Disciple Up # 93
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Pt. 4
The Perpetuity of the Spiritual Gifts Pt. 2
By Louie Marsh, 1-30-2019
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Have the Gifts Passed Away? Part Two
Links to websites discussing this issue.
The Passage in Question:
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (ESV)
Gifts Have Ceased View:
The Bible teaches that miraculous gifts were needed for a specific purpose and for a limited time. They were to confirm the Word until the revelation was completed in written form. Then they would vanish from the scene. Paul proves this in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
Paul, in verse 10, predicts: But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. Whenever that which is perfect came, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit ceased.
We must know what “perfect” refers to in this text. Then we may know whether or not “that which is perfect” has already come. The word “perfect” means “complete” or “whole.” The phrase, “that which,” indicates the word “perfect” refers to something, not someone. Yet, some apply this to Jesus Christ. He said “that which is perfect.” Paul’s words do not fit the context if we apply them to Jesus.
The Word of God is all-sufficient to produce obedient faith.
A Different View:
There are three main interpretations. “That which is perfect” is fulfilled when:
- Canon is complete, or
- The Church is mature, or
- Christ has come.
Let’s consider each view.
- Canon View. This is a relatively new interpretation, first espoused by William Edwy Vine (1873-1943), known for his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. This view contends that “that which is complete” refers to the New Testament canon or collection of Scriptures that had been written by the end of the apostolic age, though it wasn’t until the Council of Nicea (320 AD) that the books in our New Testament canon were affirmed throughout the church.
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Professor Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary, supports the cessation of the gifts at the end of the apostolic period, but has abandoned 1 Corinthians 13:10 as his proof text. Instead builds his doctrine of cessation from deductions based on Ephesians 2:20, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”
One of the chief problems with the concept of the canon being “that which is complete,” is that Paul — and even more, his readers — would have had no understanding whatsoever of the concept of the New Testament canon. Thus the identity of “that which is perfect” as the canon wouldn’t have occurred to his readers. From an exegetical standpoint, I believe the “canon view” is indefensible.
- Maturity View. The “maturity” interpretation also is a relatively new, first explained by Roy L. Laurin in his 1950 commentary, 1 Corinthians: Where Life Matures. This view takes teleiosas “a state of maturity” (as it is sometimes used in the New Testament) rather than its core meaning of “perfection, completeness.”
- Christ’s Coming or Eschatological View. Taking “that which is complete” as occurring in the period when Christ returns has been by far the majority view of this passage throughout church history, and there are good reasons why this is the case, in addition to the obvious weaknesses of the canon and maturity views.
- Teleios is best understood as “perfection” (rather than “maturity”) in light of Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This could have been easily understood by the Corinthian readers.
- The neuter form of teleios allows for understanding it as the state of perfection.
- An eschatological view of the cessation of spiritual gifts conforms with Paul’s more general statement in 1:7 –“You do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”
- “Face to face” is an Old Testament formula for a theophany which will occur following Christ’s return, so that point seems to be the period of, or after Christ’s return.
- Being fully known will only be true after Messiah comes. Isaiah foresaw this time of Messiah’s reign and the gathering of the nations (what we refer to as “the rapture”) when, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
Some Notes of Interest:
Christian Research Institute:
THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS- Evidence from the Church Fathers
I think it’s also noteworthy to point out that history repudiates the notion that the supernatural gifts ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture at the end of the Apostolic age. For example, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Ambrose, and others actually mention the use of supernatural gifts like tongues and prophecy long after the first century. And, of course, the Reformers also believed that the gifts of the Spirit were in perpetuity, not to mention many church leaders who are still alive today. To claim that spiritual gifts are no longer operative is, in my opinion, to fly in the face of both historical and contemporary evidence.
THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS- “Irrevocable”
Scripture tells us that the “gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
Another site adds:
We should note that Paul makes a distinction between the disappearance of the gifts of prophecy and knowledge and that of tongues. This is done using different Greek words and voices. With prophecy and knowledge, he used a word in the passive voice which meant “to be rendered inoperative.” Note also verse 9. But with tongues he used the middle voice and a word that meant “to cease.” The middle voice suggest that this gift would gradually die and disappear on its own. Probably because its primary purpose as a sign to the Jews (see chapter 14:20f) would cease after the fall of Jerusalem. This of course is debated.
Disciple Up Follow Up Follow Up!!
Excerpts From the Mancow Muller Article:
Where We Go From Here
6th The Gifts and the Filling of the Spirit
13th What is The Anointing?, Q&A?
20th – The Blasphemy of the Spirit, Q&A?
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