The various Biblical terms connoting 'perfection' differ in shade of meaning between wholeness, the attaining of an end or ideal, complete adjustment, full equipment in fitness for an appointed task. They are sparingly applied to God; In OT His way, work, knowledge, law are 'perfect' (Ps 18:30; De 32:4; Job 37:16; Ps 19:7); in NT the same term is used of His will, His gifts, His law (Ro 12:2; Jas 1:17,25), while Christ describes the Father in heaven as 'perfect,' and therefore as the source and pattern of moral ideals (Mt 5:48). The sense in which perfection is attributed to or urged upon men must naturally vary according to the moral conceptions of the time.
1. In OT.
This is the history of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect amongst his generations: Noah walked with God.
And Abram was ninety-nine years old, when Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God: walk before my face, and be perfect.
For I am Jehovah your God; and ye shall hallow yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy; and ye shall not make yourselves unclean through any manner of crawling thing which creepeth on the earth.
Speak unto all the assembly of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Holy shall ye be, for I Jehovah your God am holy.
He is the Rock, his work is perfect, For all his ways are righteousness; A God of faithfulness without deceit, Just and right is he.
and that your heart may be perfect with Jehovah our God, to walk in his statutes and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
And it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as the heart of David his father.
And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God, as the heart of David his father.
because David did that which was right in the sight of Jehovah, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Urijah the Hittite.
And he did what was right in the sight of Jehovah, yet not with a perfect heart.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and this man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and abstained from evil.
And Jehovah said to Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and abstaineth from evil?
And he took a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat among the ashes.
Dost thou know about the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him that is perfect in knowledge?
And I was upright with him, and kept myself from mine iniquity.
With the gracious thou dost shew thyself gracious; with the upright man thou dost shew thyself upright;
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of Jehovah is tried: he is a shield to all that trust in him.
The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple;
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be perfect, and I shall be innocent from great transgression.
Jehovah knoweth the days of the perfect; and their inheritance shall be for ever:
For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it;
The righteousness of the perfect maketh plain his way; but the wicked falleth by his own wickedness.
Think not that I am come to make void the law or the prophets; I am not come to make void, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Until the heaven and the earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass. read more. Whosoever then shall do away with one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whosoever shall practise and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Ye have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not kill; but whosoever shall kill shall be subject to the judgment. But I say unto you, that every one that is lightly angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment; but whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be subject to be called before the sanhedrim; but whosoever shall say, Fool, shall be subject to the penalty of the hell of fire. If therefore thou shouldest offer thy gift at the altar, and there shouldest remember that thy brother has something against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and first go, be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Make friends with thine adverse party quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest some time the adverse party deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say to thee, Thou shalt in no wise come out thence till thou hast paid the last farthing. Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that every one who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. But if thy right eye be a snare to thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand be a snare to thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. It has been said too, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a letter of divorce. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for cause of fornication, makes her commit adultery, and whosoever marries one that is put away commits adultery. Again, ye have heard that it has been said to the ancients, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt render to the Lord what thou hast sworn. But I say unto you, Do not swear at all; neither by the heaven, because it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, because it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your word be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; but what is more than these is from evil. Ye have heard that it has been said, Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say unto you, not to resist evil; but whoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other; and to him that would go to law with thee and take thy body coat, leave him thy cloak also. And whoever will compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. To him that asks of thee give, and from him that desires to borrow of thee turn not away. Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father who is in the heavens; for he makes his sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust. For if ye should love those who love you, what reward have ye? Do not also the tax-gatherers the same? And if ye should salute your brethren only, what do ye extraordinary? Do not also the Gentiles the same? Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Therefore all things whatever ye desire that men should do to you, thus do ye also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Then Peter came to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus says to him, I say not to thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven.
Jesus said to him, If thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
And as he went forth into the way, a person ran up to him, and kneeling to him asked him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? But Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? no one is good but one, that is God. read more. Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour thy father and mother. And he answering said to him, Teacher, all these things have I kept from my youth. And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, One thing lackest thou: go, sell whatever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross. But he, sad at the word, went away grieved, for he had large possessions. And Jesus looking around says to his disciples, How difficultly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were amazed at his words. And Jesus again answering says to them, Children, how difficult it is that those who trust in riches should enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were exceedingly astonished, saying to one another, And who can be saved? But Jesus looking on them says, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God. Peter began to say to him, Behold, we have left all things and have followed thee. Jesus answering said, Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, that shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the coming age life eternal. But many first shall be last, and the last first.
And he said to him, Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live.
And a certain ruler asked him saying, Good teacher, having done what, shall I inherit eternal life? But Jesus said to him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, God. read more. Thou knowest the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these things have I kept from my youth. And when Jesus had heard this, he said to him, One thing is lacking to thee yet: Sell all that thou hast and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in the heavens, and come, follow me. But when he heard this he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. But when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, he said, How difficultly shall those who have riches enter into the kingdom of God; for it is easier for a camel to enter through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And those who heard it said, And who can be saved? But he said, The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And Peter said, Behold, we have left all things and have followed thee. And he said to them, Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left home, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more at this time, and in the coming age life eternal.
For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law; read more. but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him to come. But shall not the act of favour be as the offence? For if by the offence of one the many have died, much rather has the grace of God, and the free gift in grace, which is by the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many. And shall not as by one that has sinned be the gift? For the judgment was of one to condemnation, but the act of favour, of many offences unto justification. For if by the offence of the one death reigned by the one, much rather shall those who receive the abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness, reign in life by the one Jesus Christ:) so then as it was by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life. For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous. But law came in, in order that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded grace has overabounded, in order that, even as sin has reigned in the power of death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What then shall we say? Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far be the thought. We who have died to sin, how shall we still live in it? read more. Are you ignorant that we, as many as have been baptised unto Christ Jesus, have been baptised unto his death? We have been buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, in order that, even as Christ has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we are become identified with him in the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin. For he that has died is justified from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ having been raised up from among the dead dies no more: death has dominion over him no more. For in that he has died, he has died to sin once for all; but in that he lives, he lives to God. So also ye, reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself with the mind serve God's law; but with the flesh sin's law.
But ye are not in flesh but in Spirit, if indeed God's Spirit dwell in you; but if any one has not the Spirit of Christ he is not of him:
And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Let love be unfeigned; abhorring evil; cleaving to good:
Owe no one anything, unless to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not lust; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. read more. Love works no ill to its neighbour; love therefore is the whole law. This also, knowing the time, that it is already time that we should be aroused out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, and the day is near; let us cast away therefore the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. As in the day, let us walk becomingly; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and lasciviousness, not in strife and emulation. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not take forethought for the flesh to fulfil its lusts.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion.
But we speak wisdom among the perfect; but wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who come to nought.
And I, brethren, have not been able to speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly; as to babes in Christ.
Brethren, be not children in your minds, but in malice be babes; but in your minds be grown men.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity,
But they that are of the Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts. If we live by the Spirit, let us walk also by the Spirit.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named, read more. in order that he may give you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man; that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts, being rooted and founded in love, in order that ye may be fully able to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge; that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God. But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us,
But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us,
using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, as ye have been also called in one hope of your calling; read more. one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
being darkened in understanding, estranged from the life of God by reason of the ignorance which is in them, by reason of the hardness of their hearts,
Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children,
having confidence of this very thing, that he who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ's day:
for it is God who works in you both the willing and the working according to his good pleasure.
Not that I have already obtained the prize, or am already perfected; but I pursue, if also I may get possession of it, seeing that also I have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
As many therefore as are perfect, let us be thus minded; and if ye are any otherwise minded, this also God shall reveal to you.
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known of all men. The Lord is near. read more. Be careful about nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses every understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts by Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if any praise, think on these things. What ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these things do; and the God of peace shall be with you.
I have strength for all things in him that gives me power.
who has also manifested to us your love in the Spirit. For this reason we also, from the day we heard of your faith and love, do not cease praying and asking for you, to the end that ye may be filled with the full knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
For this reason we also, from the day we heard of your faith and love, do not cease praying and asking for you, to the end that ye may be filled with the full knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so as to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God; read more. strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory unto all endurance and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love: in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins; who is image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation; because by him were created all things, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or principalities, or authorities: all things have been created by him and for him. And he is before all, and all things subsist together by him. And he is the head of the body, the assembly; who is the beginning, firstborn from among the dead, that he might have the first place in all things: for in him all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to itself, having made peace by the blood of his cross by him, whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now has it reconciled in the body of his flesh through death; to present you holy and unblamable and irreproachable before it, if indeed ye abide in the faith founded and firm, and not moved away from the hope of the glad tidings, which ye have heard, which have been proclaimed in the whole creation which is under heaven, of which I Paul became minister.
whom we announce, admonishing every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, to the end that we may present every man perfect in Christ.
And to all these add love, which is the bond of perfectness.
Epaphras, who is one of you, the bondman of Christ Jesus, salutes you, always combating earnestly for you in prayers, to the end that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the leader of their salvation through sufferings.
and having been perfected, became to all them that obey him, author of eternal salvation;
Concerning whom we have much to say, and hard to be interpreted in speaking of it, since ye are become dull in hearing.
Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us go on to what belongs to full growth, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God,
If indeed then perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for the people had their law given to them in connexion with it, what need was there still that a different priest should arise according to the order of Melchisedec, and not be named after the order of Aaron? For, the priesthood being changed, there takes place of necessity a change of law also. read more. For he, of whom these things are said, belongs to a different tribe, of which no one has ever been attached to the service of the altar. For it is clear that our Lord has sprung out of Juda, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing as to priests. And it is yet more abundantly evident, since a different priest arises according to the similitude of Melchisedec, who has been constituted not according to law of fleshly commandment, but according to power of indissoluble life. For it is borne witness, Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec. For there is a setting aside of the commandment going before for its weakness and unprofitableness, (for the law perfected nothing,) and the introduction of a better hope by which we draw nigh to God.
For the law constitutes men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the swearing of the oath which is after the law, a Son perfected for ever.
the which is an image for the present time, according to which both gifts and sacrifices, unable to perfect as to conscience him that worshipped, are offered,
For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified.
God having foreseen some better thing for us, that they should not be made perfect without us.
the universal gathering; and to the assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven; and to God, judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect;
perfect you in every good work to the doing of his will, doing in you what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for the ages of ages. Amen.
But let endurance have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation nor shadow of turning.
But he that fixes his view on the perfect law, that of liberty, and abides in it, being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, he shall be blessed in his doing.
For we all often offend. If any one offend not in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body too.
whom, having not seen, ye love; on whom though not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and filled with the glory,