When the Perfect Comes

Anyway, a man named Alan posted some comments (http://regansravings.blogspot.com/2006/01/church-hunt-struggles-with-essential.html#comments) on the blog yesterday. They were well thought out comments that are worthy of being read. I'm going to address one thing that he brought up, but there is much more to chew on than just what I address here. Thanks for the well thought out comment, even if they disagree, and the fact that you put your name to them. That is appreciated.

"1 Cor 13:8-9 (WEB) says:
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with.

Miraculous knowledge (revelation) and prophecy came in bits and pieces. The prophet didn't receive the entire Word of God each time. It was partial. When the complete revelation has come (the Bible), the partial would pass away.

The KJV translated "perfect" in verse 10 rather than "complete". Most English translations follow that tradition. In KJ English that is a correct translation. But the context indicates that "complete" is the better translation, since the contrast is between that which is partial and that which is not partial. That is how the World English Bible has translated the verse. I haven't heard of any Greek scholars suggesting that this choice was improper.

Historically that seems to be what happened. By the middle of the 2nd century (a generation or so after the last apostle), church writings indicate that there were no legitimate miraculous gifts remaining in the church."

The question is whether we view the perfect as the Bible of as Jesus' physical return. I believe the latter for the following reasons. I have seen miraculous spiritual gifts, but my personal experience can be tainted. So I'll try to look at the Scripture in question as best as I can.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (NAS) 8 Love 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror 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, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

v.12 - Paul talks about how he will know fully in the days when the perfect comes. I do not think that we know fully even with Scripture. This very discussion is evidence against that. Brothers and sisters in Christ disagree when reading the Scriptures. None of us fully know all things, but when Jesus returns we will all have the complete and perfect knowledge of all things. Our mirror is still dim. Our spiritual eyes are not what they should be. We struggle, contemplate, and pray over Scripture, and yet there is none of us that probably believe exactly the same things we believed 10-20 years before. We grow. We see more clearly every day.

"13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

But even if their was an age of the miraclous time of the Spirit that might've ended, the most important things then were faith, hope, and love. Abide carries with it an eternal significance. These things will not be done away with; they should last now and forevermore. They are what is important. The "perfect" will bring about perfect faith, hope, and love. So when we are surrounded by perfect faith, hope, and love that has been brought about by the arrival of the "perfect" then we will know that the "perfect" has truly come.

I do think it is important to hold onto these things no matter where we find ourselves in this discussion. Whether we believe baptism is the only point of salvation or not - whether we believe the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are gone or not - in the end those intellectual concepts seem to not really matter. What matters is faith, hope, and love. Let us always exhibit those three as we live in the grace of Christ with unity toward one another.

Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Watch out for the Potholes.