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Vocab Insight: Teleios / Whole

Watch a short, animated video that explains what the Greek word “teleios” means in Matthew 5:48 and throughout the biblical story.

Insights Jun 11, 2024



“So then be teleios, as your heavenly Father is teleios.”1

This biblical Greek word, teleios, is often translated “perfect.” But what does that mean to be perfect?

Teleios means something has fulfilled its purpose or achieved the goal for which it was made.

God is the source and the purpose of everything, so God is teleios because God is the goal of all things.

But everything else is on a journey of becoming teleios. Like when the Apostle Paul says, “Don’t be like children, but become teleios,” he is inviting them to fulfill the purpose for which humans are made, which is to love each other.2

When something has achieved its purpose, it is healthy and whole. That’s why in the Bible, something that is fully mature or even blameless can be called teleios.

Like Jesus once said to a wealthy man, “If you want to become teleios, sell your possessions and give to the poor.”3

1. Matthew 5:48
2. See Ephesians 4:11-14a; 1 Corinthians 13:9-11; 1 Corinthians 14:20
3. Matthew 19:21
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