Verse 7 – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Paul closes out his fifteen characteristics of love with four sweeping (πάντα, “all things), positive statements about love.
Love “bears all things” (πάντα στέγει). The verb has led to much speculation about Paul’s meaning here. The cognate noun στέγη designates a “roof” and thus the verb means “to cover” and by extension “to endure” or “to bear.” It is used in non-Biblical Greek to describe covering to keep something from coming inside, like a ship in order to keep the water out or a roof on a building to keep the weather out. It can also be used of a lid that keeps liquid in a container.Thus, it can have an outward reference (to hold off) and an inward reference (to hold in). The meaning “to protect” or “to ward off” and “to defend” allowed for the development of meanings such as “to endure,” “to support,” “to bear.” Thus, the word could be used in a general sense and mean “to bear up against difficulties.” This seems to be how Paul used the term in 1 Thessalonians. He described a set of circumstances “when we could bear it [στέγοντες] no longer” and “were willing to be left behind at Athens alone” (1 Thess. 3:1). Paul added, “I could bear it [στέγων] no longer” and so “sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain” (v.5). Similarly, he used the term earlier in 1 Corinthians as he discussed the right to financial support from the Corinthian believers, “If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure [στέγομεν] anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:12).
How then are we to understand its meaning here? It is sometimes argued that the more general sense of “to endure” is unlikely here, for he will soon use the more frequently used verb that conveys that idea with the declaration, love “endures all things” (πάντα ὑπομένει). Such a redundancy is viewed as unlikely. For these reasons some view the covering as designed to keep something in and suggest the meaning “to keep confidential” in the sense that love “throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person.” Spicq suggests the meaning “keep secret, hidden,” so that “in all circumstances, love is characterized by discretion; in particular, it keeps quiet about evils and does not record them on a balance sheet; it covers evil with silence and does not try to exploit it.” This, then, becomes a rough equivalent of the command to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21; cf. 1 Thess. 5:15; Rom 12:17; 1Pet 3:9). This appears to be the intent of the NASB 2020 update, which translates “it keeps every confidence.” But, as we have seen, the covering also may keep something out. The NIV views love as safeguarding others (“It always protects”). Most English translations accept the more general the idea of bearing up under wrongdoing (e.g., CSB, ESV, NASU).
Love “believes all things” (πάντα πιστεύει). The Apostle is not advising gullibility. Love is ever wise and always discerning. Love is willing to follow the evidence, but does not assume the worst in others. It never looks for the downfall of others. Love “does not rejoice” in the possibility of “wrongdoing” (v.6a). When a negative report is received, love holds out for the best possible reality. When wrong is exposed, love holds out for the best possible intentions. Love does not deny painful evidence, but it is not quick to assume what is not proven. Furthermore, where wrongdoing is proven, love holds out for the fullness of God’s best for the wrongdoer. Love lays hold of God’s promises for both the accused and the guilty. Love claims in prayer all God’s promises on behalf of the fallen one. Love views people through gospel-eyes. In this way it “rejoices in the truth” (v.6b).
Love “hopes all things” (πάντα ἐλπίζει). Regarding a person’s present reality, love “believes all things.” Regarding another’s future, love “hopes all things.” When history said the Corinthian Christians could not be trusted, Paul chose to “hope all things” and trust them anyway. He held tenaciously to a great hope for them, believing he would reap a spiritual harvest among them (1 Cor. 9:10), their labors for Christ would not be in vain (15:58), as they shared in his sufferings, they would share in the comfort he received from God. (2 Cor. 1:7), and their faith would continue to grow (10:15).
Love “endures all things” (πάντα ὑπομένει). The verb is a compound, made up of ὑπό (“under”) and μένω (“to remain”). Thus, it depicts remaining under some downward pressure, refusing to move out from under its weight. Paul could say, “we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” (1 Cor. 9:12). At the end of his life, facing martyrdom, he testified, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). He told the Corinthians he served God
… by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Cor. 6:4-10)
… with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Cor. 11:23-27)
Truly, with his life Paul proved love “endures all things.”
The Corinthians seemed to believe they had a right to “all things” (πάντα is used three times in 1 Cor. 6:12). Paul turned their self-seeking, right-grabbing attitude on its ear, showing them the “more excellent way” (12:31) of love is not to selfishly grab after and demand “all things” for oneself, but to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things out of love for God and others.
 Friberg, 24894.
 BDAG, 6804.
 TDNT, 7:586.
 Spicq, 3:290.
 TDNT, 7:586.
 Spicq, 3:291.