Christians struggle with the concept of perfection. We associate perfection with sinlessness. However, the New Testament word has reference to completeness.

The word “teleios” is found 19 times in the New Testament and is translated “perfect” every time in the King James Version. While rendered “perfect” on several occasions in the New King James Version, it is also rendered “mature” (1 Corinthians 2:6; Philippians 3:15). Thayer says that the original word means, “wanting nothing necessary to completeness” (#5046).

The word “katartizo” is found 13 times in the New Testament and is translated “perfect” or “perfected” several times in the King James Version. In the New King James Version it is also translated “complete” (Hebrews 13:21) or “become complete” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Thayer says that the original word means, “to render fit, sound, complete” (#2675).

No, we will never reach sinless perfection this side of eternity. John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” and “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” But in the midst of these verses John also said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You see, if we “walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7-10). Sinlessly perfect? No! Forgiven? Yes! We are sinless!

No, we have not arrived! Paul wrote, “Brethren, l do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature [teIeios; perfect, KJV], have this mind…” (Philippians 3:13-15). Paul further exhorted, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Sinlessly perfect? No! Perfecting holiness? Absolutely!

The Lord said to Abram, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect” (Genesis 17:1). God’s call to perfection is a call to truth, commitment and integrity! It is the path to grace, forgiveness, growth and heaven! “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection…” (Hebrews 6:1).

Dwight Fuqua
Findlay church of Christ
Sparta, TN

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