"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:8-12).
As a young Christian, I was taught that the Holy Spirit ceased to give spiritual gifts to believers when the New Testament writings were complete. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 was the primary text being used to support the conclusion. As my teachers (who were very good men) reasoned, the "perfection" referenced in the passage was the complete New Testament, since "perfection" could also be translated as "completion." When the New Testament was completed, the gifts of the Spirit would cease.
However, I became skeptical of their interpretation of the passage. Was the Holy Spirit intending to communicate that idea when he inspired those verses? Did the apostle Paul have the completion of the New Testament in mind when he wrote those verses? Would the Corinthian Christians who received the message have interpreted Paul's words in such a manner? Nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians suggested an affirmative answer to any of my questions. The interpretation I had been taught seemed to have been forced onto the passage, rather than derived from it.
A better explanation of the passage could be found in understanding "perfection" as referring to the return of Jesus Christ. Paul had already written, "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5). In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul would describe in more detail the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the transformation of believers. Until then, as I understand 1 Corinthians 13, the Holy Spirit would continue to provide God's people with spiritual gifts.
I have not found anything within the context of 1 Corinthians supporting the idea that spiritual gifts were expected to end at the completion of the New Testament. However, I have found evidence within the text that the return of Jesus would usher in a time of completion or perfection. Therefore, I must conclude that spiritual gifts were expected to continue until Christ returns.