Perfect - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


holokleros (G3648) Perfect
teleios (G5046) Complete
artios (G739) Entire
Holokleros and teleios"perfect and complete"are used together in the reverse order in James 1:4. Holokleros is used only one other time in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:23), and holokleria (G3647) occurs once (Acts 3:16; cf. Isa. 1:6), and then in a physical, not ethical, sense. As is apparent from its etymology, holokleros primarily refers to that which retains all that was initially allotted to it (Ezek. 15:5); it implies completion and wholeness in all of its parts. Thus Darius would not have cared about taking Babylon if Zopyrus, who had maimed himself in the process of conquering the city, were still holokleros. Unhewn stones are called holokleroi because they have not lost anything in the shaping and polishing process (Deut. 27:6; 1 Macc. 4:47). Perfect weeks are said to be ebdomades holokleroi (Lev. 23:15), and a man is said to be en holoklero dermati ("in a wholeskin"). Holokleros also can be used to refer to a body that has no deficiency (cf. Lev. 21:17-23), to the type of body that Levitical priests were required to have to minister at the altar and to the type of body that sacrifices were required to have. Josephus used holokleros in both of these senses, as did Philo, who consistently used the term to refer to the wholeness of body required of Levitical priests and of sacrifices and who saw a mystical significance in the word. Homer used teleios in the same sense.
Holokleros and holokleria, which originally referred to the wholeness or completeness of the body, came to refer to mental and moral completeness.The only reference of this type in the Apocrypha is Wisdom of Solomon 15:3: "complete [holokleros] righteousness." In an important passage in Plato, however, holokleros refers to the perfection of man before the fall, when men, who still were "complete [holokleroi] and unaffected by evil," were granted "complete [holoklera] images." Plato contrasted this with the weak and partial glimpses of Eternal Beauty granted to most people after the fall. According to Plato, then, the person or thing that is holokleros is "complete in all categories" (omnibus numeris absolutus). And according to James 1:4, such a person is "lacking nothing" (en medeni leipomenos).
All of the various uses of teleios refer to the telos (G5056), which is its goal. In a natural sense the teleioi are adults who have attained their full stature, strength, and mental powers; they have attained their telos. Such adults are distinguished from the neoi (G3501) or paides (G3816)young men or boys.This image of full and complete growthas contrasted with that of infancy and childhoodis the ground of Paul's ethical use of teleioi, which he contrasts with nepioien Christo(G3516). Similarly, the teleioi correspond to the pateres (G3962) of 1 John 2:13-14, who are contrasted with the neaniskoi (G3495) and thepaidia (G3813).
The ethical use of teleios is not confined to Scripture. The Stoics distinguished the one who was teleios in philosophy from the one who was progressing in philosophy, just as in 1 Chronicles 25:8 the teleioi are contrasted with those who still are learning. In heathen circles, the teleioi were those who had been initiated into the latest and most important mysteries.
The English word perfecthas the same ambiguous meaning as the Greek teleios. Both are used in a relative and in an absolute sense. Thus Christ said: "Therefore you shall be perfect [teleioi], just as your Father in heaven is perfect[teleios]" (Matt. 5:48; cf. 19:21). Christians are commanded to be "perfect" but not, however, in the sense of a doctrine of "perfectionism." The faithful Christian is to be "perfect" in the sense of striving by God's grace to be fully furnished and firmly established in the knowledge and practice of the things of God. Such "perfection" refers to spiritual and moral maturity and is to be contrasted with the moral and spiritual condition of those who are babes in Christ. Those who are "perfect" in this sense are "not always employed in the elements and infant propositions and practices of religion but [in] doing noble actions, well skilled in the deepest mysteries of faith and holiness." In this sense Paul claimed to be teleios, not teteleiomenos (G5048,Phil. 3:12, 15).
The distinction between holokleros and teleios is clear. The former word refers to one who has preserved, or regained, his completeness; the latter to one who has attained the moral endfor which he was intended, namely, to be a man in Christ. And as men reach this point, other and higher ends will open before them, so that Christ is increasingly formed in them. In the one who is holokleros, no Christian grace is deficient. In the the one who is teleios, no grace is in its weak or imperfect beginning stages; each grace has reached a certain ripeness and maturity.
Holoteles (G3651) occurs once in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:23). Because it derives from holokleros and from teleios, it conceptually and etymologically joins these two terms.
Artios occurs only once in the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:17) and is explained more fully as exertismenos (G1822). It is closer in meaning to holokleros than to teleios. Calvin explained artios as that "in which nothing is maimed." Artios is contrasted with cholos, kolobos, and anaperos.Lucian describes Vulcan as "not perfect [artios] in respect to his feet." Artios refers not only to the presence of all the parts that are necessary for completeness but also to the further adaptation and aptitude of these parts for their designed purpose. Paul says that the man of God should be furnished with all that is necessary to carry out his appointed work (2 Tim. 3:17).

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