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The theme of perfection is found in the letter to the Hebrews. Here Christ is presented as perfected (totally prepared and fitted for his priestly ministry in heaven) through suffering (Heb.2.10) and then as perfect (in his divine and human natures, Heb.7.28) as he sits at the right hand of the Father in the perfect heavenly sanctuary (Heb.9.11). By his unique sacrifice for sin he has made perfect forever those who are set apart as Christians for the service of God (Heb.10.14); here the idea is that Christ has perfectly consecrated those for whom he died on the cross, for there is nothing lacking in his meritorious atonement.

See also Consecration; Sanctification.

Bibliography: R. N. Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology, 1934; J. du Plessis, The Idea of Perfection in the New Testament, 1959.——PT

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

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

1. In the Old Testament:

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"; 4:12; Jas 3:2 margin, etc.).

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.

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).