God's Truth In Love

Do Spiritual Gifts Cease?

In Advice, Agape Love, Apostasy, Bible, Biblical Principles, Chrisitan Lifestyle, Christian, Christian Living, Christianity, Devotional, Encouragement, Exhortation, Fruits of the Holy Spirit, God, God's Voice, Godliness, Godly Counsel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Love, Prophecy, Prophet, Prophetess, Rhema Words, Spiritual Fruit, Truth, Uncategorized on May 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

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Question Summary:

“I have done some reading on my own but would love your input on this particular verse, 1 Corinthians 13:8. It seems it could be taken out of context to mean something different then intended but I’m not sure.”

Reply:

Thank you for your question about 1 Corinthians 13:8 and yes, it is a verse that is often misrepresented and misused, by those who do not believe in what is often referred to as the Pentecostal or Charismatic Gifts, of prophecy, words of knowledge, and tongues. It is a verse that is distorted in order to make a claim that these Spiritual Gifts are not in operation anymore within the Body of Christ.

As I frequently try to remind people, context is everything with Scripture. Context of the verses surrounding the verse you are studying, context of the entire chapter, and at times context of the entire book of the Bible you are examining. Therefore, we should look at the context of 1 Corinthians before and after chapter thirteen.

Chapters 1-4 Talks about spiritual gifts, the use of wisdom, carnality, the need for good stewardship in handling mysteries of God, the need for spiritual parenting and spiritual care…

Chapters 5-7 Deals with immorality within the church, the need to “judge”, yes judge immorality, how Christians should treat each other, how we should treat our bodies, how we should act in marriage, instructions for the unmarried and widowed…

Chapters 8-10 Has us examine ourselves internally (our conscious), the need for self-denial, service, and perseverance throughout the Christian’s lifespan…

Chapters 10-11 Addresses religious practices and ordinances.

Chapters 12-14 Focuses primarily on love and on the use of the spiritual gifts in their proper form.

Then we reach the part of the book on which the question is based and that will be the focus of our examination. However, it is important to point out the context of the few chapters that follow this portion.

Chapter 15 Addresses our Resurrected Christ and our ultimate glorification in the next life.

That for the most part is the book of 1 Corinthians. Now understanding the context of 1 Corinthians, we examine this specific passage of Scripture.

Paul has just described what “love” looks like in a tangible sense (1 Corn.13:4-7) and is now going to make a point about love.

1 Corinthians 13:8–13 (AV) (KJV)

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

“they shall fail” v.8

“it shall vanish away” v.8

“shall be done away” v.10

“I put away” v.11

All four of these phrases have the same Greek definition. It is as follows:

2673. καταργέω katargĕō, kat-arg-eh´-o; from 2596 and 691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:— abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

There is clearly a time when these gifts will cease to exist. However, the key to when that time is, or will be, can be found in proper understanding and context of 1 Corinthians as a whole and through understanding of other passages in the Bible.

In order for those gifts to cease, “that which is perfect” v.10, must come into existence.

According to the Greek language, “that which is perfect” is a “variety of states of completeness, in character, perfection, growth, labor” and that completeness means “to set out for a definite point or goal”, “the point aimed at as a limit”, “a result immediately or ultimately or prophetic of a purpose”, “specifically to levy an end”, “the uttermost” of a state, and most importantly, “the conclusion of an act or state (termination [literally, figuratively, indefinitely]” – which speaks to the eternal not the temporal.

This addresses the state of being once the Body of Christ has entered Glory, not while the Body of Christ is on the earth.

Let me elaborate on this point by addressing each verse that follows verse eight, where the statement about the ceasing of the gifts is made – verses ten through thirteen.

v.10 In perfection (glory) everything will be complete, there will be no more need for gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc.

v.11 Paul equates transferring from this life to glory, as a level of perfection or maturity that is simply the next step. Then he gives the example of transferring from a level of maturity a child would have, to a level of maturity a man would have. He says, ‘he put away childish things’ because it was the next step in his perfection or maturity as a young man. One day, our next step in our maturity or perfection in Christ, will be to put off this world, the spiritual gifts we use in this world and move into the next realm of our existence, glory, where we will be perfectly completed in Christ.

v.12 Paul talks about the completeness and maturity of his understanding, of our understanding, and spiritual insight once we see Jesus face to face and know ALL there is to know and UNDERSTAND all there is to understand. He acknowledges that he, Paul, is fully known by Christ but that he, Paul, does not fully know the things of God this side of heaven, this side of residing in His, Christ’s, Glory.

v.13 Paul talks about faith, hope, and charity (agape or action type love) and he tells us that for now we act, live, use our gifts, etc. out of “faith”, to the degree of our “faith”, and we rest our “hope” in the Truth that God will use them, having our “hope” in God alone, as we act motivated by “charity” aka love for God and the Body of Christ. He makes the point that of the three, “charity” (love) is the primary one that will transcend this life into the next life, eternal life in glory. Once in glory, faith will not be needed, for our faith will become complete because all will be seen and known (Heb. 11:1). Once in glory our hope will also be made complete because we will have the fulfillment of all we have hoped for during our Christian walk on earth (Heb.11:1).

Paul then immediately launches right into encouraging us and exhorting us to desire the most coveted spiritual gifts and tell us why. Therefore, the use and importance of these gifts are a priority, both then and now. Paul had addressed the three gifts of, Words of Knowledge, Gif of Tongues, and Prophecy because he had been teaching in the prior chapters that all gifts were important and needed within the Body of Christ; therefore, there was no need for spiritual jealousy among the brethren – that ultimately all spiritual gifts regardless of their power would go away once we were all in glory together. Prior to this point in 1 Corinthians 13 and 14, the focus has been on the need for unity and love among True Believer, instead of infighting and jealousy over gifts and callings (1 Corn. 12:12-31).

1 Corinthians 14:1–5 (NKJV)

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

It is also made clear in the book of Ephesians, when spiritual gifts are being addressed, that the need for apostles and prophets exist, the two callings that tend to use the aforementioned gifts the most. The purpose is to grow the Body of Christ and keep them from the spiritual danger of being lead astray or becoming apostate, which sadly is exactly what wrong teaching on the subject of 1 Corn. 13:8-13 does. Proper teaching, which the fivefold ministry is required by God to do, is to continue until the Body of Christ or the individual is completely spiritually mature, which is something that never happens until a saint goes to be with Jesus in glory. I have never met any mature Christian, who consideration themselves to be completely mature, or perfect – only perfect in Christ. Each mature Believer, I have ever encountered, knew there was so much more they had to learn – this attitude, in and of itself, is a testimony to their maturity.

Ephesians 4:11–16 (NKJV)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Again, in conclusion, in the end all spiritual gifts will go away once we are all in glory together, but not prior to that time. They might be exhibited among the Brethren to a greater or lesser degree at any given time in history but they will not completely cease until after the rapture and/or the Body of Christ has been transformed in the New Jerusalem. This passage in 1 Corinthians 13 is meant to remind us of our need for unity and love among the True Saints of God, Saints being another name for Believers.

 

Regarding worldviews:

Secular sources – self-help, advice, mass media – some of these resources can be useful in obtaining knowledge about what is going on in our world but they are not credible sources for a Believer when it comes to establishing beliefs, opinions, and directives for life. The gap between the two foundational platforms (biblical vs. secular) is too vast at this point in our present day society to bring reconciliation between the two. A Believer should seek out Christian lifestyle training, godly counsel, and Christian forms of mass media using those to shape their approach to life.

 

Spiritual/Political Disclaimer:

This blog will not be for the faint of heart or the easily offended. It will not be in any way politically correct. It will make every effort to share the truth in love, [Ephesians 4:11-16], to a decaying and dying society and church. I share what I share not to hurt, harm, or offend any person[s] or group; I do it because Christ’s Standard and Truth is not being represented by enough of His Followers and I do it out of love. I love enough to tell His Truth.

Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV

11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

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