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.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For I tell you assuredly, that till heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, or the smallest stroke of a letter, shall pass from the law, until all things shall be accomplished. read more. Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men so, he shall be accounted the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall practise, and teach them, he shall be reckoned great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness abounds more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said to the men of antient times, "Thou shalt do no murder;" and whosoever shall commit murder, shall be liable to the judgment: but I say unto you, That every man who is angry with his brother without cause, shall be liable to the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the sanhedrim: but whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to be cast into hell fire. If therefore thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go: first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Be disposed to agree with thy prosecutor speedily, whilst thou art in the way with him [to the bar]; lest the prosecutor deliver thee up to the judge, and the judge commit thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt in no wise come out from thence, till thou hast paid the last farthing. Ye have heard that it was said to those of old, "Thou shalt not commit adultery:" but I say unto you, That every one who looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. If then thine eye, the right, leads thee to offend, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is highly for thy advantage, that one of thy members be destroyed, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand leads thee to offend, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is highly thy interest that one of thy members should be destroyed, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said indeed, That whosoever will put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce: But I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except on account of whoredom, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. Again ye have heard that it was said to those of old, "Thou shalt not perjure thyself, but shalt perform to the Lord thine oaths:" But I say to thee, Swear not at all; neither by the heaven; for it is the throne of God: nor by the earth; for it is the footstool of his feet: nor by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King: neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your discourse be, Yea, yea; No, no: for all addition to these is from the wicked one. Ye have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth:" but I say unto you, Resist not an injurious act; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him also the other. And if a man will prosecute thee, and take thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall press thee for one mile, go with him two. Give to him that asketh thee; and from him who wants to borrow of thee, turn not away. Ye have heard that it hath 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 treat you insolently, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he causeth his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and tendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love those who love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same thing? And if ye embrace your brethren only, what do ye extraordinary? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
All things therefore whatsoever ye would be willing that men should do to you, just so do ye to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Then Peter coming to him, said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him, I tell thee not until seven times, but unto seventy times seven.
Jesus said to him, If thou art desirous to be perfect, go, sell all thy substance, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
And as he went out to the road, a person ran to him, and kneeling down, asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Then said Jesus unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, even God. read more. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery; Do not murder; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Honour thy father and mother. Then he replying, said, Master, all these things have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus looking upon him, loved him, and said to him, In one thing thou art defective: go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up thy cross, and follow me. And groaning over this speech, he went away sorrowful: for he had many estates. And Jesus looking round, said to his disciples, How difficultly shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God! Then his disciples were astonished at these words. But Jesus again addressing them, said unto them, Children, how difficult is it for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were exceedingly amazed, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them, said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. And Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. Then Jesus in reply said, Verily I say unto you, there is no man who hath left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the Gospel's, who shall not receive an hundred-fold more now, at this very time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution, and in the world to come life everlasting. But many first, will be last; and the last, first.
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered rightly: this do, and thou shalt live.
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, by doing what shall I inherit eternal life? Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good, but one, even God. read more. Thou knowest the commandments, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. Then he said, All these things have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus hearing this, said to him, Yet one thing thou lackest: sell all whatsoever thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But he, on hearing these things, was exceeding sorrowful: for he was very rich. Then Jesus, observing that he was very sorrowful, said, How difficultly shall they who have riches, 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 those who heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things impossible with men, are possible with God. Then said Peter, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there is no man who hath left family, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive back manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; even so death passed into all men through him, in whom all have sinned. For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed if there be no law. read more. But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over those who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of him that was to come. But not as the transgression, so also [is] the gift. For if by the transgression of one the many became dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is in that one man, Christ Jesus, hath abounded unto many. And the gift [is] not as for one who sinned: for the judgment indeed [came] by one to condemnation, but the free gift [leads] to justification from many offences. For if by the offence of one, death reigned by that one; much more they who receive the abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Christ Jesus. Well then, as by the offence of one, [judgment issued] against all men unto condemnation; so also by the righteousness of one, [the gift came] to all men for justification unto life. For as by the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners; so also by the obedience of one shall the many be constituted righteous. But the law was introduced, that the offence might be more abundant. But where sin had abounded, there hath grace abounded more exceedingly: that as sin had reigned by death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto life eternal by Jesus Christ our Lord.
THAT then shall we say? Shall we abide in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who are dead to sin, how shall we still live therein? read more. Do ye not know, that as many as have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into his death? We have been buried therefore with him by baptism into death: that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted with him in the likeness of his death, so shall we be also of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man hath been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be abolished, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he that is dead is discharged from sin. But if we have been dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death over him hath no more dominion. For in that he died, for sin he died once: but in that he liveth, he liveth to God. So also do ye account yourselves dead indeed to sin, but living unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
O wretched man, I! who shall pluck me from the body of this death? I give thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Well then, I myself with my mind am servant to the law of God; but in my flesh to the law of sin.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.
And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your mind, that you may prove by experience what is the will of God, that is good, acceptable, and perfect.
Let love be undissembled. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. read more. Love doeth no ill to a neighbour; the fulfilment therefore of the law is love. And thus do, knowing the time; for the hour is come that we should awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is far advanced, the day approaches: let us therefore put off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk becomingly as in the face of day, not in revels and drunkenness, not in impurities and wantonness, not in strife and envy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to gratify its passions.
Now I conjure you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that ye be perfectly united together in the same mind and the same sentiment.
But we speak wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are destroying themselves:
AND I, brethren, have been unable to speak to you as unto spiritual men, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.
Brethren, be not children in your minds: though in naughtiness be ye children, but in your minds be men complete.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity,
But they who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and irregular appetites. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
For this end I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; read more. that he would give you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that rooted and grounded in love, ye may be strengthened to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length, and height and depth; and to know the love of Christ, transcendently surpassing knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God. Now to him that is able to do above all things, exceeding abundantly, beyond what we ask or think, according to the power which effectually worketh in us;
Now to him that is able to do above all things, exceeding abundantly, beyond what we ask or think, according to the power which effectually worketh in us;
careful to preserve unity of spirit, in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye have been called to one hope of your calling; read more. one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
darkened in understanding; alienated from the life of God through the ignorance which is in them; through the blindness of their hearts:
BE ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children;
being confident of this very thing, that he who hath wrought in you the good work will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ:
For it is God who worketh effectually in you both to will and to perform of his good pleasure.
Not that I have already attained, or am now perfect: but I pursue, that I may overtake that for which also by his apprehension of me I am destined by Christ Jesus.
Let as many of us therefore as are perfect, be thus minded: and if ye entertain any other sentiment, God also will unveil this unto you.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. read more. Be not anxious about any thing, but in every case by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasseth all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are serious, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever things are laudable, if there be any virtue, or any thing praise-worthy, pay attention to these things. Whatsoever things also ye have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these practise, and the God of peace shall be with you.
I am enabled for all things by Christ who strengtheneth me.
who also declared to us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also from the day we heard it have not ceased praying for you, and beseeching God that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
For this cause we also from the day we heard it have not ceased praying for you, and beseeching God that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye may walk worthy of the Lord, well pleasing him in all things, in every good work fruitful, and increasing in the knowledge of God; read more. strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joy; giving thanks to God, even the Father, who hath made us meet for a portion in the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath plucked us out from the dominion of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love: in whom we have redemption through his blood, and forgiveness of sins. Who is the image of the invisible God, the prime author of all creation: for by him were all things created, celestial and terrestrial, visible or invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers, all were created by him, and for him: and he is before all, and by him all things subsist. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first begotten from the dead, that he might be in all things pre-eminent. For it hath pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell; and by him to reconcile all things to himself, making peace by the blood of his cross: by him, I say, whether they be things on earth, or things in the heavens. And you who in time past were all aliens, and enemies in mind by wicked works, hath he now reconciled, by the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreprehensible in his presence: if ye abide in faith grounded and firm, and never moved aside from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which hath been preached to the whole creation which is under heaven, of which I Paul am a minister.
whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus;
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
Epaphras, one of you, saluteth you, a servant of Christ, always wrestling for you in prayers, 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 unto glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation by sufferings.
and complete himself, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him;
Concerning whom we have much to discourse, and of difficult interpretation to explain, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
WHEREFORE, desisting from initiatory discourse respecting Christ, let us advance towards perfection; not again laying a foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith in God,
If therefore there was perfection by the Levitical priesthood (for under that the people had the law given to them), what farther need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being transferred, there is of necessity an abrogation of the law also. read more. For he to whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, in which no man approached the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang from Judah; to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood; and it is yet more abundantly evident, that there should arise another priest after the likeness of Melchisedec, who was not made such by the law of a carnal commandment, but by the power of a life indissoluble. For the testimony is, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is indeed an abrogation of the preceding command, because of its weakness and inutility. For the law led to no perfection, but was an introduction to a better hope, by which we draw nigh unto God.
For the law constitutes men high-priests, though they have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which is since the law, constitutes the Son, unto eternity completely perfect.
which figurative representation [continues] unto the present time, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are offered, which cannot, with respect to conscience, make him perfect who performs the services,
For by one oblation he hath made those perfect for ever who are sanctified.
God having provided for us something better, that without us they should not attain to perfection.
and to the general assembly and church of the first-born registered in the heavens, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men perfected,
make you fit for every good work to do his will, producing in you that which is acceptable in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory unto the everlasting ages. Amen.
But let patience have its work perfected, that ye may be perfect and complete, deficient in nothing.
Every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, descending from the father of illuminations, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of change.
But he that looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and perseveres, this man not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, he shall be blessed in his practice.
For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, he is a perfect man, and capable of reining in the whole body.
whom though ye have not seen, ye love; on whom, though ye have not as yet gazed, yet believing, ye exult with joy unutterable and glorious: