heaven for ever. The connection demands that the latter should be regarded as the true interpretation; see ver. 13. The sense is, that while other endowments of the Holy Spirit must soon cease and be valueless, love would abide, and would always exist. The argument is, that we ought to seek that which is of enduring value; and that, therefore, love should be preferred to those endowments of the Spirit on which so high a value had been set by the Corinthians. 

But whether there be prophecies. That is, the gift of prophecy, or the power of speaking as a prophet; that is, of delivering the truth of God in an intelligible manner under the influence of inspiration: the gift of being a public speaker, of instructing and edifying the church, and foretelling future events; see Note, chap. 14:1. They shall fail. The gift shall cease to be exercised; shall be abolished, come to naught. There shall be no further use for this gift in the light and glory of the world above, and it shall cease. God shall be the teacher there. And as there will be no need of confirming the truth of religion by the prediction of future events, and no need of warning against impending dangers there, the gift of foretelling future events will be of course unknown. In heaven, also, there will be no need that the faith of God's people shall be encouraged, or their devotions excited, by such exhortations and instructions as are needful now; and the endowment of prophecy will be, therefore, unknown. 

If there be tongues. The power of speaking foreign languages. They shall cease. Macknight supposes this means that they shall cease in the church after the gospel shall have been preached to all nations. But the more natural interpretation is, to refer it to the future life; since the main idea which Paul is urging here is the value of love above all other endowments, from the fact that it would be abiding, or permanent—an idea which is more certainly and fully met by a reference to the future world than by a reference to the state of things in the church on earth. If it refers to heaven, it means that the power of communicating thoughts there will not be by the medium of learned and foreign tongues. What will be the mode is unknown. But as the diversity of tongues is one of the fruits of sin (Gen. xi.), it is evident that in those who are saved there will be deliverance from all the disadvantages which have resulted from the confusion of tongues. Yet love will not cease to be necessary; and love will live for ever. 

Whether there be knowledge; see Note, chap, 14: 8. This refers, I think, to knowledge as we now possess it. It cannot mean that there will be no knowledge in heaven; for there must be a vast increase of knowledge in that world among all its inhabitants. The idea in the passage here, I think, is, "All the knowledge which we now possess, valuable as it is, will be obscured and lost, and rendered comparatively valueless, in the fuller splendours of the eternal world; as the feeble light of the stars, beautiful and valuable as it is, vanishes, or is lost in the splendours of the rising sun. The knowledge which we now have is valuable, as the gift of prophecy and the power of speaking foreign languages is valuable, but it will be lost in the brighter visions of the world above. That this is the sense is evident from what Paul says in illustration of the sentiment in ver. 9,10. Now we know in part. What we deem ourselves acquainted with, we imperfectly understand. There are many obscurities and many difficulties. But in that future world we shall know distinctly and clearly (ver. 12); and then the knowledge which we now possess will appear so dim and obscure, that it will seem to have vanished away and disappeared, Macknight and others understand this of the knowledge of the mysteries of the Old Testament, or "the inspired knowledge of the ancient revelations, which should be abolished when the church should have attained its mature state;" a most … frigid interpretation. It is true, also, that not only shall our imperfect knowledge seem to have vanished in the superior light and glory of the eternal world but that much of that which here passes for knowledge shall be then unknown. Much of that which is called science is "falsely so called;" and much that is connected with literature that has attracted so much attention, will be unknown in the eternal world. It is evident that much that is connected with criticism, and the knowledge of language, with the different systems of mental philosophy which are erroneous; perhaps much that is connected with anatomy, physiology, and geology; and much of the science which now is connected with the arts, and which is of use only as tributary to the arts, will be then unknown. Other subjects may rise into importance which are now unknown; and possibly things connected with science which are now regarded as of the least importance will then become objects of great moment, and ripen and expand into sciences that shall contribute much to the eternal happiness of heaven. The essential idea in this passage is, that all the knowledge which we now possess shall lose its effulgence, be dimmed and lost in the superior light of heaven. But love shall live there; and we should, therefore, seek that which is permanent and eternal.

9. For we know in part. Comp. Note on chap. 12:27. This expression means "only in part;" that is, imperfectly. Our knowledge here is imperfect and obscure. It may, therefore, all vanish in the eternal world amidst its superior brightness; and we should not regard that as of such vast value which is imperfect and obscure … This idea of the obscurity and imperfection of our knowledge, as compared with heaven, the apostle illustrates (ver. 11) by comparing it with the knowledge which a child has, compared with that in maturer years; and (ver. 12) by the knowledge which we have in looking through a glass— an imperfect medium—compared with that which we have in looking closely and directly at an object without any medium. And we prophesy in part. This does not mean that we partly know the truths of religion, and partly conjecture or guess at them; or that we know only a part of them, and conjecture the remainder. But the apostle is showing the imperfection of the prophetic gift; and he observes, that there is the same imperfection which attends knowledge. It is only in part; it is imperfect; it is indistinct, compared with the full view of truth in heaven; it is obscure, and all that is imparted by that gift will soon become dim and lost in the superior brightness and glory of the heavenly world. The argument is, that we ought not to seek so anxiously that which is so imperfect and obscure, and which must soon vanish away; but we should rather seek that love which is permanent, expanding, and eternal.

10. But when that which is perfect is come. Does come; or shall come. This proposition is couched in a general form. It means that when any thing which is perfect is seen or enjoyed, then that which is imperfect is forgotten, laid aside, or vanishes. Thus, in the full and perfect light of day, the imperfect and feeble light of the stars vanishes. The sense here is, that in heaven—a state of absolute perfection—that which is "in part," or which is imperfect, shall be lost in superior brightness. All imperfection will vanish. And all that we here possess that is obscure shall be lost in the superior and perfect glory of that eternal world. All our present unsatisfactory modes of obtaining knowledge shall be unknown. All shall be clear, bright, and eternal.

11. 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 denotes properly a babe, 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. (BARNES  LIKE  MANY  OF  HIS  DAY  AND  ALSO  TODAY,  BELIEVED  WE  WOULD  "GET  TO  HEAVEN"  WHERE  THE  FATHER  AND  CHRIST  ARE  NOW  -  SUCH  IS  NOT  THE  CASE;  WE  DO  NOT  GO  TO  HEAVEN  OR  HELL  UPON  DEATH.  THE  TRUTH  OF  DEATH  AND  THAT  HEAVEN  IS  COMING  TO EARTH,  IS  EXPOUNDED  WITH  MANY  STUDIES  ON  MY  WEBSITE  -  Keith Hunt). 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. Marg. Reasoned. The word may mean either. I thought, argued, reasoned in a weak and inconclusive manner. My thoughts, and plans, and argumentations were … 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."—Beivsteris Life of Newton, pp. 300, 301. Ed. New York, 1832.

12. For now we see through a glass. Paul here makes use of another illustration to show the imperfection of our knowledge here. Compared with what it will be in the future world, it is like the imperfect view of an object which we have in looking through an obscure and opaque medium compared with the view which we have when we look at it "face to face." The word glass here means properly a mirror, a looking-glass. The mirrors of the ancients were usually made of polished metal; Ex. 38:8; Job 37:18. Many have supposed (see Doddridge, in loc. and Robinson's Lexicon) that the idea here is that of seeing objects by reflection from a mirror, which reflects only their imperfect forms. But this interpretation does not well accord with the apostle's idea of seeing things obscurely. The most natural idea is that of seeing objects by an imperfect medium, by looking through something in contemplating them. It is, therefore, probable that he refers to those transparent substances which the ancients had, and which they used in their windows occasionally; such as thin plates of horn, transparent stone, etc. Windows were often made of the lapis specularis described by Pliny (36: 22), which was pellucid, and which admitted of being split into thin laminae or scales, probably the same as miea. Humboldt mentions such kinds of stone as being used in South America in church windows.— Bloomfield. It is not improbable, I think, that even in the time of Paul the ancients had the knowledge of glass, though it was probably at first very imperfect and obscure. There is some reason to believe that glass was known to the Phenicians, the Tyrians, and the Egyptians. Pliny says that it was first discovered by accident. A merchant vessel, laden with nitre or fossil alkali, having been driven on shore on the coast of Palestine near the river Belus, the crew went in search of provisions, and accidentally supported the kettles on which they dressed their food upon pieces of fossil alkali. The river sand above which this operation was performed was vitrified by its union with the alkali, and thus produced glass. —See Edin. Ency., art. Glass. It is known that glass was in quite common use about the commencement of the Christian era. In the reign of Tiberius an artist had his house demolished for making glass malleable. About this time drinking vessels were made commonly of glass; and glass bottles for holding wine and flowers were in common use. That glass was in quite common use has been proved by the remains that have been discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. There is, therefore, no impropriety in supposing that Paul here may have alluded to the imperfect and discoloured glass which was then in extensive use; for we have no reason to suppose that it was then as transparent as that which is now made. It was, doubtless, an imperfect and obscure medium, and, therefore, well adapted to illustrate the nature of our knowledge here compared with what it will be in heaven. Darkly. Marg. In a riddle. The word means a riddle;  an enigma; then an obscure intimation. In a riddle a statement is made with some resemblance to the truth; a puzzling question is proposed, and the solution is left to conjecture. Hence it means, as here, obscurely, darkly, imperfectly. Little is known; much is left to conjecture;—a very accurate account of most of that which passes for knowledge. Compared with heaven, our knowledge here much resembles the obscure intimations in an enigma compared with clear statement and manifest truth. But then. In the fuller revelations in heaven. Face to face. As when one looks upon an object openly, and not through an obscure and dark medium. It here means, therefore, clearly, without obscurity. I know in part; ver. 9. But then shall I know. My knowledge shall be clear and distinct. I shall have a clear view of those objects which are now so indistinct and obscure. I shall be in the presence of those objects about which I now inquire; I shall see them; I shall have a clear acquaintance with the divine perfections, plans, and character. This does not mean that he would know every thing, or that he would be omniscient; but that in regard to those points of inquiry in which be was then interested, he would have a view that would be distinct and clear—a view that would be clear, arising from the fact that he would be present with them, and permitted to see them, instead of surveying them at a distance, and by imperfect mediums. Even as also 1 am known. In the same manner, not to the same extent. It does not mean that he would know God as clearly and as fully as God would know him; for his remark does not relate to the extent, but to the manner and the comparative clearness of his knowledge. He would see things as he was now seen and would be seen there. It would be face to face. He would be in their presence. It would not be where he would be seen clearly and distinctly, and himself compelled to look upon all objects confusedly and obscurely, and through an imperfect medium. But he would be with them; would see them face to face; would see them without any medium; would see them in the same manner as they would see him…. the inhabitants of the heavenly world, have this knowledge: and when we are there, we shall see the truths, not at a distance and obscurely, but plainly and openly.

13. And now abides - Remains. The word means properly to remain, continue, abide; and is applied to persons remaining in a place, in a state or condition, in contradistinction from removing or changing their place, or passing away. Here it must be understood to be used to denote permanency, when the other things of which he had spoken had passed away; and the sense is, that faith, hope, and love would remain when the gift of tongues should cease, and the need of prophecy, that is, these should survive them all. And the connection certainly requires us to understand him as saying that faith, hope, and love would survive all those things of which he had been speaking, and must, therefore, include knowledge (ver. 8, 9,), as well as miracles and the other endowments of the Holy Spirit. They would survive them all; would be valuable when they should cease; and should, therefore, be mainly sought; and of these the greatest and most important is love. Most commentators have supposed that Paul is speaking here only of this life, and that he means to say that in this life these three exist; that "faith, hope, and charity exist in this scene only, but that in the future world faith and hope will be done away, and therefore the greatest of these is charity."—Bloomfield. See also Doddridge, Macknight, Rosenmuller, Clarke, etc. But to me it seems evident that Paul means to say that faith, hope, and love will survive all those other things of which he had been speaking; that they would vanish away, or be lost in superior attainments and endowments; that the time would come when they would be useless; but that faith, hope, and love would then remain; but of these, for important reasons, love was the most valuable. Not because it would endure the longest, for the apostle does not intimate that, but because it is more important to the welfare of others, and is a more eminent virtue than they are. 

As the strain of the argument requires us to look to another state, to a world where prophecy shall cease and knowledge shall vanish away, so the same strain of argumentation requires us to understand him as saying that faith, and hope, and love will subsist there; and that there, as here, love will be of more importance than faith and hope…. But the greatest of these is charity. Not because it is to endure the longest, but because it is the more important virtue; it exerts a wider influence; it is more necessary to the happiness of society; it overcomes more evils. It is the great principle which is to bind the universe in harmony, which unites God to his creatures, and his creatures to himself, and which binds and confederates all holy beings with each other. It is therefore more important, because it pertains to society to the great kingdom of which God is the head, and because it enters into the very conception of a holy and happy organization. Faith and hope rather pertain to individuals; love pertains to society, and is that without which the kingdom of God cannot stand. Individuals may be saved by faith and hope; but the whole immense kingdom of God depends on love. It is, therefore, of more importance than all other graces and endowments; more important than prophecy and miracles, and the gift of tongues and knowledge, because it will survive them all; more important than faith and hope, because, although it may co-exist with them, and though they all shall live for ever, yet LOVE enters into the very nature of the kingdom of God; binds society together; unites the Creator and the creature ; and blends the interests of all the redeemed, and of the angels, and of God, into one.





Keith Hunt



5. Does not behave itself unseemly… This word occurs in chap. 7:36. See Note on that verse. It means to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks   that which is proper or becoming in the circumstances and relations of life in which we are placed. It prompts to the due respect for superiors, producing veneration and respect for their opinions; and it prompts to a proper regard for inferiors, not despising their rank, their poverty, their dress, their dwellings, their pleasures, their views of happiness; it prompts to the due observance of all the relations of life, as those of a husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister,   son, daughter, and produces a proper conduct and deportment in all these relations. The proper idea of the phrase is, that it prompts to all that is fit and becoming in life; and would save from all  that is unfit and unbecoming. There may be included in the word also the idea that it would prevent any thing that would be a violation of decency or delicacy. It is well known that the Cynics were in the habit of setting at defiance all the usual ideas of decency; and indeed this was, and is, commonly done in the temples of idolatry and pollution every where. Love would prevent this, because it teaches to promote the happiness of all, and of course to avoid every thing that would offend purity of taste and enjoyment. In the same way it prompts to the fit discharge of all the relative duties, because it leads to the desire to promote the happiness of all. And in the same manner it would lead a man to avoid profane and indecent language, improper allusions, double meanings and inuendoes, coarse and vulgar expressions, because such things pain the ear, and offend the heart of purity and delicacy. There is much that is indecent and unseemly still in society that would be corrected by Christian love. What a change would be produced if, under the influence of that love, nothing should be said or done in the various relations of life but what would be seemly, fit, and decent and what a happy influence would the prevalence of this love have on the intercourse of mankind. 

Seeks not her own. There is, perhaps, not a more striking or important expression in the New Testament than this; or one that more beautifully sets forth the nature and power of that love which is produced by true religion. Its evident meaning is, that it is not selfish; it does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly; it does not seek its own happiness to the injury of others. This expression is not, however, to be pressed as if Paul meant to teach that a man should not regard his own welfare at all; or have no respect to his health, his property, his happiness, or his salvation. Every man is bound to pursue such a course of life as will ultimately secure his own salvation. But it is not simply or mainly that he may be happy that he is to seek it. It is, that he may thus glorify God his Saviour; and accomplish the great design which his Maker has had in view in his creation and redemption. If his happiness is the main or leading thing, it proves that he is supremely selfish; and selfishness is not religion.  The expresssion here used is comparative, and denotes that this is not the main, the chief, the only thing which one who is under the influence of love or true religion will seek. True religion, or love to others, will prompt us to seek their welfare with self-denial, and personal sacrifice and toil. Similar expressions, to denote comparison, occur frequently in the sacred Scriptures. Thus, where it is said (Hos. 7:6; comp. Micah 6:8; Mat. 9:13), "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;" it is meant, "I desired mercy more than I desired sacrifice; I did not wish that mercy should be forgotten or excluded in the attention to the mere ceremonies of religion." The sense here is, therefore, that a man under the influence of true love or religion does not make his own happiness or salvation the main or leading thing; he does not make all other things subservient to this; he seeks the welfare of others, and desires to promote their happiness and salvation, even at great personal sacrifice and self-denial. It is the characteristic of the man, not that he promotes his own worth, health, happiness, or salvation, but that he lives to do good to others. Love to others will prompt to that, and that alone. There is not a particle of selfishness in true love. It seeks the welfare of others, and of all others. That true religion will produce this, is evident every where in the New Testament; and especially in the life of the Lord Jesus, whose whole biography is comprehended in one expressive declaration, "who went about doing good;" Acts 10:38. It follows from this statement, (1.) That no man is a Christian who lives for himself alone; or who makes it his main business to promote his own happiness and salvation. (2.) No man is a Christian who does not deny himself; or no one who is not willing to sacrifice his own comfort, time, wealth, and ease, to advance the welfare of mankind. (3.) It is this principle which is yet to convert the world. Long since the whole world would have been converted, had all Christians been under its influence. And when  all Christians  make it their grand object not to seek their own, but the good of others; when true charity shall occupy its appropriate place in the heart of every professed, child of God, then this world will be speedily converted to the Saviour.  (ACTUALLY  NOT  SO  -  BARNES  DID  NOT  KNOW  THE  PLAN  OF  SALVATION  FOR  MANKIND  BY  GOD;  ONLY  SOME  ARE  CALLED,  AND  EVEN  LESS  "CHOSEN"  -  THIS  IS  NOT  THE  ONLY  AGE  FOR  SALVATION.  ROMANS  9  THROUGH  11  SHOWS  GOD'S  CALLING  AS  OF  TODAY,  THE  REST  ARE  LEFT  IN  SPIRITUAL  BLINDNESS  UNTIL  ALL  TO  BE  CALLED  IN  GOD'S  TIME  -  THE  STUDIES  "CALLED  AND  CHOSEN  -  WHEN?"  AND  "THE  GREAT  WHITE  THRONE  JUDGMENT"  EXPLAIN  THE  SALVATION  PLAN  [on  my  website:]  -  Keith Hunt)…. 

Is not easily provoked… This word occurs in the New Testament only in one other place. Acts 17:16, "His spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." See Note on that place. The word properly means to sharpen by, or with, or on any thing… and may be applied to the act of sharpening a knife or sword; then it means to sharpen the mind, temper, courage of any one; to excite, impel, die. Here it means evidently to rouse to anger; to excite to indignation or wrath. Tindal renders it, "is not provoked to anger." Our translation does not exactly convey the sense. The word "easily" is not expressed in the original. The translators have inserted it to convey the idea that he who is under the influence of love, though he may be provoked, that is, injured, or though there might be incitements to anger, yet that he would not be roused, or readily give way to it. The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion is not prone to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate. He is calm, serious, patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured, yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings. This, Paul says, would be produced by love. And this is apparent. If we are under the influence of benevolence, or love to any one, we shall not give way to sudden bursts of feeling.    We shall look kindly on his actions; put the best construction on his motives; deem it possible that we have mistaken the nature or the reasons of his conduct; seek or desire explanation (Mat. 5:23, 24); wait till we can look at the case in all its bearings; and suppose it possible that he may be influenced by good motives, and that his conduct will admit a satisfactory explanation. That true  religion is designed to produce this, is apparent every where in the New Testament, and especially from the example of the Lord Jesus; that it actually does produce it, is apparent from all who come under its influence in any proper manner. The effect of religion is no where else more striking and apparent than in changing a temper naturally quick, excitable, and irritable, to one that is calm, and gentle, and subdued. A consciousness of the presence of God will do much to produce this state of mind; and if we truly loved all men, we should be soon angry with none.

Thinks no evil. That is, puts the best possible construction on the motives and the conduct of others. This expression also is comparative. It means that love, or that a person under the influence of love, is not malicious, censorious, disposed to find fault, or to impute improper motives to others. It is not only "not easily provoked" not  soon  excited, it is not disposed to think that there was any evil intention even in cases which might tend to irritate or exasperate us.    It is not disposed to think that there was any evil in the case; or that what was done was with any improper intention or design; that is, it puts the best possible construction on the conduct of others, and supposes, as far as can be done, that it was in consistency with honesty, truth, friendship, and love. The Greek word is that which is commonly rendered impute, and is correctly rendered here thinks. It means, does not reckon, charge, or impute to a man any evil intention or design. We desire to think well of the man whom we love; nor will we think ill of his motives, opinions, or conduct until we are compelled to do so by the most irrefragable evidence. True religion, therefore, will prompt to charitable judging; nor is there a more striking evidence of the destitution of true religion than a disposition to impute the worst motives and opinions to a man. 

Rejoices not in iniquity. Does not rejoice over the sins of other men; does not take delight when they are guilty of crime, or when, in any manner, they fall into sin. It does not find pleasure in hearing others accused of sin, and in having it proved that they committed it. It does not find a malicious pleasure in the report that they have done wrong; or in following up that report, and finding it established. Wicked men often find pleasure in this (Rom. 1:32), and rejoice when others have fallen into sin, and have disgraced and ruined themselves. Men of the world often find a malignant pleasure in the report, and in the evidence that a member of the Church has brought dishonour on his profession. A man often rejoices when an enemy, a persecutor, or a slanderer has committed some crime, and when he has shown an improper spirit, uttered a rash expression, or taken some step which shall involve him in ignominy. But love  does none of these things. It does not desire that an enemy, a persecutor, or a slanderer should do evil, or should disgrace and ruin himself. It does not rejoice, but grieves, when a professor of religion, or an enemy of religion—when a personal friend or foe has done any thing wrong. It neither loves the wrong, nor the fact that it has been done. And perhaps there is no greater triumph of the gospel than in its enabling a man to rejoice that even his enemy and persecutor in any respect does well; or to rejoice that he is in any way honoured and respected among men. Human nature, without the gospel, manifests a different feeling; and it is only as the heart is subdued by the gospel, and filled with universal benevolence, that it is brought to rejoice when all men do well. 

Rejoices in the truth. The word truth here stands opposed to iniquity and means virtue, piety, goodness. It does not rejoice in the vices, but in the virtues of others. It is pleased, it rejoices when they do well. It is pleased when those who differ from us conduct themselves in any manner in such a way as to please God, and to advance their own reputation and happiness. They who are under the influence of that love rejoice that good is done, and the truth defended and advanced, whoever may be the instrument; rejoice that others are successful in their plans of doing good, though they do not act with us; rejoice that other men have a reputation well earned for virtue and purity of life, though they may differ from us in opinion, and maybe connected with a different denomination. They do not rejoice when other denominations of Christians fall into error; or when their plans are blasted; or when they are calumniated, and oppressed, and reviled. By whomsoever good is done, or wheresoever, it is to them a matter of rejoicing; and by whomsoever evil is done, or wheresoever, it is to them a matter of grief; see Phil. 1:14—18. The reason of this is, that all sin, error, and vice will ultimately ruin the happiness of any one; and as love desires their happiness, it desires that they should walk in the ways of virtue, and is grieved when they do not. What a change would the prevalence of this feeling produce in the conduct and happiness of mankind! How much ill-natured joy would it repress at the faults of others? How much would it do to repress the pains which a man often takes to circulate reports disadvantageous to his adversary; to find out and establish some flaw in his character; to prove that he has said or done something disgraceful and evil! And how much would it do even among Christians, in restraining them from rejoicing at the errors, mistakes, and improprieties of the friends of revivals of religion, and in leading them to mourn over their errors in secret, instead of taking a malicious pleasure in promulgating them to the world! This would be a very different world if there were none to rejoice in iniquity; and the church would be a different church if there were none in its bosom but those who rejoiced in the truth, and in the efforts of humble and self-denying piety.

7. Bears all things. Comp. Note, chap. 9:12. Doddridge renders this, "covers all things." The word here used properly means to cover (from a covering, roof; Mat. 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 Thess. 3:1,5. 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 ver. 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 adisposition 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 be 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. 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 men, yet that there is a hope that matters may be explained and made clear; that the difficulties may be made to vanish; and that the conduct of others maybe 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 intercourse; 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 any thing to the contrary unless compelled to do so. 

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

Friday, November 27, 2015




Chapter  13  is  so  fine  a  chapter  for  the  nuts  and  bolts  of  true  Christianity; some  emphasis  from  myself  here  and  there.

1  Corinthians


This chapter is a continuation of the subject commenced in chap. 12. In that chapter Paul had introduced the subject of the various endowments which the Holy Spirit confers on Christians, and had shown that these endowments, however various they were, were conferred in such a manner as best to promote the edification and welfare of the church. In the close of that chapter (ver. 31) he had said that it was lawful for them to desire the most eminent of the gifts conferred by the Spirit; and yet says that there was one endowment that was more valuable than all others, and that might be obtained by all, and that he proposed to recommend to them. That was love; and to illustrate its nature, excellency, and power, is the design of this exquisitely beautiful and tender chapter. 

In doing this, he dwells particularly on three points or views of the excellency of love; and the chapter may be regarded as consisting of three portions.

I. The excellency of love above the power of speaking the languages of men and of angels; above the power of understanding all mysteries; above all faith, even of the highest kind ; and above the virtue of giving all one's goods to feed the poor, or one's body to be burned. All these endowments would be valueless without love, ver. 1—3.

II. A statement of the characteristics of love; or its happy influences on the mind and heart, ver. 4—7.

III. A comparison of love with the gift of prophecy, and with the power of speaking foreign languages, and with knowledge, ver. 8—13. 

In this portion of the chapter, Paul shows that love is superior to them all.….

1. Though I speak with the tongues of men. Though I should be able to speak all the languages which are spoken by men. To speak foreign languages was regarded then, as it is now, as a rare and valuable endowment….The word "I" here is used in a popular sense, and the apostle designs to illustrate, as he often does, his idea by a reference to himself, which, it is evident, he wishes to be understood as applying to those whom he addressed. It is evident that among the Corinthians the power of speaking a foreign language was regarded as a signally valuable endowment; and there can be no doubt that some of the leaders in that church valued themselves especially on it; see chap. 14. To correct this, and to show them that all this would be vain without love, and to induce them, therefore, to seek for love as a more valuable endowment, was the design of the apostle in this passage….And of angels. The language of angels; such as they speak. Were I endowed with the faculty of eloquence and persuasion which we attribute to them; and the power of speaking to any of the human family with the power which they have. The language of angels here seems to be used to denote the highest power of using language, or of the most elevated faculty of eloquence and speech. It is evidently derived from the idea that the angels are superior in all respects to men ; that they must have endowments in advance of all which man can have. It may possibly have reference to the idea that they must have some mode of communicating their ideas one to another, and that this dialect or mode must be far superior to that which is employed by man. Man is imperfect. All his modes of communication are defective. We attribute to the angels the idea of perfection; and the idea here is, that even though a man had a far higher faculty of speaking languages than would be included in the endowment of speaking all the languages of men as men speak them, and even had the higher and more perfect mode of utterance which the angels have, and yet were destitute of love, all would be nothing…..And have not charity. And have not love. This is the proper and usual meaning of the Greek word. The English word charity is used in a great variety of senses ; and some of them cannot be included in the meaning of the word here. It means, (1.) In a general sense, love, benevolence, good-will; (2.) In theology, it includes supreme love to God and universal good-will to men; (3.) In a more particular sense, it denotes the love and kindness which springs from the natural relations, as the charities of father, son, brother; (4.) Liberality to the poor, to the needy, and to objects of beneficence, as we speak commonly of charity, meaning almsgiving, and of charitable societies; (5.) Candour liberality in judging of men's actions indulgence to their opinions; attributing to them good motives and intentions; a disposition to judge of them favourably, and to put on their words and actions the best construction. This is a very common signification of the word in our language now, and this is one modification of the word love, as all such charity is supposed to proceed from love to our neighbour, and a desire that he should have a right to his opinions as well as we to ours. The Greek word means properly love, affection, regard, good-will, benevolence. It is applied, (a) To love in general; (b) To the love of God and of Christ; (c) The love which God or Christ exercises towards Christians, (Rom. 5. 5; Eph. 2:4; 2 Thess. 3:5); (d) The effect, or proof of beneficence, favour conferred; Eph. 1:15; 2 Thess. 2:10; 1 John 3:1…. The love which is referred to in this chapter, and illustrated, is mainly love to man (ver. 4—7); though there is no reason to doubt that the apostle meant also to include in the general term love to God, or love in general. His illustrations, however, are chiefly drawn from the effects of love towards men. It properly means love, to the whole church, love to the whole world; love to all creatures which arises from true piety, and which centres ultimately in God.—Doddridge. 

It is this love whose importance Paul, in this beautiful chapter, illustrates as being more valuable than the highest possible endowments without it. It is not necessary to suppose that any one had these endowments, or had the power of speaking with the tongues of men and angels; or had the gift of prophecy, or had the highest degree of faith, who had no love. The apostle supposes a case; and says that if it were so, if all these were possessed without love, they would be comparatively valueless; or that love was a more valuable endowment than all the others would be without it. I am become. I am. I shall be. As sounding brass. Probably a trumpet. The word properly means brass; then that which is made of brass; a trumpet, or wind instrument of any kind made of brass or copper. The sense is that of a sounding or resounding instrument, making a great noise, apparently of great importance, and yet without vitality; a mere instrument; a base metal that merely makes a sound. Thus noisy, valueless, empty, and without vitality would be the power of speaking all languages without love. Or a tinkling cymbal. A cymbal giving a clanging, clattering sound. The word rendered "tinkling" …. properly denotes a loud cry, or shout, such as is used in battle; and then also a loud cry or mourning, cries of lamentation or grief; the loud shriek of sorrow, Mark v, 38, "Them that wept and wailed greatly." It then means a clanging or clattering sound, such as was made on a cymbal. The cymbal is a well-known instrument, made of two pieces of brass or other metal, which, being struck together, gives a tinkling or clattering sound. Cymbals are commonly used in connection with other music. They make a tinkling, or clanging, with very little variety of sound.  The music is little adapted to produce emotion, or to excite feeling. There is no melody and no harmony. They were, therefore, well adapted to express the idea which the apostle wished to convey. The sense is, "If I could speak all languages, yet if I had not love, the faculty would be like the clattering, clanging sound of the cymbal, that contributes nothing to the welfare of others. It would all be hollow, vain, useless. It could neither save me nor others, any more than the notes of the trumpet, or the jingling of the cymbal, would promote salvation. Love is the vital principle; it is that without which all other endowments are useless and vain."

2. And though I have the gift of prophecy. And understand all mysteries…. This passage proves that it was one part of the prophetic office, as referred to here, to be able to understand and explain the mysteries of religion; that is, the things that were before unknown, or unrevealed. It does not refer to the prediction of future events, but to the great and deep truths connected with religion; the things that were unexplained in the old economy, the meaning of types and emblems ; and the obscure portions of the plan of redemption. All these might be plain enough if they were revealed; but there were many things connected with religion which God had not chosen to reveal to men. And all knowledge…. Though I knew every thing. Though I were acquainted fully with all the doctrines of religion; and were with all sciences and arts. And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains. Thould I should have the highest kind of faith. This is referred to by the Saviour (Mat. xvii. 20,) as the highest kind of faith; and Paul here had this fact doubtless in his eye; am nothing. All would be of no value.  It  would  not  save me. I should still be an unredeemed, unpardoned sinner. I should do good to no one; I should answer none of the great purposes which God has designed; I should not by all this secure my salvation. All would be in vain in regard to the great purpose of my existence. None of these things could be placed before God as a ground of acceptance in the day of judgment. Unless I should have love, I should still be lost. 

A somewhat similar idea is expressed by the Saviour, in regard to the day of judgment, in Mat. 7: 22, 23, "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity."


3. And though I bestow. The Greek word here …. meant properly to break off, and distribute in small portions; to feed by morsels; and may be applicable here to distributing one's property in small portions. Charity or alms to the poor, was usually distributed at one's gate (Luke 26:20,) or in some public place. Of course, if property was distributed in this manner, many more would be benefitted than if all were given to one person. There would be many more to be thankful, and to celebrate one's praises. This was regarded as a great virtue; and was often performed in a most ostentatious manner. It was a gratification to wealthy men who desired the praise of being benevolent, that many of the poor flocked daily to their houses to be fed; and against this desire of distinction, the Saviour directed some of his severest reproofs; see Mat. 6:1—4. To make the case as strong as possible, Paul says that if all that a man had were dealt out in this way, in small portions, so as to benefit as many as possible, and yet were not attended with true love towards God and towards man, it would be all false, hollow, hypocritical, and really of no value in regard to his own salvation. It would profit nothing. It would not be such an act as God would approve; it would be no evidence that the soul would be saved. Though good might be done to others, yet where the motive was wrong, it could not meet with the divine approbation, or be connected with his favour. And though I give my body to be burned. Evidently as a martyr, or a witness to the truth of religion. Though I should be willing to lay down my life in the most painful manner, and have not charity, it would profit me nothing. Many of the ancient prophets were called to suffer martyrdom, though there is no evidence that any of them were burned to death as martyrs. Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego were indeed thrown into a fiery furnace, because they were worshippers of the true God; but they were not consumed in the flame, Dan. 3:19—26; comp. Heb. 11:34. Though Christians were early persecuted, yet there is no evidence that they were burned as martyrs as early as this epistle was written. Nero is the first who is believed to have committed this horrible act; and under his reign, and during the persecution which he excited, Christians were covered with pitch, and set on fire to illuminate his gardens. It is possible that some Christians had been put to death in this manner when Paul wrote this epistle; but it is more probable that he refers to this as the most awful kind of death, rather than as any thing which had really happened. Subsequently, however, as all know, this was often done, and thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of Christians have been called to evince their attachment to religion in the flames. And have not charity. Have no love to God, or to men; have no true piety. If I do it from any selfish or sinister motive; if I do it from fanaticism, obstinacy, or vain-glory; if I am deceived in regard to my character …. It is not necessary to an explanation of this passage to suppose that this ever had been done, for the apostle only puts a supposable case. There is reason, however, to think that it has been done frequently; and that when the desire of martyrdom became the popular passion, and was believed to be connected infallibly with heaven, not a few have been willing to give themselves to the flames who never knew any thing of love to God or true piety. Grotius mentions the instance of Calanus, and of Peregrinus the philosopher, who did it. Although this was not the common mode of martyrdom in the time of Paul, and although it was then perhaps unknown, it is remarkable that he should have referred to that which in subsequent times became the common mode of death on account of religion. In his time, and before, the common mode was by stoning, by the sword, or by crucifixion. Subsequently, however, all these were laid aside, and burning became the common way in which martyrs suffered. So it was, extensively, under Nero: and so it was, exclusively, under the Inquisition; and so it was in the persecutions in England in the time of Mary. Paul seems to have been directed to specify this rather than stoning, the sword, or crucifixion, in order that, in subsequent times, martyrs might be led to examine themselves, and to see whether they were actuated by true love to God in being willing to be consumed in the flames. It profiteth me nothing. If there is no true piety, there can be no benefit in this to my soul. It will not save me. If I have no true love to God, I must perish, after all. Love, therefore, is more valuable and precious than all these endowments. Nothing can supply its place; nothing can be connected with salvation without it.

4. Charity suffers long. Paul now proceeds to illustrate the nature of love, or to show how it is exemplified. His illustrations are all drawn from its effect in regulating our conduct towards others, or our intercourse with them. The reason why he made use of this illustration, rather than its nature as evinced towards God, was, probably, because it was especially necessary for them to understand in what way it should be manifested towards each other. There were contentions and strifes among them; there were of course suspicions, and jealousies, and heart-burnings; there would be unkind judging, the imputation of improper motives, and selfishness; there were envy, and pride, and boasting, all of which were inconsistent with love; and Paul therefore evidently designed to correct these evils, and to produce a different state of things by showing them what would be produced by the exercise of love. The word here used…. denotes longanimity, slowness to anger or passion; long-suffering, patient endurance, forbearance. It is opposed to haste; to passionate expressions and thoughts, and to irritability. It denotes the state of mind which can bear long- when oppressed, provoked, calumniated, and when one seeks to injure us; comp. Rom. 2: 4; 9:22; 2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15. And is kind. The word here used denotes to be good-natured, gentle, tender, affectionate. Love is benignant. It wishes well. It is not harsh, sour, morose, ill-natured. Tindal renders it, "is courteous." The idea is, that under all provocations and ill-usage it is gentle and mild. Hatred prompts to harshness, severity, unkindness of expression, anger, and a desire of revenge. But love is the reverse of all these. A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings. And as religion is love, and prompts to love, so it follows that it requires courtesy or true politeness, and will secure it; see 1 Pet. 3:8. If all men were under the influence of true religion, they would always be truly polite and courteous; for true politeness is nothing more than an expression of benignity, or a desire to promote the happiness of all around us. Envieth not. This word properly means to be zealous for or against any person or thing; i. e. to be eager for, or anxious for or against any one. It is used often in a good sense (1 Cor. 12:31; Note, 14:1,39; 2 Cor. 11:2, etc. ); but it may be used in a bad sense—to be zealous against a person; to be jealous of; to envy. Acts 7:9; 17:5; James 4:2,  "Ye kill and envy." It is in this sense, evidently, that it is used here, —as denoting zeal, or ardent desire against any person. The sense is, love does not envy others the happiness which they enjoy ; it delights in their welfare; and as their happiness is increased by their endowments, their rank, their reputation, their wealth, their health, their domestic comforts, their learning - those who are influenced by love rejoice in all this. They would not diminish it; they would not embarrass them in the possession; they would not detract from that happiness; they would not murmur or repine that they themselves are not so highly favoured.—To envy is to feel uneasiness, mortification, or discontent at the sight of superior happiness, excellence or reputation enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; and to fret oneself on account of his real or fancied superiority. Of course, it may be excited by any thing in which another excels, or in which he is more favoured than we are. It may be excited by superior wealth, beauty, learning, accomplishment, reputation, success. It may extend to any employment, or any rank in life. A man may be envied because he is happy while we are miserable; well, while we are sick; caressed, while we are neglected or overlooked; successful, while we meet with disappointment; handsome, while we are ill-formed; honoured with office, while we are overlooked. He may be envied because he has a better farm than we have, or is a more skilful mechanic, or a more successful physician, lawyer, or clergyman. Envy commonly lies in the same line of business, occupation, or rank. We do not usually envy a monarch, a conqueror, or a nobleman, unless we are aspiring to the same rank. The farmer does not usually envy the blacksmith, but another farmer; the blacksmith does not usually envy the schoolmaster, or the lawyer, but another man in the same line of business with himself. The physician envies another physician more learned or more successful; the lawyer, another lawyer; the clergyman, another clergyman. The fashionable female, who seeks admiration or flattery on account of accomplishment or beauty, envies another who is more distinguished and more successful in those things. And so the poet envies a rival poet; and the orator, a rival orator; and the statesman, a rival statesman. The correction of all these things is love. If we loved others; if we rejoiced in their happiness, we should not envy them. They are not to blame for these superior endowments; but if those endowments are the direct gift of God, we should be thankful that he has made others happy; if they are the fruit of their own industry, and virtue, and skill and application, we should esteem them the more, and value them the more highly. They have not injured us; and we should not be unhappy, or seek to injure them, because God has blessed them, or because they have been more industrious, virtuous, and successful than we have…. 

It Vaunteth not itself … (a boaster, braggart. Robinson.) The idea is that of boasting, bragging, vaunting. The word occurs no where else in the New Testament. Bloomfield supposes that it has the idea of acting precipitously, inconsiderately, incautiously; and this idea our translators have placed in the margin, "he is not rash." But most expositors suppose that it has the notion of boasting, or vaunting of one's own excellencies or endowments. This spirit proceeds from the idea of superiority over others; and is connected with a feeling of contempt or disregard for them. Love would correct this, because it would produce a desire that they should be happy—and to treat a man with contempt is not the way to make him happy; love would regard others with esteem—and to boast over them is not to treat them with esteem; it would teach us to treat them with affectionate regard—and no man who has affectionate regard for others is disposed to boast of his own qualities over them. Besides, love produces a state of mind just the opposite of a disposition to boast. It receives its endowments with gratitude; regards them as the gift of God; and is disposed to employ them not in vain boasting, but in purposes of utility, in doing good to all others on as wide a scale as possible. The boaster is not a man who does good. To boast of talents is not to employ them to advantage to others. It will be of no account in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and afflicted, or in saving the world. Accordingly, the man who does the most good is the least accustomed to boast; the man who boasts may be regarded as doing nothing else. Is not puffed up… This word means to blow, to puff, to pant; then to inflate with pride, and vanity, and self-esteem. See the word explained in the Note on chap, 8:1. It perhaps differs from the preceding word, inasmuch as that word denotes the expression of the feelings of pride, vanity, etc. and this word the feeling itself. A man may be very proud and vain, and not express it in the form of boasting. That state is indicated by this word. If he gives expression to this feeling, and boasts of his endowments, that is indicated by the previous word. Love would prevent this, as it would the former. It would destroy the feeling, as well as the expression of it. It would teach a man that others had good qualities as well as he; that they had high endowments as well as he; and would dispose him to concede to them full credit for all that they have, and  not  to be vain-glorious of his own. Besides, it is not the nature of love to fill the mind in this manner. Pride, vanity, and even knowledge (chap. 8:1), may swell the mind with the conviction of self-importance; but love is humble, meek, modest, unobtrusive. A brother that loves a sister is not filled with pride or vanity on account of it; a man that loves the whole world, and desires its salvation, is not filled with pride and vanity on account of it. Hence the Saviour, who had most love for the human race, was at the farthest possible remove from pride and vanity.