Questions From Readers
Jesus told his listeners: “You must . . . be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How can humans today “be perfect”?—Matt. 5:48.
The key to answering this question lies in understanding how the words “perfect” and “perfection” are used in the Bible. Not everything that the Scriptures describe as “perfect” may be so in an absolute sense. Of course, Jehovah possesses such absolute perfection. People or things can be perfect only in a relative sense. The Hebrew and Greek Bible words translated “perfect” often mean “complete,” “mature,” or “faultless” according to standards set by an authority. In everyday speech, the word is generally used in a relative sense. The expression “perfect weather” is one example.
Adam and Eve were created perfect morally, spiritually, and physically. They were perfect according to the standard set by their Creator. Because of disobedience, they did not measure up to this standard and therefore lost perfection for themselves and their offspring. Thus it was through Adam that sin, imperfection, and death were passed on to humankind.—Rom. 5:12.
As Jesus made plain in the Sermon on the Mount, however, even imperfect people can be perfect in a relative sense. In that discourse, he set standards for perfect, or complete, love. This is love such as that shown by God toward humankind. Jesus said: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:44, 45) By showing love to this extent, Jesus’ disciples would be imitating God’s perfect example.
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide strive to maintain such a high standard of love for others. They desire to help people of all different backgrounds, races, and religions to come to an accurate knowledge of Bible truth. In 236 lands, the Witnesses presently conduct over 7,000,000 Bible studies with interested individuals.
“If you love those loving you, what reward do you have?” asked Jesus. “Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing?” (Matt. 5:46, 47) True Christians do not show partiality toward people of certain educational or ethnic backgrounds; nor do they extend love only to those who are able to reciprocate. Rather, they help the poor and the sick, the young and the old. In such ways, Christians can imitate Jehovah’s love and thus be perfect in a relative sense.
Will we ever be able to enjoy the perfection that Adam lost? Yes, through faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, obedient mankind will fully reach a perfect state during Christ’s Millennial Reign, when ‘the Son of God breaks up the works of the Devil.’—1 John 3:8.