Temporary Spiritual Sign Gifts

Charity [love] never faileth:

but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;

whether there be tongues, they shall cease;

whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

I Corinthians 13:8

Whether some spiritual gifts were meant to be permanent and some temporary has been the subject of debate among Christians for centuries. The Apostle Paul made it clear that some spiritual gifts would endure and some would pass from use. This chart is a quick summary of this in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:

Miraculous sign gifts were meant for the apostolic age when the gospel was first taking root around the known world. Genuine miracles authenticated the teaching of apostles and their immediate disciples (like Timothy and Titus who were trained by Paul) about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. As gatherings of new believers scattered, they met together in what they called “churches” (Greek – EKKLESIA). God gave spiritual gifts to people in those assemblies (I Corinthians 12: Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11-12 ) to encourage them and help them grow spiritually. As the churches matured, they received the inspired writings of apostles and gifted prophets for a solid doctrinal foundation (Ephesians 2:20, 3:5; II Peter 3:2) that would be preserved into the future. As the first century came to a close, the apostles had died out and the near-apostles taught by them were dwindling. The apostles and prophets left behind what we call the New Testament gospels and epistles.

With the completed collection of New Testament writings (II Peter 1:3), some spiritual sign gifts were no longer needed: the miraculous, authenticating sign gifts (healing, tongues) and the revelatory gifts (prophecy, inspired knowledge and wisdom). Other spiritual gifts, however, continued in local churches to encourage, edify, and exhort through gifts like faith, hope, and love (I Corinthians 13:13).

Every local assembly of believers is a marvelous collection of spiritually gifted individuals who function together as the Body of Christ. God’s supernatural power working through Spirit-filled individuals demonstrates the vibrant life of Jesus Christ to the world.