Charity Never Faileth 1 Cor. 13:8-13 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
1 Cor 13:8 begins with “Charity never faileth.” To fail is to “fade or die away or to stop functioning.” Charity never stops functioning. It will be here for eternity. By contrast:
Prophecies shall “fail.” Eventually, all prophecy will be fulfilled. There are many unfulfilled prophecies right now, many of which have to do with the second coming of Jesus. When he returns there will still be some prophecies to fulfill, particularly at the end of the millennial reign of Jesus. Things like casting the devil into the lake of fire, the white throne judgment and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.
Tongues shall “cease.” Tongues were necessary for the preaching of the gospel in the beginning of the church because the disciples were all Jews from Galilee. There were Jews from many different regions who heard the gospel in their own language. Jews require a sign [1 Cor 1:22, Ex 4] and tongues were for a sign [1 Cor 14:22]. Tongues temporarily ceased after the Lord quit dealing with Israel and the gospel turned to the Gentiles [Acts 28:28]. However, tongues will return in the Tribulation as the gospel goes into regions where those preaching the gospel don’t know the language of those to whom they will be preaching and they won’t have the time to learn the languages [Rev 7:9-14]. The signs in Mk 16:16-18 are doctrinally for the Tribulation.
Knowledge shall “vanish away.” The reason is that when Israel is saved, the Lord said, “they shall not teach every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest,” [Heb 8:11]. Isn’t interesting that Eve was tempted to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so that she could be “as gods knowing…”. The devil tempted her to have something that was already coming to her just a little ahead of time. If you think about it, that’s what most temptation is. A temptation to have something “now” rather than in its due time. The devil tempted Jesus with the power and glory of the kingdoms. He’s going to get them anyway. Young people are tempted with premarital sex. That’s available to them for the rest of their lives after they marry.
1 Cor 13:9. Today we know those things that have been recorded for us in scripture and which have been given to us by inspiration. But we don’t know it all. We only know “in part.” We prophesy only that which has been recorded for us to prophesy. But there is much that will take place and there are specifics of that which will be fulfilled that we don’t prophesy, because we can only prophesy the “part” that God has revealed to us.
1 Cor 13:10. When “that which is perfect shall come,” refers to he who is perfect, the Lord Jesus Christ [1 Jn 1:1-2]. When he comes at the Second Advent, there will be no more “in part.” We will see him and we will know him and all prophecy concerning us will be fulfilled. So, knowledge, prophecy and tongues will all be “done away.”
1 Cor 13:11. Paul uses the illustration of growing up as a child into adulthood. As a child we speak, understand and think as children. We can’t speak, understand and think as adults because we aren’t adults. But when we become adults, our speech, understanding and knowledge are that of an adult because we are no longer children. Likewise, when Jesus returns and we meet him in glorified bodies, we will be like him [1 Jn 3:1-3]; we will no longer be limited by these earthly bodies.
1 Cor 13:12. Right now we are limited in what we know because we can’t see Jesus and God “face to face.” We see through a glass darkly. But when Jesus comes and we see him we will know him even as we are known.
1 Cor 13:13. Therefore, right now we must have faith because we can’t see him [2 Cor 5:8]. Right now we must have hope because he hasn’t returned yet [Rom 8:24-25]. But when he returns we won’t need faith because we will know him “by sight.” And we won’t need hope because our blessed hope will have appeared. We will be glorified. So, of these three great things, faith, hope and charity, charity is the greatest because it will still be here when the other two are no longer necessary.