Perfect; Perfection

pur'-fekt, per-fek'-shun (shalem, tamim; teleios, teleiotes):

1. In the Old Testament:

"Perfect" in the Old Testament is the translation of shalem, "finished," "whole," "complete," used (except in De 25:15, "perfect weight") of persons, e.g. a "perfect heart," i.e. wholly or completely devoted to Yahweh (1Ki 8:61, etc.; 1Ch 12:38; Isa 38:3, etc.); tamim, "complete," "perfect," "sound or unblemished," is also used of persons and of God, His way, and law ("Noah was a just man and perfect," the Revised Version margin "blameless" (Ge 6:9); "As for God, his way is perfect" (Ps 18:30); "The law of Yahweh is perfect" (Ps 19:7), etc.); tam, with the same, meaning, occurs only in Job, except twice in Psalms (Job 1:1,8; 2:3, etc.; Ps 37:37; 64:4); kalil, "complete," and various other words are translated "perfect."

Perfection is the translation of various words so translated once only: kalil (La 2:15); mikhlal, "completeness" (Ps 50:2); minleh, "possession" (Job 15:29, the King James Version "neither shall the prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth," the American Standard Revised Version "neither shall their possessions be extended on the earth," margin "their produce bend to the earth"; the English Revised Version reverses this text and margin); tikhlah, "completeness," or "perfection (Ps 119:96); takhlith (twice), "end," "completeness" (Job 11:7, "Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" Job 28:3, "searcheth out all the Revised Version (British and American) the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "to the furthest bound"; compare Job 26:10, "unto the confines of light and darkness"); tom, "perfect," "completeness" (Isa 47:9, the King James Version "They shall come upon thee in their perfection," the Revised Version (British and American) "in their full measure"). the Revised Version margin gives the meaning of "the Urim and the Thummim" (Ex 28:30. etc.) as "the Lights and the Perfections."

2. In the New Testament:

In the New Testament "perfect" is usually the tr of teleios, primarily, "having reached the end," "term," "limit," hence, "complete," "full," "perfect" (Mt 5:48, "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"; Mt 19:21, "if thou wouldst be perfect; Eph 4:13, the King James Version "till we all come .... unto a perfect man," the Revised Version (British and American) "full-grown"; Php 3:15, "as many as are perfect," the American Revised Version margin "full-grown"; 1Co 2:6; Col 1:28, "perfect in Christ"; Col 4:12; Jas 3:2 margin, etc.).

Other words are teleioo. "to perfect," "to end," "complete" (Lu 13:32, "The third day I am perfected," the Revised Version margin "end my course"; Joh 17:23, "perfected into one"; 2Co 12:9; Php 3:12, the Revised Version (British and American) "made perfect"; Heb 2:10, etc.); also epiteleo, "to bring through to an end" (2Co 7:1, "perfecting holiness in the fear of God"; Ga 3:3, "Are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "perfected in the flesh," margin "Do ye now make an end in the flesh?"); katartizo "to make quite ready," "to make complete," is translated "perfect," "to perfect" (Mt 21:16, "perfected praise"; Lu 6:40, "Every one when he is perfected shall be as his teacher"; 1Co 1:10; 2Co 13:11, "be perfected"; 1Th 3:10; 1Pe 5:10, the Revised Version margin "restore"); akribos, "accurately," "diligently," is translated "perfect" (Lu 1:3, "having had perfect understanding," the Revised Version (British and American) "having traced .... accurately"; Ac 18:26 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "more accurately"). We have also artios, "fitted," "perfected" (2Ti 3:7, the Revised Version (British and American) "complete"); pleroo, "to fill," "to make full" (Re 3:2, the American Standard Revised Version "perfected," the English Revised Version "fulfilled"); katartismos, "complete adjustment," "perfecting" (Eph 4:12, "for the perfecting of the saints").

Perfection is the translation of katartisis "thorough adjustment," "fitness" (2Co 13:9, the Revised Version (British and American) "perfecting"); of teleiosis (Heb 7:11); of teleiotess (Heb 6:1, the Revised Version margin "full growth"); it is translated "perfectness" (Col 3:14); "perfection" in Lu 8:14 is the translation of telesphoreo, "to bear on to completion or perfection." In Apocrypha "perfect," "perfection," etc., are for the most part the translation of words from telos, "the end," e.g. The Wisdom of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiasticus 34:8; 44:17; 45:8, suntelia "full end"; 24:28; 50:11.

The Revised Version (British and American) has "perfect" for "upright" (2Sa 22:24,26 twice); for "sound" (Ps 119:80); for "perform" (Php 1:16); for "undefiled" (Ps 119:1, margin "upright in way"); for "perfect peace, and at such a time" (Ezr 7:12), "perfect and so forth"; for "He maketh my way perfect" (2Sa 22:33), "He guideth the perfect in his way," margin "or, `setteth free.' According to another reading, `guideth my way in perfectness'"; "shall himself perfect," margin "restore," for, "make you perfect" (1Pe 5:10); "perfecter" for "finisher" (Heb 12:2); "perfectly" is omitted in the Revised Version (British and American) (Mt 14:36); "set your hope perfectly on" for the King James Version "hope to the end for" (1Pe 1:13).

3. The Christian Ideal:

Perfection is the Christian ideal and aim, but inasmuch as that which God has set before us is infinite--"Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48)--absolute perfection must be forever beyond, not only any human, but any finite, being; it is a divine ideal forever shining before us, calling us upward, and making endless progression possible. As noted above, the perfect man, in the Old Testament phrase, was the man whose heart was truly or wholly devoted to God. Christian perfection must also have its seat in such a heart, but it implies the whole conduct and the whole man, conformed thereto as knowledge grows and opportunity arises, or might be found. There may be, of course, a relative perfection, e.g. of the child as a child compared with that of the man. The Christian ought to be continually moving onward toward perfection, looking to Him who is able to "make you perfect in every good thing (or work) to do his will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (Heb 13:21).

W. L. Walker

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