Speaking in Tongues Part 16
“Faith, hope, and love abide.” These will abide after the perfect had come. The perfect in verse 10 cannot refer to the 2nd coming of Christ because when that happens, our faith will be turned into sight and our hope into reality!! The gender of “perfect” (teleios) in verse 10 is neuter. It could NEVER mean the Lord of Glory for He was always and is always referred to as a male in gender. To suggest that Paul would use this form of the word to speak of His Lord is wrong. It would depersonalize Jesus. In fact, Paul is fond of speaking of Jesus as God; and especially so in this letter He refers to Christ and God some 20 times in the first 9 verses of 1 Corinthians, and he knows how to speak about the 2nd coming in a clear way (see chapter 1:7). God is called perfect in Matthew 5:48, but the gender is masculine!!! To change the gender from masculine to neuter is to say “a perfect thing” instead of a “perfect Being”. Every other time the word perfect appears in the New Testament, it appears in the neuter gender, it refers to a non-personal thing, and twice it is used to refer to the will or law of God (see Romans 12:2and James 1:25). This is not unusual for God’s revelation to be called perfect.
The perfect in verse 10 in its present context can only refer to God’s completed revelation which had come from pieces to men here and there, but was later put together into a whole!! When that happened, the piecemeal source for inspired knowledge and prophecy will have been set aside by being absorbed into the whole. To understand perfect in another way is to say that inspired knowledge and prophecies from pieces (ek merous) are valid in the church, today!! That would mean we have no absolute, completed revelation from God!! Church history reveals that the church of the first three centuries rejected that kind of thinking and stood on the fact of completed information from God at the cost of their lives!!
One of the arguments used to support tongue-speaking by the religious, today, is to say that the perfect in 1 Corinthians 13:8 refers to the second coming of Christ. One reason, I think for this position is the appearance of the word translated know full in verse 12. The thought is that the phrase means to entirely understand all things and since that cannot happen in this life, the perfect must refer to the second coming of the Lord.
What does the phrase “know fully” mean? The word translated “know fully” is epiginosko. This is a compound of the verb ginosko and the prefix epi. Ginosko simply means know. It is the most common word-root for the verb know and the noun knowledge in the Bible. The difference between this common word and the word used in 1 Corinthians 13:12 is a prepositional prefix epi which, when used alone, means upon. When used this way, a preposition prefixed to a Greek verb, it intensifies the action of that verb. When we read where this word is used in the New Testament, we discover that the word is used interchangeably with the simple form ginosko. The interchangeableness of these two words is even more clearly seen in the parallel accounts of the Gospels. While one account will have ginosko, its parallel Gospel will have epiginosko (that is no problem since both words meant exactly the same thing in the 1st century)!!
What about tongues? They merely stopped—showing they were not as significant as knowledge and prophecy. Is this to deny the power of God?? NO. It is merely to accept the strategy God had outlined from the beginning of time to make His power known to all generations for all time!!