“The Perfect” in I Corinthians 13:10 Cannot Be Jesus’ Second Coming

July 7, 2009

Franklin church of Christ | With the increasing rise of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movements, even more Christians are beginning to think the miraculous gifts of the Spirit should be going on today and lasting until Jesus returns. The question is not will the gifts ever cease. Everyone knows that I Corinthians 13:8-10 says, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes the partial will pass away.”

We all know that when the perfect comes, the gifts will end. The question is whether or not the perfect has already come. Most folks read this verse and say, “Oh, Jesus was perfect. It must be talking about Him.” But does that really fit the context.

Please note that the greater context of this chapter is that love is greater than the miraculous gifts. Why? Because love never ends. At the conclusion of the chapter, Paul adds in two other enduring items that will continue on even after the gifts have ceased–faith and hope (I Corinthians 13:13). 

Keep this picture in mind. Paul says when the perfect comes, the miraculous gifts will cease, but love, faith, and hope will endure. Does that fit Jesus’ second coming?

According to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is about what is not seen. When Jesus returns and we are with Him in heaven, it will no longer be faith. It will be sight. After Jesus comes, faith ends. It doesn’t endure.

Also, according to Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” There it is again. Hope is about something that is not seen. In fact, once we have seen it we no longer have hope. When Jesus returns, we’ll no longer have hope of Jesus’ return. When we are in heaven with Jesus, we’ll no longer have hope of being in heaven. It will all be sight. After Jesus comes, hope ends. It doesn’t endure.

Do you see the point? Paul said after the perfect comes, the gifts would end, but love, faith, and hope would endure. Yet, faith and hope will not endure after Jesus returns. Jesus must not be the perfect.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying Jesus was imperfect. I’m saying that I Corinthians 13:10 is not referring to Jesus when it speaks of the perfect.

What is the perfect then? Come back next Tuesday and I’ll share what I believe is the perfect in I Corinthians 13:10.

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