Holy

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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

In the Old Testament “holy” is important in the parts related to priests and worship such as the Book of Leviticus, especially  Jeremiah 16:1 . It is found in the prophets: Isaiah's title for God, “the Holy One of Israel,” and the adoration of the Seraphim in  Isaiah 6:1 . The word is also found repeatedly in the Psalms.

God is holy. Fire is the symbol of holy power. Jealousy, wrath, remoteness, cleanliness, glory, and majesty are related to it. He is unsearchable, incomprehensible, incomparable, great, wonderful, and exalted. His name is Holy.

Holiness is in tension with relational personhood. Holiness tends toward separation and uniqueness. Personhood determines relations and close communion. Holiness inspires awe and fear. Personhood inspires love and the wish to be near. Both are in the Bible as necessary ways to think of and experience God. Both are necessary if one is to avoid shallow, one-sided thinking about God. Neither holiness nor personhood alone can do justice to the biblical portrayal of God. Both in their mutual tension help capture a more adequate doctrine and experience of God.

The Holy

Cannot be comprehended rationally.

Sensed and protected against. Avoided in contact and sight.

Sins must be expiated and purged.

Beyond time—yet claims sacred times.

Beyond space—yet claims sacred space.

Life-threatening—yet strangely necessary to life.

Repels—yet fascinates and draws.

Always awesome, mysterious, unnerving.

Here one worships and submits.

Portrayed in the sacrificial system, in tabernacle, Temple, priesthood, and in the cross.

The Personal

Understood in terms of relationships.

One can receive, respond, accept, and love.

Sins can be forgiven with fellowship restored.

Redemption shows will, action, goal.

Creator—creature.

Father—child.

Judge—sinner, rebel.

Savior—needy suppliant.

Lord—servant.

Here one believes, loves, serves.

Portrayed in the incarnation and in the gift of the Holy Spirit, in Israel as the people of God, and in the church. The biblical view combines these.  Leviticus 17-25 presents all laws to be kept so that persons may be holy as God is holy. Holiness in God is seen as moral perfection in   Psalm 89:35 . Holiness in believing Christians was attained through the cross and is to be preserved in clean and moral living. Holiness comes to imply the fullness and completeness of God and godliness in all its facets and meanings.

Thus “holy” defines the godness of God. It also defines places where God is present. For the holy God to be present among His people special holy places were set apart where God and people could safely come together. The tabernacle and Temple filled this purpose. Special restrictions on access were established for the safety of the worshipers. Rules of sacrifice and cleanliness helped them prepare for this contact. A special place, the holy of holies, was completely cut off from common access. Only the high priest could enter there, and then only once a year after special preparation.

Holy also applied to persons who were to meet God. The priests had to undergo special rites that sanctified and purified them for service in the Temple. God wanted all His people to share His presence. They had to be instructed in the character and actions what would accomplish that. The Holiness Code ( Leviticus 17-25 ) commands the people to obey God's laws in all parts of life in order to be “holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” ( Leviticus 19:2 ). Here holiness is seen to include a moral character as well as cultic purity. Sin and disobedience works the opposite and has to be cleansed or atoned by sacrifice ( Leviticus 1-7;  Leviticus 16:1 ).

An understanding of holiness is needed for New Testament study to appreciate the cross and the results of God's work through the cross. The Gospels make clear that Jesus came to save His people from their sins ( Matthew 1:21;  Luke 1:31-35 ). The crucifixion is portrayed as Christ shedding His blood and giving His body for the remission of sins ( Matthew 26:26-29;  Mark 14:22-25;  Luke 22:19-20 ). Faith in Christ is portrayed as acceptance of His full atonement for sin ( 1 John 2:2;  1 John 3:5;  Revelation 5:9 ).

The Holy Spirit is the agent of holiness for the church and its leaders ( Acts 1:8;  Acts 2:4;  Acts 5:32;  Acts 13:2-4 ). He keeps the church pure ( Acts 5:1-11 ). He promotes holiness in its members ( 1 Corinthians 6:19;  1 Thessalonians 4:7 ).

Christians are called to holy living ( 1 Corinthians 1:2;  1 Corinthians 3:17 ). They are saints who lead godly, righteous lives. Being sanctified, or made holy, is a work of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ's atonement that calls for obedient submission from those who have been saved. Christians are holy because of their calling in Christ, because of His atonement for their sins, and because of the continual ministrations of the Holy Spirit. They are holy inasmuch as they receive and submit to these saving and sanctifying agents.

John D. W. Watts

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [2]

A. Adjective.

Qâdôsh ( קָדֹשׁ , Strong'S #6918), “holy.” The Semitic languages have two separate original forms of the root. The one signifies “pure” and “devoted,” as in Akkadian qadistu —and in Hebrew qâdôsh , “holy.” The word describes something or someone. The other signifies “holiness” as a situation or as an abstract, as in Arabic al-qaddus —“the most holy or most pure.” In Hebrew the verb qâdash and the word qâdesh combine both elements: the descriptive and the static. The traditional understanding of “separated” is only a derived meaning, and not the primary.

Qâdôsh is prominent in the Pentateuch, poetic and prophetic writings, and rare in the historical books. The first of its 116 occurrences is in Exod. 19:16: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

In the Old Testament qâdôsh has a strongly religious connotation. In one sense the word describes an object or place or day to be “holy” with the meaning of “devoted” or “dedicated” to a particular purpose: “And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel …” (Num. 5:17). Particularly the sabbath day is “devoted” as a day of rest: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord …” (Isa. 58:13-14). The prescription is based on Gen. 2:3 where the Lord “sanctified,” or “dedicated,” the sabbath.

God has dedicated Israel as His people. They are “holy” by their relationship to the “holy” God. All of the people are in a sense “holy,” as members of the covenant community, irrespective of their faith and obedience: “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” (Num. 16:3). God’s intent was to use this “holy” nation as a “holy,” royal priesthood amongst the nations (Exod. 19:6). Based on the intimate nature of the relationship, God expected His people to live up to His “holy” expectations and, thus, to demonstrate that they were a “holy nation”: “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev. 20:26).

The priests were chosen to officiate at the Holy Place of the tabernacle/temple. Because of their function as intermediaries between God and Israel and because of their proximity to the temple, they were dedicated by God to the office of priest: “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God. Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy” (Lev. 21:6-8). Aaron as the high priest was “the holy one of the Lord (Ps. 106:16, NASB).

The Old Testament clearly and emphatically teaches that God is “holy.” He is “the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 1:4), the “holy God” (Isa. 5:16), and “the Holy One” (Isa. 40:25). His name is “Holy”: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15). The negative statement, “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none besides thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2), explains that He is most “holy” and that no one is as “holy” as He is. Also the angels in the heavenly entourage are “holy”: “And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord your God will come, and all the holy ones [KJV, “saints”] with him” (Zech. 14:5, RSV). The seraphim proclaimed to each other the holiness of God: “And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3).

In the Septuagint the word hagios (“holy”) stands for the Hebrew qâdôsh.

B. Verb.

Qâdesh ( קָדַשׁ , Strong'S #6942), or qâdash ( קָדַשׁ , Strong'S #6942), “to be holy; to sanctify.” This verb, which occurs 175 times, can mean “to be holy” (Exod. 29:37; Lev. 6:18) or “to sanctify”: “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place” (2 Chron. 29:5).

C—. Nouns.

Qôdesh ( קֹדֶשׁ , Strong'S #6944), “holiness; holy thing; sanctuary.” This noun occurs 469 times with the meanings: “holiness” (Exod. 15:11); “holy thing” (Num. 4:15); and “sanctuary” (Exod. 36:4).

Another noun, qadesh , means “temple-prostitute” or “sodomite”: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deut. 23:17). The noun is found 11 times.

King James Dictionary [3]

HO'LY, a.

1. Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions free from sin and sinful affections. Applied to the Supreme Being, holy signifies perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character and man is more or less holy, as his heart is more or less sanctified, or purified from evil dispositions. We call a man holy,when his heart is conformed in some degree to the image of God, and his life is regulated by the divine precepts. Hence, holy is used as nearly synonymous with good, pious, godly.

Be ye holy for I am holy. 1 pet 1

2. Hallowed consecrated or set apart to a sacred use, or to the service or worship of God a sense frequent in Scripture as the holy sabbath holy oil holy vessels a holy nation the holy temple a holy priesthood. 3. Proceeding from pious principles,or directed to pious purposes as holy zeal. 4. Perfectly just and good as the holy law of God. 5. Sacred as a holy witness.

Holy of holies, in Scripture, the innermost apartment of the Jewish tabernacle or temple, where the ark was kept,and where no person entered, except the high priest, once a year.

Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, the Divine Spirit the third person in the Trinity the sanctifier of souls.

Holy war, a war undertaken to rescue the holy land, the ancient Judea, from the infidels a crusade an expedition carried on by christians against the Saracens in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries a war carried on in a most unholy manner.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost . The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, of one essence or nature with the Father and the Son, yet distinct from them. He applies the work of redemption to us, and makes us partakers of all the benefits of Christ, of his righteousness, life, and death. He is an Advocate, who pleads our cause, who strengthens and comforts us and prepares us for glory in heaven.  Matthew 1:18;  Matthew 1:20;  Matthew 28:19;  John 1:33;  John 14:26;  John 16:7-8;  John 20:22;  Acts 2:4;  Romans 5:5;  2 Corinthians 13:14;  1 Thessalonians 4:8. Our A. V. uses, in most passages, the term Holy Ghost; but in four passages, Holy Spirit, which is better; see the R. V. See God.

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): ( superl.) Set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from profane or common use; holy vessels; a holy priesthood.

(2): ( superl.) Spiritually whole or sound; of unimpaired innocence and virtue; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

See Holiness

References