Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3:12-16)
This is a good passage to look at teleios in the life of the believer as past, present, and future due to the Greek construction and grammar, and how this can be applied to our lives in Christ.
Teleios is translated perfected in 3:12. First we need to ask: is this teleios speaking of the past, present, or future? It is the future. The translators show the proper tense of the word in that teleios in this passage is used as a work completed, finished, and in the future. Paul’s teleios is not absolutely completed because he is still on earth where the process of teleios continues until death. If Paul, the great Apostle was not complete, we can be rest assured that we are not either. Perfecting is a lifelong process, but a process in which we need to press on to completion like Paul did. Paul lets us know that perfection is our purpose for being saved. Think about that for a little while. We want to know God’s will and there it is in black and white: to be perfected is that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Verses 12-14 describe our work in process (towards perfection) and our attitude towards it: go for it!
Then in 15-16 Paul looks at teleios from a different point of view. The translators in verse 15 translate teleios as mature. So we ask is this teleios speaking of the past, present, or future? It is both the past and present described in this part of the passage. We see in this passage this maturity is a process that is still being developed. But also this maturity includes the sense of attaining growth that could not be surrendered or reversed. So we can obtain maturity as we grow in Christ likeness.
What is Paul’s encouragement to those who are mature? We, if we are like him, are pushing forward with our teleios growth and should live as mature believers in unity of purpose to bring all to completion without surrendering our growth. The mature are to show the immature how to be like Christ and to create unity in the household of God. Be likeminded with Paul; understand that teleios is a process and recognize that to what level of teleios you have attained you need to walk in it for the purpose of keeping unity.
Be like Paul. Move on from the maturity you possess and press on to maturity.