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To Be Perfect, Or Not To Be Perfect, What Was Jesus Commanding?

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Xian Pugilist, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. When people see the word PERFECT, all synapses try to escape that thought at top speed. The word causes cataclysmic failure. Any hopes of taking an objective look at the verse flies out the window, because the way we use the word "perfect", in today's English, is unattainable.

    So, it's important to take a look at the word as it was spoken, not defining it by it's interpretative word, but by the gut feeling a person at the time would have when they heard it at the time it was written/spoken.

    If you study the etymology of the word, you'll see in 1611 it meant differently than we see it today. In English it simply meant, finished, complete, mature, that sort of flavor. A boat was perfect when it would float, hold the fish, and operate correctly, if it was half painted, scratched, holes in it, whatever. As long as it did it's job, it was perfect.

    Today, it has a Utopian flavor to it, which makes the word unreasonable to attain. Thus people freak out when they find it in a verse.

    Since the Bible is mostly discussing personal lives, and not boats, let's substitute the word mature, for perfect. A "finished" person would be mature in every sense of the word, right?

    So the following verse catches much grief in the exegetical world. From people adding words, or claiming, "that's what it says but not what it means(?)", etc...

    Matt 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    What on earth does it mean? The most common answer is we are to "strive" to be perfect. And, absolutely we are to strive in that way, Romans 6 is full of examples of that striving. This verse doesn't have strive in it. Not in English, Greek, nor context will you find a way to add "strive" to the sentence. I find it inherently wrong, to go adding words to make the verse fit into what I thought before reading it. Scripture is to change me, not me change scripture.

    So, what IS it meaning then. Context....
    44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

    Christ says love our enemies and pray for their well being.
    That is a requirement to be sons of the Father in Heaven.
    His example is providing sun for evil and good, rain too. Those are examples, not the only things that are provided.
    Anyone can love the folks nice to you.
    So, love as completely as God does, even to loving his/your enemies, and providing for them.

    That concept of providing, is inherent in the word Agapao. The demonstration/action/work/charity aspect of Agapao can't be seperated without making you use a different word. Agapao always has actionable demonstrations. The sheep fed the hungry, clothed the poor, etc.. their love was acted upon. The goats didn't do it. They didn't go forward, they were not sons, they lacked the type of love that Jesus describes here.

    Be perfect like God is perfect, is referring to how you are to love your neighbors. And neighbors includes everyone not just your friends and church friends.

    Hope this helps someone digest this verse.
  2. Good food for thought, Xian. I agree that too often we apply our own, personal meaning to a word, instead of its intended meaning, or take verses out of the original context to fit our desired meaning. Very dangerous, but it is done all day, every day by all peoples, not just Christians, unfortunately. Strong's Concordance has become my new best friend when trying to fully digest a particular passage - letting scripture interpret scripture - and prayer, of course! :)
  3. I have to correct people very often about the definition of "perfect" because for some reason, society has told us it means omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc. Nowhere in a single generation was that the definition of perfect. I have no idea where we got that idea from because it never, in any context at any time, means that. Perfect always meant "complete." Thanks for establishing this.
    Major likes this.
  4. CbG,

    You can find super easy access to strongs at www.blueletterbible.com.
    If you haven't used it, look up a verse. On the left side you'll see 6 boxes. The top row, middle, has a C. Click it.
    You will see an interlinear bible, Greek on one side, English on the other.
    Strongs number is between them.
    You click on that number, it will show the definition, the variations, the tense, and all the verses it's used in.

    I can certainly type a heckuva lot faster than I can flip pages. :)

    Also, NET Bible at www.bible.org, use their study tool.
    On one verse it will pull up 8 broadly different interpretations, and give you notes as to why they interpreted it as they did.

  5. Maybe we should do a thread with all the "PERFECT" verses in it, and break them down?

  6. Maybe i am missing somethin... try as I might to apply the "principle of charity"… I haven’t seen in the post that it is a discussion about the 3-omni?

    I have no issues with Christians believing in the 3 omni… it is the logicians who are making it complicated….

    We just need to apply the Principle of Charity

    Principle of charity
    ….In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity requires interpreting a speaker's statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation.
    …. the principle of rational accommodation
    We make maximum sense of the words and thoughts of others when we interpret in a way that optimises agreement.

  7. What on earth are you talking about, and how did you get all that from what I said?...I never said I have an issue with believing in "the 3 omni," I said that is NOT the definition of "Perfect."
  8. sorry for that,
    but i am still confused... are your post just referring to the original post or is just a side comment?
  9. Aha, (one of my favorite groups as a HS kid.)

    He was saying people look at the word PERFECT as if it were the omni's. Without flaw, capable of anything, blah blah blah... That's all.
  10. Ok, that is clear to me if is just a side comment... because it seems (to me) he is refering to the "Original Post" when he ended his post as "Thanks for establishing this. ".... and i really cannot find the 3 omni there : )
  11. He's talking about comparing the word perfect as it was meant, and how people perceive it, which was why he has to address them often. And for anyone that has broken down the word, and understands it, it's ummm tiresome, how every time it's used you have to do it again. I can understand why he's saying it and where he's coming from. So, perhaps it was more clear to me?
  12. We cannot live spiritually inside THE FATHER.

    The creator Jehovah never went to the Israelites "in the flesh" (the FATHER does not have a BODY).

    ...BUT His son DOES have a body (because He came "in the flesh").

    ...so that if we place ourselves spiritually INSIDE OF JESUS'S BODY, then we also are going to "BE PERFECT" (in the divine sense/way)....BECAUSE Jesus said "I and The Father are one"....

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?Criteria=I and The Father are one&t=RSV&sf=5

    WE are just human beings, we cannot actually BE perfect, but we are not being told to "BE perfect", we are being told to be perfect in the same way that ("AS") 'Father and son' are perfect.

    In other words, Jesus is the vessel that will be accepted by The Father. If we place ourselves inside that vessel (so that we are spiritually living inside that vessel), then we will receive a full inheritance as a SON of God.

    "Abba Father" is who God WANTS to be to us, not 'master' ("the spirit of sonship").....look up everything that is in double quotes.

    "master of himself"....

    .....(look it up and learn that those words are actually there, those words are not to be ignored, GOD inspired them).

    Live spiritually inside the body that hung on the cross (be a MEMBER of that body.......a MEMBER of THE WAY).

    SAUL persecuted "members" (they BELONGED TO the WAY.....they did not "follow", they 'BELONGED TO').

    Acts 9:2
    "belonging to the Way".

    Be perfect in the same way that a SON who is inside the vessel is perfect.

    "I am the way...".

    ...and in Him, there are only SPIRITS that have no gender ("neither male nor female").

    Verses are from the RSV.
  13. You are giving away your age!
  14. Fine, pedantics aside, if you are inside Jesus, HIM, you do not sin. 1 john 3:6 I can't claim to be there yet, do you?

    Depends on what you think perfect means I guess.

    To my understanding HE places you there, not us put ourselves there.

    Yes, I agree, inspired. That's why I accept 1 john 3:6 as written.
    Jesus said we could be perfect, but he didn't use the word perfect, he prayed for it in john 17.

    Eph 4 paul says absolutely we can be.
    I could go on, but why?
  15. I think it is clear to me now, thanks ...

    …. Maybe either sometimes I need to read a post 3 or more times again to understand it or most likely my judgmental mind played tricks on me again…

    It’s funny how I caught myself to me judgmental/ judging on appearance from time to time: reason was I read a post earlier that made me judgmental and was carried out here…

    Sorry for that again....
  16. I see nothing to be sorry about. If you see it as wrong, I think if you don't question it you are in error. No one can learn anything if you don't question someone, right?

    That's the beauty of the matt 18 thing, go to your friend one on one, it gives you both a chance to learn, whoever is wrong.

    As long as we are willing to BE wrong, I can't imagine the harm. Sometimes it even gets funny. Going head to head, full emotions running, froth slavering from your mouth, and then, DING DING DING the light comes on and you are saying the same thing as the other. :|

    Very entertaining, very humbling, a great lesson every time. :)
  17. BTW stepping up to admit it, speaks to your character. :)
  18. AND this topic was one destined to fail. No one wants to touch this talk. :)
  19. Perfect love sees His people through His eyes and acts accordingly to show the Father's great love to them! Perfect love cannot imagine seeing the hurting and needy people and turning a righteous nose up at them in judgment.

    Keep in mind, one can only give what one has received. To love the way He desires, even commands, we must have accepted the exact same perfect love when we were the ones who were hurt, needy, broken, and destitute.

    2 Peter 3:9 He was patient with each of us.

    That NONE should perish.

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