In chapter 12, Paul wrote to the Corinthians in part concerning the envy among them that arose from jealousy of some for the spiritual gifts that others had been given. These feeling were contributing to the divisions that had developed among them.
In chapter 13, he is making the point to them that brotherly love will endure, but spiritual gifts will pass away (verse 8). Some of the churches throughout the land had letters written to them or circulated from churches in other location. But nobody in the Apostolic age had the completed New Testament. So these spiritual gifts not only served the purpose of building faith, but of giving them part of the knowledge of God’s truth they needed.
When Paul says in verse 9 “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away,” he refers to the fact that these gifts will no longer be needed when the recorded word of the Lord is complete. The partial knowledge of the word, that these gifts provide, will no longer be required (note the words “all the truth” in John 16:13). This makes their envy meaningless; and that is why Paul is cultivating their love for one another. When he says in verse 11 “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways,” he means that the maturity of knowledge due to its availability will be the driving force that will allow these gifts to cease.
In chapter 14, Paul has much to say about their use of spiritual gifts. Much of this my seem to not have any application to us today, but it actually does. The main points that he is driving home to them have to do with relevance and order in worship. The worship of the Lord cannot be done properly if what is done has no relevance to that purpose. Such worship has no meaning.
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.