πετροστελος

February 23, 2010

When that which is perfect comes: 1 Corinthians 13.8-13

8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (RSV)

Cessationists often believe that the meaning of “that which is perfect” is the NT. Thus, prophecies and speaking tongues are no longer valid because we have the New Testament (see e.g., this blog).  The perfect which Paul awaits however cannot be the NT since Paul had no idea that there would be collection of books used in the post-apostolic church called the NT. This is anachronistic exegesis.  Furthermore, it is not correct to say that it is a good theological understanding of the passage, since the NT itself does not have a theology of the NT–i.e., it has obviously a theology or theologies, which we call NT theology, but it does not discuss the NT as a theological category.  The biblical theology purported by cessationists is actually coherent only from a post-reformation point of view.

That which is perfect for Paul is properly understood to be the second coming of Christ who we will know directly and face to face.  The NT is not perfect in the sense of the Greek term, teleion (complete) ; it partially reveals to us the object of our faith, Jesus Christ.  When Jesus Christ is come, then we will see face to face the author and perfecter of our faith.  Until then, we are still in need of the gifts of the Spirit to guide us.

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1 Comment »

  1. And the greatest gift imparted is Love itself, first from God to us in the Spirit. Paul did know in my mind the fulfillment of Shema in Deut 30 of Jesus:
    6And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

    And so the sealed Christian is enabled to impart the greatest gift of all, first to God and then to neighbor. He can fulfill Shema to the fullest degree possible for a man who is not perfect as Christ was.

    But as with faith, it is both given and worked out. Shema has never died as our first principle or commandment. We work out Shema just as we have received Spirit.

    It is agape love, the spiritual love from God to us, and from us to God. And from us to fellow men.

    In this day and age, it is not the orthodox knowledge, of gospel, of Trinity or of his precepts which are most important. It was and always is agape love which we will be judged by. It is not the intellectual acknowlegement and confirmation of the death resurrection and cross which is even most important, it is whether or not we followed the words of our Savior. Even to the hard sayings, the extreme end of law as he portrayed it. Which also condemns us daily, those who fervently attempt Shema daily. So that we need grace to save us finally
    and the blood of atonement.

    This is why I believe the initial evidence of tongues is not requisite in the baptism of Spirit, as much as the subjective experience of God’s ecstatical love imparted to us.

    Comment by Sola Yeshua — September 8, 2011 @ 10:03 pm | Reply


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