This is a tall order! Is Yeshua really telling us to be perfect, especially in this broken world and body? How can any of us attain perfection or even be like God? This scripture should really cause us to stop and ponder. Jesus is calling us to a standard that is seemingly impossible. If that is the case, can any of us truly adhere to the full text of Scripture? Before you answer that, could there be other applications to the word translated as perfect that may be more appropriate in this context?
This last verse in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel comes after a lengthy discourse on how to leave in relation to one another; often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. The word here translated as perfect is the Greek teleios which can also mean mature, complete, or full grown. Here are some examples of the same word translated as mature:
We do speak wisdom, however, among those who are mature (1 Corinthians 2:6)
Brothers and sisters, stop being children in your thinking—rather, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20)
This will continue until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Ben-Elohim—to mature adulthood, to the measure of the stature of Messiah’s fullness (Ephesian 4:13)
But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14)
This last one is especially relevant to understanding Yeshua’s teaching. As He often does, Yeshua is calling us to a higher place of righteousness, faith, and hope. His words that “you have hear is said….but I tell you” is a challenge for us to mature is those particular areas. He tells us to walk in a more perfect way instead of meeting the minimum requirements.
We cannot attain perfection—especially in this life and definitely not in our own strength. This we will attain when “we come to the unity of faith and knowledge or Ben-Elohim (Son of God)—to mature adulthood, to the measure of the stature of Messiah’s fullness” (Ephesians 4:13). This is a journey filled with intentional searching of the Words of God, seeking after the Holy Spirit, and running after God.
Let us develop a life of spiritual discipline and keep seeking perfection! On our own, this is impossible but “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
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