“The Perfect” in I Corinthians 13:10 is God’s Completed Revelation

Last Tuesday, we discovered that while Jesus was and is perfect, He is not what Paul was referring to in I Corinthians 13:9-10 when he said, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”

We need to understand the contrast being made in the passage. Paul talked about something being “in part” and something being “perfect.” Because our translators so often use the word “perfect,” we miss the connection. However, it could just as easily have been translated “complete” or “whole.” In other words, it could read, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the complete or whole comes, the partial will pass away.” With this translation, we see the connection more readily.

In any other context, when we hear about something that is in part and then talk about the whole thing, we know the whole is the same as the partial; the part is incomplete and the whole is complete. For example, if I offered you a part of an apple pie, what is the whole thing? When I actually ask people this question, they usually look at me like I’m a complete moron or they give that, “This is a trick question and I don’t know what the trick answer is” look. The answer to this question is so obvious folks can hardly believe it is being asked. If the part is apple pie, then the whole is apple pie.

So what is it about these gifts that they are the part of and what is the whole? Clearly, we are not saying there are all these miraculous gifts but we only have part of them, but when they all come, they’ll be done away with. That makes no sense. Instead, there is something we have in part through these gifts that when we get the whole thing, there will no longer be a need for miraculous gifts.

Hebrews 2:2-4 provides us some insight. It says, “For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”  Through the miraculous gifts of knowledge, prophesy, tongues, etc. we received the revelation and confirmation of God’s message of salvation. 

However, there was no one expression of any of these gifts that provided the whole message. Rather, it was coming piece-meal, a little at a time. While that was occurring, the miraculous gifts were administered by the apostles and churches used them in their assemblies. However, once the whole thing had been revealed and confirmed, there would be no need for these pieces of revelation and confirmation to continue.

In other words, the perfect of I Corinthians 13:10 is not a reference to Jesus, but to the completion of the revelation and confirmation of God’s salvation message. 

Unless you believe there is more we need to know about submitting to and serving God so we can walk His road to salvation, then you should see that the miraculous gifts have ceased. In fact, Paul goes on to provide a great illustration. He talked about being a child, but then growing up and putting away childish things. The miraculous gifts were the church’s childhood. While it still needed to learn what was the great message of God’s salvation, it was in childhood. Once God gave it all it needed, it was time to grow up and start reading the message instead of waiting around for more miraculous gifts. 

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying God doesn’t respond to prayers. I’m not saying God won’t do amazing things. I’m not even saying that God won’t sometimes intervene in the natural order of things. What I’m saying is God no longer uses miraculous gifts among Christians. The Holy Spirit is no longer giving Christians the ability to miraculously speak in tongues, have miraculous knowledge, prophesy, give miraculous words of wisdom, miraculously heal the sick, etc. There is a huge difference between saying we prayed for someone to be healed and God responded versus saying some of us have a gift to heal folks by which we can lay hands on the sick and they will be made well. Further, there is a huge difference between saying we prayed for someone versus thinking some special Christian has more influence with their prayers such that we’ll call it a gift of healing.

The perfect has come. We have the full revelation and confirmation of God’s will for us. The miraculous gifts have ceased and been done away with by God himself. It is now time for us to quit bickering over who has the best miraculous gift and instead move on to live with faith, hope, and love.

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Christ’s Kingdom is Already Here

Many Christians are scared of Revelation. Admittedly, it is a different kind of book. We aren’t used to its apocalyptic genre. It employs figures we aren’t readily familiar with. It uses a style that is not common to us. However, I fear that many Christians are afraid because they know “we” are supposed to believe Christ’s kingdom is already here, but they think Revelation may actually teach what the Premillennialists say about it. They are afraid that if they really study the book, it will cause them to believe we are still waiting for the kingdom.

No doubt, we could spend weeks and weeks studying all of Revelation to defuse the Premillennial interpretation. However, despite some of the more difficult, complex, and symbolic passages that the Premillennialists use to defend their doctrine, the book actually begins with some very clear-cut statements that lay a foundation for the whole book. They lay a foundation that should mold our interpretation of the rest of the book.

Revelation 1:5-6 says, “…Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Just as Jesus is already the firstborn of the dead, He is already the ruler of kings on earth. He is already king. Not only that, but He has already made us into a kingdom. We are not waiting for the kingdom, we are already in the kingdom if we have been set free from our sins by Christ. As Paul said in Colossians 1:13, we are not waiting for Christ’s kingdom, we have already been transferred into it.

Then Revelation 1:9 says, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…”

John was not writing about some future tribulation. He was already in it, partnering in it alongside his readers. He was not writing about some future kingdom. He was already in it, partnering in it alongside his readers. Back in Mark 9:1, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” John was there that day. His words in Revelation 1:9 demonstrate Jesus told the truth. John was still alive and the kingdom of God had already come.

I know our Premillennial friends like to jump to Revelation 20, and there are certainly a myriad of positions taken on what that chapter means. However, whatever we believe it means, we can’t make it deny the very foundation of John’s book. John’s foundation was that the kingdom was already established and enduring a great tribulation, it was not looking forward to one in the dim and distant future.

The kingdom of Jesus is here; we are not waiting for it. We need to get into it and stay in it.

P.S. If you’d like to know what I believe Revelation 20 is all about, click here.

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