Imagine what the New Christian Right today would think if a man like Jesus walked among us. If he were to mingle incognito with them and treat them like the ancient Jews he would take no precautions to appear religious or pious and would disregard many of their teachings as well as introduce many new and strange doctrines. Could such a man be accepted by the pious of today? No. Never.
If Jesus lived among us, the religious leaders of today would say the same thing about him as they as they did two thousand years ago: "He hath a devil and is mad; why hear ye him?" (John 10:20)
On another occasion they said: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan (a low life), and hast a devil?" (John 8:48)
If a controversial man like Jesus were to perform miracles among the fundamental religious people of today would they give the glory to God or would they be as the Pharisees and say: "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils." (Matt 12:24) In other words: This fellow performs his miracles by the power of Satan and not God because he does not agree with us.
The Bible, as we can see, definitely teaches that Jesus was not perfect, or AKRIBELA, and did not follow the law and the prophets with exact precision as many think. He did without fail follow the law of love in every action and that is the important thing. No black and white law such as the law of Moses is correct in every circumstance. The law of love makes many exceptions and Jesus made a point to illustrate the exceptions so men and women could truly learn to recognize good over evil. He came to prepare the way for the fulfillment of the prophecy: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts; and will be their God." (Jer 31:33) Jesus was the great example of a man, who was a Son of God, with the law written in his heart.
If Jesus was not perfect (AKRIBELA), then what was he? He was a different kind of perfection as the scriptures say: "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and BEING MADE PERFECT (TELEIOO not AKRIBELA is used here), he became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him." (Heb 5:8-9)
Finally we discover the type of perfection Jesus was. He was TELEIOO (Literally TELEIOEIS denoting the tense in this script). To understand Jesus more correctly we need to examine in greater depth the meaning of this word.
"Perfect" is not the most literal translation of TELEIOO, even though the Bible translators often render it so. It is more correctly rendered "finished," accomplished, or completed."
The best way to understand the word is to see how it is used in various situations. As one can see it is not always translated "perfect" in the King James (or any other) Bible: "Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish (TELEIOO) his work." (John 4:34) The works which the Father hath given me to finish (TELEIOO), the same works that I do bear witness of me." (John 5:36) "I have finished (TELEIOO) the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher (TELEIOO) of our faith." (Heb 12:2)
In this last reference "author" is more literally translated as "beginner." The thought expressed here is that Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith.
Here we have several references where TELEIOO is translated "fulfilled": "And when they had fulfilled (TELEIOO) the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:43) "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled (TELEIOO), saith. I thirst." (John 19:28)
One can see from these references that the general meaning of the word is "to finish a job or project one has been given to do." The closest one word interpretation would be "finish" not "perfect." For instance Jesus spoke of "the works which the Father hath given me to finish" (TELEIOO).
The scripture we quoted as translated "being made perfect" (all three words are from the one Greek - TELEIOO) could be translated as "finishing his job," "having accomplished this," being complete, or "fulfilling this."
Now we will quote the whole scripture again so the reader can see the correct context: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and BEING MADE PERFECT (he finished this task of learning obedience), he became the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him." (Heb 5:8-9)
Amazingly, this scripture by itself clearly tells us that Jesus was not perfect throughout his entire life - as the religious world defines perfection. It says: "yet LEARNED he obedience by the things which he suffered." This tells us that there was a time in his life when he had not yet learned obedience and that he suffered for it. This reference tells us that Jesus came closer to perfection (as we use the word today) after he suffered. If he was perfect (AKRIBELA) from start to finish then why did he have to suffer to learn obedience?
Many Christians today have the idea that Jesus was so perfect that he never made one mistake, that he did not have to learn obedience but it was automatic with him because he was God. Why should God have to learn obedience from God? They think that he completely and literally obeyed every injunction in the Bible, and that he was a rigid lawkeeper. As we can see, this has no basis in the Bible. The Bible does, however, show us that he was the most perfect expression of love that ever walked the earth.
Perfection, as a religious zealot sees it is an impossibility. One problem is that everyone has a different version of it. If Jesus were to appear among us again as a regular man we would find that no matter how good his actions and deeds were most people would find fault with him and consider him imperfect. Out of the thousands that were taught and blessed by him only one hundred and twenty found him perfect enough to follow him to the end of his life. [See Acts 1:15.]
It should be a great relief to us that Jesus was not perfect (AKRIBELA) in the keeping of the carnal law and that his perfection was in the fact that he was able to do the job expected of him by the Father. This is especially so because of a commandment men and women everywhere are given: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48)
Jesus was intelligent enough to not give his disciples a commandment that they could not obey, or that he himself did not adhere to. Most people see this perfection of the Father as something entirely beyond our grasp, but Jesus was talking about something that is possible for both him and us. The word "perfect" here again comes from TELEIOS, an adjective form of TELEIOO. We find that this scripture is right in the middle of the sermon on the mount and that it makes a lot of sense when we read it in its context with a more enlightened translation:
"Finish therefore what is expected of you, even as your Father which is in heaven accomplishes that which is expected of him." This is a commandment we can live with and appreciate and is much more applicable than an injunction to be flawless as is the One God who holds the universe together and created all the millions of galaxies. That is like telling a worm to be like a man. That is impossible, but the worm does his job assigned to him by nature just as do the higher animals. In this way all living things are perfect as the Father is perfect if they follow the harmony of nature.
All life is sustained by the Spirit of God and even the micro organisms manifest his glory. We are told that "the WHOLE EARTH is full of his glory." (Isa 6:3)
We are also told that the beasts share the One Spirit: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they all have one breath (Spirit)." (Eccl 3:19) In addition Moses called God: "the God of the Spirits of ALL FLESH." (Num 27:16) Since all flesh shares his Spirit and the whole earth is full of his glory we know that all living things, even the plant kingdom and the earth itself has some contact with the One Spirit. We could then say that a flower which displays beauty and a wonderful fragrance is fulfilling the purpose for which God made it and is thus perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.
In the same way, if men and women fulfill the purpose toward which the One Spirit guides them, then they are perfect as is our Father God.
It is commonly accepted by the Christian world that Jesus was the only perfect man, and the only one who never, never made a mistake of any kind, and the rest of us are condemned. They look on perfection as "not doing" rather than "doing." With AKRIBELA you do not do wrong things. With TELEIOO you do your job until it is completed.
On the other hand, contrary to orthodox thought the Bible tells us that there is not one, but at least 144,000 who are without fault: "And I looked and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name (Christ) written in their foreheads...And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are WITHOUT FAULT before the throne of God." (Rev 14:1 & 5)
Jude also speaks of "Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you FAULTLESS before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." (Jude verse 24)
It sounds here like any of us can become faultless before God. If Jesus were faultless before God and we are too what is the difference? Obviously, we are faultless if we do the job we came here to go and experience the growth and service that God has in store for us.
Paul obviously expected many to attain perfection: "We may present EVERY MAN PERFECT in Christ Jesus." (Col 1:28) Again "perfect" comes from TELEIOS. If we fulfill the purpose for which God made us, even if we make mistakes along the way we are perfect or TELEIOS. Paul merely wanted every person to fulfill his part in the plan of God just as Jesus had done.
We are also told that Christ put apostles, prophets, and other officers in the church "For the perfecting of the saints." (Eph 4:12)
We are not only expected to be perfect like Jesus, but also "holy". "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Along this line Paul wrote: "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father." (1 Thess 3:13)
Obviously, the scriptures clearly teach that we are not to think of Jesus and his Father as merely Gods that we are to only worship, but not follow. We are clearly commanded to be "holy" and "perfect" just as they are and if we manifest the same Spirit of the one God that they do then we are Gods in the same way that they are.
"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov 4:18)
As we see the perfect day we realize that we can never be "one" with Jesus and his Father if we think of them as being entirely different than ourselves. How can we be one with something separate, different, or overwhelmingly superior to us? We can only be "one" with God if we are like him "in his image" as the scriptures say. Maybe it is time for believers to ask themselves if they really believe what the Bible says about man and God. Or does humanity just believe what they want to believe?
How do you feel about the idea revealed through the scriptures that the perfection expected of us is not flawlessness, but the ability to accomplish a job?
-- End Of Part Fourteen --
Copyright 2001 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved