Love Covers A Multitude Of Sins: What Does 1 Peter 4:8 Mean?


1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (King James Version)

Translation1 Peter 4:8
ESVAbove all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
NASBAbove all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
NIVAbove all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
NLTMost important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Also see the meaning of Though I Walk Through the Valley to learn more.

Love Covers A Multitude Of Sins: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

4:7-11 The destruction of the Jewish church and nation, foretold by our Saviour, was very near. And the speedy approach of death and judgment concerns all, to which these words naturally lead our minds.

Our approaching end, is a powerful argument to make us sober in all worldly matters, and earnest in religion. There are so many things amiss in all, that unless love covers, excuses, and forgives in others, the mistakes and faults for which every one needs the forbearance of others, Satan will prevail to stir up divisions and discords.

But we are not to suppose that charity will cover or make amends for the sins of those who exercise it, so as to induce God to forgive them. The nature of a Christian’s work, which is high work and hard work, the goodness of the Master, and the excellence of the reward, all require that our endeavours should be serious and earnest.

And in all the duties and services of life, we should aim at the glory of God as our chief end. He is a miserable, unsettled wretch, who cleaves to himself, and forgets God; is only perplexed about his credit, and gain, and base ends, which are often broken, and which, when he attains, both he and they must shortly perish together.

But he who has given up himself and his all to God, may say confidently that the Lord is his portion; and nothing but glory through Christ Jesus, is solid and lasting; that abideth for ever.

Also see the meaning of Well Done Good and Faithful Servant to learn more.

1 Peter 4:8 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. above all things—not that “charity” or love is placed above “prayer,” but because love is the animating spirit, without which all other duties are dead. Translate as Greek, “Having your mutual (literally, ‘towards yourselves’) charity intense.” He presupposes its existence among them; he urges them to make it more fervent.

charity shall cover the multitude, &c.—The oldest manuscripts have “covereth.” Quoted from Pr 10:12; compare Pr 17:9. “Covereth” so as not harshly to condemn or expose faults; but forbearingly to bear the other’s burdens, forgiving and forgetting past offenses.

Perhaps the additional idea is included, By prayer for them, love tries to have them covered by God; and so being the instrument of converting the sinner from his error, “covereth a (not ‘the,’ as English Version) multitude of sins”; but the former idea from Proverbs is the prominent one.

It is not, as Rome teaches, “covereth” his own sins; for then the Greek middle voice would be used; and Pr 10:12; 17:9 support the Protestant view. “As God with His love covers my sins if I believe, so must I also cover the sins of my neighbor” [Luther].

Compare the conduct of Shem and Japheth to Noah (Ge 9:23), in contrast to Ham’s exposure of his father’s shame. We ought to cover others’ sins only where love itself does not require the contrary.

Also see the meaning of The Fear of the Lord Is the Beginning of Wisdom to learn more.

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