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Title: 1. Corinthian 13:11 Revisited - An Exegetical Update
Author: Robvert L. Thomas
Passage: 1. Corinthian 13, 11
Language: english
Category: Lecture
Keywords: About twenty years have passed since this author advanced the interpretation that t tleion (to teleion, "the complete," "the mature") in 1 Cor 13:10 referred to the mature body of Christ and that a stage of maturity in the growth of that body marked the termination of revelatory and sign gifts in the ancient church. With a fresh focus on 1 Cor 13:11, he now updates the discussion in light of various responses that have questioned the validity of that position. He elaborates on why the substantive cannot mean "the perfect," why it must mean "complete" or "mature," why the context requires such, and answers objections to the view.
* * * * *
A number of years ago I proposed an interpretation of 1 Cor 13:10 which assigned t tleion (to teleion) the meaning of "complete" or "mature" instead of the more frequently rendering of "perfect."1 At least three developments show the subject needs a renewed look: (1) a misconstruing or confused statement of my view by others;2 (2) a continuing claim that biblical exegesis yields no explicit indication of the termination of some spiritual gifts;3 and (3) a growing personal realization that explanations of the passage have overlooked the important contribution of 1 Cor 13:11 to the meaning of to teleion. A renewed discussion of the issue can probably do little to remedy whatever it is that causes (1) above, but perhaps a focused treatment of the exegetical nuances related to 1 Cor 13:11 and their impact on the meaning of to teleion in 13:10 will contribute to a recognition that (2) is wrong in light of the oversight named in (3). Farnell has conveniently summarized the five main viewpoints regarding the meaning of to teleion in 1 Cor 13:10: (1) the death of a believer when ushered into Christ's presence, (2) the eternal state, (3) the completed NT canon, (4) Christ' second advent, and (5) the maturing of Christ's body through the course of the church age.4 Positions (2) and (4) assign the meaning "the perfect" to to teleion largely because of the neglect of important factors in 1 Cor 13:11. With respect for those who interpret differently, I offer the following as some of these factors. Reasons Why to teleion Cannot Mean "the Perfect" in 13:10 The most common definitions of the English word "perfect" applied to 1 Cor 13:10 would probably include: (a) being entirely without fault or defect5 (b) corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept (c) the soundness and the excellence of every part, element, or quality of a thing frequently as an unattainable or theoretical state.6 Either of these three or a combination of them is the usual notion the average person attaches to the word. All three are qualitative in nature, a characteristic that renders them unsatisfactory renderings of to teleion. Four reasons demonstrate this: (1) No other use of teleios in Paul can possibly mean "perfection" in the sense of the absence of all imperfection. In fact, the meaning of "perfection" in Greek philosophers'that of a "perfect" man'is absent from the NT.7 Utopian perfection was a philosophical notion, not a NT idea...
Date/Time: 1993
Pages: 15
ID: 32072
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