Jesus came, preaching perfect kingdom relationships in perspective of eternity. He clearly taught eternal life in the kingdom that is to come in contrast to being cast into hell. In that vein, Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are ye when men’ shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. Matthew 5:3-12 KJV
Following that introduction, Jesus taught we are to be Salt and Light and proclaimed He came to fulfill the Law. He continued, teaching Anger should be quickly followed with Reconciliation. Then, taught Lust and Adultery, Divorce and Oaths are to be avoided.
Jesus concluded this first part of His sermon with Love your Enemies, urging: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48 KJV). Context Mt 5
In context, we are to be perfect in loving our enemies. This perfect is from τέλειοι (teleioi). The primary meaning is for us to be mature, fully grown up in Christ. The perfect of our Father in heaven is from τέλειός (teleios), meaning complete.
Teleioi only occurs in four other verses. In order to help us get the flavor of what Jesus commanded, let’s look at these verses in newer translations.
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature/teleioi. 1 Cor 14:20 NASB
All of us, then, who are mature/teleioi should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Php 3:15:16 NIV
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature/teleioi and fully assured. Col 4:12 NIV
But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature/teleioi and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4 ISV
Perfect as Paul puts it in context
In his letter to the saints in Christ Jesus at Phillipi, Paul states: “I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection/teteleiōmai. But I am pressing on.” Leading up to his explanation of perfect, Paul makes it clear that we cannot rely on works of the flesh like outward ceremonies, circumcision and misdirected zeal. Then he shows us what motivates him to press on to the goal set before him. He closes with his exhortation: “Therefore let all of us who are mature/teleioi believers cherish these thoughts; and if in any respect you think differently, that also God will make clear to you. But whatever be the point that we have already reached, let us persevere in the same course.”
Yet all that was gain to me—for Christ’s sake I have reckoned it loss. Nay, I even reckon all things as pure loss because of the priceless privilege of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. And for His sake I have suffered the loss of everything, and reckon it all as mere refuse, in order that I may win Christ and be found in union with Him, not having a righteousness of my own, derived from the Law, but that which arises from faith in Christ—the righteousness which comes from God through faith. I long to know Christ and the power which is in His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings and die even as He died; in the hope that I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead.
I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection/teteleiōmai. But I am pressing on, striving to lay hold of the prize for which also Christ has laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not imagine that I have yet laid hold of it. But this one thing I do—forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me, with my eyes fixed on the goal I push on to secure the prize of God’s heavenward call in Christ Jesus. Therefore let all of us who are mature/teleioi believers cherish these thoughts; and if in any respect you think differently, that also God will make clear to you. But whatever be the point that we have already reached, let us persevere in the same course. Philippians 3:7-16 WNT Weymouth New Testament
That helps us understand what Jesus was teaching about kingdom relationships. Like Paul, we won’t be perfect until our resurrection, when that which is perfect has come. But, we strive for the prize with our eyes fixed on the goal.
Love never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if there are languages, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be brought to an end. For our knowledge is imperfect, and so is our prophesying; but when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end. When I was a child, I talked like a child, felt like a child, reasoned like a child: when I became a man, I put from me childish ways. For the present we see things as if in a mirror, and are puzzled; but then we shall see them face to face. For the present the knowledge I gain is imperfect; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And so there remain Faith, Hope, Love—these three; and of these the greatest is Love. 1 Cor 13:8-13 WNT
Related article: Deep Relationships in Perspective of Eternity