Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge "Ceased" in AD 70 – A Study of "That Which is Perfect" (1 Cor. 13:8-12)

By: Michael J. Sullivan

It is my purpose in this article to tackle an issue that I struggled with a lot as a young Christian–namely 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and the abiding or cessation of the miraculous gifts of tongues and prophecy. Are they for today or have they ceased? As a young Christian my Pastor was Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa), but I also briefly attended an Assembly of God College and as well began attending John Wimber’s church (The Vineyard). So in my walk with the Lord, I have had a wide range of “experience” within Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and institutions. As I began to grow in my understanding of God’s Word and His grace in my life, I became more Reformed or Sovereign Grace in my thinking. As I moved more into Reformed and Sovereign Grace circles, the less I saw “tongues” being spoken. Yet at the same time, I was not getting the exegetical evidence from Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 13, and Matthew 28:18-20/Mark 16:15-20 that I needed to be 100% convinced that these gifts had ceased. I had experienced the same frustration while briefly attending John MacArthur’s church (Grace Community) and The Master’s College. After many years of prayer over this subject, God led me to the preterist view of Bible prophecy to settle my mind and heart on this issue once and for all. Therefore, it is my purpose in this article to comfort and help others with the comfort God has given me through a correct understanding of His Word.

My proposition is simple — Christ promised to return within the lifetime and generation of the first century Church (Mt. 10:22-23, 16:27-28; Lk. 21:20-32) and He in fact did keep that promise. The New Testament inspired authors bore witness to the testimony of their Lord’s teaching (Romans 13:11-12, 16:20; 1 Peter 4:5-7; James 5:7-9; Hebrews 8:13-10:37; Revelation 1:1, 3:11; 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20) that He would in fact return in a “very little while” and would “not tarry.” Therefore, in this article, I will defend that “that which is perfect” and the “face to face” “knowledge” of 1 Corinthians 13:10-12, are references to Christ’s return and the arrival of the new heavens and earth by AD 70 (cf. Revelation 22:4). In so defending this position, it is my sincere prayer to help those ensnared in the false teachings of Charismatic and Pentecostal doctrine. This would also include those within the Reformed community such as John Piper and the churches that have been planted through his ministry.

Let’s begin with how Reformed and Evangelical Charismatic’s and Pentecostal’s understand and interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 and then we will move into how others have sought to teach that the gifts have ceased for us today. Does either party make exegetically credible claims? Is it possible that both parties can be both right and wrong at the same time? If so, what pieces of this exegetical puzzle are missing to bridge the gap in this debate? Continue reading “Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge "Ceased" in AD 70 – A Study of "That Which is Perfect" (1 Cor. 13:8-12)”