The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 is the only text in scripture that explicitly mentions that tongues will cease (v.8). Consequently, these six verses often find themselves at the center of the debate between cessationism and continuationism.
The Three Main Views on the Identity of “the Perfect”
The crux of one’s interpretation of this text is how one understands “the perfect” in v.10. Conceding minor differences, there are three main interpretations on the identity of “the perfect.” First, some view “the perfect” as referring to the completed canon.1 If this interpretation is correct, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 would explicitly affirm the cessation of tongues with the completion of the NT. A second view, which is the most widely accepted among scholars today,2 is that “the perfect” refers to an eschatological reality.3 Thirdly, a minority view is that “the perfect” refers to the mature church.4 Some link the word “prefect” used here (teleios) to its use in Ephesians 4:13 and claim that “the perfect” refers to the completely mature Church at the end of the age. Others see this maturation of the Church as occurring at the end of the apostolic era (most likely in accordance with the close of the canon). Consequently, this third view tends to blur into either the first or second view,5 leaving basically two options.