1 Corinthians 13:7, "It [love, agape, ἀγάπη] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The greek "πάντα/panta" means all/every. What does it mean to "hope all?". Is this a double negative way of saying "don't have hope for a specific outcome?" If I hope for a healthy and happy future, is that in contradiction to love/agape? Should I hope for all possible outcomes and then confirm my hope in merely what happens? Does this mean concepts like "should" or "must" are to be discarded to realize the love we are commanded to feel for our neighbor and ourself? Does agape mean no hope (for a specific thing)?

I think 1 Corinthians 13 is a fascinating template defining what agape meant for the early church. This is essentially your lexicon entry for the term preserving its meaning into the future.

I will note that 1 Corinthians 13 ends with verse 13, "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

If we are to make love primary... well, specific hope is still in the list somehow, but love seems to hope for all things. What are we to make of this?

  • "ἀγάπη" is from the goodness of God and His good will for us, once was the" enemy"of God, John 3:16 is the proof of it. The πᾶς ,πάντα used to denote what "ἀγάπη NOT do, but in the v7,πᾶς ,πάντα denote the" positive, " and just as Jesus who gave His life for the sinner, wants to give life and abunduntly,, wants the best for us, v7 should be to mean: "hope for all the best," and that is "Biblical exegesis."
    – Sam
    Jun 3 '20 at 16:23
  • I added my own answer to this to clarify what my thinking. The KJV and the NRSV and many others disagree with your exegesis, @Sam, and so do I. NIV bible translation is closer to what you are saying... It has "[love] always hopes." I think that one is the falsest possible interpretation of early christianity and the torah.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 3 '20 at 18:43
  • (KJV) "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things," do i get that right, you means, hope "all things" denote both good and bad in the immediate and lager context?
    – Sam
    Jun 3 '20 at 18:56
  • Not at all @Sam, The previous line says it doesn't delight in injustice, but in truth. Truth here is described in the lexicon as: In ancient Greek culture, alḗtheia was synonymous for "reality" as the opposite of illusion, i.e. fact. The tag lines for good/evil are a variety, but not these, and commonly, ἀγαθὰ and φαῦλα or καλόν and πονηρόν. The idea that love delights in reality (truth), is a powerful call away from hope which is an illusion in our minds.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 3 '20 at 19:52
  • It is " inconsistency" to take only ἐλπίζω, and connects to " love delights in reality (truth)"V 6. Beside, ἀλήθεια) and ἐλπίζω are TWO distinctive word, not interchangeable nor "cross over." I agree, "The idea that love delights in reality (truth), is a powerful call away from hope,: though. What are you implying, "I think that one is the falsest possible interpretation"
    – Sam
    Jun 3 '20 at 20:28

There is a powerful and potent narrative against hope in this text, and that is almost completely missed in modern interpretations of Christianity and of the Torah.

It is interesting to note that the first time that the word agape is used in the bible is in the septuagint where God commands Abraham to take his beloved (αγαπητόν) son to the mountain top and to kill him. This is the very first time the word agape is used in the text that the first century authors carried with them and the christ story can be understood as cyclic history mapping Abraham to God and Isaac to Christ. You might even say that Isaac's "resurrection" took place on the third day of their journey (Gen 22:4). Our NT authors would not have been ignorant of this anchoring passage.

This came right after the following:

  • Abraham had been promised an heir and was only given the child after he and Sarah had given up hope. Sarah is as surprised as anyone that she conceived. They had been trying for so long, and she just names her Son "laughter" because of the absurdity of it.

Genesis 22:7, And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

  • Once Isaac is weened, Abraham and Sarah start making their plans and acting on their hopes for their future. They kick Ishmael and Hagar out and make alliances with Abimelech to start creating plans for their hoped for future and to set the stage for Isaac.

They had hoped for offspring and tried to make it happen on their own with Hagar and Abraham. They had lost hope and were only then given a son. They tried to make plans in their hope for the future by casting out Ishmael and creating alliances to secure land and power for Isaac. They started hoping for a certain, specific, outcome.

God then told Abraham to kill his son (his hopes for the future). Abraham raised the knife and then started to lower it, truly having let go of his hopes. God stopped him because he finally got it. Don't grasp these things with your plans and your hopes.

I think this is echoed in 1 Corinthians 13's exegesis of agape to "hope all things."

Know that the original authors of the new testament all had access to the septuagint and quoted from it frequently. Many authors likely didn't know how to read the Hebrew scriptures if they could access them. They would all be well aware of where their commandment to love showed its first example in scripture, and what that has to say about hope.

I think hope is the opposite of peace and joy. Hope is a feeling of incompleteness and a measure of the goodness of the future or the badness of the present (the fruit of the knowledge of good and bad from Eden). Hope pulls us out of the present moment.

They wouldn't be the only ones to get this either. While this is an ancient message in the Torah, the more modern Buddhists and Hindus also figured this out. The term "nirvana" means "to despair". It means to give up the breath (see John 19:30, "[Christ] yielded his breath/spirit."). The noun despair means to de-spirit (to yield up the spirit).

To be at peace (Shalom) also means to be complete. When one is complete, there is no hope. Hope is a feature of a perceived lack. Lacking is a value judgment of good or bad. It is a subjective feeling, not an objective one. Psalm 23 says "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." It doesn't mean, "I shall not want because the lord gives me all the stuff I want." No, it means something way different. It means that we hold out our hands, give up hope, and let the rod and the staff of God guide us like a shepherd uses them to drive the sheep against their own will, in a different direction. The sheep hopes to wander that way... the shepherd grabs him with the crook and yanks him back in line. The hope of the sheep required a correction.

In John 19:30 we have, "When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

The Aramaic he likely spoke was "salam" which means "it is complete, whole, at peace." Then he literally despaired.

I know that sounds nuts, but that is what he died for. When he says "it is complete," he meant it. There was nothing left for Christ. He became peace and entered the city of peace (city of shalom - jeruSALEM). He then handed that breath to us, his disciples, so that we could realize this too. Paradise is not a place where we feel incomplete and all of our hopes are continually sated, but where hope is gone and we actually realize our completeness and despair.

I know happy buddy Christ Jesus is out there telling you to hope hope hope so that the world can give you the next thing to consume, but I suggest thinking twice about what it means to hope all things when you read the command to love as christ loved. Hope is what keeps us from the city of peace and from the presence of God.

And the crazy paradox is that all that is not something we can achieve by hoping for it... We can't eliminate hope by thinking that it is a good thing to do and hoping for it. We are helpless in this. Only God can save (which is the meaning of Jesus' name - Joshua).

Hope that clarifies what I was thinking with this question.

The hermeneutic of despair is powerful.


We have first to come back to the basis. 1) 1Tim 5:1 states that love is the goal of the commands and come from: A pure heart A good conscienness Unfeigned faith 2) gal 5:22 23 states that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

In these verses there is no word about hope.

In 1 Cor 13:4 and 7 it appears that all the fruits from the spirit can be summarised in Love. In 1 Cor 13:7 love contains faith (believe all things) And Long suffering (endure all things). I would say that hope includes peace and joy by anticipation and also patience. It has to be based on an unfeigned or active faith to work. All this is related at last, one way or another, to Love. Because God is Love and we are requested to love God and others. So coming back to hope a loving relationship with God Is requested (knowing His love for us) and having a Word from Him in any field of our life or for others. Then we can rejoice and be happy and give thanks. Then there is period of maturation with the help of hope. I would say it is a positive imagination with associated patience. Provided that it based on a true Word of God (and not from our will) it is a way to align with God will.

We speak about positive hope only as in love there is no fear (negative hope) 1 John 4:18 2)

In Heb 11:1 it is clear that faith and hope are linked. « Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

In the OT many verses state that God is the hope Israel, our hope is in the Lord etc... and when there is no hope people are doomed. And Abraham « who against hope believed in hope » Rom 4:18 is a tremendous example for hope. Even when he was on the verge of sacrifying Isaac I had faith in God and was hoping he would ressurect him. If he had no hope he would not have obeyed.

In the NT Gal 5:5 we « hope for the righteousness by faith In Rom 5:2 we « access grace by faith... and rejoice in hope of the glory of God » in 1 Thess 1:3 « patience of Hope » in 1 Thess 5:8 the hope of salvation is one of the arms. In Col 1:23 we have to be grounded and settled in Faith « not moved away from the hope of the Gospel » So there is a close connection between faith and hope. Unfeigned faith will make us consider that it is already there and we can imagine with Joyce and peace the out coming. If there is no Joyce and peace during the time of hope, there is no faith. As Love believes all things then Love will hope for all things. All things from God (Word from God) and all things from men (like a child, with a pure heart). It is to be deliberately naive Without double mind without hypocrisy and accepting to be cheated Knowing that God is on our side.

How to get a Word of God is another topic.

  • Believe all? What does that mean? Even false things?
    – Gus L.
    Jun 2 '20 at 18:53
  • An unfeigned faith is one of the ingredient of Love. So (true agape) Love cannot be based on a wrong faith.
    – Thierry
    Jun 2 '20 at 19:42
  • The verb believe is related to 1) God - Love will believe all the Words from God 2) from Men - Love is like a child believing other men (like naive) even if it is not for our own advantage.
    – Thierry
    Jun 2 '20 at 19:55
  • This doesn't address the question about what it means to "hope all things." 1 Corinthians 13 is a definition of Love/Agape to the early christians. I would say that hope is the opposite of peace and joy. Hope pulls you out of the moment and into the future... that is what expectation means. Peace is to be still. Hope is to feel incomplete while peace is to feel complete.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 2 '20 at 21:17
  • I can give you a fresh example about the mechanism of hope. Coming back from a walk I could not find the keys of my flat. First I hoped it was in one of the pockets of my backpack.Then I had thrown some papers in the trash can. I hoped the trash can was still there and it was and I emptied it without success. Then I hoped the keys were on my mail box and that nobody had taken them. I had to manage to enter the building and I found that the keys was still there. So hope made me move to solve my problem. In the faith realm hope is very important as it keeps us moving toward the goal
    – Thierry
    Jun 3 '20 at 9:50

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