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1. Question - Greek Grammar and Syntax

Setting aside doctrinal arguments - are there any grammatical indications that may clarify what will "will cease", (or be "nullified") - when "the perfect comes"?

For example: Is it significant that "will cease" is a singular verb?


2. The Text :

NASB, 1 Corinthians 13:9 - For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away [nullified].


3. Possibilities? :

Will Prophecy and Knowledge cease [at some point] altogether?

Will the Partial and Limited Exercise of the Gifts cease?

Will Individual Operation of the gifts cease?

Closely Related:
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does Paul mean by "Completeness"?
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does "The Perfect" Refer to?
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - Should "The Perfect" Be Interpreted in an Eschatological Sense?
- 1 Corinthians 13:8 - What is the Significance of the Intransitive verb "παύσονται"?
- 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 - What Does "ἐκ μέρους" Mean?
- 1 Corinthians 13:9 - How Should "Out Of" Be Translated?

  • I could give you my opinion, and you could vote it correct, if you agree with my opinion. Commentaries have different competing opinions. I think this question can be fixed, you could say: What are the possible interpretations of this verse. And the correct answer, would give the options. – Jacob Oct 2 '16 at 10:54
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    For example, you are assuming a translation of "will cease", I am not convinced this is even the correct question, consider NLT "But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless." The underlying greek word is "nullified" which can also be translated "made of no effect". So its not clear if for example, perfection results in cessation, or if perfection results in no more use for it. – Jacob Oct 2 '16 at 11:00
  • @Jacob - I agree that a better translation could be "nullified". If any of those things can be "nullified" - in a legal sense, then I think it would also be the answer. – elika kohen Oct 11 '16 at 21:30
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Ignorance is what will cease.

The “ἐκ μέρους” means that we live and operate within the present where partial knowledge prevails. We only know in part (“ἐκ μέρους”), which is why gifts such as knowledge (and/or the supernatural communication of that knowledge through foreign languages) helps to mitigate ignorance.

In other words, the spiritual gift of knowledge and/or the supernatural communication of knowledge through foreign languages (“tongues”) have value only because such intelligible oral communication (by definition) mitigates ignorance of spiritual truth. But things will change in the future: we will know fully just as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). What this means is that the spiritual gifts of intelligible communication (useful in the present time where ignorance prevails) will become superfluous or redundant in the future, because no such ignorance will exist at that time when “we are to know just as we are known” (1 Cor 13:12).

To recap, the spiritual gift of knowledge (and/or the supernatural communication of that knowledge through foreign languages) are gifts useful in the present time, if and only when they are intelligible and thus mitigate ignorance of spiritual truth. However, when this perspective is lost, these temporal gifts of communicating knowledge can become self-serving (especially if unintelligible and/or cause confusion). In this regard, the gifts instead draw attention to the one with the gift instead of their specific purpose, which is to edify others through the imparting of spiritual truth.

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    Excellent answer drawing on the placement of this verse in its surrounding context. This is how I understand it. When our bodies are perfected and we are restored into full relationship, a spiritual gift knowledge (for example) is now redundant becuaes knowledge is no longer limited (as pointed out in 1 Cor 13:12) – Jacob Oct 2 '16 at 11:06
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Proposed Answer:

Paul uses the same expression to indicate that he himself only knew partially, (in the present) - but that his partial knowledge would be done away, when the perfect came and he knew fully.

Personal Translation - "... presently, I know partially, and then I intimately know, just fully just as I also have been fully known."

Nestle GNT 1904 - ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

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What will be done away with? When that which is perfect comes there is no need for the partial. Just like when the Sun shines there is no need for the moon to shine. Somethings that are partial and we rarely hear metioned are items like faith. Will you need faith anymore when you get to heaven? Will you need grace? No. All of these including miracles, tongues etc.. will no longer be needed once we are with Jesus.

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“But when that which is perfect is come....” So, what is the perfect/complete to which Paul refers?

  1. Τέλειον can refer to something that is flawless in perfection but this is not the intent here.

  2. As τέλειον relates to a person it typically speaks of one who is full grown, mature, or one who is of full age. This is especially true of the development of Christian character. This seems to be part of what Paul is illustrating here by drawing a comparison between himself as a child that exhibited childish speech, thought, and reason, and the Church which was at that time, still a child in its thinking, speaking, and reasoning. The presence of the gifts was a sign of an immature Church. The removal of these gifts would be evidence of a matured body. Since the purpose of spiritual gifts was to mature the body of Christ, the illustration of speaking, thinking, and reasoning, as a child was quite apropos. Once mature, these characteristics of immaturity would be set aside. There comes a time when, as characteristics of immaturity begin to fade away as a child grows into adulthood, we begin to embrace more mature traits. Such was the nature of these gifts to the early Church. The mark of a mature Church was the development of greater faith, hope, and love.

  3. Τέλειον also refers to something that is complete in all of its parts, something that is lacking nothing. This has to be contrasted with that which was at that time, still “in part,” which was knowledge and prophesy. The fact that the gifts were still present was a sign that knowledge and prophesy had not yet been given in fullness. When these things became complete, the gifts that accompanied what was in part would no longer be needed. These gifts would have served their intended function and outlived their useful purpose. With the fullness of the revelation of the word of God, that which was in part became complete and those gifts that brought us the full revelation of God were no longer necessary and they simply began to fade away having fulfilled their function.

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