“Love is Patient, Love is Kind” Bible Verse

The "Love is Patient, Love is Kind" Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. (NIV 1984 ed.) Commentary below.

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"4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth..." (KJV)

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is a bible passage with both immense popularity and even greater importance. This page will analyze the differences between the translations given by a couple of the most popular English versions: the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV). To do this, I will reference the original Greek text, and explain how the same text could give rise to these different translations. I have also written a more in-depth commentary on key meanings in these verses (with an emphasis on explaining the original Greek), at the following link: 1 Corinthians Love Verse - God's Nature Revealed

I Corinthians 13:4-8: The Greek

Introducing The Differences

In this article, I won’t concern myself much with the differences between the NIV and KJV which are, more or less, simply various ways of saying the same thing. The NIV says, “love”, while the KJV says, “charity”. For all practical intents and purposes, these terms are synonymous. So I won’t discuss them except to say that “charity”, in my mind, carries more of a sense of moral duty or good deeds, whereas “love” has more of an emotional sense. The Greek word, ἀγάπη (agape), carries both the sense of actively doing good for others and of feeling strong affection and emotion for others. So neither the NIV nor the KJV fully capture all the sense of the word. For more commentary on this, and on other meanings and words in the passages, see my other article: 1 Corinthians Love Verse: God’s Nature Revealed

The KJV is more accurate in saying that love “suffereth long”, rather than “is patient”. This is because in the Greek, this passage consistently uses active verbs (many of which don’t exist in English), rather than the passive “is” followed by an adjective. That is, the passage describes what love does, not what it is. I discuss the implications of this in my article linked to above.

Think No Evil

In verse five, the KJV says that love thinketh (which, translated into English, means “thinks”) no evil. The NIV, instead, says that love keeps no record of wrongs. Perhaps in ancient times, when the KJV came out, to “think evil” was a colloquial expression meaning “to keep record of wrongs”. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive then, and I am too lazy to research it right now. But to the modern mind--by which I refer to my own mind, as I can not speak for other minds--to think evil means a lot more than just keeping account of wrongs done to us. When one is planning to rob a bank, they might be said to be “thinking evil”, and this has nothing to do with keeping record of wrongs.

So which translation is more true to the original Greek? I have to cast my vote with the NIV. The Greek says, “οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν” (ou logizetai to kakon). Literally, this means, “does not take account of/reckon/calculate the bad”. Don’t be thrown off by the use of the definite article “the” before “bad”. Greek’s use of a definite article often carries far less specificity than in English. Usually, when the New Testament refers to God in Greek, it literally says, “the God”, although it is referring to (from a New Testament perspective) the only God there is. In English, we might refer to “Truth” as a sort of abstract ideal or good. For example, we might say, “That man is a lover of Truth”. Greek, trying to say the same thing, would not omit the definite article “the” before “truth”, although referring to an abstract ideal.

So a more appropriate translation in English would be, “love does not take account of/calculate/reckon bad”. “Bad”, here, can refer to badness or evil in general. But it can also refer to a wrong or injury done to a person. I think that here, it clearly means the latter. This is because “λογίζεται” (logizetai) means “to take account of, to make a record of, to calculate, to count.” To me, this makes little sense if we are speaking of “evil” in a general sense.

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Should We Believe Everything?

The last difference I’ll discuss is in verse seven, where the KJV repeats “all things”, but the NIV repeats “always”. Either translation is possible. The Greek word in question is “πάντα” (panta), which, in its simplest sense, means, “all”. Depending on the context, and how it is inflected--inflection is a concept devised by aliens for no reason but to torture first semester Greek students until they drop out of college--it can mean, “all things”, “all men”, “all women”, or “all times” (thus, “always”).

Since either translation is possible, which is right? Once again, the context of the verse leads me to choose the NIV’s rendering. Does love really “believe all things”? That makes love just sound gullible. While some critics may say that “gullible” is indeed an apt label for love, I don’t think this is what the author intended. So, for clarity’s sake, I prefer the NIV’s translation.

Judging by my take on the 1 Corinthians "Love Verse", one might falsely come to believe that I have something against the King James Version, or am a proponent of the NIV in general. This is absolutely not the case. The KJV and the NIV each have their own strengths and their own patent absurdities. In most cases, I find the KJV to be a much more literal rendering of the Greek. This is not, in itself, good or bad. Sometimes a more literal translation of Greek makes little sense in English, or even warps the original sense. But overall, I find the literalism in the KJV refreshing. The NIV has a tendency, in making its translation more understandable, to also freely insert words and meanings which do nothing but support their own dogmatic biases. But that is a topic of another discussion entirely: Bible, Control, and Culture- Bible Mistranslation, New 2011 NIV, and the Interchange Between Language and Religion

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Michael Adams1959 6 years ago from Wherever God leads us.


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