The word perfect frightens some people. They have the impression that being perfect means that you never do anything wrong, you never say anything wrong, you never make any mistakes. These people say, “If that is the objective, I give up now, because it is unattainable.” But the word perfect is found in Scripture, and we cannot get away from it. Sooner or later, we have to face it.
Perfect has three main meanings in Scripture. The first is “mature,” or “fully grown up.” We all see that as a reasonable objective—one that gives us nothing to fear. Another related meaning is “complete,” having nothing deficient or defective. Keep in mind that these two meanings do not necessarily go together. A person may be fully grown up and still have defects in some areas of his body. He may even be missing part of his body, such as a limb, a digit, or an organ. In this case, he is mature yet incomplete. Another person might have all of his members intact and functioning, but he might not be fully grown up or mature. We have to combine the ideas of maturity and completeness in this picture of perfection.
In Ephesians 4, in the phrase “the perfecting of the saints” (verse 12 kjv), the Greek verb for perfect means “to articulate,” or “to fit together.” A related word is used in Hebrews 11:3, where it says that by the Word of God, “the worlds were framed,” or “fitted together.” So, the word perfect also has to do with putting something together in such a way that every part works harmoniously with the others and fulfills its proper function. We have three distinct ideas—maturity, completeness, and proper integration—fit together in such a way that the whole functions harmoniously. That is the objective that Scripture sets before us as believers.