THAT WHICH IS PERFECT I Cor.13:8

1 Corinthians 13:8)  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9)  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10)  But when that which is perfect (Strong’s Number 5046 TELEIOS) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11)  When I was a child, I spake 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 through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13)  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 It has been assumed by many that “when that which is perfect is come, that which is in party shall be done away”  refers to the “miraculous gifts” such as tongues, prophecies, knowledge, wisdom, interpretation of tongues, healings etc passing away when the scriptures would be complete. It is assumed by those who hold this view that “that which is perfect”  is the completion of the inspired scriptures. This view is commonly known as “cessation” i.e. that certain spiritual gifts ceased to operate when the scriptures were completed.

 Although this a very popular view, especially among dispensationalists, it is not a view which they have come to by “rightly dividing the word of truth”!  There are a number of insurmountable problems with this view:

 (1)   Neither at the completion of the scriptures nor at any time since has any believer been able to honestly say, “Now I see face to face!”

(2)  Nor can any one of us yet say, “I now know even as also I am known!”

(3)  Nor is the word “perfect”  (the Greek word, TELEIOS which is used in I Corinthians 13:8) ever used of the scriptures!

 Thus the view expressed above is found to have absolutely no warrant at all in the Bible but is an invention of men which is actually contrary to what the Bible teaches!

 But all of these things will be true when the Body of Christ is complete at the coming of the Lord!

(1)   In that day we will all be able to say with great joy, “Now I see face to face!”

(2)  In that day we will all be able to say, “Now I know even as also I am known!”

(3)  And in that day the Body of Christ will be a perfect man as Paul spoke of it in Ephesians 4:13 and every believer (just as Paul desired) will be presented perfect in Christ Jesus!  (Colossians 1:28) In both cases the word “perfect” is the same one (TELEIOS) which is used in I Cor.13:8.

 Ephesians 4:11)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12)  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13)  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect  (Strong’s Number 5046 TELEIOS) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14)  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16)  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

 Colossians 1:21)  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22)  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23)  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24)  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25)  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26)  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27)  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28)  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (Strong’s Number 5046 TELEIOS) in Christ Jesus: 29)  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

 Therefore, scripture itself is clear that “that which is perfect” in I Corinthians 13:8 is NOT the completion of the scriptures but rather the completion of the Body of Christ.

How does this fit with what you have learned from scripture itself?

If this view is true, what changes might have to take place in your own thinking, practice and relationships with others in the Body of Christ today?

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2 comments on “THAT WHICH IS PERFECT I Cor.13:8

  1. Larry says:

    Well,, this may come as a shock but I am in (partial) agreement with this articles conclusions.. although I’m disappointed that you felt the need to put this in:: ” especially among dispensationalists, it is not a view which they have come to by “rightly dividing the word of truth”. .Right division has nothing to do with this issue I, personally have never felt comfortable with the idea that “the perfect” meant the scripture. Only Christ is perfect and one day we shall be like him..with a body fashioned like His and corporately we will be His body, as we now are members in particular..Phil.4:21
    May we; Walk in wisdom toward them that are without Col.4:5a.. May our speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how to answer every man Col.4:6

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    • Hi Larry,

      Just now saw your recent comment above. I too once thought that “that which is perfect” was the Lord Jesus. But it is NOT a personal pronoun which is used (“when HE which is perfect is come…”) So it cannot be Him, but it is closely related to Him and His coming for it is His Body, the church) which will be completed/perfected at His coming.

      My comment re dispensationalists was not meant to offend, but was simply an observation of mine. I was raised under dispensational teaching and for many years embraced dispensationalism as a system of interpretation of the scriptures. But when I realized that a number of key dispensational doctrines were not and could not be stated in words of scripture, I realized that such teachings actually were false doctrines.

      It was primarily Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 30:5,6 and I Cor.2:13 which lead me to that conclusion and compelled me to begin testing every doctrine which I embraced by the standard of scripture.

      I believe that it is primarly because various hermeneutical “camps” (Dispenationalism, Covenant theology etc) have introduced different rules of interpretation of the scriptures and thus departed from what scripture actually says for itself that the Body of Christ is so divided and split! I believe our only hope of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is to reject all our rules of interpretation which we have forced upon the scriptures and embrace what scripture says for itself as our only standard.
      Brother, how do you personally distingusih between doctrines which are false and those which are sound?

      Your brother in Christ,
      Bruce

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