Tongues | “Tongues … Will Cease” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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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.

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Tongues | The Biblical Manifestation of Tongues-Speaking

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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Before directly handling the issue of cessationism versus continuationism, one does well to first establish what the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking is in the Bible, and therefore, what it should look like if in fact the gift is for today.

Intelligible Human Languages and/or Babbling?

The first manifestation of tongues in scripture occurs in Acts 2.1 Verses 4-11 are undeniably clear that the nature of the tongues in this passage is unlearned, intelligible human languages.2 This is a miraculous phenomenon produced by the poured out Spirit (v.4) and is a miracle of speaking, not hearing.3 And in the following occurrences of tongues in Acts (ch. 10, 19, and possibly 8), Luke uses the same word that he used in chapter 2 to refer to this miraculous activity—glossa.4 Nothing in Luke’s writing implies that the manifestation of tongues in these proceeding texts differs at all from that of Acts 2.5

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Tongues | Introduction and Defining Terms

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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Introduction

In a world of Christianity that is becoming more and more accepting of tongues-speaking, the importance of determining whether tongues still exists and whether or not believers should practice tongues-speaking seems to go without saying. If scripture is the believer’s authority of faith and practice, which it is, then believers ought to observe what the Bible teaches. So, since those churches which practice tongues and those which do not cannot both be right, one must ask, what does the Bible have to say about the existence of tongues today? It is the goal of this series to answer that very question. This series will show that a broad analysis of scripture evidences the cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking with the closing of the canon.

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