THE CASE OF I CORINTHIANS 13:8-10.
It seems best not to alter all the numbers below 40, so instead of making the numbers end at 55, we leave it at 54, and insert 40A.
40A) I Corinthians 13:8-10
"Love never fails. But whether
there are prophecies, they will come to an end;
whether there are tongues, they will cease;
whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when
that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away."
Unfortunately, the KJV has after prophecies, "they will fail". This has nothing whatever to do with the Greek as rendered into modern English. Worse, the NKJV keeps this.
The actual import of the Greek term, as found in Thayer's Greek dictionary, is quite clear. First, one should note that it is the same Greek verb that appears both after "knowledge" and "prophecies". The meaning is this: that the thing concerned has finished its job, is complete, no longer functioning. The verb is katagew, here used in the future passive. In that mode, it means ... that the thing in view will be 'rendered idle', or 'caused to cease' or 'put an end to'. With persons, it can mean discharged or loosed from what had held it or its bound place.
The concept, then, has nothing whatsoever to do with a break-down, something that is a failure. It is rather something that having done all, has no more ground to continue, is now out of functional usage, perhaps like some of the old ploughs you see in farming communities, on display to give recognition to former times. The ploughs are BY NO MEANS being disparaged: quite the contrary. They are being given their due, and remembered for the vital and valuable work which they once performed.
The reason why the prophecies, on the one hand, and 'knowledge' on the other, are to cease to be in active performance once one is in heaven, when and when alone 'that which is perfect' is come to all who are the Lord's (which is the topic), is simple. Thus, when the night lights of the train work in the darkness, it is of great value; when, however, the day comes, they are no longer functionally relevant. You would have no occasion to use them: they are finished, done away, rendered idle, caused to cease. Daylight is so much better, revealing what formerly was visible, but not so manifest!
The daylight in this case, that is the consummation, the end of the matter, that to which Paul looks in terms of being a 'child' and becoming a 'man' by contrast, is nothing other than heaven's direct gaze (Revelation 22), following the resurrection. There is no other possible understanding for seeing God 'face to face'. Here IN PART in the order of events; there KNOWING AS KNOWN, seeing face to face is the order. Here the one is contrasted with the other.
Accordingly, 'knowledge', Paul explains in I Corinthians 13, which is to 'vanish away' is something currently present in PART, at this point. When that which is perfect is come, then what is in part will no more have a bearing. Important as a PART was once, occasioning insight and understanding, yet it is now no longer functionally operative, for the WHOLE in the resurrection, is available. The 'part' has succeeded in being a vital part in the 'night' ' but when the 'day' comes, with Christ for His people, it will be outshone as is a torch by the sunlight.
It is therefore best to translate this in some such way as 'come to an end'. Since 'knowledge' in the same way and with the same Greek verb is to have a similar terminus to that of 'prophecy', then we could indeed use the same English verb to translate 'knowledge shall come to an end"; but this too does not fit happily into the context, and suggests in English more than the Greek provides. In translating Greek, you have terms with their own range and spread of meaning, and English partial equivalents, with theirs. It is good to use the genius of the one language and that of the other, so that the best match of English words to Greek, in the context provides the total sense, without doing violence to any one word at the same time.
Hence we could translate as above for both of these cases, one concerning 'knowledge' and the other concerning 'prophecies'. "Vanish away" for knowledge certainly has a particular feeling associated, and when we are given the exact sense, by 'know in part', it is so clear that this rather brusque rendering has a certain felicity. It seems well kept, and only the 'fail' used for the same verb in translation in I Cor. 13:8, needs to change.
Freed from ambiguity or imported senses not present in the original, therefore we so translate, as above in blue, at the outset of this presentation.
In the case of "Love", on the other hand, at the start of I Cor. 13:8, the verb used here is another one: and in this case, it does signify what English translates as 'fail'. Hence this can be kept and only one word, and not this one at this point in the translation, needs replacement. It is rather amusing, in a way, that in the KJV as in the NKJV, the two verbs which are the same in Greek, have different renderings (quite possible, as above), while the one which is different, as in "love never fails", is made the same as one of the two instances of katagew. Thus the twins are separated, and what are not twins are joined together.
Readily however is the case rectified as above. The NASV simply puts 'done away' for both the partial knowledge and the fulfilled prophecies. As often, the NKJV does not seem to have the flair of some, though it seems more reliable than a considerable number. It is best to study the Greek, consider what has been done, look at the context, ensure that there is insurance as far as may be against misinterpretation in the rendering into English, and to remember the point about the profiles of the Greek and English terms available, some languages having more options than others, and using the best interlacing available, in terms of the possibilities on the one hand, and the sweep and content of the utterance on the other. In this way, felicity and art, on the one hand, and accuracy and clarity on the other, may be kept.