John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4 (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Verse 4

4.Love is patient. He now commends love from its effects or fruits, though at the same time these eulogiums are not intended merely for its commendation, but to make the Corinthians understand what are its offices, and what is its nature. The object, however, mainly in view, is to show how necessary it is for preserving the unity of the Church. I have also no doubt that he designed indirectly to reprove the Corinthians, by setting before them a contrast, in which they might recognize, by way of contraries, their own vices.

The first commendation of love is this — that, by patient endurance of many things, it promotes peace and harmony in the Church. Near akin to this is the second excellence — gentleness and lenity, for such is the meaning of the verb χρηστεύεσθαι (781) A third excellence is — that it counteracts emulation, the seed of all contentions. Under emulation he comprehends envy, which is a vice near akin to it, or rather, he means that emulation, which is connected with envy, and frequently springs from it. Hence where envy reigns — where every one is desirous to be the first, or appear so, love there has no place.

What I have rendered —does not act insolently — is in the Greek χρηστεύεσθαι Erasmus has rendered it, is not froward. (782) It is certain that the word has different significations; but, as it is sometimes taken to mean being fierce, or insolent, through presumption, this meaning seemed to be more suitable to the passage before us. (783) Paul, therefore, ascribes to love moderation, and declares that it is a bridle to restrain men, that they may not break forth into ferocity, but may live together in a peaceable and orderly manner. He adds, farther, that it has nothing of the nature of pride. (784) That man, then, who is governed by love, is not puffed up with pride, so as to despise others and feel satisfied with himself. (785)

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible