OceanSide church of Christ

 Previous Return to the list of Give An Answer Next 


I Corinthians 13:10 - Miracles Ceasing

Victor M. Eskew


            I Corinthians 13 is commonly known as “the love chapter” of the Bible.  Due to its lovely content, students often forget the context of the chapter.  In chapter 12, Paul began a discussion of spiritual gifts.  It seems that the members of the church were arguing over who possessed the most vital gift.  This problem would have been easily solved if the members practiced the love described by Paul in I Corinthians 13:4-8.

            Paul also reminded the Corinthians that love would out last spiritual gifts.  “Charity never faileth:  but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (v. 8).  In verse 10, the apostle revealed when the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit would end.  “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”  Miracles will end, Paul wrote, when that which is perfect is come.

            The discussion now centers upon the meaning of “that which is perfect.”  Two main interpretations have been given.  Some believe “the perfect” is Jesus Christ.  If this is the case, then miraculous gifts will continue until Jesus comes again.  Others believe “the perfect” is the complete, written revelation from God to man.  If this is the proper interpretation, then miraculous gifts ended when the New Testament was given in its entirety somewhere near the close of the first century.

            This writer believes the latter interpretation to be correct for several reasons:


1.      This interpretation directly applies to the situation of the church at Corinth.  If miracles were going to end sometime in the first century, Paul’s words concerning the lasting nature of love would make sense to the Corinthians.  If the miracles were not going to come to an end soon, why would Paul even broach the subject?


2.    Miraculous gifts are said to be “part” of the perfect.  “For we know in part, and we prophecy in part” (I Cor. 13:9).  At the time of Paul’s writing, God’s revelation was being given as needed in the churches through the miraculous gifts.  They did not have the complete New Testament as we have it today.  However, this “piecemeal revelation” would not be needed once the complete New Testament was revealed.  In other words, the part (miraculous gifts) would not be needed when the perfect (the New Testament) was revealed in its entirety.


3.     In the Greek language, the word “perfect” is in the neuter gender.  This makes sense if Paul has reference to the New Testament.  If he were referring to Jesus, however, it would not make sense.  If Jesus were the perfect, Paul should have used to masculine gender to describe “that which is perfect.”


4.    If “that which is perfect” is Jesus, then miracles would cease at His second coming.  This, however, will not be the case.  All eyes shall see Jesus and His holy angels.  The dead will be resurrected.  Those living when He comes will have their physical bodies changed into spiritual bodies.  These things do not involve the cessation of the miraculous; they involve the miraculous being revived again.


The church at Corinth was arguing and dividing over spiritual gifts.  Paul’s argument

is:  “What are you going to do when these gifts cease?”  This church needed to practice agape love among themselves.  Thus, when their spiritual gifts came to an end, their love for each other would continue.  This was Paul’s “more excellent way” (I Cor. 12:31).