Perfected Forever- Hebrews 10:14
As we continue in our study of Hebrews 10, we now come upon the climax of the first section of the chapter, verse 14. This verse reads as follows in NIV: “because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”. This verse deals primarily with two issues, the ideas of perfection and holiness. Both of these must be understood in the context of their usage in the Greek language at the time, rather than their current usage in the English language. We begin with perfect, here as teteleioken in the Greek, the perfect active indicative form of teleioo. This Greek word does not refer to the concept of perfection as flawlessness, but as fitness. Something perfect in modern English is something without flaw or defect, but something perfect in the Greek usage of this word is something that is fit for its purpose. In this conception, something perfected is something which is enabled to fulfill its purpose, to do what it is created to do. As we have previously seen, human beings are created to be the image and likeness of God, that is our ultimate purpose, and we are only enabled to be both the image and likeness (be perfect) when we become one with Jesus Christ (the true image of God), and this “perfection” was made possible by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which atoned for the sin which prevented this union with Christ and its subsequent “perfection”. This perfection here is then described as being “forever”. The use of this expression shows here the permanence of our “perfection”, of our potential to be the image and likeness of God for all of eternity. We now move on to address the concept of holiness, here as hagiazomenous, the present passive participle of hagiazo. The Greek word hagiazo literally means to “set apart”, and its biblical understanding relates it to God. That which is holy is that which is set apart as belonging to God, set apart for God’s use and service. Believers are those who have been set apart as belonging to God, but also set apart for His usage and service. This dual idea here present in the concept of holiness provides us with a prime example of what is commonly referred to as the already/not yet aspect of many of the teachings of the New Testament. Believers have been made holy (already) and are also being made holy (not yet), holiness is seen then as both a point and a process, and it is through the use of the participle here that this dual nature of holiness is most clearly seen. The participle by nature is a verbal substantive, a verb that functions as a noun or adjective within the sentence. Basic grammar tells us that a verb is a word which refers to doing something, while a noun or adjective are words which refer to being something. A verb tells us what someone does, while a noun or adjective tells us what someone is. Because the participle is a verb functioning here as a noun, it tells us both that holiness is something we are but also something we do, or rather, as here, which is being done to us, due to the use of the passive voice. A passive voice construction is one in which the one referred to is acted upon by another, so here it is God who both makes us holy (the point/ the already) and is making us holy (the process/ the not yet). Believers here are thus described as having been made holy (we are saints) and are being made holy (our behavior becoming more “saintly”). Believers are set apart for God’s service the moment they truly believe (the point) and then are being set apart for God’s service to an ever greater degree as God works in their lives (the process) to set them apart from their old ways and conform them to the image of Christ moment by moment and day by day.