Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8
This is a verse that has sparked a lot of debate over the years. There are those who point to it and say that the Gifts of the Spirit had an expiration date. They conclude that these gifts ceased to operate after the original 12 apostles died.
I don’t think that’s what Paul is trying to say. He’s teaching us a more excellent way of walking in the gifts. Love is a factor that brings greater results.
He starts by saying that love never fails. This means that the effects of love are enduring. An act of love will continue to touch someone’s life long after the event has passed. With that in mind, look at some of the other gifts.
Paul says that prophecies will cease. That word, cease, means to be rendered useless or idle. It does NOT mean that people will stop prophesying.
The prophecies themselves are only temporary. Once they’ve been fulfilled, they have no more purpose. That’s because a prophecy will always point to something. And once the focus of the prophecy arrives, we begin a new chapter.
He goes on to say that tongues will be stilled. Again, this verse does NOT say that the gift of tongues will no longer be available. The word, stilled, means to be paused or restrained.
This tells me that the gift of tongues will be paused or put on hold. It also means that those who operate in this gift would be physically or legalistically retrained from using it. A look at church history will prove the truth of this interpretation.
Finally, the apostle says that knowledge will pass away. It’s actually the same Greek word he used when he said that prophecies would cease. It simply means that the usefulness of the knowledge given will come to an end.
Why is Paul telling us all this? Because he wants to take our supernatural gifts to a higher level.
The Gifts of the Spirit, all by themselves, are only temporary events. People won’t remember that I gave a prophecy on a certain date in the past. But they will remember if the prophecy was used to show love to them.
Prophecy, tongues, and word of knowledge – they all give temporary benefits. But if they’re used to show love to others in a tangible way, they have a lasting effect.
The Corinthian church was boasting in their ability to “flow in the anointing.” They had all the gifts evident in their meetings. Unfortunately, it was all for show – “Look what I can do!”
They left out the most important ingredient – love for one another. There were factions and divisions. The poor within their congregation was being publically shamed. Love was noticeably absent.
We need to learn their lesson. Having a move of God with the Gifts of the Spirit is an awesome thing. But we can’t leave out love for our brothers and sisters.
It’s not an either/or proposition. We need both the Gifts of the Spirit and love if we’re going to minister as Christ did.
Question: How have you experienced the Gifts of the Spirit operated in love?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi