RELATING TO OUR SUBJECT
All of this may appear to be unrelated to our subject, but that is not at all the case. I have affirmed the Word of God cannot be corrupted. More than that, Jesus has said it is easier for heaven and earth to fail than for one tittle to be omitted in the text. To put it another way, it is more difficult for a scribe to forget to cross a "t," than for heaven and earth to pass away. That is certainly something for the higher critics to ponder! This is true, primarily because the Lord identified with His Word, and will not allow it to be in the charge of capricious men.
Secondly, Divine purpose is enmeshed in the text in a manner that is beyond the reach of men. First, it cannot be perceived by the enemies of the Lord. Second, it is the appointed means of bringing men to glory. Both conditions make it impossible to so distort Scripture it cannot function as God intended. Candidly, that is a remarkable circumstance for which we must give thanks!The Completion of the Canon?
A traditional view held by several, is that First Corinthians 13:10 is referring to the annulling of miraculous gifts upon the completion of the Scriptural canon. "This position considers the "tongues," "prophecies," and "knowledge" as fragmentary parts of a whole. Thus, according to this postulate, when the Bible was completed the prophetic fragments ceased to be given.
The question here is whether the words of inspired men were fragments of a whole (not yet completed), or a limited perspective to a restricted constituency. To put it another way, did holy men of God deliver parts of a puzzle, or did they deliver the complete Word of God bearing upon the situations they addressed? Was the restriction in their message, or in the condition of their hearers and the nature of life in this world? Did any of the Apostles preach a defective or incomplete Gospel?
This position, altogether too common among several students of Scripture, represents the "perfect" as the completion of the Scriptural canon, or the full Bible. This view clashes sharply with several statements of Scripture. Paul, for example, declared "the whole counsel of God" to the people (Acts 20:27). He also "kept nothing" that was "profitable" from them (Acts 20:21). Paul said he had been "entrusted with the Gospel," not a fragment of it (1 Thess 2:4).
What Peter preached at Pentecost is nowhere represented as incomplete or fragmentary. Nor, indeed was Paul's synagogue proclamations deficient, requiring the perspective of Peter, or some other Apostle, to make them complete. What is more, the "spiritual gifts" of prophecy and knowledge are not represented as declaring parts of a whole to later be completed. They were a means of building up the people of God, not merely informing them. The fact that saints require edification, or building up, describes a temporal situation.
The Basic Element
The basic element of information in the New Covenant is the Gospel of Christ--the proclamation of what the Lord has done. It is a message, not a directive. The information itself is neither voluminous nor complicated. If it is not comprehended, it is not because too few pieces of the puzzle are in possession. We are plainly told if the Gospel "is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor 4:3-4, NASB).
What edification would occur by pointing the Corinthians to the completion of all sixty-six books of the Bible? The very suggestion would make provision for unbelief and doubt, not faith and confidence!
The reference to the cessation of "tongues," "prophecy," and "knowledge" was calculated to accentuate the foolishness of boasting in them. They were a means to an end, not an end of themselves.
Where is this phenomenon (the completion of he canon) ever clearly and meaningfully addressed in Scripture? I do not question the reality of such a thing--i.e., the completion of the Scriptural canon. That completion, however, is more owing to Divine providence than to the accumulation of segmented and partial prophecies.
If we choose to rule out the providence of God in the compilation of Scripture, our faith will be dashed upon the rocks of fickle human opinion! Further, to base a doctrine upon such "canonicity" appears to me to be the height of human folly.
Jesus is the "Beginning and the End," the "First and the Last," the "Alpha and Omega," and the "Author and Finisher of our faith" (Rev 1:11; 21:6; Heb 12:2). We do well to associate these aspects of His remedial role with the inspiration and compilation of what is commonly called the "New Testament." The existence of Scripture confirms this to be the case, for the world has often attempted to destroy it. Their attempts, however, have all been frustrated by Divine providence!
What Would The Corinthians Have Gained?
What would the Corinthians have gained when the "canon" was completed that they did not have at the time of this epistle? What was there about the Word of God which they received that was not adequate? Mind you, I am not for a moment suggesting that parts of our Bible are irrelevant. I AM saying that the essentials or foundations of the text have not changed one whit from the message preached by the Apostles.
This is a remarkable condition, confirming that Scripture is, in fact, the very Word of God. No man is capable of encapsulating such a remarkable breadth of reality in words. Truly, "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . " (2 Tim 3:16, KJV)
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).