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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Sanctify, Sanctification

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SANCTIFY, SANCTIFICATION.—Sanctification is the translation of ἁγιασμός, which is one of the group of words that includes ἅγιος, and ἁγιάζω, and ἁγιωσύνη. The root idea of the group seems to be ‘separation’ or ‘restricted use’ (see Holiness). ἁγιασμός denotes primarily a process; but in NT it is used also to describe the state resulting from that process. This wider usage is familiar in our language, and therefore we take ‘sanctification’ to describe both a state and a process. It is the process by which men are made holy, and it is also the state into which men pass as they become holy. Therefore this article must discuss what state is considered by Jesus Christ to deserve the name ‘sanctification,’ and what is the process whereby He conceives men are sanctified.

The first fact to be noticed about this entire group of words is that it occupies a meagre place in the teaching of Jesus. The number of times when either of them is put into His lips is very small, and none of these few usages refers to man. ἅγιος is used as follows: He addresses God as ‘Holy Father’ (John 17:11); He speaks of ‘the holy angels’ (Mark 8:38 ||); He uses the name ‘Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 12:32 || Matthew 28:19, Mark 12:36; Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12, John 14:26; John 20:22); He warns against giving ‘that which is holy’ unto the dogs (Matthew 7:6); and He refers to the abomination that stands ‘in the holy place’ (Matthew 24:15). ἁγιάζω is used of ‘the temple that sanctifieth the gift’ (Matthew 23:17; Matthew 23:19); and there are three very important usages in John 10:36; John 17:17; John 17:19. It occurs also in the Lord’s Prayer in the sentence, ‘Hallowed be thy name’ (Matthew 6:9). This petition suggests that both the ceremonial and ethical aspects of the word were present to our Lord’s mind. The ‘name’ of the Father is to be reverenced. It casts awe upon the worshipping soul. But also the name stands for righteousness. It is a name whose ethical splendour must not be smirched. The same double reference can be traced in His usage of ἅγιος. When Jesus employs these words, He seems to give them their true historical sense as implying (1) a state of consecration to the Divine purposes, and (2) a state of ethical holiness.

ἁγιασμός, the NT word for ‘sanctification,’ does not occur at all in the recorded sayings of Jesus. But He was constantly speaking about the thing itself. Therefore we are constrained to recognize some special significance in the absence of the familiar words from the Lord’s teaching. Probably the explanation is found in the state of religious feeling in His day. ἅγιος is the nearest Greek equivalent of the Hebrew קָדוֹשׁ. This term, with its kindred terms, had acquired a distinct connotation. It has been pointed out that the idea of holiness in OT is progressively spiritualized, and receives more and more ethical content. But whilst this is true of OT usage, the Greek period in Jewish history had ushered in a time of reaction in the significance of religious terms. The struggle of pious Jews to resist Hellenizing tendencies threw the emphasis of religion upon keeping the Law. Thus arose the Pharisaic interpretation of piety as rigid obedience to the Law. Under this influence holiness was again interpreted ceremonially instead of morally. When Jesus was born, the religious phraseology of the day was legal rather than ethical. Now this conception of sanctification was the subject of unsparing denunciation by Jesus. One long chapter in Matthew’s Gospel gathers up seathing rebukes of those who put the emphasis of religion upon what is external (Matthew 23:1-36; cf. Luke 11:39-52). In the Sermon on the Mount He said: ‘Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:20). So that, if Jesus had used the current terms, He would have been understood in the current sense. In order to secure new moral contents for the terms, He had to drop them, and to use other phraseology to describe their true meaning.

A further explanation of the absence of the familiar terms is found in Jesus’ method of teaching. His teaching was not doctrinal. He did not express His ideals in formulas, but in pictures of what men ought to be. Instead of reiterating familiar maxims, He minted new precepts for men’s daily use. Neglecting the outworn dogmas of the scribes, He uttered sharp calls to men as to what they ought to do. His teaching was ‘new,’ and was ‘with authority’ (Mark 1:22; Mark 1:27). When we turn to the Epistles, we discover that, though the familiar terms reappear, they reappear in a new form. They have no longer the Pharisaic connotation. They have a new Christian connotation, which lifts them above the highest ethical attainment of OT. The NT writers use OT words with the significance that Jesus Christ has given to the idea they represent.

1. Christ’s teaching about sanctification.

i. His teaching about the ideal of sainthood.—Jesus Christ’s conception of sanctification started from the holiness of God the Father. He found certain attributes in God that are capable of being the ideal for men. These attributes belong to the Fatherhood of God. He summed up many exhortations in the words, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). This command held out a new ideal of perfection. Hitherto men had found their ideal in various human excellences. Jesus fixed attention upon God the Father. There are many Divine attributes that are inaccessible to men. No man can be perfect even as God is perfect. The omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God are absolutely beyond human reach. But as ‘Father,’ God displays certain qualities that may be copied by men; and these qualities unite to form the Christian ideal. Such teaching rested upon the underlying belief of Jesus that man has a capacity for sonship of God, and that he reaches his ideal by realizing his sonship. And Jesus could conceive sonship only in the ethical reslm. To give men power to become children of God, is to make them resemble their Father ethically (John 1:12).

The details of the teaching may be summarized conveniently under some of the leading categories of thought used by Jesus:—

(1) His own example. He claimed to set forth the moral ideal, because He was the Son of God (John 14:6). As the Son, He revealed the Father (Matthew 11:27, John 14:9-10); therefore the children of God are those who resemble Him (Matthew 11:29). The imitation of Christ is the true sanctification.

(2) Love. The central and all-pervading glory of the Divine Fatherhood is love (Matthew 5:45, John 14:21; John 14:23). The Apostolic phrase ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) sums up the irresistible testimony of Jesus to the Father (cf. 1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:9-10, John 3:16). Therefore holy people must be loving. The first demand is for love towards God. To ‘love the Lord’ is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37 ||). The character that lacks this devoted love for the heavenly Father is fatally defective. But Jesus bracketed the commandment to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ with this ‘first and greatest’ (Matthew 22:39 ||); and the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) has been interpreted as teaching that ‘charity is the true sanctity’ (Bruce). Likeness to the heavenly Father is impossible without the cultivation of a loving spirit (Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 15:25-32). This love must be unselfish (Luke 14:13-14). It must forgive freely and unweariedly (Matthew 18:21-22). It must not judge (Matthew 7:1-2). It must be full of compassion towards all needy ones, and must find a neighbour in any one requiring assistance (Luke 10:24-35). Jesus also inculcated the supreme importance of love by His rebukes of its opposites: of lack of compassion (Matthew 18:23-35, Luke 10); of selfishness (Luke 16:19-31); of inhumanity (Matthew 25:41-45). Equally terrible were His denunciations of Pharisaic injustice to the weak (Matthew 23:4-14 ||).

(3) Righteousness. The love of the Father is a holy love. God is the ‘righteous Father’ (John 17:25). Jesus came into the world from the Father to save from sins (Matthew 11:19, Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10; Luke 15:18, Matthew 26:28, John 3:16-17). Therefore no man can resemble the Father who does not desire supremely to be eleansed from sin. Likeness to the Father involves complete consecration to His holy purpose, and readiness to be separated from every evil thing (Matthew 5:6; Matthew 13:43; Matthew 18:8 ||). The Christian must seek first the righteousness of the Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:33). His goodness must be manifest in deeds as well as words (Matthew 7:21). He must be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). His righteousness must be inward and real, not outward and ceremonial (Matthew 5:20, Matthew 23:25-28).

(4) Life. Jesus came that men might have life (John 10:10). Moral perfection is conceived as the true self-development (Matthew 25:46, Mark 10:30). God has made us for Himself; unfailing obedience to the will of God leads to fulness of life (Matthew 19:17, John 17:3). Mutilation is urged in preference to the loss of life (Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45 ||). But mutilation is only second best. The moral ideal is to find perfect life (Mark 8:35 ||).

(5) Citizenship in the Kingdom. Jesus taught that moral perfection cannot be realized by men in isolation. This is the aspect of sanctification brought out by His teaching about the Kingdom of God. His ideal man is a citizen as well as a son. He must live as a member of a Society, showing those qualities that help to build the City of God (cf. Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 5:19). Such a recognition of other lives will keep men meek (Matthew 5:5, Matthew 11:29), and will fill their hearts with humility (Matthew 18:1-6 ||).

ii. Christ’s teaching about the process of sanctification.—(1) We note that sanctification is a process having a definite beginning. It is not another aspect of natural development. Its history is distinct from the record of physiological and psychological growth. We note the striking saying about His forerunner: ‘Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matthew 11:11). Here two kingdoms are distinguished: the natural kingdom into which men are ‘born of women,’ and the Kingdom of heaven. The latter kingdom belongs to a higher order than the former, as the animal kingdom is higher than the vegetable, or as the weakest mammal is greater than the strongest reptile. The babe in the higher kingdom of men is greater than the tiger in the kingdom of animals. So the least in the Kingdom of heaven belongs to a higher order, and has larger possibilities of spiritual development, than the greatest among those ‘born of women,’ i.e. produced by natural birth and growth. This implies that entrance into the Kingdom of heaven is secured by a new principle of life. This necessity is further hinted at in the teaching about defilement proceeding from the heart (Matthew 15:11). It is not enough to adorn a life with kind actions, to hang bunches of grapes on a thorn bush (Matthew 7:16). Good actions must be the fruit that grows on a good tree (Matthew 7:16-18, John 15:4). The tree must be made good; the heart must be cleansed; the river of life must be purified at its source. It will not suffice to build a fine house on a wrong foundation. The hidden principle must be made secure if the life is to be saved (Matthew 7:24-27). These hints prepare us for the demand, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3 ||). Sanctification involves the quickening of a new life in men. The maturing of their physical nature cannot suffice; their spiritual nature must pass through the stages of birth and childhood before it can attain maturity. This teaching finds exact expression in the words addressed to Nicodemus: ‘Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3). Man’s destiny is not achieved through his physical birth into a physical kingdom. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh’ (John 3:6); therefore no number of reincarnations can produce a spiritual result. Before we can be born into a spiritual kingdom, we must have a second kind of birth corresponding to the kingdom; we must be ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:5-8).

(2) A second group of passages hints that sanctification may be a long process before it is completed. This is suggested in the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3, Mark 4:3); the parable of the Seed as growing up—‘first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear’ (Mark 4:28); and in all the figures of fruit-bearing, because fruit-bearing is the late result of a long process (cf. John 15:2, Luke 13:8). Another set of parables represents men as servants of a long-absent Lord, who have to show diligence in trading with the pounds, fidelity in the use of talents, and patience in watching (Matthew 25:14, Luke 19:12, Matthew 24:42). Probably this thought is contained also in the identification of true life with the knowledge of God (cf. John 17:3, Matthew 11:27). Such knowledge is not merely an intellectual apprehension; it is a spiritual fellowship. It implies ethical likeness through surrender of the whole being to the Divine will. Such likeness can be secured only through long conformity of the heart and mind and will to God. A pure heart is the organ of such a vision of God (Matthew 5:8).

(3) There are definite statements as to the means whereby this ethical likeness to the Father is secured.

(a) By prayer. Jesus was a man of prayer. There are fifteen references to His prayers in the Gospels. It is specially noteworthy that He betook Himself to prayer when any fierce temptation assailed Him (Luke 5:16; Luke 9:28, John 12:27, Matthew 26:36 ||), when any work of critical importance had to be undertaken (Luke 6:12, John 11:41; John 11:17), or when He was exhausted with toil (Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23); and that it was while He was praying that He was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:21), and that He was transfigured (Luke 9:29). But it is clear also that He was accustomed to pray on all occasions (cf. Luke 10:21, Luke 11:1, Luke 22:32, Luke 23:46). It is instructive, therefore, that He urged men to pray (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 6:6; Matthew 26:41 ||, Luke 11:2; Luke 18:1; Luke 21:36). He encouraged prayer by promising large blessing (Matthew 7:7-11, Mark 11:24). He declared that true prayer ‘justified’ a man (Luke 18:14) All these references seem to make it clear that prayer ministers to our sanctification.

(b) Self-denial. Jesus had a very definite philosophy of life; but it was clean contrary to worldly wisdom. He summarized it thus: ‘Enter ye in by the narrow gate: … for narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life’ (Matthew 7:13-14 ||). ‘Whosoever will lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, shall save it’ (Mark 8:35 ||). Self-denial is thus taught not for its own sake, but as the only way to reach self-perfection (Matthew 16:24 ||).

(c) Good works. We have noticed the emphasis put by Jesus on works of love and mercy. It must be pointed out now that He taught their sanctifying efficacy. The blessed of the Father, who inherit the Kingdom, have qualified by good works (Matthew 25:31-40). The young ruler could be perfect if he would keep the commandments (Matthew 19:21), and the lawyer could inherit eternal life in the same way (Luke 10:28). Several times Jesus promised a reward for obedience, fidelity, and diligence (cf. Matthew 25:10; Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:12-27, Mark 10:29-30 ||); and if heavenly rewards are granted to those morally fit, as is taught clearly by the parable of the Pounds (Luke 19), these passages imply that sanctification is advanced by a life of obedience to God’s will.

(d) Faith in Christ. There is a large group of passages in all the Gospels, and there are specially important discourses in John, in which Jesus Christ is offered to men as a means of their sanctification.

(α) Sometimes sanctification is promised to those who copy His example. This is done in the gracious invitation (Matthew 11:28-30). Learning of Jesus, we may become meek and lowly in heart; yoked with Him under the yoke which He wears and which He graciously invites us to share, we may hear our burden easily. It is also taught by His claim to be the one Master whom all are to obey (Matthew 23:10).

(β) Sanctification is bound up with obedience to His teaching. The wise man is one who builds on the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:24). He offered His words as the rock of eternal truth on which men may build for eternity, in place of the shifting sand of opinion and hypothesis which will not continue. Eternity will put the strain of judgment upon the characters we are building; and only those characters resting on the rock of His words will stand the strain (Matthew 7:25-27). The same truth is taught in the impressive words of Matthew 10:32-33. To confess Him and His words is the same as building upon them; whilst to be ashamed of them is to refuse to make them the foundation for conduct. The same sentiment is expressed in John 5:24. He that ‘cometh not into judgment,’ because ‘he hath passed out of death into life,’ is one in whom the signs of sanctification are recognized. This sanctified man is ‘he that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me.’

(γ) Sanctification is secured by union with Jesus as the Son of God. It has been pointed out that ‘knowledge of the Father’ is one of Jesus Christ’s descriptions of sanctification. And a very solemn claim made by Jesus is that ‘none knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him’ (Matthew 11:27). The Son willeth to reveal the Father to all, for the very next word is, ‘Come unto me all ye that labour’: but there is no relaxing of the claim that men must come to Him and learn of Him if they would know the Father; cf. John 6:46; John 14:6. Other conceptions of God may be attained by other means. ‘The Father’ can be revealed only by One who fulfils perfectly the complementary relationship.

(δ) Separate reference may be made to the discourses in John’s Gospel, because these amplify the teaching in the Synoptics, though the germs are found there. We may note the claim of Jesus to be the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:35-36; John 12:46; and cf. John 1:4-5; John 1:9; John 3:19); to be the living water (John 7:37-38, John 4:14); to be the bread of God come down from heaven to feed the world (John 6:32-35; John 6:47-58). These figures imply that men must follow Him if they would walk in the ways of holiness, and must sustain their life by union with Him, if they would have it strong and healthy. This last means of sanctification is described quite definitely in the words, ‘He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him’ (John 6:56, cf. John 15:1-10). The words have been interpreted sacramentally, as referring solely to the elements offered to the participants in the Lord’s Supper. But such an interpretation is entirely opposed to the spirit of Jesus, and would have been inexplicable to the people addressed. And though an allusion to the Lord’s Supper as a ‘means of grace’ need not he denied (cf. Matthew 26:26-28 ||), it is plain that our Lord was thinking of a spiritual union between Himself and His followers, maintained by their faith. Another significant passage occurs in John 8:31-38. It has affinity with passages emphasizing the importance of His words (John 8:31; John 8:38). But it passes on to the statement, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ This is explained to mean freedom from sin (John 8:34); therefore it implies sanctification. And as ‘the truth’ is changed in John 8:36 to ‘the Son,’ this is another direct claim on the part of Jesus to be our Sanctification (cf. John 14:6, John 15:3-4; John 15:10). It leads us naturally to the very important text John 17:17; John 17:19. Jesus prayed for His disciples, ‘Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.… For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.’ ‘Sanctify’ seems ho be used here with its full meaning. The idea of consecration is not absent (cf. John 17:18 and (Revised Version margin) ); but John 17:14-16 prove that the ethical significance is prominent. This sanctification is secured ‘in truth.’ The truth is identified with ‘thy word,’ which has been given to the disciples by Jesus (John 17:14), partly by His words (John 14:10), and partly by His character and example (John 1:14, John 14:9). The thought seems to be that the disciples are to be sanctified by abiding in this revelation, and by being led farther and farther into it. The “truth” … is (as it were) the element into which the believer is introduced and by which he is changed. The “truth” is not only a power within him by which he is moved; it is an atmosphere in which he lives. The end of the truth is not wisdom, which is partial, but holiness, which is universal’ (Westcott, in loco.). This teaching finds more complete expression throughout chs. 14–16. The disciples must abide in Christ, who is the true Vine, if they would bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). When the Master is gone, lie will send another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who will guide ‘into all truth’ (John 14:16-17; John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:13-15). They are in the truth already; but they will be guided into its deeper recesses by the Spirit of truth. Thus they will be sanctified, knowing the Father more perfectly as He is revealed in the Son (John 16:14), and bearing much fruit through this knowledge (John 15:5). All their consecration of themselves to the work to which their Master sent them must move within the sacred sphere of ‘the truth.’

(ε) One sentence in this prayer is very valuable for our purpose, ‘For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified’ (John 17:19). Jesus Christ’s sanctification of Himself is primarily His devotion of Himself to the Father’s will. His sanctification was unique in that there never was any refusal of that will as it was made known to Him. But such a refusal was always possible whilst His earthly life lasted. In that sense Jesus had to be progressively sanctified. He had not fulfilled the entire will of His Father until He could say upon the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). Therefore He had to continue sanctifying Himself until then. The immediate reference of the words in the prayer seems to be to His death. The prayer is the renewal of His surrender. Again He takes up His cross. He is willing to die, in obedience to the Father’s will, that the disciples may be sanctified. Two points must be noticed. (1) This complete surrender to the Father’s will, ‘obedience even unto the death of the cross,’ makes Jesus the absolutely perfect example for our sanctification (Philippians 2:5-8). (2) But also there is a distinct reference to His death as helping to secure the sanctification of his disciples. This hint is not solitary. It gathers other words to itself. ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself (John 12:32). This drawing is part of the process of sanctification. ‘Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit’ (John 12:24). By dying Jesus will become a fruitful Personality in the world, producing ‘much fruit’ in His disciples. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many’ (Mark 14:24). The New Covenant is written on men’s hearts. It is concerned with a spiritual sanctification as distinguished from one that is merely ceremonial. Jesus connects His death with this New Covenant as a means of securing sanctification ‘for many.’ ‘The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep’ (John 10:11). This sacrifice by the Shepherd ensures that the lost sheep are found, and being ‘found’ is one of Jesus Christ’s words for at least the beginnings of sanctification (Luke 15:5; Luke 15:9; Luke 15:32). These sayings make it certain that Jesus thought of His death as playing an important part in the process whereby sin’s prisoners are delivered, and are set forth upon the road to holiness.

At the same time the reference of John 17:19 cannot be confined to His death, if only because His sanctification of Himself in His death was but the perfect flower of a life that was one long sanctification. His death cannot be isolated from His life. He came into the world to save sinners; and His entire earthly experience ministered to that salvation. At each critical stage He sanctified Himself: the act of the critical moments reflected His daily temper, It is this continued sanctification, culminating in His death, that is the means of the sanctification of His disciples. See, further, on the sanctification of Christ, art. Consecrate, Consecration, in vol. i.

(ζ) The passages quoted have led us already to the teaching of Jesus that our sanctification is ‘through the Holy Spirit.’ Although this teaching is developed in John, it is not absent from the Synoptic tradition. The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—called ‘an eternal sin’ (Mark 3:29 ||). Luke’s Gospel substitutes ‘give the Holy Spirit’ for ‘give good things’ (Luke 11:13, cf. Matthew 7:11). All the Synoptists concur in ascribing to Jesus the promise, ‘The Holy Spirit shall teach you what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:12, Matthew 10:20, Mark 13:11). Moreover, a large place is given to the Spirit in the sanctification of Jesus. His miraculous birth is ascribed to the Spirit (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35), The descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism was the Father’s anointing in response to the Son’s consecration (Mark 1:10-11 ||). It was the Spirit that drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted (Mark 1:12 ||). Jesus returned to His work ‘in the power of the Spirit’ (Luke 4:14) and He claimed to fulfil the prophecy, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (Luke 4:18). In answer to the charge that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, He asserted that He cast them out ‘by the Spirit of God’ (Matthew 12:28). These texts furnish considerable material for a doctrine of sanctification through the Spirit.

But the doctrine is stated very clearly in John 14-16. The Holy Spirit is described as the alter ego of Jesus: He will do for the disciples, after their Master’s departure, what the latter has done for them during His earthly life (John 14:16-18). The Spirit of truth will abide with the disciples and will be in them (John 14:17). He will teach them (John 14:26), and will guide them into all truth, declaring to them things that are to come (John 16:13). He will also convict the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment (John 16:8). The promise of the Spirit is the consolation offered by Jesus in view of His approaching departure (John 16:7); and His coming will secure their loyalty and their development. Indeed, it may be said that the language of Jesus suggests that the Holy Spirit will be Himself returning in His glorified spiritual nature, and continuing in more complete form the work He has begun in the disciples during His ministry.

2. Christ and sanctification in the NT outside the Gospels.

(1) The teaching of St. Peter.—The Petrine conceptions are simple and practical. 1 Peter exhorts to the practice of various virtues that go to make up the Christian character. The starting-point for Christian sanctification is entirely reminiscent of the teaching of Jesus: it is found in the obligation of Christians as children of a holy Father, whose holiness constrains theirs (1 Peter 1:14-16). The attainment of holiness is called ‘salvation’ (1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:9); and ‘the two pillars of salvation are the sufferings and death of Christ and the resurrection and exaltation of Christ’ (Beyschlag). He is the Son of God whose resurrection ‘begat us again’ (1 Peter 1:3). He is the Lamb whose offering has redeemed Christians from their old sins (1 Peter 1:18-19). He is ‘the chief corner-stone’ of that temple of God in which Christians are placed as living stones (1 Peter 2:5-6). He is the Example for all who are suffering (1 Peter 2:21): especially has He shown us the right attitude to sin by His suffering for sins (1 Peter 2:22-24). By giving Himself to die for us, He has become the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). He is ‘the Lord’ who is to be revered in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15). He is the adorable Saviour whose name is potent enough to secure our devotion (1 Peter 2:13, 1 Peter 4:14). Finally, He is the coming One, whose appearing will consummate the purposes of God, and will perfect us in salvation (1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 5:10). Thus Jesus Christ focusses all Christian effort and hope and faith upon Himself. The Christ who lived, died, and rose again, and was exalted—the Christ of the Gospels, whom Peter had known (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:8)—is the Divine original for our sanctification, and is the Divine Mediator through whom our deliverance from sin is accomplished.

(2) The teaching of St. John.—It is to be noted that St. John makes very slender use of the ἄγιος group of words. In this he is like his Master. In his First Epistle ‘sanctify’ and ‘sanctification’ do not occur. ‘Holy’ is used only once, and then in reference to God (1 John 2:20). In Revelation ‘holy’ is found frequently. It describes God Almighty (Revelation 4:8), Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:7, Revelation 6:10), the City of God (Revelation 11:2, Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10, Revelation 22:19), men (Revelation 22:11). Also in Revelation ‘saints’ is constantly used to describe believers in Jesus Christ. But though the more usual words are absent from the Epistle, it is a passionate plea for sanctification in Christ. John describes sanctification under such phrases as ‘walking in light’ (1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:11), ‘not sinning’ (1 John 2:1, 1 John 3:6, 1 John 5:18 [the idea of a prevailing habit being prominent]), ‘keeping his commandments’ (1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:22-24, 1 John 5:2-3), ‘overcoming the world’ (1 John 5:4-5, cf. 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 4:4, and Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 21:7), ‘having life’ or ‘having eternal life’ (1 John 2:25, 1 John 3:14-15, 1 John 5:11-13; 1 John 5:16; 1 John 5:20, and cf. Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:1-2; Revelation 22:14; Revelation 22:17; Revelation 22:19). The core of sanctification is love (1 John 4:16-19), manifested toward God (1 John 2:15, 1 John 4:20, 1 John 5:1-2) and towards brethren (1 John 2:10, 1 John 3:10-18, 1 John 4:7-12; 1 John 4:20-21). This sanctification is connected intimately with the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the propitiation for sins, through whom believers are forgiven, and by whose Wood they are cleansed from sin (1 John 1:7 to 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10). He is the Advocate upon whom we may rely for help in the struggle with sin (1 John 2:1). He is the Ideal towards whom all Christian effort must be directed (1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:17). He is the Son of the Father, whose presence in the world manifests the Father’s love (1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10; 1 John 4:14; 1 John 4:16), and through whom believers may become possessed of the Father (1 John 2:23, 1 John 4:15). So He brings to men that eternal life which makes sin impossible (1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18); and He communicates to them that eternal love which is the very essence of goodness because it is the essence of God (1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:16). So intimate is this connexion between Christ and sanctification, that the object of His manifestation is declared to be ‘to take away sins’ (1 John 3:5), and ‘to destroy the works of the devil,’ which are ‘sins’ (1 John 3:7-10). It is clear, therefore, that St. John, as well as St. Peter, conceives Christ’s redeeming work under the category of sanctification, and also conceives sanctification as possible only through faith in Christ. Both of them view sanctitication as a state into which the believer is introduced by an initial act of faith in Christ, through whom he is begotten of God (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 2:3; 1 Peter 2:9, 1 John 1:9; 1 John 5:1); but it is also a state which has to be progressively realized by abiding union with Christ (1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 5:10, 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:2).

(3) The teaching of St. Paul.—This may be summed up under the chief categories used by St. Paul to describe Jesus Christ’s relation to men.

(a) Jesus Christ as the second Adam.—St. Paul thought of Adam as the pioneer of the race; and he could not escape the responsibility of pioneers. The entire subsequent history of the race is influenced by the course taken by the first man. His sin caused a divergence from the path of rectitude, which grew wider as the race progressed, because the initial direction was wrong. Jesus Christ was introduced into the world as a new pioneer. He was not an ordinary child of the race. He did not inherit the entail of bias to evil. ‘The first man is of the earth, earthy’ (1 Corinthians 15:47). He was the child of an animal ancestry, and was weighted by animal instincts: to him holiness was only a possibility. ‘The second man is of heaven.’ His antecedents were spiritual. With Him holiness was the instinct, and evil was only a possibility. So He gave a new start in the direction of holiness. He stopped the race’s drift from God, and He began a new movement Godward (Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Therefore all who become followers of Jesus Christ are rescued from the fatal effects of Adam’s sin. They are led into the right road and are under the direct influence of the Spirit of God (Romans 8:12-17). Thus they are being sanctified in accordance with the will of God, and will be brought at last to the perfect state He has designed for them (cf. Romans 5:21; Romans 8:17, 1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 Corinthians 15:54).

(b) A corollary from the previous thought is that men may be ‘in Christ.’ The second Adam is more than a leader of a redeemed race. He is the Head of a new humanity, which secures its life from Him by vital communion with Him. He brought new spiritual energy into the world: this energy can be communicated to all who are united to Him by faith. The bonds between the first Adam and the race were physical and mechanical; those between the second Adam and the race are spiritual and personal (cf. John 5:21-29, 1 Corinthians 15:45, Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:13). This state of union between Christ and the believer is described by St. Paul under the phrase ‘in Christ’; and it is mentioned as a condition of sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11; cf. Romans 1:6-7, Ephesians 1:1; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:13, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2). The idea is the Master’s (cf. ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches,’ John 15:5): He connected it with, sanctification (John 15:4-6). St. Paul emphasized this message. Thus we are ‘complete in him’ (Colossians 2:10). Every human being comes into the world as a possibility. A process of involution must go forward, by which the germinal life will absorb from its environment those elements that minister to its development. Our moral possibilities can be realized only when we are ‘in Christ.’ The soul that lives without Him is stunted, or maimed, or becomes a moral freak. The soul that lives ‘in him’ becomes ‘complete.’ All the fulness that can realize our possibilities is gathered into Him (Colossians 2:9). He is the way in which men must ‘walk’ who would attain to holiness, the plant in which men must be ‘rooted’ who would bear much fruit, the plan according to which men’s lives must be ‘built up’ if they are to become temples of God (Colossians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:23, and cf. John 15:1-10; John 14:6).

(c) Another category used by St. Paul is Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the source of the believer’s renewal. This thought has affinities with the preceding one. But it shows, from another standpoint, how intimately the Apostle connects our sanctification with Christ. The teaching is developed in Romans 6; it occurs also in Romans 8:11, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Colossians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:1-4. The believer is associated with the Saviour in His death and resurrection. These crises are not only an ideal for the Christian, but also an experience which in some real spiritual sense he shares with his Lord. By them Jesus Christ became the Conqueror of sin and death. The believer identifies himself with Jesus Christ in the spiritual significance of these tremendous events: then he becomes ‘dead unto sin and alive unto God,’ though actually he is rather dying than dead to sin, and though the physical process of dissolution has still to be faced—but without its sting. This union with Christ secures the imparting of eternal life, and makes the believer a ‘new creature’ (2 Corinthians 5:17), who is renewed in holiness. Such teaching harmonizes with the demand of Jesus for a new birth (John 3:3).

(d) A fourth category is the work of the Spirit using the truth ‘as it is in Jesus’ as His instrument in sanctification. This is another of the ideas of Jesus emphasized by St. Paul. The Pauline Epistles connect sanctification with the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. especially Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 2; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 3:12). ‘The Spirit’s function is, before all things, to help the Christian to be holy’ (Bruce, St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity, p. 248). The instrument used by the Spirit in sanctifying men is the revelation made in Jesus Christ. This had been foretold by the Master (John 16:14); St. Paul sees His word fulfilled in all the work of the Spirit. ‘The Lord’ and ‘the Spirit’ are identified sometimes (2 Corinthians 3:17-18), and the Spirit dwelling in the heart sanctifies through Christ dwelling in the heart (cf. Ephesians 3:17, Romans 8:9-10, 2 Timothy 1:14). Man is pictured as a shrine in which the Spirit dwells. This ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ must be kept from all defilement, and must ever be made worthier of its Divine guest (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

(e) The Church as the Body of Christ is an important Pauline conception. It bears upon the problem of sanctification, inasmuch as the moral health of each individual member is influenced by the condition of the body (1 Corinthia


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sanctify, Sanctification'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/s/sanctify-sanctification.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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