The meaning of ‘perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:10

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, July 28, 2022

Question: Could you please explain what the “perfect” is in 1 Corinthians 13:10?
Answer: Paul wrote, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:10 KJV).
As Paul was writing his letter to the church at Corinth, the New Testament was not yet complete. To compensate for a lack of the whole Word of God as we now have it, God had given miraculous abilities that were designed in part to confirm the Word being preached (spoken) by inspired men. That which was “in part,” is no doubt the miraculous that was in the world at that time. As Paul explains to the Corinthian brethren, the miraculous would soon come to an end. But what was it that Paul referred to as “perfect”?
In context we can know that “the perfect” in this passage is the coming completion of the revelation of God to man in what we have today as the New Testament. In Ephesians 4, Paul mentions some duties and miraculous abilities that some members of the church possessed (Ephesians 4:11-13). In verse 13 Paul said, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” This unity of faith would be possible by the coming completion of God’s Revelation. This revelation would be available to all men, to read, study and understand. In contrast, the imperfect or that which was “in part,” would be associated with the miraculous. Total unity among brethren would be possible through the written Word of God. In James 1:25, Paul mentioned the “perfect law of liberty.” That law is contained in the Bible. When the written Word of God was completed, God’s revelation would be completed and the need for the partial, the miraculous would come to an end.
In the context, the incomplete included the following: Prophecies, Tongues, Knowledge. Before the completion of the Bible, these things were used to reveal the truth of God’s unwritten Word. But when the written Word was completed then that which was in part was no longer needed.
Jesus, in John 16:13, said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. The promise was that the apostles would be guided into “all truth.” We then must either believe that is what happened or as many contend, we believe in modern day revelations and modern day miracles. For the serious believer, there is no choice between the two. We believe that Jesus kept his promise.
In conclusion we see that Paul was speaking at a time when the promise of Jesus was not yet accomplished. Therefore, at that time they still needed those prophecies, tongues, and knowledge. However, when that which is perfect/complete (God’s Written Word) came, then that which is incomplete/in part (miracles) would be done away.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox