Love bears all things


Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

-1 Corinthians 13:7 (ESV)

it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

-1 Corinthians 13:7 (NASB)

Joseph Barnes:                                                                                                                                          Beareth all things - The word used here (στέγει stegei) properly means to "cover" (from στέγη stegē, a covering, roof; Matthew 8:8; Luke 7:6); and then to "hide," "conceal," not to make known. 

If this be the sense here, then it means that love is disposed to hide or conceal the faults and imperfections of others; not to promulgate or blazon them abroad, or to give any undue publicity to them. 

Benevolence to the individual or to the public would require that these faults and errors should be concealed. If this is the sense, then it accords nearly with what is said in the previous verse, "Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth."

The word may also mean, to forbear, bear with, endure. Thus, it is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:1 and 5:

Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens.

For this reason, when I could no longer stand it, I also sent him to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing.

Barnes:                                                                                                                                                       (To bear with, endure.) And so our translators understand it here, as meaning that love is patient, long-suffering, not soon angry not disposed to revenge. And if this is the sense, it accords with the expression in 1 Corinthians 13:4, "love suffers long." 

The more usual classic meaning is the former ("cover"); the usage in the New Testament seems to demand the latter ("bears all things"). 

The "real" sense of the passage is not materially varied, whichever interpretation is adopted. It means, that in regard to the errors and faults of others, there is a disposition "not" to notice or to revenge them. There is a willingness to conceal, or to bear with them patiently. (emphasis mine)

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, etc. But the phrase here refers to private matters; and indicates a disposition "not" to make public or to avenge the faults committed by others. (Barnes)

F.F. Bruce:                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps the first clause (Love bears all things) means that love covers all things unworthy instead of exposing them or blazing them abroad.  (Love will) put the most favorable construction on ambiguous actions.

Adam Clarke:                                                                                                                                             Beareth all things - Παντα στεγει. This word is also variously interpreted: to endure, bear, sustain, cover, conceal, contain. Bishop Pearce contends that it should be translated covereth all things, and produces several plausible reasons for this translation; the most forcible of which is, that the common translation confounds it with endureth all things, in the same verse. 

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We well know that it is a grand and distinguishing property of love to cover and conceal the fault of another; and it is certainly better to consider the passage in this light than in that which our common version holds out; and this perfectly agrees with what St. Peter says of charity, 1 Peter 4:8 : It shall cover the multitude of sins; but there is not sufficient evidence that the original will fully bear this sense; and perhaps it would be better to take it in the sense of contain, keep in, as a vessel does liquor; thus Plato compared the souls of foolish men to a sieve, and not able, στεγειν δια απιστιαν τε και ληθην, to contain any thing through unfaithfulness and forgetfulness...  

But the true import must be found either in cover or contain. Love conceals every thing that should be concealed; betrays no secret; retains the grace given; and goes on to continual increase. 

A person under the influence of this love never makes the sins, follies, faults, or imperfections of any man, the subject either of censure or conversation. He covers them as far as he can; and if alone privy to them, he retains the knowledge of them in his own bosom as far as he ought. (Clarke)

it (love) keeps every confidence (NASB)


She can overlook faults (Weymouth)

always slow to expose (Moffatt)

It bears up under anything (Williams)

There is nothing love cannot face (NEB)

Love knows no limit to its endurance (Phillips)


Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 

F. F. Bruce, 1 Corinthians, TNCBC, 1971, p. 127

Clarke's Commentary, 1 Corinthians 13