1. In Hebrew there are two words translated by perfect The one, torn, from a root meaning to end, to finish off, to complete. It is used of the finishing of a house, of the completion of time (a whole year). Of the sacrifices it is more than forty times used and translated without blemish. Used of man, it expresses the integrity or wholeness of the heart in its devotion to God. So Gen. vi 9, xvii. 1; Job i. 1, 8; Deut. xviii. 13; Ps. ci. 2, 6. Also of God, Deut xxxii. 4; Job xxxvii. 16; Ps. xviii. 30, 32, xix. 7.
The other word is shalem,, also used of finishing a building or a work, fulfilling a vow, restoring a debt. Of man it is found, 1 Kings viii. 61, xi. 4, xv. 3, 14; 2 Kings xx. 3; 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, xxix. 19; 2 Chron. xvi. 9, xxv. 2.
The Authorised Version has, in some cases, translated these words by upright or sound. In the Revised Version the word perfect has rightly been restored in such passages as Ps. xviii. 23, 25, 'I was also perfect with Him';'With the perfect man Thou wilt show Thyself perfect.' Ps. xix. 13, 'Then shall I be perfect' Ps. cxix. 1, 80, ' Blessed are they that are perfect in the way'; 'Let my heart be perfect in Thy statutes.'
3. 'If you endeavour to grow in grace, and in all holiness, trust assuredly that God will enable you. By this manner of walking in the confident persuasion of the privileges of your high state and dignity, to do everything that is necessary for His glory and your salvation; and that He graciously accepts of that obedience through Christ which you are enabled to perform according to the measure of your faith, though you fall short of many things as to degrees of holiness and high acts of obedience.
'We are to know that though the law requireth of us the utmost perfection of holiness, yet the gospel maketh an allowance for our weakness. Christ is so meek and lowly in heart that He accepteth of that which our weak faith can attain to by His grace, and doth not exact or expect any more of us for His glory and our salvation until we grow stronger in grace. We are to beware of being too rigorous in exacting righteousness of ourselves and others, beyond the measure of faith and grace. Overdoing commonly proveth undoing.'—Marshall, On Sandijication, chap. xii.
7. With the word Perfect, and with many other of the words of God that in their Divine mystery pass knowledge, pass all understanding, it often is even as with that mysterious Stranger who wrestled with Jacob. He had seized hold upon him but could not prevail, could not overcome him, till he put his thigh out of joint, and made him altogether helpless. It is when our intellect, our creed, our experience all fail us as we seek to master the truth in this word, and we hear the voice, Let me go ! that we are roused to say, I will not let thee go except thou bless me. And then, when it has reminded us and made us confess that our name is Jacob, selfassertion, and given us the promise of a new name and of the hope which that implies, that we shall prevail with God when we are helpless and broken, —then, when again we ask its name, we only get the answer, Wherefore is it that thou asketh after my name? We want to know and define and name the thing; and it refuses to give a name, for its name is wonderful: it is the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which only the Holy Spirit can reveal. And what He reveals, He reveals not always—and just when the blessing is highest, then the least—to the mind, but to the heart, in the inward life; to the faith that accepts the Divine, even though it cannot understand. The Divine Truth in its highest revelation gives no name, but it gives what is better; for we read, And He blessed him there. whole heart have I sought Thee ; consider how I love Thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly.'
Blessed the man who sees his God coming to meet him in this mysterious word Perfect; who no longer seeks to prevail and to master, but yields to it as a Power that breaks and masters him, and then says in utter helplessness, I will not let thee go except thou bless me. Blessed the man who no longer asks to know its name, that he may count it among the things he knows and understands, but is content to let the unknown and unnameable visitant that conquered him bless him there. Yes, blessed the man who ends his wrestlings and begins his rest in the truth of this word Perfect, in the trembling, adoring exclamation: I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
8. Have you ever gone through the 119th Psalm, laying the accent on Thou, Tlwe, Thy (not omitting the verbs of supplication where the Thou is understood) 1 Use the words as in personal intercourse with the living God, speaking them into His face, in the assurance that He listens and approves, and is well pleased. Pause at each address to God, till you feel you have said it to Him. So will you learn what the perfect heart is, and what the perfect way.
And then pray it once again, still speaking as to God, with the accent on the I, me, mine, and see what boldness it will give you to say, 'With my
9. The usual Greek word for perfect is teleios. It is derived from telos, the end. 'This word does not, as is commonly supposed, primarily denote the end or termination with reference to time, but the goal reached, the completion or conclusion at which anything arrives, either as issue or ending; or as result, acme, consummation. It always includes the idea of an inner completion' (Cremer). The adjective is used in a physical or literal sense, of spotless sacrifices, that wherein nothing is deficient, frequently —full-grown, of men and beasts. In a moral sense, perfected, complete, blameless.
In some of the passages where we have the word perfect in English, the Greek has not the word teleios but Katartiaein, from artios, appropriate, fitting. The verb means to put a thing in its appropriate position, to put in order; used of equipping, fitting out a ship. Also to bring right again, as of mending nets (Mark iv. 21); of restoring a fallen brother (Gal. vi. 1). The idea is making a thing what it should be, so that it is perfect, prepared for the use to which it is destined. 'The perfect and complete setting up of an object is the main element in the conception. So 2 Cor. xiii. 11 of the completion of the Christian character.'■—Cremer.
Of the texts treated of in this little book, this word is used in the following: Luke vi. 40; 2 Cor. xiii. 9, 11; Heb. xiii. 21; 1 Pet. v. 11.
The chief difference between the two words lies in teleios having more reference to the inward perfection that comes from growth and development, katarlizein to that which consists in having defects removed, and what is lacking supplied. Only the former could be used of the Lord Jesus, not the latter. Both are used of us, and the work God and Christ do in us. Both have reference to what God seeks in His children, and works in them.
20. I have just published in Dutch a Devotional Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. If God will, I hope, in the course of next year, to be able to reproduce it in English. There some of these thoughts on Perfection may be expounded more fully. The title of the volume will be, The Holiest Of All; or, The Presence of God, the Sphere of Ghriet's Ministry in Heaven, and our Service on Earth (Nisbet & Co.).
21. 'You are to know, my friends,' says William Law, 'that every kind of virtue and goodness may be brought into us by two different ways. They may be taught us outwardly by men by rules and precepts; and they may be inwardly born in us, as the genuine birth of our own renewed spirit. In the former way, they can at best only change our outward behaviour, and leave our heart in its natural state. Now this way of learning and attaining goodness, though thus imperfect, is yet absolutely necessary in the nature of the thing, and must first have its time and place and work in us. Yet it is only for a time, as the law was a schoolmaster to the gospel. We must first be babes in doctrine, as well as in strength, before we can be men. But of all this outward instruction, whether from good men or from the letter of Scripture, it must be said as the apostle saith of the law, "It maketh nothing perfect," and yet is highly necessary in order to perfection. Of these two ways the former is only in order to the latter, and of no benefit to us, but as it carries us further than itself, to be united, in heart and spirit, with the light and word and Spirit of God.'
27. 'The commands of Jesus together constitute His word. Of this word we cannot choose out a half or a part to keep. The whole heart and the whole mind must yield itself completely to this word, and in simplicity of purpose cling to it. Then all the truth we know about Jesus becomes as one word, one thought, that comprehends all, one single light in which we behold Jesus. Thus the promise is fulfilled: If a man keep My word, My Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and dwell with him. It is to this John refers: He that keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; that is, it is the truth when such a one says that God's love has taken complete possession of his heart, and he lives in it. He experiences what Jesus spake of the love of the Father resting on Him, and being in Him ; his heart is inwardly permeated with it, and filled; so that all the inclinations, desires, and affections are drawn up into this love, and entirely satisfied with it. The soul now knows and tastes how wonderful the love of God to us sinners is in His Son. It now loves God with all the heart and all the mind. In the inner ground of the heart there is no longer anything halved or divided; there is no more self-will or selfseeking to stand in the way of God's love; the soul gives itself wholly to God with an humbled but wholly satisfied heart. It can now be said: The love of God in Christ has attained its purpose, has got full possession of the heart, sweetly fills all the powers of the soul, and rules over all it does.'— Steinhofer on 1 John.
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