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1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (ESV):

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paul is talking about a time when the perfect would come, a time when the partial knowledge and revelation they had back then would cease and they would be able to see and understand things clearly and fully, just like God does. But notice how Paul uses both first-person singular and plural forms when talking about these things, as if he was confidently expecting both himself and his Corinthians addressees to be actual partakers of this perfected "state of affairs". As if he were saying "You and I will actually experience this". Does this mean that Paul was expecting the perfect to come during his and the Corinthians' lifetime, at some specific point in their near future (i.e. during the first century)?


Note: I already asked a closely related question (When shall we see "face to face"? 1 Corinthians 13:12), however, the present question is different in the sense that the emphasis here is on elucidating whether Paul was expecting the perfect to come during his and the Corinthians' lifetime, and if he wasn't, then how come he was so sure they would all experience the changes brought about by the perfect if they would all be dead by then.


Related and relevant: 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does "The Perfect" Refer to?

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  • Perhaps the necessary preliminary question should be, what is the perfect of which Paul speaks?
    – oldhermit
    Sep 11 at 13:20
  • @oldhermit - I agree, although that question was already asked: 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does "The Perfect" Refer to? Sep 11 at 13:22
  • If you like, I can post an exegesis of verses 4-13 for your consideration that will address certain relevant points. Perhaps this will help.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 11 at 13:50
  • @oldhermit - Sure, go for it! Sep 11 at 13:51
  • Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48. Walk before me and be thou perfect Genesis 17:1.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 11 at 18:54
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The Emptiness of Spiritual Gifts Without Love, 1-3

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

Contrary to popular opinion, the context of chapter thirteen is not love; it is the inferiority of spiritual gifts as they are contrasted to superior virtues. Paul wastes no time in putting spiritual gifts in their proper place.

The failure of those at Corinth was the elevation of gifts and the abandonment of love. It is man, not God, who elevates the gifts beyond their intended function. Gifts were nothing more than a tool for the spread of the gospel and the maturing of the early Church yet, the Church elevated these gifts beyond their proper value. What was to have been of great benefit and value to the work of God was rendered meaningless by some through the abuse and misrepresentation of these gifts. The gifts were not being exorcised responsibly.

A. What was the value of spiritual gifts to the Church and who determines their value?

  1. Value must be measured by the intended purpose of a thing and what it is capable of accomplishing. Spiritual gifts had a limited scope. Always of limited value to begin with, spiritual gifts, when separated from love, became of even less value, most especially to the one so gifted.

  2. By comparison, what is the value of love to the Church?

Paul offers love as the single legitimizing factor for everything else. Without love, everything else becomes meaningless. In contrast to spiritual gifts, love is an inexhaustible virtue of limitless scope that transcends everything else.

B. Gifts and actions expanded to the limits of their purpose

  1. The gift of tongues – “speak with the tongues of men and of angels,”

Paul is not implying that either he or anyone else possess the ability to speak in the tongues of angels. He is merely illustrating the expansion of this gift to its ultimate range. Even if one could speak with tongues of angels but has no love, the gift is rendered meaningless. Consequently, it does not matter how many languages you have access to through the gift of tongues, if you do not have love, the gift is useless to you.

  1. The gift of prophecy to “know all mysteries and all knowledge.”

If God had revealed to me everything there is to know, even the deep things of God... even knowledge such as this has the potential of becoming worthless in the absence of love.

  1. Having faith so as “to remove mountains.”

This seems to be a level of faith that is able to reach beyond all material constraints and barriers of the natural world (Joshua stilling the sun). Without love, even such an exercise of power is of no value. Without love, what benefit is it?

  1. Even acts of supreme sacrifice without love is delegitimized.

a. “Give all my possessions to feed the poor,”

b. “Surrender my body to be burned,”

Both of these are extreme acts of love so why the contrast? These acts become meaningless if there is no love for the poor or devotion to the Lord. If love is removed from these acts, this means these things are done for other reasons – illegitimate reasons. This delegitimizes the act.

Characteristics of Love, 4-7

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Ἀγάπη is the quality of love that is stressed throughout this entire chapter. The development of this quality of love in a person is the crowning achievement of Christian maturity. Love is the nature of God, and spiritual maturity means taking on the character of God. Ἀγάπη, as a defining behavior, is observable. It is visible in one's interactions with others. How does this influence one's behavior?

A. One is kind – This is considerate of others.

B. One is not jealous – This is resentment toward others.

C. One is not boastful – This is self-promoting.

D. One is not arrogant – This is self-exalting.

E. One “does not behave rudely.” It behaves itself.

F. One is not self-seeking.

Ἀγάπη functions unidirectionally. It flows outward to others. This is exemplified in all of the ἀλλήλων passages. It seeks to fulfill the needs of others even to the neglect of self.

G. One “is not provoked.” It refuses to lash out when it is wronged.

H. One “thinks no evil.” It does not hold a grudge. Forgiveness is a fundamental character of this quality of love. “Does not take into account a wrong suffered.” RSV I. One “does not rejoice in iniquity.” Hebrews 1:9

J. One “rejoices with the truth.”

K. One “bears all things.”

L. One “believes all things.”

M. One “hopes all things.”

N. One “endures all things.”

The Inferiority of Spiritual Gifts to Superior Virtues, 8-13

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

A. Spiritual gifts were limited in:

  1. Scope

  2. Purpose and function

  3. Time – In time, they will be done away, cease, and fail.

a. With regard to the gift of prophesy it would “be done away.”

The word is καταργηθήσονται from καταργέω – a passive verb meaning literally to be rendered inactive, to be made of no effect, to bring to naught, to discharge, sever, or to separate from. As the Young's literal translation renders it, “it shall become useless.” Once all prophesy was revealed, the gift itself was simply no longer needed. It had fulfilled its purpose. Having fulfilled its function, the gift of prophesy (not prophesy itself) would become no longer necessary. Thus, it would simply be removed.

b. The gift of tongues would cease – παύσονται – middle voice, meaning to cease, stop, or leave off. The middle voice suggests that this gift, unlike the others, would cease on its own. It would simply go away.

c. Revealed knowledge would fail – καταργηθήσεται – passive, same as with the gift of prophesy, it would be rendered inactive, be made of no effect, be brought to nothing. It will be actively taken away. Once all revealed knowledge had been imparted to man, the gift itself was simply no longer needed. It had fulfilled its purpose. Having fulfilled its function, the gift of knowledge (not the knowledge itself) would be removed.

While Paul only mentions three spiritual gifts here, this is representative of all spiritual gifts. The passing of these things would be a natural course of events as their function was fulfilled in time.

  1. That which is “in part” refers to revealed knowledge and prophesy.

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. (Without an obstructed view); now (a then present condition) I know in part, but then (a change of status which would be the completion of what was in part) I shall know (that is what would we know fully – the fullness of what was once revealed only in part.) just as (καθὼς – relates to manner, not to degree.) I also am known. (I will know fully in the same way I have been known fully.) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

B. Comprehension of truth must be expanded, and this would accompany the full body of revelation. “Now we see in a mirror dimly (literally, in a riddle. The word is αἰνίγματι from which we get our word enigma, meaning a mystery. We cannot quite see what is there). At the time of Paul, partial knowledge and prophesy were still a reality. Paul and the other apostles and prophets still only knew in part and prophesied in part. They could not yet see the whole picture. This stresses the deliberate limitations of revealed knowledge and prophesy. Just as with the giving of the O.T. scriptures, the full revelation had not been delivered to any one man. Some was given to Paul, some to John, some to Luke, some to Mark, some to Peter, and so on. Once they had delivered to the Church everything they had received from the Holy Spirit, the need for such gifts would be no more, thus, the gifts would simply fade away. The New Testament writers recorded all revealed truth. Enough was given to...

  1. Produce faith, John 20:30-31,

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

  1. Reveal the mysteries of God, Colossians 1:25-27,

“…of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God, which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

  1. Instruct us in righteousness and to make us mature, complete, and fully equipped for the work of God, 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The end result of the full revelation is a finished product.

  1. To serve as our only guide in all spiritual matters,

a.1 Corinthians 4:6

“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.”

b. 2 Timothy 1:13

“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing, which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

  1. To bring us to salvation,

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

C. “But when that which is perfect has 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 a still 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 their 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. They simply began to fade away having fulfilled their function.

D. Faith and hope are also limited by reason of their purpose in time. These virtues are confined to time. Even faith and hope take a back seat to love in this regard.

  1. Hope will eventually give way to realization and we will no longer hope for that which we have obtained.

  2. Faith will one day become sight and we will know longer trust in that which we cannot see.

E. Love alone is represented without limitations of any kind, even beyond the scope of this world, “it never fails.” Unlike the gifts, which one received by the will of another, love is a virtue that must be learned, cultivated, developed, and actuated. Unlike the gifts, to love is a decision of the will. It is a choice. This is part of a maturing process.

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  • Very thorough answer (+1). However, you still haven't answered the main question. It seems that you are suggesting that the coming of "the perfect" was the putting together of the Biblical canon with the contribution of the different apostles. Does this mean that Paul was expecting the Biblical canon to be put together during his lifetime? Sep 11 at 14:40
  • The perfect was the expectations of maturity for the Church which was characterized by love, not the gifts. The full revelation of the word of God was the fulfilment of the things which were in part -knowledge and prophesy.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 11 at 14:59
  • The perfect was the expectations of maturity for the Church which was characterized by love, - Oh, I see. Do you think Paul was expecting that this full maturity in love would be achieved by the Church during his lifetime? Sep 11 at 15:08
  • I think so because as he says, "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully." As I pointed out earlier, "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.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 11 at 15:18
  • 2
    I like what you said in your profile. "Seeking the truth, WHEREVER IT LEADS." I am of the opinion that we should be more concerned with what is right rather than who is right. Truth resides only within the language of the text.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 11 at 15:28
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Jesus gave a sense of imminence to his hearers in Matthew 24:

34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Paul caught this sense of imminence in 1 Corinthians 7:

29 What I am saying, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Six chapters later, 1 Corinthians 13:

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Did Paul expect "the perfect" to come during his and the Corinthians' lifetime?

I think so: if not within his lifetime, it would be within his generation's lifetime.

Romans 13:

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Paul was not thinking about thousands of years later. He expected imminence. He was working like there was no tomorrow :)

Any idea what "the perfect" might be?

8 Love never ends.

Unlike the imperfect, love is eternal.

As for prophecies, they will pass away;

Prophecies are currently imperfect, unfinished.

as for tongues, they will cease;

Tongues are imperfect.

as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Knowledge is imperfect. It is subject to change over time.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

The perfect comes in the end. It defines the end of prophecies, tongues, and changeable knowledge in time.

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.

When the perfect comes, there will be no more guesswork. We would be able to see as clearly as face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

When the perfect reality comes, I shall know completely, no more guessing.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love remains eternal.

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  • Nice addition. In other words, "the perfect" refers to the perfect form of love the Church will be able to experience in the New Earth and the New Heaven, after Jesus' second coming? Sep 11 at 15:23
  • That's definitely a right interpretation.
    – Tony Chan
    Sep 11 at 15:36
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Some people have interpreted the “that which is perfect” in this verse as being the completed Bible. This has led them to believe that the gifts of the Spirit spoken of here (i.e., prophecy and tongues) have ceased. Although God’s Word is perfect (Psalms 19:7), that cannot be the “perfect thing” that is spoken of here.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul said when that which is perfect is come, we shall see face to face. This is speaking of seeing the Lord face to face, instead of vaguely as though through a dark glass, as it is now. Some might argue that this is speaking in a symbolic sense instead of literally face to face, but the next comparison in that verse says that then (when that which is perfect is come) we shall know all things even as we are also known. There is no other way to interpret that except to be describing when we stand before the Lord after this life. Then we will be face to face and know all things even as also we are known.

1 Corinthians 13:8 also says that at the time prophecies fail and tongues cease, knowledge will vanish away. That has to be talking about the next life, or the new heavens and earth, because one of the signs of the end times will be that knowledge shall increase (Daniel 12:4).

So, the “that which is perfect” that Paul was speaking of cannot be the Bible. It has to be speaking of either our glorified bodies or Jesus at His second coming. Either way, these verses establish that until that which is perfect is come, tongues and prophecy will remain. These are valid gifts today.

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This is a hornet's nest of theological traps that I have observed many (including myself) have fallen into with disastrous results because of the intended meaning of the apparently "slippery" meaning of the Greek word, τέλειος (teleios), translated "perfect" in 1 Cor 13:10.

  • Sometimes τέλειος (teleios) means simply mature and clearly refers to something "ripe", or, "mature" as in Matt 19:21, 1 Cor 2:6, 14:20, Phil 3:15, Heb 5:14.
  • However, most often, it has both a heavenly ("perfect in origin") meaning that is unattainable in this life but will be achieved in the next life sense; these include instances such as Matt 5:48 (note the future tense), Col 1:28, 4:12, Heb 9:11, James 1:4, 17, 25, 1 John 4:18.

Thus, the question in 1 Cor 13:10 is, what category does τέλειος (teleios) fit into?

The very existence of the OP's question suggests that in some people's minds, at least, this question is debated and quite contentious. However, the context makes this clear, both in the surrounding verse and in the following chapters. Note that Paul links the "perfect" of 1 Cor 13:10 to the following (V8ff):

  • the time when all prophecies will be ended
  • the time when all languages will be ended
  • the time when imperfect knowledge will be ended
  • the time when partial understanding is ended
  • the time when we see (and understand) poorly as in an imperfect mirror, is ended
  • the time when we see God "face to face" (Rev 22:3, 4, Job 19:25-27, Isa 25:9, John 14:1-3, Col 3:4, Heb 9:28, 1 John 3:2).

Note that whenever this time is, it implies that after the "perfect" arrives we will understand perfectly and see perfectly. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that Paul's language here has an eschatological flavor to it, that is a time when all things will be made new, because it has not yet happened in this life and has no prospect of occurring until the renewing of all things (Matt 19:28).

Paul discusses this still future time in 1 Cor 15 -

  • V20-23 - But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him.
  • V42 - So will it be with the resurrection of the dead: What is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable.
  • V51-54 - Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality,g then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

That is, the "perfect" comes when Jesus returns and resurrects the dead.

WHEN??

Now to the the other very contentions part of the OP's question - when did Paul expect the great "eschaton" of Jesus' return and the associated resurrection of the dead? It was a future event, but how far in the future did Paul expect it to be??

Let there be no doubt that the NT authors expected Jesus to return in their lifetimes. They all regarded their lives as the "last days", see appendix below. Note also Paul's own words about the second coming of Jesus in 1 Thess 4:15 -

By the word of the Lord, we declare to you that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have fallen asleep.

Noe to the very delicate part of all this - does that mean that NT were mistaken about the timing and coming of the Lord?

NO, NO, NO.

The NT writers were no more "mistaken" about Jesus' return that Jonah was about the destruction of Nineveh. Here are more examples of changed prophecies:

  • Ex 3:8, 15:17, 23:23 – God promised to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites who left Egypt. But the adverse report by the spies caused them to rebel, so God said, “not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home.” (Num 14:30) God even called this, “my breach of promise” (Num 14:34 KJV).
  • 2 Kings 20:1 – Hezekiah’s sickness resulted in a prophecy from Isaiah that he would not recover. However, in 2 Kings 20:2-6 Hezekiah pleads with the Lord who decides to reverse the prophecy and adds another 15 years to his life.
  • 1 Kings 21:20–26 – Elijah prophesied that Ahab would be destroyed. But when he repented the outcome was reversed (1 Kings 21:27, 28).

None of these was a false prophecy. This idea is explicitly stated in Jer 18:7-10 and illustrated in the dual prophecy of the permanence (Jer 17:24 – 26) or eternal destruction (Jer 17:27) of Jerusalem. The outcome is dependent not only on the sure word of the prophet but also the response and fidelity of the people.

CONCLUSION

Paul expected Jesus to return in his own lifetime when the dead would be raised and the perishable would put on the imperishable, ie, the when "perfect" would arrive. The Christian church has been less than thorough and diligent and Jesus has not yet returned. But, until He does (as He surely will!) the imperfect Christian church must be sustained by the ministry of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He imparts as He chooses.

APPENDIX - Last Days

  • Acts 2:17 – Peter calls the day of Pentecost the “last day” in fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. Compare v29-32.
  • 2 Tim 3:1 – perilous times in the “last day” which Paul discusses as already at his time.
  • Heb 1:2 – “These last days” God is revealed in Jesus.
  • James 5:3 – warning against rampant materialism and worship of money in the “last day”, that is, the time of James himself.
  • 1 Peter 1:5 – Christians reveal God and are miraculously preserved in the “last time”.
  • 1 Peter 1:20 – Jesus revealed in these “last times”.
  • 2 Peter 3:3 – Peter writes about his time as the fulfilment of that spoken by the ancient prophets about the “last days”.
  • 1 John 2:18 – Twice, John calls his time the “last hour”.
  • Jude 18 – Jude describes his time as the fulfilment of ancient prophecies about the “last time”.
  • Rev 2:16, 3:11, 22:7, 12, 20 – Jesus says, “I am coming soon/quickly”.
  • Even in a passage like John 6:39, 40, 54 where Jesus refers to the resurrection at the “last day” (see below) that time began with His death, Matt 27:50-53.

Add to this that many NT writers wrote with some urgency because time was short.

  • 1 Peter 4:7 – the end of all things is near
  • James 5:8 – the Lord’s coming is near
  • Heb 10:37 – He who is coming will come and not delay
  • 1 Thess 4:15 – Paul talks about the second coming and “we who are still alive”; thus he believed he would live to see the Lord return
  • 1 Cor 7:29 – time is short
  • Rom 13:11, 12 – salvation is nearer than when we believed.
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  • You are suggesting that God is waiting for us to become perfect before He fulfills His prophesy? I wonder why you cannot put your full faith and trust in Jesus' own words - Matt. 23:34. What was it that Abraham was looking for ? Heb. 11:10.
    – Gina
    Sep 12 at 11:42
  • @Gina - I did not say that, nor did it enter my head. What I DID say was that we have not completed the task given by God. The work will be completed by imperfect people under the propulsion of the Holy Spirit, if we do not refuse.
    – Dottard
    Sep 12 at 12:00
  • The task that the Apostles were appointed to complete was the spreading of the gospel throughout "all the world" of the Roman empire (Matt. 24:14). This is the "world" of Luke 2:1 where Caesar had the power & dominion over "all the world" to tax it - the Roman empire. About 62 AD Paul said they had preached the gospel to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23). The heaven was the dominion & rule of the Roman empire. It was done, & the end came just as Jesus foretold it at the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. It came "soon" to them, & that which was perfect came in at the same time.
    – Gina
    Sep 12 at 14:52
  • @Gina - in your theology, does anything matter after 80 AD?
    – Dottard
    Sep 12 at 21:21
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Yes, Paul seems to have been expecting this to happen during his and their lifetime.

The reason this is a logical conclusion is because "when that which is perfect is come" (KJV) surely would apply to Christ's second coming, at the latest possible point, for Christ and Heaven are and will be perfect. And Paul speaks of this coming of Christ in these terms:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, KJV)

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. ... Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17, KJV)

If Paul wrote as if he expected Christ in his day, it is reasonable to understand that he expected that which is "perfect" in his day as well. Because he says "we", and not merely "I", he includes those to whom he is writing.

2
  • I want to make sure that I'm not putting words in your mouth, but does it follow from your answer that you are implying that the second coming of Christ already happened in the first century? Sep 11 at 13:56
  • Paul's expectation was not realized. Christ's second coming is yet future. His "we" may be applicable to some of us in this present generation.
    – Polyhat
    Sep 11 at 13:58

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