Summary: In Greek, the word translated "perfect" in Matthew is "teleios". " If something accomplishes what it is designed to do, it is said to be perfect that is "teleios" So "telios" is often translated as "mature". "Teleios" has the idea of "being complete."
Jesus proclaims In the Gospel Lesson today: "Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." Be Perfect!
Let us consider two other passages that speak to this calling, a calling to be perfect:
From Genesis Gen. 6:9 "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
From Paul's letter to the Philippians 3:15 "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded":
Now one of two things is wrong here.
Either ...... these people of Scripture defied Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
Or there is something about the Biblical concept of "perfection" that we do not understand.
I believe that Matthew 5 indicates that maybe there is something about "perfection" we do not fully understand.
In fact, the Biblical concept of "perfection" can be best summed up in the "Theology of the Donut."
(Pull out a Donut) (Throughout the illustration, take periodic bites from the Donut until it is gone)
BITE "Did you realize that the most popular Donut in the world is the glazed Donut?"
BITE "Doughnuts originated in 16th century Holland. They were cooked in oil, and were so greasy that the Dutch called them (olykoeks), that is "oily cakes." "
BITE "The Pilgrims, who had lived in Holland, brought the cakes with them when they came to America. Their version was a round doughy ball about the size of a nut (P) thus the term "donut." "
BITE "Now, the origin of the donut hole is intriguing.
It seems there was a captain Hanson Gregory, a 19th century sea captain who was eating a doughnut while sailing through a storm.
Suddenly, the ship was rocked violently and he was thrown against the ships wheel" "
BITE " impaling his cake on one of its spokes. Seeing how well the spoke held his cake, Gregory began ordering all his cakes with holes in them."
BITE "Doughnuts were popularized in the U.S. after the Salvation Army fed doughnuts (P) cooked in garbage pails and served on bayonets .......to troops during WWI."
BITE "Soldiers got so hooked on them that they were called "doughboys." "
(at this point all of the donut has been eaten.)
Now for the Big Question! What is left of the donut? T
he Donut ....... Hole. (Pause)
To say that "Perfection" is the same as being sinless is like saying that a donut is the same as the hole.
The donut hole exists (P) but has no substance it cannot be seen.
Just as the sinlessness aspect of perfection cannot be seen that is it cannot be achieved by us.
Hear Gods word from Colossians 2:10 "So you also are Complete or "perfect" through your union with Christ, who is the head."
It is not by our actions or by our works that sin is paid for. It is only through Christs sacrifice, through Christs atonement once and for all. (Pause)
So what is the substance of Biblical perfection as we have heard it this day?
What are we being called to do?
In Greek, the word translated "perfect" in Matthew 5 is "teleios (tel-lee-os)."
"Teleios (tel-lee-os)" shows up many times in the New Testament, and is often translated especially in the early English versions of the Scriptures as "perfect."
The root word "tel-os" means "one who has accomplished the intended goal. " If something accomplishes what it is designed to do, it is said to be perfect that is "teleios".
A child is imperfect in the sense that they have not yet grown to full maturity.
So "telios" is often translated as "mature".
"Teleios" has the idea of "being complete."
Completeness ...... Perfection is a journey that we are all taking.
And we need to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) in order to fully experience this journey.
The Scriptures are the "perfect standard" for life and faith, and as we live it out ..... we display glimpses of the perfection of God in our lives.
This notion to be perfect may become clearer in these words In Hebrews 5:12-14:
BIBLE "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of Gods word all over again.
You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature ("teleios") (Tel-lee-os), who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." END
In other words, to be "teleios" means to be mature.
And for a Christian mature in the Faith!
What does it mean to be "mature" in the Faith?