Love never fails, but where there are prophecies, they will be done away;
where there are tongues, they will cease; where there is a message of knowledge, it will be done away.1
Many cite the verse above as a proof text for the idea that revelation and miracles and prophecy and the like ended when the last of the Apostles died. Let’s take A Closer Look at the verse in context.
Love never fails, but where there are prophecies, they will be done away; where there are tongues, they will cease; where there is a message of knowledge, it will be done away. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part, but when the Completeness comes, that which is in part will be done away. . . For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know only in part, but then I will know fully just as also I was fully known.2
Prophecy will be done away, but not until the “Completeness” comes.3 When the Completeness comes, we will “know fully.” We do not have complete knowledge, therefore partial knowledge and partial prophecy have not been done away with. The “tongues of men and of angels” from verse one still exist.
Earlier in the letter, Paul had said, “Now concerning spiritual matters, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant.”4 He describes gifts, ministries, and energizings.
Now there are gifts being distributed to people, but it is the same spirit.
And there are ministries being distributed to people, and yet it is the same Lord.
And there are energizings being distributed to people, but it is the same God who energizes all of them in all people.5
Different people have different gifts, different ministries, different energizings, “Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.”6 Everyone in the body is given “the manifestation of the spirit,” because everyone in the body has the new birth spirit.
“Now” in the Greek is de, which is a conjunction which contrasts what follows from what came before. Different people have different ministries, but everyone can manifest the spirit. We manifest the spirit “for the common good.” The Greek for “common good” is sympheron. It is translated in various versions as common good, profit, profiting, benefit, what is beneficial.
The benefits of the manifestation of the spirit are described in 1 Corinthians 12:7–11:
Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. For to one is given through the spirit a message of wisdom, and to another a message of knowledge by means of the same spirit, to a different one trust by the same spirit, and to another gifts of healings by the one spirit, and to another energizings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to a different one various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. Now all these are energized by the one and the same Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as he purposes.
Many read this passage as though it said, “to one [person] is given [the gift of] a word of wisdom; to another [person] is given [the gift of] a word of knowledge; to another [person] is given [the gift of] healing, etc. When a particular manifestation of the spirit is not operating in someone’s life, typically people say, “I just don’t have that particular ‘gift.’” Or worse, they say that these “gifts” are no longer available. These are very common misconceptions.
The spirit which is being manifested is the new birth spirit which each believer has. This spirit is the gift which can be manifested in these nine listed ways. Spirit, pneuma, is neuter in Greek. When “all these [manifestations] are energized by the one and the same Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as he purposes,” “he” does not refer to the spirit, but to the believer purposing to operate the manifestation, the “each one,” which is masculine.7 Nouns and their adjectives must agree in number and gender.
Each way the new-birth spirit may be manifested is for a different purpose, benefit, common good. Energizing miracles does not have the same purpose as speaking in tongues; prophecy has a different benefit from a message of knowledge. But the same spirit energizes all of them, and will continue to do so, until “the Completeness” comes. When believers who do not operate the manifestation of the spirit due to no fault of their own, it is because they have not been taught how to do their part.8
When Yeshua invited Peter to step out of the boat and walk with him on the water, Peter got out of the boat. Yeshua did not drag him out.9 Peter could not maintain his state of trust and fell into the water. We often think less of him for that. But he was the only one of the Twelve who had the guts to try, to do his part.
During the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and ’70s, there was a revived interest in the manifestation of the spirit, especially speaking in tongues. A believer I met in those days was of the opinion that the revival was a counterfeit. He believed that his denomination was the “one true church,” and that if God had wanted to revive speaking in tongues, He would have given it to my friend’s denomination first. Revivals and awakenings tend to start outside the hide-bound denominations of the day. The mainstream will usually resist waking up until revival gains momentum and then will jump on the bandwagon. Since revived interest in “pneumatikos,” spiritual matters, came from outside the mainstream churches, the mainstream labelled it a “dangerous counterfeit.”
There are counterfeits; choose your teachers wisely. Be a Berean and test everything. If you have the New-birth spirit, you can manifest it by God’s power, even though “in part,” and that ability will continue “until the Completeness comes.”
1 1 Cor 13:8 REV. Unless otherwise marked, Scripture quotations are from the Revised English Version.
2 13:8–10, 12.
3 KJV renders to teleion as “that which is perfect,” in the sense of “perfected” or “completed.”
5 1 Cor 12:4–6.
6 1 Cor 12:7.
7 When the public schools taught grammar in grammar school, everyone knew that when the sex of the person spoken of was unknown or irrelevant, the masculine gender was used as an inclusive “common gender.” “He” could just as easily be rendered “he or she,” as is commonly done today. Some versions (NRSV, REV) reasonably add “and sisters” where the Greek says “brothers” to accommodate the loss of grammatical knowledge in contemporary society.
8 To learn how to do your part in manifesting holy spirit, I recommend Robert Wilkinson’s series of booklets at
9 Mt 14:244–31.