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Hebrews 6:1 New International Version

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,

New King James Version

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

maturity,
τελειότητα (teleiotēta)
Noun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's 5047: Perfectness, perfection, maturity. From teleios; completeness.

Which word is a better translation for τελειότητα in Hebrew 6:1?

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  • Telos means target or purpose.
    – Lucian
    May 27 at 22:49
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Certainly τελειότης can be translated as “perfection,” but often, the reader may be left asking, “Perfection in what?”

Near the end of the previous chapter, the author wrote,

Heb. 5:12–14
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

The author describes some of his Christian readers as being νήπιος or babes (i.e., infants) who need milk. In this context, milk is a metaphor for instruction in the principles of the oracles of God (τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ).

Once the Christian readers are “of full age” (τελείων), they can eat solid food, i.e., have greater knowledge of the mysteries of God, and more complex function as a member of the body of Christ (i.e., greater responsibilities).

The word τελείων in 5:14 is key to understanding τελειότητα in 6:1. τελειότητα, the abstract noun related to the adjective τέλειος, here signifies maturity—the stage in the development of a Christian who was once a babe (νήπιος) drinking milk but is now mature (τέλειος) eating solid food.

As LSJ notes on the adjective τέλειος,1

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Contextually, the more suitable translation of τελειότητα is “maturity” as the author was discussing a “babe” (νήπιος) and “those of full age” (τελείων) in the verses immediately preceding.

Footnotes

1 LSJ, p. 1769

References

Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; et al. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

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  • Great answer: +1.
    – Xeno
    May 27 at 18:07
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The Greek word τελειότης (teleiotēs - Strong's G5047 - "perfection") is the abstract noun derived from the adjective τέλειος (teleios - Strong's G5046 - "finished, complete, perfect"), derived in turn from the noun τέλος (telos - Strong's G5056 - "end, aim, purpose").

Besides Hebrews 6:1, τελειότης appears only in another verse in the NT, Colossians 3:14. In both, the predominant translation is "perfection", although in Hebrews 6:1 not only NIV, but also NET and NASB have "maturity", which is more of a paraphrase than a translation, probably to contrast it with τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ λόγον "the (elemantary) principle of the doctrine of Christ".

Between "perfection" and "maturity, neither conveys the proper idea, because the former is abstract and the latter, as already said, is more of an interpretation, a paraphrase. I would adopt this translation:

Therefore leaving behind the (elemantary) principle of the doctrine of Christ, let us move on to completeness, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

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