My study of the scriptures has had a profound effect on my life. As I have studied, I have grown closer to God and found answers to real challenges in my life. This blog is a scripture journal that records insights I have discovered in the past and continue to gain as I search, ponder, and pray.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Matthew 5 Dr. Sue(ss) and Christ on Being Perfect

Recently we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Not only do I love his books, but I love a poem written based on his writing style.  It's called Girl in a Whirl and is about a Mormon woman caught in the Perfect Mormon Mom trap.  She tries to do everything perfectly and in the end drops dead.

Although this story is funny, it also feels too true.  Everywhere we look, we feel the need to be perfect.  Even Christ said we should be perfect.  Right?  Well....not exactly.  Yes, he did say that, but our interpretation is not what he meant.

Elder Nelson addressed this very topic in a conference talk given in October 1995 called "Perfection Pending."  He said:  In Matthew 5:48, the term perfect was translated from the Greek teleios,which means “complete.” Teleios is an adjective derived from the nountelos, which means “end.”  The infinitive form of the verb is teleiono,which means “to reach a distant end, to be fully developed, to consummate, or to finish.”  Please note that the word does not imply “freedom from error”; it implies “achieving a distant objective.” In fact, when writers of the Greek New Testament wished to describe perfection of behavior—precision or excellence of human effort—they did not employ a form of teleios; instead, they chose different words....

Just prior to his crucifixion, [the Lord] said that on “the third day I shall be perfected. Think of that! The sinless, errorless Lord—already perfect by our mortal standards—proclaimed his own state of perfection yet to be in the future.  His eternal perfection would follow his resurrection and receipt of “all power … in heaven and in earth.”

The perfection that the Savior envisions for us is much more than errorless performance. It is the eternal expectation as expressed by the Lord in his great intercessory prayer to his Father—that we might be made perfect and be able to dwell with them in the eternities ahead.

What great hope this gives to me!  Through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can be perfected and live with him again in the future.  Today, all I need to do is turn to him.  He will do the rest! 


  1. Joseph Smith talked of the "Celestial" and "Terrestrial" kingdoms, which used words that already existed in the English dictionaries. As far as I know, "Telestial" was an original coinage by the Prophet. Some people have speculated that it derived from a combination of the other two, and it part it may have, but I find a connection in the Doctrine and Covenants to be interesting. While he is discussing the heirs of the Telestial kingdom in D&C 76:106-107, he quotes from 1 Cor. 15:24 "Then cometh the end (telos), when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Only he changes "then cometh the END" to "when he shall have PERFECTED his work." So the Telestial may refer to what comes when the rest has been perfected or completed. Thanks for the insights!

  2. We were talking about this very passage two weeks ago. Brett said this about it:
    "It is impossible to have a discussion in the Church about the passage 'Be ye therefore perfect' without the majority of people assuming the meaning is 'Be ye therefore faultless.' ... If the KJV guys had settled on 'Be ye therefore complete' or 'Be ye therefore fully developed,' the discussions would be fundamentally different."

    To me it's real interesting how we get hung up on that one meaning of the word without considering all the other meanings.