Concept Review | 1 Corinthians 13:5 Word Study by Ken Nair

Love… thinketh no evil.”  1 Corinthians 13:5

This verse is often translated, “Love…keeps no record of wrongs.”

Since Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) I have asked Nancy to come to me with the same freedom that Christ offers.

When Jesus makes that offer there are absolutely no conditions people have to meet before they are allowed to come to Him. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that all people (at one time or another) are going to come to Him with offenses committed against them by another person. Then, as He hears accounts of wrongs committed, it would appear at first glance if love…keeps no record of wrongs, as though Jesus is a participant in a violation of Scripture. Are we seeing a contradiction in Scripture here?  I think not!

Is there a similar contradiction when we disciple a husband and we encourage him to seek his wife’s frame of reference about his past character flaws? Is this also true, especially if it results in the following common concern among some wives: “How can I let my husband know how he has hurt me or has offended me in the past, if love…keeps no record of wrongs? Is the discipler also violating this verse when he asks a wife to focus on her husband’s past problem areas and the need to change certain character flaws?

Maybe even more striking is this question: Does God (who is Love) on “Judgment Day” violate this Scripture? I think we can be assured that He is not! So how do we let I Corinthians 13:5 become a blessing to us?  Let’s look at the language.

Love (Grk. Agape, ag-ah-pay) love, affection, benevolence

Thinketh (Grk. Logizomai, log-id-zom-ahee) to take an inventory, estimate, conclude, count, esteem

No (Grk. Ouch, ookh) an absolute negative, never

Evil (Grk. Kakos, kak-os) worthless, injuriously thinking bad, evil, wicked, wanting harm

Surely then, “Love does not keep account of evil” is a consistent translation. It’s obvious, too, that the word by word exposition also reveals some pretty harsh dispositions.

My concern is this: we will miss the enormous value in this verse if we simply let it instruct us, “So…don’t keep account of wrongs!”  The benefit comes when we shift our focus to the operative word in this verse…in fact, it is the operative word for this whole chapter…Love. We can also fortify the significance of that single word by remembering that, “God is Love.”

Now we can build a much more significant picture of how God is trying to bless us through this verse. Since God is Love and Jesus is God incarnate, and Jesus extends this invitation, “Come unto me… and I will give you rest…” I have to ask this question: “What is it that you cannot take to Jesus? The answer is, Nothing!! Why? Because Jesus is loving. 

I am supposed to represent Jesus to my wife. Then what is it that Nancy could not bring to me? Nothing!!! Why?  Because I am like Jesus, who is loving. This being the case, Nancy (or any wife) would not have to keep an account because she can come at anytime with anything while knowing she will, without any preconditions, be wholeheartedly received.

May I add as a means of accountability, if my wife or anyone is keeping an account of my wrongs, could it be that they do not sense that meeting with me is like having an encounter with Jesus? 

Because I am trying to learn to put my flesh to death, I can hear and receive the “wrongs” as a means of identifying my unChrist-like character. Then, even though it is still being remembered, it is not remembered as a “wrong” but as a blessing, since I have achieved victory over my flesh’s unChrist-like character flaws.  Thanks Nancy!

For Jesus’ reputation in my life, may there not be a need for accounts kept of wrongs I have committed.

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