Understanding Spiritual Gifts, a Verse by Verse Study of 1 Corinthians 12-14, by Robert L. Thomas (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978, 1999), 299 pp., paper $10.50

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Thomas’ book is a comprehensive commentary on First Corinthians 12-14 with particular focus on the sign gifts. Understanding Spiritual Gifts is extremely thorough, as might be expected from Dr. Thomas, and from any book that contains 62 pages of footnotes, a five page selected bibliography of works cites and scriptural, subject and author indexes. This study is obviously for the serious student, but any reader will be rewarded.

The author, as he promises, provides verse-by-verse commentary on these three chapters. In addition, he offers six appendixes dealing with subjects such as descriptions of the spiritual gifts, how to find one’s spiritual gifts, and the ancient tests for New Testament canonicity. But the heart of the volume is Thomas’ argument for cessationism. He demonstrates that the revelatory gifts were signs of authenticity of the apostles and prophets and ceased to function with the completion of the New Testament Scriptures. He deals particularly with prophecy and Wayne Grudem’s view, which he dismantles well.

Thomas’ understanding of 1 Corinthians 13:10-12 is valuable. He discusses in detail three views: the maturity of the church, the return of Christ and the completion of the New Testament (pp. 79-83, 123-132, 141, 236-240). No position is without problems but Thomas leans towards a combination of the return of Christ and closure of Scripture.

This is a valuable resource that should be read by all serious students of Scripture in light of modern teachings on continual revelation today.

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