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1 Corinthians 12:31 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— But covet earnestly the best gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— But desire earnestly the greater gifts, and yet shew I unto you a way of more surpassing excellence.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Be envious, however, of the greater gifts; and, yet, a much more excellent way, unto you, I point out:—
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— and desire earnestly the better gifts; and yet a far excelling way do I shew to you:
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— But couet earnestly the best gifts: And yet shew I vnto you a more excellent way.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— But if you are emulous of great gifts, I will yet show you a way more admirable.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— And if ye are emulous of the superior gifts, on the other hand, I show to you a better way.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
But 1161
{1161} Prime
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
covet earnestly 2206
{2206} Prime
From G2205; to have warmth of feeling for or against.
<5720> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 592
the x3588
(3588) Complement

The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
best 2909
{2909} Prime
Comparative of a derivative of G2904; stronger, that is, (figuratively) better, that is, nobler.
gifts: 5486
{5486} Prime
From G5483; a (divine) gratuity, that is, deliverance (from danger or passion); (specifically) a (spiritual) endowment, that is, (subjectively) religious qualification, or (objectively) miraculous faculty.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
yet 2089
{2089} Prime
Perhaps akin to G2094; 'yet', still (of time or degree).
shew x1166
(1166) Complement
A prolonged form of an obsolete primary of the same meaning; to show (literally or figuratively).
I y1166
[1166] Standard
A prolonged form of an obsolete primary of the same meaning; to show (literally or figuratively).
<5719> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 3019
unto you 5213
{5213} Prime
Irregular dative case of G5210; to (with or by) you.
a more y2596
[2596] Standard
A primary particle; (preposition) down (in place or time), in varied relations (according to the case [genitive, dative or accusative] with which it is joined).
excellent 5236
{5236} Prime
From G5235; a throwing beyond others, that is, (figuratively) supereminence; adverbially (with G1519 or G2596) pre-eminently.
(2596) Complement
A primary particle; (preposition) down (in place or time), in varied relations (according to the case [genitive, dative or accusative] with which it is joined).
way. 3598
{3598} Prime
Apparently a primary word; a road; by implication a progress (the route, act or distance); figuratively a mode or means.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 Corinthians 12:31

_ _ covet earnestlyGreek, “emulously desire.” Not in the spirit of discontented “coveting.” The Spirit “divides to every man severally as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:1); but this does not prevent men earnestly seeking, by prayer and watchfulness, and cultivation of their faculties, the greatest gifts. Beza explains, “Hold in the highest estimation”; which accords with the distinction in his view (1 Corinthians 14:1) between “follow after charity — zealously esteem spiritual gifts”; also with (1 Corinthians 12:11, 1 Corinthians 12:18) the sovereign will with which the Spirit distributes the gifts, precluding individuals from desiring gifts not vouchsafed to them. But see on 1 Corinthians 14:1.

_ _ the best gifts — Most of the oldest manuscripts read, “the greatest gifts.

_ _ and yetGreek, “and moreover.Besides recommending your zealous desire for the greatest gifts, I am about to show you a something still more excellent (literally, “a way most way-like”) to desire, “the way of love” (compare 1 Corinthians 14:1). This love, or “charity,” includes both “faith” and “hope” (1 Corinthians 13:7), and bears the same fruits (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) as the ordinary and permanent fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Thus “long-suffering,” compare 1 Corinthians 12:4; “faith,” 1 Corinthians 12:7; “joy,” 1 Corinthians 12:6; “meekness,” 1 Corinthians 12:5; “goodness,” 1 Corinthians 12:5; “gentleness,” 1 Corinthians 12:4 (the Greek is the same for “is kind”). It is the work of the Holy Spirit, and consists in love to God, on account of God’s love in Christ to us, and as a consequence, love to man, especially to the brethren in Christ (Romans 5:5; Romans 15:30). This is more to be desired than gifts (Luke 10:20).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

See commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Corinthians 12:31

Ye covet earnestly the best gifts — And they are worth your pursuit, though but few of you can attain them. But there is a far more excellent gift than all these; and one which all may, yea, must attain or perish.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 Corinthians 12:31

(14) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

(14) He teaches those who are ambitious and envious, a certain holy ambition and envy. That is, if they give themselves to the best gifts, and such as are most profitable to the church, and so if they contend to excel one another in love, which far surpasses all other gifts.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Luke 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. ... And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
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Mt 5:6. Lk 10:42. 1Co 8:1; 13:1; 14:1, 39. Php 3:8. He 11:4.

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