1 Corinthians 13:8–13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts -- By: R. Bruce Compton

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 09:1 (Fall 2004)
Article: 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts
Author: R. Bruce Compton


1 Corinthians 13:8–13 And The
Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts

R. Bruce Compton1

Introduction

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:8–13).2

As recent publications indicate, the debate over the present versus the future cessation of miraculous gifts continues unabated.3 Central to this

debate has been Paul’s discussion of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge in 1 Corinthians 13:8–13. The two key questions addressed in this passage are the interpretation of “the perfect” in 13:10 and the point at which prophecy, tongues, and knowledge cease.

An interpretation that has enjoyed support over the years is that “the perfect” refers to the New Testament canon and that miraculous gifts ceased with the closing of the canon at the end of the first century.4 However, this interpretation has come under fire by representatives from both sides of the cessation issue. As one advocate for future cessation has declared, “Evidence from the context that ‘the perfect’ refers to the second coming, together with the impossibility that Paul could have expected the Corinthian Christians to think he meant the canon, has left few evangelical scholars who continue to use this text to support a [present] cessation of the gifts.”5

Such criticisms notwithstanding, the purpose of this article is to reexamine the exegetical evidence from 1 Corinthians 13:8–13 and to defend the above interpretation, namely, that “the perfect” in 13:10 refers to the completed New Testament canon and that ...

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