WHY PROPHECY, TONGUES AND KNOWLEDGE CEASED IN THE FIRST CENTURY AD. Quoting: Salt
Bible Reading: I Corinthians 13:8-13.
Aim: To show that tongues ceased in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem.
To show that prophecy and knowledge gifts ceased in 96 AD with the completion of the New Testament.
Introduction: If these three gifts ceased in the first century, then the modern tongues movement is not of God and should be rejected as unbiblical. The following exegesis of I Corinthians 13:8-13, is intended as a springboard to understand how the entire Bible teaching on this subject fits together to show that the purpose of tongues was a warning to Israel, and hence, ceased by 70 AD. It will be shown that prophecy and knowledge gifts were God's temporary means of revelation to the early Church until the completed New Testament had been given. Today, God speaks through His Word, not through some person giving what he calls is a prophecy from God.
I Corinthians 13:8-13.
13:8. "Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail (Greek: Katargethesontai); whether there be tongues, they shall cease (Greek: pausontai), whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away" (Greek: Katargethesetai).
Note first that "Charity never faileth". This means that love will continue on forever. It is the only one of the 6 phenomena discussed here that continues forever. This means that faith, hope, prophecy, tongues and knowledge all stop, but when?
I Corinthians 13:13 tells us "And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity".
We learn here that faith, hope and charity continue all through the church age. This means that prophecy, tongues and knowledge are not said to continue all through the Church age, but cease sometime before the second coming (rapture) of Christ.
Question 1: When does faith stop?
Answer: When Christ returns at the rapture to catch the church up to heaven.
II Corinthians 5:7. "For we walk by faith, not by sight". When we get to heaven we will see what we had faith in, so that faith will give way to sight.
I Peter 1:9 "Receiving the end5056 (Greek: telos) of your faith, even the salvation of your souls".This tells us that faith will end when we get to heaven, thus enjoying salvation or deliverance from the presence of sin. "Telos" means "end, result, termination, ultimate fate, completion in respect to time, or fulfilment".
Hence faith for us ends at the second coming of Christ.
Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher5047(teleiotes) of our faith."
Jesus Christ finishes our faith when He returns for us at His second coming, and we "reach our goal" ("teleiotes" in Greek) of heaven.
Question 2: When does HOPE stop?
Answer: When we get what we are hoping for in heaven. For example, if you are married, you are not hoping to get married because you then possess what you hoped for. Believers are hoping for Christ's second coming (Titus 2:13), and the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6). When we have what we hope for, then hope finishes. "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ". Titus 2:13.
"..of the hope and resurrection of the dead am I called in question". Acts 23:6 and Acts 26:6.
"....hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" Romans 8:24.
Hope will only remain until we see Christ and receive our resurrection bodies at His second coming. Hence hope is valid only until the second coming.
Hence faith will be lost in sight; hope will be lost in reality; and love continues for all eternity.
I Corinthians 13:13. "And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity". Because only faith, hope and charity are abiding throughout the church age, these three alone, then prophecy, tongues and knowledge must cease sometime INSIDE the church age. The time these (and the other temporary gifts) ceased had to have been before the completion of the New Testament.
Question 3: When do prophecy, and knowledge gifts cease?
Answer: "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail2673 (Greek: Katargethesontai);......whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away2673 (Greek Katargethesetai)."
Meaning: "Katargeo" means to render inoperative, to make inactive, to be done away, to supercede, put an end to. With Paul it always denotes a complete cessation, not a temporary or partial ceasing.
Every occurrence of "Katargeo" in 13:8,10 is in the passive voice, indicating that something shall make prophecy and knowledge inactive.
Question 4: What are prophecy and knowledge?
1. The gift of prohecy in the apostolic church was speaking new revelation from God, to instruct and edify. Prophecy has a secondary meaning of forthtelling God's Word to teach and comfort the Church.
This is Bible teaching of today. Teaching replaced first century prophecy. A person knew, then prophesied. They were twin gifts.
2. The gift of knowledge in the apostolic Church was the ability to understand and know the mind and will of God. It was revealed truth, not learned. It is seeing as the Holy spirit sees. It was used to teach believers certain doctrines which had not as yet been written as part of the New Testament.
For example, Peter knew who Jesus really was. Matthew 16:17.
Agabus knew and then prophesied about Paul being bound at Jerusalem. Acts 21:10-12.
Paul knew the demonised damsel's mesage to be false. Acts 16:18
Such knowledge, like prophecy, was as authoritative as the scriptures in the early church.
Each of these gifts can refer to either:
a) an action - the exercising of the gifts in the church where he prophesies or gives a word of knowledge.
b) content - in Matthew 13:14,15 Christ quotes what Isaiah said 750 years earlier, which was now part of Scripture. When prophecy or knowledge became codified as scripture, they stood alone, no longer as the "act" of prophecy and knowledge, but as the "content" of prophecy and knowledge, now become written scripture.
3. The gift of tongues or unlearned languages, was similar yet inferior to prophecy and knowledge in that the tongues speaker needed to be translated.
Paul said in I Corinthian 14:18,19 "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue".
Speaking in a tongue and having it translated only allows the speaker to say half as much in a given time, as could a prophet or word of knowledge in the common tongue. Tongues were cumbersome verbage. Prophecy, tongues and knowledge form the subject of 1 Corinthian 13:8-13. Something is going to happen to each of them. None of them are to abide during the Church age, as will faith, hope and love. They are transient gifts.
13:8. "Whether there be tongues, they shall cease 3973" (Greek: pausontai).
Here "pausontai is used in an absolute sense, to cease, to come to an end".
["The Complete N.T. Word Study Dictionary", S. Zhodiates, p.1132.]
"Pausontai" is in the middle voice, indicative mood, meaning that the action of ceasing will come from within, rather than from outside.
"Cease" means that tongues would fulfil their function (of warning jewish people of coming Judgment), and render themselves obsolete, unneeded, ended. Literally it means "tongues shall make themselves to cease, or automatically cease of themselves." [A.T. Robertson Vol.IV, p.179.]
13.9. "For we know in part, and we prophecy in part". Since v.9 omits tongues, it would appear that tongues would cease before the removal of prophecy and knowledge. "In part" defines quantity, and the word "perfect" meaning "complete" is the opposite to "in part".
Knowledge of doctrine in the pre-canon period of the Church Age was fragmentary. The 14 mystery doctrines of this dispensation had not yet been completely given in New Testament Scripture. They could only teach from the Old Testament and by direct revelation from God via prophecy and knowledge. They knew in part, and consequently, they prophesied in part.
13:10. "But when that which is perfect (Greek: "teleion" meaning complete) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (Greek: "Katargetheseta" meaning to render inoperative). Prophecy and knowledge, both being ""in part"", will be done away with when the perfect shall come.
Question 5: When does the perfect come?
a) If it is the second coming of Christ, then prophecy, tongues and knowledge are allowable today.
b) If it is the completed New Testament Scriptures of 96 AD then prophecy, tongues and knowledge have all ceased in the first entury and are not for today.
Question 6: To answer question 5, we must ask another question: What is "that which is perfect?"
Answer: Several opinions are: 1. Jesus Christ at His second coming. 2. the perfected state of the believer at Christ''s return. 3. After the millenium in the new heaven and new earth. 4. the completed New Testament Scriptures.Consider these reasons why the perfect refers to the completed New Testament scriptures:
1. "When that (Greek: To Teleion) which is perfect is come"
The pronoun "THAT" in Greek, describing the perfect, is neuter.
Christ however is masculine, not neuter, so "that which is perfect" cannot refer to Christ or His return. The Bible is neuter. This fits the context perfectly.
2. "Perfect" in Greek means "complete, finished". The N.T. by 96 AD was completed and finished as God's revelation for this Church age. The completed N.T. canon of Scripture would serve the same purpose that prophecy, tongues, knowledge, apostleship, healing, miracles and other temporary spiritual gifts had once performed. Christ is never called the complete or finished one.
3. "Perfect" cannot mean Christ's return, becaue Christ's second coming is foreign to the context of I Corinthians 12,13,14 being mentioned nowhere in these 3 chapters. The subject of I Corinthians 12, 13,14 is spiritual gifts to the church in the church age. To extend prophecy, tongues and knowledge into the millenium or after the millenium is to miss the focus and context of the passage.
4. James 1:25 describes the perfect as the Bible, the perfect law of liberty.
The meaning of "perfect" in scripture can be determined by it's use in other passages of scripture. "Teleion", the "perfect" or "completed" was already in the New Testament when Paul wrote. James had alrady referred to the Word of God as the "perfect law of liberty in" James 1:25.
"But be ye doors of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your ownselves."
"But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:22, 25.
"Perfect" in James 1:25 in Greek is "teleion" the same as "perfect" in 1 Corinthian 13:10. In James 1:25 "perfect" clearly refers to the soon to be completed Bible, and this must be the same meaning in I Corinthians 13:10.
In James 1:22-25 the perfect law of liberty is the Bible.
Therefore, in I Corinthians 13:10 the perfect is the Bible.
5. James 1:23 and 1 Corinthinas 13:12 both describe the Bible as a mirror/glass that we see our reflection in.
"For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass." James 1:23.
"For now we see through a glass darkly; but then (when the perfect, completed Bible has come) face to face" 1 Corinthians 13:12.
As we look into a mirror to see our true physical condition of our face, so we look into the Bible as a mirror to see our true spiritual condition.
Some people look into a mirror and forget their physical appearance.
Some people look into the Bible mirror and forget their spiritual appearance.
Therefore, GLASS MIRROR = PERFECT = the WORD OF GOD.
1 Corinthians 13:12 describes the "perfect" as a glass mirror, just as James 1:23 does.
6. II Corinthians 3:18 also shows the glass, and hence the perfect to be the Word of God, which transforms us.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord".
The mirror/glass is a symbol of the Word of God. (James 1:22,25).
As we look into God's Word and we see Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit transforms us into the very image of Jesus Christ. "We all" means all believers, seeing in the Bible/glass, the glory of the Lord. "Open face" means that we can hide nothing from God; We must be open and honest with Him.
We can be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ("He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son....". Romans 8:29) and go from glory to glory, by the Holy Spirit changing us as we saturate ourselves in the Word of God.
"are changed (Greek: metamorphoumetha) into the same image from glory to glory". The Greek word "changed" gives us the word "metamorphosis" which describes the process of an insect changing from an ugly worm into a mature beautiful butterfly. The changes come from within. So it is when we meditate on God's Word and in it see Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ.
In the Bible we see the glory of Christ and are changed into His image.
13:12. In I Corinthians 13:12, only a few New Testament books were completed. The glory of the Lord revealed in the word was not complete. First century believers could neither see Christ, nor themselves, in the full light of God's revelation. They could only see darkly or dimly. However with the completion of Scripture, not only would the glory of Christ be revealed in greater fullness, but so would the believer's own reflection become clearer. Why? Because the believer after 96 AD has more Scripture to transform him into Christ's image.
The "perfect" is the opposite of that which is "in part."
Paul viewed his own writings as Scripture (1 Thessalonians 2:13) He knew that new revelation was being given and that one day it would cease. In the same way that God had completed the Old Testament, God would also complete the New Testament. Paul's use of the phrases "we know in part and we prophesy in part" (13:9) show that he is dealing with a partially completed Bible that was being added to by the Apostle's revelations from God.
1. The Second Coming is never called "perfect" in the New Testament, but the Bible is called the perfect law of liberty in James 1:25.
Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul......."
2. The completed New Testament fulfilled the same job as did the temporary gifts of prophecy and knowledge. Once prophecy and knowledge were codified (written down) as the New Testament, then prophecy and knowledge ceased. ie. New revelation of prophecy and knowledge ceased when the full N.T. revelation for this age was completed.
3. Christ's second coming is neither complete nor morally perfect. In the millenium, the sinner will die 100 years old (Isaiah 65:20). The millenium ends with satan's release from the pit and nations rebelling to attack Christ at Jerusalem. Not a perfect or complete situation at all.
4. Faith and Hope finish at the second coming (13:13).
Therefore, prophecy, knowledge and tongues, each not abiding during the church age, are said to end well before faith and hope ends (compare 1 Corinthians
13:8 with 1 Corinithians13:13).
Prophecy, knowledge and tongues end well before the second coming.
Prophecy and knowledge end by the coming of the perfect, completed Word of God in 96 AD.
Tongues ended by 70 AD, with Titus destroying Jerusalem and the judgment predicted coming on the jewish people for rejecting Christ's gospel. You don't warn people after the punishment has fallen.
5. The completed Bible is able to make believers complete by giving us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (II Peter 1:3,4).
We don't need new revelation.
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory (in heaven) and virtue (now on earth).
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises (in the perfect Bible) that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature (changed from glory to glory)." II Peter 1:3,4.
This is obtained through:
1) the knowledge of Christ found in the Bible, and
2) by claiming the exceeding great and precious promises in the Bible.
Everything that we need today for life and Godliness to make us mature, completely equipped Christians is found in the Bible. Hence, the Bible is appropriately called the "complete Completer" for us today, the exact meaning of "teleion" in I Corinthians 13:10.
6. The completed Bible (all Scripture) can make the man of God "perfect" (Greek: "artios739" meaning "complete, sufficient, completely qualified; a synonym of "teleion"), throughly furnished unto all good works". II Timothy 3:16,17.
Here again, "all Scripture" making the man of God perfect, supports "perfect" in I Corinthians 13:10 as meaning the Bible, and not the second coming of Christ. Therefore, when the perfected, completed Bible comes, then the "in part" prophecy and knowledge shall be done away. This happened in 96AD when John finished writing Revelation 22:21.
Question 7: Why is tongues not mentioned in I Corinthians 13:9,10 as being done away with by the perfect?
Answer: It is because tongues had already ceased in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem, being the judgment on the jewish people that tongues pointed to (I Corinthians 14:21,22). After 70 AD, there was no more purpose for tongues, so the tongues gift ceased forever by 70 AD. Tongues were not in existence to be done away with by "the perfect." Tongues had ceased 26 years earlier.
Those who think that the "perfect" is Christ's return and reject it as meaning the completed New Testament Scripture, do so because:
1. They have not studied every word, phrase, or verse of I Corinthians 13 in its context or
2. They are mentally influenced by someone with leaning towards Pentecostalism or
3. They are influenced by some interdenominational teacher whose decision about this scripture is non-committal so as to retain his popularity with both charismatic and non charismatic groups.
4. No scripture is ever produced in proof that the Holy Spirit did not mean the complete New Testament.
If knowledge ended at Christ's return, and if knowledge meant normal knowledge, then all Christians would be imbeciles in heaven.
Note: It is not good to say that God spoke to you and told you to do something, because if you are wrong, you lose your credibility. Instead, say "I felt led or burdened by the Lord to.....".
13:11. "When I was a child, I spake as a child (tongues)
I understand as a child (Knowledge, I thought as a child (prophecy is verbalised thoughts): but when I became a man, I put away childish things".