SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY
I. The Old Testament
A. The etymology of the term kadosh (BDB 872) is uncertain, possibly Canaanite. It is possible that part of the root (i.e., kd) means "to divide." This is the source of the popular definition "separated (from Canaanite culture, cf. Deut. 7:6; 14:2,21; 26:19) for God's use."
B. It relates to God's presence in things, places, times, and persons. It is not used in Genesis, but becomes common in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
C. In the Prophetic literature (esp. Isaiah and Hosea) the personal element previously present, but not emphasized comes to the fore. It becomes a way of designating the essence of God (cf. Isa. 6:3). God is holy. His name representing His character is Holy. His people who are to reveal His character to a needy world are holy (if they obey the covenant in faith).
D. God's mercy and love are inseparable from the theological concepts of covenants, justice, and essential character. Herein is the tension in God toward an unholy, fallen, rebellious humanity. There is a very interesting article on the relationship between God as "merciful" and God as "holy" in Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, pp. 112-113.
II. The New Testament
A. The writers of the NT (except Luke) are Hebrew thinkers, but are influenced by Koine Greek (i.e., the Septuagint). It is the Greek translation of the OT, not Classical Greek literature, thought, or religion that controls their vocabulary.
B. Jesus is holy because He is of God and like God (cf. Luke 1:35; 4:34; Acts 3:14; 4:27,30). He is the Holy and Righteous One (cf. Acts 3:14; 22:14). Jesus is holy because He is sinless (cf. John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
C. Because God is holy, His children are to be holy (cf. Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7,26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). Because Jesus is holy, His followers are to be holy (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:15). Christians are saved to serve in Christlikeness (holiness).
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