The book of Hebrews repeats a central reason that God gave a new law four specific times.  He first tells us that if it were not weak and unprofitable, we would not have had a need for a High Priest to arise after the order of Melchisedec.  What did its weakness and unprofitableness prevent the Law from doing?

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?  (Heb. 7:11).

We note the problem.  Perfection was not possible under the Levitical priesthood.  Thus there had to be a new high priest who could give the New Testament. He gives the same reason again for stating that the Old Testament law was weak and unprofitable.

For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God (Heb. 7:18-19).

We note here that the same clarification is offered again for giving the New Testament.  The law made nothing perfect.  A third time he gives the same explanation – the Old Testament priests were offering “. . .gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience” (Heb. 9:9).  A fourth time he offers the same truth:

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect (Heb. 10:1).

Who could rightly deny that making men perfect is a primary reason for giving the New Testament?

He prefaces these statements above in chapters 7 through 9 by directing God’s children to the goal of the disciple in chapter 6 when he said:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Heb. 6:1).

His purpose is clear and obvious.  Jesus is our example and captain of our faith who attained that very goal.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (Heb. 2:10).

Our Father made Jesus perfect.  He was not born perfect, for he was made perfect ‘through sufferings.’  He learned obedience by the things which is suffered (Heb. 5:8).  Though he was a Son, he had to learn the same way all of God’s children learn.  As he ran the race ahead of us (was ‘made perfect’) he became the author of eternal salvation to all who will obey him (Heb. 5:9).  “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Heb. 7:19).  Jesus and the new covenant is that better hope which does make men perfect, like Christ (Luke 6:40).  Thus the Old Law had to be done away to make way for the New Law, the perfect law of liberty.  Only a perfect law can make men perfect.


No man can be perfect in the world’s definition of perfection.  However, God’s ‘perfection’ and the world’s ‘perfection’ are not the same ‘perfection.’  The world tends to define the word ‘perfect’ as ‘never making a mistake.’  Some insist that if a man were perfect like Christ he could never have sinned at any time during his lifetime.  To live an entire lifetime without sinning even once is impossible, for: “For all hav sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  This is not the Lord’s definition of perfection.

Someone may ask why there is such a determination to teach perfection.  The obvious answer is because it is part of the whole counsel of God.  Who would not want to teach everything the Lord teachers.  Second, it is a command of God (Matt. 5:48; Heb. 6:1).  Third, Paul’s aim was to ”. . . present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). Fourth, this word incorporates descriptions of the pathway of spiritual growth (Eph. 4:12,13, James 1:2-4).  Before we consider the pathway, we first need to have a more complete picture of the goal itself.

Jesus gives his own definition of perfection.  “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40)  This is a general description which applies to all masters.  Perfection for any disciple is being “as his master” (Luke 6:40). John the Baptist and the Pharisees made disciples (Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33).  When John the Baptist’s disciples were finished, they were like John, and the Pharisees’ disciples were like the Pharisees. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Matt. 10:24,25).  Jesus’ disciples would naturally be like Jesus when they were completed.  In line with this purpose he said “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5) and “. . . arm yourselves likewise with the same mind . . .” (Pet. 4:1, 2).  If we obey the command to have the mind of Christ, we will be that much like Christ.

Jesus called for disciples to follow him in order to become like him.  Before they could be like him they had to know him.  Jesus called for men to know him.  He said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (Matt. 11:28-30).  The disciple can not become like Christ unless he first knows what he is.  Jesus described what they should learn about him: “. . .for I am meek and lowly in heart.”  If his disciples follow him, they also will become meek and lowly in heart, like their master.  “And Jesus increased in wisdom. . .” (Luke 2:52).  Jesus disciples will also seek to grow in wisdom as their master did.  Jesus said: “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19).  He left his disciples an example so they would sanctify themselves.  “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Jesus learned to obey by suffering.  His disciples will also follow his example and learn obedience by being willing to suffer what Jesus suffered.  What did Jesus suffer in order to learn obedience?   “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:18-21).  Jesus did not suffer so that we would not have to suffer.  He left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”  The scriptures inform us that Jesus was not born ‘perfect’ but was “made perfect” (Heb. 5:9). “For it became him, for whom are all things . . . to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10; 5:9).  Jesus is the captain of our salvation.  He was ‘made perfect’ by the things which he suffered.  He “suffered being tempted” (Heb. 2:18). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).  Jesus’ faithful disciples will grow to be perfected by following in his steps.