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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements



Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 4

Preliminary Proof: When the Gifts Would Cease
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 1
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 2
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 3
Preliminary Proof: Counterargument 4
Preliminary Proof: Conclusions
Preliminary Proof: Additional Commentary

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5



No. 4 - If Paul taught that the gifts would continue until Jesus' return then Paul was a False Prophet.

Finally, some might assert that Paul could not have been promising the Corinthians that the gifts would continue in them until Christ's return because that would make Paul a false prophet. For, the gifts have indeed disappeared, which historical record documents. And the Corinthians certainly did not live to see Christ's return.

But this charge is unfounded for 3 reasons.

First, while the entire early Church thought it was possible that Christ might return in their lifetimes, they also understood the possibility that Christ might NOT return in their lifetimes. So long as the Corinthians understood that Christ might not return in their lifetimes, they would not have taken Paul's words here as a promise that they would live to see Christ's return. Instead, understanding that they might die before Christ's return, the Corinthians would have simply understood that Paul was reassuring them that they would not lose the gifts because, as a general rule, the gifts were supposed to continue until the end of the Age.

Second, the fact that the gifts disappeared before the end of the Age would not make Paul a false prophet if ancient Christians, such as the Corinthians, understood Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 transcended to the Church as a whole and not just to those particular Corinthians to whom Paul was writing. And this is not an unfounded assumption. We can sufficiently demonstrate that early Christians did indeed take Paul's words to the Corinthians to transcend to the entire Church. Consider the words of the Ante-Nicene Church writer Asterius Urbanus, who wrote in refutation of the Montanist heretics before the close of the second century AD.

"For if, after Quadratus and the woman Ammia in Philadelphia, as they say, the women who attached themselves to Montanus succeeded to the gift of prophecy, let them show us which of them thus succeeded Montanus and his women. For the apostle deems that the gift of prophecy should abide in all the Church up to the time of the final advent. But they will not be able to show the gift to be in their possession even at the present time, which is the fourteenth year only from the death of Maximilla." (THE EXTANT WRITINGS OF ASTERIUS URBANUS. Book I. Chapter X.)

Notice 2 things from this passage from Asterius Urbanus. First, Asterius is using the presence of the gifts among the orthodox and the absence of the gifts among the heretics as proof for which of the two had the true testimony of God (this is similar to Justin Martyr's argument which we looked at earlier). Those with the sound doctrine of God had the gifts. Those without the gifts did not have the testimony of God. Thus, in the lifetimes of the apostles and afterward, the gifts were supposed to confirm who had sound doctrine and who did not. The gifts were always to act as confirmation of the teaching of Christ Jesus. The articulation of this view is evidence that this is an ancient belief among the Christians.

Second, and more to the point, notice that Asterius interprets Paul as teaching that "the gift of prophecy should abide in all the Church up to the time of" Christ's return. Compare Asterius and Paul's words side by side.

1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"For the apostle deems that the gift of prophecy should abide in all the Church up to the time of the final advent." (THE EXTANT WRITINGS OF ASTERIUS URBANUS. Book I. Chapter X.)

Compare this to Justin Martyr also. As we saw earlier, like Asterius, Justin Martyr also applied these words from Paul in 1 Corinthians transcendantly to the Church of his own day.

"For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time...so that in no respect are we deficient..." (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, CHAP. LXXXII.)

The only way that Asterius could have made this conclusion was if early Christians such as himself understood that Paul's words to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 transcended to "all the Church" rather than just those particular Corinthians. So, we have demonstrated also that the idea of transcendence in 1 Corinthains 1:6-8 is not a modern, novel contrivance. Rather, it is an ancient and orthodox understanding of the early Church employed by both Asterius Urbanus and Justin Martyr. This gives us 2 ancient and orthodox witnesses who testify to this ancient and orthodox nature of such an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:6-8. Likewise, it is no stretch to understand that the Corinthians themselves who first received this epistle from Paul also understood that he was not only referring to them when he spoke of the confirmation by the gifts continuing until the end when Christ returned. Even Paul's words indicate that the gifts served to prevent the Christians from deviating into error so that they would remain blameless on the day of Christ, which is just the way that Asterius is using the gifts to expose the heretics.

We should also note that Asterius' interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 is not simply an ancient interpretation, given that Asterius lived toward the end of second century AD. Asterius is also an Ante-Nicene interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1, which means it was written before the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), which marked the major formal turning point away from apostolic doctrine. In contrast, we should also note that the very first mention of any theory asserting that the gifts were supposed to pass away does not come until the Post-Nicene era, after this major doctrinal shift. For, the first appearances of doctrine asserting that the gifts were supposed to have passed away prior to the return of Christ comes with Augustine (354-430 AD), John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), and Gregory the Great (600 AD), which we demonstrated in our previous survey sections. So, this is also a clear case of Ante-Nicene doctrine from an orthodox writer of the second century versus Post-Nicene doctrine.

This brings us to our last point. And that is, why did the gifts disappear before the return of Christ? The answer is simple. As the Church moved away from Apostolic teaching into the teaching of the Gnostics and other heretics in the third and fourth century, the gifts disappeared because their purpose was to confirm the orthodox teaching. When the Church deviated too much from orthodox teaching, then the gifts disappeared because God could not confirm the new teaching, which was heretical.

And as long as the Church, including the Corinthians, understood that the continuation of the gifts was dependent upon whether or not the Church remained in the orthodox, sound teaching given by Jesus to the apostles, then the disappearance of the gifts would not make Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 a false prophecy or false promise. Instead, if the early Church, including the Corinthians, understood that the continuation of the Church was contingent, then the loss of the gifts would simply mean that the dependent variable had not occurred. For a more thorough demonstration that the early Church would have indeed understood that the gifts were contingent upon retaining sound, orthodox doctrine of the apostles, please visit our articles entitle, "What Happened to the Gifts: Scriptural Indications" Parts 1 and 2.

And, we have already thoroughly demonstrated in our article entitled, "Preterism Part 2: Olivet and the Transcendent You" that the early Christians had a built in awareness of transcendence that was inherited from Judaism with regard to such prophetic events as the return of Christ at the end of the Age.

So, neither the historic disappearance of the gifts nor Paul's reassurance to the Corinthians that the gifts would remain until the end would make Paul a false prophet. Therefore, this fourth counterclaim is also disproved and the original proof still stands.