The "Perfect" Translation (Part 2)

The Greek word ARTIOS is only found once in the entirety of the Greek New Testament (2 Timothy 3:17). However, it is conjoined with the preposition KATA to form the synonyms KATARTIZW (a verb), KATARTISIS (a substantive noun), and KATARTISMOS, (a gerund noun). It is also conjoined with the preposition EK to form the word EXARTIZW (a verb). These words are found collectively seventeen times in the New Testament. Thirteen of those fifteen are the word KATARTIZW. KATARTISIS is only found in 2 Corinthians 13:9 (translated “perfection” in the KJV) and KATARTISMOS is only found in Ephesians 4:12 (translated “perfecting,” KJV). EXARTIZW is found in Acts 21:5 and 2 Timothy 3:17.
The root word ARTIOS signifies the idea of “perfect” in the sense that it is fitting, proper, suited, or proficient. We might use the English expression, “perfectly capable” to capture the main idea in the word ARTIOS.
The work of the preposition in front of words such as this can signify intensification of the main idea in the word. We find this to be the case in 2 Timothy 3:17 where we have ARTIOS and then EXARTIZW. The preposition EX in this verse intensifies the meaning of ARTIOS by indicating thoroughness. The idea is that it is complete throughout or more loosely translated, completely complete or finished. This is borne out by its usage in Acts 21:5 where EXARTIZW is used to signify the end of a period of days (i.e. “when those days were finished”) With this in mind, one might translate 2 Timothy 3:17 as follows: “so that God’s man may be perfectly capable, having been finished for every good work.”
ARTIOS combined with the preposition KATA forms the group of words that are most frequent in the New Testament with the ARTI- stem. The basic idea in KATA is “down,” but it can also mean “according to” when used with a different case. With that secondary meaning in mind, KATA could serve to intensify the basic meaning in ARTIOS. The basic idea in KARTIZW is that of making something complete or whole. Thus, it is translated “mending” in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19. It is translated “restore” in Galatians 6:1. It is translated “framed” in Hebrews 11:3. And in Hebrews 10:5 it is translated “prepared” in reference to the body that Jesus would have. In Paul’s exhortation for unity in 1 Corinthians 1:10 it is translated “perfectly joined together.” In classical Greek the word is used in regard to setting a broken bone. The idea behind the word is to put things in order or restore to a previously completed state, to make things according to the state which is fitting, proper, or suitable. This throws a slightly different light upon 1 Corinthians 1:10 than “perfectly joined together.” Instead of Paul expecting “perfection” of the church at Corinth, he may have simply been urging them to be “restored to the same mind and judgment.” However, the idea of “making something complete” is retained because the church at Corinth was divided and needed to be restored to completeness again. Hebrews 13:21 and 1 Peter 5:10 have this idea of being made “complete” for God’s purposes.
We can conclude that the purpose of this family of words isn’t to indicate “perfection” in the sense of AKRIBEA, but rather, to indicate that which is fitting, proper, or suitable. With EK, the word intensifies to mean thoroughly suited. With KATA the word intensifies to indicate that which is according to the original/completed state of things. It is “perfect” in the sense that this is how it was originally intended to be; perfect according to the intended purpose.
In our next study we will consider the root TELEI- and the family of words associated with it.

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