Recently a friend asked the question: How do you respond to someone who uses the last part of Mark 16 to support miracles today?
I would show them how the scripture, Mark 16:17-18, testifies that the miraculous powers would follow those who believe, but, it does not tell how long those powers would follow God’s children.
Acts 2:39 recounts how long the promise was to be in effect. The promise was only for two generations, to “you and your children.” Some argue that the “all that are afar off” refers to unlimited time. However, that is not what the scriptures teach. The Greek word for “afar off’ is Strong’s #3112 (makran) –literally “at a distance.”
The Lord identifies those who are afar off by using the same word in Acts 22:21. Here, the Lord promised to send Paul “afar off” (3112) to the Gentiles. Again, in Ephesians 2:13, 17 he testifies that the Ephesians were the ones who were “afar off” (# 3112).
A further consideration is in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 where he testifies that three of the spiritual gifts will fail, cease and vanish away—one of which is the 1 Corinthians 12:8 gift of knowledge. The “knowledge” he speaks of that will vanish away, cannot be the knowledge of God’s word. Jesus testified that his words would never pass away (Matt. 24:35). Which knowledge would then vanish away? The only alternative “knowledge” in Scripture that could vanish away is the spiritual gift of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8).
The Lord further states in 1 Corinthians 13:9 that the knowledge and prophesy Paul had was only in part. The knowledge and prophecy in part are in contrast to that which was perfect (5046 -teleios – that which is complete). The same three gifts of the Holy Spirit–tongues, prophecy, and knowledge, are listed as spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12: 8-10. 1 Corinthians 13:10 identifies when “that which is in part” would be done away. That which is in part would be done away when “that which is perfect” is come. Thus the Lord identified when the spiritual gifts would cease.
Some believe that which is perfect refers to Christ. That belief cannot be true because the word “perfect” is in neuter tense. If the word “perfect” referred to Christ, it would be in the masculine gender. Therefore ‘that which is perfect’ cannot refer to Christ.
The Lord stated that when the knowledge of God was “perfect” (complete), that is, when all truth was revealed, then that which was in part would be done away. Thus when all knowledge (all truth) had been revealed, the gift of knowledge was no longer necessary. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the Lord through Paul states that the scriptures (that existed at that time) could make the man of God perfect. What is incomplete cannot make a man complete. Thus, the scriptures had to have been completed by AD 68 when 2 Timothy was written.
Further, the illustration in 1 Corinthians 13:11 tells us that when the church was “a child,” it had things which were only to do with its childhood. When the church became “a man,” those things of its “childhood” would be put away. In context, the things of the church’s childhood were the spiritual gifts which were done away when that which was perfect had come. When all things had been revealed, then Paul would know himself as he was fully known in 1 Corinthians 13:12. Paul must have still been alive when that which is perfect had come. Therefore, the things in part, the spiritual gifts, would be done away at least before Paul died.