Part 3 - 1 Corinthians 13:10
As we continue to examine Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning some major doctrines, as found in the Ryrie Study Bible, we now move on to a very important verse found in I Corinthians 13:10. The following are Verses 8-10 which will give some context as to what Verse 10 is referring to.
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (V.8).
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” (V. 9)
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Dr Ryrie’s note at the bottom of the page in his Study Bible concerning the word “PERFECT” in Verse 10 is as follows:
“13:10 that which is perfect. A reference to Christ’s second coming.”
If Dr. Ryries’s note is correct in saying that “perfect” is referring to Christ’s second coming; then, knowledge, prophecies, and speaking in tongues are still in effect today; and will be until the Rapture.
At the very beginning of our examination of Dr. Ryrie’s notes, I made the statement that Dr. Ryrie says something one place in his notes and then contradicts himself in another place. Now, follow with me and you will see this for yourself, as we examine Verse 11 and his notes concerning this verse. Here is Verse 11.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. - 1 Corinthians 13:11
Here are Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning Verse 11.
“There are stages of growth within the present imperfect time before Christ’s return. After the church began, there was a period of immaturity, during which spectacular gifts were needed for growth and authentication. (Heb. 2:3,4). With the completion of the New Testament and the growing maturity of the church, the need for such gifts disappeared.”
Dr. Ryrie contradicts himself and sends a very confusing message to his readers, along with his wrong definition of the word “perfect” in Verse 10.
- Verse 11. Ryrie states that “With the completion of the New Testament...the need for such gifts disappeared.” If they disappeared, it is because Christ quit giving them when the last book of the Bible (Revelation) was completed in 96 A.D. In other words, the gifts spoken of in Verse 8, “knowledge, prophecy and tongues,” have not existed since about 95 A.D.
- Dr. Ryrie contradicts himself by mistranslating the word “perfect,” in Verse 10, as referring to Christ, INSTEAD of the Word of God. Therefore, the “knowledge, prophecy and tongues” of Verse 8 will be in effect until Christ comes at the Rapture. Which is it, Dr. Ryrie? Did the gifts disappear when the Word of God was completed as you state in your note concerning Verse 11; or, are they in effect until the Rapture? Both cannot be true.
Dr. Ryrie’s note on Verse 10 opens the flood gate to the whole Pentecostal movement of speaking in tongues, extra-biblical visions and dreams “from God,” and a counterfeit spirituality based on emotions, feelings and visions.
Years ago when I discovered this in Dr. Ryrie’s notes, I called Dallas Theological Seminary and asked if I could speak with Dr. Ryrie. I was advised he was unavailable; but, would return my call. I did this twice and neither time was my call returned. After several weeks, I called a third time and spoke with someone in the Theology Department. Again, Dr. Ryrie was unavailable and the man asked if he could be of help. I related to him how Dr. Ryrie had referenced the word “PERFECT” in his study Bible as being Christ instead of being the completed Word of God; therefore, opening a flood gate of false teaching to the Pentecostal movement. He acted very surprised and said he had no idea that Dr. Ryrie had done this. He stated he was definitely going to check it out and have Dr. Ryrie get back with me. I have not called them since and have not received any calls from the Seminary or Dr. Ryrie since then. It was dropped like a “hot potato” as the old saying goes.
Since Dr. Ryrie knows the Greek, I wanted to see if he had anything on Acts 2:38 concerning the Greek preposition “eis,” which is translated in the King James as “for.” Here is the King James Translation.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38
Here is Dr. Ryrie’s note concerning “for” at the bottom of the page.
“(for may here mean “because of” as in Matt. 12:41).”
Here, Dr. Ryrie knows the Greek well enough to pick out a little preposition “eis” that is mistranslated “for” and states, correctly, that it could be translated “because of,” which eliminates the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration.
Yet, In 1 Corinthians 13:10, he cannot discern the Greek “teleion,” translated “perfect,” as being in the neuter gender, instead of the masculine gender. How can this misnomer be done accidentally, when you know the Greek well enough to pick out a little Greek preposition that is mistranslated?
I only know this, that the Pentecostals will buy his book because it endorses their false teachings that tongues and extra-biblical dreams and visions are still experienced today. Should Dr. Ryrie have applied “perfect” correctly to the Word of God, many Pentecostals would not have touched this Bible with a ten-foot pole! I have had, when asked, Pentecostals tell me the first place they look when buying a study Bible is in 1 Corinthians 13:10 to see if it agrees with their doctrine. Sad to say, it does!
After reading these contradictory notes by Dr. Ryrie, I believe the readers using the Ryrie Study Bible should have a positive exposition on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. The following is such:
- The Contrast of the Gifts (8-13).
Verse 8. In this verse four things are spoken of; three will come to an end, and one will remain. Let us examine each one separately:
- "Charity never faileth" - Again, the word "charity" is the Greek word "agape", and was the strongest English word for "love" known at that time. It is God’s love toward the sinner. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) . This same love is given to indwell every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. Since God is love and God is eternal, He will never die or cease to exist, and neither will His love ever fail. This means it will never drop away, die, or cease to exist. It will transcend and survive all things compared to, plus time itself, and faileth not to remain for everlasting. This is the only one of the four that will remain. It was a permanent gift.
- "Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail" - The prophecies' failing does not mean they will not come to pass. The Greek verb is "katargeo" and has the representative meanings of "abolish, cease, destroy, vanish away, make void and reduce to inactivity." In other words, at some future time prophecies will be reduced to inactivity by being abolished. There is a time coming when no more prophecies will be given. In Verse 10 we shall examine when that time arrived.
- "Whether there be tongues they shall cease" - "Cease" is the Greek verb, "pauo". It means "to cease or to stop completely". It is used in the perfect tense. This means that when tongues do cease, the action of ceasing will never be interrupted, but will continue forever. In plain words, once tongues cease they will never be reactivated again at anytime in the future. The act of ceasing will remain perfect, without interruption, for eternity. We might also add, the Greek word, "pauo", for "cease" is also in the Greek middle voice, denoting emphasis. Therefore, the most emphatic statement in this verse is "TONGUES SHALL CEASE". We shall discover when they were to cease, shortly.
- "Whether there shall be knowledge, it shall vanish away." "Vanish away" is the same Greek word, "katargeo”, translated "fail" referring to the "prophecies" in this verse. It is also translated "shall be done away" in Verse 10 and "put away" in Verse 11.
The word "knowledge" is the Greek, "gnosis", which is also translated "knowledge" in 14:6. It denotes knowledge, especially and absolutely concerning spiritual truth. At this time, when a group of Christians met together, they could not open the Bible to the New Testament as it had not been completely written. God would give, at His discretion, a special knowledge of His word to a believer who, in turn, would relate it to the group. I Corinthians 14:26 clarifies this,
"How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation...
This "revelation" is closely related to "knowledge”. "Revelation" is defined as "an expression of the mind of God for the instruction of the church". "Knowledge" is defined in the Greek as a "knowledge especially and absolutely of a spiritual truth". (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
Until the Word of God was completed, God would give a special knowledge of His word, instantaneously, to a believer who, in turn, would speak it to the assembly. When the written Word of God was completed, there would be no more need for this special knowledge. Therefore, it was to be done away with at that time.
Verse 9. "We know in part" - This is referring to the Word of God. "In part" is the Greek, "ek-merous", meaning "a part or portion of the whole. (Vines'.) I Corinthians was written about 57 A.D.; while Revelation, the last Epistle, was written about 96 A.D. Since all the Word of God had not yet been given, they only had knowledge of the portion ("part") that had, thus far, been revealed.
"We prophesy in part" - Many more prophecies were yet to be revealed. They could only give forth what they had received thus far. The time was coming when the consummation of all prophecies would be given. It is the same with other portions of God’s Word. Tongues were sometimes the means of giving forth a portion of the prophecy and knowledge of God's Word. When the end of God's revelation to man, the Book of Revelation, was written, there would be no more prophecies. There would be no additional knowledge outside of the Bible, and tongues would have already ceased.
Verse 10. The key word in this verse is "perfect". Those that endorse tongues today say it is referring to Christ's coming. If that were true, then knowledge, prophecy and tongues would be manifested until He comes. If, on the other hand, "perfect" is referring to the written Word of God; then, what they claim as tongues today must be the working of a counterfeit spirit, and not the Holy Spirit. Since the Book of Revelation was completed, God has never given the gift of tongues to anyone. If tongues, today, were of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would be contradicting God's Word--and that is impossible!
The word "perfect" is the Greek word "teleion" meaning "complete". Here are the simple facts to consider:
- Merrill F. Unger, author of New Testament Teaching on Tongues, earned his A.B. and Ph.D. degrees at Johns Hopkins University and his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees at Dallas Theological Seminary where he was professor of Old Testament Studies. He has authored numerous books which are widely distributed and read, such as:
- Unger’s Bible Dictionary
- Ungers’ Bible Handbook
- Archaeology and the Old Testament
- Archaeology and the New Testament
- Biblical Demonology
- Demons in the World Today
- The Haunting of Bishop Pike
I believe that Professor Unger is well-qualified to give the correct teaching from the Greek concerning the word “PERFECT” in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Here are his words from his book, New Testament Teaching on Tongues, Page 95.
“But when that which is perfect is come [Greek, to teleion, the completed and final thing, which means ‘the New Testament Scriptures’; the neuter in the Greek denotes neither Christ nor his advent, both of which thoughts are foreign to the context],”
He continues on Page 96, stating:
“Tongues were to cease because the completed revelation of Scripture in the canonical book of the New Testament would eventually make prophecy, knowledge, and tongues unnecessary and useless.” (I Cor. 13:11,12).
- The noted Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson, defines it as “full grown and mature.”
- Charles R. Smith, Th.D., was Assistant Professor of Greek and Theology at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN. In 1972, his book entitled Tongues in Biblical Perspective was published. Here are Professor Smith’s words concerning “that which is perfect” on Page 75.
“The term “that which is perfect” does not refer to the Lord Himself at His coming, because the article translated “that which” is neuter, not masculine in gender.”
- Mark G. Cambron, D.D., LITT.D. One of the greatest Bible teachers of the 20th Century. He founded Seaside Mission winning untold numbers of Jewish people to the Lord. He taught at Tennessee Temple Schools in the Bible School at the request of Dr. Lee Roberson, President. He has authored several books, one of which is The New Testament, A Book-by-Book Survey. Here is Dr. Cambron’s teaching concerning the word “perfect” on Page 230 of his book.
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (V.10). “That which is perfect” is not speaking of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; indeed He is the Perfect One, but the Holy Spirit is speaking of the full revelation of God—that which is perfect—and when the full revelation of God is finally given, then these gifts of prophecy, tongues and wisdom will be withdrawn...When the entire New Testament was written, there was no further need of these gifts.”
- Dr. Gromacki says, "The word "perfect" (teleion) does refer to the end of a process or development ... the Second Coming of Christ is not a process, it is an instantaneous event, the word "perfect" cannot be referring to Christ because "perfect" definitely has reference to the end of a process or development of something. The something, of course, is the Word of God."
- Dr. Gromacki further says, "It (the word "perfect", teleion, in the Greek) is never used in the New Testament to depict the (a) Second Coming of Christ, (b) the Millennium, or (c) the Eternal State".
Dr. Gromacki was Professor of Bible and Greek and Chairman of the Division of Biblical Education at Cedarville College in Ohio. He is also the author of several books.
- The word, "perfect" (teleion), is an adjective which is here used as a noun. In the Greek it is found in the NEUTER gender. The Greek expresses the neuter, feminine and masculine genders, depending on who or what is referred to. If "perfect" was referring to a person, it would be found in the feminine or masculine gender. since it is in the NEUTER gender, it is referring ... not to a person, but an object, which is the completed Word of God.
- If any person is still in doubt concerning this teaching concerning the word, "perfect", I would advise you to write several reputable Christian colleges and ascertain from their Greek professors the meaning of the word.
Much more could be written concerning the words "perfect" and "in part". However, I feel if these simple facts are not conclusive enough, pages more would make no difference to those who refuse to accept the truth. The Apostle Paul put it as bluntly and simply as it could be stated, "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (14:38). Paul wrote this after concluding Chapters 12 through 14. In other words, Paul says, "I have written unto you the commandments of the Lord, (14:37), about tongues. Therefore, if you will not accept it, you will just have to remain deceived (ignorant)."
Verse 11. The first illustration of "in part" and "perfect." (Child to Adult)
- Contextual Reference. Just as it takes time for a child to reach completion, or adulthood, so God, in time, gave us His completed Word. Just as the Church Age was a mystery to Israel, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed ... “ (Ephesians. 3:5). So was God's completed Word to mankind. "Child" is to "in part God's Word" as the "adult" is to "the completed Word of God".
When Christ spoke in John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now,”. This would be applicable to the "child" and "in part". When John spoke in Revelation 22:18, "...If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." This, then, would be applicable to the "perfect" or completed Word of God.
- Spiritual Reference. Some of the characteristics of a child are: he pouts, he cries because of little things, he must always have his own way, he throws temper tantrums, he seeks attention, he needs constant care, and etc. How characteristic of some Christians. The length of time one has been a Christian does not necessarily represent his growth. One Christian could grow spiritually, in one year, more than one who has been a Christian for 5 years.
In Corinth, they were seeking the gift of tongues, which they thought reflected their spirituality; instead of coveting earnestly the best gift that God had given them.
The practical lesson would be: Are we desiring some spiritual gift or office in order to impress others as to how spiritual we are? Are we acting like children, pouting when we do not get our own way? Are we always crying about little things, losing our temper or always seeking attention? Paul is telling the Corinthians that it is time to put away those things of a child and grow up to be a mature adult in the Lord. As a Christian, where would you place yourself spiritually? As an infant, adolescent, or adult child of God? As the Word of God was completely given, so we should grow to be complete in Him.
Verse 12a. The second illustration of "in part" and "perfect". (Mirror to clear view.)
The word "glass", no doubt, has reference to the mirrors that were used in those days. The mirrors were of "polished" metallic surfaces which reflected objects, but imperfectly, since the figure seems to be behind the mirror--the observer seemed to see "through it". (David Brown) Since the glass (mirror) was used metaphorically of the incomplete Word of God; i.e., we could not see the absolute clear view of things until God's Word was written in its entirety. Since "glass" contrasted to "face to face"; then "face to face" must also be used metaphorically in reference to the completion of God's Word.
As one would watch an artist begin to draw the picture of a man, it would first be viewed as incomplete (the mirror). As one stands and watches the artist, he finishes the drawing of the man. You are now standing "face to face" with the completed picture. As we stand today, we can look "face to face" at God's completed picture of this world because we are looking at it through God's completed Word, the Bible.
In Verse 9, "in part" is a reference to God's Word. In Verse 10, "perfect" is referring to God's Word. It would then be a gross contextual error to apply "face to face" to Christ, instead of God's completed picture as viewed through His completed Word. Let us be as honest with the context here as we are with the rest of the Word of God.
Verse 12b. The third illustration of "in part" and "perfect". "Shall know as I am known..."
"Now I know in part" is the same as spoken of in Verse 9, "we know in part and we prophesy in part", that is the incomplete Word of God. Or, I know only the part of God's Word that has been revealed thus far.
"But then" is future tense and is contrasted to "now I know", which is present tense. Since "now I know in part" is referring to God's Word, "but then" is also referring to God's Word at the time it would be completed. When the Bible was completed, one could then know as completely about God as the Bible revealed Him to us.
Just as completely as God knew us, we may know Him as completely from the revelation of Himself to us through His Word. Just as God created me physically, he recreated me spiritally by the new birth. (John 3:3,7). May I learn of Him and love Him as His child, as much as He loved me while I was yet a sinner. "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." As God has fully revealed Himself to me through His Word, may I fully give myself to Him in this world.
(Verse 13). Three things would remain after God’s Word is complete: faith, hope, and charity (love). We can have faith in Christ, hope for the future; but, the greatest thing we can do is extend the love of God to others as God has given to us. If you are saved you have God’s love within you in the person of the Holy Spirit. The greatest thing you can do is tell someone else what Christ did for you. If you possess this kind of love (charity), the greatest of all ... you can then say as Paul in Romans 1:16,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Conclusion. Dr. Ryrie’s notes stating that the word “PERFECT” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is in reference to Christ, instead of The Word of God, is in gross error. He fails to discern between the neuter and the masculine gender of the word “perfect.” Therefore, he leads his readers to believe that speaking in so-called tongues, additional knowledge via visions and dreams, and that future prophecies are still being given until the Rapture. This is basically the teaching of the Pentecostal movement. How misleading these notes are on Verse 10, although their purpose is supposed to be to aid the Christian. Instead, they teach a person, Christian or non-Christian, to endorse a false doctrine.
In our next article, Part 4, we will examine Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning James, Chapter Two