Be Ye Holy
Chapter 1: Holiness
– The Foundation of Separation
Words for Holiness
Old Testament Words
Old Testament the Hebrew word qodesh and the words
related to it are used for holiness.1
The words are translated as "pure, clean, holy."2
The concepts of purity and separation are universally recognized
by lexicographers as the essential meaning of these words.
They define the words as "holy, sanctuary, cleanse,
or "be holy, withheld from profane use . . . holy things,
filled with holiness, therefore to be treated carefully."4
scholars generally say that these words derive from root
words which mean "to cut or separate."5
There is widespread, but not universal, agreement among
them on this point. It is also possible that the words come
from a root which means "shining."6
If the latter is the case, the ideas of "purity, newness,"
and "freshness" are part of the definition of
Most likely the root "to cut" is the source of
the words for holiness, but the issue cannot be resolved
beyond doubt. It is clear that the idea of separation is
part of the Old Testament words for holiness, regardless
of their original root meaning.8
New Testament Words
Greek verb hagiazo, "sanctify," with its
cognates is "the Greek representative of Kadash."9
A related word, hagnos, shares the same root.10
The fundamental idea of the word seems to be separation.11
Two other words are used in the New Testament to convey
the idea of holiness. "[Hosios] conveys the idea
of piety, while . . . (hieros) connotes consecration."12
idea of separation is one of the aspects of the words for
holiness. The Hebrew words in the Old Testament and the
Greek words in the New Testament all involve separation
as a part of their meanings. We will see shortly that separation
is not all there is to holiness, but it is a vital part
of the concept.
clear that the idea of separation is inherent in holiness.
If a person or thing is positively pure and clean, that
person or thing is also negatively set apart or separated
from what is impure and unclean. With this fact established,
it is necessary to see the important role of holiness in
the Bible's teaching concerning the character of God.
The Holiness of God
C. Ryrie defines God's holiness when he says, "In respect
to God, holiness means not only that He is separate from
all that is unclean and evil, but also that He is positively
pure and thus distinct from all others."13
A. H. Strong calls God's holiness His "self-affirming
while G. C. Knapp states that it "is his moral perfection."15
of Scripture and theology have used several terms and descriptions
to describe the holiness of God. Thomas Watson advanced
four propositions on the holiness of God. He stated, "God
is holy intrinsically. He is holy in His nature. His very
being is made up of holiness, as light is the essence of
the sun . . . .God is holy primarily. He is the original and pattern
of holiness . . . .God is holy efficiently. He is the cause of
all that is holy in others . . . .God is holy transcendently.
No angel in heaven can take the just dimensions of God's
57:15 stands out as a helpful verse for an analysis of God's
holiness. It states, "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." This verse
outlines three basic aspects of God's holiness. It describes
His (1) intrinsic holiness ("whose name is Holy");
(2) transcendent holiness ("I dwell in the high and
lofty place"); and (3) immanent holiness ("I dwell . . . with
him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit").
Be Ye Holy: The Call to Christian Separation. By Fred Moritz. ©1994.
BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available for purchase at the
Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927; web address:
www.bju.edu/store.) Please note, due to browser limitations, the Hebrew
and Greek words are not displayed in their original languages.
Permission must be obtained from www.itib.org
to link to this page.