To Make Holy, Part 2

I’ll continue to look at the New Testament occurrences of forms of ἁγιάζω starting with ἁγιάσας and ἁγιάζον translated sanctifieth (KJV) and that makes sacred (NET).  Jesus turned his attention to the experts in the law and you Pharisees who were part (Matthew 22:15-46) of the crowds He addressed (Matthew 23:16-22 NET):

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing.  But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’  Blind fools!  Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred (ἁγιάσας, a form of ἁγιάζω)?  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing.  But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’  You are blind!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred (ἁγιάζον, another form of ἁγιάζω)?  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it.  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.

I began this study prompted by “Denny’s” assertion: “Satan deceives people with the Progressive Sanctification heresy…”[1]  In this passage it is fairly clear that the gold is sanctified by the temple immediately as the gift is sanctified by the altar.  Stealing the gold on Tuesday that was installed in the temple on Monday would not be a lesser offense against yehôvâh than stealing the gold that had been installed fifty years earlier.  And it would clearly be meaningless to speculate about the gold’s (or a slab of meat’s) experience of being sanctified.  So I’ll score two for “Denny.”

I don’t want to miss the point of the passage however (Matthew 5:33-37 NET):

Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.  Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.  Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’  More than this is from the evil one (πονηροῦ, a form of πονηρός).

Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord, appears to be Jesus’ paraphrase of part of Leviticus 19:12 and Deuteronomy 23:21.

Matthew 5:33b (NET) Parallel Greek Septuagint

NETS

Do not break an oath οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις καὶ οὐκ ὀμεῖσθε τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐπ᾽ ἀδίκῳ

Leviticus 19:12a

And you shall not swear by my name in an unjust matter…

Leviticus 19:12a

but fulfill your vows to the Lord. …ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου. …οὐ χρονιεῖς ἀποδοῦναι αὐτήν…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

…you shall not delay to pay it…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

Baelor Breakwind has written extensively on this topic on his blog: “Do not swear at all”: A History of Interpretation.  I won’t comment further except to add that we learn of Jesus’ ban against oaths in Matthew 5.  We don’t hear that religious leaders had turned swearing oaths into a complicated system for lying until Matthew 23.  It’s a fair bet that Jesus’ audience in Matthew 5 was well aware of the religious leaders’ hypocrisy regarding oaths.  Before Jesus banned oaths the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  After the ban the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  Making oaths was more or less irrelevant[2] until religious leaders institutionalized lying with them, all in yehôvâh’s name.

The next form of ἁγιάζω I’ll consider is ἁγιάσατε translated sanctify (KJV) and set apart (NET).  Peter wrote (1 Peter 3:13-18 NET):

For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?  But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.  But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  But set Christ apart (ἁγιάσατε, another form of ἁγιάζω) as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.  Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (κακοποιοῦντας, a form of κακοποιέω).  Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

There are variants in the Greek of 1 Peter 3:15 which have led to differing translations:

Parallel Greek (NET)

Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος (3:16) ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου

A note (24) in the NET explained: “Most later mss…have θεόν (theon, ‘God’) instead of Χριστόν (Criston; ‘Christ’) here. But Χριστόν is widely supported by excellent and early witnesses…and as a less common idiom better explains the rise of the other reading.”  And I take it to mean that Christ is yehôvâh, though I had a real question whether Peter could have possibly meant that.  The first passage that came to mind seemed promising (1 Peter 1:10, 11):

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully.  They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.

Here all three Greek versions agree that Peter wrote Spirit of Christ (πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ).

1 Peter 1:11

Parallel Greek (NET) Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

ἐραυνῶντες εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρὸν ἐδήλου τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ προμαρτυρόμενον τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα καὶ τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας

Indeed the Spirit who spoke Isaiah 53 was none other than yehôvâh, though the translators of the NET didn’t think it prudent to continue his speech in quotation marks until verse 52:13, and though the quotation marks never actually closed they are opened again in 53:11b (Isaiah 52:5b, 6 NET):

“Indeed my people have been carried away for nothing, those who rule over them taunt,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “and my name is constantly slandered all day long.  For this reason my people will know my name, for this reason they will know at that time that I am the one who says, ‘Here I am.’”

And Jermiah wrote (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NET):

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt.  For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds.  I will be their God and they will be my people.

“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me.  For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

I want to pause here a moment to reflect.  Larry D. Pettegrew in his essay “The New Covenant” wrote, “the covenant is amazing in what it offers.  It presents the solutions to all of life’s deep problems, including cleansing from sin and an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.  Any reasonable person would want to become a part of this covenant.”  He outlined the new covenant in five subject headings:

New: “He speaks of a new covenant, not a covenant renewal, and thereby assumes a radical break with the Mosaic tradition.”
Everlasting and irrevocable: “The Mosaic Covenant depended on the ability of the people to keep their part of the contract….But the New Covenant, like the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants made with Israel, was declared everlasting and irrevocable, based on the promise of the sovereign, faithful God of the universe.”
Transformation: “[W]hat is here outlined is the picture of a new man, a man who is able to obey perfectly because of a miraculous change of his nature.”
Forgiveness: “Above all else, the shed blood of the Son of God provided the means of final and permanent forgiveness. New Covenant forgiveness of sins is of a different nature than forgiveness of sins under the Old Covenant.”
Consummation of relationship: “In that future kingdom, a perfect mediatorial king, the Lord Jesus Christ, will rule (Isa 42:1-4), and the people will all have experienced the new birth (Ezek 11:17-20).”

It is good to be reminded just who and what the new covenant ἐκκλησία is and what direction institutional churches should be leading or following.  Paul wrote Roman believers (Romans 11:11, 12 NET):

I ask then, [Israel] did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they?  Absolutely not!  But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous.  Now if their transgression means riches for the world and their defeat means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full restoration bring?

In [the Spirit], Peter continued, [Jesus] went and preached (ἐκήρυξεν, a form of κηρύσσω) to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed.  In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.[3]  At first I thought Peter had intended to distinguish between Jesus and yehôvâh, for Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord (yehôvâh),[4] and, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.”[5]  But as I looked more carefully at the Scripture throughout the time that might be considered God patiently waited (Genesis 6:9-22) yehôvâh was not mentioned once.  It was the plural ʼĕlôhı̂ym, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who waited patiently.

Form of ʼĕlôhı̂ym Reference

KJV

NET

האלהים Genesis 6:9 …and Noah walked with God. He walked with God.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God The earth was ruined in the sight of God
אלהים Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt… God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined…
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah… So God said to Noah…
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him… And Noah did all that God commanded him…

Peter recognized this distinction with the Greek word θεοῦ (a form of θεός).

Be that as it may, whether I sanctify Christ as yehôvâh in my heart or as a Lord, or sanctify the Lord God in my heart, I am not making Christ or God holy (thus set apart in the NET).  I am recognizing his holiness.  Now, I might ask “Denny,” am I doing this once for all time or moment by moment as I am cleansed with the washing of the water by the word, progressively yielding more and more to his holiness as my mind is renewed?  Do not be conformed to this present world, Paul wrote believers in Rome, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.[6]

So I’ll end this essay with the first occurrence of ἁγιάσῃ (another form of ἁγιάζω) translated might sanctify (KJV) and to sanctify (NET).  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 5:25b-27 NET):

Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify (ἁγιάσῃ, another form of ἁγιάζω) her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

While Christ’s death was certainly once for all, the cleansingwith the washing of the water by the word is surely continuous and, hopefully, cumulative and progressive as it pertains both to our own sanctification and our sanctifying of Christ as yehôvâh in our hearts or as a Lord, or sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts.

I began this study of ἁγιάζω to find a biblical language that both did justice to my experience and might satisfy “Denny.”  I don’t know “Denny” nor does he have any authority over me except that which I allow him by the weight of his argument:

Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here the Bible says we are sanctified once through the body of Christ…

We should endeavor to be holy, to be Christ-like, to live sanctified lives, but we have seen that we cannot attain the holiness that our just God requires. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. We cannot see the Lord unless we accept the sanctification which He has provided for us, and reject self-sanctification.

I certainly don’t believe that progressive sanctification is self-sanctification any more than a once for all sanctification is self-achieved.  I would consider our acceptance—“we accept the sanctification which He has provided”—the moment by moment acquisition of Christ’s sanctification, as the part that is not once for all and therefore potentially perceptible as progressive.  Though on-again-off-again, led by the Spirit, led by the flesh describes my experience even better: My progress being simply more time spent on-again, led by the Holy Spirit, than off-again, wallowing in the flesh.  So I’ve been brought to an odd place.  And I’m not prepared to determine yet if it feels odd because it is new or because it is erroneous:

I am sanctified by Christ once for all, perfectly and completely.  He (or God) is sanctified by me slowly over time, progressively.

Obviously, Christ’s sanctification makes (or, made) me holy while my sanctification merely recognizes his holiness.  But I admit to coming from a very dark and distant place where God and Christ seemed anything but holy to me.

[1] THE PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION HERESY, Denny’s Christian Writings, November 16, 2007

[2] From: “Oath,” Jewish Virtual Library: “The estimate of the biblical period that there was nothing amiss in oaths is manifest in the frequency with which God is represented as swearing. Indeed, the invocation of God in oaths was highly appreciated for its confessional value: ‘You must revere YHWH your God: Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, by His name shall you swear’ (Deut. 10:20; cf. 6:13). So much was this so that swearing by YHWH could be used as a synonym of adhering to Him: Psalms 63:12; Isaiah 19:18 (cf. Targ. and Radak); 48:1; Jeremiah 44:26; Zephaniah 1:5 (cf. Targ.). Contrariwise, apostasy is expressed through swearing by other gods: Joshua 23:7 (cf. Ex. 23:13); Amos 8:14; Jeremiah 5:7; 12:16. Ibn Ezra’s comment to Hosea 4:15 illuminates the sentiment: ‘Adhering to God carries with it the obligation to make mention of Him in all one’s affairs, and to swear by His name, so that all who listen may perceive that he adheres lovingly to God, the name and mention of Him being always on his lips.’ The only offense recognized in connection with oaths by YHWH was, ‘Though they may swear, “By the life of YHWH,” yet they swear falsely’ (Jer. 5:2). Ecclesiastes is the only biblical writer who is wary of oaths. In 8:2–3a, he cites a proverb, ‘Do not rush into uttering an oath by God’ (cf. a parallel wariness of vows in 5:1–6). From here it is but a step to Ben Sira’s warning against addiction to oaths (23:9ff.), and Philo’s recommendation to avoid them entirely (Decal. 84).”

[3] 1 Peter 3:19, 20 (NET)

[4] Genesis 6:8 (NET) יהוה

[5] Genesis 7:1 (NET)

[6] Romans 12:2 (NET)