I've been considering the Holy Spirit. I wonder: if you were left only to the scriptures, what would you conclude about the Holy Spirit and whether or not the miraculous aspect of God's gift should be expected to have ceased [1 Corinthians 13], or to continue -- all under God's sovereign discretion, of course. Also, I was looking through various comments from the early post-apostolic writers about the gifts and I just can't find anything that seems to support the view that the gifts ceased after the apostles. Do you have any idea when this view was first made popular? -- Java Bradley

Let me recommend a book to you. I recently read Warfield's excellent book on the Spirit. It is called Counterfeit Miracles. This little volume is well worth the time spent reading it. (It was written in the 19th century.)

The evidence from Church history, I think, shows the miracles dying down perhaps a century after the apostles. In the proto-Catholic period things are beginning to cross the line, and by the 300s things are getting hokey. So I do think that the miraculous gifts came to an end, though perhaps not in the first century.

(Of course this is not to say that the gifts of the Spirit have passed away, since the majority of them were natural, not supernatural, and are still here today. For more on this, see my book The Spirit.)

Here is one more thing to consider. Ephesians 4:11-13 is the parallel passage to 1 Corinthians 13:8ff. That is, if the apostles are no longer with us, then we must have reached the "maturity" envisioned by Ephesians 4. After all, the N.T. apostles and N.T. prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11) ministered in the foundational stage of the Christian church. This is a time to which we will never return.

If this is the case, then whatever the "perfect/complete/mature" is in 1 Corinthians 13, it is in the past. (I do not accept the argument that James 1:25 shows the perfect to be the the N.T.) As Paul said, once this state of affairs was reached, minor gifts like languages, prophecy, and healing would drop away, no more necessary than scaffolding for a building whose construction is complete.