[Milton-L] Be ye therefore impartial

Paul Miller pm9 at comcast.net
Tue Feb 5 00:03:35 EST 2008

I found this on the net while ruminating over the discussion over be ye 
perfect. I have copied the text below this and when you look at the context 
it fits.

Ben H. Swett
Ponca City, OK
22 August 1966
My sister-in-law, Karyn, told me about a young man named Don she had dated 
in college. He was very bright and talented, and everyone's candidate for 
"Most likely to succeed," but he committed suicide. His parents gave a copy 
of his suicide note to her. Now, she handed it to me and asked, "What can 
anyone say to his folks?"

In the note, Don apologized to his family and friends. He was not mad at 
anyone or trying to hurt them; he was suffering terribly. Everyone seemed to 
think he was perfect, but he knew he was not. His faults were always before 
him and tormented him so his life was a living hell. The whole note was full 
of references to Matthew 5:48--"Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly 
Father is perfect."

I pointed out the scripture references and said, "I don't know what to say 
to his folks, but surely neither Matthew nor Jesus nor God intended this 
outcome from that scripture. Something must be wrong here, perhaps in the 

I looked up that scripture in concordances and commentaries, but they all 
said the same thing: "perfect means without spot or blemish"--and the 
implications of taking that idea seriously drove Don to suicide. So I 
started looking for some way to study the New Testament in Greek, in order 
to by-pass the English translators.

Six years later, I found and bought a Greek New Testament and a secular 
Greek-English Lexicon. The first scripture I looked up was Matthew 5:48 and 
the first Greek word I looked up was the one translated "perfect":

teleios 1. complete, perfect, entire; of victims, without spot or blemish; 
but of sacrifices, performed with full rites. 2. of animals and men; 
full-grown, adult; hence, perfect in his or its kind. 3. of numbers, full, 
complete. 4. of actions, ended, finished; of vows, fulfilled, accomplished.

The primary meaning is "complete" so I looked that up in Webster's 
Dictionary, but the definition didn't help much until I noticed that 
"complete" has two different antonyms: it can mean "not defective" or "not 

When we say something is not defective, we mean it is without spot or 
blemish, but when we say a person is not partial, we often shorten it to one 
word: impartial.

I went back to the Bible and read the whole paragraph, Matthew 5:43-48. The 
key thought is that God makes His sun to rise on evil men and good, and 
sends His rain on just men and unjust--which is a description of 
impartiality that demands the translation, "Be impartial, as your heavenly 
Father is impartial" and implies, "Be full-grown, adult, as your heavenly 
Father is."

We can be impartial, but we are not and should not expect to be perfect. I'm 
still sorry I didn't know that and wasn't around to explain it to Don. It 
might have saved his life. But this is why I began to distrust Bible 
translators, and why I have continued to study the original languages ever 

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and 
hate thine enemy.
 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good 
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and 
persecute you;

 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he 
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the 
just and on the unjust.

 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the 
publicans the same?

 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not 
even the publicans so?

 48Be ye therefore perfect (impartial), even as your Father which is in 
heaven is perfect (impartial).

Paul Miller

So Hills amid the Air encounterd Hills
Hurl'd to and fro with jaculation dire,
That under ground, they fought in dismal
shade --- Paradise Lost 

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