Re: "Perfect"?

From: David Moore (
Date: Sat Nov 04 1995 - 16:07:04 EST

"Carlton L. Winbery" <> wrote:

>Eric Vaughan wrote;
>>The purpose
>>of these gifts were to bring the Lord's message into
>>the world and confirm it. When the message was completed,
>>that which was done in part (vs 9) ceased because we
>>no longer need miraculous revelation.
>Perhaps a better understanding of TO TELEION, especially when mentioned as
>"coming" is eschatalogical. All those things that are EK MEROUS "in part"
>are judged beside the ultimate, the parousia. That which remains into the
>age is what really matters, faith, hope, and love.

        Paul is emphasizing the dichotomy between what is eternal and what
is for a certain time (1Cor. 13:8). His EK MEROUS and TO TELEION further
develop the dichotomy to include the ideas of imperfection
(incompleteness) and perfection (completeness). The question, in terms of
how we interpret TO TELEION, then, is, what epoch-making event does the
apostle Paul see as marking between temporal and eternal? And
secondarily, how do the concepts of EK MEROUS and TO TELEION fit into
Paul's understanding and presentation of this temporal-eternal dichotomy.

        Eric Vaughan's contention that TO TELEION refers to the completion
of the apostolic witness amounts to an extreme dispensational position.
That charismatic and miraculous phenomena had the purpose of confirming
the apostolic witness does not logically or necessarily mean that the
charismatic and miraculous can have no other purpose in God's economy.
"What purpose would miracles have today?" Eric asks. Well, for example,
if your kid were in the hospital, sick, and the doctors say there's
nothing more they can do for him, a miracle would be pretty useful,
wouldn't it. Is it legitimate to limit God saying He may work
miraculously in the apostolic age but not afterward? To say that TO
TELEION refers to the completion of the apostolic witness is an
interpretation that agrees with the dispensational position that fixes the
end of miracles and charismata at the end of the apostolic age, but it
does not agree with a balanced exegesis of the context.

        Carlton's comments above, as well as earlier posts by Carl and
Kenneth have correctly pointed out that the context favors understanding
TO TELEION as referring to the eschaton. Another commentator expresses it
as follows: "'That which is perfect' cannot be a reference to the
completion of the canon of Scripture; otherwise we now, living in the age
of the completed canon, would see more clearly than Paul did (v. 9). Even
the most self-satisfied and opinionated of theologians would hardly admit
that. The coming of that which is perfect can only be a reference to the
Lord's second coming..." (S. Lewis Johnson, "The First Epistle to the
Corinthians," in _Wycliffe Bible Commentary_ [Chicago: Moody, 1990], p.
1252). This comment is of special interest since its author also
expresses the opinion that today there is no scriptural exercise of the
gifts Paul mentions in this passage. That is to say, from a practical
standpoint he appears to be a cessationist, but the correct practice of
exegesis applied to this passage does not allow understanding TO TELEION
as in reference to the completion of the canon of Scripture.

        It is, of course, difficult to deal with this subject without
including consideration of the whole matter of the exercise of the
spiritual gifts and Paul's attitude regarding them, but since we recently
concluded a thread on that very matter, I'll not go back into that here.

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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