Apostle Paul writes something so stunning here that we can barely fathom it: “(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Corinthians 13:7 The Lexham English Bible).
How can this be true?
This kind of love is so strong and dependable that it is like a roof that carries – the universe!
Love bears all things: the Greek verb is related to the word for a roof. It may mean “supports or carries the universe,” but more probably Paul means here that love bears or endures all kinds of ill-treatment. TEV expresses essentially the same meaning without the metaphor of “bearing.” ItCL has “excuses everything.”
RSV’s repetition of all things tends in English to give a wrong meaning when combined with the verbs believes, hopes, and endures. For example, believes all things describes a naive person rather than one who has strong faith. Barrett claims that believes all things means “never loses faith.” One may also say “never stops believing.”
Hopes all things: the word hope as Paul uses it has a main element of “confidence.” So one can render this phrase as “is always confident.” Some languages may need to state the goal of “confidence”: “… confident in God.”
Endures all things: endures has a similar meaning to bears in the first sentence. That is the reason why TEV structures the verse the way it does. The first bear is given a more general sense.
An alternative translation model for this verse is: Love enables us to endure everything; it enables us in every circumstance to keep on believing, to keep our confidence in God, and to remain patient no matter what happens to us.
Ellingworth, P., Hatton, H., & Ellingworth, P. (1995). A handbook on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (p. 297). New York: United Bible Societies.
I saw the practical outworking of this love in February 2011. Aina & I had just been married for 9 weeks, and we were ministering in St. Paul, Minnesota. Suddenly, I was hit by a severe neurological breakdown of my body. The doctors said: A multi-system breakdown. An ambulance brought Aina & the unconscious me to the hospital. After 5 days at the ICU, the doctors finally were able to release me. Thanks to the love and prayers of John & Helena Kelly, Cindy Jacobs, Karen Krueger & the Minnesota Prayer Network, as well as my in-laws in Norway – I was alive!
Some were actually hoping for my death….
But there was one love that carried me through: Aina´s love. She spent 5 days and nights by my bedside, praying and caring for her almost dead husband. She never gave up. She carried me, like a roof carries the universe.
3 weeks ago, Aina & I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. In the ensuing weeks, we have had some beautiful moments. One of them happened a couple of days ago when Aina recalled how the medical doctor at that Minnesota hospital, upon my hospitalization at the ICU, had demanded her signature on a form that gave the hospital the rights to my organs upon my expected death. Aina refused. “Jan-Aage will live!” she sobbed. The doctor was furious, but Aina was relentless….
Love bears all things. Like a roof carries (bears) the universe….