Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#31 - Was Asa perfect?

Response by Wendell Leahy

2Chronicles 15:17: The heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
NIV states: (Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life).

2Chronicles 16:7: Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.

2Chronicles 16:10: Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

2Chronicles 16:12: And Asa ... was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.


Perfect, Perfection
(Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

partial quote:

Two word-groups in the Hebrew Old Testament are translated "perfect" or "perfection": tamam [m'T] and calal [l;l'K]. The former connotes wholeness, soundness, integrity, and often takes on ethical significance; the latter connotes completeness, perfection, and can carry the aesthetic sense of comeliness or beauty. Nearly all New Testament occurrences translate Greek words sharing the tel- stem, from which some half-dozen words are formed that bear the sense of completion or wholeness.

Old Testament references to perfection using the calal [l;l'K] root speak often of a passing perfection, a beauty granted by God but squandered, whether by God's own people (Lam 2:15; Ezek 16:14) or by a city-state like Tyre (Ezek 27:3, 4, 11; 28:12). The same word is used positively of Zion (Psalm 50:2). Elsewhere the psalmist contrasts the Lord's commands with what seems perfect from a human point of view: "To all perfection there is a limit; but your commands are boundless" (119:96).

Robert W. Yarbrough
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell
Baker Book House Company
This is one of those typical claims that critics always seem to pose and make as a claim. In essence, this is called a fallacy and as such cannot be used as a valid premise, for the premise is based upon the usage of the word [perfect] (from the Biblical explanation), with the implication of what most people would understand in our modern day English. The critic has failed to look at the true meaning of the word [perfect] as given throughout the entire Bible, especially being well explained in the New Testament.

I will use one example with Noah (but there many more throughout the Bible, such as Job for example). In all honesty, I do not know why the SAB makes this claim with Asa (nearly 1/3 the way into the Old Testament) yet fails to mention from the beginning, how this word is used and the true biblical meaning behind it:
Genesis 6:9: These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
The question here to consider is this; was Noah perfect? The answer is an obvious no, for no person is perfect, for all have fallen short of perfection (there is only one perfect man in the entire Bible and that is Jesus). Only God is perfect. In fact, this is the basic premise behind the entire word of God, and what is being pointing out to all who read his word, is that "none are perfect" and as such all are condemned (John 3:16-21)
Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Therefore, the NIV has rightfully stated (translated) the basic understanding for the usage of this word - perfect: "Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life". As is clearly revealed in God's word is that all have sinned, and fall short of perfection, but that, when the heart is set to be "committed" to the Lord, God sees this as perfection. Not because "we are perfect" (for we are sinners by nature, which is why Christ died, to redeem all who have sinned) but that we have sought repentance of our sin and work towards perfection, through Jesus Christ, the One who was and is 'perfect' (the essence of the word [perfect] which the critic is attempting to make as absolute in all cases, which is not what the bible claims whatsoever, in fact just the opposite).

The word usage here has no correlation to that which is perfection, for only God is perfect. This "so-claimed" contradiction is just another example of the complete ignorance of people who make such ridiculous claims, having no idea that the Bible is replete with this basic understanding of the word usage for [perfect].

Additionally, to choose a person (Asa) halfway through the Old Testament to make this claim as a contradiction is, well, laughable at best. In fact, these type of claims only reinforce our position that for the most part, the "so called" contradiction is not actually given because a contradiction truly exists, but that the critic is simply making a failed attempt at mocking and ridicule. To make such a claim only shows the true motive and intent of the critic, which is not to discover truth, but to merely overwhelm someone with endless babble and rhetoric. As from my point of view, this is just another one of those claims, that in truth, with a simple look into this word, the answer is clearly given throughout the scriptures and that even a child could grasp the true meaning and purpose of this word; perfect.

1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.