13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
The Excellence of Love (NASV)
13 If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may [a]glory, but do not have love, it does me no good.
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 5 It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 6 it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 it [b]keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away with; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part and prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.
8-12 Love is permanent, in contrast with prophecies, tongues, and knowledge—all of which will cease to exist because they will cease to be needed. The reason these three will cease is that they are imperfect and partial (vv.9-10) compared to perfect knowledge and prophetic understanding in heaven. Paul does not say when they will cease. Some think he meant that the need for miraculous gifts would cease to exist at the end of the apostolic period. This view is based in part on the implications of the meaning of the term “perfection” in v.10, which is taken to refer here to the completion of the canon at the end of the first century A.D. With this view, the term “prophecies” in v.8 is taken narrowly as referring to direct, inspired revelatory communication from the Holy Spirit. This cessation would apply also to tongues and to the special gift of knowledge (vv.8-9).
There is something attractive about this view as an argument against the position that the gifts of vv.8-10 continued beyond the apostolic period; however, it is difficult to prove the cessation of these gifts at the end of the first century A.D. by taking “perfection” (teleion) to refer to a completion of the canon at that time, since that idea is totally extraneous to the context. On the other hand, in a number of contexts the Greek words related to teleion, such as telos (“end”) and teleo (“to bring to an end”) are used in relation to the second coming of Christ. This is true in both 1:8; 15:24 and in non-Pauline writing (cf. Jas 5:11; Rev 20:5, 7; 21:6; 22:13). Therefore, it seems more appropriate to understand teleion in v.10 to mean that “perfection” is to come about at the Second Coming, or, if before, when the Christian dies and is taken to be with the Lord (2Co 5:1-10).
Jesus’ same-natured Kingdom.
The strongest argument against cessation theology and for the continuance of the
supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit is the continuance of Jesus’ same-natured and ever-
increasing kingdom. A removal of any of its intrinsic elements must be considered a major decrease. That’s the essence of what’s being contested here—i.e., the nature of the kingdom of God for today. RT Kendall.
“How Christ-like is the Christ likeness believers in Him supposed to seek and be?”
Make no mistake; Jesus Christ was charismatic. Paul was charismatic. The early Church was charismatic. But if the cessationists are correct, Christianity is no longer charismatic. And our 1st-century brethren are no longer our models of the Christian life. Therefore, we have no model and everything is up for grabs. Hence, the basic question here is: In other words, what should be normative for the practice of modern-day Christianity? Unfortunately, most Christians, as well as people in general, tend to believe what they want to believe and not what Scripture says and requires. John Noē, Ph.D.
His Words will never pass away!
Emphatically, Jesus declared that “heaven and earth will pass away [that was the OldCovenant system], but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). His words would surely include everything recorded in the New Testament regarding his kingdom and doing his works and even greater works, would they not?
Then why would God have withdrawn the supernatural empowerment it takes to do them?
Do his claims for having “all authority in heaven and on earth” and command “to teach them [and us] to obey everything I have commanded you to do” (Matt. 28:18-20) still apply?
Further list of Problems:
“And in the church God has appointed . . . ” (1 Cor. 12:28 ). 1 Corinthians 12:28
- Isn’t the Church still here? Being “in Christ” and in “one body” (Rom. 12:5-8). Is this still applicable? Or is there a major difference between then and now—i.e., one with these gifts and one without?
- Jesus prayed for “oneness” in his prayer for all believers (John 17:11, 20-23). But how much “oneness” is “oneness” today?
- Is the same Holy Spirit Who healed people through Jesus, Paul, the apostles, and others vs. back then still the same Holy Spirit Who heals today through God’s people, prayer, and other means, as God wills?
- Paul called the Colossians to be “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Col. 4:11). Then how much of the kingdom of God are we moderns to be workers thereof?
- If these gifts were the distinctive mark of the New Testament believers, along with their message, then what is our mark today that distinguishes us from non-believers?
- In Christ they became “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). What are we today partaking of—the lesser traditions of men (see Mark 7:13; Matt. 15:6)?
- Are we now to believe that God has brought back the delivery truck to earth and
repossessed parts of his “once for all delivered faith” (Jude 3), post A.D. 70 or at the end
of the 1st century?
- Are we no longer as blessed by God as they were—“with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3) and “not lack[ing] any spiritual gift” (1 Cor. 1:7)? Well, if these gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit ceased when withdrawn by God, then we today lack them, right?
- Are we to believe that these spiritual gifts were revoked by God despite Paul assuring us: “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29)?
- How much of our faith today is still “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20)?
- Are these other spiritual powers and forces still at work today—called “rulers,
“authorities,” “powers,” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph.
6:12b)? If so, why didn’t God withdraw them as well?
- Truly, if the cessationists are right, their view makes obsolete a whole bunch of New Testament scriptures.
The Big Problem:
The big problem here is, when you start ceasing things, it’s hard to know when and how to stop—i.e., by what hermeneutic? Once begun, there is no contextual logic to what cessationists will attempt to cease and discard from the Christian life and practice taught and modeled in the New Testament.
How Much Ceased? Answers vary from all (everything supernatural), to only three or four things, to none. All the supernatural, charismata gifts ceased.
By what hermeneutic can one claim the extraordinary gifts (such as prophecy, tongues, and healing) for building up the Church were limited to the apostolic era and the more ordinary gifts, such as teaching, serving, and administration were not? Or that apostles and prophets ceased but evangelists, pastors, and teachers continue on?
None ceased. A strong exegetical case can be made that there was no cessation of any of the spiritual gifts.
A Hebrew Parallelism
The construction of vss. 8-12 is a Hebrew parallelism. A parallelism is a literary and
rhetorical device. It is a matter of relationship between lines and/or parts of lines; a correspondence of one thing with another.
The parallelism of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, is comprised of a three-part constant (prophecies, tongues, and knowledge) paralleled with a two-part variable (now present / but will cease).23 Therefore, what is said for one part of this constant is true for all three parts—even if all three are not always mentioned.
Not Four Declarative Statements
The NIV poorly translates vs. 8 as four declarative statements: 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Thus, a more accurate, grammatical, and literal translation of 1 Corinthians 13:8 would be this: “Love never fails, but if (whether) prophecies, they will be abolished; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be abolished.” These are big “ifs,” and hypotheticals, not declarative facts. Big difference!
Exegetically, what we have in this verse is one declarative statement that is dramatically emphasized by the literary device of three conditional, hypothetical, and hyperbolic (exaggerated) clauses. Thus, this construction utilizes three absurdities to dramatize Paul’s main point throughout this passage of the supreme value of love—i.e., “But if (whether) . . . . love never fails.” Consequently, in 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul is not declaring that these three constant things will cease. He is utilizing three conditional clauses to dramatically emphasize his one declarative point that “love never fails.” Hence, this one verse or entire chapter, cannot be used to toss out everything Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 12, 14, and Ephesians 4. After all, in 1
Corinthians 12:28, “the church” is still here, isn’t it? Let’s not make more of 1 Corinthians 13, than Paul did. Yes, it sounds absolute, but these poor translations should warn us about forcing hypotheticals into preconceived absolutes. Instead, we need to better discern how this imagery is used in this and other contexts.
Primitive historical Christianity must always be essentially normative, and if later types of
religion so diverge from the primitive type as to find the New Testament rather an embarrassment
than an inspiration, the question they raise is whether they can any longer be recognized as
Cessationism is no longer the default position of evangelical Christianity as it was during and
following the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, which was a reaction against the
claimed miracles in the Catholic Church]. This is partly due to the worldwide growth of the
Pentecostal-charismatic movement, in which miraculous spiritual gifts play a prominent role.
What’s at stake here? Alot!! What distinguished the Hebrews who went in and took the promised land from their previous generation who died in the wilderness?
Joshua was victorious in destroying the Canaanites because of a new breed of Israelite; those who took God at His Word!!!
The children of those who had been redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the Passover were now claiming the blessing of that redemption.