Friday, 9 January 2015
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. 1 Corinthians 13:8
Paul now takes a new direction in his great discourse on love. He has been giving both positive and negative descriptions of love. They have been descriptions which define love and which are forever unchanging in the truth they convey. He will now contrast this with the nature of “gifts” which have been given to the individual members.
It must be remembered that this discourse on love is given based upon the previous discourse on gifts. He is specifically connecting the two issues to show the supremacy of love over that of gifts. Properly used gifts are dependent on love and will be based on love, but love is not dependent on gifts. As he closed out Chapter 12 he said, “And yet I show you a more excellent way.” The “more excellent way” is love.
And why is this true? It is true because love (which he has just been defining) “never fails.” The use of a gift is perfected in love, and when love is displayed in the use of a gift, it will always be used for the benefit of the entire body. “But whether there are prophecies, they will fail.” Prophecies, both foretelling and forth-telling, have their limits. There is a time when the gift of prophecy will be ended. There will be no more need for future prophetic utterances and there will be no need for searching the mysteries of the Bible and explaining them to others. When this time comes, love will still exist, for God is love.
Paul next tells us that, “whether there are tongues, they will cease.” Tongues are a way of conveying information. At one time, there was but one language on earth. However, in order to effect His purposes for man in redemptive history, God divided the tongues of the people. There are now many languages and there is a need for tongues to be used to teach others the word of God, to build up those who speak a different language, and to unite churches into a cohesive body. However, some day, there will again be but one spoken language. The book of Zephaniah says that will occur among the Hebrew people during the millennium –
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,
That they all may call on the name of the Lord,
To serve Him with one accord.” Zephaniah 3:9
Eventually, all humanity will speak in one tongue again. When this occurs, there will be no need for instructing others. Tongues will cease.
Finally in this verse, Paul tells us that “whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” He speaks here of earthly knowledge. It is the knowledge possessed by the teacher who must then instruct his pupil. Again, let us remember that he is contrasting love with the possession of gifts. Teachers, scholars, pastors, etc., all possess certain knowledge which must then be shared with others in order for that knowledge to be assimilated by them. This type of knowledge will pass away. In its place will be the pure knowledge which was from before the creation of the world. There shall be no need for the “gift” of knowledge because we will be in the presence of the One in whom is all knowledge. We shall learn, for all eternity, the workings of God. Thus, the gift of knowledge “will vanish away,” but love will remain.
Life application: When all of our “gifts,” which are given by the Spirit for this earthly dispensation, are brought into the presence of the Lord, they will no longer be needed. In their place will come the perfection of all of those gifts, directly from the One who bestowed them. The wonders of heaven are beyond our ability to grasp, so let us cling to this now and share our temporary gifts in love and in harmony with those we fellowship with.
O God, because You are the Source of all things, then whatever thing I desire now originally came from You. These things are temporary, but You are eternal. And so I wait in expectation for that day when I shall see You. No greater desire can be fulfilled in my heart than that wondrous moment; a moment which will then last for all eternity. Thank You that this is possible because of the work of Jesus. All hail to You, O God, for this sure promise and this eternal hope. Amen.