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1 Corinthians 13:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— 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.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— 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.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Although with the tongues of men, I be speaking, and of messengers, and have not, love, I have become resounding brass, or a clanging cymbal;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— If with the tongues of men and of messengers I speak, and have not love, I have become brass sounding, or a cymbal tinkling;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— Though in every tongue of men and of angels I spoke, and had not love, I should be as brass which soundeth, or a cymbal which giveth voice.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— If I could speak in every tongue of men, and in that of angels, and there should be no love in me, I should be like brass that resoundeth, or the cymbal that maketh a noise.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Though 1437
{1437} Prime
From G1487 and G0302; a conditional particle; in case that, provided, etc.; often used in connection with other particles to denote indefiniteness or uncertainty.
I speak 2980
{2980} Prime
A prolonged form of an otherwise obsolete verb; to talk, that is, utter words.
<5725> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Subjunctive (See G5792)
Count - 352
with 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).
tongues 1100
{1100} Prime
Of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication a language (specifically one naturally unacquired).
of men 444
{0444} Prime
From G0435 and ὤψ [[ops]] (the countenance; from G3700); manfaced, that is, a human being.
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.
of angels, 32
{0032} Prime
From ἀγγέλλω [[aggello]] (probably derived from G0071; compare G0034; to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an 'angel'; by implication a pastor.
and 1161
{1161} Prime
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
have 2192
{2192} Prime
A primary verb (including an alternate form σχέω [[scheo]], {skheh'-o}; used in certain tenses only); to hold (used in very various applications, literally or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possession, ability, contiguity, relation or condition).
<5725> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Subjunctive (See G5792)
Count - 352
not 3361
{3361} Prime
A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogitive implying a negative answer [whereas G3756 expects an affirmative one]); whether.
charity, 26
{0026} Prime
From G0025; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast.
I am become 1096
{1096} Prime
A prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be ('gen' -erate), that is, (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literally, figuratively, intensively, etc.).
<5754> Grammar
Tense - Second Perfect (See G5782)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 97
[as] sounding 2278
{2278} Prime
From G2279; to make a loud noise, that is, reverberate.
<5723> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 2549
brass, 5475
{5475} Prime
Perhaps from G5465 through the idea of hollowing out as a vessel (this metal being chiefly used for that purpose); copper (the substance, or some implement or coin made of it).
or 2228
{2228} Prime

A primary particle of distinction between two connected terms; disjunctive, or; comparative, than.
a tinkling 214
{0214} Prime
From ἀλαλή [[alale]] (a shout, 'halloo'); to vociferate, that is, (by implication) to wail; figuratively to clang.
<5723> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 2549
cymbal. 2950
{2950} Prime
From a derivative of the base of G2949; a 'cymbal' (as hollow).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1

_ _ 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Charity or love superior to all gifts.

_ _ The New Testament psalm of love, as the forty-fifth Psalm (see Psalms 45:1, title) and the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament.

_ _ tongues — from these he ascends to “prophecy” (1 Corinthians 13:2); then, to “faith”; then to benevolent and self-sacrificing deeds: a climax. He does not except even himself, and so passes from addressing them (“unto you,” 1 Corinthians 12:31) to putting the case in his own person, “Though I,” etc.

_ _ speak with the tongues — with the eloquence which was so much admired at Corinth (for example, Apollos, Acts 18:24; compare 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 3:22), and with the command of various languages, which some at Corinth abused to purposes of mere ostentation (1 Corinthians 14:2, etc.).

_ _ of angels — higher than men, and therefore, it is to be supposed, speaking a more exalted language.

_ _ charity — the principle of the ordinary and more important gifts of the Spirit, as contrasted with the extraordinary gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-31).

_ _ sounding ... tinklingsound without soul or feeling: such are “tongues” without charity.

_ _ cymbal — Two kinds are noticed (Psalms 150:5), the loud or clear, and the high-sounding one: hand cymbals and finger cymbals, or castanets. The sound is sharp and piercing.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

_ _ Here the apostle shows what more excellent way he meant, or had in view, in the close of the former chapter, namely, charity, or, as it is commonly elsewhere rendered, loveagap: not what is meant by charity in our common use of the word, which most men understand of alms — giving, but love in its fullest and most extensive meaning, true love to God and man, a benevolent disposition of mind towards our fellow-christians, growing out of sincere and fervent devotion to God. This living principle of all duty and obedience is the more excellent way of which the apostle speaks, preferable to all gifts. Nay, without this the most glorious gifts are nothing, of no account to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. He specifies, 1. The gift of tongues: 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, 1 Corinthians 13:1. Could a man speak all the languages on earth, and that with the greatest propriety, elegance, and fluency, could he talk like an angel, and yet be without charity, it would be all empty noise, mere unharmonious and useless sound, that would neither profit nor delight. It is not talking freely, nor finely, nor learnedly, of the things of God, that will save ourselves, or profit others, if we are destitute of holy love. It is the charitable heart, not the voluble tongue, that is acceptable with God. The apostle specifies first this gift because hereupon the Corinthians seemed chiefly to value themselves and despise their brethren. 2. Prophecy, and the understanding of mysteries, and all knowledge. This without charity is as nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:2. Had a man ever so clear an understanding of the prophecies and types under the old dispensation, ever so accurate a knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity, nay, and this by inspiration, from the infallible dictates and illumination of the Spirit of God, without charity he would be nothing; all this would stand him in no stead. Note, A clear and deep head is of no signification, without a benevolent and charitable heart. It is not great knowledge that God sets a value upon, but true and hearty devotion and love. 3. Miraculous faith, the faith of miracles, or the faith by which persons were enabled to work miracles: Had I all faith (the utmost degree of this kind of faith), that I could remove mountains (or say to them, “Go hence into the midst of the sea,” and have my command obeyed, Mark 11:23), and had no charity, I am nothing. The most wonder-working faith, to which nothing is in a manner impossible, is itself nothing without charity. Moving mountains is a great achievement in the account of men; but one dram of charity is, in God's account, of much greater worth than all the faith of this sort in the world. Those may do many wondrous works in Christ's name whom yet he will disown, and bid depart from him, as workers of iniquity, Matthew 7:22, Matthew 7:23. Saving faith is ever in conjunction with charity, but the faith of miracles may be without it. 4. The outward acts of charity: Bestowing his goods to feed the poor, 1 Corinthians 13:3. Should all a man has be laid out in this manner, if he had no charity, it would profit him nothing. There may be an open and lavish hand, where there is no liberal and charitable heart. The external act of giving alms may proceed from a very ill principle. Vain-glorious ostentation, or a proud conceit of merit, may put a man to large expense this way who has no true love to God nor men. Our doing good to others will do none to us, if it be not well done, namely, from a principle of devotion and charity, love to God, and good-will to men. Note, If we leave charity out of religion, the most costly services will be of no avail to us. If we give away all we have, while we withhold the heart from God, it will not profit. 5. Even sufferings, and even those of the most grievous kind: If we give our bodies to be burnt, without charity, it profiteth nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:3. Should we sacrifice our lives for the faith of the gospel, and be burnt to death in maintenance of its truth, this will stand us in no stead without charity, unless we be animated to these sufferings by a principle of true devotion to God, and sincere love to his church and people, and good-will to mankind. The outward carriage may be plausible, when the invisible principle is very bad. Some men have thrown themselves into the fire to procure a name and reputation among men. It is possible that the very same principle may have worked up some to resolution enough to die for their religion who never heartily believed and embraced it. But vindicating religion at the cost of our lives will profit nothing if we feel not the power of it; and true charity is the very heart and spirit of religion. If we feel none of its sacred heat in our hearts, it will profit nothing, though we be burnt to ashes for the truth. Note, The most grievous sufferings, the most costly sacrifices, will not recommend us to God, if we do not love the brethren; should we give our own bodies to be burnt, it would not profit us. How strange a way of recommending themselves to God are those got into who hope to do it by burning others, by murdering, and massacring, and tormenting their fellow-christians, or by any injurious usage of them! My soul, enter not thou into their secrets. If I cannot hope to recommend myself to God by giving my own body to be burnt while I have no charity, I will never hope to do it by burning or maltreating others, in open defiance to all charity.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with all the tongues — Which are upon earth, and with the eloquence of an angel. And have not love — The love of God, and of all mankind for his sake, I am no better before God than the sounding instruments of brass, used in the worship of some of the heathen gods. Or a tinkling cymbal — This was made of two pieces of hollow brass, which, being struck together, made a tinkling, but very little variety of sound.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 Corinthians 13:1

Though (1) I speak with the tongues of men and of (a) angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a (b) tinkling cymbal.

(1) He reasons first of charity, the excellency of which he first shows by this, that without it, all other gifts are as nothing before God. And this he proves partly by an induction, and partly also by an argument taken of the end, for what reason those gifts are given. For, to what purpose are those gifts but to God's glory, and the profit of the Church as is before proved? So that those gifts, without charity, have no right use.

(a) A very earnest amplifying of the matter, as if he said, "If there were any tongues of angels, and I had them, and did not use them to the benefit of my neighbour, it would be nothing else except a vain and prattling type of babbling."

(b) That gives a rude and uncertain sound.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
I speak:

1 Corinthians 13:2-3 And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. ... And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
1 Corinthians 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1 Corinthians 12:29-30 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles? ... Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
2 Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

have not:

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.
Romans 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.


1 Corinthians 14:7-8 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? ... For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
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Mt 25:45. Ro 14:15. 1Co 8:1; 12:8, 16, 29; 13:2; 14:6, 7. 2Co 12:4. Ga 5:6, 22. 1Ti 1:5. 1P 4:8. 2P 2:18.

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