Let us consider the Greek word teleios (TEL-lay-oss). The word means "complete, perfect, whole; full-grown, mature (when used of persons). Among the places it appears in the New Testament are Matthew 5:48, 19:21; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 13:10, 14:20; Ephesians 4:13; and Philippians 3:15.

Teleios is related to the word telos, which means "end, conclusion, termination, outcome," etc. To be teleios is to have reached the end of a process, or to be perfected. (Perfection in its original and etymological sense of having completed a process.)

Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus was "perfected" -- not that he sinned. This is where a little linguistic insight can help. The connotation of the word includes the idea of growth and maturity, not necessarily of moral perfection. (Though our Lord possessed that, too.)

Keep the sense of the word in mind as you reflect on the scriptures listed in the first paragraph:
* Matthew 5:48 - We are commanded to "be perfect." Impossible? Yes, if we take teleios to mean perfect in the modern sense of the word. But can we not all strive to become mature and complete?
* Matthew 19:21 - The rich man's moral growth was not completed. There was one more thing he needed to do!
* Romans 12:2 - God's will is complete, perfect, whole, and it will help us to move in the same directions!
* 1 Corinthians 13:10 - Regardless of how we interpret to teleion, if we do not acknowledge the basic meaning of the word, we are likely to go wrong. Read the phrase as not only "the perfect," but also as "the complete," or "the mature" (more smoothly, as perfection, completion, and maturity, respectively). The tie-in to the concept of emotional maturation in 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 14:20 is hard to miss.
* Ephesians 4:13 - The whole body of Christ is to grow into the maturity.
* Philippians 3:15 - Paul does not claim to be "perfect"! (After all, that would contradict his point about not having arrived.) He is talking about adult thinking and spiritual maturity -- a "mature" perspective.