The Gods of the Bible, Part 6
- MAN CAN ALSO BE PERFECT AS JESUS WAS
Another reason that people accept Jesus as God is because they see him as being perfect. This we shall show as another illusion. Actually, there are more scriptures that talk about the perfection of the saints than that of Jesus.
There are two scriptures referring to perfection in relation to Jesus.
In the first Jesus said: “Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today, and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” Luke 13:32
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Heb 5:8-9
Before we go on and discuss perfection it is important that we understand the word as it is used in the Bible. There are three basic Greek words that are translated as “perfect” or “perfection” in the King James Version. The first and most popular is TELEIOO and the corresponding TELEIOS. This word does not really mean perfection as we think of the word today but more literally means “to finish, accomplish, or complete.”
The second word is KATARTIZO. This word means to complete or finish, but in a different sense. TELEIOO has the implication of finishing a new work or effort one has taken on whereas KATARTIZO implies a restoration to something as it was in the past. Both words imply wholeness, but the first through a new task, the second through a restoration.
The third word is AKRIBELA and derivatives thereof. This is the closest Greek word to our modern word “perfect”. It means: “to do a thing precisely and exactly correct.” Paul used this word in reference to the way the Jews taught the law: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the PERFECT (exact) manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as YE ALL ARE this day.” Acts 22:3
When the Bible believing people of today talk about Jesus being perfect they usually use the word in the same sense that AKRIBELA was used. That is they think that Jesus obeyed all the laws “exactly” . They think of his perfection in the sense that he never made one mistake, that he never broke one commandment and exactly obeyed every injunction from the Bible. He was beyond reproach.
Actually, AKRIBELA was never used in the Bible in association with Jesus. The ones who were seeking for perfection, exactness, or AKRIBELA were the ones he continually called “hypocrites”. The Pharisees, Sadducees, the Doctors of the Law, Scribes, in other words, the basic religious people of the day were continually accusing Jesus of not being AKRIBELA or perfect enough in obeying the law.
The scripture says: “THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, but the bringing in of a better hope (Christ) did; by which we draw nigh unto God.” Heb 7:19
The word for perfect here is TELEIOO and is the one used in connection with the perfection of Jesus and has nothing to do with obeying the law thus the law cannot create TELEIOO, or the perfection of Christ.
Why do orthodox Christians say that Jesus was perfect because he obeyed all the laws when the Bible says “The law made NOTHING perfect”?
Why do people worship Jesus and revere him as God because he exactly obeyed every law and scriptural injunction when the Bible says: “that NO MAN is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith. And the law is NOT of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Gal 3:11-13
Here Paul boldly states that Jesus was not perfect (or AKRIBELA) because he broke the law by his very death. The Old Testament which Paul quoted stated that anyone who was hung on a tree (or cross) was “accursed of God”. (See Deut 21:23) Therefore Paul explains that if righteousness comes by the law then Jesus was cursed because he was crucified on a cross made from a tree.
Why do you suppose it was in the plan of God that Jesus violated the law of perfection (AKRIBELA) to the extent that he was to be “accursed of God” by his very death. After all he permitted it to happen. Was it so we would look forward to something else besides a black and white interpretation for our salvation? If this is so, why do we put Jesus on a pedestal by saying he never broke a law? Why do we think of him as AKRIBELA (perfect) when he was not?
One of the main reasons that Jesus was rejected by the Jews is because he was not perfect or exacting enough for them in keeping the laws of God given through Moses. He did not have the black and white attitude of the typical pious person. He realized that there is a time and season for “every purpose under heaven” Eccl 3:1 He knew that no carnal law could be written that was correct in every circumstance and taught that on the principle of love “hang ALL THE LAW and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40
Paul reinforced this and said: “For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Rom 13:8 He also taught us not to be concerned with “the letter (of the law), but the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” Rom 3:6
In other words if one follows the law of love, or the spirit, he may wind up breaking the letter of the law and the prophets. Almost everyone, for instance, would be forced to break the letter of the law under a ruthless dictatorship. If authorities came looking for one’s child to execute him what parent would not lie to some degree to save his child from unjust suffering? In this case a lie breaks the letter of the law, but fulfills the law of love. Exceptions as this can be found for every commandment as was well illustrated by Solomon when he said there was a time for every purpose under heaven.
Those who persecuted Jesus were of the mentality that believed one should obey the law regardless of who was hurt because the law was the law. On the other hand, Jesus guided his life with the question: What action can I take that will produce the most good and show the greatest display of love? These two modes of thinking are in great variance and a clash was inevitable.
The sin that Jesus was accused of most frequently was that of breaking the Sabbath. Here is an example: “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day (they were harvesting corn). But he (Jesus) said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat (David broke the law by eating the sacred bread to save his life), neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests. Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? (Then priests had to work to offer sacrifices). But I say unto you, that in this place is one greater than the temple (The Christ). But if ye had known what this meaneth, ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice’, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man (all of us are sons of men) is Lord even of the Sabbath day.
“And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal upon the Sabbath days? That they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Matt 12:1-14
Here the Jews thought Jesus was far from perfect because he allowed the harvesting of grain and worked at healing on the Sabbath. Both of these actions were considered to be contrary to Jewish law as written by the prophet Moses..
On another occasion Jesus healed a man blind from birth on the Sabbath and the Pharisees said: “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.” John 9:16
On two occasions Jesus cleared the money changers out of the temple. He scattered the sheep, oxen, and birds. He overthrew tables, scattered money all over and caused considerable loss of revenue, destruction and distress to the workers there. In today’s society he would be violating at least a half a dozen laws of the land, and he undoubtedly broke a few there too, but again he did it in obedience to the law of love and respect for his Father whom the temple was supposed to honor. Again we see that Jesus was not perfect, or AKRIBELA, in obeying the letter of the law.
The greatest sin that Jesus committed in the eyes of the Jews was that of blasphemy. This was particularly serious because it carried with it the sentence of death. The law read: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.” Lev 24:16
The word “blasphemy” comes from the Greek BLASPHEMIA which literally means “a hindering or hurtful statement” or “a harmful unfounded statement.” To receive the death penalty the Jew had to make a disrespectful or insulting statement against God, his name, or something sacred that was associated with him. One of those things was the temple. One could be put to death for blaspheming it. This was the first life threatening “sin” that Jesus committed.
After Jesus cleared the money changers out of the temple (some probably thought this was disrespectful and blasphemous): “The Jews said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19-19
In reality he was referring to his body which would be resurrected, but he intended them at that time to think he was talking about the temple. This created the grounds for an accusation brought against him at his trial. A witness stated: “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and build it in three days.” Matt 26:61 Even though the witness slightly misquoted Jesus this statement of the Christ was still bordering on blasphemy according to Jewish law. They certainly felt that he made an unfounded statement, but this was not enough to make them consider taking his life.
Next Jesus did something that Jews considered to be much worse than making light of their temple. In the act of healing a sick man Jesus said: “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:20-21
By far his worst offense in Jewish eyes was the fact that he identified with God and called himself a Son of God. He said: “The works that I do IN MY FATHERS NAME they bear witness of me…I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones to stone him.” John 10:25, 30-31
Here we see that the Jews felt he was guilty of blasphemy and could justifiably stone him to death. Jesus continues as we have previously quoted to tell the Jews that men were called gods in the Old Testament and that it should be no big thing that he would call himself a Son of God. Then they tried a second time to kill him, but he escaped.
Jesus sealed his fate when he committed blasphemy (in Jewish eyes) in front of all present at his trial. Here he gave them what they wanted to hear: a reason to put him to death.
The high priest asked Jesus: “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” Matt 26:63-66
In addition to breaking Jewish laws and customs even to the point of securing for himself the death penalty Jesus also disregarded the moral standards and customs of the Jews. To them he did not appear to be righteous or even religious. In fact, he offended so many people’s religious values that he said: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matt 11:6
Jesus relates the accusations against both he and John: “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, he hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” Luke 7:33-34
Jesus was accused of three things: (1) Being a glutton, (2) a winebibber (a drunk), and a (3) friend of publicans and sinners.
He was probably called a glutton because he frequently attended dinners and parties. Undoubtedly he did not eat to excess, but he seemed to give the appearance of this evil. Furthermore, gluttony is condemned in the law of Moses. (See Deut 21:20-21)
He was called a winebibber because he was seen drinking wine on occasion. It was doubtful that he got drunk, but just the fact that he was seen at social events drinking wine gave rise to the imaginations of his Jewish accusers. Jesus was probably expected not to touch wine because he was supposed to fulfill the following prophecy of the Christ: “And he (Jesus) came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matt 2:23
Concerning a Nazarite the scripture says: “He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.” Numbers 6:3
If Jesus truly was called a Nazarene he would be greatly open to criticism if he were to touch wine, or even fresh grapes. Furthermore, non Nazarites are told not to drink wine: “Ye shall drink no wine neither strong drink forever.” Jer 35:6 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.” Pro 20:1
Furthermore, Jesus went against the literal word of the prophets at Cana when he performed his first miracle by changing the water into wine and serving it to the guests: “Woe unto him that givest his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him…” Hab 2:15
Now some religions think that Jesus drank fresh grape juice, but no serious scholar accepts this for there is no evidence of it. There was no way to store fresh grape juice in those days.
Thirdly, Jesus was strongly criticized for being a friend of publicans and sinners. A publican was a tax collector and Jewish opinion was much lower toward them than the public today have toward IRS auditors. They were looked upon almost as traitors. The sinners included prostitutes, good time Charlies, and other non pious, non synagogue-attending people of various grades.
Though it may not have been against Jewish law for Jesus to associate with some of these people, it did nothing for his image. He even “loved” Mary, a lady who a Pharisee thought was too great of a sinner for Jesus to be seen with. The Christ, however, was not big on doing things “to be seen of men” as the hypocrites, and he associated with whomever he pleased and countered his objectors with: “The whole need not the physician, but the sick.”
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.” I 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.” I 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. 4:18-19
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?