1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Original Biblical words referring to "sanctification"
A. Hebrew words qados, qodes
root word qds - "to cut off, to separate, to set
activities and persons were "set apart" and designated
as "holy" by their connection,
identification, relation and/or encounter with Holy God.
temple - Ps. 5:7; Isa. 64:11; Hab. 2:20
ark - II Chron. 35:3
bread - Lev. 24:9; I Sam 21:4
vessels - I Kings 8:4; I Chron. 22:19
garments - Exod. 28:2
festivals - Neh. 8:9
sabbath - Exod. 20:8,11; Isa. 58:13
tithes - Lev. 27:30-33
people - Deut. 7:6; 14:2,21
B. Greek words hagios, hagiazo, hagiasmos,
hagos - "object of awe"
hagiomai - "to stand in awe (respect) of the gods"
became "holy, holiness, sanctification"
Greek terms are not synonymous with the Hebrew terms
They do not carry the meaning of "set apart" or "separated"
Though used to translate such in Septuagint (LXX)
Greek language had other terms for "set apart"
aphorizo - Matt. 25:32; Rom. 1:1; II Cor. 6:17; Gal. 1:15
chorizo - Rom. 8:35,39; Heb. 7:26
They are based on the Holy character of God, and pertain to the
expression of that Holy character
in the behavior of Christians
II. Categories of "sanctification" in New Testament
usages - (see diagram)
A. Objective sanctification - external
- "potential sanctification," "sanctification
5:26 - "gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify
Thess. 2:13 - "God has chosen you from the beginning for
salvation through sanctification
by the Spirit..."
10:10 - "we have been sanctified through the offering of
the body of Jesus Christ once
10:14 - "by one offering He has perfected for all time those
who are sanctified"
10:29 - "the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified"
13:12 - "Jesus, that He might sanctify the people, through
His own blood, suffered outside
Pet. 1:2 - "chosen by the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
that you may...be sprinkled with His
- "positional sanctification," "status sanctification"
20:32; 26:18 - "the inheritance among all those who are
Cor. 1:2 - "those who have been sanctified, saints by calling"
Cor. 1:30 - "Christ Jesus became to us righteousness and
Cor. 6:11 - "you were washed, sanctified, justified in the
name of the Lord Jesus Christ"
1:4 - "that we should be holy and blameless before Him"
1:22 - "present you before Him holy and blameless"
3:12 - "chosen of God, holy and beloved"
2:11 - "those who are sanctified are all from one Father"
B. Subjective sanctification - internal
condition -"actual sanctification, sanctification de
references in IIA2 might be interpreted in this category)
1:7; 8:27; I Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1 - "saints"
3:1 - "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling"
Pet. 2:5,9 - "a holy priesthood;" "you are a holy
expression - "imparted, progressive sanctification"
6:19,22 - "members as slaves to righteousness, resulting
Cor. 7:1 - "perfecting holiness in the fear of God"
Thess. 4:3 - "this is the will of God, your sanctification"
Thess. 4:4 - "know how to possess own vessel in sanctification"
Thess. 4:7 - "not called for impurity, but in sanctification"
Thess. 5:23 - "God of peace sanctify your entirely, spirit,
12:10 - "that we may share His holiness"
12:14 - "pursue the sanctification without which no one
will see the Lord"
Pet. 1:15,16 - "be holy yourselves in all your behavior;
"You shall be holy, for I am holy"
22:11 - "let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy"
experience - "consummated sanctification"
5:27 - "sanctify her...that He might present to Himself
the church in all her glory"
Thess. 3:13 - "unblameable in holiness before our God and
Father at the coming of our Lord
Thess. 5:23 - "sanctify you entirely...preserved complete,
without blame at the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ"
III. New covenant implications of "sanctification"
A. Distinguishing old covenant and
new covenant concepts
covenant: Man's activity to set apart/separate buildings, objects,
locations, days, activities,
himself for God's holy purposes
focus/emphasis on "setting apart"
covenant: God's presence and activity to express His holy character
in man by His grace
through His Son, Jesus Christ
focus/emphasis on God's character
B. Essential elements of new covenant
is inherent only in the Being/character of God
God the Father - Jn. 17:11; I Pet. 1:15; Rev. 4:8; 6:10
God the Son - Lk. 1:35; Jn. 6:69; Acts 3:14; 4:27; I Jn. 2:20;
God the Spirit - "Holy Spirit" - Rom. 1:4
of His Holy Being is always made by His divine activity of grace.
God the Father - I Thess. 5:23
God the Son - Jn. 17:19; I Cor. 1:30; Heb. 2:11
God the Spirit - Rom. 15:16; II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2
can only be applied to man as derived from the ontological dynamic
of God's grace.
Never by meritorious human action
When the Hebrew concept of qados is perverted and interpolated
into the Greek word hagios
there results a misemphasis on "separation" or
"setting apart" in the new covenant
concept of sanctification
Whenever there is emphasis in Christian teaching on man's activity
to "set apart" something
for holy purposes, then misconstrued old covenant concepts have
and superimposed upon the grace empowering of Christian sanctification.
The Christian's responsibility is to make the choices of faith-receptivity
to God's holy character,
thus denying/disallowing unholy character expression
Since only God is wholly Holy, and holiness is not a "state
of being" in man, but always derived
from the ontological dynamic of God, then the issue of "entire
sanctification" is a moot
IV. Brief history of Christian interpretation of "sanctification"
A. Early church fathers (Clement of
Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp) - though noting the grace of God, they
emphasized a striving toward holiness
B. Gnosticism - converts are perfect,
set apart from the world
C. Montanism - demanded separatism from
unholy body of believers
D. Clement of Alexandria - necessity
for denial of world and bodily needs
E. Pelagianism - holiness is result of
self-willed moral effort
F. Augustine - sanctification is God's
activity; not by human effort
G. Bernard of Clairvaux - mystical personal
piety by imitation of Jesus
H. Peter Lombard - sanctifying grace
by infusion of Spirit in believer
I. Thomas Aquinas - no distinction between
justification and sanctification; just infusion of God's grace
J. Council of Trent - grace inheres in
soul of believer by Holy Spirit, and becomes permanent condition
or attribute of believer.
K. Roman Catholic doctrine - misstated
and overstated subjective implications of infused sanctifying
grace, providing a boost of human ability toward perfectibility
L. Reformers (Luther, Calvin, et al)
- justification emphasized and separated from sanctification;
on absence of human merit
M. Protestant doctrine - over-reacted
and overstated objective implications of forensic, legal and
factors of justification and sanctification.
N. Pietists - reverted to moralistic
behavioral standards of holy living, in reaction to
emphasis on doctrine
O. John Wesley - "entire sanctification,"
perfect holiness possible in this life; necessity of
blessing" experience; Holiness Movement
P. Karl Barth - reemphasized subjective
implications of Christocentric and ontological dynamic
Evangelical Protestants for the most part resisted; Catholic