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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Sanctification, Sanctify

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SANCTIFICATION, SANCTIFY . ‘Sanctify’ (Latin, from the Vulgate) = the native Eng. ‘hallow’ (i.e. make, count, keep holy ), the latter word being in use somewhat the loftier EV [Note: English Version.] employs ‘hallow’ 35 times in OT and twice in NT ( Matthew 6:9 = Luke 11:2 ), ‘sanctify’ thrice as often in OT and 26 times in NT for identical Hebrew and Greek terms. For the meaning of the root word ‘holy,’ see art. Holiness. The noun ‘sanctification’ denoting first the act or process of making holy (hallowing), then the resultant state (hallowedness) appears in 5 NT passages in the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , giving way to ‘holiness’ in others ( Romans 6:19 ; Rom 6:22 , 1 Thessalonians 4:7 , 1 Timothy 2:15 , Hebrews 12:14 ) though the Greek noun is the same, where RV [Note: Revised Version.] makes the needed correction; everywhere, except in 1 Peter 1:2 , the state rather than the process is implied. To Paul belong 8 out of the 10 examples of the noun, and 11 out of the 28 examples of the verb in NT (including Acts 20:32 ; Acts 26:18 ); 7 of the latter are found in Hebrews. AV [Note: Authorized Version.] employs the synonymous ‘consecrate’ for ‘sanctify’ in 7 OT passages, which the RV [Note: Revised Version.] emends in three instances, leaving ‘consecrate’ for the regular Hebrew verb in 2 Chronicles 26:18 ; 2 Chronicles 29:33 ; 2 Chronicles 31:6 , Ezra 3:5 ; the ‘consecrate’ of Hebrews 7:28 and of Hebrews 10:20 is corrected by the RV [Note: Revised Version.] to ‘perfect’ and ‘dedicate’ respectively.

1 . In the Israelite, as in other ancient religions, that is ‘holy’ which is set apart for Divine use, so that the ‘sanctified’ is the opposite of the ‘common,’ secular, profane. Isaiah 65:3 ff; Isaiah 66:17 illustrate the application of this term in heathenism. With this broad signification it is applicable to whatever is devoted to the public service of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] to persons priests, Nazirites, etc.; to sacrifices; to vessels, garments, buildings, days (especially the Sabbath). In Isaiah 13:3 , Joel 3:9 , Jeremiah 6:4 (see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ), even a ‘war’ is ‘sanctified’ and the warriors are J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s ‘sanctified ones,’ when it is put under J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s auspices (cf. the Mohammedan Yihad or Holy War); accordingly, in Numbers 21:14 we hear of a ‘book of the wars of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] .’ The numerous Levitical and other kindred uses of the verb bear this formal sense. But as ‘holy’ came to designate the specific character of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ‘the Holy One of Israel’ (see Is. passim ) in distinction from heathen gods, ‘sanctify’ acquired a corresponding ethical connotation; holiness came to imply a character (actual or ideal) in the holy people, accordant with its status. For Israel, being J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s servant, is ‘brought near’ to Him ( Exodus 19:4 ff., Deuteronomy 4:7 , Jeremiah 2:2 , Psalms 65:4 ; Psalms 73:27 f., Psalms 148:14 ; contrast Exodus 19:12-24 , Jeremiah 2:13 , Hosea 9:1 etc.), and such proximity necessitates congeniality that congruity of nature whereof circumcision and the ceremonial cleansings were symbolical ( Psalms 15:1-5 ; Psalms 24:3-6 ; cf. Isaiah 1:4 ; Isaiah 1:16 f., Isaiah 3:8 ; Isaiah 6:3-8 , Jeremiah 4:1-4 , Habakkuk 1:12 f., Ezekiel 36:16-28 , Psalms 51:1-19 etc.). The refrain I am Jehovah resounds through the Law of Holiness in Leviticus 17:1-16 ; Leviticus 18:1-30 ; Leviticus 19:1-37 ; Leviticus 20:1-27 ; Leviticus 21:1-24 ; Leviticus 22:1-33 ; Leviticus 23:1-44 ; Leviticus 24:1-23 ; Leviticus 25:1-55 ; Leviticus 26:1-46 ; this code blends the ritual and the moral in the holiness it demands from Israel, which is the corollary of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s own holiness. Such is the OT doctrine of sanctification. The prophets, it is said, taught an ethical monotheism which is to say, in effect, they ethicized holiness . The sanctification binding Israel to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] was, in a sense, reciprocal: ‘Ye shall not profane my holy name (cf. Exodus 20:7 , Leviticus 19:12 ; Leviticus 22:2 , Amos 2:7 , Malachi 1:11 f.); but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , which hallow you ’ ( Leviticus 22:32 ); ‘to sanctify’ J″ [Note: Jahweh.] or His ‘name’ is to recognize and act towards Him as holy, to ‘make him holy’ in one’s thoughts and attitude (see Isaiah 8:13 ; cf. 1 Peter 3:15 ). This expression is characteristic of Isaiah ( Isaiah 5:16 ; Isaiah 29:23 ) and Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 20:41 ; Ezekiel 28:22 ; Ezekiel 28:25 ; Ezekiel 36:23 ; Ezekiel 38:16 ; Ezekiel 39:27 ), who regard J″ [Note: Jahweh.] as ‘sanctified’ when His awe-awakening judgments bring men to acknowledge His Deity and character; in this connexion ‘sanctify’ is parallel to ‘magnify,’ ‘glorify,’ ‘exalt,’ as in Ezekiel 36:23 ; Ezekiel 38:23 . J″ [Note: Jahweh.] is even said to ‘sanctify himself,’ or His ‘great name,’ when He vindicates His holiness and ‘makes’ Himself ‘known in the sight of many nations’ for what in truth He is.

2 . In the NT we must distinguish the usage of our Lord, of the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and of the Apostle Paul.

(1) Adopting the language of Leviticus 22:32 and of the prophets, Jesus bids the disciples pray, ‘Our Father … hallowed be thy name … on earth’ ( Matthew 6:9 f. = Luke 11:2 ) the unique example of such use of ‘sanctify’ in the NT, apart from the citation in 1 Peter 3:15 ; elsewhere ‘glorify thy name’ ( John 12:28 etc.). To bring about this ‘hallowing’ is the very work of Jesus, who for this end ‘makes known’ the Father‘s ‘name’ ( John 1:14 ; John 1:18 ; John 14:7-9 ,’ John 17:6 ; John 17:25 f., Matthew 11:27 ; cf. John 17:8 , 2 Corinthians 4:6 , also Jeremiah 9:23 f., Jeremiah 31:34 ). In ( a ) John 10:36 and ( b ) John 17:17-19 our Lord makes Himself the object of the verb, in the second instance the subject also. ( a ) The Father ‘ consecrated ’ Him for His world-mission (a pre-incarnate destination; see John 1:18 , 1Jn 4:9 ; 1 John 4:14 ; cf. Jeremiah 1:5 ); ( b ) at the Last Supper the Son endorses that consecration in view of its dread issue, and proposes to share it with His disciples, as He dedicates Himself to the sacrifice of the cross. Thus in the Person of Jesus Christ sanctification assumes a new and very definite character; as Christian holiness, general consecration to the service of God becomes a specific consecration to the mission of redemption. In Matthew 23:17-19 Jesus speaks adhominem , appealing to the axiom that ‘the holy place’ sanctifies whatever is devoted to it.

(2) The Epistle to the Hebrews builds upon the OT conception of holiness. Its doctrine of sanctification is found in Hebrews 2:11 ; Hebrews 9:11-13 ; Hebrews 10:10-14 ; Hebrews 10:19-22 ; Hebrews 12:14 ; Hebrews 13:11-12 . Being ‘the captain of salvation’ and ‘high priest’ of mankind, it is the office of Jesus to ‘sanctify’ His brethren, i.e. to consecrate them to God’s service, for which as sinners they have been disabled ( Hebrews 5:1 ; Hebrews 10:22 ). This He effects God-ward by ‘making propitiation for’ their ‘sins’ ( Hebrews 2:17 ), and man-ward by ‘cleansing their conscience’ with the virtue of ‘his blood’ by removing the sense of personal guilt before God even as the animal sacrifices ‘sanctified’ the Israelites ‘unto the cleanness of the flesh’ ( Hebrews 9:13 f.), and made their ritual worship possible. The chasm which sin has opened between man and God was bridged by the mediation of Jesus Christ; no longer is he kept aloof from the Divine presence, but is bidden to ‘come with boldness unto the throne of grace’ ( Hebrews 4:16 , Hebrews 10:19-22 ). ‘Once for all’ this access has been secured, this qualification bestowed on ‘the people’ whom ‘Jesus sanctified by means of his own blood’ ( Hebrews 13:12 ): ‘we have been sanctified ’ according to ‘the will of God,’ which Jesus embraced and whose demands He met on our behalf with perfect loyalty, in ‘the offering of his body’ ( Hebrews 10:5-10 ). By that ‘one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified’ He has assured, for all who will accept it, till the world’s end, a full qualification for fellowship with God ( Hebrews 10:14 ). Hebrews supplies the link between the ‘I sanctify myself’ of Jesus, and ‘that they also may be sanctified in truth’ ( John 17:19 ). With the writer of Heb., ‘cleansing’ and ‘sanctification’ define, on the negative and positive sides, all that St. Paul means by ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’; only, the second term is here made more prominent and wider in meaning than with the Apostle. St. Paul sees the sinner confronted by the Law of God, guilty and impotent; his fellow-teacher sees him standing outside the temple of God, defiled and banned. Sanctification means, for the former, engagement to God’s service ( Romans 6:12-22 ); for the latter, empowerment for God’s worship. That this grace imports, however, in Hebrews more than a status once conferred, is evident from Hebrews 12:14 ; it is a state to be increasingly realized, an ideal to be pursued to the end.

(3) St. Paul addresses his readers constantly as ‘ saints ’ (see art. Holiness); once as ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’ ( 1 Corinthians 1:2 ), a phrase synonymous with ‘called saints,’ i.e. made holy by God’s call which they obeyed, when He summoned them into His Kingdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:9 ; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30 , 1 Thessalonians 1:4 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ). The former expression points to the completed act of God by which they have become His saints (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11 , Acts 20:32 ; Acts 26:18 ). That sanctity, with St. Paul, is a term of relationship, not primarily of character, is evident from 1 Corinthians 7:14 , where ‘the unbelieving husband’ or ‘wife’ is said to ‘have been sanctified in’ the Christian wedded partner, so that their offspring are ‘holy’: the person of the unbeliever, under the marriage-bond, is holy in the believer’s eyes, as indeed every possession and instrument of life must be (see 1 Timothy 4:3-5 ). In the case of the believer himself, who ‘in Christ Jesus’ is brought into immediate personal contact with God ( Colossians 3:3 ), destination and use imply moral condition ‘the vessels of the Lord’ must be ‘clean’ and ‘made ready for every good work’ ( 2 Timothy 2:19-22 ; 2 Timothy 1:1-18 above, touching the OT Law of Holiness); so that, while ‘sanctity’ does not denote character, it normally connotes this; all virtue comes under the category of that which ‘becometh saints’ or ‘is fit in the Lord’ ( Ephesians 5:31 , Colossians 3:12 ; Colossians 3:18 etc.). Accordingly, in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:7 ‘sanctification’ is opposed specifically to ‘lust’ and sexual ‘uncleanness’ by contrast, probably, with the pagan ‘consecration’ to impure deities, as in the case of the hieroduloi of Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 ).

Sanctification completes justification (wh. see); together, these constitute the present work of salvation, the re-instatement of the sinful man before his Maker, his instatement into the Christian standing and condition (see 1 Corinthians 6:11 , and the connexion between chs. 5 and 6 of Ro.). In principle the former depends on the latter, in experience they are concomitant ( Romans 6:6 f., Romans 6:22 ). They are alike acts of God, dealing with men in His grace through Christ ( Romans 8:30 ; Romans 8:33 , 1 Thessalonians 5:23 f., John 17:17 ; cf. Leviticus 22:32 f.). The ‘anointing’ and ‘sealing’ of 2 Corinthians 1:21 f., while referring formally to baptism, substantially describe sanctification, since God consecrates the believer for His use and marks him in baptism with His ‘broad arrow.’

As the writer of Hebrews shows in his own way see (2) above Christ is the mediator of sanctification no less than of justification. He ‘bought’ men with the ‘price’ of His blood the bodily ‘limbs’ along with the inner self so that we are no longer ‘our own’ and may not ‘live for ourselves,’ but are, from the hour we know this, men ‘living for God in Christ Jesus’; and Christ ‘presents’ His redeemed ‘to God as holy’ and makes them God’s ‘sure possession,’ destined ‘for the praise of His glory’ (1 Corinthians 6:19 f., Romans 6:11-14 ; Romans 12:1 , Colossians 1:22 , Ephesians 1:14 , 1 Peter 2:9 , Revelation 1:6 etc.). Once, in relation to the Church His bride, Christ is Himself called the ‘sanctifier’ ( Ephesians 5:26 ; cf. Hebrews 13:12 ). Being our Head and Representative before God, dedicating ‘all his own’ ( John 17:10 ) to the Father in the offering of Calvary, Jesus virtually accomplished the sanctification of His people, with their justification, once for all ( 1 Corinthians 1:30 ): Paul’s saying, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ ( Galatians 2:20 ; Galatians 6:14 ), implies that he has been, by anticipation, included in the perfect sacrifice; he thus unfolds the implicit doctrine of John 17:9 f. and 17 19 (see (1) above; cf. Hebrews 10:14 ).

Collectively, believers were sanctified in the self-devotion of their redeeming Lord; individually, they are sanctified when they accept the Redeemer’s sacrifice and personally endorse His action. From the latter point of view, sanctification is the man’s own deed: he ‘presents himself to God as alive from the dead’ (Romans 6:13 ; Romans 6:18 ); but the sinner is never, as in OT phrase, said to ‘sanctify himself,’ though 1 Timothy 4:3-6 approaches this mode of statement. The Holy Spirit is, with much emphasis, identified with the work of sanctification; Christian believers are ‘sanctified in the Holy Spirit’ ( Romans 15:16 , 1 Corinthians 6:11 ; also 1 Thessalonians 4:7 f., Ephesians 4:30 ; cf. 1 Peter 1:2 etc.). To receive ‘the gift of the Spirit’ and to be sanctified are the same thing; when God takes possession of the believer, his ‘body’ becomes a ‘temple of the Holy Ghost’ ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ) then he is a holy man; and to possess ‘the Spirit’ is, in effect, to have ‘Christ dwelling in the heart’ ( Ephesians 3:16-19 ). This twofold identity (‘sanctified’ = ‘in the Spirit’ = ‘joined unto the Lord’) holds alike of the Church and of the individual Christian ( 1 Corinthians 3:16 f., Ephesians 2:21 f.; cf. 1 Peter 2:9 ). Faith conditions this experience ( Acts 26:18 , Ephesians 1:13 f.). Like the author of Hebrews, Paul recognizes a progressive holiness based upon the fundamental sanctification of the believer, the former being the growing and finally complete realization of the latter. Holiness is the starting-point, perfect holiness the goal of the Christian course the progress ‘is a growth in holiness rather than to holiness’ (Bartlet). Hence in Romans 6:19-22 the aim of one’s ‘service to God’ and ‘righteousness’ is found in ‘sanctification’; and in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 f. the Apostle prays that God will ‘sanctify to full completeness’ his readers, who are still lacking in many respects ( 1 Thessalonians 3:10 ), so that their ‘spirit, soul, and body in full integrity may be preserved,’ and thus found ‘blameless in holiness before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus’ ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ). This supplication touches the ideal life in Christ; but it is an ideal to the present Christian state, and is not to be relegated to the visionary or the celestial: ‘Faithful is he who calleth you; who also will do it’ ( 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ).

St. John does not employ in his Epistles either ‘sanctify’ or ‘sanctification,’ but their whole substance is there. 1 John 1:8 f. and 1 John 2:1 f. recall-recall the teaching of Hebrews in speaking of ‘the propitiation’ made by our ‘Advocate,’ whose ‘blood cleanses from all sin’ and thus brings the sinner into ‘fellowship with the Father.’ Paul’s doctrine of holiness is resumed in such passages as 1 John 3:23 f., 1 John 4:18 f., 1 John 5:3 f., 1 John 5:20 , setting forth union with Christ through the indwelling Spirit as the spring of a new, eternal life for the man, in the strength of which God’s commandments are kept in love, sin and fear are cast out, and the world is overcome.

G. G. Findlay.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sanctification, Sanctify'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/s/sanctification-sanctify.html. 1909.

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Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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