Exegesis Of I Corinthians 13

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Exegesis of I Corinthians 13:8-12

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

The eternality of love is highlighted and established without question. However, in comparison prophecies and knowledge will “pass away,” tongues will “cease.” Linguistically there is no appreciable difference between “pass away” and “cease.” They are synonymous in function. It would seem that when one of these three gifts passes, they all should pass (in Eph. 2:20, Paul will note that the work of the New Testament prophets is foundational, again inviting the idea that the work should not be ongoing, though its effects should be felt in perpetuity).
The particulars may be fleeting and debatable, but that there is a temporal limitation is not up for debate. As MacArthur notes, “Significantly, though … scholars disagree … they all reach the same conclusion —namely, that the miraculous and revelatory gifts have ceased.”

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

If they can now have knowledge without love, it’s not a very full knowledge of God. The emphasis here is not on what they know, but the miraculous process of knowing (the latter, actually, limits the former). They currently miraculously know and prophesy “in part,” because the source is not of themselves. And as they are now, they do not understand “all mysteries and all knowledge.” No prophet received an entire download of God’s truth at once (including the apostles). Revelation has always been a process by which God’s inspired messengers knew what they needed to know to convey to the people who needed to know it.

10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When ὁ τέλειος comes, the proc...

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...y, and George DeHoff as supporters of this view (214-216).

Concluding Thoughts

Perhaps the difficulty in shoe-horning I Corinthians 13:8-12 into one of these theological packages comes from the fact that Paul was not trying to outlaw tongue speaking (14:39), but he was trying to first bring order to the immediate chaos of the Corinthian church and, secondly, to move the Corinthians on to maturity (love).
There remain strengths and weaknesses with any one of the interpretations popularly developed by theologians and authors. However, within the context of I Corinthians, a strong case can be made for identifying ὁ τέλειος in line with the second listed theory. It simply works beautifully within the framework of I Corinthians.
Cessationism makes sense in the Christian assembly because there is no longer a need for miracles. They have been superseded by maturity/love.

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