AN EXAMINATION OF 1 CORINTHIANS 13:8-13 AND VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS
By James Buddy Smith
April 8, 2013
I. The Canon View: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as Evidence for Cessationism……………………….2
II. The Eschatological View: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as Evidence for Continuationism…………..7
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………..15
The debate concerning the gifts of prophecy and tongues is arguably one of the most sensitive discussions entertained among Christians. This, of course, is due to the practical considerations the debate holds for contemporary church life. In other words, how should believers perceive the Charismatic Movement? Is it biblical or not? Although many portions of Scripture are appealed to in order to answer these questions from a multitude of perspectives, one of the most significant texts relating to the debate is 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. Interestingly enough, proponents of both cessationism and continuationism use this passage in their attempt to provide evidence for their respective views. The question that naturally comes to mind in light of this is “Which use of the text is valid?” In reality, this question creates a false dilemma, implying that 1Cor.13:8-13 must support one side or the other. A better question is as follows: “Does the text support one theological stance over another?” A thorough investigation of Scripture reveals that the answer to this query is “no.” Details within the content of 1 Cor. 13:8-13 and additional information found in Scripture outside of this passage demonstrate that it cannot be used to either prove or disprove the cessation or continuation of revelatory gifts and, as a result, the issue of the duration of prophecy and tongues must be settled on the basis of other biblical texts.
R. Bruce Compton helpfully summarizes the four main interpretations of 1 Cor. 13:8-13 by organizing them according to their understanding of “the perfect” in verse 10: (1) the completed canon view, (2) the spiritual maturity of the church view, (3) the return of Christ view, with prophecy and tongues ceasing before then, and (4) the return of Christ view, with miraculous gifts continuing until then. Due to the limited length of this paper, it is best to further summarize these stances by placing them into one of two categories: (1) the view that “the perfect” is the completed canon or the maturity of the church which coincides with the completion of the canon and (2) the view that “the perfect” is eschatological in nature. With these two general interpretations in mind, it is now fitting to analyze and critique the ways in which they are employed by both sides of the cessationism/continuationism debate.
The Canon View: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as Evidence for Cessationism
As Andy Woods rightly notes, “the interpretation of the perfect in 1 Cor. 13:8-10 plays a monumental role in the cessationist-experientialist conflict.” In other words, one’s understanding of “the perfect” is the central factor in determining how one will interpret 1 Cor. 13:8-13 and, thus, in determining how one will perceive the text’s relation to the prophecy/tongues dispute. Many cessationists, like Woods, Robert Dean Jr., and Bruce Compton, argue that “the perfect” should be identified with the canon, which was completed at the end of the apostolic age. Assuming 1 Cor. 13 teaches that prophecy and tongues will be abolished at the coming of “the perfect,” the canon view would offer conclusive proof that these gifts do not exist today if it was demonstrated to be true. Yet what evidence is ushered forth to support this exegesis of 1 Cor. 13?
Cessationists, like Dean, argue at length that teleion “must be understood in the quantitative sense of complete.” This claim is crucial, because the eschatological view holds that teleion is a qualitative term in 1 Cor. 13. For example, Harm Hollander writes that teleion is not just referring to knowledge that is superior in degree, but in mode also. In other words, after Christ returns believers will know God in a direct, personal way. Richard Gaffin, himself a cessationist, states clearly his belief that “the contrast between ‘the partial’ and ‘the perfect’ is qualitative, not quantitative.” So, which one of these perspectives is accurate? Dean claims that “with one possible exception, the New Testament never utilizes teleios in a qualitative way, in the sense of flawless or perfect.” Even assuming that this is true, Wayne Grudem is correct in saying, “a word does not have to be used to refer to the same thing every time in Scripture…The precise referent of the word must be determined by the individual context.” Still, advocates of the canon view do indeed appeal to internal evidence to back up their interpretation of teleion. First off, support is supposedly found in the quantitative phrase ek merous (“in part”) of verses 9 and 10. Woods concludes that a qualitative understanding of teleion does not provide an appropriate contrast to the quantitative ek merous and, thus, teleion must be quantitative. Dean similarly writes that “the ‘perfect’ must also be related in kind to what it completes.” Cessationists draw attention to Paul’s two illustrations to confirm this. Paul’s first illustration concerns maturity from childhood into adulthood. Compton believes Paul’s intention in using this analogy is to stress that, just as the restricted verbal and mental activities of children cease when more developed skills in these areas are attained in adulthood, full revelation (i.e. the canon) will render obsolete the gifts of prophecy and tongues which produce only limited knowledge. Regarding Paul’s second analogy, Woods argues that “Paul’s point was that looking into partial, piecemeal revelation was equivalent to looking into an imperfect mirror.” Yet, “after the completion of the New Testament canon, the viewer could look into a perfect mirror.” At this point cessationists often appeal to James 1:23, the only other place esoptron (“mirror”) is used. In this context, esoptron is used to describe “the capacity of God’s Word to provide the reader with a standard for honest self-assessment.” Moreover, teleios is present in the Greek text of James 1:25. On the basis of these observations, proponents of the canon view propose that Paul chose the mirror analogy because he wanted to convey to his readers that their present, fragmentary revelatory knowledge would soon be substituted by the completed Scriptures. “To see something ‘face to face,’” then, “means simply to perceive the revelation of God’s will for the church clearly and completely.” This is accomplished by searching the Scriptures.
While the aforementioned arguments for a quantitative understanding of teleion are not entirely unsubstantial, they still fail to vindicate the canon view. Firstly, Woods admits that a qualitative meaning for teleion is well-attested in extra-biblical Greek literature (e.g. Plato). Paul speech on Mar’s Hill certainly proves that he was well acquainted with Greek authors and, thus, it is not unreasonable to think that he could have penned teleion with a qualitative sense in mind. Secondly, as Godet insightfully points out, “in contrast to ek merous, in part, one would expect to pan, the whole, the entire.” Indeed, “the use of to pan instead of to teleion might have been good support here for those who see this as a reference to the completion of the canon.” Supporters of the canon view fail to see that “it is not without reason that the apostle says to teleion, the perfect, substituting the idea of perfection in quality for that of completeness in quantity.” Basically, if Paul wanted to express the idea of quantity he would have used to pan instead of to teleion. Thirdly, verse 10 says that “the perfect” will “come.” This can hardly refer to the canon because “neither the completed canon, nor the complete NT, nor the completed revelatory process, can be said to ‘come.’” In fact, “the books of the NT were written over a period of decades.” Such a slow progression as this does not fit the language of the text. Futhermore, it is interesting that “Paul does not state that the partial revelation of his day will eventually become full and complete.” On the contrary, the text says, “the partial will pass away” (verse 10). As James Scott writes, “no process of gradual development is in view.” This observation alone casts significant doubt on the “quantitative completeness view,” as Woods calls it. Fourthly, can it really be said that the Bible provides believers with “complete” or “full” knowledge? Scott appropriately remarks that Scripture, though inerrant and infallible, “is nonetheless ‘dim’ in comparison to the revelation that would be received in the Lord’s immediate presence.” Indeed, “all special revelation, including Scripture, is a ‘mirror’ for the present order of ‘seeing dimly.’” Therefore, there is certainly a connection between the mirror analogy and the Word of God: the Word of God to believers in the church age, whatever the mode (e.g. prophecy, tongues, the Bible), is likened unto an “imperfect”mirror into which one sees “dimly.”
Why is it “imperfect”? Hollander contends “that the apostle wanted to underline that man’s vision and knowledge of God and the divine world is indirect.” Hollander bases this conclusion on prevalent Hellenistic thought, which adopted the mirror metaphor “to illustrate how God or invisible deities show themselves to men by means of ‘images’ or ‘signs.’” While he cites many sources to support his claim, Hollander specifically draws attention to the Kebra Nagast. In this work a paraphrase and elaboration of Exodus 33:18, 20-21 is offered. This version of the story tells of how God told Moses he would see a reflection of His face in a rock, but could not directly look upon Him. This is significant, as it suggests that the phrase “face to face” in 1 Cor. 13:12 should be interpreted literally. Even without this extra-biblical information it is natural to see “face to face” as a reference to being in the actual presence of the Lord. Woods admits as much when he says, “at first glance, seeing face to face and knowing fully introduced in verse 12 seem to describe the Parousia.” This is because the phrase “face to face” (prosopon pros prosopon/prosopon kata prosopon) refers to personal (i.e. direct) communication from God to man while the latter is in His presence. Grudem notes that the theophanies of Genesis 32 and Judges 6 both use the phrase “face the face” and are worded exactly the same as 1 Cor. 13:12. Moreover, it says in Revelation 22:4 that in the eternal state believers will see the face of the Lamb. Compton affirms that “face to face” carries the idea of directness, but he refuses to take the phrase literally. This is highly inconsistent; completed Scripture itself is indirect (i.e. it is in written form). If there is any doubt concerning the meaning of teleion, Grudem asks a question about 1 Cor. 13:12 that is devastating to the canon view:
Does Paul really think that when the other apostles finally finish their contributions to the New Testament he will suddenly gain such a remarkable change in his knowledge that he will know as he has been known, and will go from seeing in a mirror dimly to seeing face to face?
Bear in mind that Paul was martyred before the canon was completed (c. 90 AD). It is quite foolish to believe that, after already coming into the presence of the Lord, Paul’s knowledge of God would somehow be drastically affected by the completion of the canon. Nevertheless, this is an unavoidable implication of canon view. In the end, Leon Morris says it well when he writes that “perfection (to teleion) conveys the idea of the destined end or aim. It points to God’s plan. When the consummation is reached, all that is partial disappears.” This consummation will take place in the last days and, as such, is associated with the second coming of Christ. This leads to the second dominant understanding of 1 Cor. 13:8-13.
The Eschatological View: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as Evidence for Continuationism
While though there are numerous differing opinions held concerning the exact point at which “the perfect” will come in the end times, the general conclusion that “the perfect” will not precede the return of the Lord is well-supported, as demonstrated in the previous section. Therefore, it is now time to examine how the eschatological view of “the perfect” is used by continuationists. Wayne Grudem is a well-known representative of the continuationist eschatological interpretation of 1 Cor. 13:8-13. He understands the phrase “when the perfect comes” as “when Christ returns.” Moreover, “the partial” or “the imperfect” is seen as “partial ways of acquiring knowledge” (e.g. prophecy and tongues). Therefore, as a result of his exegetical judgments, Grudem concludes that prophecy and tongues will continue to exist in the church “until Christ returns.” The strength of this argument should not be underestimated. Yet R. Fowler White asks an important question: “Do the terms ‘the imperfect’ and ‘the perfect’ describe methods of acquiring knowledge or states of knowledge?” Grudem clearly opts for the former, while White, in defense of Gaffin, argues for the latter. Gaffin states, “Paul is not intending to specify the time when any particular mode will cease. What he does affirm is the termination of the believer’s present, fragmentary knowledge.” Grudem objects to this by accusing Gaffin of not affirming that “‘when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.’” This betrays a misunderstanding of Gaffin’s view, for Gaffin does not deny the impermanence of “the imperfect,” but simply defines it differently than Grudem does. White is just in writing that “Grudem…bases his rebuttal to Gaffin on the (unproven) assumption that they [i.e. the words ‘imperfect’ and ‘perfect’] are qualities of the methods of acquiring knowledge.” Nevertheless, none of this answers the question of whether “imperfect” and “perfect” refer to modes of revelation or revelatory knowledge itself.
White believes the use of ek merous (“in part”) in verse 12 constitutes the greatest evidence for Gaffin’s interpretation. In short, “since the prepositional phrase ek merous describes the present states of knowledge in v. 12 we should interpret its function in vv. 9-10 in a similar fashion.” This interpretation maintains consistency between verse 9-10 and verse 12. On the other hand, Grudem “obscures the unity of Paul’s argument” by seeing ek merous in verses 9-10 as a description of gifts while in verse 10 he interprets the same phrase as referring to knowledge. Gaffin and White’s view also makes more sense of Paul’s illustration in verse 11. This analogy concerns a contrast between childish and adult kinds of speaking, thinking, and reasoning, not means by which humans carry out these activities. Lastly, verse 8 does not actually mention the gift of prophecy, but rather “prophecies.” Samuel E. Waldron calls attention to this detail in order to show his readers that Paul’s emphasis is not on the gifts of prophecy or tongues, but on the partial knowledge that they produce. Therefore, based on all of this, it is best to conclude that Paul’s is not saying in 1 Cor. 13:8-13 that prophecy and tongues will continue until they are done away with in the end times. Rather, he is stressing that the knowledge stemming from these gifts is, in contrast to love, only temporary. Of course, “from this we should discern that…the gifts themselves are temporary.” Robert L. Saucy, himself not a cessationist, properly concludes that nothing said in 1 Cor. 13:8-13 rules out the possibility of prophecy and tongues “ceasing before the arrival of the perfect,” which he identifies as the second coming of Christ. Nevertheless, the specific time at which prophecy and tongues will be rendered inoperative is not dealt with by Paul.
Assuming for the sake of argument that Paul does have in mind modes of revelation, as Grudem contends, it is still not necessary to conclude that prophecy and tongues will continue uninterrupted until the parousia.Dispensationalists, like cessationist John MacArthur, argue that at least prophecy will come back in the last days. MacArthur appeals to Joel 2:28-29, which, according to MacArthur, speaks of the gift of prophecy being “poured out” on “all flesh” during the millennial kingdom. Concerning how this text relates to tongues, Waldron argues that “tongue-speaking was a form of prophecy.” To back up this assertion he points out that Peter himself made a connection between the tongue-speaking of Pentecost and the prophesying mentioned in Joel 2 (Acts 2:14-21). Waldron adds that tongue-speaking is prophecy only “when accompanied by the gift of interpretation.” This belief is confirmed by Paul in 1 Cor. 14:5 when he says, “The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets.” Based on this, tongue-speaking could very well be included in the prophesying that will take place after the church age has come to a close. Yet it also possible that 1 Corinthians 13 subtly indicates that tongue-speaking will not return in the end times. In verse 9 prophecy and knowledge are mentioned, but tongues is interestingly absent. The Greek of verse 8 might offer an explanation. In verse 8 the verb pauo is used in reference to tongues while katargeo is used for prophecies and knowledge. The latter is clearly in the passive voice while the former is in the middle voice. If pauo is translated with the force of the middle voice it would read something like “cease in and of themselves.” MacArthur uses this as evidence that the gift of tongues ceased “by itself” at the end of the apostolic age. While D.A. Carson argues that the use of pauo is merely stylistic, Donald McDougall responds by noting that it is unlikely Paul was wishing to simply avoid repetition, seeing as he uses katargeo four times (vv. 8, 10, and 11). While there is the possibility that pauo is deponent (i.e. having active force), the absence of tongues in verse 9 seems to suggest that the gift of tongues will not be among believers at the coming of “the perfect.” In summary, from a dispensational perspective, the gift of prophecy, and possibly tongues, will be operative in the end times. Why is this relevant? Because if dispensationalists are right, 1 Cor. 13:8-13, even if it is concerned with revelatory modes, does not necessarily have to teach the uninterrupted continuation of prophecy and tongues throughout the church age, but could simply be stating that these gifts will be finally be done away with after a second outpouring of them in the last days. MacArthur logically places this point in time at the beginning of the eternal state, when Christians “have full knowledge in the eternal new heaven and new earth.” Thus, a dispensational look at 1 Cor. 13 allows for a temporary cessation of prophecy and tongues before the return of these gifts in the Millennium. Two main objections are leveled against a belief in an eschatological outpouring of New Testament prophecy: (1) the claim that the prophecy of the end times is not the same as the gift of prophecy described in the New Testament and (2) that the prophesying mentioned in Joel 2:28-29 has already been fulfilled at Pentecost. If either of these objections is true then the argument for the gift of prophecy existing in the end times falls apart. As such, they will both be treated in detail.
Regarding Joe1 2:28-29, Dean dismisses the idea of the gift of prophecy returning to believers on the basis of 1 Cor. 12-14, which deals in part with the rules given to the church meant to regulate the use of spiritual gifts, including the gift of prophecy. He reasons that since these regulations “were not bestowed prior to the advent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost…prophecy in the New Testament was somewhat different from the prophecy of the Old Testament.” Thus, according to Dean, Joel 2:28-29 cannot be legitimately used to prove an eschatological reemergence of the New Testament gift of prophecy, because the type of prophecy it speaks of is different than the type referred to in 1 Cor. 13:8-13. Grudem also draws attention to the regulations of Paul, arguing that the command in 1 Cor. 14:29 to “weigh” the words of New Testament prophets suggests “that New Testament prophecy did not have the authority of God’s very words” (unlike Old Testament prophecy). The biggest problem with this is that the Old Testament prophets were also expected to be evaluated (Deuteronomy 13:1-5), yet Grudem definitely does not deem them fallible. Compton, in his rebuttal of Grudem, appropriately notes that the biblical regulations for evaluating New Testament prophecy simply tell the reader that “there were false prophets who were claiming to be true prophets of God and who needed to be exposed.” Yet what of Dean’s objection that regulation of prophecy in the New Testament is different from that in the Old Testament? While this is certainly true, Dean assumes that the reason for this is related to New Testament prophecy’s nature rather than the context in which it was exercised. This is an assumption which does not follow logically. In other words, while it is true that regulation of prophecy in the New Testament is more thorough than that found in the Old Testament, this is probably just due to the fact that the gift of prophecy at the start of the church age was “much more widely disseminated” than in Old Testament times. Lastly, Dean fails to explain the clear connection Peter makes between the prophesying of Pentecost and the prophesying of Joel 2. In summary, since the prophecy mentioned in Joel 2:28-29 is clearly of the same type as that poured out upon believers in the New Testament era, the first objection to an eschatological restoration of the gift of prophecy is unsubstantiated.
The second objection is that the prophesying portion of Joel 2:28-32 was fulfilled at Pentecost. Therefore, it cannot be used to argue that the gift of prophecy will return in the end times. Dispensationalists, in contrast, argue that Peter is using Joel 2:28-32 in an analogical manner, drawing similarity between the event foretold of by Joel and the event occurring at Pentecost. This is the view proposed and defended by Roy Beacham. Many observations can be made in favor of this interpretation. First off, Joel 2:28-32 “is framed in the context of an impending, eschatological ‘day of the LORD’ (2:1).” The cosmic signs of vv. 30-32 make this quite obvious. Additionally, verses 18-27 discuss a time when God will finally restore Israel so that they “shall never again be put to shame.” The reason why the eschatological context of Joel 2 is noted is because Joel 2:28 provides an explicit chronological reference: “And it shall come to pass afterward” (italics added). Beacham contends that this refers back to 2:11, which mentions “the day of the LORD.” Yet he admits that even if one was to connect “afterward’ to verses 12-27 then “the events of Joel 2:28-29 should still be placed in the era of the tribulation and/or millennium.” Therefore, contextual details necessitate that the prophesying of Joel 2:28-29 will take place in the end times. Still, how does one explain Peter’s phrase “this is that” (touto estin to)? While this may at first seem to be conclusive evidence for the fulfillment view, Beacham points out that a similar expression (i.e. outos estin peri ou) is used by Jesus in reference to John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14). Yet Jesus’ words indicate that John did not actually fulfill Malachi 3:1. He says, “If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Since the Jews did not accept John as Elijah, it can be stated with confidence that the phrase outos estin peri ou does not indicate fulfillment. From this it can be concluded that touto estin to in Acts 2:16 need not necessarily be understood in terms of fulfillment either. In short, Peter’s appeal to Joel 2:28-32 gave his mocking audience a reason to believe the Holy Spirit was at work, for if God says in His Word that He is going to pour out His Spirit in the end times after the day of the LORD, why should the observers at Pentecost doubt that the Holy Spirit was behind the miraculous event they themselves were witnessing? MacArthur calls Pentecost “a projection of the kind of power that the Spirit would release in the millennial kingdom.” In conclusion, the classic dispensational interpretation of Joel 2 and Acts 2 is not only allowed by the language of Acts 2:16, but also does justice to the original context of Joel’s prophecy. Therefore, Joel 2:28-32 offers solid evidence that the gift of prophecy will exist in the end times.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
In summary, interpretations appealing to 1 Cor. 13:8-13 as a source of evidence to be used in the debate concerning the duration of prophecy and tongues fail to convince this author. First off, proponents of the canon view ineffectively argue that teleion should be understood in a purely quantitative manner, a claim that is foundational to their exegesis. Secondly, advocates of the continuationist eschatological view also lack a solid basis for their stance. This is because 1 Cor. 13:8-13 is probably not dealing with revelatory modes, but states of revelation-based knowledge. Furthermore, even if this conclusion was disproven, Joel 2:28-29 allows for the belief that prophecy, and maybe tongues, will exist in the end times. As such, 1 Cor. 13:8-13 leaves open the possibility of a discontinuation of prophecy and tongues between the beginning of the church age and the future consummation of God’s eternal plan (i.e. “the perfect”). Moreover, the main objections to an eschatological outpouring of prophecy by the Holy Spirit have been answered. That is, it has been shown that the type of prophecy mentioned in Joel 2:28-29 is synonymous with the gift of prophecy in the New Testament and that the prediction of this passage was not actually fulfilled at Pentecost. In conclusion, it can be confidently stated that 1 Cor. 13:8-13 is much less relevant to the cessationism/continuationism debate than it is esteemed to be by many. Gaffin says it well when he writes, “The time of the cessation of prophecy and tongues is an open question so far as this passage is concerned…” If this is affirmed, more fruitful dialogue among Christians can, and hopefully will, be achieved.
Beacham, Roy. “The Analogical use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:15-21; A Literal Approach.” Paper presented at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Detroit, MI, August 7, 1998.
Compton, R. Bruce. “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts.” DBSJ 9 (2004): 98-145.
Dean, Robert. “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues.” CTJ 9:26 (March 2005): 64-87.
Farnell, David F. “Fallible New Testament Prophecy/Prophets? A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Hypothesis.” MSJ 2:2 (Fall 1991): 158-181.
Gaffin, Richard B. Perspectives On Pentecost. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979.
Grudem, Wayne, ed. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
______. Bible Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
______. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Hollander, Harm W. “Seeing God ‘in a riddle’ or ‘face to face’: An Analysis of 1 Corinthians 13.12.” JSNT 32.4 (2010): 395-402.
Longman, Tremper., and David E. Garland, eds. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.
MacArthur, John. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
______. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007.
McGee, J. Vernon. Thru-The-Bible Commentary Series: Hosea and Joel. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1991.
McDougall, Donald G. “Cessationism In 1 Cor 13:8-12.” TMSJ 14:2 (Fall 2003): 178-217.
Morris, Leon. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985.
Scott, James W. “The Time When Revelatory Gifts Cease.” WTJ 72 (2010): 267-289.
Thomas, Robert L. “Prophecy Rediscovered? A Review of The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today.” BSac 149:593 (Jan 92): 84-97.
Vines, Jerry. The Corinthian Confusion: A Study in 1 Corinthians. N.p.: N.p., 2005.
Waldron, Samuel E. To Be Continued? N.p.: Calvary Press Publishing, 2005.
White, R. Fowler. “Richard Gaffin And Wayne Grudem On 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison Of Cessationist And Noncessationist Argumentation.” JETS 35:2 (June 1992): 174-187.
Woods, Andy. “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.” CTS Journal 10:2 (Fall 2004), http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/105/105.pdf?x=x (accessed March 12, 2013).
All Scripture quotations will be from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
R. Bruce Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts,” DBSJ (2004): 100.
Ibid., 132. Compton acknowledges minimal differences between the canon view and the maturity view, but concludes that “for all intents and purposes the maturity view and the canon view are the same.” Because of this, an extensive critique will not be given of maturity view. Still, it should be noted, as Compton points out, that “the chief liability with this approach…is that it see two different events for the coming of ‘the perfect’ and assigns two different meanings to ‘the perfect.’” In other words, “Paul’s statement about the coming of the perfect cannot have two different events in view with two different connotations without violating the univocal nature of language or the principle of the single meaning of Scripture.”
Depending on the specific stance taken in this general category, “the perfect” can refer to the rapture of the church, the second advent of Christ, or the eternal state.
Andy Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” CTS 10:2 (Fall 2004), under “Introduction,” http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/105/105.pdf?x=x (accessed March 12, 2013).
Robert Dean Jr., “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues,” CTJ 9:26 (March 2005): 76.
Harm W.Hollander, “Seeing God ‘in a riddle’ of ‘face to face’: An Analysis of 1 Corinthians 13.12,” JSNT 32.4 (2010): 401.
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspectives On Pentecost (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979), 110.
Dean, “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues,” 6.
Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1036.
Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” under “Ideal View,” “Weaknesses.”
Dean, “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues,” 6.
Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts,” 14.
Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” under “Advantages of the Completed Canon View,” “Contextual Relationships.”
Dean, “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues,” 76.
Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” under “Ideal View,” “Strengths.”
Donald G. McDougall, “Cessationism In 1 Cor 13:8-12,” TMSJ 14:2 (Fall 2003): 14.
McDougall, “Cessationism In 1 Cor 13:8-12,” 14.
As Jerry Vines writes in The Corinthian Confusion, teleion cannot refer to Christ Himself at His second coming because teleion is neuter and “Scripture never refers to the Lord Jesus by a neuter pronoun” (Vines2005, 223). Still, this does not mean teleion is not associated with the second coming or the last days in general.
James W. Scott, “The Time When Revelatory Gifts Cease (1 Cor 13:8-12),” WTJ 72 (2010): 281.
Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” under “Quantitative Completeness View.”
Scott, “The Time When Revelatory Gifts Cease (1 Cor 13:8-12),” 282.
Gaffin, Perspectives On Pentecost, 111.
Hollander, “Seeing God ‘in a riddle’ or ‘face to face’: An Analysis of 1 Corinthians 13.12,” 397.
This cannot be referring to a believer dying and then seeing Christ in heaven, because “the perfect” is coming to Christians, not the other way around.
Woods, “The Meaning of ‘The Perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” under “Ideal View,” “Strengths.”
Grudem, Systematic Theology, 52.
Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts,” 16.
Grudem, Systematic Theology, 52.
Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985), 183.
Grudem, Bible Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 404.
R Fowler White, “Richard Gaffin And Wayne Grudem On 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison Of Cessationist And Noncessationist Argumentation,” JETS 35:2 (June 1992), 177.
Gaffin, Perspectives On Pentecost, 11.
Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1035.
White, “Richard Gaffin And Wayne Grudem On 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison Of Cessationist And Noncessationist Argumentation,” 180.
Samuel E. Waldron, To Be Continued? (Calvary Press Publishing, 2005), 63-64.
White, “Richard Gaffin And Wayne Grudem On 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison Of Cessationist And Noncessationist Argumentation,” 180.
Wayne Grudem, ed. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 124.
John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 236.
Waldron, To Be Continued?, 89.
Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts,” 121.
MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 508.
McDougall, “Cessationism In 1 Cor 13:8-12,” 197-198.
In other words, just because prophecy, and maybe tongues, will be around at the coming of “the perfect” in the last days, does not mean that they are operating in the church today. Paul could very well be talking about a permanent ceasing of these gifts, while leaving open the possibility of temporary discontinuity during the church age.
MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 508. According to MacArthur, this “full knowledge” is “the perfect” mentioned by Paul.
Dean, “Three Arguments for the Cessation of Tongues,” 80.
Grudem, Bible Doctrine, 411.
Compton, “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 And The Cessation Of Miraculous Gifts,” 116. Robert L. Thomas agrees with Compton and makes a key distinction: The evaluation of prophecies by others does not “imply the presence of both true and false elements in a prophecy. It simply enabled the congregation to detect whether the message was or was not a prophecy from God” (Thomas 1992, 93).
F. David Farnell, “Fallible New Testament Prophecy/Prophets? A Critique of Wayne Grudem’s Hypothesis,” MSJ 2:2 (Fall 91): 174.
Tremper Longman and David E. Garland, eds. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 740-741.
Roy E. Beacham, “The Analogical use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:15-21: A Literal Approach” (presented Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, August 7, 1998).
Ibid., under “Joel 2:28-32.”
 Beacham, “The Analogical use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:15-21: A Literal Approach,” under “Joel 2:28-32.”
J. Vernon McGee puts it simply: Since in Joel chapter 2 “Joel has been telling us about the coming Day of the Lord,” and since Joel says the prophesying of Joel 2:28-29 “shall come to pass afterward,” it is only logical to conclude that the prophesying in question will take place after the Day of the Lord (McGee 1991, 165).
 Beacham, “The Analogical use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:15-21: A Literal Approach,” under “Acts 2:14-21,” “The argument of Acts 2:14-21.”
MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 236.