The goal of this page is to show both sides of the continuation or cessation of the spiritual gifts. Part one argues for the position of cessation, part two (yet to be completed or contributed) argues for the continuation of the spiritual gifts and part three will attempt two harmonize both of these positions without conceding any truth found in the Scriptures. This document is currently under construction.



Part 1

What does the inspired

Bible say?

Cessation of spiritual gifts
Exposition of: 1 Cor 13:8-13

Detailed theological refutation of 20th century tongues that proves tongues ceased sometime around 100 AD.


Gifts cease when the "Perfect comes"

1 Cor 13:8-13

Truth Gifts cease before the second coming, specifically around 100 AD
False view Gifts cease at the second coming

Sometimes Truth makes Love hurt

1 Cor 13:8-13: Gifts ceased upon the completion of the canon

Setting the context:

In 1 Cor 13 Paul discussed spiritual gifts from two angles.
  V1-7 He singled out tongues, prophecy, inspired knowledge and supernatural faith (as representative of all spiritual gifts) and contrasted them with love as their superior (vs. 1-7). This contrast has to do with the value of spiritual gifts.
  V8-13 Then Paul referred to the three gifts of prophecies, tongues, and knowledge (again obviously representing all spiritual gifts) and contrasted them with the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love (vs. 8-13). This contrast has to do with the duration of spiritual gifts. As long as earthly life shall last, faith, hope and love will abide (v. 13), whereas spiritual gifts were going to "cease" or be "be done away" (v. 8). The termination of the gifts would be "when that which is perfect is come" (v. 10).
The nouns "prophecy" and "knowledge" (vs. 2, 8) are feminine in the Greek. But in verses 9 and 10 we have verbs, not nouns, thus requiring neuter modifiers. In verse 9 the verbs "know" and "prophesy" are both modified by the adverbial expression ek merous ("in part"). But in verse 10 those verbs and their modifiers are brought together and replaced by the single substantive expression to ek merous ("that which is in part"). Whatever is partial in verse 9 is "that" which is partial in verse 10. And since to teleion ("the perfect") is the counterpart to to ek rmerous ("that which is in part"), it is absolutely clear that the "perfect" also refers to those same verbs. Therefore, the word "perfect" describes the completion of inspired preaching and points to the consequent cessation of the spiritual gifts which enabled and confirmed that preaching.

  Contrasts in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
  Between the "now" 56 AD And then "then" 96 AD
  Between that which fails And that which never fails
  Between that which ceases And that which does not cease
  Between the part And the whole
  Between the incomplete And the complete
  Between the childhood state And the state of mature manhood
  Between knowing only part And knowing fully
  Between seeing things darkly And seeing them clearly (face to face)
Think of 1 Cor 13:8-13 as Paul's sermon outline entitled "Partial Vs Complete Knowledge" It has an introduction that states the main point, two illustrations of this main point, and a conclusion that restates the point!


A. Introduction: States the main point plainly in V9-10

  • The contrast is between partial and complete KNOWLEDGE

B. Illustrations: Uses two illustrations to explain main point:

  • FIRST: child/man v11 (see 1 Cor 14:20 gifts referred to as childish)
  • SECOND: mirror darkly/face to face V12 (polished brass mirror)

C. Conclusion: Restates main point again plainly: V13

  • contrast is once again between partial and complete KNOWLEDGE

Partial Vs Complete Knowledge

Now = part knowledge Then = perfect knowledge Result
v9 Know & prophecy in part v10 the perfect comes v8-10 gifts done away
v11 as a child v11 became a man v11 childish things done away
v12 mirror dimly v12 face to face (mirror clearly) v13 faith, hope & love remain after gifts have ceases
v12 Know in part v12 know fully
We now draw your attention to three parallel passages:
1 Cor 12-14 Ephesians 4 Romans 12
To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit 12:7 To each one grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift v7 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us v6
The Spirit distributes to each one individually just as He wills v11 When He ascended on High He gave gifts to men v8 God has allotted to each a measure of faith v3
To one is given wisdom, knowledge, faith healings, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues 12:8-10 - Prophecy, service, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading mercy v6-8
God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, kinds of tongues 12:28 He gave some apostles, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers v11 -
For the common good, seek to abound for the edification of the church 12:7 14:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body v12 -
love never fails 12:1-8 building up of body in love v15 each devoted in love v 9-10
Gifts will cease ... now we know in part, then we will know fully 13:10,12 until we attain to the knowledge of the son of man v13 -
When I was a childWhen I became a man 13:11 To a mature man, not child tossed about by winds of doctrine but to grow up v13-15 that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. v2
Now you are Christ's body and individually members of it 12:27 The whole body fitted according to the working of each individual part v16 we are one body in Christ and individually members of one another v4-5

Summary of three parallel passages:

operational ceased
know and prophecy only a part know fully, perfect knowledge of Christ
Children tosses about became a mature man
look into mirror dimly face to face (mirror clearly)
every wind of doctrine unity of the faith

1 Cor 13:8-13: Definition of perfect (teleion)

Greek Definition of perfect: "teleion"

VINE: "Signifies having reached its end, finished, complete, perfect"

THAYER: "brought to its end, wanting nothing necessary to completeness; when used of men it means full-grown, adult, of full age, mature."

BAGSTER: "brought to completion, complete, entire, as opposed to what is partial or limited"

ARNDT & GINGRICH: "having attained the end or purpose, complete, perfect"

The Greek word "perfect" does not denote the idea of blamelessness, perfection or complete holiness as our English word "perfect" does today.

The Greek adjective translated "perfect" (teleios) means "having attained the end or purpose, complete."' It may be applied to people with the meaning of "full-grown, mature, adult" being "perfect and entire, lacking in nothing' Jas. 1:4. Or it may refer to the finality of anything, something which has been "brought to its end, finished." In contrast to the often-heard statement that "nothing in this world is perfect," let us notice how the New Testament uses this Greek word in some of its twenty occurrences.

Christians are expected to be "perfect" (in the sense of being full-grown or mature)

in loving both friends and enemies (Matt. 5:44-47; cf. Luke 6:36)

in commitment to Christ (Matt. 19:21)

in spiritual discernment (1 Cor 2:6, 14)

in attitude (1 Cor 14:20)

in knowledge of the way of salvation (Phil. 3:15)

in union with Christ (Col. 1:28)

in remaining true to God's will (Col. 4:12), and in being able to distinguish between good and evil (Heb. 5:14).

One does not have to reach heaven before having this kind of perfection.

Paul and others were already "perfect" (Phil. 3:15), though not sinless.

Likewise, God's system of salvation has perfection (wholeness, completeness) in its earthly processes. For example, his gifts to us are complete Jas. 1:17; patience or stead-fastness has its "perfect" (complete) work in our lives Jas. 1:4; and faith is perfected or completed (the verb form here) by our works (Jas. 2:22).

Therefore, some things in this world are "perfect" in the biblical meaning of the word.


What does perfect refer to in 1 Cor 13:8-13?

The different views of what perfect refers to:

Gifts cease before the second coming
Gifts cease at the second coming
(False views)

The "perfect comes" refers to:

  • "perfect knowledge", the completion of the God's revelation (canon)
  • the corporate maturity of the church brought about by the completion of God's revelation (canon)

The "perfect comes" refers to:

  • The perfect "Jesus Christ" when he comes again.
  • The "corporate maturity" of the church at second coming.
  • The "individual perfection" of the believer at death.
  • The "eschatological perfection" brought about by the second coming of Christ and the eternal state of heaven.
The truth is that the perfect comes, refers specifically to the completion of the full revelation of the New Covenant to man. The church exists in an immature corporate, collective state until this revelation is complete, at which point gifts are no longer needed and the church is fully mature.

Refers to the completion of the revelation of the Gospel. (canon)

What is the perfect? Whatever is contrasted "in part". "Perfect" is a generic verb that could refer to 1000's of things. In order to know what noun perfect modifies, we must use the context to determine this.

True method of interpretation:
in part what? perfect what?
Partially full glass completely full glass
Partially full gas tank completely full gas tank
Partially full knowledge completely full knowledge
Pentecostal method of interpretation:
in part what? perfect what?
Partially full glass completely full knowledge
Partially full gas tank completely full glass
Partially full knowledge completely full gas tank
Partially full knowledge completely full second coming

The object noun MUST BE THE SAME!!!

  • Two times we are specifically told by the Holy Spirit that "knowledge, know, knowing" is the "object noun" of "Perfect"
  • "We know in part" we only know part of the truth
  • "But when the perfect comes" then we will know all of God's will for us.

Knowledge is the object noun of Perfect

v10 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes It is an irrefutable conclusion that knowledge is the object noun of perfect. This conclusion is reinforced by the parallel in Eph 4:13, "until we attain to the knowledge of the son of man"
v12 now I know in part but then I shall know fully
It is an irrefutable conclusion that
the perfect comes = knowing fully

1. Does "ejk mevrou" and "toV tevleion" refer to states of knowledge or qualities of methods by which knowledge is acquired? Both Gaffin (Perspectives on Pentecost, p110) and Grudem (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 324 n. 93) appear to see some overlap in these views. This may be because the states of knowledge must have a means to produce them, and the means of obtaining knowledge must have a product.

2. The work of Christ on the Cross was complete, but we did not have a compete revelation about it until later: John 19:30

Gifts cease when church reaches corporate maturity

Paul employs the first of two illustrations to the main point, where he contrasts being a child, (with spiritual gifts) were being a man (knowledge compete no spiritual gifts needed)
1 Cor 13:11 Corporate maturity illustration
During the age of spiritual gifts when revelation of incomplete and the Bible was not fully written.
100 AD - present
Revelation complete, Bible finished in 96 AD. Gifts ceasing is equated directly with a man doing away with childish things.
Two parallel passages that teach the identical thing:

1 Cor 13:11

Eph 4:13
"When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."
Notice that both 1 Cor 13 and Eph 4 equate attaining fullness of knowledge with becoming a mature man.
Refers to the completion of the Bible which will bring about maturity of the corporate church.

Think about spiritual gifts as a scaffolding.

Gregory the Great, 600 AD, viewed spiritual gifts as a temporary scaffolding while commented on Mark 16:17; "Is it so, my brethren, that because ye do not these signs, ye do not believe? On the contrary, they were necessary , in the beginning of the church; for, that faith might grow, it required miracles to cherish it withal; just as when we plant shrubs, we water them until we see them thrive in the ground, and as soon as they are well rooted we cease our irrigation.''

    1. Notice that he used the idea of a shrub being cared for until self sustaining then the care ceases.

    In the picture below we have three stages of building a highway over pass (bridge).


Stage #1: Scaffolding (spiritual gifts) put up and structure built on top (church)

Stage #2: Permanent side supports are built (word of God) while scaffolding (gifts) are still in place.

Stage #3: When the side supports are compete (bible finished in 96 AD) the scaffolding is removed, no longer needed for anything. Now the Word of God supplies everything that the gifts were purposed to do! We have a miracle confirmed message designed to edify the church!

A. Spiritual gifts revealed the pattern of doctrine and morality

  • Eph 4:14 The purpose of gifts and ultimately the Bible was, "as a result let us not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine"
  • Gifts did restrain false doctrine in the let century: 2 Th 2:6,7

B. When the HS withdrew gifts from the church, what was left was:

  • the "sword of the Spirit" Eph 6:17
  • "the power of God for salvation" Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18; Jas 1:21
  • a book which fully furnishes: 1 Ti 3:16,17
  • Have all truth in written form: Jn 16:13 + 2 Pe 1:3

False Pentecostal position: This corporate maturing process is the correct interpretation of the passage, but it is an ongoing process that only finishes at the second coming, not sometime around 96 AD when the Bible was completed.

1. Actual quote from Pentecostal doctrine book: "1 Cor 13 & Eph 4 both speak of the church corporately growing into full manhood, which is a progressive, continuing and future fact"

2. This Pentecostal interpretation states that as time goes on, the church would become more mature, more Christ like and have a fuller understanding of doctrinal things and have an increased "unity of faith". All these things increase gradually over time till the second coming.

3. To refute this view, we merely point out that:

the facts of history show there was only one church in the first century that was unified on doctrine and there are thousands of churches today!

that a falling away was prophesied in 1 Tim 4:1-4.

That such a falling away has occurred with the result that there are thousands of denominations today, each teaching differing doctrine. Even though Pentecostal churches represent a tiny fraction of denominations today, even they are highly divided over doctrine and fellowship disputes.

On what basis would Pentecostals suggest that the church has grown into manhood gradually over time? We welcome their suggestions!

Such vague concepts are eagerly swallowed whole by Pentecostals desperate to escape the truth of these passages, but when investigated and examined, are simply false teaching unable to bear even the lightest cross examination!

Gifts will cease before the second coming:

The very context of 1 Co 13:8-13 proves that gifts must cease prior to the second coming!!!

"The purpose of miracles was to dispense God's revelation to man and to confirm it as genuine (Heb 2:3-4). Faith looks forward to fulfillment. It is "the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1, ASV). While we live in this world, "we walk by faith, not by sight" (I1 Cor 5:7). Faith is a characteristic of this age. It is "unto the saving of the soul" (Heb 10:39). Likewise, hope is limited to earthly existence. It involves steadfastness (Rom. 15:4), waiting (Gal. 5:5), expectation (Phil. 1:20), looking (Tit. 2:13) and laying hold (Heb. 6:18) "unto the end" (Heb. 3:6; 6:11). But it will not exist in heaven because," hope that is seen is not hope" (Rom. 8:24). So now "we hope for that which see not" (v. 25).

Faith Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Hope Romans 8:24: "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."

Conclusion: Faith and hope will cease at the second coming. Only by employing a non-biblical definition of faith and hope can they be projected into all eternity.

The contrast has to do with the temporary and the permanent during the Christian age. Spiritual gifts were to be abolished whereas faith, hope and love continue to the end. Finally, love alone of the three qualities goes on into eternity, "God is love" (I John 4:16) and "love never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). Nothing, including death, "shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:39).
Something ceases "Tongues will cease" 1 Cor 13:8
Something abides for a time after that which ceases. "Faith & hope abide" 1 Cor 13:13 till second coming Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24
Something never ceases Love never fails 1 Cor 13:8, the greatest of these is love because it never ceases!

In our chart below we see the following:

True interpretation of 1 Cor 13:8-13

Tongues --------------> cease (96 AD)

Faith & Hope ----------------------------------->abide till 2nd coming

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Faith and hope MUST abide longer than tongues. Faith and hope cease at second coming: Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24. Tongues must cease sometime prior to second coming!

Standard Pentecostal false interpretation

Tongues -----------------------------------------> cease at 2nd coming

Faith & Hope -----------------------------------> abide till 2nd coming

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Violates the context because tongues, faith and hope cease at the same time

Modified Pentecostal false interpretation

Tongues -----------------------------------------> shall cease (96 AD)

Faith & Hope ----------------------------------------------------------------------->abide forever

Love never fails -------------------------------------------------------------------->eternity

Once Pentecostals are forced into correctly recognizing that the context demands that faith and hope outlive tongues, they then adopts an unbiblical definition of faith and hope by extending them into all eternity.





A) No longer any need for gifts:

B) Apostles have been led into all truth: Jn 16:13 + Jude 3

1) The Bible has been written and confirmed to be inspired

C) Gifts ceased with apostolic age being transmitted by an apostle's hands

D) Gifts were a temporary; "scaffolding" till the church fully established.

E) Rom 10:1-3 Pentecostals are zealous but not according to knowledge or truth.

1) 2 Ti 2:25,26 May they come to their senses and escape the Devils snare

F) Jn 14:11,12 preaching the word to the lost is greater than miracles: Rom 1:16 achieved. There was only one church in the 1st century.

 Part 3 (under construction)


Up until just a couple of months ago, I would have argued similarly as the author of part 1. While I would not have stated that all the gifts had ceased, I would have argued that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and special knowledge had ceased. I would have argued for that which is perfect to be the canonization of Scripture. The Charismatics would have said that the gifts are in full force and that the same Scripture I used to "prove" that three gifts had failed clearly showed that to be true. They would have contended "that which is perfect" is not the canonization of Scripture, but rather, the perfect man Jesus Christ (referencing the second advent).

In the process of studying 1 Corinthians chapter 13 for an apologetic essay against universalism, I learned that both sides were missing the point, and both sides were also partially correct.

Though the church of Corinth was gifted and growing, it was plagued by moral and ethical, doctrinal and practical, and corporate and private problems that worked to destroy the Christian testimony because of immorality and disunity. Paul wrote the epistle to the church of Corinth to deal with some of these problems as well as to answer certain questions that the Christians at Corinth had asked when the church had sent a delegation of three men to Paul (1 Cor. 16:17). Thus the theme of the epistle is the application of Christian principles on a personal and social level to promote spiritual maturity and unity among believers in their relationships and worship.

Chapter 13, which is often read at weddings, has proven to people around the world as the best definition of love ever penned. It is this chapter that clearly displays that love is the greatest gift of all. But chapter thirteen lays within the context of chapters 11:2-14:40 in which the apostle Paul is addressing the affairs concerning public worship, which includes improper observance of the Lord's supper and the selfish use of spiritual gifts. Specifically, gifts were to be used unselfishly to edify others to the Lord and in the Lord. In chapter thirteen Paul defines what love is and is not:

Love is:  Love is Not:
1) Patient
2) Kind
3) Rejoices with truth
4) Bears all things
5) Believes all things
6) Hopes all things
7) Endures all things
8) Never fails
1) Jealous
2) Brag
3) Arrogant
4) Acting unbecomingly
5) Seek its own (selfish)
6) Provoked
7) Take into account a wrong suffered
8) Rejoicing in unrighteousness

From this contrast we should wonder if Paul is speaking about God's being love, or rather is Paul teaching what love is and what love is not? To better understand the big picture that Paul is illuminating, lets break chapter thirteen down:

Verses 1-3: The importance of love.
Verses 4-8a: The characteristics of love
Verses 8b-10: The partial and the complete
Verses 11-12: Two illustrations of the partial and complete
Verse 13: The greatness of love.

A child (young Christian) seeks:

Language (tongues)

An adult (mature Christian) has:

Faith (from knowledge)
Hope (from prophecy)
Love (from language)

The greatest of these is love. Why is this so? Because the sharing of the Gospel is a greater gift (i.e., through communication, language, tongues) of love. If you recall what John 5:20 and John 14:12 teach us (i.e., greater works of faith) Christians whom believe will do greater works than Jesus. Recall now that the last thing Jesus told us to do was the Great Commission, to witness the Gospel to all peoples. What greater act of love can a believer do than stand and witness the Gospel? Further, the unity and fellowshipping of believers through communication for their edification and praise of our Lord in heaven is an act and display of love.

Thus I then concluded that my brethren whom contend that this passage is about the continuation of spiritual gifts are in missing the point; as the Corinthian church had far better spiritual gifts (as far as outwards signs go) than the church does today but the church of Corinth was immature. Those who contend that the gifts have failed because that which is perfect has come (i.e., a completed canon of Scripture) have also missed the point, for that which is perfect has not come though the manifestation of love is present with us today if we seek it. Thus, a Christian seeking maturity seeks Faith through knowledge, Hope through prophecy, and Love through language because these are the gifts that are superior and the gift of love is the greatest of these because it will endure to witness the glory of our Lord in heaven!

Food for thought,

Eric Landstrom

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