What does the word perfect in Job 1:1 mean?

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The word perfect is used in the first verse in the book of Job:

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1).

The definition of perfect

Today, a definition of perfect is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” This word in the Hebrew is tam but it does not necessarily imply absolute sinlessness. It signifies, rather, completeness, integrity, sincerity, but in a relative sense. The man who is perfect in the sight of God is the man who has reached the degree of development that Heaven expects of him at any given time.

Use in the Bible

The Hebrew term tam is equivalent to the Greek teleios, which is often translated perfect in the New Testament but which is better translated “full grown” or “mature.” An example to that is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men(1 Corinthians 14:20 KJV). In this verse, mature (teleioi) is translated “men” in contrast with “children”).

The Hebrew word tōm, translated in Job 1:1 as perfect, has a number of different usages. The word, or one of its derivatives, is used in Genesis 17:1 where God told Abraham to “be perfect.” And all Israel was instructed to “be perfect” in verses such as:

Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 18:13).

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect” (2 Samuel 22:33).

I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me” (Psalm 101:2,6).

Similar to the definition shared, the Hebrew word in Job 1:1 was used to describe a person who was attempting to follow God’s commandments to the best of his ability. Job was straight, just and right in his loyalty and devotion to God. Job was placed in a test that would prove to be a public testimony, both to us and the universe. He set an example of full trust in the Lord, despite of his very hard circumstances.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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