The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13
(Part 7)

In part 6 of this series we discussed the first part of verse 12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” This was directly contrasting the difference between the “then” (we know in part, and we prophesy in part) and the “future” (when that which is perfect is come). It was impressed upon those in Corinth that their method of learning divine knowledge, which was an in-part system, would be replaced by a perfect (complete) method. When that complete method had come it would replace their in-part system (the miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit). In fact, what they were experiencing at that point in time was like “seeing through a glass, darkly.” Like the prophets of old, who saw through a mirror, and not face to face through their prophecies, the Christians of the first century received their knowledge through their prophets as through a mirror: all had not been revealed. Today, having the completed revelation of God’s Word we no longer see through a mirror darkly, but rather, as Moses saw God face to face, we too have knowledge of the gospel as face to face. It is complete, it is perfect, it has reached its intended purpose to inform the world of God’s plan of salvation, and what one must do to obtain that salvation: how one approaches God to receive the forgiveness of sins. It teaches us how we ought to behave “in the house of God,” what will happen on the last day when Jesus returns, and what each one of us should expect based upon our relationship with God and Christ: some will be resurrected unto life, and those who have rejected Christ unto a resurrection of judgment (condemnation).

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul further reinforces these things with the latter part of verse 12, “now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. Even Paul, with his knowledge of the gospel which had come during this period of the miraculous, still knew the things of the gospel in part, and looked forward to a time, if he should still be on this earth, that he would know completely as anyone had known, or did know Paul. So it is that we can have complete knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:8, 3:18).

After having declared that their partial system would be replaced with a complete, mature system, which wold accompany the cessation of the miraculous gifts, Paul now reassures the brethren in Corinth, reminding them of that more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31):

1 Cor. 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

These three excellent ways still persist today. We are blessed with these characteristics which serve us in our daily walk.

2 Cor 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Heb 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
1 Cor 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

As this series comes to a close, we note that our having the completed revelation of the will of God and Christ, should be content with that revelation, its having already been confirmed by signs, powers, and wonders (miracles). It was John who, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned these words:

John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 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.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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