[Selected Writings II. Holiness: God’s Way Better Than Man’s. 1999, Invictus for "Truth For Today Bible Fellowship. Lafayette, IN.” Pp. 65-69]
There are two classes of words the meanings which are governed by their respective roots; and one or two separate words.
The two roots are telos and artios. The former always has the idea of end and the latter of fitness.
Telos is the word put by the Greeks at the end of a book; just as the Latins put Finis, and we put The End. Therefore the noun teleios means that which has reached its end (as a book): that which has reached its limit.
The verb teleivo means to bringto the end or to come to the end; i.e., complete.
What that end may be the word by itself never tells us. It always depends on the context, and we must always look out for it in the subject which is being treated of. For example, in
… Heb. 9:9. The Holy Spirit is speaking of sacrifices, baptisms, rites, and ordinances,
"that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience.”
The contrast here is plainly between the sacrifices of the law and Christ (ver. 11).
"The law… can never, with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb. 10:1)
Why not? Because they were never ended. No one could ever write telos or finis against them. Then how could the comers thereunto ever write telos or finis as regards the conscience?
The meaning of the word "perfect” here is clear, and its essence and meaning end is evident. A reference to John 19:28 makes it still plainer, for there we have the verb, and a reference to the one sacrifice which in Heb. 9 is set in contrast to those offered under the law. "Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished (tetelesthai, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, teleiothee), saith, I thirst.”
Here were two things finished and brought to an end; the work which the Lord Jesus came to do, and the prophecy of Psa. 69:21. Therefore finis can be written against all schemes of giving "the guilty conscience peace.” All are vain and worse than useless, for they are a denial of the blessed fact that God has written telos or finis on Christ’s meritorious death; and all ignore the Saviour’s dying words – "It is finished (this is from the same root, finis: hence, finis-hed).”
The sinner who rests on a finished work must have a finished conscience. Nothing can be put to it or taken from it. The sacrifice is perfect in that sense; and therefore, in the same sense, the conscience of the saved sinner must be perfect also: i.e., in proportion as he realizes that nothing is left to be done by Christ, or himself, or anyone, or anything else, and in proportion as he realizes that finis is written on that precious death of our Saviour Christ.
If the sinner does not realize this, then he seeks, by observing "Rules for daily living,” or by the observance of rites and ceremonies, to obtain a perfect conscience. We need not add that he seeks in vain, for in ourselves, "there dwelleth no good thing.”
"Not as though I did already attain (those gains which have in Christ, for which I count my former gains but loss) either have already reached the end (of my gains).”
Here the context shows that the whole subject of the chapter is concerning what Paul had given up as a Jew, and now counted loss in comparison with the "gains” which he had in Christ.
All these gains were in Christ, and all the excellency of knowledge was bound up in Him. That knowledge consisted of knowing Him as his righteousness ("found in Him” ver. 9). Knowing Him in His person, experiencing the power of His resurrection, sharing the fellowship of His sufferings, made conformable unto His death. All these were past and present blessings, but there were two future – resurrection and rapture (vers. 11 and 20, 21; compare 1 Thess. , 17).
Paul had all in Christ. He had written finis as to all earthly gains and all earthly knowledge. He had written telos as to all other objects for the heart, for Christ was the end of both one and the other. Christ’s work is an end of all objects as to the conscience, and Christ’s person is the end of all objects for the heart. The blood of Christ gives us a perfect conscience, and the Person of Christ furnishes us with a perfect object.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Here the word has the same interpretation; and the word "therefore” shows us to what it points. The perfection here is not absolute but relative, and is limited by the context to our dealings with others. Our Father is dealing in grace and causing His sun to shine, and His showers to fall on the evil and on the good, on the just and on the unjust. Let us do likewise. Let us act on this same principle of grace, and we can then write "finis” and "telos,” on all other principles which may be taken as guides for our walk. The perfection referred to here does not go beyond this principle.
2 Tim. 3:17
"That the man of God may be perfect.”
Here we have another word, artios, which, although it is used only here, yet gives its character to another class of words when used in combination, and used as verbs.
It is from the old Aryan root, AR, to fit, and the obsolete Greek verb aro, to fit.
Artios means that which exactly fits, fitting like a joint.
Of time the Greeks used it of the very point or "nick” of time. Of numbers it means even as opposed to odd, etc.
Used in connection with the Word of God, it teaches us that the man of God who is versed in the Scriptures, subject to them, profited by them, and instructed in them is perfect, i.e.he has a perfect rule of life. He can write finis as to all other rules. He can write telos as to all other guides. There is an end of all of them. He is ready for every emergency, equipped for every exigency, prepared for every difficulty, provided for every contingency.
He needs no "rules for daily living.” To adopt any of them is to practically deny that the Word of God is sufficient.
Having this we are prepared for eternity as well as time; for it tells us what we have to wait for, and that is
PERFECTION IN GLORY
We grasp at the blessed promise of 1 Cor. 13:9, 10. Now we know in part, "but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” What a precious revelation. That which is perfect is coming. Glorious news! For it means that the Perfect One Himself is coming! And till He comes there is no hope for the Jew, no hope for the Gentile, no hope for the Church of God. He only has the right, and He only has the might to bring in the perfect age. Hence, we wait and we groan, waiting for the dawn of the perfect day.