Place in Scripture
There is one reference to Tongues by the Lord in Mark
There are three passages in the Acts where Tongues are
referred to: - Acts 2, 10 and 19.
In the Pauline Epistles the chapters of 1st
Corinthians 12 to 14 contain teaching on the subject of Tongues.
Tongues are not referred to elsewhere in Scripture.
First Reference in Scripture
When Tongues were first in evidence at Pentecost as recorded in Acts
2, Peter then explained that what had happened was a fulfilment of
Joel's prophecy and he quoted the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32.
A careful examination of Joel's prophecy however shows that Joel does
not prophesy that there would be Tongues. He prophesied that the Holy
Spirit would be given, and Peter said "this is that spoken of by
It is clear that Joel's prophecy will not be fulfilled in fullness
until the Millennial Kingdom of the Lord, for only then, will God's Holy
Spirit be poured upon "all flesh". Verses 31 and 32 of Joel's
prophecy do not have their fulfilment until "the terrible day of
the Lord come" when the sun shall be turned into darkness and the
moon into blood. These words and also the reference in verse 32 to
"the Remnant" agree with the teaching of the Book of
Revelation and other Scriptures to show that what is referred to in Joel
has its wider and most complete fulfilment at the Day of the Lord - the
period of the Great Tribulation and the Millennium.
At the time of the fullness or the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy the
earth will have one unified language. "For then will I turn to the
people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the
Lord, to serve Him with one consent" Zeph. 3:9.
Accordingly in the Millennium when all men speak with one tongue,
tongues would be meaningless and absurd. No wonder Joel makes no
reference to the subject of Tongues.
What happened at Pentecost was a pre-fulfilment in measure of what
will be a universal experience in the Millennium - the outpouring of
God's Holy Spirit on mankind. At Pentecost on SOME men and women,
in the Millennium on ALL men and women.
The Great Event which occurred at Pentecost was the pouring
out of the Holy Spirit on the Church of God. This Great Event, was
accompanied by a sign not referred to by Joel, the Manifestation of
The first reference to this sign is given by the Lord Himself in Mark
16:17. As with every subject in Scripture, the first reference gives the
key by which the subject is to be understood wherever it is later
The Lord says in Mark 16: 17-18 "And these signs
shall follow them that believe: -
- In my name shall they cast out devils.
- They shall speak with new tongues.
- They shall take up serpents (and they shall not hurt them).
- If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.
- They shall lay, hands on the sick and they shall recover.
The Lord Jesus when on earth, was manifested in the fullness of the
Holy Spirit but He never spoke with tongues. Now He says that one of the
five signs that will follow them that believe will he that they
will spell: with new tongues. Obviously the key to the Doctrine of
Tongues is to understand that it is a manifestation given by God as a
"sign" and as a sign that will follow them that
believe. In the days that followed Pentecost we see these
"signs" did indeed follow them that believed.
That its purpose is for a sign and a sign only, is confirmed
by Paul when he states clearly in I Corinthians 14:22 "Wherefore
tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them which
The purpose of a sign is described in John 20:30-31 "And
many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which
are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing
ye might have life through His name."
That is, the sign is not for its own sake, but to teach and prove a
The sign of Tongues had a meaning to the Jews that it did not have to
others. The Jews had been taught to recognise a sign and it is
noteworthy that the sign was evidenced only before Jews in the three
occasions referred to in Acts.
At Corinth also there were many Jews as is shown in Acts 18:5. Paul
confirms to the Corinthians, "For the Jews require a sign, and the
Greeks seek after wisdom" (I Cor. 1:22).
The Message to the Jews brought by the sign of
Tongues is seen in each case where it is referred to in
- At Pentecost "Therefore let all the house of Israel
know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye
crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
- At Caesarea "They of the circumcision which believed
were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the
Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts
- At Ephesus (Acts 19) again a group of Jews received this
sign. In their area they had confirmed to them by this sign
"that they should believe on Him" (Christ Jesus) (Acts
- At Corinth Paul tells the Corinthians that the sign is
given for a sign "to them that believe not" (I Cor.
14:22). That it is Jews that are referred to is evident from the
preceding verse where the apostle refers to the Law and "this
people" when he says "In the law it is written, with men
of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and
yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." That
is, in I Cor. 14:21 Paul is quoting Isaiah 28:11-12 to prove
"Wherefore tongues are for a sign", which truth the Jews
A Pattern in Sign Miracles:
All the "special" miracles of Scripture of which
"Tongues" is one, conform to a recognised pattern.
"Special" signs are for "Special" periods, and these
periods are all relatively short. Dr C. I. Scofield puts it "All
miracles have been for special seasons only. The miracles prepared for
the deliverance of Israel from Egypt were not needed in the wilderness,
those in the wilderness ceased when Jordan was crossed. It would not
have been according to the mind of God had they prayed ever so long for
the pillar of cloud to lead the tribes to their various inheritances. It
had served its purpose and ceased to be, and if we examine into the gift
of tongues we may find something very similar."
A Diminishing Manifestation
Stage I: The sign of Tongues was given with great clarity at
Pentecost, for when the Holy Spirit descended "they all'' began to
speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Then again when the Holy Spirit first came upon Gentile believers at
the house of Cornelius "The Holy Ghost fell on "all them"
which heard the word . . . for they heard them speak with tongues and
Only three times do we have Tongues mentioned in Acts and they are
all "First" occasions. The other such occasion is when Paul
was introduced to 12 men on the Mission Field at Ephesus who knew only
the Baptism of John. Here also, "The Holy Ghost came upon them and
they spake with tongues and prophesied." It does not expressly say
so, but the inference is that they, all 12, spoke with tongues.
Accordingly in Stage I all in each group referred to, spake with
Stage II: About half way through the Apostolic Age - that is
the age in which the New Testament was in course of formation and during
the lives of the Apostles, Paul wrote his first letter to the
Corinthians which in His goodness and plan God has incorporated for us
in the inspired canon of the New Testament Scriptures.
At the stage when this Epistle was written, a change had come, for
Paul says in I Cor. 12:30 "Do all speak with Tongues?" It is a
rhetorical question, meaning "Not all speak with tongues". He
has just stated, "Are all Apostles?" - obviously not. So he
says, "Do all speak with tongues?" Obviously not.
The whole section in I Cor. 12-14 shows that at this stage, some
spoke with tongues - not all.
Stage III: In the same section Paul rates
tongues as the least important of the gifts of the Spirit, and he goes
further and indicates that a third stage will come in the manifestation
of this sign. In Cor. 13:8 he says: -
- Love never faileth.
- Prophecies shall fail.
- Tongues shall cease.
- Knowledge shall vanish away.
We do not know that Paul saw the cessation of Tongues but it was
given to him to know that at some time later than the time at which he
wrote in I Corinthians "Tongues shall cease".
We have already seen that Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit contained no reference to Tongues and when that Prophecy is
fulfilled in its fullness in the Millennium, Tongues will be an
impossibility. First because there will be a unified language, second
because there will be no unbelievers for whom a sign will be needed.
What is the time of the cessation of Tongues?
The following things are noteworthy in this
- Paul did not once refer to tongues in his later epistles, and I
Corinthians was one of his earlier writings.
- Peter, John, James and Jude all wrote Church epistles after I
Corinthians was written. They covered all forms of Church practice
and conduct, but there is not a word about the sign of tongues.
- In the Last Book, Revelation, written in John's old age, there is
no reference to Tongues.
- In I Corinthians 13 we are told that three things will cease -
Prophecies, Tongues and Knowledge. Prophecies and Knowledge here are
the miraculous gifts by which Truth was conveyed and ministered to
the early Church before the New Testament Scriptures were completed.
These gifts "ceased" or "failed" or
"Vanished away" when the New Testament was completed and
was available to the Church. We can safely deduct from the linking
of "Tongues" with these gifts in verse 8, that all three
ceased together about the same time.
- In the same chapter it is stated that while Prophecies, Tongues
and Miraculous Knowledge "fail" or "cease" or
"vanish away", three other things "abide" -
Faith, Hope and Love (verse 13). This is the Pauline Contrast of
this chapter - some things cease, other things abide. Now there must
be a period in which the things that abide, continue after the other
things have ceased or failed. Faith and Hope abide only until the
Lord returns for the Church, and then they also cease, for Faith
then "gives place" to sight, and Hope gives place to
Faith we know ends at the Rapture. The
Lord said to Thomas "Because thou hast seen thou hast believed;
blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." The
day is coming when faith will give place to sight, and we shall see
Him as He is, and we shall be like Him. Faith will end at that day,
but it will continue or abide throughout the present Church Age.
Hope is also of limited duration although
it abides throughout the present Church age. In Romans 8 we read
"What a man seeth, how doth he yet hope for it?" During
this Age of the abiding of Hope, we hope for Christ's return and for
all that His return will bring. But when He does return, then we
shall hope no longer, for we shall have the fact of His presence and
of Heavenly Bliss. Hope abides for this age but gives place to
Realisation at the Return of the Lord.
Accordingly, if Hope and Faith end at the Lord's return,
Prophecies, Tongues and Miraculous Knowledge must have ceased long
before, if the passage is to be understood at all. A further
exposition of I Cor. 13 is given in the last section of this
- In Hebrews 2:3-4 we read concerning the "so great
salvation" that "at the first" it was -
Spoken by the Lord.
Confirmed unto us by them that heard
Him (the Lord).
God also bearing them (the persons who heard
Him) witness both by signs and wonders and with
divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His
Obviously Tongues and the other signs mentioned by the Lord in
Mark 16:17-18 are referred to here in the words "signs and
wonders and divers miracles". At the time Hebrews was written
these signs were not spoken of as being then still present but they
are referred to as having been in evidence "at the first",
and as the special witness that God gave "Them that heard the
- When Paul, late in life, wrote to the Ephesians setting out in
detail God's provision for the Church, he particularly listed in
Chapter 4:11 "gifts" given to the Church for its ministry
and help. Tongues is not in the list, and the only inference
possible is that it was then clearly appreciated and understood that
the sign gift of Tongues was one that would not "abide"
for the whole age of the Church. It had ceased or would soon cease
- In 20 Books of the New Testament written after I Corinthians,
Tongues are not referred to.
- It is noteworthy that there is a similar "cessation" of
a gift in the Old Testament. In Numbers 11 we have the account of
the bestowal of Moses' Spirit upon the Seventy Elders. "When
the spirit rested upon them they prophesied". A special
manifestation was given in the first instance. But the record goes
on and the Revised Version gives the meaning clearly "but they
did so no more". (Num. 11:25). That is, the gift ceased, soon
after the first manifestation.
The Sequence is: -
In the early Apostolic Age: All (of
each group referred to) spoke in Tongues.
In the Mid-Apostolic Age: Not all
When the full New Testament was available to the
Church - Ceased.
The Reason for this gradual diminishing and final cessation of
the sign of Tongues is readily understandable.
When Christ ascended to Glory from the Mount of Olives, He left a
small group of His followers, heartened by the infallible proofs of His
resurrection but completely unrecognised and unknown by the world of
Accordingly, a sign was needed from Heaven to show that these feeble
people were now the accredited people of God. When the Church took life
at Pentecost, the sign of Tongues was that which proved to thousands
that God was in this movement. The tongues were not needed to convince
the Lord's people themselves - other manifestations enabled them to know
the power of the indwelling Spirit. But tongues convinced the people
from every part then gathered at Jerusalem, who heard the word of God in
their own languages though spoken by unlearned and ignorant men.
This sign was needed and used in the early days of the Church, but as
the body of Christians grew and as the Church spread to all parts of the
then known world and as Christ's followers became known as Christians -
as unbelievers came to know who they were and what they presented, the
sign was not needed to such a degree - especially as Church Doctrine and
practice became settled and known and was taught everywhere, and the New
Testament commenced to be written and was read by the Churches.
When the New Testament was finally completed, Church Doctrine fully
settled and the Church itself recognised as a force and power in the
world then the need for this sign no longer existed, and it ceased.
What Then Is This About Tongues Today?
Some people today claim to have "Tongues". A power or force
enters their personality and in an ecstasy they prattle incoherently.
This is certainly something real, and it is on the plane of the
Spiritual, but it is not of God, and is not the sign referred to in Acts
and in Corinthians.
That this is not of God may be deduced as follows: -
- The Purpose of the sign no longer exists, as shown above and God
does not bestow signs unnecessarily. As the sign ceased at the end
of the Apostolic age, that which is now in evidence is something
else and is not the Divine sign referred to in Scripture.
- God's word is immutable, and as He has said "Tongues shall
cease", God could not give Tongues to any man, now that Tongues
have ceased pursuant to His Word. God's name and Honour are involved
for Scripture declares the cessation of Tongues.
- The importance given to this Spirit Ecstasy called
"Tongues" is directly opposite to the teaching of
Scripture. In I Corinthians 12, Prophecy and Tongues are compared in
great detail and all through, Prophecy, or the gift of ministry of
the Word of God is shown to be much greater in importance as a gift,
than Tongues. But to the Modern Cults, Tongues is the sesame to all
that is spiritual.
- Modern Tongues devotees preach that Tongues is a gift for all, and
it is true that anyone can get this ecstasy.
I Cor. 12 makes it clear that at that time and from that time the
True Gift of Tongues was available only to some.
- Modern cults seek and encourage all to covet and tarry for
Tongues. The whole teaching of I Cor. 12 and 14 is that there are
much more important gifts to covet - particularly the gift of
prophecy and the gift of Tongues is shown to be not a gift to covet.
- Modern cults despise what God exalts - the gift of prophecy and
exalts what Scripture places at the bottom of the list - Tongues.
- Where there was the true gift of Tongues in Paul's day, there were
rules set in Scripture for the exercise of the gift, in meetings.
In the Cults today, commonly many indulge in the ecstasy (more than
three) and they do so together so that there is no possibility of
interpreting. Sometimes a pretence is made at interpreting certain
particular speakings in Tongues, but this is the exception rather
that the rule.
Never more than two or three to take part in
Tongues at a meeting (I Cor. 14:27).
These to take part "by course"
(not all together, but one after the other) (I Cor. 14:27).
They were not to do so, however, unless
someone was present with the kindred gift of interpretation
who should interpret to those present what was said in the
What is so obviously contrary to Scripture cannot be of God.
- Paul set a premium on reason and a discount on Tongues.
He said and his words have become the inspired vehicle of the Word
of God to us: "I had rather speak five words with my
understanding than ten thousand words in a tongue." That is, he
rated reason against tongues at 2000 to 1.
The Cults rate Tongues above reason by about 2000 to 1.
This is so obviously contrary to Scripture that it cannot be of God.
- Throughout the Cults where the Tongues ecstasy is indulged in,
women take a large place of prominence, they speak at meetings and
often act as leaders of assemblies or groups.
This is contrary to the teaching of the very chapter that has most
to say about Tongues. In I Cor. 14:34 "Let your women keep
silence in the Churches: for it is not permitted unto them to
speak" and again in I Cor. 14:35 "It is a shame for women
to speak in the Church".
What is so obviously unscriptural cannot be of God.
- Scripture states that to use Tongues without relation to the
purpose for which God gave the sign is
(c) Just speaking into the air.
For we read:
"Now brethren, if I come unto you, speaking with tongues, what
shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by
revelation, or by knowledge or by prophesying or by doctrine.
"And even things without life-giving sound, whether pipe or
harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be
known what is piped or harped?
"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall
prepare himself to the battle?
"So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue, words easy to
be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall
speak into the air." I Cor. 14:7-9.
- Scripture further denounces what the Cults do as -
"I had rather speak five words with my understanding that
by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in a
tongue. Brethren be not children in understanding: howbeit in
malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." (I Cor.
"If therefore the whole church be come together into one
place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are
unlearned or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"
(I Cor. 14:23).
- The purpose of all gifts of the Spirit is to bring profit to the
Church. "The Manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man,
for the profit of all." (I Cor. 12:7).
This great principle of Doctrine sets the pattern for all that is
said about Tongues in I Cor. 12 and 14.
Where is the profit in the Modern Tongues practices?
B. From the Practices of the Cults
- Those who practise the Modern Ecstasy of Tongues commonly descend
to the unseemly.
In the ecstasy it is not unusual for men or women to fall down and
throw their arms and legs about in an unseemly way.
Who shall dare to say that this can be of God?
- In meetings there are times when there is general disorder and
God is a God of order and He is never the author of confusion. Again
the Word says "Let all things be done decently and in
- The practice has developed even in prayer meetings, while one
person is praying, for another or others to boom in with another
voice and prayer so that they all speak together in different words
This is clearly contrary to the teaching of I Cor. 14:27-33
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in
all Churches of the Saints."
Those who engage in such practices are operating under a spirit that
is not the Spirit of God.
- Crude confessionals are sometimes part of these practices and it
is commonly known that the intimacy realised between fellow
confessors of moral sins, leads to temptation in the moral field
that creates an atmosphere of grave peril.
Again this is not to profit but to sin, and God is not the author of
- The practice of the laying on of hands.
When one member of a group effects to lay his hands on the head of
another "to transmit the power of God" to him, that group
has come to a dangerous pass.
The implication of audacious pride that would lead one to so imagine
that the Power of God can be so readily transmitted, puts us in
remembrance of persons named in the Acts of the Apostles who sought
this power to traffic in lightly and upon whom the judgment of God
In Tongues Meetings, it is a common practice for both men and women
to lay hands on others for the purpose of allegedly transmitting the
Power of God.
- The practice of rhythm and chanting.
It is the custom to seek elation by rhythm in clapping hands and by
saying many times "Jesus, Jesus. Jesus" or "Praise
the Lord. Praise the Lord."
Beware of people who chant like this, for they are very likely being
indoctrinated into the Ecstasy of Tongues.
They have not learnt to do this either from the Scriptures or from
- The effective practice of the Tongues Movement is to hold the
persons of the Godhead in a wrong perspective, and to honour the
Third Person of the Godhead above the Father and the Son.
- Tongues devotees know and experience a power or a force in the
Spiritual World, which elates and causes certain metaphysical
results which magnify the power in the minds and beings of the
The Holy Spirit of God however is a person, rather than a force. He
does not magnify Himself, but He always reveals and glorifies the
Lord Jesus Christ.
- Tongues Cults practise indoctrination into Tongues as "The
Baptism of the Spirit".
Scripture states clearly that all Christians have the Baptism of the
Spirit. Paul says in I Cor. 12.13 "By one Spirit are we all
baptised into one body and have been made to drink into one
To pretend that only Tongues people have the Baptism of the Spirit
is to make a lie of I Cor. 12:13.
- Tongues groups practise Spiritual Pretentions.
They say that if and when they speak in Tongues, they are
"filled with the Spirit."
At Corinth there was the Gift of Tongues, but nevertheless, the
Church there was not very Spiritual. Corinth is the least attractive
of all the New Testament Churches. To claim that one is filled with
the Spirit because he has had certain sensations or experiences is
A true man of God, when really filled with the Spirit is like Moses
"who wist not that the skin of his face shone".
C. By the Agency Employed:
The Rhythm and Repetition above referred to, and the ecstasy itself,
are all achieved by the overthrow of self-control and of the Reason. The
ecstasy is only possible in a state of mental abandonment.
It is when in a state of no-control that the Power of Satan can, and
will enter. Satan enters either that way or on the horns of pride.
"Now the Spirit saith expressly, that in the latter times some
shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and
doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1).
We are in the latter times and the truth of this Scripture is
observable on every hand.
What is the agency in the Tongues Movement? It cannot be of God or of
the Gracious Holy Spirit of God, for it is acting contrary to Scripture,
contrary to order, contrary to Holiness and contrary to self-control.
D. The Test of Lordship
In the chapter in which Paul so fully sets out his teaching on
Tongues, he concludes with these words: -
"If any man thinks himself to be a prophet or Spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto
you are the commandments of the Lord."
That is, the statements by Paul in I Corinthians chapters 12 and 14
about Tongues, are the commandments of the Lord, and if you are
Spiritual you will admit it. Do you?
People who indulge in Tongues speak patronisingly of
"Jesus", but commonly they avoid the test of Lordship. He is
not their Lord, for they do not act in accordance with His commands.
The Devil is the liar who says this thing is of God. Confusion;
unseemliness and vanity are the hall-marks of Satan. This is his
masterpiece to trap those who seek for "experience" into a
snare. And from this mesh few ever escape.
If work for God is to be done, we must have truth, not error, order,
not disorder, and Holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
Above all let every faculty be protected and enlightened by the Gracious
Holy Spirit of God who has given gifts to every man to the profit of
THE APOSTLES AND TONGUES
A careful study of Acts 2 will show that the "all" of Acts
2:1 who were also the "each of them" of verse 3 upon
whom the cloven tongues of fire appeared and who were also the "they
all" of verse 4, who were failed with the Holy Spirit and who
began to speak with other tongues, are the men referred to in the last
paragraph of Chapter 1.
There were of course no chapter divisions in the original Scriptures,
and verse 1 of Chapter 2 follows immediately the last verse of Chapter
1. The last section of Chapter 1 deals with; the concern of the eleven
Apostles to choose a successor to Judas Iscariot, and they chose
Matthias. The record then says immediately, "and when the day of
Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in
Accordingly the "they all" referred either to the twelve
apostles, the group last in view in the last verse of Chapter 1, or to
the wider group from which Matthias was chosen. That is, the 120
disciples of verse 15, who were all men, and whom Peter addresses as
"Men and brethren". The word "disciples" here means
"brethren" and is so translated in the Revised Version.
Accordingly, which ever way the matter is viewed no women could be
referred to in the "they all" of Chapter 2. Agreeing with
this, the words "all" and "they" in verse 1 are
pronouns in the masculine gender.
The Place where Tongues were first manifested, was "the
house" of verse 2 which is the "one place" of verse 1
where "they all' were found "with one accord". "The
House" was the Temple which is often so named in Scripture. In Luke
24:53 we are told; that after the Ascension, "disciples were continually
in the Temple praising, and blessing God". Then after Pentecost in
Acts 2:46 we read "And, they continuing daily, with one
accord in the Temple . . . " Just before the Manifestation they
were with one accord in one place. And just after, they are "continuing
daily with one accord in the Temple"
To this place, all the multitude ran together "when this sound
was heard". They ran to the sound. The multitude could not come to
an upper room. Chapter 2 is not concerned with the upper room of Acts
1:13 which is seen as the dwelling place where the women were also
abiding. The place was the temple and no women
were present, when Tongues were first manifested.
PETER AND PHILIP
Philip was an evangelist and one of the Seven First Deacons of the
Church, but he was not an Apostle. He first brought the Gospel to the
Samaritans and numbers believed and were baptised, but they did not
receive the Holy Spirit under Philip's Ministry. It was necessary for
Peter and John to come down from Jerusalem before the Samaritans as a
people could receive the Holy Spirit.
In order, three groups received the Holy Spirit, and Peter was
present at each occasion: -
(a) The Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2).
(b) The Samaritans (Acts 8).
(c) The Gentiles (Acts 10).
There was a special Manifestation on each of these first Apostolic
occasions. But as subsequent groups and individuals were added, the
Manifestations were not repeated. In Acts, there are 16 groups of
believers referred to, but Tongues were referred to in connection only
with three of the 16 groups. The story is told in Acts of the conversion
or spiritual experience of 14 individuals, but none of these is referred
to as having spoken in Tongues.
When the Ethiopian Eunuch had confessed his
faith and had been baptised, Philip did not follow up his work with
directions about a Second Blessing. But the Eunuch was allowed to go his
way without speaking in Tongues and with no directions to seek a Second
Blessing. The record says "And when they were come up out of the
water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; that the Eunuch saw
him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39).
The Philippian gaoler washed the wounds of his prisoners, but he did
not speak in Tongues.
Lydia's heart was opened to the Word of Truth, but she did not speak
in Tongues. No individual did, in any of the experiences recounted of
individuals, and no groups or individuals were directed
to pray for, seek or expect to speak in Tongues.
WOMEN AND TONGUES
No woman spoke with Tongues on any occasion referred to in Acts. In
Acts 2 we have seen it was men only who spoke in Tongues. In Acts 19 it
was 12 men. The only other occasion in Acts was in Acts 10 where
Cornelius, his kinsmen and near friends (verses 24) were gathered. There
is nothing to indicate that any women were present. There is no place in
the whole Word of God where a woman is spoken of as speaking in a
miraculous tongue or language -only men and Balaam's ass, have this pace
The one Doctrinal passage in the Word of God directing concerning the
use of the Gift of Tongues - I Cor. 14 - says expressly "Let your
women keep silence in the Church, for it is not permitted for them to
speak", and "It is a shame for women to speak in the
Nothing could be plainer. The fact that women are prominent in
Leadership and in "speaking" in Pentecostal groups shows just
how far those groups are removed from the Truth of God.
TONGUES AND TARRYING
The Lord did not tell His disciples to pray for the Holy Spirit to
come. He told them the Holy Spirit would come and they were to
wait at Jerusalem until He, the Third Person of the Godhead, did
come. Nothing the Disciples did, affected the coming of the Spirit. He
came at a fixed time, 50 days after the resurrection in accordance with
prophecy, on the Day of Pentecost.
There is nothing anywhere else in Scripture to warrant people
"tarrying" for Tongues as is practised by Pentecostal Groups.
TONGUES AND THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT
"For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we
be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made
to drink of one Spirit" 1 Cor. 12:13.
Now I Cor. 12 says "Not all" speak with Tongues, but
here "all" are baptised by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit could not be sent until Jesus was Glorified. "He
that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said out of his belly shall
flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they
that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet
given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" John
In John 20 a further stage in the coming of the Holy Spirit is
reached, and in verse 22 we read, "He breathed on them, and saith
unto them "Receive ye the Holy Ghost."
This was an overt act taken in Resurrection Power by the Lord before
He ascended and was Glorified. He here took the initiative that was to
result in the coming of the Holy Spirit, though that coming was still
delayed until He was Glorified.
After the Resurrection and before His being Glorified, men could
still look on Him and even mistake Him for another man. But after He was
Glorified no man could look upon Him with natural eyes. John, in the
Spirit, saw Him and fell at His feet as dead. Paul was blinded and
smitten to the ground.
Forty days after the Resurrection, the Lord ascended to Heaven and
was Glorified, and ten days later, in accordance with His promise and
pursuant to the action of John 20:22, the Holy Spirit "came"
and all the believers drank of' one Spirit and were baptised into one
Israel of old was made one and a people apart by Baptism together in
the Sea and in the Cloud.
An army is made one by sharing together the Baptism of Fire.
The Church is made one by the Baptism of the Spirit. He is the
unifier, the Blessed Holy Spirit of God sent from Heaven when the Lord
was Glorified, unifying each member with all other members and all
together with the Glorious Head. Not to speak of Himself or to elevate
His own Person but to glorify and to unite, to indwell, to seal, and to
energise the Body of Christ.
Each feeblest believer shares in all these things. He has been
baptised into the Body, he has been sealed and set apart, he has the
earnest or proof of his inheritance and he is indwelt by the Holy
It disparages the work of the Holy Spirit to
say that if a believer does not speak in Tongues he has not received the
baptism of the Holy Spirit.
TONGUES AND LANGUAGES
The Tongues of Acts 2 were clearly other languages understood by the
peoples of those languages.
In I Cor. 14 the issue has been clouded by the use of the word
"unknown". This occurs six times in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19
and 27. This word is not part of the original text of Scripture. It was
apparently added by a translator and has been the source of much
The Greek word for Tongue is the same basic Greek word whether used
in Mark, in Acts or in Corinthians. It means a human language, and
There is no reason to believe that a different meaning is attributed
to the word in Corinthians from that in Acts. Where there is a
difference of meaning intended Scripture makes the difference apparent,
but no qualification is observable to show a difference here.
Anyone could talk gibberish in an ecstasy, but it is a miracle and a
sign to speak in other languages. The ecstasy is not a sign but the
The place where each exercising of Tongues was
observed is noteworthy. Just four places in Scripture: -
- Jerusalem at Pentecost when Jews from many Nations were present.
- Caesarea where foreign persons met with Jews.
- Ephesus (Acts 19) a great clearing place in Asia through which
Jews of all Nations passed.
- Corinth a similar maritime city in Europe.
All these were places where the Sign had a special significance if it
is realised that they were other human languages.
Pentecostalism would evaporate overnight if no women spoke in Tongues
and if no gibberish was spoken.
HYPNOTISM AND TONGUES
Any Hypnotist can make any of his subjects speak gibberish, whether
the subject is a believer or not. In the directed control of hypnotism
the anatomy of man is such that the vocal organ is loosed as from the
seat of the emotion and noises emerge which are commonly called
There is much authority available today to show that the "Sprit
Baptism" of Pentecostalism is a "Hypnotic-crisis"
experience induced by auto-suggestion, repetition, and self-hypnosis. In
this state the subject "believes" whatever he is told. He is
given twisted truth and made to believe he is experiencing the Baptism
of the Spirit and that he has the gift of Tongues. This enters the
subconscious mind and permanent damage results. His mind is perverted,
and set that way in the vital subconscious station of thought, which
conscious reasoning and truth cannot correct.
EVIL SPIRITS AND TONGUES
The power of hypnotism and the power of Evil Spirits in Man is very
closely related. It may be that they are different powers, but
no-one knows where the bounds of psychic hypnosis ends and the region of
the Devil World begins. Certain it is that the evil spirits
hasten to attend the victims of Hypnosis and a power may enter the life
that will control it.
Scripture calls this "another Spirit" (II Cor. 11:4).
Satan is able to carry a Medium beyond gibberish and cause a true
speaking in another language and many instances have been known of
people speaking in a Tongue which has been recognised by people of that
language and the speaking has involved filth and blasphemy in that
This is a true speaking in a Tongue but it is the Devil's counterfeit
of the true original gift and sign of the Holy Spirit. It is "the
working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (II
Thess. 2:9). That is, it is a modern form of the Spirit of Jannes and
Jambres through whom evil spirits imitated the miracles of Moses (Exod.
Heathen Religions in various parts of the world produce such wonders,
and so do the Mormons and the Pentecostalists.
The Scriptures tell us this will happen: - "Now the Spirit
speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the
faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I
And John warns "Beloved believe not every spirit, but try the
spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone
out into the world" (I John 4:1).
THE CULTS AND TONGUES
In Meetings where Tongues, and the so-called "gifts" of
Prophecy and Interpretation and Healing are practised, it is a common
experience that the adherents freely refer to, that at a certain time
early in the meeting all present
become suddenly aware of the "descent upon" them of a Power.
They are all electrified and together pass into an ecstatic condition in
which Tongues and other manifestations are expected and are experienced.
Those present are not impressed with the
meaning of what is said - but with the ecstasy they are sharing
together, whether to speak or hear what affects them while under the
This trance-worship is contrary to Scripture and to God. It relates
to Satan and not to God. To say that this power is the power of the Holy
Spirit is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. To say that what is of Satan is
of the Holy Spirit is gross wickedness.
These people have breaking of bread meetings in this atmosphere and
bring in small children to partake of the bread and wine. The women sit
without head coverings and take a leading part in the proceedings. Where
the atmosphere is "under the power" this is none other than
the table of devils (I Cor. 10:21).
Individuals practise the same "descent
of power" in private and have their ecstasy and worship with the
Power. No such thing is known in Scripture except in relation to Devils.
Paul says "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice
to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have
fellowship with devils" (I Cor. 10:201.
TONGUES AND PROSELYTISM
When Cultists attempt to proselytise, the fActs as above are not
revealed at first, but are gradually introduced. Deception and lies are
attendants of the proselytising agents.
The Cults are active proselytisers and they have developed the system
of installing adherents in other church groups to set about
"winning converts". Each Church is a
Mission Field to these Fifth-Column workers. The Fifth-Columnist
deceives the people in his Mission Field as to his purposes. He will
even deny that he is interested in Tongues, but subtly he proceeds to
influence individuals and collect a group within the Church who are
indoctrinated to take an interest in Spirit Manifestations. This goes on
surreptitiously and Church Leaders and the Church generally may have no
knowledge of the evil that is working.
Deception, Evil, Lies and subtilty have been the grotesque weapons of
Satan and his servants from the Garden of Eden, through to the Twentieth
Century. "Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience
seared with a hot iron" (I Tim. 4:2).
Further the hypnotic power of the evil is
brought to bear, and people who know the Truth and love the Truth are
often brought under a "spell" and rendered inoperative, though
they begin to see the working of the evil. How evil is that evil which
binds the good to allow the evil to spread unhindered!
However, God is greater than Satan, and the Lord's people need not
fear, so long as they are vigilant and stand firm. "If God be for
us, who can be against us?" "Having done all, to stand"
It is necessary to know where the conflict is. The
sad thing today is that many Christians can be right in the area of this
awful war, and not know it.
"But I fear lest by any means, as the Serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the
simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another
Jesus whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another Spirit,
which ye have not received, or another Gospel, which ye have not
accepted ye might well bear with him" (II Cor. 11:3-4).
1 Another Jesus
The Jesus of Pentecostalism is not the Jesus of the Word of God. He
is not the Lord Jesus. Rather He is to them a Jesus who weakly will let
them do as they wish. He is a Jesus of their own imagination and often
His name is linked with gross sensuality and in speakings in Tongues, so
;called, horrid thoughts are sometimes revealed, as when they say such
things as "Mary Jesus, and get perfect love." - This is another
2 Another Spirit
The Holy Spirit of God reveals and glorifies and delights in the true
Jesus, our Lord. But the other Jesus of wicked imaginings is exalted by
the Power of another spirit from the dark realms of Satan. The true Holy
Spirit is grieved and quenched as the Power enters of another spirit.
3 Another Gospel
The Gospel is stated in 1 Cor. 15:1-3 thus: "That Christ died
for our sins according to the Scriptures: and that He was buried, and
that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures."
But Pentecostalists preach another Gospel, seeking to add to it, and
they call it a "Fuller Gospel". They would introduce a second
Blessing or Second Gospel. This is what is spoken of by Paul in
Galatians 1:6-9. He calls it "another gospel" and says it is
"another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that
trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ."
The True Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to
every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). But that which holds up to
the heart's devotion "Another Jesus" is of "Another
Spirit" and is itself "Another Gospel".
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming
themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself
is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if
has ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness:
whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-15).
The Doctrine of Balaam
We have shown that the true "Gift of Tongues" has ceased,
and that the manifestation of "Tongues" in the world today is
riot of God.
If then this ugly thing should appear within our Church Fellowship,
how should we view it and what should we do about it?
1 HOW TO VIEW IT
Obviously, the way we should view arid consider all matters of every
kind, is the way the Lord Jesus views them and considers them. We should
view this evil as the Lord views it.
Now the Lord has taken special precautions to make sure that His
people should know His mind on all essential matters and the whole
written Word of God is evidence of this. But to make doubly sure, the
Lord Himself dictated to the Apostle John seven letters to the seven
Churches of Asia as recorded in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. These
letters have a very special importance for us today in that they apply
particularly to this present Church age or dispensation. In these
letters the Glorious Head of the Church review all matters affecting the
Testimony, Practices and Doctrines of the Church, and He reviews the
Church in all its phases and conditions.
The Lord speaks with absolute authority, and with great seriousness,
as He weighs and considers the things that we see around us today. He
praises and censures; He measures and weighs; He says plainly what He
thinks. God forbid that any of us should have a different view from His
In these epistles, the Lord divides false doctrine within the Church
into two main categories. There is the Doctrine of Balaam, and the
Doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The most important section on Doctrine is
the Epistle to the Church at Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17).
The Doctrine of the Nicolaitans is ecclesiastical and is related to
the Doctrine of Balaam, but it is with the Doctrine of Balaam that we
are particularly concerned. The Doctrine of Balaam represents those
forms of teaching which have an action within the Church similar to that
which Balaam introduced in Israel.
Balaam was hired by Balak to work spiritual evil in Israel, and
Balaamism is within the Church that action of Satan by which he would
bring spiritual evil within the Church.
When Balaam, on the ass that spoke to him, was stopped by the Angel
of the Lord, he saw One who was "standing in the way, with his
sword drawn in His hand". It is significant that when the Lord
writes to Pergamos, the Church charged with the Doctrine of Balaam, He
is revealed in the character of "He that hath the sharp sword with
two edges" (Rev. 2:12). Accordingly, both in the Old Testament and
in the New, the Lord appears with the Sword of Judgment to deal with
Balaamism. He regards Balaamism as a matter of the gravest consequence.
Now Balaam was hired to curse the People of God. But God saw to it
that instead of cursing, there was blessing. However, we are told in
Revelation 2:14, that Balaam "taught Balak" to do three
(1) To cast a stumbling block before the Children of
(2) To cause them to eat things sacrificed unto
(3) To cause them to commit fornication.
Balaamism is a "Doctrine". It is what he
"taught". It is a teaching which had dire and evil results in
life and conduct. In Israel the result of the teaching was grave indeed,
and brought a fierce judgment from Jehovah. The historical account of
this is given in Numbers 25, and in verse 9 we read "and those that
died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Within the Church of God, Balaamism is teaching of a kind which
produces similar havoc among Christians.
The Lord lists three things that "Balaam
teaching" does within the Church:
It causes God's people to stumble.
It brings to the people of God food for the soul
which is contaminated with evil. God's people are encouraged to
eat as spiritual food that which has been sacrificed or prepared
or dedicated for Satan's purposes.
It causes God's people to commit a form of' spiritual
fornication. Members of Christ's Body come into unholy communion
and association with Powers of Evil.
It is only too obvious that the Modern Tongues Movement is a
"teaching" or "doctrine" of Balaam, for it does all
- It pretends to be something spiritual to snare or
"stumble" God's people. Many people who are keen to find
spiritual experience have difficulty in distinguishing between God's
Truth and Satan's lie. Satan has produced
his master stumbling block for the last era of the Church - Tongues
and Healing, which he sets before people who want spiritual values.
He says, "Get spiritual gifts - Tongues particularly, and this
will prove that you have the Holy Spirit."
- Then to the person who stumbles he offers a spiritual fare that is
from below, and he, Satan, rejoices to see God's people eating
Devil's Food. This food takes the form of an "elation" or
experience that satisfies for the moment, but does not
"edify". People who speak in
"Tongues" do not know what they are saying.
They have no command over their own minds. Their fare or spiritual
food is just an "elation" or "ecstasy". It is
well known that people who eat this food enjoy it at the time, but
later they feel "flat" until they can have it again. Is
not this characteristic of all the Devil's offerings to man? The
thrill of sin, then flatness afterwards.
- And the result is spiritual fornication, for in this elation or
ecstasy Christ's members yield themselves to Satan's use. The Tongue
(God's possession) becomes the vehicle of Satan, and not only the
Tongue, but also the Mind and the Spirit of man.
So the Lord says "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" (Rev.
2:16). This is the Lord's view of Balaamism.
It is sometimes alleged that so-called "spiritual" people
take up this thing, and this in turn stumbles others. It would appear
that what really happens is that sometimes people who have experienced
the working of the Holy Spirit of God in their lives and appear to
others to be spiritual - become dissatisfied with His working in their
lives - especially when He deals with them on matters of sin and
discipleship. What they call a "seeking" for greater
spirituality stems from a dissatisfaction with the working of the Holy
Spirit within them. Then they "re-open" their lives for
"an experience" and another spirit enters, with the Holy
Both Peter and Jude in their epistles refer to this type of false
doctrine. Jude calls it "The error of Balaam" (verse 11).
Peter refers to people "Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are
not afraid to speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10). "Which
have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of
Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was
rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad
the madness of the prophet" (2 Peter 2:15-16).
The Lord once gave a "Tongue" to
Balaam's ass. Now others claim "Tongues" and-they say surely
God in His sovereignty could give Tongues today! But God cannot forswear
Himself. He has said "Tongues shall cease". And now that
Tongues have ceased pursuant to His Word, He cannot give
"Tongues" today. In the same way, God could not flood the
world again in Judgement, as the rainbow proclaims.
False doctrine generally is also viewed in Scripture as leaven. It is
something that works unseen in a group of people as leaven works in the
meal, "until the whole is leavened". Just leave it to work
long enough, and that is what happens. Does the Tongues doctrine work in
this way? Experience from all over the world answers, "Yes, it is a
leaven of evil working in the Church today".
Paul says in I Cor. 5:6 "Know ye not that a little leaven
leaveneth the whole lump?" A few people with this doctrine can
quickly work mischief in a Church today.
2 WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH DO ABOUT IT?
Wherever the evil of the Modern Tongues Movement appears within the
Church, this evil should be exposed as Balaamism, and Judged
accordingly. The Lord warns in Rev. 2:16 that if a Church does not judge
it, then the Lord Himself will take action within that Church.
"Repent," He says, "or else I will come unto thee
quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."
How Should the Church Judge Balaamism?
Remember that Balaamism is a doctrine. It involves persons who
believe certain things. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is
he." If a man believes in a doctrine, good or evil, it will sooner
or later work out in his own life and he will influence others
If a Doctrine is to be dealt with in a Church it is necessary to deal
with those that hold it. It is not a question of judging the working out
of Doctrine. It is not the-practices but the Doctrine itself that is in
question. If the Doctrine is not held, then no one will be worried with
the working out of the evil.
Scripture always deals with such problems at the source. The root of
the problem is the Doctrine and accordingly the Lord's complaint is
"thou host there them that hold the Doctrine of
Balaam." He does not complain that the Doctrine of Balaam has been
allowed to work out in evil practices, but simply "Thou has there
them" that hold it.
The course of action to be taken against evil Doctrine is set out
quite simply and clearly by the Apostle Paul in Titus 3:10, 11.
"A man that is a heretick after the first and second
admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and
sinneth being condemned of himself."
The word rendered in the Authorised Version
"Heretick" does not mean one who is astray on so-called
"essential Doctrine" relating to the Deity of Christ, or the
truth of the Resurrection and such matters. The word in the Greek simply
means "a contentious person", or "a factious
person". It means one who is peddling a Doctrine that the Church
should not accept.
The Lord charges the Church at Pergamos with not having taken the
action required under Titus 3:10. "Thou has there them" -
"Thou has not rejected them."
The Order set out in Titus is that the Elders in each Church should
take aside and question those who have revealed that they hold this
Doctrine. To "hold" the Doctrine means that the Doctrine is
steering or controlling in the life and the evidence of the
"working" of the Doctrine will be obvious. The seriousness of
the matter should be explained, and the person in error should lovingly
be constrained to turn from the evil.
The reason for two admonitions is obvious. The dictates of love
require that the first effort must be to save and reclaim the one who
has strayed. "Brethren if any of you do err from the Truth, and one
convert him; let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the
error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a
multitude of sins" (Jas. 5:19-20).
It is left to the discretion of the Church what length of time shall
elapse between the two admonitions, but the second must follow, if the
first is not fruitful in producing a change of heart and mind. If after
a further period of loving entreaty, it is found that the evil is still
"held", then Scripture must be followed and the offender
rejected from the Company and Fellowship of the Church.
The Principle of Truth or Light demands finality in the dealing. The
Principle of Love calls for long-suffering in the dealing. Only the
Spirit of God can rightly equates Light and Love in their proper
proportions in each case.
The overall principle that must ultimately prevail is that the whole
is more important than the part. The course of discipline will
ultimately reach the stage where we must turn from trying to save the
wolf, to save the flock he is destroying.
"For I know this, that after my
departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the
flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse
things, to draw disciples after them. Therefore watch . . . " (Acts
20:29). "But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will
increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a
canker" (2 Tim. 2:16-17).
Throughout this paper on The Doctrine of Tongues, we
have sought to follow Scripture simply and surely. The whole truth is
The early gift of Tongues has ceased.
What is in evidence today and is called
"Tongues" is a Satanic lure.
This evil doctrine must not be named among us, and those that
hold it must be rejected.
It was only when Phinehas took direct action, as recorded in Numbers
25:8, that "the plague was stayed". And to the church at
Pergamos, charged with the Doctrine of Balaam, the Lord promises
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and
will give him a white stone and in the stone a new name written, which
no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it" (Rev. 2:17).
Tongues Shall Cease
Many proofs call be brought to show that Modern Tongues are not of
God. In such questions the final reference must always be "to the
Word and the Testimony."
God has said "Tongues shall cease" and Tongues have ceased
pursuant to His Word. A careful exposition follows of the section of
Scripture in which this Truth is given.
First Corinthians 13: 8-13 An Exposition
The 13th chapter of I Corinthians is commonly called "The
Love Chapter", for it enthrones love as the greatest thing in the
The chapter itself is however the vital link-chapter between chapter
12, which is concerned with Spiritual Gifts, and chapter 14, which is
concerned with one of those Gifts - Tongues. Central to chapter 13 is
the announcement "Tongues shall cease" (verse 8). The
cessation of two other gifts is also announced and it is clear that the
Gifts referred to are three of the Spiritual Gifts spoken of in chapter
In chapter 13 Paul says some wonderful things concerning love, but
his purpose is to illustrate the truth he has been teaching concerning
Spiritual Gifts in chapter 12 and to prepare the way for some direct
things he has to say about Tongues in chapter 14. Chapter 14 must always
be read in the light of chapter 13 which states that Tongues shall
cease. Accordingly, the directions concerning,
the use of Tongues in the Church, contained in chapter 14 applied only
for the period until the gift ceased.
Chapter 13 is written in typical Pauline style, and is a chapter of
contrasts, from beginning to end. There is the major contrast between
verse 8 and verse 13 wherein it is shown that while Prophecies, Tongues
and Knowledge shall vanish away or cease, Faith, Hope and Love will
continue to the end of the Church period.
But then, agreeing with this contrast, and
illustrating its teaching are two other major contrasts: -
The Miraculous Gifts are contrasted with Love
The Miraculous Gifts are contrasted with the Completed
Revelation of God (verses 8-12).
We are here concerned with the "B" Section,
verses 8-12, and verse 13. Our B Section is again divided into four
further contrasts: -
That which is in Part and that which is
Childish Things and Man's Things.
A Glass Darkly and Face to Face.
Knowing in Part and Knowing as Known.
(i) THAT WHICH IS IN PART AND THAT WHICH IS PERFECT
In verse 8 Paul says distinctly that three of the Miraculous gifts
will vanish away or cease, and he proceeds to explain when, and how, and
The "when" is answered in short form immediately in verse 10
"When that which is perfect is come".
Verses 9 and 10 make it quite clear that "that which is in
part" is the Gifts of Prophecy and Knowledge for it says "For
we know in part, and we prophesy in part."
Now these gifts were the gifts which
provided for the early Church that which was later provided by the New
The word for "Part" used in this passage is used also in
Luke 11:36 "If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no
part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining
of a candle doth give thee light."
In our chapter the subject is the same; that of Spiritual
illumination. In Luke "No part dark". Here the light they had
was "in part", and that part illumination would give place to
"that which is perfect."
When Paul wrote this epistle to the Corinthians, the only part of the
New Testament then in existence appears to have been the two Epistles to
the Thessalonians. The early Church was at a
very great disadvantage without the New Testament, so God gave it the
Miraculous Gifts of Knowledge and Prophecy. These Gifts enabled the
early Church to assimilate some of the Truth so readily available to us
in the New Testament. But these Gifts were "in part" compared
with the "perfection" of the completed Scriptures which we now
hold. It is easy to understand accordingly that "when that which is
perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
Those who had the Gifts of Knowledge and Prophecy were able "in
part" to reveal Truth to the Church. But their part was no longer
needed when that which was perfect was come.
That Which Is Perfect
The expression "that which is perfect" is in
the neuter gender in the Greek and could not refer to Christ or to a
"The Law of the Lord is Perfect" Ps. 19:7.
"His Work is Perfect" Deut. 32:4.
The Greek word rendered "Perfect" in verse 10 of our
chapter is first used in Scripture in Matthew 5:48. "Be ye
therefore perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect."
The Hebrew counterpart is first used in the Old Testament in Genesis 6:9
"Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation."
Paul uses the same word in Romans 12:2 when he speaks about the
"acceptable and perfect will of God, and in I Cor. 2:6 when
he says "Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect."
In none of these uses of the word does "perfect" refer to
the future eternal state, but to life here on this earth, and this is
clearly the connotation here in I Cor. 13:10.
The Gifts which were in exercise at Corinth and which were "in
part" were for me in the early days of the Church on earth.
It was to this scene also that "that which is perfect" was to
come. These would be "done away" when that which is perfect
The expression "is come" surely envisages something coming
to earth from God. Paul does not say "When we have come to that
which is perfect", but he says, "when that which is perfect is
God was sending it, and when it was come, this perfect revelation of
truth, then the miraculous Gifts, with the part revelation, would
be "done away."
In Matt. 2:2 the Wise Men say "We have seen His star in the East
and come to worship Him." This is the same Greek word and
indicates a motion from the East to Bethlehem.
So in I Cor. 13:10 the words "is come" can only represent a
movement from Heaven to this World. Why read anything else into these
words? There is nothing in the passage elsewhere to refer to eternity,
so we may be assured that the words have their ordinary simple meaning.
"When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall
be done away."
"Shall be done away."
Let us complete the study of verse 10 with a consideration of the
meaning of the verb expression with which the sentence ends.
The Greek word Katargeo used here is the same word used twice already
in verse 8.
"Prophecies shall fail" R.V. "Be done
"Knowledge shall vanish away" R.V. "Be done
The word means "To render entirely idle or useless, to abolish,
to do away, to become or make of no effect, to fall, to vanish away, to
This word is used also in the next verse "When I became a man I
put away childish things", meaning that these things just
vanished away having been rendered entirely useless in maturity.
It is evident that the Revelation of Truth by the Gifts of Prophecy
and Knowledge was "in part" in contrast with the later
Revelation of Truth through the Completed Scriptures.
But if "that which is perfect" refers to the Future State
as some have thought, then where is the contrast? What would be the use
of any gift in Heaven? Why ever would Paul hold up these two gifts and
say "Behold these are `in part', and Heaven is `that which is
perfect'?" What a futile statement that would be! How unlike Paul's
consistent crisp thinking! Heaven is perfect, but there is no sense in
which these two gifts are particularly and specially "in part"
as contrasted with Heaven.
No! Paul says "Behold the Revelation available through these two
gifts is "in part" in contrast with the Revelation that will
come with the Completed Scriptures for these are the two gifts which
have been serving the Church meantime. But when the full Revelation of
the Completed Scripture is come, then the two "in part"
gifts shall vanish to be superseded by "That which is
perfect". And this makes good sound Pauline sense.
Further, if "that which is perfect" is Heaven, then the
change referred to is the Rapture and the two "in part" gifts
remain as our mode of receiving our Revelation of Church Truth until
then. This is of course nonsense for we get our Church Truth today from
the Bible and not through Miraculous Gifts. Further, the Scripture claims
to be a Complete Revelation and the last chapter of the completed Truth
contains a solemn warning against attempts to add to "the words of
the prophecy of this Book" (Rev. 22:18). These gifts cannot operate
now the New Testament has come and that accounts for the statement in
verse 8 that they cease, when that which is perfect is come.
But then again we are told by some that it is not the Miraculous
Gifts that are referred to in this passage, but just ordinary Knowledge
and Prophecy in its widest sense.
This contention cannot stand for two reasons:
Verse 8 speaks not only of Knowledge and
Prophecy, but also of tongues. Tongues is so obviously one of
the Miraculous Gifts of the previous chapter, that it is
inescapable that the three things which are said to cease in
verse 8 are all three of them, Miraculous Gifts.
If it is ordinary Knowledge and Prophecy in
its widest sense that is referred to in this passage, when do
they cease? The Knowledge we have now, we carry into eternity
with us. It does not cease at any time. Prophecy in the wide
general sense does not cease either. God's Word which contains
all prophecy remains operative after the Rapture. The most sure
word of Prophecy does not cease. God has a great programme to
fulfil after the Rapture, and all Prophecy is preserved, abides
and will be performed.
(ii) CHILDHOOD - MANHOOD
How will the Miraculous Gifts cease? In what manner?
"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." (verse 11).
The manifestations of Prophecies, Miraculous Knowledge and Tongues
were, in the figure of this verse, the "Baby" ways of the
But the full revelation of God gave the Church maturity in contrast
with those Baby ways. When the Full Revelation came the Baby ways
vanished away and ceased.
Note also that the figure of Childhood agrees with the method of
giving of the Gifts and of their cessation. The Gifts of Prophecies,
Knowledge and Tongues were given to the infant Church by a direct
Sovereign Act of the Holy Spirit. In its infancy it was normal and
accepted for the Church to speak in Tongues, understand by Miraculous
Knowledge and think as the Prophets taught.
But as the Scripture was given, the Church gradually cast off those
things until they disappeared - just as a child gradually changes from
childhood's ways to adult manners and notions.
Obviously it is not the change that comes at the Rapture of the
Church that is in view, for that is a sudden change. It would be quite
out of character to say of that sudden change "when I became a man
I put away Baby things." Obviously no such thought was in the
Apostle's mind when he penned those words. An infant does not:
(a) suddenly throw away childish things, and
(b) suddenly become a man.
The expression "to become a man" is expanded by Paul in
Ephesians 4:11-14 where he states that Apostles, prophets, evangelists,
pastors and teachers are given for the "perfecting" of the
saints "Till we all attain unto (R.V.) the unity of the
faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
So pastors and teachers help to bring each individual in the Church
unto a perfect man - R.V. "A full-grown man". Here again if
the eternal state were intended by "full grown" surely the
change would not require the assistance of pastors and teachers.
"Full-grown" means for the individual in Ephesians 4:13 -
full Christian Spiritual maturity in this scene. But in I Cor. 13:1.1
"When I became a man" directs the mind to the adulthood of the
Full Relevation as compared with the Childhood of the part Revelation.
(iii) NOW A GLASS DARKLY - THEN FACE TO FACE
Why will the Miraculous Gifts cease? For what reason?
In Isaiah 3 the prophet gives an amazing list of feminine trinkets
and included in verse 23 are "the glasses" meaning
We are told in Exodus 38:8 that the laver and its foot were made
"of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at
the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."
Again in Job 37:18 there is the question "Hast thou with him
spread out the sky, which is strong and as a molten looking glass?"
In the imagery of Job the sky itself reflects in a way the Glory and
Truth of God. So also the laver reflected divine truth.
But this reflected truth is blurred and imperfect compared with the
Glory of the Full Revelation of Scripture.
So also here, the Gifts of Prophecy, Knowledge and Tongues, reflect
the Glory and Truth of God "in part" or "through a
glass". The Revised Version gives the true significance "For
now we see in a mirror". The word in the Authorised Version
translated "darkly" is in the Revised Version rendered
"in a riddle."
So the early Church received Truth "mirrored" to it and
given "as in a riddle' through the gifts of Prophecies, Knowledge
Paul says "Now" (when he wrote the Epistle) Truth
was mirrored and "in a riddle", but "then"
(when Tongues cease, when Prophecies and Knowledge vanish away), "Then"
when the full Revelation of God is given to man through the completion
of the New Testament, "Then" you shall see "face
And that is exactly the wonder of the Written Word of God in its
completed form, that we no longer have Divine Truth, mirrored or in a
riddle, but face to face. Divine Truth, the Full Divine Truth
shines face to face with us as we read it, with the Spirit's Help.
So, in Mount Sinai the Lord spoke with Moses "face to face''.
Scripture always interprets itself. What God did with Moses in revealing
the mysteries of the old Economy of Law so now He will do for the Church
to give it a face to face revelation from the written word of God,
revealing all His Truth for the Church and for the World to the
end of the Cosmos.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh
unto his friend." That is what God does with each one of us today
through His Word.
Again in Numbers 14:14 this thought is expanded further and we read
"And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they
have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art
seen face to face and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that
thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a
pillar of fire by night."
The Children of Israel were known to be the people of God by these
things. So now is the Church of God revealed as such to the world - the
cloud is over the Church - the Glory of God is upon it - the Lord is
seen by the Church face to face.
Not only so, but the face of the Saviour is seen in such a way that
each Christian mirrors or reflects again to the world something of His
glory. The R.V. rendering of II Cor. 3:18 is "But we all with
unveiled face, reflecting as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord,
are transformed into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord
In I Cor. 13:12 it is the vanishing gifts that are spoken of as
Mirrors. In II Cor. 3:18 it is the individual Christian who is a Mirror
to the World of the Lord he sees face to face.
The first use of this expression in Scripture is very illuminating
indeed. In Genesis 32:30 we have Jacob at Peniel and it is recorded
"And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen
God face to face and my life is preserved."
What happened at Peniel? There, there wrestled a man with Jacob until
the breaking of the day. He touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh. He
asked his name and obtained the answer "Jacob". Jacob in turn
asked His name. Jacob's name was changed, and he was blessed, "For
as a prince hast thou power with God, and with men and hast
Summing it up, immediately afterwards, Jacob said "I have seen
God face to face and my life is preserved."
Again, Jacob's experience was an earthly one, while still in the days
of his pilgrimage. It was not the commencement of the eternal state for
Jacob. Instead we read, "Jacob halted upon his thigh". Instead
of being physically healed, he was slightly lamed as a result, of this
As the Church and each member of it come before the full revelation
of God, He makes us each confess our name. We say "Jacob" and
He delights to have us ask for His Name which the Book wonderfully
reveals, and as we wrestle at the Spiritual Peniels of our lives, we
also may each learn what it is to be a Prince with God and prevail.
As we struggle, relating affairs in our lives with the Power of God's
Word in our lives, we may scarcely realise what is involved at the time.
But afterwards, as we move forward in life, we realise that the hollow
of the thigh has been touched and we give testimony "I have seen
Hint face to face, and my life has been preserved."
Because of this, the Lord is able to say through Isaiah, "Fear
not thou worm Jacob . . . I will make thee a new sharp threshing
instrument having teeth" (Isaiah 41:14-15).
Paul then is saying that the Miraculous Gifts of the early Church
"reflected" the Glory and Truth of God and presanted truth
"in a riddle": but that when these gifts give place to the
completed Word of God, then the Church would be brought "face to
In a Riddle (Darkly):
There is an amazing passage in Numbers 12 which very fully
illustrates what Paul has in mind when he says "For now we see
through a mirror darkly (as in a riddle) but then face to face."
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses and they said "Hath the
Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us?"
"And the Lord heard it." "And the Lord spake suddenly
unto Moses, and unto Aaron and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the
tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out."
"And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in
the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron, and Miriam; and they both
"And He said hear now my words. If there be a prophet among you,
I the Lord will make myself known unto you in a vision and will speak
unto him in a dream."
"My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With
him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark
speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold:
Wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant
A perusal of the Book of Genesis confirms that prior to Moses the
manner of revealing Truth had been "in visions", "in
dreams" and in "dark speeches". That is, as it were in a
riddle. The visions and dreams and dark sayings had to be interpreted
So also in Paul's day, the revelation of Church Truth through the
Prophets and through the Miraculous Gift of Knowledge and through
Tongues were as in a riddle (darkly).
But God was jealous to show Miriam and Aaron what a distinction there
was between the Prophets generally and Moses.
With him: -
"Mouth to mouth."
"Net in dark speeches."
"The similitude of the Lord shall he
If this is not "face to face", what is?
Now is it not remarkable that the Old
Testament contains such an exact comparison agreeing in all points with
the comparison in I Cor. 13? Again we say that Scripture is its own
interpreter. Numbers 12 is dealing with a comparison of two forms of
Revelation in Old Testament days, and so also is I Cor. 13 dealing with
a comparison of two forms of Revelation in New Testament times.
Face to Face:
What is meant by this expression? Jacob said he saw God face to face,
and that is true. He did. But did he see God's face physically? This he
Jacob said "I have seen the Lord face to face and my life is
preserved." But the Lord Himself says in Exodus 33:20 "There
shall no man see Me and live." Accordingly, although Jacob saw the
Lord "face to face" he did not in physical fact view the
What is the meaning of this mystery? It is
this than Jacob saw a man who was a manifestation of God - a theophany.
That is, a physical manifestation of the presence of God, in the form or
appearance of a human body, or person.
God did not reveal His face to the gaze of
Jacob, but nevertheless Jacob was made to realise that he had been face
to face with God.
This is exactly what the Word of God
achieves for us. We do not see God physically, but as the Revelation
does its work with us powerfully and effectively and clearly we are made
to feel and know that we have been "face to face".
Even Moses, who spoke with God "face to face" did not see
the face of God, as is made clear in Exodus 33. But he was hid in the
cleft of the rods, covered with the hand of God and then allowed to see
His "back parts". And God said "I will make all my
goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord
before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will
show mercy on whom I will show mercy." This is to see God face to
face, and that is exactly what the Scriptures do for us today - through
the Word He makes His goodness pass before us, and He proclaims the Name
of the Lord before us, and He shows mercy and is gracious to whom He
When that which is perfect is come, then we shall see
face to face.
The Risen Lord says as His final word to the Churches at the end of
the last of the letters to the Seven Churches in Rev. 3:20 "Behold
I stand at the door and knock; and if any man hear my voice, and open
the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he
Is not this face to face? How do we sup with Him? Surely it is
through the miracle of "that which is perfect," that we meet
with Him face to face.
In Deuteronomy 5 there is an analogy which clearly shows the meaning
of the words used in I Cor. 13:12. Moses says "The Lord talked with
you face to face in the Mount out of the midst of the fire."
(Deut. 5:4). Then Moses recounts the words of the Decalogue and says
"These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the Mount out
of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with
a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two
tables of stone, and delivered them unto me."
Now until Moses, the Lord spoke "in riddles", "in
visions", "in dreams", but at Sinai God spoke "face
to face" with Moses and also with all the people "and
He added no more". From that time Israel had in the Law a
"face to face" revelation compared with the previous part
revelation that was in visions, dreams and riddles.
That is the analogy. So now Paul is saying that in the Church
Dispensation, the gifts of Prophecy, Knowledge and Tongues are like the
riddles, dreams and visions prior to Sinai. But "that which is
perfect", the full Truth of God, when available will be a
"face to face" revelation of Truth for the Church as the law
was to Israel.
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped
not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall nor we escape,
if we turn away from him that speaketh from Heaven." (Heb. 12:25).
"Ye are not come unto the Mount that burned with fire . . . but
ye are come unto Mount Zion . . . to the general assembly and Church of
the firstborn . . . And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant
and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of
Abel." (Heb. 12:18-24).
Now and Then:
The Greek word for Now; in this verse "Now we see
through a glass darkly; but then face to face", is the
emphatic "Now" meaning at this present moment when Paul is
writing. Now, when there is no New Testament and when Truth is
only given through the gifts of Knowledge and Prophecy, Now we
see in a mirror darkly, but then, when the New Testament will be
available, then face to face.
The Greek word used here translated "Now" when used in
Scripture always means "at this present moment". It is
a different word that is translated "Now" in such Scriptures
as "Now is the accepted time, Now is the Day of Salvation".
(II Cor. 6:2).
The word used in I Cor. 13 is only used in such Scriptures as John
9:19 where the parents of the blind man are asked "How then doth he
now see? " This word never means anything else in
Scripture but "at this moment" and it could not mean
Now (when Paul wrote): -
There was the Gift of Prophecies.
There was the Gift of Tongues.
There was the Gift of Knowledge.
Revelation was "in part".
Childish things were still in use.
Truth was seen mirrored and as in a riddle.
Knowing was "in part".
Faith, Hope and Love were abiding.
When that which is perfect is come: -
Prophecies shall be done away.
Tongues shall cease.
Knowledge shall be done away.
That which is in part shall be done away.
Childish things shall be done away.
We shall see face to face.
We shall fully know as we are fully known.
Faith, Hope and Love will still abide or
(iv) PART KNOWING AND KNOWING FULLY
Why will the Miraculous Gifts cease? For what reason?
Verse 12 of I Cor. 13 concludes "Now I know in part; but then
shall I know even as I am known."
Two different Greek words are used for "knowing" in this
verse. In the clause relating to Spiritual Gifts "Now I know in
part" it is the simple usual verb "ginosko" that is used,
meaning "To be aware of, to know, to perceive, to understand."
But then comes the comparison - "But then shall I know, even as
also I am Known," and here the word "know" and
"known" is the rarely used emphatic verb
"epiginosko" meaning "To know upon some mark - to
recognise - to become fully acquainted with". This Greek verb is
first used in Scripture in Matt. 7:16 "Ye shall know them (or
recognise them) by their fruits."
"That which is Perfect" the Bible, is also the Revelation
of Jesus Christ who is Himself, the Living Word of God.
The Miraculous Gifts of the Early Church were fruitful in providing a
part-knowledge of Him. But it was only a part knowledge. "Now"
when Paul wrote, they had this Part Knowledge of Him. But "when
that which is perfect is come" then they would be able to
fully recognise and be acquainted with Him.
He is the Head of the Body and He knows each Member. When "that
which is perfect is come" then the Members will be able to know Him
fully, as He Himself knows the Members.
This does not mean that the Members will all have the Omniscience of
the Head. When the Church is with Christ in Glory in Eternity, He will
still remain the Head, and will have the quality of Omniscience, and the
Church will not have it. He will remain God Blessed for ever and we
shall remain His creatures. We shall share His inheritance and share in
His knowledge. All eternity will provide for the Church a progression of
knowledge as God opens out and reveals more and more of the wonders of
His Grace. But Christ knows all these things being God. He is
The word here does not mean that we shall share His Omniscience when
it says "I shall know even as I am known". Impossible!
But as He knows us, our character, our names, our life and purposes,
our Hopes and desires, so we also may fully know His Character, His
Names, His Life and Purposes, His Hopes and Desires. Also His Power and
Grace and Love and Glory. What a wonderful revelation of Christ the Word
of God is! How full is "that which is perfect" of Him! Surely
today we "may know Him and the Power of His Resurrection."
Paul's prayer for the Churches for full knowledge is recounted in
several places, but in the Ephesian Epistle he records the epitome of
this prayer when he prays in verses 17-19 of chapter 1, "That the
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of
your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope
of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in
the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward
who believe, according to the working of His mighty power."
Paul's prayer for full knowledge, that the Church may fully know Him
and His power was answered in the completing and providing for the
Church of "that which is perfect".
Why do the Miraculous gifts vanish away? Because they are
superfluous when that which is perfect is come. There is no need for
"part knowledge" in the face of "full" knowledge.
"That which is Perfect" means the Full Scriptures after the
addition of the New Testament. We deduce this as follows: -
- The Contrasts of this chapter make it obvious that this is what is
meant. What else could contrast with the Part Revelation of the
Miraculous Gifts, but the Full Revelation of the New Testament
- What else could supersede the Miraculous Gifts but the New
- Historically it is what happened. The Miraculous Gifts of Prophecy
and Knowledge vanished when the New Testament appeared.
- The expression "That which is perfect" is beautifully
and accurately descriptive of the Completed Scriptures.
- The many quotations given in this article illustrate the true
Scriptural meaning of the terms employed by Paul. The whole passage
sings together in harmony with the whole Word of God when it is
understood that "that which is perfect" is the Completed
Scriptures of Truth.
- Scripture will not harmonise with any other view, for then it is
necessary to show: -
That Faith and Hope are carried into Eternity
and continue there.
That the Miraculous Gifts of Prophecies and
Knowledge are still with the Church today and that we can
receive Truth in these part-revelations direct from God today
(contrary to the warning given in Revelation 22 against attempts
to add to "the words of the prophecy of this
That "is come" does not mean what it
says, but it means when "we go" to Heaven.
That Paul is describing the Rapture of the
Church here as a baby gradually losing his baby ways (whereas
just two chapters further on he does describe the Rapture and
says "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye . . . we
shall be changed").
That "To become a man" describes the
same sudden change!
That we are still only receiving a mirrored,
dark revelation of Truth - just in riddles.
But again, could "That which is Perfect" refer to something
else altogether? Could it refer to "Spiritual Maturity"? We
have shown that "a perfect man" in Ephesians 4:13 means a Man
here and now who has attained a Spiritual Maturity. The difference
between Ephesians and 1st Corinthians is that in the former Paul is
discussing Spiritual Maturity and in the latter he is discussing the
contrast between Part Revelation and Perfect Revelation. These things
are related, but they are different concepts in themselves.
The expression "that which is perfect" as used in I
Corinthians 13 could not refer to "Spiritual Maturity" for the
following reasons: -
- For all the reasons stated in this Exposition "that which is
perfect" refers to something else.
- No-one would ever speak of Spiritual Maturity as "that which
is perfect". The expression in Ephesians is clear and natural.
But to say Paul was expressing the same thought in I Cor. 13:10 by
the words "when that which is perfect is come" is on the
face of it immature thinking.
- The "Spiritual Maturity" teaching in relation to this
chapter is based on the words "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."
Now Paul uses these words to illustrate the manner in which
the Gifts will cease. Accordingly, the Spiritual Maturity exponents
base a Doctrine on an illustration. Anyone in Spiritual Maturity
should know not to do this.
- Paul says in verse 8 that the three gifts will cease and then he
says immediately "For we know in part, and we prophesy in
part. This is Paul's Number 1 Explanation of Doctrine, and we
must see that our understanding of the illustration given later,
agrees with the Doctrine. Now in what possible way could the gifts
of Prophecy and Knowledge be "in part" as compared with
Spiritual Maturity? Who today starts off with the gifts of Prophecy
and Knowledge and then dispenses with them to take Spiritual
- If Spiritual Maturity is the answer, then we should expect to
observe today the following order:
First the immature Christian speaking in
Then, later, the same man giving up
Tongues and becoming Mature, for "the Part" ceases
on the coming of "that which is Perfect".
Do we observe this order?
- The expression "that which is perfect'' is in the Neuter
Gender in the Greek, and could not possibly refer to a person.
We have surveyed the contrast between the Miraculous Gifts and the
Completed Bible under its four sub-contrasts as portrayed in the Section
Verses 9 to 12.
The Miraculous Gifts have been contrasted with love in Verses 1 to 8.
Now verse 13 brings the overall contrast of the chapter. The three
named Miraculous Gifts of verse 8 are to vanish away and cease, but when
that which is perfect is come, three other things will abide or continue
- Faith, Hope and Love.
We have seen that the "Now" of verse 12 is the urgent
"now" of time, meaning "Right now at this moment".
But here in verse 13 it is not time that is referred to but we have the
"Now" of argument.
"This being so, now therefore,'' the following things apply. As
is shown in the Revised Version, the first word of the sentence should
be "But" not "And". So that the force of the
argument of the "Now" is contrast. The Apostle proceeds to
argue and demonstrate from the premises of verses 1 to 12 a proposition
of contrast and he says "But now". It is very forceful, and
the point must not be missed or the whole argument of the Chapter is
"But Now," (while three Miraculous Gifts are shortly to
cease, when the Whole Word of God is come in the manner of
their vanishing away like the ways of a Baby being forgotten in Manhood,
for the reason that the Full Revelation is Face to Face compared
with the Part revealings of the Gifts, and for the further reason
that a Full Knowledge of Christ will then be open to the Church).
"But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the
greatest of these is love."
Some things cease, other things abide.
Today we are in the era of Faith, Hope and Love. This is very much
the day for Faith, Hope and Love. These things characterise our whole
manner of life and have done so for the Church both before and since the
Miracu!ous Gifts faded out when that which is perfect came.
Which scene is most easily recognisable as the sphere of Faith, Hope
and Love? Heaven or Here? Which period do these things best describe?
The Eternal Future or the Present?
Which fits best? Which is Paul speaking about? Is he saying that the
Miraculous Gifts carry on to the Rapture and then after that Faith, Hope
and Love carry on in Heaven? Or is he saying that the Miraculous Gifts
fade out when the New Testament is complete and that after that Faith,
Dope and love carry on right to the end of the age? Surely it is the
Faith is the very breath of Spiritual Life in this age on
earth. "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
"Whatsoever is not of Faith is Sin."
Hope is the comfort, joy and inspiration of the Saints in this
life "who look for a City which hath foundations, whose builder and
maker is God".
Love is the greatest of all and is eternal. But in this
chapter love is related to life here in this scene. It is the "more
excellent way" for the Church on earth. Tongues is just like
sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal without love. That Divine Love, shed
abroad in the Believer's Heart is greater than Faith and Hope and all
the Gifts are profitless without it. They are nothing, without it. In
this chapter Love is viewed in the setting of this scene. It is compared
with the Gifts which belong to this scene. It is urged on the Church
then and now in this scene, and it is spoken of in relation to
"envy", "vauntings", "being puffed up",
"behaving unseemly", "seeking her own", "being
easily provoked", "thinking evil", "rejoicing in
These are all earth things that never enter Heaven, and accordingly
we judge that Love, Faith and Hope are all portrayed in this chapter in
relation to the period of the Church's course on earth, and that alone.
Now there must be a period in which the things that abide, continue
after the other things have ceased or failed.
Faith and Hope abide only until the Lord returns for the Church, and
then they also cease, for Faith then "gives place" to sight,
and Hope gives place to realisation.
Faith we know ends at the Rapture. The Lord said to Thomas
"Because thou has seen thou halt believed; blessed are they that
have not seen and yet have believed." The day is coming when faith
will give place to sight, and we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be
like Him. Faith will end at that day, but it will continue or abide
throughout the present Church Age.
Hope is also of limited duration although it abides throughout
the present Church age. In Romans 8 we read "What a man seeth, how
doth he yet hope for it? " During this Age of the abiding of Hope
we hope for Christ's return and for all that His return will bring. But,
when He does return, then we shall hope no longer, for we shall have the
fact of His presence and of Heavenly Bliss. Hope abides for this age but
gives place to Realisation at the Return of the Lord.
Accordingly, if Hope and Faith end at the Lord's return, Prophecies,
Tongues and Miraculous Knowledge must have ceased long before, if the
passage is to be understood at all.
The order of I Corinthians 13 is: -
Three things are to cease -
Three things abide (do not cease) throughout
the Church Age -
Faith, Hope and Love.
Faith and Hope disappear at the end of the
Church Age, at the Lord's Coming.
But "Love never faileth" (verse 8).
Love is as eternal as God is Himself.