and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect Romans 12:2
Good And Acceptable And Perfect – What is a tautology? It’s a logical exact equivalence. It’s a statement that merely repeats what it has already said in different words. It adds nothing new to the meaning. For example, it is a tautology to say that all single men are unmarried. Of course they are. That’s what it means to say they are single.
So, if we read this verse as though the three adjectives “good, acceptable and perfect” describe God’s will, we have a tautology. God’s will is good, acceptable and perfect by definition. To say this is to add nothing to the equation. That means that this English translation (worse in the NIV) is confusing. These three adjectives are not about God’s will. They are about something else that adds to our understanding of God’s will.
The terms themselves are agathos, euarestos and teleios. Agathos means good, benevolent and useful. You will remember euarestos from the previous verse; meaning what is well-pleasing or exactly fitted to the task. Teleios is a word about fulfillment. It can mean perfect but it also means complete, fully grown and finished. So, these three adjectives paint a bigger picture than what we derive from the three English translated words. Now, how do we apply them in this verse? The answer is connected with “proving” God’s will.
Even the Greek text does not support ascribing these adjectives to God’s will. But they do imply that when something is good, exactly fitted and perfect in fulfillment, that thing reveals God’s will. Therefore, what Paul is saying is not that God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect. Of course it is! We already knew that. What Paul is saying is that when you are transformed you will be able to determine what is good and acceptable and perfect, and acting on that discernment is God’s will. I know this is complicated, but it is very important. Paul is not offering us a secret method for knowing God’s plan for our lives. God does not deal in secret methods. His processes are clear to all who are willing to hear (shama – and obey). All that is required is a willingness to be used by God according to His purposes, not ours. As soon as that transforming process begins, what is good, acceptable and perfect will start becoming obvious. Doing it advances the process. Not doing it stops the growth.
So, if you want to know what is good and useful, acceptable and exactly fitted, complete and perfect, be obedient by active dedication to the ways of God revealed in His Word and through the Spirit. When you see what to do, do it – and you will discover that the will of God is manifested in you. Your own actions will prove it, to yourself and to others. It’s not a mystery. It’s not magic. It’s Yeshua manifested in you.
Ah, the utter simplicity of it all! Think God’s thoughts after Him and act accordingly.
Topical Index: Transformation