Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“The Perfect Word”

Categories: DOCTRINE, NEW TESTAMENT
     Would you please elaborate on 1 Corinthians 13:8–10?  How do we know that the word ‘perfect’ is referring to the Bible?

Sincerely,
Definition Please

Dear Definition Please,

The perfect that is described in 1 Cor 13:8-13 is typically thought to be one of two things.  It is either perfect knowledge of God’s Will (also known as the completed Bible) or the Second Coming of Christ.  So, let’s look at the details we are given about ‘the perfect’ and see which one fits better.

  1. ‘The perfect’ is something that would replace partial knowledge (1 Cor 13:9).
  2. ‘The perfect’ would remove the necessity for prophecy and new knowledge (1 Cor 13:8).
  3. When ‘the perfect’ comes, christians will still be expected to have faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).

The third item on that list is proof that ‘the perfect’ isn’t the Second Coming of Christ.  When Christ returns, we will no longer need hope or faith.  Faith is trusting in something you can’t see (Heb 11:1); when Jesus comes, we won’t need to have faith in Him – everyone will see Him, and every knee will bow (Rom 14:11).  Hope is also something that ceases to exist when Jesus returns.  Hope is always in something you haven’t attained yet (Rom 8:25).  For example, if a child is told by his parents that they will take him to Disneyland, the child has faith in the parents’ promise and hopes to see Disneyland… until the day that he walks into the Magic Kingdom.  Hope and faith only exist because Christ hasn’t returned yet.

‘The perfect’ has to be something that happened after prophecy and miracles ended, but before Jesus’ return.  The most logical explanation is that Paul was discussing the perfect and complete knowledge that can be found in the completed Bible.  Today, with a finished Bible, the church still needs faith, hope, and love, but we no longer have a need for prophecy, and we no longer have only partial knowledge of God’s Will (Jude 1:3).