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Questions Cessationists Should Ask: A Biblical Examination of Cessationism

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In Jack Deere’s intriguing book, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, he suggests the following hypothetical situation and result: "If you were to lock a brand-new Christian in a room with a Bible and tell him to study what the Scriptures have to say about healing and miracles, he would never come out of the room a cessationist."1 Elsewhere he writes,

No one ever just picked up the Bible, started reading, and then came to the conclusion that God was not doing signs and wonders anymore and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had passed away. The doctrine of cessationism did not originate from a careful study of the Scriptures. The doctrine of cessationism originated in experience.2

Deere may have a point, but a person reading the Bible and studying miracles and healing may also have several questions about these things. Why do the epistles have little discussion about them? Why does Paul leave people sick (Phil 2:26-27; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:20)? Why does James have the sick call the elders and not one with the gift of healing (James 5:14-16)? Why do I not see miracles and healing? Deere may be correct in that the doctrine of cessationism originates in experience but that does not mean it is not true. One could hardly affirm cessationism if miracles and healing are happening all about him. Experience is the confirming factor in the case of either continuation or cessationism. Ultimately, the Bible must affirm (i.e., either affirm it as true or false) or allow our experience. It cannot contradict it (i.e., say it cannot happen). Whatever the case may be Deere raises the issue of putting the doctrine of cessationism to a biblical examination. Are cessationists asking questions of the Bible that will only affirm their conclusion? Or are they being honest and letting the text speak for itself, not forcing it into a prescribed theological framework? There are several texts that need to be discussed. Noncessationists argue that 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:7-13; as well as other passages affirm continuation. Cessationists insist that 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; and Hebrews 2:1-4 suggest that the miraculous and revelatory gifts have ceased. Both cessationists and noncessationists use 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to defend their view. In addition to these texts are the passages concerning the miraculous and revelatory gifts themselves, their nature, purpose and use. These texts will also be examined. Finally, some conclusions shall be made concerning these issues as well as how certain questions influence our doctrine of miraculous gifts.

Passages That Suggest Continuation

Noncessationists argue their case mainly from two3 passages: 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 and Ephesians 4:7-13. The former passage speaks to gifts generally while the latter passage speaks of specific gifts. The exegesis and arguments will be examined and critiqued.

1 Corinthians 1:4-8

This passage is Paul’s thanksgiving and part of Paul’s bridge which he builds to greet the Corinthians. He thanks God and affirms them for their development of spiritual gifts, even though there are problems with this development as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12-14. The passage is as follows:

4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that4 in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this passage Paul accomplishes two things: he gives genuine thanks for the Corinthians themselves and God’s gifting of them, and at the same time he redirects their focus. There are four matters noted in this redirection of focus: (1) its christocentric focus; (2) everything is the result of God’s own gracious activity toward them; (3) Paul’s role in their being so gifted; and (4) the gifts belong to the present, to the time of waiting for Christ’s Parousia.5 It is the last that is our concern here.

Paul is thankful for the grace that God has given the Corinthians. He explains that they are enriched in everything, specifically in every kind of6 speech and knowledge. There are several views on what is meant by λόγῳ and γνώσει,7 but most probably they refer to all gifts and ministry involving speech and knowledge. This would include, but not be limited to the revelatory gifts and tongues.

Paul goes on to argue that these "gifts" are evidence8 that the testimony about Christ which Paul preached to the Corinthians was confirmed by God9 through the impartation of these speech gifts. Thus, God Himself confirmed Paul’s witness to Christ among them by gifting them with Spirit endowments.10 This results11 in a state where the Corinthians lack no spiritual gift (χάρισμα cf. 1 Cor 12-14). To this Paul adds an eschatological note: these gifts are to be realized in the context of "awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ." The syntax of this passage is important. The present participle, ἀπεκδεχομένους, is temporal; contemporaneous with the present infinitive,ὑστερεῖσθαι. The present tenses in both the infinitive and the participle are most likely progressive presents. They denote a process or state of possessing all spiritual gifts and eagerly awaiting. This indicates that the possession of all spiritual gifts continues until this "eager expectation" is fulfilled. The next verse explains what will happen at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Christ Himself will confirm us, blameless, until the end at His coming. It is interesting that Paul uses the same verb here in 1:8 (βεβαιώσει) as he did in 1:6. This may indicate that means of confirmation to the end is the same as the means by which God confirmed the testimony of Christ among them, through spiritual gifts.12 Thus, Paul seems to promise that Christ, through spiritual gifts, will progressively strengthen and confirm believers until His coming.

The problem that arises is how does this apply to the church as a whole? Is Corinth a paradigm for all local churches, that is, are all churches throughout the ages to possess all the spiritual gifts until Christ comes? If this is true, then why do so many churches today and throughout the last several hundred years seem to lack the miraculous and revelatory gifts? If such a lack of gifts is associated to a lack of eager expectation for Christ’s coming,13 then why do churches who are dispensational and cessationist seem to lack such gifts? Does this state only apply to Corinth? Would not the other churches of the apostolic (as well as post-apostolic) period be so enriched? Perhaps the best solution is to see the passage applying to the church in a universal sense, although not always in a local sense. While many of the churches may have been enriched as Corinth was, perhaps not all of them were, nor was it necessary for them to be so. The same may be true throughout history and today. Many churches may thrive without all the gifts while others may thrive with them. Whatever the case may be, cessationists would need to come up with strong biblical arguments to override the implications of this passage.

Ephesians 4:7-13

The second passage put forward as supporting the continuation of miraculous and revelatory gifts is Ephesians 4:7-13. This passage speaks about the grace given each believer according to Christ’s gift upon His exaltation. Specifically Christ gave the church gifted men in order to build the church into maturity. The passage is as follows:

4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

This passage appears in the paraenetic section of Ephesians where Paul is exalting his readers to love and unity. In the midst of the exhortations he teaches that each believer was given "grace according to the measure14 of Christ’s gift." Paul then cites Ps 68:18 along with a parenthetical explanation about the ascension. The complex problems involved with the quote and the parenthesis are not our concern here. Suffice to say, the quotation is used to argue that Christ would give the church spiritual gifts. Paul does not elaborate on the gifting of each believer, instead he speaks about the gifted men which Christ has given to the church. He gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and other teachers.15 All of these gifted men equip the saints for the work of the ministry for the building up of the body until all attain the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to the fullness of Christ.

There are two questions here that concern the issue of the continuation of the gifts. First, what does μέχρι (until) modify? And second, does the μέχρι clause have an eschatological referent? The significance of these questions would be that the apostles and prophets would then continue to the Second Coming of Christ. It is best to answer the second question first. The referent of the μέχρι clause does seem to be eschatological. The standard that is to be reached is essentially perfection. All (οἱ πάντες) the church are to attain the following: first, "the unity of faith." Whether this refers to unity in doctrine, power of faith, or unity in general, it would be difficult to argue that this goal was achieved either in the first century or in subsequent church history. The second goal is "the full knowledge (τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως) of the Son of God." Does the canon of Scripture, the creeds, the teaching of the church through history, spiritual gifts, or any spiritual experience bring the entire church to this kind of knowledge? The third goal is the state of being a complete/mature man (ἄνδρα τέλειον). This could refer to a certain level of maturity attainable in this age (1 Cor 2:6; 14:20; Phil 3:15; Heb 5:14), but more likely it has the same idea as 1 Cor 13:11 ("when I became a man"), and so refers to an eschatological state. The fourth goal is "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." It is obvious that all in the church have not reached the same level of maturity as Christ. Therefore, "the end" is described in terms of ultimate spiritual growth of the believer into the absolute perfection that is found in Christ. The metaphor of a mature person is used to portray the heavenly state of believers (cf. 1 Cor 13:10-12).16

The second issue is the syntax of μέχρι. Deere17 and Storms18 argue that the apostles and prophets will continue until the church reaches its full stature by connecting μέχρι with ἔδωκεν in 4:11. While prepositions usually modify verbs, in this case the verb is a bit remote. It seems better to connect it with εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, a prepositional phrase that has a verbal idea. The previous two prepositional phrases (εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ) are also connected to a prepositional πηρασε πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων)19 or are in a logical sequence with each prepositional phrase modifying the previous clause. Thus, the body is built up until all attain the unity of faith. While the apostles and prophets contribute to the equipping the saints, they do this as the foundation.20 Most of the equipping of the saints is done by the pastors and teachers of the local churches. This text, then, does not really give clear cut evidence for the noncessationist position.21

Conclusion Concerning the Noncessationist Data

Noncessationists could very well suggest many more passages that either support their position or are compatible with it.22 But 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 and Ephesians 4:7-13 seem to be the mainstay of their position. While the latter passage does not give clear cut evidence for the continuation view, it can be interpreted in such a way as to be compatible with it, although not without its difficulties. As far as the former passage is concerned, one would be hard pressed to escape the implications of continuation. But before we reach that conclusion we must turn to the cessationist position.

Passages That Suggest Cessationism

Cessationists often argue on theological, historical, and experiential grounds. But their position is not without some support from the textual data. Three passages will be considered to undergird the cessationists’ case: 2 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 2:20, and Hebrews 2:3-4.

2 Corinthians 12:12

This passage occurs in the midst of Paul’s defense of his apostolic office and ministry. The immediate context shows that Paul is more inclined to boast in his weaknesses than in the great revelations that he received because it is in his weaknesses that the power and grace of God are truly seen. The passage is cited as follows:

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.

This passage is used to prove that miracle-working is the evidence of apostleship. Therefore, it must be restricted to the apostles or it would not prove that Paul was an apostle. If doing miracles had been the common experience of ordinary Christians, it would be foolish for Paul to cite miracles as proof of his apostleship. Because miracles were unique to the apostles, Paul could use his experience with signs and wonders as proof of his authority (cf. Rom 15:18-20; Heb 2:3-4).23

Many have pointed out the problems with this view, however.24 First, the term σημεῖα (signs) is not used in the same sense in the first part of the verse as it is in the second part. The first usage is to signs in a general sense. The second use refers specifically to miracles.25 Second, if Paul wanted to equate the "signs of the apostle" with "signs, wonders, and miracles" he would have put the phrase in the nominative and expressed it as a predicate nominative to σημεῖα. The terms (σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν καὶ δυνάμεσιν), however, are in the dative and are probably datives of accompaniment.26 Third, the "signs of the apostle"27 are probably: (1) the changed lives that resulted from Paul’s preaching (1 Cor 9:1-2; 2 Cor 3:1-3); (2) the transformed Christ-like life of the one who preaches the apostolic message (2 Cor 1:12; 2:17; 3:4-6; 4:2; 5:11; 6:3-13; 7:2; 10:13-18; 11:6; 23-28);28 (3) his sufferings, hardship, and persecution (2 Cor 4:7-15; 5:4-10; 11:21-33; 13:4);29 (4) spiritual power in conflict with evil (2 Cor 10:3-4, 8-11; 13:2-4, 10); (5) jealous care for the welfare of the churches (2 Cor 11:1-6); (6) true knowledge of Jesus and His gospel plans (2 Cor 11:6), (7) self-support (2 Cor 11:7-11); (8) not taking material advantage of churches (11:20, 21); (9)being caught up in heaven (2 Cor 12:1-6); (10) contentment and faith to endure a thorn in the flesh (12:7-9); and (11) gaining strength out of weakness (12:10).30 Note that these apostolic signs were worked31 "with all perseverance." Finally, the implied contrast in view is not with other Christians, but with the false apostles who have been disputing Paul’s authority (2 Cor 11:13-15, 33).32 While the "signs and wonders and miracles" may be part of the "signs of the apostle," in Paul’s view it is not the predominant one. Therefore, this verse cannot be used to prove miracle-working is unique to the apostles or that it is something that distinguishes them from other Christians, although this passage may imply that the apostles may work miracles more consistently than others.

Ephesians 2:20

Ephesians 2:20 figures prominently in this debate. In the context Paul is arguing that Gentiles have been brought near to both God and the Jews. In fact as believers in Christ Jews and Gentiles have been transformed into one new man, one body, are a part of one family, one building, and one holy temple. This building/temple has one foundation and one cornerstone. The cornerstone is Christ and the foundation is the apostles and prophets (an appositional genitive).33 The passage (2:19-22) is as follows:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Besides the use of the genitive, there are several other issues to be resolved: (1) What is the meaning of the construction "apostles and prophets (τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν)? (2) Who are the apostles and the prophets? (3) What is the meaning of the image of the foundation and its close relation to the cornerstone? and (4) What are the implications for cessationism, if any? Grudem argues that the meaning of the article-substantive-καί-substantive (TSKS) construction is that the foundation is "the apostles who are also prophets."34 However, Wallace and White (as well as Gaffin) argue that Grudem has misunderstood the construction in Ephesians 2:20.35 It is better understood as apostles and other prophets. Understanding the passage as "apostles who are also prophets" is the least likely interpretation.36

Issues two and three above are related. Who are the apostles and prophets and in what sense are they the "foundation?" The apostles are at least the Twelve and Paul. The Twelve were chosen by Jesus in order that He might be with them, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to heal and cast out demons (Mark 3:4-5; cf. Matt 10:1). Thus, the Twelve have a special relationship with Jesus. He designates that they are witnesses of His life, ministry, death, and resurrection (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8). When the apostles and others gathered to select a replacement for Judas, the requirements for the candidates were to have accompanied the other apostles from the time of the baptism of John until Jesus’ ascension. The purpose of replacing Judas was in order that one may become a witness of Jesus’ resurrection along with the other apostles (Acts 1:21-26). Paul demonstrates the legitimacy of his apostleship on the basis of his being a witness to the resurrection (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8-9). The same could be said for James (1 Cor 15:7; cf. Gal 1:19), and possibly Barnabas.37 The Hebrew Christians received the message of salvation from those who heard the Lord, which refers at least to the apostles (Heb 2:3-4). This message was confirmed by God through miraculous works and gifts. Peter emphasizes his eyewitness testimony in his preaching of Christ (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:20; 10:39; 2 Pet 1:16). The apostles as the witnesses of Christ seems to be one aspect of their role as the foundation and why there is a close connection between them as the foundation and Christ as the cornerstone. The prophets,38 who are closely connected to the apostles and to Christ the Cornerstone, would also need to have this aspect of being witnesses.

The second aspect of the apostles and prophets is that they mediate God’s revelation. Ephesians 3:5 specifies one aspect of this revelation is the mystery of Christ, referring to Jew-Gentile equality and union in the church. Early in the church the believers were dependent on the "apostles’ teaching" (Acts 2:42). Both Peter and Jude emphasize the commands and teachings spoken in the past by the apostles (τῶν ῥημάτων τῶν προειρημένων, Jude 17; cf. 2 Pet 3:2). Also the apostles are responsible for the majority of the NT.39 Finally, in Revelation 21:14, the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed on the foundation stones of the wall of the New Jerusalem, suggesting at least that the apostles have a unique role in the church, as well as in history.

Grudem argues that the revelation of Gentile inclusion and equality in the church was only revealed to the apostles. But in one of his references, Luke 24:46-47, the audience is wider than the apostles. It includes the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:35) and others who were with the apostles (Luke 24:33). It could also be argued that this wider audience was present at the ascension since there is no obvious change of referent from Luke 24:33 to 24:53. This then would argue for a wider audience in Acts 1:8. It is also possible that Matthew 28:19 has a wider audience (cf. 1 Cor 15:6). Therefore, the revelation of Gentile inclusion was not restricted to the apostles.40

The other argument relevant to this issue concerns the absence of authoritative revelation from the prophets. This is mainly an argument from silence. We only have two examples of what prophets actually said and both of them seem to have been somewhat authoritative for the church. In Acts 11:28-30 Agabus predicts a widespread famine. While this is a prediction of an event, not a revelation of a doctrine, it provided a clear motivation to start a relief fund for the churches in Judea. It seems the prophecy clarified the responsibility of the church at Antioch to the churches in Judea. In the second incident in Acts 21:10-14, Agabus predicts Paul’s imprisonment, and it seems to have clear authority for the Apostle Paul. It is clear that the church recognized that this was the Lord’s will. Outside of these incidents there is little information concerning congregational prophets. Acts is concerned with the apostles not the prophets, so an argument from silence has little force. Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 14 has little to say about the content of the prophecies, only that they must be judged. This seems to refer to distinguishing what is truly from God from that which is presumptuous or demonic. It is possible that prophets may have embellished some genuine revelation (either in the form of interpretation or application), and these elements need to be discerned, but this does not negate the authority and application of the revelation. Also there seems to be prophets who clearly had authoritative revelation. At least five (possibly six if James is not to be considered an apostle) books of the New Testament were written by people who were not known to be apostles. Mark may have received his information from Peter for his Gospel, but the arrangements and redaction of the teachings were his. Luke may have received information from Paul and the other apostles, but again the narrative and arrangement were his. The author of Hebrews is unknown, but was probably not an apostle. Jude is not stated to be an apostle. Therefore, the New Testament evidence41 is against Grudem’s conclusion that there were no non-apostolic, authoritative, foundational prophets.

Does this mean that all prophets are foundational? This is neither necessary nor likely. The prophets at Corinth and Thessalonica, as well as other local churches founded on Paul’s missionary journeys were second generation Christians and not witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Grudem may also be correct in that these prophets did not receive the kind of authoritative revelation that the apostles and foundational prophets did.42 The reference to the broader category of prophets may be in view in 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 4:11. In both instances the construction for the apostles and prophets is different from that in Ephesians 2:20; 3:5. If Paul had wished to maintain the idea of foundational prophets he would have used the Granville Sharp construction as he did in the two previous references and he does use this construction in Ephesians 4:11 for the pastors and teachers (τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους) to link them closely. Therefore, all prophets are not necessarily foundational prophets.43

To sum up: Christ is the cornerstone, which means that the building will fall without Him. In fact, the building would not even exist without Him. The foundation, then, would refer to apostles and prophets as eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ and their role of mediating revelation to the rest of the church concerning their relationship to Christ. They provide a stable foundation for the building. All other believers are related to Christ because of the apostles and prophets. It may also suggest that until their work is complete, the church is limited in growing. The aspect of being witnesses of Christ combined with the metaphor of a foundation suggests that the apostles and foundational prophets have a temporal limitation and, therefore, the apostles and prophets have passed away from the scene.44 Deere disputes this conclusion. He argues that just because they are foundational does not mean that their ministries are temporary. His analogy with the founding director of a company reinforces this understanding.45 However, Deere is arguing from the standpoint of a subjective genitive. The foundation is not simply their ministry or function; it is the people themselves. The succeeding directors or presidents of a company may perform several of the functions associated with the founder, but they are not the founder. The same is true with the apostles and prophets. If the foundation is complete then the apostolic line has ceased.46

Hebrews 2:1-4

This passage is the first of the warning passages in Hebrews. In light of Jesus’ superiority to angels the author parallels and contrasts the punishment for a rejection of a law that was confirmed by angels, against a stronger certainty of judgment for neglecting God’s great salvation which was confirmed by three witnesses: "the Lord," "the ones who heard" Him, and by God Himself via the charismata bestowed on the churches47 (cf. 6:4-5 "tasted the heavenly gift," "partakers of the Holy Spirit," "tastedthe powers of the age to come"). The passage is as follows:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

The point that cessationists try to make with this passage is that the word of salvation taught by the Lord was confirmed in the past by those who heard, referring mostly to the apostles. It is argued that the aorist tense of ἐβεβαιώθη indicates a past completed act48 or a "once for all" act.49 They also argue that the sign gifts were given strictly for the confirmation of the gospel to unbelievers. 50

While it is correct that Heb 2:1-4 talks about the validation of the apostles message, it does not necessarily restrict the signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts to the apostles. The use of the aorist tense cannot be used to argue that this "confirmation" is restricted absolutely to the past. First, the aorist is probably constative, which views the action as a whole. It does not focus on the beginning or the end of the action. It merely states that the action happened without any comment on its completion.51 Second, even if the aorist of ἐβεβαιώθη did have the nuance of a completed past act, its reference is "to us" (εἰς ὑμᾶς). So it is past only to the Hebrew readers. Finally, if you press the cessationist perspective to its logical conclusion then the aorist tense of ἐβεβαιώθη implies that either the apostles have died off by this time, or that they have stopped preaching the gospel. While most of the apostles may have died off by the time Hebrews was written, John was still alive and still preaching the gospel. Therefore both conclusions are invalid and cessationism has lost its argument.

The point of the passage is an incidental concern to cessationism here. The mention of miracles and spiritual gifts as past events may only indicate the author’s need to strengthen his parallel with the (lesser) angelic initial confirmation of the Law and that of the gospel. Certainly the charismatic (i.e., prophetic and miraculous) confirmation of the Law was not restricted to within a generation of its appearance (cf. Isa 59:21; Jer 32:20) any more than spiritual gifts were restricted to the first generation of Christians. To say that God bore witness to the gospel with miracles in the past is not to say that He could not continue to do so.52

Moreover, the present participle (συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος) may actually indicate an action continuing into the future from the time of the aorist main verb, hence the meaning, "[the salvation] was affirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also continuing to confirm with miracles."53 This passage warrants further study with respect to cessationism, since it can be shown to parallel such passages as 1 Cor 1:4-8 insofar as they deal with testimony of Christ, his hearers, and the continuing confirmation of each member in the church communities via the spiritual gifts until the end of the age.54

The preaching of the gospel to the Hebrew Christians by the apostles is past tense. But the preaching of the apostles (and thus the confirmation by miraculous gifts) was still going on. Hebrews 6:4-5 indicate that these miraculous gifts were still being manifested in the church long after the apostolic preaching.55

Conclusion on Cessationist Texts

Of the three representative texts used for cessationism only one has any merit. Ephesians 2:20 seems to imply that the apostles and foundational prophets would pass away. The foundation metaphor can have this implication. One has to be careful, though, in concluding that this is Paul’s view. His eschatological outlook and eager expectation for the imminent return of Christ may have prevented him from really entertaining this view. He knew Christ could tarry if He so chose, but did not seem to think it would be long. Therefore, if Christ tarried, the apostles and foundational prophets would pass away by default. But this does not necessarily mean the miraculous gifts would pass away with them. As will be argued below, these gifts have a role in edifying the church.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13: A Special Case

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 is a text which both cessationists and noncessationists insist supports their view. The context of this passage is in a section where Paul is discussing the ministry of spiritual gifts in the church, especially the use of tongues and prophecy in the public assembly. In the midst of this discussion, he insists that the gifts must be used in love for one another. Love is the priority because it is permanent (13:13), while the gifts (specifically, knowledge, prophecy, and tongues) would eventually pass away. This is an explicit affirmation of cessationism, but the question is, When? Much of the problem revolves on the referent of "the perfect" (τὸ τέλειον). The passage is as follows:

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

While there are several views56 on the referent for τὸ τέλειον, the two most prominent for this issue is the completion of the canon and the return of Christ/ the eschaton.57 Cessationists alone hold to the former, while both cessationists and noncessationists hold to the latter.

The canon view was very popular among noncharismatics until the mid-1960’s. The basic argument for this view is a logical inference that those who have the Scriptures do not know partially or prophesy partially. This is tied to Ephesians 2:20 as part of the foundation laying of the church. With this revelation, the three gifts discussed here would then no longer be needed. Appeal is also made to James 1:23-25 on the basis of lexical imagery.

The same imagery of "mirror," "face," and "perfect" occur in both passages. In James the written Word of God, the Scriptures, are compared to a "mirror" wherein one may behold his "face." Moreover, the Scriptures are referred to as the "perfect law of liberty." It is suggested that the imagery is used in the same way. The point, then, that Paul was making to the Corinthians is that because only a part of the NT had been given, they saw "dimly." However when the "perfect" (i.e., the completed Scriptures) comes they would see their reflection clearly, "face to face."58

While the imagery is interesting, the view and the comparison fails on several counts: (a) James was written before 1 Corinthians and the perfect law is most likely referring to the OT Scriptures. If the law (Scriptures) is perfect in James why is it partial and still to come in 1 Corinthians. This view is also too specific and anachronistic in referring to Paul and the Corinthians having an understanding that there would be a canon. At least it is unrealistic to see Paul as knowing whether or not the Scriptures were complete. It also implies that Scriptures are only sufficient at a certain point in time, i.e., at completion. This contradicts both the view of James 1; Psalm 19; and 2 Tim 3:16. (b) In James 1 the individual is looking at his face in the mirror and then looks at the Scriptures. The perfect law is contrasted to the mirror, not identified with it. In 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 the individual is looking at God in the mirror, therefore, he only sees Him dimly. It may be that the Scriptures can be identified with the mirror in 1 Corinthians 13, but not with the "perfect." The contrast is between the mirror and the "perfect." When the "perfect" comes we shall see God "face to face." Despite the fact that we have a sufficient revelation in the Scriptures, we do not know fully, as the myriad of interpretations of this passage demonstrate, certainly not as we are fully known by God.59

Houghton argues from the standpoint of why prophecy, knowledge, and tongues are singled out in this passage. His conclusion is that they are revelational gifts, and this is what is not shared with the rest of the gifts.60 He then argues that since the "perfect" is contrasted with the "partial" (ἐκ μέρους) and the "partial" is revelational, then the "perfect" is also revelational, in other words, the completed canon.61

In reference to ἐκ μέρους, admittedly revelation is in mind,62 but is that all that is in mind? It seems that in context, Paul chose these gifts as representative because they were the ones that were not being used in love (cf. 1 Cor 8:1-13; 14:1-40), and that they were the favorites of the Corinthians. The point would be that the gifts only have partial results, "the perfect" will complete in us that which is partial (the point of vv. 10-12). This would be the Second Coming.

But for the sake of argument, let us suppose Paul’s point is revelation. It is partial now, but its completion is coming. Does that necessarily mean the closing of the canon? Note two considerations here. First, revelation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Revelation mediates our relationship with God in the sense that it shows us who God is and how we can know Him. Paul’s point with prophecy and knowledge is that revelation is an indirect means of knowing God. While some in Scripture seemed to have seen God "face to face" (directly), mostly it was occasional, or with Moses, limited (Exod 32-33, the "back of God"). Second, there is a distinction between the sufficiency of Scripture and complete revelation. The completed canon is sufficient revelation; it is not complete in the sense that it reveals everything there is to know about God and Christ. The Scripture is sufficient to show us how to have a relationship with God and grow in it on earth (2 Tim 3:16-17; interesting that it was sufficient before the completed canon). But God will reveal much more about Himself when we are transformed into His likeness and for life in His glorified presence. It is quite interesting that the term ἀποκάλυψις (revelation) is used for the Second Coming on several occasions (Rom 8:19; 1 Cor 1:7 [note in a context concerning gifts]; 2 Thess 1:7; 1 Pet 1:7, 13; 4:13 and possibly Rom 2:5 and Rev 1:1 [since the major concern is Christ’s return]). In the Second Coming Christ will reveal Himself in all His glory and our relationship will be consummated (completed?). In that event, we will see the Lord in all His glory.

The canon view also ignores a transition to the eschaton in verse 13, as well as lacking a consideration of Pauline hope as expressed in 1 Corinthians 15.63 It is very likely that this view was so popular among noncharismatics because, if it were true, it would necessarily mean that tongues and prophecy had ceased as well as other "miraculous" gifts. This interpretation would be a nice expedient for arguing for that viewpoint.

With reference to the Second Coming,64 noncessationists insist that this view supports continuation,65 while cessationists argue that this passage really does not argue either way, that it remains an open question.66 While there are several questions67 to be dealt with, the main question seems to be: Does ἐκ μέρους and τὸ τέλειον refer to states of knowledge or qualities of methods by which knowledge is acquired? The purpose here is not so much to defend one view over the other as much as to answer whether these two views are mutually exclusive. Both Gaffin68 and Grudem69 appear to see some overlap in these views. This may be because the states of knowledge must have a means to produce them, and the means of obtaining knowledge must have a product. Gaffin and White are probably correct in that the emphasis is on states of knowledge and what the gifts produce rather than on the gifts being ἐκ μέρους in and of themselves.70 Having said this, though, it may also be implied that the gifts will continue to produce this "imperfect" knowledge until the "perfect" comes. It seems more than coincidental that what is approached from a positive perspective in 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 (being confirmed by the gifts and possessing them until Christ’s coming) is now being approached from a negative perspective (the cessation of the gifts and what they produce at Christ’s coming) in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. Thus, the terminus ad quem of these gifts would be the return of Christ. It is possible that they may cease before that time, but it cannot be demonstrated from this passage. And it is likely Paul deliberately paralleled this passage to 1:4-8 to reinforce the idea of the continuation of the gifts until Christ’s coming.

The Issue of Miraculous Gifts

In Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4:11 Paul mentions several spiritual gifts. While there is debate on how to define spiritual gifts and whether or not these lists exhaust the possibilities, these questions are not the subject of this discussion. The main point is that these particular functions are manifested in the church. This issue will be discussed under three areas: (1) Healing and miracles, (2) tongues, (3) prophesy and other revelatory gifts.

Healing and Miracles

First Corinthians 12:9-10, 28-30 are the only places that Paul addresses the gifts of healing and miracles. Unfortunately, he only lists them and does not describe them. However, the Gospels and Acts describe the manner in which Jesus and the apostles healed. They seemed to be able consistently71 to heal all types of diseases and anyone who came to them. They could also cast out demons with a word and raise the dead. MacArthur argues that the gift of miracles is the ability to cast out demons.72 He may very well be right. But it may be broadened a bit to include other manifestations of power, since Paul seemed to have the power to call down blindness on Elymas (Acts 13:9-11).

However, one must be careful in applying the conclusion that the descriptions in Acts and the Gospels necessarily define these gifts in 1 Corinthians. For one reason, there seems to be the restriction that the apostles could not heal themselves. Paul came to the Galatians with an illness that appears was not healed (Gal 4:13-14). He also had a "thorn in the flesh," which in all likelihood was a physical difficulty, which he specifically states was not taken away (2 Cor 12:7-10). Paul, for some reason, did not heal on other occasions (Phil 2:25-20; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:20).73

Second, there is the problem in that both healing and miracles are cited in the plural both in the head noun and the genitive (χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων, ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων).74 Surprisingly, Carson, Fee, and Mayhue all argue for the same nuance for the plural, that the manifestation of healing or miracle was temporary and had to be renewed by God.75 Carson also suggests that there were different gifts of healing. In other words, not everyone was being healed by the same person and that certain people could heal certain diseases, or heal a variety of diseases but at different times. He concludes this discussion by stating that because some one heals a particular disease at one time, he should not presume that this is a permanent gift.76

These suggestions seem likely for several reasons. First, this list in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 is unique in that all the gifts are miraculous or revelatory. Second, this particular list is introduced as manifestations (φανέρωσις) of the Spirit for the common good (πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον<ΣΥΠ><Α ηρεφ=ς῍Π164_69404ς>77<ͅΑ><ͅΣΥΠ>). This may indicate that these are gifts that are manifested on an occasional basis. To be sure some may have manifested some of these gifts on a regular basis, such as tongues and prophecy (1 Cor 14). But even these gifts were occasional for some (Acts 10:46; 19:6).78 Third, the occasional nature of the gift of healing among the local churches may be the explanation for why Peter was asked to raise Dorcas when he was in the area. Apparently, no one had manifested the gift of healing consistently enough, if at all, to be relied upon to raise up Dorcas. This same explanation may be why James commands that the elders be called and pray for the sick and anoint them with oil (James 5:5:13-20).79 Finally, at least one person in the NT seems to have manifested the gift only on one occasion. Ananias is simply called a "disciple" (τις μαθητὴς) in Acts 9:10-19, but he is given the ability to heal Paul of his blindness on this occasion. Then Ananias disappears from the scene. Therefore, it appears that the gift of healing is subject to the sovereignty of God (as are all the gifts) and was/is exercised only occasionally in the local church.

If any or all these suggestions are correct then it would preclude the view that the apostolic manifestations of healing are the only definition of the gift. However, this is where discussion gets confusing. While admitting that in the Corinthian church the "gift of healing" is a temporary or one time phenomena for a person, Mayhue then argues that the gift is associated only with the apostles and close associates which is, as has been argued above, a different manifestation of the gift. Also, the reason that the "gift of healing" is evidenced only among the apostles and close associates in Acts is that the concern of Acts is the apostles and the spread of the gospel to Rome. Luke had no intention of recounting the work of the individual churches if it did not involve an apostle. It seems reasonable that Paul mentions the "gifts of healings and miracles" because they were currently manifested in the Corinthian body while he was absent. Thus, there seems to be different degrees (quantitatively) and manifestations of the "gifts of healings and miracles," an apostolic manifestation and a quantitatively lesser manifestation among those in the local church.

As far as purpose is concerned, it has been argued that the "gifts of healings and miracles" are to authenticate the apostles and their message80 (Rom 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12; cf. Heb 2:4). While this is true, Paul ascribes another purpose to these gifts, that of edifying the church (1 Cor 12:7; cf. 14:1ff). The signifying purpose seems to be precluded if an apostle is not present and not doing the miracle. This purpose of these gifts benefiting the whole church seems to be involved in even the apostolic manifestations (Acts 9:32-43). Thus, the "gifts of healings and miracles" seem to have both apostolic and lesser non-apostolic manifestations, and in the local church, they are used for the common good and edification of the church, while it also had a signifying function for the apostles.81

Tongues

While there is some discussion about the nature of tongues, it does seem that from the descriptions in Acts and from the comparison in 1 Corinthians 13:1; 14:6-12 that it refers to human languages previously unknown to the speaker, and often, the audience.82 Of greater concern is the purpose of tongues. First Corinthians 14 mentions two purposes for tongues: it is for edification of the local church and for a sign. The emphasis is on the purpose of edification. For tongues to edify the church, it must be interpreted. The purpose of tongues as a sign is limited in this context. The sign seems to be negative, not only for those who hear and respond to tongues, but also for the Corinthians. First Corinthians 14:21-25 teach that tongues are a sign for the unbeliever, and Paul validates this by a citation from Isa 28:11. Whether this citation is meant to apply specifically to Jewish unbelievers or any unbeliever is probably not Paul’s main point.83 His point is that if tongues are not interpreted and the unbeliever does not understand, then he will think you are mad. Some observers in Acts 2:13 came to the same conclusion about the apostles, probably because they did not understand what was being said. The force of this passage is not that tongues, per se, are a negative sign to unbelievers, but that uninterpreted tongues are the sign.84 This discussion of tongues as a sign, then, has the force of rebuke. Tongues are to be interpreted so that if an unbeliever is present, he will understand the message and worship God. This is, in part, the reason for the comparison with prophecy.

One other question remains. Does Paul teach that tongues should be used as a private prayer language? Fee asserts that Paul held tongues as a gift for private prayer in high regard (1 Cor 14:2, 4, 5, 15, 17-18).85 However, this may be disputed. While the one who speaks in tongues speaks to God, this would be true in the public assembly also. In Acts 2:11 the apostles spoke about "the wonderful works of God" in tongues (cf. Acts 10:46). Thus, tongues is used to praise God. It is not disputed that tongues is devotional and used for prayer; the issue is private prayer. The individual also speaks "mysteries" in tongues. This probably does not refer to revelation since he is speaking to God, but that what he is saying is unknown to him.86 Verses 4-5 both speak to the use of tongues in the local assembly, not only because of the overall context of 1 Corinthians 11-14 but also because it is compared to prophecy in both verses, which only has application in the church. The reference to interpretation and the church at the end of verse 5 reinforces this understanding. First Corinthians 14:13-19 also has the public in mind. One who speaks in a tongue should pray for the ability to interpret,87 so all may be edified. Paul notes that when praying in a tongue, his mind is not benefited. Therefore, he will pray intelligibly so that all may be edified. While verse 15 has the public assembly in view it seems that Paul would also want his mind to be benefited in his private devotions as well.

The two passages that may argue for private prayer are 14:18-19 and 28. The former passage states that Paul speaks in tongues more than the Corinthians but that he restricts his usage in the church. This suggests that he speaks in tongues outside the church, in other words, in private devotions. But this is not the only conclusion. All the examples of tongues in Acts are outside the local assembly but in public settings. All explicit examples of tongues in the Scriptures are in public settings. Thus, the burden of proof is on those who argue for the private manifestation. Finally, in 14:28 the one who speaks in tongues is told to remain silent if there is no interpreter, and instead, speak to himself and God. Whatever is implied by this, it does not seem to speak to a private use, for the person is in the local assembly and the silence seems to indicate that it is non-vocal, or at least quiet enough not to be heard. The person prays to or praises God but tongues is not manifested. All of this leads to the conclusion that Paul did not teach about a private use. He is somewhat ambivalent about tongues to begin with. He may have allowed it, but it seems doubtful that he practiced it himself, thus he cannot be used as a positive example of this application.

In conclusion, tongues seems to be the ability to speak in a human language unknown to the speaker. The purpose of tongues in the local assembly is for edifying the church. However, uninterpreted tongues can serve as a negative sign to the unbeliever, most probably of judgment on his unbelief. Finally, one cannot demonstrate from 1 Corinthians that Paul taught or even advocated a devotional use of tongues.

Prophecy and Other Revelatory Gifts

When it comes to the revelatory gifts other than prophecy, we are on somewhat shakier ground because Paul does not define them for us (as with the gifts of healings and miracles). Therefore, we should be somewhat tentative in our conclusions.88

The issue that needs to be discussed is the tendency to equate revelation with the canon.89 However, the latter seems to be a subset of the former. There appears to be several kinds of special revelation. First, there is revelation with doctrinal content. This kind of revelation focus on teaching about God, Christ, man, sin, salvation, and the last days, just to mention a few. The revelation concerning Gentile inclusion and equality in the church in Ephesians 2:11-3:13 would be a canonical example of this. There is also noncanonical revelation in which the content is doctrine (i.e., doctrine that is alluded to but not explicitly revealed). Examples of this include the identity of the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7,90 Paul’s revelations while in the third heaven (2 Cor 12:1-10), and the revelations of the seven thunders (Rev 10:3-4), and perhaps, the agrapha of Jesus (cf. John 21:25). Second, there is revelation with moral content.91 This category refers to universal, moral commands and obligations. The Decalogue and other moral commands of the Bible fall into this category. Third, there is revelation with applicatory content. This refers to advice that is wise and helpful, but does not necessarily include moral obligation. Examples of this is 1 Corinthians 7:25-38 and 1 Timothy 5:23. This category may include revelation that is authoritative over individuals, select groups, or select local churches. The calling of Barnabas and Saul to be sent out by the church of Antioch would be such a revelation (Acts 13:2-3). Fourth, there is revelation with circumstantial content. This would involve information that is circumstantial in nature, including future events, but does not necessarily carry any inherent authority as would doctrinal or moral revelation. Agabus’ prophecy concerning Paul’s imprisonment falls into this category. Luke records it because of his narrative and theological purposes, but the prophecy in and of itself relates only to Paul’s experience.92

The last two categories are not restricted to the canon of Scripture nor do they threaten the canon in any way.93 This would refer to revelations given to individuals or local churches that relate to their experience. This is probably the category which most of the revelations given to Corinthian prophets, and other congregational prophets, fall in. This may be a better way to express the prophet’s revelation than Grudem’s "human words to report something God brings to mind." While prophets could misinterpret or misapply their prophecies (cf. Acts 21:4), they would not err if they simply proclaimed the revelation given to them.94 Even some of Grudem’s conclusions imply this.95 Thus, these prophecies would be God’s words and authoritative to those who were addressed, but not necessarily authoritative for the universal church.

Conclusion

What, then, are we to conclude. First Corinthians 1:4-8 and 13:8-13 seem to suggest that the all gifts are to continue until the Second Coming of Christ. Ephesians 2:20 suggests that the apostles and prophets have ceased. The silence of the New Testament on the calling of succeeding apostles also suggests this. While there may be others in the church with the gift of prophecy, they may not be prophets in the same sense as in Ephesians 2:20; 3:5.

With regard to the other miraculous gifts, we can conclude that the apostolic manifestations passed away with the apostles. However, we noted above that there were nonapostolic manifestations of these gifts and our conclusions about them should be more reserved. The former primarily signify while the latter primarily edify. The manifestations of miracles and healings were probably rare in the local church to begin with, so the paucity of evidence in history should not surprise us.96 As far as the revelatory gifts are concerned it appears that revelations which are doctrinal or universally moral and associated with the canon have ceased. However, noncanonical revelation involving applicatory or circumstantial content that relates to individual or local church experience may still be possible. This poses no threat to the canon, nor does it necessarily draw attention away from God’s word. God can reveal Himself as He chooses. Revelations from God should neither be demanded nor refused, although they should undergo validation.

Two concluding questions arise from this discussion. First, does our bibliology determine our pneumatology? When we, for all practical purposes, define revelation as canon, we a priori limit our view about the Holy Spirit and the distribution of His gifts. We are forced to the view that revelation has ceased and that God no longer speaks in a direct way to His people. As argued above, this equation was found to be begging the question. If revelation is not equated to the canon, then there is really no reason why certain kinds of revelation cannot continue. Circumstantial and applicatory revelation pose no threat to the canon. It also makes sense that God would want to, although not necessarily have to, continue to speak to His people in a relational way and guide them in the circumstantial details of their lives directly. Apparently, such revelation was going on in both the OT and NT eras without any contribution to the canon at all.

Second does sociology determine our pneumatology? Why is it that some churches and institutions have specific statements concerning the cessation of miraculous and revelatory gifts but none concerning apostasy and perseverance of the saints? Why are faculty and pastoral staff required to hold to the former but free to discuss the latter, especially when there is more biblical material on the latter? It seems that there is an emotional commitment to certain doctrines that make up for the lack of biblical clarity. Many people are so emotionally committed to "pet doctrines" that it hinders their ability to really deal objectively with the evidence. Certain questions and arguments are immediately dismissed or simply analyzed for flaws without trying to evaluate their positive points. We need to take a close look at ourselves to see how much of our argument stems from a desire for the truth and how much stems from our emotional commitments.97

Probably the most sober conclusion is that the miraculous and revelatory gifts are not normative, and apart from the apostles and prophets probably never were. They may occur from time to time in various churches. They may never occur in some churches. They may never occur over periods of time. It is hard to say since we do not have a computer log of all the experiences of all the churches in all of history. Hopefully, we will be people, who upon hearing or seeing such experiences will be quicker to praise God than we are to critique the experience.98


1 Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 54. One could ask similar questions about amillennialism, pretribulation rapture, completion of the canon, etc.

2 Ibid., 99.

3 There are actually four, the other two being Mark 16:17-20 and 1 Cor 13:8-13. The latter passage will be discussed below since both cessationists and noncessationists use it to argue their case. The former is most likely a second century addition that may indicate the belief in some early Christian churches that glossalalia and other miraculous phenomena ought to characterize the missionary movement of the church. See Christopher Forbes, Prophecy and Inspired Speech in Early Christianity and its Hellenistic Environment, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, ed. Martin Hengel and Otfried Hofius, 2. Reiehe 75 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1995), 77.

4 Or "for." Many commentators see a causal o{ti here. See C. K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, HNTC (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 36; Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians, Kregel Classic Commentary Series (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1889; reprint, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1985), 51.

5 Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 85-86.

6 BAGD, "πάς," 631, 1ab;; "including everything belonging , in kind, to the class designated by the noun every kind of, all sorts of.

7 Lightfoot lists several views: (1) Λόγος is the lower, γνῶσις is the higher knowledge, a distinction that is without foundation. (2) Λόγος refers to the gift of tongues, γνῶσις to that of prophecy. But the restriction to ‘special gifts’ seems not to be warranted by the context(3) Λόγος is the teaching of the Gospel as offered to the Corinthians, γνῶσις their hearty acceptance of the same. But against this view it may be urged that the ωορδσ τῇ χάριτι τῇ δοθείσῃ, ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν παντὶ κ.τ.λ., as well as the parallelism ofλόγος with γνῶσις, point to some personal inward gift, as the meaning of λόγος. (4) Λόγος is the outward expression, γνῶσις, the inward conviction; as the E. V. ‘all utterance and all knowledge.’ Lightfoot prefers the last of these views; J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St Paul, Thornapple Commentaries (London: Macmillan and Company, 1895; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 147. But this last view also seems to ignore the point of the context of 1 Corinthians. Zuntz suggests that one refers to "rational" the other to "ecstatic" gifts, which also ignores the actual data of 1 Corinthians; Gunther Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles (London: British Academy, 1953), 101. Grayston suggests that λόγος refers to those who were insisting on following the remembered words of Jesus in a legalistic sense, while γνῶσις refers to those who had "an awareness of the cosmic relationships between God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Christian" so that they were, through Christ absolved from "the conventional rules;" K. Grayston, "Not With a Rod," ExpT 88 (1976): 13-16. This view also ignores the context of 1 Corinthians. Fee is closer to the truth. He argues that both terms occur in polemical contexts in 1 Corinthians (1:17; 2:1-5; 4:17-20; 8:1-10:31) and are therefore primarily Corinthian terms, which Paul plays back to them in positive and negative ways. He argues that λόγος refers to "every kind of utterance" including "Spirit utterances," especially the various speech gifts noted in chapters 12-14 (knowledge, wisdom, prophecy, tongues, etc.)—even though the Corinthians’ interest in "speech" is singular. But in 1 Cor 1-4 , the term is used pejoratively to refer to what is merely human in contrast to the λόγος of the cross (1:17-18; 2:1-4). In the same way, γνῶσις is a χάρισμα in 1 Cor 12-14 and is probably related to prophetic revelation (12:8; 13:2; 14:6). Yet in 8:1-13 it serves as their basis for Christian conduct, and thus provokes severe criticism from Paul; Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 87-88.

8 Καθώς is probably comparative here.

9 =εβεβαιώθη- 3p S Aor Pass Ind; constative Aor; divine passive.

10 Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 86. This conclusion seems to be affirmed by Gal 3:5. The rhetorical question would lose its force if it was Paul who was doing the miracles. Paul’s point in Gal 3:1-5 is that the Galatians received the Spirit by faith and that it was the Spirit within them, not the apostle, that worked miracles among them and not the Law.

11 ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι is a result clause modifying ἐβεβαιώθη.

12 Ruthven’s comments are helpful here:

    It is important to establish that the spiritual gifts are in fact promised to continue in v. 8, so how can one say, ‘via the charismata’ here? First we must consider the immediate context: Paul has just made the point that the charismata exist now, during the ‘awaiting’ time. The present ‘enriching’ in and through spiritual gifts is contrasted with the ultimate revelation of Christ: two ages, now and then. Verse 8 shares this pattern. Secondly, the term ‘confirm’ (ἐβεβαιώθη) is expressed in v. 6 ‘just as’, ‘exactly as’ (καθώς) the charismata of speech and knowledge in v. 5. To change here in v. 8 the fully charismatic means by which (βεβαιόω) confirms or strengthens to some other means of confirming would amount to equivocation. Fee notes the force of καὶ, ‘Who will also confirm you’ as a reference back to the first confirmation by God (v:6) via spiritual gifts. Thirdly, this equivocation would be destructive of Paul’s arguments that the gifts are graces from Christ (not personal achievements), and are limited to the ‘awaiting’ period, in contrast with the ultimate revelation of Christ. Fourthly, the ‘who’ (o{") is the fourth emphasis in this short passage on Christ’s involvement in the charismata: the ‘grace’ was given in Christ Jesus (v. 4); the Corinthians were ‘enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge’ (v. 5); the ‘testimony of Christ’ occurred charismatically, that is, from Christ (v. 6). Paul is also emphasizing the Christocentric orientation of the charismata in v. 8. Fifthly, the ‘confirming’ works toward a moral and eschatological end as do the charismata, for example, prophecy, for ‘strengthening, encouragement, and comfort’ (1 Cor 14:3). Finally, the term βεβαιόω appears significantly in similar contexts about spiritual gifts confirming or witnessing, using the legal metaphor implicit in the word (Mk 16:20; cf. Heb. 2:3; Acts 1:8). Heb. 2:3 uses βεβαιόω in parallel with συνεπιμαρτυρέω by which God, like Christ, ‘bears witness with them with signs, wonders, various miracles and gifts’. Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles, JPTS, ed. John Christopher Thomas, Rick D. Moore, and Steven J. Land, vol. 3 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 129-30.

13 Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 89, fn. 26 seems to suggest such a connection.

14 κατὰ τὸ μέτρον can be interpreted two ways. First it may mean "within the limits of the distribution pattern with which Christ measures out" the gifts, which implies that the recipients should neither belittle one’s gifts or over-exalt certain gifts. Second, the phrase might mean "equal to" or "to the extent of" the quality and/or abundance of Christ’s giftedness. One does not mutually exclude the other, so there might be a blend of the two here. See Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 153-55.

15 The Granville Sharp plural construction is best interpreted as the first group being a subsection of the second group; Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 284.

16 It is possible that the maturity described in 4:13 is not fully eschatological, since it is lived out in 4:14-16 in contemporary expression. The ἵνα connects a present world situation to be overcome ("every wind of [false] doctrine"), with the maturity of 4:13, while 4:15-16 is an exhortation to lovingly serve and speak to one another in such a way that will build up the church. But even here the goals are expressed as above: " As a result, we are no longer to be children (expressed in a subjunctive, ωμεν, affirming that they are now children, not mature). Further, the goal for the church, "we are to grow up in all aspects into Him," is expressed in another subjunctive, αὐξήσωμεν, requiring the understanding that they, and even Paul, have not yet attained that goal. Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 157-58.

17 Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, 248.

18 C. Samuel Storms, "A Third Wave View," in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? ed. Wayne A. Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 205-06.

19 There is no small discussion about the syntax of these phrases and its significance for exegesis and application. One view connects all four prepositional phrases to ἔδωκεν. Lincoln defends this view partially on the basis of the author’s (Lincoln holds to non-Pauline authorship) characteristic of piling up prepositions and tying them back to the same verb (1:3, 5-6, 20-21; 2:7; 4:13, 14); Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, WBC, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 42 (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), 253-54. However, none of the examples cited have the verbal ideas in each phrase as we have in the case of 4:12-13.

Barth defends the εἰς clauses modifying theπρός clause for the following reasons. (1) the grace given the saints in 4:7 is the same grace as the ministerial grace given to Paul in 3:2, 7. This grace does not terminate and die in the recipient, but makes him an active servant. (2) In 4:7 "each" (ἑκάστω) one of the saints is given grace, not just those who are listed in 4:11 In 4:13, 16 all the saints are seen as contributing to the growth and building up of the body. (3) First Corinthians 12 describes the unity of the body the same ways as are described in Eph 4:11-16. (4) There is only one calling or vocation valid in the church: the call of God into His kingdom. Special officers do not form a class or rank in the church. Markus Barth, Ephesians 4-6, AB, ed. W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman, vol. 34A (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1974), 478-481. Barth’s main concern about the coordinating the prepositional phrases is that this interpretation leads to an aristocratic flavor and distinguishes the mass of the saints from the officers or "gifted" men of the church. While this interpretation does not necessarily lead to this conclusion, it does leave some questions unanswered. If the "gifted" men equip the saints, for what do they equip them if not for the work of the ministry? Secondly what is the purpose of the work of the ministry if not the building up of the body? Finally, how long does the building of the body go on if not until the attaining of the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, the mature man, and the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ? It seems that Paul is building a logical sequence with the prepositional phrases. He builds the same kind of logical sequence in Eph 3:14-19, although with ἵνα clauses and infinitives there. Thus, the view of seeing the prepositional phrases including the μέχρι clause dependent on the preceding prepositional phrase with the πρός clause going back to ἔδωκεν seems to be best.

20 See below on Eph 2:20. As will be argued there, a distinction will be made between foundational prophets and other kinds of prophets, such as congregational prophets.

21 Even if μέχρι is taken to modify ἔδωκεν it does not necessarily mean that the apostles and prophets continue until the completion of the church at the Parousia. Much depends on how we define the apostles and prophets. Most noncessationists hold that apostles such as the Twelve and Paul no longer exist, and it would be difficult to define the apostles apart from or even broader than them in Ephesians, especially in light of 2:20 and 3:1-5.

22 Besides 1 Cor 13:8-13, this list would include 1 Cor 12-14 Gal 3:5; Eph 1:13-14; 17-21; 3:14-21; 4:30; 5:15-19; 6:10-20; Phil 1:9-10; Col 1:9-12; 1 Thess 1:5-8; 5:11-23; 2 Thess 1:11-12; Heb 6:4-5; 1 Pet 4:7-12; Jude 18-21.

23 Thomas R. Edgar, Miraculous Gifts: Are They for Today (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1983), 57, 271-72; John F. MacArthur, Jr, Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 120-21.

24 Deere, Surprised by the Holy Spirit, 104-106; Wayne Grudem, "Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible," in The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today, ed. Gary S. Grieg And Kevin N. Springer, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1993), 63-67; Philip E. Hughes, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT, ed. F. F. Bruce, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 456-58; Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians, WBC, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker, vol. 40 (Dallas: Word Books, 1986), 434-38; Storms, "A Third Wave View," 194-95.

25 Martin, 2 Corinthians, 434.

26 Ibid., 436.

27 This phrase is probably a slogan borrowed by Paul from the lips of his opponents or from the Corinthians themselves. With several different people coming to the Corinthians claiming to be apostles, the proof of apostleship was a concept often repeated. Most likely the Corinthians sought some special signs from Paul, as they had seen in the "other" apostles (2 Cor 13:3, 5), something on the order of a display of miraculous power. Paul provides such "evidence" in 12:1-10. But he insists in 12:12a that such signs are not the primary criterion for deciding whether one is an apostle or not. Instead, he is suggesting that the true signs of apostleship—his life and ministry—are the signs that most matter; Martin, 2 Corinthians, 435.

28 Hughes, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 456-57.

29 Storms, "A Third Wave View," 195.

30 Grudem, "Should Christians Expect Miracles Today?" 65.

31 κατειργάσθη is a divine passive, both emphasizing God’s work and noting Paul’s humility.

32 Grudem, , "Should Christians Expect Miracles Today?" 67. This would be true whether ὑπερλίαν ἀποστόλων refer to the apostles in Jerusalem (Martin, 337-342, 433) or to the false apostles (Hughes, 378-380, 455). Also note the explanatory gloss "true" of the NASV.

33 While there is much discussion over the use of the genitive of τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν, it is most likely a genitive of apposition. The reasons for this is : (1) the context is speaking about people, Jews and Gentiles; (2) the cornerstone is a person, Jesus Christ, (3) the building is composed of people; and (4) it avoids the confusion of the image by making Christ both the foundation and the cornerstone.

34 In other words he takes the TSKS construction as denoting the two groups as identical. Grudem argues against the view accepted here for other reasons: (1) The NT prophets did not receive the revelation that Gentiles were to be included in the NT church on an equal standing with Jewish believers; (2) the metaphor of a foundation gives the picture of something that is complete, something that will not be added on to, after the rest of the building is begun. This metaphor would be inappropriate if prophets were continually being added to it, as would be required as the church expanded and congregations had their own prophets (as in Corinth and Thessalonica). (3) The readers of Ephesians would not think of ordinary congregational prophets as part of this foundation. (4) Paul’s purpose in this section is to show that Jewish and Gentile believers are part of the same "building." If the prophets in this passage referred to all NT prophets, then it would include Gentile prophets, and this would further strengthen Paul’s argument. But he fails to use it, thus indicating that he did not think that Gentile prophets in the local churches as part of the "foundation." (5) The congregational prophets such as the ones in Corinth did not have speak with absolute divine authority and thus could not be considered as part of the foundation. (6) There is no record of a prophet in the NT who spoke with the same authority as the apostles. Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1988), 49-64.

35 None of his examples are plural nouns. He has mixed constructions with nouns and substantival adjectives or participles or singular constructions.

36 Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics; 270-86, esp. 284-86; R. Fowler White, "Gaffin and Grudem on Eph 2:20: In Defense of Gaffin’s Cessationist Exegesis," WTJ 54 (1992): 307-309.

37 Barnabas may be an apostle for the following reasons: (1) He appears early in Acts (4:36) and therefore may have been a witness to the resurrection. (2) He has a close association to the apostles (Acts 4:36; 927; 11:22). (3) He apparently had equal authority with Paul in Antioch (Acts 11:22, 30; 12:25; 13:1-2; 15:35,37, 39), on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:7, 42-43, 46, 50; 14:12, 14, 20), and at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:2, 12, 22, 25). (4) Paul compares himself and Barnabas to the apostles and Peter concerning the issues of support for ministry. Even if Barnabas is not technically an apostle, he is at least a prophet.

38 The prophets are NT prophets as opposed to OT prophets. The order of the construction here and in Eph 3:5 suggests this as well as the fact that the revelation of the mystery of Christ was not made known before, but was being made known "now." Also the prophets as gifts to the church would argue for NT prophets.

39 While the apostles may not be the actual writers of all the NT, they are more than likely the source of the material behind all these writings.

40 One could also dispute all the references in Luke-Acts since Luke, who is not an apostle, is the author of those works, even though much of the material came from Paul and the apostles.

41 While the works attributed to Mark and Luke do not bear their names, they also do not bear an apostle’s name, thus the argument would still hold. While these writings are based on apostolic teachings, not every detail is necessarily an apostolic revelation.

42 Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 51-54. This issue will be dealt with more thoroughly in the next section.

43 Grudem (Ibid., 62-63) appears to be sympathetic to this conclusion.

44 Because of Paul’s eschatological outlook and imminent expectation of Christ’s return, Paul does not exactly envision the apostles passing away. For him, it would go without saying that if Christ tarries, the apostolic office as witnesses of Christ would eventually pass away. The building and foundation metaphor allows for this temporal understanding, if not being completely clear about it.

45 Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, 248.

46 One must be somewhat flexible with the language, though, since Paul views the building as well under construction, even though the apostles and prophets are still around. While one can argue that no more apostles were being called, the issue with the prophets is more difficult. The second century church seemed to have prophets, or at least those who prophesied. Suffice to say, those who exercised prophetic gifts in the late first and second centuries may be something other than those in the apostolic church, but not necessarily in the sense that Grudem understands them.

47 Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 104.

48 Edgar, Miraculous Gifts, 269.

49 Simon J. Kistemaker, Hebrews, NTC, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 62.

50 John MacArthur, Jr., Hebrews, MNTC (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), 42; John Napier, Charismatic Challenge: Four Key Questions (Homebush West, Australia: Lancer, 1991), 17-18.

51 Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 557. Usually the idea of a "once for all" action or completed action in the past is due to the lexical intrusion of the verb.

52 Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 104.

53 BDF 339.

54 Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 104.

55 The aorist participles are only antecedent to the present infinitive ἀνακαινίζειν, which is timeless.

56 The views are basically: (1) the completion of the canon, (2) the maturity of the church, (3) the death of the believer, (4) the rapture of the church, (5) the coming of Christ (6) the eschaton, and (7) the eternal state.

57 These two can essentially be put together since the eschaton begins with the return of Christ.

58 Napier, The Charismatic Challenge, 35-38.

59 Darrell L. Bock, Paul, an Apostle to the Corinthians: Practicum Exegetical Notes on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (Unpublished Notes, 1988), 5.

60 Myron J. Houghton, " A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13," BSac 153 (July 1996): 346-47.

61 Ibid., 350.

62 The reason that the issue of revelation as being the only thing in mind and the only thing that these gifts share is unconvincing is because there are some significant omissions. The word of wisdom and distinguishing of spirits (which may not be only associated with prophecy) are not included and they are revelational gifts. Also, tongues is not necessarily revelational, although it seems that it can be (1 Cor 14:6), but not on the basis of the use of μυστήριον in 1 Cor 14:2.Μυστήριον is revelational when it is God to man, but not when it is man to God.

63 Bock, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 Notes, 5.

64 The perfect is seen as the return of Christ for the following reasons: 1) Pauline statements on eschatological hope (Rom 8; 1 Cor 1:7-9; 15; 1 Thess 4:13-18). 2) The verbal idea of an event coming in v. 10 looks like an abrupt transformation. In addition, v. 12 develops the argument of v. 10 so the point here must concern an event. Thus, the End is in view in the context. 4) Paul and the NT use the related term, te’loV, of this same period (1 Cor 1:8; 15:24 ff—though here the entire millennial period is in view; Matt 24:6, 13-14; and gospel parallels. Maturity and the End are tied together in Paul (Phil 3:12, 20-21; Col 1:5, 22, 27-28; 3:4); Ibid., 6.

65 Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 228-43; Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 131-51.

66 Richard Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), 109-111; R. Fowler White, "Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on 1 Cor 13:10: A Comparison of Cessationist and Noncessationist Argumentation," JETS 35 (June 1992): 180-181.

67 Some make much of the distinction between παύσονται used of tongues, and καταργηθήσονται used for knowledge and prophecy. The distinction is that παύσονται is a future middle verb, while καταργηθήσονται is future passive. Those who note this distinction press the significance of the middle as an indirect middle, i.e., that tongues will cease on their own accord (John F. MacArthur, Jr, 1 Corinthians, MNTC (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 359). This , then implies that they may cease at a different time than prophecy and knowledge. This conclusion is not at all certain, and is based more on the nature and purpose of tongues than it is on the change of verbs here. Others suggest that παύσονται may be deponent (D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 78-79; idem., Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 66-67; Houghton, "A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13," 348-49; Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata, 136-37). However, this is unlikely because the future active occurs in the LXX (Deut 32:26; Job 6:26) and frequently in Hellenistic literature (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 422-23). It seems most likely that the verb is used intransitively. Παύω has this intransitive sense frequently in the NT ((Luke 5:4; 8:24 (?); 11:1; Acts 5:42; 6:13; 13:10; 20:1; 20:31; 21:32; Eph 1:16; Col 1:9; Heb 10:2) and the change in verbs is for rhetorical effect (Houghton, "A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13," 348-49). Whatever the significance of this distinction is, it would only apply to tongues. Tongues is also part of what passes away. One way or another, tongues don’t have a mind of their own. They cease because the Holy Spirit causes them to, as would the other gifts. The other verbs may be divine passives.

68 Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost, 110.

69 Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 324 n. 93.

70 See White, "Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on 1 Cor 13:10," 177-180.

71 The reason the term "consistently" is used is that some will point out that there were times in which Jesus and the apostles could not or did not heal. The explanation for Jesus not doing many miracles in Nazareth (Matt 13:58; Mark 6:5-6) is credited to the peoples’ unbelief. This does not mean that faith is a necessary factor for Jesus to heal, but more than likely their unbelief was expressed by not coming to Jesus at all. In Matt 17:14-21 (Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42) the disciples could not cast the demon out of the boy because of their unbelief, even though they were given authority to cast out demons (cf. Matt 10:8). This unbelief may have taken the form of pride in their previous ability instead of being dependent upon the Father (note the reference to prayer in Mark 14:29).

72 John F. MacArthur, Jr, Charismatic Chaos, 200-01.

73 Some argue that the reason Paul did not heal is because by this time (AD 60-) his gift of healing had declined or had been lost (Richard Mayhue, The Healing Promise (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), 112-13). Others argue that the purpose of the gift of healing was not to keep the Christian community in perfect health (MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 215). This latter explanation is the better of the two, but there may be something just as significant. Although Jesus and the apostles could heal every kind of disease, it seems their ministry was focused on those with permanent or chronic disabilities (blindness, paralysis, etc.), those with chronic illnesses (leprosy, blood diseases, etc.) or severe illnesses that potentially bring death (Luke 4:38-39; 7:1-10; John 4:46-54). Of the three "failures" cited above only Epaphroditus is clearly a case where death was potential. It is also the only one of the three where healing is stated (in 1 Tim 5:23 Paul recommends a remedy for Timothy; in 2 Tim 4:20 Paul left Trophimus sick, but apparently the illness was not life-threatening). Paul attributes Epaphroditus’ recovery/healing to the mercy of God, but this may be Paul’s humble way of saying that he exercised his gift of healing in the power of God.

74 Discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues are also constructed this way.

75 D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit, 39-40; Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 168-69; Richard Mayhue, The Healing Promise, 164.

76 Carson, Showing the Spirit, 39-40.

77 BAGD, "συμφερω," 780; "profit," "advantage," "common good."

78 The change from προφητεία in 1 Cor 12:10 to προφήτας, προφῆται in 12:28, 29 may be significant. Forbes argues that Paul found it conceivable that everyone could prophecy, although all were not prophets, on the basis of 1 Cor 14:5 and the use of the plural of πάς in 14:24, 31. Part of this is based on his reconstruction of the problem in Corinth:

    The Corinthians were doing at least three things to which Paul objected. (1) They were allowing glossalalia to be widely practiced in the assembly without interpretation, which Paul believes to be unhelpful to those assembled. (2) They were allowing this practice to continue even when there were unbelievers and outsiders present. (3) They were practicing prophecy in a way that discouraged congregational testing of prophetic statements, and individuals wishing to exercise prophetic gifts were competing in some way with one another for opportunities to do so. In the case of (1) Paul lays down a maximum of three glossolalic episodes, and even those only if there is a reasonable expectation of an interpretation. In the case of (2) he deprecates glossalalia in favor of prophecy. In the case of (3) he limits the number of prophetic episodes, as with glossalalia, to two or three, and insists on congregational discernment. Forbes, Prophecy and Inspired Speech in Early Christianity, 171, 254-65.

79 It is also very likely that the illness is due to sin, and thus, is a special case; Mayhue, The Healing Promise, 127-139.

80 Mayhue, The Healing Promise, 165.

81 It may be that the reason these gifts were rare in the local church is because they could have a tendency to make a person arrogant. The manifestation of the miraculous could cause a person to think that they were better than other believers. The Corinthians seemed to have this problem with tongues. It is noteworthy that the purpose of Paul’s thorn in the flesh was to keep him from boasting in view of his revelations and that it also seems connected to his healing gifts.

82 Fee argues against this for two reasons: (1) the unlikelihood of someone being present that would understand the language (Storms argues the exact opposite point); and (2) his analogy in 1 Cor 14:10-12 implies it is not an earthly language since something is rarely identical with that to which it is analogous. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 890; Storms, "A Third Wave View," 220-221. Both arguments are weak. There is an abundance of languages for the Spirit to choose from since it is likely that the Spirit could choose languages which are unfamiliar to the church. However, the case may be different outside the church. The second argument fails because the whole purpose of an analogy is to clarify an unclear point or emphasize an important one. The latter is in view here and the fact that the analogy is an identical correspondence is irrelevant.

83 It is doubtful that Paul’s point in the citation of Isa 28:11-12 is that of a sign of approaching judgment on unbelieving Jews (Zane C. Hodges, "Symposium on the Tongues Movement-Part I: The Purpose of Tongues," BSac 120 (July 1963): 228-31; Harold W. Hoehner, "The Purpose of Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:20-25," in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Campbell (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 53-66), especially to a predominantly Gentile audience. This interpretation suggests a straightforward application of the OT text (Isa 28:11 and 12b). But there are several problems with this view. First, in the OT, the gift of tongues is not discussed, since there was no OT gift of tongues. As a result, to insist on a direct application is unnecessary. Rather, in the OT the point is about judgment indicated by unintelligible tongues, a point that can be carried over by analogy to the NT use of the gift of tongues when it is uninterpreted. Second, nothing explicit has been said about the ethnic makeup of the audience that hears the tongue (and ample opportunity existed in v. 23). If the main point of the tongue utterance was the ethnic makeup of the audience, Paul would have been more explicit about that as the key point. Third, in Acts 10 and 19, tongues were given to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles, a fact that contradicts the Jews only view. Fourth, the natural audience that one would expect in a Corinthian worship service would be predominantly Gentile. It is natural to expect Paul to be including such an audience in his point about tongues in v. 23. Thus, the view that sees tongues as a sign to all unbelievers is better. As a consequence of this decision, it is clear that we are discussing an analogical use of the OT in 14:22, where the example of God judging the nation of Israel through the unintelligible tongues of the Assyrians is compared to the judgment of unbelievers by uninterpreted tongues (Bock 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 Notes, 13-17). Note that it is not tongues per se that is in the analogy, but uninterpreted tongues. Uninterpreted tongues is the issue at Corinth. Uninterpreted/unintelligible tongues is the issue in the citation. And uninterpreted tongues is the issue in the rhetorical question in v. 23. Interpreted tongues would not be in view. Wayne Grudem (Wayne Grudem, "1 Corinthians 14:20-25: Prophecy and Tongues as Signs of God’s Attitude," WTJ 41 (Spring 1979): 381-96) has the interesting suggestion that uninterpreted tongues would be a sign of judgment to unbelievers, but that is not the sign Paul wants them to give. Therefore, tongues should be interpreted. As attractive as this suggestion is, it goes beyond what the text says.

84 Again one must be careful on how one uses the evidence from Acts. The references to tongues there all have a relationship to the apostles. They are a signifying gift, and usually a positive one, for the apostles, but Paul is speaking about the manifestation of tongues in the local assembly where there is no apostle to signify.

85 Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 890.

86 More to the point, however, is the fact that the emphasis seems to be to whom tongues is not directed: men. The comparison with prophecy suggests that speech in the public assembly should be toward men for edification. Paul’s point may be that the tongues speaker speaks to God by default.

87 Not that God is bound to grant this gift on this occasion.

88 Carson (Showing the Spirit, 38) suggests that a message of wisdom was of a practical nature, telling believers how to live their lives in fear of God. The message of knowledge, on the other hand, was more theoretical and doctrinal. However, he also points out that in the NT there is no such dichotomy. In 1 Cor 1-2 wisdom is a message concerning the cross and is fundamentally doctrinal. Knowledge on the other hand can be very practical (1 Cor 8:1-11). Fee (God’s Empowering Presence, 166-68, 888-89) defines the message of wisdom as an utterance that proclaims Christ crucified, and that the message of knowledge is related to the "mysteries" of 1 Corinthians 13:2 and is parallel to the message of wisdom. Thus, it is revelation of something unknown, but apart from that it is difficult to discern its content. Either manifestation could refer to some spontaneous expression of the Spirit’s wisdom or unknown fact that would benefit another in the community or the whole church itself. It is possible that there are revelatory and non-revelatory aspects to these gifts. The gift of prophecy more than likely overlaps with these two. It may refer to revelation that relates to the experience of the church.

Fee sees the gift of discerning spirits as the discerning and properly judging of prophets. Based on the usage in 1 Corinthians 14:12, 14, 29 he suggests that the phenomenon relates to the utterance itself (Ibid., 171-72). However, the judging of prophets may also refer to whether a prophet has spoken from God, himself, or a demon. Carson understands this gift as the ability to distinguish the manifestations of the Holy Spirit from those of evil spirits. It may also be the by-product of profound doctrinal discernment (Carson, Showing the Spirit, 40). Some would argue that this gift is important to individuals that minister in the area of demonic deliverance. The gift of miracles would also be useful in this but is apparently somewhat rare since these deliverance instances tend to take up extended periods of time.

89 Gaffin appears to hold this view (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., "A Cessationist View," in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? ed. Wayne A. Grudem, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 45-46 fn. 50. He writes:

    I should emphasize that, during the foundational, apostolic period of the church, its "canon" (i.e., where I find God’s word and revealed will for my life) was a fluid, evolving entity, made up of three factors: (1) a completed Old Testament; (2) an eventual New Testament and other inspired documents no longer extant (e.g., the letter mentioned in 1 Cor 5:9), as each was written and then circulated (cf. Col 4:16); and (3) an oral apostolic and prophetic voice ("whether by word of mouth or by letter"[2 Thess 2:15] points to this authoritative mix of oral and written). The church at that time lived by a "Scripture plus" principle of authority and guidance; by the nature of the case , it could not yet be committed, as a formal principle, to sola Scriptura.

What Gaffin has essentially done is redefine the canon for the NT church. For them it contains revelation not included in the Scriptures. But now, after the completion of the NT, the canon is simply the Bible. This simply will not do. The canon is either Scripture only or all revelation. It cannot be both; one for the apostolic church and the other for the post-apostolic church. Gaffin’s argument seems to be a desperate expedient to preserve both the completion of the canon and cessationism.

90 Paul mentions "the restrainer" and his ministry but does not explicitly identify him in 2 Thess 2:1-12. However, he does state explicitly that he taught the Thessalonians these things and that they knew "what restrains" (2 Thess 2:5-6).

91 These categories are somewhat adapted from Vern S. Poythress, "Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology," JETS 39 (March 1996): 71-101. Poythress’ divides prophetic gifts into discursive (those based on a text; Luke) and nondiscursive (those not based on an explicit text; Revelation, dreams, visions, etc.) processes. He then subdivides these into the categories of teaching content, applicatory content, and circumstantial content. Here the teaching content is subdivided into doctrinal and moral content. Imperatives that do not involve moral obligations are considered under applicatory content.

92 There is some dispute about the accuracy of this prophecy. There are supposed discrepancies between this revelation and the narrative about Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome in Acts 21:27-23:25. Grudem (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 96-102) and Storms ("A Third Wave View," 208; C. Samuel Storms, "A Third Wave Conclusion," in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? ed. Wayne A. Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 322) argue that Agabus’ prophecy is faulty in the details. But these "errors" may be a failure to distinguish accuracy from precision. Agabus’ prophecy was accurate but it may not have been precise as it could have been. Furthermore, the use of the active voice in the verbs (δήσουσιν, παραδώσουσιν) may be causative active. Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 412) writes:

    The prophecy by Agabus (already identified as a true prophet in Acts 11:28) was fulfilled in Acts 21:33 (where a Roman tribune arrested Paul and ordered him to be bound) and in the remainder of the book (where Paul is successively brought, as a prisoner, up the chain of command until he got to Rome). Paul was not, strictly speaking, bound by the Jews, but by the Romans because a riot was breaking out in the temple over Paul. And he was not, strictly speaking, handed over by the Jews to the Romans, but was in fact arrested and later protected by the Romans because of a Jewish plot to kill him. What are we to say of this prophecy? Only that because of the Jews’ actions Paul was bound and handed over to the Gentiles. They were the unwitting cause, but the cause nevertheless.

    Recently some scholars have argued that Agabus’ prophecy was not "right on target" and that one could not appeal to the causative verb to support its accuracy. The argument is that causative verbs imply volition on the part of the ultimate agent. This is not necessarily so. Luke’s usage, in particular, involves unwitting causative agents. See discussion of Acts 1:18 below [424-25]. Note also 1 John 1:10 ("If we say that we have not sinned, we cause him to be a /the liar").

Finally, the report of the prophecy by Luke could have been a generalization by Agabus or Luke or the prophecy could have been generalized to begin with. The introduction to the quotation (τάδε λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον) allows for either. Whatever the case, it seems that Luke’s narrative is demonstrating that Paul was to find trouble in the form of imprisonment and the causative factor was the Jews. Agabus’ prophecy predicts this generally and Luke’s narrative shows in more detail and precision how this prophecy was fulfilled. The differences between the prophecy and the corresponding narrative are not necessarily incompatible.

93 As Poythress argues; "Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts," 83-101.

94 The subject of "fallible prophecy" needs some discussion. First, if the error is in the interpretation or application, the prophecy itself is not fallible. Thus, one would need to be careful to state the revelation as given before offering an interpretation or application, as well as being clear that the interpretation or application that is given is not part of the revelation. Storms also argues that a prophet could misperceive a revelation ("A Third Wave View," 207-08), although it is unclear how this would differ either from the revelation itself or from a misinterpretation. Second, Poythress also cites an example of a "fallible revelation" ("Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts," 87), although his example of the dream about Aunt Emma dying in a car wreck would be better categorized as a contingent revelation. The result revealed in the revelation is dependent on an unrevealed contingent associated with the revelation. This is the case of Jonah’s prophecy of judgment against Nineveh. The destruction in forty days was contingent upon them remaining in their wickedness.. Nineveh repented and thus judgment was averted, just as Jonah feared would happen (Jonah 3-4). In the case of Poythress’ example, the result indicated in the revelation was altered because Sally prayed for her aunt. This would have been the purpose of the revelation in the overall scheme of things. Thus, there are not two prophetic gifts in the sense of "infallible" and "fallible" but there may be differences in terms of degree of authority as argued above. It should go without saying that all contemporary "revelation" and "prophecy" should be judged according to Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor 14:29-32 (also 1 John 4:1-4).

95 Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament, 115-34.

96 The evidence of miraculous gifts in frontier mission fields suggests that they have not ceased altogether.

97 I say this as one who for many years has been a cessationist. My emotional makeup still leans toward cessationism. I still remain skeptical of most miraculous and revelatory phenomena. I now admit that, in many cases, I have little reason for such skepticism. I am probably closest to Robert Saucy’s "Open But Cautious View." See Robert L. Saucy, "An Open but Cautious View," in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? ed. Wayne A. Grudem (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 97-148.

98 Again, this assumes that such experiences have been shown to have no


Lecture edited by: Greg Herrick, Ph.D.

Related Topics: Tongues