Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Until He Comes

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

12 βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾽ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον· ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

This is a passage that should be taught in freshman orientation at ever seminary. The problem is that many seminaries' theological presuppositions won't let that happen. Nevertheless, this is a great verse for anyone who studies theology. That means every Christian, but seminarians in particular.

This verse comes at the end of Paul's famous "love chapter." If you've been to a wedding you've likely heard it recited. Paul explains the virtue of love. Of course, this chapter comes in the middle of a discussion on spiritual gifts and it does not necessarily pertain to marriage, but it still sounds nice as part of the ceremony.

The question in this verse is about what it is that Paul awaits. Who or what will he see πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον? There are those who strongly believe in the cessation of all miraculous gifts (i.e. the "sign gifts") and they will say that this refers to the completion of the canon. Paul was in the middle of writing the New Testament and, therefore, he was not able to see everything clearly. I don't think that makes sense.

The language here seems to refer to the return of Christ. This also seems to correspond to the end of chapter 15 which discusses the final resurrection of the saints upon Christ's return. I have a lot of Bibles, but none of them have a face. The phrase τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην also bears inspection. Quite literally this would be, "and then I will know as I was known." However, various lexicons say that with regards to spiritual things this has more of a sense of "fully knowing," which explains the ESV translation.

Does the Bible know me? Only in as much as it is related to Christ as in John 1:1. I think it makes a lot more sense to think of this as Christ. He knows me. I know Him in part. But when I join Him in eternity then I will know Him fully. 

Is this a hope that you have? If not, repent and turn to Christ. A glorious future awaits those who know Him, even if we do only know Him as looking through a foggy window.

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