Commentators M-Z
William MacDonald: There is a certain mean streak in human nature which takes pleasure in what is unrighteous, especially if an unrighteous act seems to benefit one's self. This is not the spirit of love.

Heinrich Meyer:  ePI te- adiKIa] over immorality (Romans 1:18; Romans 2:8), when she sees this in others. In view of the contrast, Chrysostom and others, including Hofmann, take this in too narrow a sense: ouk ePHE-detai tois kaKO-S PASchousin, understanding it thus of delight in mischief; comp Luther: "sie lachet nicht in die Faust, wenn dem Frommen Gewalt und Unrecht geschieht." Theodoret puts it rightly, MISEI TA PARANOMA. It is just the generality of this thought which specially fits it to form the copestone of all those negative declarations; for in it with its significant contrast they are all summed up.

Mark Heber Miller:  (Love) does not rejoice over unrighteousness.

The phrase is variously translated: NAS: does not rejoice in unrighteousness; WMS: it is never glad when wrong is done; BAS: takes no pleasure in wrongdoing; NEB: does not gloat over other men’s sins; MOF: it is never glad when others go wrong. The idea has two factors: a) love does not enjoy doing wrong things; or, b) love never takes delight in evil which befalls others.

Jealousy or envy may be involved here. If someone dislikes another and that person falls into trouble, or misfortune visits, the jealous person may rejoice inwardly over this bad turn of events. For example, a wealthy person is the object of envy but one day this person loses all their riches. Love will not motivate a person to say to others, "Well, so-and-so got what’s coming to him." This kind of attitude takes many forms. If we find ourselves to be somewhat happy when evil befalls another, we must look inside and see why we feel this way.

Skip Moen:  Ou chairei epi te adikia [Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness. There are two very important words in this phrase--rejoice and righteousness. From the previous discussion of kakos we see that Paul’s use of the term for evil connects it not with ignorance but with volition. Evil is the result of a failure of will, not a failure of intellect. Kakos is connected with adikia (unrighteousness) not nous (mind).

But before Paul pens another facet of the relationship between love and will, he first uses the word ‘rejoice’. Ancient Greeks used this word as a morning greeting, meaning "Be merry" or "Be joyful". In Plato and Aristotle, it is nearly synonymous with pleasure. Once again, the LXX influence sets the stage for its religious use in the New Testament. In the LXX, joy is not just a relation of self-expression. It is connected with the sense of community that embraces the whole man, ultimately expressing itself in the sharing of Man and God. In this regard, salvation is a hallmark of charis because it celebrates the life of God shared with human beings. Joy carries with it an eschatological element. It recognizes that the joy of this world, although a precursor to perfect joy, will not find its true expression until we are reunited with God in the future. In the New Testament, there is an apparently paradoxical relation between joy and suffering. The resolution of this paradox is to be found in the eschatological elements of joy, for suffering is the means by which God chooses to make His promises manifest. Thus, unjust suffering for and on behalf of faith brings about a hope of glory that is certain to be realized because God is faithful.

In Pauline writing, charis is never used as a simple greeting. Instead, Paul’s characteristic openings, “Grace and peace” (‘grace’ is a translation of the same Greek word) deliberately recall the concrete fellowship actualized by the act of God in Jesus Christ. Joy is the spontaneous expression of a life transformed by God’s intervention into history through Jesus. The eschatological element remains in Paul’s anticipation of the culmination of the divine intervention each time Paul uses the term. The paradox of joy is that it remains joyful in the face of a world of evil. Joy always believes that God’s faithfulness will prevail. This thought is repeated in the writings of John where John shows that death is not the final act in this world. In John’s gospel, Jesus’ glory is found in connection with his death because in the death and resurrection of Jesus, death is transformed into the basis of life for all. It is joy!

Love rejoices, without a doubt. But it rejoices not in unrighteousness but in the fact that God overcomes all evil, all unrighteousness, all separation. The second word in this phrase is adikia. This is made of two Greek words, a, a prefix meaning “not” and dikia, the Greek word for righteousness. Dikia comes from the root word dike. It has an umbrella of meanings--justice, just, justification, righteous, regulation, righteous judgment. As we can see, the context of this word is about Law.

The idea of law as the basis for relationship within the community was so strong in the Old Testament that it also influenced the way the Hebrews thought about relationship with God. Law was the basis of spirituality. The most common Hebrew word for “law” is torah. We must be careful here. The Hebrew sense of Law is not like our modern understanding. In the Hebrew culture, Law is not a principle of right action that stands about the social community as an ethical standard. Law is the direct expression of divine instruction. It can be written or oral but the presupposed basis is oral. As such, it covers all kinds of relationships in the human world, from trade to tribal fidelity, from sexual expression to sacrifice ritual. The uniquely Hebrew concept of Law is found in the Decalogue, the expression of the character of God for a community bound by covenant. In this sense, God rules the worshipping community not by some set of divine principles but by the expression of His essential character worked out in terms of the proper relationship to Him and the proper relationship to other people. God is not simply an enforcer of the Law. God is the Law.

This aspect of Law is not found in the Greeks. In the Greek world, nomos (law) is associated with observing legal norms, fulfilling contracts and obligations. It has the sense of “right, correct, exact, legal”. It is about virtue--action on the basis of an internal code of ethics based on what is right.

When the Old Testament themes and the Greek world concepts come together in the New Testament, the word is still underwritten by the Hebrew idea of Law, but now it is personified in the character of Christ’s self-sacrifice. Christians are called to fulfill the law of Christ--to love one another--with that same self-sacrifice. Love is not adherence to an abstract principle of law. It is the embodiment of the character of the Christ. What, then, is righteousness? It is acting in accordance with the redemptive power of faith under the rule of God. Love rejoices every time we exemplify this character. Therefore, Love does not take joy in any act that is not based on the character of the redeemed. Love will not countenance the triumph of evil, the exuberance of worldly power, the commendation of dominion, because the joy of Love is found in sacrifice. This leads us directly to the next phrase, the culmination of Love as a personal state of being, not as a principle of action.

Leon Morris:  It is all too characteristic of human nature to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Much of the news columns of our daily papers is taken up with the recounting of iniquity, either in the sense of disaster, or in that of evil deeds. Plainly there is that in man to which reports of this kind appeal. But love is not like that. Love takes no joy in evil of any kind.

Robert E. Neighbour:  Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, ... Here is a cautious word. While love is not envious of evildoers, she by no means rejoices in the iniquity of those who would do evil. While love gladly yields her back to her smiters, and prays. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"; yet she never rejoices in their iniquity. ... Everything that is a lie, a deception, is a sorrow to love.

W. Robertson Nicoll:  To “rejoice at iniquity,” when seeing it in others, is a sign of deep debasement (Romans 1:32).

Jose L.S. Nogales:  El amor no se alegra de la injusticia (oú khaírei épi tê adikía). La justicia simboliza el conjunto equilibrado de todas las virtudes. Es la armonía que equilibra y pacifica el corazón. La alegría por la injusticia sería complacencia en el desequilibrio, en la desarmonía y el sufrimiento interior, espiritual. El amor ama la justicia del amado, su armonía espiritual, su equilibrio interior. La falta del amor para el corazón humano es una grande y trágica injusticia, pues está hecho para él. Si el corazón alcanza a tocar y ser tocado por el amor, entonces alcanza su estado de derecho. El equilibrio de un ser que ama y se siente amado es su justicia. Cuando esa armonía falta, se experimenta una injusticia infligida que hace brotar un clamor irreprimible de tristeza. El amor es justo. No se alegra con la tristeza del amado. Pues entonces falta el amor.

C.L. Parker:  Love rejoices not in iniquity, it is not glad when others go wrong. Love does not rejoice, “ou chairei,” over evil, sin and failure; this is what the wicked do. Rom. 1:32. Love does not enjoy evil, nor does it find pleasure in finding out the faults of others and making them known. 1 John 2:15-17. There is no triumph in knowing we were right about another's failings, a heart of love is sorrowful, prayerful, and broken over the fall or faults of another. We are in real trouble with God if we use a revelation of the Holy Spirit to expose and condemn, when God wanted us to use it to convert, help and strengthen a person, and as a directive to pray earnestly for them. See how prayerfully and kindly our Lord dealt with Peter and the woman at the well. Luke 22:31-34. John 4:16-18. Love wants to help the fallen, not condemn them. Love never gloats over, or finds satisfaction in, other people's failures.

Peter Pett:  It is sad at the bad behaviour of others because it knows what the consequences of that bad behaviour will be for the person concerned, and it gets no joy from their weakness and failure. It wishes well for those who behave badly.

Pfeiffer & Harrison:  Rejoiceth not in iniquity suggests the problem of immorality and lack of discipline of it in 1 Cor. 5:1-13.

Matthew Poole:  He doth not rejoice in the sinful falls of others.

Ray Pritchard:  Tenth, love does not delight in evil. It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, is not glad about injustice, and is not happy when evil triumphs. And it takes no joy in hearing evil openly discussed.

Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person.

Love never says, “Well, they finally got what they deserved.”

Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin.

Love does not enjoy passing along bad news.

This certainly goes against the grain of modern life. We all know that “Bad news sells” and that good news goes on page 75. That’s why they put those supermarket tabloids right by the checkout counter. We all want to hear the latest juicy gossip about our favorite celebrities.

True love isn’t like that. It turns away from cheap gossip and unsubstantiated rumors. And even when the rumor turns out to be true, love takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others.

Ron Ritchie:  Jesus does not rejoice in unrighteousness. He has never rejoiced when men and women created in the image of God chose to live in wickedness and delight in evil. He rejoices in righteousness.

A.T. Robertson:  Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness (ou chairei). See Rom 1:32 for this depth of degradation. There are people as low as that whose real joy is in the triumph of evil.

Robertson & Plummer:  ou CHAIrei ePI adiKIa 'Rejoiceth not over unrighteousness,' the wrongdoing committed by others (Rom. 1:32). It cannot sympathize with what is evil. Chrysostom misses the point in saying that Love does not rejoice over those who suffer wrong, tois kaKO-S PASchousi. It is quite true that there is no Schadenfreude in Love, no gloating over the misfortunes of others; but that is not the meaning here. Love cannot share the glee of the successful transgressor.

Charles Simeon:  To find pleasure in the fall or disgrace of another is the very essence of malice, the counterpart of Satan himself. Yet how universally prevalent is this malignant disposition! Has any person, especially one whom we have regarded as a superior or a rival, done any thing whereby he has lowered himself in the estimation of mankind? with what pleasure do we listen to the tale! what gratification do we feel in circulating the report! and what a satisfaction do we take, even whilst we profess to pity him, in the fall and degradation of our brother! If afterwards we find that the report was not true, or that there were circumstances which materially altered the real character of the action, do we feel the same pleasure in having our own judgment rectified, and in rectifying the misapprehensions of others? No: there is not the same gratification to our corrupt nature in believing and circulating the one, as in crediting and spreading the other: and therefore, whilst we are ready enough to propagate the evil, we leave truth to find its way as it can. But this is not the way in which love will shew itself: charity finds no pleasure in that which causes pain to another, or dishonour to God.

Hamilton Smith:  Love "does not rejoice at iniquity". Alas, the flesh delights in being occupied with evil. Love takes no pleasure in discovering evil or bringing it to light.

Ray Stedman:  Love "does not rejoice at wrong, ..." Love is not gloating over other people's miseries. If somebody tells you he is sick and your feeling is, "Well, I hope it is nothing trivial," you may be clever but you are not exercising love. Love does not gloat over another's misfortune.

Richard L. Strauss:  "Love rejoices not in iniquity, ...” This statement alludes to that sinister satisfaction which we sometimes feel when someone who has injured us is caught doing something wrong. "He only got what he deserved" is our heartless reaction. The verse may also refer to those occasions when we gloat over the shortcomings of our mates in a selfish attempt to vindicate ourselves. For example, we may still be smarting over some critical word spoken by our mate when suddenly he does something obviously wrong. We capitalize on the situation with some comment like, “See; you’re not so perfect either!” Love does not rejoice when wrong is done.

R.A. Torrey:  Rejoiceth not: 1 Samuel 23:19-21; 2 Samuel 4:10-12; Psalms 10:3; 119:136; Proverbs 14:9; Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17; 20:10; Hosea 4:8; 7:3; Micah 7:8; Luke 19:41,42; 22:5; Romans 1:32; Philippians 3:18.

John Trapp:  Nulla est igitur inter males charitas, sed coniuratio potius, saith a grave expositor. It is not charity, but conspiracy, that is found in wicked men. (Dr Sclater.)

Bill Turner, "Divine 'Agape' Love":  "Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness," "ou chairei" 5463. Joy in the triumph of evil is the depth of degradation and wickedness. Romans 1:32. Some people find real pleasure in finding out the faults of others and making them known. Some would rejoice if they could find something that would discredit a good Christian person. If there was some excess in a Pentecostal meeting, some critics would exclaim a triumphant, "I told you so!" There is no triumph in knowing that we were right about another's failings; a heart of love has no pleasure or satisfaction over the fall or faults of another. It is a great sin to gloat over the fall of another and those who gloat over another's fall are themselves in need of forgiveness and mercy, and are liable to experience real temptation themselves. A spirit of meekness and godly fear is the only safe attitude for the Christian, we should consider how much we have needed, and still will need, the grace and mercy of God. Gal. 6:1. Love is not full of envy or resentment at the blessing of others, nor does it rejoice when they fail or fall. Indeed, we should hold one another up in prayer, particularly those whose ministry makes them a target for the Devil. Love does not gloss over evil, or say that evil is good, it does not close its eyes to evil, it disciplines it whenever it is necessary, however, love is terribly grieved when people go wrong, or do wrong, love wishes no one to fail. It is even possible to use a revelation of the Holy Spirit in a wrong way, we can use a revelation to expose and condemn, when the Holy Spirit wants us to use it to convert, help and strengthen a person, and as a directive to pray earnestly for them.

This verse can also teach us that a Christian does not and cannot enjoy the evil things of the world when they are walking with Christ the king of love. The apostle John tells us to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, and the world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." 1 Jn. 2:15-17.

The systems of the world are under the sway of the Evil One, and should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and then we shall prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Rom. 12:1-3.

Bill Turner, "The More Excellent Way of 'Agape' Love":  Love rejoices not in iniquity, it is not glad when others go wrong.

Love does not rejoice, "ou chairei," over evil, sin and failure; this is what the wicked do. Rom. 1:32. Love does not enjoy evil, nor does it find pleasure in finding out the faults of others and making them known. 1 Jn.2:15-17. There is no triumph in knowing we were right about another's failings; a heart of love is sorrowful, prayerful, and broken over the fall or faults of another. We are in real trouble with God if we use a revelation of the Holy Spirit to expose and condemn, when God wanted us to use it to convert, help and strengthen a person, and as a directive to pray earnestly for them. See how prayerfully and kindly our Lord dealt with Peter and the woman at the well. Lk. 22:31-34. Jn. 4:16-18. Love wants to help the fallen, not condemn them. Love never gloats over, or finds satisfaction in, other people's failures.

Bob Utley:  Es tanto una declaración negativa como positiva de la verdad. En este contexto, puede referirse a los chismes dentro de la comunidad cristiana. No es habitual que el término "injusticia" se contraste con la "verdad." Probablemente "maldad" se oponga a "vivir bien", y la "verdad" se refiera al mensaje del evangelio.

John Wesley, Sermon 22:  It "rejoiceth not in iniquity;" common as this is, even among those who bear the name of Christ, who scruple not to rejoice over their enemy, when he falleth either into affliction, or error, or sin. Indeed, how hardly can they avoid this, who are zealously attached to any party! How difficult is it for them not to be pleased with any fault which they discover in those of the opposite party, -- with any real or supposed blemish, either in their principles or practice! What warm defender of any cause is clear of these Yea, who is so calm as to be altogether free Who does not rejoice when his adversary makes a false step, which he thinks will advantage his own cause Only a man of love. He alone weeps over either the sin or folly of his enemy, takes no pleasure in hearing or in repeating it, but rather desires that it may be forgotten for ever.

Daniel Whedon:  Rejoiceth ... iniquity--The word rendered iniquity, properly signifies injustice, wrong. And here, as in all the clauses of this paragraph, we must keep the special person or persons loved in mind, and not rise too far into generality. Love sympathizes not in the wrong-doing committed by its object. This, the true and a most important sense, seems to have been lost sight of by the commentators. While love imputes the most favourable construction possible to its object, it does not rejoice in his real wrong doing.

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