1. Question - Regarding Greek Grammar, the Subjunctive "ὅταν":

  • In 1 Corinthians 13:10 - Should "The Coming of the Perfect" be interpreted in an "Eschatological Sense" - in view of the World? Perhaps the "Unification of the Body, (Eph.4)", or "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, (Rev.1) ?

  • Or - Should the passage be understood relatively, in view of each believer's potential to experience "The Coming of the Perfect"? Could it be a subjective experience, (like dying and going to heaven, Spiritual Maturity, Being Born Again, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc)?

Does the underlying Greek point in either direction - or even the context?

2. The Greek Semantic Issue: ὅταν = ὅτε + ἄν :

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, ὅταν - as long as, whenever; From hote and an; whenever (implying hypothesis or more or less uncertainty); also causatively (conjunctionally) inasmuch as -- as long (soon) as, that, + till, when(-soever), while.

"Whenever" does not seem to exclude either interpretation, either that : A.) Paul was reaffirming that that he didn't know when the return of Christ would be - in an eschatological sense; B.) Or - Paul was indicating that the "Coming of the Perfect" is a subjective matter - for each believer, and it could occur at different times each.

3. The Greek Grammatical Issue :

1 Corinthians 13:10 - and whenever | ὅταν the perfect might come | ἔλθῃ - Subjunctive, the partial will fall away.

1 Corinthians 13:12 - "... presently, I know partially, and then I will intimately know, just fully just as I also have been fully known."

Does the grammar here indicate that Paul wasn't sure : A.) "When"; B.) Or, even "If" - the "Perfect" would come?

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 - What Will Cease when "The Perfect" Comes?
- 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?

  • How about that which is perfect is our unity within the Church and our knowledge of Him which CANNOT be before we see Him face to face. Maturity of the Church is that which will be perfect. It fit the neuter noun. It fits the context. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 8:40

3 Answers 3


I am going to take a stab at this question based on context of the chapters going back to chapter 12 rather than the Greek word for perfect "teleion". Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 12:1 he is talking about spiritual gifts and not anything eschatological, he continues that line of reasoning all the way through chapter 14 so I would have to discount anything to do with the return of Jesus in the last days. What then do I believe is Paul's point? Paul has been telling us of things that will fail in contrast to love that will never fail. He particularly points out knowledge and prophecies and states that they are in parts but when "that" which is complete comes then the part will be done away. Note he doesn't say when He which is perfect comes but rather when "that" which is perfect comes. Paul tells us what is partial in chapter 12 verses 7-10, it is the revelation of God given through the Holy Spirit. When the perfect/complete/finished revelation comes there will be no need for knowledge or prophesy anymore since all of God's will has been revealed.

  • I apologize for the confusion, I'll try to make it clearer. The revelation of the law of Christ was being revealed in parts. One believer was given a revelation concerning one thing while another believer was given a different revelation. When all those parts would be put together is when the perfect comes.
    – D. Berry
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 12:16
  • Ah. That is a very awesome insight. Ty Commented May 10, 2017 at 3:23


1 Corinthians 13:10.

But when that which is perfect (τὸ τέλειον) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face (πρόσωπον): now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

τὸ τέλειον at verse 10, refer to πρόσωπον (face, presence) at verse 12.

πρόσωπον neuter singular. πρόσωπον is translated as: 1. face (Matt 17:2, Mark 1:2, 1 Peter 3:2, etc), 2. presence (Acts 3:19, Acts 5:41, 2 Th 1:9, etc).

2 Corinthians 4:6

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of THE KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST.

Face to face. We will look at the complete face (presence) of Jesus Christ, and will have the complete knowledge of the glory of God. No more "I know in part".


First it must be emphasized that the 'perfect' here refers to an all-embracing love, also taught by our Lord in Matt. 5:43-48.

NASB, Matthew 5:43-48 - 43 ... 48. Therefore you are to be perfect | τέλειοι, as your heavenly Father is perfect | τέλειός.

It comes to each believer at the instant of maturity and can grow continually to a capacity afforded by grace and consistent obedience to God.

It is primarily a subjective experience which the Holy Spirit confirms in an individual by the sense of approval,confidence and assurance he gives(Rom.8:16). People around us will also sense its manifestation but may not be able to clearly define it in light of this truth.Now, all believers do not mature at the same rate in the spirit,which is why the perfect doesn't come all at the same time.

If a believer keeps growing, he will mature to this stage of charity. Just as we grow and develop physically at different rates depending on a number of factors including age, nutrition ,social interactions,intrinsic potential etc,it is practically the same with attaining to God's prescription of love. How long you have spent actively in Christ,how well and often you feed on God's word, the richness of your fellowship with the Holy Spirit and other believers who serve God from a pure heart and the level of grace apportioned to you to fulfill your divine purpose,will all determine when and what level of perfection you reach. Shalom

  • I have to say the answer above strikes me as very subjective. In context, Paul is comparing prophesy and tongues that are given now "in part" with "the perfect" that is coming which will cause those gifts to cease. It seems much more logical to suggest that Paul is either talking about the completion of divine revelation which, once perfect, will end revalatory gifts (this is exactly how cessationists see this passage) or he is speaking eschatologically about our future, perfect knowledge of Christ. Neither in about a subjective experience.
    – P. TJ
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 19:55
  • I say the answer is subjective because the context of the passage doesn't support it. It requires one to read a meaning into the text that the text itself does not support. That's what I mean when I say it is subjective. The context is referring to spiritual gifts; so when he speaks of the "perfect" it does not make logical sense to interpret that as a personal experience of love or of a level of personal holiness or righteousness. As my NT professor always said, context is king.
    – P. TJ
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 16:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.