Other Ancient Sources
Origen, Commentary on Matthew, XII.41: Peter, as one loving the contemplative life, and having preferred that which was delightsome in it to the life among the crowd with its turmoil, said, with the design of benefiting those who desired it, “It is good for us to be here.” (Mt. 17:4) But since “love seeketh not its own,” Jesus did not do that which Peter thought good; wherefore He descended from the mountain to those who were not able to ascend to it and behold His transfiguration, that they might behold Him in such form as they were able to see Him. It is, therefore, the part of a righteous man who possesses “the love which seeketh not its own” to be free from all, but to bring himself under bondage to all those below that He might gain the more of them. (1 Cor. 9:19)

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William Barclay:  Love does not insist upon its rights. In the last analysis, there are in this world only two kinds of people--those who are continually thinking of their rights and those who are continually thinking of their duties; those who always insist upon their privileges and those who always remember their responsibilities; those who are always thinking of what life owes them and those who never forget what they owe to life. It would be the key to almost all the problems which surround us to-day if men would think less of their rights and more of their duties. Whenever we start thinking of "our place" we are drifting away from Christian love.

Barnes' Notes on the N.T.:  Seeketh not her own. There is, perhaps, not a more striking or important expression in the New Testament than this; or one that more beautifully sets forth the nature and power of that love which is produced by true religion. Its evident meaning is, that it is not selfish; it does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly; it does not seek its own happiness to the injury of others. This expression is not, however, to be pressed as if Paul meant to teach that a man should not regard his own welfare at all; or have no respect to his health, his property, his happiness, or his salvation. Every man is bound to pursue such a course of life as will ultimately secure his own salvation. But it is not simply or mainly that he may be happy that he is to seek it, it is, that he may thus glorify God his Saviour; and accomplish the great design which his Maker has had in view in his creation and redemption. If his happiness is the main or leading thing, it proves that he is supremely selfish; and selfishness is not religion. The expression here used is comparative, and denotes that this is not the main, the chief, the only thing which one who is under the influence of love or true religion will seek. True religion, or love to others, will prompt us to seek their welfare with self-denial and personal sacrifice and toil. Similar expressions, to denote comparison, occur frequently in the sacred Scriptures. Thus, where it is said, (Hosea ; 6:6; Micah 6:8; Matthew 9:13,) "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;" it is meant, "I desired mercy more than I desired sacrifice; I did not wish that mercy should be forgotten or excluded in the attention to the mere ceremonies of religion." The sense here is, therefore, that a man under the influence of true love or religion does not make his own happiness or salvation the main or leading thing; he does not make all other things subservient to this; he seeks the welfare of others, and desires to promote their happiness and salvation, even at great personal sacrifice and self-denial. It is the characteristic of the man, not that he promotes his own worth, health, happiness, or salvation, but that he lives to do good to others. Love to others will prompt to that, and that alone. There is not a particle of selfishness in true love. It seeks the welfare of others, and of all others. That true religion will produce this, is evident everywhere in the New Testament; and especially in the life of the Lord Jesus, whose whole biography is comprehended in one expressive declaration, "who went about DOING GOOD," Acts 10:38. It follows from this statement,

  1. that no man is a Christian who lives for himself alone; or who makes it his main business to promote his own happiness and salvation.
  2. No man is a Christian who does not deny himself; or no one who is not willing to sacrifice: his own comfort, time, wealth, and ease, to advance the welfare of mankind.
  3. It is this principle which is yet to convert the world. Long since the whole world would have been converted, had all Christians been under its influence. And when ALL Christians make it their grand object not to seek their own, but the good of others; when true charity shall occupy its appropriate place in the heart of every professed child of God, then this world will be speedily converted to the Saviour. Then there will be no want of funds to spread Bibles and tracts; to sustain missionaries, or to establish colleges and schools; then there will be no want of men who shall be willing to go to any part of the earth to preach the gospel; and then there will be no want of prayer to implore the Divine mercy on a ruined and perishing world. Oh, may the time soon come when all the selfishness in the human heart shall be dissolved, and when the whole world shall be embraced in the benevolence of Christians, and the time, and talent, and wealth of the whole church shall be regarded as consecrated to God, and employed and expended under the influence of Christian love!

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33:  Thus having said, "doth not behave itself unseemly," he showeth also the temper of mind, on account of which she doth not behave herself unseemly. And what is that temper? That she "seeketh not her own." For the beloved she esteems to be all, and then only "behaveth herself unseemly," when she cannot free him from such unseemliness; so that if it be possible by her own unseemliness to benefit her beloved, she doth not so much as count the thing unseemliness; for the other party thereafter is yourself, when you love: since this is friendship, that the lover and the beloved should no longer be two persons divided, but in a manner one single person; a thing which no how takes place except from love. Seek not therefore thine own, that thou mayest find thine own. For he that seeks his own, finds not his own. Wherefore also Paul said, "Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good." (1 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 24) For your own profit lies in the profit of your neighbor, and his in yours. As therefore one that had his own gold buried in the house of his neighbor, should he refuse to go and there seek and dig it up, will never seek it; so likewise here, he that will not seek his own profit in the advantage of his neighbor, will not attain unto the crowns due to this: God Himself having therefore so disposed of it, in order that we should be mutually bound together: and even as one awakening a slumbering child to follow his brother, when he is of himself unwilling, places in the brother's hand that which he desires and longs for, that through desire of obtaining it he may pursue after him that holds it, and accordingly so it takes place: thus also here, each man's own profit hath he given to his neighbor, that hence we may run after one another, and not be torn asunder.

And if thou wilt, see this also in our case who address you. For my profit depends on thee, and thy advantage on me. Thus, on the one hand it profits thee to be taught the things that please God, but with this have I been entrusted, that thou mightest receive it from me, and therefore mightest be compelled to run unto me; and on the other hand it profits me that thou shouldest be made better: for the reward which I shall receive for this will be great; but this again lieth in thee; and therefore am I compelled to follow after thee that thou mayest be better, and that I may receive my profit from thee. Wherefore also Paul saith, "For what is my hope? are not even ye?" And again, "My hope, and my joy, and the crown of my rejoicing." (1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 19) So that the joy of Paul was the disciples, and his joy they had. Therefore he even wept when he saw them perishing.

Again their profit depended on Paul: wherefore he said, "For the hope of, Israel I am bound with this chain. (Acts chapter 28, verse 20) And again, "These things I endure for the elect's sakes that they may obtain eternal life. (2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 10) And this one may see in worldly things. "For the wife," saith he, "hath not power over her own body, nor yet the husband; but the wife over the husband's, and the husband over the wife's." (1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 4) So likewise we, when we wish to bind any together, do this. We leave neither of them in his own power, but extending a chain between them, we cause the one to be holden of the other, and the other of the one. Wilt thou also see this in the case of governors? He that judges sits not in judgment for himself, but seeking the profit of his neighbor. The governed on the other hand, seek the profit of the governor by their attendance, by their ministry, by all the other things. Soldiers take up their arms for us, for on our account they peril themselves. We for them are in straits; for from us are their supplies.

But if thou sayest, "each one doth this seeking his own," this also say I, but I add, that by the good of another one's own is won. Thus both the soldier, unless he fight for them that support him, hath none that ministers to him for this end: and this same on the other hand, unless he nourish the soldier, hath none to arm himself in his behalf. [4.] Seest thou love, how it is everywhere extended and manages all things? But be not weary, until thou have thoroughly acquainted thyself with this golden chain.

Adam Clarke:  Seeketh not her own] ou zhtei ta eauthv? Is not desirous of her own spiritual welfare only, but of her neighbour's also: for the writers of the Old and New Testament do, almost every where, agreeably to their Hebrew idiom, express a preference given to one thing before another by an affirmation of that which is preferred, and a negative of that which is contrary to it. See Bishop Pearce, and see the notes on chap. i. 17; x. 24, 33. Love is never satisfied but in the welfare, comfort, and salvation of all. That man is no Christian who is solicitous for his own happiness alone; and cares not how the world goes, so that himself be comfortable.

Henry Drummond, "The Greatest Thing In The World":  Unselfishness. "Love seeketh not her own." Observe: Seeketh not even that which is her own. In Britain the Englishman is devoted, and rightly, to his rights. But there come times when a man may exercise even

of giving up his rights.

Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights. Love strikes much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, ignore them, eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations.

It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often eternal. The difficult thing is to give up ourselves. The more difficult thing still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have sought them, bought them, won them, deserved them, we have taken the cream off them for ourselves already. Little cross then to give them up. But not to seek them, to look every man not on his own things, but on the things of others—that is the difficulty. "Seekest thou great things for thyself?" said the prophet; "seek them not." Why? Because there is no greatness in things. Things cannot be great. The only greatness is unselfish love. Even self-denial in itself is nothing, is almost a mistake. Only a great purpose or a mightier love can justify the waste.

It is more difficult, I have said, not to seek our own at all than, having sought it, to give it up. I must take that back. It is only true of a partly selfish heart. Nothing is a hardship to Love, and nothing is hard. I believe that Christ's "yoke" is easy. Christ's yoke is just His way of taking life. And I believe it is an easier way than any other. I believe it is a happier way than any other. The most obvious lesson in Christ's teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving. I repeat, there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Half the world is on the wrong scent in pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving, and in serving others. "He that would be great among you," said Christ, "let him serve." He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way—"it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive."

The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:  seeketh not her own things: even those which are "lawful", as the Arabic version renders it; but seeks the things of God, and what will make most for his honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of his Gospel, and the enlargement of his kingdom; and also the things of other men, the temporal and spiritual welfare of the saints: such look not only on their own things, and are concerned for them, but also upon the things of others, which they likewise care for:

John W. Gregson:  It does not seek its own interests.

Matthew Henry:  Charity is an utter enemy to selfishness: Seeketh not its own, does not inordinately desire nor seek its own praise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Indeed self-love, in some degree, is natural to all men, enters into their very constitution. And a reasonable love of self is by our Saviour made the measure of our love to others, that charity which is here described, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The apostle does not mean that charity destroys all regard to self; he does not mean that the charitable man should never challenge what is his own, but utterly neglect himself and all his interests. Charity must then root up that principle which is wrought into our nature. But charity never seeks its own to the hurt of others, or with the neglect of others. It often neglects its own for the sake of others; prefers their welfare, and satisfaction, and advantage, to its own; and it ever prefers the weal of the public, of the community, whether civil or ecclesiastical, to its private advantage. It would not advance, nor aggrandize, nor enrich, nor gratify itself, at the cost and damage of the public.

B.W. Johnson:  Seeketh not her own. Is unselfish and disinterested. See Rom. 12:10.

J. H. Jowett, Brooks by the Traveller’s Way:  “Love seeketh not her own.” So far from rushing into any unseemliness in seeking to display itself, so far from trampling upon the rights of others, love does not even claim her own. “Love seeketh not her own.” She claims no rights except where moral principle is involved, and on this she takes a stand, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. There is a quaint, grey monument in the sweet old town of Appleby, which was built in the days of the Puritans, and on which these words are inscribed: “Maintain your loyalty; preserve your rights.” Maintain your rights! Aye, but they were the crown rights of manhood, freedom to oppose iniquity, freedom to worship God, and the very love in the hearts of those strong old Puritans made them claim the rights, and support their claim by death. There are rights which true love will never relinquish. She will always seek her own. On the other hand, there are rights which love is ever prepared to yield to others. If love had a right to the uppermost seat at a feast, and somebody else has got it, love would seek not her own, but would gracefully insist on the rights of the other. If love had a sitting in the Church of Christ, and came and found that someone else was seated there, love would not behave itself unseemly; love would seek not her own, but would cheerfully seek a seat elsewhere. Is not this the way of love? Would not this be the way of Christ? How many opportunities there are, in the whole round of life, where love might graciously abdicate its own rights for the comfort and interest of others. Let us keep our eyes open, that when the Master gives us such opportunity, we may use it according to His desire. And, some day, when the evening of our life is come, He will come to us, and because we have sought not our own, but have cheerfully yielded to others, He will whisper to us, “Friend, go up higher,” and the word will make us leap for joy as we enter the eternal world. “Love seeketh not her own.”

Steve Lewis:   It does not seek its own (zeteo) = to seek one's own interests as the primary concern. Paul used this same term when he made a similar statement in 1 Cor 10:24 -- "Let no one seek his own, but the good of his neighbor." There Paul explicitly stated what a man was to seek, rather than seeking after his own interests.

Mark Heber Miller:  (Love) does not look for its own interests.

The Greek is literally "not seeking things of itself." (OU ZETEI TA HEAUTES) It is variously rendered: KJV: seeketh not her own; MOF: never selfish; RSV: does not insist on its own way; TCNT: never self-seeking; NOR: not pursue selfish aims. Perhaps no phrase describes the general understanding of agape-love. The idea is expressed elsewhere by Paul. Indeed, a similar phrasing in Greek has already occurred in 1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let none seek selfish interests, but rather the interest of others." Philippians 2:4 is very similar: "Do not be looking after selfish interests, but rather those interests of others."

Here is the root of agape-love: interest, not in self, but in that of others. Truly, this is neighbor-love characterized by the Golden Rule: "Do to others just as you would have it done to yourself." (Luke 6:31) This means putting others before self, just as the example of our Lord, "Though he had a divine existence he did not insist on retaining his own rights, but rather he emptied himself and took on a slave’s existence in the likeness of humankind." (Philippians 2:6, 7) This is Paul’s example of not looking after just one’s own interests as he mentions in Philippians 2:4.

Love does not sit at home wondering why people don’t call. Love makes the call, posts the email, or sends the card to encourage another. Such love will attract other warm-hearted persons.

Robertson's Word Studies:  {Seeketh not its own} (ou zetei ta heautes). Its own interests (10:24,33).

BT Internet:  zhtew, seek, search for, look for

eJauto, eJauth, eJauton, him/her/itself

'not preoccupied with the issues of self' cf. Rom 15:3; 1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:4,21.

The Theologian: The Internet Journal for Integrated Theology:  Ouj zhtei' taV eJauth' - Paul has already indicated that they should imitate him in this and seek not their own advantage but the advantage of others. Self-centredness is immensely divisive, and could cause them to be "touchy" when they felt their interests were not being adequately addressed.

Bill Turner:  Love seeketh not her own, and does not insist upon her rights. "Ou zetei ta heautes."

Love does not seek its own interests. This follows on from the last quality of love, it is the cure for disorderly conduct and other misuses of the gifts. Love does not think of its own profit or interests. It considers how it may best profit others. The present tense shows us that the permanent guiding principle of a heart of love, is service, not self-seeking. Jn.13 all. Mt.20v20-28. Rom.15v1-6. N.B. v3. 1Cor.10v23,24.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes:  Seeketh not her own - Ease, pleasure, honour, or temporal advantage. Nay, sometimes the lover of mankind seeketh not, in some sense, even his own spiritual advantage; does not think of himself, so long as a zeal for the glory of God and the souls of men swallows him up.

Wesley, Sermon 22:  And in becoming all things to all men, "love seeketh not her own." In striving to please all men, the lover of mankind has no eye at all to his own temporal advantage. He covets no man's silver, or gold, or apparel: He desires nothing but the salvation of their souls: Yea, in some sense, he may be said, not to seek his own spiritual, any more than temporal, advantage; for while he is on the full stretch to save their souls from death, he, as it were, forgets himself. He does not think of himself, so long as that zeal for the glory of God swallows him up. Nay, at some times he may almost seem, through an excess of love, to give up himself, both his soul and his body; while he cries out, with Moses, "O, this people have sinned a great sin; yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -- ; and if not, blot me out of the book which thou hast written;" (Exod. 32:31, 32;) -- or, with St. Paul, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh!" (Rom. 9:3.)

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