Today we’re going to finish this study by talking about two more methods of Bible study.
A word study is a specific kind of topical study. In a word study you seek to get a comprehensive understanding of a Bible word. You might, for example, seek to understand what the Bible means by redemption, sanctification or grace. We don’t have time to do a complete study here, but we’ll get you started doing a word study.
What does it mean to be holy?
The following verse might arrest your attention during your Bible reading:
(15) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:15-16)
You decide to figure out what God is expecting from you when He commands you to be holy. It will be helpful to do some research into the original languages to learn more about the concept of holiness.
The word holy appears in the Old and New Testaments. We’ll look at the Hebrew words from the Old Testament that are translated holy. Despite all the hi-tech Bible study tools available, one of the easiest ways to find out how many different words are translated as holy is to get an old-fashioned, hold-in-your-hands version of the Strong’s Concordance. As you scan through the hundreds of occurrences of holy in the Bible, you’ll see that only a handful of original language words are translated as holy. In the Old Testament, words 6918, 6942, 6944, and in a few rare cases 4720 and 2623. In the New Testament, words 37, 39, and 40, and rarely 2413 and 3741. The sets of Old and New Testament numbers that are near each other are usually variations of a common root word. So we’ll look at the root words and leave the rest for you to research for on your own.
H6942 kaw-dash’ A primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally): – appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy (-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify (-ied one, self), X wholly.
The most common variant of that word is:
H6944 ko’-desh From H6942; a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity: – consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.
In the New Testament, the main root word for holiness is:
G40 hag’-ee-os From hagos (an awful thing) compare G53, [H2282]; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated): – (most) holy (one, thing), saint.
One interesting idea that jumps out here is that the same word translated holy is also translated sanctify and saint. That would expand you research a little bit.
The word holy appears over 500 times in the Bible. Many of these instances won’t add significantly to your understanding of the word. Here are a few key verses which clarify and expand on the definition of holiness.
(44) For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (45) For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. (Lev 11:44-45)
This was Peter’s source for the Old Testament quote in 1 Peter 1:16. The context of this quote talks about what kinds of food the Jews were allowed to eat. Holiness, then, extends even to the food we eat.
The rationale for the command is that we are to be like God. He is holy, so we should be holy. But, obviously, our holiness is different than His.
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. (Lev 20:26)
Here you can see that holiness has to do with separation from others and to the Lord Himself. Holiness involves moving away from some things and moving toward other things.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom 12:1)
Holiness involves right choices on our part. So we are holy based on our actions, and we are holy because God declares us to be holy.
(25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:25-27)
Christ gave Himself for us that we might be holy.
There is much more to do in this study, but I’m already a half day late in posting it, so I have to stop here. You can continue by searching the other Bible passages that use words like holy, holiness, sanctify and saint to come up with a full picture of how the Bible uses the word. Make note of key ideas and ideas that seem to be repeated throughout the Bible. Here are some other questions you might think about as you continue your study:
- How is the holiness of God, or the Holy Spirit different from the holiness you’re supposed to have? In what ways is it the same?
- Places and things in the Bible are declared holy. Compare and contrast these things with the holiness of a Christian.
- What is God’s part in your holiness? What is your part? Do others have any role in your holiness?
When you do a biographical study, you seek to get better acquainted with a Bible character. You might take a deeper look at the life of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Peter or Paul. Here are some of the questions you’ll try to answer as you study:
- What was the family and national background of the person?
- What was the character’s relationship with God?
- What were the person’s strengths? In what ways were they a good example?
- What were their most significant accomplishments?
- What were their weaknesses? In what ways were they a bad example?
- What were their greatest downfalls?
- What doctrines does their life illustrate?
Follow up on our study of the word holy and see what you can add to it.
We hope you’ve learned some things during this series that have helped you to become a better student of the Scriptures. This series will remain on the site if you ever want to refer back to it.
Next week Progressive Devotions will be posting work by our first guest contributor – Jesse Gardner. Jesse will spend a week with you on the topic What Is Truth? It should be an informative and challenging study, so make sure you stop in each day.
After that, we’ll be applying the skills we’ve been discussing in a study of the book of James. You’ll be blessed as you work your way through this powerful and practical book.