1 If I have the ability to speak in the languages of human beings and angels [Note: Perhaps the idea is supernaturally and eloquently], but do not have love [for people], I have become [no more than] a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the [spiritual] gift of prophecy, and can understand all [of God's] secret purposes, and have all knowledge; and if I have all [the supernatural] faith necessary to relocate mountains [See Matt. 17:20], but do not have love [for people], I am nothing. 3 And if I donate all my possessions to feed poor people, and if I surrender my body to be burned [Note: This probably refers to becoming a martyr, but some manuscripts read, "that I may be able to boast"], but do not have love [for people], it is no benefit to me. 4 [Note: The following traits should be understood in the context of love for people]. Love is patient [with people], and is kind [to them]; love does not envy [what people are or have]; love does not boast [of being superior to others], it is not arrogant [in dealing with people]. 5 [Love] does not act improperly [toward people]; it does not insist on having its own way [at the expense of others]; it is not easily irritated [by others]; it does not keep track of the wrongs [done by others]. 6 [Love] is not glad about the evil [that people do], but is glad about the truth [i.e., the good in their lives]. 7 [Love] conceals all [people's] faults; it believes [the best about] all people; it hopes [for the best in] all people; it endures [ill treatment from] all people.
8 Love will never cease. But though there are [now supernatural gifts of] prophecies, [someday] they will be abolished [i.e., such gifts will cease to be exercised]. Though there are [now supernatural gifts of] languages, [someday] they will stop [i.e., such gifts will cease to be exercised]. Though there is [now the supernatural gift of] knowledge, [someday] it will be abolished [i.e., this gift will cease to be exercised]. 9 For [now] we have partial knowledge and partial prophetic messages, 10 but when that which is complete comes [i.e., the full revelation of God's will, contained in the New Testament Scriptures], then the partial will be abolished [i.e., the supernatural gifts, which provided only part of the revealed will of God, will cease to be exercised]. 11 When I was a child I spoke, thought and reasoned like a child. But now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. [Note: Paul uses an analogy to illustrate that the church made use of the supernatural gifts in its infancy, but that these would no longer be needed when it matured]. 12 For now [i.e., during the church's infant state] we see in a mirror [Note: God's word is elsewhere likened to a mirror. See James 1:22-25] indistinctly [i.e., because of having only partial knowledge and prophecy], but then [i.e., when the church matures and has the completed Scriptures], we will see face to face [i.e., clearly]. Now I have [only] partial knowledge, but then I will have full knowledge, just as [God has] full knowledge of me. 13 But now [i.e., since the temporary gifts are to pass away], these three things remain: faith, hope and love; and the most important of them is love.