Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 13

Why prophecies, tongues and knowledge will not last

1 Corinthians 13:8

Paul refers here to three of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, from his list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. ‘Prophecies’ are messages from God that a person declares to other people by the power of the Holy Spirit. ‘Tongues’ means words from the Holy Spirit in languages that the speaker has not learnt. So, similarly, ‘knowledge’ must mean special knowledge that the Holy Spirit gives to a person.

Paul declares that these gifts of the Holy Spirit will end. The purpose of these gifts is to help Christians in this world, and during the present age. However, this world will not last, and this present age will end. In the future, Christ will return to rule, and God will change everything (15:51-52).

At that future time, those gifts will be unnecessary. They had a purpose, but that purpose will be complete. Instead, God’s people will then have a perfect relationship with him (Romans 8:18-21).

For example, we only have a little knowledge now, even when the Holy Spirit gives knowledge. But in the future, our knowledge will be complete (13:12). So the Holy Spirit will not need to give us more knowledge then.

In the same way, nobody will need to give us messages from God. Instead, God’s word will already be in our hearts (Hebrews 8:10-11). Also, God’s people will not speak in unknown languages. Different languages became necessary when God had to separate people (Genesis 11:1-9). But now God is joining his people together (12:12-13). When that is complete, nothing will separate them from each other, or from God (Revelation 21:3).

Those gifts will not still remain. However, the love that God gives will never end. His love is perfect.

Next part: Why prophecies are not perfect (1 Corinthians 13:9-10)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.