First of all I would like to thank you for all the teaching you have available on your website. As a new believer, it has helped me tremendously to better understand the Bible and strengthen my faith. I do have one question (well have many more, but start with this one). In one of your answers on prophesy you refer to 1 Corinthians 13:8 and conclude that prophesy etc ended when the New Testament was completed. You also ask for Biblical reasoning in order for you to consider anything else. When I did some more research on this topic I came across a article from John Piper which to me made a very reasonable argument that the prophesies will not cease until Jesus returns: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/when-will-prophecy-cease
What is your view on this argument? And btw if you ever plan to teach in the Middle East, let me know as I surely will attend 🙂
This person’s argument is a very weak one. Here is why. 1 Corinthians 13:8 has been used as a proof-text that prophecy has ceased. (By the way, in my article I was not using 1 Cor 13 as a proof-text for this doctrine) I believe that John Piper does a reasonably good good job of showing that this interpretation is questionable–that 1 Corinthians 13:8 is a poor proof text for the ceasing of prophecy after the first century. However, he does not provide any evidence from 1 Corinthians 13 that prophecy is still in effect. My opinion is that 1 Corinthians 13 is a really poor proof text for either side of the discussion, as it is clearly open to interpretion. I would argue that Paul is stating a truism here. He is stating a generic truth that when the perfect comes, the imperfect is no longer needed. Is this about the Scripture? Is it about when Jesus comes back? Is it about heaven? It could be about any or all of these things. It is really dubious to use this passage to prove anything one way or another about whether tongues or prophecy is in effect. However, here is where the weakness in Piper’s argument comes in. What John Piper has NOT done is prove that prophecy is still in effect. How does 1 Corinthians 13 prove this? At absolute best, it may prove that prophecy might still be in effect, but then we would need a passage that says they are still in effect.
OK, so where is his evidence? What scripture does he provide to suggest that miraculous prophecy will continue until Jesus comes back? The biblical evidence, even from the passages he uses about Timothy, is that prophecy was only given to people upon the laying on of hands of an apostle. Acts 8 is an example of this. Phillip had miraculous gifts and wanted the Samaritans to have it as well, but he had to send to Jerusalem for apostles to come there in order to give the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is no biblical evidence for miraculous gifts being given by any other means. His example from James 5 is not of a miraculous gift. No scholar I know of agrees that James 5 is talking about one of the miraculous gifts.
Besides, even John Piper gives the reason that we no longer need prophecy. Even if 1 Corinthians 13:8 does not prove that prophecy has ceased, the fact is that the reason for prophecy certainly has ceased. Hebrews 2:4 tells us that the miracles were given to testify to the validity of the new message delivered by the apostles. We have the complete New Testament. We no longer need miraculously inspired prophecy as the revelation is complete. We have no apostles to lay on hands. Miraculous gifts have ceased. Church history agrees with this interpretation. There is strong evidence that miraculous gifts had ceased by the early second century. Church fathers do not mention tongues or miraculous gifts–neither do they mention inspired prophecy in the second century. If there are still tongues and prophecy in play now, then why did they not exist in the second century?
In summary, John Piper presents here a very weak argument for prophecy still being in place. At best, he defeats a proof-text that has commonly been used for the ceasing of tongues and prophecy, but he show no evidence that they are still in effect. I hope this helps.
I would love to come back to the Middle East, and hope God will send me there soon, but I am afraid that when I come, I will not have inspired prophecy to bring!!!