Summary: 3rd on a series of 3 on 1st Cor 13
Constancy of love. 13:8–13.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Unlike many of the spiritual gifts, love will never be outmoded, unnecessary, or eliminated.
I. Love never fails
(Gr ekpiptoµ, falls off, cf. Lk 16:17). Unlike the leaf or the flower, love never fades and falls off (cf. Jas 1:11; I Pet 1:24).
A. Prophecies, they shall fail (lit., “be abolished”). ie - Divine inspiration
B. Tongues, they shall cease. The significance of the Greek word (pauoµ) indicates that tongues would soon be “cut off” as their necessity in the process of New Testament revelation ceased. It is important to note that tongues are never mentioned again in the New Testament after this warning.
C. Knowledge, it shall vanish away (“be abolished”). This is the same word used in reference to prophecy above. This is not knowledge in general but the “gift” of knowledge by direct revelation (cf. 12:8; 13)#
ILL>> Lew Wallace is best remembered as the author of Ben Hur. He wrote, "Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away, but love stays with me. Love is God." That is not quite the same as what John wrote: "God is love" (1 John 4:8). It is true that riches take wings, that comforts vanish, that hope withers, and it is certainly true that love stays with us. In the words of Paul, "Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8).
II. Love is victorious over incomplete writings
A. An incomplete Scripture
9–10. For suggests reason.
1. Incomplete Scripture = We know in part, and we prophesy in part.
Knowledge and prophecy as we now know it are suited only to an imperfect state of existence.
2. Complete Scripture = That which is perfect. = the completion of the canon of Scripture,
with which partial revelation (by knowledge, prophecy, or tongues) came to an end, culminating (stopping) in a complete revelation of God’s Scripture Paul employs the neuter because he does not contemplate an individual. Thus, that which is perfect cannot refer to the coming of Christ Himself. Then that which is in part will be done away. Once the perfect has been achieved, there will be no need for that which is immature. It will not be needed or accepted and should not be desired.
B. An incomplete Person
ILL >> During a long and losing baseball game, the restless 12-year-old players were questioning Ritchie, their assistant coach, about his attractive younger sister. Annoyed at the idle chatter, the head coach hollered, "When you’re in the dugout, talk baseball!"
After a moment’s silence, a young voice began, "So, Ritchie, does your sister play baseball?"
11. The apostle illustrates his point by likening it to the maturation of a person from infancy to manhood. A child speaks, reasons, and assimilates knowledge at the level of his maturity. Paul’s use of spake … understood … thought seem to correspond respectively to “tongues,” “prophecy,” and “knowledge” above. If this is the case, it is reasonable to expect changes to occur. The apostle goes on to say when I became a man, I put away childish
Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.
ILL>> It wasn’t until my 14-year-old son, Leon, answered the telephone one afternoon that I realized how quickly he had grown.
"Hello?" he said, in his ever-deepening voice. Then he handed the receiver to me.
"Who is it?"
"Someone ..." Leon replied matter-of-factly, "... who wants to talk to my wife."
A child’s speech is undeveloped, his understanding crude, and knowledge incomplete. At that time his attention is focused upon developing the skill of speech, coming to terms with truth and assimilating knowledge. But when the child becomes a man his speech becomes subject to his mind, his understanding is tempered, and his knowledge complete.
ILL >>One spring our family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. "I’m sorry," the waitress said. "I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken."