1 Corinthians 13:9
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
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(9) We know in part.—Knowledge and preaching are incomplete; therefore, when this dispensation ends, and the complete dispensation is brought in, these imperfect gifts shall cease. Gifts are but the implements of the divine husbandry; graces are the seeds themselves. When the great harvest-time comes, the instruments, however useful, will be cast aside altogether; the seeds will, by the very process of death, be transformed into blossoms and fruits, and in that perfected form remain for ever.

13:8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which the Corinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. It is a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state of childhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the difference between earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confused notions of things, have children when compared with grown men! Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, when we come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now, compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seen as by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of a riddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from all obscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that will remove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God from us. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred not only to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faith fixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying on the Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! God is love, 1Jo 4:8,16. Where God is to be seen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in its greatest height; there only will it be perfected.For we know in part - Compare the note on 1 Corinthians 12:27. This expression means "only in part;" that is, "imperfectly." Our knowledge here is imperfect and obscure. It may, therefore, all vanish in the eternal world amidst its superior brightness; and we should not regard that as of such vast value which is imperfect and obscure; compare the note at 1 Corinthians 8:2. This idea of the obscurity and imperfection of our knowledge, as compared with heaven, the apostle illustrates 1 Corinthians 13:11 by comparing it with the knowledge which a child has, compared with that in maturer years and 1 Corinthians 13:12 by the knowledge which we have in looking through a glass - an imperfect medium - compared with that which we have in looking closely and directly at an object without any medium.

And we prophesy in part - This does not mean that we partly "know" the truths of religion, and partly "conjecture" or "guess" at them; or that we know only a part of them, and "conjecture" the remainder. But the apostle is showing the imperfection of the prophetic gift; and he observes, that there is the same imperfection which attends knowledge. It is only in part; it is imperfect; it is indistinct, compared with the full view of truth in heaven; it is obscure, and all that is imparted by that gift will soon become dim and lost in the superior brightness and glory of the heavenly world. The "argument" is, that we ought not to seek so anxiously that which is so imperfect and obscure, and which must soon vanish away; but we should rather seek that love which is permanent, expanding, and eternal.

9, 10. in part—partially and imperfectly. Compare a similar contrast to the "perfect man," "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13). For we know in part; it was truly said, as to things human, that the greatest part of those things that we know, is the least part of those things which we are ignorant of. A great measure of Divine things is also unknown to us, and the knowledge of them reserved for thr resurrection and day of judgment, John 14:20.

And we prophesy in part; nor can the communication of our knowledge to that, be larger than what we by prophecy communicate; we having ourselves but a short and imperfect communication of Divine things, we can communicate but an imperfect degree of knowledge to others.

For we know in part,.... Not that the Scriptures, the rule and measure of knowledge, and from whence spiritual knowledge is derived, are imperfect; so that there is need of unwritten traditions, and of enthusiastic revelations and inspirations, to inform of things otherwise unknown; for though they were at sundry times, and in divers manners delivered, yet now they contain a complete system of divine truths, to which nothing is to be added, and from which nothing is to be taken away; or that only a part of the saints know the things of God; for though there is a difference between them, some have more knowledge than others, yet all have some, all are taught of God, and know him, and have that anointing which teacheth all things; wherefore the sense also is not, that only a part of truth, and not the whole, is known; for the Spirit of God leads into all truth; the whole counsel of God is made known in the Scriptures, and by the ministers of the word; though, to this sense the Arabic version inclines, rendering it, "some part of doctrine we know"; and so in 1 Corinthians 13:12 "some part of knowledge I know"; as also the Syriac version, which renders it , "a little from much we know"; but the true meaning is, that though the rule of knowledge is perfect, and all the saints have knowledge, and every truth of the Gospel is known; yet by those that know most, it is known but imperfectly: the truth itself may be most clearly discerned, as it is revealed in the word; yet the manner of it, how it is, may not be known; and many difficulties may attend it, and objections be raised to it, which are not easily solved; as in the doctrines of the Trinity, predestination, the union of the two natures in Christ, the resurrection of the dead, &c.

and we prophesy in part; the word of prophecy, as it sure, it is also perfect, to which we do well to take heed; and though all do not prophesy, yet all that do, and that prophesy aright, that is, explain the word of God aright, these preach the Gospel fully, declare the whole counsel of God, and keep back nothing profit able to the saints; yet still their prophesying or explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, or the mysteries of the Gospel, is but imperfect at best in the present state of things.

{4} For we know in {h} part, and we prophesy in part.

(4) The reason: because we are now in the state that we have need to learn daily, and therefore we have need of those helps, that is, of the gift of tongues, and knowledge, and also of those that teach by them. But to what purpose serve they then, when we have obtained and gotten the full knowledge of God, which serve now but for those who are imperfect and go by degrees to perfection?

(h) We learn imperfectly.

1 Corinthians 13:9-10. Proof of the last and of the first of the three preceding points. The second stood in need of no proof at all. For in part (ἐκ μέρους; its opposite is ἐκ τοῦ παντός, Lucian, Dem. enc. 21) we know, imperfect is our deep knowledge, and in part we speak prophetically, what we prophetically declare is imperfect. Both contain only fragments of the great whole, which remains hidden from us as such before the Parousia.

ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ κ.τ.λ[2082]] but when that which is perfect shall have appeared (at the Parousia; otherwise, Ephesians 4:13), then will that which is in part (the gnosis and the prophecy therefore also, seeing they belong to the category of the partial) be done away. The appearance of the perfected condition of things necessarily brings with it the abolition of what is only partial. With the advent of the absolute the imperfect finite ceases to exist, as the dawn ceases after the rising of the sun. We are not to supply, with Hofmann, γινώσκειν and προφητεύειν (as substantival infinitives) to τὸ τέλειον and to τὸ ἐκ μέρους, by which unprecedented harshness of construction the sense would be extorted, that only the imperfect γινώσκειν and προφητεύειν will cease to make room for the perfect. But what Paul means and says is that these charismata generally, as being designed only for the aeon of the partial, and not in correspondence with the future aeon of the perfect, will cease to exist at the Parousia; their design, which is merely temporary, is then fulfilled. With the advent of the Parousia the other charismata too (1 Corinthians 13:8 ff.) surely cease altogether: not simply that the imperfection of the way in which they are exercised ceases.

[2082] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 13:9-10 : reasons why Prophecy and Knowledge must be abolished. Though amongst the μείζονα (1 Corinthians 12:31) and rich in edification (1 Corinthians 14:6), these charisms are partial in scope, and therefore temporary: the fragmentary gives place to the complete.—ἐκ μέρους (see note, 1 Corinthians 12:27, and parls.): coming of a part, our knowledge and prophesying are limited by the limiting conditions of their origin. For the conscious imperfection of Prophecy, cf. 1 Peter 1:10 f.; this text has some bearing on the much-discussed “inerrancy” of Scripture.—ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ τὸ τέλειον, τὸ ἐκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται, “But when there comes the perfect (full-grown, mature; see note on 1 Corinthians 2:6), the ‘in part’ will be abolished”: cf. Ephesians 4:13 f., where τέλειος is contrasted with νήπιος as here; also Php 3:11 ff. This τελείωσις is brought about at the παρουσία—it “comes” with the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:7 above); that of Ephesians 4. is some what earlier.

9. and we prophesy in part] All inspired utterances are but partial revelations of Divine Truth.

1 Corinthians 13:9. Ἐκ μέρους, in part) Not only does the apostle say this, This prophecy and this knowledge, which we have, are imperfect; for the same must be said even of love, we love only in part [not perfectly]; but such is the nature of prophecy itself, with the exception of the one prophet Jesus Christ, and such the nature of knowledge, that they ought to be reckoned among the things, which are in part, [not merely because they are now imperfect, but also] because we use them only in this imperfect life. On the phrase, comp. the note on Romans 15:15, I have written more boldly.

Verse 9. - We know in part. The expression applies directly to religious knowledge, and should be a rebuke to the pretence to infallibility and completeness which is sometimes usurped by religious men. 1 Corinthians 13:9
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