Speaking in Tongues and 1 Cor. 13:11

Regarding speaking in tongues, what is 1 Cor. 13:11 saying? The verse says, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me". In this verse, the putting away of the so called childish ways of speaking, thinking and reasoning is parallel to the cessation of the gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge spoken of in 1 Cor. 13:8. The following points make this connection obvious -

I) 1 Cor. 13:11 is right in the middle of 1 Cor. 13:8-13 which is about the cessation of the three spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge.

II) In 1 Cor. 13:11, the word translated "put away" (G2673 - katargeo) is the same word that is used in 1 Cor. 13:8 where it talks about prophecy and knowledge ceasing. So, in saying "put away", Paul is talking about the cessation of speaking, thinking and reasoning.

III) Because verses 8 and 11 are both talking about the cessation of three things, it is obvious that speaking, thinking and reasoning are parallel to the gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge.
Speaking = tongues
Thinking = knowledge
Reasoning = prophecy

Therefore, 1 Cor. 13:11 is saying, "When I was a child, I talked like a child [tongues], I thought like a child [knowledge], I reasoned like a child [prophecy]. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me".

Paul figuratively refers to tongues, prophesy and knowledge as "childish ways" because they were for the infant church and were put away, ceased, as he became a man, that is, as the church matured. Tongues, being a sign of judgement (1 Cor. 14:21-22), ceased with the early church, some time after Jerusalem’s judgement in 70AD and God stopped giving biblical prophecy and knowledge to men when Revelation was written (around 96AD) because He had nothing further to add to His written Word.

Some suggest that 1 Cor. 13:11 is about abuse or love or moving on spiritually but the context of the verse rules these out. The verse is right in the middle of three chapters on spiritual gifts and, further still, it is firmly anchored in the middle of six verses which are talking about the cessation of tongues, prophecy and knowledge so the context is clearly about the cessation of the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy and knowledge and not about things like abuse, love or moving on spiritually.

Another suggestion is that “becoming a man”, in 1 Cor. 13:11, is talking about maturing when Jesus returns but this cannot be as, at the Rapture, we will not “become a man” but be totally transformed into spiritual beings, no longer even human (1 Cor. 15:50-53). Sudden change from a flesh and blood human being into an immortal, spiritual being can hardly be called maturing.

All this, I believe, shows that tongues, prophesy and knowledge ceased with the early church.

A final point for thought:
Some believe that, in 1 Cor. 13:9-10, “the perfect” is Jesus and that all gifts cease when He returns but this can’t be true for two reasons:
I) “the perfect” is neuter gender, not masculine, so it cannot be referring to Jesus.
II) Even if “the perfect” was Jesus, 1 Cor. 13:9-10 say that only prophecy and knowledge cease at the coming of “the perfect”, not all the gifts.
The following books on the cessation of tongues, prophecy and knowledge are free to download -

All About Speaking In Tongues by an ex-Pentecostal Pastor -

Sola Scriptura – very good, author unknown -

The Doctrine Of Tongues written by a New Zealand Barrister in the 1960s -

Other books and articles -

This article can be downloaded as a PDF or an MP3 from -

Mick Alexander

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