Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Is Your Take On Paul Meaning in 1 Cor 13:10?

In Pauls first letter to the Church to Corith in chapter 12-14 he talkes about Spiritual Gifts and the body of Christ. The question that I have is what do you think Paul means when he states in Chapter 13:10 "but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears."

Is it the return of Christ? Is it the death of the Christian? Is it establishment of the Church? What do think this means and why? Do we still have Spiritual gifts today? If so,which ones? Why? If not, why not?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Blogger Alan said...

I think the translation of as "perfect" is a leftover from the KJV era. In that era the word "perfect" was a pretty good parallel for "teleion", as likely to mean "complete" or "mature" as to connote divine perfection. I think the traditional translation is perpetuated because it is expected by most readers. But I think accepted principles of translation should lead to a different choice of words today. Context rules translation. We have to look at the context to determine the meaning.

The context beginning in chapter 12 is discussing the dysfunctional, competitive pursuit of the "greatest gifts" in the congregation. First he makes the point that all members of the body are equally important, despite having different gifts. Then he explains that they are mixed up about which gifts are greater. That explanation continues through chapter 14.

The first part of chapter 13 makes the point that love is greater than any other gifts. In verse 8, he begins an explanation of why prophecies, tongues, and knowledge are inferior to love. Love never "fails" (Thayer: perish, fall). In contrast, prophecies, tongues, and knowledge would end. They are temporary, but love is permanent.

In verse 9 he further explains why knowledge and prophecy would pass away. "We know in part (Gk merous), and we prophesy in part (Gk merous), but when the (Gk teleion) comes, the thing in part (merous) will disappear. In the context, teleion is being contrasted to something "in part" or partial. Teleion can mean perfect, complete, or mature. Among the three choices, the correct translation in this context, to make this contrast is "complete".

What is partial about the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge? Simply that they only reveal God's message in small pieces. When the complete message has been delivered and is available to the church, the individual pieces are no longer necessary.

Paul continues at the end of the chapter to say that now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. It sounds like there would be an era where faith, hope, and love endure, but gifts of tongues, prophecy, and knowledge would be gone. When could that be?

After the second coming, we will enter into our inheritance. It will no longer be based on faith, because we will see it. Then we will live by sight. Faith will have become obsolete. Similarly, we will no longer hope for our inheritance once we have received it. Who hopes for what he has already received? So faith and hope are features of this world, not the next. Therefore there must be a time prior to the end of this age, in which faith, hope, and love would endure, but tongues, prophecy, and knowledge would not. So the "teleion" in verse 10 cannot refer to Jesus coming back.

That is what I think the context demands.

11:37 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

alan makes some excellent points. I agree that "partial" and "fullness/completeness" seem to represent Paul's message better.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Darin L. Hamm said...

Well Paul is having a discussion with believers who think having spiritual gifts is the end all to be all. That is why he says what he says, nothing in the context IMO would lead anyone to think he wrote what he did to establish a timeline for miraculous gifts.

In the end whatever Paul is talking about is something that he will experience since he compares his current experience to the one that he will have after the “perfection” has come. He should have said, “Now I know in part, then others shall know fully” and the as I am fully known would have no place in the conversation.

It would seem he is letting them know that a personal experience with God is far superior to the current situation and because of that we should focus on what is most important, faith hope and love. Nothing in the context of the discussion would lead me to believe that his point in saying that these three remain was intended to be what was left after this perfection.

IMO He is saying that since this is true and we have this understanding that a superior time will come why are we not focusing on what is most important, faith, hope and love. But hey, that is just my take.

7:35 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you for your thoughts everyone. I believe that many believe the perfection is the church. Some view it as Jesus the "pecfect" one who will return again. If it is Jesus should we be more in turn with the Holy Spirit and the gifts. Should we use the Holy Spirit more in our lives, ministries, worship, etc.? What do you think?
Just something to think about.
Again thinks for adding to this disussion.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Bob Bliss said...

Kinney, we were away at Harding to see our son graduate so this is the first opportunity I've had to read your blog and respond. I hope that you haven't moved on and will read what I type.

I think part of the key to understanding this text begins in 8:1-2. Paul says that if we have ALL knowledge we don't know as we should know unless we love. Love is what makes knowledge complete. When we get to chapter 13 Paul is discussing the use (or rather the abuse) of gifts. I think that the knowing and prophesying in part refers not to the amount of information but to the manner of usage of the gifts. In 8:1-2 Paul tells them that the application of knowledge to eating meat sacrificed to idols wasn't complete until they applied love to their knowledge. I believe he is making a similar argument in 13:1-13 about spiritual gifts. Their usage of their spiritual gifts was incomplete because of the way in which they were using or abusing them.

Pulpit Magazine blog ( had an excellent discussion about cessation vs. continuation of gifts that discussed what the "perfect" is. There are many in the evangelical community who have a similar view to what is common in our brotherhood that the "perfect" was the completed New Testament. Jim McGuiggan's commentary on 1Corinthians has an extended discussion about his view which is the "perfect" being love or maturity. Anyway, another addition to the discussion.

11:10 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

You make a great point.
Thank you so much for the information and adding to the discussion it was great reading your view. I appreciate you adding to the discussions on this blog anytime. And congratulations on your son graduating from Harding. My brother graduated from there last year.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

We need look no further than verses 9-10 & 12 of this same chapter to find out when it is that perfection comes.

Verses 9-10 say, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes the imperfect disappears."

Verse 12 says, "Now we see but a poor 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."

These verses show that we go from "knowing in part" (now) to "knowing fully" (then - when perfection comes). Verse 12 also shows that perfection will come when we see (Jesus) face to face.

It's clear that since these events have not happened yet (at least for anyone still alive), perfection has not yet come, so prophecies, tongues, and knowledge can not have passed away. Besides, the Bible says that knowledge will increase until the end, so "when perfection comes" must refer to sometime after that (at least for those still alive at the time).

2:31 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thanks for adding your thoughts to this discussion I greatly appreciate it. It is a great view that really brings light to the text.

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