This started out as a comment on Apollos’ excellent post on “Was Adam Perfect?” but kept growing until it got too long. Besides, I wanted to add a picture, so here we are.
It is interesting that even in English the term “perfect” can mean “complete”. We refer to the perfect tense of a verb to indicate an action which has been completed.
“I study the Bible” [present tense] as compared with “I have studied the Bible” [present perfect tense]. The first indicates an ongoing action; the second, one that has been completed.
I concur with Apollos that to always equate “sinless” with the term “perfect” is to miss the meaning of the word in Hebrew; and as we’ve seen, even in English. “Tamiym” is a word which like most can be used in a variety of ways to convey a variety of meanings in both absolute and relative senses. I also agree with Apollos that the term itself is not relative. It is a binary term. Something is either complete or incomplete. However, the application of the term is relative. For instance, if God’s purpose were to create a man without sin and nothing more, then Adam could have been described as perfect upon his creation. In fact, man—male and female—was not perfect until Eve was created.
(Genesis 2:18) 18 And Jehovah God went on to say: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.”
A “complement” is defined as:
a. Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection.
b. The quantity or number needed to make up a whole.
c. Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.
It would seem that the third definition is most fitting to describe what was accomplished by bringing the first woman to the man. Admittedly, the completeness or perfection that was achieved by the two becoming one flesh is of a different sort than that which is under discussion, but I use it to illustrate the point that the term is relative based on its usage or application.
Here is a link that lists all the occurrences of the Hebrew word “tamiym” as it is rendered in the King James version.
Scanning through these it becomes clear that as with most words, it can mean a number of things depending on the context and usage. The KJV renders it “without blemish” 44 times, for instance. It would appear that it is in this context that the word is used that Ezekiel 28:15 with regard to the angel that became Satan.
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” (Ezekiel 28:15 KJV)
The NWT renders this “faultless”. Obviously, the Bible wasn’t referring to the perfection possessed by the angel who walked in the Garden of Eden as complete in the sense of being tested, proven, and irrevocable. What is complete can be made incomplete generally speaking, unless there is a mechanism by which the perfection or completeness can be locked down as Apollos described. Nevertheless, then we would be talking about a different type or application of the word. Essentially, a different type of completeness. Again, as with most words it has overloaded meanings.
The Word of God revealed at John 1:1 and the anointed cherub of Ezekiel 28:12-19 were both at one point perfect in all their ways. However, they were not perfect or complete in the sense that Apollos is expounding upon. I concur on that. Therefore, Satan was perfect, without flaw, for the new task set before him in the Garden of Eden. However, when he faced a test—apparently of his own origin—he became incomplete and no longer fit for the task.
The Word was also assigned to a new role for which he was perfectly suited. He faced tests and was made to suffer and unlike Satan came through victorious. (Hebrews 5:8) So he was made perfect or complete for yet another new task. It wasn’t that he was incomplete before. His role as the Word was one in which he performed flawlessly and perfectly. Nevertheless, he needed something more if he was to assume the role of messianic King and mediator of the new covenant. Having suffered, he was made complete for this new role. Therefore, he was given something he did not possess before: immortality and a name above all the Angels. (1 Timothy 6:16; Philippians 2:9, 10)
It would seem that the type of perfection which Apollos speaks of, and which we all desire, can only be achieved via the crucible. It is only by means of a time of testing that sinless creatures can become hardwired for bad or good. So it was with the perfect anointed cherub and the perfect Word of God. Both underwent tests—one failed; one passed. It seems that even in an imperfect state it is possible for this hardwiring to take place, for anointed Christians though sinners are granted immortality upon death.
It would seem that the only reason for the final test after the thousand years have ended is to achieve this type of perfection. If I may offer an alternate illustration to Apollos “nut and bolt”, I have always thought of it as an old-fashioned double-throw knife switch. Here’s a picture.
As depicted, the switch is in the neutral position. It has the potential to make contact with either the north or the south pole of the switch. This switch, as I envision it, is unique in that once thrown, the current surging through the contacts will weld them shut for good. In other words, it becomes hardwired. I see free will like this. Jehovah doesn’t close the switch for us, but hands it to us to await a time of testing, when we have to make a decision and throw the switch ourselves: for good or for evil. If for evil, then there is no redemption. If for good, then there is no worry of a change of heart. We are hardwired for good—no proverbial sword of Damocles.
I agree with Apollos that the perfection we should all be reaching for is not that of a sinless but untested Adam, but rather that of the tried and true resurrected Jesus Christ. Those who are resurrected to earth during the thousand year reign of Jesus will be brought to a state of sinlessness at which time Jesus will hand over the crown to his Father so that God can be all things to all men. (1 Cor. 15:28) After that time, Satan will be let loose and the testing will begin; switches will be thrown.
Thank you for your musings on this subject. It certainly adds further clarification made in the excellent post authored by Apollos.
I gather from your thoughts you are of the view that the ‘perfection’ Satan had was not ‘complete’ and therefore the ‘switch’ had not been thrown prior to the actions that turned him against Jehovah?
Fair enough I wasn’t necessarily suggesting they were Jesus and Satan were “brothers in arms”, like they went fishing together or something. As for Jehovah and Jesus being co-creators, I don’t really think of it that way. For example- I have 2 sons and a workshop, I give my oldest son access to all my tools and materials to make things but I don’t allow my younger son the same latitude. I could ask my oldest son to make something but certain aspects may require my input. We are not 2 engineers working on the same level. Jesus could not… Read more »
Hi Chris thanks for your reply. Rather than answer your questions in this thread, I’ll wait until a new opens up. I’ve already said to Meleti that I don’t want to hijack and sidetrack what is being discussed here. But just a little food for thought. If we (myself included) could get something SO wrong like whether Adam was perfect or not, don’t you think we need to re-examine something even more difficult to grasp regarding the nature of Jesus? Believe me, we can make assumptions on the thinnest evidence and get everything really, really wrong. As Apollos said, this… Read more »
Hi Chris, I risk moving this conversation into the discussion that I had intended to be reserved for another day (only for the purpose of organizing the topics on this site). In the context of what you wrote I will simply throw John 17:5 into the mix. How is the “gap between Jehovah and Jesus” massive? Certainly they are distinct entities, but I am going to have to disagree about this gap. In my view, and according to my understanding of the scriptures, the massive gap lies between all other creation and Christ in his pre-existence. With Meleti’s permission I… Read more »
Apollos, thank you for your reply, and patient answer. I wasn’t seeking to set the cat amongst the pigeons or be seen to be promoting a personal view or be dogmatic. One thing I find with commenting is that it takes me a lot of time to try and articulate a line of thought, so I try and abridge things somewhat lest it become the length of a post. The result is sometimes a half -baked development of a thought that strays off topic. You are right that these topics are better suited to a discussion format. In response to… Read more »
Well John 5:48 didn’t quite make sense, since v47 is the last verse of that chapter in my Bible 🙂
I respectfully disagree with your perspective on some of this. “In the beginning the Word was“. Within the next couple of weeks I plan to write an article on the subject, so let’s talk more about it then.
Sorry, Matthew 5:48 🙂
I suppose that’s the thing about Time – it’s about perspective and distance.
“In the beginning the Word WAS” can also be read “IN THE BEGINNING the Word was”
IN is not before.
Sorry, I am only using BOLD type because I can’t work out how to do italics here.
I tried pasting from Microsoft Word but it still appears in normal type.
Any tips appreciated 🙂
He was perfect in one sense of the word, but he was not perfect or complete in the sense that Apollos referred to in his post.
For clarification … “He” being Jesus ..right Meleti ? My thinking is in line with you Chris . However, I do understand the line of reasoning of Apollos. I’ve always believed that the gap is massive between Jehovah and Jesus because of that fact that Jesus was created. Jehovah is immeasurable. However for the purposes of understanding scripture humans have to “measure” Him in relation to other things. I am looking forward very much to this discussion.
My reply was to the comment by Imjustasking, so the “he” is Satan before he sinned.
Ahhh, the old fashioned double throw knife switch, reminds me of my days in the circus. Great post with information building nicely and making sense. It helps me to put Jesus elevation from the first born of Jehovah’s creation to God’s right hand in perspective. There had to be a first-born and Jesus was it. Essentially Jesus and Satan were brothers and perhaps formed a nucleus of Archangels with various roles. If we are interpreting the scripture correctly then Jesus role was as the creator of the Earth and mankind on Jehovah’s behalf which may explain his “fondness for the… Read more »
(Matthew 26:29) But I tell YOU, I will by no means drink henceforth any of this product of the vine until that day when I drink it new with YOU in the kingdom of my Father.”
I’ve often wondered if this is meant to be taken literally. After all, what would the figurative “product of the vine” be in heaven? It-2 269 says it symbolizes joy, but who knows. Maybe the kings and priests – including the High Priest himself, will be here on Earth after all, or at least making regular, personal visits to their territory.
That seems entirely plausible, anderestimme. Otherwise we would have an absentee government. I don’t see how that would work. Jehovah talked to Moses face-to-face. Abraham received direction from angelic visitors who arrived in materialized form and ate with him. An Angel appeared with the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace; and Daniel had angelic visitors. It seems that Angels were coming and going all the time in the Hebrew Scriptures.
I had another thought on this subject. Three men came to visit Abraham before two of them moved off to investigate the goings on in Sodom. Now, one would think an angel doing low reconnaissance over the city would have been able to do more. So why materialize and then make the journey? Why spend time having a meal? If a fleshly presence was called for back then despite the wickedness of the times, would not it make sense that that is how things will operate in the new system? Just a thought.
Also, Chris, the idea that there is some kind of ‘genetic code’ for spirit creatures is fascinating. That it can be translated into DNA code is apparent from Jesus’ birth as a human. While we’re accustomed to thinking of the angels as simply ‘supernatural’, I would not be surprised if they were not subject to the laws of physics – albeit as yet undiscovered – like the rest of us. Not being a scientist, I’m talking through my hat here, but I thought it was an interesting, if somewhat fantastic, idea.
Chris, how could Jesus be the co-creator of the Universe with Jehovah and yet be an equal to the angel that became Satan? Who is greater the progenitor or the progeny? Do angels create other angels? I think it is about time the whole notion of Jesus and Satan being archangels like some kind of ‘brothers in arms’ is addressed. To me it simply does not make sense. Another reason that I am wary of such a view apart from the inherent logical fallacy is that this is probably yet another hangover from our Pentecostal past, like so many other… Read more »
I’m with you on this. I hope we can develop a study about the true nature of Jesus as a separate topic, either in a new article, or if we launch a general discussion forum at some point (which is our intention).
I have often thought something along the same lines. That some angels could even foster the desire to be with women, stay on Earth, have children, I believe demonstrates that while we are lower, we must also have some striking similarities. The angelic messengers had to deflect worship and state that they were our brothers as well and they take a keen interest in what happens to us here on Earth. As an aside it also demonstrates that the although the penalty for sin is death, it does not seem logical to infer that is the reason that humans die.… Read more »
Wow ! Very interesting thought! You have certainly expanded the scriptural context of us being “a little lower” than the angels. In the context of this article however , your thoughts have expanded/ clarified my ideas regarding the meaning of the “perfection” that angels have. Bear with me…I am expressive but not the most articulate. Although we have cannot fully grasp the meaning of perfection from our Creator, however it is safe to say that being simply without Sin cannot be synonymous with perfection. Perhaps they ( angels, Jesus , Satan)…are created perfect AND without sin ( Satan being described… Read more »
I did not mean to describe Adam and Eve as “perfect humans” I realized my mistake to late 🙂
I’m not so sure that we do have a steeper climb a sinful humans. The fact that Jehovah can resurrect a sinful human and grant him immortal life and a place higher than the Angels truly boggles my mind. That is sinful human can be tested to a point where Jehovah knows that despite their sinful state they can be granted incorruptibility is astonishing. The fact that faithful Christians can be resurrected to immortal spiritual life proves to me that fallacious nature of our current teaching regarding the earthly hope. We argue that Christians will go through the greatest tribulation… Read more »
I’m glad you found my comment interesting. Honestly, it is going to be difficult for me to condense everything that is popping into my head on the back of your question into a comment, but I will try! This is obviously just my own musing and it’s definitely not my place to say anyone else is erring unless I know otherwise. In these things, it is hard to be completely certain. I think we’re all just trying to figure it out. So first, it would be incredibly presumptuous of me to suggest that spirit creatures are imperfect in any way.… Read more »
That builds very nicely on the subject. Your perspective dovetails well with the points I was trying to make. Hopefully any readers who did not tune into my wavelength will read your article and things will click, as there is no conflict in principle between what I was trying to express and the way you have expanded on the idea. I like your illustration very much as well.