Commentators M-Z
Heinrich Meyer:  STEGei as in 1 Corinthians 9:12 : all things she bears, holds out under them (suffert, Vulgate), without ceasing to love,--all burdens, privation, trouble, hardship, toil occasioned to her by others. Other interpreters (Hammond, Estius, Mosheim, Bengel, al[2076]; Rückert hesitatingly) understand: she covers all up, i.e. excuses all wrong. Likewise correct from a linguistic point of view, according to classical usage; but why depart from 1 Corinthians 9:12?

Mark Heber Miller:  (Love) bears all things.

The Greek is panta stegei, or literally, "(love) covers everything." The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it bears up under everything; NEB: there is nothing love cannot face; PME: love knows no limits to its endurance; WEY: love overlooks faults; MOF: always slow to expose. The Greek stegei (stege) is rooted in the idea of a roof (Matt. 8:8; Mark 2:4; Luke 7:6). stego may convey two meanings: a) to cover by silence, or keep a confidence; and, b) to bear up against, or hold out against.

Given the immediate context stegei here may mean "love covers by silence" those matters which could be damaging or misunderstood about someone loved. Families do this all the time. So do true and genuine friends who are very reluctant to reveal negative information about a close companion. Peter exhorts to this kind of love: "Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8) The Proverbs teach the same thing:

"Hatred is what stirs up contentions, but love covers over even all transgressions." (Proverbs 10:12) This thought from Proverbs is likely what Paul has in mind when he says, "Love covers everything."

On the other hand, many translators prefer the other option: love bears up or endures everything. However, Paul is to go on in the same breath to state this, "love endures everything." So, it would appear the former notion of "love covering everything" would be more appropriate.

One of the most unloving things a friend can ever do is reveal a bit of confidential information to those who have no need or right to know it. Such may not be slander, for the subject is truthful, but unknown. It is rather terribly harmful gossip. Many a close friendship has been destroyed by such failures to cover or keep a confidence.

Additionally, love will cover others’ weaknesses or failures by a willingness to explain unchristian conduct. For example, someone reveals an error or trespass on the part of another. Love may cause one to make an excuse for the person rather than multiplying and passing along such gossip. A loving person might defend the person by saying, "Well, perhaps he (or she) was just having a bad day like we all do from time to time."

Skip Moen:  panta stegei “bears all things”. What does it mean to say “Love bears all things”? We often invoke this tiny phrase made up of only two Greek words when we want to remind ourselves (or someone else) to put up with circumstances. We almost use this phrase as an excuse or rationalization. Unfortunately, once again the English translation pushes us in a wrong direction. Transliterated, this tiny phrase might better be expressed as “covers over everything”. We can deal with the word for ‘everything’ quickly. It is panta from which we derive a number of English words like pandemonium (full of demons), panorama (full view), panoply (full armor) and pantograph (complete drawing instrument). The umbrella of meanings here is something we find familiar.

This is not the case with stegei from the verb stego. Only Paul uses this verb in the New Testament. In other verses, it means ‘to endure’. But that is probably not the meaning here. The Corinthian passage is about God’s love. God’s love does not put up with things, enduring them as though they are unfair burdens that must be shouldered. We are misdirected to think that somehow God puts up with our unloving acts and abuse. The entire thrust of this passage is that God’s character is one of action in advance of our sin, that God does not simply ignore or put up with our affront to His holiness, but that He has already taken the steps needed to deal with this. Here the sense of “cover” is not to hide away something that would otherwise be disturbing. It is rather that God’s preemptory action has already accounted for our unholiness, that He has already thrown the blanket of His love over us and washed us whiter than snow.

God does not ignore sin. God does not withstand, endure, weather, brave, hold out against or allow sin. God acts! He acts in holiness, utterly opposed to sin in all of its forms. Given God’s holiness alone, none of us can stand. Isaiah was right. Jeremiah was right. We are all undone. But, says Paul, God has covered us with love. We are not lost. We are blanketed with the divine intervention found in the sacrifice of Christ. His blood, the blood of a sacrifice of love, covers us.

Here we find an Old Testament image in the mercy seat and the Day of Atonement. The priest offers a special sacrifice on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He sprinkled the mercy seat with the blood of the sacrifice as a “covering” for sin. This same idea is used in the New Testament for “propitiation” – the act by which Jesus covers the sin of the world.

Love does not bear anything. In fact, it does just the opposite – it stands up and acts, pushing aside the evil that it faces and wrapping arms of protection around us. There is a fine line here between the idea of putting up with everything and covering everything. God’s love has no limits. It is capable of covering all our sins. But it never once puts up with any sin. It reaches to the utter depths of my depravity and shouts a resounding “No! I will not let you go.” It is not the passive, disconsolate resignation to withstand unloving acts of another. It is power, reaching out to the unloved and embracing them no matter what the circumstances or history. Love wraps sin in its blanket, brings the sinner to its heart and whispers forgiveness. Love covers everything in an act of incredible mercy. “Love bears all things” is a statement of God’s redemptive act in the death of Jesus. This is its home. We may emulate the act by extending the same covering to others and, at the same time, acting powerfully against sin, but we are only mirrors of the true sense of this word. God did it first. Mercy is who He is.

Robert E. Neighbour:  Love beareth all things. For a moment let us emphasize the "all things." Some bear "some things"; they are faithful for a while, they spring up for a time, but, alas, they soon fall away. "Ye did run well; who did hinder your" [sic]

Love keeps on unto the end. It beareth all things. It beareth all kinds of things. There may be buffeting, and spitting, and a crown of thorns. There may be reviling, and the piercing of the nails. There may be a burden of the sins of others, the hiding of the Father's face, with the darkness of midnight enshrouding you; but love beareth it all.

W. Robertson Nicoll:  For STEGei, see parls.; Bz[1988] and a few others render the clause "omnia tegit," in accordance with the radical sense of the vb[1989]; but suffert (Vg[1990]) is its Pauline, and also prevalent cl[1991] sense.

Jose L.S. Nogales:  El amor todo lo excusa (PANta STEGei). El amor cubre, protege, mantiene secreto y pasa por alto en silencio todo lo que puede afear o dan~ar la imagen, la buena fama y el buen nombre del amado. No publica el defecto que avergu:enza o la debilidad que humilla. Por el contrario, vive en la intimidad el amor, en su luz y su sombra, en su cara y su cruz, en su derecho y reve/s.

Matthew Poole:  The charitable man beareth all injuries with patience.

Ray Pritchard:  The first phrase says that love “bears all things.” This comes from a Greek word meaning to cover something. It is related to the word for roof-a covering that offers protection from the hostile elements. I Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. That is precisely the meaning here. Love protects other people. It doesn’t broadcast bad news. It goes the second mile to protect another person’s reputation.

There are two very relevant applications: First, love doesn’t nitpick. It doesn’t point out every flaw of the ones you love. Once in a small group, we were discussing this very point and one of the wives present said a very wise thing: “You can’t talk everything out. Some things you just decide not to worry about.” She’s right. If you took time to point out every mistake your husband or wife made, you wouldn’t have time for anything else. That applies to every human relationship, not just to marriage.

Second, love doesn’t criticize in public. This is perhaps Paul’s primary meaning. Love doesn’t do its dirty laundry for all the world to see. That’s why I cringe whenever I hear a husband humiliating his wife in public or a wife making snide remarks about her husband. I always think, if they do that in public, what do they do in private? As a friend of mine once told me, “There are many times in my life when I’ve been sorry I opened my mouth. But there has never been a time I’ve been sorry I kept silent.” When it comes to needless criticism of other people, that’s excellent advice.

Ron Ritchie:  The love of Jesus always protects; it bears all things. He did and still does endure, support, forbear, and cover all things. His death on the cross covered our sins, and now he provides the power necessary to help us grow in our love for him and for each other. He continues to provide forgiveness for our failures. This covering includes discipline when necessary (Hebrews 12:5-13).

A.T. Robertson:  {Beareth all things} (panta stegei). stego is old verb from stege, roof, already in 1 Corinthians 9:12;1 Thes. 3:1,5. Love covers, protects, forbears (suffert, Vulgate). See 1 Pet. 4:8 "because love covers a multitude of sins" (hoti agape kaluptei fethos hamartion), throws a veil over.

Charles Simeon:  Where love does not exist, there will be a readiness to spy out evil, and to spread the report of it far and wide: but where it reigns, there will be a disposition rather to cast a veil over our brother’s faults, yea and over his sins too; according as it is written, "Charity will cover a multitude of sins [Note: 1 Peter 4:8.]." Where the revealing of what we know is necessary for the maintenance of public justice, there love to the community will supersede the obligation of which we are now speaking: but where no necessity exists for exposing the shame of our brother, we ought as far as possible to conceal it, and to cast over it the mantle of love. This is what a man does towards those with whom he stands most intimately connected by the ties of consanguinity or friendship: and he will deal the same measure to all, in proportion as the general principle of Christian charity prevails in his soul.

Hamilton Smith:  Love "bears all things". The flesh can bear very little without showing its resentment. Love can bear all things, and oftentimes in silence.

C.H. Spurgeon:  Though love has many difficulties, it overcomes them all, and that four times. (1) By patience, which "beareth all things." Let the injury be inflicted, we will forgive it. ...

Love conquers on all four sides. Love makes a hollow square. (1) Does God seem to smite love with afflictions? She "beareth all things." ...

Love conquers in all stages of her life. (1) She begins in conversion, and the powers of evil are at once aroused to seek her destruction. Then she "beareth all things." ...

"Bear" might be translated "cover." The two ideas may be blended, however. Love bears all things in silence, concealing injuries as much as possible even from herself.

Think of this word "covers." In reference to the brethren. It is not honourable to men or women to be common informers. Love stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip. She imitates the pearl oyster. A hurtful particle intrudes itself and, unable to eject the evil, [love] covers it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. I would desire to keep ready for my fellow Christians a bath of silver, in which I could electroplate all their mistakes into occasions for love. As the dripping well covers with its own deposit all that is placed within its drip, so would love cover all within its range with love, thus turning even curses into blessings.

As to "bearing all," apply the text mainly to trials in dealing with the unconverted. Ignore any repulsiveness that there may be in them. Bear with their ignorance of the gospel, their hardness of heart, and their jests. Would you see the perfection of the charity that beareth all things? Behold your Divine Lord. Oh, what He has covered!

Ray Stedman:  Bears all things is literally "covers everything." Love covers. When it does learn something unpleasant about another it does not run and scatter it all over the neighborhood. It does not take delight in some of the misdeeds of others. Love covers it over, keeps it silent. Not that it will not do something about it, but it does not spread it about for others to hear.

Richard L. Strauss:  "Love bears all things." The word translated "bear" means literally "to cover, to pass over in silence, to keep confidential." Love does not broadcast the faults of its object, It does not belittle the one it professes to love by exposing his shortcomings and failures in the presence of other people. While this is the favorite indoor sport of some married couples, it is not love. Love keeps these things confidential.

R.A. Torrey:  Beareth
4 ; Numbers 11:12-14 ; Deuteronomy 1:9 ; Proverbs 10:12 ; Song of Solomon 8:6 ; Song of Solomon 8:7 ; Romans 15:1 ; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 13:13 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ; 4:8.

John Trapp:  Beareth all things] stegei, tegit. Covereth faults with her large mantle, dissembleth injuries, swalloweth down whole many pills that would prove very bitter in the chewing. The Greek word is metaphora a tignis, say some, and signifies, that charity "beareth all things," as the cross main beam in a house supporteth the whole building. (Pareus a Lapide.)

Bill Turner:  Love bears all things, it bears up under everything. "Panta stegei."

"Stegei" is the present active indicative of "stego," to cover, to hold off, to hold out against; it comes from "stege," a roof, a flat roof of a house. It means to protect by covering, and has the thought of enduring, sustaining, uplifting and protecting. Love can bear and endure the faults and hatred of others, it delights to sustain and uplift struggling souls; and where it is consistent with Church purity and discipline, it covers with silence and conceals the faults of people. Love secretly mends and prays over the faults of others; no disappointment, abuse, injury or ridicule, can stop the healing ministrations of the loving heart. Peter knew that Christ's "agape" love "covered his multitude of sins." In 1 Pet. 4:8, Peter uses "kaluptei," the present active indicative of "kalupto," to throw a veil over, to cover, hide, and conceal. The noun, "kalumma," is used in 2 Cor. 3:13-16, of a veil. Where possible, love bears up, covers and veils the sins and failures of people.

Bob Utley:  "Todo lo disculpa (se soporta)..." El término "todas las cosas" (panta) aparece cuatro veces en este versículo como énfasis. El amor es inclusivo. "Todas las cosas" tiene el sentido de "en todo momento" y "en toda situación" (los cuatro VERBOS son PRESENTE).

El SUFIJO "oso" es la terminación griega para "techo" (cf. Mateo 8:8). Se usa como metáfora para: (1) la cubrir a las mascotas (cf. 4:8, en diferentes plazos, pero con el mismo concepto) o (2) aguantar (cf. 12:9; I Mateo 8:8, 5). La traducción de Moffat opta por "lento paraairarse".

Marvin R. Vincent:  Beareth (stegei). See on suffer, 1 Cor. 9:12. It keeps out resentment as the ship keeps out the water, or the roof the rain.

John Wesley, Explanatory Notes:  Love covereth all things - Whatever evil the lover of mankind sees, hears, or knows of any one, he mentions it to none; it never goes out of his lips, unless where absolute duty constrains to speak.

John Wesley, Sermon 22:  This "love covereth all things." (So, without all doubt, panta stegei should be translated; for otherwise it would be the very same with panta upomenei, "endureth all things.") Because the merciful man rejoiceth not in iniquity, neither does he willingly make mention of it. Whatever evil he sees, hears, or knows, he nevertheless conceals, so far as he can without making of himself "partaker of other men's sins." Wheresoever or with whomsoever he is, if he sees anything which he approves not, it goes not out of his lips, unless to the person concerned, if haply he may gain his brother. So far is he from making the faults or failures of others the matter of his conversation, that of the absent he never does speak at all, unless he can speak well. A tale-bearer, a backbiter, a whisperer, an evil-speaker, is to him all one as a murderer. He would just as soon cut his neighbour's throat, as thus murder his reputation. Just as soon would he think of diverting himself by setting fire to his neighbour's house, as of thus "scattering abroad arrows, fire-brands, and death," and saying, "Am I not in sport?"

He makes one only exception. Sometimes he is convinced that it is for the glory of God, or (which comes to the same) the good of his neighbour, that an evil should not be covered. In this case, for the benefit of the innocent, he is constrained to declare the guilty. But even here, (1.) He will not speak at all, till love, superior love, constrains him. (2.) He cannot do it from a general confused view of doing good, or promoting the glory of God, but from a clear sight of some particular end, some determinate good which he pursues. (3.) Still he cannot speak, unless he be fully convinced that this very means is necessary to that end; that the end cannot be answered, at least not so effectually, by any other way. (4.) He then doeth it with the utmost sorrow and reluctance; using it as the last and worst medicine, a desperate remedy in a desperate case, a kind of poison never to be used but to expel poison. Consequently, (5.) He uses it as sparingly as possible. And this he does with fear and trembling, lest he should transgress the law of love by speaking too much, more than he would have done by not speaking at all.

Daniel Whedon:  Beareth all things—Rather covereth all things. Such is the strict meaning of the Greek word. To render it beareth gives the same sense as endureth in the last clause. The word covereth implies the idea expressed by Pope in his Universal Prayer:

Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see,
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

So does a mother seek to cover the faults of her child; so would Paul rather cover than expose the errors of his Corinthians.

J.B. Wilkinson:  The real meaning of the word is "concealeth." It does the very thing which it is always asking God to do, hides its face from, and shuts its eyes to, the sins of others. It is charity which applies to itself what it asks of God in the Miserere, and in the De profundis. It turns away its face from the sins of others, and in that deep of God's love it buries and conceals them.

  1. It is terrible to think what a keen eye we have for each other's faults. It is sad to think how clever we are at ferreting them out, either for our own or for our neighbour's amusement. Even the dead are sometimes not suffered to rest unmolested in their graves. True it is that they are out of the reach of the tongue of slander or uncharitableness, but the sin is not the less great for all that.
  2. Now charity, so far from injuring the reputation of any person by exposing their faults, not only conceals them, but protects these very persons, and interposes a shield, as it were, between them and the attack of their enemies. The very meaning of the word protect is to hide or conceal, by interposing some object between one who would seek to injure another. No doubt, from time to time, cases will arise where faults have to be brought to light and plainly told. But we must make quite sure that it is our business to find them out, and when we do speak, to be careful that we are not gratifying any prejudice of our own.
  3. But to bear all things, in the sense of concealing the faults of others, is indeed to have a Christ-like spirit. It is to resemble Him very closely. It is to walk very closely in His loving footsteps. When need arose our gentle Lord was stern and strong in His reproofs. But how often He passes over faults! How ready He is to make excuses for or to conceal or hide them! Let two instances alone suffice: first, in the case of the woman taken in the deadliest of deadly sins. Then, again, on the Cross.

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