J. Angell James:
As self-love makes us think well of ourselves, so charity makes us think well of our brethren. Judge unkindly it cannot; condemn officiously it never will. Upon everything said or done, it puts the best construction possible in the case. No evil report will it believe without evidence; no test of character will it accept but that which God hath ordained; no follower of Christ will it discard because his views and feelings do not quadrate in all respects with its own. To mere surmise and rumour it will not listen for a moment; and from the malicious whispers of the tale-bearer it averts its ear with a holy disgust. When forced to believe evil of another, it accepts the fact with manifest reluctance, takes no pleasure in reporting it, finds many a palliation for the offence, and spreads its broad mantle over the multitude of sins. To talk of the good of its neighbours is its special delight, to set forth their virtues and commend their worthy deeds. In every opportunity of communicating pleasure it rejoices with unfeigned joy, and with instinctive horror shinks from inflicting needless pain. The counsels of avarice and ambition it opposes with all its might; and by every mild and gracious means at its command counteracts the deadly influence of pride, envy, anger, malice, and revenge. Stemming the torrents of vice and error, it seeks to rescue the perishing and edify the faithful — to make the miserable happy, and the happy happier still. In the closet it originates schemes for blessing humanity, and goes forth into society for their execution. At night it devises deeds of mercy upon its bed, and in the morning rises radiant as the dawn to perform the benevolent purposes with which it sank to rest.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown: thinketh no evil -- imputeth not evil [ALFORD]; literally, "the evil" which actually is there (Pr 10:12; 1Pe 4:8). Love makes allowances for the falls of others, and is ready to put on them a charitable construction. Love, so far from devising evil against another, excuses "the evil" which another inflicts on her [ESTIUS]; doth not meditate upon evil inflicted by another [BENGEL]; and in doubtful cases, takes the more charitable view [GROTIUS].
B.W. Johnson: Thinketh no evil. The idea of the Revision is that love does not keep a record of evil rendered so as to return it.
S. Lewis Johnson: Further, the apostle says in verse 5, "Thinks no evil." Now, that's impossible on the spur of the moment as we look at that text, "Thinks no evil." How is it possible for a person who still has the sin principle within him to think no evil? I think we all in this room would probably agree it's impossible for me to live up to that statement, "thinks no evil."
It may be helpful, however, to understand what thinks means. It really is a word that means to account no evil, to reckon no evil. That is that we do not reckon to someone else evil when we don't know the status of things that exist in that person's life. So does not reckon evil to a person. We often do that, you know. Somebody has done something and we immediately pass judgment on it not knowing the facts at all. That's not Christian love. You are not guided by God the Holy Spirit when you make judgments like that. Usually on hearsay evidence, that's all. Love does not reckon evil. The things that you hear about others are best not acted upon if you do not have the necessary witnesses from the word of God that the word of God sets forth for you.
W. Phillip Keller: Love thinketh no evil. An entire chapter could be devoted to this one phrase.
Its standards are so high. Its values are so lofty. Its motives are so pure. This is the love of God, the attitude of Christ, the stance of His own sweet Spirit.
How completely opposite from our own perverse outlook on life! Too often we see only the mud, not the sunshine after the showers. We too frequently find fault instead of looking for the lovely. We too easily are suspicious and cynical instead of being buoyant with good cheer. Our minds are clouded with evil intentions when they could sing with innocence.
Oh, that our inner attitudes were as gracious as God's! "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (Jer. 29:11)
Being a very practical man, I have come to the conclusion that in large part a person's thoughts are the product of his intellectual diet. We simply reflect back that to which we expose our minds. If we feed on filth and falsehood that pours from the media and corrupt culture of our generation, we will think in evil terms.
If we choose corrupt companions, associate with perverted minds, absorb lustful lyrics, read passionate literature, watch suggestive television programs, accept deceptive human philosophy from our schools and universities, and allow materialism to mesmerize our minds, we will become persons with wicked intentions.
It is a simple, straightforward equation, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7)
The alternative is a deliberate choice on the part of the Christian to develop a pure and wholesome outlook on life. As we set our wills deliberately to do this, God's Spirit will honour our decision to devote ourselves to that which is noble and great. He will actually work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.
Spend time in the Scriptures. Get into good books. Learn to appreciate fine music. Relish great art and participate in it. Make friends with true Christians--noble, loyal people. Enjoy the beauty of trees, flowers, fields, sea, and sky. Look for the strength and goodness in others. Give hearty thanks to God for all the joys of life. (Read Phil. 4:4-9.)
In His wondrous love Christ will change your character as you continually expose yourself to companionship with Him. You will begin to see the touch of His presence in all the world around you. You will become beautiful in your heart and mind.
Give generous gratitude for His grace and love that allow you to live and move and have your very being in Him.
William Kelly: "Thinketh no evil" scarcely expresses the clause, but rather not having the evil in the mind and tongue. "No evil" would answer to the phrase if anarthrous. Here it is an actual evil done, which would rankle but for love, which is ever above evil, always free and always holy.
Keith Krell: Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Paul uses the normal word here for bookkeeping. Love does not keep a ledger of evil deeds. It doesn't write down each injury done and keep the account open to be settled someday. I know some people who are accomplished bookkeepers in regard to injuries sustained. Love doesn't hang on to reminders of wrongs. Who are you keeping a book on? Are there some ledgers you need to go home and toss in the fireplace?
Paul Kretzmann: Love takes no account of evil, does not charge it against any one, does not keep it in mind, but forgives it gladly and freely.
Lange & Schaff: Imputeth not the evil;--ou logIZetai to kakON; this does not refer to the evil which proceeds from one's-self, as though logIZesthai meant "to think upon, to meditate", as in Jer. 26:3; Nahum 1:9; and as Luther renders it: "Sie trachtet nicht nach Schaden;" but it refers only to the evil done to it, q.d., "love does not charge the evil inflicted," "does not carry it ever in mind, but forgives it." (Compare the word as used in Rom. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:19, and elsewhere). The rendering "suspect" [given by Grot. Heyden., and adopted by Jon. Edwards in his celebrated discourses on this chapter] is, to say the least, doubtful. It is opposed by the article before kakON, "the evil," [which evidently implies the actual existence of some particular evil that was to be dealt with; so Alford, Hodge].
Cornelius a Lapide: "Thinketh no evil", i.e., charity, if she is provoked by any one, does not reckon up the injury nor seek revenge, but conceals it, excuses it, forgives it. For the Greek word, as Vatablus and the Greeks understand it, is, "imputes not his evil to anyone".
R.C.H. Lenski: Closely connected with this attitude (ou paroXYnetai) is the following: "love takes no account of the evil," ou logIZetai to kakON. "Thinketh no bad" in the A.V. misses the sense of the verb and overlooks the article: "the evil", the baseness or meanness which is inflicted upon us; not "evil" as it inheres in our own minds and hearts. This pairs with the preceding characteristic. This also explains the verb. Love keeps no account book for the entry of wrongs on the debit side which are eventually to be balanced on the credit side with payments received when satisfaction is obtained for these wrongs. Love forgets to charge any wrong done to itself. It is neither enraged at the moment, nor does it hold a grudge in vindictiveness afterward. Chrysostom has well said: "As a spark falls into the sea and does not harm the sea, so harm may be done to a loving soul and is soon quenched without disturbing the soul." We ought to note that ou logIZesthai is the very verb used to describe the pardoning act of God. He does not impute to us our guilt, Ps. 32:2; Rom. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:19; but imputes to us righteousness for Christ's sake, Rom. 4:6-11, 22-25; James 2:23.
Steve Lewis: Does not take into account a wrong suffered (logizomai) = to keep a record of offenses. This term was actually an accounting or bookkeeping term, so it has the idea of keeping a detailed history or inventory of wrongs -- who did what to whom, and when and how. Not to keep such a record means that we will have short memories of wrongs that were committed against us, and this can only be accomplished by practicing true forgiveness.
J.J. Lias: thinketh no evil] So the Vulgate and other versions. Rather, imputeth not the evil, i.e. bears no malice. St. Chrysostom explains it by "is not suspicious." See Romans 4, where the word is translated indifferently "reckoned" and "imputed."
Heinrich Meyer: ou logIZetai to kakON] she does not bring the evil, which is done to her, into reckoning (2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 4:6; LXX Sirach 29:6). Comp 1 Peter 4:8. Theodoret puts it happily: syggino-skei tois eptaismenois, ouk epi kako- skopo- tauta gegene-sthai lambano-n. Others render: she thinks not evil (Ewald; Vulgate: "non cogitat malum"). This thought, as being too general in itself, has been more precisely defined, either as: "she seeks not after mischief" (Luther, Flatt, and several others; compare Jeremiah 26:3; Nahum 1:9), which, however, serves so little to describe the character of love, that it may, on the contrary, be said to be a thing self-evident; or as: "she suspects nothing evil" (Chrysostom, Melanchthon, Grotius, Heydenreich, and others; compare also Neander), which special conception, again, would be much too vaguely expressed by logizetai.
Mark Heber Miller: (Love) does not keep account of the injury.
The Greek is ou logizetai to kakon, literally, "does not keep record of wrongs." Or, "keeps no log on bad things." One can see the English word "log" of "logistics" in the Greek root. The phrase is variously rendered: RSV: (not) resentful; KJV: thinketh no evil; MON: bears no malice; TCNT: never reckons up her wrongs; NEB: love keeps no score of wrongs; PME: does not keep account of evil; NAS: does not take into account a wrong suffered; WMS; never harbors evil thoughts; BECK: it does not plan to hurt anyone; NJB: does not store up grievances.
The Proverbs taught to "pass over transgression." (Proverbs 19:11) The first occurrence of "forgive" in the Bible is that of God. (Exodus 34:7) The Psalmist describes God as "ready to forgive" and the Prophets describe Him as "forgiving in a large way." (Isaiah 55:7)
Perhaps this is one of the hardest challenges in showing love: not only forgiving but also forgetting personal injuries. The Nazarene taught us to pray, "Forgive the debts of others." (Matthew 6:9) Or, let go, relieve those indebted to us. Then, Jesus makes the first commentary on the need for forgiveness when he follows with: "For if you forgive others their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14) Our Lord puts it simply: if we refuse to forgive others we cannot expect forgiveness from God. (Mark 11:25)
The Nazarene answered the disciples' question on how many times we ought to forgive. Peter suggested as much as seven times per day. The Lord said, "Up to 77 times" then gave an illustration of such forgiveness in the context of financial indebtedness. (Matthew 18:21-35) Luke 17:3, 4 adds a proviso to this forgiveness: the offending person must come and say, "I am sorry." Paul elsewhere counsels "freely forgiving." (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) Even if a sinner has brought the congregation into disrepute and has repented, all are to forgive him or her. (2 Corinthians 2:7, 10)
Some persons go through life with a little book in their head. This log contains all the injuries they have suffered at the hands of others. In a heated argument they will bring out this book and recite chapter and verse of all the wrongs done against them. These persons are not loving and therefore really hateful. The mature Christian will be characterized by a forgiving disposition who truly forgets offenses or sins committed against the person. What is helpful in doing this is not taking oneself so seriously and emptying self of egotism.
Skip Moen: Paul just connected agape to mercy ("love is not provoked"). Now he connects agape to the other central characteristic of the covenant God – grace. Mercy is the act of removing or overlooking a deserved punishment. Mercy is the thought of not following through when someone's actions would provoke justice. Mercy declares amnesty.
But mercy implies a prior action, the action of forgiveness. That is grace. Grace is God's decision to provide undeserved help. It is the immeasurable gift of redemption for those who deserved destruction. Mercy is amnesty. Grace is pardon.
There is no indication here that any action on the part of God (or of the one displaying God's love) is motivated by a change in heart, behavior or response of the one forgiven. The verb is passive. It is an act turned in upon the subject and has absolutely nothing to do with the status of the one forgiven. Love demonstrates itself by forgiving the unforgiven prior to any acknowledgment of sin by the other person and without any expectation of repentance by the one who is forgiving. John captured the entire action of this movement of love when he said, "We love because He first loved us". In other words, our demonstration of love is on the same plane when we exercise the choice not to count other's wrongs simply and only because this is the way that God has chosen to treat us.
Kittel makes it clear that the use of this expression in Pauline literature is pregnant with meaning from the LXX background in contrast with the normal Greek understanding. The distinction is this: in normal Greek usage, logizetai would have been understood as a principle of enlightened reason worked out in the concrete form of a life action. But Paul brings to this term the religious sense of judgment and emotional valuation from the Hebrew translation of the LXX. To this he adds the definitive place of the death and resurrection of Christ, not as a principle of reasonable action but as an absolute judgment of historical fact, a judgment of such profound implications that every other action in life is to be measured by its conformity to this fact.
Because the Greek world viewed the context of logizetai within the realm of pure reason, no Greek would have ever considered appropriate the primary importance Paul places on its pragmatic application here in this passage. But the Hebrew background finds a natural place for the unfolding of this concept within the context of an event of monumental significance. Paul takes a Greek word that is properly at home in the realm of highest reason and transports it into a declaration about the foundation of all subsequent events, making it not a lofty ideal held up as a banner for men to seek to emulate but rather a call to action based on the proclamation of God's judgment on every act as a result of God's own decision not to hold our evil acts against us.
Love does not keep score, says God. And who are we to say otherwise. How many times have we said to someone we claimed to love, "You did this" or "You were wrong" or "You made me do this"? How many times have we kept track of the personal affronts, the indiscretions, the unsympathetic acts? A record of wrongs. Yet God says that love does not count a wrong suffered. Love is first forgiving before the wrong occurs. And if God forgives us, how can we allow our love to be tainted by pluses and minuses? Emotional bank accounts are not found in the institution of love.
The second word is kakon (evil). There is a significant difference between the way this word is used in the New Testament and its usual Greek usage. For the Greeks, kakos expressed a lack of something. It was not a positive concept. It showed incapacity or weakness. Thus, kakos is used to mean unserviceable, incapable, unhappy, bad, morally corrupt, wicked and weak. Socrates and Plato best develop the presupposition behind the Greek usage. For the Greeks, kakos is the result of ignorance. The lack it expresses and the evil that results from it is because of an ignorance of virtue and an ignorance of divine providence. Therefore, for the Greeks, overcoming the evil of kakos is exclusively the role of knowledge. It is knowledge of virtue that leads men to be good. It is knowledge of deity that leads men to see their proper place in the universe. And it is knowledge of love (eros) that leads men to identify the divine reflection within them calling them away from the susceptibility of the material world to perfect contemplation of the divine. For the Greeks, the soul is still divine even though it has been buried in the kakos of this world. The soul always retains its impulse toward divinity and requires only to be freed from its misconceptions and ignorance in order to become its true self. Thus, kakos is not a mark of true being but rather the hallmark of being in ignorance of itself.
This conception of evil is completely undone in the New Testament understanding of kakos. From its use in the LXX, the New Testament carries an understanding of evil associated with the words for sin and unrighteousness. Instead of a lack of enlightenment, kakos is seen as the opposite of agathos (holy). In this respect, evil is a foil that demonstrates God's power and glory. Evil is no privation of good. It is no lack of true understanding. Rather, evil is first the result of God's punishment for sin, and secondly, the condition from which God redeems His people. God uses evil to bring His people to acknowledge their true condition before Him.
For the New Testament, kakos is not the result of an ignorance of the divine reflection within Man but rather the continual product and eventual culmination of all of Man's efforts without God. It is the ruin that comes upon Man both temporally and eternally as a result of sin because sin is the action of Man separated from God by his own volition. Evil befalls Man because Man refuses to give God glory, because Man opposes God. Kakos is not a lack of understanding. It is the deliberate choosing to be godless, to replace the rightful glory of the Creator with the usurping infamy of the created. It is the conscious and intentional denial of true fellowship with God.
What does this say about the character of Love? How can the idea of evil help us to see what true Love is. Paul says that Love does not reckon to itself as a judgment the demonstration of Man in opposition to God. It is not quite enough to say that Love does not keep score. Logitezai tells us that there are no accounts being kept. But it is more than just pretending to not make entries in the account book. It is throwing away the account book of deliberate, intentional wrongs. Into the garbage. It just does not exist.
We might want to pat ourselves on the back by saying that we don't keep track of those minor mistakes, those small accidents that happen between any two people in relationship. We are spiritually enlightened, so we show empathy for those unenlightened souls who sometimes act inappropriately. They don't know better. We can help them become more virtuous if we overlook those errors, scratch them off the scorecard and let them play again with a new sheet. If we think this way, we are essentially Greek – full of self-pride and entirely wrong. This is not love. This is intellectual (and foolish) arrogance. This is the idea that bad behavior is a matter of lack of understanding.
God says something very different. He says Love overcomes evil, not through enlightened reason or illuminated intellect, but because Yeshua's death and resurrection declared the final verdict on all acts of sedition against God and godliness. Love overcomes Man's deliberate self-will, his intentional self-aggrandizement and his wanton disregard for holiness by stepping into the place of liability itself. Love takes the burden of sin upon itself, not dismissing it but bearing it. Love does not erase the other's scorecard. Love replaces the other's scorecard by accepting the deserved punishment for the deliberate act against it as though the scorecard belongs to Love itself. To not reckon a wrong to itself is not to push it aside but rather to bear the full weight of this sin and accept the consequences for this sin in place of the one who caused the sin. Love takes a two-step motion: first, it does not hold the evil act against another (it does not even count it), and secondly, it bears the weight of the evil act as though the Lover were to blame.
Do you love? If you do, you will not simply forgive. You will not simply provide a new, blank card for someone to start over. If you love God's way, you will take the other person's punishment as if it were yours. You will give them your blameless card and carry their card of mistakes – just as He did for you.
Leon Morris: "Thinketh no evil" leads on from ["is not provoked"]. Love is always ready to think the best of people, and does not impute evil to them. "Thinketh" is logizetai (which Paul uses frequently in the sense of the reckoning or imputing of righteousness to the believer). It is connected with the keeping of accounts, noting a thing down and reckoning it to someone. Love does not impute evil. Love takes no account of evil. Love does not harbour a sense of injury.
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