Prophecy and Knowledge are temporary, but Love lasts forever

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (I Corinthians 13:9-10 NIV)

The verses above are difficult for me to understand, but I will explain what I think they mean. Paul is apparently saying here that the gift of knowledge and the gift of prophecy are “partial” gifts, because they are gifts given in various degrees to different people in the church, and everyone is lacking in some area of knowledge and prophecy. No one has all knowledge. There is much knowledge that many of us lack, and there are many things still future that none of us have foreseen. God has granted some knowledge and prophecy to be revealed to us through the Bible and through nature, but most knowledge is still held back until the day that our bodies are resurrected and we spend eternity with Christ. In that day, the partial gifts of prophecy and knowledge will disappear, because all things will be known to all saints alike. People in the eternal state will not be talking about prophecy or facts or scholarship; these areas of study will be obsolete. We certainly won’t have arguments about theology, since we will understand it all. The divine nature will not need to be explained theoretically since there will be no barriers to our communion with God. Therefore, Paul says that prophecy and knowledge will disappear. But love lasts forever. In heaven, instead of constantly debating prophecies and doctoral theses, we will be basking in the love of God. The same love that is essential to the role of every Christian in the church today will still be essential in heaven. Love will be everywhere. Love is not a partial gift like knowledge or prophecy: it is a discipline that God expects all believers to excel at. It is what sets us apart from unbelievers. Therefore, let us never treat theology or prophecy as more important than Christ-like love in this life, since both of those things will disappear in the next.

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