Monday, July 29, 2019

Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 Offer Support For Praying To Mary And The Saints?

          There is no way of decisively knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead when the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle. Inferences can certainly be drawn in debating such a question, but the context of this verse does not conclusively rule in favor of either side. Knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead at the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy is not necessary in order for the text to make sense.

          Perhaps Onesiphorus was alive and simply away from home. So Paul had an urge to pray for his companion's family. What we can gather from this text is that the two were not together at the time. One resource says the following: 

          "Knowing that even these good deeds could not save Onesiphorus and his house, the apostle asks the Lord to show mercy to his friend — to keep him in the grace of God that he might persevere until the very end."

          This makes perfect sense because Christianity was persecuted under the Roman Empire. A prayer for perseverance to the end would, by definition, mean that he was still alive. 

          Even if Onesiphorus was dead at this point in time, that would only mean the apostle was petitioning God to show mercy to the man and his family on the Day of Judgement. After all, he was very beneficial to Paul during his ministry. He wanted his household to be blessed as a result of his faithfulness and loyalty. This scenario would be similar to King David blessing the household of Jonathon and his descendants (2 Samuel 9:1-7). Paul would essentially be expressing a hope for Onesiphorus to be resting in peace. These comments from English divine and scholar Edward Hayes Plumptre are insightful here:

          "It is, at any rate, clear that such a simple utterance of hope in prayer, like the Shalom (peace) of Jewish, and the Requiescat or Refrigerium of early Christian epitaphs, and the like prayers in early liturgies, though they sanction the natural outpouring of affectionate yearnings, are as far as possible from the full-blown Romish theory of purgatory."

          Onesiphorus received complete forgiveness of sins at the moment of his conversion. If he was dead when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, then his fate was already sealed. No amount of prayers could possibly alter or help his eternal destiny. Paul was neither praying to him nor supporting the idea of anybody else doing such. He was not praying that Onesiphorus would be released from purgatory or anything in those lines.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Is The Book Of Enoch Inspired Scripture?

          A pseudepigraphal text known as the Book of Enoch was gradually written and assembled into one volume, with the oldest section being the Apocalypse of Weeks (dated to the second century BC). This work has caught the attention of numerous people because of its detailed descriptions of heaven and angels. The Book of Enoch has extra-biblical accounts regarding the Nephilim race and fallen angels. In a few words, it is a work of apocalyptical speculation. 

          Some Christians have raised the question as to whether the Book of Enoch is inspired due to it seemingly being quoted in Jude 14-15. Others have even devised a conspiracy theory that it was removed from the canon of Scripture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes Enoch in its own list of books comprising the Bible. This ancient compilation was even venerated by early Christian authorities such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus. Nonetheless, there is no reason for us to accept it as inspired Scripture. The words of John Oakes are pertinent here:

          "Why, then, did the church in Alexandria, and therefore eventually the Coptic church, including the Ethiopian and the Egyptian churches, accept this book? This is not clear, but we know from the evidence that the early church began to use the OT apocrypha and other books, such as 1 Enoch, as early as the second century. Why Alexandria in particular used 1 Enoch more than the churches in Antioch, Constantinople and Rome is not clear, but we can speculate that they had more interest in eschatology (the study of end times) and apocalyptic literature in general. We know that Origen was open to fairly speculative theology and that Alexandria was the center of allegorical interpretation."

           The Essene Jews esteemed this five part compilation highly, but their beliefs were entrenched in mysticism. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that:

          "Its survival is due to the fascination of marginal and heretical Christian groups, such as the Manichaeans, with its syncretic blending of Iranian, Greek, Chaldean, and Egyptian elements."

          The Book of Enoch contains things that are arguably false. As this source explains:

          "...it says that the giants of Biblical times were 400-450 feet tall. That is over 6 times taller than the largest dinosaur to ever exist, 4 times longer than a blue whale, longer than a football field, and the same height as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. If this is true, why does the Bible only speaks of giants as being 8-15 feet tall, and where are all the other legends in other cultures of giants who were this tall?"

           Even if Jude made reference to the Book of Enoch, that point in and of itself does not give us reason to incorporate it into the canon of Scripture. The Apostle Paul on a few occasions quoted pagan philosophers, yet those who believe in the divine inspiration of Enoch would not argue for the inclusion of those into the canon. It is more likely that Jude was not actually quoting from the Book of Enoch but to some valid oral tradition. Many truthful statements can be found apart from the Bible on a variety of topics. The New Testament author does not call what he alludes to Scripture. Rather, the text reads as "Enoch said." The Old Testament also has apocalyptic passages (Isaiah 66:15-16; Zechariah 14:5). 

          How are Christians supposed to view the Book of Enoch? We are to approach it as a literary work. It has value for historical research as do other ancient sources like Josephus. Moreover, this composite writing has been altered so many times by both Jews and Christians that there is no grounds to include it in the canon. As this source explains:

          "The full text of 1 Enoch exists in a Ethiopic translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic original. There are some Greek fragments, as well as some Aramaic fragments. How can the church trust the reliability of a translation of a translation? Moreover, the textual transmission of 1 Enoch is ferociously complex. A related complication is how much of 1 Enoch we're supposed to canonize. 1 Enoch is a composite book. Even within that anthology, the Book of the Watchers is a composite work. 1 Enoch has a very complex editorial history."

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health

No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. That’s the claim coming out of the United Kingdom that is sure to ruffle some psychologists’ feathers.

More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before. Multiple factors can be attributed to this rise; many people blame the popularity of social media and increased screen time, but it is also worth considering that in today’s day and age more people may be willing to admit they are having mental health issues in the first place. Whatever the reason, it is generally believed that a psychiatric diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.

Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the definitive guide for mental health professionals, and provides descriptions for all mental health problems and their symptoms. The five chapters analyzed were: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

Researchers came to a number of troubling conclusions. First, the study’s authors assert that there is a significant amount of overlap in symptoms between disorder diagnoses, despite the fact that each diagnosis utilizes different decision rules. Additionally, these diagnoses completely ignore the role of trauma or other unique adverse events a person may encounter in their life.

Perhaps most concerning of all, researchers say that these diagnoses tell us little to nothing about the individual patient and what type of treatments they will need. The authors ultimately conclude that this diagnostic labeling approach is “a disingenuous categorical system.”

"Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.

According to the study’s authors, the traditional diagnostic system being used today wrongly assumes that any and all mental distress is caused by a disorder, and relies far too heavily on subjective ideas about what is considered “normal.”

“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Professor John Read comments.

https://www.studyfinds.org/study-psychiatric-diagnoses-are-scientifically-meaningless/

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Theoretical Physicist [Sabine Hossenfelder] Has A Hard Time Convincing Peers To Accept Reality

Sometimes I believe in string theory. Then I wake up.

But then I got distracted by a disturbing question: Do we actually have evidence that elegance is a good guide to the laws of nature?

The brief answer is no, we have no evidence. The long answer is in my book and, yes, I will mention the-damned-book until everyone is sick of it. The summary is: Beautiful ideas sometimes work, sometimes they don’t. It’s just that many physicists prefer to recall the beautiful ideas which did work.

And not only is there no historical evidence that beauty and elegance are good guides to find correct theories, there isn’t even a theory for why that should be so. There’s no reason to think that our sense of beauty has any relevance for discovering new fundamental laws of nature.

Sure, if you ask those who believe in string theory and supersymmetry and in grand unification, they will say that of course they know there is no reason to believe a beautiful theory is more likely to be correct. They still work on them anyway. Because what better could they do with their lives? Or with their grants, respectively. And if you work on it, you better believe in it.

...here are the facts: This trust in beauty as a guide, it’s not working. There’s no evidence for grand unification. There’s no evidence for supersymmetry, no evidence for axions, no evidence for moduli, for WIMPs, or for dozens of other particles that were invented to prettify theories which work just fine without them. After decades of search, there’s no evidence for any of these.

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2018/01/sometimes-i-believe-in-string-theory.html

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Is Mary The Mother of God?

  • Information To Ponder:
          -In 431 AD, the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary was "theotokos," a Greek term which is translated to mean "God-bearer." This was done to affirm the deity of Jesus Christ in response to the Archbishop Nestorius, who believed in separating His human and divine natures (i.e. a heresy termed "Nestorianism"). In summary, the title theotokos was originally used to defend the full deity of Jesus Christ.
          -Pope John Paul II, in a speech in 1996, encouraged people “not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God” (L'Osservatore Romano, 4, December 1996, p. 11). Today, the Church of Rome uses this title which was initially centered around the nature of Christ as a way to exalt Mary.
          -"...the term God-bearer as it was used in the [Chalcedon] creed and as it was applied to Mary in these controversies said something about the nature of Christ, not the nature Mary. "Mother of God" is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ. Hence, any use of the term that is not simply saying, "Jesus is fully God, one divine Person with two natures," is using the term anachronistically, and cannot claim the authority of the early church for such usage." (James R. White, Mary: Another Redeemer?, p. 47-48)
  • Understanding This Title In A Proper Sense:
          -God is eternal (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 90:2). Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. So Mary could not be His mother in that His divine nature originated in her womb. It is biblical to say that Mary was the mother of Jesus during His incarnation on earth. Mary did indeed carry both of Christ's natures in her womb as His body was still developing. These statements are in accordance with Scripture, and Roman Catholics would readily agree with them. The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church has attached all sorts of bizarre teachings regarding Mary to the biblical concept of her motherhood.
  • Further Commentary On The Mother Of God Title:
          -Roman Catholic apologists have taken advantage of the ambiguity surrounding this title for the purpose of giving credibility to their Marian theology. Mary in the Catholic Church shares several of the same qualities and abilities as Christ Himself. The many titles ascribed to her perfectly fit the description of a goddess. Nowhere does the Bible justify erecting pillars in the name of Mary, giving her extreme titles of exaltation, and assigning providential roles to her. Kissing and weeping in front of statues of prominent Christian figures is also idolatry. The Roman Catholic Church calls Mary the mother of mercy. It has even been said that Mary sits at the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ! None of this has any foundation in Scripture.
          -It is not necessary for us to resort to titles created by men (much less a Marian title) in drawing inferences relating to the nature of Jesus Christ. Statements about how we come to understand Him can be made firsthand from His person (i.e. God-man, etc). Scripture already has enough information on the the person of Christ. Moreover, the Marian title mother of God has been mishandled to support an unbiblical ideology. Church councils are authoritative, insofar that they are consistent with the written Word of God. The sayings of men about theology are mere, subjective opinions apart from an objective standard to test them. Why is Mary's mother not called the Grandmother of God? Why would this exaltation not extend to her own lineage?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Does Galatians 2:16 Teach Justification By Faith Alone?

  • Discussion:
          -One writer at Catholic Answers wrote an article in which he defends the Roman Catholic view of justification by arguing that Galatians 2:16 is not supportive of justification by faith alone, but pertains to salvation no longer being on the basis of the Mosaic Law. Right from the beginning of the post, a straw man argument has been erected:

          "On this view, God is not concerned with whether the person obeyed God by living a holy life or whether he was baptized."

           No true Christian actually believes that God does not care about our obedience to Him. Sola Fide simply means we cannot earn our way into heaven by good works of any kind. It is by no means an equivalent to upholding antinomianism. Another key component of the Catholic apologetics argument being critiqued is cited here as follows:

         "Paul emphatically rebuked Peter. Man reaches heaven by the universal action of faith, which is always “working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith, as one family of God, which automatically dismantles any separation between them.

          Next, Paul draws out the —the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled by the New Law (Matt. 5:17). Jews and Gentiles have been united by Christ—He has torn down the wall separating them, and Paul cannot “build up again those things which I tore down” (Gal. 2:18). His identity is no longer found in the Mosaic Covenant, he has a new one: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)."

          The Apostle Paul says that our justification is not by works. The reason given is that we receive a righteous standing before God by faith. In Galatians 2:16, he differentiates between faith and works of the Law. Paul denies that the latter is a way to receive justification before God. This truth is repeated three times in a single passage so as to stress its importance. Those who place their trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ will also serve Him, but that service does not constitute the basis for our justification before God.

          "The point of Galatians 2:16, then, is that Gentile Christians do not have to live like Jews. This is because going under the yoke of the Mosaic Law does not lead to salvation. Christians must follow Christ and His way of life (Gal. 6:2). They do what Christ commands, not what Moses commands (John 1:17). Christians need to live by faith, lovingly obeying Christ by loving others, which fulfills the whole Mosaic Law (Rom. 13:8). The Spirit empowers us to love others – and his presence particularly distinguishes the old yoke from the new (Rom. 8:1-4), which has the “circumcision of Christ,” baptism (Col. 2:11-12), and the new Passover, the Eucharist (1 Cor. 5:7, John 6:53).

          Galatians 2:16 has nothing to do with the Catholic belief that good works and receiving the sacraments are necessary, but not sufficient, for salvation. Deciding who spends eternity in heaven remains entirely the prerogative of our loving Creator, who has given ample guidance to the faithful. Our Protestant brothers and sisters have been misled about the meaning of the text, so let us gently show them their error (2 Tim. 2:25)."

          Justification does not depend on obedience to the Mosaic Law for the reason of God declaring us righteous by faith. There are no laws that we can obey to get right with God. The author glosses over what Paul says in Galatians. The Law of Love was literally embedded into the Mosaic system (Leviticus 19:17-18). To say that a person is not justified by the Law encompasses the Law of Love. Love of God and love of neighbor are what sum up the Law in its entirety (Matthew 22:36-40). There is not a single type of good behavior or work of grace that does not fit into those categories. We are saved by faith in God, apart from the merit of any and all good works. This excerpt from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary is pertinent here:

          "for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified--He rests his argument on this as an axiom in theology, referring to Psa 143:2, "Moses and Jesus Christ; The law and the promise; Doing and believing; Works and faith; Wages and the gift; The curse and the blessing--are represented as diametrically opposed" [BENGEL]. The moral law is, in respect to justification, more legal than the ceremonial, which was an elementary and preliminary Gospel: So "Sinai" (Gal 4:24), which is more famed for the Decalogue than for the ceremonial law, is made pre-eminently the type of legal bondage. Thus, justification by the law, whether the moral or ceremonial, is excluded (Rom 3:20)."

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Micah 5:2 And The Deity Of Christ

        Micah 5:2 is regarded as a prophecy indicating where the Jewish Messiah would be born, a village called Bethlehem. This passage was written for the purpose of consoling a people devoid of hope, as it describes the arrival of a King in a futuristic sense who will bring about the redemption and restoration of Israel along with a kingdom that exists throughout the world. First century Jewish leaders during the first century understood Micah 5:1-2 to be a messianic prophecy (Matthew 2:3-6; Luke 2:4; John 7:41-42). King David was also born in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Jesus Christ is the most prominent figure in his lineage, legally speaking. God raised Christ up to rule eternally in David's royal ancestry through a covenantal promise (2 Samuel 7:12-17).

         There is an issue of word rendering in Micah 5:2 as it relates to the divinity of Christ. Translations such as the English Standard Version render the Hebrew word "olam" in this text as from ancient days, while others such as the New American Standard and King James read as from eternity. The Hebrew can either refer to unending time or to some distant point in the past. It can be argued that the Prophet Micah was conveying the meaning of eternity. The King being described in Micah 5:2 has supernatural qualities (compare with Isaiah 9:6).

         Jesus Christ did not exist from eternity past as a human. So in one sense, He did indeed have a "beginning" as a man. God the Son came down from heaven and took on human flesh. The phrase "ancient of days" refers to the incomprehensible essence of eternity. This source provides historical background regarding the interpretation of Micah 5:2:

        "Eliezer makes a remarkable observation: though the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, he existed “before the world was created” (Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 3:1). Micah says his goings forth are מִימֵי עֹולָֽם mimei olam (“from the days of eternity”). In other words, the Messiah has eternally existed. The Messiah is not a created being. The text implies a divine nature. Early Jewish interpreters understood this. The writer of 1 Enoch says, “From the beginning the Son of Man was hidden and the Most High has preserved him” (1 Enoch 62:7). Classical rabbinic texts described a pre-existent Messiah in b. Pesachim 54a, Nedarim 39a, the Revelation of R Joshua b Levi, and Seder Gan Eden." (Jacobs and Buttenweiser, “Messiah,” 511)"

        The text is obviously discussing the pre-existence of the Jewish Messiah. The idea of beginnings is emphasized twice in a row in the same passage (consider also the rendering of Micah 5:2 as found in the New International Version where it says "origins"), meaning that Jesus Christ is eternal. If Micah 5:2 is referring to a specific point in time when the Messiah was created by God, then it would simply be redundant. It would not make any sense for Him to be brought into existence many times. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary has this excerpt:

        "goings forth . . . from everlasting--The plain antithesis of this clause, to "come forth out of thee" (from Beth-lehem), shows that the eternal generation of the Son is meant. The terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable (compare Psalms 90:2, Proverbs 8:22, Proverbs 8:23, John 1:1 )."

         The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by D.A. Carson and Gregory K. Beale, says the following about Matthew paraphrasing the messianic prophecy given through Micah:

         “A literal translation of Mic. 5:1 MT (5:2 ET) reads, “And you Bethlehem Ephrathah, little [or, ‘insignificant’] among the thousands [or, ‘clans’] of Judah, from you to me will go forth to be a ruler in Israel.…” Micah 5:1 LXX (5:2 ET) translates the Hebrew quite literally, but adds “house of” before “Ephrathah” and changes “thousands” to “rulers of thousands.” Matthew follows the LXX verbatim for “and you Bethlehem,” replaces “(house of) Ephrathah” with “land of Judah,” adds “by no means” before “little,” changes the adjective to the superlative form “least,” replaces “rulers of thousands” with “governors,” omits “to me,” but then reproduces “out of you will go forth” using LXX wording.”

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Helpful Tip In Reaching Out To Jehovah's Witnesses

        The Jehovah's Witness New World Translation renders the text of Isaiah 9:6 in the following manner:

        "For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the rulership [the footnote for this word says "government; princely rule"] will rest on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

        Notice how this text is supportive of the full deity of Jesus Christ. That is something which is denied by the Jehovah's Witnesses. He is fully God and fully man.

         A passage which says that Jesus is God can be found in a translation of the Bible that was designed to remove references to His divinity. Even the New World Translation contradicts the doctrine of the Watchtower Society.

        If this is presented to a Jehovah's Witness, then he or she may very well be stunned or feel the need to explain away the meaning of Isaiah 9:6.

Friday, June 28, 2019

On Pope John Paul II Kissing An Islamic Koran

          Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) once kissed an Islamic Koran during a meeting with the Patriarch of Chaldean. This action no doubt resulted in controversy, as one has to wonder precisely what this man was thinking. After all, the Islamic religion rejects the gospel. It denies the crucifixion and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. So it is quite evident that Islam and biblical Christianity are incompatible with each other.

          Whatever the case, there is no wisdom in Christians (especially the supposed earthly head of the Christian church) bowing their heads and kissing the sacred texts of different religions. There is literally no excuse for such conduct, as such communicates endorsement. Christ made an exclusive truth claim (John 14:6). If other belief systems are acceptable to God, then Christ would be a liar and false messiah. That charge would be blasphemous to the utmost.

           If the pope is truly the Vicar of Christ on earth, then why would he display so much reverence for a religion that fundamentally contradicts his own? His action so clearly resembles that of an apostate (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 9-11). He also could have mislead those who are unlearned by his irresponsible act. Why then do Roman Catholics try so hard to defend this sort of behavior? The rightful thing to do would be to simply admit that the pope erred. Moreover, it is not as though we will ever see an imam kissing the Holy Bible.

          It seems that the pope these days will do anything to gain political influence. That appears to be the motivating factor behind the Vatican associating with Islam. The Roman Bishop definitely seems to be a figure who has charisma. Even today, millions flock to Rome just to behold him as he lectures. Faithful Roman Catholics bow before him and kiss the hand which wields the ring molded for his coronation. All of this is idolatry, pure idolatry.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Identifying The "Perfect" In 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 As It Relates To The Charismatic Movement

Commentary:

This passage has been used by charismatic Christians to demonstrate that the miraculous gifts of prophecy and tongues will remain in the church until the Second Coming of Christ. Non-charismatics have used this verse to argue that tongues and prophecy ceased upon the completion of the canon of Scripture or the maturing of the early church. These interpretations turn on the meaning of "the perfect" (to teleion).

What both charismatics and non-charismatics can agree upon is that the gifts mentioned in this verse will be "done away with" (in the case of prophecy and knowledge) and will "cease" (in the case of tongues). They would also agree that the reason these gifts will not continue forever is that they are inadequate - imperfect in relation to the "perfect" that is coming. Finally, they would agree that the gifts were operative in Paul's time and that the time of their cessation was a future event for him. The difference in interpretation lies in whether the gifts mentioned have ceased prior to our time, or whether they are still operative for us, as they were for Paul, and their cessation lies yet in the future.

A careful reading of the text demonstrates that Paul may be drawing a distinction between tongues on the one hand and prophecy and knowledge on the other. The latter two gifts will be "done away" with (katargeo). Tongues are said to "cease" (pauo). The "perfect" will actively "do away" with the "partial." Katargeo is in the passive voice, indicating that the coming of the "perfect" is the cause of the "partial" passing away. Tongues, however, will cease of themselves. Pauo is in the Greek middle voice, which is defined as "an action taken by the subject upon him, her, or itself" (Friberg). Thus, tongues will "cease" of themselves - not as a direct result of "the perfect" coming. If this is the case, Paul is not speaking definitively about when tongues will cease - only that when "the perfect" comes, tongues will no longer be operative in the church. "The perfect" will do away with prophecy and knowledge; but tongues will have ceased at some point prior to that event.

Thus, even if we take "the perfect" to be the Second Coming, this verse does not teach that tongues will be active in the church at Christ's return.

As mentioned, "the perfect" is often taken by non-charismatics as being the completion of the canon This interpretation is possible, based on one of the meanings of teleion ("perfect, perfection, completion"). However, this interpretation seems foreign to the immediate context. As the Expositor's Bible Commentary notes:

It is difficult to prove the cessation of these gifts at the end of the first century A.D. by taking teleion to refer to a completion of the canon at that time, since that idea is completely extraneous to the context. While teleion can and does refer to something completed at some time in the future, the time of that future completion is not suggested in v. 10 as being close (EBC).

Other non-charismatics take teleion to be the maturity of the church, which more or less coincides with the completion of the canon. This interpretation is contextually more plausible (1 Corinthians 12 - 14 centers on church conduct), and thematically appealing:

There is much to commend this view, including the natural accord it enjoys with the illustration of growth and maturity which Paul used in the following verses (BKC).

However, I find this view somewhat strained lexically. While teleion can mean "a state of maturity" when speaking of a person, there are no other NT examples of it carrying this meaning when used of a collective group or abstract noun (which must be inferred as "church" in this interpretation). An additional problem with this interpretation is the fact that Paul says in verse 12 that "at that time" (i.e., when "the perfect" comes), he will "know fully." It does not seem reasonable to understand Paul to be saying that he expected to live to see the maturity of the church and then to "know fully." Rather, it seems more likely that Paul here is referring to a time of spiritual completion - either when he dies and goes to be with Christ, or at the resurrection following Christ's Second Coming.

Indeed, many evangelical commentators understand "the perfect" to mean either the Second Coming or the perfection of the human soul that occurs when the Christian is united with Christ in death:

On the other hand, in a number of contexts the related words telos ("end," "termination;" "last part") and teleo ("bring to an end") are used in relation to the second coming of Christ. This is true in both non-Pauline writing (cf. James 5:11; Rev 20:5, 7; 21:6; 22:13) and 1 Corinthians 1:8; 15:24. Since in the contexts of the Second Coming these related words are used and since Paul himself used telos in talking about the Second Coming elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, it seems more normal to understand teleion in v. 10 to mean that "perfection" is to come about at the Second Coming, or, if before, when the Christian dies and is taken to be with the Lord (2Cor 5:1-10) (EBC).

"But it seems that the perfect thing Paul has in mind must be the eternal state - "face to face" in verse 12 can best be explained as being with God in the new heavens and new earth. It is only in glory that we will know as we are known (John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, p. 389).

But in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! (Henry).

On the whole, it is probably best to take to teleion to mean the Second Coming (though the maturity of the church is possible as well). The gift of tongues will cease at some point prior to Christ's return, while this sublime event will do away with knowledge and prophecy. These two gifts need not be taken to be miraculous manifestations, but rather the gift of knowledge that allows the believers to grasp and retain the meaning of God's revelation and the gift of prophecy that allows teachers and pastors to powerfully and truthfully proclaim God's Word. Indeed, the view that knowledge and prophecy would lead to new revelations would contradict the counsel of Scripture in countless other places. Spiritual gifts - whether spectacular or mundane - are always focused on God's revelation, now complete in the pages of our Bibles.

Grammatical Analysis:

PAUSONTAI (PAUW) (3973)
  • mid[dle voice] stop (oneself), cease (BAGD)
  • to cease, leave off (Thayer)
  • They shall cease (pausontai). Future middle indicative of pauô, to make
  • cease. They shall make themselves cease or automatically cease of themselves (RWP).
TELEION (TELEIOS) (5046)
  • having attained the end or purpose, complete, perfect; subst[tantive] to teleion what is perfect Ro 12:2; perh[aps] 1 Cor 13:10 (BAGD)
  • brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect ... to teleion, substantively, that which is perfect... the perfect state of all things, to be ushered in by the return of Christ from heaven 1 Cor xiii. 10 (Thayer).
Other Views Considered (Charismatics):

Objection: In order to understand this statement we need to examine its context. Paul said that prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled, knowledge will pass away, and perfection will come (verses 8-10). Paul was speaking of a time yet future both to his original readers and to us. When the kingdom of our Lord is ushered in, perfection will come and there will be no further need of Spirit-given knowledge, prophecy, and tongues. They will disappear because they will be longer needed. But these operations of the Spirit are still needed today.

There is no indication in Scripture that tongues would cease at the end of the first century. Tongues are to be a part of the life of the church in every generation until Christ returns to set up His perfect kingdom. Paul's perception was that spiritual gifts would be operational until that day (1 Corinthians 1:7, 8) (from The Assemblies of God website).

Response: It must be admitted that this view is possible; however, it requires that we understand Paul's distinction between tongues "ceasing" of their own accord (middle voice) and prophecy/knowledge to be "done away" with directly by the coming of "the perfect" (passive voice) to be mere stylist variations and not related to the overall meaning of the text. Given Paul's careful use of language throughout this epistle, as well as in his other letters, a stylistic nuance seems unlikely.

If, as seems probable, Paul is teaching that tongues will cease of their own accord before the Second Coming, this interpretation must be rejected - at least with regard to tongues.

While there is no direct statement in the Bible that tongues will cease following the Apostolic age, there is substantial evidence that tongues did, in fact, cease. We may note that tongues are only mentioned in the earliest NT books. Paul wrote at least 12 epistles after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues again. Peter, James, Jude, and John do not mention tongues. There is no evidence from the sub-Apostolic fathers that tongues existed in the church after the first century (see Cleon Rogers, "The Gift of Tongues in the Post-Apostolic Church," Bibliotheca Sacra, 122, p. 134). An interesting sect known as the Montanists seem to have practiced something like speaking in tongues in the second century, but this group was considered heretical by other Christians because of its insistence that its leaders were receiving direct revelation from the Holy Spirit which added to - and even supplanted - the recorded teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

The Montanist movement was defeated almost incidentally as a result of measures the church took against Gnosticism and Marcionism, especially by the definition of the canon of Scripture, which closed the door to Montanus' new revelations (Heresies, p. 68).

While isolated groups on the fringes of mainstream Christianity have, from time to time, practiced something akin to speaking in tongues, this spiritual gift has not been normative for Christians since the Apostolic age - at least, not prior to the modern Pentecostal movement in late 1800's. Thus, the burden of proof rests on those who would argue that tongues have not ceased, a burden that would seem heavy indeed, based on the historical record.

Copyright © 2001-2005 by Robert Hommel. For an Answer Ministries (http://www.forananswer.org). All rights reserved.