Shelby G. Floyd
THE PERFECT WORD
When Jesus Christ sent the apostles out into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature, he attended their ministry with signs and wonders and miracles (Hebrews 2: 3-4). These miracles were designed to confirm the word (Mark 16:17-20).
Not only were the apostles able to perform all of these wonders, but by the laying on of their hands they were also able to impart spiritual gifts to members of the New Testament church. For example, Peter and John, two apostles, were sent down to Samaria to impart spiritual gifts to those who had been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Philip, who preceded the apostles to Samaria, was able to work miracles himself; but not being an apostle, be was not able to impart them to others, this being reserved for the apostles (Acts 8: 12-19).
MIRACULOUS GIFTS WERE TEMPORARY
Today, there are a lot of persons claiming that they have the power to speak in tongues, heal the sick and receive direct revelations from God. This claim is false. In the church at Corinth, there were many members that received miraculous gifts. Later, when there was much discussion about the nature and use of these gifts, Paul wrote a letter to that congregation correcting their mistaken ideas, and informing them of the temporary nature of those gifts. There were several manifestations of the Spirit given to the members of the Corinthian church. Paul enumerates nine of them, they were: the word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith; the gifts of healing; the working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; divers kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). Whereas, the apostles could work all of these miracles, the members of the church received only the gift that God desired them to have (1 Corinthians 12:11). The apostle Paul emphasized this point when he said,
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
In chapter 13 of this same letter, Paul goes on to reveal that spiritual gifts, including tongues, were temporary, would pass away and be superseded by a better arrangement. A perfect and complete arrangement would take the place of that which was incomplete and partial. Paul said,
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Paul does not mention all of the various miraculous gifts, but only three of them that were representative of all of them, they were: prophecies, tongues and knowledge.
THREE VERBS DESCRIBLE THE END OF MIRACULOUS GIFTS
That which was to take place concerning these three gifts would be true of all the spiritual gifts. Paul used three verbs to describe the cessation of these gifts. Prophecies, tongues and knowledge were to fail, cease and vanish away. Let us examine closely the meaning of those three words used to describe the end of all spiritual gifts. First, “they shall fail.” The root meaning of this word is to cause to cease; put an end to; do away with; annul and to abolish. As it is used here in connection with prophecies it means they were to cease, pass and be done away. In connection with tongues, Paul says, “they shall cease.” There would be a time when speaking in tongues or languages would stop, be left off. Concerning miraculous knowledge, Paul says, “It shall vanish away.” How could we have any stronger language describing the end of spiritual gifts? But these miraculous gifts were designed to confirm that the spoken word by the apostles was the inspired word of God (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4).
Copyright © 2011 2017 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142