There is good scriptural evidence from I Corinthians that tongues and prophecy will continue. The following is from I Corinthians 13. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (NKJV) Here we see something about the timing of the coming of the perfect. We see that when it happens, Paul will experience. What is Paul like before the coming of the perfect in comparison to after it? 1. His speech is like a child's. 2. His understanding is like a child's. What is Paul like after the coming of the perfect. - He is like a man who has put away childish things. Before the coming of the perfect, we see as in a mirror, dimly. But after the coming of the perfect, we see face to face. Some people teach that the perfect, in this passage, is the completion of the New Testament canon. However, this does not fit the context. Did Paul experience the completion of the canon? Did the completion of the canon make Paul's understanding before the completion of the canon seem childish? No. Paul was dead when the canon was completed. Besides, it makes little sense to say that Paul's understanding of God was childish before the completion of the canon, BECAUSE MUCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON CONTAINS PAUL'S UNDERSTANDING OF DOCTRINE. That's like saying if we gathered together a 'canon' of kindergarteners understanding of astrophysics, we would have an adult understanding of it. Clearly, the perfect must be something that Paul will experience. It must be something so great that even Paul's knowledge of spiritual things at the time of his writing I Corinthians will seem childish in comparison. It is something that will cause believers not to know in part, but to know as we are known. Paul is awaiting a great transformation to take place, something so great it will make even the understanding he had at that time seem childish. Let us consider something John wrote that awaits us in the future. I John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. In the future, we will be manifested as sons of God. We will be made like Christ. Christ was incredibly powerful after His resurrection. He was able to appear and disappear. He ascended into heaven. We will be made like Jesus. Paul wrote of this in Romans, describing it as the manifestations of the sons of God. Romans 8 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Now, the creation is in the bondage of corruption, waiting for something to happen. The sons of God are going to be manifested. Jesus also spoke of those who were resurrected as the children of God. Luke 20:36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. In I Corinthians 13, Paul looks forward to the coming of the perfect. Repeatedly, Paul looks forward to the return of Christ and the resurrection in his writings. Notice something about the order of the way things are discussed in I Corinthians 13 in the list below. Sometimes, Paul will make reference to a number of things in an epistle, only to explain them in greater detail later in the epistle. I Corinthians 13:8 tongues and prophecy------------------> I Corinthians 14 tongues and prophecy I Corinthians 13:10 that which is perfect ------------------> I Corinthians 15 the state of the believer in the resurrection It makes much more sense to interpret 'the perfect' to refer to something Paul explains in greater detail later in his epistle rather than to read into it 'New Testament canon' with no evidence to support this idea. In chapter 15, Paul argues that Christians will be raised from the dead. He compares the body of a believer to a seed of grain that is has to be planted. This is in line with the concept of 'perfect' because 'teleos' in Greek refers to what is mature or complete. In our death, we will be like a seed of grain that looks dried up and dead. But in the resurrection, we will be something complete, mature, 'perfect' as King James English puts it. Paul writes of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15:22. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (NKJV) Here, we see Paul teaches that the resurrection will occur at Christ's coming. It makes sense that believers will experience 'the perfect' at the coming of the Lord, at the resurrection. As John teaches, we will be like Jesus. Is there anything else that a believer can experience that can better be described with the word 'perfect'? Doesn't it make sense that if we are perfect, that our knowledge in this life will seem childish, and so will our speech? Even Paul's great knowledge will seem childish to him when the perfect comes, when he becomes like Jesus in a greater way, when he is manifested as a son of God at the resurrection. Considering all these facts, let us look at a statement of Paul made in the opening of the letter of I Corinthians. First of all, notice who Paul addresses the letter to. I Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (NKJV) He addresses it to the church at Corinth, and to us, too. Now, notice what he tells them about spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 1:4-7 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (NKJV) Notice in verse 7, that Paul did not want the Corinthians to come short in any spiritual gift while they were waiting for the Lord Jesus to be revealed from heaven. What spiritual gifts did he have in mind? Well, he wanted them to lack NO spiritual gift. And Paul would later explain the gifts he was thinking about in chapters 12 through 14. Speaking in tongues was among those spiritual gifts. So was prophecy. Paul did not want them to lack any of these gifts. What was the time frame during which Paul did not want them to lack the spiritual gifts? While they were waiting for the revealing of Christ. It would seem here, that Paul believed Jesus could come back during his initial readers' lifetimes. There is no talk here of gifts ceasing before the Lord's return. It makes sense to interpret 'the perfect' in chapter 13 in line with the principles Paul teaches throughout the epistle. While waiting for Jesus to come back, Paul did not want the churches to lack any spiritual gifts. When we see Jesus, we will be made like him. I Corinthians 15:52 teaches that we will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. When we are changed, we will experience those things Paul describes. We will know as we are known. Paul himself will consider his great understanding of the mysteries of God to be as childish compared to what he will be like after the resurrection. The resurrection is something that Paul himself will experience. So clearly, it makes sense to consider the coming of the perfect to be the very thing Paul talks about earlier and later in his epistle, and not something does not mention at all in the context of the book. Paul talks about the coming of the Lord and the resurrection that will accompany it. Clearly, this is something Paul looks forward to in his epistles. It is something that will transform him and make him 'perfect' or complete and mature, and something that will make us perfect also. Even so come now, Lord Jesus. Copyright 2007 Paul L. Hudson, Jr.