What is Meant by the Word “Perfect”?

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Was Paul a “Wretched Man?”

John wrote:

Hi John,

Thank you for your question. The word ‘perfection’ is a very bad translation of the Greek word teleiotes. It is much better and much more accurate to translate this word with the English word ‘complete.’ Flesh and blood cannot be perfect because it is corruptible:

1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

God alone decides who is complete and who is not. But we are given three strong admonitions against refusing to “go on unto perfection [ Greek- completion]”… The Corinthians were chastised for this:

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
1Co 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1Co 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

The Galatians:

Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Gal 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Gal 4:2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Gal 4:3 Even so we, when we were children [ same Greek word translated ‘babes’ in 1 Corinthians3:1], were in bondage under the elements of the world:

And Hebrews:

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [ be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Refusing to become complete is what precipitates this warning:

Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. [ By refusing to “go on unto perfection “

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [ Greek- completion]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.

And finally Christ Himself warns us, not “woe unto them that give suck and are with child,” but rather “woe unto those who are sucklings and still in the womb” refusing to go on to completion in that day”.

Mat 24:19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

God is not upset with pregnant women or with babies. He is very upset with those who refuse to go on unto completion. So much for the subject of ‘perfection.’

Now you say:

No, John, Paul said nothing of the kind. So many people quote Rom 7 as if they had never read either Rom 6 or Rom 8. Here is what Paul actually taught concerning His spiritual condition and his relationship with sin in his life:

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Rom 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Dead to sin, once and free from sin, thrice thus “sin shall not have dominion over you…” Does that sound like”

Rom 7:24 was true only back when verse 5 was true:

Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But does Paul still consider himself to be “in the flesh?” Absolutely not! All of chapter 7, from verse 5 forward is to be understood referring to ” when we were in the flesh…”

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

No, John, Paul was “walking after the spirit.” Paul was “free from sin,” “dead to sin,” “sin did not reign in his mortal body” and “sin did not have dominion over the apostle Paul.” Be sure to go to the web page and read what is written on the Purpose and function of grace. Look especially at these verses:

Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Tit 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

The word ‘teaching is also ‘chastens.’ Once you see what the verb form of grace does, you can now understand what Paul meant when he said:

Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Where stubborn sin abounds God’s much more stubborn chastening abounds even more because:

Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

I hope this give you a better scriptural perspective to what is our potential if indeed we “walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” We are of course His achievement, and our works are no more ours than is our faith. Nevertheless we “are created unto good works which has before He has before ordained that we should be walking in them. I hope you continue to read the Revelation commentary. You will find it to be invaluable in knowing who you are in Christ. Mike

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