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In the book of Hebrews, we read:

8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:8-10 (NIV)

Here, the writer to the Hebrews describes God the Son as being "made perfect". The simple reading of this would imply that he was imperfect before this event, but that would contradict my understanding of the rest of scripture.

How would a reformed protestant understand the idea of God the Son being "made perfect"?

  • @curiousdannii Wouldn't this question be better for BH.SE since there is nothing denominational specific about interpreting "made perfect" in Heb 5:9? – GratefulDisciple Apr 3 at 22:14
  • @GratefulDisciple Probably yes – curiousdannii Apr 3 at 22:26
  • Similar question in BH.SE with a high-vote answer although the answer would have been better if it also mentions "being perfected of vocation" (consecration as High Priest), something that God the Father did to Jesus after Jesus "completed his course" (the other meaning of perfection) by being obedient until death. What's certain is that it has nothing to do with what the English language imperfect. Commentaries I consulted also emphasize the Book of Hebrew author's association with how he has OT's use of Teleotheis as consecration. – GratefulDisciple Apr 3 at 22:35
  • @GratefulDisciple Thank you, I think I'd misunderstood what sort of questions BH.SE dealt with. If this question isn't actually off-topic here, I'll leave it, but I'll make sure to think harder about which site a question belongs on in future! – Korosia Apr 4 at 16:02
  • @Korosia I think you did the right thing in framing your question this way. Sometimes we just don't know, and the more knowledgeable members here and the moderator will move it if necessary. Looking forward for your future questions ! – GratefulDisciple Apr 4 at 16:58
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Calvin has this to say about Hebrews 5:9, using the word 'sanctified' for 'perfect' :

Sanctified suits the passage better than "made perfect." The Greek word teleiotheis means both; but as he speaks here of the priesthood, he fitly and suitably mentions sanctification. And so Christ himself speaks in another place, "For their sakes I sanctify myself." (John 17:19.) It hence appears that this is to be properly applied to his human nature, in which he performed the office of a priest, and in which he also suffered. [90]

Biblehub

Gill adds the word 'completed':

And being made perfect,.... In his obedience, through sufferings; having completed his obedience, gone through his sufferings, and finished his sacrifice, and being perfectly glorified in heaven:he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him

Biblehub

Matthew Henry uses the word 'consecrated' in related to 'perfect' :

(2.) By these his sufferings he was made perfect, and became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him, v. 9. [1.] Christ by his sufferings was consecrated to his office, consecrated by his own blood. [2.] By his sufferings he consummated that part of his office which was to be performed on earth, making reconciliation for iniquity; and in this sense he is said to be made perfect, a perfect propitiation.

Biblehub

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  • There's also Christ's comment to John the Baptist to baptize Him to fulfill all righteousness.(Mat 3:15). Many apply this to the priesthood wherein Christ did not appoint Himself. – SLM Apr 3 at 16:29
  • teleiotheis doesn't mean sanctify! The audacity to claim that the author ought to have used another word. – Sola Gratia Apr 3 at 21:27
  • @SolaGratia Thayer Biblehub gives 'to complete' 'to perfect' 'to consummate' to bring to fulfilment' 'to finish' and 'to raise to the state of heavenly blessedness' in regard to the spectrum of meanings visible in the New Testament. – Nigel J Apr 4 at 0:13
  • A word can 'mean' things in two senses, as you know: its actual meaning, and its meaning in a certain usage or context. You may not conflate these two kinds of 'meaning.' It would be just as egregious for me in English to say, "I raised to the state of heavenly blessedness my paper." Instead of "completed." Beware lexicons, as they often assume knowledge of the basics of translation (such as indeed usage examples or contexts as you gave above). – Sola Gratia Apr 4 at 14:34
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    It seems Gill's translation makes the most sense here. Thanks! – Korosia Apr 6 at 9:10
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Teleotheis ("being made complete") refers to Jesus having accomplished what it is He purposed to come and accomplish: inasmuch as before He had done this His human mission would be imperfect and properly so-called, he is rightly called perfected by what He did when He did it. It doesn't imply Jesus was morally imperfect, or in any other sense.

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