“The Perfect” and the End of the Miraculous Age
Tonight I had a great discussion with a brother at the Cracker Barrel. One of the greatest blessings of Christian fellowship, is our common love for God’s message to us. We discussed the end of the miraculous age and Paul’s use of “the perfect” in 1 Corinthians. Here is some study I’ve done on the topic.
The inspired apostle states that there would be an end to miracles. He wrote to the Corinthian brethren, ” 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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (1 Cor 13:8-10). This passage explicitly says that there would be a time when miraculous gifts would be “done away” and would “cease.” The question, however, is when would this occur? Again, the text is clear; this would happen when “the perfect” comes. But to what does “the perfect” refer?
We must investigate what the original Greek text says and how its terminology is used in this passage and in others using the same term. In the original text, the phrase is “to teleion.” The word is from “telios” which means “to bring to an end, finish” or it can mean “full-grown, adult, of full-age, mature.” To properly understand what Paul means by using this word in this passage, it proves helpful to examine his usage of the same terminology in a very similar passage in another of his letters.
The same word is used once in the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians deals with the nature of the Lord’s church. In the discussion of the development and growth of the church, Paul lists the various roles of service and leadership that existed as the church developed (4:11). The purpose of these various roles was to “equip the saints” for the work of the ministry. The work of these leaders were crucial in helping an infintile church grow into adulthood (4:13). Having only a portion of God’s message revealed, the church would easily be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (4:14).
God’s message was given progressively over the decades from time of the church’s establishment. Eventually, the complete message would be completely given (around A.D. 96 with the completion of the last book of the New Testament). Thus, there was no longer any need for the miraculous confirmation of oral teaching (a major purpose of miracles–Mark 16:20). The complete record was finished and the church had matured and was complete (until some would begin falling away from the faith once delivered for all–see 1 Tim. 4:1ff; 2 Tim. 4:1ff; Jude 3). When “the perfect” mature church developed with a complete message from God, the “partial” of miraculous gifts ceased.
Let’s continue to study this matter and seek God’s truth. I would like to hear your comments and the fruit of your own personal Bible study on this matter.
© 2006, Jonathan Jones II. All rights reserved.