A stunning photograph capturing a delicate white lily bathed in ethereal light, symbolizing the purity and perfection described in the Bible.

What Does Perfect Mean In The Bible?

The desire for perfection is something we all struggle with. We want to be the perfect spouse, parent, friend – to live the perfect life. For Christians, the Bible sets the standard for what perfection looks like. But what exactly does the Bible say about perfection, and how are we to understand it?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In the Bible, perfection doesn’t mean being flawless. Rather, it means being spiritually mature, fully devoted to God, and living in accordance with His will.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll examine what the Bible says about perfection. We’ll look at key verses that mention perfection and analyze what they teach us. We’ll see that more than flawlessness, biblical perfection is about spiritual maturity, wholeness, and living out God’s intentions for human life.

Old Testament Background

God’s Perfection

In the Old Testament, God is described as being perfect, whole, and complete. This perfection is seen in God’s attributes – His power, knowledge, presence, love, justice, etc. God does not lack anything, and His ways are flawless (Deuteronomy 32:4).

As the source of all goodness and truth, God is held up as the absolute standard of moral perfection.

Some examples of God’s perfection in the Old Testament:

  • God’s work is described as “perfect” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
  • God’s way is “perfect” (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 18:30).
  • God’s knowledge and wisdom are “perfect” (Job 36:4; 37:16).
  • God’s law is “perfect” (Psalms 19:7).

This perfection of God is contrasted with the imperfection of humanity. Humans fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23). But the good news is that God is able to make us “perfect” through Christ (Hebrews 10:14).

The Law’s Call to Perfection

The Law of Moses gave instructions for how the Israelites were to live. The law covered moral, ceremonial, and civil matters. At the heart of the law was the call for God’s people to be holy as the Lord is holy (Leviticus 19:2).

Holiness refers to being spiritually and morally pure, set apart for God’s purposes. While the law itself was good, it exposed people’s inability to live up to God’s perfect standard:

  • The Ten Commandments revealed humanity’s failure to perfectly obey God.
  • The sacrificial system showed that atonement was needed for sins.
  • The purity laws exposed people’s inability to meet God’s standard of holiness.

The law ultimately pointed forward to humanity’s need for a Savior, Jesus Christ, to redeem and perfect them (Galatians 3:24). Through Christ, the holiness required by the law would be fulfilled in God’s people.

Perfection as Integrity and Wholeness

At times in the Old Testament, the word “perfect” carries the idea of integrity and wholeness. For example:

  • Noah was “a righteous man, blameless in his time” (Genesis 6:9). His integrity set him apart.
  • Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). He was a man of high moral character.
  • The psalmist declares “I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart” (Psalm 101:2). Integrity refers to inner completeness.

This understanding of perfection focused more on spiritual maturity and undivided loyalty to God. It is less about flawless performance and more about wholehearted commitment to the Lord. As we seek God with all our heart and soul, we can experience this inner sense of “perfection” (1 Kings 8:61).

Jesus and Perfection

Jesus as the Perfect Man

Jesus is often held up in the Bible as the perfect man. Though fully human, Jesus lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to God (Hebrews 4:15). He is the ultimate example of what it means to love God and neighbor wholeheartedly (Matthew 22:37-39).

His life demonstrated the perfection that God desires from humanity.

Interestingly, Jesus did not claim perfection for Himself, but rather it was bestowed upon Him by God the Father. At Jesus’ baptism, God’s voice from heaven declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). God affirmed Jesus’ moral and spiritual perfection.

Jesus’ Call to Perfection

In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called His followers to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This can seem like an impossible standard. How can flawed humans be as perfect as God?

In context, Jesus is commanding His followers to fully love others (Matthew 5:43-48). The kind of religious perfection Jesus expects is a perfection of love – loving friends and enemies alike. It is also a perfection of righteousness – following the spirit, not just the letter, of God’s commands.

Love, Not Legalism

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day obsessed over legalistic perfection. But Jesus showed this was never God’s intent. Rules-based “perfection” leads to pride, hypocrisy, and judgmentalism. True obedience stems from love.

The too perfect Christian image we humans try to achieve only takes our eyes off Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Since we are not capable of being perfectly righteous, we must depend on Christ’s perfection that He credits to us, not our own (Philippians 3:9).

Relying on His grace and forgiving others is true perfection.

Perfection in the Epistles

Maturity in Christ

The apostle Paul often wrote about spiritual maturity and perfection in his epistles. In Philippians 3:12, he said that he had not yet attained spiritual perfection, but was striving towards the goal of becoming mature in Christ.

Paul exhorted believers to grow into the fullness and stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). This process of being conformed to the image of Christ leads to maturity and perfection. According to Paul, we must renew our minds and become spiritually mature in order to know the will of God (Romans 12:2).

As we grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, we become more like Him and reflect His perfection.

Perfected in Love

Another aspect of biblical perfection found in the epistles is being perfected in love. The apostle John wrote extensively about God’s love and our call to love one another. He stated that whoever loves knows God (1 John 4:7) and that God’s love is perfected in us when we love one another (1 John 4:12).

For John, abiding in love is the essence of perfection. He exhorted believers to love in actions and truth, not just words (1 John 3:18). As we become more loving, gentle, patient, and kind, we reflect the perfect love of Christ.

John encouraged Christians to be made “perfect” in love in order to have confidence on judgment day (1 John 4:17-18).

Eschatological Perfection

Several verses in the epistles point to an eschatological perfection that will occur when believers receive their resurrection bodies. In 1 Corinthians 13:10, Paul stated that the perfect will come and the partial will pass away, referring to the return of Christ.

At that time, our imperfection will be fully swallowed up in perfection as we receive our incorruptible heavenly bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50-54). Paul longed for this day when believers will be presented blameless before God (1 Thessalonians 3:13, 5:23).

Jude also wrote of being presented “faultless” before God’s presence with great joy (Jude 24). This eschatological perfection reminds believers that one day we will be made completely perfect in body and spirit, reflecting God’s flawless glory.

Pursuing Perfection

Spiritual Growth and Disciplines

Pursuing perfection from a biblical perspective is about spiritual growth and building Christ-centered disciplines. As fallible humans, we may never attain sinless perfection, but we can continually strive to grow in our faith and devotion to God (Philippians 3:12-14).

Key disciplines that aid spiritual development include Bible study, prayer, fasting, simplicity, solitude, submission, and service.

Regular Bible reading provides direction and nurtures our relationship with God. Through insightful Scripture meditation, we better align our thoughts and actions with godly principles. A powerful spiritual discipline, prayer fuels our connection with the divine.

Whether offering heartfelt praise, interceding for others, or seeking guidance, prayer ushers us into God’s presence.

Fasting teaches self-control and self-denial, freeing us from dependence on worldly things. Embracing simplicity frees us from excess and materialism. Times of solitude and silence open space to hear God’s voice and discover divine purpose. Submitting to godly authority figures forges humility.

Selfless service and compassion toward others demonstrate Christ’s love in action.

Obedience and Devotion

The pursuit of spiritual perfection involves obedience and wholehearted devotion to God. As Deuteronomy 10:12-13 asks, God requires us to walk in obedience, serve Him, love Him, and offer our exclusive loyalty.

Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, believers increasingly obey God’s commands and turn from sin (1 Peter 1:14-16). Scripture urges us to fix our affections on heavenly things rather than earthly idols (Colossians 3:1-2).

Our human endeavors always fall short of perfection. But when yielded fully to God, our efforts find meaning and reward in Christ. With an eternal perspective, believers deny selfish interests to obey God’s calling. This may mean uncomfortable stretches of faith that test obedience.

But the trials produce steadfast hope and refined character to better reflect God’s glory (Romans 5:1-5).

Christ-centered Living

As Christians, pursuing perfection means patterning our lives after Jesus. He is the flawless exemplar to emulate. When we abide in Christ, obey His Word, and let the Holy Spirit transform us, we manifest godly virtues (John 15:4-5).

The Spirit cultivates in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Our actions and attitudes become more Christlike.

If we try achieving perfection by our power, we’ll end frustrated. But when resting in God’s strength and grace, we find empowerment. Clinging to Christ, we represent His light. Scripture urges us to consider Jesus, who endured opposition and shame, so we do not grow weary (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Through the Spirit and faith, we gain victory in spiritual battles when we praise God and recall His mighty deeds (2 Chronicles 20:21-22). By God’s power, we walk confidently on the path toward Christlike maturity.


Throughout Scripture we see that biblical perfection is not about being flawless or sinless. Rather, it refers to spiritual maturity, completeness, and living fully according to God’s will. As we grow in Christ, we are being perfected – transformed to become more like Him.

Though we won’t attain sinless perfection in this life, we press on toward the goal of maturity in Him. By God’s grace and the Spirit’s empowering, we can continually grow into greater Christlikeness and obedience to the Father.

Similar Posts