“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. “
God designed the church to be a discipleship community. A learning community. A fellowship of people who progressively grow into greater degrees of spiritual maturity.
The Greek word that Paul uses here for “mature” is teleios, a powerful word that is rich with meaning. Teleios was used by the Greeks to describe something that was whole and complete, thereby functioning according to the purpose for which it was designed. The Latin equivalent is the word integritas, thus describing a condition of wholeness and integrity.
The picture that Paul paints is a process of spiritual growth whereby our defects and deficiencies are progressively being made whole. Defects are things in us that are broken, and deficiencies are things in us that are missing. Through the process of spiritual growth, the Lord repairs what is broken and restores what is missing. That is how we become teleios—whole and complete and mature—functioning according to the purpose for which we are designed.
The standard of teleios is “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” In other words, we are to become Christ-like. We are to bear his image. The result of teleios is that we no longer believe and behave like immature children who are tossed about by false doctrines and deceitful people.
It is important to understand that teleios is very specific; it is how God designed you to function and operate. It represents the wholeness of the image of God in you. You are at your best when you do our job with teleios, and when you love your family with teleios. This is not an abstract theological concept. It is practical, specific, day-to-day skill for how to live and work.
God created you, redeemed you, and calls you to be teleios. Trust him and respond to his call.