1 Corinthians

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1 Corinthians 13 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on 1 Corinthians 13 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

(13:4-6) "Charity suffereth long"
Some nice thoughts about love (or charity as in the KJV).
The King James uses charity to denote Christian love for other Christians.

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

"Believeth all things"
Should we believe everything?
Does the apostle Paul mean here that if someone tells us a clear lie we should believe him? Or that if an angel comes from heaven and preaches a different gospel (Gal. 1:8) than Paul had preached, that we should believe him? Of course not. This is clearly a nonsensical interpretation.
We should read here: “believe all things that God says in his word.” What God tells us, we can trust. At many other places the apostle Paul warns us to bring anything to the light of the gospel to see if it is true. There is only one book we can trust absolutely.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

"Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail."
Paul prophesies that all prophecies will fail. But since this itself is a prophecy, it also will fail (if the prophecy is correct), making it a false prophecy.
The author of the SAB interprets fail here as prophecies will not come to pass. But that is not the meaning. The meaning is that prophecies will come to an end: when Christ returns, there will be no more need for prophecies and there will be no more prophecies. As John Gill explains:

either the predictions of future events, not that they shall fail in their accomplishment, but they shall be no more, because they will all be accomplished; or else the gifts of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of preaching the doctrines of the Gospel, will be no more, because there will be no need of them in a state of perfection:

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

"When I became a man, I put away childish things."
Is it good to be childish?

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.