1 Corinthians 13:10
ESV - 10 But when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
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Greek: teleios (G5046) is used to refer perfect/that which has reached an end. ✿ It means Prophecies that have been fulfilled have reached an end. ✿ Tongues and knowledge will be superseded by a more complete knowledge and means of communication.
I agree with your initial conclusion, i.e. the ‘perfect’ will be the eternal state, when we in glory see God face to face. However, this is more of a commitment to the timing of the ‘perfect’ and not a description of the actual essence of the ‘perfect’. The eternal state ties the ‘perfect’ to God’s glory, but what is His glory? The short answer is His agape love. Strong’s defines the word ‘perfect’ as: complete. Aside from the finished work of Jesus’ death on the cross, to my knowledge there is only one thing in the NT that is completed. In 1 Jn. 4:17-18 we find that agape love is perfected/completed (v17) and upon completion it casts out fear (v18). Fear is still with us today. Obviously the ‘perfect’ is not here yet, but those resurrected at the Rapture will receive their glorified bodies, and be perfected/completed in the express image (Heb. 1:3 NKJV) of God’s nature, the radiance of His glory (Heb. 1:3 NASB). When the Trinity said, “Let us make man in our image” their intent was to rid man of his sinful nature over a protracted period of time, and change him into a spirit being, completed in the glory of God. This is not exclusive to man, but it pertains to the whole Creation as shown in Romans 8:18-25. It states “ For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” Rom. 8:20-21. God’s glory and His agape love go hand in hand. This can be seen in Jn. 17:21-26. In verse 21 Jesus asks the Father that those whom the Father has chosen would be one as the Father is in Him, and He in the Father. In verse 22, we see that the mechanism for being one is the gift of God’s glory to those whom God has chosen. It reads, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” This has to be the Holy Spirit. He is given to us as “the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” Eph. 1:14. Then in Jn. 17 verse 26, we see that the glory that is in us, and makes us one with the Father and the Son, is equated to God’s agape love: “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." From 1 Corinthians 13:12 we know that the ‘perfect’ comes when we are face to face with Jesus. It is then that we will be the righteousness of God and know the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:9-10). It is at the resurrection that we shall be perfected (Phil. 3:11-12). 1 Jn. 2:29 tells us that when we know (eido: to see, be aware, behold) that Jesus is righteous, we will know (gnosko: be aware, perceive, understand) that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. And 1 Jn. 3:2 tells us that when Jesus is revealed, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Jesus is revealed at His Second Coming. It is at the Rapture that the mystery of Christ’s will, will be made known to those on earth and in heaven, that our inheritance is to be completed in His glory (Eph. 1:7-12). 1 Pet. 5:4 tells us “when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. And, Col. 3:4 tells us “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” It is then that we will be forever free from our sinful nature. The victory is declared in 1 Jn. 3:9 “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” And the reason is declared in 1 Jn. 3:8 “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
The way that I understand this verse, the word translated perfect in this passage refers to a "state" that is the opposite of our current state of limited understanding. In other words, when we achieve a state of complete knowledge and understanding. Paul is, I think, encouraging us to realize our limited state of understanding now and to look forward to the time (whenever that will be, at resurrection or just spiritual maturity or when we are reunited with Jesus at The Rapture, whenever) when we have complete understanding. Paul may even just be encouraging us to grow spiritually and teaching us to use Love as the base of our growth.
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