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What does the inspired Bible say?

Cessation of spiritual gifts
Exposition of: 1 Cor 13:8-13
(Part 2 of 3)

Part 1: Intro and foundational arguments
Part 3: Pentecostal arguments refuted



Detailed theological refutation of 20th century tongues that proves tongues ceased sometime around 100 AD.


Gifts cease when the "Perfect comes"

1 Cor 13:8-13


Gifts cease before the second coming, specifically around 100 AD

False view

Gifts cease at the second coming


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Sometimes Truth makes Love hurt
"You are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth" Jn 8:40
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  1. 1 Cor 13:8-13: Gifts ceased upon the completion of the canon
    1. Setting the context:
      1. In 1 Cor 13 Paul discussed spiritual gifts from two angles.

        V1-7 He singled out tongues, prophecy, inspired knowledge and supernatural faith (as representative of all spiritual gifts) and contrasted them with love as their superior (vs. 1-7).

        This contrast has to do with the value of spiritual gifts.


        V8-13 Then Paul referred to the three gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge (again obviously representing all spiritual gifts) and contrasted them with the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love (vs. 8-13).

        This contrast has to do with the duration of spiritual gifts. As long as earthly life shall last, faith, hope and love will abide (v. 13), whereas spiritual gifts were going to "cease" or be "be done away" (v. 8). The termination of the gifts would be "when that which is perfect is come" (v. 10).

      3. The nouns "prophecy" and "knowledge" (vs. 2, 8) are feminine in the Greek. But in verses 9 and 10 we have verbs, not nouns, thus requiring neuter modifiers. In verse 9 the verbs "know" and "prophesy" are both modified by the adverbial expression ek merous ("in part"). But in verse 10 those verbs and their modifiers are brought together and replaced by the single substantive expression to ek merous ("that which is in part"). Whatever is partial in verse 9 is "that" which is partial in verse 10. And since to teleion ("the perfect") is the counterpart to to ek rmerous ("that which is in part"), it is absolutely clear that the "perfect" also refers to those same verbs. Therefore, the word "perfect" describes the completion of inspired preaching and points to the consequent cessation of the spiritual gifts which enabled and confirmed that preaching.


      Contrasts in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13


      Between the "now" 56 AD

      And then "then" 96 AD


      Between that which fails

      And that which never fails


      Between that which ceases

      And that which does not cease


      Between the part

      And the whole


      Between the incomplete

      And the complete


      Between the childhood state

      And the state of mature manhood


      Between knowing only part

      And knowing fully


      Between seeing things darkly

      And seeing them clearly (face to face)

    2. Think of 1 Cor 13:8-13 as Paul's sermon outline entitled "Partial Vs Complete Knowledge" It has an introduction that states the main point, two illustrations of this main point, and a conclusion that restates the point!


A. Introduction: States the main point plainly in V9-10

  • The contrast is between partial and complete KNOWLEDGE

B. Illustrations: Uses two illustrations to explain main point:

  • FIRST: child/man v11 (see 1 Cor 14:20 gifts referred to as childish)
  • SECOND: mirror darkly/face to face V12 (polished brass mirror)

C. Conclusion: Restates main point again plainly: V13

  • contrast is once again between partial and complete KNOWLEDGE

Partial Vs Complete Knowledge

Now = part knowledge

Then = perfect knowledge


v9 Know & prophecy in part

v10 the perfect comes

v8-10 gifts done away

v11 as a child

v11 became a man

v11 childish things done away

v12 mirror dimly

v12 face to face (mirror clearly)

v13 faith, hope & love remain after gifts have ceases

v12 Know in part

v12 know fully

    1. We now draw your attention to three parallel passages:
    2. 1 Cor 12-14

      Ephesians 4

      Romans 12

      To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit 12:7

      To each one grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift v7

      We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us v6

      The Spirit distributes to each one individually just as He wills v11

      When He ascended on High He gave gifts to men v8

      God has allotted to each a measure of faith v3

      To one is given wisdom, knowledge, faith healings, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues 12:8-10


      Prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading mercy v6-8

      God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, kinds of tongues 12:28

      He gave some apostles, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers v11


      For the common good, seek to abound for the edification of the church 12:7 14:12

      for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body v12


      love never fails 12:1-8

      building up of body in love v15

      each devoted in love v 9-10

      Gifts will cease ... now we know in part, then we will know fully 13:10,12

      until we attain to the knowledge of the son of man v13


      When I was a child...When I became a man 13:11

      To a mature man, not child tossed about by winds of doctrine but to grow up v13-15

      that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. v2

      Now you are Christ's body and individually members of it 12:27

      The whole body fitted according to the working of each individual part v16

      we are one body in Christ and individually members of one another v4-5


    3. Summary of three parallel passages:



know and prophecy only a part

know fully, perfect knowledge of Christ

Children tosses about

became a mature man

look into mirror dimly

face to face (mirror clearly)

every wind of doctrine

unity of the faith

  1. 1 Cor 13:8-13: Definition of perfect (teleion)
    1. Greek Definition of perfect: "teleion"
      1. VINE: "Signifies having reached its end, finished, complete, perfect"
      2. THAYER: "brought to its end, wanting nothing necessary to completeness; when used of men it means full-grown, adult, of full age, mature."
      3. BAGSTER: "brought to completion, complete, entire, as opposed to what is partial or limited"
      4. ARNDT & GINGRICH: "having attained the end or purpose, complete, perfect"
    2. The Greek word "perfect" does not denote the idea of blamelessness, perfection or complete holiness as our English word "perfect" does today.
    3. The Greek adjective translated "perfect" (teleios) means "having attained the end or purpose, complete."' It may be applied to people with the meaning of "full-grown, mature, adult" being "perfect and entire, lacking in nothing' Jas. 1:4. Or it may refer to the finality of anything, something which has been "brought to its end, finished." In contrast to the often-heard statement that "nothing in this world is perfect," let us notice how the New Testament uses this Greek word in some of its twenty occurrences.
      1. Christians are expected to be "perfect" (in the sense of being full-grown or mature)
      2. in loving both friends and enemies (Matt. 5:44-47; cf. Luke 6:36)
      3. in commitment to Christ (Matt. 19:21)
      4. in spiritual discernment (1 Cor 2:6, 14)
      5. in attitude (1 Cor 14:20)
      6. in knowledge of the way of salvation (Phil. 3:15)
      7. in union with Christ (Col. 1:28)
      8. in remaining true to God's will (Col. 4:12), and in being able to distinguish between good and evil (Heb. 5:14).
      9. One does not have to reach heaven before having this kind of perfection.
      10. Paul and others were already "perfect" (Phil. 3:15), though not sinless.
      11. Likewise, God's system of salvation has perfection (wholeness, completeness) in its earthly processes. For example, his gifts to us are complete Jas. 1:17; patience or stead-fastness has its "perfect" (complete) work in our lives Jas. 1:4; and faith is perfected or completed (the verb form here) by our works (Jas. 2:22).
      12. Therefore, some things in this world are "perfect" in the biblical meaning of the word.
  2. What does perfect refer to in 1 Cor 13:8-13?
    1. The different views of what perfect refers to:

Gifts cease before the second coming

Gifts cease at the second coming
(False views)

The "perfect comes" refers to:

  • "perfect knowledge", the completion of the God's revelation (canon)
  • the corporate maturity of the church brought about by the completion of God's revelation (canon)

The "perfect comes" refers to:

  • The perfect "Jesus Christ" when he comes again.
  • The "corporate maturity" of the church at second coming.
  • The "individual perfection" of the believer at death.
  • The "eschatological perfection" brought about by the second coming of Christ and the eternal state of heaven.

The truth is that the perfect comes, refers specifically to the completion of the full revelation of the New Covenant to man. The church exists in an immature corporate, collective state until this revelation is complete, at which point gifts are no longer needed and the church is fully mature.

    1. Refers to the completion of the revelation of the Gospel. (canon)

True method of interpretation:

in part what?

perfect what?

Partially full glass

completely full glass

Partially full gas tank

completely full gas tank

Partially full knowledge

completely full knowledge

Pentecostal method of interpretation:

in part what?

perfect what?

Partially full glass

completely full knowledge

Partially full gas tank

completely full glass

Partially full knowledge

completely full gas tank

Partially full knowledge

completely full second coming

The object noun MUST BE THE SAME!!!

  • Two times we are specifically told by the Holy Spirit that "knowledge, know, knowing" is the "object noun" of "Perfect"
  • "We know in part" we only know part of the truth
  • "But when the perfect comes" then we will know all of God's will for us.

Knowledge is the object noun of Perfect


For we know in part, and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes

It is an irrefutable conclusion that knowledge is the object noun of perfect. This conclusion is reinforced by the parallel in Eph 4:13, "until we attain to the knowledge of the son of man"


now I know in part but then I shall know fully

It is an irrefutable conclusion that
the perfect comes = knowing fully

1. Does "ejk mevrou" and "toV tevleion" refer to states of knowledge or qualities of methods by which knowledge is acquired? Both Gaffin (Perspectives on Pentecost, p110) and Grudem (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 324 n. 93) appear to see some overlap in these views. This may be because the states of knowledge must have a means to produce them, and the means of obtaining knowledge must have a product.

2. The work of Christ on the Cross was complete, but we did not have a compete revelation about it until later: John 19:30

  1. Gifts cease when church reaches corporate maturity
    1. Paul employs the first of two illustrations to the main point, where he contrasts being a child, (with spiritual gifts) were being a man (knowledge compete no spiritual gifts needed)
    2. 1 Cor 13:11 Corporate maturity illustration


      During the age of spiritual gifts when revelation of incomplete and the Bible was not fully written.

      100 AD - present

      Revelation complete, Bible finished in 96 AD. Gifts ceasing is equated directly with a man doing away with childish things.

    3. Two parallel passages that teach the identical thing:
    4. 1 Cor 13:11

      Eph 4:13

      "When 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."

      "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

      Notice that both 1 Cor 13 and Eph 4 equate attaining fullness of knowledge with becoming a mature man.

    5. Refers to the completion of the Bible which will bring about maturity of the corporate church.
    6. Think about spiritual gifts as a scaffolding.
    7. Gregory the Great, 600 AD, viewed spiritual gifts as a temporary scaffolding while commented on Mark 16:17; "Is it so, my brethren, that because ye do not these signs, ye do not believe? On the contrary, they were necessary , in the beginning of the church; for, that faith might grow, it required miracles to cherish it withal; just as when we plant shrubs, we water them until we see them thrive in the ground, and as soon as they are well rooted we cease our irrigation.''
    8. 1. Notice that he used the idea of a shrub being cared for until self sustaining then the care ceases.

    9. In the picture below we have three stages of building a highway over pass (bridge).


Stage #1: Scaffolding (spiritual gifts) put up and structure built on top (church)

Stage #2: Permanent side supports are built (word of God) while scaffolding (gifts) are still in place.

Stage #3: When the side supports are compete (bible finished in 96 AD) the scaffolding is removed, no longer needed for anything. Now the Word of God supplies everything that the gifts were purposed to do! We have a miracle confirmed message designed to edify the church!

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A. Spiritual gifts revealed the pattern of doctrine and morality

  • Eph 4:14 The purpose of gifts and ultimately the Bible was, "as a result let us not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine"
  • Gifts did restrain false doctrine in the let century: 2 Th 2:6,7

B. When the HS withdrew gifts from the church, what was left was:

  • the "sword of the Spirit" Eph 6:17
  • "the power of God for salvation" Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18; Jas 1:21
  • a book which fully furnishes: 2 Ti 3:16,17
  • Have all truth in written form: Jn 16:13 + 2 Pe 1:3


    1. False Pentecostal position: This corporate maturing process is the correct interpretation of the passage, but it is an ongoing process that only finishes at the second coming, not sometime around 96 AD when the Bible was completed.

1. Actual quote from Pentecostal doctrine book: "1 Cor 13 & Eph 4 both speak of the church corporately growing into full manhood, which is a progressive, continuing and future fact"

2. This Pentecostal interpretation states that as time goes on, the church would become more mature, more Christ like and have a fuller understanding of doctrinal things and have an increased "unity of faith". All these things increase gradually over time till the second coming.

3. To refute this view, we merely point out that:

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  1. Gifts will cease before the second coming:
      1. The very context of 1 Co 13:8-13 proves that gifts must cease prior to the second coming!!!
      2. "The purpose of miracles was to dispense God's revelation to man and to confirm it as genuine (Heb 2:3-4). Faith looks forward to fulfillment. It is "the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1, ASV). While we live in this world, "we walk by faith, not by sight" (I1 Cor 5:7). Faith is a characteristic of this age. It is "unto the saving of the soul" (Heb 10:39). Likewise, hope is limited to earthly existence. It involves steadfastness (Rom. 15:4), waiting (Gal. 5:5), expectation (Phil. 1:20), looking (Tit. 2:13) and laying hold (Heb. 6:18) "unto the end" (Heb. 3:6; 6:11). But it will not exist in heaven because," hope that is seen is not hope" (Rom. 8:24). So now "we hope for that which see not" (v. 25).
      3. Faith Heb 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
      4. Hope Rom 8:24: "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."
      5. Conclusion: Faith and hope will cease at the second coming. Only by employing a non-biblical definition of faith and hope can they be projected into all eternity.
      6. The contrast has to do with the temporary and the permanent during the Christian age. Spiritual gifts were to be abolished whereas faith, hope and love continue to the end. Finally, love alone of the three qualities goes on into eternity, "God is love" (I John 4:16) and "love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). Nothing, including death, "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:39).
      7. Something ceases

        "Tongues will cease" 1 Cor 13:8

        Something abides for a time after that which ceases.

        "Faith & hope abide" 1 Cor 13:13 till second coming Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24

        Something never ceases

        Love never fails 1 Cor 13:8, the greatest of these is love because it never ceases!

      8. In our chart below we see the following:

True interpretation of 1 Cor 13:8-13

Tongues --------------> cease (96 AD)

Faith & Hope ----------------------------------->abide till 2nd coming

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Faith and hope MUST abide longer than tongues. Faith and hope cease at second coming: Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24. Tongues must cease sometime prior to second coming!

Standard Pentecostal false interpretation

Tongues -----------------------------------------> cease at 2nd coming

Faith & Hope -----------------------------------> abide till 2nd coming

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Violates the context because tongues, faith and hope cease at the same time

Modified Pentecostal false interpretation

Tongues -----------------------------------------> shall cease (96 AD)

Faith & Hope ----------------------------------------------------------------------->abide forever

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Once Pentecostals are forced into correctly recognizing that the context demands that faith and hope outlive tongues, they then adopts an unbiblical definition of faith and hope by extending them into all eternity.



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    1. Summary:
      1. No longer any need for gifts:
        1. Apostles have been led into all truth: Jn 16:13 + Jude 3
        2. The Bible has been written and confirmed to be inspired
      2. Gifts ceased with apostolic age being transmitted by an apostle's hands
      3. Gifts were a temporary; "scaffolding" till the church fully established.
    2. Rom 10:1-3 Pentecostals are zealous but not according to knowledge or truth.
      1. 2 Ti 2:25,26 May they come to their senses and escape the Devils snare
    1. Jn 14:11,12 preaching the word to the lost is greater than miracles: Rom 1:16 achieved. There was only one church in the 1st century.

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