For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10
This is another of those hotly debated Scriptures. There are some who teach that the “perfection” spoken of in this verse refers to the completion of the New Testament. They say that once the Holy Bible is complete, then there’s no more need for the power-gifts of the Spirit.
But is that what Paul is trying to get across? I don’t believe so. The words that he uses don’t open up that interpretation.
He tells us that our knowledge and our prophecy are all partial. That’s obvious. None of us gets the whole plan from the Lord. We only see partial glimpses into what God’s doing.
Paul goes on to say that when the perfect or complete thing arrives, then the imperfect thing will be rendered useless or idle. This verse does not say that the imperfect thing would become more and more perfect until it was totally complete. That would be the case if it were talking about the New Testament.
As he was receiving his revelation, the Apostle John was told something very important by an angel.
“Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
All prophecy ultimately points to Christ. But in our current conditions, it only a partial view of Him, or what He wants to accomplish in us. However, when Christ – the Perfect One – appears, there will be no need for any of those prophecies anymore. They will be rendered useless by the Lord’s appearing.
We will then have a perfect view of the One to which all knowledge and prophecy points to. That’s right in line with what Paul goes on to explain.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12
I think it’s clear from this verse that he’s talking about the church coming to maturity. It’s not the Bible that needs to be matured and completed, but us.
This is especially true in regards to the Gifts of the Spirit. As children, we think that everything is about us. As we grow older, if we mature, we start thinking about the needs of others.
In some cases what you do remains the same. It’s your attitude that changes. When I was a teen, one of my chores was to put out the trash. Guess what? Now that I’m married I still put out the trash.
There’s a difference, though. As a teen, I did those chores to gain privileges or an allowance. Now, I do them because that’s what adults do. I want my family to be healthy and safe.
That’s what Paul is trying to get us to see through this chapter. Not that the gifts are going to cease to operate. But that we need to move in the gifts with a heart of love towards those we are ministering to.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about prophecy, tongues, or giving someone a drink of water. Walking in love is the sign that you’re becoming mature in Christ.
Question: How does walking in love bring about maturity in you?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi