Reflecting on First Corinthians for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From First Corinthians by George T. Montague, SM, commenting on 13:4-7:

This section begins with two positive traits of love, next lists eight faults that it is not, then returns with five positive traits. Love here is personified, and commentators point out that these are traits of Jesus. To take on these traits is to become more like him. In the Greek, Paul expresses each trait as a verb (e.g., “love patients”), which is impossible to render in English. The effect of the verb in Greek is to show that love is active. “Unlike other loves, which can remain hidden in the heart, it is essential to charity to manifest itself, to demonstrate itself, to provide proofs, to put itself on display, so much so that in the NT it would almost always be necessary to translate agape as ‘demonstration of love.'”*

*quote from Ceslas Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, trans. and ed. by James D. Ernest (Hendrickson, 1994), 1:12.
© 2011 George T. Montauge and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


  1. Thank you for these reflections.
    Fr. Seán